Favorite non-rhyming storybooks for 2 yo? - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-30-2011, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We're looking for some recommendations!

 

Maybe I'm just too picky, but I'm finding that most of the picture books we've found lately are too reliant for storytelling on clever illustrations (which means that we have to talk through the book and explain what's happening) or too word-heavy (our toddler gets bored if we're on the same page too long, and often she doesn't understand all the words in this case).  Which books out there have a good balance of words-to-illustrations, that don't require a lot of adjustment by me to make it understandable/enjoyable for my toddler? 

 

Also, I'm not a fan of children's storybooks that rhyme -- usually the story suffers in comprehensibility when the author is trying too hard to come up with verse, and the rhyming meter is usually sporadic at best.  Ugh.  (The notable exception to this is Sandra Boynton, whose rhyming books are excellent IMO, quite musical.)

 

So here's a few of our favorites, to give you an idea of what I'm looking for:

When you Give a Mouse a Cookie (and its spinoffs)

all the Curious George titles

Goodnight Moon

Guess How Much I Love You

the Gossie books by Olivier Dunrea

 

Any others in this vein that you might recommend?


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Old 09-30-2011, 11:53 AM
 
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we like the old version of the mitten these days, dd is obsessed.
there's a jan brett version too, the hat in her version. jan brett stuff in general is pretty popular with us, especially the trouble with trolls.
we like owl moon /yolen (maybe too wordy for you but pretty neat)
she really likes the pinkney version of the lion & the mouse but it doesn't have words.
it's hard to think, there are so many that are eluding me atm.

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Old 09-30-2011, 05:48 PM
 
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No, David   David Shannon  bright illustration, easy concept, few words

Is your Mamma a Llamma ? - some rhyming, but nice concept, good pictures, decent amount of words

Chcka-Chicka Boom Boom

 

I agree with the Yolen recommendation - How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

 

 

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Old 10-07-2011, 04:37 AM
 
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I recently discovered Room on the Broom by the author of The Gruffalo. I was really impressed with the rhymes - not forced at all. Very musical, swingy - a real joy to read. It was a nice relief after a bunch of mediocre library books. Might have too many words per page for a two-year-old, though (DD's three and a half).

 

Incidentally, I really wish authors would road-test their books a few hundred times, reading them to kids, before publishing them. A Very Hungry Caterpillar is awesome for small kids... UNTIL the next-to-last double-page spread, which has far too many words and boring pictures. DD always used to try to turn the page over while I was still reading. Small things...

 

I love Peepo by Janet and Allen Ahlberg. It is rhymed, but awesome. DD loved it when she was two - the pictures are very complex and engaging, she'd examine them for ages.


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Old 10-07-2011, 05:08 AM
 
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Jamberry by Bruce Degan - kind of rhymy but not super a annoying a fav of all 3 of mine!

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Old 10-16-2011, 06:41 PM
 
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A few of our favorites when DD was 1 1/2 -2 1/2:

 

Is your Mama a Llama by Anna Dewdry

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

I love you through and through Bernadette Shustack

Night Night Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton

My Garden by Kevin Henkes

Mama is it summer yet by Nicki McClure

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Williams

 

Other favorite picture books (but wordier than the list above):

A Sick Day for Amos Magee by Philip Stead

Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Williams

 

That's it off the top of my head.  We currently are more focused on short stories, chapter books, etc... though we read a few picture books each day too.  I'll come back to add if any terrific books come to my attention.

 


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Old 10-16-2011, 07:25 PM
 
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We read a lot of the books listed as well as traditional nursery rhymes.  Studies have shown that reading rhymes to young children enhances their literacy, when and how they read, as well as how their brain processes words.  Here is a link I found doing a quick google search that supports this.  I'll try to come back with some specific books when I am not tired.


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Old 10-17-2011, 01:40 AM
 
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my dd LOVED rhyme and singing. i know rhyme is not what you wanted. but here is an off beat author whose books dd just adored. http://www.charlesbridge.com/client/client_pdfs/authors_illustrator_bios/izabio.pdf

 

its really hard to find her music. chica chicka boom boom has a great music cd with it if you can find it. even though its been 7 years since we picked up that book, i can sing you the song even now. 


