When I take Finn in for well-child visits at our pediatrician, I always have to complete a questionnaire about his developmental progress. It also asks questions about his home life. One question that has been asked on every single questionnaire since birth is, “In the past week, how many days did a family member read to your child?”
There are a lot of well-child visits in those first few months and I remember feeling so guilty when I couldn’t honestly check the box indicating that I had read to Finn every single day. I had bookshelves lined with books and visions of peacefully rocking while reading to Finn in my head…but these two things just did not come together in reality for a long time.
At the time, I felt like it was in the weeds of new motherhood, learning how to care for an infant and getting the whole “eat, play, sleep” thing down. We didn’t really have a bedtime routine for those first few months that was conducive to bedtime stories. Also, Finn was just too little to look at or understand books and seemed happy to listen to my voice. I talked to him (and the dogs!) a ton!
Our reading frequency slowly increased over the course of Finn’s first year and reading became something that we not only did daily, but multiple times a day! Ages 12-18 months have been SO much fun when it comes to books and reading. I have books for Finn everywhere! In the stroller, in the car, in the den, in his nursery, in my bedroom. I can honestly say that out of all the toys that Finn has, books are his number one and the thing that entertains him more than anything.
I love watching him read books on his own. He really studies and interacts with them. I also love it when he brings me books and then sits in my lap so that we can read together. He tells me “all done” when we finish one and he wants to move on to the next. He also enjoys picking out which books we will read. He’s quite opinionated when it comes to book selections.
One thing I learned from my grandmother is to read books in all sorts of different ways. Sometimes I read the text to him. Sometimes I narrate them on my own. Sometimes we go through the book and I ask him things like, “where is the moon?”, “can you show me the blue truck?”, “can you say fish?” and “what does the monkey say?” It’s incredible to watch his little mind growing like crazy! He surprises me so much with what he knows when we read.
We are just a few days shy of 18 months so I thought it would be fun to do a round-up of 20 of our favorite books for the 12-18 month range. Before I get to the list, I wanted to share a couple of tips for choosing books for this age range.
CHOOSING BOOKS FOR 12-18 MONTH OLDS
- Board books and soft books are where it’s at! I quickly learned that the big books with paper pages were a no go with toddlers so I’ve shelved many of these books for when Finn is a little older. Board books hold up to rough toddler treatment of the pages…and occasional chewing. We also like some of the soft fabric books, especially when he was a little younger.
- Short and sweet. Finn has zero patience for books with a lot of text at this stage so the more succinct, the better! We’re talking max one or two lines per page.
- Bright and colorful. I find that the more bright and colorful the books are, the more he seems to be drawn into them.
- Animals are everything. Give us all the animal books. .
- Touch and feel and lift the flap books win bonus points for interaction. Finn loves books with textures he can feel and flaps that he can lift.
20 FAVORITE BOOKS FOR 12-18 MONTHS
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How to Raise a Mom – this is one of the few non-board book on my list but Finn has come to love it so much over the last couple of months that I had to include it. I think he’s attracted to the big pages and bright, busy illustrations. There is also a family dog that makes a cameo on every page and he likes looking for the dog.
The Pout-Pout Fish – I actually find the text to be too long to keep Finn’s attention but he loves paging through this book, especially the “BLUB, BLUB, BLUB” part and the “smooching” at the end. He can say “fish” these days! 🙂
Boy of Mine – oh friends…I can recite this book from memory and what a sweet book it is. This is probably Finn’s #1 favorite book and we have read it hundreds of times.
Where Is Baby’s Belly Button – another strong contender for Finn’s favorite book here! He never gets tired of this lift-the-flap book. This book definitely taught Finn about belly buttons and he likes to lift my shirt and his to show me!
10 Tiny Toes – this book has been great for learning body parts. He definitely learned ears from this book!
Yoga Bear – my friend and fellow yoga teacher Suzanne gifted me this book and it is SO stinking sweet. It matches animals with yoga poses so it brings together my love for yoga and Finn’s obsession with animals! 🙂
Baby Touch and Feel: Animals – my mom is the biggest animal lover that I know and she gifted me this book when I was pregnant. It is a small and simple touch and feel board book with baby animals and their names. Finn will look at this book on his own for a long time, and loves the pages with the puppy and the baby monkey.
Pat the Zoo – another touch and feel book with lots of animals. No surprises here! 🙂 It’s from the popular “Pat the Bunny” series.
Time for a Hug – I like this book because it’s all about hugging and I am here for all the snuggles with my little guy! I also appreciate that it counts and talks about time.
If I Were a Puppy – we have three of the “If I Were A…” books (puppy, elephant and zebra). It’s a fun series! Finn adores these bold and brightly illustrated touch and feel books. Bonus, they meet his short and sweet criteria. Sometimes I wish they actually were a little longer but he’s so into them!
LOVE from the Very Hungry Caterpillar – Finn learned “what does the bee say” from this book and loves to open this book to the bee page and go “bzzzzzz.”
Machines at Work – I honestly don’t think that this is the most riveting book but Finn is so into it. It’s VERY simple but I think we likes all of the machines like cranes, bulldozers and dump trucks.
Little Blue Truck Leads the Way – this was the first book in the Little Blue Truck series that we received and while Finn rarely sits through the reading of whole story, he loves flipping through the pages and finding the little blue truck.
Snuggle Puppy – we really enjoy Sandra Boynton’s books and have quite a few of them. Snuggle Puppy has a fun and catchy rhyme that can also be done as a song. “Ohhhh snuggle puppy of mine, everything about you is especially fine. I love what you are, I love what you do…fuzzy little snuggle puppy, I love you!”
One, Two, Three – another Boynton book that we enjoy. It’s great for learning to count to 10.
Animal Alphabet – this is a “slide and seek” book that teaches the ABCs as well as animal names. Each letter of the alphabet has an animal and there is a panel that slides back and forth between the letter and the animal illustration. This is one that Finn really enjoys playing with on his own.
The I Love You Book – ahhhh it makes me happy that Finn likes this book so much because I think it has the sweetest message. It talks about parents unconditional love for their children and the last page also talks about the importance of always loving yourself. It’s written by Todd Parr who specializes in children’s books with positive and empowering messages.
Good Night, Gorilla – this is such a cute book and perfect for Finn’s appreciation for all things animal + preference of short stories.
Bedtime Peekaboo – another lift-the-flap book that Finn cannot get enough of. It’s a cute bedtime story.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See – surprise…more animals! 🙂 We love this one for its big, colorful illustrations and simple, singsongy text.
One final note, many of our books were given as gifts. I cannot tell you how much it warms my heart to read handwritten notes from friends and family in the books. If you are giving books as gifts, write messages inside them! 🙂
When did you get in a good groove with reading? When did your child seem to really start to enjoy it? How does it fit into your routine?
What are your toddler’s favorite books?