This month’s baby and toddler recommendations come to us from Jen Zimmermann of Launching Success, an independently owned educational materials and toy store.
I first came across Launching Success when looking for a birthday gift for my daughter. I remember walking in and saying, “Oh boy, I want to buy everything in this store.” Inside, the store is a wonderland where in every direction, unique and enticing toys draw you in. I wish I could transport you there right now, but for a sense of their offerings, you can check out a preview of their spring catalog.
It was actually in a moment of panic when my family and I crossed a threshold from being enamored with Launching Success to finding deep appreciation. My daughter had been attending an alternative school that didn’t emphasize academics. In the summer before her second grade year, she didn’t know how to read – at all. We were worried.
Knowing that Launching Success sold learning materials, we stopped in and started looking around. When a staff member noticed us and came to offer his help, we explained our situation. The staff member encouraged us to try reading workbooks, showed us how to choose an appropriate workbook, and suggested that we supplement with some learning games like puzzles and board games. He also showed us a selection of early reader books. He was knowledgeable, professional, and calm.
That day marked a turnaround for my daughter. A couple of months down the road, my daughter had completed her first workbook and we returned to Launching Success to buy an early reader book as a reward for her. We picked up the next level of workbook and continued on with that pattern – complete a workbook, buy a book as a reward, move on to the next workbook. We also played with the puzzles and board games. Two years later, when my daughter transferred to a public school and was tested, she was reading at the highest range of her grade level.
Since then, we’ve turned to Launching Success often for different educational needs and for gifts. The staff and selection are always superb.
I highly recommend Launching Success. Even if you aren’t able to visit in person, their staff can offer assistance by phone or email and their website includes the imaginative products offered in the store. It is a comfort to work with people who are so knowledgeable.
That wealth of knowledge is why I invited Jen from Launching Success to recommend her favorite baby and toddler books on Ten Books A Month. I knew she’d have insightful suggestions to share with readers.
Jen Zimmermann is co-owner of Launching Success. She is a former Kindergarten and 1st Grade teacher. Formerly an employee with a key role at Launching Success, Zimmermann and co-owner Kristen Krumdiack took ownership of Launching Success in 2013. Jen’s specialty is selecting products for the store.
And without further ado... Meet Jen!
One of my favorite parenting memories is reading to my children when they were babies and toddlers. I loved that cuddle time day and night looking at books, learning new words and how to communicate. My children, now 17, 15 and 8, all loved books! I can still remember when my oldest daughter was 2 years old sitting on her bedroom floor with ALL the books that she had pulled off her bookshelf surrounding her. She loved “reading” her books!
It’s never too early to start reading to your children! Reading aloud teaches a baby about communication. It introduces concepts such as numbers, letters, colors and shapes. It builds listening, memory and vocabulary skills. It gives babies information about the world around them. The more words your baby is exposed to, the better he or she will be able to talk.
I believe the most important reason to read aloud is that is makes a connection between you and your baby. There is a feeling of closeness that is just as important as the reading.
Spending time reading to your baby shows that reading is a skill worth learning. As you read to them with excitement and joy, they begin to associate books with happiness and that is how budding readers are created!
Here are my favorite books (in no particular order) for infants and toddlers: (links to Launching Success website)
- Cloth books are great the youngest readers- soft, easy to hold. They can’t get hurt. My favorite right now is Fun With Little Lamb by Douglas.
- Black and white books have a good contrast for developing vision. I like Wimmer Ferguson’s See & Say book.
- All Indestrucitbles titles by Workman. They are chew proof, rip proof, 100% washable and non toxic. Great for “eating.”
- Is Your Mama a Llama by Deborah Guarino.
- Belly Button Book by Sandra Boyton.
- All Noisy Peekaboo books by DK.
- All books by Karen Katz- the lift the flap books are especially fun!
- Red Truck by Kersten Hamilton.
- The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle.
- Little Why, a new beautiful picture book by Jonny Lambert.
Seeing stars? Professional book reviewers only award a star to exceptional books. More than one star means experts from multiple organizations felt the book was outstanding.
by Jonny Lambert
published March 1, 2016
Little Why just cannot seem to stay in line with the other elephants. There's just too much to see; Giraffe's long-lofty leggy legs, Wildebeest's spiny-spiky horns, and even Crocodile's snippy-snappy teeth! Look out, Little Why!READ MORE
The Grouchy Ladybug
by Eric Carle
published September 8, 1999
This beloved Eric Carle classic returns once again in a colorful new board book format. For generations, The Grouchy Ladybug has delighted readers of all ages with the story of a bad-tempered bug who won't say "please" or "thank you," won't share, and thinks she is bigger and better than anyone else....READ MORE
by Kersten Hamilton
illustrated by Valeria Petrone
published August 30, 2012
The perfect board book for toddlers who love trucks!
Zoom, Zoom, Baby!: A Karen Katz Lift-the-Flap Book
by Karen Katz
published May 6, 2014
Enjoy the ride with this interactive Karen Katz lift-the-flap board book that features different animals on the go!
Noisy Pets Peekaboo!
published April 5, 2016
*Note: Noisy Book batteries are light activated, please make sure the lighting is sufficient for this book.
Cats, dogs, and rabbits are just some of the cute animals your toddler will love to imitate in Noisy Pets Peekaboo!, a fun-filled interactive board book.
Perfect for curious toddlers who love to explore,...READ MORE
Belly Button Book
by Sandra Boynton
published April 18, 2005
Emboldened by the enthusiastic response to Belly Button (Round)—a song from her Grammy-nominated book/CD, Philadelphia Chickens—Sandra Boynton further contemplates this mesmerizing subject.
Is Your Mama a Llama?
by Deborah Guarino
illustrated by Steven Kellogg
published August 1, 1997
With humorous rhymes, six lovable animals help Lloyd the llama discover what kind of animal his mama is.READ MORE
by Kate Merritt
published April 5, 2016
Beach Baby is the perfect beach book for baby, telling the sweet story of baby’s day at the beach—and it’s sand-proof, waterproof, and sunscreen-proof, too.
With two million copies in print, Indestructibles are the books built for the way babies read. They are 100 percent baby-proof, chew-proof, rip-proof, and drool-proof. Printed on a...READ MORE
Wimmer-Ferguson See & Say Book
published January 1, 2011
The Wimmer-Ferguson See and Say Book captures every baby's attention. The high contrast images and easy to read letters make this book great for babies practicing image recognition and beginner reading skills. Book has 10 pages and is made of sturdy board. Includes: Sun - House, Cat - Dog, Car...READ MORE
Fun With Little Lamb Soft Activity Book
published August 1, 2015
Soft book with engaging baby storylines! Colorful flaps, tags and unbreakable mirror. Squeaks and rattles. Appliqued front and back - surface washable.READ MORE
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Hi! I'm Sarah. I'm a former librarian and mother of two -- a teen daughter and a preschooler son. We love to play outdoors... and read. :)
This site is all about discovering great books to share with kids and teens. ...Read more