Children’s Book Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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 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! (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.
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 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 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 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 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 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.This post contains affiliate links.
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.
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.
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: 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 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! 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 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 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 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 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 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 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-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 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 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 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! 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 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 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.
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 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.
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 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.This post contains affiliate links.
The best way that you can promote reading with your children is to read every single day starting as soon as possible. These 50 books are our favorite books for 2 year olds. It was tough to narrow it down to 50 and many of these authors like Eric Carle , Karen Katz , Byron Barton, and Sandra Boynton could have been listed many times over so check out all their titles. Is your favorite on the list? If not add the title in the comments and we’ll keep this list growing. Click through the links to see our original review!
- Planes by Byron Barton
- How Big Is a Pig? by Claire Beaton
- In the Town All Year ‘Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner
- Secret Seahorse by Stella Blackstone
- Doggies by Sandra Boynton
- Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton
- Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- Peek-a-Zoo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti
- Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins
- Ladybug Girl Dresses Up! by Jacky Davis
- Dog’s Colorful Day by Ema Dodd
- Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert
- Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming
- Corduroy by Don Freeman
- Babies by Gyo Fujikawa
- Tip Tip Dig Dig by Emma Garcia
- Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino
- Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
- The Babies on the Bus by Karen Katz
- Hush, Little Alien by Daniel Kirk
- The Little Airplane by Lois Lenski
- It’s Mine by Leo Lionni
- Baby Says “Moo!”by JoAnn Early Macken
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
- Chicka Chicka ABC by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
- Dig Dig Digging by Margaret Mayo
- Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee
- I Love Colors by Margaret Miller
- Mortimer by Robert Munsch
- The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
- The Family Book by Todd Parr
- Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
- Curious George Goes to the Hospital by Margaret and H.A. Rey
- One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root
- Yum Yum Dim Sum by Amy Wilson Sanger
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
- No, David! by David Shannon
- Dinosaur vs. the Potty by Bob Shea
- One, Two, Three by Tom Slaughter
- Dinosaur Roar! by Paul and Henrietta Stickland
- I Love Trucks! by Philoemen Sturges
- The Loudest Roar by Thomas Taylor
- Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
- Apples, Apples, Apples by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
- Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington
- Mr. Cookie Baker by Monica Wellington
- Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
- Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha
Traveling with young kids isn’t always a possibility but exposing your children to the world through books is simple. These 27 books can turn your living room into Africa, Asia or New York City! Kids can learn about differences and similarities with children an ocean away while snuggled in their own bed. These multicultural books let your kids see into other children’s lives and imagine themselves in that shoes. Take time to read and talk about these books, research the countries further , try some new foods, just keep the learning going. Check out some crafts from around the world here too! Do you have a favorite book about another country or culture? Add it in comments so we can keep this list growing.
Madeline in London by Ludwig Bemelmans . Madeline takes her fearlessness to London in this follow up to the classic Madeline story. Like the original the text is a rhyming masterpiece and I love that this story includes real London sights in it’s illustrations, such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey , the Tower Bridge and Trafalgar Square. Do be forewarned that there is a little reference to making glue out of dead horses after a horse in the story is believed to be dead. Not to worry though the horse is not dead after all and the glue reference should sail right over kids heads. After reading this to my Pre K class we got down a globe and found where Paris and London were. For weeks 2 little girls played airplane and their destination was always London. A single book can really open doors!
My Granny Went to Market by Stella Blackstone is a book I got to know very well when writing lessons for Itty Bitty Bookworm preschool curriculum using it. This a a really fantastic book that is filled with language arts, geography and math lessons. Granny is a traveler and everywhere she goes she picks up a number of souvenirs. Not only are a number of countries like Switzerland, Mexico and Peru visited, but the souvenirs she buys relate to the country’s culture and offer even more learning opportunities for interested kids. The rhyming text will enchant even the youngest world traveler , this is a must for any jet setting family!
