IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Top books for kids

With thousands of titles to choose from, it’s hard for parents to figure out which books their children will actually read, and enjoy. But the good news is, there is help. The 2004 edition of “The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Guide to the Best Toys, Books, Videos, Music and Software for Kids” can help narrow down the choices. On NBC’s “Today” show, Stephanie Oppenheim shares a look at some
/ Source:

With thousands of titles to choose from, it’s hard for parents to figure out which books their children will actually read, and enjoy. But the good news is, there is help. The 2004 edition of “The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Guide to the Best Toys, Books, Videos, Music and Software for Kids” can help narrow down the choices. On NBC’s “Today” show, Stephanie Oppenheim shares a look at some of this year’s award-winning books. Check out some of the selections below.


At this stage, books are not merely for looking at. Babies and toddlers tend to taste, toss, and tear their books. Even sturdy cardboard books may not survive this search-and-destroy stage. Cloth and vinyl make good chewable choices. The mechanics of turning pages, pointing to pictures, and even listening make books among baby’s favorite playthings and a key to language development.

“Peekaboo, I Love You” — Platinum Award

(Lamaze $8.99) An adorable fabric book with a cast of family members hiding under flaps on each of the bright cotton pages. Also charming, “Where is Caterpillar?” ($8.99 ) — a caterpillar eats his way through the fabric pages of this early science book. 9 months and up.

“Mommy Loves Her Baby” — Platinum Award

(by Tara J. Morrow/illus. by Tiphanie Beeke, HarperCollins $15.95 ) Here’s another clever flip book that reverses to “Daddy Loves His Baby.” ‘How much does Mommy love her baby? . . . like the fishies love the seas . . . and squirrels love the trees.’ 18 months and up.

“Ollie & Ollie the Stomper” — Platinum Award

(by Olivier Dunrea, Houghton Mifflin $9.95 each ) Two amusing little stories featuring Gossie and Gertie and the newest hatchling, Ollie, who does not want to come out of his shell. Toddlers will recognise the power of negative reasoning in the first tale. Ollie the Stomper is about sharing and caring. 21/2 and up.


“Busy Doggies” — Platinum Award(by John Schindel/photos by Beverly Sparks, Tricycle $6.95 ) A board book with close-up photos of dogs “gnawing, pawing, peeking, speaking.” Wait a minute speaking? Lots to talk about here, and tots will enjoy the rhymes along with the photos. 2 and up.


“Minnie and Her Baby Brother” — Platinum Award(by Melanie Walsh, Candlewick $7.99 ) Minnie has a baby brother and, like all big brothers and sisters, Minnie can do a lot of things the baby cant do. Lift the flaps on every spread to see all the things baby can’t do. A very positive spin on sibling rivalry.


“Babies On the Go” — Platinum Award(by Linda Ashman/illus. by Jane Dyer, Harcourt $16 ) Some animal babies get up on all fours and run about to play. But this book is about the ones who, like human babies, need to be transported for a while. Charming watercolor paintings and rhythmic rhymes introduce children to a science concept that the “Uppees!” crowd can relate to.

“What Are You Doing, Maisy?” — Platinum Award

(by Lucy Cousins, Candlewick $7.99 ) A lift-the-flap book with objects to “know and name” on the left; then lift the flaps and see them all in use, as Maisy gets ready for a birthday party. Equally right, a companion book that asks, “Where Are You Going, Maisy?” 2 and up.

“Are Eggs Square?” — Platinum Award

(DK $6.99 ) This is one of a series of four small books that invite giggles and loud ‘No, No, No’s!’ Each new item is introduced with a silly question — turn the page for the correct answer. Bold graphics and cut-out windows or see-though turn pages offer upside down humor that toddlers and young preschoolers enjoy. Other titles in the series include: “Are Elephants Tiny?” “Are Lemons Blue?”; “Do Cows Bark?” 18 months and up.


