“Why don’t you do a column about books for pre-school children?” My friend Marilyn Rempel was responding to my annual newspaper column about novels perfect for summer reading. She suggested I create a list of recommended read aloud books for the pre- kindergarten crowd. What a great idea!
Just a few weeks ago I went to McNally Robinson Bookstore to buy Peek A Who by Nina Laden for a baby shower gift. On each page in the book there is a question. Who? Then on the next page you get the answer. It might be a ghost who boos, a cow that moos or a train that choo- choos. On the last page the answer to the question is YOU and a mirror so children can see themselves. It has been my experience that you can read Peek A Who dozens of times to a one year old and they will laugh out loud without fail when you reach the last page and they see themselves in the mirror.
Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen has watercolor illustrations by Helen Oxenbury. It’s about a family going on a walk to look for a bear. The same phrases repeat themselves over and over in an almost hypnotic way and finding the bear is SO SCARY! There is a little dog on every page and children love looking for him. I’ve adapted this book for a Going On A Polar Bear Hunt activity when I’m guiding children through the Inuit exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. It’s lots of fun!
Canadian illustrator Maryann Kovalski has done a brilliant job of illustrating the song Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Jenny and Joanna get to go to a Yankees ball game with their enthusiastic and vivacious grandmother who makes sure her granddaughters have an unforgettable experience at the ball park.
Henri’s Walk to Paris by Lenore Klein was first published in 1962. It’s a story about a little boy who learns just how special home can be when he sets out on a journey to the big city. The book’s unique illustrations are by Saul Bass an American design great. He worked with filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick. They say a good children’s book will target and engage both adults and children. Henri’s Walk to Paris does just that.
Barbara Reid is a Canadian illustrator who works exclusively in colorful clay. Children and adults enjoy finding all the marvelous little details in her plasticine masterpieces. I especially love her New Baby Calf based on the poem Buttercup the Cow by Edith Newlen Chase. I recited the poem Buttercup the Cow at the Steinbach Festival when I was in grade three so it holds special memories. Not to be missed are Reid’s Book of Nursery Rhymes and Have You Seen Birds with hundreds of birds all meticulously recreated. My favorite Reid book is called Gifts. The text by Jo Ellen Bogart describes a Grandma who travels the world. As she shares her experiences with her grandchild in various ways she impacts future generations of her family.
There are so many great books for toddlers. As the school year begins and the weather cools, day care providers, nursery school teachers and parents are no doubt diving into their own favorites with the children they love and teach. What are your favorites?
Other posts about children’s books……..