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Growing Readers

Recommended children's books and reading activities to foster early literacy at home.

Reading with your child may be one of the most meaningful and memorable ways to spend time imagining and learning together at home. Growing Readers emphasizes the importance of reading aloud to children and cultivating a love of great books. These parent resources and book reviews help you select the best books for your child, at each age and stage. Reading excellent children’s books together can strengthen your child's educational development. Discussing themes in the book are also wonderful ways to explore new concepts or guide your child through life's experiences.

Growing Readers Review (Volume 14, Issue 3)
Children’s Book Reviews by Early Education Experts
Children's Books that Life Lessons

Children's Books that Teach Life Lessons

Sorting out the world is the job of children. And there is so much to learn. When caring adults answer the needs of infants, these very young children learn that the world is a responsive place and that they can feel secure. Toddlers move from the realm of "mine" to actually being able to share a favorite toy. And preschoolers become more and more adept at solving problems large and small.

Children are curious learners and gain knowledge daily through all of their interactions and observations. And good children's literature offers a rich start to just about every topic of interest to a child.

Tap the Magic Tree is an almost magical, interactive introduction to the four seasons. Even the youngest readers will see and hear the rhythm of nature. In Sophie's Squash, a pet veggie delightfully explores the ideas of love and patience. For older readers, Nasreddine presents the difference between criticism and wisdom. And finally, Wonder gives us an extraordinary lesson from the words of a 10-year-old.

All of these books give children an engaging introduction to complex ideas and provide families with the basis for great conversations. And, of course, they open the door to the great gift of becoming a lifelong reader.

Read on for our book recommendations.

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Growing Readers Review (Volume 14, Issue 2)
Children’s Book Reviews by Early Education Experts
Best Non-Fiction Books for Kids

Actual / Factual: Non-Fiction Children's Books

The development of knowledge in children from birth through eight is an amazing phenomenon. Both parents and teachers see the speed of learning in young children as a daily wonder. Sorting out this complicated world is no small task; yet through interactions with adults, through the five senses, through play and school, youngsters amass the basis of what they need to know to become independent individuals as well as confident and competent learners.

In addition, at a very early age, children develop their own favorite topics and themes. Have you witnessed a three or four year old dinosaur expert? This is the child who identifies and pronounces the very difficult names of a variety of creatures – not just the T Rex. Have you seen the child who takes a box of crayons and a stack of plain paper and turns them into a world of imagination? Where do these interests come from?

Deliberately and inadvertently, we introduce a myriad of subjects to children every day. Children "file away" most of the information, but some topics become favorites - perhaps lifelong hobbies or even the basis of adult interests or professions. The books in this issue of Growing Readers Review are what we call "Actual and Factual." They are the stories of real things, events, or people, beautifully written and illustrated to capture a child's interest. Non-fiction children's literature can be a child's entry into a broader and fascinating world.

Read on for our book recommendations.

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Growing Readers Review (Volume 14, Issue 1)
Children’s Book Reviews by Early Education Experts
Children's Books about Empathy, Kindness & Compassion

Who Cares? Children's Books that Teach Caring, Compassion & Kindness

Have you ever seen preschoolers negotiate the boundaries of a play activity? "I'll be the mommy and you be the daddy," says a four year old. "No, you be the sister," says a playmate. On their own they work out the roles, and the story evolves. Have you ever seen a toddler pat the hand of a friend who is crying? These are examples of very young children learning and experiencing cooperation, empathy, respect, problem solving, and a sense of self. These are big and important topics that we usually discuss within the realm of adulthood or at least the teen years; however, children are mastering these elements of character at a very early age.

Children's literature can also promote guidance and understanding. "I'm sick", "I'm chilly", "I'm proud", "I'm happy" are all feelings that toddlers can see and hear in the engaging photos and rhymes of A Kiss Means I Love You. Each page is a potential conversation starter with even very young children. In Too Tall Houses, Rabbit and Owl's competitive nature takes them to a no-win conclusion – unless they can learn to cooperate. And Spunky, the thoughtful pup in Spunky Tells All, is faced with sharing his family with his worst enemy – a cat. But what will happen when Fiona gets into trouble? How will Spunky respond?

