Monday, May 26, 2014

Summer Reading (Board Book Edition) and Summer Eating

Pasta with raw tomato sauce, and our favorite board books for toddlers.

Today is Memorial Day here in the US, a day of remembrance and also the unofficial start of Summer- my favorite season. Something just feels different about Summer, and I don't mean the sweat trickling down my back in too-hot Georgia.. Summer is lazy and laid back, a pause between semesters. A time for casual meals featuring fresh produce and juicy watermelon, preferably while reclining on a picnic blanket under a shady tree.

The other fun thing about this season- summer reading. Our public library hosts a summer reading program every year. We enjoy books all year round but I get excited about this anyway. I'm going to sign up Lila for the children's reading program. She's almost 3 years old this summer; the program is open for kids aged newborn to 11 years- emphasizing that it is never too early or too late to discover the magic of books. The goal is to read 10 books (or multiples of 10 books) over summer and you get your name on their wall of fame and a little sticker and stuff like that. You can read anything- it does not matter if the books are from the public library or just the books you already own.

In preparation for summer reading, I spent a few minutes organizing Lila's books and decided to chronicle some of her current favorites here. These are just the board books I'm talking about today- we prefer them because they don't tear easily and can stand up to handling by a toddler.

I counted about 50 board books in Lila's library ("liberry").  Most of these are gifts from generous friends and relatives. Several are finds from yard sales and thrift stores. And of course we buy her books now and then.


Baby Talk. When Lila was only a few hours old, and she and I were still in the maternity suite of the hospital, a volunteer stopped by from an organization that promotes reading to kids. She gave newborn Lila this book and gave me a little card that explained how reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. So this was the first book that Lila was given in person. "This little baby is hiding. Peek a boo" This sweet and simple book is a favorite and almost falling apart from years of over use.


We've come to love some authors/illustrators.


Sandra Boynton's characters are hilarious and the books are whimsical. In Blue Hat, Green Hat, different animals wear the same article of clothing, except the silly turkey who wears socks on his arms and pants on his head. You may or may not chuckle at this but it is downright ROTFL stuff for the toddler set.





Eric Carle's vibrant and textured collage art is beloved and unmistakeable. From Head to Toe is a book that gets a child moving (and identifying body parts) as they mimic different animals: "I am a gorilla and I thump my chest". In The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the caterpillar eats chocolate cake, ice cream, pickle, cheese, cupcake, cherry pie, sausage and watermelon all in one Saturday. Don't tell me you've never fantasized about doing this yourself. Spoiler Alert: The caterpillar got a stomach ache.


Lois Ehlert's illustrations have saturated color and often depict nature. We love identifying fruits/veggies and flowers in Eating the Alphabet and Planting a Rainbow. She has also illustrated the classic alphabet rhyme Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault where the alphabets gather at the top of the coconut tree.



Another favorite illustrator is Lucy Cousins, the creator of adorable Maisy mouse. In Maisy Plays, we see Maisy painting, splashing and hugging panda.




We are one of the millions of Dr. Seuss fans. A couple of favorites are Oh, The Thinks you can Think ("Oh, the Thinks you can think up if only you try.”), Hop on Pop (V likes this line, "STOP You must not hop on Pop."), and Mr. Brown Can Moo, a book of wonderful noises.

I found a cute idea online: Get a copy of Dr. Seuss's Oh, The Places You'll Go and have all your child's teachers write a note in it (secretly) when the child moves to the next class. Then give them the book when they graduate high school, with messages from all their teachers over the years. I've started one such book for my little girl.

Some yard sale treasures that have become favorites: 




How do Dinosaurs Count to Ten by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. "Now that he's counted from one to ten, how does a dinosaur count again?"







Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow was the very first book that fully engaged Lila. When she couldn't talk yet, she was wagging her finger and cooing on cue at "No more monkeys jumping on the bed". The repetitive, rhyming story is very effective.







