My friend H from Sweden is traveling to California for a work project. He asked me to recommend some books for his 2 1/2 year-old child. After much thought and many searches through Amazon, I’ve come up with what I think is a pretty good list of books for toddlers to pre-schoolers.

1. If You’re Happy and You Know It

When the familiar song lyrics follow (“If you’re happy and you know it, clap you hands”), eight members of the animal kingdom-fancifully rendered in buoyantly improbable colors and patterns-respond with his or her own version.

2. Sheep in a Jeep

When five foolish sheep cram into one jeep, their high spirits and occasional lack of foresight (like forgetting to steer) combine to make a riotous, if ill-fated, road trip.

3. Two Little Trains

Two trains are heading west. One is streamlined, the other small and old. On their parallel journeys, the trains encounter rivers, hills, snow, and dust storms, but neither is thwarted. But look closer and see that these two trains, though similar in many ways, have a surprising difference: one is the real thing, traversing the countryside, and the other is a toy, making its way across rug fringe “tracks,” along the edge of a bathtub, through a tunnel made from a book, and past a broom and dust pan.

4. Blueberries for Sal

Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk go the blueberries into the pail of a little girl named Sal who–try as she might–just can’t seem to pick as fast as she eats.

5. Unstoppable Me

A book that teaches children how to hold on to the no-limit thinking, rather than just trying to “fit in.” In doing so, they can learn to truly enjoy life and become unstoppable as they strive to attain their dreams.

6. Bunny School

Welcome to the first day at Cottontail School, where dressed bunnies quickly adjust to their new routine: show-and-tell, learning time, music time, recess, snack time, science, field trip to a fire station, art time, play time, cleanup, and stories.

7. Bear Snores On

On a cold windy night, an itty-bitty mouse “pitter-pat, tip-toe, creep-crawls” into a sleeping bear’s cozy lair, looking for relief from the bitter winter weather. Soon he is joined by a veritable menagerie of woodland animals, and the party begins.

8. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

A father and his four children–a toddler, a preschool boy and two older girls–go on the traditional bear hunt.

9. The Lion and the Little Red Bird

When the bird notices the lion’s bushy green tail, it piques her curiosity. The appendage, in fact, changes color daily, a phenomenon that exasperates the bird until she becomes privy to the secret: the lion has painted a sweeping mural inside his cave, using his tail as a brush.

10. Is Your Mama a Llama?

An enchanting animal guessing game for preschoolers. Lloyd, a baby llama, asks each of his friends, “Is your mama a llama?,” and all respond in turn with a rhyming description of their mother that is answered on the following page.

I’m sure that others have recommendations based on your own experiences. Please make suggestions for others to note.

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