Character development isn't something that can wait till the teens or even the elementary years. Young children surprise us in their ability to care, and these lovely books can support that journey.

Read on for our book recommendations.

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Growing Readers Review (Volume 13, Issue 4)
Children’s Book Reviews by Early Education Experts
Children's Books for Girls | Empowerment

Girl Power: Children's Books of Adventure & Courage

Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? is the story of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in the United States to become a physician. Chances are the five- to eight-year-olds who read this inspiring biography will have seen just as many female physicians in their young lives as male physicians. It may be hard for them to imagine a time when society put strong limits on what women could accomplish.

Most children also would not remember a time when finding female heroes in literature for any age was rare. Today, children's literature presents an introduction to a world of possibilities for young girls and boys. Heroes come in all sizes, shapes, and genders. And the books can be biographical, informational, or just good fiction.

This issue of Growing Readers Review features books about empowered girls and young women who can become all they want to be.

Read on for our book recommendations.

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Growing Readers Review (Volume 13, Issue 3)
Children’s Book Reviews by Early Education Experts
Helping Kids Learn Using Books

Children's Books that Teach

Most people don’t associate the word curriculum with very young children or child care, but with children learning at their most rapid rate in the early years, a major opportunity lies in a well thought out early childhood curriculum. At Bright Horizons®, our curriculum, The World at Their Fingertips®, provides intentional teaching and rich experiences that build upon children’s individual strengths and talents to help them achieve success in school and in life.

All the books in this issue of Growing Readers Review relate to areas of the World curriculum. In addition, they are books that children, families, and teachers can learn, grow, and enjoy together.

Read on for our book recommendations.

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Growing Readers Review
Children’s Book Reviews by Early Education Experts
Funny Children's Books

Laughter is the Best Medicine - Even for Tots!

What makes your child laugh? Is it raspberries on the tummy of your infant? Your toddler dressing up in grown-up clothes? A stream of knock-knock jokes from your preschooler? Or sophisticated puns from your school-ager?

According to the blog Ageing Healthily, Happily & Youthfully, “the average four-year-old laughs 300 times a day and for the average 40-year-old it might be four times.” Why is the world of childhood such a funny place?

Read on for our book recommendations.

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Growing Readers Review
Children’s Book Reviews by Early Education Experts
Gardening Books for Children

Gardening Books for Children

Imagine involving your children in something that would include science, math, outdoor play, and physical activity. And what if that activity also promoted a healthy lifestyle, taught respect for the earth, and was both exciting and fun?

There really is an activity that can do all that and more - and it’s called gardening. Whether you start with seeds in cups near a sunny window, pots outside your door, or an available plot of land, your whole family can participate in something that is sure to engender a sense of wonder in children of any age. Gardening books abound for every age group.

Read on for our book recommendations.

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Growing Readers Review
Children’s Book Reviews by Early Education Experts
History Books for Preschool Children

History Books for Preschool Children

Sometime in the preschool years, children begin to understand that they have a past. They can look at pictures of themselves from an early age and comprehend that's how they once looked. "I was a baby, but now I'm big," is a phrase you'll hear a young child repeat.

As their sense of time and place develops, they realize that daddy and mommy were also young at one time and they begin to appreciate the stories told by grandparents about their young lives. As children mature, their perspective on the world develops as well. Not only do they have a personal history, but so do their family, their town, and their country. And other children may have a history that is different from their own.

Read on for our book recommendations.

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Growing Readers Review
Children’s Book Reviews by Early Education Experts
Math and Science Books for Young Children

Math & Science Books for Young Readers

When do children begin to explore the important topics of science and mathematics? We may have an image of children in elementary school, but perhaps the path of curiosity, exploration, and discovery begins when an infant experiences the taste and texture of an object she puts in her mouth. Along the way, a toddler goes beyond rote counting and learns the actual meaning of the number two. And a preschooler watches day by day as a seed placed in a cup of dirt becomes a plant with tomato blossoms.

