Draw and Write Journals for Kids from A Family of Readers

Draw and Write Journals for Kids from A Family of Readers

Although the name of this blog is A Family of Readers, and I have plans for tons of upcoming posts about kids and reading, in today’s post I’m sidetracking a little bit into writing.

Reading and writing go hand in hand, and supporting kids’ writing will support their reading. For some kids, writing is more motivating and more fun than reading.

If kids are fired up about the reading books and writing supplies that we provide, they will be much more engaged in learning to read and write. Nothing makes me happier than giving a child a book, or a notebook, or a set of pens or pencils that I know they will love!

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I’m thrilled to introduce our new line of Draw and Write Journals for Kids on Amazon. I’ve designed them for younger children (Pre K to 2nd grade) who are ready to write on lines, but still need the support of a larger space to write in, with the dotted midline to guide them. Each page also has space for a title, and a framed space for an illustration.

Click the video below to learn about our Draw and Write Journals for Kids

 

These Draw and Write notebooks have been designed especially for younger children who are early writers still learning how to print their letters. Perfect for home or school. Add a few stickers and fancy pencils or pens to create a special gift for a young writer in your life! #ad #affiliateThe cover designs feature themes that are popular right now – sharks, dinosaurs, unicorns, mermaids and superheroes. I have found that kids become so excited about writing when we provide materials that match their passions.

Click through and scroll to browse the collection and choose the perfect Draw and Write Journal for your young writer.

Please comment with your ideas for other cover designs – we have big plans for expanding the collection!

 

 

 

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how to teach writingjournal writing for kids


10 Classic Books to Read to Preschoolers

10 Classic Books to Read to Preschoolers

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, A Family of Readers earns a small commission. 

I’ve written a post about the importance of reading aloud, and I’ve written a post about how to read to preschoolers, so I decided it was time to publish a post recommending my choices for the best books for preschoolers.

Remember, when choosing books for preschoolers, look for

  • Books that highlight basic concepts, such as colors, shapes, letters and numbers.
  • Rhyme, rhythm and repetition.
  • Photographs and illustrations that are clear, colorful and engaging.
  • Simple, fun plots with action that moves quickly.
  • Stories about everyday life and familiar events in a child’s day-to-day life.
  • Main characters (human or animal) who are your child’s age or just a little bit older.

Here is a list of my ten favorite classic books for preschoolers. These are books that have been around for a generation or more, and are tried and true. They are books I’ve read over and over again in my classroom over the years, and books I read so often to my own kids that the whole family had them practically memorized. When I need a baby shower gift or a gift for a new baby, I nearly always choose a few of these titles and wrap them in a sturdy, attractive basket.

In almost all cases, the authors of these books have also written other, equally wonderful books. If you find that your child falls in love with a particular book on the list, explore other titles by that author and see what other favorites you discover.

 

Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear takes a simple two-sentence rhyme and repeats it throughout the story, creating a lilting rhythm that I love to read out loud. It’s a question and answer format, which is a natural language pattern that preschoolers are drawn to.

Because it’s a short rhyme and the clear, simple pictures support the words so directly, kids memorize this book quickly and are able to join in as you read. It effortlessly provides exposure to the basic preschool concepts of colors and animals. 

If I had to pick the single most absolutely perfect book for toddlers and preschoolers, this would be it.This book has something of value to offer every preschooler and their family. In Kindergarten and first grade, it’s a book that early readers love to revisit, delighted that they can truly read it themselves. Include this one in baby shower gifts for sure. Click here to browse other books by Bill Martin, Jr.

books to read to preschoolers

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is another book that is just about perfect. It’s a simple story plot that manages to incorporate days of the week, colors, and numbers without feeling contrived at all. Carle is describing an event in nature that is simple to understand, yet universal in concept – growth and change over time.

There’s no rhyme, but the repetition is tons of fun, and invites enthusiastic participation – “But he was still hungry!” The die cut holes left in the fruit by the caterpillar are perfectly sized for little fingers to poke through – again, an irresistible invitation to participate. Click here to check out other stories by Eric Carle. He is amazingly prolific.

picture books for toddlers

 

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault

Remember in this post, when I suggested reading through a book to find the rhyming parts ahead of time?  It’s a good idea to do that with this Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Although I love it dearly and it does have great rhymes, the rhythm and cadence is unusual and it takes a little bit of practice to read this book out loud smoothly. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is an alphabet book with lots of action and a fast, exciting pace.

