In celebrating National Picture Book Month, I have to start with my favorite picture book so far for 2013, Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. A new book that feels like a classic (especially in its homage to Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey), Lucky Ducklings is inspired by a true event in which ducklings fell through the grate of a storm drain, and the story follows how they were rescued. Featuring large, lovely illustrations with soft colors, this book would be a wonderful starting point for talking about everyday things – a family of ducks, community helpers, or a trip to the park. Talking is one of the five early literacy practices, and it helps children develop vocabulary and an understanding of the world around them. This book is also great for predicting what will happen next, which is a narrative skill.
My favorite book that is new for this fall season is Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf. After Sophie and her family visit the farmer’s market, Sophie decides that the squash meant for dinner makes a great companion. In cartoon illustrations full of autumn hues, Sophie and her new friend Bernice are inseparable, playing all day long. After a while, Sophie’s parents start to get desperate, as a squash can’t last forever. In a sweet ending, Sophie finds a way for Bernice’s spirit to remain alive. Playing is another early literacy practice, as imaginative play helps children understand a variety of things about their world, which will help them with reading comprehension later on.
Another wonderful new book is Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack. Practically wordless except for a variety of uses for ‘Ah’ and ‘Ha’, this story about a frog and his adventure at the pond is entertaining. Large, colorful cartoon illustrations perfectly portray the story so that kids can help describe what is happening. Since so little text is used, this book is great for letter recognition, recognizing the smaller pieces of words and seeing how the same word can have many different meanings. Another book by the same author with a similar approach is Good News, Bad News.