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Old 10-17-2011, 08:03 AM
 
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Good point!  I've heard that there is a dramatic correlation between repeat exposure to nursery rhymes and literacy (even when controlling for quantity and quality of reading time).  One of my daughter's teachers last year remarked on how surprising it was that DD knew nursery rhymes as her observation is that most kids aren't familiar with them anymore.  (Though we didn't read them to DD for a virtuous reason.  It's just that they were easy things to remember and say throughout the day before she was verbal.)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by happy*mama View Post

We read a lot of the books listed as well as traditional nursery rhymes.  Studies have shown that reading rhymes to young children enhances their literacy, when and how they read, as well as how their brain processes words.  Here is a link I found doing a quick google search that supports this.  I'll try to come back with some specific books when I am not tired.



 


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Old 10-17-2011, 09:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OP here.  Perhaps I wasn't clear about the reasons for my objections to rhyming storybooks -- it's not rhymes, per se, that bug me.  What bugs me is that good storytelling, with age-appropriate language, is frequently sacrificed in favor of bad rhymes done with zero attention to poetic sensibilities such as rhythm, meter, etc.  Perhaps there's just a lot of really bad children's book authors out there?  Or perhaps the problem is that they will publish ANYTHING for children, regardless of quality.  

 

Rhyming books, done well, that do not sacrifice storytelling or musicality in order to accomplish their rhymes, are of course a different story.  I mentioned Sandra Boynton, above; I think she is about the best children's book author out there for rhyming books.  Excellent stuff.  

 

As far as nursery rhymes go, DD likes them a lot and we tend to read/sing them frequently.  I must admit, though, to a fair amount of discomfort with them.  A lot of them are weird.  Really weird.  And their imagery is often violent, carries political/religious overtones, and/or has messages that I dislike for my daughter.  E.g.:

 

"There was an old woman who lived in a shoe;

She had so many children, she didn't know what to do.

She gave them all broth without any bread,

then whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed."

 

 jaw.gif 

 

Why on earth does this rhyme appear in my toddler's books and CD's?????  What redemptive value could this possibly have???  There are more examples, of course; this is just the most egregious.  So rhymes, sure.  But traditional nursery rhymes?  Only with great caution!!!  


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Old 10-17-2011, 09:25 AM
 
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That one is pretty bad.   Another especially offensive one to me? 

 

Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater

Had a Wife and couldn't keep her

Put her in a pumpkin shell

and there he kept her very well. 

 

We change it to:

Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater

Had a Wife and couldn't keep her

Put her in a pumpkin shell

and there she told him go to h*ll. 

 

Much improved to my mind! 

 

ComtessaI agree that many children's books are really poorly written and that the rhymes are painfully cutesy or poorly constructed.  I'll pick a good story over a rhyme any day.  We gain rhythm and rhyming from music, word games, etc...  I'm not one to suffer through bad books!


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Old 10-17-2011, 10:14 AM
 
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I totally agree that there are some crappy rhyming books out there - so many, many forced rhymes and rhythms. I also don't love "moral" stories or ABC-counting books at this age.

 

DS is four, and just this weekend, I put away the rest of his board-books to make room for the birthday book haul. Here are some that were still around at age 4 (some I even kept out because he likes them so much).

 

Time for Bed, Little Tiger (Julie Sykes) is a favorite lift-the-flap.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Time-Little-Tiger-Julie-Sykes/dp/1589256549

 

Age 2 is when DS got into the I Spy board books. We don't have all of them, but he liked them so much we do have at least 4-5, then moved on to the paperback titles (Scholastic puts them out, so we sometimes get one through his daycare book order).

 

http://www.amazon.com/Spy-Little-Animals-Jean-Marzollo/dp/0590117114

 

We also like some of Karen Katz's Where is Baby's _____?  Where is Baby's Pumpkin will go to the basement after Halloween.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Where-Babys-Pumpkin-Karen-Katz/dp/1416909702/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2

 

Ones from my childhood (and also out in abridged board books) that are favorites with him --

 

Are you My Mother?

Mr Brown Can Moo, Can You?

