Alphabet School by Stephen T. Johnson. A Paula Wiseman Book / Simon & Schuster, 2015
Stephen T. Johnson brings his artist’s eye to a school environment to locate letters of the alphabet in ordinary objects and scenes. The shadow of a school bus mirror forms the letter B. Two flags on a pole make an F. Remnants of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich curl into a G. A flipped-up toilet seat is an almost perfect U. Johnson’s striking full-page, realistic paintings have a tinge of grittiness with their speckled texture, looking like well-worn photographs. The imperfections amplify the realism, and while these are surely images drawn from one or more specific places, there is also a universality, as if this could be any school. It’s hard to imagine children not being inspired to look closely around their own classrooms, hallways, gymnasiums, and playgrounds to see what letters might be lurking, and some will surely want to create images and books of their own. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Try these literacy activities after reading Alphabet School
- Talk: Talk about the shapes within the letters. Which letters are curvy? Which are straight?
- Sing: Sing the Alphabet Song. Try singing the alphabet to a different tune.
- Write: Use different objects from around your house to form the first letter of your name.
- Play: Go on a letter walk and look for the first letter of your name.
- Math or Science: Make a cutout of the first letter of your name. Bring it with you on your letter walk.
I (Don’t) Like Snakes by Nicola Davies. Illustrated by Luciano Lozano. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2015
When her puzzled, snake-loving family asks a young girl why she doesn’t like snakes, she points out that snakes slither and have “slimy, scaly skin” and “flicky tongues.” They also stare. In response to these and other points, her dad, mom, and brother have an explanation—and sometimes a correction (e.g., snakes aren’t slimy; their skin is dry)—expanding the girl’s understanding of and appreciation for snakes. This picture book deftly blends the appealing fictional story and its blithe illustration style with factual text and images about snake biology and behavior. A brief bibliography and an index conclude the volume. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Try these literacy activities after reading I Don’t Like Snakes
- Talk: Find another book with snakes. Compare the snakes in the two books.
- Sing: Can you hiss like a snake? Can you hiss like a snake? Try to “sing” a song by hissing.
- Write: Can you draw a snake? What will your snake look like? Is it long? Is it curvy? What is your snake doing? Sleeping? Eating?
- Play: Without using words, act out how you show that you don’t like something or do like something. Have someone guess which is like and which is dislike.
- Math or Science: Snakes shed their skins. What else sheds its skin? Do you shed your skin?
Moving Blocks by Yusuke Yonezu. U.S. edition: Minedition, 2015
A book offering a plethora of possibilities for interaction (color concept, spatial reasoning, prediction, and types of transportation for a start) begins with a page spread showing a rectangular pattern of yellow, green, blue, and red blocks with die-cuts suggesting a shape. The text asks, “What are you building? What can it be?” A page turn shows the die-cut shape surrounded by white against the block pattern on the previous page to reveal a vehicle made of blocks: car, bus, train, ship, rocket ship. The full rectangle of blocks and two questions repeat on every other spread before the next reveal, giving a sense of pattern and order to the book as a whole that is also visually suggested by the repetition of the block shapes in this clever, developmentally appropriate board book. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Try these literacy activities after reading Moving Blocks
- Talk: Name the shapes. Talk about curves and straight lines in the shapes.
- Sing: The Wheels on the Bus
- Write: Draw shapes in the air.
- Play: Create vehicles out of shapes and pretend to go on a trip.
- Math or Science: Make shapes out of blocks. Count how many blocks you used for each shape.
Don’t forget this poem from Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection by Charlotte Zolotow: page 30