The Number Garden by Sara Pinto

Counting books are a dime a dozen, and unfortunately, most of them are boring, no-brainer reiterations of the same number/object sequence. Of course, that’s not to say that these don’t serve their purpose for infants, but beyond the age bracket of, say, under 12 months, I think toddlers (and their parents) will need something more creative to sustain their interest.

Enter, stage left, The Number Garden, a quirky book that is the antithesis of a simple counting book — yet it can function as just that if you wish.

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How to Raise a Dinosaur by Natasha Wing and Pablo Bernasconi

Dinosaurs are extinct — this we all know. But which young dinosaur fan hasn’t fantasised about keeping one for a pet? How to Raise a Dinosaur thus builds on this fantastical and make-believe scenario by providing a how-to guide for aspiring dinosaur-owners, offering tips on how to choose and care for one’s prehistoric pet of choice.

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The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett

In The Odd Egg, a duck feels left out when she sees that all the other birds have each laid an egg and are excitedly waiting for them to hatch. So when she finds a large white egg with green spots, she is very happy even though the other birds openly disparage it. One by one, the birds’ eggs hatch, until only duck’s egg is left. Then finally, when it hatches, the baby emerges to give the other birds (and the readers!) a big shock.

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Spot the Animals by the American Museum of Natural History and Steve Jenkins

A step up from the usual lift-the-flap animal board books, Spot the Animals by the AMNH has a rainbow theme featuring six accurately depicted animals with their proper names — e.g the red crab is a ghost crab, the green snake is the emerald tree boa, etc. — as well as some basic facts about them.

My daughter loved to point to and name all the colours and the animals, and she didn’t get tired of it despite reading it daily for over a month!

What Do I Look Like? by Nick Sharratt

What Do I Look Like? is a very slim book that is useful as a tool to help very young toddlers to learn to read facial cues, and understand their own feelings/emotions, as well as those of others.

The book uses the format: “When ____________ (a particular scenario described and illustrated), I look like this” followed by a half-page flap that the reader flips to reveal a closeup of the boy’s reaction, which can easily be elaborated on to help the child understand what the boy is feeling, and why.

Up! Tall! and High! by Ethan Long

Up, Tall and High reads almost like a funny comic because the economical text is entirely in speech bubbles. The quirky birds in the book enjoy one-upping (literally, ha!) each other while conveniently making comparisons about height and distance. A few large flaps are also used for great comic and dramatic effect. This is one of the few books that have made my son burst into laughter, so the humour seems to be spot-on for its intended audience.