Category Archives: children’s books

Recommendations of books your young child may like to hear read aloud.

Encourage Creativity and Wonder

Katrina Morse
For Family Reading Partnership

The next time you are at your local library or favorite bookstore, make a point to find the biographies in the non-fiction section of the children’s books. Once you know your way to those shelves, you’ll have access to the true-to-life stories that can inspire and engage your child into learning new things and dreaming big.

Stories about activists, composers, athletes, inventors, artists, engineers, and more will spark your child’s imagination. Many biographies written for children start by describing the childhood of the accomplished adult. They tell how that man or woman began with an idea as a young boy or girl and how their curiosity and wonder drove them to pursue their passion.

Who will inspire your child’s love of learning? Check out some of the following biographies of scientists and inventors. And make sure to read more biographies about other life adventurers that followed their dreams and in doing, made the world a better place.

“Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist” by Jess Keating, illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens.
This is the story of marine biologist Eugenie Clark and her daring pursuit of studying sharks at a time in history when women were discouraged from careers that were dangerous and traditionally held by men.

“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” picture book edition, by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. This modern day biography was released as a chapter book and is now a motion picture and a picture book for younger children. This is the story of a young boy and his vision to bring electricity to his village in Malawi. With a mixture of illustration and photos, the reader sees the real life account of a boy whose search for answers started at his public library and led him to invent the design for a windmill to generate electricity that changed life in his community.

“On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein” by Jennifer Berne Page, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky. We think of Einstein, the man, as a genius, but first he was a curious, imaginative child who didn’t speak much. As an adult he was funny and loved jokes and tricks, and still wasn’t comfortable in social settings. But, Einstein never stopped wondering how things worked and had the courage and motivation to explore the physical world around him and the world in his mind to come up with revolutionary theories in physics.

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Filed under children's books, creativity, family, family reading

Back to School!

by Katrina Morse
for Family Reading Partnership

Get ready for school! New routines, new friends, and new challenges are part of the school year ahead. Is your child starting a new school or moving up a grade and joining a new classroom? Ease any first-day-of-school jitters by reading stories about what school might by like and talking about your child’s feelings.

The characters in books often have the same feelings that your child may have, so reading a book together can give you and your child ideas and the words to talk about and overcome any worries.

Sharing any book with your child also adds to their personal sense of security. Sitting together and giving your attention to your child as you read aloud shows them that you support them, care for them, and love them. It helps your child feel confident enough to try new things, which they will be doing all school year long.

Here are some books to read before the big first day:

“On the First Day of Kindergarten” by Tish Rabe, illustrated by Laura Hughes. Count all the fun first days of kindergarten, starting right on day one. You will see how many exciting things happen in school, like making new friends, painting, running a race, and counting. Upbeat and engaging with a diverse classroom of children depicted in the illustrations.

“The Pigeon HAS to Go to School” by Mo Willems. Pigeon cannot believe he has to start school. He already knows everything and doesn’t want to make new friends. What is school about anyway? He just doesn’t want to go! If your child already loves Mo Willems’ books, this is going to be another winner in your family. If you have yet to meet Pigeon–and Elephant and Piggie–in other Willems’ books, you are in for a treat, and some laughs! Pigeon has many of the same fears as any child about going to school, but your child can giggle at Pigeon’s overblow reactions.

“Monsters Love School,” by Mike Austin. A little monster named Blue is anxious and worried about going to school. He wonders, “What do you eat at school? What do you learn? What about friends?” Adults and teachers are reassuring at every turn during Blue’s first school day. From the art teacher, to the school lunch worker, to the gym teacher he hears the same messages, “School is for trying new things. You’ll meet new friends. You’ll like school!” Told with humor and light-heartedness, this story will be a comfort to a Pre-K or kindergarten child before their first day at a new school.

“Planet Kindergarten” by Sue Ganz-Schmitt, illustrated by Shane Prigmore. Put on your helmet and get ready to blast off to a classroom. This story creates an outer space adventure of going to school. Starting with a flight plan for the journey, school as a space capsule, and fellow students as the crew, the playful story reveals that the main astronaut is a bit worried about the trip. Cute and clever, the story ends with the young space-goer back on his original planet with a splashdown (in the bathtub) in the comfort of his own home.

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Filed under back to school, benefits of reading together, family reading, Feelings, Mo Willems, opportunities for conversation

Celebrate Dads with Children’s Books

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

Let’s celebrate dads! Give a children’s book as a gift to a new dad, or read books together about dads with your young child. Children will see in stories how it’s the simple, everyday things a dad does with his family that children will grow up to cherish.

