Ever feel intimidated by selecting a book for your bookworm? Find yourself wandering aimlessly through the library? Wish you had a tour guide who had tested those books with REAL kids?
You’ve come to the right place! In this 26 part series (ahh!), I’ll be sharing only the very best titles that I’ve found to be winners with my own children and my students. I’ll be walking you through each shelf of the picture book section with my skilled eye & ears. Get ready to find some new gems for your bookworms!
This series was inspired by my own dream to systematically explore the entire library with my bookworms. (Am I a library geek or what?!) I want to expose them to the canon of children’s literature, including exciting new titles along with tried & true classics. I figured that you, my dear readers, might like to come along for the ride! Someone outside of our home ought to benefit from my OCD. 😉 So, let’s start at the beginning! I’ll be sharing picture books and early reader books most likely found in your library’s “Easy” and “Easy Reader” sections.
For a printable version to take to your library or bookstore, click here.
Amazing Authors from the “A” Section
Alexander, Kwame. (Toddler, Preschool, Early Elementary, Mid Elementary) Winner of the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Honor for his chapter book told in verse, The Crossover, Alexander’s picture book offerings are fun and funny. I’m anxiously awaiting the release of his newest poetry book, Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures, created with a National Geographic photographer.
Surf’s Up celebrates the power of imagination and the draw of a good book; two brothers have different ideas of how to spend the day at the beach– both up for adventure, though one on the pages of a book, and one in the waves. As the bookworm brother shows his range of emotions while reading (gasping, cheering), surfer brother gets drawn in by the power of a good story. This one was featured in my recent Loving These Lately post.
Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band is full of word play beside a story of a musical rooster who has dreams of winning the barnyard talent show. Told in rhyme, the story is a fun one to read aloud. It also includes a glossary of musical terms, jazz history timeline, and explanation of the puns found in the text, i.e. Bee Holiday, Ella Finchgerald, Mules Davis, Duck Ellington. Don’t you love a book that goes over your kids’ heads without them ever noticing?
Asch, Frank. (Toddler, Preschool, Early Elementary) Each year I used to read my kindergarteners Ziggy Piggy & the Three Little Pigs as an introduction to the “fractured fairy tale” genre (a twist on the traditional tales). The kids adored it, and now my Preschool Bookworm does as well. This version includes the classic elements of repetition (“I’ll huff and I’ll puff”) and an extended, surprise ending thanks to the FOURTH little pig, Ziggy. Happy Birthday, Big Bad Wolf has become another favorite of both my bookworms.During our “A” Shelf Immersion, Preschool Bookworm has requested the Moonbear and Baby Bear series books constantly. Our favorites are Pizza, which chronicles Baby Bear’s obsession with the cheesey deliciousness after his very first trip to a pizza parlor; and, Moondance, which inspired Preschool Bookworm to dance with the fog one morning! Adorbs.
Agee, Jon. (limited Preschool/Early Elementary, more Mid Elementary) In the library world, Agee gets a lot of praise and starred reviews (heck, even Maurice Sendak famed author of Where the Wild Things Are has praised his work, calling My Rhinoceros a “genuine masterpiece”). I’ve found a fair share of Agee’s work too droll for my tastes, and my preschooler didn’t make it through many of his titles. BUT, If you have an older reader who enjoys a quirky sense of humor and word play, he is definitely worth looking for.
For younger readers (Preschool-K), look for Orangutan Tongs: Poems to Tickle Your Tongue (my husband and I had some great laughs from this one, which was wholly entertaining for the kids) and It’s Only Stanley, the two titles my Preschool Bookworm greatly enjoyed! The Retired Kid is fun for the early/mid elementary crowd.
Angelberger, Tom. (Toddler, Preschool) McToad Mows Tiny Island. Angelberger is the author of the popular Origami Yoda series of middle grade chapter books (which have surprisingly more meat to them than their titles and covers suggest! A nice series!). McToad is fun! It’s subtitled “A Transportation Tale” and incorporates nine pieces of machinery to accomplish McToad’s weekly job of mowing the grass on “Tiny Island” (a job that could more easily be accomplished with scissors)! Hysterical. And a clever way to appeal to transportation loving bookworms! Also featured in my Loving These Lately post.
