(Disclosure: I received a promotional copy of this book but the opinion is my own.)
There are plenty of alphabet books out there- so many that you can afford to be pretty picky when choosing which titles to check out from the library or purchase and add to your child’s personal home collection. I’ve previously written about some of my favorite titles, but recently I came across a stunning and unique new alphabet book, Hannah Viano’s S is for Salmon: A Pacific Northwest Alphabet from Sasquatch Books;this is one I can’t stop looking at, and it’s become a new favorite of mine.
Hannah Viano is a paper-cut artist (like one of my favorite authors/artists Nikki McClure) and this book beautifully captures the wonder and beauty of the natural world in the Pacific Northwest:
A is for Anemone: Tucked away when exposed at low tide, the tentacles of a sea ANEMONE reach out when the water returns.
G is for Gull: GULLS carry snacks of crabs and clams high into the air, then drop them onto rocks to open the hard shells.
Hannah Viano spend her childhood exploring the rocky Maine coast, and has worked as an outdoor educator. Viano entered the art world after her son’s birth: “In my life, art has always been fit in around the edges,” she says, “a tiny sketchbook and a stolen moment in the rigging of a sailing ship, or a thick roll of paper held open by my bare feet in the sand” She now lives in Seattle, Washington and “strives to mix natural history and art together in accessible ways through public art projects, education, and site-specific installations”.
S is for Salmon is a wonderful book to share with preschoolers, elementary students and up- really anyone who loves the Pacific Northwest, who appreciates and enjoys the coast and its natural beauty. This would make an amazing gift for the special beach lover in your life. I’m looking forward to seeing more from this talented author/illustrator.
I have always been more fascinated by stories than by facts. Traditional fiction is what I choose to read in my free time, as limited as my time is. It’s taken getting through graduate school and now having a curious preschooler at home to really prompt me to check out nonfiction to read. I think some of the best nonfiction for children can be just as captivating as a story.
According to Reading Rockets, “Nonfiction books present many opportunities to learn new concepts and vocabulary, as well as broaden a child’s view of the world. Nonfiction books are written differently than picture books in that there are often more pictures, graphics, charts and photographs included within the pages.”
My son was recently fascinated by the ants he saw crawling across our kitchen floor. The next library trip included a search for a good ant book so we could learn together what they eat, where they live, etc. We’ve also enjoyed getting books that coincide with experiences he’s having- whether it’s a trip to the dentist, or a new sibling; a question about how his eyes work, or what a groundhog is. A recent favorite is Building Our House by Jonathan Bean which details a family with young kids who build their own home.
Whatever makes your child curious, what prompts them to ask why or frequently grabs their attention is a good place to start. Here are more tips from Reading Rockets, as well as some wonderful age appropriate book suggestions along with related activities and mobile apps organized by theme. Do you enjoy nonfiction? Do your kids? I’d love to hear what your experience is.
Here are two of my recent favorites for the 2-4 year old crowd: Animal Spots and Stripes and Animal 123 by German author/illustrator Britta Teckentrup. These lift-the-flap books are sturdier than most and introduce young kids to a variety of animals– giraffes, snakes, elephants, leopards, etc. Both books are bold and lively, presenting patterns and counting in a playful way that fuels a child’s natural curiosity. Teckentrup has other books for children viewable here. Discover one today!
Given my love of monkeys and monkey books, the cover of this book caught my eye and I could not resist.
Oh Baby! The A to Z from Kane Miller is an adorable ABC book full of real photos of baby animals. There are hedgehogs, newts, and an impala, as well as some more common animals such as elephants, kangaroos and zebras. Letters are printed in upper and lower case and very large, which is always nice to see in an alphabet book, and the name of the animal is printed under the letter. This book will introduce new vocabulary by introducing animals not usually seen in basic alphabet books.
Some pages have a description (“Oranguatans love to swing!”) or (“Racoon is clever with his claws”) while others feature the animal up close, staring out of the page at the reader with huge eyes. The design of the book really appeals, with some brightly-colored print popping on some pages, and more understated black and white on others. Read this and you’ll feel like you and your little one took a tour of the zoo without ever leaving your living room.
Today I overheard my preschooler say to his younger brother, “That makes me angry…Look at me…I’m angry because you stepped on my foot and it hurt! Say sorry!” I was so proud that he was communicating his feelings calmly but assertively instead of pushing, hitting, or yelling. The entire thing was resolved without my involvement. I was proud of him.
It’s our job as parents to give our kids tools to express themselves in healthy ways. Have you ever wanted to find a book reflecting what your child is feeling? One that helps explain, in simple terms, the complexity of emotions we experience (anger, worry, jealousy, etc.)? An excellent series is “The Way I Feel” by Cornelia Maude Spelman, who is an author, artist, and clinical social worker.
Spelman has written the series “to help children identify and manage their emotions and relate successfully to each other” These picture books are perfect for preschoolers. They feature adorable animals young children can relate to. Included in each book is a note for parents with tips on discussing the specific feeling with their child. For example, in “When I Care About Others” she includes a list of tips for promoting empathy, such as serving as a role model by naming and talking about your own feelings, having children think of examples from daily life that illustrate how we respond to each others’ needs, demonstrate the pleasure we feel when we are able to help others, have children act with puppets or toys to role play how others might feel in certain situations, etc.
When my preschooler and I read these together, it seems to normalize feelings he’s having and offer reassurance. There are other books out there with similiar subject areas, but this is one of the best. Check out this list for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, and this one offers another group of suggestions by topic with suggested age ranges.