Bright Horizons Growing Readers February 2023

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.

February 2023 Book of Excellence: Infant & Toddler 

Calm, Written by Jillian Roberts 

Calm beautifully depicts caregivers offering their babies kind and calming moments. As the name suggests, just reading the book together brings a peaceful reprieve for babies and the people who love them.  

Storytelling Tips

  • Discuss the photos. Each page depicts a child being comforted by a loving caregiver. Point out the pictures and talk about them. “You felt sad when you fell down this morning just like this child, but we snuggled and now you feel better.” Or “What makes you feel better when you feel upset?”
  • Imitate the actions. Rock your child back and forth as you read, or show your child how to take deep breaths. 

Extend the Learning

  • Practice and pretend. Show your baby how to gently rock a doll or stuffed animal. Talk with them about how to softly stroke a dog or cat. These moments of imitation and practice help young children remember the concepts explored in the book.
  • Develop calming practices. Observe your baby to develop calming practices of your own. Listening to calming music, taking a warm bath, going for a walk in nature, or exploring sand can all be soothing to young children.
  • Take time to reflect. Calm offers powerful learning for both infants and adults. As you read the last page, reflect on your own caregiving practices. Would you like to learn more about supporting children’s socialemotional well-being? Visit Bright Horizons’ podcast: Teach, Play, Love for more information. 

Notable Books: Preschool

Lift, Mix, Fling, Written by Lola M. Schaeffer; Illustrated by James Yang

Children are naturally interested in machines. This book, with its colorful illustrations and lilting text, offers an engaging introduction to the topic. Children will be surprised to find that machines are all around them!

Storytelling Tips

  • Check out the illustrations. The colorful, graphic illustrations will grab your attention first. Take time to examine each page.
  • Answer the questions. Discuss the questions at the beginning of the book: What is a machine? Why do we use machines? How do machines work? As you read, see if your ideas about machines change. Use the definitions at the back of the book to deepen your understanding of machines.
  • Make it relevant. Point out tools that you have at your home. Discuss times that you’ve used machines, e.g., “Remember when we raked the leaves last fall? How could we have done that job without a rake?” 

Extend the Learning

  • Make a list. After you read the book, make a list with your child of all the machines you have in your home, e.g., a wedge, a dustpan, a bicycle, etc.
  • Try it out. Gather some simple machines to explore such as a jar with a lid, an ice cream scoop, or a small shovel. Invite your child to sweep the floor, hammer a nail, or use a dustpan. Climb the stairs, counting each one as you climb. Examine the wheels on a tricycle or wheelbarrow. All these tools use force to make our lives easier.
  • Build a ramp. Make a ramp out of a PVC pipe, a pool noodle, or even a board or book. Roll marbles, balls, or toy vehicles down the ramp. Place the ramp at varied levels of steepness. Ask your child, “Does the car go faster when the ramp is here? Or when it’s placed here?”

Notable Books: School-Age (K-2)

Make Way for Animals, Written Meeng Pincus; Illustrated by Bao Luu

What happens to animals when human activity blocks their paths? What can we do to help them? Meeng Pincus explores how people around the world have built wildlife crossings for animals. An immensely hopeful book that will energize young readers to become solutionaries. 

Storytelling Tips

  • Track the data. As you read, invite your child to write down all the species described in the book as well as geographical locations. Find the locations on a map or research the animals you read about.
  • Discuss the topic. Meeng Pincus has observed that children she talks with often feel discouraged by the many challenges facing the planet. What has your child noticed? How does your child feel? What would your child like to do to help? 

Extend the Learning

  • Become a solutionary. Meeng Pincus uses the word solutionary to describe people who work together to solve problems. Research wildlife crossings or learn about wildlife in your area and consider how you can make a difference.
  • Make a play scenario. Gather stuffed animals or animal figurines, cardboard tubes, blocks, or other materials to create a pretend animal crossing. Invite your child to make bridges, ramps, or underground tunnels (place a tube under a blanket) for the animals. 


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