Books to read with young children about trying new things and saying goodnight

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Sylvia’s Spinach, by Katherine Pryor.

Sylvia does not like spinach in her eggs or on a sandwich. Then at school, the project is to grow vegetables and Sylvia must grow spinach. As she becomes familiar with the growing process, she lets herself taste the spinach. “Not bad,” she says. Being involved with the whole process helps children expand their horizons, see things from a different perspective and try new things.

Growing Like Me, by Anne Rockwell

Growing up is sometimes hard for young children. This book talks about how all things change and grow. Growing up and becoming independent, gives a child an “I did it” feeling. Caterpillars become butterflies and learn to fly. Acorns becomes tall beautiful trees. Giving up mommy’s help and having mommy standing by to admire gives the child a good feeling and boosts his/her confidence. (This book appears to be out of print, but used copies are available.)

Good Night, Bunny, by Lauren Thompson

Good Night, Bunny  is the perfect bedtime story. Bunny says goodnight to everything. Bunny says goodnight to the dragonflies, the ducklings, the stars and the sky. All the goodnights begin to lull your child to sleep. By the time bunny says goodnight mom and dad, your child will be shutting their eyes. But, there is always time for one last hug.

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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