Everyone doing the Tails and Tales summer reading program will love these board books – heck, anyone who loves board books will!
It’s a party, and you’re invited! A magnetic bow opens to let readers in to this rhyming story of manners and parties as three piggies are invited to their friend, Bunny’s, birthday party! They’re so polite, greeting each of their friends, saying “please” and “thank you”, and playing nicely with the other guests. The third book starring Hans Wilhelm’s Piggies, kids will enjoy seeing this group spend more fun time together, modeling the best behavior. Digital illustrations are bright and cheery, and the magnetic bow closure adds a little bit of fine motor play.
Help Sophie the Otter find the matches to the seashells she’s collecting by lifting the flaps and identifying the patterns! Colorful, cartoon illustrations and bold fonts lead little explorers through the story, and descriptions of each shell help readers identify the lost treasure; Sophie holds the matching shell in each spread, helping new learners link the description to the appearance of an object. Kids can lift three flaps on each page that guide them to the right answer. Turn the wheel at the end, to help Otto the Octopus juggle all the shells together! Based on a board game, this would be a cute idea to pair with the board game for preschoolers as either a gift or, if your budget allows, a library purchase for game time and post-storytime activities. (Educational Insights has several lift-the-flap board books and companion games; something to keep your mind on when you get your annual budgets.)
Learn to count with this rhyming story about adorable kitties! Award-winning children’s author Lesléa Newman weaves an adorable story, counting cats from 1 to 12, where the cats interact with each other as the story progresses: “Cat Number One has nothing to do… / until she makes friends with Cat Number Two”; “Cat Number Two is a sweet as can be… / but not quite as sweet as Cat Number Three”. Colorful numbers are easy to read on each spread, and the cats multiply, letting readers count the felines as they increase. Absolutely adorable, this is a perfect counting story that begs for snuggly plush friends for readers to read along with.
Lesléa Newman and Isabella Kung bring the magic of cats to the alphabet with their Alpha-Cat story, ABC Cats. Precious cats sleep, play, and doze, curled around oversized letters of the alphabet as a gentle rhyme, with adjectives describing each cat, run across the bottom of the pages: “Adorable cat with eyes of gold / Baby cat just two weeks old”. Isabella Kung’s ink and digital illustrations are so playful and delightful that they’ll enchant readers of any age. These two cat books are a must add to your collections, especially where you have animal lovers.
A young girl makes a call to the local plant pavilion to order a trillium flower, but a hilarious game of telephone leads to the family being put down for an order of a trillion trees! When the first thousand show up, the family bands together to figure out where to put all of them: the yard, the town, the park, everywhere one can imagine, the family’s planting trees of all kinds. When the day is done, the weary family heads home to discover a truck in the driveway… with their next shipment of trees. An environmentally sound counting story with a fun twist, this rhyming tale will have readers giggling and trying to figure out where to put tree upon tree upon tree! It’s a great readalong with books like Kadir Nelson’s If You Plant a Seed. Colorful illustrations show trees of all types, including a giant Sequoia and an apple orchard. Fun family moments show them being overwhelmed by the trees tumbling off the truck, and digging multiple holes across their town. A back page provides fun facts about trees. This list from Brightly includes more books about planting trees, to add to a Hug a Tree display for Earth Day.
Trillions of Trees is a companion to Kurt Cyrus’s 2016 book, Billions of Bricks and has a starred review from School Library Journal.
