9 Ways to Bring Literacy Alive: Books are Not Just for Reading

My bookshelves are overflowing with books. I am quite the book junkie. I love books of all sizes and shapes, and find a need to have one (or more) for every topic I teach.

Many years ago, as I started to discover the multiple integrated ways children learn, books took on a whole new dimension for me. A great evolution from books for literacy only, to books for all academic areas emerged. Listed below are some of my favorite children’s books and suggested ideas to expand your use of each. This method is very beneficial in building comprehension, as well as a deeper love of literature. It also helps provide content-based focus on some of the skills and input our sensational kids need. From the fine motor skill of stringing to the vestibular input of rolling over to the social skills of a shape tea party. Enjoy these five sensational books and accompanying activities.


Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Eric CarleBrown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

1. Make binoculars out of two toilet paper tubes. Let children decorate them or cover them with paper and help them assemble a pair of binoculars by taping them side by side and adding yarn for a strap. Help them to put words to the world they discover around them.

2. Create your own story. We’ve done variations using, “Snowman, Snowman”, where we put ourselves either figuratively or literally outside, and determine what a snowman might see. As they dictate the story to me, I write the words describing each image on separate pages. After we’ve created the text of our story, they put on their illustrator hats to complete their books. You can then bind their pages using a hole punch and yarn or simply staple it.

Ten in the Bed by Penny DaleTen in the Bed

3. Tuck your child into bed with 10 stuffed animals or eight stuffed animals plus you and the child! See what happens when you roll over!

4. Discover more about each animal that shares the bed with the little boy in the story. Use the internet or encyclopedia to fact find; create models with clay or build a diorama of a zoo that included some or all of these friends.

Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus and Jose AruegoLeo the Late Bloomer

5. Books are a wonderful way to open a discussion with children. Use this book to discover how your children feel about their own personal strengths and weaknesses as they grow and develop.

Some questions you could ask:

  • How do you think Leo felt about not being able to do the things his friends could do? Is there anything you think your friends can do that maybe you haven’t learned yet?
  • How do you think Leo’s parents felt about Leo during the story? How do you think Mommy or Daddy feels about you when you are a messy eater or have trouble writing your name?

Ten Apples Up On Top! by Theo. LeSieg (aka Dr. Seuss)Ten Apples Up On Top! (Beginner Books(R))

6. This book is an excellent way to introduce the science of balance. Using blocks, apples or cups, investigate how high you can get towers to balance. Discuss the effect of motion on balance, then have children try to balance books on their heads and walk! How many can they get “up on top” before they fall?

7. An underlying theme of this book is competition. Discuss the difference between healthy and unhealthy competition. Organize games that allow the children a chance to practice friendly competition.

Round is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne ThongRound is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes

8. This is a rhyming book, using an ABCB pattern. That means the words in the 2nd and 4th sentence rhyme. Using buttons, beads, or different colored macaroni, have your child create strings that follow that same ABCB pattern. Be sure to introduce other patterns as well, such as ABAB or AABB.

9. Have a tea party. Engaging in dramatic play is essential in a child’s development. Through such activities, children practice social, communication and self-awareness skills. To bring in a shape theme, have children identify the shape of cups, plates, napkins and even the snacks! I love using rectangular graham crackers to discuss the connection between squares, triangles and rectangles.

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Allison Gingras, MEd About Allison Gingras, MEd

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