One of the joys of having two little boys is that somehow they are naturally attracted to books about trucks, cars, trains, airplanes, and construction vehicles. I have read so many of these in the past three years, I can’t help but learn along with my kids how to identify and classify all the various machines. We’ll be driving on the highway and one of us will say, “Wow, look at that big front end loader” or “Hey, there’s an excavator over there- look out your window!” Since there are a million picture books on on this subject, how do you choose? I favor those that promote phonological awareness– an ability to hear and manipulate smaller sounds in words- an important early literacy skill to develop “because it is the foundation for spelling and word recognition skills. Phonemic awareness is one of the best predictors of how well children will learn to read during the first two years of school instruction” (Source: Reading rockets) You can enhance this skill with rhyming games or reading books with a rhythmic, rhyming text. Here are some of my favorite preschool-age rhyming books about Things That Go:
A Child’s Day: An Alphabet of Playhas become one of my favorite alphabet books. It features illustrations created from cut paper and collage art by artist Ida Pearle. (See part of an Ida Pearle print at the top of this blog? Yeah. Totally in love).
Her website describes her art this way: “Towards the end of her time in college, she began making cut-paper collages as personalized gifts for friends. These collages developed into poetic vignettes, depicting the challenges and gifts of friends’ lives, recast in a hopeful and magical light. As the collages’ narratives are inspired by real situations, the visual forms of the collages, though playful and childlike in appearance, are informed by a thorough understanding of figure and gesture. Though appealingly dream-like, the unique animation, poignancy, and realistic resonance of these works enables them to function as tools for imaginative learning and growth in the real world” Exactly how I’d like to be described…
It is a truly lovely book, full of eye-catching patterns, vibrant colors and featuring a diverse group of children. Each letter is shown in upper and lowercase. Verbs describing aspects of play accompany each letter of the alphabet (A is for act, J is for Jump, O is for Open, S is for Swim, etc.). It works well for preschool and kindergarten age children and older (unless your child is freaked out by kids without facial features, then you should skip it!) Adults will love it as well – it’s one of the most stylish ABC books out there and, as it doesn’t have a narrative, it encourages you to discuss the images and actions with your child as you page through it. Also worth checking out and drooling over? Her prints and Alphabet Cards, as well as the wonderful children’s album she designed the cover art for, Elizabeth Mitchell’s “You are My Little Bird”.
Want to learn more about this amazing artist? Read this Interview.
My two boys are still using board books, but I rarely purchase them anymore because we own so many…Until I saw Baby ABC and Baby 123 in a bookstore recently. I think it was the chubby baby wearing the oversize red glasses that got to me.
These beautifully photographed books by professional photographer Deborah Donenfeld are perfect for infants and toddlers because they feature real babies with very familiar objects, such as balls, spoons, chairs, rubber duckies, etc. In both books, the objects and the letters/numbers “pop” because they are in color, while the babies are in black and white. The babies are ethnically diverse (although the author could have done better in this respect) and mainly wearing white diapers, with an occasional accessory relevant to the specific letter. In Baby 123, the numbers are written numerically, spelled out, and also represented in the number of objects, from 1 through 10. The font is bold and large. It is rare to find such a nicely done, simple book with pages that aren’t too cluttered or busy-looking. These books would make a fabulous gift for a new infant, a child turning one year, or a child who is increasing letter and number recognition or learning the alphabet. I just can’t stop looking at them!
There is a wonderful picture book called Alfred Digs by Lindsay Barrett George. Published in 2008, it stars a little aardvark named Alfred who must leave his cozy burrow and dig deep into a dictionary to rescue his runaway pet ant, Itty Bitty from a hungry woodpecker. When it gets a bit treacherous, Mama saves the day. After a trip to the zoo, Mama, Alfred and Itty Bitty all get home by hitching a ride with Mr. Zebra, back to the beginning of the alphabet, where they find their comfy beds. The last image is of Alfred and Mama, safe and sound asleep, while Itty Bitty stays up reading Voyage to Mars with a determined look on her face.
This story represents what I love about children’s literature- it is creative in an unexpected way. It introduces preschoolers to the alphabet while presenting colorful, unique illustrations and a compelling storyline with endearing characters. It imagines a world where a pet ant, instead of being the victim of an aardvark’s hungry stomach, is a treasured friend. This is one of those books I was just randomly drawn to; one that I purchased before I had children, one that I’ve shared in story times to a captive audience, one that I delight in over and over and just can’t stop smiling about.
I love the character “Itty Bitty” in this story (who wouldn’t love a tiny ant adventurer who wears bright polka-dot dresses and purple high-top sneakers?). I feel it somehow represents the young children I serve at the library. Though small, or itty bitty (“wee tots”), they are adventurous, brave little beings. Through much time, patience, energy and guidance from those they love, they hopefully become voracious readers and perhaps- if we do our jobs right- grow to enjoy a life-long love of reading and learning.
I created this blog to share thoughts, ideas, tips and information about early literacy and children’s literature. I’m a parent to two young boys, a youth librarian, and a life-long lover of books and music. I’m constantly inspired by the stories around us, whether they are beloved classics ingested over and over, tales we tell our small children at bedtime, or new favorites that make us happy to be alive in this moment. Welcome!