Summer Reading!

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Summer reading has its own unique feel. It feels more like an escape than the reading we do during other times of the year. Maybe because, for many of us, summer reading is done outside – on a beach towel, in a tent with a book light, on the deck, next to a lake, on a chair in front of Starbucks. I’m counting the days just thinking about it!

At school, we’ve just completed this summer’s list for our students who range in age from 2 to 14. We use the Bonnie Campbell Hill Reading Continuum to organize our list, beginning with Pre-Conventional Readers and moving to Independent. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll post each section of Inly’s summer reading list. Today – the Pre-Conventional Reader.

–         illustrations provide strong support

–         wide spaces between words

–         few words per page

 Look What I Can Do by Jose Aruego

Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang

Books by Byron Barton

Across the Stream by Mirra Ginsburg

Who Took the Farmer’s Hat? by Joan Nodset

            “Sure to appeal to young children.” (starred review, School Library Journal)

Books by Tana Hoban

–         check out Black & White

Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora

“A toddler greets the day with games of peekaboo in Isadora’s ebullient offering. Rendered in thick, silky pastels, the opening spread introduces an African-American child snuggling in bed, looking straight out of the picture. In the background, the sun beams through the open window, softens the edges of the child’s deep black hair and shines light on his or her face. “Peekaboo! I see…” reads the generously sized, toddler-friendly type. “My mommy” appears on the following page, where the child, on the mother’s lap, exchanges adoring gazes with her. From this point, recto-page illustrations, set into wide blank borders, show the child initiating the game (e.g., the child, peering over the edge of a white surface, cries “Peekaboo! I see…”), and full-bleed pictures opposite complete the act (the child spies Daddy lying on his bed). Elsewhere, visual clues help children predict what happens next. Sitting in a high chair, for instance, the child sees a furry tail sticking out from behind an open door; a puppy appears on the next page. The lustrous organic palette and simple, repetitive text make a cozy combination.” (Publishers Weekly)

Blue Sea by Robert Kalan

“On a deep-blue background, the words ‘blue sea’ appear…and then the first of Crews’s eye-filling paintings….The author and illustrator of Rain have invented another winner.” (Publishers Weekly)

Look at the Animals!  by Peter Linenthal

How Many Baby Pandas? by Sandra Markle

“Science expert Sandra Markle bumps up the cuteness factor in this adorable photo essay featuring the eight panda pairs that were born during a baby boom atChina’s Wolong Giant Panda Breeding andResearchCenterin 2005. Basic counting skills combine with panda facts to introduce readers to numbers and these cuddly cubs, from the moment they were born to the time they started climbing trees. Tracked as they play and grow in captivity, until they are strong enough to be released into the wild, these baby pandas will steal any reader’s heart, whether it’s one at a time or sixteen at once!”  (

A Closer Look by Mary McCarthy

Fire Engine Shapes by Bruce McMillan

Tom and Pippo (many books in the series) by Helen Oxenbury

Moon Glowing by Elizabeth Partridge

White is for Blueberry by George Shannon

“If Georgia O’Keeffe had made a book for young children, it might have looked like this one. Close-ups of natural phenomenon in a vibrant palette combine with strategic pacing to undo the viewer’s preconceptions about color. This creative duo has selected 10 images with which to stage their drama. The minimalist text appears in black ink, except for the words that name the colors; they are enlarged and color-coordinated. Thus, the opening page depicts a black crow, but the text reads, “Pink is for crow….” The page turn reveals a spread showing a nest of newborn birds and the conclusion: “…when it has just hatched from its egg.” In like manner, author and artist pair purple and snow, blue and firelight, yellow and pine trees. The disconnect between the written hue and the initial object, combined with the elliptical construction, allows older children to guess and predict the outcomes and younger ones to be surprised. The bold, uncluttered scenes, rendered in acrylics, have a sweetness and strength that is quite pleasing to the eye. Easy to read and fun to share, this paean to the wonder of cycles and the rewards of close observation is the perfect prelude to a thoughtful excursion.” (School Library Journal)

