Our Favorite Children’s books and how they can help your child or student

Being an avid reader as a child and having an undergrad in Early Childhood Ed, I have a particular interest in children’s literature and of course, like most mommies, reading to my toddler. ­čÖé

I know almost anyone could probably figure out how these different books could help with certain concepts, but pointing out certain ones may help if you want to add or start your child’s book collection and have no idea where to start.

Here is my list and breakdown of what literary, math, or social-emotional benefits they give.

imageI will start with some of Eric Carle’s books because I actually had a book baby shower when I was pregnant that was Eric Carle themed! So I happen to have a lot of those books!

OPPOSITES, DIRECTIONS, SCIENCE-Papa, please get the moon for me talks about things growing and shrinking in size, eluding to the moon phases as Monica’s father goes to get the moon for her. It also talks about things being very LONG and HIGH, also focusing on UP and DOWN throughout the story, making it great for littler ones learning those concepts.

2.MATH 10 Little Rubber Ducks is of course helpful with math (counting, ordinal numbers 1st, 2nd, and so on).

3. SOCIAL EMOTIONAL, SEQUENCING, MEMORY RECALL The Mixed Up Chameleon is helpful in a few ways. The main theme I see in this book is being yourself os the most valuable way to present yourself. It also helps with memory recall and sequencing as each page includes a different animal to build upon the different types of animals the chameleon is trying to be. My book also has tabs that show a tiny image of each animal the Chameleon has taken on to be a part of itself in his quest for identity. The tabs provide a way the reader can glance back and see on the left hand side of the page what was already discussed, like a quick ongoing review. Pretty unique!

4.COLORS, SEQUENCING, MEMORY RECALL GROUP PARTICIPATION Brown Bear, Brown Bear what Do You See? is another popular of Eric Carle’s. It has as different colored animal on each paged that is called by its color name and animal name. It also names the previous animal while calling on the next, helping with review. At the end, it summarizes all the animals named in the book and then provides a chance for feedback as if being read in a classroom.

5. CREATIVITY, STORYTELLING- I see a song. This is an Eric Carle book I had never heard of, probably because it is a picture-only book. I think its pretty neat, myself, though. There are some recognizable, and some unrecognizable/abstract shapes in the book. It starts an ends with a picture of a conductor. I think this would be good to make up stories to your younger children then have the older verbal (or signing) children tell or sign a story when they are older. Kids are expected to write stories and some can have great anxiety about this when they are given open ended writing assignments and this would be a great way to start that. Also, it is just fun and good for their imaginations! Now I want to go buy more picture books!


Those were our Eric Carle favorites. Now for the others…

6. ALPHABET, RHYMING Right now, I would say Ethan’s favorite (at 19months) is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John ARchambault. It is just a fun way to learn the alphabet and it rhymes. Part of what makes Ethan loves this is me bouncing him when I get to the “boom boom!” part. I also try to pause at different lengths so he gets excited about it coming. Part of enjoying reading early are things like this. Also, using different voice intonation keeps it interesting. A new favorite we just picked up and read from the library is Basher ABC Kids from Kingfisher books. It has so much variety and meaningful learning of the alphabet by including several words and names on each letter page including a picture describing the often bizzare and funny image. Every page also includes the lower case alphabet with the current featured letter underlined so kids can see where each letter fits in the alphabet. This way kids can hear more than one letter sound. We may have to get him that one at the store for keeps!

7. MATH (SUBTRACTION)- Five Little Monkeys. We all know the rhyme, but the book I have is by Eileen Christelow. It is quite cute and includes both boy and girl monkeys. I had so many random monkeys I got for shower gifts and so on that I was able to act this out for Ethan with stuffed monkeys and he loved it!

8. PREDICTIVE TEXT- Flip, Flap, Fly! by Phyllis Root Ethan loved this early on because of the quick, simple rhyming book and the fact that I again incorporated movements into the readings. The illustrator, David Walker, included a glimpse of the animal that would be on the next page, and the author always gives a rhyming word with the animal that will appear on the next page, making it the perfect example for predictive text. That term isn’t used often, but I learned about it in my early childhood education program. IT is what it sounds like, the reader is attempting to predict what will happen next which helps with creativity and problem-solving.