You know when you discover a book that makes you want to jump up and start a storytime? One-osaurus, Two-osaurus falls firmly into that group. A group of dinosaurs are playing in a child’s room when they decide to start a counting game: “One-osaurus, two-osaurus, three-osaurus, four…” It’s a mash-up of hide-and-seek and counting, as the dinos hide behind large, bold numbers; they tuck tails and necks, waiting in anticipation for number 10, which sounds really, really big. What will it be? You have to read and find out! The addictively playful rhyme scheme will make you want to jump and dance as you read. Hand out number coloring sheets (Mr. Printables and First Palette have good ones) and invite your storytime Kiddos to hide behind them as you read along, and make sure to stomp and roar! Digital illustrations are lively, silly, colorful and incredibly fun, with cartoony, bright dinosaurs twisting themselves into hilarious shapes to pose by and hide behind numbers. Bold, black, oversized numbers make it easy to count along, even for the kiddos sitting in the back of the group! Display and read with other great dino books, including 1, 2, 3 Do the Dinosaur by Michelle Robinson & Rosalind Bearshaw, and some get up and dance stories, like Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson’s Spunky Little Monkey and Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance.
One-osaurus, Two-osaurus has a starred review from Kirkus.
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the great board books that are loaded with learning activities for tiny hands to explore. Turning wheels, sliding panels, flaps, these books are filled with fun and imagination. Let’s take a look at a few.
Perfect for preschoolers, this larger board book (11″x9.5″) takes readers on a journey to five different areas – the African Savanna, the Ice Field, the Indian Jungle, the Pacific Island, and the Big City – and talks a little about the kind of habitat each one provides, along with fun seek and find activities at the turn of a wheel. Two wheels on each spread encourages readers to discover different items and colors within the spreads. The artwork is bright and cold, with eye-catching colors and details that kiddos will love exploring. Perfect for cultivating observation skills and fine motor skills, the book is sturdy and will hold up to multiple readings. Find books and facts about each spread to encourage littles to go deeper and learn more. Ask kids what they recognize from the spreads and encourage them to find out more about things that may be new. Never seen a baobab tree before? Look it up on kid-friendly sites like National Geographic and find books like John Archambault’s By the Baobab Tree. There are so many ways to encourage and extend learning with a fun book like this; let it be your jumping-off point and follow your little’s interests.
It’s been a heck of a year or four. While we’re thinking back and being thankful for what we have, let’s keep in mind those people who need even more kindness, more understanding, more care. And let’s hope that the coming year will be kinder to all of us, and bring understanding and reunion to those who have been taken from their families.
Four children set out across Central America, leaving their homes and families for different reasons, to find a new life in the United States. They come together as they journey through Mexico and form a family unit of their own as they travel into the States in this hopeful story. The children in the book come from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, fleeing violence and poverty, and represent the 50,000 unaccompanied minors who present themselves to the United States border every year seeking asylum and refuge. A Journey Toward Hope weaves these four lives together and gives readers a glimpse into the fear and the peril each child faces in their quest for a better life. Muted colors are beautiful and blend together to tell this quietly powerful tale, and each child is represented by a folk art rendering of an animal that tells readers something about their character: a jaguar, a bird, a monkey, a butterfly.
Back matter includes additional information and resources created by Baylor University’s Global Hunger and Migration Project. Visit A Journey Toward Hope‘s website and the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty to learn even more.
A beautifully written book that deserves a place in collections.
A young girl arrives in a new country to live with her aunt and uncle. She’s lonely; she misses her friends and her home, and wishes she could make new friends in her new home. Her aunt takes her on a walk one day and tells her a folk tale of how, long ago, people in Persia were forced to leave their home and sought refuge in India; the local king met them and – since language was a barrier – explained, using a glass of milk, that his country had no room to accommodate the new arrivals. The Persian leader took the cup of milk and stirred in sugar; he didn’t spill a drop, thus illustrating that his people would only sweeten everyone’s lives with their presence. The king laughed and welcomed the new people to his land. The girl is inspired to reach out, and discovers that it’s easier than she imagined to make new friends: and she carries around a packet of sugar to remind herself of the tale.
The story is a myth that was part of author Thrity Umrigar’s Zoroastrian upbringing as a Parsi child in India, but will resonate with everyone who hears the tale; especially families of immigrants and refugees. The artwork is stunning; rich, deep colors look like tapestries as the girl’s aunt recounts her story. There are gorgeous touches of cultural artwork throughout the story, including richly woven rugs and artwork. The fall colors are incredible. I’d hang every page of this book up in my library if I could.