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb (rhyming, but really works. Rhythm is great.)

Dr. Seuss' ABC (rhymes AND is ABC, but the board book we read from ~3 mos on...it turned into a chant that I could do at 2am to put DS back to sleep).

Go Dog, Go

 

 

 

 

 


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Old 10-17-2011, 02:56 PM
 
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Quote:

Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater

Had a Wife and couldn't keep her

Put her in a pumpkin shell

and there he kept her very well.

Ahhh, you need to read the Fables comics; or specifically the novel based on the Fables comics, Peter and Max. It explains the pumpkin shell story very well. They were newlyweds (Peter and Bo Peep, in fact), and on the run from the evil Emperor, and since the guards were looking for a man and woman travelling together, Bo got the idea to hide inside a huge pumpkin on a cart they bought from a farmer (since she was the smaller of the two). And it worked. :p Of course, that was before she had her leg-flesh burned away by an evil man wielding a (musical) pipe... pretty dark stuff, the Fables universe. But less sexist. :p

 

 


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Old 10-17-2011, 07:58 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comtessa View Post

As far as nursery rhymes go, DD likes them a lot and we tend to read/sing them frequently.  I must admit, though, to a fair amount of discomfort with them.  A lot of them are weird.  Really weird.  And their imagery is often violent, carries political/religious overtones, and/or has messages that I dislike for my daughter.  E.g.:

 

"There was an old woman who lived in a shoe;

She had so many children, she didn't know what to do.

She gave them all broth without any bread,

then whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed."

 

 jaw.gif

 

Why on earth does this rhyme appear in my toddler's books and CD's?????  What redemptive value could this possibly have???  There are more examples, of course; this is just the most egregious.  So rhymes, sure.  But traditional nursery rhymes?  Only with great caution!!!  

are children really noticing that at that age? or any age before they age out of Mother Goose. To date they are the best rhymes that really fascinated dd. they were written around the 1800s right? it is a more reflection of society then. actually that rhyme along with rockabye baby was dd's favourite. did she understand it. no. did she enjoy the words - yes. she loved ogden nash too but found some of his stuff boring. she also enjoyed shel silverstean. she has also seen really old versions of mother goose. some antique behind a glass case kinda book. as she grew older she had a sense fo wow to know that what she grew up with, was something perhaps her gma or even great gma had grown up with too. 
 

she was also the 3 year old who ran around singing 

Bang! Bang! Maxwell's silver hammer

Came down upon her head.
Clang! Clang! Maxwell's silver hammer
Made sure that She was dead.

 

that was her favourite beatles song since she was a baby. *shrug* she is 9 and she still doesnt get what teh song is about. Maxwell Edison is a real man in *********, who killed three people in 1969, who got out of jail in 2003.


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Old 10-18-2011, 08:20 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post

 

Ahhh, you need to read the Fables comics; or specifically the novel based on the Fables comics, Peter and Max. It explains the pumpkin shell story very well. They were newlyweds (Peter and Bo Peep, in fact), and on the run from the evil Emperor, and since the guards were looking for a man and woman travelling together, Bo got the idea to hide inside a huge pumpkin on a cart they bought from a farmer (since she was the smaller of the two). And it worked. :p Of course, that was before she had her leg-flesh burned away by an evil man wielding a (musical) pipe... pretty dark stuff, the Fables universe. But less sexist. :p

 

 


Cool.  I'll check it out.  I'm fine with dark, egalitarian dark :)

 


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Old 10-21-2011, 08:40 PM
 
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Yes, I agree that nursery rhymes can be violent and strange.  The Old Woman Who Live In A Shoe is one that I have always been uncomfortable with, even as a child.  We change it to:

 

"There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,

She has so many children she knew what to do.

She gave them all soup and lots of bread,

Then hugged and kissed them all and put them in bed."

 

We do change the wording of nursery rhymes when they involve violence or death.  We read Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny to our 2 yo, and do the same with some of those stories, usually just skipping the inappropriate lines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Comtessa View Post

OP here.  Perhaps I wasn't clear about the reasons for my objections to rhyming storybooks -- it's not rhymes, per se, that bug me.  What bugs me is that good storytelling, with age-appropriate language, is frequently sacrificed in favor of bad rhymes done with zero attention to poetic sensibilities such as rhythm, meter, etc.  Perhaps there's just a lot of really bad children's book authors out there?  Or perhaps the problem is that they will publish ANYTHING for children, regardless of quality.  

