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2018’s Best Books for Kids - Pre-K & Elementary Grades

Tots to teens, we’ve got 21 titles your children will love!
Elisa Chemayne Agostinho
Thursday, January 3, 2019

Explore the world, make new friends and discover something about yourself you never, ever expected. The power to do all of these things and more can be found in the extraordinary magic of books, and you can share that awesome potential with your children each and every day. Our thoughtfully curated list is a great place to start...

Carmela Full of Wishes, By Matt de la Peña; illustrated by Christian Robinson Carmela Full of Wishes*
By Matt de la Peña; illustrated by Christian Robinson
When Carmela finds a fluffy white dandelion and learns it’s meant for wishing, she starts to think about all the things she could ask for: a candy machine, a soft bed for her mother (like the ones she makes up every day as a hotel maid) or a way for her father’s papers to be fixed “so he could finally be home.” What if she makes the wrong choice? Ages 4-8
Julián Is a Mermaid, Written & illustrated by Jessica Love Julián Is a Mermaid*
Written & illustrated by Jessica Love
Riding the subway with his abuela, Julián is enchanted by a trio of gaily costumed mermaids who enter the car, hurtling him into a colorful undersea fantasy where his curly hair suddenly falls to his waist and his legs fuse together to form a dazzlingly radiant tail. Shook free of his reverie Julián is determined to make his dream a reality, and he discovers a wholly unexpected ally along the way. Ages 4-8
The Day You Begin* By Jacqueline Woodson; illustrated by Rafael López The Day You Begin
By Jacqueline Woodson; illustrated by Rafael López
It’s the first day of school and Angelina listens quietly as classmates share stories of exotic summer journeys. What will she contribute? She spent the hot sticky months at home caring for her little sister, where they read and laughed and looked out the window over the crowded city. But Angelina soon finds that as different as you think you are, the world will always open up to make room for you. Ages 4-8
The Rabbit Listened* Written & illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld The Rabbit Listened*
Written & illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld
Taylor’s miserable. His stupendously amazing wood-block tower has been toppled by birds, and he’s not sure what to do with his feelings about that. Everyone’s got a suggestion, of course. The bear thinks he should get angry; the ostrich thinks he should ignore it; and the hyena thinks he should laugh it off. Then the rabbit tiptoes over and listens to what Taylor thinks, and that helps him finally figure out what he wants to do next. Ages 3-5
Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings By Francie Latour; illustrated by Ken Daley Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings
By Francie Latour; illustrated by Ken Daley
 Coming to Haiti every December from America to spend time with her Auntie Luce, a little girl drinks in the sights and sounds of a town pulsating with energy and excitement: “boys selling water ice by the pink cathedral; market women balancing fruit baskets on their heads; and tap tap buses painted with soccer stars and signs that say ‘Se Ginen Nou Ye.’” Auntie Luce is an artist with portraits of Haiti’s heroes lining her studio walls, and every year the little girl asks, “Can I sit for you Auntie Luce? Will you paint me this time, please?” Ages 4-8
Marwan’s Journey* By Patricia de Arias; illustrated by Laura Borràs  Marwan’s Journey*
By Patricia de Arias; illustrated by Laura Borràs 
Marwan crosses the desert, one of thousands fleeing a war-torn country, with only his “mended clothing, a prayer book, a notebook, a pencil and a photograph of [his] mommy.” He remembers a happy house with a garden, a cat and warm sunlight streaming across his pillow. Those are all gone now and his mother is no longer with him, but Marwan hears her voice telling him to keep walking until he finds a new home. Ages 5-7
The Old Man* By Sarah V.; illustrated by Claude Dubois; translated by Daniel Hahn

The Old Man*
By Sarah V.; illustrated by Claude Dubois; translated by Daniel Hahn
A homeless old man shies away from the rush and bustle of the city, searching for a warm and quiet place to rest. He is invisible, noticed only when he’s deemed to be in the way, and wearily, warily, shuffles through the streets. Until a little girl offers him her sandwich and a smile, a kindness that fills him with hope and courage. Ages 5-11

*Available at the Miami-Dade Public Library


5 Simple Ways to Help Young Children Fall in Love with Literacy

Send your kids on a writing and reading adventure!

Adventures with Zap: 107 Creative Prompts for Beginning Writers by Diane Landy, illustrated by Allison HersheyYears spent as a writing coach gave Diane Landy a toolbox full of tasks that encourage preschool and elementary-age children to view writing and reading as a shiny big ball of fun, a love that – once cemented – can be relied on no matter where they go or what they do in life. 

“Even in preschool, every single child loved writing and the power of writing,” says Landy of her days in the classroom. “It was so empowering for them to understand that these scratch marks on paper were actually words, and that they could make those words, too!”

Landy fine-tuned the exercises she’d developed over the years and has woven them into a recently published interactive storytelling workbook featuring a friendly alien named Zap. 

“Zap is smart, but very naïve about Earth,” explains Landy, which in turn allows children to take on the role of teacher for the little blue guy. 

“They’re not writing for their teacher and they’re not writing for a parent or an adult, which can be intimidating. Instead, they’re writing with a friend who makes mistakes, too, and they just have a lot of fun with it.” 

We’ve culled five exercises from Adventures with Zap: 107 Creative Prompts for Beginning Writers that you can share with your kids today to spark their imagination and help foster a love of learning.

Just ask your child to…

  1. Introduce themselves to someone they don’t know (like a good-natured blue alien named Zap!) by filling in the following on a sheet of paper: Hi, my name is __________. I am ___ years old. The best thing about being my age is __________. The worst thing about being my age is __________. A secret about me no one else knows is __________. 
  2. Draw a picture of themselves when they were brave. Then ask them to think about what they’ve drawn and write down what they were afraid would happen. How did they face their fear? What did it feel like to be brave?
  3. Write down what it means to be a friend. Who is their best friend, either real or imagined? What do they love about this friend? 
  4. Brainstorm! If they’re stuck and need a little nudge back into creativity, ask them a question and give them 1-3 minutes to write down every idea that pops into their head, the wilder the better. Then, ask them to choose their favorite one and write about it. 
  5. Think about the hardest thing they’ve ever had to do and write about it. What was it? Why didn’t they want to do it? What happened and how did they feel after they did it? 
     

For even more great titles to add to your child’s library, visit @thechildrenstrust on Facebook and search #MiamiBookFair2018!