Library veteran lists books for youngsters Suggestions: Parents can use lively stories and colorful illustrations to help their children develop a love of reading that will last for the rest of their lives.

August 23, 1998|By Joanne C. Broadwater | Joanne C. Broadwater,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

After 14 years with the Baltimore County Public Library, Eileen M. Kuhl is a veteran of at least 100 story hours for children -- but that doesn't keep her from reading to youngsters in her own family.

"I love it," said Kuhl, who won't go on a family vacation without taking a satchel of books to read to her young niece and nephews.

"Lots of times parents don't know what books to get. I look for fun stories," said Kuhl. From her years of reading to children, she has compiled a list of old and new favorites for beginning and pre-readers that she recommends to parents who want to instill in their children a love for reading.

For young children, she lists books that have vibrant illustrations -- particularly "The Gingerbread Boy" by Richard Egielski, "To Market, To Market" by Anne Miranda, and "The Mixed-Up Chameleon" by Eric Carle.

Illustrations create interest and help children learn to read by providing visual clues if they can't sound out a word, Kuhl said, adding that artwork stimulates discussion of the book.

Others on Kuhl's list include:

Laura Joffe Numeroff's "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," which encourages children to use imagination as they guess what that mouse might ask for next. (In the same vein, try Numeroff's "If You Give a Moose a Muffin" and "If You Give a Pig a Pancake.")

James Marshall's series of books, including "The Cut-Ups Crack Up," which chronicles the adventures of two irrepressible boys named Spud and Joe. Most of the stories have a funny ending and children like to discuss what might happen as the boys try to solve their predicaments.

"My Life With the Wave," an imaginative story by Catherine Cowan about a boy who goes to the beach and brings a moody wave home with him. Children love to guess what havoc the wave is going to create in his house.

"Mr. Gumpy's Outing" by John Burningham, about a man joined by children and animals on a boat ride. "There's a lot of repetition and children like that," Kuhl said. "They like a surprise but they also like knowing what's going to happen next. It makes them feel like they are in control of the story and they know the answer. It's a confidence builder."

"Too Much Noise" by Ann McGovern, whose repetition of words allows children to participate in the story and helps them learn to recognize words.

"Sam and the Tigers" by Julius Lester, the story of an African-American boy who outsmarts tigers that want to eat him -- ideal at the age when children are getting ready to go to school.

"It's good to present stories in which they can see a child being independent and thinking for himself," Kuhl said. "It makes them feel more secure and realize that they can come up with things for themselves."

"The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs" by Jon Scieszka, suggested for children ages 4 to 6, offering a version of the tale from the wolf's point of view. "It exposes them to the idea that there are different viewpoints and many ideas out there," Kuhl said.

To her list, Kuhl adds suggestions about reading -- to be creative with props and finger play, speak in voices for the characters, or listen together to a book on tape. Follow the story with a related activity, such as baking cookies after reading the mouse book.

"Bring them to the library and make it sound like an adventure. Sit with them while they're choosing but make it their choice. You've empowered them and they'll probably be more interested in the book because they've chosen it," Kuhl said.

"Don't just read stories to children. Talk to them to develop imagination. This will also develop their language because they have to reach for words to express what they're trying to say to you."

Pub Date: 8/23/98

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