Magical candy is kind of a draw in children’s literature. Mr. Star Wars recently read The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop and let me borrow it when he finished. In the book, a family inherits a closed down chocolate shop with lots of magical secrets. It is my newest Charlie and the Chocolate Factory “read alike” book. Books that use food (particularly chocolate) as a central plot detail are a big hit with kids.
Mr. Star Wars and I tried to name all of the books we know that use food in some way. We came up with chapter books with candy, chapter books with non-traditional foods– like worms (!), picture books, an even some books that one food item steals a scene. I cut us off after we started on the picture book titles because there are just so many books we could list. What is your favorite book that will make your mouth water?
I am not sure what I was thinking when I did not include baby books as a suggestion for The Best Baby Gifts in my last post.
Board books are a great newborn baby and first birthday gift. The heavier page is sturdy and stands up to the wear and tear of a baby or toddler. They are specifically made to protect against drool damage. They are a good price point and wrap very well.
Many classic children’s picture books that were originally published in traditional hardback with paper pages are now available in a board book version too. Board books are typically not longer than 30 pages, so you may get an abridged version of the original book in the board book style. If you want to get your money’s worth, go for the board book version as a first book.
What books have you given as a baby or toddler gift?
Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
Baby Faces and others by DK Publishing
The Cheerios Play Book by Lee Wade
Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
Jamberry by Bruce Deegan
Moo, Ba, La La La! and Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
My Truck is Stuck by Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk
The Napping House by Audrey Wood
1 is One by Tasha Tudor
Open the Barn Door by Christopher Santoro
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Sheep in a Jeep and Sheep in a Shop by Nancy E. Shaw
Time for Bed by Mem Fox
Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and others by Eric Carle
In Andrew Clements’ book The School Story, one character says that a school story is “a short novel about kids and stuff that happens mostly at school.” I asked a friend of mine who works in children’s publishing if this type of story really is one of the most popular genres in children’s literature as Clements implies in his book. She said that Clements is an expert at the school story and would know. I get it. These books are typically humorous and easy for children to read because they portray a world that the reader knows well– life at school. Here are a few titles that have received rave reviews from my children, my children’s friends, and my students. What other titles get a gold star?
Chapter Books for Upper Elementary Grades
Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger
Blubber by Judy Blume
Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
Lunch Money, The School Story, No Talking, Frindle, or others by Andrew Clements
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
7th Level by Jody Feldman
Double Dog Dare by Lisa Graff
The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
Loser by Jerry Spinelli
Hank Zipzer series by Henry Winkler
Chapter Books for Primary Grades
Bailey School Kids series by Marcia T. Jones
Marty McGuire series by Kate Messner
Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
Jigsaw Jones Mystery series by James Preller
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Miss Nelson series by James Marshall
David Goes to School by David Shannon
Miss Bindergarten books by Joseph Slate
How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Tolen and Teague
How the Second Grade Got $8205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty by Nathan Zimelman
There are many benefits to reading picture books and chapter books multiple (even hundreds) of times, but if you are the parent doing the reading, this can be a labor of love. A dear friend told me that if she reads Pinkalicious one more time, she may have to “set the book on fire” (original comment has been censored).
As repetitive as it can be for parents, it is a good thing to read a picture book so many times your kid can recite the words from memory. Children are absorbing the words into their “sight” word bank without realizing it. They are picking up word and sentence structure patterns like capitalization at the beginning of a sentence and punctuation at the end of a sentence. They are learning to follow the story from left to right and top to bottom. I am not recommending you force yourself to suffer through the same book beyond your breaking point, but I am recommending you read aloud often with your children (and that may include a re-run or two… or ten).
Reading aloud to your child models good reading techniques and helps with fluency. It gives you time to stop and talk about what is happening, so you can informally check listening skills and improve your child’s comprehension. Picture books are short, so it is easy to complete a whole story in one sitting. Picture books for older readers have a lot of depth and require some critical thought, so you can keep reading these books all the way through elementary school; there are many I use for lessons with my 4th grade students. Lastly, it is enjoyable and relaxing and how often do you get that kind of time with your child?
The picture books on the list below pass my can-be-read-10-days-in-a-row test. Help me out with additional read aloud suggestions that won’t get stale too quickly. The books below may be new to you, but they have been in high rotation at my house for awhile now.
King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood (or others by this author)
The Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem
Flotsam by David Wiesner (or others by this author)
The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett (or others by this author)
Who’s Hiding? by Satoru Onishi
Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young
What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
Who is Driving? by Leo Timmers
I Spy: An Alphabet in Art by Lucy Micklethwait
Press Here by Herve Tullet
Non-Fiction/Based on a True Story
Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell
My Apron by Eric Carle (be sure to read the author note at the end)
One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh
Two Bobbies by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery
Emily by Michael Bedard
For a Laugh
Dear Deer: A Book of Homophones by Gene Barretta
Giggle, Giggle, Quack by Doreen Cronin (or others by this author)