13 Banned and Challenged Books For Kids

banned picture booksIt’s Banned Books Week and today I want to share with you some banned books we have reviewed and enjoyed. When I wrote an article over at Scholastic Parents this week about banned books and how I use them to teach my children lessons the response was overwhelmingly positive but what struck me was how shocked so many people were that books still get banned. The first step to banning is challenging a book and the most common people making challenges are parents. I get that parents want to protect their kids and discuss issues with them when they decide to but I simply can’t see banning a book from other people’s children as the answer.

This summer I published a list of picture books that include families with gay and lesbian parents and I lost a few dozen Facebook followers , a number of email subscribers and fielded some pretty brutal comments about me and my children. I expected it. I know that the world has many viewpoints and not everyone shares mine. So after you browse the books below tell me how would you want these books handled? Are you in favor of free access like I am? Restricting access? All out banning?

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animalia by Greame Base

Animalia by Graeme Base is iconic in teaching circles, you can lose yourself for hours in the detailed illustrations. The book is an alphabet book on steroids! Each page had a wonderful paragraph in each letter such as for the letter L ” Lazy Lions lounging in the local library.” The pages are filled to the gills with pictures of things that start with that letter as well. Parents and kids a like will fall in love!

Why was it banned or challenged? It was challenged at a school library in Texas for violence and horror. This surprised me because I have a seriously low threshold for horror and I have never been bothered at all, neither have the approximately 150 kids I have read it to over the years.

draw me a star

Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle is often not read in classrooms simply because of a depiction of a naked man and woman. It’s not what most parents expect to find in an Eric Carle book but it is very fitting in this beautiful and really touching book. The story although very similar to a biblical creation story isn’t necessarily reflective only of a christian view point , rather as I read it is was the author’s own creation. It begins and ends with a star , and hits all the right points in between.

Why was it banned or challenged? Banned because of nude depiction of a man.
king and king

 

King and King by Linda de Haan is a fairytale and a funny one at that. The queen is old and cranky and wants her son to take over the kingdom but he must be married to do so. He tells her he’s not really into princesses but Mama doesn’t take the hint. After finding fault with every princess presented to him he falls in love at first sight with a prince and they live happily ever after. I like the whimsical illustrations and my kids thought the prince was funny. My son thought the book had a twist at the end with the princes falling in love, but just like the queen in the story there was no debate over why.  I like that this book uses the familiar fairytale structure to make an important statement about the existence of same sex marriage and can be a great ice breaker to talk about it with your kids.

Why was it banned of challenged? Banned and often restricted to adults because of the depiction of gay marriage.

The_Sissy_Duckling

The Sissy Ducklingby Harvey Fierstein is a lovely book. As a mom to a son I worry about him getting teased when he is older if he isn’t into sports, or likes to bake cookies more than play video games. This book address that, in a cute but frank way. I especially love how the dad isn’t super happy that his son is into more traditionally girly things. I think that even though we hope that all parents would be immediately supportive the reality is, that parents are human too and acceptance can take time even when there is lots of love. ETA: Now that my son is almost 6 and very into sports and very into pretty much everything that is stereotypically “boy” I use this book to teach him the other side. To see that all people are unique and to respect everyone for that uniqueness not for their ability to fit some societal mold.

So why was it banned? The reasons given were gay positive themes.  As you will see that is unfortunately a recurrent theme on this short list.

walter the farting dog

Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray is a story about a dog with really bad gas but a really loving family. The book does talk a lot about farting but it’s really about unconditional love. Kids love it, will giggle through it and it has a way with kids that don’t call themselves readers. I talk more about the power of potty humor in this article for Scholastic Parents.

Why was it challenged? Challenged but retained for the use of the words fart and farting repeatedly throughout the text.

Heather Has Two Mommies

Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman was widely banned when it was first released. It is probably the best known picture book about a family with same sex parents . When you read it the first thing you will probably think is that it doesn’t live up to the banning. I always imagine banned books to be truly out there and this book is about a family with a doctor , a carpenter and their daughter. Heather is starting a new school and she is nervous and exploring all the possibilities of what a family looks like just as her classmates are. She recognizes that her family is different but not less than.  The illustrations are black and white and a little dated but the story is on the right track.

Why was it banned or challenged? Banned because of it’s acceptance of lesbian mothers raising a child.