Jamberry by Bruce Degen is a rollicking berry picking romp. "Under the bridge, And over the dam, Looking for berries, Berries for jam".




Lift-the-flap books provide interactive fun for little hands. Where's Spot by Eric Hill is a favorite. Spot's late for his meal and his mom goes looking all over for him."Is he in the piano?"





I call this set the lovey dovey books. They are excuses to snuggle and cuddle your child. In The Runaway Bunny, baby bunny makes plans to run away from home and mama bunny finds a way to reach him wherever he is. Won't you be my Kissaroo chronicles the day's kisses from morning to night.




Books about sleep and bedtime are quite useful in nudging a reluctant toddler to get ready for bed. They provide a nice way to wind down for the night. In the zen-like Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, a little bunny prepares for bed by saying good night to everything in his room and outside his window: "Good night, stars. Good night, air. Good night, noises everywhere."


 
Lila's oldest cousin (who is in her 20s) gave her a pile of books that were her own childhood favorites. These are timeless classics and we enjoy them so much. Go Dog Go by PD Eastman has dogs headed for a party on scooters, skis and cars. "Stop, dogs. Stop! The light is red". Lila loves chanting the words when we're at a stop light. Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins has a cast of monkeys and drums: "One hand Two hands Drumming on a drum".


I am always blown away by the wisdom and depth of some children's books. This is one: Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg. The message is that it is OK to make mistakes, in fact, mistakes are an opportunity to be creative.








Most of our board books only have a few words or a line or two of rhymes. This is one of the first which features an actual story: Sheila Rae's Peppermint Stick by Kevin Henkes, about two sisters and one peppermint stick- will they share it?






Nursery rhymes are ever-popular- they bring classic rhymes to life with pleasing illustrations.







And while illustrations are lovely, young children also like looking at real-life photos of objects and people. We have one favorite book about trucks and several about words and alphabets.








Zoe and her Zebra by Clare Beaton was a birthday gift and I love it so much. It is a unique book with art work stitched with felt and embroidery, embellished with beads and buttons. And the characters are multicultural.




My favorite source for book resources for children is the Saffron Tree blog- here are their 10 beloved board books. Playing by the Book is a blog of children's book reviews and clever and fun activities to do when you read the book. And via Niranjana, I heard about Open Library. No matter where in the world you live, you can sign up with your e-mail address and borrow tens of thousands of e-books to read.

So far, Lila has only been reading books from her own library. I was too apprehensive about library books being chewed on or messed up with sticky fingers. But now I am confident that (a) she is able to be careful with books and (b) she likes reading new books and not just the same ones over and over, and this week I checked out three board books to kick off summer reading. Do you have any board books/ toddler books to recommend? 

From reading to eating: here's a summery pasta with a raw pasta sauce, very similar to this recipe I've posted before. It takes minutes to make and is just perfect for hot weather.

For about 4 servings:

Bring water to boil and cook 1/2 package (about 1/2 lb, 4 servings) pasta. I used whole wheat angel hair. Cook until just tender.


In a large bowl, mix and marinate while the pasta is cooking-
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup (or so) olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup cashew powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped olives
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Basil (paste or minced leaves)
  • Sprinkle of oregano
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
 Drain the pasta and add it to the raw pasta sauce. Toss, add some grated parmesan cheese if you like and serve.

Do you have anything fun planned this summer?

55 comments:

  1. I'll say it outright, I hate summer (migraine) months. What I can tolerate about summer, air conditioning, cooling drinks ( fresh fruit juice, panha, limbu sarbat, mattha...) and books.
    My son loves Mr. Brown can moo, he still likes reading it from time to time :)
    Has Lila read 'the runaway bunny'?
    This summer, we are planning moving (locally) and I am wondering what and how I will pack, donate and trash... dreading it, actually.
    Planning on involving my son in some activities to keep him busy ( and indoor)
    Baking! Sonny boy is turning 6!

