Thursday, January 10, 2013

Engaging Picture Books

Photo: Hans Lachmann

Many young children have a hard time sitting through a whole picture book.  They are simply far too busy and active to focus on the story.  This can be especially frustrating for parents and caregivers who want a little book sharing time with their little ones. 

Instead of constantly pausing to correct squirmy and unwanted behavior, one suggestion is to look for books that tap into a child’s need for movement. 
Some books are specifically designed to engage children in acting out the story.  Others are just so infectious that kids can’t help but chant along with a repeated line.  By choosing task-driven books, you will create a book sharing time where “no” and “settle down” are phrases you simply won’t have to use.  At the same time, you will be enforcing the message that books are fun.  

If there is one thing that research shows us, it is that children who have a difficult time learning to read are more motivated to do the hard work and persevere when they see a positive benefit to their efforts!

The librarians at the Washington County Cooperative Library Services encourage you to stop by your library and stock up on a great big stack of fun picture books for sharing!

Here is a list of time-tested books from our librarians that really get kids engaged: 

Movement Books
 (these books are great for kids to act along with)

Ballerina! by Peter Sís. Greenwillow Books (2001).
Can You Growl Like a Bear? by John Butler. Peachtree Publishers (2007).
Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas. Beach Lane Books (2009).
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. HarperCollins (1968).
Clap Your Hands by Lorinda Bryan Cauley. Puffin (1992).
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle. HarperCollins (1997).
Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard. Scholastic Press (2007).
Huff & Puff by Claudia Rueda. Abrams Appleseed (2012).
I Am a Backhoe by Anna Grossnickle Hines. Tricycle Press (2010).
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont (illus. by David Catrow). Harcourt (2005).
If You’re Happy and You Know It by Jane Cabrera. Holiday House (2005).
Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas. Beach Lane Books (2011).
It’s a Tiger by David LaRochelle (illus. by Jeremy Tankard). Chronicle Books (2012).
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraidof Anything by Linda Williams (illus. by Megan Lloyd). HarperCollins (1986).
Tanka Tanka Skunk by Steve Webb. Orchard Books (2003).
Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres (illus. by Nadine Bernard Westcott). Candlewick (2007).
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen (illus. by Helen Oxenbury). Margaret K. McElderry Books (2009).
Wiggle by Doreen Cronin (illus. by Scott Menchin). Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2005).

Repeated Phrase Books
 (these books have repeated phrases that are fun for kids to say along with the reader) 
The Baby Beebee Bird by Diane Redfield Massie (illus. by Steven Kellogg). HarperCollins (2003).
The Baby Goes Beep by Rebecca O’Connell (illus. by Ken Wilson-Max). Roaring Brook Press (2003).
The Big Red Bus by Judy Hindley (illus. by William Benedict). Candlewick (1995).
Cows in the Kitchen by June Crebbin (illus. by Katharine McEwen). Houghton Mifflin (2000).
The Gunniwolf by Wilhelmina Harper. Dutton (1967 & 2003).
Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli. Candlewick (2009).
Little Bunny Foo Foo by Paul Brett Johnson. Scholastic Press (2004).
Overboard! by Sarah Weeks (illus. by Sam Williams). Harcourt (2006)/
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell (illus. by Patrick Benson). Candlewick (1992).
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin (illus. by James Dean). HarperCollins (2010).
The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort (illus. by G. Brian Karas). Henry Holt (2000).
Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler (illus. by S.D. Schindler). Margaret K. McElderry Books (2002).
Smash! Crash! by Jon Scieszka (illus. by David Shannon, Loren Long and David Gordon). Simon & Schuster (2008).
Snip Snap! What’s That? by Mara Bergman (illus. by Nick Maland). Greenwillow Books (2005).
A Soup Opera by Jim Gill (illus. by David Moose). Jim Gill, Inc (2009).
Suddenly by Colin McNaughton. Harcourt (1995).
Uh-Oh! by Rachel Isadora. Harcourt (2008).
Wait! I Want to Tell You a Story by Tom Willans. Simon & Schuster (2005).
Yuck! by Mick Manning (illus. by Brita Granstrom). Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (2011).

Find the Object Books
 (these books have objects hidden in the pictures that are fun for kids to find) 

Hide and Snake by Keith Baker. Harcourt (1991).
Where is That Cat? by Carol Greene. Hyperion Books (1998).

Question & Response Books
 (these books ask questions throughout and it is fun for kids to answer & interact)

Cat’s Colors by Jane Cabrera. Dial Books for Young Readers (1997)
Do Monkeys Tweet? by Melanie Walsh. Houghton Mifflin (1997).
The Doghouse by Jan Thomas. Harcourt (2008).
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems. Hyperion Books (2003).
How Many Cats? by Lauren Thompson (illus. by Robin Eley). Hyperion Books (2009).
Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas. Atheneum Books (2009).
Whose Baby Am I? by John Butler. Viking (2001).

Reader Interaction Books
 (these books require the reader to interact in some way, turning pages and touching stuff)

The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone (illus. by Mike Smollin). Golden Books (1980).
Press Here by Hervé Tullet. Chronicle Books (2011).
There Are Cats In This Book by Viviane Schwarz. Candlewick (2008).
Tickle the Duck! by Ethan Long. Little, Brown & Co (2006).
Tuck Me In by Dean Hacohen (illus. by Sherry Scharschmidt). Candlewick (2010).
We Are In a Book! by Mo Willems. Hyperion Books (2010).


  1. This is of great help. Thank you so much!

  2. Am always looking for books that encourage participation and movement for my itty bitties on the carpet...