Very young children are learning who is who in their immediate world. Dad, mom, sister, brother – babies and toddlers are just beginning to understand who the important people are in their lives. Reading books about dads (or moms, grandmas, grandpas, and significant others) is a way to talk to your child about these relationships.

But more importantly, every time you snuggle up with a child and read a book together, you are establishing a loving bond and a feeling of security for your child that will help them grow and thrive.

Here are some books about fathers to celebrate the dad in your young child’s life. Most of these are in board book format, so are great for babies who want to hold a book and explore how it opens and closes – and how it tastes!

“Made for Me” by Zack Bush, illustrated by Gregorio DeLauretis. This story is very sweet in its words, but what makes the book compelling to share with a child are the illustrations paired with the story. The dad depicted is a gentle giant of a man who cares for a very small child and repeats the reassuring refrain in the story, “You are the one made just for me.”

“Quiero a mi papa porque… – I Love My Daddy Because…” by Laurel Porter Gaylord, illustrated by Ashley Wolff. English and Spanish are together in one book, or you can read the English only version. This book is part of a series of board books that show the caring family relationships of people that are similar to animal families.

“I Love You Daddy “by Jilliam Harker, illustrated by Kristina Stephenson celebrates the bond between a child and dad. When Little Bear needs a hand he finds that his father is the best choice to help out and in turn learns more about himself.

“Daddy Hugs” by Karen Katz. This is a counting book layered with love and hugs between a father and baby going about their daily routine. The short text and bold illustrations will capture the attention of your young child.

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Making Friends

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

What does it take to be a good friend? Sharing adventures, working out problems, and accepting each other despite differences is a good foundation for a long-term friendship.

As the parent of a young child, you can model good friendships and show your child the type of supportive people that you want to have around that add meaning and richness to your life.

You can also talk to your child about what character traits you value as a family such as honesty, kindness, being a good listener, and being able to share. Reading books together about friendship gives you the opportunity to talk about the joys and the occasional frustrations of being and having a friend. Enjoy some of these stories and learn more about friendship.

  • “Carrot and Pea, an Unlikely Friendship” by Morag Hood. Can a small, round, green pea and a tall, straight, orange carrot stick be friends? With illustrations made of simple shapes and bold color, this clever story explains to the very young child how differences can be the bond for friendship.
  • “Stick and Stone” by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Much like “Carrot and Pea,” with one round and one straight character, this rhyming story goes into more detail about what it takes to be a friend through good times and rough patches. Even though friends can be very different from each other, true friends care about one another.
  • “George and Martha” short stories by James Marshall. These two goofy hippos are best friends and do everything together. They go to the movies, the beach, eat meals, and like all best friends, laugh together and sometimes have misunderstandings. Although written over 30 years ago, these stories are timeless.
  • “Gerald and Piggie” books by Mo Willems. When an elephant and a pig get together, anything can happen! Each story explores an emotion that arises in this unlikely friendship using very simple language, with just a few words on each page.
  • “Leonardo the Terrible Monster” by Mo Willems. Being terrible at being a monster means that you can’t scare anyone! Leonardo works at becoming scary, but when he succeeds he realizes that perhaps being kind is a better way to gain a friend than being frightening.

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Filed under Feelings, friendship

Play with Books!

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

Dramatic play is what children do naturally. Acting out scenarios from real life settings such as home, the grocery store, or a city street or pretending to be someone else like a musician, pirate, or scientist give children the opportunity to explore their own feelings and learn how to talk about them. They confront fears, make choices, and solve problems. There is so much learning that happens in play!

Children’s books are a rich source of ideas for pretending. After reading any of your favorite books together, ask your young child which character they would like to pretend to be and start acting out the story. Grown-up hats, scarves, and shoes can used be as costumes that transform your child into another person or creature. Recreate the setting of a book with a few simple props you already have at home. Pillows can become a boat, car, or a picnic table. Stuffed animals and action figures can become other characters in a story. Let the play expand to new make-believe stories and let your child’s imagination blossom.

Here are some books for young children that will inspire the fun:

“This Jazz Man” by Karen Ehrhardt, illustrated by R.G. Roth. This counting book has a bee bop rhythm in the descriptions of how a jazz band makes music. Snap, tap, pound a beat on a drum, and lead with a conductor’s baton. Make your own instruments at home out of pots and pans and create your own sounds just by humming, clicking, and tootling to a beat! Can you work together to make music?