9. Another predictive text book is a simple but very fun Peek-a-Who? by Nina Laden. It shows the pattern of the animal or object that comes in the next page, and all rhyme with “boo” in peek a boo. Ethan’s favorite is the last page, which is a tiny mirror. “Peek-a-YOU!” It was a great stocking stuffer at Christmas as its tiny. Also great for a diaper bag.

10.BODY PARTS, GOING TO NAPTIME/BEDTIME- Lovable Furry Old Grover’s Resting Places by Jon Stone This is a book that was actually mine growing up. My parents read it to me and I absolutely loved it! My son is learning about body parts so I like to read this one a lot lately. It is silly and fun. Grover has little spots on the page that he prompts the reader to place on various spots to “rest.” It includes hands, bellybutton, nose, etc. It ends with Grover sleeping on his overall body resting place, so I used to read it to preK kids who wouldn’t nap to encourage them to go to sleep or at least lie down!

11. FEELINGS/SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL/TANTRUMS Llama Llama Mad at Mama is a great rhyming book that discourages tantrums but acknowledges angry feelings. I haven’t read the other Llama books, but I’ll bet they are just as great as this one.

12.SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL-SELF-ESTEEM- I want your moo, a story for children about self-esteem…I bought this one when I was working with pre-K kids in the mental health setting since many had self-esteem issues. It is a charming story about a female turkey who tries out other animal sounds because she doesn’t like her sound or looks but in the end uses her turkey-ness to save the day. LOVE it for so many reasons. Excellent illustrations by JoAnn Adinolfi as well.

13. SOCIAL EMOTIONAL/SELF-ESTEEM-ON the Night you were born by Nancy Tillman-I bought this for Ethan for Christmas because I want him to know how blessed we were when he was born. I think I addressed it generically though, because I got to thinking man all these books are personalized to just Ethan. If we are blessed withmore children, I want them to know we love them too! haha the things that go through mothers’ minds. It has amazing illustration…like I want to buy a poster for my house its that good illustration..Teh book says the design was by Nancy Tillman as well as Kathleen Breitenfeld. This is a very touching rhyming book that talks about how the animal kingdom, and just the world in general celebrated and responded when the reader was born. One of my absolute favorites!

14.LEARNING ANIMAL NAMES, FINDING PICTURES BY REQUEST- My Little Animal Book by Jo Rigg from priddy books. Someone gave this to Ethan on his birthday, and it is a great one to practice the skill of pointing out a certain requested animal. For example, since he has interst in dogs and has attempted to say it (and has signed it, woo hoo!), I have been asking “where is the dog?” and “What sound does the dog make?” The animals are arranged in pages by habitat , such as farm, babies, patterns, match the pattern to the animal, match the baby to the mom, African animals, etc. It keeps him busy and he will look at the pictures and listen intently for a good 5-8 minutes! Hopefully he will start saying animal names. He does sign “fish” when we come to the fish!

15. ATTACHMENT/NOVELTY/GIFT: Classic Record a Story’s Ugly Duckling from publications international, ltd. (pi kids) This last one is near and dear to my heart for a few reasons…We all know the Ugly Duckling, but we bought one for Ethan that is a recordable book because I had to go back to work at my new job after the first week he was in PICU with flu and pneumonia when he was about 8 months old. I wanted him to hear my voice even though he was on a chemical paralytic. He could hear, but couldn’t move or respond and I couldn’t be there during the daytime hours. So even when I visited every evening, I really had no way to know whether he was awake and could hear me in a conscious way. I asked my husband and other family members to play the book while I was at work. So whoever came up with the idea of recordable books..that may not have been your intention, but it is wonderful for parents who have a hospitalized child. (More on that here.)

The story the Ugly Duckling was chosen from just a few that were present at the bookstore I visited, but I like Ugly Duckling because of its focus that being different is okay and even beautiful and special. A great message for a sweet child with Down Syndrome. But for any child. ­čÖé

If you are reading a blog, I probably don’t have to sell you on the importance of reading to your child and making it fun, but other ideas are:

Call or visit the website of your local library..there are more and more activities there these days for storytellings, crafts, even toddler movement activities. (moving bodies, not bowels. ­čśë ) There are things for teens on our library website calendar, too. Have fun!