Beyond Board Books: Selections for Your Child’s Library

With the holidays approaching, this is a great time of year to think about expanding your child’s home library. Though it may begin as part of a soothing bedtime routine, as kids get older, reading together becomes an opportunity that is rich with possibilities. Hopefully these suggestions from a local librarian and reading specialist will help you continue to nurture a love of reading with your child. 
When looking for a good picture book, I always look to see if the book has a story line that allows me to have a conversation about the book and its characters while reading it with my children. I also like to check and see that the book uses strong vocabulary and provides readers with an opportunity to learn new words. Additionally, quality illustrations that go alongside a rich text make a book that much better.
Having good conversation around a book promotes early literacy in different ways:

It helps your child understand stories better;

It allows your child to discuss their interests; and

It helps your child make connections between what they know and what they are learning

The best questions to encourage conversation are open-ended questions, questions about things your child is interested in, that relate to your child’s experiences or that encourage your child to think and to give an opinion. Try to avoid asking too many questions or questions that just test your child’s knowledge. This can take the fun out of reading.
When reading a book with your child and thinking about its vocabulary, make sure to choose no more then five new words and look for a variety of word types. When teaching a new word while reading to your child, it is important to pause and enunciate the focus word and then to explain what it means by showing them or telling them and then relate it to something your child already knows. Then, if possible, make an effort to use the word in other contexts after reading.

Some Suggested Titles:
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild –  Peter Brown
Harry the Dirty Dog – Gene Zion
The Bunnies are Not in Their Beds – Marisabina Russo
The Hello, Goodbye Window – Norton Juster
Cloudette – Tom Lichtenheld
Frank! – Connah Brecon
Flora and the Penquin – Molly Idle
Gaston – Kelly DiPucchio
How Rocket Learned to Read – Tad Hills
The Betty Bunny series – Michael Kaplan
Stuck and Any other book – Oliver Jeffers
Swimmy – Leo Lionni
Ella the Elegant Elephant – Carmela D’amico
The Pigeon series  Mo Willems
The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt
The Elephant and Piggie series – Mo Willems
Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse – Kevin Henkes
The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson
Telephone – Mac Barnett
Sparky – Jenny Offill
Actual Size – Steve Jenkins (and all his other books)
All Gail Gibbons Books
Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla – Katherine Applegate
Animal Dad– Sneed B. Collard
Living Color – Steve Jenkins
Sisters and Brothers – Robin Page
Everything Goes Series – Brian Biggs
All books by Tony Mitton
Character Building:
Have you filled a Bucket today? – Carol McCloud
Mean Jean the Recess Queen – Alexis O’neill
The Crayon Box that talked – Shane Derolf
One – Kathryn Otoshi

About the Author:
Liz Grossman lives in Needham, MA and is mom of two – one who is of board book age, one who is just beyond board booksShe completed the Teach For America program in Atlanta prior to moving to Boston where she worked as a teacher at The Edward Brooke Charter Schools teaching grades 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th.  Currently, she is a stay-at-home mom and works part-time as the librarian at The Edward Brooke Charter School in Roslindale.  A certified Reading Specialist, she completed her undergraduate studies at Brown University and earned a Masters in Education from Lesley University.

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