Once again the prospect of spring looms in the air with the arrival of March, the first month of the spring season. March is also known as National Reading Month with March 2nd (Dr. Seuss’s birthday) being designated as Read Across America Day. This year the National Education Association (NEA) is calling upon educators and supporters to share the childhood book that meant the most to them. As we fondly recollect the stories of our childhood that have turned us into avid readers, we tend to want to pass along this penchant to others because of the joy it brought us. Unfortunately, sometimes when we try to instill this love of books to a child it can come across as an edict, but when a storybook tells a child how wonderful books can be, children will often sit up and take notice. There are many picture books that extol the value and joy of books and reading. Look for those whose message is subtle, without a preachy tone. The best ones seamlessly interweave the message into the story line and illustrations. Subtle messages also offer an opening into a discussion that children will easily engage in with little prompting. Look through the following suggestions and choose some to share with your child. You never know which one will ignite that spark that will create a lifelong reader.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
"And so our story ends as it began...with the opening of a book." That ending always makes my heart melt! This is a beautiful story and arguably our favorite picture book extolling the joy and wonder of books and reading. Although this isn't a silly story or very humorous one, it is poignant and touching and every child we have ever shared it with has listened with rapt attention to the story of Morris Lessmore and his life amongst the books.
*Extended activity: after reading the book, watch the short film.
Scarecrow Pete by Mark Kimball Moulton
Upon opening this book the reader is met with this wonderful line: "Why, I can go most anywhere by reading a good book." The story centers around a young boy in the middle of his summer vacation. He discovers that the scarecrow in his family's cornfield can talk and loves nothing more than a good book. Although Scarecrow Pete, as the boy learns he is called, is stuck in one place all the time, he is still able to go on amazing adventures thanks to the trunk of old books that sits at his feet. The pair spend the entire summer getting lost in the pages of those books, forging a deep friendship and appreciation of stories. Told through rhyming text that flows in the style of a long poem, this story is best enjoyed aloud and Pete's ending words are sure to stay with you long after you close the book...
"You can do most anything,
meeting anyone you please,
travel anywhere you like,
and do it all with ease.
Just find a place that's comfortable --
a nice, warm, cozy nook --
and lose yourself among the pages
of a favorite book!"
I Love My Little Storybook by Anita Jeram
We love this little storybook! We truly, truly do. And the bunny in this book loves his little storybook too. The bunny explains all of the reasons why his storybook is so special, and as things moves along, the fanciful story of the bunny's book comes alive in the illustrations. The reader is brought into the magic forest right along with the bunny, seeing many amazing sights such as unicorns, a frog wearing a crown and mice with wings! Read this one slowly and allow your little bookworm time to really look at the illustrations and find all of the magic hidden there.
The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty
Someone is stealing all of the bedtime stories! But who could it be? As all of the little critters in Burrow Down are settling in for a bedtime story, their books are disappearing. A rabbit named Eliza Brown decides to stay up to catch the culprit and discovers it is a Snatchabook. The sad little creature doesn't have anyone to read him a bedtime story. Eliza Brown convinces the Snatchabook to return all of the stories and all of the critters in Burrow Down takes turns reading to the Snatchabook. This rhythmic, rhyming story has elements of mystery and suspense that help keep little ones engaged and it is also a great story for teaching children about empathy without being overly preachy about it. Everyone wants to be read to!
*Look for Docherty's other story The Storybook Knight, which is another story all about the joy and wonder of books!
You Can Read by Helaine Becker
"You can read in the classroom. You can read in the park. You can read on a mission undercover in the dark." This book celebrates the fact that reading can happen any time, anywhere and with anyone. With well-paced rhymes, the text goes through all of the possible places you can read, including some locations that are not so practical, such as under the sea. Giggles are sure to happen when children take a closer look at the illustrations. Be sure to point out the title of the books being read in the illustrations as they pertain to what is being depicted and add to the humor.
For more titles that celebrate books and reading, check out our list here and share your favorites with us in the comments!
We are mom Sandra and daughters Amanda and Kate, all with backgrounds in literacy and education, who want to share our philosophy of taking the basics of life; books, simple toys that encourage play, imagination and creativity, and using cooking and baking to teach math and real life skills to raise happy, inquisitive children. Join us in exploring the old and the new and sifting through the myriad of research to consider what is best for our children.