“Wiggle” by Doreen Cronin, illustrations by Scott Menchin. From the author of “Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type,” here is another story that will tickle your child’s funny bone and spark some creativity. Follow along as a dog wiggles his way through the day. From the morning wake-up wiggle, to wiggling with his shadow, wiggling like a crocodile, and wiggling as slowly as a polar bear, this is a book that you’ll want to read standing up. Then your child can practice all the ways to wiggle.

“Little Blue Truck Leads the Way.” By Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry. A sequel to “Little Blue Truck,” this story is set in a city with many other types of vehicles, lots of people, and tall buildings. Little Blue Truck is in the right place at the right time and saves the day. Phew! How did he feel about that? You and your children can pretend to be a line of cars, trucks, and cabs with Little Blue Truck out in front, leading the way through a city made by the furniture and doorways of your home.

 

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Filed under creativity, dramatic play, imagination, movement, music, rhythm

Reading Aloud to an Active Child

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

Before the age of 5, children are usually on the go, learning about their world by exploring. How can you share a book with a wiggly child who has a short attention span? Use some of these strategies while your child is growing to have more self-awareness and concentration:

  • Read books that encourage movement and act out the story together.
  • Read books that are interactive and require your child to look for details in the illustrations or guess what happens next.
  • Pick a time of day to read aloud when your child isn’t wound up and is more likely to slow down and listen.
  • Give your child something to do with his or her hands while you are reading, such as holding a small toy or making marks with a crayon on paper.
  • Be ok with your child getting up in the middle of the story and coming back to hear more.
  • Don’t force it. If your child doesn’t want to listen, choose another book or another time to read aloud.
  • Keep read-aloud fun for everyone!

Try some of these books about animals in motion with your active youngster:

“Waddle!” by Rufus Butler Seder. One of a series of board books made with a technique called “scanimation” that layers transparent illustrations on top of each other. When you turn the page, the scanimation picture looks like it’s moving. In this board book there is plenty of word play with alliteration and rhyming. “Can you hop like a frog? Flip. flop. flop.” Each page features one animal and asks the young child to do some pretending and moving.

“Dancing Feet” by Lindsey Craig, illustrated by Marc Brown. Babies will be visually mesmerized by the patterns of animal footprints illustrated in “Dancing Feet” and toddlers will respond to the rhythm and rhyme of the text. The story is packed full of actions you can do with your child along with guessing which animal will be on the next page. This book received a Gold Award from National Parenting Publications.

“Move!” by Robin Page, illustrated by Steve Jenkins. Perfect for a toddler, this book asks the listener to slither like a snake, leap like a frog, and make the motions for all kinds of animals. Your child will learn how his or her body can move! Check out the author’s other books for more animal adventures.

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Filed under board books, books for toddlers, movement

LOL with These Books!

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

When will a baby laugh at the game of peek-a-boo? At the time in their development when they start knowing what is expected and unexpected in their world. This first sense of humor revolves around the physical world and slap-stick scenarios like mom or dad pretending to drop an egg or playing dress-up with the dog.

As children learn more words, start to see different perspectives, and have practiced stretching their imaginations, language-based jokes become very funny. They will laugh at unlikely combinations of words, double meanings, and incongruous situations. They are now ready for some children’s books that will tickle their funny bones!

Get ready to laugh out loud while reading some of these books:

  • “Grandpappy Snippy Snappies” by Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Christopher Santoro. Grandpappy has some super useful suspenders that can make everything wrong turn right with just a snap. This fast paced story with rhyming text is full of surprises. When Grandmammy is in trouble and the suspenders are worn out, how will Grandpappy save the day?
  • “Those Darn Squirrels” by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. Old Man Fookwire loves painting pictures of the birds at his backyard feeders, until the birds fly south and the squirrels take over! This grumpy old man changes his tune when the squirrels come up with a plan.
  • “Silly Tilly” by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by David Slonim. “Tilly is not an ordinary goose. She takes her baths in apple juice. She wears a pancake as a hat. She tries to ride the farmer’s cat.” She’s not like any of her farm animal friends. When Tilly’s silliness gets to be too much, the barnyard animals demand that Tilly stop being silly. But then the farm is much too quiet and they miss their silly friend Tilly.
  • “I’m Bored” by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. A little girl is so very bored with life, until she meets a potato that actually talks. But the potato decides that kids are boring. The little girl is determined to show this potato that he is wrong about kids.
  • “A Little Stuck” by Oliver Jeffers, author and illustrator of “The Day the Crayons Quit.”  What would you do if your kite was stuck in a tree? Floyd tries to knock his kite down by throwing his shoe at it, then his other shoe, then a whale, a firefighter, an orangutan and more and more unlikely items as the story continues.

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Filed under family reading, family time, humorous