Winter can be a restful, quiet time to settle youngsters down and help them learn. Here are some great picture books from which to learn letters, numbers, colors and shapes, all geared for toddlers.
Square Cat ABC, by Elizabeth Schoonmaker, cleverly weaves a story around the letters of the alphabet. This delightful tale involves Eula, who is “A Big Cat”, and a cute little mouse as they interact and discover who and what is in the garden. Each letter jumps off the page with bold red and the rest of the objects throughout are brightly painted with watercolor, gouache, watercolor pencils and ink.
A is for Awesome, by Dallas Clayton, is a simple and smallish sized book packed with positive reinforcement as you go through the alphabet. The watercolor and ink drawings help promote this uplifting book, making it a perfect book that is actually good for all of us! “G is for GREATNESS. You’re well on your way.” “Y is for YOU, the best kid around.”
Olivia’s ABC, by Ian Falconer, is a board book featuring the beloved pig Olivia. Each page showcases the delightful personality of Olivia while concentrating on each letter of the alphabet. The “O” page has Olivia wearing “sneakers”, sailing a “sailboat, wearing a “sweater” and riding in a “sled”.
R is for Robot: A Noisy Alphabet, by Adam F. Watkins, is a loud alphabet book because on every page robots are moving featured letters and making noises that also begin with the letter on the page. For instance, on the “C” page, a robot is being surrounded by these falling letters that make a “clang” and a “crash”. The pages are rich with gorgeous oil paintings.
Race From A to Z (Jon Scieska’s Trucktown), illustrated by Dani Jones, begins with an introduction to each truck featured inside the book and with a picture and name of each. The illustrations are vibrant and fill the pages. But what makes this book stand out is the story. Each page continues the story and incorporates the alphabet sequence. “P is Plenty Potholes, messing up the street”. (This page features Payloader Pete, a large orange truck.)
Curious George: C is for Curious, based on H. A. Rey’s creation, is a board book that features touch-and-feel and lift-the-flaps. The rhyming text helps encourage learning as well as the sensory of touch. Even the cover has this delightful monkey with a furry tummy to touch.
Animals ABCs (Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) has the entire clubhouse gang involved in helping learn the alphabet while exploring the jungle. There are full-page colors on every board page. There’s also holograms of each animal corresponding to each letter. The hologram turns from letter to animals with the movement of the book. There are also interesting notes about each animal that are simple and help to promote the memory of each letter.
One Potato, Two Potato, by Todd H. Doodler, is a counting book featuring the familiar rhyme that begins with the title of this book. Mr. Potato is having a party but as more potatoes arrive, and the counting of spuds make his house packed, he must find a solution and fast!
Dog Loves Counting, by Louise Yates, is a picture book beautifully painted with watercolors where you begin counting, along with Dog, some unusual as well as familiar animals. Dog is attempting to go to sleep by counting sheep. But when that doesn’t help, he turns to a book and the counting adventure begins. Be sure to check out the very clever front and back end-pages.
Colors Versus Shapes, by Mike Boldt, cleverly integrates colors and shapes into the storyline by having both groups enter a stage to see which deserves the spotlight. All of the shapes have no color and include not only basic shapes, but also a pentagon, hexagon and more. The blobs of color are bright and the way both of these subjects are taught will bring smiles to the reader because this book is great fun to read.
Go, Shapes, Go!, by Denise Fleming, is outstanding in every way! Ms. Fleming has created another visually outstanding picture book by adding her trademark pulp-painted paper background and handmade paper. (She is also a recent Caldecott Honor recipient.) The beginning of this most inventive book has all of the different sizes and shapes on one side of the page. On the opposite, a shape is introduced and leaves the introduction page. The entire book is outlined in this way. Eventually, all of the shapes turn into a surprise. I can see this Fleming book winning the coveted Caldecott award again when they are announced toward the end of this month.