Give a Starter Library! 10 Children's Books for the Early Years

Starter libraries are great gifts for newborns and their families.  Often times I pick out a combination of books: some will last through their toddler years and some into early elementary school.

Starting with the littlest chunky board book, like Farm Animals (A Chunky Book(R)), a well-loved first book will have teeth marks around the edges.  And when the reader is two, she will look at the cover and grunt like a pig.  Then, turning the pages, she will baa like a sheep or meow like a kitten as she re-reads her chewed up book. Moving from the barnyard to the zoo, Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book (Dear Zoo & Friends) showcases the many zoo animals a child receives after writing to the zoo requesting a pet. Finally, a puppy arrives in a zoo crate.

Visual clues in wordless and nearly-wordless books make the youngest non-readers jump in and tell their own story.  Whether “read” aloud by grown-ups or children, the story is a little different every time.  Good Night, Gorilla is a cheeky gorilla’s adventure following a zookeeper. As the zookeeper says "good night" to each animal, the gorilla unlocks each cage with the keys he has sneakily removed from the zookeeper's belt. In 10 Minutes till Bedtime the same gorilla makes cameo appearances on every page as a little boy tries to get ready for bed.  Due to a group of wide-awake mice that has arrived at the boy's house 10 minutes before bedtime, getting ready for bed is nearly impossible!

You may cringe at the thought of adding paperback books to a young child’s library; it may be less painful if you send a roll of transparent tape with the book.  Beyond an unfortunate tantrum, tears happen while reading a beloved book.  Remaining calm and pulling out the tape is a great problem-solving skill to demonstrate.  If it’s paper, it’s only a matter of time before it rips, and there is a way to fix it.  The paperback Duck in the Truck fits nicely into the problem-solving genre as does the board book Sheep in a Jeep.  Duck and the sheep reveal how vehicular problems can be handled in very different ways.  Methods of problem-solving depend entirely on one’s own personality.

Let the imagination wander… commence King Bidgood's in the Bathtub!  After all, where else and who else could spend an entire day in a giant bathtub feasting, battling, fishing, and dancing?  Great short rhyming and beautiful illustrations lure the readers – parent and child – into this paperback fantasy.  Another fantasy for the very young, the board book Jamberry has readers rhyming through meadows of strawberry jam and other whimsical berry settings.

The beginning of The Rain Came Down (Avenues) features rain and a squawking chicken setting off a domino effect of frustration throughout a neighborhood.  After the rain stops, the people of the neighborhood re-connect through kindness.  With every letter of the alphabet used in this book, it was a favorite multi-purpose book to take on vacation.  "Let's find the Q!"

Despite the rumpled edges of A Bad Case of Stripes (Scholastic Bookshelf), it remains a stronghold on our bookshelves – perhaps more for me than my now 9- and 11-year-olds.  Packed with text, this is for a child who has eaten up stories since birth and enjoys read-alouds.  Starting out with a very normal first day of school, Camila’s journey gets a bit rocky as she tries to be the Camila that makes her popular.  Unusual physical changes hound Camila but are eventually reversed with the eating of a few beans.  For the younger set, it’s a story about a bad day.  Older kids will connect with the bigger theme in this “be yourself” book.

Damaged... chewed, torn, stained, taped... and well-loved, these are some of the most worn out books in our collection.

Here's a quick look at the covers and the author of each book. To order any of these, click on the cover to get to Amazon. If you are in a pinch for a present, most are available through Amazon Prime.