Paperback books for under 2 years old

I introduced Reuben to paperback books early on as I was soooo bored of his little board books!  Just looking at them on the shelf made me feel sick.  I just couldn’t bear reading them one more time.  I could recite them all off by heart and I was ready to read him something a bit different.  So it was probably a little bit pushed by me but I have noticed that Reuben has no problem sitting still and listening for longer and longer stories now.  So instead of reading 100 board books, we’ll read 5 paperbacks.

I’ve been getting books from the charity shops, the libraries and also he has received some beautiful books as gifts.  These are some of our favourites.

1.  Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson

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This is a long book for a little toddler to sit through, so for the first few readings we only read the first half, up to the dragon.  There’s a lot of repetition in it and we created some actions to go with some of the repeated phrases.  Before long Reuben was joining in and reciting huge chunks of the book!

Julia Donaldson is best known for The Gruffalo, but this book has more repetition and I think it’s easier for younger children to understand.  It’s about a witch who keeps losing things, and who lets more and more animals ride on her broom until it breaks!  There’s also a lovely 20 minute dramatisation of the book, which became Reuben’s favourite thing to watch on TV.

2.  Peace at Last by Jill Murphy

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I just love in this book how the illustrations capture a bygone era of solid wood furniture, patterned carpets and the old style hallway telephones.  It’s so perfectly British that it even ends with a nice cup of hot tea!

It’s about a dad who can’t get to sleep because there are too many noises.  On every page there are ‘sound’ words for your toddler to join in with like the ‘tick tock’ of the clock and the ‘drip drip’ of the tap.  Reuben also likes to join in with the repeated phrase “I can’t stand THIS!”.  I love hearing him ‘read’ along with me.

3.  The Teddy Bears’ Picnic by Jimmy Kennedy

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I pored over this book as a child, just staring at the illustrations for hours.  I remembered loving it and so bought a second hand copy over Amazon.  There’s a lot of detail in the illustrations.  Each teddy bear has its own character so you can pick your favourite and spot it on different pages.  There’s just so much detail in the images such as patches and mending on the bears, and the sumptuous cakes and other food brought to the picnic. The words are the lyrics to a well known children’s tune, so it can be ‘sung’ rather than read.

Confession – this isn’t one of Reuben’s favourite books (yet!) but I’m sure it will be!

4.  Walking through the Jungle by Julie Lacome

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This is the perfect first paperback book as it includes repetition, actions and noises.  We created actions for the phrases “What do you see?  Can you hear a noise?” which are repeated on every page.  On each page is a different way of travelling through the jungle.  So if you have an active child who won’t sit still for a book then you can have fun acting it out!  It’s a timeless book that I think would suit a child from 1 year old onwards.

5.  Say Boo to the Animals!  by Ian Whybrow and Tim Warnes

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This is the story of a little rabbit who goes around shouting “Boo!” to animals that are big or scary.  This book is just a lot of fun as you and your toddler both end up shouting “Boo!” as loud as you can.  It also has lovely tactile pages as the animals are all furry.  We got this book from the library but ended up keeping it so long that I had to go out and buy a copy!

The thing I am not so keen on are the animals chosen.  They are not your ‘usual’ animals so your child might not immediately recognise them.  e.g. moose and gorilla.

6.  Red Car, Red Bus by Susan Steggall

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The words in this book are pretty boring.  You are just naming the vehicles you can see, e.g. “Yellow van, yellow car, red car, red bus”.  Boring!  But a closer look at the images reveals a whole other story that you and your child can describe to each other.  Each page takes you just a tiny bit further down the road, going forward in time and place so that you reveal more of the story.  For example a boy and a mum are running for the bus on one page, miss it on the next page, and get picked up by another car driver on the next page.  You can definitely get a lot out of this book if you spend time discussing it.

7.  Letterland ABC by Lyn Wendon

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I’m including this because it is the very first paperback book that Reuben and I read together, and because I’ve mentioned it before.  It’s not a story, but an introduction to letters by creating characters around them, and having little descriptions of each character.  Reuben bizzarely always loved this book, and would bring it to me to be read every day.  As an early introduction to letters it is quite fun, and there’s plenty to look at to keep reading for quite a while!  We’ve normally just looked at about 4 letters in one sitting, pointing out all the things we can see on the pages.

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