Our household is weird. We don't have a television. No reason. Just never got around to it. Besides, we get lots of invitations for such spectator sports and national bonding moments as the Inauguration (our apartment, twelve blocks from the White House, was wasted on us this year), the Super Bowl, and, of course, the Oscars.
But for quotidian entertainment, we read. My baby’s reading tastes have been changing so gradually over the course of the year that we’ve turned over most of the rather extensive library already. You see, the theme of our baby shower was books!
Here’s a brief list of current favorites. By favorites, we mean the books we MUST read at least once a day, or every other day.
1. When the Moon Smiled by Peter Horacek.
In general, Czech and Slovak illustrators are among my favorite on earth. This lovely bedtime book features a moon who does not smile because the animals on the farm aren’t behaving themselves. The ones who are supposed to be awake at night go to sleep, and the ones who are supposed to be asleep are awake, You can imagine the fun we have with it when the girl acts out what each animal does, the sounds it makes. We like to stop in mid-action and fall suddenly to sleep. The cut-out stars are fun to stick your fingers in, and the colors are breath taking.
2. The Big Orange Spot by D. Manus Pinkwater
This one was given to us at said baby shower. The message is probably too sophisticated for her—the “neat street” gets all funky as people start to paint their houses to resemble their dreams. But if you summarize some of the dialogue, the houses themselves are really fun to look at. Luckily, we have a toy alligator, a toy elephant, and other props to help us act out the fun.
3. Curious George by H. A. Rey
Again, slightly sophisticated (I don’t think she understands what “curious” means), but my girl adores this little monkey.
4. ABC books. We have Elmo and Richard Scarry
Though she likes the Scarry illustrations, they’re a little abstract at this point (we don’t juggle or talk about jack o’lanterns all that much). But she can proudly sing her ABCs all the way to L, at which point she starts mixing up the letters in adorable combinations, of course.
5. Ruff! Ruff! Where’s Scruff? by Sarah Weeks and David A. Carter
The pleasure here is the pop-up book, with the muddy dog, Scruff, hiding very cleverly behind various other farm animals. Really a cute and very smart book. And it’s fun before bathtime.
6. The Big Red Barn & The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
The girl is obsessed with animals. The first is sweet. The second is fun to play. We run away and catch one another, and it keeps us going for a long time.
7. How the Mole Got His Pockets by Eduard Petiska and Zdenek Miler
Another Czech illustrator. This one is hard to find in the USA, but once you do, you can supplement it with youtube video clips of various Mole adventures. Especially moving is the Mole and the Swallow and the Mole and the Snowman. But the Pockets book takes you through the entire process of making clothes. You start with flax plants, go to spinning (spiders help here) and weaving (the ants), you dye the fabric and cut and sew, and viola! Pockets!
8. In the Hebrew language category there are four.
Bo Elai Parpar Nekhmad by Fania Bergstein. It features scenes from a kibbutz, and some of the photos features songs we like to sing, like "Ha auto shelanu." It was originally published in 1945.
9. Vayhi erev, also by Fania Bergstein, is about a little girl who wants to tell the chickens good night, but gets into all kinds of trouble. It's also a mid-century book. Very sweet.
10. Ayn Arayot Ka-Ele by Ami Rubenger, (2005).
She likes this one much more than I do.
11. My favorite favorite of all is Yom Shel Tom by Rinat Hoffer. It's got lovely folding half-pages, and it's full of little surprise.
I’d love to hear what you read because, frankly, I’ve already memorized these the first thousand times we read them.