In late August 2018, The Scottish Granny posted a Youtube video that has caught the world by storm. In the video, she is reading The Wonky Donkey aloud. Her wonderful Scottish accent and her infectious laugh are simply irresistible. We can’t imagine anyone watching the video without giggling. Sales of the book have shot up and a quick check of our local library shows that the book is “on order.”
Smith’s wonderful rhyming, repetitive and cumulative text is just so silly and fun!
He only had three legs, one eye and he liked to listen to country music and he was quite tall and slim and he smelt really bad and that morning he got up early and he hadn’t had any coffee
He was a cranky stinky dinky lanky honky tonky winky wonky donkey
Cranky stinky dinky lanky honky tonky winky wonky donkey
This is a simply fantastic book to share with children. The vocabulary is rich (lanky). The alliteration (winky wonky) and rhyming (stinky dinky) will support the development of phonemic awareness.
In the case of The Scottish Granny’s video, although her grandson doesn’t understand the humor of The Wondy Donkey, Granny does and her delivery has an unrehearsed feel to it. She is discovering the book for the very first time and her delight is simply thrilling. Who wouldn’t want to share The Wonky Donkey (or any great book) with a child? Here’s hoping this phenomenon inspires many moms, dads and grandparents to read aloud every single day!
Finding the perfect bedtime story can make all the difference as toddlers and preschoolers settle down for the night. In this post, we have a look at some delightful bedtime-theme children’s books that will set the tone for a good night’s sleep. In the comments, we hope you’ll let us know about your favorite books for bedtime!
In this classic, fun picture book, Dad cautions his son that it is 10 minutes till bedtime. Within a moment, a pet hamster has summoned other neighborhood hamsters to stop by for ten minutes of fun. Preschool-aged (and older) children will enjoy the detailed and engaging illustrations that tell most of the story. Of course, the joke is on Dad as he has no idea what is happening behind his back, as his son gets ready for bed. Good fun and a great opportunity for language and comprehension development. Carefully ‘reading’ the illustrations and talking about what is happening is a big part of this bedtime story.
Soft tones and sparse, rhyming text are hallmarks of this gentle picture book about a baby elephant’s bedtime. Cuddling and smiling, an adult elephant takes a baby elephant through a bedtime routine (including a story!) before finally saying goodnight.
One of the really lovely aspects of this picture book is that the gender and age of the adult elephant is not specific. This could be a mom, dad, grandparent, aunt or uncle putting the youngster to bed.
Wonderful rich vocabulary and onomatopoeia make this a wonderful bedtime story for preschool-age and older children. Children who are interested in trains, will enjoy hearing the names of the various cars (hopper, tender, reefer, gondolas etc.) and will hear the rhythmic text that echoes the sounds we associate with steam trains.
Set in moonlight, Mr. Lichtenheld’s illustrations, created with wax oil pastel are beautifully atmospheric. We especially liked the train’s arrival and the child’s moonlit bedroom.
Preschool-age and older children will enjoy the humor as a young girls tries to get her parents to go to bed. Chores, a computer, games, television and even cell phones are delaying mom and dad’s bedtime but, with determination, it is possible for her to get them settled and off to sleep.
Older children, especially those who resist shut-eye, will see themselves in this fun role-reversal tale.
Getting ready for bed can be an exhausting proposition. Princess Baby has lots to do. She not only puts her own pajamas on, she dresses her six special friends for bed too. She also helps with washing up, brushing teeth and selecting stories.
Halloween-Theme Stories and Printables for Homeschool and Classroom
As the days grow shorter and cooler weather arrives in the Northern Hemisphere, October is a wonderful month to share a variety of Halloween-theme picture books with children. Halloween is also a great time to enjoy concept books with children and more than one of our featured books highlights counting.
Here are some of our favorite stories exxploring themes of friendship, tolerance, learning about others while trick or treating, wearing costumes and enjoying the fun of Halloween.
