in

Books You Gotta Read: Age 2

Advertisement

Books You Gotta Read: Age 2

Are you looking for books to share with your 2-year-old?

I began compiling this list of books when my children were 8, 5, and 2. We are a homeschooling family. I put a lot of emphasis on reading. In addition to more formal reading lessons, my oldest also must read 2.5 hours on her own each week. My younger two will also be required to read for fun as each learns to read.

While searching for books to read with my children, I found the book 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up by Bianca Schulze. I started reading through the recommended picture books and additional suggested titles with my kids. However, I did not like all the books, and I thought some fabulous titles were missing. 101 Books includes titles for preschoolers through tweens. I thus decided to compile my own list of pictures that I label as gotta-reads.

 

Advertisement

1: Gossie
Written and Illustrated by Olivier Dunrea

Gossie by Olivier Dunrea

  • Age: 2
  • Genre: Animals, Friendship
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
  • Date: 2002
  • Page Count: 32

Author and Illustrator

Born in 1953, author and illustrator Olivier Dunrea has created more than 70 books for children including the Gossie & Friends series. He is a painter and sculptor whose work focuses on farms, animals, architecture, and folklore. He is also a master mapmaker who creates decorative and detailed medieval style maps. Dunrea currently lives in a 100-year-old Arts and Crafts house in a tiny, remote mountain village of Narrowsburg, New York on the western edge of the Catskills Mountains with his husband, John Riffey.

Synopsis

Gossie is a small yellow gosling who likes to wear bright red boots every day. But one day, she finds her boots missing. She looks all over the barn and farm for her beloved footwear. Young readers will delight in following along during the search and will love where Gossie ultimately finds her boots. The illustrations are whimsical and detailed. The text is simple and repetitive, perfect for the youngest readers.

Recommended Reading

Fun Fact

The Gossie & Friends series began in 2001 as Dunrea watched Canada geese flying overhead from his studio window. A pair of red rubber toy boots sat on his bookshelf, so he began sketching the goslings wearing red rubber boots. Thus, Gossie was born.

2: Llama Llama Red Pajama
Written and Illustrated by Anna Dewdney

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

  • Age: 2
  • Genre: Animals, Bedtime
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
  • Date: 2005
  • Page Count: 32

Author and Illustrator

Born in 1965, American author and illustrator Anna Dewdney earned a bachelor’s degree in art from Wesleyan University in 1987. She initially provided for her family by working jobs such as a waitress, rural postal carrier, and teacher. She began her publishing career by illustrating books for children and adults including What You Do Is Easy, What I Do Is Hard written by Jake Wolf. The first book that she wrote and illustrated and the first title in the Llama Llama series, Llama Llama Red Pajama, received critical acclaim in 2005. All the Llama Llama books have been New York Times bestsellers, many reaching the top of the list. Dewdney died in September 2016 at age 50. At the time of her death, she had about a dozen books in various stages of development. Several have already been published posthumously.

Synopsis

As soon as Mama Llama tucks him in at bedtime and goes back downstairs, Llama Llama begins to fret. He feels alone and starts to worry that Mama is gone. After he starts shrieking, Mama comes running and tells him to stop his llama drama. She reminds him that she loves him and puts him back to bed. The rhyming read-aloud makes for the perfect bedtime story for the youngest readers who can empathize with the fretful little Llama Llama.

Recommended Reading

Fun Fact

Dewdney cited Tasha Tudor, Maurice Sendak, Russell Hoban, Garth Williams, Barbara Cooney, Elizabeth Goudge, Frances Hodgson Burnett, William Steig, E. B. White, Munro Leaf, and Robert Lawson as creative influences.

3: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Written and Illustrated by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

  • Age: 2
  • Genre: Animals
  • Publisher: World Publishing Company
  • Date: 1969
  • Page Count: 26

Author and Illustrator

Born in Syracuse, New York in June 1929, American author and illustrator Eric Carle received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal (now the Children’s Literature Legacy Award) in 2003 and a Hans Christian Andersen Award nomination in 2010. At age 6, he moved to Germany with his family. He graduated from the State Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart. He returned to New York City in 1952, working as a graphic designer in the promotion department of The New York Times. His career as an illustrator began when he created the illustrations for Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? written by Bill Martin, Jr. His first books as author and illustrator were 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, for which he is best known. Carle spent thirty years in Northampton, Massachusetts with his wife and most recently resided in Key West, Florida. He died on May 23, 2021 at age 91.

