Posts Tagged ‘Picture Books’


Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Worms.  They’re slimy, slithery, and a little bit gross.  Which is probably why kids love them so much!  Check out some books about the little wrigglers, then round out your reading with a rhyme and fingerplay.

And if you still can’t get enough, bring the kids to this program to meet some worms and find out how to make your very own worm bin.  (It’s easy, and not as yucky as it seems!)

More books about worms!

(Gross) Rhyme:
It’s such a shock
I almost screech
when I find a worm
inside my peach.
But then, what really
makes me blue
is to find a worm
who’s bitten in two!

Finger play:
I lifted a stone and saw a worm,
(place hand over opposite pointer finger and “lift”)
I watched him wiggle and squiggle and squirm.
(wiggle index finger)
Hello Mr. Worm!  How are you today?
(talk to index finger)
But the worm just silently wiggled away.
(wiggle index finger away)

Did you know this post was based on a storytime?  Come to Saturday Tales and see what else we have to offer!

How to Operate Your New Book

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

I wasn’t going to do another picture book review for a while, but my Move with Music kids’ reaction this morning to My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall made me rethink my position.

I confess, I didn’t pick this book for storytime.  In fact, the first time I read it I thought, “Eh.”  It was cute, but I didn’t see anything special about it.  It’s just about a bunch of animals.  “My heart is like a zoo — eager as a beaver, steady as a yak,” etc., etc., etc., as the King of Siam would say.  That’s been done before.

But for reasons I cannot explain, the kids loved it.  Sometimes that just happens.  Even better, this also happens to be a great book for several of the early literacy skills.  The fact that the kids loved it, well there’s your print motivation (interest in and enjoyment of books) right there.

And all the animals are composed almost entirely of hearts.  As you may recall from this post, shape recognition is the first step of letter knowledge.  Kids need to be able to pick out the differences in shapes in order to recognize letters and subsequently assign meaning to them.  And of course the kids had so much fun pointing out all the different hearts in the pictures:  “The feet are hearts!  And the nose is a heart!  And look, the bee’s wings are hearts!”  That alone is super cute, once you get past the grown up tendency to shout, “Yes, they’re ALL hearts!”

The text is in rhyme, which is great for phonological awareness (hearing and playing with the smaller sounds in words).  That is, if you can hear the text over all the shouts of locating hearts all over the place.  All that talking, by the way, does great things for your kid’s narrative skills (ability to tell a story).

And finally, this is a great vocabulary book for several reasons.  You’ve got all the different animals, some of which are a bit unusual such as heron, yak and hornet.  And the text itself is a bit adventurous.  The fox is crafty.  There’s a gloomy lone coyote walking in the fog.  The peaceful portly walrus is lounging on a towel.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t use these words very frequently, and I don’t often see them in kids’ books.

So here’s this great, multi-faceted book that I would have completely overlooked had it not been for the programming prowess of Mr. Michael.  Which leads to the title of this post.  Although I often wish they did, books don’t come with owner’s manuals.  But with a little creativity, even seemingly simple books can offer big learning opportunities!

And by the way, Move with Music is just about over for the season.  If you just can’t wait until fall to get your groove on again, check out Get Musical this summer!

Read This! All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

All The World by Liz Garton Scanlon

“Rock, stone, pebble, sand
Body, shoulder, arm, hand
A moat to dig, a shell to keep
All the world is wide and deep.”

This charming story, told in a lilting, singsong rhyme, walks us through a single day of one family’s beach vacation. Each stanza offers a mini vignette: an unexpected rain storm teaches us that sometimes things we don’t want to happen, do; a grumbly tummy wait at a restaurant illustrates that patience is indeed a virtue.

Nearly every page of this seemingly simple story, either the text or the nostalgic illustration, invites further discussion. That makes this a great book for developing narrative skills, and the rhythmic rhyme naturally enhances phonological awareness. Take this with you on vacation for a relaxing and timely bedtime read!

More new picture books!

Early Literacy Tip: Best Books for Narrative Skills

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Last week’s book review mentioned narrative skills, so I thought I’d take a moment to give you a little more information.  A child who can describe things and events and tell a story has well developed narrative skills.  Being able to talk about and explain what happens in a story helps a child understand what he is reading.  In other words, good narrative skills lead to good reading comprehension.

This is the most difficult of the early literacy skills to work on, largely because it requires the most parental involvement!  The easiest way to work on your child’s narrative skills is to talk to her — or more appropriately, have her talk to you — as much as possible.  Ask her about her about her day, then ask questions to get her to explain even more.  Have her “read” you a wordless picture book.  Read a book with a repeating theme and ask your child to predict what will happen next.  Read a book a couple of times, then ask your child to tell it back to you in their own words.  Check out our narrative skills page for even more suggestions!

More great books for building narrative skills!

Read This! Chalk by Bill Thompson

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Chalk by Bill Thompson

A rainy day.  Three kids at the park.  A bag of chalk.  Magic! 

Big and little kids alike will delight in the lifelike illustrations of this wordless picture book.  Have your child “read” this story to you, then have your very own book club.  Talk about how the kids in the story might have felt.  Ask what your child would draw if they had magic chalk.  Would magic chalk be a good or a bad thing?  These are great activities for enhancing your child’s narrative skills!

More new picture books!  More stories without words!

Early Literacy Tip: Best Books for Print Awareness

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Print Awareness simply means that your child notices print, understands that it means something, and knows how to handle a book.  Children with well developed print awareness know how to hold a books the right way up, that books have a cover, a front and back, and eventually understand that we read from from top to bottom and left to right.

An easy way to help develop your child’s print awareness is to occassionally point to words as you read them.  Let your child turn the pages as you read.  Books with different sized or expressive text, or signs and words as part of the illustrations, also draw the child’s eye.  Find a book with a phrase that repeats and have your child help say it when you point to it. 

Or try this silly tip — open a book upside down and say, “That’s funny, I can’t read this book!  I wonder what’s wrong.”  If your child can’t figure it out right away, say, “Oh, look, it’s upside down!  Silly me!”   Be sure to point out the text and illustrate what it looks like upside down and right way up.

It’s also easy to work on print awareness without books.  Words are everywhere!  Point out street signs, signs in the grocery store, or print on the cereal box.  For more early literacy tips, check out our Born to Read pages.

More great print awareness books!

Stuck in a Rut

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Ahhh, days are getting longer, trees are budding, the air is a little warmer…it’s Spring!  Break out of your winter doldrums with some books about being stuck

Then dance to “Stick to the Glue” by Jim Gill , “Sticky Bubble Gum” by Carole Peterson, or “Chew Chew Chew” and “Molasses Molasses” by the timeless Ella Fitzgerald.  Furthering a reading experience with related music is a great way to work on early literacy skills

And don’t forget to come to Saturday Tales for more fun ideas like this!

More books about getting stuck!

Under the Big Top

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Get over your winter blues with a circus at home!  Pretend to juggle with cotton balls.  Place a long piece of masking tape on the floor and practice walking it like a tight rope walker.  Pretend to be a lion and lion tamer.  Do somersaults and other amazing acrobatic feats.  Do the action rhyme listed below, then pop some popcorn and enjoy some great circus books!


Funny Clown, Funny Clown (Tune: Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear)
Funny clown, funny clown,
spin around.
Funny clown, funny clown,
jump up and down.
Funny clown, funny clown,
shake your hips.
Funny clown, funny clown,
wiggle your lips.
Funny clown, funny clown,
touch your toes.
Funny clown, funny clown,
honk your nose.

If you love this idea, check out Saturday Tales every week at 11:00 for more great storytime themes!

Early Literacy Tip: Best Books for Phonological Awareness

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

This early literacy skill might sound intimidating, but it’s actually quite fun!   Phonological awareness is simply the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words.  There are so many easy ways help your child develop phonological awareness!  Singing is great because words are broken into smaller chunks when the pitch moves up and down.  Rhyming is also great, and clapping on every syllable of a word is surprisingly fun for the kiddies.  Try this fun chant:

Who took the cookies from the cookie jar?
Who took the cookies from the cookie jar?
Who took the cookies from the cookie jar?
{Insert child’s name} took the cookies from the cookie jar! (clap on each syllable of child’s name)
Who, me?
Yes, you!
Couldn’t be!
Then who?
{Insert sibling’s name/mom/grandma, etc.} Took the cookies from the cookie jar!
Who, me?
Yes, you!
Couldn’t be!
Then who?
Continue with as many names as you want, then end with someone funny — daddy, or cookie monster, or Santa — taking all the cookies!

More great phonological awareness, rhyming, and nursery rhyme books!

More info on the six early literacy skills: print motivation, vocabulary, print awareness, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, and narrative skills.

Early Literacy Tip: Best Books for Letter Knowledge

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Gather ’round, ya’ll, it’s time for the next installment in our series of posts about the six early literacy skills: print motivation, vocabulary, print awareness, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, and narrative skills.

Letter knowledge is understanding that letters are different from one another, and that they have different names and sounds.  Older kids can work on this skill by reading fun alphabet books, picking out favorite letters on signs, or playing a game to see how many words they can think of that start with the same sound/letter.  You can work on early literacy skills anywhere and anytime with a little creativity!

Babies start developing letter knowledge by learning about shapes.  Think of it this way — the only difference between a lower case “n” and a lower case “h” is the height of the stem.  If your child is used to looking at shapes and can differentiate one from another, it’ll be much easier for them to pick out different letter shapes when the time comes.

More books for developing letter knowledge!