Welcome to Uncommon Toddler Time read-alouds, or, what I think are uncommon read-alouds. If you read these and think “BISH, PLZ, I already know all about this shizz”, I’m real sorry. My hope is that you find at least one title you haven’t heard of, or remember a title that you used to love but forgot how great it was.
I get real hopeless trolling the internet for new Toddler Time read-aloud titles and finding nothing but suggestions for The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It makes me feel dead inside. Well, not really. I get hyperbolic in blog posts sometimes.
Here’s my plan, Stan. I’ll start this list and, in comments, you’ll keep it going.
I’m not going to post Go Away Big Green Monster or Dear Zoo, because you find them in about every list and if you’ve been a kids’ librarian or a teacher or a parent/caregiver for half a second, you already know these stories. That said, I’m prepared for people to post “YOU DIDN’T LIST Brown Bear, Brown Bear! You hate America!” I’m ready.
When I mention a Toddler Time read-aloud, I’m talking about 18 months to 3 years, ’cause that’s how we rock it at my library.
All book images link to their sources. Let’s go, kids.
♥ Meeow and the Big Box: There are several other Meeow books, but this one ends with a fire engine! I’m sorry, what more do you want exactly? These are books about cleverness and ingenuity, so get crackin’. Kids love Meeow.
♥ What Will Fat Cat Sit On? I usually start this story by complaining that I found my cat sitting on the fridge. OH THE HUMANITY, say the kids. I say, let’s find a better place for this cat to sit.
Also, Jan Thomas has Is Everyone Ready for Fun? Also delightful and hilarious, but gets the kiddos moving a bit:
♥ If you can get your hands on a copy of Round Like a Ball by Lisa Campbell Ernst that hasn’t been lovingly ripped to shreds, then get to it! Every time I repeat “Round like a ball” I move my hands in a huge circle motion. Also, the kiddos enjoy saying “NO!” every time someone in the book guesses the wrong object. PLUS, you get a little chance to talk to the kids about where we live: the Earth, duh! You didn’t think it was a gumball this whole time, did you, ya weirdo?
♥ Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal gives me the giggles and I’m not even the target audience. He’s a pea! He hates to eat candy! Hilarity ensues! You get to scream “SPINACH!”
♥ Apparently Laura Vaccaro Seeger was going to title this “Bananas are not Red”, but then she found out some bananas ARE red. Whomp, whomp! Anyway, behold the die-cut wonders that lie within Lemons are not Red. Children get to scream “NO!” (you can see that this is a plus point in a lot of my Toddler Time book choices) and work a bit on their color-recognition skills. A close second to this book is First the Egg, though I like to use it with a slightly older crowd.
♥ Ann Likes Red. She also has no freaking manners, so I pepper this book with lots of Pleases and Thank Yous that Ann herself does not actually say. Ann is kind of ungrateful. This book offers many opportunities for kid participation. As Ann is offered tons of clothes in other colors (and I mean tons. Ann’s not suffering in this recession), the kids will let you know that Ann only likes red. Personally, I think Ann should get what she gets and not get upset, but I’m not in charge. I’m glad I found this tiny book hiding in the shelves. The kids really took to it.
♥ Try and Google this title and see the gross stuff that you come up with. Anyway, I saw this book in an episode of the so-so The Librarians, and because they’re Australian, they call this book What Color are Your Knickers? instead of What Color is Your Underwear? I usually start off this story by explaining that I have something TOTALLY embarrassing to talk about. After I announce the title, I can barely get a word in. Kids go bananas. The last time I read this book, it was with a group of birth to 5 year olds. An older kid, right in the middle of the story, screamed “MAN, THAT IS SO NASTY!” I love Brooklyn kids.
♥ It’s funny how such a simple thing can make the kids act so silly. Fall is Not Easy, which is sadly restricted to storytimes during one forth of the year, is delightful to read. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it’s sweet and lovely and adorably funny. Something about this book always calms me down.
♥ Ugh. If I get into one more argument about I Want My Hat Back with one more freaking children’s librarian, I’m gonna pop someone. I swear it. Maybe the rabbit gets eaten, maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know, maybe don’t steal hats from bears, ya dope. Some librarians are super sensitive about this book, but if I, the premiere pink-haired vegan librarian of NYC can handle a rabbit maybe-probably-mayhaps getting eaten by a bear, so can you. For some reason, I end up reading this book in Fred Armisen Portlandia voices. No one knows why.
I Want My Hat Back is fantastic for toddler storytime because it amuses the kids AND the adults. I’ve never seen a kid have a negative reaction to the end of this story. Not one. Stop being a baby and read this already.
♥ Me Hungry: Now you don’t need an excuse to use your caveman/Frankenstein’s monster voice.
♥ Yes, yes. Bark George is wonderful, but you already know that. Let’s talk about finding an intact copy of The Daddy Mountain, also by Jules Feiffer. It features a charming androgynous kiddo (well, everyone calls this kid a girl, but I’m not totally convinced, nor do I need to be), a patient dad, and a about-to-faint mom. This always gets laughs from kids and grown-ups alike.
♥ Need to finish strong on a storytime? Look no further than Charlie Chick. It’s short and sweet and has lots of opportunities for kids to practice body part recognition. If possible, get a storytime copy of this (one that doesn’t circulate), as I’ve taped that last huge fold-out page back together more times than I can count.
♥ Honorable mentions go to Beautiful Oops, Hey, Rabbit!, What’s Your Sound, Hound the Hound? , Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes (I didn’t include this because hopefully you’ve already discovered how rad Pete is. If you haven’t, you’re missing out. It is SUCH a crowd pleaser), and Do Pigs Have Stripes?
OK, so now’s the time that you list all the toddler time books that you feel others don’t know about. Don’t keep your favorite reads a secret! Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone. I’m hoping this will turn into a nice little list.
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid