No trip to D.C. with a preschooler would be complete without a stop at the National Zoo. It was miserably hot and we didn't have the double stroller, but Little Page was a trooper as we sought out the Giant pandas, baby gorilla, and orangutans. Her favorite - and the very last exhibit we visited - was the flamingos.
I enjoyed sharing the experience not only with Little Page but also with her little sister. At one, Littlest Page is just old enough to notice and enjoy new sites... although she called everything from the elephants to the seals a "dog". To celebrate her first big zoo experience, I have two zoo-themed board books, both of which are classics. If you don't already have these as part of your library, you need to add them. If your babies are already too old, give them at the next shower you're invited to. Littlest Page loves them both, as does her big sister!
In Good Night, Gorilla a naughty monkey follows after the zoo keeper as he makes his evening rounds. After the keeper checks on each animal, the monkey secretly unlocks the cage and lets the animal out, creating quite the little parade behind the oblivious zoo keeper. Author Peggy Rathman uses very little narration, allowing you and your child to describe what's happening on each page.
Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book is another favorite of ours. In this story, a child writes to the zoo asking for a pet. The zoo sends a number of animals, but each one is "too" something - too scary, too fierce, too jumpy. Finally the zoo gets it just right. Each animal is hidden behind a sturdy flap your child can lift. Littlest Page loves discovering the animals behind the flaps and I enjoy teaching her the names of the animals and the sounds they make. (She especially likes my "roar!".)