I’m fortunate enough to work one block away from the Seattle Public Library’s central branch, which means I have quick and ready access to an amazing array of books. I cannot say enough good things about their children’s center and the librarians who staff it. The space is bright, airy, and colorful. The shelves are laid out a comfortable distance from one another. There’s a play area. The staff are courteous and helpful. It’s delightful.
My favorite part about the library is how the librarians make it easy for me to select books. For those who may not know, there are a LOT of children’s books available and after a few years of trying to capture a small child’s attention through reading, I can attest that there are a lot of mediocre children’s books. I want to expose Avery to a wide variety of writing and art styles, layouts, and subject matter, which is no small thing when catering to a kid whose primary interests are construction equipment and Curious George.
Enter the librarians. They display what I gather is a combination of staff picks, new and noteworthy, and a selection of titles having to do with the most current holiday we’re celebrating. It’s from these offerings that I get about 75% of the books I ultimately check out. Thank you, librarians.
So, in the interest of sharing good information and knowing that there are probably other preschool families out there looking for new stuff to read, I’ll be posting periodically about what’s currently in our home library book queue.
“Blue Sky” by Audrey Wood. Each two-page spread displays one of the sky’s many variations, such as sunset sky, cloudy sky, and (you guessed it) blue sky. Simple and colorful.
“I Hatched!” by Jill Esbaum. Charming story about a killdeer that hatches and then learns about his body and its abilities, including pooping. Fun to read; includes having to make silly sounds often. (For those new to this game, silly sounds, or onomatopoeia, occur often in kid’s books. I had a hard time getting over myself sufficiently to perform them with gusto. I’m proud to say I think I’ve succeeded.)
“Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me” by Eric Carle. A little girl sees the moon and wants to play with it, but can’t reach, so she sends papa to get it for her. Includes some pretty ingenious page folding and a very long ladder.
“The Tiny Seed” by Eric Carle. A bunch of seeds get blown away by the wind; will they survive animals, humans, and inclement weather to grow and flourish? Hint: The tiny one does!
“Where is Baby?” by Kathryn Osebold Galbraith. Both human and animal babies like to hide; who knew? Sweet, cuddly book with lovely illustrations.
“Windblown” by Édouard Manceau. A handful of colorful paper scraps get re-purposed to make many different animals, all of who want credit for helping make the paper they’re made of. Great use of shapes encourages spatial learning.
“Baby Bear” by Kadir Nelson. A bear cub is lost in the woods and asks his wise friends for guidance. Surprisingly, Salmon ends up being the most helpful. Feels zen and poem-like; beautiful illustrations.
“A Hole in the Road” by Jakki Wood. There’s a hole in the road, so the road crew brings out the big machines to fix it. Includes cameos from Grader and the Asphalt Truck. (After watching more than my share of Mighty Machines [which is made in Canada], I now pronounce this word so that the “ph” is audible, as opposed to the 12-year-old version, which sounds like “ass fault.” Ha ha. Ass fault.)
“Move!” by Steve Jenkins. Animals move in a lot of different ways, and some of them even move in the same ways. Good use of linking movements to keep the story going forward. Illustrations are reminiscent of Eric Carle’s.
“Pick a Circle, Gather Squares: A Fall Harvest of Shapes” by Felicia Sanzan Chernesky. How many different shapes can you see while visiting the pumpkin patch? The illustrations are a little confusing and the shapes aren’t highlighted well, but there ARE pumpkins and a scarecrow, and Dad is leading the operation, which I like. (Many of the newer books show Dads as the primary parent [at least for whatever activity is occurring] and that’s a big deal for me since Brendan is the primary parent. Represent!)
“Sneezy the Snowman” by Maureen Wright. Silly Snowman wants to get warm, so he tries drinking cocoa and sitting in a hot tub, but he keeps melting. Oops! Good thing he has some human friends to help him get temperature regulated. Uses repetition and rhyme; fun to read. Great illustrations.
“The Trucker” by Brenda Weatherby. Set in the Pacific Northwest, a little boy falls asleep and dreams of driving his Dad’s big-rig. Lots of exciting on-the-road action and a bonus glossary of “trucker talk.” Fun story, especially for kids who love trucks.
‘Yoo-hoo, Ladybug!” by Mem Fox. Find the ladybug who keeps hiding. It’s fun to look for her and some of the spots she picks are pretty tricky. After a few reads, the suspense is obviously used up, but the illustrations are still great; modern and colorful. Uses repetition.
“And the Cars Go…” by William Bee. There’s a traffic jam! Who caused it and what do all the people/cars/trucks have to say about it? Uses repetition and lots of onomatopoeia. It’s a bit of a tongue twister at the end and fun to read.
“Boom Boom Go Away” by Laura Geringer. The foreword says this is based on a song the author’s son came home with from preschool. I’m pretty rhythmically minded and I STILL can’t find the rhythm of this story, but that’s okay it’s still lots of fun to read. Each toy has their own musical instrument, which they deploy to good effect. Uses repetition, rhyming, and onomatopoeia.
“Bounce” by Doreen Cronin. A dog learns about all the different ways he can bounce with his friends. He gets hurts a lot, but decides it’s ultimately worth it.
“Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You Going to School?” by Bill Martin Jr. Avery is BIGTIME into playing cats right now, so we end up meowing a lot while reading this one. Go with Kitty Cat as she plays, sings, shares, and learns at school. Meow. Uses repetition.
“Larry Gets Lost in Portland” by John Skewes. Super-cool concept that tells the story of a boy and his dog who get separated in Portland. Larry the dog sets out to find his boy; during his travels, you get to see many Portland points of interest, each of which includes a short description in the sidebar. Great for kids who have been to Portland because they can recognize and reminisce. Uses rhyming. Bright almost-dayglo illustrations.
“Sky-high Guy” by Nina Crews. Uses photographs instead of illustrations to tell about two brothers, Guy the action figure, and a daring tree-top rescue. Avery seems to really connect with this one because the kids in the pictures are real AND they have awesome toys. Short, active sentences mirror the action tone of the story.
“Two Nests” by Laurence Anholt. Life in the cherry tree gets crowded when Baby Bird makes three, so the family decides to build an addition. Neighbors come to snoop. Domestic harmony is maintained. Seuss-inspired illustrations and a cute, gentle introduction to the possibility of changing family dynamics.
“Wiener Wolf” by Jeff Crosby. Hilarious story about a wiener dog whose tired of the predictable life with Granny, until one day when he answers the Nature Channel’s call. Will wiener dog hack it in the forest with his new wolf friends? Arrroooooooooo!!