Tag Archives: children

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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Filed under book series, children's books, Series

Take a Look in Picture Books!

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

How is a “p” different from a “q” and a “b” not the same as a “d”? The little details that make letters different from one another require good observation skills that children develop with practice. Noticing differences and similarities also helps when learning to draw, read, study the natural world, and learn a new sport. Details matter! Slow down and just look. You and your child will see a new world.

It’s easy to use picture books to help your child develop observation skills. Most children’s books have little details in the illustrations that may tell even more about the story than the words. The next time you read together notice what is the same and different in the pictures from one page to the next. Are there objects or actions not mentioned in the story that you find? It’s a fun game to play.

Use any of your favorite picture books or try some of these and play the “same and different” game.

“Birds,” by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek. Simple, playful text describes how birds are many colors, shapes, and sizes. Compare them all. Then in some “what if”” scenarios we see how with some imagination birds can paint colors across the sky with their tails and a tree-full of crows can fly away in a rowdy surprise.

“Little Cloud,” written and illustrated by Eric Carle. A picture book for the very young child. See Little Cloud as he changes from one shape to another before becoming part of a big rain cloud. After reading, look at real clouds in the sky with your child and see if any look like familiar objects.

“Flotsam,” by David Wiesner. This is a wordless picture book, so all you can do is look and see what has changed in each illustration! The pictures reveal the story of a boy at the beach finding an underwater camera washed up on the shore. When he develops the film, he can’t believe what he sees. There are many details to discover on each page.

“The Snail and the Whale,” by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Charming illustrations and rhyming text together tell the story of a great adventure. Seagulls, a cat, and many little snails are supporting characters in the pictures at the start of the story, but are replaced by penguins and seals at the north pole and then parrots and crabs in tropical islands. Each place the snail and whale travel around the world is a new place depicted in detail. Is the cat in the beginning the same cat at the end? Take a look.

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Filed under I spy, imagination, observation skills, same and different, wordless picturebooks

The Glory of Autumn in Children’s Books

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

Soon we’ll be seeing signs of autumn and your children may start wondering. Why do leaves change color in the fall? How do you make applesauce? Where are the geese flying? Snuggle up and read some children’s books together and satisfy your child’s curiosity. Read and learn about autumn, go for a walk looking for colorful leaves, taste some newly picked apples, and enjoy the glory of the season with your family.

Here are some books about fall to read with your young children:

 

 

 

 

 

  • “The Busy Little Squirrel” by Nancy Tafuri. Just like the squirrels in your own neighborhood, this little squirrel scurries here and there as the summer changes to autumn and he prepares for the winter ahead.
  • “Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin Pie” by Jill Esbaum. In this story illustrated with photographs, your child will see how a little pumpkin seed becomes a sprawling pumpkin vine and eventually can be baked into a golden pumpkin pie.
  • “Fall Mixed Up” by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Chad Cameron. Words and pictures about autumn are silly jumbles of mistakes. Look for what is not quite right on each page. Do bears really gather nuts and do geese hibernate?
  • “Leaf Jumpers” by Carole Gerber and Leslie Evans. Make a pile of leaves and jump! You’ll learn about why leaves change color and why they fall off trees.
  • “Applesauce Season” by Eden Ross Lipson, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein. Red apples, orange leaves, and bright blue sky–It’s time to make applesauce. You’ll want to make your own after reading how easy it is to do. Start your own fall family tradition!
  • “Hello Harvest Moon” by Ralph Fletcher, illustrated by Kate Kiesler. The big full moon during harvest time is celebrated in words and beautiful illustrations.
  • “The Roll-Away Pumpkin” by Junia Wonders, illustrated by Daniela Volpari. Maria goes on a chase after her pumpkin escapes her grasp one windy autumn day.
  • “The Little Yellow Leaf” by Carin Berger. This little yellow leaf has to be brave because it’s going to be autumn soon and he knows he will fall from his tree.
  • “Autumn Is Here!” by Heidi Pross Gray. See the changes that happen as autumn arrives. Children will enjoy the whimsical text and repeated refrain.