The letters themselves are the characters, and the phrase “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” repeats often enough that kids can jump right in and read it with you. Click here for more “Chicka Chicka” books.

 

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

We all relate to Where the Wild Things Are because Max represents the naughty child in all of us, who sits in time out and thinks resentful thoughts about the parent who busted them, fantasizing about letting loose and creating a wild rumpus with a bunch of wild things. Or am I the only one who thinks that?

Really though, this book takes us on a boundary-stretching imaginary journey with Max. He bosses the wild things around and goes a little crazy before waking up in a more relaxed mood, happy to see that his mother has relented and placed his supper on the table.

Where the Wild Things Are has a clear plot about a familiar situation (getting in trouble), simple illustrations, and a relatable main character of preschool age. Other books by Maurice Sendak are here.

picture books for preschoolers

 

Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino

Is Your Mama A Llama? manages to be poignant while lighthearted. The theme of being separated from a parent is one that kids relate to, even if it hasn’t happened to them. I’ve seen my students really empathize with Lloyd the baby llama, seeming to really feel his mounting concern as he asks each young animal, “Is your Mama a llama?”

The rhyme is more complex in this book, creating a smooth rhythm that makes it easy to read aloud. Children quickly begin to chime in with the last word of each rhyming interaction between Lloyd and his friends. Although this is a well-written story, I think that the illustrations by the more prolific and better known Steven Kellogg make this book really stand out.

picture books for kids

 

The Mitten by Jan Brett

The illustrations in The Mitten make it age-appropriately suspenseful, much more so than the words on the page. When my daughter was a preschooler, she would become giddy with anticipation as each animal crowded into the mitten, and we got closer and closer to the end of the story. When the satisfying end of the story arrived, she would be so relieved that it was over.

Jan Brett’s artwork is clear and directly supports the story, but it is definitely not simple. As the years go on and your child matures, together you will notice more and more subtle detail in the illustrations of this book. Don’t miss Jan Brett’s other gorgeously illustrated books.

books for toddlers and preschoolers

 

If You Give A Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Felicia Bond. After a young boy gives a mouse a cookie, the mouse places more and more demands on the boy, who complies willingly enough. Each of the requests the mouse makes are activities that are common in a preschooler’s life, such as coloring a picture to tape up on the refrigerator.

Together the mouse and the boy work their way through these demands/activities, working their way back around to giving the mouse a cookie. I especially love the illustrations, which are relatable and subtly humorous in the facial expressions and body language of the boy and the mouse. This book lends itself well to casually talking about sequence. Check out the whole series here.

best picture books for preschoolers

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear is fun because the point of view is new and different. The main character carries on a conversation with the reader, which children seem to just love. This book is suspenseful, as the mouse tries to convince us that his red ripe strawberry is in terrible danger of being eaten by the big hungry bear. Kids get a kick out of the solution to this problem, too! Don and Audrey Wood have written and illustrated other classic books, which you can find here.

 

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

You’ve really got to include Love You Forever in baby shower gifts, too. Years ago whenever I read this book to my first graders, they would say, “Oh no, she’s going to cry!” and I always did.

Throughout their lives, a mother sings to her son, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living, My baby you’ll be.” At first she is holding him and rocking him, and eventually she is gray-haired and sneaking into her son’s house to sing to him. Right after this is the part where the story flips and I cry, so I’ll just stop here.

Trust me, don’t miss this one. It’s a book for you as much as it is a book for your child. Robert Munsch has written lots of other great books, but they are not all such tearjerkers.

books for preschoolers

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Theodore Geisel is the king of silly rhyme, making Dr. Seuss books must-have classics in a preschooler’s book collection. Green Eggs and Ham is my favorite, because in addition to the rhyme, it has repetition. Some of the Seuss books do not, although they are full of rollicking rhyme and have fantastic rhythm. This repetition makes it easy for children to start to memorize this book and join in with gusto – “I do not like them, Sam I am!” Plus, the story line and concept of refusing to eat something one has not even tried, is so familiar to preschoolers. Explore all the other fabulous Dr. Seuss titles here.

