Bright Horizons Growing Readers May 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.

May 2023 Book of Excellence: Infant & Toddler 

Grandma and Me, Written by Carole Boston Weatherford; Illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin 

“Grandma and Me” captures the love between grandmother and child with brilliant illustrations and vibrant, rhyming prose. This glorious celebration of family offers playful ideas for young children and the people who care for them.  

Storytelling Tips

  • Get cozy. Take a cue from the story: Grab a blanket, a beloved stuffed animal, and snuggle in a deep chair or rocker.
  • Make it relatable. Point out the similarities between the grandmas in the story and the grandmas in your child’s life. For example, “Look they like to go to the park together, just like you and Grammy do.”
  • Serve and return. Engage in serve and return, a simple practice to support children’s developing language. 

Extend the Learning

  • Take part in the story. Use the story as a launch pad for your own experiences. Go to the park, dance and sing, “Loop-de-loo,” and bake a cake, a tater pie, or your own favorite recipe.
  • Build connections. Whether a grandparent is present in your child’s everyday life or simply from time to time, help your child develop close bonds. Display photos or make a durable photo book to look at frequently. Use family members’ names as you look at the photos.
  • Make friends. Get to know people in your neighborhood and community who might play a role similar to a grandparent. Invite a neighbor for dessert or offer to help with simple yardwork. Children need all kinds of relationships and connections. 

Notable Books: Preschool

Love Makes a Garden Grow, Written and Illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

A young girl describes her experiences growing flowers with her grandfather. As she grows, life inevitably changes, but her grandfather’s love remains. The story depicts rich family life and creates a deep sense of connectedness and security. 

Storytelling Tips

  • Observe the illustrations. Each page features a small element of change, e.g., the dog growing older or fallen leaves on the ground. What does your child notice?
  • Point out alliteration. The story contains a few instances of alliteration such as “bugs and blooms” or “smells like soil.” Invite your child to listen for words that begin with the same sound or create their own alliteration. 

Extend the Learning

  • Explore size, weight, and time. The book makes several references to size, weight, and time. The girl describes herself as small as a sprout or tall as a tree. Ask questions like “How big is a sprout?” Or describe people, animals, and objects in your home by their size or weight, e.g., the cat is as small as a _______.
  • Learn about plants. Help your child plant flowers or vegetables at your home. Visit a nursery to see bonsai, peonies, or other plants discussed in the book.
  • Play with boxes. Boxes are for more than just moving. Gather a few large and small boxes. Invite your child to use them imaginatively. What could they be? A house, a fort, a boat? Offer paint or markers to make signs or decorate the boxes. The next day, turn them into something else. 

Notable Books: School-Age (K-2)

Ice Cream Man, Written by Glenda Armand and Kim Freeman; Illustrated by Keith Mallett

“Ice Cream Man” tells the story of Augustus Jackson – a poor boy from Philadelphia who left home when he was twelve to become a White House cook, and who later developed technologies to bring ice cream to the masses. 

Storytelling Tips

  • Repeat the reading. This is a story dense with engaging ideas. Read it more than once to fully absorb Augustus’s experiences. Take time to look at the nostalgic illustrations.
  • Consider perspective. Children can develop empathy and admiration for the people they encounter in books. Talk about what it must have felt like to be Augustus. He left home when he was only 12 to work in the White House. What character traits allowed him to do that? What might his family have been like? 

Extend the Learning

  • Make a treat. Use the recipe at the back of the book to make your own ice cream. Once you’ve tried the basic recipe, invite your child to think of new ice cream flavors.
  • Make a difference. Augustus was motivated by his love for creating food and his desire to make people happy. Invite your child to consider their own interests. Would they like to create something or make a contribution in some other way? Maybe they’ll have a lemonade stand, create art, or volunteer at a pet shelter. 


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