Holiday gift guide: Books for babies

Halloween has come and gone, which means Christmas is right around the corner—at least if you’re listening to radio commercials and shopping, um, anywhere. (I swear the Christmas displays were up before I could stalk the aisles for discounted Halloween candy.)

But with all the tasks I’m juggling, I’m a big fan of getting holiday shopping done early. You too? Well, good news: here’s our baby-tested holiday gift guide, books for babies edition.

The 10 best books for babies: This gift guide makes your Christmas shopping list easy for kids in the family! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

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Our favorite children’s books with no words

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A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes a wordless picture book is worth a big ol’ internet shout-out. These, our 10 favorite children’s books with no words, are just those.

Wordless picture books still have a lot of story in 'em. Here are our favorite children's books without words. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Wordless picture books can be intimidating to adults: You have to wing it, since there is no text to read. But making up a story as you go along—and letting your child have a go at storytelling, too—is fun and fosters pre-literacy skills in little readers.

Children’s books with no words encourage imagination and curiosity in kids; they lead little ones to begin to tell stories; they prompt kids to look for plot clues in illustrations; and they promote close listening, as the story may change each time you read the book.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out these children’s books with no words the next time you’re at the library and see for yourself. Read more

5 Little Monkeys craft {with download!}

Five little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said,
“For the love of all things holy I am not reading this book one more time!”

5 Little Monkeys craft process art downloadI have a love/hate relationship with the book 5 Little Monkeys. After about the sixth time of reading it, all that repetition makes me want to jump off a bed and knock myself in the head.

But the repetition is great for pre-readers: Books that have repeating sequences, like 5 Little Monkeys, strengthens a child’s neural pathways and primes them for learning to read later. For example, all that repetition helps kids add to their vocabulary faster, reports research from the University of Sussex in the UK. And the familiar rhythms of a repetitive book helps that child remember what comes next—a skill that later helps them predict or hypothesize what comes next.

I saw this all in action with Peeper and 5 Little Monkeys. I used to pass the book back to her while we were driving around. After a while, she would “read” the book to herself—including counting down the number of monkeys.

All that repetition really worked!

Turns out the repetitive motion of painting is a great parallel for this story. When I found Raising Fairies and Knights’s Monthly Crafting Book Club, I was in: I wanted to make a fun art project that went along with 5 Little Monkeys, too!

You may also know what a proponent of process art I am. So I didn’t want to create a craft that had a clear expectation of how the craft should look in the end. Instead, I created a project that let Peeper do her own thang while staying true to the spirit of the book. And with my hand-drawn download, you can, too!

5 Little Monkeys craft process art download 5 Little Monkeys craft download Read more

Our favorite children’s books: Books about being afraid

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“Too noisy!”

Peeper’s complaints about noise, and the genuine fear loud sounds inspire in her, continue unabated in these parts, and we’ve learned to adapt. I make cookie dough when she’s asleep. I look ahead to avoid loud things like lawn mowers or steam trains in our path. And we are patient when her conversations repeatedly steer back to the fact that something—a seal, tractor, Jeep—is “too noisy.”

Alas, we haven’t yet found a book that deals with fear of loud sounds, but we like these other books about being afraid. At some point, she might become afraid of the dark, or of getting sucked down the bath drain, or of vampire zombie bats living under the crib. (Who knows? She has a vivid imagination already.)

If your little one is spooked, these books about being afraid might help. At the least, they will say he’s not alone in being afraid.

Read on for a little courage—or at least encouragement!

When your child is scared, books about being afraid can lend a little courage. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more