Books to Read with Your 18 Month Old.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A few days ago, I was scrolling through Facebook and happened upon a question that another blogger had asked her readers - "Imagine a hypothetical situation where you could pick your children's future careers based on what they are like at this moment. What would you choose?" It took a matter of seconds for me to decide on a librarian. There is nothing in this world, not even Mama milk, that gets her as excited as books do. She is just like her Mama in that she can't sit still, but she will sit and listen to me read book after book after book to her. I have kept reading plenty of times just to see how many she would let me read to her in one sitting and ran out of books (and we have no shortage of books in this house, I promise). This seems to be a common occurrence lately, even with trips to the library. She is at a hard age to choose books for, however (and most toddler book lists I've found are suited to 3 and 4 year olds). First, I have to be very careful while reading ones that aren't board books. Evie is the Queen of destruction. We do our best to teach her gentleness, but as soon as I think she's ready to have paper page books put on her shelf, she proves me wrong. Second, she is beyond the pictures with one word or touch and feel animal books, but the books with more than three or four sentences on a page or that have pictures that all look essentially the same with small differences on each page (Harold and the Purple Crayon) don't interest her much yet. Each time I spend 30 minutes or more looking for books at the library I think she would like, I think surely I'm not the only with this problem.  So I thought I'd take a few favorites of ours and review them here based on how interesting the story line and pictures are, how well they hold an 18 month old's attention, and how well I, the parent, enjoy reading it (some books are just obnoxious). As Ev gets older and develop new favorite books, I will probably continue doing this series every few months. I've also thought about reviewing the library books that we pick up every few weeks, but I'm not sold on that idea yet.

Tails by Matthew Van Fleet: This is one of the first books that we ever read to Evie and it has been a favorite of hers for over a year now. Anytime I ask her to grab a book, Tails is what she picks. It has a few simple, rhyming words on each page that describe all the different kinds of animal tails, plus touch and feel spots and interactive pull tabs. There is also a scratch and sniff spot on the skunk's tail that Evie loves to smell. (She even tries to smell the pages of other books with skunks on them now.) The illustrations are colorful and fun and the book is quite sturdy, but it is still one that needs to be put up high when you aren't reading it. Evie has managed to rip a few of the wagging tails off, but in her defense, I think she was trying to figure out how they work. I have fond memories of a few books from when I was a kid that I feel helped foster my love of reading and I have a feeling this is going to be one of those kinds of books for Ev.

Pat the Zoo: This is another touch and feel must have book. It isn't quite as interactive as tails, but it is still fun to read. One of the major things I look for in touch and feel books is how accurate or creative the touch and feel spots are. Some books that we've bought have had practically the same texture on each page, especially the animal ones. This book is not like that - there is a patch of wrinkly leather for an elephant, red feathers for a parrot, the frog's tongue is actually sticky, and the seal's whiskers are actually whiskery. I like to take it to the zoo with us and show Evie the page of each animal as we're standing in front of the exhibit, so that she can pull from those memories when we're reading the book at home. Babies and toddlers will love this book, but it could also be used to teach a budding reader. We did have a few incidents with the parrot's feathers flying around the house when the book was new. Luckily, the parrot has finished molting and that no longer happens so don't let that deter you from this book. It is a favorite around here that gets read at least once a day!

Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee: I picked this book up at Hasting's (a local used bookstore) when Ev was six months old or so thinking that it may or may not get read when she was much older, but she loved it right away! It is full of babies of different colors, sizes, etc., being fed and carried and played with in a variety of ways by a variety of people. The text is simple and repetitive and the pictures are interesting for even the parents to look at, but still childlike and soothing. Evie loves to point out the dogs, balls, and Papas and it keeps her interest throughout the entire book, which is pretty long for a children's book. Also, as a breastfeeding and baby wearing Mama, it was encouraging to find a book that includes those things, but it also includes bottles and strollers so that she knows that not all babies eat like her, travel like her, look like her, etc. I love the diversity of the people that are shown and that the focus of the entire book is loving babies just the way they are. This is one of those lesser-known books that deserves to be a classic in my opinion.