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    1. Oh no- I can see how migraines would ruin summer for you, and you live in such a sweltering place too! Allergies more or less ruin Spring for me so I understand. I hope you can do your packing a little bit at a time and get it done. Moving is a pain. I can't believe your son is turning 6 already!

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  2. Oh I forgot to add... I have been doing the ' Oh the places you'll go' thing for S ( just from his pre-k days) and it's a fantastic idea. One day, he will be so happy, looking back at it :)

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    1. I know- it is a sweet and simple idea!

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  3. I started reading to my DD when she was just about 6 weeks old. To put it simply, I am a very poor reader, so I make conscious efforts to make sure I read (may be that's because I didn't read a lot as a kid - though my mom and brother read a LOT). That was the main reason I wanted to make sure I read out to my kid and now she loves books. It's amazing how much she understands and speaks - she's 14 months. I take her to library for story times and she loves them. At the end we always read Chicka Chicka abc.

    My daughter loves Five Little Monkeys as well. She too wags her finger at "No more monkeys…" Now that she talks she demands that I sing this song to her and says "MANGA" which means monkey song… LOL! Oh and Goodnight Moon, even I love that book. Aren't the illustrations just amazing? I love how the room darkens picture after picture. Have you read "The Kissing Hand"? I'm sure Lila will like it. Gerald and Piggie series by Mo Willems is really awesome. The illustrations are fabulous and the stories too funny. Thanks for sharing Open Library link.

    No plans for summer yet, but my parents will be here next month, so I'm really looking forward to that. When they went back last year, my daughter was just 3 months so they too are looking forward to spending time with her. Hope you have a wonderful summer.

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    1. It is so true that some people love reading more than others. My mom and I read for pleasure constantly while my dad and sister did not. I loved hearing about your daughter's reading-related antics! And we'll look for the books you suggested. Have lots of fun with your parents!

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  4. We too simply love getting books from the library and have read most of the books that you have listed. One book my son loved was "Dini Dinosaur" book. He loveed it so much that he almost memorized it.

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    1. I'm going to look for Dini Dinosaur- thanks!

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  5. Love this blog post of yours. I am pregnant with my first one and its been at the back of my mind to look up books to read to newborns and kids. So this post is very timely for me! Thanks for sharing all your online finds. Enjoy summer!
    Shilpa.

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    1. Congratulations Shilpa and I hope you and your little one have many happy hours of reading and cuddling!

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  6. Dear Nupur,
    Your painstaking effort to familiarise readers with lila's books deserves praise.
    It reminded me of my own childhood and the plethora of russian books we had
    as they were both affordable and hardy. One such book Happy Days was about a little boy called Vanya who was untouched by materialism. When his friends teased him because he did not have a box of crayons,a new shirt or other possessions to be happy about he confided he found happiness in the beauty of nature. Once he saw some tiny fish in a puddle which had golden and silver fins. Another time he admired snow covered roofs catch the rays of the setting sun and look blue and plink. While most of his friends ridiculed him a little girl wise beyond her years concluded that he was the happiest among them all because he could find happiness everywhere around him.
    After the USSR disintregated these books are no longer easily available and I did not find them anywhere. So when my neice was visiting from England I bought lots of children's books for her. Imagine my astonishment when she liked my old book the best and tried to identify the characters with our family members.
    Thanks to Vanya I learnt to find happiness in simple things. A rich man is not one who has the most but one who needs the least.

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    1. Aww thanks for this sweet comment.

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  7. Is it telepathy or what ? I have tabs open in this current window browsing for sound board books. I had got few hands down and many gifted board- fabric – bath books, goodnight moon or nursery rhymes, my first – word-vehicles-fruits etc books. Recently on his birthday he got harriet the hippo and snuggly bunny – sound and touch books, he loves the sound ones. He doesn’t really sit and read or browse the books, but normally we have breakfast stories or dinner nursery, he loves the entertainment then. Nice links you have shared , thanks.. liking it.