Scroll down for our free Halloween-theme printables for children
A Very Brave Witch is the tale of a green-skinned, broomstick-flying, costume-loving witch. She thinks she knows all about humans and decides that Halloween night is the perfect opportunity to take a closer look. After a flying mishap, she meets three, costumed human trick-or-treaters including one girl who is dressed up as a witch. Together, the pair manages to shatter stereotypes as they discover friendship and celebrate Halloween together.
Young readers will enjoy investigating a recently-decorated haunted house and collection of costumes. The witches’ fear of humans is good fun.
Well-suited for a group read-aloud, the colorful watercolor illustrations nicely match the tone of the story.
Beautifully detailed, dark and creepy illustrations are a highlight of this Halloween-theme counting book. The rhyming text includes alliteration and guides readers as they count from one to ten and back down to one.
Five furry bats hanging upside down
Six skinny witches flying through the town
Recommended for children aged 5 and up. Illustrations are well-suited to a group setting and could be used to inspire young artists to work primarily in black.
Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt Halloween-theme picture book published by Kids Can Press
Scaredy Squirrel is a fun series of picture books written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt. In Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween, Scaredy has put together eight short chapters featuring panels with maps, lists, illustrations and diagrams intended to keep trick or treaters safe and happy. Best-suited to independent readers or a one-on-one read aloud, this is a fun book with rich vocabulary and detailed, engaging illustrations. Not great for a large group setting, this will be a very satisfying “chapter book” for a child in grade one or two and will produce lots of giggles when read by a parent to a child.
When a moving truck pulls up to a haunted house, the ten resident ghosts watch nervously. Before too long, a green-skinned witch is scaring the ghosts with a skeleton, a bat and various costumes. Ms. O’Connell provides fun clues for readers to notice including buttons that look like eyes, white face powder and a roll of toilet paper.
Repetitive, rhyming text adds to the fun in this counting book. Young children will love finding the ghosts in each of the illustrations.
It’s Halloween night and time to trick or treat in a ten-story apartment building. A young, wide-eyed boy goes from floor to floor, meeting all sorts of costumed neighbors with wonderful names like Wiggle Waggle and Limbler Lamber. When the boy reaches the top floor, Merlin answers the door and waves his magic wand and tells the boy that everything is “WackBards“, sending the boy back to each apartment for Belly Jeans and “Twicorice Lists”
Great use of alliteration and wordplay along with colorful, fun illustrations make this an excellent read aloud for kindergarten and older children. In a classroom setting, children could have fun illustrating a favorite candy WackBards.
In this fascinating picture book, Amy Krouse Rosenthal uses only words that begin with A, B or C to tell her story. The day begins as a young boy awakens and enjoys Apples, Bananas and Cantaloupe for breakfast before heading outside and finding Ants, Butterflies and Caterpillars. He later celebrates at a birthday party, explores a city and appreciates an artist. Older children will enjoy scouring debut picture book illustrator Gracia Lam’s detailed digital illustrations for an apron, bowling pins, binoculars, a castle, a cape, a church (and more!) that serve to broaden the appeal of the story and support the development of phonemic awareness and alphabet recognition.
It is worth mentioning that Ms. Rosenthal and Ms. Lam do not limit the story or illustrations to the phoneme /K/, they also challenge readers to recognize the use of ‘C’ in words beginning with the /ch/ and soft ‘C’ sounds, as in church and city. the ‘A’ words that we detected use the short vowel sound.
We envision this picture book as a wonderful inspiration to young illustrators and writers. Great for classroom use, the clever take on the alphabet book genre could certainly be a jumping off point for children to create their own stories and illustrations using only two or three letters.
This is a picture book that will be enjoyed by children aged 3 and up but that has great potential for exciting older children and adults.
A delightful, cheery picture book, One Two That’s My Shoe by Alison Murray will have tremendous appeal for toddlers, preschoolers and older children. Beautiful illustrations feature a lovely palette and direct readers to notice numbers and what is to be counted in each two-page spread. Very well-suited to a classroom or a library read aloud session, the illustrations are bold and large enough for a group to enjoy.
