Tag Archives: read aloud

Board Book of the Week: Red Truck by Kersten Hamilton

Books can be hard to talk about. And children’s books — especially ones with less than 20 pages — can be particularly tough, at least for me, so far. But I think I found a way to make this work.

I finally started taking A to the library. And when you go once, there’s a pretty strong pull to go back — the books have to be returned at some point, and the drive through drop box seems almost cruel when there’s so much fun to be had inside (there’s some seriously great play areas set up, let alone all the books).

I brought home a stack of books this week, as you do. Seven books last time, nine this time. Most I considered quickly but somewhat carefully, and a few I added to the pile after A pulled them off the shelves.

Some books I like, but he either doesn’t get or doesn’t have the patience for, or something. And others he insistently brings me over and over, but they make me want to gouge my eyes out. You know how it is.

This post highlights A’s hand’s down favorite, which is one I really appreciate, too. (Which is not to say *I’m* saying “again, again,” once he tires of it, but still.)

red truck

Red Truck by Kersten Hamilton, illustrated by Valeria Petrone (2008, Viking Penguin, board book) is a delightful book.

A likes:
• Pointing at all the trucks and making truck sounds.
• Also the “Vrooom,” “Sploosh,” and “Zoom” exclamations usually elicit big smiles.

Mama likes:
• The writing is clear and engaging, the perfect balance of fun and educational, no wording is awkward or annoying. There are rhymes, but it’s not over the top. There are just the right amount of words, too. I never have to read/recite at break-neck speeds to get all the words in before he turns the page.
• The illustrations are whimsical and clear, cheerful. The background recedes and yet remains fun. The colors are bright and mostly primary without being overtly so. The tow truck driver looks enough like a cross between Mario and Luigi to make me smile but still unique enough to be his own character.
• I like the text treatment, too. Colors and sizes vary some, but it’s still completely legible. And it’s not all caps. Also, there aren’t exclamation points on every. single. page. (Ahem.)

Maybe it’s just the perfect timing in terms of his attention span and vehicle fascination, but this book certainly hits the spot. I’ve enjoyed Hamilton’s YA books in the past (Tyger Tyger (my review) and In the Forests of the Night — ooh, looks like book 3 of that Goblin Wars series is out this week: When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears) and I’ll definitely be looking for more of her children’s books now too.

For more on children’s books this week, check out Booking Mama’s Kid Konnection.

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How do you read aloud?

What does reading to a baby/todder look like? Or what should it look like? Usually when I read to my son, it consists of me reading (or reciting) the words on the pages. Sometimes I turn the pages, sometimes he turns the pages. But I really don’t explain the pictures that accompany the words (I don’t have much use for wordless books; kind of hard to read them.) I still appreciate books with good illustration, but for me, they’re not much part of the actual reading-to. He’s not able to read the words yet, but he can look at the pictures, which is what you do with them.

This is basically completely opposite the way my mom reads to them. She loves the wordless books, and she kind of makes up her own narration as she goes, pointing at each picture, naming the animal/object, and explaining the sound it makes or the function it serves. She clears up any fallacies, too: If the book has bunnies with eggs, she’ll explain that bunnies don’t lay eggs, chickens lay eggs. Silly book.

Is there a right and a wrong way? Should I be spending more time on each page, pointing and naming, explaining? Even if there isn’t a right or wrong approach, how do you read to a little one?

(This blog post brought to you by rocking a fussy baby to sleep.)