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    1. Yup I can read your mind ;) It sounds like you and your little boy are already enjoying lots of books.

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  8. The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom by Julia donaldson are loved by everyone.

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    1. Julia Donaldson's books are so great! The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child and Room on the Broom are probably her best. I recently purchased the movies of all three books (but only after reading all three to my son multiple times) and they are so beautifully made you will want to watch them with your child every time. Then there is Jack and the Flum Flum Tree, The Snail and the Whale, Tiddler, Zog and so many more delightful options.
      The Tiger Who Came to Tea is another enchanting story and I can also recommend The Rainbow Fish as it combines a simple little story with a lesson about sharing and exquisite illustrations.
      We have read to my son since he was 4 months old and he has a nice little library of his own. He knows that big presents are only for birthdays but he gets a new book every 8 weeks or so. I grew up in a family of readers and never go anywhere without a book in my bag. Even if I only manage to snatch ten minutes in a day to read, I am happy.
      I have also started reading abridged versions of classics such as The Secret Garden to my child and lots of poetry, which he loves.
      I also bought a couple of Maurice Sendak books but I must admit (even though Sendak is such a cult favourite) that I really do not get the hype.

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    2. I'll have to look for these, Amber, thanks for mentioning them! I also feel like a day without reading is a sad and empty one.

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  9. Love reading about your board books that lila loves. Sylvia is sort of growing out of board books and I feel a bit sad about it - though she is not quite too old. She shares some of these favourites - the hungry caterpillar, dr suess, and we had a great boynton book. Some other ones we have loved are Peepo, Baby Catalogue, and Each Peach Pear Plum. I love the Mem Fox and Judy Horacek Aussie classic Where is the Green Sheep. You read kids books so often that I love ones that I enjoy reading over and over but also ones that she enjoys more as she gets older - and now she is almost ready to read them herself. I also love the idea of giving books to kids as part of programs to encourage reading - we have received a few great ones from the maternal child health nurse.

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    1. Thanks Johanna- I'm going to look for these! I'm also enjoying looking for new books, much as I love reading the same ones 50 times in a row ;)

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  10. My daughters current fav is The Berenstain Bears Beginner Books. They are kind of like Dr Seuss with the rhyming going on.

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    1. I've heard of that series- will look for it!

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  11. I loved to read to my son - He loved the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom book a lot- I enjoyed it too. Over a period of time.. he knew the stories and I could not get away with skipping a single line. Reading every day to your young child is truly wonderful way of sharing time with them and it pays off. My son started reading on his own early and still loves reading at age 10. We had a book by Mem Fox - Koala Lou.. it was a lovely book. Look for it at your library.

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  12. So many of the ones you mentioned are classics! I have four kids of which my boy twins (who are now going to be 19) were the first two. They were so active and the only way I was able to keep them still was to read aloud, which I loved to do. Two favorites of theirs were The Little Engine that Could and Benny Bakes a Cake (the latter I believe is out of print, but might be available at the library). I always told them they would love to learn to read for themselves because then they could go anywhere and "experience" anything. FYI, they became insatiable readers early on despite their love of sports and activity - good balance.

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    1. Oh, I definitely have to look for the Little Engine- I'd forgotten about that book! Thanks for this lovely note.

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  13. Nupur -

    This is my first time here and I love your blog. My little guy loves to read all the books on your list. Another author he absolutely loves is Leo Lionni. The little blue and little yellow, colors, numbers, letters, Mathew's dream are few of them.

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    1. Thank you Sudha! I'll look for Leo Lionni's books.

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  14. We started reading to our son when he was about a month old and he loves books (going by the fact that at 8 months, he fervently chews on them!). We mostly have got the flap books like baby's belly button and peek-a-boo forest, pat the bunny.. I am going to bookmark this page for kiddy book recos for future months!
    Ah, summer..lets see, we have been planning on doing some hikes with the baby this summer. Hiking is the one thing that we did a lot pre-baby that has been difficult to include in our life post-baby. Planning on giving that a try in the coming months. We were also thinking of putting the baby in summer baby swim lessons. He loves to splash about in water and seems like a good idea! Besides, my hubby is a very good swimmer and he is keen on teaching him swimming.

