Category Archives: Series

Getting to Know a Picture Book Character

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

When you think of children’s books that are written as a series of 2, 3, 4, or more books with the same characters in different stories you may think of chapter books for independent readers. Maybe you know some of these series for young readers such as “Junie B. Jones,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and “The Magic Tree House,” to name just a very few of so many that are popular.

But picture books also have character series that can hook the pre-reader. Getting to know the same characters in a series is like making new friends. As you see the characters develop relationships, face challenges, and solve problems, the young listener can relate to those events in their own life.

Try out some of these series and see what grabs the attention of your young child:

“Little Pig,” written and illustrated by David Hyde Costello. In 2 books (so far) this young pig faces the challenges of being the smallest and youngest in his family. In each story he wants to join in the activities that his older brothers and sisters are having but isn’t allowed. Without any fuss, this tenacious and creative little pig finds his own way of having fun.

“Frog and Toad,” written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel. Each of these 5 books is a collection of 5 short stories about two friends who have opposite personalities. The stories are about quiet times in every day life such as making a list of things to do, cleaning the house, and baking cookies in the context of what it means to be a friend.

“Good Dog Carl” written and illustrated by Alexandra Day. In over 15 mostly wordless stories, Carl the Rottweiler looks after a baby girl who gets into all kinds of predicaments. Young children will see the humor in the ongoing dilemmas.

“Elephant and Piggie” written and illustrated by Mo Willems. In a 6 book series that is growing, we see that these two best friends have very different personalities. Gerald the elephant is careful, solemn, a worrier. Piggie is happy-go-lucky, smiles, and tries anything. Every child will be able to relate to some qualities in these two characters.

“The Princess in Black” by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. In this 4 book series we are introduced to a young girl who looks like any normal princess until she is needed to save the day and changes into a superhero.

“Flat Stanley,” by Jeff Brown, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan. This series of 6 books started with the original Flat Stanley book over 50 years ago. A boy named Stanley Lambchop is accidentally flattened to be just one half inch thick when a bulletin board falls on him in the night. Being that flat, Stanley can be mailed, rolled up, flown in the sky like a kite and becomes an unlikely hero by catching two art thieves.

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Non-fiction books have many benefits for kids

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator

 

Q: What should my child be reading?

A: More non-fiction!

The teachers I have spoken to say they hear this question and give this answer all the time. And they do so for a good reason.

Non-fiction literature gives children a glimpse at how the world works and allows them to explore unfamiliar places, animals, cultures, and concepts. For example, a child interested in marine life can learn about the creatures residing within the very depths of the ocean and a child curious about the foods enjoyed in Japan can have their questions answered and even learn to make some of these foods themselves by following recipes found in cookbooks. Nonfiction builds on a child’s interests and curiosity, increases vocabulary and deepens background knowledge. And the topics to be explored are endless!

Non-fiction differs from fiction because it requires reading for content and information. Having early experiences with informational text gives children the opportunity to practice gleaning facts, statistics, instructions and other pertinent information from text, diagrams, charts, and photographs. This is a skill used in daily life. Whether following a recipe, deciphering a bus schedule, or reading a formal contract, the ability to sift out necessary details is required to be successful.

Non-fiction can also help children handle new life experiences and changes. Moving abroad, or even down the street, preparing to welcome a new sibling, or having trouble with friends- there are multitudes of printed materials at the ready to give children (and adults!) factual information about any life situation.

Non-fiction comes in many forms from newspapers, magazines, educational journals, atlases, cookbooks, and encyclopedias, all of which can be found in your local library. Next time your child asks a question about wombats or Thomas Edison that you don’t have an answer for, stop by the library and check out a few books! You and your child will find what you’re looking for and a whole lot more!

Here are some great nonfiction book series that are available at your local library or bookseller:

The Magic School Bus series
National Geographic Kids
Backyard Books
‘What was…’ series
‘Who was…’ series
‘I survived’ series

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Let’s Read More!

Have you ever read a book that you just don’t want to end? You’ve grown to know and love the characters. You ache for them as they face challenges, cheer them on as they begin adventures, and celebrate their triumphs… and then, the story’s done! It feels like you’ve lost a friend!

The way to continue the relationship with these new-found friends, is to read books that come as a series – multiple stories about the same characters with new challenges, adventures, and triumphs.

Series books are written for all ages. Beginning with the youngest listeners, there are groups of books that use the same characters to explore a child’s world. Helen Oxenbury has a series of four board books:  “All Fall Down,” Clap Hands,” “Tickle, Tickle,” and “Say Goodnight,” that are all the same-sized, square books featuring the same cute, round headed children doing baby things.  Also popular with young children are the “Baby Face” books that all have photos of real babies.

You can keep up with the adventures of “Spot,” the yellow dog, in Eric Hill’s many books about the lovable canine. If your child likes the story by Don Freeman of how the mischievous bear “Corduroy,” comes to live at Lisa’s house, make sure to also read “A Pocket for Corduroy” and the other books about this same fuzzy stuffed animal with shoe-button eyes.

Corduroy Bear

Nancy Carlson’s plucky character Louanne Pig, Rosemary Wells’ bunny siblings Max and Ruby, Kevin Henkes’ feisty girl mouse Lilly, and Tedd Arnold’s boy frog Huggly all have many books written about each of them, so when your child befriends one character, you can read more books about that same individual. As the personality and behavior of the character becomes clear, your child can start predicting what that character will do in the story. Where is Louanne going to ride on her bike? Will Max and Ruby get into trouble this time?

Older children will enjoy series books such as “The Box Car Children,” by Gertrude Chandler Warner, about four children on their own. (There are over 100 books in this series.) For some American history, read the autobiographical “Little House” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder about her family’s trek across the New Frontier. In this collection of books you’ll read about Laura as a young girl and witness her growing up and finally get married in the 9th book of the series. The series continues in books written by her children. There are also series of books about “The Magic Treehouse,” “Cam Jansen,” “Harry Potter,” “Redwall,” and many, many others.

To relate these books to real life, pick out some activities from your child’s favorite stories to do at home. Cut sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters (like Lilly does in “Chester’s Way”), create a pocket with paper and tape (like Corduroy’s) or make an old-fashioned bonnet out of a paper bag and string (like Laura Ingalls wore on the prairie). For more titles of books in a series, ask your school or public librarian.

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March 6, 2014 · 2:10 pm