Here are Natalie's current favorites.
Books containing repetition
Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
I mentioned this book previously, but it warrants a little more attention. Meet George, a puppy whose dog mom wants him to "arf" but he will only meow, quack, oink, and moo until a trip to the vet un-TurDuckens this dog. The illustrations are a little eccentric, but this is one of the books Natalie asks for by name. She is also hilarious in that she has named random dogs we pass on the sidewalk "George" in honor of this story.
The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood
Everyone piles on top of one another in this napping house until a wakeful flea destroys each character's slumber. The illustrations are fantastic, and the repetition, while sometimes a little annoying from an adult's perspective, definitely helps in getting Natalie engaged with the story.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
I mentioned this book before as well, but the "cookie book," as Natalie calls it, is far and away the picture book hit in our home. This little mouse is certainly demanding. Don't give this bad boy a cookie or else your day will be ruined. We've read the other books by Numeroff, and though they follow the same format of listing consequences for every action, they seem a lot more complicated and therefore less appealing than this one to the two-and-under crowd. I love how each page has just one key vocabulary word focus, such as "straw" or "crayon" or even "Scotch tape." I think that format has worked well in teaching Natalie lots of new, somewhat obscure vocabulary.
Favorite less-popular book
Nothing But a Dog by Bobbi Katz
I've never seen mention of this book on other websites or book lists in anyone's "best of" categories, but this is a sweet book for pet owners (though I'd recommend skipping it if you do not own a dog and do not want to encourage your child to beg for a dog). The "nothing doggie" book, as Natalie calls it, starts off by saying, "Once it starts -- the longing for a dog -- there is no cure for it." You can probably guess how the story ends. Although the text in this book is fairly simple, the protagonist in the illustrations definitely looks like an eight-year old engaged in eight-year-old-and-probably-a-lot-older activities, such as learning to play the trumpet and going to"monster movies" with her best friend. So, Natalie can't exactly relate to much except the dog-love part. Still, she wants to read this book daily.
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinnker and Tom Litchtenheld
This book seems to be a modern classic. The book title is pretty spot-on: the story explains how each truck at the construction site has had a long day and now is going to rest before the next busy day ahead. Natalie is fascinated with cars and trucks, and this book is helping to expand her repertoire of truck names.
Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney
I get a little sad each time Natalie asks for the "la" book, but I know she's asking for it more because it contains nearly perfect rhyme scheme and not because she's mad at me (or so I like to think). Seriously, this book is fun to read as you track Llama Llama's Saturday shopping extravaganza with his Mama at the Shop-O-Rama. Thanks to the great rhyme scheme, Natalie can complete nearly every sentence and gets a big kick out of her involvement in reading the story. I like seeing her sense of pride as well as the way the book keeps her attention even after back-to-back readings, which she requests often. (I was about to make a joke about the need for a Llama Barack Obama book, but looks like someone else already beat me to it.)
Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
This book is the newest addition to our library, technically a gift for our future son (oh, by the way, I'm pregnant), but Natalie of course got her hands on it the moment we opened the gift. She calls this the "dump truck book" because the Little Blue Truck, with the help of his farm animal friends, manages to save the big, bad dump truck that lacks manners and companionship. Matt pointed out how the meter and rhyme is a bit off on certain pages ("His heavy-duty/ dump-truck tires/ were sunk down deep/ in muck and mire" is supposed to rhyme, I believe, but fails), but because the story is not only fun but contains an actual theme, I'll go with it.
If you have any suggestions for additions to our library I would love to hear them!