I can’t tell you how much it thrills me that Sammers enjoys reading stories with me. I mean, sure, I’ve been reading to him at least nightly since infancy, but he’s reached an age where he can actively choose the books we read and interacts with the stories. It’s so stinking cute. If you need book recs for the kiddos in your life, read on, friends!
We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems: We have a decent collection of Mo Willems on our shelves, but so far We Are in a Book! is the hands down favorite. This book makes Sammy laugh SO HARD. It’s probably at least partially because I’m overly animated in recreating Elephant and Piggie’s laughter, but I shall never apologize for my over-the-top read aloud style. Like most (if not all) Mo Willems books, this book is heavy on audience recognition and participation. The self awareness is taken to a new level when Gerald (the Elephant) and Piggie (the, uh, Piggie) realize that they are, in fact, in a book. This is such a fun read! Now, Sam will occasionally shout “Banana” out of context and start cracking up. That’s the sort of thing everyone could use more of, no?
A Place for Pluto by Stef Wade, Illustrated by Melanie Demmer- This book was a gift from my husband’s “Fairy Godmothers.” They still live in the small town my husband hails from, and among its claims to fame is that it’s the birthplace of the dude who discovered Pluto. The Pluto love is big in this little town, and they were responsible for many a letter-writing campaign trying to keep Pluto’s status as a planet once it was declassified. So, naturally, this excellent children’s book about the demotion of Pluto to “dwarf planet” landed in one of Sammy’s many book packages. The book is fantastic- very scientific with cute and clever illustrations. Frankly, it’s kind of a tricky one to read aloud because of the vocab- when you’re used to simple rhymes at story time, trying to get your brain and mouth around “asteroid” and “meteoroid” and “Kuiper Belt” can be a challenge. But Sammers loves the book, so I put my astronomer voice and read the same story over and over and over again. No lie, he made me read this 6 times in a row the other night. The recommended age range on the cover is 4-8 years, so if you have older-than-toddler kiddos with an interest in space, this would make a great addition to your bookshelves.
Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola- A classic for good reason! Strega Nona’s magic pasta pot has been delighting children since the 1970s, and shows no signs of slowing. I read it to Sam one bedtime, and at the following nap time, he specifically requested “Big Anthony” (he thinks the unfortunate fellow’s tummy full of pasta is high comedy.) He’s since started calling the book by its actual title, but it remains a staple of bedtime and nap time reading. I purchased our copy from Book Outlet which is a GREAT resource for inexpensive kids books. They usually have a mark on them or might be a little scratch-n-dent-y, but when you’re buying for a toddler, it hardly matters. The poor things will get banged up anyway.
On a side note: if you’re interested in seeing regular Sam Spam (IE, lots and lots of pictures) you’re welcome to check out my Instagram. Yes, it’s set to private, but only because I was creeped out by a few random dudes who started following my feed which is 99% toddler pics. I’m happy to approve anyone who looks like a real person, is bookish, and/or I recognize from other social media. I’m always cheered up by cute kiddo pics, so if you’re in need of that kind of joy, welcome to my Instagram!
If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. The links above direct to Amazon, but if you’re in a position to do so, please consider purchasing through a local, independent book store. Websites like IndieBound and Bookshop.org make it easy to support your local book shop even when you can’t physically shop there.
OMG that is also, hands DOWN, my favorite Elephant and Piggie book! I have no younglings of my own, but I worked in a library and was made very aware of how beloved this series was, so I took it upon myself to find out why. Any book that introduces kids to the concept of metafiction is a winner.
Also, I just requested to follow your Instagram! I’m nerisiren358!