Georgie Dog picks up one of Grace’s shoes and within minutes a chase ensues. Georgie jumps over three teddy bears and races past four wooden blocks. Soon after, he rushes outside and into the garden. Grace chases after him. This is a playful pup with a winning personality. He is clearly having fun until he encounters ten upset chickens.
One Two That’s My Shoe is a special delight and highly recommended.
Young readers may recognize Georgie Dog and Grace from Apple Pie ABC
We live very near to several pumpkin patches. At this time of year, the leaves have died away to reveal gorgeous orange fruit. If you and your family have an opportunity to trudge through muddy fields to select just the right pumpkin, be sure to extend your child’s learning with pumpkin theme picture books and printables.
Clayton and Desmond each fall in love with the same pumpkin and are soon working night and day to water and fertilize it. Before long, it is absolutely enormous! One night, as they work to protect the pumpkin from frost, the two young mice meet and discover that they have both been working on the same pumpkin project. Before long, it is time for a pumpkin contest and, together, the new friends enlist the help of dozens of field mice to transport the pumpkin into town.
With only a brief reference to carving a smiling jack-o-lantern face, this story is primarily about caring for the growing pumpkin, discovering a new friend and working cooperatively together. The Biggest Pumpkin Ever is a great opportunity to explore the life cycle of a pumpkin. It will be enjoyed by preschool, kindergarten and early primary age children.
Gorgeous oil paint illustrations in rich Fall colors are a highlight of this book for very young children. Tad Hills (sometimes with Lauren Savage) has written and illustrated an engaging series of books about Duck and Goose. In this story, when Duck and Goose see their friend with a large pumpkin, they decide to find one for themselves. They look EVERYWHERE! It is only when their friend asks if they have looked in the pumpkin patch that they find what they are looking for.
This is a fun and appealing story that young children will especially enjoy before or after a trip to the pumpkin patch. There’s lots of opportunity for vocabulary development and co-‘reading.’
José’s family grows pumpkins and usually they are very careful to only grow the best. One day José and his five brothers discard some ‘lesser’ seeds carelessly. The seeds are blown into town and land on straw roofs and in soil. When spring arrives, the seeds began to grow. Soon intrusive vines push through windows and heavy pumpkins threaten to drop out of trees and off rooftops. José and his family are blissfully unaware of the problem until the brothers venture into town.
Acknowledging their mistake, the boys set about harvesting the pumpkins and returning the town to normal. Observant readers will accurately predict the impact of rewarding the brothers’ hard work by giving them watermelons to eat.
Very good fun for preschool, kindergarten and early primary age children. No reference to Halloween.
Sixteen Runaway Pumpkins Rhyming, counting picture book about harvesting pumpkins written by Dianne Ochiltree and illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin
Sam Raccoon is confident when she heads out to the pumpkin patch. She pulls a large blue wagon behind her and she is soon filling it with big, lumpy pumpkins. At last the wagon is stacked with sixteen bright orange pumpkins that wiggle and wobble as she pulls it down the bumpy road. Soon, the pumpkins tumble out of the wagon and roll and bounce down the hill to the farmhouse.
Sam runs after the tumbling pumpkins and is disappointed when some are cracked but Grandpa knows exactly what to do with cracked pumpkins. The family gets to work and soon enjoy a delicious dessert.
Engaging illustrations, rollicking rhymes and the chance to count along will have great appeal for preschool, kindergarten and early primary age children.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury Classic Picture Book published by Walker Books
Dad and four children head out for adventure in this classic picture book for preschool-age children. Based on a traditional campers’ chant, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is simply wonderful. Ms. Oxenbury’s illustrations alternate between black and white drawings and gorgeous watercolor paintings. The effect is spectacular, highlighting the repetitive text and onomatopoeia.
Tension builds as the young explorers encounter a grassy field, a river, mud, a forest and snow before they arrive at a cave.
“Uh-oh! A cave!
A narrow gloomy cave.