Young children are inquisitive, filled with questions about the world around them. Math and science books for children can both answer questions and stimulate growing interests.

Read on for our book recommendations.

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Growing Readers Review
Children’s Book Reviews by Early Education Experts
Inspirational Books for Young Readers

Reading is Moving - Children's Books Encouraging Fitness

As adults, we've all been moved by a good book, a great story or beautiful poetry or engaging information that speaks to us. Of course, the same thing happens with children.

Witness the youngster who wants the same book read over and over. Something in words or pictures is appealing and - at least for the moment - no other book will do. These kinds of experiences will cultivate life-long readers.

Some books can not only be moving, but can lead children to movement. The right stories and pictures can capitalize on young children’s natural inclination to be in motion. 

Read on for our book recommendations.

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Growing Readers Review
Children’s Book Reviews by Early Education Experts
Teaching Compassion to Kids through Reading

Teach Compassion through Reading

When do children begin to consider the feelings of others? When do they know what it means to help a friend? When does impulse give way to thoughtfulness? How do parents and teachers help youngsters learn about kindness and compassion?

Children model their own behavior on the behavior they see. Even very young toddlers can care for a pet, act gently with a younger sibling, perhaps part with a toy for a child who needs it more. Children model their language on the words they hear. They learn the words to express kindness and resolve conflicts. Respect for fellow human beings and character development begin at an early age. And children learn how to care for others from the books they enjoy.

Read on for our book recommendations.

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Growing Readers Review
Children’s Book Reviews by Early Education Experts
Our Favorite Children's Books

Our Favorite Books for Children

What makes a book a favorite? What makes us return to it again and again? What kind of book inspires fond memories?

Even the youngest children show strong preferences for their favorite book. Witness a toddler reaching for the same chunky board book or a preschooler asking for the same bedtime story each night. Perhaps the draw is an engaging story, intriguing illustrations, or the way the words sound when read aloud.

Giving children a wide array of well-written and well-illustrated books will allow them to develop their own tastes and learn the enjoyment of reading.

Read on for our book recommendations.

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Growing Readers Review
Children’s Book Reviews by Early Education Experts
Stories from Around the World

Stories from around the World

Young children make daily progress through the developmental stages. We can watch them learn to sit, to walk, to speak, to add, to read, and to ride a bicycle. But what else is happening as these young minds and bodies are developing? When does a child learn to appreciate differences among friends, to feel compassion for those less fortunate, to conserve the earth's resources? 

These are big lessons even for adults, but the education of a caring human being begins in the very early years. And a body of wonderful children’s literature supports and motivates this learning.

Read on for our book recommendations.

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Children's Books that Teach Life Lessons
Books of Excellence winners are reviewed and recommended by our early childhood educators as the best in children’s books and literature. We invite you to shop our Amazon book store where a portion of every sale supports the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children, an organization helping to make a difference in the lives of homeless children and families.
Tap the Magic Tree | Favorite Children's Books
Tap the Magic Tree
Infant

“There’s magic in this bare brown tree. Tap it once. Turn the page and see.” Following these simple instructions will start children on an interactive adventure as they tap, rub, blow, and jiggle their way through this captivating book.

Sophie's Squash | Favorite Children's Books
Sophie's Squash
School Age

While visiting a farmer’s market, Sophie picks out a squash. Her mom plans to cook it for dinner, but Sophie has other ideas. She names the squash Bernice and it becomes a beloved friend. Sophie’s parents try to prepare her for what may happen to her new friend as winter approaches.

Wonder | Favorite Children's Books
Wonder
School Age

Wonder explores the world of a youngster who looks very different from his peers. August is a 10-year-old boy getting ready to start middle school. On top of the normal worries this transition entails, Auggie is nervous about being accepted. He was born with a mutant gene that causes severe facial anomalies.

Nasreddine | Favorite Children's Books
Nasreddine
School Age

In this Middle Eastern folktale, a young boy named Nasreddine learns a life lesson during the weekly trips to the market with his father and their donkey.

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