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Summertime Fun!

Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

Summertime is here! Enjoy the sun, the warmth, and all the family fun that summer brings. Are you planning a vacation? Will you be spending some time at the pool? Are you looking forward to some backyard exploration? Whatever you do this summer, there are many books to read with your young children to enrich experiences and give your family ideas for summer activities. Here are a few favorites:

“LaRue Across America: Postcards from the Vacation,” written and illustrated by Mark Teague. Told from the perspective of Mrs. LaRue’s dog, Ike, you can follow their road trip across the country visiting landmarks, cities, and small towns. It would be a much better vacation for Ike if they didn’t have the neighbor’s cats along with them in the car!

“Summer Days and Nights,” written and illustrated by Wong Herbert Yee. A celebration of the simple pleasures of summer, this story features a little girl’s adventures in one day, sun-up to sun-down. Butterflies, lemonade, picnics, and swimming during the day and owls, frogs, and sounds to explore in the night. This book will inspire your family to head outside and appreciate the natural world.

“Frog and Friends: The Best Summer Ever,” by Eve Bunting, illustrated by José Masse. This beginning reader book is written in 3 short stories. In each, Frog interacts with his friends and learns about accepting differences, compromising, and being generous, with summertime as a backdrop for the tales.

“Hello Ocean,” by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Mark Astrella. This poem will bring you right to the ocean with rich language that evokes the feel, sights, sounds, smell, and even the taste of the ocean. Squishy sand between the toes and salt spray on the face are also depicted in the realistic illustrations.

“Maisy Learns to Swim,” written and illustrated by Lucy Cousins. With a little trepidation, Maisy goes to her first swim lesson and step-by-step we see what she learns from kicking, floating, and blowing bubbles. Maisy is cold getting out of the pool, but gets dressed, and has a snack. The story covers all the nuances of learning to swim.

“Bailey Goes Camping,” written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes. Bailey, the rabbit, wants to go camping with his older brother and sister, but they tell him he is too little to go. Mother finds a way for Bailey to camp out right at home. This is one of the author’s first books and has become a summertime classic.

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Name that Vehicle!

By Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

Garbage trucks, graders, backhoes, and snow plows. Front-end loaders, fire engines, and cranes. When you have a young child in your life who loves hard-working vehicles, you probably are learning all about them yourself. Do you have to stop with your child at every construction site to look at the action? Does your child point out 18-wheelers and police cars on the highway?

Young children are learning to name their world–to put words to what they see. Reading books about diggers, lifters, and emergency vehicles reinforces what you see in everyday life. Most of these books are in a convenient and durable board book format. Some are stories and some are just about recognizing the differences and learning the names.

Try some of these books to read with your very young child and then see how excited he or she is to name a vehicle you see in action!

  • “Machines at Work” by Byron Barton. Big blocks of primary colors in Barton’s signature style depict different trucks and other hard working machines. The text is brief­–perfect for toddlers.
  • “Tip Tip Dig Dig” by Emma Garcia. Collaged paper makes up the simple illustrations of trucks digging, moving, and shaping earth. Simple text gives noises for each vehicle. Roll, roll, roll and push, push, push–What are all these vehicles making together?
  • “My Truck is Stuck” by Kevin Lewis, illustrated by Daniel Kirk. Silly repeating rhymes and funny illustrations tell the story of a truck that can’t move and needs help. Count how many cars and vehicles try to get the truck unstuck and watch the pictures closely for another storyline. This author and illustrator pairhas also created “Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo” and “Tugga-Tugga Tugboat.” 
  • “Little Blue Truck” by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry. This truck is stuck in the country on a mucky road and finds that some farm animals can help. Lyrical, rhyming text is full of truck and animal sounds. The story is one of friendship and helping others.
  • “Road Builders” by B.G. Hennessy, illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Simms Taback. This is a story all about how a road is built, from beginning to end. What does the crew do? Which construction vehicles are needed for which jobs? You’ll find out what each does, from cement mixers to pavers.

