How to participate in Picture Book Club …
  1. Get the suggested books from your library or bookstore (local or online). See PICTURE BOOK CLUB BOOK LIST for the complete list of books for each week.
  2. Before reading each of the weekly books to your child, READ FIRST “What Adults Can Learn from This Story.”
  3. Read one or both books to your child as many times through the week as your child wants to hear them and you have time to read.
  4. Consider doing whatever activities you think are appropriate for the age and maturity of your child from “Make This Story Come Alive for Your Child.”


MR. ZINGER’S HAT by Cary Fagan
(a story about storytelling)
In MR. ZINGER’S HAT, “Mr. Zinger made up stories.” He suggested there was something inside his hat. He said, “It’s a story. A story trying to get out.” He began to tell Leo a story escaping from his hat. With the help of key questions from Mr. Zinger, Leo began to shape Mr. Zinger’s story into his own clever, imaginative story in which an ordinary ball led to an important friendship. That storytelling experience with Mr. Zinger then led to Leo doing more storytelling with Sophie, a new real friend he had just met.
“What Adults Can Learn from This Story …”
  •  There are many good reasons to read stories to your child.
    • It can be a “snuggly” time – snuggles are very, very good.
    • It teaches words – words are very useful, much better than whining or sulking.
    • It is the beginning of learning to read – reading is the basis for all learning.
    • It can make your child sleepy – sleep is very, very good.
    • It requires paying attention – sticking to your task is necessary for success in life.
    • It reduces screen time – allowing your child to learn in other ways.
  • Reading stories to your child can prepare him to be a good reader himself. Below are some tips for how to read to him to help him become a better reader when he gets to school. (From Child Development, May-June 2012, Volume 83, Number 3, Pages 810-820)
    • Point out and talk about the letters on the pages – for example, “Letters go together to make words.” And, “Some words are short (just a few letters) while others are long (many letters).“
    • Point out that letters come in different sizes – have her help you pick out the big letters and the small letters.
    • Point out that you are going to read from left to right – “First I will read this page, and then the page next to it.”
    • Point out that you will read from the top of the page to the bottom of the page.
    • Have her help you point to the words as you read them.
    • Point out any words included in the pictures (in signs, labels, thought bubbles, or speech bubbles) – “These words tell us what the little boy is having for breakfast. The carton says, ‘Milk.’”
  • Your child can benefit when he has chances to not only listen to stories, but to also “tell” stories. A child usually can begin telling stories by 2-years-old.
    • It can spark his imagination – smart and successful people have great imaginations.
    • He can create experiences he may not experience in his real life.
    • He can think about how people feel and act and imagine what happens when they act certain ways.
  • Children telling their own stories:
    • Gives them experience pretending.
    • Teaches them things they might not otherwise pay attention to – how to safely cross the street, deal with bullies, care for animals.
    • Helps them release feelings that otherwise would be confusing and upsetting to them (anger toward a brother or sister, fear of the dark, worry about going to school).
    • Can give them an opportunity to be proud of their very own story.
    • Allows them to see what happens when people act in different ways with each other – bossy, nice, helpful, mean (especially from ages 3- to 5-years-old).
    • Allows them to imagine different ways that people feel – mad, sad, scared, happy – and what they do about it.
    • Allows them to think about different occupations and what they are like.
    • Requires them to think about things in order (what happens first, second, third) – helping them develop logical thinking.
  • In most stories first one thing happens then other things happen. Listening to or making up stories can help your child understand cause and effect, which is part of understanding rules and their consequences.
“Make this Story Come Alive for Your Child …”
  • Using a story you have read to your child or a story he has made up himself, have him draw, paint, sculpt, dance, sing, or acting out things in the story.
  • Have your child start a story and take turns letting others add to the story. You can do this just the two of you, around the dinner table, or with several playmates.
  • Have your child and one other person (adult or child) tell a story about the same subject and see how the stories are alike and different.

(a story about fear of an imagined scary monster)
In ELMER AND THE MONSTER, a monster was created by the imagination of Elmer’s forest friends who were so afraid that they were all running away from an heard-but-not-seen monster. This monster roared loudly and was imagined to be scary, but when Elmer met him, he learned that he was nice, not scary. Once the forest creatures met the “monster” they laughed at how silly it was to think their heard-but-never-seen monster was so scary.
“What Adults Can Learn from This Story …”
  • Monsters are not real. Chasing monsters out of the bedroom, spraying magic potions, or casting a spell on them can tell your child that you believe the monsters are real – just as he fears they are. It says you think you need to protect him from a real monster. Why else would you be slaying a monster?
  • Exercising muscles is necessary to run a race. Likewise, children need to exercise the imagination part of their brains to become creative, artistic people –the people most needed in today’s world. Thus, pretend play, even about monsters, can be encouraged if it is clearly explained that the play is pretend and that monsters are not real.
  • What children feel about imagined monsters (fear, anxiety, anger, etc.) is real. Children need to know that adults believe that they are really afraid. It is OK to comfort your child and help him find ways to comfort himself while at the same time you are telling him monsters are not rea
  • Because monsters are not real, your children can make them anything they want them to be. They can out-smart or our-imagine their fear of monsters. Children can use their imaginations to make the monsters be anything they can think of that would be the opposite of scary – teeny tiny, toothless, furry and cuddly, so sleepy they can’t wake up no matter how hard they try, or ones that weeble and wobble on a round behind because they have no legs.
  • You can help children know the difference between pretend and real by saying things like, “I like to play pretend with you. Who will slay the pretend dragon first?” or “I’m done pretending, so let’s just be our real selves – no more monsters because they are not real.”
“Make this Story Come Alive for Your Child …”
  • Have your child describe a scary monster to you. Then, have her use her imagination to turn that monster into a monster who is not scary – one that might be silly, cute, or friendly. Have her describe this new monster to you. Then, both of you draw the monster she describes. See how your two pictures are alike and different.
  • Play pretend monsters with your child. Be sure you make it clear that you are both agreeing to pretend and when you are done playing that you will go back to being your real selves, and there will be no more monsters, because they are not real.


Past PICTURE BOOK CLUB postings:

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