We can’t go over it.
We can’t go under it.
We’ve got to go through it!”
Winner of the 1989 Smarties Book Prize, this is a classic picture book that will be enjoyed by children aged three years and up. It is available in many formats including Board Book, Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook, Big Book and Jigsaw Book.
Our goal with this new ‘Tuesday’ series is to introduce wonderful, classic picture books that are readily available in community libraries, in classrooms and in school libraries. We hope this on-going series will help families to discover outstanding stories and illustrations that have stood the test of time. We also hope that, through this series, young children and their caregivers will discover the joys of the read aloud experience.
Gorgeous, bold tissue paper collage illustrations and simple rhyming text will have broad appeal for infants, toddlers and preschool-age children. It will not be long before youngsters will know the text from beginning to (satisfying) end. For some children, this will be the first book they ‘read.’
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a picture book that provides opportunities for young children to learn about colors and animal names while gaining phonemic awareness. The repetitive and predictable text includes some alliteration.
My experiences working with a child with delayed speech
Since September 2013, I have been working twice a week with a four year old boy who has delayed speech. He lives in a bilingual household and he has one older sibling – a girl who also had delayed speech. It has been enormously rewarding to help this child find his voice. He is unfailingly happy and is always excited to welcome me and my “bag of tricks” into his home.
Here are some of the items that have been particularly helpful as we find ways to engage him verbally.
At almost every one of our sessions, my student has touched, lifted flaps and pulled the tabs of this cheerful and engaging alphabet book and accompanying (pop up) poster. Whether feeling the alligator’s scaly tail or the yak’s shaggy head, this is a book that children love to explore through touch.
Phonemic awareness is also supported as the author effectively uses alliteration, ‘Wet waddling Warthogs,’ rhyming and onomatopoeia, ‘Furry Lions roar, Whiskered Mice squeak, Hungry newborn Nightingales – cheep, cheep, cheep!‘ while introducing a variety of animals. Older children will notice that extra details have been added to the illustrations but not the text. Termed, Safari Sightings, these animals and plants are illustrated and listed in an afternote.
I can’t tell you how many times we have solved this Ravensburger See Inside Puzzle together. My young student happily turns the puzzle upside down, and together we turn all the puzzle pieces over. We chat as we start with the corners and work towards the middle of the puzzle. There are so many ways to enrich a child’s vocabulary, understanding and problem solving as we talk about the puzzle pieces and their attributes while noticing the plants, insects, animals, birds and structures featured in the puzzle itself.
Rather than focusing on the enunciation of specific sounds or words, I want to encourage playing with sound and making a variety of sounds. It is amazing how an inexpensive plastic toy ‘Echo’ microphone can encourage a child to sing, make sound effects and speak. I pick up an Echo Mic and put the other one on the table. Before long, we are both singing The Alphabet Song or The Wheels on the Bus or Happy Birthday. I hate to think what we sound like but progress is progress and the plastic ‘Echo” microphone has helped us along the way.
As we work toward improved verbal communication, I want to ensure that my student has a rich listening or receptive vocabulary as well as a large speaking or expressive vocabulary so I want to provide him with repeated meaningful encounters with words. I want him to hear and know colors, numbers, positional words (over, under, beside, inside) and nouns (windows, doors, wheels, roof, trees, flowers, bricks, fences, house, car, truck, steering wheel). Of course, I turn to my favourite toy. Each day I arrive with a bucket of Lego . We build houses and towers, we look for small bricks and blue bricks and yellow, white, red, and black bricks. We add windows and doors, stairs and roofs. And I talk about everything we do. I chat constantly and now he chimes in.
From the start, we have played Tic Tac Toe. I made a laminated game board (that includes a letter of the alphabet in each square) and I use Xs and Os from a dollar store game. When we first played, his job was to say, “Your turn,” after he played his “O.” Now, he says the letter name in the box and a word that begins with the letter, “C is for Cat.” He also says, “Your turn, ” and “I win!” He has never tired of this simple game. When we first started, he said very little. Now, it is a constant exchange of short sentences and the joy of communicating about a shared activity.
