We all know the classics. “Old Bear”, “Goodnight Moon”, “Where the Wild Things Are” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. They are all on our book shelves, and we love them to oblivion. We are a family who reads. We probably have 400 books on our shelves, and the kids are invited to read whenever they want. We also use the library at least once a month, where we can find fresh gems. And, thanks to Nana, we get a fresh stock whenever she visits, since she has a Little Free Library in her yard.
Our kids have go-to books they read weekly, and most of them focus on either trains, dinosaurs or nature. I’ve compiled some of our favorite nature books, including some we’ve had to buy twice because the originals have fallen apart!
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
We recommend ALL of the Bear books by Karma Wilson. This is the original story, in which a hibernating bear inadvertently hosts a party in his den. When some pepper makes him sneeze and wakes him up (my kids’ favorite part), he’s upset he missed the fun. His new friends set him at ease. These books address many toddler topics – being scared of storms, meeting new friends, and being sick. Another one, “The Bear Sees Colors”, illustrates all the colors in nature.
Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson
Ok, so we’re Karma Wilson fans. This is another funny tale, this time of a frog who can’t get enough to eat. But he learns a lesson of the swamp – never trust a log.
Who’s Like Me? by Nicola Davies
Toddlers love exploring all the flaps in this book, as they learn who in nature is similar to featured animals. A picture of a rabbit asks, “Who’s furry and breathes air like me?” with flaps that have feathers, scales, and fur. Uncovering the animals and putting them into groups will endlessly entertain.
Gotta, Go Buffalo: A Silly Book of Fun Goodbyes by Haily and Kevin Meyers
The title says it all. The book introduces silly rhyming goodbyes like “Toodle-Loo, Kangaroo!” and “Wave Goodbye, Butterfly!” The best part is that the animals are hidden under flaps, leading to some funny guesses and lots of giggles.
The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland
By far my personal favorite. Four friends, a moose, lion, zebra and sheep, look for a dry place to play on a rainy day. They come across a cave, but don’t notice the sleeping bear inside. As they try to figure out how to cheer the bear up so he’ll let them back inside the cave, sheep gets to work creating a thoughtful gift.
The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
Eric Carle is known for fantastic toddler books, and this is no exception. It expertly teaches toddlers the sounds animals make, as they each ask the spider to play with them. The spider, however, is very busy building a web, which is very hard work indeed.
Alphabet by Matthew Van Fleet
This book comes alive as soon as you open it. Fun flaps accompanied by touch-and-feel animals open the senses. Toddlers explore animals that are furry, rough, scaly, feathered, bumpy and even sticky, all the while learning their ABCs. At the back of the book is a full poster of all the animals you can hang on your toddler’s wall. Also a favorite by Van Fleet is the book “Tails”.
Mommy’s Best Kisses by Margaret Anastas
Both of my kids loved this book as toddlers. It illustrates how different animals greet and kiss their children with different body parts, which is fun as you play it out with your toddler as you turn each page. Lots of giggles in this one!
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
Most parents know this book, but it’s worth a mention because of all the adventures it’s inspired for our family. We have done more “Bear Hunts” than I can count. When our oldest was just a year old, he would go on bear hunts on the boardwalk at our little park down the road. He always delighted in finding a bear hidden under a bush, swimming in the water, or laying on the boardwalk up ahead. Imaginations are fantastic, aren’t they?