Growing Readers Review: Children's Books with a Dose of Whimsy

Co-ed group of toddlers sitting & listening to the teacher read aloud
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” — Dr Seuss

Remember the first time you played “peek-a-boo” with your baby? Smiles turned to giggles as your infant saw you disappear and return – over and over again. And have you heard your toddler sing and act out “I’m a Little Teapot” or perhaps perform a real live version of “Five Little Monkeys?”

Children love fanciful play. Whether it's the whimsy of the unexpected, like seeing your face emerge from your hands, or the make-believe of playful songs, youngsters love to "get in the game." You may find the same results when youngsters enjoy our Growing Readers Review featured books.

Wooden books provide surprises for even the very youngest readers. They don't feel like the board books these children have come to know and they don't sound like paper pages. Watch your infant react to these new books. And for a real experience with anticipation, share That is Not a Good Idea! with preschoolers. Your child will quickly see what the villain is up to and shout warning messages to save the day. And for our sophisticated school-agers, a tale of crayons going on strike will entertain. Children often assign emotions to inanimate objects like stuffed animals or action figures, and here they learn that even their everyday crayons have feelings.

Play is the important work of childhood. These whimsical stories will entertain and bring forth participation from even the youngest readers.

By Susan C. Brenner, EdD.


That is NOT a Good Idea, written and illustrated by Mo Willems, Preschool: That is NOT a Good Idea is the title of this book and also the signature refrain that begs to be called out by children as they read about the adventures of a little goose that continues to make bad decisions. Will the goose really go for an innocent stroll with the hungry-looking fox and accept his invitation to help him cook dinner? This book offers a nice spin on the traditional fairy tale and pays homage to the old silent movie era while encouraging participation.


Fruit, Vegetables and At the Farm, published and manufactured by Hape, Infant & Toddler: These three unique wooden books feature brightly colored illustrations of fruit, vegetables and farm animals, printed in soy ink. The illustrations are sure to capture the attention of the youngest readers who will delight in finding pictures of their favorites. The books are perfect for small hands, each with a handle to make the book easy to carry.

The Day the Crayons Quit, written by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, School-Age: Duncan wants to do one of his favorite things -- he wants to color with his crayons, but the worst has happened -- his crayons have decided to quit! When he opens his crayon box, he finds a stack of letters. There is one from each color that explains exactly why it is quitting its coloring job. Each crayon has its own story to tell -- from humorous white who says "You color with me, but why?" to exhausted gray, "You're KILLING ME!" Yellow and orange get into the act as well. Duncan reads each spirited letter carefully and comes up with a creative solution that earns him an A+ from his teacher and satisfies every crayon in the box.

I'm Adopted, written by Shelly Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly, photography by Shelly Rotner, Preschool: Adopted children and families will find this book to be a great resource as they begin or continue discussing why they chose adoption for their family. With beautiful photographs of children and their families and easy-to-understand text, this book explores questions like "Why couldn't my birth mother keep me?" or "Why do I look different from you?" or "What is it like where I was born?" The focus throughout is on how loved and cared for the adopted children are.


Hide and Seek, written and illustrated by Taro Gomi, Infant & Toddler: A toothbrush where crocodile teeth should be? A turtle on a scooter? Toddlers will delight in finding common objects in uncommon places.

The Little Bear Book, written and illustrated by Anthony Browne, Infant & Toddler: An inventive little bear magically solves the problems he encounters while walking through the forest like comforting a gorilla by creatively using his pencil to draw the solution.

Dinosaur Farm, written and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon, Preschool: Imagine a farm with dinosaurs instead of cows and pigs. This whimsical look at a dinosaur farm is comical as the farmer strives to take care of his charge's many needs including feeding, bathing, and nurturing.

Prairie Chicken Little, written by Jackie Mims Hopkins, illustrated by Henry Cole, Preschool: In this modern-day version of Chicken Little, Mary McBlicken creates chaos when she is convinced that a rumble she heard is a stampede. In her rush to report back to the ranch, she gathers other prairie critters along the way, including a sly fox who has other plans for Mary.

Crankee Doodle, written by Tom Angleberger, illustrated by CeCe Bell, School Age: This book is a funny twist on the classic song "Yankee Doodle" that we all remember from our childhood. Mr. Doodle doesn't really want to go to town but find out what happens when his sidekick horse talks him into it anyway!

How to Bicycle to the Moon to Plant Sunflowers: A Simple but Brilliant Plan in 24 Easy Steps, written and illustrated by Mordecai Gerstein, School Age: Gather up a long garden hose, a slingshot, a spacesuit, a bicycle and this book, and there is a very good chance you will be able to start a garden on the moon!

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Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
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Co-ed group of toddlers sitting & listening to the teacher read aloud