One of the most important things that I learned during my 36-year career as an early childhood educator was the importance of phonological awareness activities. Phonological awareness is a broad skill that includes identifying and manipulating units of oral language. Simply put, it includes activities such as rhyming (cat/hat), segmenting (the word cat is broken up by saying each sound /c/-/a/-/t/) and onset and rimes (the word cat would be /c/-/at/). There is quite a bit of research out there that tells us that children must have an understanding of phonological awareness before they can learn to read. The fun part about phonological awareness is that it’s all aural activities, meaning the children use their ears to differentiate sounds and words. This makes for many fun games and activities that can be played at home, while waiting in a restaurant or on a car ride. If you go to pinterest and search for phonological awareness activities you will not be disappointed!
For this blog I’m going to review three rhyming books that our local public librarian Jo recommends. The fun thing about rhyming books (in addition to reading them out loud) is that they are perfect “predictable” books. Predictable books mean that when you are reading and get to a part where it’s obvious something is going to happen or you need an answer then you stop and ask your child, “What do you think will happen next?” This is a reading strategy that you should start using as soon as your child begins to communicate, and will help lay a good foundation for future reading ability.
Frog On A Log by Kes Fray and Jim Field
This is a fun book about a grouchy cat who tells a frog that he has to sit on a log, but the frog complains that the log is hard and uncomfortable, and can give you splinters. But the cat insists that that is where the frog must sit. The frog goes on to ask about sitting in various places and on various things, but throughout the cat tells the frog that he cannot sit on those things. This is where the rhyming comes in. The cats sit on mats. Hares on chairs. Mules on stools.Cows on plows. And on and on it goes until the very end when the frog asks, “What do dogs sit on?” What do you predict the dogs sit on? This book is full of opportunities for children to predict what items the various animals will sit on, based on the strategy of rhyming. The illustrations are colorful and hilarious, with the characters sporting wonderful expressions throughout. No wonder this is a favorite of the children who attend Jo’s Story Hour.
Lizbeth Lou Got a Rock in Her Shoe by Troy Howell, illustrated by Kathryn Carr
It is the illustrations in this rhyming book that drew Jo to it, and why she chose this as one of her favorites. Carr uses cut-paper silhouettes in various hues of brown to illustrate this book. These illustrations are beautifully done, and so pleasing to the eye with their details and uniqueness. The story itself is a delightful rendition of the old adage, “What goes around comes around.” It starts out with a young girl, Lisbeth Lou, who gets a rock in her shoe. She takes it out and flings it away. It lands in a cricket’s canoe, and the cricket pushes it over the side and into the water where it lands on a trout. The trout spits it out…and the book continues to follow the rock as it gets tossed from one place to another until it comes back to Lizbeth Lou. The text throughout this book is in rhyme, with rich vocabulary words that is uncommon in children’s books (e.g., “mote” and “footnote”). By now you probably know that I am a sucker for children’s books that introduce vocabulary words that are not common. I think children and adults alike will enjoy exploring this book together.
Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes, by Kimberly and James Dean
Who doesn’t like Pete the Cat books, right? This one doesn’t disappoint, and in addition to being a rhyming book it is also a counting book! Pete and his friend Gus decide to make ten cupcakes for a party, and when they are done they put them on the windowsill. The cupcakes start to mysteriously disappear, and Pete and Gus follow the clues as they try to figure out who is taking them. Various animal friends are approached and questioned about the missing cupcakes (which have to be counted on each page, of course!), but the culprit just can’t be found. Finally the clues lead them to Grumpy Frog, who admits that he was the one who ate them because he couldn’t “stop at just one!” As with all of the Pete the Cat books this one has colorful and fun illustrations that will draw children in, and there are rhymes galore and many opportunities for predictions in this great book.