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Filed under books for toddlers, family reading, trucks, vehicles, words

Loving Words and Reading

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

Will you be my valentine? Celebrate the day of love by making Valentine’s Day cards with your children. Cut out or draw hearts and flowers, add some bold red and pink, maybe some stickers, lace, or yarn, and then together choose words to use on your creation.

Your young child may not write yet, so let him have fun practicing holding a crayon or pencil and making marks on the paper. If she has something she’d like to say on the card, you can write the words for her and point out how each letter of a word has a sound and together the letters make a word.

Put finished valentines on mom or dad’s pillow or send in the mail to grandma, grandpa, or friends. Start a tradition!

Snuggle up together and enjoy some books about love. Your child will learn new ways to appreciate kindness shown by others, learn words about feelings, and learn how to give kindness in return.

  • “The Day it Rained Hearts” by Felicia Bond. A girl collects hearts that fall from the sky and makes valentines for all her friends. The perfect book to read before making your own valentines.
  • “I Love Mom with the Very Hungry Caterpillar,” illustrated by Eric Carle. The iconic green and red caterpillar crawls his way through a small format book that celebrates all the ways moms are amazing! Every mother and grandmother who reads this book will feel honored.
  • “My Dad Loves Me,” by Marianne Richmond. A board book with very simple sentences on each page describing ways animal dads show they care about their children.
  • “Click, Clack, Moo I Love You,” by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin. Little Duck throws a Valentine’s Day party for the animals living at the farm, complete with pink and red balloons, twinkly lights, and valentines in the barn. But then Little Fox crashes the party and the farm animals stop everything. What is a fox doing in the barn? With the classic humor of her other books, Cronin ends the story with all the animals dancing “until the cows came home.”
  • “This is NOT a Valentine!” by Harter Higgins, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins. Perfect for a child who blushes uncomfortably if you talk about love and mushy things. This story illustrates that love is all around. Showing you care is in the everyday things you do together or for someone else.
  • “Love is” by Diane Adams, illustrated by Claire Keane. A girl, a duckling, and a year of learning about each other is a lesson in love. Can you let someone grow and change and love them just the same?

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Filed under holidays, love, Valentine's Day, words

Choosing the Best Book

 

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

Looking for that perfect book gift for the young child in your life? As a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or friend, it’s not always easy to know what will spark the interest of a youngster. Here are some strategies for choosing a winner:

  • Ask the child’s parent for ideas. A parent probably knows best what books are already in the household and what kinds of books their child chooses as a read-aloud book again and again.
  • Ask the child for ideas. What are their favorite books now? Is there a library book they’ve read that they want to have for their own to keep?
  • Go with what you know about the child’s interests. Does he or she like kittens, wild animals, the ocean, adventure, or the color pink? There are books on just about every topic a child might find exciting. Look online or ask your local bookseller for ideas for the age of the child.
  • Search online under “best children’s book lists” and you’ll find lists of book choices from The New York Times, the New York Public Library, book publishers, Time magazine, and many more. Look up your neighborhood library online and you’ll find book lists galore!
  • Read reviews of children’s books online. Find out what books keep the attention of young listeners and why and match that to what you know about the child.
  • Read the book yourself before buying it, if you can. Are the illustrations engaging? Is the story compelling?
  • Pay attention to the recommended age range for the book. You may also know what kinds of books the child already listens to or reads independently and can choose a book gift at that same comprehension level.
  • Choose a book that was published this year if you want to be pretty sure the child doesn’t own it already. Pick a classic if you know the child doesn’t have it already, and you want to make sure that book is part of the child’s home library.
  • You also could go through your own collection of children’s books and pick some favorites to pass down and enjoy.
  • Avoid books that have toy parts attached to them that can break or have pieces that can be lost. This will just be frustrating to the child and parents in the end.
  • Inscribe the book with your sentiment and the date as a way to make the book a keepsake.
  • If you can, enclose a note to offer to read the book aloud to the child via a video chat or in person.

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