On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman: Because I am sappy and emotional and loved giving birth (freak of nature, I know), this is probably my favorite book to read to Evie. It is whimsical and imaginative - polar bears dance, the honk of geese become a resounding song meant just for your child, a bird sits at a window just to see them smile. We usually practice saying her name over and over, wiggling our toes, and trying to mimic the sound of the wind in the tress or the waves of the ocean. It really is a magical book that I never tire of. The words are written in a poetic fashion and while it seems like there is quite a bit of words on each page, maybe too much for an 18 month old, the way the words flow really keep her attention. This is another one that I try to bring to the zoo with us so that I can show her what polar bears look like in real life. I love the overall theme that each person is unique and special and should be celebrated. Overall, this is a five star book that should be on every child's book shelf.

Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell: We picked this one up at the library a few weeks ago and just keep checking it out because we can't get enough of it. I'm sure the library is eventually going to cut me off and tell me that I have to return it, but until then we read it a few times a day. It is about a little cat that sets out to hug everyone and everything in the entire world - all the birds in the park, a whale in the ocean, a Baobab tree in Africa. The illustrations are wonderful and have a very hand drawn quality to them. We enjoy this book so much that we will have to order it after it has extended its stay in our home. I've also thought about adding a few more of Patrick McDonnell's books to the cart when the time comes just because I like his style so much. Most modern children's books are modeled after a television show character (which don't make sense to Ev since we don't have cable) or zoo/farm animals (which we like our fair share of, but can really only handle so much of), so this is a timeless and refreshing book to read. If you buy just one book on this list, make it this one!

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson and Beth Krommes: Alex picked this book up on a whim when he and Ev were out on a date a few months ago. In our birthing class, one of the coping techniques we practiced was to focus on something in the room (a clock ticking), then something outside the room, then something out on the street (the wind in the trees), then something out in the city, etc. until you had made your way to the entire world, then work your way back in the same order. The text in this book reminds me a lot of that and while the words are calming and flow together well, I honestly read this book to Ev as often as I do because of the illustrations. I've been doing a lot of research on the Waldorf/Steiner model of parenting and one of the things they emphasis is sending your child to bed with comforting images in their head and this book will do just that. It won the Caldecott Award in 2009 and is a more modern children's book that is destined to become a classic.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown: I'm sure nearly everyone has heard of Goodnight Moon, but Ev loves it so much that I had to include it. She loves to point out the red balloon and the mouse that is hiding on each page and 'shush' with the whispering old lady. She actually learned how to say 'bowl' from reading about the bowl of mush and brings me a bowl repeating 'bow, bow, bow' when she wants a snack. After showing her the moon in this book, then the one outside her window one night, she looks for the moon in the sky every time we go outside now. While this isn't a favorite for me to read, it is a classic that children seem to love.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: This is another classic that I'm sure most people have heard of, but it is another one of Evie's favorites that we read before nap time. She points at all the food and says 'mmm' over and over and sticks her little fingers through the holes where the caterpillar ate through each page of the book. When we get to end and the caterpillar has become a beautiful butterfly, she oohs and ahhs and we hold the book up and flap the pages like the butterfly is flying. As far as age goes, this book is pretty universal. Toddlers enjoy it and as they get older, you can get creative with crafts and snacks to further emphasize the story. It's definitely a must-have for any child's book collection.

What are some of your favorite books from your childhood? If you have a baby or young toddler who loves to read, what books have become favorites in your home? I would love to check them out!

This is the first post in a series, Evie Reads. If you want to see more children's book recommendations, click here.

* If you purchase an item through a link I've provided, I will be compensated with a small percentage of the total cost of the book from Amazon. I have not been asked to promote these products nor am I doing so in order to make a profit. We truly enjoy these books and wanted to share this enjoyment with our readers. If you happen to purchase one or more of these books, thank you for helping me support our family.


  1. What a great post! I love thinking about what your baby would be when they grow up! My 10.5 month old boy would definitely be an adventurer of some sort. :) Also, I love "On the Night You Were Born!" We read it to our son on the night he was born in the hospital and our hope is to make it a tradition and read it to him every night on his birthday. -Andrea

    1. That's such an awesome tradition! I love it! We always take a picture together in from the clock when it says 7:35 (the time she was born).

    2. That's fun! I didn't grow up with many "traditions" so I am trying to implement them now.



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