 

Rhyming books, done well, that do not sacrifice storytelling or musicality in order to accomplish their rhymes, are of course a different story.  I mentioned Sandra Boynton, above; I think she is about the best children's book author out there for rhyming books.  Excellent stuff.  

 

As far as nursery rhymes go, DD likes them a lot and we tend to read/sing them frequently.  I must admit, though, to a fair amount of discomfort with them.  A lot of them are weird.  Really weird.  And their imagery is often violent, carries political/religious overtones, and/or has messages that I dislike for my daughter.  E.g.:

 

"There was an old woman who lived in a shoe;

She had so many children, she didn't know what to do.

She gave them all broth without any bread,

then whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed."

 

 jaw.gif

 

Why on earth does this rhyme appear in my toddler's books and CD's?????  What redemptive value could this possibly have???  There are more examples, of course; this is just the most egregious.  So rhymes, sure.  But traditional nursery rhymes?  Only with great caution!!!  



 

And yes, Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater is odd too, but thanks Smokering for the reasoning behind it.  I don't change this one when reading it because I think it is kind of silly and that is how I convey it to my 2 year old.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by parsley View Post

That one is pretty bad.   Another especially offensive one to me? 

 

Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater

Had a Wife and couldn't keep her

Put her in a pumpkin shell

and there he kept her very well. 

 

We change it to:

Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater

Had a Wife and couldn't keep her

Put her in a pumpkin shell

and there she told him go to h*ll. 

 

Much improved to my mind! 

 

ComtessaI agree that many children's books are really poorly written and that the rhymes are painfully cutesy or poorly constructed.  I'll pick a good story over a rhyme any day.  We gain rhythm and rhyming from music, word games, etc...  I'm not one to suffer through bad books!

 

 


Yes, I do think that children this young notice the wording in the nursery rhymes.  My son would be upset if I read the Old Woman In A Shoe as it is in the book.  I remember these nursery rhymes from when i was young child and I did not like the ones that had any type of violence.

 

Originally Posted by Comtessa:

are children really noticing that at that age? or any age before they age out of Mother Goose. To date they are the best rhymes that really fascinated dd. they were written around the 1800s right? it is a more reflection of society then. actually that rhyme along with rockabye baby was dd's favourite. did she understand it. no. did she enjoy the words - yes. she loved ogden nash too but found some of his stuff boring. she also enjoyed shel silverstean. she has also seen really old versions of mother goose. some antique behind a glass case kinda book. as she grew older she had a sense fo wow to know that what she grew up with, was something perhaps her gma or even great gma had grown up with too. 

 

 


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Old 10-21-2011, 08:49 PM
 
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Some of our favorite books are:

 

The Hat, by Jan Brett

Little Chick

Tillie Lays An Egg

The House In The Night

I Took The Moon For A Walk

On The Night You Were Born

Wake Up Sleepy Bear

Are You My Mother

I Love You With All My Heart

Papa, Please Get The Moon For Me

The Little Red Hen (Golden Book Edition)

Little Oink

Little Hoot

Over In The Meadow

I Am A Bunny

Bunny's Noisy Book

Little Blue Truck

The Snowy Day

Owl Babies

 

Some of these books rhyme, but I do find them annoying.  They flow nicely.  We cannot stand the Dr. Suess books.  We find them obnoxious.

 

 

edited 10-25-11 to add more books to list.


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Old 10-22-2011, 02:12 PM
 
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Quote:
And yes, Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater is odd too, but thanks Smokering for the reasoning behind it.  I don't change this one when reading it because I think it is kind of silly and that is how I convey it to my 2 year old.