Synopsis

The Very Hungry Caterpillar begins with a little egg on a leaf. A little caterpillar emerges, and he is very hungry. Each day of the week, he eats through different foods. After his feast on Saturday, he finds himself with a stomachache, so he eats through a nice green leaf. No longer little, the caterpillar builds himself a cocoon and ultimately emerges as a beautiful butterfly.

Recommended Reading

Fun Facts

Carle’s illustration style is instantly recognizable. He employs a collage technique, using hand-painted papers that he cuts and layers to form bright and colorful images.

Carle attempts to recognize children’s feelings, inquisitiveness, and creativity and to stimulate their intellectual growth with his writing.

4: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Written by Bill Martin, Jr. and Illustrated by Eric Carle

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See by Bill Martin Jr

  • Age: 2
  • Genre: Animals, Colors
  • Publisher: Doubleday & Company
  • Date: 1967
  • Page Count: 28

Author

Born on March 20, 1916 in Hiawatha, Kansas, American author and educator Bill Martin, Jr. (William Ivan Martin Jr.) wrote more than 300 books for children. He had difficulty reading until he attended Kansas State Teacher’s College in Emporia, Kansas where he memorized poems that teachers read aloud in class and related the spoken words to words on the page. He served in the Army Air Force as a newspaper editor during World War II. He published his first book, The Little Squeegy Bug, in 1945. Enthusiastic about helping other children, he earned a doctorate in early childhood education from Northwestern University in 1961. He became a full-time writer in 1972. Martin died in Commerce, Texas in 2004 at age 88.

Illustrator

Born in Syracuse, New York in June 1929, American author and illustrator Eric Carle received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal (now the Children’s Literature Legacy Award) in 2003 and a Hans Christian Andersen Award nomination in 2010. At age 6, he moved to Germany with his family. He graduated from the State Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart. He returned to New York City in 1952, working as a graphic designer in the promotion department of The New York Times. His career as an illustrator began when he created the illustrations for Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? written by Bill Martin, Jr. His first books as author and illustrator were 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, for which he is best known. Carle spent thirty years in Northampton, Massachusetts with his wife and most recently resided in Key West, Florida. He died on May 23, 2021 at age 91.

Synopsis

Designed to help toddlers associate colors and meanings to objects, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is not a plot-driven book. Instead, the narrator asks various animals what they see. Some of the animals are realistic (brown bear, red bird, yellow duck). Some are fantastical (blue horse, purple cat). The singsong text is combined with the recognizable illustrations of Eric Carle.

Recommended Reading

Fun Fact

Established in 1996 to honor the author, the Bill Martin, Jr. Picture Book Award is the Kansas state award for best children’s picture book.

5: But Not the Hippopotamus
Written and Illustrated by Sandra Boynton

But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton

  • Age: 2
  • Genre: Animals
  • Publisher: Little Simon Books
  • Date: 1982
  • Page Count: 14

Author and Illustrator

Born in Orange, New Jersey in April 1953, American author and illustrator Sandra Boynton has written and illustrated more than fifty books to date, with more than 70 million copies sold. She attended Yale University, studying in Paris during the second semester of her junior year through Wesleyan University’s program. She graduated from Yale in 1974. She later attended the University of California, Berkeley and the Yale School of Drama. She published her first children’s book, Hippos Go Berserk!, in 1977. She has also designed greeting cards, calendars, wallpaper, bedding, stationery, paper goods, clothing, jewelry, and plush toys. Boynton currently resides in rural Connecticut, working in a reconstructed 120-year-old barn on her property.

Synopsis

In But Not the Hippopotamus, a shy hippopotamus watches all the other animals having fun together. A hog and a frog cavort in a bog. A bear and a hare go to a fair. Eventually all the other animals invite the hippopotamus to join the fun. The board book offers serious simpleness for readers of all ages.

Recommended Reading

Fun Fact

But Not the Armadillo is the follow-up to But Not the Hippopotamus that answers remaining questions about the fate of the armadillo at the end of the original book.

In some copies of the story, the hog and the frog cavort in a bog. In others, they do a dance.

6: In the Small, Small Pond
Written and Illustrated by Denise Fleming

In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming

  • Age: 2
  • Genre: Nature, Rhyme
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
  • Date: 1993
  • Page Count: 32

Author and Illustrator

Born in Toledo, Ohio in 1950, author and illustrator Denise Fleming began creating art at an early age. She published her first painting in third grade while taking classes at the Toledo Museum of Art. One of her paintings was chosen as the cover of a teachers’ magazine. Some of her other paintings were also included in art exchange programs with other countries. Over the years, she experimented with many art styles and mediums including pulp painting. She often collaborates with her husband David and daughter Indigo when writing her books.

