Are You My Mother?

By P.D. Eastman (Random House Books for Young Readers)

The words are few and small but the story is clear. A baby bird hatches in his nest while Mommy is out searching for food, and he goes on a hunt to find her, asking of everyone (and thing), “Are you my mother?” from a cow to a “Snort” (which always gets big laughs). Spoiler alert: He finds her. The perfect, secure ending for a small child who wants reassurance before bed, or any time. 

Puff the Magic Dragon

By Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton, with paintings by Eric Puybaret (Sterling Children’s Books)

The magical world of Honalee is brought to life in richly-hued landscapes and characters. Puff and Jackie Paper travel in a boat with billowed sails, climb red castle stairs to meet with noble kings and princes, and watch pirate ships lower their flags as Puff roars. You’ll be delighted by the surprise ending that gave this sad song new meaning. 

Goodnight Moon

By Margaret Wise Brown, illus. by Clement Hurd (HarperCollins Childrens Books)

This rhyming poem takes place in a single room as a bunny says goodnight to the various objects around him, from mittens and kittens to the air and noises everywhere. I hadn’t experienced this classic as a child and find myself getting as lost in the details as do my boys. No wonder it’s been beloved since first published in 1947.

First 100 Words

By Roger Priddy (Priddy Books)

From the padded cover to the rounded pages and bright illustrations, this collection of familiar objects, concepts, and activities is perfectly designed to share with young “readers.” I swear my first son learned a lot of his first words from this very book. And my baby is as eager to turn the pages and point at objects as was his big brother. Check out First 100 Animals, too!

The Going to Bed Book

By Sandra Boynton (Little Simon)

This book became a part of my first son’s nighttime ritual within his first few months. (Incidentally, it was written for another boy Keith, who, the dedication reads, “is never tired.”) Short, silly, and sweet, the book details the bedtime routines of a boat full of Boynton’s inimitable animal characters. Your little one will feel relaxed by the time “The moon is high. The sea is deep.” And “They rock. And rock. And rock. To sleep.” 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

By Eric Carle (Penguin Group USA)

This classic book has become a tried-and-true staple in my house. Note for new mommies: Get a boardbook edition as your child will want to chew through the pages as that tiny, hungry caterpillar makes himself sick sawing through apples, pears, strawberries, and pickles (among other things). Both of my boys get giddy when said caterpillar turns into a butterfly. This is the one they go back to time and time again.