October 04, 2006

PreK Books, Anyone?

I'm thinking about preschoolers...

Now, there's a topic which doesn't often get broached on Writing YA, but preKindergarteners are young adults... just very, very, very wee ones. I have the opportunity to support a nonprofit Early Childhood Education Center by buying books for these wee young adults, ages 2 - 4! Buying books is my absolute favorite thing to do, and this Center, which serves low-income families, some of whom are non-English speaking or developmentally delayed, has a small operating budget and a bigger wishlist, as so many schools do. Now, here's where you come in -- I need help with some titles to pick up and research! Because the Center has purged itself of commercially related books (no Elmo, nor Clifford, nor any licensed character who has a doll, cartoon, video, or TV series, in other words), and is concentrating on multicultural books, including those about Earth Sciences, Social Studies, Physical Sciences, Numbers and Colors -- all those good things kids need to help them get a grip on the world, this is going to take a little more research on my part.

If the Librarians Fabulosas and others have any thoughts on this, please reply -- I'm making a list and already have: And Here's to You, David Elliot, Candlewick Press; The Big Orange Splot, and a couple of others which have impressed me... but I don't really know from PreK, so any input welcome!

14 comments:

Tockla said...

If you are looking for multicultural picturebooks, there a few publishers I can suggest (and I must admit, I worked at both of them, so am not dispassionate). Children's Book Press produces fabulous multicultural books, with a focus on bilingual books. (http://www.childrensbookpress.org/).

Some of my favorites are the poetry books by Francisco Alarcon: From the Bellybutton of the Moon, Laughing Tomatoes, etc. Carmen Lomas Garza's Family Pictures and In My Family are both wonderful - set on the border between Texas and Mexico, really luminous and detailed illustrations give insights into ordinary details of life. Home of Medicine Mountain is another that I loved - Native American story, based on the author's father's experience, of running away from a boarding school. Oh, and What's the Most Beautiful Thing You Know about Horses is great fun, and hard to classify.

Lee & Low also produce an excellent selection of multicultural picture books (http://www.leeandlow.com/). DeShawn Days (one of my first editorial acquisitions) is a poetry book about a boy living in the projects, which I think really captures a child's voice looking at his world. But their books are generally a good bet.

Happy selecting - it sounds like a great job!
-Laura

Tockla said...

I guess I should add, some of these books may be a bit older than what you're looking for. But the poetry ones can work especially well for the wee, wee, ones...

a. fortis said...

Two wee-book authors I always liked--and only thought about because we have a wee nephew--are Eric Carle (The Very Busy Spider, and one with chameleons whose title I can't remember offhand), and Richard Scarry. Neither is specifically multicultural--Richard Scarry's books are populated by animals--but Carle's books are good for teaching objects and colors, and Scarry has some that are educational as well.

Grace Lin has a great picture book about Dim Sum that we also got our nephew (since he's a quarter Chinese). And Rob says he used to love Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Pooja said...

A new book you might want to check out: My Mother's Sari by Sandhya Rao and illustrated by Nina Sabnani. I like the collage illustrations very much; the text could have used a bit more. All in all, however, a good book for the youngest readers and as Kirkus said in their review, "[R]eaders whose mothers wear saris will find something familiar here and identify with the youngsters pictured, while others may find their interest piqued."

Jen Robinson said...

This is a bit outside of my reading area, too, but young friends of mine have really loved Duck and Goose by Tad Hills and pretty much anything by Doreen Cronin or Mo Willems. Not sure how multi-cultural those are, but they are sure to be hits.

RM1(SS) (ret) said...

Jamberry, by Bruce Degen, is a great book.

I also recommend several of Sandra Boynton's books, such as But Not the Hippopotamus, The Going to Bed Book and Moo, Baa, La-La-La.

My daughters loved all of these. (And so did my wife and I.)

TadMack said...

Thanks, much, you guys!
I love, love, LOVE Lee & Low, but I did find they are a bit older, which is too bad. I did, however, get some book suggestions from a Quaker booklist. The things you find out that exist! :)

Susan Thomsen said...

Oh, what fun. To be able to buy books for the little ones! Let me know if you need help. The local Goodwill is a great source of kids' books, and I enjoy searching for titles.

Here are some suggestions:
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin, Jr.; Corduroy, by Don Freeman; The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf, Here Comes Mother Goose, edited by Iona Opie (illustrations by Rosemary Wells); Freight Train, by Donald Crews; Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina; all titles by Ezra Jack Keats, especially The Snowy Day; Red Riding Hood, by James Marshall; Dinner at the Panda Palace, by Stephanie Calmenson; The Hello Goodbye Window, by Norton Juster; The Owl and the Pussy Cat, by Lear (illustrations by Jan Brett); The Little Red Hen, by Paul Galdone; Sam and the Tigers, by Julius Lester; Spicy Hot Colors, by Sherry Shahan (Spanish/English); Horace, by Holly Keller; and the Curious George books, by Margret and H.A. Rey.

Elaine M. said...

Here is a link to a list of great books for reading aloud with young children. I compiled the list while I was working as an elementary school librarian. Unfortunately, the list hasn't been updated in a couple of years--but I think most of the books are still in print.
http://www.marblehead.com/staff/
emagliar/preschoolers.htm

TadMack said...

I'm still checking this list periodically, and grateful for all the help I can get. Thanks much!

Little Willow said...

People by Peter Spier

Black is Brown is Tan by Arnold Adoff and Emily Arnold McCully

TadMack said...

Pooja, I just found out one of the teachers at this school is from Bangladesh! She has brought her sari to class before, so My Mother's Sari will be a fun tie-in.

Black is Brown and Tan sounds really interesting - I want to check that out!

Sallie Lowenstein said...

Hi,There are a number of wonderful multicultural independent publishers: Cinco Puntos, Heryin Books, The Children's Book Press, Pumpkin House (Russian books)and Exit Studio (Taino Indians of Puerto Rico). But don't forget some classic pre-k books that are just amazing, though notnecessarily multi- cultural: Round Trip and The Trek (both by Jonas); Peek-a-Boo by the Ahlbergs; Northern Lullaby (the Dillons), Piggies (the Woods): Gobble Growl and Grunt (OP) by Peter Spier; The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher (Molly Bang): The Maggie B (Hass). Also be sure to remember nursery rhyme books. My favorite of the moment is the two volumes picked by Iona Opie (the grand lady of nursery rhymes) and illustrated by Rosemary Wells. Reading specialists will tell you that there are many problems in reading brought on by the fact that nursery rhymes are no longer read to children, and so they don't hear the repetition of sound or get the vocab they need as small children. So in that regard, don't forget the old Sendak-- Chicken Soup with Rice, One was Johnny, and Pierre.

I'd also like to put a plug in to say that a good book has a universal theme that appeals to everyone. I'm both a YA and pic book author/illustrator, and I was just in Baltimore at a Pratt Library branch and talking to a group of inner city fourth graders. I read them my upcoming picture book for 4-8 and they just roared with laughter, even though it wasn't about "multicultural" kids. They really loved the art and the story. And I find that's true of other books as well.

Hope this helps. There are so many more. Write back if you'd like more suggestions.

a. fortis said...

Thanks, Sallie, for bringing up nursery rhymes. I absolutely treasured my Oxford Book of Nursery Rhymes as a child, which I believe is the same version by the Opies. I completely agree about the importance of nursery rhymes in language learning and in learning to read. Excellent suggestions!