Mon Cœur (MC) really has missed story time at the library, and although we can’t attend in person, at least our regional library is bringing it to us through Storytime @ Home. Now that the library is open again, MC and I have been trying to make a weekly trip out there to check out books. We get the added bonus of sometimes seeing our storyteller librarian, too!
I’ve talked before about how I’m figuring out the best possible routines for us at home and for MC to learn at home. I’ve decided that if all else fails, I can’t go wrong checking out a handful of good children’s literature based around the same theme. Studies show that it takes 17 (seventeen!!) encounters to learn a new word. Experiencing these words in different books, in meaningful contexts provides opportunities to solidify the meaning of the word. MC loves to read, it’s a great way for us to spend time together, and by sticking with one theme, she is repeatedly exposed to the same or similar vocabulary.
As I am focused on building a bilingual environment, too, it’s helpful to approach themes and curate book selections in both French and English. This allows us to build awareness of cognates and create meaning and relationships between languages. To read more about vocabulary instruction, check out this Reading Rockets article.
RELATED: How I create a themed learning unit for my toddler, in six steps.
We recently checked out some books with dragon/castle/knight themes to read at home. We were inspired to explore dragons based on the short story and sticker competition in MC’s August Toupie Magazine.
RELATED: Read more about Toupie Magazine and our international correspondence here.
We had checked out about fifteen or so books around the theme, and after reading through all of them over the course of two weeks, we found four winners.
The Dragon Tamers by James Russell
Why we loved this book: [Spoiler alert:] MC loves this book because “the dragon came home with the boys.”
I loved the illustrations by Link Choi – they are beautiful and simple, with plenty of information to sit and discuss the pictures with MC.
There is a fun rhyming scheme (ABCB) throughout the whole book and it incorporates robust vocabulary (words like forbidden, treasure, scorched, filthy). It’s a great adventure story with humor that can be appreciated by parent and child alike.
This book is part of a series, so we are looking forward to reading more of these as they become available at the library.
The Dragon’s Toothache by Annie Besant
Why we loved this book: MC said, hands down, “The rooster.” I would like to clarify – yes there is a rooster in this book, and yet the 2nd through 10th times reading this book she argued with me that it was a chicken and I should not call it a rooster. Exasperated, I finally pointed to the word, spelled it, and read it to her saying, “Mommy’s not making this up – she’s reading what the words say in the book!”
The story encourages problem solving and persevering, and it’s a simple enough story that MC could retell it using the images. There was one particular page [pictured below] where she was able to use the images as well as her memory to “read” the page to me.
Dragon’s Extraordinary Egg by Debi Gliori
Why we loved this book: “I liked the penguin,” MC told me.
This is a story within a story, with a message of love and the lesson that, “Sometimes things happen for a reason.” I tell myself that all the time. It’s a story of penguins and dragons, of ice and fire, scales and feathers, and fitting in, standing out, and making the most of what you’ve got.
This was one of our favorites to read and reread. It’s about a brave dragon, a courageous penguin, and relationships that are built along the way.
Be a Good Dragon by Kurt Cyrus
Why we loved this book: “The snot.” That was MC’s reason, not mine. Gahhh! Toddlers…
It’s a story about a sick dragon learning social courtesies (cover that sneeze!) and self care (drink plenty of fluids “abracadabrew” and get plenty of rest). Both are timely lessons to reinforce.
I love how the poor little sick dragon talks throughout the book – it helps bring the story to another level – “Bake be all bedder!” “I’b sick! I’b sick! Oh, Baba!” I really enjoyed reading these parts, and since we read it over and over I was able to practice and get better reading these parts!
What themes have you enjoyed reading with your children recently?