One Green Apple by Eve Bunting is a treat. Sometimes learning about the world means learning about people next door to us. The book is not about apples really at all, instead it’s about Farrah a little Muslim girl who has come to the United States from an unnamed country and her first day at school. The day is spent on a field trip to an orchard , where the children pick apples and make apple cider. I immediately related to this as my first day of work at a school in my new country was trying, although I could speak the language unlike Farrah it was still daunting to be new in unfamiliar territory. The melting pot analogy is turned into a apple cider one as all the children throw their apples in and work together to press it into cider, even Farrah helps.
D is for Dancing Dragon: A China Alphabet by Carol Crane is a in valuable book when teaching about China and Chinese New Year, it is more than a simple alphabet book, going into detail about lanterns, chopsticks, panda bears and so much more. What I love about these books is that younger children can be shown the pictures and given a easy to digest synopsis of the text, while older children can read the whole book. The illustrations by Zong-Zhou Wang will make the most reluctant traveler want to get on a plane to china, they are simply spectacular!
Learn the Alphabet with NorthWest Coast Native Art by Ryan Cranmer (and others) was an amazing gas station find. Yes I said gas station. I ran in for some diet coke and came out with an alphabet book ! This book is amazing, bright beautiful and even though I bought it for my daughter since it’s bright colors and sturdy pages are perfect for a baby, my almost 4 year old son adores it. What I love is when he reads it to her . The Native art is gorgeous and if you are unfamiliar with North West coast art you are in for a treat.
Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley is a fantastic book! The book follows a sister who is looking for her brother in their San Francisco neighborhood. As she goes from door to door each neighbor invites her in to eat some of their supper. Everybody is having some sort of rice dish even though they are all from different countries. My 6 year old really enjoyed this book and understood the message well , my 3 year old sat through it no problem too. There are so many future lessons about geography, nutrition, and travel packed in this one little book! Awesome find.
Whoever You Are by Mem Fox. I had the absolute pleasure of writing a unit of study for Itty Bitty Bookworm using this book as the base. I often feel sick of the books we use for curriculum after reading it thousands of times, brainstorming lessons and activities. Not this book, every time I read it I get goosebumps. The book is simple and talks about the differences of little children all over the world, but focuses on what they all have in common. Children of various cultures are shown , smiling, laughing, crying and the reader can see that even if the clothes , or houses or food are different the insides are the same. I always choke up reading this book because it’s so beautiful and a great reminder for all of us that while we so often focus on what we see as different most of what we have is in common.
All the Colors of the Earth by Shelia Hamanaka is a simple book that makes a great point. Children come in all colors. The text is very brief but very descriptive comparing children’s coloring to caramel, golden wheat and more. My just 3 year old loved this book and it matched her recent discovery that people do come in all colors and that is something to celebrate.
A South African Night by Rachel Isadora was loved by both my children but for different reasons. The book is very simple and great for kids 4 and under although my 6 year old was interested because my husband and I have traveled to South Africa and visited the places in the book. The book shows glimpses of the urban South Africa as well as the rural Kruger National Park where many of the great species of wild life roam. I think many children see Africa as only the rural wild life filled half of the equation and don’t think of the urban half. This book shows both sides for a more complete , although still simplistic, picture.
Everybody Bonjours! by Leslie Kimmelman was such a find! I adore Paris so my review of this book may be slightly biased. I love it. I love the simplicity of a little girl going to Paris and saying as well as hearing “Bonjour” everywhere she goes. She stops at many of the major tourists attractions and at the end of the story there is a short guide for the sights she sees with her family. Also it should be noted that there are many pages that contain opposites on them so children will enjoy being able to anticipate the story. I love the illustrations by Sarah McMenemy they give a retro feel to a very cute book. My son really liked it especially since he was just learning “Bonjour” the other day and happily helped me say it with each turn of the page.
Colors by Julia Pimsleur Levine is a dynamic lift the flap book in three different languages. What I think is so powerful about this book is that because it has three languages it exposes children naturally to the concept that there are many cultures and languages not just the one or two they may hear around their city or neighborhood. My 3 year old loves the Little Pim Panda and the flaps and tabs kept her interested and engaged while reading the book. Please note I do have a working relationship with Little Pim but was not asked or paid to include this book in the round up. Like all the rest of these books we took it out from the library!
Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby by Patricia MacLachlan is a calm gentle story that follows a day in the life of a little baby and his mama in Tanzania. The illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon are stunning and I love that it takes readers through a typical day for this little family. My daughter loves babies and this is a great book to talk about the little differences and big similarities between what she did as a baby and what this little baby does.
Mama’s Saris by Pooja Makhijani is a simple yet rich story about a little girl and her desire to dress in her mama’s clothes. I think I would be hard pressed to find a woman who doesn’t remember watching in awe as her mom got dressed for a special event and wanting to dress just like mama. The narrator is Hindu and her mama wears a sari for special occasions and she is stubbornly trying to get her mom to let her wear one for her 7th birthday. The illustrations are beautiful, especially the jewel tones of the various saris. This book would be a great one to read before playing dress up or other pretend play. The story is touching and although it’s too long for toddlers, it’s a great book for preschoolers !
There’s a Dolphin in the Grand Canal by John Bemelmans Marciano is a silly book that enchanted me. It’s all about a little boy stuck helping out in his families cafe in Venice wishing he was somewhere more exciting than Venice. Then something very exciting happens but no one believes him! What I love so much about this book is that it gets to the heart of why people travel , to see things that they have never seen before. If you live in Venice St.Marks Square and The Rialto Bridge are ho hum but if you are from Winnipeg they rock! I also love that there are tourists in this book using all different languages that are explained in an appendix at the back of the book. Very cool find!
The Only One Club by Jane Naliboff . Learning about the world around you can meant an ocean away or right next door. This is a cute book about a little girl named Jennifer who is the only one in her class who celebrates Hanukkah. Soon she finds out that there are lots of “Only Ones” in her class , like the only one with red hair, the only one who wears dresses every day and the only one with a unique last name. I like the message this book has, that we should celebrate our diversity and tell our kids it’s not a bad thing to be unique.
Kokeshi: Yumi by Annelore Parot is overwhelmingly cute. The book is all about a little wooden doll ( Kokeshi ) named Yumi from Japan. Readers follow along with Yumi as she gets ready and goes to a costume party. The book has many dynamic elements in it that will delight your kids. I would not read it with an exuberant toddler though because it’s not a board book and with so many different kinds of lifts, folds and flaps it’s bound to get ripped. The illustrations are amazing and the facts about Japanese culture like kimonos, sushi and fish kites are woven perfectly into the cute story.
Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth by Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes is a cute adaptation of the Indian legend of how Ganesha came to write the epic Mahabharata. Kids will love this book without ever knowing the historical significance of the original story. My daughter absolutely adored this book because it has two of her favorite things an Elephant ( at least she thought Ganesha was one ) and candy! Ganesha breaks his trunk on a jawbreaker in this story and while having a bit of a tantrum is asked to use his broken tusk to scribe an amazing epic … he agrees as long as he can eat candy while he does it. The story is cute but the illustrations by Sanjay Patel are bright completely suck kids in, it’s no shock that his day job is as an animator for Pixar.
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman cost me a total of 15 cents at a thrift store. It is worth so much more than that. This book is a gem! Perfect for older preschoolers who are getting a sense of the world beyond their own home and city, this book takes you on a ride around the world! You follow the little girl to Italy, France , Sri Lanka, England, Jamaica and back to Vermont! As soon as I read this my mind was racing with classroom activities ! I will be posting some soon. I LOVE this book, I just wish I had read it when I was still teaching it would have been so much fun to teach geography with!
The Falling Flowers by Jennifer B. Reed .The story is very sweet, it’s about a grandmother taking her young granddaughter on a surprise outing in Tokyo. It turns out that she is taking her to see the cherry trees in full bloom just as her grandmother had done with her. It’s a nice look at the softer side of Tokyo , a city I know I always imagine as only steal, cement and neon lights!
