by Julie Snyder
Whether you're introducing your newborn to the joys of learning or feeding an early reader's hunger for stories, a good book should do the job.
If you're looking for a gift idea for a child this holiday season, how about the gift of imagination?
Take a peek at 2012s "best books" list and inspire a love of adventure, mystery, discovery and wonder.
Best early reader books in 2012
A picture's worth a thousand words whether it's painted with a brush or with words. Grab a book, offer a hug and watch those eyes light up as you read with your kids.
Babies and toddlers
Peek-A Who, by Nina Laden
"Peek a...?" Turn the page and find out who lurks behind the window. From "peek-a moo" (a black and white cow) to "peek-a boo" (a little green ghost) to "peek-a YOU!" (a mirror inset), the simple rhymes, vibrant colors and black outlines will have your baby bringing this book over and over.
Little Mouse's BIG Secret, by Eric Battut
Know any kids who try and hide toys or treat? They'll relate to this little mouse. He's doing the classic "I'm not gonna share with anyone!" behavior. Join in as Little Mouse realizes some secrets are even better when they're shared.
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker
Here's the perfect bedtime book for a kid who's crazy about cars. It's colorful, engaging and has trucks, excavators, dump trucks and bulldozers! From an adult perspective, the book is long enough to entertain, short enough to get 'em into bed at a decent hour, and cute enough to not make a parent groan.
A Ball for Daisy, by Chris Raschka
Any child who has ever had a beloved toy break will understand Daisy's anguish when her favorite ball is destroyed by a bigger dog. The simple story, told in pictures -- dog loses and ultimately reclaims a beloved toy -- is altered into a deeper text about how profound loss can be, even if the loss seems small to those around you.
Grandpa Green, by Lane Smith
Grandpa Green wasn't always a gardener. He was a boy who lived on a farm and a child who had chickenpox. He was a soldier, a husband and, most of all, an artist. Follow Grandpa Green's great-grandson into the garden, as he collects gardening tools that Grandpa Green has forgetfully left scattered throughout the garden and reads the story of Grandpa's not so ordinary life in the topiary shrubs that take amazing forms to tell the story.
Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett
Annabelle lives in a dreary, black and white world. When she finds a box filled with multicolored yarn, she does what you might expect. She knits a sweater. But there's extra yarn. Before long she's covered her entire town in rainbow knitwear, even the animals and buildings. When a greedy archduke tries to buy -- and then steal the box from her -- he finds it...empty. Why? What is going to happen?
Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems, by Kristine O'Connell George
A collection of poem's, each stands well on its own. Together, they tell a realistic story that validates the feelings of an older sibling in a supportive, family-friendly way. How can a little sister be sweet, funny, imaginative, playful, and affectionate as well as a clinging vine, brat, tattletale, and nuisance–all at the same time? It's a dilemma.
Three Hens and a Peacock, by Lester L. Laminack
Another day on the Tucker's farm. The dog snoozes on the porch, the hens lay eggs and the cows chew their cud. That is, until a crates falls off the back of a truck passing by. It cracks it open as it hits the ground and a peacock stumbles out of the crate. He's soon attracting visitors to the roadside produce stand and arousing jealousy among the hens. The solution? Switch places...
Reading opens the door to all kinds of new worlds for children. Where will one take your child today?
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.