What is the real world to a very young child? It starts as a small circle of loved ones who care for and comfort a baby and expands rapidly with each day bringing new experiences to all the senses. A baby arrives with no language yet masters hundreds of words by age three. Toddlers march toward independence acquiring opinions and strong feelings along the way. And preschoolers have made great strides in mastering running, jumping, and balance. Young children are driven by an innate curiosity, a desire to learn more about how the world works.
For young readers, books are often the source of great stories full of fantasies, talking animals, and pretending; however, books can also offer an introduction to the real world. Eggs lead to chicks in Eric Carle’s How Things Grow, giving an infant-toddler appreciation of the wonders of nature.
How does night turn into day, darkness to light? The answers to these preschool questions are illustrated in Mordecai Gerstein’s, The Night World. It is an example of art answering the questions of science – and in a beautiful way.
Finally, Out of the Woods tells a true story of survival, of humans and animals finding shelter from the ravages of fire in a most unusual place. The real world is full of wonder that even very young readers can experience through literature.
By Susan C. Brenner, EdD.
BOOKS OF EXCELLENCE
The Night World, written by Mordicai Gerstein, Preschool: A young boy explores the night world outside his house at the urgings of his cat, Sylvie. The beautiful illustrations in shades of black, grey, and white guide the reader through the magic of the shapes and shadows of night. Excitement builds as the illustrations gradually burst forth into a world of vibrant color as the sun rises and welcomes a new day.
How Things Grow, written by Eric Carle, Infant/Toddler: Eric Carle depicts plants and animals with his signature colorful collages on fold-out flaps. When your child opens a flap, she finds an acorn can grow to be an oak tree or a bulb becomes a tulip. Children will love the chance to interact with the fold-out pages in yet another wonderful book by Eric Carle.
Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event, written by Rebecca Bond, School-Age: In this true recount of a young boy’s life in a small Canadian town, Rebecca Bond tells the story of the friends Antonio makes at the small lodge his mother runs. One disastrous day, a fire breaks out in the woods. Read this inspiring story of how the people of the town and the animals in the woods came together in an unexpected way.
NOTABLE CHILDREN'S BOOKS
The Big Book of Animals of the World, written by Ole Konnecke, Infant & Toddler: This large board book will delight infants and toddlers with so much to look at. Each page is filled with drawings of animals that might be seen in a particular habitat like the Arctic or the Alps or the desert.
Shapes, written by Judith Nouvion, Infant & Toddler: Discover all of the shapes that exist in our natural world. Children of all ages will enjoy finding and identifying shapes found in nature in these bright and colorful photographs. Shapes is one in a series of ‘Picture This’ board books.
Water is Water, written by Miranda Paul, Preschool: This is the story of water and the many ways that it changes through the seasons. From steam to rain to snow to spring, this book will take you through the many ways nature affects water with illustrations of its many forms. The facts in the back of the book will stimulate the curious reader.
Daylight/Starlight, written by Wendell Minor, Preschool: What happens outside during the day and at night? This book will introduce you to many animals, from a cottontail rabbit family to flying squirrels – with each animal demonstrating its own role during the span of day and night.
A Nest is Noisy, written by Diana Hutts and Illustrated by Sylvia Long, School-Age: Diana Hutts Aston, author of An Egg is Quiet and other creatively written science books, brings nests to life in this beautifully illustrated book that explores the diversity of nests…from birds to bees, orangutans, and more!
Finding Winnie, written by Lindsay Mattick and Illustrated by Sophie Blackall, School-Age: Do you know the real story of Winnie-the-Pooh? Children and adults will enjoy learning the fascinating story about Winnie and his trip to the London Zoo where he becomes friends with the real Christopher Robin.