I have a huge range of kids that show up for my story times. In any given program I may have a 6 month old and a 4 year old; it's not easy, or possible, to plan a full program that caters to both of those kids. There are a few magical books, however, that span the age range and are engaging for all of my story time regulars whether they're 8 months or the mother of an 8 month old. I use a lot of repetition from week to week and these books are kept in heavy rotation.
Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler I use Jazz Baby as my last book in each story time that I do. The kids and their adults all know it now and are excited to see it every single time.The sparse text flows really well and interacts with the illustrations to form one integrated experience that I love. The rhythm lends itself really well to call-and-response so I usually do Jazz Baby as a "repeat after me" book where I speak a line and have the kids and their adults repeat it back. Go Away, Big Green Monster!by Ed Emberly Everyone uses GABGM, and for good reason. There's nice tension in the build up to the reveal of the total monster and taking apart the monster piece by piece is enormously satisfying. I use a flannel version of GABGM almost as often as I use the actual book and get the kids involved by asking them to shout out what piece/color goes on or away next.
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoesby Eric Litwin Anytime a book incorporates a sung refrain, I'm on board. Pete the Cat moves so quickly and there's so much repetition that by the end even my youngest sitters are mouthing along and the adults holding babies are swaying to the beat.
Who Hops?by Katie Davis I'm constantly on the lookout for books that engage adults as well as children. I ask my adults to model good behavior for the kids in the room, and it's so much easier for them to stop talking to each other or on their phones if they're genuinely interested in what I'm doing at the front of the room. All of the books on this list are heavy on audience participation for that very reason. Who Hops? is no different. It uses deceptively simple illustrations- eye catching for my littlest ones- while dropping some serious knowledge about a few of the animals who don't hop, fly, swim or slither.