Some of the best stories come from young children just when their words start to catch up to their imaginations. All we have to do is sit back and listen. Well, maybe not quite. There are things we can do to help along these narrative skills, and they are an important part of learning to read.
Narrative skills refer to the ability to describe things and events and tell stories. Research shows that using expressive language to retell stories helps children understand what they hear and read. This later helps them when they are reading. You can find more information and evidence supporting early literacy and early learning at the Books Build Connections site of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Picture books may be short, but sometimes you have to read many just to find a few that are really great. Gorgeous illustrations aren’t enough, the story has to be well told and interesting, Great text doesn’t stand alone either; if the illustrations aren’t appealing then it’s hard to save the story. Here are a few recently published picture books whose illustrations and text come together to create fun and enjoyment for all ages!
This year's Fredericksburg Agricultural Fair runs from July 31 to August 9, 2015. There will be many things to see and do, but the farm animals, homebaked goodies, and homegrown vegetables are always popular.
Can't make it to the fairgrounds this year? Some other places to go visit the animals are George Washington's Birthplace, Westmoreland Berry Farm, Maymont, and the Claude Moore Colonial Farm. Take along some farm animals coloring pages to pass the time on your trip.
Wherever you go to see these cute critters, grab some books and videos from the library to get in the moo-d for animal fun:
Growing up with Books and Traveling the World
With a scientist/writer for a mother and a research physician for a father, it’s little wonder that Molly Bang grew up to be a writer and illustrator who would eventually make it her mission to create books that drawn children into the world of science. Her family kept a large library and would often give each other books illustrated by the famous Charles Rackham as gifts. Molly found these to be inspiring.
After she graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in French, Molly traveled to Japan to teach English at a university there for 18 months before returning to work on master’s degrees in Oriental studies. Then it was back overseas to illustrate health manuals for UNICEF, as well as Johns Hopkins and Harvard, working, among other places, in Calcutta and Bangladesh.
The Blessing Cup, by Patricia Polacco, is a wonderful story for anytime, but especially during the holidays when family gathers close for this is a family story. Patricia Polacco’s great-grandmother Anna and her family came to America from Russia after the Czar ordered all the Jews to leave the country. Just like that, they had to leave behind everything they couldn’t carry. Momma and Papa packed the sewing machine, their menorah, the shofar, his tallis, and holy books. But also precious to them was the tea set they were given when they were married.
Something is stealing the grain in Mrs. Runnery’s granary. It must be weevils, thinks she, as she sets out spiders to eat them. But in the morning, the frightened spiders are clinging to the ceiling, their webs torn. It wasn’t weevils eating the grain. What could it be? The farmers need this grain from Runnery Granary to mill into flour so they can eat in the winter.
Boot & Shoe, by Marla Frazee, is the story of two dogs who are the best of friends and a trouble-making squirrel. Boot and Shoe are littermates and are mostly inseparable, living in the same house, eating from the same bowl and even sleeping in the same bed. But Boot is a back porch kind of dog while Shoe prefers to spend his time on the front porch. One day a squirrel arrives, determined to cause trouble. What follows is an epic chase all around the house and yard that will have readers chuckling.
In Bark, George by Jules Feiffer, George is a small dog with a big problem. When his mother tells him to bark, he can't. Instead he says, "Meow," not quite the sound his mom was expecting. George keeps trying, but to his mother's growing frustration, he can only produce the sounds of other animals, like "Oink" or "Moo." Finally George's mother takes him to the vet who promises to get to the bottom of the problem. The cause of George's unusual sounds is even funnier than the idea of a dog who quacks.
When he was two, Paul Zelinsky’s family moved from an apartment near Chicago to a house in Kyoto, Japan. Most of the Japanese houses had walls made of paper. Though his was an exception, he does wonder if all that paper might have influenced him to become an artist. While in Kyoto, he drew the stylish and elegant geisha ladies. When they came back to Chicago, their family home overlooked a construction site, so he took to drawing tractors and steam shovels being driven by geishas!*
He kept on drawing and kept on getting better and found a market for his work after college. Through the years, he has illustrated many, many books and written some himself. Today, his life, as chronicled on Facebook, is a happy blend of family, visiting schools, and, of course, drawing!