The Family Book

The Family Book by Todd Parr is a book that doesn’t give readers a narrow definition of family , it doesn’t say that your family has to look a certain way, or be the same as your neighbors. As a teacher I really appreciated the matter of fact way it embraced diversity. Kids see that families are not all like theirs and it’s important to validate the truth while recognizing that while they may not all look alike, all families are made with love.  Great book , cute illustrations and children love it.

Why was this book banned or challenged? This book wasn’t banned 10 years ago it was just recently banned from use for an elementary school curriculum about diversity, tolerance and bullying. It was banned from a curriculum about tolerance. Am I the only one who sees the irony? The issue was with it’s pages that state that some families have two moms and some have two dads. It makes me sad that some children who do have two moms or two dads won’t get a chance to see their family reflected in this bright, fun and diverse book.

 tango

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson is a much debated book. It’s the true story of two male penguins in Central Park Zoo who didn’t have any interest in the girl penguins but definitely liked each other. When the zoo keepers noticed that they were in every way a matched pair they also noticed that they prepared for a baby just like the other penguins. Time after time they were sad until they were given an egg to care for. Just like all families love and care is what matters when creating a family and baby Tango and his two daddies have thrived . My son loved this book and asked me to please go see the penguins when I was in New York City. I didn’t have time to but I wish I had. Their story simplifies a very debated topic and I think it’s a great book not only to explain how all families are different but also how love and care are really what makes a family even for penguins.

Why was this book banned or challenged? This picture book was the most frequently challenged and banned book of 2010, 2008, 2007 and 2006. A true story about a family of penguins. Wow.

chamber of secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling . My husband has just started reading book 2 in this series to my son at bedtime and they are hooked!  They finished the first book a few months ago and we took a break before book 2.  I love the whole Harry Potter series and it hasn’t been without much discussion between my husband and I on how we are going to space out the books. If you have read them you know that the subjects age and mature as the characters do by a school year with each book. I encourage parents to read any book that they are going to share with their young kids first to make sure it won’t scare or upset your child as well as to make sure it fits with your family. What I love so much about these books is that JK Rowling has created such a thick and detailed world and it grips even kids that don’t normally get into books as much as it does little bookworms!

Why was it challenged and banned? People get really upset about witch craft and if you google ” Harry Potter Banned” you will get recent articles and blog posts promoting it’s banning. Really.

banned books 5

In the Night Kitchen (Caldecott Collection) by Maurice Sendak is one of the many books I remember exactly where I was when I first read it ; Coquitlam Public Library sitting in the shag carpeted row boat amazed that the main character Mickey had no clothes . Which is exactly why it got banned. First let me tell you about the story if you have never read it. Mickey falls out of bed and into the night kitchen where the bakers try to bake him and ultimately he saves the day and falls back into bed and back to sleep. For me this story is about power and freedom and how kids don’t get to feel that day to day but free from reality at night in their sleep they can. Even as a little girl giggling at the pictures in the book I read the words and felt the freedom from being little that Mikey felt. When I read it to my son he giggled and giggled at Mickey’s body. I was sorta hoping he’d be more mature than I was at 5, we always expect the best from our kids right? Like me he still got the heart of the story and even expressed that Mickey was naked because he was dreaming and got to do whatever he wanted.

So why was is banned? That whole lack of clothing issue really upset a lot of people. So much so that it’s been in the top 25 banned books for decades.

Where_The_Wild_Things_Are

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak probably doesn’t need an introduction especially with the current film adaptation. We read this book often and my son randomly quotes the book throughout the day. Telling me to “Be still” just like Max tells the Wild Things. If by chance you are not familiar with this book, it’s a story of a little boy Max who is sent to his room for being wild and his imagination turns it into another world, filled with Wild Things and freedom from rules for behavior. Ultimately though Max’s heart pulls him back home where he is loved most of all, even when he’s wild.

So why was it banned or challenged? It was challenged widely because of it’s inclusion of “witchcraft and supernatural elements.” Guess those are my things because I adore this book and the whole Harry Potter series that has also been banned and challenged for these reasons.

sylvester and the magic pebble

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig is a book many of you may recognize from your own childhood . I remember the sweet story from my own. Sylvester is a little donkey who finds a magic pebble and after discovering that it grants wishes he makes a terrible mistakes and turns himself into a rock. As a rock he is unable to wish himself back into a donkey and is left to sit silently while his parents are frantic, search and finally grieve. Sylvester almost gives up himself until by chance his parents come across his rock and the magic pebble and he is turned back into his “true self”.  My son loved the story and I loved how when we talked about it he expressed so much empathy for Sylvester and his parents. The obvious message that you have to be careful what you wish for is a powerful one for kids learning about consequences. The other messages which for us were the more important ones were that  family bonds can break through anything and that no matter what even if he is a rock I would never give up on him.

