Bright Horizons Growing Readers August 2022

A little girl and a child care teacher reading together

We believe that books have the power to build empathy in children, introducing them to new perspectives and ideas. Through stories, children come to understand others’ hopes, dreams, joys, and sorrows. We’re committed to offering diverse stories and voices to our readers. Books of Excellence and Notable books are selected annually by a panel of Bright Horizons early childhood experts and represent some of the best new writing in children’s literature.

August 2022 Book of Excellence: Preschool

When Langston Dances, Written by Kaija Langley; Illustrated by Keith Mallett

Langston likes basketball, but when his mother takes him to the ballet, he finds his true love. Other children tell him that boys don’t dance, but Langston just keeps on practicing – in his basketball uniform!

Storytelling Tips

  • Notice the movement. The illustrations are one of the best parts of the book. Notice how illustrator Keith Mallett uses color and brush strokes to create a sense of movement throughout the story.
  • Talk about the relationships. Langston’s relationship with his mother is warm and nurturing. How can you tell? Do the characters in the story remind you of anyone you know in real life?
  • Think about resilience. A boy at school tells Langston that boys don’t dance. Langston feels sad for a moment, but refuses to lose sight of his dream of dancing. Has your child ever had a similar experience? How did they respond? 

Extend the Learning

  • Learn about the ballet. Attend a live ballet, watch one online, or learn a few basic steps. Discover other forms of dance, such as tap, hip-hop, or country western, and try them out.
  • Discover interests. Talk with your child about their interests. What’s one thing that makes them really happy? Help them dive into exploring it more deeply.

Notable Books: Infant & Toddler

Tree, Written and Illustrated by Britta Teckentrup

Graphic illustrations and a rhyming text combine in this jubilant celebration of nature’s cycles. 

Storytelling Tips

  • Offer multiple readings. Reading a story to a child repeatedly builds their language development and understanding of how stories work.
  • Look and find. Ask your child to find something on each page, e.g., “Can you find a fox? Where’s an apple?” 

Extend the Learning

  • Observe seasonal changes. Point out the seasonal changes in your area. Watch a specific tree over several months. Comment on changes in weather, animal life, and plants.
  • Go on a sound walk. In the book, winter is described as being silent. As you’re walking in your neighborhood, pay attention to the sounds you hear. Do they differ, depending on the time of day or year?
  • Make a pretend scenario. Gather leaves, apples, and toy animals featured in the story. Show your child how to act out scenes from the story with the real objects.

Notable Books: School-Age (K-2)

Watercress, Written by Written by Andrea Wang; Illustrated by Jason Chin

Andrea Wang shares a childhood experience of picking watercress and learning about her family’s difficult, yet beautiful, history. Poignant and lovely.  

Storytelling Tips

  • Go gently. Andrea Wang wrote this story as both “a love letter and an apology” to her parents. The story recounts both happy and difficult memories of life in China during the Great Famine of 1958 to 1961. Adapt the story to your child’s emotional readiness.
  • Offer a writing lesson. Wang’s writing is evocative and poetic. Point out how she uses strong action verbs like stings, squelches, and squirms. Talk about how specific details and adjectives can strengthen writing, and look for Wang’s use of alliteration, e.g., sopping shirt, and sodden selves.
  • Talk about characters and settings. What do you know about the characters from the illustrations and narrative? Based on the illustrations, what time period is the story taking place?
  • Discuss the idea of belonging. Wang often felt like an outsider as a child. Most of us have experienced this feeling at some point. Talk about moments when you or your child have felt different or less than others. What did that feel like? How did you deal with that experience? What did you learn from it?

Extend the Learning

  • Discover similes. Wang uses similes throughout the book to create imagery in the reader’s mind, e.g., “round as coins,” and “sharp as the tip of a dragon’s claw.” Try making your own similes – “Your eyes are as bright as two twinkling stars.”
  • Learn about your family history. At some point in history, most of our ancestors came to the United States from somewhere else. Look through old photo albums or visit genealogy websites to learn more about your family’s history.
  • Get involved. The Great Famine is considered one of the deadliest famines in history, but people go hungry in the United States and around the world today. Volunteer at your local food pantry or get involved with international charitable organizations. 


Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
A little girl and a child care teacher reading together