I have a confession to make. As a child, I didn’t like to read. Actually, I hated reading. I don’t have a favorite book from my childhood or even a book I remember kind of liking. As a teacher, I’ve fallen in love with books. I love children’s books! I could spend hours browsing the children’s section at Barnes and Noble.
I’d like to share a few of my favorite children’s books with you.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear is a classic. I think EVERY child should hear and read this book. Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle have produced several other books in the same line. The kids absolutely love these books. They love the repetition, the predictability, and the fact that they can read it all by themselves.
We use the pattern of the book to help us write many of our own books throughout the school year. During our first week of school we wrote Tell Me, Tell Me, Who Do You See. Just like that, our kindergarteners became authors. By the way, you really can’t go wrong with any of Eric Carle’s books. If you see these books at the library, bookstore, or in book orders, they are great to pick up! Our class is currently doing an Eric Carle author study.
Jan Brett is another of my favorite authors. She has a FABULOUS website, janbrett.com. I could pick apart each of her books and tell you the things I love about them, but I’ll spare you all of the details. The Hat is my all time favorite Jan Brett book. I love this book because on her website she talks about the real life story that was the inspiration for this book. Teachers teach their students to live like writers, and to know that small moments can turn into stories. A simple story about her pet, sparked Jan Brett’s imagination. The Hat was the result. What small moment do you think your child will write about: baking cookies, riding bikes, family game night, caring for a pet?
Another Jan Brett favorite is Honey, Honey, Lion. I love this book because it is completely engaging for young children. They are sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting to find out what happens. I love Jan Brett’s use of onomatopoeia (words that represent sounds), like boing or sprong. The shape she writes these words also represents the actions. Kids often start making hand movements as we read this story aloud. We use this book as a mentor text during our Writer’s Workshop time. We encourage kids to use their own sound words in their writing.
When I read books by Byrd Baylor I get goosebumps. These are amazing children’s books that touch the depths of our busy lives. They remind me to slow down and simply enjoy the beauty in our world. I’m in Charge of Celebration is a book we use as a springboard for keeping an idea notebook. An idea notebook is our kindergarten version of a writer’s notebook. We brainstorm special times, more than those they close school for.
Puddles… there couldn’t be a better book for teaching schema. Schema is all of the “stuff” in our brains that we already know. We use that schema as we read to make connections to the books we are enjoying. It helps us make meaning from the text and deepen our comprehension. Is there anything children can connect better with than puddles? When we read this, EVERYONE wants to share their puddle jumping fun!
This next book makes me melt. Ralph Fletcher writes books for teachers, helping them to become better writers and teach children to become better writers. In this children’s book, his word choice reminds me of a wonderful, quiet song. I have not used this book with kindergarten. I used it when I taught second grade, as a mentor text for keeping a writer’s notebook and the power of word choice.
Ralph Fletcher was speaking at a conference I attended a few years ago. He shared a page from his writer’s notebook with us. I love the way you can really get a glimpse into his thought process as this book came to life. He shares ideas for titles, phrases he wanted to include in the book, and many ideas that didn’t make the final cut. It is so rare to be able to peek into someone’s thoughts like this. Attending this conference and reading his book and notebook was really a gift.
Gingerbread stories have been around forever, as you can see by the old fashioned story from my childhood. Young kids love to read several books on the same topic. We read the classic versions of The Gingerbread Boy and then we also read gingerbread stories with a twist. I love it when authors take a classic and add their own spin on it. Again, Jan Brett has several wonderful gingerbread books. My favorite would have to be The Gingerbread Girl. She’s a feisty little character!
Last week I shared a boxed set of books that I’m in love with. The Ready, Set, Go series is perfect for beginning readers.
I love the simplicity of these books. They have a simple sight word and the picture clearly matches the text. When you are reading simple books like these with your kids, they will memorize. That’s ok! Just have them practice pointing to the words as they say them too. One to one correspondence of print is a learned skill. All of the books in set one have just two words on each page. My daughter loves these because they are only 4 page books! She feels like a reader and it’s quick!
Set 2 has full sentences. Still, the text is predictable enough that kids can read on their own or with minimal support. Key sight words are used, which helps develop fluency in reading! Again, have kids point to the words as they read. Make sure your child understands where to start if the sentence is broken into two lines. That return sweep is sometimes hard for kids to understand. This is a perfect time to talk about the words on the page, punctuation, and the way authors write with mostly lowercase letters.
Set 3 contains books with much longer sentences and more pages in each book. My daughter hasn’t been able to read these books without support yet, but she keeps trying. Sometimes I will read these books to her and have her point to the words for me.
I hope you’ll take a trip to your local library or bookstore to find a few of my favorites! I also love the displays at my local bookstores. Checking out the latest displays is the way I find new books on relevant topics, since they are usually seasonal.