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    1. LOL the chewing is a big part of discovering their world! Hiking with your baby in a carrier would mean an extra workout but I bet it will be fun for him. My little one loves the water too and I too have been thinking of swimming lessons for her.

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  15. This is a good collection. My five year old loves to read and we get lots of boosk from the library every week. One of his favourites since he was a toddler was the Llama llama Red Pajama. We have read other books from the Llama series too. His current faves are the Richard Scarry's series especially Cars, Truck and Things that go.

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    1. Lila loved Llama llama- I think they have those books at schools. Thanks for the suggestions!

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  16. I CANNOT believe that Lila is three... really.

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    1. She's be three in Fall- yeah time flies :)

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  17. What a great post! time flies or what, Lila is already going to be 3?!! :O

    I am already determined to make my to-be baby a reader.. haha, let's see how well it goes. :)

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    1. Congrats- and whether or not your baby becomes an avid reader, you'll both enjoy cuddling and reading stories together for sure!

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  18. *not required to be published.*

    just stuck me - Nupur, if you ever think of making this blog private or locked, pl. put an announcement board for us regular readers so that we can sign up to the elite list! :D I cannot imagine not having your blog in my life(?!), and now am going to start cooking and reading a bit more than usual - so I need your blog like never before hehe!

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  19. hello Nupur,
    Birthday wishes to dear Lila..time flies :-) And love to hear she enjoys reading as well.
    This post is very nostalgic. I used to read most of these books to my boy when he was little. These board books are so colorful; he was fascinated each time I picked a book. There was never a force; he willingly sat with me while I made sounds and faces to entertain him through reading :-) Treasure those memories. Also, something I did with my boy that accelerated his reading was I started him with 2 letter books and I'd read the word and give him an example in a sentence. (short and sweet) Then very soon he got a grasp and we moved to 3 letter word books and then 4 letter. Then, I taught him how to split compound words to 2 simpler words and then spell them together. This helped him so much that while he was around 4-5 yrs, he started reading encyclopedias, atlas etc. He continues to be an accelerated reader now and vocabulary is huge.Also, over the years, introduced him to all subjects like science, sports, space, animals, plants, gen knowledge, comics, cooking, interior decorations and many more. It helps to understand that any and (all) areas have books to gain knowledge. He's 11 now and from as long I can remember, every b'day he asks for books.
    Few to add to your list are Eat your peas Louise by Pegeen Snow (he started to enjoy peas as a veggie after I read this books several times) and Yummy yummy food for my tummy by Sam Llyod.
    For summer, plan to increase gym and baseball games :-)

    Take care
    Meena.

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    1. Thank you for this sweet note, Meena! How wonderful that your son thrives in the world of books!

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  20. Hi Nupur,

    Oh, this is so nostalgic bringing back my fondest memories of reading to my children every night for years. I still have all the baby books in my book shelf. My son is starting college this fall and my daughter will be in 11th grade. So this was a long time ago :)

    They too went to the summer reading program at the library and later volunteered for the summer reading program working with the little kids.

    Even with all the years of reading we enjoyed together, my kids did not grow up to be voracious readers. Maybe because kids today have a plethora of entertainment options. When I was a kid my Enid Blyton books were my only source of entertainement and maybe that is why our generation loves reading.

    We started getting Time, Reader's Digest and National Geographic when they were in Elementary school so they can read non fiction too...like I would devour The Hindu everyday. Nope, that did not work either. Finally I made peace with the fact that my children will not be as fond of reading as I was.

    We have now come full circle. They are wonderful kids with my son going to Harvard this Fall. I don't think I can hold the not reading enough against him any more. They just did not choose reading as their favorite hobby as I had dreamed for them!