Sugar in Milk has starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. Put a copy in every pair of hands you can find and discuss the need for empathy and understanding, and how a diverse community enriches the lives of everyone in the community.
A sweet counting concept book that encourages kindness and awareness of refugee and immigrant children, Counting Kindness starts by telling readers that “When a place gets so scary that we have to leave home, every kindness counts”. A brown-skinned mother leaves a smoking homestead with her two children and an infant, encountering moments of kindness that include “two hands lifting us to safety; four beds keeping us safe and warm; nine hearts welcoming us to our new school”. The story illustrates, in gentle watercolors, how crucial it is to others to receive kindness and open arms. Back matter includes links to humanitarian organizations. The characters are cartoony and cute, but the message is real; words and text come together to create a heartwarming, yet heart-aching, statement that explains to younger readers as well as school-aged readers that there is a need for welcoming and empathy in our world. Count along with your kiddos as you read; consider, if you have the ability, to count cans or possessions you can donate.
I’m sorry I’ve been quiet for a few days, but this year has been… a lot. But I’m back and ready to bring you some of the cutest board books in my TBR. I know I gush about board books a lot, but they are just adorable, and they’ve grown so much over the last few years. They look at concepts in new ways and have gone beyond the basic “ABCs/123s” to give real storytelling fun for our youngest learners. Let’s see the ones I’ve got here.
Meet Doodle, the Science Poodle, as she introduces her big, blended family to readers! Family members include one aardvark, eight llamas, nine elephants, and a bunch more. Bright, colorful digital illustrations and giant numbers let readers count each of the animals in Doodle’s family. A note about the science of arithmetic connects the counting story to STEM learning. A fun way to start kids learning and counting; have goodies around for them to count, like toys, blocks, or toes (yours, theirs, the dog’s). Absolute fun for readalouds and counting songs.
A duckling hatches and bonds to a boy he sees. Excitedly “peeping”, the duckling follows its new friend home, and the two share time together playing and enjoying one another’s company. One day, though, the “peep!” turns to a “quack!” and the boy and his family know they have to bring the duckling to be with other ducks. But there’s always a new friend waiting just around the corner. This sweet story of friendship is sparsely worded, letting the pictures tell the story. The colorful artwork is cheery, and kids will love the little duckling – sound effects run throughout, so invite your listeners to crack, peep, and quack along with you! Make sure to sing 5 Little Ducks with this one.
This rhyming story about a painting porcupine introduces counting, colors, and language concepts. Pinky Porcupine paints the doors in the town, and finds a different animal friend behind each one. Kids can count from one to 10 in English, Spanish, Chinese, and French, with pronunciations noted on each page. The animals gather together to say goodnight in their different languages at the end and fun animal facts close out this fun, fact-filled board book. Pictures are colorful and eye-catching and fun, perfect for counting storytimes and introducing readers to new languages.
A board book that opens into a play mat! A dog can go faster on a scooter, but even faster on a bike! The pup picks different vehicles to take the speed up a notch as the sections unfold into a 4 foot-long play mat, just right for zooming little cars on. Illustrations are colorful and bright, and vehicle books are so popular, that kids will gobble this right up. Invite kids to tell you which vehicles are outlined on the cover, and point them out inside the book. A felt board with vehicle cutouts would be a fun accompaniment during storytime, too. Have a couple on hand, this one will circulate hard.
A board book, seek and find, and geography lesson all in one, Paper Peek: Animals is a wonder of board book making. Visit the continents and oceans and discover animals native to each region through the artwork. Die cuts and colorful cut paper artwork make endless fun for exploring fingers and eyes. Discover African lions, giraffes, and zebras; North American brown bears and eagles; koalas, platypuses, and cockatoos from Oceania; seahorses, whales, and sharks from the oceans, and so much more. A map of the world at the end of the book shows the animals on their homelands. I love this book for its gorgeous artwork and for its versatility: you can use it during storytime or one-on-one time.