Spot the Dot created by David A. Carter Novelty book published by Cartwheel Books, an Imprint of Scholastic Spot the Dot is an appealing, brightly colored, interactive pop up book that includes flaps to lift, a wheel to turn and tabs to pull. Visual clues and predictable text encourage children – even those with delayed speech – to venture into ‘reading.’ My student thoroughly enjoys this book and now points to the words as he ‘reads’ each page and then pretends to ‘search’ for the dot.
Fans of Bear and his forest animal friends will enjoy reading about his springtime awakening. He is hungry and thin – eager for fresh berries, clover and fish but nothing seems to satisfy his enormous appetite. Bear Wants More is a read-aloud delight and features alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhyming and repetition.
They nibble on their lunch,
with a crunch, crunch, crunch!
But the bear wants more!
Rich, vibrant illustrations make this an ideal read aloud for groups. The story will be enjoyed by children aged three years and up.
Fletcher is relishing the sights and sounds of spring until he arrives in the orchard. When he sees the flakes falling amongst the fruit trees, he worries for his friends. He knows that the birds, Porcupine, Squirrel and the rabbits are ill-prepared for cold weather. He rushes to warn them. It is only when all of the friends are assembled that they realize that the ‘snowflakes’ are actually blossoms.
So the rabbits hoppity-roly-poly-plopped down the hill, through the woods.
They were chased by Squirrel, Porcupine,
the birds, and a bouncy, full-of-importance fox, all the way to the orchard,
where the ground was white with…
A sunny celebration of friendship and the seasons,Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms features onomatopoeia, alliteration and repetition. Delightful illustrations will engage readers, including in group situations. Great for children aged four years and up.
Rich with rhyming, onomatopoeia, alliteration and predictable text, Mouse’s First Spring is a happy look at the sights and sounds of springtime. Young Mouse and Momma venture outdoors on a windy spring day. Together they discover a butterfly, a snail, a bird, a frog, a flower and their love for each other.
There under a leaf,
Mouse found something
slithery and slimy.
What can it be?
Luminous illustrations highlight the wonders waiting to be discovered in the out-of-doors. An excellent choice for babies and toddlers.
It was Dr. Seuss’ birthday this week. No matter how many kids books I read, middle age, young adult, or adult fiction, I love Dr. Seuss. I love the silliness and the seriousness. I love the rhymes and the made up words. I feel an unwarranted sense of pride when I can get through a book like “Oh say, can you say?” without messing up.
I love reading it to my children and love listening to them read it back to me. He writes the kind of books that remind us that reading needs to be fun. When I write my children’s stories, I can’t help but rhyme them. I think that it’s a lingering affect of my ‘Seuss-induced’ childhood. My mom rhymed everything. Names, random words, phrases. My earliest memory of a favourite book is One Fish, Two Fish. That and Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb. She must have read them to me endlessly, until I could read them myself. They were so ingrained that the first time I read Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb to my oldest daughter, I remembered all of the words.
Dr Seuss transends time. His books are timeless, enjoyable, and put together in a way that make you think they’d be easy to imitate but are actually quite the opposite. To be able to piece together rhyme, in a way that works, is a challenge of it’s own. To piece it together with non-sensical words and impart a moral? That’s impressive. So to celebrate my own love of rhyme and Dr. Seuss’ birthday (and because Top Tens are my thing this week), I’m going to share my Top Ten Favourite Seuss books. How many have you read?
10: Oh the Places You will Go An impossible book to not like; it congratulates you for a job well done and tells you that you have so much more you can do, but to expect bumps along the way because that’s life.
(Quote) So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.”
9. Hooray for Diffendoofer Day
One of my very favourites, it was finished by Jack Pretlusky (who I consider amazing). As a teacher, I love that Miss Bonkers reminds the students of all the things they know and how well they learn.
(Quote) “We’ve taught you that the earth is round,
That red and white make pink.
