Dinosaur Kisses, by David Ezra Stein
Age Range: 1-3 for read aloud, early independent readers (4-6).
Read-aloud time: Approximately two minutes
Dinah is a baby dinosaur who STOMPS, CHOMPS and WHOMPS her way through her surroundings trying her best to kiss without disastrous results! It’s not until Baby hatches that Dinah finds a friend with the same energetic interest in kisses. The story encourages exploration, and trying out new things, as well as understanding consequences of your actions. Large print and colorful pictures make this a perfect tale to take from bedtime reading into the early stages of reader independence.
Stein has created a story that leaps off the page when read out loud, employing rhythm, repetition and rhyming together in an orchestra of a tale. In addition to the bright illustrations and lovable characters, the storytelling choices make it an excellent read for both parents and kids.
Images from Barnes and Noble, and my own camera
Ike’s Incredible Ink by Brianne Farley
Age range: 4-6 for read aloud, 6-8 for independent readers.
Read-aloud time: Approximately three minutes.
This story will appeal to writers of all ages, which is why it’s one of my favorite new kid’s titles. The story is about Ike (or any writer, really) preparing to sit down and let the words flow…but he finds something is blocking him. Ike decides to create his own ink out of wonderful things like shadows and the dark side of the moon. When he returns to his writing chair, he finds inspiration in his search for the perfect ingredients. I recommend the book for older independent readers because the text is smaller, and there’s a decent amount per page. The contents of Ike have a complex simplicity to them, from the story elements to the illustration method of combined ink and digital collage. Ike’s search for a unique ink may inspire young writers and readers to think about their individuality, too, and could be a great springboard for class activities or parent/child discussion; ask your reader what they would use to make their own ink, what color it would be, and what kind of story they could tell about gathering the right ingredients.
Images courtesy of Brianne Farley Illustrations
The Tiny King by Taro Miura
Age range: 3-6
Read-aloud time: Approximately 3.5 minutes
In The Tiny King, the titular character is a lonely monarch with a gigantic castle and bed and dinner table–none of which make him happy without anyone to share them with. The King finally meets a giant princess, but size is no obstacle where love is involved and soon the castle is full of princes and princess, and the King and Queen live happily ever after. Miura does an excellent job in The Tiny King, not only of introducing the theme of family, but also using collage to introduce simple colors, shapes, opposites, and counting to ten all in one adorable picture book. The tiny King’s tiny size makes him very relateable to even the smallest of readers or listeners. Miura has said of his book “It’s a simple story about a lonely king whose life is completely changed by having a family. If this story reminds the fathers, mothers, and children who read it about the joy of having a family, it will make me very happy.”
The simplicity of the collaged illustrations could inspire plenty of art projects as well as learning to use simple shapes to create more complex pictures. All hail the Tiny King!
Paul Meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb
Age Range: 2-5 for read aloud. Early independent readers.
Read aloud time: approximately three minutes
Oil painting is not usually a medium that comes to mind when discussing children’s books, however, this book is entirely illustrated with them. Paul Meets Bernadette is as simple as its title promises. Paul is a goldfish, who spends most of his day swimming back and forth and up and down in the same little fish bowl, until one day another goldfish, Bernadette, “dropped in”. Bernadette shows Paul the world outside the fishbowl, a world full of boats and forests and elephants (which are actually bananas and floral arrangements and teapots.) All these lovely and simple images are rendered in full explosions of color, instilled with the sense of motion only oil paintings can offer.Please enter the url to a YouTube video.
The story offers alternate perspectives, and encourages readers to see things for more than what they are. The text offers a rhythmic pattern, which makes it easy for both out loud reading and early learners. Paul and Bernadette will take you and your reader on a journey of imagination and shifting perception.
Images from Paulmeetsbernadette.com
How To Train A Train by Jason Carter Eaton, illustrated by John Rocco
Age Range: 6-8 read aloud and/or young readers.
Read aloud time: approximately five and a half minutes.
Did you know trains make excellent pets? They’re well-behaved, easy to teach, and extremely loyal. It’s easy to track and tame a train of your very own, if you know how. This amazing picture book applies the basic rules of committing to and raising a pet, but on a locomotive scale (if that’s a thing).Please enter the url to a YouTube video.
Concerned parents may hesitate to share a book that encourages children to “corner a train” in order to domesticate it–however, Eaton has included a friendly disclaimer at the end of the book that “All these things are extremely dangerous and should be performed only by fully trained illustrated characters”.
The disclaimer is important, but so is the sense of fantasy and wonder instilled by practical ideas applied in extraordinary ways. The text is a little small for early independent readers, but it’s a wonderful candidate for reading together.How to Train Your Train obviously draws on the popular concept of keeping something unusual as a pet (see: dragons), trains are more easily located, and this title can serve as a starting point for a new-found love towards one of the oldest modes of public transportation.
Images from Kidlit Reviews
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