A perfect cuddle up and snuggle book, this rhyming story of all the ways animals (and people!) show love comes with 10 felt flaps to lift and explore. Giraffes nuzzlilng noses, elephant trunk hugs and embracing swan wings are just a few of the ways animals reveal their affection for one another. This is an adorable lapsit choice – invite parents to snuggle, rub noses, lightly squeeze, and play peekaboo with their littles. A soft color palette makes this a perfectly soothing read for babies and toddlers, maybe a good choice for a final story choice in storytime, to start calming things down. Make sure you keep a copy in your storytime collection; this one will get beaten up in circulation as family after family loves it.
Want to keep the kiddos reading and learning this summer? Picture books are the way to go! Fiction, non-fiction, a great mix of the two, picture books have them all and they’re fun to read with and to your littles. Give some of these a whirl:
I get such a kick out of the Rover books that have been hitting shelves, introducing the Rovers as kid-friendly robots wandering around Mars. This latest one, Rover Throws a Party, inspired by the Curiosity Rover, is a great mix of fiction and non-fiction for preschoolers and early elementary learners. Rover is planning the best party in the universe to celebrate an anniversary on Mars, and there is so much to do! Will someone – or something – join Curiosity to celebrate? As the Curiosity trundles through each spread, there’s a fun story to read; a step in the party planning, and a fact about Mars or the Curiosity, related to the storyline. As Curiosity captures a sunrise, the accompanying fact tells readers that Mars sunrises and sunsets appear blue; Curiosity invites NASA to the party, and we discover that it takes about 20 minutes for a radio transmission to reach Earth from Mars. The digital artwork is bright and fun, instantly eyecatching, and just adorable: Curiosity wears a party hat on the cover; how can you pass that up? Endpapers feature NASA Mission Control and the Mars landscape, with party invitations and confetti strewn about. An author’s note, a bibliography, and Rover fast facts make this a storytime, science time pick.
Visit illustrator Scott Magoon’s website for some more info on Rover Throws a Party, including a link to fun printables (and storytime videos)! Author Kristin L. Gray’s website has link to her blog, information about her other books, and author fun facts.
The Blunder Kids are driving their mom CRAZY. The 10 brothers and sisters “blundered” the laundry, the bathtub, and let the hamsters out and the dogs in. Momma Blunder needs a break, so she sends them out to go play, telling them to be back by sunset. No problem! The kids go play outside by the creek, but when it’s time to go home, the headcount doesn’t quite match up. No matter who’s counting -and each and every kid takes a shot at counting! – there are only 9 Blunders! Can you figure out where the mistake is? Thank goodness, Mom saves the day.
This is a sweetly fun story, based on a favorite folktale. Teachers and parents responsible for headcounts will get a big kick out of this, as (spoiler alert!) each child leaves themselves out of the counting, always leaving them one short. It’s great for interactive storytelling, because you can get kids counting along with you and asking them if they can figure out who’s missing and why. The digital illustrations are bright, bold, and characters have expressive faces that kids can easily read. The different headcounting methods are good for a laugh (“Raise your hand if you’re lost”), and the excuses for being late are just hilarious. Great for counting storytimes, and if you have Loud House fans, sign them up as Reading Buddies to read this one to younger readers; I got a real Loud House vibe from the big family and the general mayhem that goes along with them. So much fun for math-type reading.
Author Christina Soontornvat has a great author website with more info about the author herself, all of her books, and videos with book trailers and interviews. Illustrator Colin Jack has worked on books and for Dreamworks; check out his Instagram for more of his illustration.