Now it sounds like a great book right? It is. So why was it banned? When Sylvester goes missing his parents go to the police who are portrayed as pigs. All the characters are animals and my son didn’t make the connection because he’s never in his life heard anyone refer to police officers as pigs. I thought it was tongue in cheek but in 1977 it was enough to get banned.

Daddy’s_Roommate_cover

Daddy’s Roommate by Micheal Willhoite is a little different from the other books in this list in that the child in the book has a mommy, a daddy ,and daddy also has a roommate. The book was written in 1990 and even though we don’t often hear “roommate” as a euphemism for partner or boyfriend anymore but in 1990 is was probably more common. That aside the book does a good job of explaining what this little boys life is like. Bug catching, reading, scary dreams… it’s pretty average stuff but he has three adults to care for him. I also like that the boy’s parents are divorced which will be something many readers will connect with. The books explanation of what gay means is really simple and perfect for the books audience. I do think that the pictures are dated but I don’t think kids will pick up on that as much as adults will.

Why was it banned or challenged? It is one of the most banned books because of it’s gay subject matter.

 

So what would you do with these books? How would you talk about them or restrict them from your child?

 

Fall Board Books

fall books for kids The leaves are already changing on our trees outside so I thought it was time for a good fall book round up. These aren’t just any old books there are great fall books for babies and toddlers because they are all board books. Yes they are bulky but they are also chunky enough for not so nimble hands to hold and strong enough to stand up to your toddler who like to chew things like books. Here are some of our favorite fall board books.

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Big Fat Hen

Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker is a cute little counting book that has a few layers of reading and learning in it’s pages. The text is the familiar 1, 2, buckle my shoe rhyme but it’s the illustrations that will blow you away. They are so autumnal and they also correspond to each number in the rhyme. My 3 year old and I had a great time trying to find the items then count each one. While the text doesn’t speak of fall specifically the colors and illustrations will make you feel like you are visiting a farm in autumn.

halloween books

Maisy’s Halloween by Lucy Cousins is a cute board book for toddlers that follows Maisy’s search for the right Halloween costume. There is something about this little mouse that children just love. My daughter will reach for a Maisy book over just about any other if given a choice. The story is also a cute introduction about the fun we have dressing up for Halloween.

InMyTree

In My Tree by Sara Gillingham is such a sweet book I wish my daughter would let me read it to her . The book is all about a little owl and what that owl does in it’s tree. The novelty is that the pages have cut outs in them and the owl is a finger puppet that is in the middle of the cut outs . My daughter who at the moment is 6 months old, only wants to grab and try to bite the owl. Do not let this turn you off, it’s such a pretty little book and my 4 year old loved it. Perhaps when my daughter is done teething I will read it to her again! UPDATE Now that my daughter is 3 she thinks this is a great book and no longer tries to chomp down on the owl.

where_is_babys_pumpkin-300x300

Where Is Baby’s Pumpkin?by Karen Katz. Is a Halloween favorite at our house and has been for years. I don’t think the book has ever been really put away since buying it when my son was a toddler. Karen Katz’s lift the flap books are more than just cute , the flaps and different textures keep little hands busy and little bodies calm enough to sit for the whole book.

it's pumpkin day mouse

It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse! (If You Give…) by Laura Numeroff is a Halloween themed book about emotions. Mouse is busy painting his pumpkins and paints different faces representing different emotions on each. This is a great little book that gives parents a wonderful opener to talk about different emotions when things are calm. There is one scary pumpkin but I doubt it will frighten any readers.

my little pumpkin pie

You Are My Little Pumpkin Pie by Amy E. Sklansky is a cozy book that will have you craving a pumpkin spice latte for sure. It’s simple rhyming text is a good length for toddlers but older preschoolers will enjoy it as well. The books shows babies and their parent(s) in all different fall settings from the pumpkin patch to snuggling by the fire and of course eating pumpkin pie. The illustrations by Talitha Shipman are perfect and showcase a diverse set of families. Lovely book but don’t think I was joking you will be aching for a fall treat after reading it.

fall leaves

Fall Leaves by Liesbet Slegers is a little book that covers all different parts of fall from the perspective of a child. Boots, raincoats, nuts, squirrels and of course falling leaves are all covered. The book itself is not a story but rather a collection of pages devoted to these different parts of the fall season kids can expect to encounter. It was cute and and my daughter liked it well enough but I wouldn’t rush out to buy this.