Ayelsworth, Jim. (Preschool, Early Elementary) A prolific author who has collaborated with many heavy-hitting illustrators as well. Our favorite Aylesworth tale is The Full Belly Bowl; part folktale, part cautionary tale, it explores kindness, gratitude, greed, and contentment. There are MANY excellent titles from Aylesworth, including retellings of classic folktales like The Gingerbread Man, The Mitten, and My Grandfather’s Coat. These are wonderful to pair with multiple versions of these tales (they abound!) for comparison/contrast. Ayesworth is a good starting point for these studies.
Auch, Mary Jane and Herm. (Early-Mid Elementary) These hilarious stories are full of word play: The Plot Chickens, Chickerella, Poultrygeist, Souperchicken, The Princess and the Pizza and more. Older readers will understand the puns while younger readers will enjoy the exciting plots.
Allard, Harry. (Early Elementary) I can remember reading Miss Nelson is Missing when I was in elementary school. The series continues to be a favorite among the early elementary crowd, almost 40 years after its publication (it was already old when I enjoyed it! lol. I’m not quite there yet!!). My kindergarten students used to adore these, and I equally loved their reaction when reading the surprise ending!
Alborough, Jez. (Toddler, Preschool, Early Elementary) Hug, Tall, Duck in the Truck and Fix-It Duck are our faves! I’ve shared Alborough’s books with many toddlers, and they are all interested in the bright illustrations and simple stories. Preschool Bookworm is able to understand the plot of the “Duck” books whereas the toddlers usually enjoy pointing out the animals and the bright red truck within the illustrations. For Preschool Bookworm, I enjoy that the plots work on cause-effect relationships and lend nicely to making predictions of what will happen next due to clumsy, clueless Duck’s bright ideas.
Arnold, Tedd. (Preschool, Early Elementary/Early Reader) Although the “Fly Guy” series has won the Geisel Award and is intended for early readers, my preschooler loves these tales of Buzz and his pet fly. Arnold has a knack for the type of humor 3-7 year olds love. The sixteenth Fly Guy book was released in the Fall of 2016. A spin-off series brings nonfiction to the Early Reader level, with “Fly Guy Presents…” tackling high interest topics: dinosaurs, sharks, space, fire fighters, insects, bats, and The White House. Before Fly Guy, Tedd Arnold was most famous for Parts, a crazy, punny story geared for the mid-elementary school reader.
Adler, David A. (Early Elementary/Early Reader) Adler is a prolific author with several extensive series that are classics to the early reader/beginning chapter book genre: Cam Jansen, Young Cam Jansen, Jeffrey Bones, and Andy Russell. He has authored dozens of additional picture books and chapter books spanning the early elementary years, in both fiction, nonfiction, and biography. He’s a terrific author to get to know because your child can grow with him for years! Most recently, his book Don’t Throw It To Mo was awarded the 2016 Geisel (Dr. Seuss) Award!
Antony, Steve. (Toddler, Preschool) From September’s Loving These Lately post: Please, Mr. Panda— A subtle book about manners and colors. Mr. Panda offers donuts to a variety of animals, but only the one who asks politely receives a sweet reward. The artwork is simple, in the best possible way. We’ve enjoyed the follow up title for many of the same reasons: I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda.
Andreae, Giles. (Todder, Preschool, Early Elementary) From March’s Loving These Lately post: Giraffes Can’t Dance— Baby Bookworm, Preschool Bookworm, and I love this book in equal parts. Baby Bookworm loves the illustrations and sits contentedly staring at the bright, energetic pictures independently for over 45 seconds at a time. (Whoa.) Preschool Bookworm adores the dancing scenes. And I want to put the book’s message on repeat: although our moves might not look like everyone else’s, we all can dance when we find our tune.
Also look for classics from Verna Aardema, Karen Ackerman, Allan & Janet Ahlberg, Aliki, Hans Christian Andersen, and Anno. I’ve included classic titles on my printable booklist found here.
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Books mentioned in this post should be readily available at your library, or at the affiliate links provided. Thanks for supporting the blog if you choose to purchase!