This is a fun animal book for younger kids: preschoolers to kindergarteners are the sweet spot, with older kids enjoying the cool animals that they may not see in animal books. Vibrant colors set off the pages, and each spread features animals with unusual, alliterative, characteristics: Enormous Eyes; Nice Noses; Excellent Ears; Terrific Tails; Dreaded Defenses; Huge Horns; Wonderful Webbed Feet; Lovely Long Necks; Tremendous Tongues, and Fantastic Fur. There’s an introductory paragraph about how these characteristics help the animals, and questions for observant readers to discover and answer. There is always something new to discover here, and the larger size and heavy cardboard pages make this a great transitional book for kids moving from board books to picture books. I enjoy books that give kids a look at different animals, and this has a bunch of good ones, including a sea hare (doesn’t look like a rabbit), an aardwolf (not in the Nice Noses section!), and narwhal, who’s become a popular picture book subject over the last few years. Worth the purchase for your animal book collections.
Stacy McAnulty’s Our Universe books have been home runs here at home. My kiddo – who just turned 8 in quarantine! – has asked me to get each one as it comes out, ever since I introduced him to Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years at a bookstore a couple of years ago. Ocean: Waves for All is the fourth book in the series; this is the nonfiction STEM series to spend your budget dollars on. Plus, it’s written in the voice of a surfer, which opens up amazing storytime readaloud possibilities for me. Win-win.
Ocean is the dude. Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, Indian, it’s all excellent Ocean. Ocean is super laid-back, proud of itself – and why shouldn’t it be? Ocean covers over 71% of our world. Ocean is free: “no flag. No nationality. My waves are for all.” But DUDE! People visit outer space more than Ocean; what’s up with that? And Ocean is in some serious trouble, too; people are filling Ocean up with garbage; Ocean’s creatures are struggling to survive, and glaciers and icebergs are melting too fast. Loaded with amazing facts, Ocean is gorgeously illustrated and superbly written, and comes with a serious message: take care of our planet. Take care of our ocean. Ocean is drawn with a friendly face, big, blue eyes, and a smiling (and sometimes scared) mouth. Endpapers are bursting with color, giving readers a glimpse of the underwater landscape. Slip off the book’s cover to see a different view of Ocean. Don’t miss it.
Illustrator David Litchfield’s website has more of his artwork and links to his blog. Author Stacy McAnulty has a great author website with info about her books, activity sheets, and curriculum guides. It’s a great reference resource and storytime resource (SO MANY COLORING SHEETS).
Last week, I decided to test drive three Margaret Wise Brown re-released books in my toddler storytime. Most of my kiddos and families know Ms. Brown as the “Goodnight Moon Lady”, or “The Runaway Bunny lady”, so I thought it would be fun to give them more choices when they’re looking for something to read. It went over pretty well. Before I get into that, though, I thought some background on these three books would be interesting – I know I found it fascinating.
In 1990, author Amy Gary discovered a trunk of unpublished manuscripts and songs in the attic of Margaret Wise Brown’s sister’s barn. These manuscripts provided the source material for many of the titles in a new line of classics by the beloved author. While I’d seen Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears pretty recently – Kohl’s had the book and a companion teddy bear as one of their Kohl’s Cares book/plush sets about a year or two ago, and my mom picked up a book and teddy for my little guy – The Diggers and Count to 10 With a Mouse are new to me.
Moles dig holes. So do dogs. Worms, rabbits, mice, and pirates all dig holes, too! Animals and people alike dig holes for different reasons, and The Diggers tells their stories. The kids loved the whole process of digging a hole for a subway system, and I favored the digger machine digging up “stones, and find dinosaur bones, and cavemen’s homes, and buried gnomes”. This is just an fun, rhyming story that has so much detail to enjoy: buried dinosaur bones and pottery; worm homes that curve to meet their owner’s bodies; a train running along the horizon as it goes down its track, a pirate’s trail of thievery. The kids really enjoyed this one, and so did I. Artist Antoine Corbineau (whose website features much of the artwork from The Diggers, and from where I sampled the interior art) makes bright, bold artwork with loads of things for kids to find. The black and grey-purple endpapers show a cityscape in progress, with pathways all dug out. This is an adorable choice for a construction or transportation storytime; two choices that always go over well with my storytime groups.