Leaves

Leaves by David Ezra Stein is such a sweet book about a young bear who doesn’t understand what is happening when he sees leaves falling from the trees. He even tries to put them back on but it doesn’t work.  Eventually he lays down for a nap and hibernates until Spring when he happily notices that there are new tiny leaves budding on the trees. Both my kids loved this book. I got it out of the library for my toddler who loved it and while reading it to her I had to start over so her almost 6 year old brother could listen from the start. We each took our own things from it, my daughter has been noticing the changes of Fall for the first time just like the bear in the story. My son took the chance to tell me all about hibernation and everything he knows about it . I thought it was bittersweet, and related to how quickly the years seem to pass and how quickly my little bears are changing too. A really lovely book!

The Busy Little Squirrel

 The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri is a great book for babies and toddlers. The readers follow along with a squirrel as she gathers nuts , seeds and berries for the winter. As she hunts for her treasure she encounters many animals who all make their respective sounds and ask her to play, of course she is too busy and continues on.  Even though the idea is not groundbreaking  I like that this book can be used to introduce animal sounds without simply sitting down with let’s say flash cards and teaching them to your toddler. Even if you have no real animals near by books like this one are a great way to authentically teach very young kids.

Owl Babies

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell was an instant hit with my son. I knew it would be, much like little Bill the smallest of the three baby owls my son is fond of saying “I want my mommy”. The three birds are distraught when they discover mama owl is not there. I love how they huddle together, and worry a lot before mama Owl returns nonchalant about the fact that she’s back. The illustrations of the owls are so expressive , which with very few facial features is impressive. Patrick Benson did a wonderful job bringing all three owl’s personalities out visually as well as making the setting ominous without being frightening to young readers. Great book!

apple farmer annie board book

Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington is a simpler version of the full size Apple Farmer Annie. The board book follows Annie who is an apple farmer and what she does with the apples she grows. Baking, cooking but most of all selling the apples at the farmer’s market. I have always loved this book because when you ask a child who a farmer is I bet you they will say it’s a man who lives on a farm. There are no mentions of men, husbands, or fathers it’s just Annie the apple farmer. I LOVE it.

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Books About Ballet

picture books about ballet for kidsMy 3 year old has discovered ballet and just like I was at her age she is in love. I took ballet for close to a decade and like many women who went through it have very mixed feelings about introducing it to my own daughter. What I am not apprehensive about is reading books about ballet with her. These books let her explore ballet before ever stepping foot into a studio. Do you have a child who loves ballet? Do they have a favorite picture book that I didn’t include? Share the title in comments and we can keep this list growing.

 ballet books for kids dancing in the wings

Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen is about more than ballet, it’s about overcoming being different, accepting your body and even standing up for yourself. Sassy is tall, too tall to partner with any of the boys in her ballet studio and sticks out like a sore thumb. When a chance to audition for a summer ballet program in Washington D.C. arises other dancers in her studio make her doubt her talent. So often adults are able to see how awkward and different children are really striking and unique but getting the child to see that can be impossible. This book is all about a child discovering that different isn’t bad and that those differences are all she needs to stand out in a great way.  It was a little long for my daughter who is 3 but she sat the whole time enjoying it all the same.ballet books for kids degas and the little dancer

Degas and the Little Dancer by Laurence Anholt is the story behind Edgar Degas’s Little Dancer sculpture.  This book resonated with me because I already know and love the sculpture. While living in St.Louis I would often walk to the art museum and visit her. The book would be perfect to pair with a lesson about the art work, after a visit to see it ( there are many bronze copies of the original wax sculpture around the globe) or for other children who can make the connection but my kids were not nearly as engaged with the book as they could have been with more personal history. I loved it though.Nate the Ballerino

Ballerino Nate by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley  is on my must buy list. I don’t say that often, especially with such a great public library, but this book is wonderful. Nate is a little boy who after seeing a ballet school production with his class at school, decides he too wants to take ballet. Of course his older brother has something to say, and say and say but Nate is pretty confident with the help of his parents , that boys can take ballet.  I love that Nate wants to dance but he hates the idea that he might have to wear pink, clearly pink is not a good thing to him, he just wants to dance.  What I love about this book as a woman who spent more than her fair share of time in ballet , is that it depicts boy dancers well. The stereotype of a “sissy” doesn’t often fit and I knew many boys that danced that were masculine and graceful. I encourage parents of boys and girls to read this, to open our kids horizons to being interested in whatever their heart desires, not to what older brothers, neighbors or anyone else tells them to be.

