Children's Literature (all forms)

Spring into an Early Literacy Booklist!

Spring into the meadows, find a clearing with a little running brook and read to your children.  A fresh early literacy booklist of picture books for your little one’s eyes abounds.  Books are blooming everywhere you look, each one addressing an early literacy skill.  Hopefully you’ll find it just as delightful to peruse this list as it was for me to create it: 

The Core Skills List-

Vocabulary:  Knowing the names of things.


First Picture Nature by Jo Litchfield.  (Usborne Books, 2007). A picture dictionary of nature in spring, bugs and slugs, flowers, birds, seasons and weather.  Helpful thumbnail pictures introduce the concepts of metamorphosis, germination, and the lifecycle of a frog in easy-to-understand sequences.


A Piece of Chalk by Jennifer Ericsson. Illustrated by Michelle Shapiro. (Roaring Book Press, 2007). A little girl with a box of chalk learns primary colors and the colors of the rainbow while discovering the art of drawing animals on sidewalks and appreciating the outdoors.


Drive by Nathan Clement. (Front Street, 2008). When daddy is a truck driver, he drives to work, looks both ways at the intersection, waves hello, and finds other things to do when there is a traffic jam.  At the end of the day, he fills up his gas tank and drives home.  Teaches good manners and kids will learn the meaning of the word, “drive.”


Rhinos Who Rescue by Julie Mammano. (Chronicle Books LLC, 2007). Rhinos who rescue hear the bell, are smoke jumpers and rescue even gomers! They are heroes, rain or shine.  Learn various definitions of words used at the firehouse and fireman slang in the “rescue rap” page.

Print Motivation: A child’s interest in and enjoyment of books.


Maybe a Bear Ate it! by Robie Harris.  Illustrated by Michael Emberley. (Orchard Books, 2008)  Imagine the angst and sadness if you’ve lost a favorite book.  Who are the book-knappers–maybe a bear, a stegosaurus, a rhino, a bat, a shark, or an elephant?  Hold on tight to your favorite book whatever it is and wherever it is.


My Book Box by Will Hillenbrand. (Harcourt, 2006).   There are so many things you can do with a box–make a bug box, pizza box, sock box or toy box.  But the best box to make is a book box.  Kids can construct their very own book box with adults at the end with easy instructions.

Letter Knowledge: Learning that letters are different from each other. Learning that each letter has a name and specific sounds that go along with it.


Lots of Letters from A to Z Tish Rabe.  Illustrated by Kevan Attebary.(InnovativeKids, 2006). Lift the flap letters delivered to a cast of animal characters starting with each letter of the alphabet.  Snail mail written in alliteration and are thematically centered around the alphabet letter like “Pigs in Pink Pajamas,” “Freddy Fish’s friend forever,” and “Rocky Raccoon who really rocks and lives on Red Road, Rainbow Ridge.”


Little Bitty Mousie by Jim Aylesworth. Illustrated by Michael Hague. (Walker & Company, 2007).  Itty bitty mousie snacks on food, tries on lipstick, sniffs the roses and drives toy trucks all the while, tip-tip tippy toeing around the house at night.  


Poor Puppy by Nick Bruel. (Roaring Brook Press, 2007). What happens when a mean old kitty cat doesn’t want to play with the new puppy dog?  We feel sorry for poor puppy as he tries to find other things to amuse himself.  But puppy doesn’t just sit there and sulk, he gets to play with an alphabetical list of toys from around the world.

Narrative Skills: Being able to describe things. Being able to understand and tell stories.


A Closer Look by Mary McCarthy. (Greenwillows Books, 2007).  As each page unfolds, take a closer look…and what do you see? Not your garden-variety picture book.  They all come together somehow and kids can provide the story.  Learn facts about bugs, birds and flowers.


The Butterfly Garden by Sue Harris. Illustrated by Stephanie Boey. (The Templar Company, 2006).  Lift the flap and explore with Tabby Cat and her friends as they try to catch butterflies.  Talk about the shiny surprises they find along the way.  Appreciate nature and pretty gardens everywhere. 