The verse is Margaret Wise Brown – you can’t go wrong. The repeated phrase, “Dig Dig Dig” allows kids to jump right in and interact with you during a reading, and there are so many chances to ask them questions: identify the animals, where do they live/what do they eat; what predictions can they make about what’s going to happen next?
Consider an author study with your school-age kids, to really expose them to Margaret Wise Brown’s body of work; The Diggers is such an active book compared to Runaway Bunny and Goodnight, Moon; it will give the kids so much to think about and discuss.
This book is a hit! I love a counting book that has a fun story to go along with it, and Count to 10 With a Mouse fits the bill perfectly! The endpapers are covered in mouse paw prints, and there are two holes, one of which has the cutest little mouse peeking out of it! This counting story has everything: rhyme, repetition, and concepts (counting). A little mouse lives in a hole, and teaches himself to count by looking at the things around him: one mouse, two holes, three fish; all things he discovers as he crawls through the holes to the next pages. The rhyme and repetition are sweet, and filled with discovery: Each page, each discovery, starts off with the repeated phrase, “And there, what does he see? And there, what does he see?” Each spread leads readers to the next with a tempting invitation: “Then the mouse ran through the book, the mouse ran through the book. He ran onto the next page to take a little look”. Kirsten Richards’ illustrations are soft, sweet, and fit perfectly with Margaret Wise Brown’s storytelling rhyme, creating a whole experience for readers. The end of the book suggests turning around and starting all over again – expect that at bedtime!
I loved Count to 10 With a Mouse, and this one is definitely going in my storytime collection. I’m tucking it into my Children’s Book Week book ideas.
What would a Margaret Wise Brown collection be without another cuddly bedtime story? Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears is perfect for bedtime cuddling. Pastel-colored endpapers look like a comfy quilt to snuggle down into, and the story – a big sleepy bear and a little sleep bear get ready for bed – teaches important lessons about modeling behavior. Everything big sleepy bear does, little sleepy bear does, from yawning, to stretching, to getting into bed and putting heads on the pillow. They each recite a sweet little rhyme (a variation of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep) and drift off to sleep. I’ve read this to my little guy when we’re both about to nod off, and it’s a wonderful way to ease into bedtime. The affection between big and little bear comes through as words and the soft art palette come together to send readers off to their own dreams.
The kids at storytime weren’t quite ready to go to bed when I finished this story, but it was a nice close to storytime. Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears is a new bedtime classic to add to your shelves.
The best news? Silver Dolphin is launching 15 more Margaret Wise Brown books this Spring and Summer, and will have two more in the fall!
The duo behind concept books Round is a Tortilla and Green is a Chile Pepper are back with a counting book! This rhyming, bilingual English/Spanish concept book takes readers through the preparation for a fiesta, with maracas, calaveras, salsas, and plenty of sonrisas! The illustrations’ rich colors and the story’s lively, upbeat text will have readers counting down to a part of their own. There are wonderful Latinx touches to the artwork, including luchador masks and caleaveras; papel picado decorates the background, and a string of twinkling lights dangle across the endpapers. Count from 1 to 10, uno al diez, with your storytime group.
I love Roseanne Greenfield Thong’s multicultural concept series, and am so happy to see a counting book join her shapes and colors books. Invite your school-age kids to make their own papel picado to display, and let the little ones color some Sesame Street Spanish/English flash cards. Back matter includes a glossary with phonetic pronunciation of the Spanish-language words used in the book.
So… does this mean Roseanne Greenfield Thong and Grace Lin will team up on a counting book to accompany Round is a Mooncake and Red is a Dragon?
Roseanne Greenfield Thong is an award-winning author of over a dozen children’s books, including ‘Twas Nochebuena, Día de Los Muertos, and her multicultural concept books, Round is a Mooncake, Red is a Dragon, Round is a Tortilla, and Green Is a Chile Pepper. John Parra is an award-winning illustrator who has three Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor awards, including one for Green is a Chile Pepper.