Katy Duck is a caterpillar

Katy Duck Is a Caterpillar by Alyssa Satin Capucilli is a story about things not working out the way you expect , but finding out they are even better! Katy Duck loves to dance, and she loves the spring! When her dance school puts together a spring recital she is disappointed as each part she imagined she’d have is given to another student. Katy is given the part of the Caterpillar. She is horrified, caterpillars squirm , they don’t dance.  Of course caterpillars turn into butterflies and this one is no exception, Katy shines even if she has to crawl first.

ballet books for kids ballet kitty ballet class

Ballet Kitty: Ballet Class by Bernadette Ford is one book in a series of cute ballet books for young children. My daughter loves this book and I do too. The story is about three kittens that are off to ballet class and Ginger Tom the only boy is not excited about the class. The two girl kittens tease him a little for being in his sneakers instead of the ballet slippers he is refusing to wear but in the end everyone has fun at ballet and are excited about going back together next week. I like it because it addresses the fact that most young kids see ballet as an activity for girls but simply says it’s for boys too.

indescribably arabella

Indescribably Arabella by Jane Gilbert is an interesting story about embracing our talents, and being who we are not some cookie cutter idea of perfection. Arabella wants to be famous but she gets turned down and discouraged by her art teacher, her acting coach and her ballet teacher all because she is a little different. Her heart is there, her passion for the arts is there but she just won’t make a famous artist, actress or ballerina. After a pep talk with an older couple she sees that she has something better than perfection, she is unique.

ballet books for kids brontorina

Brontorina by James Howe is possibly one of my new favorite books on the planet. It’s not a new book but I have never read it before. My daughter loved it and while the lesson about creating inclusive environments went over her head the lesson about being true to yourself and doing something that has never been done before didn’t. The story is about a dinosaur who wants to be a ballerina and while a studio initially allows her to dance it’s clear that she is just too big. The story doesn’t end there and with some help from friends who support her dream they find a way to include everyone.ballet books for kids bea at ballet

Bea at Ballet by Rachel Isadora is another gem. This book explains what happens at a ballet class for the very littlest dancers. I love the variety of little dancers in this book, their little toddler bellies and all the little details. My daughter so badly wants to take ballet and this book was great to help answer her questions about what happens in a ballet class for someone her age. A great book for 2-4 year olds.ballet books for kids lili on stage

Lili on Stage by Rachel Isadora. This book would be the perfect gift for a child going to see the Nutcracker at Christmas. This book takes readers through what being in a professional production of The Nutcracker is like for a young child and it’s spot on. My sister was in a professional production of The Nutcracker two years in a row and even though it was over 25 years ago this book jogged so many memories of what she did before during and after the production. This book was way over my daughter’s head but children 4 and older who are into ballet would absolutely love it.

ballet books for kids not just tutus

Not Just Tutus by Rachel Isadora was disappointing. This book has a long rhyming text that put me kinda on edge. I think the author was trying to give a realistic view of ballet but talking about the bunions, the blisters ,and describing a dancer who is thin, tall and pretty as having it all stopped me from sharing it with my daughter. I am very cautious about what I say and do with my daughter as far as body image goes and very much on the fence about introducing ballet to her because of body image issues I have as a result of my ballet experience. So all that baggage coupled with the text came together to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe without that baggage you wouldn’t even see the text as negatively as I did but I can’t say I like a book I didn’t.

Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella

Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella by James Mayhew . In this version of Cinderella a little ballerina named Ella magically goes from ballet class into the fairytale. She meets the fairy godmother, Cinderella and even tags along to the ball. She plays an important role when she takes Prince Charming to Cinderella after they become separated at midnight.  I like this book because it celebrates ballet, and fairy tales but also somehow keeps it from preaching to little girls about becoming the princess.  The illustrations are beautiful and they make me want to sit on the red chairs of a theater as the house lights dim , and orchestra begins…

ballet books for kids tallulah's tutu

Tallulah’s Tutu by Marilyn Singer is one of many Tallulah ballet books.  I love these books and my daughter will grab them and sit through about 3/4 , they are just too long for her right now.  This is the first  book in this series and I can recommend every one. The story is about Tallulah who is eager to be a ballerina, mostly because she really wants to wear a tutu. Who can blame her?  Tutus are rad. She heads off to ballet class and is sure that the tutu is on it’s way. For whatever reason she thinks that a tutu is given to dancers for a great performance in class like a medal. She tries so hard but when the tutu never arrives she decides that ballet isn’t worth her time. I love this book because of all the things ballet gave me as a child it’s lasting gift has been discipline. In a round about way Tallulah learns that ballet isn’t about the sparkles and tulle and instead is about effort and achievement. Great lesson for us all.

ballet books for kids ballerina!

Ballerina! by Peter Sis is a simple and wonderful book about a little dancer’s fanciful visions of herself as a wonderful ballerina in various costumes. The costumes all come from famous ballets but young readers will just see a dancer playing dress up. My daughter loved the book and it’s simple illustrations.

Hilda Must Be Dancing

Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson is a lovely story about a big hippo that loves to dance, although her neighbors aren’t as keen. See Hilda is bog and when she dances she shakes and rattles everything, it’s noisy and disruptive and is making her friends very angry. They suggest that she try new hobbies, but knitting and singing won’t do it’s simply not in her heart, Hilda needs to move and groove!  I loves that a solution is found that makes everyone happy, that Hilda doesn’t have to give up her passion, but that she isn’t so selfish as to simply say ” too bad” to her friends either.

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Read & Draw Picnic – Comprehension Activity

read and draw picnic for kidsI love lazy summer days and trying to have a few before we all head back to school. This is such a simple reading comprehension activity and can be done with kids of any age. There is something awesome about reading outside, I love grabbing a blanket and some books and reading with my kids under a huge blue sky. This art activity takes that simple idea one step further by adding on an artistic retelling activity. I have been working hard to get my son to draw and write more this summer and drawing with his younger sister helps boost his confidence , lets him show her how to do things, and it’s made such a difference. Also his strength in retelling helps balance his lack of confidence in the drawing.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a book , some clip boards, a blanket and your art materials. We used paper ,watercolor colored pencils, water , paint brushes, and some water.read and draw outside book activity for kids
  2. Start by finding the right spot. We found some shade in our yard and spread out the blanket.read and draw outside art and literacy activity for kids
  3. Pass out the clip boards and art material.read and draw outside for kids
  4. Start reading. As you read encourage your kids to draw what is happening in the story or something that sticks out for them from the book. Their favorite part, the saddest or happiest part … they can or you can choose.read and draw comprehension
  5. Make sure to have extra paper on hand my son made 3.read and draw outdoor reading picnic
  6. After they are done with their art work as them about it. Instead of saying ‘ What is that?’ which could make them question their artistic ability as well as gibe a much shorter answer say “Tell me about your picture.” I have found that when we do activities like this both my kids end up retelling the whole story naturally which is an important part of early literacy development. It builds comprehension and because it happens very organically no one feels like they are being quizzed on a lazy summer day. If they don’t retell the story on their own try asking :
  • Where  did the story take place?
  • Who was the story about?
  • What happened to them in the story? What happened next?
  • How did it end?read and draw outdoors

Try having your child retell stories from time to time and if they struggle do it more often. If they are really not understanding what is going on try simpler books and  try asking these questions throughout the reading not only after finishing the book.

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picture books for retelling

 

All of these books have story lines that are clear and younger children can successfully retell the major events while older children could use them and retell in greater detail. These links are affiliate links.

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Picture Books About Reading

children's book lists and reviews Promote reading while you read! These books about reading, libraries, and books were not only informative many were really funny and two made me cry. I had a great time exploring these books with my kids and hope that you can find a new title or two to add to your next library list!  Do you have a favorite book about reading ? I’d love it if you could add the title and why you love it in the comments so this list can keep growing for all my readers.

books for kids

Calvin Can’t Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie by Jennifer Berne is a story about a starling Calvin who can’t fly and really isn’t even interested in learning. Calvin loves books and the library and while all the other birds are flying in a pack he is off on his own. There is some teasing but ultimately the pack helps Calvin and he in turns saves everyone. I love that he doesn’t really try to fit in but that in the end he discovers something new about himself once he’s accepted for being different.

