I’ve mentioned several times that my daughter, nicknamed Sausage, is a total bookworm. Here are her current Top Ten favourite books (with an extra thrown in for good measure).
I must put in some disclaimers first. Sausage outgrew board books a long time ago, and now prefers surprisingly long and complex stories. She prefers Little Golden Book-type stories these days. If this doesn’t sound like your two-year old, don’t fret. My child is not a genius, the length of the books she likes merely reflects her bookworm nature. If allowed, Sausage would happily spend 88% of her time poring over her books, and the other 12% running around like a loon. Secondly, this is not an exhaustive list. These are just the books we have in our house or public library. I know that there are millions of wonderful children’s books out there.
In no particular order, here are the books that Sausage loves and wants to read over and over and over again:
1. Down the Back of the Chair, by Margaret Mahy. I think this is my favourite one on the list. Margaret Mahy, for my oveseas readers, is New Zealand’s best-known children’s author. Her books are somewhat like Roald Dahl, dripping with luscious and fantastical words, but her stories are much more light-hearted. I loved her books as a child and it is wonderful to be able to share them with my own children. Down the Back of the Chair is one of Mahy’s later works, and tells the tale of a family facing ‘rack and ruin’. Dad loses his car keys, so toddler Mary suggests that he look down the back of the chair, where he promptly finds a lot more than keys lurking in the chair. Mahy was an absolute master of rhyme, and this book is filled with delightful, funny verses that will capture the attention of any toddler. The objects down the back of the chair are side-splittingly ridiculous, and the ending is outrageously heart-warming. An absolute joy to read. Even when it’s over and over and over.
2. A Lion in the Meadow, by Margaret Mahy. One of Mahy’s older books, A Lion in the Meadow is a whimsical tale of a boy who discovers a lion hiding in the meadow by his house. His mother, thinking the boy is making up stories, makes up one of her own about a dragon, and suddenly all sorts of things happen. It’s a beautiful story of the power of imagination, and the gorgeous illustrations will entrance any tot.
3. Any of the Maisy stories, by Lucy Cousins. Despite being too simple for Sausage now, Maisy and her friends still hold a special place in her heart. Cousins’ simple illustrations are very appealing to tots, and her stories are about things familiar things in the world of the toddler, such as Maisy’s Bedtime, Maisy Drives the Bus, and Maisy’s Morning on the Farm. Sausage currently loves Maisy Goes to the Cinema. It explains exactly what happens when you go to movie AND even has pictures of characters sitting on the loo. Yep, Cyril the squirrel takes a dump. What’s not to like?
4. Clara Button and the Wedding Day Surprise, by Amy de la Haye. Words cannot express how much both Sausage and I love this glorious book. Sumptuously illustrated, this book is a veritable feast for the eyes. Clara Button is a little girl with major fashion mojo and oddly prodigious sewing skills. Mum tells Clara and her inventor brother Ollie, that they have been invited to a wedding. Clara imagines a dazzling array of wedding dresses, and has fun choosing what to wear. But disaster strikes and Clara must save the day with some quick-thinking. Amy de la Haye used to be the fashion curator for the Victoria & Albert museum (which was my spiritual home when I lived in London), and it shows. Emily Sutton’s beautiful and detailed illustrations are beloved by my tot, like this page showing Clara at the haberdashery:
The ‘surprise’ is lovely, and is sure to get children thinking about celebrations in other cultures.
5. The Lulu books, by Camilla Reid. Again, these are books that Sausage has outgrown, but still adores. We have This is Lulu and Lulu’s Loo. This is Lulu is a book about ‘being quite little’, and it captures exactly what it is like to be a 2 year old girl. Your tot will find many familiar things like pets, toys, friends, and daily routines in this book; which is charmingly illustrated, and has lots of interactive flaps to open and shut.
6. Any of the Meg and Mog books, by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski. It’s no surprise that Meg and Mog are firm favourites with Sausage, given that her Dad used to read Meg’s Veg to her almost every day in the womb. The simple storylines and language are perfect for wee ones, and Jan Pienkowski is an artistic genius. His use of bright colours and almost stick-figure like characters are just so engaging that you can’t help but smile. I loved these books as a kid, and they have stood the test of time well.
7. Any Richard Scarry book, like Busiest People Ever. Again, these are favourites from my childhood. The detail and description in these books is so, so satisfying for children. Everyone and everything is labelled. This is what toddlers want and need, and these books may save you a few endless rounds of ‘what’s that?’ when you are out running errands in an all-fired hurry. They are a little bit dated, and you may want to get UK or US versions depending on where you live, so that words such as ‘lorry’ or ‘truck’ match what you would use.
8. The Eloise books, by Kay Thompson. My regular readers will know that Sausage’s real name is Eloise. Whilst our Eloise was not named after this character, this Eloise holds a special place in our hearts. Eloise is an extremely likeable ‘enfant terrible’ who lives in the Plaza Hotel in New York, and is attended to by her long-suffering Nanny. The stories are told in the first person, in the wonderful stream-of-consciousness that small children have. Sausage’s favourite book is the wonderful Eloise Takes a Bawth, in which Eloise manages to flood the entire hotel and somehow it all turns out well.
9. The Colour Kittens, by Margaret Wise Brown (actually it’s called The Color Kittens, but I use UK English and omitting U’s feels so wrong). Wise Brown is the author of Goodnight Moon, so you know straight away that here is an author that knows what she’s doing. The Colour Kittens is a delightful tale of two kittens who paint, and describes which colours are made when you mix them together. It gets a little trippy towards the end, but it’s still a lovely and quaint story that will delight young readers.
10. The Tiger Who Came to Tea, by Judith Kerr. This book from the 1960s is a gem. Sophie – clad in some groovy threads – and her mum are sitting down for a spot of tea, when who should ring the doorbell, but a tiger? Sausage loves this book as the tiger is very ‘naughty’ and Sophie gets to go out in her nightgown. Thrilling stuff.
And lest you think that Sausage is solely fed a book diet of girlie-girl books all about weddings, clothes and the like, here’s her 11th favourite book:
Scoop the Digger, by David Wojtowycz. Not to be confused with Scoop from Bob the Builder, this Scoop thinks he has the best job on the building site. He tries to show off to his other building mates, but ends up with mud on his face.
That’s my girl.
What books are on your two-year old’s list?