And something else that matters more –
We’ve taught you how to think.
8. Green Eggs and Ham
This book makes me smile every time I read it, think about it, or hear my kids read it. It’s just this sweet, adorable book about withholding judgement until you’re sure. You may think you know, but sometimes, you just don’t.
(Quote) “Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say.
7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
I just realized, as I typed the title, that my list of ten cannot be in order of preference because I LOVE this book.
(Quote) “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
6. There’s a Wocket in my Pocket
I’ll be honest, I just really like the word Wocket. It’s fun.
(Quote) “All those Nupboards in the Cupboards they’re good fun to have about. But that Nooth gush on my tooth brush…..Him I could do without.”
5. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
A great entry level Seuss for beginners. It has an easy rhyme pattern and is fun to read together.
(Quote) “From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!”
4. Horton Hatches the Egg
A book about doing what you say you will do, even if it’s inconvenient and someone has taken advantage.
(Quote) “I meant what I said and I said what I meant.”
3. The Cat in the Hat
It’s that wonderful, Seussical combination of rhyme, fun characters, and a moral. The moral being: use your imagination. That’s what it’s there for.
(Quote) “Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me NOW!
It is fun to have fun
But you have to know how.”
2. The Foot Book
It’s another good, entry level Seuss. It identifies opposites with its easy rhyme pattern.
(Quote) “Wet foot. Dry foot. Low foot. High foot.”
1. Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb
While my list might not be in order, this one is my favourite. Sometimes, we don’t know what makes something our favourites. Maybe it’s the one my mom read to me the most or maybe I just like the rhyme, but I really adore this book. Every time I cross the street with my daughters, we say “Hand, hand, fingers, thumb”.
MEAN JEAN was Recess Queen and nobody said any different.
Nobody swung until Mean Jean swung.
Nobody kicked until Mean Jean kicked.
Nobody bounced until Mean Jean bounced.
Mean Jean is a playground bully. At recess, she commands all those around her. She controls the swings, the soccer ball and the basketball.
One day, a new girl arrives at school. Tiny Katie Sue is completely unaware of Mean Jean’s position of authority at the playground. Katie Sue does not wait to be told what to do. She swings and she kicks and she bounces. When challenged by Mean Jean, Katie Sue asks, “How DID you get so bossy?”
Before long, there is a showdown between Mean Jean and Katie Sue. When Katie Sue pulls a jump rope from her pocket, she invites Mean Jean to skip with her.
Repetitious text, delicious wordplay and bright, energetic illustrations highlight a terrific anti-bullying book that begs to be read aloud. Recommended for children aged four and up.
Add this anti-bullying picture book to your bookshelf –
When Billy Bully arrives at the school playground, his animal friends are already there. Cow is enjoying a swing, horse is on the teeter totter and duck is on the slide. Within moments, Billy Bully has taken charge. He chases the others off the slide, grabs toys and he won’t wait his turn. One by one, he upsets each of his classmates and loses friends.
Eventually Billy Bully discovers that every one of his classmates has run away from him. There is no one to play with.
Now Billy Bully’s feeling blue,
Until – he figures out just what to do.
He says to Sheep, “It’s you who won.”
And now his friends are up to 1!
After counting down his friends, Billy sets to work repairing the harm he has done.
When Billy Bull learns how to play,
all his friends come back to stay.
Best suited to preschool or kindergarten age children, Billy Bully is a rhyming counting book with an important message about bullying and friendship. It includes an Afterword for parents and teachers by Ellen Jacobs, Ph.D., Clinical Social Work
Originally published as Whatever You Do, Don’t Go Near that Canoe,The Pirates of Captain McKee is a rollicking adventure story that will have broad appeal to young children, especially those who love pirates.
A nominee for The 1996 Canada Council for the Arts Governor General’s Literacy Award for illustration, The Pirates of Captain McKee tells the story of two children, a brother and sister, who are warned not to go near a canoe. The warning, given by Captain Kelsey McKee, is accompanied by a wink so the children are undeterred. They don lifejackets and climb into the canoe. Before long they find themselves well away from the dock.
