Bright Horizons Growing Readers September 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.

September 2022 Book of Excellence: Toddler/Preschool

Animals from A to Z: Exploring the Americas, Written by Amelia Hepworth; Illustrated by Carolina Buzio

This clever book offers a double dose of learning as it introduces two concepts. The book matches alphabet letters with graphic illustrations of unique animals that live throughout North, Central, and South America. A key at the end of the book shows where each animal lives. 

Storytelling Tips

  • Explore and learn. One of the wonderful things about this book is that it features both familiar and unusual animals. Watch for the uakari monkey, x-ray fish, yellowlegs, and zebra longwings butterfly!
  • Point out the key. Show your child the map at the back of the book. Point out where you live. Show the animals that live near you, and then share that many animals live in other places. What animal would your child like to visit?
  • Read more than once. Children love to hear stories repeatedly and this book is so rich that it makes sense to divide the learning. Talk about the animals during one reading; another day, point out the letters of the alphabet and say their sounds. If your child is interested, you can share a few words that begin with each letter. 

Extend the Learning

  • Make your own map. Look at the map with your older toddler or preschooler. What animals live near you that aren’t included in the book? Draw a picture of a map and include those animals. Add your pets or include animals that live near extended family for an early geography lesson.
  • Build a play scenario. Gather plastic, wooden, or stuffed animals. Add cardboard boxes, blocks, tubes, or Lego™ bricks. Show your child how to make houses or habitats for the animals. NEW! Growing Readers Book Club videos! See page 2 for further details. We believe that books have the power to build empathy in children, introducing them to new perspecti

Notable Books: Preschool

Noah's Seal, Written and Illustrated by Layn Marlow

Noah can’t wait to see the seals, but his grandmother must fix the sailboat first. While he waits, Noah creates a seal from sand, pebbles, and seaweed. After a storm blows in, Noah’s seal seems to be gone. Or is it?

Storytelling Tips

  • Match your storytelling to the book’s tone. “Noah’s Seal” is a quiet book with its themes of familial love, nature, imagination, and magic. Try reading this book in a quiet, outdoor spot or in a cozy chair. It’s a great bedtime story.
  • Point out the alliteration. Layn Marlow uses several literary devices to add to the poetry of this book. Alliteration is just one. Pause on phrases like wild wide sea or the wind whips. Say, “I hear a lot of ‘w’ sounds there.”
  • Make text-to-self connections. Reading becomes more meaningful when children can relate what they read to their own lives. Have you ever been to the beach or molded something out of sand?

Extend the Learning

  • Get out the paints. Layn Marlow uses beautiful watercolors overlaid with ink and pastels. Offer your child some watercolors and sturdy paper. Add pencils, pens, crayons, or even a bit of salt to give the painting more texture.
  • Explore nature. Go for a walk in your neighborhood. Gather twigs, pebbles, pinecones, or shells and use them to decorate a creation made from clay or sand. Find shapes in the clouds. Imaginative experiences with nature build children’s creativity.
  • Learn more about seals. Visit a zoo or the beach, read library books, or do an internet search. Do seals really have speckles and whiskers? 

Notable Books:School-Age (K-2)

Not So Small, Written by Pat Zietlow Miller; Illustrated by Paola Escobar

We all feel small sometimes, but this book explores the power of just one person to do good. Positive and empowering, Not So Small offers concrete ideas and encouragement for kids. 

Storytelling Tips

  • Ask Questions. This story is full of topics worth discussing. Does your child ever feel small? What makes them feel confident? Has your child ever done something that brought about a change?
  • Notice the setting. Many pages of the story depict various urban landscapes. Why do you think the illustrator chose these settings? For example, a page that discusses friendship, truth, and fairness also depicts a bookstore. Perhaps that’s because reading widely can help cultivate these values.

Extend the Learning

  • Explore the story’s natural elements. The story introduces acorns, pebbles, snowflakes, and dandelions as items in nature that seem small, but create powerful change. Compare an acorn to a giant oak tree. Throw a pebble in a lake and watch the rings spread outward. Watch for the first snowflakes that predict a storm or look at images of a field of dandelions.
  • Compare sizes. Voices, buildings, and walls are big, according to the story. What things in your child’s life feel big? What things feel small? Grab a few items of various sizes and ask your child to sort them by size.
  • Do something. Is your child a talker, a writer, or a walker? Or maybe all three? Challenge your child to do something to create positive change. Maybe it’s talking to a lonely neighbor or new child at school, writing a postcard, or walking to the local food pantry to donate food. 


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