Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Little Miss Muffet's Favorites: Great Books for 0-12 Month Olds

Little Miss Muffet turned one a few weeks ago. I kept a Goodreads shelf of the books we read to her during her first year, and today I wanted to share some of her favorites, since I think many other families would enjoy them as well. Unlike my favorite books of the year, which were all published in 2014, hers are a mix of old and new titles. 

The very first book Little Miss Muffet owned was Black and White by Tana Hoban, and it is also the very first book I showed her when she came home from the hospital. Before she could do anything else, she spent a lot of time simply staring at the different images. As early as six weeks old, I could tell that the butterfly was her favorite. She would quickly lose interest in the other pictures, but would happily stare and stare at that butterfly. (This led to me singing a lot of butterfly songs such as Flutter Flutter Butterfly and Fly Like a Butterfly.)

Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker is one of the first books we borrowed from the library, and the first book at which Little Miss Muffet ever smiled. We ended up buying a copy because she liked it so much. She has since outgrown her fascination with the little chicks but from ages 4 to 6 months, she just couldn't get enough.

Ten Little Babies by Gyo Fujikawa is proof that it's not just photos of  baby faces that intrigue babies. Little Miss Muffet loves to pore over the pictures of these ten babies getting up to all kinds of fun and mischief. Though this is a board book and theoretically unlikely to be destroyed, it had to be taken out of Miss Muffet's toybox and put on a shelf because she began nibbling at the corners and choking on the pieces of cardboard that came loose.

Honey Bear is a favorite from my husband's childhood. The original book is rare and quite expensive, but we were able to purchase a reprint edition. It's kind of a long text, and the storyline, where a bear kidnaps a baby from her crib is somewhat unsettling on the first read-through, but it has a wonderful rhythm that is completely soothing to Little Miss Muffet. We also borrowed the phrase "pinky winky baby" from the story and used it describe Miss Muffet when she was very small.

The main character in Monkey See, Look at Me! just happens to look like Miss Muffet's favorite stuffed monkey, which is how we decided to pick it up at the library in the first place. The illustrations are wonderfully bright and colorful and the repetitive story and all-animal cast make it an ideal read-aloud for babies and toddlers. This is one of the only books we have ever renewed because we wanted to keep it longer and not because we just couldn't make it to the library on time.

Night Light is a book we looked at in the library that I remembered from my children's librarian days. I had no idea Miss Muffet would be so taken with it, but she was very interested in the tiny holes in the black pages and in the different vehicles to whom the various headlights belonged. For the entire time we had it out of the library, this was the book Miss Muffet consistently pulled out of the box to flip through - and somehow, though it's a picture book and therefore subject to tearing and bending, she was always very careful with it.

I am grateful to Jennifer from Jean Little Library for tipping me off to Hide and Seek Harry. When I came across Hide and Seek Harry Around the House by Kenny Harrison at the library, I remembered that she liked the books and checked it out for Miss Muffet. She loves Harry and occasionally (at 11 months) could even point him out to me on the page. I suspect it is his big eyes that draw her in, but the book overall is just really well done.

Baby Pig Pig Walks by David McPhail is  a board book spin-off of the Pig Pig books, such as one of my childhood favorites, Pig Pig Grows Up. Miss Muffet had just started walking (at about 10.5 months) when we brought this one home from the library, and that was really the only reason I chose it. She, on the other hand, became obsessed with the cat who follows Pig Pig around in the story, and would point and loudly say, "Ooooh!" every time she saw him.

DK's My First Word Board Book and Bright Baby's First 100 Animals were both gifts from family members. These are the books that inspired me to set aside a "book time" for Miss Muffet every day. She would spend time flipping through these books again and again on her own while I showered, threw in some laundry, or prepared her lunch. Sometimes they relaxed her so much that she fell asleep. Though it is obviously important to read with children every day, these books taught me how much babies can also enjoy exploring books independently.

I received a finished copy of Counting on Fall by Lizann Flatt from Owl Kids for review and kept it after the review was done because I liked the illustrations and thought it might come in handy for a math lesson if we homeschool in the future. One day, I brought it out and Little Miss Muffet went crazy pointing at the squirrel on the cover and squealing with delight. The text is way too much for a baby, but we have spent a lot of time just looking at the pictures, as I label everything she points at.

Ever since Little Miss Muffet spontaneously said "Quack" when we took her to a duck pond at 10 months old, we have been working on introducing other animal sounds. Though My Farm Friends by Wendell Minor is not an animal sounds book, it has some of the best animal illustrations so I like to use it to help her identify the animals. (The only bummer is that it does not have a page just about ducks.)

We found a copy of Titch by Pat Hutchins at a Friends of the Library bookstore. Little Miss Muffet loves to point to each character and ask, "Who's that?" Titch seems to be her favorite, possibly because his hair is so bright. The story is also really short so her attention span usually sticks with it to the end, even when there are other distractions in the room. 

Row, Row, Row, Your Boat is the only song Little Miss Muffet asks for by name so far, so we snatched up this picture book adaptation at the library just before she turned one. Interestingly, her favorite part of the book is the front cover. We could easily spend 20 minutes at a time just talking about the animals on the cover and what they are doing.

In 2015, I hope to write a monthly "Reading with Little Miss Muffet" post. Look for the first edition at the end of January! Check back tomorrow for my favorite books of 2014. 
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