Through fast-running currents, through slow-rolling tides,
Far into the fading light,
Through sun flecks and sunset, through dusk’s purple haze,
The canoe sped into the night.
Although returning to the safety of home seems a great idea, the children are not in control. The magical canoe is deciding their course. Just before dawn, the canoe and the children approach a pirate ship at anchor and many, many intimidating pirates onshore. The pirates recognize the canoe and decide to teach the children a lesson. Frightened about their predicament, the children fear the worst until they notice a “marvellous smell… There’s marshmallows roasting round here!”
Gorgeous illustrations and delightful rhyming text make this a wonderful read aloud for children aged four and up.
Storytime Standouts looks at a delightful picture book that celebrates fathers and fatherhood – Some Dads… by Nick Bland
Some Dads… written and illustrated by Nick Bland Picture book about fathers published by Scholastic
In his cheery tribute to fathers, Nick Bland depicts all sorts of animal parents exuberantly interacting with their offspring. We laugh at an over-protective elephant papa who fills a swimming pool with life rings and a mischievous sheep who can’t resist throwing a water balloon at his child.
Readers, both young and old, will enjoy the playful rhyming and the jubilant illustrations. Some Dads… is an excellent choice for Father’s Day or Dads’ Day at preschool, delivering a fun and affectionate message about diversity and unconditional love.
Some dads like strolling.
And some dads rock’n rolling.
And some dads just love the outdoors.
Christmas picture books are in a class of their own.
At home, we always keep our Christmas picture books separate from the rest of the piles. We pull them out in late November and tuck them away at the end of the season with all of the other decorations. Just like when we unwrap each ornament that has been packed away for a year, pulling out each story is equally exciting. We forget which ones we have over the year or which new ones we may have purchased at the end of the season and stored away. Over the years, we’ve read many different Christmas tales, but some stay with you throughout the season and beyond.
The Night Before Christmas illustration by Christian Birmingham
Here are some of my favourite Christmas picture books…
The Night Before Christmas written by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Christian Birmingham Christmas picture book published by Running Press Kids
The classic tale that we all know; I love reading this every Christmas Eve. It makes me think of my mom, who recites the words along with me as I read because she knows it by heart. I love that the wonderment of Christmas is displayed through an adult’s eyes.
Are you Grumpy Santa? by Gregg & Evan Spiridellis Christmas Picture Book published by Disney-Hyperion
This is, hands down, one of the cutest Christmas books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Just like anyone else, Santa can only take so much and finally becomes grumpy when nothing goes his way. The rhyme and the pictures are great. It never fails to amuse me, regardless of how many times I read it.
Queen of Christmas by Mary Engelbreit Christmas picture book published by HarperCollins
I have always enjoyed Mary Engelbreit’s illustrations. I often buy calendars with her pictures because they are sweet and have nice phrases on them. I purchased this book a few years ago and the illustrations are beautiful. It’s the story of a young girl who is working hard to finish her incredibly long Christmas list before Christmas Eve. Of course, in the end, she learns it’s not what’s on the list that counts. When I purchased this book, it came with a paper doll and clothes, which my children love as much as the book.
Christmas Around the World by Chuck Fischer Christmas Pop Up Book published by Little, Brown and Company
My mom gave me this book a couple years ago. You are never too old for a good pop up book. Just this morning, my youngest opened one of the pages and said, “Wow! Mommy, look at this Christmassy page!” Featuring a number of different countries, it includes pull outs, interesting facts, and beautiful images.
Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer
Christmas Picture Book published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
I can’t help but love every Olivia book and pairing her with my favourite holiday is just a bonus. As they wait for Santa to finally arrive, Olivia finds many ways to help her mom. My favourite part is when she makes a special mini Christmas tree “centre piece”.
Aside from reading to my own children, I love the joy my students get from these picture books. Though we teach differently in the intermediate grades, there is no age, or grade, limit for enjoying these stories.