Two Eggs, Please by Sarah Weeks and Betsy Lewin. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2003). How many different ways can you cook an egg? They can be different yet the same.  The waiter shouts all the orders into the kitchen at the end as a summary of all the different ways you can have an egg for breakfast.

Phonological Awareness:  The ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words.


Truck Driver Tom by Monica Wellington. (Dutton Children’s Books, 2007).  Truck Driver Tom vroom vrooms to rev up his engine, clank clanks through the farmer’s working fields, zoom zooms down the freeway, whooshes into the tunnel until the day is done.  Bold phrases instruct storytellers where to emphasize words while reading the story.  Sounds of city, country, construction sites, diners and grocery stores are covered.


City Lullaby by Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Carll Cneut. (Clarion Books, 2007). Baby needs to wake up but instead falls into deeper sleep with the sounds of the city from 2 bikes growling to 10 horns beeping.  Will baby ever wake up? Count from 1 to 10 with this light-humored book and find out.


A Perfect Day by Remy Charlip. (Greenwillow Books, 2007). A story in rhyme about a parent and child spending a day together.  Nothing can be more perfect than a father being with his son.  Turn the pages and find out all the things to do from morning until night.

Print Awareness: This is really just noticing print. Noticing words everywhere, knowing how to handle a book, knowing how to follow words on a page.


Lickety-Split by Robert Heidbreder. Illustrated by Dusan Petricic. (Kids Can Press, 2007).  Each page a symphony of sounds from thumpity tump, flippity flop, ziggity zag to clippity clop to mishity mash.  Fun-filled alliteration with compound words and words with musical sounds when put together.


The Adventures of Captain Candy by Ryan Lederer. (Seven Locks Press, 2007).  Can Captain Candy, Agent Mint and Fireball apprehend Professor Metal Mouth? A graphic novel style picturebook aimed at the preschool audience.  Action words have punch and words with intonations are highlighted in bubble letters of green, blue, red and every other color of the rainbow.

The Medley List:

Pholonogical Awareness/Print Awareness:


Bunny Fun by Sarah Weeks. (Hartcourt, 2008).  Chant along with Bunny, “bunny fun” while figuring out how to play on a rainy day.  What happens when the rain stops? Maybe some puddle fun.


Dino-Hockey by Lisa Wheeler. Illustrated by Barry Gott. (Carolrhoda Books, 2007). Hockey dinosaurs go against each other in the finals.  Meat-eaters versus veggiesaurs, T. Rex and Raptors, Pterodactyl twins and Diplo shins.  A dramatic finish by Stego and Triceratops advances them into the playoffs.

Phonological Awareness/Narrative Skills/Vocabulary:


Shape Capers by Cathryn Falwell. (Greenwillow Books, 2008). Learn your shapes with rhyme.  Shake, shake, shake the shapes.  What will they be? Circle, square, triangle, or semicircle and all you can see.  Find all the shapes at the end and talk about how you can play with shapes all day. Hooray!


Playground Day! (Clarion Books, 2007). Hurray hurray it’s playground day.  Be a bunny, squirrel, monkey…springing, wiggling; scurrying, scattering; stretching, swaying;  kids can talk about all the animals they pretend to be while playing on the playground.  A summary page at the end inspires narration from kids to adults about what they did on the playground that day.

Phonological Awareness/Print Awareness/Vocabulary:


Peek in My Pocket by Sarah Weeks and David A. Carter. (Red Wagon Books, 2007). Each animal has a different pocket with a different shape.  Lift-the-flaps make it fun to find out what each pocket holds as a surprise.  Children will love to chant “peek in my pocket” and will learn the name of each object in no time.

Note: Definitions of the Six Early Literacy Skills were taken from the KCLS Foundation “Ready to Read” Webpage:


  1. angelaNS

    What an excellent list, Ann. Thanks– I’m off to check our holdings for these books and to recommend them to our storytime staff!

  2. Debi Gray

    What a great list! Thank you Ann. I will check to see what I need to order. What a tremendous help to us busy “One Person Librarians.”

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