Teaching Kids What Books Are For

Sometimes a book catches your eye right away and you can tell from the cover it’s going to be a fun read. Other times, it’s the most inconspicuous book that you happen to pick up out of mild curiosity, not expecting much, that turns out to be a real gem. This is one of those books.

The Wonderful BookThe Wonderful Book by Leonid Gore

First impression: Oh great, another children’s picture book with a cute bear on the cover. Yawn!

But believe me, this one is definitely worth picking up. It had my storytime group giggling from start to finish, and at the end, one little boy blurted, “Read it again!” As any literacy educator knows, finding books that appeal to boys is quite often a challenge, so I took this as high praise indeed.

I decided to make a complete fool of myself when introducing this book. I pulled it out of my storytime treasure box and said, “Oh look! It’s a pillow!” As I pretended to go to sleep with my head on the book, the group erupted in giggles. Grumpily, I knocked on the cover and complained about the hardness of my “pillow”. The kids (in vain) tried to tell me, no, no, that’s not what a book is for!

I proceeded to try a few other silly things with the book, like using it as an umbrella in the rain or a chair to sit on, but each time, the kids insisted that I was mistaken. Finally, I asked them to please tell me what to do with the book. Never before has a group of kids demanded with such passion that I read them a story!

Ok, so maybe the fact that I built it up so much helped… a lot. The kids were highly amused by the animals in the story—from the bear who uses a book as a hat to the mice who use it as a dining table—who were just as confused about books as their crazy storytime teacher.

While there are other books that promote reading in a positive way (and they certainly have their place), this one emphasizes the joy of reading by showing what a book is NOT for. That’s what sets it apart and makes it so funny to preschoolers, who delight in such silliness.

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