Emotions can be a hard thing to explain for adults. Now imagine being new to the world and having a limited vocabulary. Help your littles identify their feelings and give them the tools to express those feelings with some of these awesome titles!
Tip for Success: when reading stories about social-emotional awareness make sure to validate children's feelings. This is an important part of their development.
Be Who You Are
The New York Times Best Selling author Todd Parr has created a brightly colored, easy to read book that takes on big themes such as individuality and acceptance. This amazing picture book teaches children not only the importance of being themselves, but also embracing the things that make them different. Children are encouraged to do what they like, share their feelings and to try new things!
Tips for success: Ask questions! Whether you are reading to your own child or a class full of children ask their opinion. For example, when the book says be proud of where you're from, ask the children where they are from. Remember, there are no wrong answers.
The Way I Feel
The Way I Feel written and illustrated by Janan Cain covers 12 different feelings. Each feeling comes with a description and an illustration that depicts the feelings perfectly. Some of the emotions discussed in the book include shy, jealous and disappointed which can be difficult for children to understand. Don't worry, the book also covers feelings like thankful and proud!
Tips for success: Let the littles tell you about a time they felt a particular emotion, but do not do it for every emotion in the story. You may lose their interest. Pick a couple of feelings to discuss each time you read the story. If you are reading one on one or with a small group let the children choose which emotion or feeling they would like to discuss.
Fire Up the Imagination
Children are creative! Encourage that creativity by reading some of these stories and taking part in the adventure!
The Advetures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friends
This heartwarming story follows Beekle as he goes on a fantastic journey to the “real” world to find his best friend. This story written and illustrated by Dan Santat is a fun read for adults and children. It allows audiences to see our world in a different perspective. Not to give away spoilers, but it also has a really cute ending!
Tips for success: This book has amazing illustrations. Ask children what they see in the pictures.
After the story, ask your little ones what they think their imaginary friend would look like. There are some illustrations before and after the story that may help jump start the creativity.
Sophie Johnson, Unicorn Expert
Morag Hood & Ella Okstad
Sophie loves unicorns and in turn knows everything about them. She shares her knowledge about unicorns with everyone and anyone. However, Sophie gets so wrapped up she does not notice when a real unicorn wanders into her house. This is a cute and funny store with a lesson hidden in the background.
Tips for success: Let your child interrupt. This is a short and easy to read story. Let your little one ask questions and make observations.
There are moments that may not be funny to children, but funny to adults. Go ahead and laugh! If you are having fun chances are your little one will too!
Snowmen All Year
Caralyn Buehner & Mark Buehner
This sequel to “Snowmen at Christmas” by Caralyn Buehner & Mark Buehner ponders what experiences would a snow person have if they did not melt and could see the seasons. The book explores different holidays and seasons through beautiful illustrations. It is a great story for calming down your little one.
Tips for success: Ask your little ones if they have had similar experiences or what their favorite activities are throughout the year.
Even Monsters Need Haircuts
This book may not be a good fit for everyone. The concept of monsters can be a little intense for little ones. That being said, this is a funny story that takes place at your average barber shop. The only difference is the barber is a little kid, the customers are mythical figures and creatures, oh and the barber shop is only open in the evening.
Tips for success: If your little one is on the fence or unsure about monsters use the book as a why to show them the funny side of creatures and take away the stigma of “monsters”.
Lets Get Loud & Move Around!
In the words of J. Lo, "Let's get loud"! Okay, okay. Maybe not loud but lets at least warm up our vocal chords and move our bodies with these interactive stories!
Wendell the Narwhal
As you can tell this is a much loved and read book! It is beautifully illustrated and written. Wendell is a little Narwhal who wants nothing more than to make beautiful music. Join him under the sea is he goes on a musical journey of self discovery!
Tips for Success: As you meet new characters do and remember their sound effects with your little ones. It will make for a super fun finale!
Sometimes I Like to Curl Up In A Ball
Vicki Churchill & Charles Fuge
This amazing picture book is not only a short and easy read, but it also gives the audience an opportunity to move around in creative ways. The illustrations are also adorable! The main character is super snuggable!