Well, it's more of a... I dunno... fan-fiction interpretation? I mean, it's not what the original poet intended. Although, really, I have no idea what the original poet did intend - it's a pretty weird poem. :p

 

I don't tend to tell nursery rhymes to DD - not out of principle, I just don't think of it. But she's come across a few recently (via Playschool on YouTube, I think!) and to my surprise, she really loves them. I told her the story of the three little pigs the other day, in the middle of telling her a bunch of stories out of my own head, and she remembered it and asked for it again. And I sang "Five Little Ducks" and the "three speckled frogs" song to her, and she loved those too and asks for them all the time. DH despises children's songs and is proud that DD likes "adult" music like Billy Joel and the King's Singers, but there does seem to be some particular appeal for her in the stuff written for kids. So I'm trying to get over my "eugh, this is silly" attitude to them.

 

I forgot to mention earlier - the Happy Families books by Alan Ahlberg are pretty neat. They're called things like "Mr and Mrs Hay the Horse", "Miss Jump the Jockey", "Master Salt the Sailor's Son" and "Mr Buzz the Beeman". They're not formulaic, though - all the stories are quite different. Some of them use slightly (delightfully, in my opinion) not-what-you'd-expect-in-a-children's-book-today language - for instance, Mr Biff the Boxer is said to be out of shape because he eats too many cream cakes and "drinks too many bottles of beer"; and Mrs Lather in "Mrs Lather's Laundry" refuses to wash various items because she's "sick of them" and says "I hate them!". But if that sort of thing doesn't bother you, the books really are good fun. And they're not rhymed. :)

 

 


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Old 10-24-2011, 09:31 AM
 
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you know what's so weird, is that i consider myself a huge feminist, etc. but i still read mothergoose to dd.  dh cannot stand it, and will avert his eyes and leave the room. 

but i do read them, for several reasons-- one of which is b/c my grandma read them to me, but also because there are so many literary references she'll miss out on, if she doesn't.  and... also... this.  bag.gif  grateful dead stuff, because it's EXTREMELY important that she recognize this. 

 

btw.. in our mother goose original (? or maybe not) rhymes, there's another peter peter verse, (from memory) it goes:

peter peter pumpkin eater

had another and didn't love her

so he learned to read and spell

and then he loved her very well

 

(though i have no idea of how to interpret that, really)

 

 


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Old 10-30-2011, 08:02 PM
 
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We loved:

 

"Whistle for Willie" by Ezra Jack Keats.  We love all his books, but this is my favorite.  ("Kitten for a Day" is a good one, too.)

 

"Please Puppy Please" by Spike Lee.  Hilarious!  Possibly a bit repetitive for adults, if you're sensitive to that, but you can't beat happy,

        mischievous puppies.

 

"Farmer Will" by Jane Cowen Fletcher.  Absolute #1 favorite book for the toddler set.

 

"Rabbits and Raindrops" by Jim Arnosky.  The best book from an amazing author and illustrator.

 

"Come Along, Daisy" by Jean Simmons.

 

Slightly more difficult for toddlers, but popular at our house:

 

"Blueberries for Sal" by Robert McCloskey

 

"Harry the Dirty Dog" (Too obvious?  There's a reason this one is a classic.)

 

"Henry and Mudge" series by Cynthia Rylant.  Written for beginning readers, but that Mudge!!  He drools everywhere!  Always sweet and original.  An 

      enduring favorite in our house.

 

I'll think of some more.

 

 

 

 


"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
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Old 10-30-2011, 09:32 PM
 
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Have you read Bear Snores On? It does rhyme but such a good book. Bear Feels Scared and Bear Feels Sick are also excellent books in my daughters opinion. I also recommend Room on the Broom..........we love that book. A few more:

 

Ouch

The big bad shark and the three little fish

Red is Best

The very cranky bear

Owl babies

 

HTH

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Old 11-08-2011, 07:32 AM
 
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I have to second the Bear Feels... books. They are terrific! Bear Feels Sick is one of my favorites to read. This is an older book, but have you tried any of the Harold and the Purple Crayon books? The Rain Train is a rhyming book, but it is quite well written. There are a lot of sounds worked into the verse (train noises, rain noises), which the kids just love. I found it fun to read aloud.

 

I must have Bobo is mostly a picture book with few words, but the story is really easy for children to follow, and the illustrations are terrific. You really wouldn't have to explain this one to a little one - they'll get it right away.

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