As some of you might know, I’m starting a Primary PGCE course in September, and I’ve been tasked with reading more children’s literature. So, here’s my take on the following picture books!
Birds of a Feather by Vanita Oelschlager (illustrated by Robin Hegan)
Designed to introduce kids to common idioms, using a humorous approach; the kids can help the teacher read aloud the idiom on each page and discuss the pictures. Then, when they turn the book upside down, the teacher can read aloud the written explanation and example given for each idiom.
Cons: the illustrations don’t always relate directly to the actual meaning of the idiom… Also a racoon is in one of the illustrations – an animal kids in the UK will not recognise.
Pros: Kids will LOVE THIS BOOK.
Ages: 4+ Rating: 5/5 + AUTO-BUY
Little White Fish Has Many Friends by Guido van Genechten
Designed to introduce kids to the concept of friendly play. The teacher can get the kids to explain what game little white fish is playing on each double-page spread, then read the book aloud and see if they’re correct!
Cons: games like dancing the “cha-cha” and giving “eskimo kisses” seem a little exotic for a kids book.
Pros: large, simple pictures, introduces kids to the names of various sea creatures.
Ages: 3+ Rating: 3/5
The Bear Who Couldn’t Sleep by Caroline Nastro (illustrated by Vanya Nastanlieva)
A story about a bear who cannot sleep and so ventures into New York city to visit the galleries, museums and streets there, before finally becoming sleepy… There are plenty of opportunities for the students to explain to the teacher what bear is doing on each page, as the pictures sometimes diverge from the text.
Cons: Perfect for kids from New York, but the landmarks mentioned might confuse kids from other parts of the world.
Pros: Beautiful illustrations and interesting settings, and a main character (bear) kids will relate well too.
Ages: 3+ Rating: 4/5
The Toothless Fairy by Timothy Jordan (illustrated by Matthew LaFleur)
A rhyming story about a lonely, ‘ugly’ fairy with a very sweet tooth! The teacher can use this book as a jumping point to ask about what makes Halloween fun i.e. spending time with your friends. And to discuss why too much sugar leads to issues with your teeth! It’s also great for introducing children to the idea of poetry as a narrative device.
Cons: Sophisticated language usages and the topic of ‘Halloween’ works well in the USA where kids know what ‘trick or treating’ is, but might not work so well outside of the USA where they don’t.
Pros: Fun and creative illustrations which kids will love!
Ages: 5+ Rating: 3/5
Vroom! Kevin’s Big Book of Vehicles by Lisbet Slegers
Designed to help children identify different types of vehicles and their various parts, uses some rhyming. Includes on-page activities for kids.
Cons: I felt the odd ‘story’ page, inserted between more educational pages, actually slowed the pace of the book. Also the technical information cited means this book is more useful for school-aged children,
Pros: large simple images, good technical vocabulary (e.g. “ambulance” and “combine harvester”), good explanations, lots of fun tasks for kids. A really useful book!
Ages: 4+ Rating: 4.5/5
Who Will Dance with Little Mouse? by Anita Bijsterbosch
A story about a small mouse who asks everyone to dance with him, but one after another they give their excuses… This book shows kids that if they don’t give up, they’ll eventually find someone to dance with! And that following your dreams can be fun.
Cons: The animals featured include a sloth, not something most kids would have heard of. Also, the story is repetitive.
Pros: Teaches some animal actions and sounds, with strong describing verbs. Large, simple illustrations. Shows kids what digital imaging can do.
Ages: 3+ Rating: 3/5