Books to read with young children about things that take practice

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Waiting, by Kevin Henkes

Owl, pig, bear, puppy and rabbit are all standing at the window waiting. Owl is waiting for the moon, and bear is waiting for the wind. As they wait, many things happen. Waiting is hard for grown-ups and preschoolers. These friends have found many interesting things to look at and talk about while they wait. Talking about waiting, and other things can help pass the time for preschoolers.

I Promise, by LeBron James

This book is about promises that children make to themselves, like promising to follow rules and promising to go to school. Children can even make a promise to themselves to ask questions, to try new things and ask for help when they need it. Children can also promise themselves to take good care of themselves. They can take good care of themselves, by putting on a jacket when they go outside or wearing boots in the snow, or even brushing their teeth. Young children need reminders to be kind to themselves.

Gooseberry Goose, by Claire Freedman

Gooseberry is practicing flying every day. He wants his friends to watch him fly. Beaver says that he has to build a dam, and squirrel is busy hiding food for winter. Gooseberry talks to his mom and dad about why he is not getting ready for winter. His mom and dad tell him that he is getting ready for winter because they will fly to a warmer climate for winter. His job is to practice flying. Just like Gooseberry Goose, preschoolers also have to practice many things like printing their name, zipping their jacket and even swinging on a swing. They practice to become good at what they want to do.

How to pick a great children’s book

The selection of books is as important as the selection of toys. Young children have incomplete information for understanding the world around them, which results in what we often refer to as “magical thinking”: explanations for things that don’t make sense to adults. Magical thinking can make it difficult to know what’s going on in a child’s mind, and may lead to unexpected reactions of fear or stress.

Here are some thoughts about selecting appropriate books:

  • Look for pictures that may be scary to a young child. Is there a fire? Do the animals have long sharp teeth? Are there depictions of things that you know are troubling to your child specifically?
    Noreen Acierno


  • Is the vocabulary suitable? Are the words scary, like yelping, snarling and hissing sounds. Are there references to violence or antisocial behavior – fighting or throwing things?
  • Is it developmentally appropriate? 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.

For more insights about selecting books and reading with young children, look at our original list of 100 great children’s books.

Book links go to Amazon and generate a small donation to Hanna Perkins Center when used to make a purchase.

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