Are you on the lookout for new picture books to share with the little ones in your life? Here are 5 books to request from your local library or purchase this month:
1. Alma and How She Got Her Name
by Juana Martinez-Neal
Alma and her family have completely melted my heart. I pored over the soft illustrations and inspiring story of a library copy of Alma and How She Got Her Name, then immediately ordered this picture book for my daughter. When Alma complains to her father that her full name–Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela–is too long, he tells her the story of her name. We meet each relative her name honors and learn the unique interests, beliefs, and contributions of Esperanza, José, Pura, and Candela. “I love the story of my name!” Alma declares. Just when I thought the book couldn’t get any better Alma’s father shares, “I picked the name Alma just for you. You are the first and only Alma. You will make your own story.” Perfection. This book could lead to a wonderful discussion of how a child received their name or open the doors to investigating their family tree. I shared this with teachers and students at a recent All School Meeting and cannot stop singing its praises! Highly recommended.
For more on this book, check out this Activity Kit from Candlewick, watch the interview with author and illustrator Juana Martinez Neal, and see her draw Alma.
2. Dad By My Side
Are you on the lookout for a great Father’s Day read? Dad By My Side is my pick this year. I spotted this book on display at the fantastic independent bookstore, Water Street Books in Exeter, New Hampshire and had to buy it for my husband. Author and illustrator, Soosh, portrays this father/daughter pair with so much love and affection as they play games, snuggle, have puppet shows, chase monsters, and more. I particularly love the pages where they “try new things” (sewing the daughter a dress) and keep in touch when the dad is away by singing lullabies on the phone. This is a book that I think is about to become a bedtime staple for our family and I bet the dads and kids in your life will enjoy it as well. To see more of Soosh’s illustrations and read about her inspiration for the book, check out, “Artist’s Tender Illustrations Show The Kind Of Father She Wishes She’d Had”.
3. Saffron Ice Cream
We are heading into the season of trips to the beach, and in Saffron Ice Cream we get a taste of two different beach experiences. Young Rashin and her family have moved to Brooklyn from Iran and are about to head to the beach at Coney Island for the first time. As they travel there, she thinks back on what it was like to go the beach by the Caspian Sea and wonders what will be the same and different. Rashin misses many things about her old home, including her favorite flavor of ice cream–saffron, but she discovers Coney Island has a lot to offer, including the promise of a new friend. I’m excited to share this one with students this week as we promote summer reading by turning the library into a beach for some fun reading time–complete with umbrellas, sand pails, beach towels and chairs, ocean sounds and more!
You can hear the story behind the book from the author, Rashin:
4. The Honeybee
by Kirsten Hall and Isabelle Arsenault
The Honeybee is a beautiful book, with illustrations you will want to stop and savor. The writing is just as charming with rhyming text that begs to be read out loud. “Do you hear it? You’re near it. It’s closer, it’s coming, it’s buzzing, it’s humming…A BEE!” Perfect for outdoor sharing or as a science read aloud, little ones will learn all about honeybees and their important role in our world in a lively, engaging way. For more, you can also check out the activity sheet from the publisher:
5. Captain Starfish
by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys
In Captain Starfish, we meet Alfie, a young boy who wants to attend his school’s underwater parade in his starfish costume, but is feeling too shy and anxious. “I can’t”, he tells his mom, “Please don’t be angry”. Alfie’s parents are both depicted as loving and supportive and his mom decides to take him to the aquarium. It is there that he draws inspiration from a different sea creature that also needs to “hide away” sometimes. A comforting, sweet story that is sure to connect with children. This is also a gorgeous book with bright coral, blue and seafoam colors throughout.