As teachers of young children, we’ve spent countless hours over time reading aloud to young audiences and sharing the joy and excitement of books with kids. We’ve seen the impact a book can have on children—to captivate, inspire, entertain… the list goes on and on. Books are powerful, magical teaching tools, and let’s be honest—they can be just plain fun!
We have a passion for children’s books and have fallen in love with numerous books and children’s authors over the years. We’d like to take time monthly to share some of our favorites with you through monthly Author Spotlights and regular Book Buzzes. In addition to sharing about the authors and books we love, we will often share a strategy you can use with the book or books to use with your young reader, if you choose. We hope you’ll find these authors and books as enjoyable as we do! (And if you have a favorite to share with us, please comment! We love hearing about new books and why you and your family love them).
This month’s Author Spotlight: Mo Willems!
If you haven’t been introduced to Mo Willems, you are in for a treat. He is the award-winning children’s author responsible for writing and illustrating kids’ favorites including The Pigeon series, The Knuffle Bunny trio, Elephant and Piggie books, and more. He began his career writing and animating for Sesame Street, while also performing stand-up comedy in New York. He brings this humor and creativity into each book he writes; his witty writing makes his books enjoyable for both kids and adults! (Watch out or you’ll find yourself reading these books long after your kids have left your lap, laughing out loud all by yourself!)
Kids of all ages enjoy the cartoon-like illustrations and quickly come to see that the characters have personality and sometimes even a little attitude. Mo Willems does a wonderful job conveying characters’ emotions through their facial expressions and simple talk-bubbles. The humorous illustrations combined with the engaging story lines draw readers in and leave them wanting more of Mo Willems, and therefore, more reading!! I have yet to meet a child who does not enjoy Mo Willems’ books, and have found many adult fans as well.
- Making inferences: You can begin teaching young readers the higher-level reading skill of making inferences through the Elephant and Piggie books. Stop at different points throughout the stories to ask children what the characters are feeling based on their facial expressions and the words they are speaking. *I have used this for kids from preschool to fourth grade!*
- Making connections: Many of Mo Willems’ stories have plot lines that children can relate to. From a favorite toy getting broken in I Love My New Toy, to cherishing a special stuffed animal in the Knuffle Bunny series, kids can relate to the characters in the stories. Making text-to-self connections is a key reading strategy that students will use throughout their lives as readers, and these books are a perfect starting point. As you’re reading with your child, stop and ask your child questions about their own experiences that connect to the characters. Start questions with “Have you ever….?” “Can you understand how _____ might be feeling?” These questions get your child thinking as they read!
For more information on Mo Willems, check out his official website.
We hope you check your local library or book store for some Mo Willems’ favorites soon. Let us know how you like them!