One amazing benefit of reading aloud to your your child/students is the opportunity to share other cultures and perspectives with them. And Norma Simon’s book All Kinds of Children is a terrific resource to help young children understand that people around the world (and in our own communities) have differences… but also similarities that tie us together.
All Kinds of Children has straightforward and engaging text that explains that all children have similar needs – such as eating and sleeping – and how those needs are fulfilled in many ways from family to family or from country to country. There are also phrases such as “all children” and “just like you” that helps young readers grasp that despite those cultural and regional differences, children everywhere have many similarities. The illustrations are colorful and clear, featuring children and people of many nationalities and races.
My daughters and I have read this book over and over again. We have fun comparing foods, clothes, activities and more to what we see in the book and our own lives. This has initiated conversations surrounding diversity and respect for differences while being able to uphold our family’s faith values (although the book itself is not faith-based). With a background in education, I also appreciated that the section on families included step-parents and foster parents because many children have these adult family members.
If you have other recommended books to help young children gain understanding and respect of other people, please share in the comments. 🙂
Best Ages: pre-k – 1st grade
- As you read through All Kinds of Children, ask your child to point at the foods, houses, beds, means of transportation that your family uses. Which ones in the illustrations would your child be interested in trying?
- Have your child fill in an “All About Me” printable using this free one or creating your own. For children who cannot independently write, ask them the questions and then fill in the paper. Allow your child to color or draw a picture when you’re done.
- Prior to reading the book aloud, brainstorm with your students what types of things they think children all over the world do every day. Write the ideas on an easel pad or the whiteboard.
- After reading the book together, review the ideas your class had about what “all kinds of children” do around the world. Which ones were seen in the book? Were there any that your class thought of that were not included?
- Make copies of a printable “All About Me” – such as this free one or this one for purchase for $1 on Teachers Pay Teachers – and then display on a bulletin board or around the room. Or simply have students write about themselves in their daily notebooks and draw an accompanying picture.
When I had my first daughter, I was scared to check out paper books at the library because I was afraid she would destroy them. After all, she once ate part of a student’s paper while I was multi-tasking and turned my back to the stack of graded papers on the table! So for a long time, I only checked out board books. In the process, I’ve found lots of fantastic board books to recommend.
Here is a list of 5 interactive board books that allow curious, active and energetic babies to engage with learning and reading without damaging the book. For those of you with babies/toddlers who have difficulty settling down to listen to you read aloud, these are a good starting place to get your child interested.
Best Ages: 0-3 years
- What Noise Does a Cow Make? by Nick Ackland
Children learn the noises that farm animals make with fun pull-outs on each page. Colorful and cute!
2. Bizzy Bear Zookeeper by Benji Davies
Follow Bizzy Bear around the zoo as he takes care of the animals. My preschooler and two-year old both loved the unique finger-shaped levers and slides provide fun for young children.
3. Whose Truck? by Toni Buzzeo
This is a wonderful rhyming book with page pull-outs that has some unusual trucks. I definitely recommend this book for any child who is interested in trucks or vehicles and even recommend it for older preschoolers.
4. Rhymoceros by Janik Coat
What a creative idea to use a rhino on each page to illustrate the rhyming words in this book! Many of the illustrations are touch-and-feel. My kids love the “gold” page, while I’m torn between loving “moss” and “quilted” the best. Very unique!
5. Vehicles by Xavier Deneux
Since first stumbling across these books at the library over 3 years ago, I have enjoyed the Touch Think Learn board books. My two-year old loves this particular book in the series, and I like the text. It names each vehicle and words and verbs associated with that vehicle.
I had a college roommate who spent much of her growing-up years in Thailand and I have relative and friends who have traveled there. After hearing about Thai culture from several people over the last decade, I was excited when I found a picture book at our library to explore Thai culture with my children.
Peek! A Thai Hide-and-Seek by Minfong Ho has rhyming text and adorable pictures. My daughters loved finding the little girl in each picture, who is playing hide-and-seek with her father. They also liked the animals that appeared on each page as part of the storyline. The illustrations showed vegetation and architecture that is native to Thailand.
I really liked being able to show my children a little bit of another culture while at the same time emphasizing the similarities among children around the world, who all love to play!
Best Ages: pre-k – kindergarten
- Point out the Thai text on the inside covers of the book. Ask your child if it looks similar or different from the English text in the story. What do they notice about each type of writing?
- Many animals appear in this peek-a-boo book that are native to Thailand. Elephants are especially prominent in Thai culture. Play this children’s song in Thai (only a minute and a half long) featuring an elephant.
- Print out and color one of these free elephant coloring pages.
- Find Thailand on a map or globe together. Explain that Thailand is located on the continent of Asia and the weather is warm and tropical there. There are also many different types of animals that live in Thailand!
