As parents, we are our children's first teachers. We help our infants learn that the world is a secure and predictable place. We guide toddlers as they learn to share. We encourage our preschoolers to become problem solvers. And we use books like those featured in this issue of Growing Readers Review to awaken their interests in so many topics. Perhaps just learning to love books is one of the greatest gifts we can give our youngsters.
Celeste Ng is the author of Everything I Never Told You, one of the New York Times Notable Books of 2014. In 2011, Ng was a young mother and wished that of all the things her child could do or become, he would be a reader. Here's what she said:
So no matter what he ultimately ends up doing, I hope my son turns out to be a reader. And I’ll do all I can to help him become one. I won't threaten to burn his toys, or bar him from playdates. But I'll buy him books as treats. I'll keep on reading to him, whatever he likes, every day, every year. I won't complain if he leaves books in every room: not just on shelves, but on the coffee table, on his nightstand, in the sofa cushions. A tiger mother I may not be. But as a bookworm mother, I'm setting my son up for success better than any tiger mother could. (Huffington Post 2-9-11)
By Susan C. Brenner, EdD.
BOOKS OF EXCELLENCE
Animal Opposites, written and illustrated by Petr Horacek, Infant & Toddler: Animal Opposites takes the traditional and captivating concept of opposites and uses a new and interactive way to learn about them by adding another children's favorite - animals! Anticipation builds as each page offers
a surprise. The extra-large fold-out pages use vivid colors and exciting pop-ups to help children learn some amusing and new opposites - smooth frog and spiky porcupine, quiet rabbit and loud lion, and slow snail and fast cheetah. The unique pairings of opposites give children the opportunity to use their imaginations - fueled by the extraordinary illustrations and the simple text. Teaching and learning have never been so much fun.
Dreaming Up, written and illustrated by Christy Hale, Preschool: Dreaming Up is a picture book with life-like illustrations and photographs reflecting children's buildings and their similarities to famous works of architecture from around the world. It is a celebration of how simple childhood favorites like stacking and building, combined with imagination, can create beautiful things. Children and future architects will be inspired - if they can dream it, they can build it!
Becoming Babe Ruth, written and illustrated by Matt Tavares, School Age: George "Babe" Ruth was a young child skipping school and being an overall mischief maker. At the age of seven he was sent to St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys to help him make better choices. As much as he disliked the rules and the classes, George discovered something that he loved - baseball! Learning self-control and discipline at St. Mary's helped George grow into
a responsible young man and an outstanding baseball player. At the peak of his career he read about a devastating fire at his alma mater. This time Babe Ruth stepped up to the plate, not to hit a homerun, but to help the school that helped make him a success.
When You Just Have to Roar!, written by Rachel Robertson and illustrated by Priscilla Prentice, Preschool: Growing Readers Review celebrates our own Bright Horizons author, Rachel Robertson, Vice President of Learning and Development, and her newest work, When You Just Have to Roar! In this lively story, the children are jumping, running, drumming, and bouncing. And one child, Reese, "was roaring like a great big lion for no reason at all." Ms. Mya, a preschool teacher, brings order to her classroom by introducing the children to the concept of expectations - something we can rely on, something we know is going to happen." As parents, we too can bring order to chaos by engaging children in developing the expectations by which we play and live. Of course, while self-control is an important developmental skill, the story encourages us to "roar like a lion when there's simply no other way to say it!"
NOTABLE CHILDREN'S BOOKS
Marc Brown's Playtime Rhymes: A Treasury for Families to Learn and Play Together, written and illustrated by Marc Brown, Infant & Toddler: This beautifully illustrated collection includes the words to 20 popular children's songs and finger plays. The accompanying drawings of the movements will help parents replicate these at home.
I Am So Brave, written by Stephen Krensky and illustrated by Sara Gillingham, Infant & Toddler: Part of an empowerment series, this sweet book is a conversation starter about overcoming fears.
Baby Bear Counts One, written and illustrated by Ashley Wolff, Preschool: Children will enjoy counting along with Baby Bear as he encounters new animals while exploring the forest with his mama. By the time we get to ten, Baby Bear and his mama are ready to hibernate for the winter.
Where Do You Look?, written and illustrated by Marthe and Nell Jocelyn, Preschool: Young readers will have fun as they learn that two words can be spelled the same but have totally different meanings. They may want a couple of glasses of lemonade while they read the book - or they might need to wear their glasses to read it!
The Boy Who Loved Math, written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham, School Age: Paul spent all of his time thinking about numbers, so much that he did not know how to take care of himself. Read this story about how this mathematician found his unusual way in the world.
Animal Teachers, written by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Katy Hudson, School Age: Just like children, animals look to their parents as their first teachers. Penguin parents teach their chicks an identifying song, while a mama sea otter gives her baby swimming lessons.