calvin can't fly

Our Library by Eve Bunting is a cute book about a group of young animals who work together to save their local library. All of their efforts start with reading books about how to do it. They paint, fundraise, even convince a grumpy old beaver to let them move the library to his land . It’s a book about libraries , the importance of reading and most of all teamwork.

inside the books

Inside the Books: Readers and Libraries Around the World by Toni Buzzeo was interesting but didn’t really flow. The book takes readers all around the world looking at different unique libraries like a library on a boat in Indonesia and a train library in Chile. The pages that were devoted to telling readers about these fun libraries around the world were great but in between them were pages that were supposed to be what reader sin these libraries are reading and they completely confused my 6 year old. The choppy nature was too much for a new reader.

no t rex in the library

No T. Rex in the Library by Toni Buzzeo is a cute book that my daughter loved and my son enjoyed. The story is about a little girl who acts up in the library and gets put in timeout. While she is in timeout she imagines that a dinosaur comes charging out of a book and they go on an adventure. It’s a cute look at a young child getting angry then calming down with some lessons about how to treat and not treat books along the way.

librarian on the roof

Librarian on the Roof! by M.G. King made me cry. The true story is about a librarian who did what she needed to do to raise enough money to make a functional children’s section in the oldest library in Texas. What she did was stay on the roof of that library for a week, and it worked. I loved the message that libraries are vital, that books open doors , and that providing access to information to those who can’t afford to get it on their own is a worthwhile cause. This book made me want to cheer, it had me spouting off lessons left and right to my kids , and it absolutely captivated all three of us. Go read this book and learn more about RoseAleta Laurell the real librarian on the roof.

lola at the library

Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn was our first introduction to Lola and I have since memorized this text I have read it so often. My daughter fell in love with this book before she was even two and we’ve read it at the very least weekly (usually daily ) for well over a year. It never gets boring to read because it’s such a calm gentle story about a little girl eager for her special trip with her mom to the library.

lola loves stories

Lola Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn is one of my daughter’s absolute favorite books ever. She named her first baby doll after the title character , that how much she loves her. In this book Lola goes to the library with her dad and all week long reads and acts out the stories she found on Saturday. I love that the author has Lola going with her dad alone. So often in books you don’t see this, it’s either Mom alone or the whole family. I also love how books are portrayed as a launch pad for pretend play.

lola reads to leo

Lola Reads to Leo by Anna McQuinn isn’t just a book about reading it’s also a book about making the transition from a family of three to a family of four. This book would be a wonderful choice for families with toddlers who have a baby on the way. Lola helps her parents prepare for Leo’s arrival and helps them care for him after he arrives. One way they care for him is to read together. My daughter loves the illustration of the Leo being breastfed and as a parent who read both her kids well past 2 I loved seeing it too. We love this whole series and think you will too.

i will not read this book

I Will Not Read This Book by Cece Meng will make your kids laugh. My son loved the story about a little boy who is trying to convince the reader that no matter what he will not read this book. He tells readers page by page  all the things that he will endure before cracking and reading the book . My son loved how each page included one more thing for the little boy to endure. I liked the repetition of the text because it gave my son a great opportunity to build confidence in his reading . In the end though all the little boy wanted was someone to read with, which of course he managed to find.

tomas

Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora was another really touching book about the difference a library and caring librarian can make in the life of a child. Tomas’s parents are migrant workers and in the summer they travel from Texas to Iowa to work the fields for the summer. While in Iowa Tomas discovers the local library and befriends the librarian who signs books out on her own card for him. He reads all summer, shares the books with his family and develops a love of reading because someone took the time to reach out. I loved this book and so did my son who was interested in the story but much more interested in learning more about migrant workers and what being poor is like. We have had very interesting conversations about these topics since. I love it when a book does that.

the boy who was raised by librarians

The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians by Carla Morris was my son’s favorite book of this round up. Melvin doesn’t really live in the library but he spends as much time there as he can. The three reference librarians are dear friends and over the years they do what librarians do helping Melvin find answers , organize, categorize and of course spark new curiosity along the way. As time passes readers get to see the librarians cheer him on and beam with pride over his accomplishments including becoming a librarian himself. I liked this book and related to the librarians innate need to find answers and research a topic and Melvin’s love of being somewhere where learning and curiosity are celebrated.