D Is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet by Nancy I. Sanders is the type of book that will fit your family for many years as it can be read and multiple levels. This book will teach children of many ages about African American history, the letters are really just a great organizational tool. I love this structure of book because of younger children you can simply go page by page letter by letter simply identifying the illustrations but older children can read the poem on each page or even the in depth text about each page. This book would be a perfect tool for a great history lesson connecting political and social history with contemporary issues the African American community still faces today.
Yum Yum Dim Sum by Amy Wilson Sanger is a book that makes me crave dumplings something fierce but my daughter seems to like the rhymes and pink and red colors throughout. The book explains in a zippy text all about Dim Sum . It’s a board book targeted to babies it’s really useful to use to teach children about foods they may be unfamiliar with. There is even a little appendix with Chinese words for all the items mentioned in the book like tea, rice and tarts.
Somewhere in the World Right Now by Stacey Schuett is brilliant. This book very simply illustrates that while we sleep others in far away places are getting up to eat, heading off to work , and going to school. As the reader turns the pages different locations around the globe are displayed with simple every day events. I love that the text doesn’t tell you where each place is even though the illustrations usually give it away with pictures or sometimes words. Kids will love noting similarities and differences. Be prepared to tell your kids what time it is all over the globe after reading this book.
It’s A Small World by Richard M Sherman and Robert B. Sherman is a bright and colorful book that you won’t read, you will sing. It’s the familiar tune from the favorite Disneyland ride It’s A Small World. The illustrations by Joey Chou bring it to life! The children from all over the globe look similar to the dolls in the ride but bring their own fresh spin on it too. My 3 year old adored the ride when we were in Disneyland in January and really enjoyed this book too. There is so many details to talk about in the illustrations that I found i didn’t really read it so much as turn each page and discuss.
Elizabeti’s School by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen is a wonderful book for elementary aged kids . The story is about a little girl in Africa who is excited about getting ready to go to school for the first time. What I adore about this book is that it teaches children that school may be seen as a burden to children in wealthy nations it’s a privilege to many in poorer places. Children are lucky to get a chance to go to school and without being preachy at all this book gets that message through to readers. The other thing that it gets through so beautifully is that while school systems are obviously different that family life and people are not all that different even on a far away continent. Both my son and I liked this book.
M Is For Maple: A Canadian Alphabet by Mike Ulmer. This book will make you feel proud to be from Canada if you are Canadian and teach you something about your neighbour ( We spell it with a u in Canada ) if you aren’t . It will also teach your children things about the country they live in and why we feel pride when we hear names like Terry Fox, Anne with an E and Gretzky! I love this book and have since I first read it during teacher’s college in Thunder Bay, if you can be happy about being in Canada during a very cold Thunder Bay winter you can be happy about it anywhere.
ABeCedarios: Mexican Folk Art ABCs in English and Spanish by Cynthia Weill and K.B.Basseches , wood sculptures by Moises and Armando Jimenez. This is a simple but amazing book. The text is simply labels in both English and Spanish for the bright and wonderful photographs of the matching sculptures. I loved that for X the sculpture is of a mythical animal and the book asks the reader to make up a name beginning with X, very clever!
All the Way to America by Dan Yaccarino is a wonderful story about immigration and family tradition. My kids both liked the story of the Yaccariono family and how they came to settle in America from Italy. Throughout the story there is one little shovel that gets used for all different things generation after generation. It’s a great symbol for how family roots can stay strong even if how we express them changes. I liked being able to compare it to my own immigration to the United States and how different it was for me in 2003 vs the author’s great grandfather over a hundred years earlier. Good book to talk about how people came to the United States and why people move from country to country.
Another whole series I love but simply did not have time to review each one ( they are all long but wonderful books ) are the This is … by Miroslav Sasek . You can read more about them here.This post contains affiliate links
Taking kids to an art museum can be an unpredictable adventure. They might love it, browse the art along with you and beg not to leave. They may also barely scan the art, try to touch everything and use the voice you begged them to only use on the soccer field the whole time. Kids are kids and expecting them to adore things that aren’t completely designed for them and then being angry or disappointed when they act their age is not really fair. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t expose our kids to art at art museums or give them expectations to live up to. What it does mean is that we help them reach these goals by giving them some tools.
