Little Penguins, by Cynthia Rylant
The little penguins notice the snow and get ready to go outside. Mama makes sure they are dressed warm for the cold weather. The penguins look for Mama and see her helping the smallest penguin. She helps them know when it is time to go inside and get warm. It is important for young children to know how to take care of their body, and mom is there to help them know.
When Sophie Thinks She Can’t…, by Molly Bang
Sophie is working on a numbers problem and she gets stuck. When children don’t know the answer to a question, they feel that they aren’t smart. Sophie’s teacher helps her with this feeling by saying, “You haven’t figured it out, yet! Soon you’ll figure it out.”
Carolina’s Gift: A Story of Peru, by Katacha Diaz
Carolina and her mother go to the market in town. Abuelita’s (grandma’s) birthday is tomorrow and Carolina wants to find the perfect gift for her. Her mom tells her to look around and she will get some ideas. Carolina finds the perfect gift: a walking stick. “Now Abuelita will be able to come to the market with us next week,” says Carolina. It is important for children to be part of the celebration and to be able to implement their ideas about what a good gift would be. This helps build self-confidence.
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?
- 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.