Tips for success: Move around with your little ones! If you're participating and having fun chances are they will stay fully engaged.
Warning! There is a part of the story that encourages shouting. Think about your current location. If your neighbors won't appreciate yelling kiddos modify the story or get creative. Example: Can you whisper yell?
Count the Monkeys
Mac Barnett & Kevin Cornell
Now this book is a wild adventure! Head out on a journey to count the monkeys. You won't regret it, even when you run into cobras, bee keepers, and bears! Oh my! This story is great for children who need to move around and get the wiggles out.
Tips for success: Don't be afraid to look or sound silly. Being silly is part of the fun!
If you have access to an animal puppet make them your guide as you trek through the jungle.
Mythical & Not So Mythical Animals
Who hasn't dreamed of riding a pegasus, swimming along side dolphins, or making friends with all the animals in the rainforest? Here are some of our favorite books featuring animals.
Diary of a Wombat
Jackie French & Bruce Whatley
Fair warning, this book may cause your children and yourself to want a wombat. This adorable and hilarious picture by, written by Jackie French and illustrated by Bruce Whatley, will have you giggling! Meet Wombat, who has a daily schedule that is interrupted when they meet their new neighbors. The neighbors are human and have things Wombat has never seen. Hilarity ensues!
Tips for success: Have fun and laugh! Feel free to also check out the other books in the Wombat series!
Giraffes Can't Dance
Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees
This story is a classroom favorite that touches my heart! In this story you meet Gerald, a good hearted, somewhat clumsy giraffe. At the annual Jungle Dance the other animals make fun of Gerald before he even begins his dance. Join Gerald as he learns how to embrace what makes him special! Giraffes Can’t Dance offers a great example of how to believe in yourself and how dancing to your own rhythm is a fabulous thing!
Tips for success: This book can be a great way to have your little ones get their wiggles out. Give them the chance to show you their favorite moves!
This story is a great time to remind your little ones of how amazing they are and the importance of believing in themselves along with being kind to others. Do not shy away from how the characters picked on Gerald. Use it as a chance to discuss how they could have helped encourage Gerald.
If I Had a Gryphon
Vikki Vansickle & Cale Atkison
If I Had A Gryphon is the perfect book to introduce mythical creatures to your little one. If you like far away lands and magical beings you will love this story! Follow along as the main character contemplates the pros and cons of having a magical pet such as a unicorn, hippogriff, of course a gryphon and others.
Tips for success: Ask your little ones open ended questions (questions they can’t answer with a yes or no) when going through the mythical creatures. Example: Where would you go if you had a pet that could fly?
The Great Fuzz Frenzy
Janet Stevens & Susan Stevens Crummel
If you love reading aloud, this is the book for you! A round object covered in fuzz falls down a tunnel and lands right in the middle of a prairie dog community. This picture book has a little bit of everything. Drama, hilarity, character arches, and an important life lesson. The characters and playful wording make this a fun read. The detailed illustrations make readers feel like they are down underground along with the prairie dogs. You won’t regret picking this one off the shelf!
Tips for success: This book can be a bit long for some audiences. To help everyone stay engaged create character voices and sound effects. Make your voice match the pace of the story. For example, if characters are moving around quickly, read in a rushed tone.
The Power of Friendship
Everyone needs friends. The beautiful thing about people is that we are all different. These differences is what makes friendships truly magical! Here is a list of books all about overcoming hurdles and the power of friendship.
Nugget & Fang: Friends Forever- or Snack Time?
Tammi Sauer & Michael Slack
Nugget and Fang are the best of friends who love to do everything together. Things begin to change when it is time for Nugget to go to school. The new environment makes Nugget, who happens to be a minnow, question whether or not a minnow and a shark can be friends. If you are asking yourself why that matters, then I probably forgot to mention that Fang is a shark. Join these two best friends under the sea for a deep sea adventure and a story about friendship, diversity and the beauty of differences.
Tips for success: There are some awesome and sassy characters in this story. Try to do voices for each character. Don’t worry about sounding silly or your “performance”. Kids are a great audience and they will love whatever you do!
