Lately, I have come across some entertaining books about books. Some celebrate the importance and love of reading while others challenge us to think about books as an art form. Each selection is a fun way to begin a new school year or to share during story time at home.
We Are in a Book! (ages 3-8) by Mo Willems
The two protagonists (an elephant and a pig) know they are in a book. Then, they realize that someone is looking at them: The Reader! The duo is thrilled that they are being read, so they begin to interact with their audience. We Are in a Book! is a perfect opportunity to discuss audience and parts of a story—characters, plot, conflict—with even the youngest readers. Early readers will enjoy reading this book on their own. Older children may create their own interactive books.
It’s a Book (ages 7 and up) by Lane Smith
There are three characters: A mouse, a monkey, and a jackass (donkey). The jackass and the monkey carry on a witty (and thoughtful) conversation about the book the monkey is reading. The jackass tries to understand the concept of a book using the contemporary digital framework the younger generation is growing up with. He wants to know such things as: Do you blog with it? How do you scroll down? Where is the mouse? When the monkey reads a short passage to him, the jackass does some revising—text message style. The ending (which I won’t reveal) gave me a hearty chuckle. There are some fun puns, which is an opportunity to explore multiple word meanings. Even though It’s a Book is a simple story with straightforward vocabulary, it is an ideal introduction in to a discussion about how the digital age has changed how we get information and view the world. This book delights me every time I read it. That being said, I’d advise parents to read it first. Older children and adults will understand the humor and the complexity best.
Dog Loves Books (ages 4-9) by Louise Yates
Dog loves everything about books—their smell, their feel, their stories. He loves them so much that he decides to open up a book store to share his passion with others. He carefully makes all the preparations. At first though, no one shows up who is interested in books. To pass the time, Dog does what he loves best—read. After a while, people begin to come to the store where Dog’s love of books is infectious. This story is sweet not only because it celebrates books and reading, but also because it exemplifies that a person should not give up on his dreams. Dog was persistent even when things were less than ideal. Children can talk about being persistent even when there are obstacles.
The Wonderful Book (ages 2-7) by Leonid Gore
A rabbit finds an object in the forest that he uses as a cozy little house until…a big grumpy bear comes along. The bear uses the object as a hat. He happily struts around with it on his head…until he stops for a snack and sets it down on the ground. A family of mice finds it and makes it a table for their dinner. This pattern continues as other animals come along until a boy finds it (a book) and begins to read it out loud. All the animals soon gather around to listen to their “story” being recited for them. Everyone agrees, “It’s a wonderful book.” This narrative is a fun opportunity to predict outcomes and consider how each person has his own story. Students can be prompted to write a narrative from their lives and share these “wonderful” stories with their classmates.