Baby Faves: Animal Sounds
It's not an accident that babies and toddlers seem drawn to animal noises -- besides being fun to make, these sounds are easier for little ones to imitate than many words. Thanks to this accessibility, animal noises are a great tool for building phonological awareness in even the tiniest people. One of the foundations of early literacy, phonological awareness refers to the ability to identify and manipulate the sounds that make up language.
Check out these ten baby-friendly books to moo, baa, oink, and buzz through, along with a few related songs and rhymes to share with babies and toddlers when you don't have a book handy.
This Little Chick by John Lawrence
Follow this little chick as he meets many different kinds of animals, picks up unique vocabulary from each of them, and ultimately gives his mother quite a surprise when he returns home after a long day and shares what he's learned. One of my all-time favorite read-alouds, this book is begging to be sung; use any melody you think fits well! Also available in board book format.
Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton
Cows say moo, sheep say baa, and pigs say... la la la? This silly romp is a baby story time favorite -- the humor appeals to adults, the spot-on rhyme and rhythm are perfect for dancing or bouncing along, and the durable board book format makes it a good choice for even the youngest babies.
All Kinds of Kisses by Nancy Tafuri
Animal parents give their little ones all kinds of noisy kisses, but the best kind of kiss is the kind that comes from mom. With simple text and large, inviting illustrations, this one is fun to share with lots of accompanying hugs, kisses, and cuddles.
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin, Jr.
In the same format as the ever-popular classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, complete with Eric Carle's big, bold illustrations, Polar Bear, Polar Bear is a great way to introduce babies and toddlers to vocabulary and sounds they don't often encounter (how often do you get to say "trumpeting" or "snarling" to your baby?). Every noise is described using a fun, interesting verb, and you and baby can have fun imitating the sounds made by the animal on each page. Since it's sure to become a favorite that you read again and again, try mixing it up by singing the text to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Available in both picture book and board book format at the link above.
Cows in the Kitchen by June Crebbin
Naughty farm animals can't help but wake up Tom Farmer (twice!) with all their various noises in this simple, funny tale. The repetition and musicality (try singing the text to the tune of "Skip to My Loo!") make this a great book for babies from a brain development perspective. As kids get older, the humorous pictures and excitement of a built-in "TIME TO WAKE UP!" crescendo will continue to engage them well into their preschool years. Also available as a board book.
The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort
This silly spin on "Wheels on the Bus" will have you erping with seals, honking with geese, and hissing with snakes until the humorous end. The melody and repetition will appeal to babies and toddlers, and as they grow, this too is a book that can grow with them -- the illustrations provide lots of opportunities to talk about what's happening in the story, and older children will appreciate the humor as they sing along.
Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming
Young babies will enjoy the chant-like rhyme, toddlers will enjoy the literal goose hunt (the repeated phrase "But where's goose?" will prompt them to find the white goose hiding on each page). Like many of other Denise Fleming titles geared toward this age group, Barnyard Banter includes a bevy of rich vocabulary and deeply saturated, textured illustrations. Available in picture book and board book format at the link above.
Hello, Day! by Anita Lobel
Despite the title, this book is an excellent bedtime choice; after saying hello to the day with various barnyard animals in each of their languages, you'll then say hello to the night with the barnyard's resident owl. The big, bold typeface that accompanies the gorgeous illustrations will be easy for babies to see and for toddlers to start recognizing letters that you point out to them.
Honk Honk! Baa Baa! by Petr Horáček
Perhaps the shortest, quickest read on this list, this board book contains simple illustrations of eight common animals rendered in bright colors, along with their respective noises -- that's it! In addition to its simplicity, attractiveness, and sturdy build, the interesting shape of the pages and texture they create will have infants wanting to manipulate and turn the pages.
Say Hello Like This! by Mary Murphy
The very simple text in this sweet book is accompanied by cheerful illustrations rendered in springtime colors and an interesting book design -- half page flaps reveal the transition from silent meeting of like animals to jubilant, noisy conversations between them.
Related Songs and Rhymes:
When Cows Wake Up in the Morning
Baa Baa Black Sheep (Melody: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)