the inside and outside of the house

The Inside-outside Book of Libraries by Roxie Munro takes readers all around the world to peek inside libraries. This book was great and even though it’s long ( I wouldn’t read the whole thing with a child under 5) it’s easy to break into segments. I loved learning about the Library of Congress, the library aboard a aircraft carrier , and my son thought it was super cool that the elementary school featured was from the Texas town my husband grew up in . Great illustrations by Julie Cummins take this nonfiction book  from good to great.

reading make you feel good

Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr is bright and fun. The book showcases all different way that reading can make you feel good. In it’s simple text the author manages to explain all the different kinds of reading that people do. Reading for information like while cooking or reading signs at the zoo, reading things like fairy tales for pleasure , reading to learn new things at school… the list goes on with great illustrations that kids love. Todd Parr books are always uplifting and this book is great to read to any kid but especially reluctant or frustrated readers.

book fair day

Book Fair Day by Lynn Plourde is a funny book about a little boy who loves books so much that when his class has to wait until the end of the day to go to the school book fair he freaks out . Dewey is every bit a bookworm and when his teacher explains that their class has to be the last one to buy books at the book fair he tries time and time again to get into the library sooner. It’s a funny book that really promotes the excitement of a new book ( or 10 ). My son who is 6 loved it too!

comin' down to storytime

Comin’ Down to Storytime by Rob Reid was a bit of a flop at our house but I don’t think it will be a flop in every house. My daughter did not like me singing the text at all but I couldn’t help it. The text is a reworking of the song ” She’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she comes” and you can’t help but sing. That wasn’t cool with my 3 year old. The book is cute and takes readers through all the parts of your typical library story time. I think most toddlers will like it, especially if their parents have nice singing voices.

read it don't eat it

Read It, Don’t Eat It! by Ian Schoenherr is a cute book that teaches kids all about how to treat books with funny illustrations of animals. Both my kids liked this book and laughed at how naughty the animals were. There isn’t too much text which makes this a great choice for toddlers as well as preschoolers.

wild about books

Wild About Books by Judy Sierra is a book all about a librarian named Molly who decides to introduce the animals at the zoo to books. Once they all start reading there is nothing that can stop them and they eventually build their own library branch. The text of this book is written in fantastic rhyme and my son loved it. I liked the funny book titles that the animals are reading, most of which I think were added in just for the adults. Cute book!

it's a book

It’s a Book by Lane Smith is not going to be universally adored. I loved the book but I would be doing you all a disservice if I didn’t tell you that the book has the word Jackass in it twice. While technically that is not a curse word it’s hard not to notice that the way the author uses it is tongue and cheek and any child with any knowledge of “bad words” will be clued into the author’s tone for sure. I read it with my son who loved it and laughed a long with me at the donkey who was clueless, but I think he especially loved it because it had what he deems a “bad word” . The book is a great commentary on tech vs traditional books and as a read aloud it’s got great rhythm but I wouldn’t read it to a group of kids (even though I would read it to my own) because of the language. Read it first and see if it works for your family.

library day

It’s Library Day by Janet Morgan Stoeke is a simple book that is reminiscent of an Anne Rockwell book in it’s simplicity . It explains what happens on library day in an elementary school class. I liked this book and it got a happy bit not overly excited response from my kids. I don’t think I would rush out to buy this book but I would pop it on a list to check out from the library.

l is for library

“L” Is for Library by Sonya Terry is a sweet alphabet book that takes readers from A to Z with things all about the library. I really liked this book and especially appreciated all the references to online tools as part of the library. It held both my 3 and 6 year olds attention and the sweet illustrations by Nicole Wong went just perfectly with the text.

libblacklagoon

The Librarian from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler . The Black Lagoon series is always a hit here and my kids laugh and laugh at how terribly over the top the child in the books imagines his teachers and other adults at school. In this book he is imagining his librarian to be a terrible monster who laminates kids who talk in the library. I think these books are funny and give kids an opportunity to talk about fear in a lighthearted setting.

read-to-your-bunny

Read To Your Bunny by Rosemary Wells is a simple little book that reminds parents to read to their children with adorable bunny illustrations. This is not a story , it’s a collection of reminders with great illustrations. My daughter LOVES bunnies and consequently she also loves Max & Ruby the cartoon based on this author/illustrator’s works so this book was an instant classic at our house. I liked it because it showed bunnies reading in all different settings and I could ask my daughter if she’d read here or there and suggest we read in new places. This book does a great job at promoting reading.

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