Tippy-Toe Chick, Go! By George Shannon

“In this inviting tale, the youngest member of a family saves the day. Hen and her offspring make a daily trip to the garden to feast on yummy beans and potato bugs. Little Chick always trails behind, daydreaming, and then quickly runs across the yard to catch up with the others. One day, a loud dog that has been tied to a nearby tree blocks their path. Frightened, Hen is ready to turn around, but her hungry children insist on a confrontation. Big Chick and Middle Chick each take a turn with the barking beast and end up cowering under their mother’s wing. Although her siblings laugh at her, Little Chick demands a chance at defeating the dog, and comes up with a courageous and cunning plan that makes use of her natural speed. Before long, the pooch is neatly tied up and the road to the goodies is clear. Lyrical language, catchy sound effects (“tippy-toe, tippy-toe”), and just the right amount of suspense keep the action moving at a brisk pace. With an interesting mix of dramatic full-page spreads and smaller vignettes, the colorful acrylic paintings pick up on both the humor and the tension of the text. Accentuated by fluid black lines and set against lush green backgrounds, the characters seem to jump right off of the pages.  (School Library Journal)

Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? by Susan Shea

“This standout concept book is engaging, fun, and interactive. It begins by explaining that, “Some things grow/like you and me./Others stay the way/they’re made./Until they crack, or rust,/or fade.” Simple, spare rhyming text flows smoothly with illustrations that follow on pages that include die cuts and flaps; “If a kitten grows,/becomes a cat,/can a cap grow and become… a hat?” The answers are provided at the end. Layers of painted paper collage are done in a brightly colored palette, including end pages with bold paintbrush stripes in primary and secondary colors. White space is creatively used, but the flaps and die cuts steal the show. For example, the spread featuring snakes in saturated black, yellow, and green pops on the white background. A pickup truck grows to be a rig when the flap is opened. The flatbed becomes the trailer enhanced with a pattern that resembles the American flag. Readers will be challenged by the questions and some unusual words for the names of a few baby animals: a kit, an owlet, a kid, and a joey. This clever title begs for multiple readings and will be a favorite in storytimes or in one-on-one settings. Spot-on.” (School Library Journal)

Have You Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tafuri

In this Caldecott Honor winner, a mother duck loses her eighth duckling, and asks the other pond animals for help (though the missing one is never lost, only cleverly concealed in each picture). “Children will giggle as they glimpse the hider, a feature that makes the book a game as well as a story and a series of lovely paintings.”  (Publishers Weekly)

Blue Goose by Nancy Tafuri

What Will Fat Cat Sit On? By Jan Thomas

“Fat Cat’s sheepish grin is the running punch line in this cheerful, boldly designed picture book. Fun to read aloud, it would also make an effective early reader for preschoolers. . . . By the end, the cow, a pig, a dog and a chicken can be thankful to a mouse for providing a nice fat chair.” (New York Times Book Review)

Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla

2011 Pura Belpre Illustrator Honor Book

“Short lines of bouncy, rhyming text describe how several adorable, chubby babies and toddlers participate in their local Hispanic celebration. For instance, “Fiesta Babies march on parade/wearing coronas Mamá has made.” These lines of text stand alone on a page, embellished with the detail of a gaily decorated lamppost that echoes the street scene opposite. The length and rhythm of the text make this book an excellent choice for toddler and preschool storytimes. Córdova once again demonstrates how her award-winning style brilliantly brings an author’s words to life. Her bold acrylic colors and brisk brushstrokes capture the fiesta’s energy and good cheer. The images of sombreros, serapes, and papel picado are firmly rooted in Mexican culture, and the artist shows black, brown, and white babies celebrating this fiesta together. A short glossary explains the Spanish words in a child-friendly context. For example, the definition for beso (kiss) adds that babies often are taught to blow little kisses, or besitos. This is a sweet, simple book, and its simplicity contributes to its excellence as well as its charm.” (School Library Journal)


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