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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: The Tale of Rabbit and Coyote, by Tony Johnston, or Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly, by Alan Madison
Nonfiction: First Animal Encyclopedia, by DK Publishing, or Kingfisher First Encyclopedia of Animals, by Kingfisher Publishing
Activities: What do animals do? (Jump like a rabbit! Howl like a coyote!) Take a nature walk and talk about the animals you see.
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. Find examples of art in your community, like murals or sculptures.
Fiction: Leaves, by David Ezra Stein, or Shell Crazy, Snow Crazy, Stone Crazy, Tree Crazy, by Tracy Gallup
Nonfiction: A Seed is Sleepy, by Dianna Hutts Aston, or Nature's Art Box, by Laura C. Martin
Activities: Plant a seed in a cup and watch it grow. Find a tree in your neighborhood and watch how it changes with each season.
See also paired fiction/nonfiction activities for kindergarteners.
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