    My favorite book to read to them was "Are you my Mother". We still pick it up and read it once in a while. Many other favorite books and series came along the way, but the baby books and Dr. Seuss were the best.

    Regards,
    SS

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    1. SS- I loved hearing about your experience with your kids and congrats and best wishes to your son!

      I think everyone has an intrinsic interest in reading, some more than others. My sister and I for instance- I was always a voracious reader and she was not (she was into plenty of other things). It was just our different personalities.

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  21. I have fond memories of my kids yelling "Caps....Caps for sale.....Fifty cents a cap"!!!

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    1. LOL yes, we enjoy that book so much!

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  22. Hi Nupur. The open library resource looks fabulous, thanks for mentioning it. Meli has enjoyed some of the books you mentioned. Opposites by boynton was a fave especially the whisper and shout page which she would have me re enact many times. I bought her the Beatrix potter anthology as a rice ceremony gift at 6 months. At bit too advanced for her even now but she likes to look at the pictures. Also she enjoys the Richard Scarry books and also some Bengali verse books that have a lovely rhythm to them.
    Meli has requested to go 'staw bery' picking this summer. We also will do our annual zoo trip along with some summer swimming fun in our apartment complex pool. Hopefully the New England weather will co operate :)
    Arpita.

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    1. I really hope you get some lovely weather too- you all deserve it after this particularly brutal winter! I should look for the Richard Scarry and Beatrix Potter books.

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  23. Nupur we went through a lot of these books when the DDs were little. Recently a colleague of mine mentioned "Make way for ducklings" a classic. He remembered it after the geese egg laying/hatching episode near our office. I found it in the library and DD2 devoured it even though she is way past board books reading stage. Guess there is never a limit for good books :)

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    1. You are absolutely right- there's no age limit for good books. I mean I am WAY (way!) past the board book stage but I find myself enjoying these books so much. The good ones are funny and touching at any age.

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  24. Thank you so much for this list Nupur! I can come over to your blog anyday and get inspired :) and I have been following your place for years now.
    Moo baa lalala and But not the hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton are my lil girl's favs, I m gonna add Dr Suess next to her stash of 26 "boots"

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    1. Thank you my dear! I am chuckling at "boots"- that's so cute!

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  25. Love the graduation gift idea. I will do that too.

    Some of our favorite include:
    Giraffes can't dance
    Fuzzy Little Duckling
    Chugga chugga choo choo
    Froggy gets dressed
    Dear zoo

    Love your blog!
    -Priya

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    1. Thanks Priya- I'll look for these!

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  26. Love many books in this post and will look for the ones we have not yet read at the library.

    I need to sign up for our library's reading program too.

    -Anu

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  27. I am totally bookmarking this post. Such an amazing collection of books you have shared. Some of them I already know and many that I was not aware of. I have the book Sandra Boynton's Blue Hat Green Hat, my 19 month old is still in building vocabulary stage. She doesn't quite get the humor part of it. I am looking forward to that age where she will be cracking up on the funny stuff. Also, loved your thoughts on teacher writing a note. Although, I have some time before my daughter starts school. I am going to steal your idea anyway:). Thanks for the awesome post!

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  28. This pasta is quick to make and taste good too, I adapted my recipe from another of your old post. I have my little ones signed up for summer library reading program as well. My older one is selecting and trying to read lots of books these days, and younger one loves flipping the pages:) I am not much into reading, but enjoy reading books to my little ones. I like Bob Books, as those books helped my daughter take a step further in reading when she started to read. I will look for the books you suggested too, Kudos Nupur!

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  29. Nupur,
    You should check out books by Jan Brett (lots of lovely details in the illustrations), Audrey Wood and Molly Bang. These were some of my children's favorite. Also Goodnight Gorilla and Officer Buckle and Gloria. She might also enjoy the "If you give your moose a muffin" series. Have a wonderful summer.
    Ambica

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