To the Sea
Meet Tim and Sam, two unlikely friends from two completely different worlds. This story shows the power of friendship as Tim helps his new friend find his way back home. This short story touches upon a lot of topics including loneliness, creative problem solving and perseverance.
Tips for success: Let this story inspire a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) activity! Think of a problem and come up with possible solutions by drawing them out just like Tim.
This story is a great opportunity to discuss how your little one can help others.
Steering Towards the Land of Nod
Nap and bedtime can be hard transition for children and grown ups. Here are some recommendations for stories that will help your children feel safe, cozy, and ready for dream land. For nap/bed time tips, tricks, and magic check out our article, "Reading: The Magic Bedtime Spell"
Bedtime for Baby Shark
Illustrated by John John Bajet
If you spend any time around children chances are you know the song Baby Shark. Whether or not you are a fan of the song, if your little is a fan, this book is essential. This picture book from Scholastic walks the reader through a great bedtime routine. This story can be read out loud or better yet sang (obviously to the tune of Baby Shark).
Tips for Success: Definitely learn and use the Baby Shark Bedtime Dance that is in the back of the book. It will help get the wiggles out before nap or bedtime.
Since this is a bedtime story, try reading or singing in a soft and calm voice.
Bedtime for Yeti
Yeti has had a fun filled day with his favorite stuffed animal. As Yeti embarks on his bedtime routine he notices his bestie is nowhere to be found! What is a yeti to do? Join Yeti on an adventure to find his best friend as he gets ready for bed and faces his fears!
Tips for Success: Get cozy in some blankets just like Yeti. Feel free to let your little one join in on the sound effects to get out some wiggles and noises before bed.
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
Sherri Duskey Rinker & Tom Lichtenheld
This New York Times Bestseller is probably not a surprise to anyone reading this list. This sleepy time favorite follows a hard working group of construction vehicles as they end their work day and get ready to rest for the night.
Tips for success: Yawn and stretch along with the construction vehicles. Did you know yawning is contagious?
Margaret Wise Brown & Clement Hurd
This classic children's story has been read by parents, teachers, grandparents, care givers and celebrities. The illustrations by Clement Hurd or peaceful and calm and partners perfectly with the story written by Margaret Wise Brown.
Tips for Success: If your little audience prefers stories with participation let them say "goodnight" to the items in the illustration and items around their own room or your reading space.
Eileen Spinelli & Rosie Winstead
This beautifully illustrated book written by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Rosie Winstead may not be an obvious choice for a nap/bedtime book, but has been one of Jenn's nap time books over 5 years and has been super successful!
This story follows the main character as she thinks about future adventures, careers, and destinations. It is a fun and whimsical journey.
Tips for success: When the main character finds her way to the desert (sorry for the spoiler) start to soften your voice.
Time to Rhyme
Rhyming is not only fun, but it is also a part of part of phonological awareness. Here are some rhyming reads to share to support your child's reading needs!
The Snatchabook- Who's stealing all the stories?
Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty
Come and visit Burrow Down, a book loving community, where bedtime stories are read every night. Every night until books start going missing! This is a fun, kid friendly “who done it” with a magical twist. The rhyming language helps to move the story along without becoming a tongue twister. Helen and Thomas Docherty tell a fun story with a great lesson about forgiveness, bravery and doing the right thing.
Tips for success: This book can be used as a bedtime or nap time story.
There are a lot of amazing illustrations in this book. If you are reading one on one or with a small group let your little ones explore the pictures and tell you what they see.
The Circus Ship
Chris Van Dusen
This beautifully illustrated and rhyming picture book was inspired by a real life event! I can say from personal experience that it is a great read and always popular. This has been a classroom favorite for years! After a boat accident, the circus animals find their way to a small town off the coast of Maine. As you can imagine, the townspeople were shocked and a bit scared. Then again, wouldn’t you be if there was a tiger exploring your tulip garden? Hilarity, compassion and friendship ensues.
Tips for success: If your kids are a bit older, let them guess what the next rhyming words will be in the story.
Spoiler! There is a part of the story where the animals hide. Take time to find all of the animals. Believe it or not, your children may want to find the animals every time you read the books.