Synopsis

With only a few words per colorful page, In the Small, Small Pond offers a beautiful introduction to the nature world for the youngest readers. The story follows various pond animals from a warm day to a cold, snowy night. The rhymed text makes reading the book aloud especially attention-grabbing. In the Small, Small Pond received a Caldecott Honor in 1994.

Recommended Reading

Fun Fact

In the Small, Small Pond received recognition in 2013 as the runner-up of the Phoenix Picture Book Award, an award given to an English-language children’s book published twenty years earlier that previously did not win a major literary award.

7: Color Zoo
Written and Illustrated by Lois Ehlert

Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert

  • Age: 2
  • Genre: Colors, Shapes, Animals
  • Publisher: Harper Collins
  • Date: 1989
  • Page Count: 40

Author and Illustrator

Born in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin in November 1934, author and illustrator Lois Ehlert learned to sew at age 8 from her mother. Although she also draws and sculpts, her favorite art method remains collage for which she cuts and pastes. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in English and Psychology and then studied at the Layton School of Art. Ehlert most recently resided in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She died on May 25, 2021 at age 86.

Synopsis

Color Zoo is a visually stunning picture book with minimal words that introduces colors, shapes, and animals to preschoolers. In addition to teaching basic skills, the book also encourages readers to look at the world through a different lens. Color Zoo received a Caldecott Honor in 1990.

Recommended Reading

Fun Fact

The American Library Association Caldecott Committee called Color Zoo a “masterpiece of graphic design.”

8: Tuesday
Written and Illustrated by David Wiesner

Tuesday by David Wiesner

  • Age: 2
  • Genre: Animals, Fantasy
  • Publisher: Clarion Books
  • Date: 1991
  • Page Count: 32

Author and Illustrator

Born in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey in February 1956, American author and illustrator David Wiesner who received the Caldecott Medal three times and a Caldecott Honor three times. He graduated from Rhode Island School of Design after studying illustration. His first published work was the illustrations in the picture book Honest Andrew by Gloria Skurzynski. He has since created over twenty books. He was one of five finalists for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2008. Wiesner currently resides outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with his family.

Synopsis

Tuesday offers a whimsical fun-without-a-moral fantasy tale for pre-readers. The book contains only six words and three points that determine the time of the action, which begins on Tuesday evening around eight. The wordless story follows a pond of frogs who fly around on lilypads throughout the night. In the morning, the authorities ponder the fallen lilypads around the city. The book ends on the next Tuesday evening at 7:58 pm on a farm with a pig seeming to rise into the air. Tuesday received the Caldecott Medal in 1992.

Recommended Reading

Fun Fact

An animated version of Tuesday appeared in the anthology film Paul McCartney: Music & Animation. The animation of the book was nominated for a British Academy Award.

9: A Ball for Daisy
Written and Illustrated by Chris Raschka

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka

  • Age: 2
  • Genre: Animals
  • Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
  • Date: 2011
  • Page Count: 32

Author and Illustrator

Born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania in March 1959, American author and illustrator Chris Raschka grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois but spent part of his childhood in Austria. He graduated from St. Olaf College and currently resides in New York City. He has written and/or illustrated over three dozen children’s books. He was a nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 2012. Raschka has received the Caldecott Medal twice and a Caldecott Honor.

Synopsis

A Ball for Daisy tells the story of a dog named Daisy who loves and loses her beloved toy ball. She plays with the ball and even sleeps with the ball until, one day, another dog pops the ball while at the dog park. Daisy is sad, but, in the end, she gets a new ball — and makes a new friend. The wordless A Ball for Daisy received the Caldecott Medal in 2012.

Recommended Reading

Fun Fact

A Ball for Daisy took years for Raschka to write. Although wordless, the picture book has been praised for evoking the emotions of the reader.

10: My Friend Rabbit
Written and Illustrated by Eric Rohmann

My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann

  • Age: 2
  • Genre: Friendship
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Date: 2002
  • Page Count: 32

Author and Illustrator

Born in Riverside, Illinois in 1957, American author and illustrator Eric Rohmann grew up in the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, playing baseball, reading comic books, and collecting various objects. He discovered Robert McCloskey, Wanda Gag, Virginia Lee Burton and Maurice Sendak as a teenager. He earned a BS in Art and an MS in Studio Art from Illinois State University and an MFA in Printmaking/Fine Bookmaking from Arizona State University. He is married to Candace Fleming, with whom he collaborated on a number of books including Oh, No! and The Bulldozer Books series. He currently resides in the Chicago area of Illinois with his wife.

