My last post included some of our favorite items that might make good Christmas gifts. I realized that I hadn’t mentioned books at all. What a major oversight! We read to children everyday at school. We love books! Kids love books!
Research supports the idea that reading to young children in the home has a positive impact. “The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study measured children’s home literacy activities using an index that counted parents’ reports of how often they read to their children, sang to them, and told them stories, as well as the number of children’s books and audiotapes or CDs in the home. The children who ranked higher on this home literacy index also scored higher on reading and literacy skills when they entered kindergarten. The positive relationship between a home literacy environment and children’s reading knowledge and skills held true regardless of the family’s economic status (NCES, 2003, p. 74).”
Enough about the serious side of reading, though. I’d rather focus on the FUN! I asked a few teachers for a list of their favorite books. Here is a very limited list.
Press Here by Herve Tullet
This is a newer book that is very interactive. The text encourages children to touch dots, tap each color, shake the book to the right and more. It’s entertaining to see how the dots react in the subsequent pages. The kids call this the “magic book.”
Pete the Cat, I Love my White Shoes by Eric Litwin
We love the original series of Pete the Cat books. Their catchy text with repetitive phrases are fun to read (and sometimes sing) with the kids. You can find many of these on youtube.com to hear how the author sings the phrases. Unfortunately the later books in this series are written by a different author and don’t hold up (in my opinion) to the first few books: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, Pete the Cat and the New Guy, Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes, Pete the Cat Saves Christmas
Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman
Bears on Wheels by Stan and Jan Berenstein
These two classics (I’m sure you remember these from your childhood) still hold appeal with kids. The rhythmic text and humorous situations presented prompt plenty of interest from the children. I love the play with language and cognitive concepts included.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do you See by Bill Martin
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
There are so many other classics. These are just a couple more examples but pretty much I will say, if it’s lasted through the ages it’s probably a pretty good read.
Lines that Wiggle by Candace Whitman
This one is a newer book in our library and to be honest, I picked this one. I love the rhyming text but I also love the way it introduces the idea of lines to young children. That’s was letters are after all – lines. I can see following a reading of this book up with fun activities such as hunting for leaves with different kinds of lines in them, going on a line hunt (walk), dividing letters into straight, curved or both piles, going through the book again following the lines with a finger and of course just drawing all kinds of lines (straight, wiggly, dotted, curvy, tall, sideways . . .) on paper. I could also see using this as an opportunity to make up your own story with your child. Pick a page and tell a story together.
Alphabet Rescue by Audrey and Bruce Wood
This alphabet book with it’s wonderfully bold illustrations and engaging story line draw the kids rap attention. I love that this one also introduces lower case letters. I encourage many alphabet books especially for those that are just beginning to notice letters. However even children that already recognize letters will find new things to notice every time they read and talk about a book with you. Other alphabet books we would recommend are:
Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming
The Dog from Arf! Arf! to ZZzzzz from The Dog Artlist Collection
Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham This one has a moose that wants it to be his turn throughout the story! It would also be a great read for those children who have a hard time waiting for things.
These are just a few of our favorite anytime books. I want to be sure and include a few Christmas books too.
B is for Bethlehem by Isabel Wilner
Continuing the alphabet book theme this book has detailed illustrations as it uses a word beginning with each letter as a springboard to tell the story of Jesus’ birth.
This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten
Hark the Herald Angels Sing (board book)
These are just two books we enjoy that tell the story of the first Christmas in a way that young children can understand. They never tire of hearing this story.
Motimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
This book weaves the story of Jesus into some of our everyday Christmas traditions all through the eyes of an adorable little mouse.
Bear Stays Up by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
This wonderful story shows how we share love and caring during this Christmas season.
Don’t forget the classics. Kids LOVE this song and they enjoy seeing it in pictures. I’d encourage you to have fun with some real jingle bells too! You can have fun with a simple song to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb
Ring those bells on your elbow, on your elbow, on your elbow
Ring those bells on your elbow, how else can we ring those bells?
Way up high? And jump, jump, jump? Really, really fast?
I could go on and on! At preschool we have lots of toys that we love to use with the kids but you can imagine we have hundreds of books we could list. We just pray you make time for reading. Make time for talking about what you see. Make time for noticing letters, rhymes and rhythms. Make time to cuddle and read. That’s one of the best gifts!