Infants and toddlers – recommended books

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Babies in the Rain: Promoting play, exploration and discovery with infants and toddlers

Jeff A Johnson (2010)

This book is easy to read, and highlights what is important for creating optimal learning environments – building meaningful relationships. Filled with advice and guidance on how to ‘be’ with infants and toddlers, this book will help any teacher committed to strengthen their own practice.

Infants, Toddlers, and Caregivers: A Curriculum of Respectful, Responsive, Relationship-Based Care and Education

Janet Gonzalez-Mena and Dianne Widmeyer-Eyer (10th Edition)

The authors provide a comprehensive, in-depth introduction to a curriculum specifically designed for infants and toddlers, featuring a respectful approach inspired by Magda Gerber and Dr. Emmi Pikler. The text provides practical information based on theoretical and research foundations that teachers can implement in a variety of infant and toddler settings. A must-have in any centre library.

Loose Parts 2: Inspiring play with Infants and Toddlers

Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky (2016)

This book is filled with a multitude of ideas and resources to support exploration and investigation for infants and toddlers. The authors unpack the theory behind loose parts play and include several examples of infants and toddlers engaged in following their curiosity and wonder. Very inspirational. 

Dance With Me in the Heart. The Adults’ Guide to Great Infant-Parent Partnerships

Pennie Brownlee

This is not just a book for parents. Anyone who has a relationship with an infant needs to read this book. For teachers, it is likely to transform practice.

Pennie challenges adults to re-think practices such as ‘tummy time’, ‘rescuing’ and ‘containing’ babies. The illustrations are clear and the book is filled with practical information. Extra copies should be held in parent-libraries. The chapters would make great discussion topics at staff meetings or parent meetings. This book is widely used within ELP.

Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain

Sue Gerhardt

The reviewers of this book say: ”It is a must read for every parent, teacher, physician and politician.” “It should be mandatory reading.” “This humane, wise book should be read by everyone concerned with the care of children.”

Sue Gerhardt reminds us how early experiences shape a babies brain. A book that should be read by every teacher then copies put in parent libraries.

How Babies Think: The Science of Childhood

Alison Gopnik, Andrew Meltzoff & Patricia Kuhl

A very interesting read for those passionate about babies and toddlers.  The authors discuss their research in a readable and engaging manner. They demonstrate through research the way babies use sophisticated reason to understand their world. 

This book is crucial to infant and toddler pedagogy, particularly in the area of early literacy and the development of language.
This book contributes strongly to Alison Gopnik’s book “The Philosophical Baby”.

The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us about Truth, Love and the Meaning of Life

Alison Gopnik

In this book Alison Gopnik, professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, mother, and philosopher, shares with us the story of how we become the grown-ups we are.

This book offers us – parents, grandparents, early childhood teachers, and infant/child specialists – a deeper understanding and appreciation of our role in shaping the lives of children and our future as human beings. She says that “… love itself depends on knowledge and imagination. For babies, who are so utterly helpless and dependent, no theory is as important as the theory of love.” (p.247)

A Child’s Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play

Vivian Gussin Paley

This small book is a poignant and gentle reminder about the importance of play. The complexity of dramatic play is shown through children’s narratives, which are thoughtfully analysed by the author.

Issues of social justice are discussed, and working theories debated as children weave their own stories and revisit play themes over many days. Vivian Gussin Paley advocates for a repositioning of dramatic play as central to early childhood settings. She believes this is crucial for children to develop strong communication skills, social competencies and to be literate.

In Mrs. Tully’s Room: A Childcare Portrait

Vivian Gussin Paley

Paley expertly weaves Mrs. Tully’s intuitive wisdom throughout the classroom stories into this wonderful book. The sensitivity of the relationships and the respect that Mrs. Tully has for each child make visible the pedagogical skill and physiological insight that intuitive teachers bring to their work. This beautiful story is another of Gussin Paley’s inspirational books.

Developing Play for the Under 3s: A Treasure Basket and Heuristic Play

Anita Hughes

This is a very readable book that explains the philosophy of heuristic play and gives practical examples of how the philosophy can be implemented. The book focuses on open ended, natural and household resources, giving low cost practical ways of adding complexity to infant and toddler environments.

Issues of social justice are discussed, and working theories debated as children weave their own stories and revisit play themes over many days. Vivian Gussin Paley advocates for a repositioning of dramatic play as central to early childhood settings. She believes this is crucial for children to develop strong communication skills, social competencies and to be literate.

Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling 

John Taylor Gatto

At ELP events we often talk about ‘burning the rosters’ and allowing children the freedom to choose what they would like to be doing in the moment.  Ideas such as rolling mealtimes, getting rid of compulsory mat times and child-led learning are all encompassed by this notion.  While this book is written from the perspective of an American school teacher, the ideas of challenging the hidden curriculum of education will be appreciated by those in early childhood.  Highlighted in the book, which is a collection of speeches given by the author upon accepting awards for teaching, is the ringing of a bell to signal to children they should stop what they are doing and move on to the next subject.  Gatto’s view is that the bell tells children that what they are doing in the moment is as important as the school’s timetable – you can immediately see the relevance!

About the author

John Taylor Gatto is a former school teacher who taught in New York City for thirty years.  He was named New York State Teacher of the Year in 1990 and again in 1991.

The Science of Parenting 

Margot Sunderland

This is a great book for parents and teachers that draws on brain research to empower parents and teachers to make informed decisions.  The writer uses scientific studies to help develop the reader’s understanding on how to push forward to develop more “benign societies with greater compassion, capacity to reflect, and respect for difference”.  Sunderland also discusses children’s brain development, crying and separations, sleep, the chemistry of living life well and much, much more.  This is a wonderfully illustrated book which easy to read for teachers and parents alike.

About the author

Margot Sunderland is a British child psychologist and psychotherapist who has worked with families and children for over thirty years who’s multitudes of books on child mental health have been translated into over eighteen languages.

All profits gained from books purchased via the ELP website will be donated to the ECE Leadership Trust. This Trust is set up specifically to support teachers attending conferences and any other professional development.

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