Here are 5 simple games you can play with your kids at the art museum to keep them engaged in the art .
This game was created by my 6 year old on the way to the museum on Friday. I was explaining the next game on our list when he announced from his car seat that he had a better idea. I ran with it.
How to play :
One player chooses a work of art in a room/gallery but does not tell the other players which one it is. The other players try to guess which work of art is the secret one. You can ask for clues that give a yes or no answers just like in the game 20 questions. Whoever finds the secret one first gets to choose the next one in the next room/gallery .
I’ll Take That One !
How To Play:
Each player chooses one piece of art in each room/gallery to pretend they are going to buy from the museum. They must also say where they would put the art in their own home.
Build A Rainbow
How To Play :
This is essentially a color hunt. In each gallery see if you and your kids can find every color of the rainbow. To make it more challenging you can add a rule that you can only find one color per painting. So that painting with the rainbow … yeah not going to cut it! This is a great game to play with toddlers, just make sure that they know that art is for looking at and not touching ( we are still working on that too ).
How To Play:
Choose a color from inside a painting and the players can make guesses to what element it may be. For example if there is a brown dog in a painting the spyer will say ” I spy something brown” and the guessers will look for all the brown items in the painting, hopefully guessing the dog. This works great with kids of similar ability levels. My kids are just getting to the point where they can play games like this together and I love it. With older children you could do this with artists or genres saying ” I spy a Jackson Pollock” or ” I spy an impressionist painting.”. Adapt it to your kids.
10 Tips For A Fun Museum Trip ( even with toddlers )
- Go early when there are fewer crowds and your kids are fresh and open to learning.
- Go on a full belly.
- Look at the map together and find the bathrooms on the map. Suggest you check them out right away.
- Go on a free day so if you must abort ship when a meltdown arises you aren’t out an admission price . It can be busier but if your child isn’t the quietest ( I know mine aren’t) the crowds tend to make a loud toddler voice less distracting and make your trip more pleasant. You can talk to your kids in a regular voice and not worry about your kiddo being quiet.
- Find out if photography is allowed and if it is hand your kids a camera to document their trip.
- In and out. Most museums will allow you to have in and out privileges so if your kids need a breather take one.
- Play games to keep kids engaged . Some museums will have kid friendly maps or guides .
- Bring a sketch book.
- Know when they are done and find the nearest exit. Don’t try to see just one more thing. If you see the signs of a meltdown just go.
- Visit the gift shop and after you return home read about art, museums and artists to keep the learning going.
Books About Art Museums
Babar’s Museum of Art by Laurent de Brunhoff is one of my favorite art books for kids. My son has recently decided he hates it because he doesn’t want to see the elephant versions of the art. All the art in the museum are masterpieces that you will recognize redone with elephants. He slams the page in the way only toddlers with a definite sense of justice can and says ” No elephant paintings Mama, real ones!” Trust me though this book is awesome and he loved it a few months ago. The story is about how Queen Celeste wants to change the abandoned railway station into a museum to house all their collected art . The museum itself looks just like the Musee D’Orsay in Paris and the story also explains art for children.
Meet Me at the Art Museum: A Whimsical Look Behind the Scenes by Davis Goldin was a gift shop find at the museum we visited last week and the perfect book to keep my kids learning and interested. I read it to them while they ate lunch after our morning visit and they both really liked it. The book is a behind the scenes tour of an art museum. My daughter liked the inanimate objects that were turned into characters like the ticket stub and name tag while my son loved the insider info like how they choose paintings to display , check to make sure they aren’t fakes, and the security devices they use. I loved how it really explained the different jobs at the museum from docent to archivist to director and curator. The book held both their attention and reading it right after out trip gave us a fresh experience to relate it to.
Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman is fantastic. This wordless book has a clear strong message – that if exposed children can loose themselves in art, it opens a new world with new adventures before unseen! The story opens with a little boy on a school field trip to a museum, he looses his group , and soon finds himself in the art. After completing many mazes he is given a medal before he rejoins his group. My favorite part is as he is getting on the bus with his class he is wearing his medal and so is the museum curator. Love it!
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