Guess Again written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex Picture Book published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Phonemic awareness is a key to early reading success for young children. It is the understanding that words are made up of sounds and the ability to pick out and manipulate those sounds. When we read rhyming books to young children, we help to develop their phonemic awareness.
Guess Again is nothing at all like a “typical’ rhyming book – there are far too many surprises in store – especially if you listen carefully to the clues. Really good fun!
Violet – written by Tania Duprey Stehlik, illustrated by Vanja Vuleta Jovanovic Picture book about an interracial family published by Second Story Press
When Violet attends her first day at a new school, she meets red, yellow and blue children but she doesn’t see any purple children. Upon returning home, her mother explains, “I am red and daddy is blue and you, my beauty, are a bit of us both.” Together, they play with paints and discover that many beautiful colours are created through mixing. Simply told, Violet is a lovely story about an interracial family. It reminds us of the richness and splendor of a diverse community.
You may also be interested in our page titled “Diversity.” We highlight picture books and chapter books that celebrate and inform us about human diversity including learning disabilities, physical disabilities, allergies, single parent families, interracial families, same sex parents, aging, death and more.
Beyond Bedtime Stories by V. Susan Bennett-Armistead, Nell K. Duke and Annie M. Moses
Beyond Bedtime Stories is a very thorough exploration of ways parents can promote early literacy with young children. The authors address dozens of important questions like “What if a book contains words or ideas that I find offensive?” and “Should I teach my child to read before kindergarten?” Beyond Bedtime Stories also includes suggestions of ways to fill your home with books even if you are on a budget, how to improve comprehension and ways to promote literacy inside and outside your home.
This is a very worthwhile resource for young families, daycare and preschool settings.
Shortly after a child discovers that C -A -T spells cat, it can be enormously rewarding to introduce B-A-T and M-A-T. Often a child’s eyes grow as big as saucers as he realizes the relationship between the three words. He makes a connection and sounding out BAT, CAT, FAT, HAT, MAT, PAT, RAT and SAT is not nearly as difficult as he originally thought. Soon he has eight new words to be proud of (rather than just one).
There have been many, many books written that focus on word families. A search of “Fat Cat” might produce a dozen or more results. I’m delighted to let you know about a series that combines word families, spinning word wheels, picture clues and early reader books. The word wheels are sturdy and easy to spin. They each create eight words: the wheel for Bug in a Rug produces bug, hug, dug, jug, mug, pug, tug and rug.
Beginning readers will need some help decoding the story but will find the illustrations helpful and will soon notice that the word family words are printed using red ink. if ‘reading’ with an older family member, the child could be asked to ‘read just the red words’ until familiar with the vocabulary. Good fun and a helpful resource for those who are just learning about word families and beginning to read.
On the Storytime Standouts Word Families page we include Word Family Flip Books for short vowel word families. Print the pages and cut out the individual letters. Cut out the larger rectangle along the lines. Make a pile of letters (check that they are all the right way up) and staple them to the left of the word ending. Encourage your beginning reader to ‘build’ on her knowledge that C-A-T spells CAT by flipping the letters and substituting the consonant. She’ll create many more words and feel a thrill of success.
Our Word Families page also has several word family printables that show the words with pictures. These are great for beginning readers in Kindergarten and Grade One.
Our early learning printables, including our word family printables are in PDF format, if you don’t already use Adobe Reader, you will need to download it to access the word family printables.
Some of the keys to learning to read are noticing sounds in words (developing phonemic awareness), recognizing letters of the alphabet and understanding words.
Next time you’re in the car with your preschool or kindergarten child, spend a few minutes talking about sounds and words. Informal chats like these, can have a huge impact on her phonemic awareness and readiness for formal reading instruction…
Listening For Sounds at the Beginning of Words
‘Here are some words that begin with the /b/ sound’ (Note: you should use the letter sound rather than the letter name) ‘boy, ball, bicycle, bat.’ I am going to say three words to you, can you tell me which one does not begin with /b/?’
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