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I love Christmas. But I don’t love the craziness (and expense!) of gift buying. For years, I’ve been trying to convince my husband and his family to pare down and set limits on how much we spend. I’ve finally convinced him and this year, we are making a conscious effort to only get people what they truly want. We aren’t going to feel compelled to buy presents just to have more things under the tree. We’re not going to feel obligated to spend a certain amount on each person.
It’s ironic in a way because we have a house now and a lot more space. However, we both got to the point where we are just tired of STUFF. The kids have toys from last year that they haven’t even touched. Our house is starting to look like a toy store, but all the kids really want to do is art projects or play outside.
This year, we want to emphasize doing things, rather than giving stuff. And we’re asking our relatives to do the same. Rather than exchange presents, let’s go out to a nice dinner, or go see a show. Give a few small things to the kids, but spend time baking cookies with them, or take them to a museum. We value everyone’s presence over their presents (see what I did there? :)).
I’m not anti-present, especially for the kids. I like opening presents too, but I want everyone to scale back. Accordingly, over the next few weeks, I will be doing a series of gift guides containing gifts that are less than $25. Today I’m starting with books, because even though I want to scale back on presents, one thing I do not want to scale back on is books for the kids! I have always loved reading and I think a big part of that is because I always had books around. I want my kids to be surrounded by books from a variety of genres so they can decide what they like. My kids are young (one and three) so this list will focus on best books for toddlers. Even better, most of these are under $10! Happy reading!
Eric Carle/Bill Martin, Jr.
I love books by Eric Carle and Bill Martin, Jr. because they feature bright, bold, illustrations, and encourage kids to play along as we read.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar: A classic picture book, from generation to generation, sold somewhere in the world every 30 seconds! This beautiful board book version includes little holes for curious fingers to explore, and is perfect for teaching days of the week.
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?: “What will you hear when you read this book to a preschool child? Lots of noise! Children will chant the rhythmic words. They’ll make the sounds the animals make. And they’ll pretend to be the zoo animals featured in the book– look at the last page!”
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?: A big happy frog, a plump purple cat, a handsome blue horse, and a soft yellow duck–all parade across the pages of this delightful book. Children will immediately respond to Eric Carle’s flat, boldly colored collages. Combined with Bill Martin’s singsong text, they create unforgettable images of these endearing animals.
From Head to Toe: “A colorful and energetic board book that will have young readers clapping their hands, stomping their feet, and wiggling their toes! Giraffes can bend their necks, monkeys can wave their hands, and donkeys can kick their legs. And so can you! Throughout this interactive board book, the animals of From Head to Toe invite young readers to copy their antics as they play.”
Caroline Jayne Church
Caroline Jayne Church is another favorite author. Her books feature sweet, chunky illustrations, and gentle rhymes.
Ten Tiny Toes: “A joyful twist on the tried-and-true classic, “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.” From ears that wiggle to bellies that giggle, Ten Tiny Toes is sure to inspire little ones as they learn to celebrate their ‘mouth, ears, eyes, nose, and a love that grows and grows.'”
Let’s Get Dressed!: “This clever board book is a playful way to teach toddlers how to dress themselves. With oversized flaps on every page, readers can guess and uncover what article of clothing comes next! The simple, rhyming text surprises and delights while the hands-on format and Caroline Jayne Church’s adorable toddlers makes this a perfect introduction to dressing routines!”
I Will Love You Forever: “With charming illustrations and poignant rhyming text, this tender story is a heartwarming reminder of the never ending love between a parent and child. A sweet message to share with little ones to let them know that whoever they become and wherever they go, they are cherished.”
Yeah, the first time we read this book I I had to give it to my husband to finish reading because I became a weepy mess.
Time For Bed, by Mem Fox: “Day is done. Darkness is falling everywhere, and little ones are getting sleepy. This gentle book, with its rhythmic verse and peaceful, loving illustrations, will lull toddlers whether it’s bedtime, nap time, or simply time for a snuggle.”
Why I like it: We received this as a gift when our first son was born and it quickly became our nightly bedtime story. With soothing rhymes and pictures, it’s a great calm down book.
Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney. “How much can you love someone? Little Nutbrown Hare wants to show Big Nutbrown Hare how very much he loves him-but love as big as his is very hard to measure! Read this tender book with someone you love!”
Why I like it: Such a sweet story that is also calming and soothing. This is a regular in our bedtime routine.
Carry and Learn Opposites: “is the perfect introduction to basic opposites for toddlers on the go! With touch-and-feels, lift-the-flaps, and an adorable cast of animals, this early-concept book stimulates learning with interactivity, concept repetition, and call-and-response on every page!”
Why I like it: Fun and interactive, this book really helped my toddler learn the concept of opposites. Once he started learning the opposites in this book he wanted to learn more!
Baby Colors!: “Perfect for reading aloud and encouraging early word recognition, this chunky format board book is great for babies who love to explore shape and texture. Baby: Colors! contains a rainbow of objects, from green balloons to purple butterflies.”
Why I like it: This book has helped both of my boys learn their colors. While my one-year-old is learning, my big-boy three-year-old loves demonstrating his mastery of colors and teaching his younger brother.
My Precious Little Bear, by Claire Freedman: “Little Bear has a busy day ahead! Come along on a day packed full of small discoveries and big wonder. This rhyming story, paired with gentle illustrations, will enchant little ones everywhere.”
Why I like it: This is just a sweet story about a cub and his mommy out on an adventure. It winds down with little cub snuggling down for bed, making it a perfect story to read at night.
Alphaprints Colors: “A blue whale swimming through a blue ocean and a yellow snake slithering in a yellow desert are just two of the rainbow array of colorful creatures to discover in this innovative and engaging first colors book. Each animal is created by adding fun photographs of everyday things for children to spot to big, bold fingerprints, which have raised embossing for little hands to touch, feel, and explore. With easy-to-turn, graduated pages that feature eye-catching, multi-colored foil edges.”
Why I like it: Whimsical pictures; fun foil-lined pages; great to learn colors.
These have been the favorites in our house. I’ll do a separate post in a little while on books for older toddlers. What are some of your favorite books for little ones?