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Nothing beats sitting with a baby or toddler on the knee and reading a book together: the best selection of books for babies and toddlers.
This Christmas-set story has the charm and depth to fill a year’s worth of reading. A woman is knitting a toy cat as a Christmas present for her daughter. ‘Why was I made?’ asks the cat – a question it repeats lots of times on an adventure that takes it out of the house and into the snow. Everything questioned – the stars, the wind, the river – has a different answer but it’s the sun’s that satisfies the little cat. David Lucas’s illustrations, predominantly purple, pink and blue, and often framed by patterned borders, conjure up a sense of things hand-made, and the story will set children thinking about life and love.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Daddy Penguin, along with all the other daddy Penguins, is looking after the egg with his baby in it while Mama Penguin goes off to find food. When he drifts away from the Dad Huddle he and the egg are swept away on a huge adventure across the snowy waste. Can Daddy Penguin keep the egg safe all that time? And, when the baby is born, can he get the beautiful baby back home before Mama comes home! Debi Gliori unfolds a dramatic and entertaining adventure against a beautifully atmospheric background. a perfect bedtime story.
A small bear goes on a big adventure when he is left behind on a train one day in the charming tale of The Most-Loved Bear. This story, which spans the lifetime of little Mary Rose, is one of Sam McBratney's personal favourites. Based on a real-life teddy bear which has been owned by Sam’s wife Maralyn since the 1940s, the story of The Most Loved Bear is sure to steal your heart this winter.
A bad mood gives rise to a really joyous picture book. Duck is cross and out of sorts. She can’t paddle in the pond because it’s dry and she’s got no-one to play with. The other animals invite her to play with them but by then she’s really sulking, so deep in her bad mood – represented by an ever-growing black cloud over her head – that she grumps at them all, spreading her tetchiness. Then finally the black cloud bursts and all the animals, led by Duck, come together for a splashy, playful, raucous rendition of Singing in the Rain. Children will understand exactly how Duck feels, while Petr Horacek’s jewel-bright, richly textured artwork is spectacularly beautiful.
This lovely story of friendship and understanding plays out to a soundtrack of monster rock and roll! Dave’s days of romping through the countryside and causing chaos are long over. Banished to Echo Rock, the old monster spends his days alone, with only his guitar for company. At least that is until Percival arrives, six years old, dressed in his knight outfit and ready for a fight. But once Dave points out that monsters have feelings too, they become firm friends, with a shared liking for classic riffs and watching the jousting on TV. When the townspeople turn up looking for a fight, Percy has to teach them a lesson too. Great fun to read and Sara Ogilvie’s delightful illustrations are full of life and energy.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize 2019 | Penguins are popular subjects for picture books, but even I Can Fly stands out for sheer charm and emotional impact. Little Penguin longs to fly and believes he can, even though everyone explains he can’t, including his dad. Only when he falls into the water does he discover what penguins can really do, and his dad is at his side. The theme of valuing what we have is always important and Kuo’s pencil drawings are quite simply superb, catching every emotion so that we understand exactly what Little Penguin is feeling, as well as what it would be like to fly through the water. Gorgeous.
Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | In The Storm Whale in Winter Benji Davies creates a story of love and courage that is tender, touching and feels utterly true. As winter draws in Noi misses the little whale he befriended last summer; no matter how often he looks out to sea, there’s never any sign. But the storm whale returns when Noi needs him most, rescuing the little boy when he is stranded on the ice-bound sea. In a book of light and dark the contrast between cosy interiors and the snowstorm that rages outside is breath-taking, and there’s an extraordinary silent beauty to the underwater images of the whale family. The reunions - between boy and whale, and boy and his father - are heart-warming, and a final image joyfully unites them all. A book that deserves a place on every shelf. ~ Andrea Reece
After the success of Yoga Babies, the best-selling duo Fearne Cotton and Sheena Dempsey are back and this time the babies are hungry! Mealtime is a joyous and often messy occasion and these babies are shown thoroughly enjoying their food. From picnics to birthday parties, cooking and shopping the book carries a positive message about being relaxed and having fun with food. Written in rhyming text and accompanied by detailed and brightly coloured artwork this is a perfect book to share at bedtime, and might help soothe a worried fussy eater!
Winner of the UKLA Book Awards 2019 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | This must be one of the brightest and best picture books of the year. With minimalist illustrations – simple shapes against blocks of Day-Glo colour – and short lines of text, Morag Hood tells a story that will dazzle and entertain all readers. Cherries, Bat tells us, ‘are my favourite things’, following this up with a fiercely delivered threat: ‘Do not take my cherries.’ In later pages though we see the cherries being stolen. Bat is inconsolable until one of the thieves leaves a pear in their place. Bat’s emotions – joy, anger, confusion, despair, surprise and joy again – are rendered brilliantly in the tilt of an eyebrow and the angle of the head while the intensity of those emotions will be hilarious yet recognisable to child and parent alike. Superb!
Out walking, Elmer the Elephant is in a reflective mood, taking his time to soak up the sounds, smells and sights around him. He spots shapes in the clouds and in the sandstone rocks, he listens to the noise of the river crashing over a waterfall, notices the raindrops in a spider's web that look like sparkling diamonds and smells the scent of wild flowers. The other animals hurry past, far too busy to stop and enjoy these natural wonders. Fortunately Elmer meets his cousin Wilbur and they both stand happily together to watch the night-time draw in. This is a gentle introduction to mindfulness, a celebration of being in the moment and making time to appreciate the world around us.
UKLA Longlist Book Awards 2019 | September 2018 Book of the Month | This story of a little girl’s trip to the library has so much to tell us. Luna loves going to the library, not just because she loves books, but because her dad meets her there. Together they read and share books and one of them, ‘The Troll King and the Mermaid Queen’, is actually included as a mini book within the book. Its story of the Troll King who can’t live with the Mermaid Queen but fiercely loves their little daughter has special meaning for Luna, and will have for lots of readers too. The story is beautifully told, leaving space for readers to take what they want, and the illustrations are lively and full of warmth.
It might be the middle of summer, but the Little Princess demands SNOW. Lots of festive fun with our feisty princess and perfect for toddlers and parents to share together particuarly as children will learn they can't always have everything they want. When the Queen goes on a trip and sends back a photo of her feeding some penguins, Little Princess decides she wants snow too. The whole palace tries all kind of things - from sandmen instead of snowmen to mudballs instead of snowballs. But this little royal won't be satisfied until she gets what she wants... and sometimes not even then!
The words provide a language of communication long before conversation is possible and the joy in recognising them over many re-readings provides endless shared pleasure while the pictures can be enjoyed first jointly and then by the child alone as they pour over the images they love.
Included in our selection are a range of really sturdy and interactive books suitable books for babies and toddlers for the bedroom, the car, the bath, the buggy and the playroom. Books that even the tiniest baby will enjoy alone and with their parents.
Titles in this section will be refreshed each month with a range of new and older titles that we feel should not to be missed by any baby or toddler.
There are some excellent free reading activities on the Small Talk website small-talk.org.uk/0-6-months
And click here to read some helpful tips from top childrens' publisher Egmont.