Taro Gomi. Given Ben's early and continuing obsession with transportation, he immediately fell in love with Bus Stops - which features a bus dropping off passengers at different destinations on each page. I fell in love with Gomi's illustrations - which are so rich in detail that it allowed us to read the book over and over again always with new pages to focus on or new little stories to find within the story. It also provided a jumping off point for discussions with Ben about where he'd like to take the bus and what he thought the people would do when they got off the bus.
My Friends, which features a little girl demonstrating on each page what she has learned from her friends. Alice's favorite pages include, "I learned to nap from my friend the crocodile," and "I learned to study from my friends the teachers." Most of the friends the little girl learns from are animals - and in addition to reading the book over and over, we've also enjoyed acting out what each of the animals is teaching - including running, marching, and singing. Alice, who is now 20 months, has grown so attached to the book that she insists on sleeping with it so she can read it to herself before falling asleep and in the morning when she gets up.
While I recommend Taro Gomi's books for young readers because the stories are simple and the illustrations are beautiful, I especially appreciate that as a Japanese writer/illusrator, Gomi draws Japanese children in his books. As I make an effort to expose my children to diversity through literature, and to our own family's Japanese culture, it's nice to have such a talented author out there to turn to. For those who want more information on the need to increase diversity in children's books, please check out the We Need Diverse Books website and their suggestions for diverse books for toddlers (age 3-5).