Tag Archives: preschooler books

Books to soothe your anxious preschooler

Okay, I’ll admit it. My preschooler is a little anxious. She’s smart, incredibly perceptive, and funny, but she’s also a bit of a worrier. Sometimes, I think that she’s a little too observant of the world around her. The other day she said, “I’m going to miss you when I go to college.”

As she begins to encounter new experiences in environments such as preschool, the dentist, the doctor, play dates, and with babysitters, we’ve calmed some of her worries with two great authors. My four year old often asks for books in which the little kids are scared and then learn to feel better.

Author and illustrator Kevin Henkes and Vera Rosenberry have created entertaining, cleverly thought out, and sensitive books about anxious moments young children go through. Kevin Henkes beautifully captures his characters’ expressions in detailed illustrations, has a delightful cadence to his narrative, and often injects some subtle adult humor that your child might not notice. I love Vera Rosenberry’s illustrations of somewhat awkward looking kids and her tender way (but not overly sweet) of dealing with some difficult situations that both kids and adults encounter. Here are some of my favorite Kevin Henkes and Vera Rosenberry books. Be sure to check your local library for any of these titles. Also, your child’s school Scholastic sale probably includes the Kevin Henkes books.

Kevin Henkes (Caldecott and Newberry winner)

Chrysanthemum is a book about a little mouse who gets teased at school about her name: Chrysanthemum.With the help from a kind teacher, she eventually realizes that she isn’t that different after all and that sometimes being unique can feel absolutely special.

Owen addresses a young mouse who has to give up his prized blanket. The blanket is his closest friend, confidant, and comforter during “nail clippings and haircuts and trips to the dentist.” But when Owen heads off to school, his Mom figures out a way for Owen to still have a piece of his loving blanket with him. A great story about separation and developing independence.

“At home, Wemberly worried about the tree in the front yard, and the crack in the living room wall, and the noise the radiators made.” Wemberly Worried features a little mouse who worries all day and all night and of course, about starting school. Wemberly learns to make friends with another anxious mouse at school and how to worry a little less.

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse is a humorous book about a free-spirited young mouse named Lilly who adores her hipster teacher. Until one day, he takes away her distracting new purple purse, sunglasses, and shiny quarters and Lilly is outraged. The book addresses ways kids can deal with frustration and anger and also how they can apologize and move on.

Vera Rosenberry

We’ve read a lot of dentist books–it took my daughter four visits to the dentist before she successfully got her teeth cleaned. Vera Goes to the Dentist is probably one of the best dentist anxiety books for preschoolers. (Note: it’s also important to read the nonfiction ones that show the dental tools, x-rays, and such.) The best, rather outlandish, part of this book is when Vera jumps down from the dentist chair and starts to run around the block with the dentist, hygienist, Mom, and sisters running after her. Now when I take my daughter to the dentist, we laughingly say, “Now, let’s not pull a Vera.”

Vera Runs Away portrays a typical busy family, one that doesn’t react as happily to Vera’s glowing report card as she had anticipated. In her mind, she thinks that everyone should stop what they are doing and celebrate her good grades. Frustrated, she runs away. They eventually find her, and Vera’s Mom says, “We’re so sorry we didn’t pay enough attention to your wonderful report card. But when you do well, you are doing well for yourself.” Pizza and togetherness ends this thoughtful story.

In Vera Rides a Bike, Vera sadly loses her tricycle at the park. After a few months, her parents give her a refurbished bicycle and Vera begins to learn how to ride it. One evening when everyone is too busy to help her practice riding, Vera ventures out on her own. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know how to break yet, and ends up falling off of her bike, but makes it safely home. This is another great story about the complex path of independence, courage, and reassurance that little kids travel each day.

Vera’s First Day of School starts off with Vera being very excited for her first day but then turns sour when Vera is a little overwhelmed by the big school. When she becomes preoccupied with a fuzzy caterpillar on the playground she misses the school bell and is late for school. Not knowing what to do, Vera goes home and hides. A little crying, Mom hugs, a welcoming teacher, and painting at her new desk, smooths things over and Vera “was where she was supposed to be–a big girl in school. She was not afraid anymore.”

Another great book from Clavis Publishing

I’m a big fan of Clavis Publishing whose children’s books are always uniquely illustrated and the stories thoughtful, clever, and sometimes unexpected.

One of Clavis Publishing’s new titles is Thankyouplease written by Pierre Winters and illustrated by Barbara Ortelli. This 2011 Dutch book translated to English is about a six year old girl named Nina who “has a big mouth… is often grumpy and talks back.” Her Mommy tries to teach Nina good manners and to be polite so that more people will “see how sweet you can be and want to play with you.”

After yet another grumpy outburst, Nina is asked to go outside to calm down. While walking around, Nina hears someone call her name, but the voice is coming from inside a tree. When Nina looks inside the tree, she discovers a magical circus filled with elephants, a dog riding a bicycle, balance beams, trapeze artists, lions, cotton candy, and of course a ringmaster whose name happens to be “Thankyouplease.” Nina has stumbled upon the “Circus of Good Manners” where all practice good manners.

The story brilliantly and whimsically talks about greeting people, waiting patiently, saying please and thank you, helping others, and taking turns. After experiencing the mysterious circus, Nina wakes up from her dream (or was it real?) and is very sweet and polite with her Mommy. She tells her, “I am sure that you’ve prepared a delicious dinner. Shall I set the table, Mommy?”

