04/18/2012 03:41 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Our Toddler's Favorite Books (And Ours, Too!)

Every night, we take turns and get cozy in our super-chic rocker and read at least two (but sometimes as many as five) books to Simone before she goes to bed. So we've read a lot of books in her nearly two years of life. There are some great books for kids, and a surprising number of really awful ones.

There's no telling why Simone gravitates toward certain books over others. We have maybe 50 or 60 for her to pick from, but she seems to always gravitate toward a handful of favorites. As dads, our criteria are pretty basic:

  • We like books with a point. That doesn't mean the book needs to have a distinct narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. It can be a basic book that showcases different colors. But it needs to be consistent and fun. We've read books that are literally four pages long and make no sense, as though someone picked random words and images and just tossed them onto a few blank pages. What was the point?!

  • We like books with strong female characters, and we tend to shy away from stories about princesses. We know some people think we're crazy. We're sure many of the most independent, confident, powerful women in the world wanted to be a princess when they were little girls (Hillary?). But it seems like so many princess narratives focus on physical beauty and waiting for some prince to come rescue or complete them. No, thanks.
  • We tend to shy away from books that center around a mom character. No, we are not trying to shield Simone from the fact that she has two dads rather than a mom and a dad. But when reading to her at such an early age, we'd rather focus on stories that reinforce the bond between a father and child. She sees plenty of mom figures on TV and in her real life already. Reading time is daddy time.
  • So here are Simone's 10 favorite books (at least for right now), in no particular order:

    • My First Wonder Woman Book by David Katz (Downtown Bookworks): We recently picked this book up for Simone at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and she loves it! She likes the shiny images and the golden lasso she can touch and pull on. And we love that she's being introduced to a strong female character who does good and looks good doing it. We were both big Wonder Woman fans growing up (shocker), and we're thrilled when Simone picks up this book for us to read. Halloween 2012, here comes Wonder Simone!

  • And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (Simon & Schuster): The real-life story of two male penguins and the baby penguin they adopt. How cute is that?!
  • Presenting... Tallulah by Tori Spelling (Simon & Schuster): What type of Guncles would we be if we didn't read our Tori's adorable children's book to Simone?! How many kids can say their godmother/aunt has written her very own book? We're so proud of Tori for so many of the things she creates, and we're thrilled that we can share Tallulah with Simone.
  • I Love You, Little Pumpkin! by Sandra Magsamen (LB Kids): It's not Halloween, but she still loves this book. Every other page had a flap on it, and she loves to flip to the next page and pull the flap down. It can be hard reading this book to her, because her head is always in the way.
  • Walt Disney's Three Little Pigs (Golden Books): Simone is obsessed with this classic book. We're not sure if it's the pigs, our singing, or the huffing and puffing that she enjoys. Regardless, it's great to see her react so strongly to a book that we grew up loving. There's a reason it's a classic. Plus, it has a great message about having a strong work ethic and not taking shortcuts. (But in all honestly, who can really blame the big, bad wolf: who doesn't love bacon?!)
  • Good Morning, Good Night! by Teresa Imperato (Piggy Toes Press): Simone loves touch-and-feel books, and this is one of her favorites. And for her dads, it's a great third or fourth book to read to her, because it advocates sleep. It's a nice book with which to finish our reading marathon.
  • We Belong Together by Todd Parr (Little, Brown & Company): We love so many of Todd Parr's books, including this one about adoption and families. We can't lie: we've cried while reading one or two of his books to Simone.
  • Simone Sleeps in a Bed by Your Dads ( This is a book we created on right before Simone transitioned from a crib into a bed. You go to their site, pick a book, upload some images of your child, and play with the already-written text. Simone's picture appears on the cover and on a few pages inside, and the story walks Simone through the different ways animals sleep -- standing up, upside down, eyes open, etc. -- and then how she now sleeps in a bed. She loves the "Simone book" and makes us read it to her almost every night.
  • The Big Red Book of Beginner Books (Random House): This is a collection of children's books from the past 50 years. We love two stories in particular: The Digging-est Dog by Al Peskins, and I Want to Be Somebody New! by Robert Lopshire. The Digging-est Dog was a favorite of Daddy Bill when he was a kid (100 years ago), and we love I Want to Be Somebody New! for its message about staying true to who you are.
  • All Kinds of Families! by Mary Ann Hoberman (Little, Brown & Company): This is a book that Tori sells in her Sherman Oaks, Calif. store, InvenTORI. It's all about how families can be made up in different ways. In fact, the book was a gift from Simone's Aunt Tori, and she loves it.
  • If you know of any books that you think Simone might enjoy, please let us know on Twitter (@scoutmasterson and @thebillhorn) or on Facebook.

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