You Can’t Take An Elephant On The Bus by Patricia Cleveland-Peck

Books featuring buses, trains and cars (my son is crazy about his vehicles) are usually a hit in our family. We started off with simple baby books or novelty books which make the noises of the vehicles and gradually searched for ones which are more suitable for storytime.
You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus (Amazon Affiliate Link) was a Christmas present to Theo from his auntie. I found the book on Amazon and thought it looked fun. The title itself screams “Of course you can’t!!!”, so I was certain that a series of ridiculous events would unfold in this picture book.

True enough, children are presented with ludicrous scenarios such as a tiger riding on a train, a seal driving a taxi, a hippo in a hot air balloon and so on. That’s the beauty of this book – children love being silly and this book allows you to act silly and laugh along with them. It is very humourous.


I put on my “Gosh! This is so silly!” voice when I read this book during storytime. It helps bring the havoc that the animals are creating to life. I also love the British touches seen in the book – London bus and taxi.


And of course, one thing leads to another. Theo brings out his London bus from the toy box and asks if his little cars can have a ride on it.

 

 

 

Churchill’s Tale of Tails by Anca Sandu

The book’s pastel illustration caught my attention when I first saw it. Often, children’s books have bright, vibrant and bold colours to capture their attention. So I thought this was different. I didn’t quite know if it would be well-received at home. But it was on sale at the Frankfurt Book Fair, I bought it for Theo. 

It is a tale about a Pig named Churchill who has lost his very precious tail. His friends knew how upset he was that they came up with ideas to “replace” it. However, Churchill had so much fun trying out the different new tails that he had no more time for the friends who helped him out. He stopped playing with them and talking to them. It wasn’t until he found a new friend who had his tail (and returned it to him) that he started to miss his old friends. 

This is a book to explore themes such as kindness, friendship, and  generosity but in a fun and comical way. 

My boy has his own tail now too. 

My New Baby

Ever since we knew we are having a new addition to our family, we’ve been talking to Theo about Baby Mia. He pretends that he’s also pregnant with his own Baby Mia and has recently introduced his soft toys to breastfeeding. However, I’ve not bought any books about having a new sibling till the Frankfurt Bookfair that took place this week.

I didn’t want anything too complicated or had a story to it. Therefore when I saw this book, I thought it suited my needs. 


The illustrations are bright and the text is simple. It helps open up different topics for discussion with Theo. For example, explaining to him why Baby Mia can only have milk and not the sandwiches or banana on the table. 


I love that it has pictures of mum breastfeeding baby and the toddler actually LOOKS happy. Some of the books with similar topics showcase toddlers getting jealous and upset and while I know it does happen, I quite like the idea that it’s being portrayed more positively rather than say “Hey, you’ll be miserable when you see your little sister suck on my boobs but I still love you!” 

As the book doesn’t refer to the baby as he or she, we pretend it’s Baby Mia. Would be great for those who don’t know their baby’s gender! Even the image of the toddler is quite gender neutral, I reckon. Theo’s been referring to the toddler as himself and the baby as his Baby Mia. 

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell


I bought this book at the Frankfurt Bookfair last year as it came along with a DVD. I was looking for animated stories for Theo to watch and thought this looked interesting. 

It is a story about 3 owl babies who woke up at night only to find their mum missing. They pondered hard over her disappearance with the youngest crying “I want my mummy”. At last, mummy owl returns to the nest safe and sound and they owls rejoice.

Despite being 28 months old, Theo occasionally wakes up at night to look for me. He gets frequent nightmares that send him hysterical. However it has gotten better over the months as he allows his dad to soothe him back to sleep now. When I read Owl Babies to Theo, we pretend that he’s the youngest owl who’s afraid. At the end of the story, I assure him that all is well and that I’ll be there for him in the morning and that I’ve not abandoned him.

Similarly, I also used this story for when he started his new kindergarten. Once the novelty died away and he started having separation anxiety, this story came in handy once again to set an example that mummy will return shortly to pick him up. 

I just love stories like this that we can relate our daily experience with. 

Let Your Child See You Reading 

As parents, we’re role models for our children. These little beings look to us for guidance while they try to figure out everyday life. If we have to lead by example to make sure they learn good manners, have great values and so on, we should also show our kids that we’re readers ourselves if we would like them to be one themselves. 

Take your book and sit down and read in front of your child. Give him/her a pile of picture books to look through. It doesn’t matter if he/she flips through a couple of pages before diving into another book. The whole point of letting your child see you read (your own book) is to show that reading is fun and that it’s part of family time spent together. 

We tried this out and it worked so well. Without a doubt, Theo can’t read by himself. However when he sees us taking our books to sit and read, he runs to his bookshelf to get himself some of his favourite books and joins us on the sofa. He proudly exclaims, “Thedore reads! Theodore reads!” 


Do not expect uninterrupted reading time because toddlers will do a million things to try and get your attention. In our case, he might attempt to rip a flap off a book or simply point out a random animal on the page. When Theo tries to describe something on the page, we respond why asking him questions and letting him take his time to answer (sometimes he doesn’t even answer!). It’s all about ENCOURAGEMENT at this stage, I believe.

The Beeman by Laurie Krebs and Valerie Cis


Children’s books are fantastic – they allow us to enter a different world, where everything is magical, and they let our imagination run wild. But there are times when I want to actually teach my son some facts too. 

Back to when I was a child, I learnt facts from textbooks, flashcards, newspapers and encyclopaedias. While the latter can be interesting, the child needs to be able to read and/or understand quite a bit before benefitting from them. Therefore, I’m all for NON-FICTION picture books.

They are educational yet engaging enough for toddlers. In The Beeman, the little boy introduces us to his Grandpa who is a beekeeper. The entire process is of course simplified, but it covers areas such as equipment used, how a beekeeper dresses, how to care for a hive, the different types of bees, how honey is collected and enjoyed. At the end of the book, there is even a muffin recipe to try. 

The rhyming text is a hit with my son. He’s at the age where he loves completing familiar sentences from books he has read. The vivid illustration of bees excite him too. For educators, there are additional informative pages at the end of the book should you decide to use this book for a classroom activity. I personally find them very useful to talk to my son about bees when we see them flying around.

The Lion Who Wanted to Love by Giles Andreae

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Leo is a brave young lion who has been asked to leave the family by his mum as he takes no interest in hunting other animals. Unlike other lions, Leo just wants to befriend other animals. He is different.

I tend to like children’s fiction that features a character who is different to others. It sends the message to children that everyone is different and that’s perfectly alright. We should not mock or think that someone different is lesser.

Instead of simply fitting in, Leo sticks to his believes and befriends the other jungle animals, winning them over with his big, loving heart. The is a beautifully written rhyming story with bright illustrations that will capture a toddler’s attention.