Sounds just about right.

The Cow That Went OINK

Over the past year, my now four year old daughter has been working on not getting frustrated (i.e. screaming, crying, whining, flopping, etc…) when she can’t get something figured out immediately. I recently came across the book, The Cow That Went OINK, by Bernard Most, and was really pleased by how humorously and cleverly the author delves into ideas of learning, frustration, being teased, practice, and persistence. Plus, the drawings are cute and the opportunities for you and your child to play around with animal sounds abound.

The story starts out with a cow who only knows how to say “oink.” All the other cows and animals on the farm laugh at this poor cow who cries about her problem. Next enters a friendly pig who only knows how to say, “moo.” Naturally, this unleashes more laughter from the other pigs and farm animals. The pig cries as well. The cow and pig eventually try to teach each other their sound, resulting in “oimoo, oinoo, oinkoo, moink, moinkoo, and mook.” The farm animals continue to make fun of the cow and pig, but the cow and pig ignore them, continuing to practice their “moo” and “oink.” Finally, the cow and the pig both learn how to successfully say “moo” and “oink.” The book concludes with, “And they were the only animals on the farm that could do both. So they had the last laugh.”

We’ve only read this book once together, but my daughter has mentioned it a few times after she worked on buttoning her sweater by herself (a 10 minute project) without crying and taping a plastic cup that had cracked. She said, “I practiced and did it by myself! Just like that cow!”

The book of course is also good in pointing out how cows, pigs, and yes, people are different and have unique skills and knowledge. Being apart from the crowd can be hard at times, but can often have more lasting and worldly benefits!

The Cow That Went OINK is a nice length for 3 to 6 year old kids and excellent at being opened ended to prompt lots of questions. Oh, wait. Did your child already ask you enough questions today? Perfect for bedtime or nap time.

Be sure to check your local library for a copy of this entertaining and engaging book.

Captivating coloring

Recently, my three-year old daughter has started enjoying coloring more. She is mildly interested in the coloring sheets that come with the kiddie menus at restaurants and the handful of Miffy pages I’ve printed from web sites (although we love Miffy books!). She doesn’t really care much for Melissa and Doug coloring pages or TV character pages. But for some reason, Taro Gomi doodling and coloring books hold her concentrated attention for 30 minutes plus. Yes, that’s enough time to have a real conversation with someone or cook most of your dinner!

The author of Everyone Poops and other books, Taro Gomi is an award-winning writer and illustrator. His doodle, scribble, coloring, activity, and painting books and postcards will keep 3 to 7 year olds engaged. The clean line drawings are bold, expressive, and humorous with ample space to color and also space for embellishing (some of the pictures ask kids to add worms or apples to certain scenes for instance). If you love white space, these books are for you, uh, I mean your child. Some of the Taro Gomi books focus more on learning how to draw/doodle while others are geared more towards preschoolers who just want to color, draw simple lines, or practice counting. There is usually a nice balanced assortment of different age appropriate pages in each volume.

Here are some sample Taro Gomi color pages to download on Chronicle Books’ site.

Here are a few of our favorites to buy:

Doodles: A Really Giant Coloring and Doodling Book
Doodle 123!: A Really Giant Doodling and Drawing Book
Doodle All Year

Be sure to check Amazon for good prices on Taro Gomi titles and possibly Barnes and Noble or Borders if you have a coupon. Many of these books are pretty thick and heavy, so feel free to remove a few pages for a restaurant outing.

We also like the Melissa and Doug triangular crayons for color, durability, and no paper wrapper to peel away.

Three pigs, a sheep, and a wildly happy dinosaur

We are obsessed with visiting our local library and have discovered a few great books over the last month. Here are three favorites that are perfect for your goofy preschooler and ripe for you to try out your funny voices. (Hasn’t your variety of funny voices grown since you had your kid?)

1. The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale |  Steven Guarnaccia
This old standby is refreshed by updating the pigs’ homes to signature houses inspired by Frank Gehry, Phillip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright. The drawings and fonts are smart, funny, and may introduce your child to some new lines and shapes. Perfect for all you Dwell Magazine parents.

2. Baa-Choo! |  Sarah Weeks, author and Jane Manning, illustrator
“I’ve got the ahhh but not the choo. No, no, this sneeze will never do. Can someone help me, help me please, to find the ending of my sneeze?” Follow this poor sheep’s humorous adventure as he tries to recover his sneeze’s lost “choo.” A hen, pig, and goat attempt to help in this well written “I can read” book. What makes Baa-Choo! really stand out is the rhythm and cadence of Sarah Weeks’s rhymes. Makes for fun bedtime reading, sure to make your preschooler giggle out loud.

3. Edwina: The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct |  Mo Willems
Are you a fan of Mo Willems’s Knuffle Bunny series or the Gerald the Elephant and Piggy books? You will love Edwina. Edwina is a loving, helpful, sweet, and innocent looking dinosaur who lives to play with kids, help others, and bake chocolate chip cookies for friends. No one seems to question that she is a dinosaur living in modern day life–they just seem happy to have her around. Everyone believes in Edwina’s existence except for Reginald Von Hoobie Doobie. Reginald tries to convince everyone that Edwina should be extinct but no one believes him, or even cares to listen. The only one who eventually listens to Reginald is Edwina. This is a wonderful book about believing in yourself, others, and well, the unknown.

Happy reading!