The selection of books is as important as the selection of toys. Most children will sit and enjoy when we read to then, so this is our chance to pass on the love of literature and of reading, to teach facts, values and the pronunciation of words.
As you look at pictures in books and identify the objects, the child learns that abstract picture symbols represent real things. Soon the transition will be made to understanding abstract letter symbols. It is better to have only a few good books then to have many which are unworthy of a young child’s developing mind.
As you make careful selections of books, provide a book shelf or some other easily accessible place to keep them, so that the child can easily find the one she wants, can care for them and easily put them away.
Books for young children should be uncluttered and simple with a clear presentation of the important concepts. The first words that children learn are nouns – the objects of everyday life.
The pleasure in reading is in the meaningful relationship the infant or young child has with the primary care giver. Books become meaningful when they are part of a one-on-one relationship with the mother or mothering person; they are a sweet addition to the loving relationship that exists between the child and care giver.
The first thing I look for in a book is whether there any scary pictures. Is there a fire? Do the animals have long sharp teeth? Look at the text of each book and decide if the vocabulary is appropriate. Are the words scary – i.e. yelping, snarling and hissing sounds. Are there references to violence or antisocial behavior – fighting or throwing things?
I think about what questions or worries the child – your child – may have about a picture or phrase that is used in the book. Children will have their own thoughts, ideas and fantasies about the story that is being read. A child may have had frightening experiences with a dog or horse and you wouldn’t choose a book about these animals.
When a child’s feelings or worries are big they get in the way of what you are trying to teach. So a story with scary pictures or words may get in the way of a child learning a new concept.
As we read, we help our children move along the continuum from learning to read books toward reading to learn from books.
You will need to read books over and over because children learn from repetition. However in some cases, the wish to have something repeated does not always stem from liking it. If a child finds a book to be scary, the desire to have it repeated can be motivated by a need to play an active role in controlling when he or she has that scared feeling.
They ask for the scary book to be the boss of when they feel scared. They want things repeated to learn how to manage worried feelings. In fact, rather than practicing being scared, children may benefit more by talking about what gives them scared feelings. Let them know you have the same feelings.
With that introduction here are 100 great books for reading with your kids. The links go to Amazon, and will generate a small donation to Hanna Perkins Center when used to make a purchase.
- Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown
- Little Turtle’s Big Adventure, David Harrison
- Do Like Kyla, Angela Johnson
- Why Do You Cry?, Kate Klise
- Boots, Anne Schreiber
- Shawn Goes to School, Petronella Breinberg
- New Shoes for Silvia, Johanna Hurwitz
- Shades of Black, Sandra Pinkney
- Kevin and His Dad, Irene Small
- Something is Going to Happen, Charlotte Zolotow
- The Little Red Hen, Byron Barton
- The Jacket I Wear in the Snow, Shirley Neitzel
- The Kissing Hand, Audrey Penn
- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Laura Joffe Numeroff
- Freight Train, Donald Crews
- The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats
- Green Eyes, A. Birnbaum
- Jonathan and His Mommy, Irene Smalls
- Kitten for a Day, Ezra Jack Keats
- Alphabet Under Construction, Denise Fleming
- Snowmen at Night, Caralyn Buehner
- From My Window, Olive Wong
- Mama, If you Had a Wish, Jeanne Modesitt
- Big Wheels, Anne Rockwell
- Feelings, Susan Canezans
- The First Snowfall, Anne and Harlow Rockwell
- Little Quack’s Hide and Seek, Lauren Thompson
- Too Big, Too Small, Just Right, Frances Minters
- A Winter Day, Douglas Florian
- Don’t You Feel Well, Sam, Amy Hest
- My World, Margaret Wise Brown
- The Important Book, Margaret Wise Brown
- When This Box is Full, Patricia Lillie
- Snow on Snow on Snow, Cheryl Chapman
- Michael and the Cats, Barbara Abercrombie
- Ten, Nine, Eight, Molly Bang
- The Way Mothers Are, Meriam Schlein
- My Spring Robin, Anne Rockwell
- Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Mo Willems
- Big Fat Hen, Keith Baker
- Anno’s Counting Book, Mitsumasa Anno
- The Line-Up Book, Marisa Bena Russo
- Rain Drop Plop, Wendy Cheyetle
- Feast for Ten, Cathryn Falwell
- Caps for Sale, Esphyr Slobodkina
- On Mother’s Lap, Ann Herbert Scott
- What a Wonderful World, George David Weiss and Bob Thiele
- Duck on a Bike, David Shannon
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Bill Martin Jr.
- Mama Always Comes Home, Karma Wilson
- Mommy Always Comes Back, Constances Miller
- Frog and Toad are Friends, Arnold Lobel
- The Gigantic Turnip, Alekei Tolstoy
- School, Emily Arnold McCully
- One Happy Classroom, Charnan Simon
- What Comes in 2’s, 3’s and 4’s, Suzanne Aker
- On My Way to Buy Eggs, Chah-Yuan Chen
- Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Bill Marlin Junior
- Let’s Go Home Little Bear, Martin Waddell
- My Cat, Judy Taylor
- Kitten’s First Full Moon, Kevin Henke
- The Littlest Owl, Caroline Pitcher
- Gooseberry Goose, Claire Freeman
- School isn’t Fair, Patricia Baehr
- Little by Little, Amber Stewart
- Jamaica Tag-Along, Juanita Havill
- Rain, Kalan/Crews
- All About Me, teacher-created materials
- When I Feel Angry, Cornelia Maude Spelman
- Just My Size, May Garelick
- One of Three, Angela Johnson
- Sing a Song of People, Lois Lenski
- A Tree is Nice, Janice Udry
- Ruby in Her Own Time, Jonathan Emmett
- The Runaway Bunny, Margaret Wise Brown
- Snowballs, Lois Ehlert
- Sadie and the Snowman, Allen Morgan and Brenda Clark
- Llama Llama Mad at Mama, Anna Dewdney
- Growing Like Me, Anne Rockwell
- The Friend, John Burningham
- Clementine’s Winter Wardrobe, Kate Spohn
- Why Do Grown-ups Have All the Fun, Marisakina Russo
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
- The Fat Cat Sat on the Mat, Alice Cameron
- The Mitten, Jan Brett
- All You Need for a Snowman, Alice Shertle
- The Bus for Us, Suzanne Bloom
- Over On the Farm, Christopher Gunson
- Block City, Robert Louis Stevenson and Daniel Kirk
- Something from Nothing, Phoebe Gilman
- One Magical Day, Claire Freedman
- My Spring Robin, Anne Rockwell
- Alphabet City, Stephen Johnson
- All the World, Liz Garten Scanlon
- Flower Garden, Eve Bunting
- Fall Leaves Fall, Shari Halpern
- Jamaica’s Find, Juanita Havill
- Jamaica and Briana, Juanita Havill
- Fiesta, Ginger Foglesong Guy
- The Tortilla Factory, Gary Paulsen
About the Author:Early Childhood Educator Noreen Acierno teaches preschool at Hanna Perkins School, where she has worked since 1999. She is passionate about children's books.