Synopsis

With few words and many pictures, My Friend Rabbit tells the story of Mouse and his best friend Rabbit. The two friends play with an airplane, only to get the toy stuck in a tree. Rabbit has an ingenious plan to rescue the plane. Though Rabbit means well, things do not always work out as planned, and trouble soon follows. My Friend Rabbit received the Caldecott Medal in 2003.

Recommended Reading

Fun Fact

The book My Friend Rabbit became an animated television series in 2007. The show received the Pulcinella Award for Best Preschool TV Series in 2008 and the Alliance of Children’s Television Award for Best Preschool Series in 2009.

11: Wolf in the Snow
Written and Illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell

  • Age: 2
  • Genre: Animals, Winter
  • Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
  • Date: 2017
  • Page Count: 48

Author and Illustrator

Born in September 1975 and raised in Simpsonville, South Carolina, American author and illustrator Matthew Cordell graduated from Winthrop University. He has created many picture books including Another Brother and Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers. He has also partnered with other authors such as Gail Carson Levine and Philip C. Stead. His favorite book is Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. Cordell currently resides in Gurnee, Illinois with his wife Julie Halpern and their two children.

Synopsis

Wolf in the Snow tells the tale of a little girl and a wolf cub both lost in a snowstorm. The two meet as the storm ends, and the girl carries the cub towards the sound of the howling wolves. The pair encounter dangers along the way, but the girl eventually returns the cub to his mother. Once again alone, the girl gets lost and falls. Returning the earlier favor, the wolves howl to let the girl’s parents know where she is. The wordless Wolf in the Snow received the Caldecott Medal in 2018.

Recommended Reading

Fun Fact

Wolf in the Snow has been compared to the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood.

Cordell did a lot of research on wolves and wolf behavior while writing Wolf in the Snow. He quickly realized that his ideas about wolves were from fairy tales like The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood. When he began diving into documentaries and nonfiction books, he learned that wolves are loving and true to the pack, much like humans are to family.

12: The House in the Night
Written by Susan Marie Swanson and Illustrated by Beth Krommes

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson

  • Age: 2
  • Genre: Bedtime Stories
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
  • Date: 2008
  • Page Count: 36

Author

Born in Hinsdale, Illinois in May 1955, American author and poet Susan Marie Swanson has written a handful of books but is best known for The House in the Night. She also wrote Getting Used to the Dark: 26 Night Poems, Letter to the Lake, and The First Thing My Mama Told Me. She has written poetry with children through COMPAS Writers and Artists in the Schools and a summer arts program at St. Paul Academy and reads poetry to school children as a visiting poet. Her reviews and essays appear regularly in Riverbank Review. Swanson currently resides in a yellow house surrounded by old oak trees St. Paul, Minnesota.

Illustrator

Born in Pennsylvania in 1956, American illustrator Beth Krommes graduated from Syracuse University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, studying painting and art education. As child, she fell in love with meadows and the outdoors on childhood trips to Sugarloaf Mountain in Pennsylvania. She began illustrating children’s books in 1989. She currently resides in Peterborough, New Hampshire with her family.

Synopsis

The House in the Night offers a simple bedtime story for the youngest readers. “Here is the key to the house,” begins the book. With gorgeous black, white, and yellow illustrations of scratchboard and watercolor, the book names nighttime things and provides a reassuring order to the universe. The House in the Night received the Caldecott Medal in 2009 and a Minnesota Book Award.

Recommended Reading

Fun Fact

Swanson cites a poem in The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book published in 1955 that begins “This is the key of the kingdom” and other traditional poems with cumulative patterns including “Hush, Little Baby” and “This Is the House That Jack Built” as inspiration for The House in the Night.

Image Credits

All images via Amazon

Books You Gotta Read: Age 2

Advertisement

Written by Heather Johnson

Heather is a writer, librarian, linguist, wife, and mother who loves her husband, daughter, son, dogs, and cat. She writes The Parenting Patch, which is a parenting blog, information, and news plus reviews, recipes, crafts, homeschooling, and more.

Zero Phones and Markers: Not All Letters Spell Sounds

Zero Phones and Markers: Not All Letters Spell Sounds

Books You Gotta Read Age 3

Books You Gotta Read: Age 3