Early Readers

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Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, By Judith Viorst
Illustrated by Ray Cruz
Early Reader: ages 5-7 years old
ALA Notable Book, 1972

“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”

Nothing is going Alexander’s way. No prize in his cereal box, no dessert in his lunch, a cavity, there’s kissing on TV…it seems endless. Alexander is so fed up, he decides he’ll move to Australia. At the book’s end, and the end of the frustrating day, Alexander’s mother assures him that everyone has bad days…even in Australia.

Recommended by Marni Port, Child & Teen Services Manager: “This book is hysterical. It completely captures that feeling of wanting to just escape when nothing is going right. Viorst does a terrific job normalizing this without trying to make Alexander feel “good” about his bad feelings. He gets to express them–and we get to appreciate and enjoy and commiserate.”

Amanda Pig and the Very Hot Day, By Jean Van Leeuwe
Illustrated by Ann Schweninger
Early Reader: Ages 6-8 years old

Amanda Pig and the Really Hot Day is an easy-to-read book with four very short chapters, appropriate for children kindergarten through age 7 years old to listen to, and early readers to read themselves. This Amanda Pig story is part of a larger series of Amanda and Oliver Pig books.

It must be the hottest day of the summer, and Amanda Pig is struggling to stay cool. But she is hot and sticky (and drippy, after a ice-pop melts on her!) Amanda tries to beat the heat with the help of her friends and family. Join Amanda as she gets a shower from the garden hose, relaxes under a tree, drinks lemonade, and waits for a cool, night breeze.

Recommended by Marni Port, Child & Teen Services Manager: “The story is simply told and would be a treat to read out loud to a young child.”

And Tango Makes Three, By Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Illustrated By Henry Cole
Early Reader: 4-8 years old.

Read the true story of Roy and Silo, boy penguins at the Central Park Zoo who lived as a couple, hatched an egg layed by another penguin couple, and raised the little girl penguin (Tango). There are all kinds of families in the zoo; Tango’s family is a bit different, but is still a loving family!

Recommended by Marni Port, Child & Teen Services Manager: “The illustrations are lovely, and children will enjoy learning about this unique family.”

Bartholomew And The Oobleck, By Dr. Seuss
Early Reader: 4-8 years old.

Grouchy King Derwin is sick of the same four things that come from the sky: the rain, the fog, the sun and the snow. Despite the warnings from his page boy Bartholomew, he summons his magicians who promise him something new. And boy, do they deliver.

Green, gooey, gummy, gluey oobleck falls from the sky, sticking to everything and everyone it touches. Everwhere Bartholomew goes, he sees people stuck to the stuff, caught in the goo.

Follow the gooey adventure, and learn the magic words the King must speak to stop the Oobleck.

Recommended by Marni Port, Child & Teen Services Manager: “I recently re-read this book that I remembered from my childhood. Not only is it still fun, there’s a sweet lesson about taking responsibility seamlessly built in.”

Bread And Jam For Frances, By Russell Hoban
Illustrated by Lillian Hoban
Early Reader: ages 3-7 years old

Frances loves bread and jam, and doesn’t want to try any other foods. So Frances’ mom gives her bread and jam for breakfast, jam for lunch and jam for dinner. Soon, Frances is sick of bread and jam! She decides to try new foods, and agrees with her friend Albert that it’s “…nice that there are all different kind of lunches and breakfasts and dinners and snacks.”

Recommended by Marni Port, Child & Teen Services Manager: “I always identified with Frances, the picky eater! And I loved it that the food she decided to try first (after she was sick of break and jam!) was spaghetti and meatballs, which was my favorite too!”

A Child’s Garden of Verses, By Robert Louis Stevenson
Early Reader: ages 5-8 years old

A Child’s Garden of Verse was originally published in 1885. It is a wonderful introduction to poetry; the poems all relate to childhood and cover a wide range of emotions and situations.

Recommended by Margaret Edgar, FHL Manger AND Marni Port, Child & Teen Services Manager:

Margaret says: “I was recently reading some of these poems to a young relative and the description timeless came to mind. My father brought this book home for me one day after being introduced to Stevenson by Bullwinkle J. Moose. Bullwinkle used to recite a couple of lines from The Swing when introducing commercials. My father thought it was time that I learned the rest of the poem. Stevenson captures so much of the way children experience and attempt to understand day-to-day life.”

Marni says: My dad use to read poetry to me when I was very young. This book of poems was one of my all time favorites and I still have my childhood copy. My favorites in the collection: The Swing (I use to pretend I was the little girl), Looking Glass River, Bed in Summer (oh, how true this one is!), Where Go the Boats, and, oh, so many more! I also loved my version which was illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, By Judi Barrett
Illustrated By Ron Barrett
Early Reader: 4-8 years old.

Welcome to the land of Chewandswallow, where everything that everyone eats falls from the sky three times a day. “Life for the townspeople was delicious, until the weather took a turn for the worse.” This tall-tale bedtime story, told by Grandpa one evening, is yummy and fulfilling!

Recommended by Marni Port, Child & Teen Services Manager: “The illustrations of the story are priceless…I laughed out loud a number of times, watching the people “catch” and finally escape from their meals!”

Frog And Toad Are Friends, By Arnold Lobel
Early Reader: ages 5-8 years old
Caldecott Honor Book /Newberry Honor Book
National Book Award For Children’s Literature: Finalist

Five short chapters make up each book, telling the story of the friendship between Frog and Toad. Charming and silly, the adventures shared by these two friends will enchant your young reader. “A List”, in Frog And Toad Together, is my favorite!

