Picture Book Month -- New Read-Alouds

November is Picture Book Month. Let's celebrate by highlighting some recent titles that are recommended for reading aloud. These have been tested on a "live studio audience" -- at a library preschool storytime!

You can count on Amy Krouse Rosenthal for clever, original concepts. (See Little Pea, in which a vegetable balks at eating candy.) Her latest, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, is called Friendshape: an Uplifting Celebration of Friendship. Four good buddies tell the tale: a yellow square, a green triangle, a red rectangle and a blue circle. By manipulating their positions and adding facial expressions, Rosenthal and Lichtenheld express simple truths about friendship, such as "Friends may quarrel... (angry faces and wavy lines) but they don't stay bent out of shape for long (back to normal)."

The next title reminds me of one of my favorites from the 1980's: Who Took the Farmer's Hat? by Joan Lexau. In Finders Keepers by Keiko Kasza, Squirrel leaves his hat to mark the spot he has buried a nut. But the wind blows it to a bird who thinks it's a nest, an ant who thinks it is a boat, and so on. The cheerful colored pencil and pastel illustrations are charming. What appealed to my "studio audience" was the chance to call out "Finders Keepers!" each time the hat changed hands.

Don't read this next one aloud unless you are prepared to really ham it up: I Will Chomp You! by Jory John with pictures by Bob Shea. It falls into the category of "metafiction," where the book is "aware" that it is a book. The narrator, a monster with a big blue head, addresses the reader directly, starting out by saying, "If you turn any more pages... I WILL CHOMP YOU, BUSTER!" After several failed attempts, he finally confesses that he was trying to scare you off so you wouldn't eat the cakes he has hidden in the back of the book. Silliness, indeed, but fun to act out.

Reading with your child is the single most important way to get them ready to read. And it's a blast! Find some picture books and get started with your own November celebration.

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