To promote literacy, books should be a part of your baby’s life starting around 4 months. That’s around the time your kid will start showing an interest … by putting them in their mouth. That’s how they show their interest in just about everything. Which is why they’ll totally get your whiskey, cigar and boob habits. Especially your boob habit.
Interestingly enough, chewing on books is considered a literacy activity (and that’s not just lip service), so you’ll want to make sure you purchase board books. And to make sure they don’t become bored-books, you might as well pick up some classics that have stood the test of time. Hopefully they can also stand the test of slobber.
Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel
A classic retelling of the Paul Bunyan story, only this time the steam shovel is the hero, not the villain. Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel was first published back in 1939, when the nation was apparently more enamoured of heavy machinery than massive blue mutant oxen, but the lesson remains the same throughout: there will always be a newer, bigger, faster version of you coming down the pike, but heart, hard work, and determination can outlast mere technical progress. Clearly, Virginia Lee Burton never saw The Terminator.
Mike Mulligan and His Stream Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton ($8)
You probably can recite the short and sweet rhythm of Margaret Wise Brown’s classic already. But if you haven’t read this book a million f–king times, it’s the story of a sleepy rabbit saying goodnight to everything in his great green room, including your kid. Although even a toddler has to ask, why does a bunny need both a comb and brush?
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise-Brown and Clement Hurd ($9)
Harold And The Purple Crayon
The stocky Harold applies his purple crayon to the task of drawing himself into a moonlit walk. But it’s not long before he veers off the straight and narrow path he’s made into a crazytown of his own mind. This classic could cause you a slight bit of hesitation considering Harold does appear to be drawing on the walls. But in the end, Harold is the Prince of classic children’s books, considering his purple reign.
Harold And The Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson ($8)
Harry The Dirty Dog
Harry is a cute-as-hell dog with a serious issue: he doesn’t like baths. So when he hears one being drawn for him he buries the scrub brush and goes on an adventure in various dirty locations around the city until he’s basically unrecognizable. First published in 1956, some of the dirty locals may feel a bit antiquated if you’re a N.E.R.D., who’d probably take Harry to get a Lapdance. Dirty dog, indeed.
Harry The Dirty Dog by Gene Zion ($8)
The Little House
A Caldecott winner from 1943, The Little House tells a story of a well built abode in the country that’s eventually engulfed by really poor urban planning. Luckily a great granddaughter of the original builder comes to the rescue in the end. But one thing remains mysterious: while the little house in the story is certainly mighty mighty, there is no mention of it being made out of brick.
The Little House by Philippa Gregory ($8)
The Snowy Day
Told in striking collage illustrations, The Snowy Day follows a little boy named Peter as he bounds into a snow covered city where he makes tracks, packs snowballs and makes a snow angel, which is truly ahead of it’s time considering David Boreanaz wouldn’t be on the scene for another 30 years.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats ($7)
Pat The Bunny
Pat the Bunny is the OG of the “touch and feel” genre, offering kids a sensory experience in a very loose narrative. Actually it isn’t so much a narrative. It’s more a list of commands for the kid to interact with the various pages. Said pages are decked out in in things like fake rabbit fur and even sandpaper to mimic your “scratchy face.” So maybe stop shaving with a sharpened rock already.
Pat The Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt ($10)
1 Is One
A sweetly rhyming book with some fine illustrations of an idyllic life in a different era, 1 Is One takes your kid on a journey all the way to 20. On the way they’ll learn things like what a “heath” is. Also, how people used to serve cherries on white china plates, and how a dude named Tom wrote on his slate (which was probably some counter intuitive column about how 1 isn’t actually “one” but “two”).
1 is One by Tasha Tudor ($8)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
You remember The Very Hungry Caterpillar from back when you were a kid. However, you might not remember the “hole” story. Because, fact is that freaky little caterpillar eats a lot. On the last day he tears through cake, ice cream, a pickle, cheese, salami, a sausage, a cupcake … basically he has a normal evening for a pregnant lady.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle ($7)
Guess How Much I Love You
This modern classic is a timeless tale of how a dad should absolutely never let his son win at anything. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. The father and son nutbrown hare team are actually going back and forth over who has the more love. Still it’ll drill the message into your kid that they will never love you more than you love them. And they’ll never be able to beat you at anything. Ever.
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney ($8)