Recommended by: Margaret Edgar, Family Help Line Manager & Janelle Durham, Great Starts Trainer

Janelle says: My favorite is “The Garden”. Toad has a hard time waiting for his seeds to grow, so he’s shouting at the ground ‘start growing!’ Then he thinks that maybe they’re afraid of the dark, so he sits outside and reads them stories and poetry so they won’t be afraid.

Margaret says: The stories are so well written and fun to listen to that younger audiences love them. Terrific character development and fun to read.

How I Became A Pirate, By David Shannon & Melinda Long
Early Readers: ages 4-7 years old

How I became a Pirate is from the point of view of young Jeremy Jacobs, who knows all about pirates. When a pirate ship shows up on the shore of North Beach, nobody but Jeremy seems to notice. His parents are much too busy with their own stuff. But the pirates notice Jeremy.

After admiring his sand castle, the pirates proclaim Jeremy a “good digger” and take him aboard their ship to help them bury a treasure chest. Before he knows it, Jeremy is living the pirate life–singing sea chanteys and learning to speak like a pirate. Jeremy enjoys this life at first–no vegetables on board, no bedtime, and no brushing teeth!

But soon Jeremy starts thinking about all the things he would miss being away from home: pirates don’t have books, there is no one to tuck you in at night, and no one to comfort you when you are scared. In the end, Jeremy realizes that the pirate life is fun–but only for a little while. Soon he is ready to go home.

Recommended by Joey, child of a staff member: “This book cracks my son up every time we read it!”

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the BIG HUNGRY BEAR, by Don and Audrey Wood
Early reader: 3-7 years old

Little Mouse is ready to pick a ripe, red strawberry. But what can he do to keep it from the big, hungry bear? With the help of the narrator, Mouse figures out the best way to enjoy the strawberry.

Recommended by Marni Port, Child & Teen Services Manager: The story and illustrations are a delight. From the first drawing of Little Mouse you will be sucked right in

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, By William Steig, author and illustrator
Early Reader: ages 5-7 years old
Selected as one of the 100 Best Books of the Century by the National Education Association.
Winner of the 1970 Caldecott Medal

Sylvester, a lovable donkey, enjoyed collecting all different kinds of pebbles. One day it was raining very hard and amongst the raindrops he saw a beautiful red and shiny pebble sitting on the ground. He was very excited and picked up this marvelous pebble for his collection. The rain was making him very cold and he wished it would go away. Then, all of a sudden, the rain stopped! The pebble granted wishes.

Sylvester was so happy he started on his way home so he could show his mother and father. But right in front of him was a hungry lion that wanted to eat Sylvester. Sylvester was so scared he did not know what to wish for. So he decided to wish to be a rock. He turned into a rock and was safe from the lion.

However, the magic pebble had dropped right beside the rock that was Sylvester–and Sylvester was not touching it! Sylvester wished several times to be a donkey again but nothing happened. Would Sylvester be a rock for the rest of his life? What would his parents do?

Recommended by Margaret Edgar, Parent Trust Family Help Line Manager: “The first thing I love about this book, and so many of the William Steig’s books, is the language he uses. It is not an “easy reader”, but it is a wonderful book to introduce to a new reader. The second thing I love is the premise. It is just the sort of thing that a child would imagine trying with a shiny new pebble, and he uses that notion to entertain a child’s magical thinking.”

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, By Judith Viorst
Illustrated by Erik Blegvad
Early Readers: ages 5-7 years old.

Published in 1971, The Tenth Good Thing About Barney is about a boy whose cat (Barney) dies. The boy is very sad, and in preparation for the cat funeral, tries to come up with ten good things to say about Barney. But he can only think of nine. Told in simple and loving language, this is a beautiful story that helps a child to process feelings of grief after a pet dies. With the help of his loving parents, the boy is able to experience his sadness without shame or judgment. There are no religious rituals, just an exploration of memories, feelings, thoughts and questions stemming from the death of a beloved pet.

Recommended by Marni Port, Child & Teen Services Manager: Although early readers could tackle this book on their own, we recommend you read it with your child due to the subject matter.

The Velveteen Rabbit, By Margery Williams
Illustrated By Michael Hague
Early Reader: 5-7 Years old

The Velveteen Rabbit is a beautiful story told through the eyes of a stuffed rabbit. This story depicts the relationship between a stuffed rabbit and a young boy. The story is heartfelt as it reminded me of my own relationship with my childhood toy.

The little rabbit is the boy’s favorite stocking stuffer, but with the excitement of the day, the boy soon forgets about the toy. The rabbit lives in the toy chest for a while and does not seem to fit in with the other toys. He only forms a relationship with an old toy horse.

The wise horse tells the rabbit that one can become “real” with time and enough love from a child. The Velveteen Rabbit dreams of being “real.” Soon after the boy looses his regular nighttime toy, the rabbit is taken out of the cabinet to sleep beside the boy. There begins a loving relationship between a child and the Velveteen Rabbit.

Will the rabbit’s dream come true now that he has the love of a child? Read the book to find out! This is a great book share with you child and a wonderful opportunity to talk about your own childhood experience with your favorite toy.

Recommended by Christine Stoll, Development Coordinator: “This was my favorite book as a child; I loved the fantasy part of stuffed animals coming to life.”