- Check out these websites as a whole group or during computer lab time to learn more about Thailand: National Geographic Kids and TIME for Kids.
- Elephants are especially prominent in Thai culture. Play this children’s song in Thai (only a minute and a half long) featuring an elephant.
- Print out and color one of these free elephant coloring pages.
Yesterday’s sermon at church encouraged our congregation to consider Christ in the midst of what can be a whirlwind Christmas season. The message resonated with me because I do love Christmastime, with beautiful decorations everywhere and wonderful time spent with family and friends, and I can get caught up in the activities and put the meaning on the back burner. So this was a well-timed reminder to continue to be intentional about the true message of Christmas and to delight in the Lord as we celebrate Advent and count down to December 25.
For those of you who are also looking for ways to keep the birth of Jesus at the center of your holiday celebrations, I highly recommend the book The First Noel: A Child’s Book of Christmas Carols to Play and Sing, published by DK Publishing. It has beautiful, exquisite artwork on each page from deceased and living artists. The music arranged by Lesley Applebee and Nigel Thomas is excellent for singing reference and instrumental accompaniment. The lyrics for each carol or hymn are printed on the page.
All in all, this is an elegant yet accessible book for children and adults. Many of the songs are well-known favorites, but there were a few new ones for me!
I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas season, and may the peace and joy of the Lord shine brightly in your hearts and homes.
Best Ages: pre-k and up
It’s important to expose our children to non-fiction, at home or in the classroom. I found a fabulous one for this time of year at our public library: Let’s Look at Winter by Sarah L. Schuette. The book explains the weather patterns of winter and how animals and plants go through changes in this cold season.
My preschooler liked reading this book multiple times and we were able to discuss our own observations of winter – both from memory and in light of the current and increasingly cold weather here in the midwest!
This book would be a great read-aloud for young children and an excellent read-to-self book for emergent readers. And it could be easily integrated with a science lesson or unit on climate, weather or seasons.
Check out my previous post, Animal Hibernation, for more winter learning fun.
Best Ages: pre-k – 2nd grade
- With your child, take out family pictures from last winter. While you look at them together, talk about the activities you did together.
- For young children, print out and play with this free warm weather/cold weather clothing sort from Teachers Pay Teachers.
- If possible where you live, find some time to play outside in the snow together 🙂
- During calendar or circle time, discuss the 4 seasons. Ask students to describe the weather in each season.
- Prior to reading the book, take out a box of clothing and ask students to sort the clothes for warm weather and cold weather as a whole class. Then show students the cover of the book and ask which collection of clothes the characters in the book should wear to stay healthy and safe.
- Set up learning station with activities for winter. Include this warm weather/cold weather clothing sort or these Snow Much Fun Task Cards, both free at Teachers Pay Teachers.
- During recess or free time, have students complete a relay race. Set piles of winter clothing at one end of the gym and then instruct students to run across the room and put on one item at a time, then give to the next person in line, until all the winter clothes are worn by one team member.
There are tons of book out there for young readers on the topic of cars, boats, trucks and construction equipment. My daughters really love reading these books aloud together and I wanted to recommend 4 of the transportation books we have recently read:
Little Tug by Stephen Savage
Four ships befriend one another and help each other as they go about their work in the harbor. Cute illustrations that remind me of the style in classic children’s books from the 1940s and 1950s.
To the Rescue! by Kate Riggs
Simple text with brightly colored illustrations. Great for children or babies who don’t like to sit still for a lengthy read-aloud. 😉
Best Ages: 0-3 years
I Am a Backhoe by Anna Grossnickle Hines
The perfect book for any children with imagination! A boy pretends to be various large trucks as he plays.
My Car by Byron Barton
Our children’s librarian frequently reads aloud books by author/illustrator Byron Barton. This is probably my favorite and my girls enjoy reading it aloud over and over. Wonderful descriptions of how people use a car.
Best Ages: pre-k – kindergarten
I was so happy to find a book that really seems to make a difference! One Tree by Leslie Bockol may look similar to other board books out there, but in addition to being printed on 98% recycled materials using soy-based ink, the book contains a sizable amount of text that makes it appropriate for preschool readers.
My preschool daughter asked me to re-read this book many times when we borrowed it from the library. She learned how a tree changes over the seasons, how it provides shelter and food for animals and how one of its seeds turns into a sapling over many years.
There are terrific notes in the back on the topics of “How do Trees Affect Us?” and “Save the Trees!” This is a great springboard for discussions on ecology, environmentalism and conservation with a preschooler.
Out of curiosity, I searched a bit and found that the publisher’s website has more green books, puzzles, games and more! These could make great gifts for birthdays, baby showers or Christmas for environmentally-friendly shoppers.
Happy reading 🙂
Best Ages: 0-4 years old