“Mary Had a Little Lamb” — Platinum Award

(by Mary Ann Hoberman & Nadine Bernard Westcoll, Little Brown $15.95 ) Whimsical drawings give this old rhyme a new life. With musical notation and entertaining activity ideas for older kids, this is a keeper! 3 & up.


Preschoolers delight in books of all kinds. They enjoy longer stories about real kids like themselves and animal stories that are really about “kids in fur” with whom they can identify. Folktales and fantasy are fine as long as they’re not too scary. They like the rhythm and rhyme of verse as well as prose that touches their hearts and funny bones. Eager to learn, they like playful counting and alphabet books. Kids are also interested in true facts about real things that satisfy their curiosity about the world.


Angelina Ballerina’s Invitation to the Ballet” — Platinum Award

(by Katherine Holabird/illus. by Helen Craig, Pleasant Co. $17.95 ) Angelina receives two tickets to the ballet, but when she tries to find a friend to join her, everyone is busy. But not to worry. At the last moment, Angelina gets a better invitation — to dance in the ballet! Done in the style of “The Jolly Postman,” with letters that come out of pages designed as envelopes, this is a jolly good novelty book for aspiring ballerinas!

“Olivia . . . and the Missing Toy” — Platinum Award

(by Ian Falconer, Atheneum $16.95 ) From the end papers to the happy ending, this is another saga in the life of the most opinionated swine of her time. Olivia is busy giving her mom orders about the soccer shirt she needs when her best toy in the whole entire world vanishes. Who took it? How will Olivia live without it? Has this ever happened in your house? You betcha! 4 & up.

“The Sheep Fairy” — Platinum Award

(by Ruth L. Symes/illus. by David Sim, Scholastic $15.95 ) Wendy is a sheep who has a secret wish to fly. When she rescues a fairy in distress, the fairy offers Wendy one wish. There is something ridiculously implausible and silly about a woolly, round sheep flying, but not to a big bad wolf who is looking for sleeping sheep! Good rollicking fun!


“My Big Sister” — Platinum Award(by Valorie Fisher, Atheneum $14.95 ) With a series of photos and telling one-liners, we get a childs-eye view of an ideal big sister. No grabbing, teasing, or crying here. Both big and little sibs will enjoy this one. A perfect companion to “My Big Brother,” — Platinum Award ’03.


Good Night Sam” Platinum Award

(by Marie-Louise Gay, Groundwood $14.95 ) Big sister Stella is having a problem with her little brother Sam. He cant go to sleep because he cant find his cuddly dog Fred. There’s humor along with patience in this totally charming bedtime tale. 3 and up.

“The Magic Bed” — Platinum Award

(by John Burninham, Knopf $16.95 ) Georgie has outgrown his bed. Instead of buying a new bed he and his father bring home an antique that is said to be magic. It takes some doing, but Georgie figures out the magic word and, abracadabra! his bed takes him far and wideuntil Grannie sells the bed, thinking that new is better. A collection of fearless flights to spark sweet dreams.


“Alphabet Mystery” — Platinum Award(by Audrey Wood/illus. by Bruce Wood, Scholastic $15.95 ) All of the lowercase letters are ready to go to sleep when they discover that “x” is missing! And where can he be? An imaginative mystery for children who are playing with and learning their letters. This is no ordinary ABC.

“Tea for Me, Tea for You” — Platinum Award

(by Laura Rader, HarpcerCollins $15.99 ) It’s the liveliest tea party ever, with one pig after another hogging in on the feast. Rader serves up a counting book told in rhymes that bounce right along.

“Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?” — Platinum Award

(by Bill Martin Jr./illus. by Eric Carle, Holt $15.95 ) Using the familiar format of their classic “Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?” the creators pay homage to the endangered animals of the world. Many of the creatures are less familiar and will enlarge the young childs view of the world of wild creatures. As always, Eric Carle’s images are a visual feast!

Excerpted from “The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio 2004: The Best Toys, Books, Videos, Music and Software for Kids.” Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, Inc. For the Oppenheims top recommendations for kids 0-10, you can also visit their web site,