So far, I only know these days from the eyes of a teacher… “Teacher Gabi, will you read this book to me…” five minutes later, “Again!” But, I foresee this same scenario with my own son in my future. Now, let’s just be honest, parents, there is some crap literature out there for young children. For some reason companies think if they can throw a familiar character into the book and then write a story with no plot, people will buy it! I’m here to save you from your storytime doom with five picture books that you’ll enjoy and your little one will not only love but will LEARN something valuable too.
“Strictly No Elephants” by Lisa Mantchev
I have zero bad things to say about this story. First, the pictures are absolutely adorable. They portray the mood of the story, the emotions of the characters, and some new and unusual animals to your LO beautifully! Second, there are some underlying lessons about friendship that your LO might not understand right away… but, they make it more fun for you to read too. Finally, the overall message of the book is about inclusion and how exclusion leads to hurt feelings. My favorite part is the subtle suggestion that you can’t fight fire with fire (except my husband used to be a wildland firefighter and actually you can, but you get what I’m saying here). If you check out my weekly preschool schedules or visit us before bedtime you can catch me reading this awesome story at least once a week.
2. “It’s a Book” by Lane Smith
This book is a crack up! Mostly for adults but your LO will like it for the simple story line and repetition. The premise of the book is that the monkey has a book that he is trying to get the donkey to read. The donkey asks all sorts of questions as if the book were technology… “Do you need to charge it?” “Does it have Wifi?” To which the monkey replies, “It’s a book!” I love this book because I feel like the more engrossed in technology we get, the younger the children are that know what it is and how to use it! Also, the best part is, at the end of the book the monkey responds to the donkey, “It’s a book, jackass.”
3. “You’re Here For A Reason” by Nancy Tillman
Nancy Tillman writes quite a few books that are perfect for LOs and make especially great gifts for mamas-to-be. This book is my favorite of the bunch! It rhymes so the words are catchy and fun to read and it is just a great message to children about how each and every one of them have a purpose and are here because they’re supposed to be! It’s the perfect reminder that something or someone so small can make a big difference. It’s a bonus that the illustrations are of beautiful, colorful animals.
4. “This Book Just Ate My Dog” by Richard Byrne
I discovered this one while teaching my preschool class last year and I immediately went home and bought it that day. This book is perfect for your 3-6 year olds in my opinion. It is interactive, addressing you (the reader) along the way to shake or turn the book so that you can help the characters escape from the crack in the middle. It’s engaging and will have your LO laughing and making observations on all of the peculiar drawings and differences on each page. The illustrations are colorful and simply drawn, they are so cute. This one can get even the most uninterested reader involved.
5. “We’re All Wonders” by R.J. Palacio
Maybe some of you have read the chapter book “Wonder.” Well, this book is the illustrated children’s version of that book. I love this book because it is big and bright and gives such an important message. If you are not familiar with “Wonder,” it is about a boy who has only one eye and it talks about how he is often viewed differently than others. Sometimes even whispered about or laughed at. The little boy goes to his “happy place” and remembers that everyone is special, everyone is a wonder. This would be a great story to start talking about the harm that bullying can cause! Such a special story with a special message. Bonus: there’s a movie based on the book!