105 Ways to Give a Book

Thursday Three: Beginning Home Library

As you are shaping your child's beginning home library, there are three types of books to look for in filling the bookshelves.

1. Classics
Curious GeorgeThere are really two kinds of classics: the ones that you read as a child and the new classics that have come out in the intervening years. Your child's bookshelf should have some of both. Reading the books that you grew up on gives you a chance to share that connection with your child. Maybe these books don't honor the faster pace of today's child or use the latest research on teaching to the developing brain of a toddler. But they mean something to you, and that's important. Many also have a place as cultural reference that continues through generations. (Hello Man in the Yellow Hat.) Such books like Curious George; Madeline; Goodnight Moon, Corduroy, Where the Wild Things Are, Bread and Jam for Frances, and The Cat in the Hat belong on every child's bookshelf. You may have some books from your own childhood that are special to you that you should also share. New Classics are ones that you'll see featured at any bookstore, like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom; The Hungry Caterpillar, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!; Clifford the Big Red Dog; Guess How Much I Love You; and Fancy Nancy. Here's a hint on finding the New Classics: they often have a line of related merchandise. I'm not condoning it, I'm just saying'.

2. Mulitcultural/Diverse
How Do You Wokka-Wokka?Reading is one of the first ways that we see the greater world around us, so take the opportunity to widen that exposure with books that are diverse and multicultural. In looking for books featuring children of color, I've become fond of the illustrator Randy Cecil who used a great cast of characters in Looking for a Moose and How Do You Wokka-Wokka? (written by Phyllis Root and Elizabeth Bluemie, respectively). Kadir Nelson brings his art to life in every book he illustrates, but young readers will especially enjoy Please, Puppy, Please. Grace Lin incorporates Asian children and themes in the many, picture books she has written and illustrated - like in Kite Flying and you'll find Hispanic themes in the works of Pat Mora and Tony Johnson, among many others.

You and Me TogetherExplore the world without leaving home in the wonderful picture books of Barbara Kerley, with photos from National Geographic - like You and Me Together. Start even younger with the board books like Global Babies or broaden the concept with If the World Were a Village. Think about different kinds of families with The Family Book by Todd Parr (speaking of children of color, you'll see all the colors of rainbow represented here - literally) or And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell which tells the story of two male penguins who raise an egg together.

3. Art
Metropolitan Museum seriesIf you're stuck on buying a book, look for the one with great art. I don't mean books with classic artwork in them - though I am fond of the Metropolitan Museum series - but instead books that have amazing illustrations. Step into the art of Steve Jenkins in books like Actual Size or the surreal world of David Wiesner in Flotsam or the perfect spareness of Peter Reynolds in Ish. Investigate the soft tone of Jon Muth or the lively colors of David Diaz. Compare the watercolors of E. B. Lewis to the scratchboard work of Beth Krommes. Find books that are illustrated with beauty, style, and creativity and you'll likely find yourself in possession of very, very good books.

(This post was previously published at PBS Booklights.)

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4 comments:

Katie DeKoster said...

What a fantastic post. We're building up a library for my 4 month old little b, and so far it has a whole lot of Boynton and DK Touch and Feel. He (and I!) loves the books he has so far, but your recommendations really struck a chord with me - particularly #2. We have such a great opportunity right now to teach him about the great big world that he is just beginning to explore. I want to make sure that he is exposed to ALL of the faces and places of the world. Thanks!

Ms. Yingling said...

Ferdinand! I give that to everyone. The other thing that my children adored was "what everyone else is reading". It could be book versions of popular tv shows or strange things like Baby Blue Cat. Some of their favorites (and we're talking 'rescue from burning building' faves) are quite lame on the "literature" front.

Tanya said...

I'm not sure if these are multicultural or new classics, but our family read and reread Mama, Do You Love Me, by Barbara Joosse, and Something from Nothing, by Phoebe Gilman. You have to love a book with a mouse-based subplot...

mary kinser said...

Thanks for mentioning diversity - it's critical for all kids to foster an understanding of the world around them. Books are a great way to open up discussions about difference.