Everyone knows that reading to children is essential. Through books, children learn new words, associate pictures with words, and hear the sounds of their language in use. The best books, however, do more; they launch a child’s imagination, causing them to dream, pretend, and expand their experiences. For every age, there are wonderful selections that are sure to send a child’s imagination soaring.
Ages birth to toddler
Little Cloud, by Eric Carle, is a wonderful picture book (also available as a board book) that tells the story of an independent little cloud who doesn’t follow the crowd. When other clouds drift up, he goes his own way and becomes a sheep, a shark, and a funny clown. Soon he learns the benefits of having friends and joins with his fellow clouds to make it rain. Beautiful sky-blue and white textured collages make this book a visual feast.
Ages 3 to 5
Olu’s Dream, by Shane W. Evans, is a great bedtime book. Olu wants to play past his bedtime, but his father encourages him to use his imagination to fall asleep. This sets Olu and his teddy bear off on amazing dreams beautifully illustrated by the author. From riding on a big blue whale to eating all the pizza he can hold to cruising through space in a rocket, Olu frolics through big adventures, all while staying in his bed.
Ages 4 to 6
A Dark, Dark Cave, by Eric Hoffman, is a fun read-aloud. At the beginning of the story, it seems that the characters are exploring a dark, scary cave, and the exploration is exciting for kids to listen to. But then, the dad lifts the tablecloth and asks the children to be quiet because the baby is sleeping. When the story is done, your kids are bound to want to make their own cave.
Ages 6 to 8
Billy’s Booger, by William Joyce, is a memoir sure to delight any would-be writers. Billy loves to draw and draws on books, his homework, and even math tests. His teachers are not impressed, but the librarian encourages him to create a book with drawings to enter into a contest. This book-within-a-book includes his story about the world’s smartest booger. It also features beautiful art presented in mixed media.
Ages 8 to 12
Wannabe Farms, by comedy writer Brian McCann, will delight animal lovers of all ages. Written in rhyming verse, this story tells of a farm where the animals dream big. From cows who want to drive to pigs who long to be sophisticated, this tale entertains with hysterical adventures, clever wordplay, and hilarious illustrations.
Encourage the children in your life to expand their horizons with some of these entertaining books. As Stephen King says, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
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