Saturday, January 23, 2010

Play with your food? Play with your books!

Did your parents tell you to stop playing with your food? Mine sure did.  Well, I'm here to tell you, to beg you, "Play with your books!"

The best story I heard all week came from a father who loves to play with his toddler son when they read stories.  His son's favorite story is How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?, but they don't just read this story together.  This dad makes the toy dinosaur read the story, and the little guy just eats it up.  "Dinosaur has to read tonight!" is the little boy's nightly request.  So, here's a post about playing with your books.  Make reading fun, laugh together, love books and spending happy time together.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?
by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
NY: Blue Sky Press, 2000
ages 2 - 5
This story just begs to be played with.  Enormous, playful dinosaurs demand the works as their parents try to put them to bed. How does a dinosaur act when Papa comes in to say it's bedtime? "Does he slam his tail and pout? Does he throw his teddy bear all about?" Young children can tell the whole story from Teague's expressive paintings, and that's part of the charm of why this works so well with preschoolers.  They can take part in this book on their own terms, reading it in their own way.  It also works so well because kids this age are just starting to play with humor.  And they get the joke of how outlandish these "baby" dinosaurs are acting.
Big Fun! Adventures of Meno (Book 1)
Wet Friend! Adventures of Meno (Book 2)
by Tony & Angela DiTerlizzi
NY: Simon and Schuster, 2009
ages 2-5
This simple, sweet book for toddlers and early readers is our kindergartner's current favorite book. But in order to really enjoy it, you have to get goofy and play with it.  So, try putting on your silliest voice, a little high and nasal, and say,
Meno begins his day by finding his best friend, Yamagoo.  Next comes breakfast, aka “sunshine snack,” with “moo juice” (milk) and “dough with hole” (doughnuts).  Then it's time for a “Big Fun.”  I'll keep it a surprise, but needless to say, big fun has all my children in giggles.  Tony DiTerlizzi, best known for the Spiderwick Chronicles, created this series with his wife, Angela.  It came from their love of Little Golden Books, old Fischer-Price toys, and vintage cereal boxes. But most of all, it was inspired by their "silly, sweet two year old daughter who delights in lots of imaginative read-alouds and bedtime stories" ( You can go to the Planet Meno website to read the second book and get a sense of the art and story.

Best of all, the Adventures of Meno work great as both first books for toddlers and as early readers for kindergartners.  Both groups love the simplicity, the mild potty humor (just a little tooting), and the simple vocabulary. And I love any book that has my children in giggles!

The review copy of the Adventures of Meno was kindly sent by the publisher.  How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? came from our home collection.  You can find many of the How Do Dinosaurs... books at your local library using WorldCatBig Fun! is in some local libraries, and can be found on WorldCat.  These books can also be found at local bookstores and on Amazon.  Please note, if you click through to Amazon using these links, a small commission goes toward Great Kid Books and will be used to buy more books to review.


  1. I love reading books with my 3 year old son. He can't get enough when his hand puppet dinosaurs are the ones reading the books. It is a really fun way to interact with him an it has increased his imagination. Thank you Mary Ann for sharing this idea!

  2. I love watching/listening to my boss (I work at a library in the children's section) read Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems and Punk Farm by Jarrett Krosoczka.

    Feel free to stop by my blog. - It's all children-related.

  3. Hooray for celebrating kids' imaginations! Isn't that wonderful!

    Elisabeth Marie, I love both of those books you recommended. Thanks for stopping by!