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If you are taking a trip to a new place, you may pick up a travel book to learn more about your destination. Reading makes our real-world experiences more meaningful. It gives us historical perspective, a sense of other cultures, an introduction to the symbols and viewpoints we may encounter. Books help us make sense of what we see around us.
Books do the same thing for children. Fictional stories help children work through fears and desires, and nonfiction helps them understand processes and observe patterns. Every time you pair a book with an experience, you are giving your child an opportunity to learn more about their world.
Fiction: Scribble, by Deborah Freedman, or The Art Lesson, by Tomie de Paola
Nonfiction: Frida, by Jonah Winter, or Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors, by Jane O'Connor
Activities: Have your child draw a self-portrait, and then have him or her tell you about it. Visit an art museum or a public art show, or find examples of art in your community (such as murals or sculptures) and talk about which pieces you like and find interesting.
Fiction: Salsa Stories, by Lulu Delacre, or Bunny Cakes, by Rosemary Wells
Nonfiction: Emeril's There's a Chef in My Soup!, by Emeril Lagasse, or Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A Cookbook for Preschoolers & Up, by Molly Katzen and Ann Henderson
Activities: Go to a make-it-yourself pottery studio and decorate a special serving dish, or create your own with a pottery kit. Make a family recipe with your child and talk about where it came from.
Fiction: Rainstorm, by Barbara Lehman, or The Buffalo Storm, by Katherine Applegate
Nonfiction: The Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane, by Joanna Cole, or Twisters and Other Terrible Storms, by Will and Mary Pope Osborne
Activities: Put together a storm kit with items like a flashlight, extra batteries, and bottled water. Brainstorm some things you could do at home if the electricity went out. Put the list in the storm kit!
See also paired fiction/nonfiction activities for pre-K.
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