 

Let me know in the comments which books you would put on your family’s top ten list!

 

 

 

Harry Potter Baby Gifts

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We are HUGE Harry Potter fans here at A Family of Readers.

I can’t wait for someone to have a new little one so we can give one of these fabulous items as part of a Harry Potter themed baby shower or new baby gift, along with a boxed set of the series to add to the family library. What a great idea for a Christmas or birthday gift, too!

Isn’t this outfit adorable?

Harry Potter Baby Gift

 

This one is pretty nifty, also.

harry potter christmas gifts for babies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another adorable onesie.

Harry Potter Gifts for Babies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Any of these items combined with this gorgeous boxed set would make a marvelously thoughtful gift for any Harry Potter fans in your life who are expecting a new little witch or wizard.

Harry Potter Books Boxed Set

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Choose Great Books for Kids

How to Choose Great Books for Kids

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What is a Great Book?

A great book pulls kids in, and then holds their attention.  It has clear, engaging illustrations, or uses language that makes it easy to visualize the story. A good book might be comforting and familiar, or new and exciting. It might be an award winner that comes up in your Amazon recommendations or on Pinterest, or a simple board book you pick up in the checkout line at the grocery store. The bottom line is, a great book is any book that your family enjoys.

How to Choose Great Books

Take look at current favorites. Do your kids love silly rhyming books with whimsical illustrations? Or do they gravitate towards non-fiction books with realistic photography? Is there a chapter book series they enjoy? Consider current interests.  Has your child recently become obsessed with buses or garbage trucks?  Or do your kids settle right down when you reach for a book that depicts warm cozy family or school situations? Ask your kids for input – what would they like to learn more about?  What is their teacher reading out loud right now? What books do they see their friends reading? Involving your children in this process will skyrocket their buy-in and excitement for reading.

Books for Infants and Toddlers

Look for:How to Choose Books for Babies and Toddlers

  • Books with big, bold, colorful pictures of familiar or everyday objects or activities.
  • Sturdy books made of heavy cardboard, washable cloth, or plastic.
  • Small books that are easy for little hands to hold and turn the pages.
  • Stories told in short, simple sentences with pictures that explain the text.
  • Poems and rhymes that make the book fun to read aloud and fun to listen to.

Books for Preschoolers (Ages 3-5)

Look for:

  • Books that highlight basic concepts, such as colors, shapes, letters and numbers.
  • Rhyme and repetition.
  • Photographs and illustrations that are clear, colorful and engaging.
  • Simple, fun plots with action that moves quickly.
  • Stories about everyday life and familiar events in a child’s day-to-day life.
  • Main characters (human or animal) who are your child’s age or just a little bit older.

Books for Elementary School Kids (Ages 6-11)

Look for:

  • Books that reflect your child’s interests and passions.
  • Other books with your child’s favorite characters, or by favorite authors and illustrators.
  • Illustrations and photos that directly support the text and give clues to the meaning of unfamiliar words.
  • Project, craft, and recipe books with clearly worded instructions and supportive illustrations.
  • Picture books your child enjoyed hearing when they were younger. Most picture books are written at a third or fourth grade level, and are terrific to revisit when your child becomes a more independent reader.
  • Chapter books that your child can read independently, or higher level chapter books for you to read aloud.
  • Fact books, such as world record books, trivia books, and almanacs.

Books for Adolescents (Ages 12 and Up)

Look for:
How to Choose Books for Adolescents

  • New genres – biographies, mysteries, spy thrillers, classics, historical fiction, and mythology.
  • Books about places in the world that interest your child, or that they are studying in school.
  • Novels that depict characters dealing with the daily challenges of growing up.
  • Graphic novels that re-tell classic stories.

 

Involve Your Child

Perhaps most importantly, involve your kids in choosing new books.  Encourage them to join you as you look for new titles, and model your thought process as you consider new books to add to your family library. Learning how to choose great books is a reading skill that your child will use forever.