Pairing New Picture Books with Fun Kids’ Activities and Toys

There are some wonderful new picture books coming out this month.  Books are very much woven into all elements of our day: from the actual reading of them to what we talk about and what we play, so I thought I’d pair each book with an engaging activity to try out and some toys.  I hope they inspire some joyful fun around your house.

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Lucy Gaggiotti’s Sophie’s Seashell Scramble

Thank you, Candlewick! If you have kids, you know flaps are always a hit.  This board book is joyfully colorful and cute and asks your little one to find a specific patterned shell.

  • Activity
    • Grab an empty container or, if you have something like the IKEA sensory table, you already know what’s up.  Fill the container with kinetic sand or these beautiful water beads or whatever you have around the house that can be dug through.  Mix in some shells or small rocks that you’ve either gathered or can make out of cardboard or whatever you have around, give your little one a spoon or scoop or some beautiful wood sensory tools like these, and have them hunt away!
  • Toy
    • There’s a board game for this one that looks so fun!  Also, I recently saw this Jellycat brand otter stuffed animal at a store and I wanted it so badly. So stinking cute and soft.  I miiight start working on getting our little one to want one ; ).

 

Hans Wilhelm’s and Eric Salcedo’s Pigs at a Party

Thank you, Chronicle!  Our daughter is excited every time she opens up this board book with the cardboard bow around it- “it’s like I’m opening a present!”.  The cute story follows three pigs going to a birthday party and teaches social skills in a way that your toddler will happily consume.

  • Activity
    • Ever thrown a birthday party for one of your kid’s stuffed animals?  That’s been a big hit around here and you can go all in with baking a cake and planning games and decorating or keep it more low-key with a pretend cake and putting your kid to work with the decor and everything else.  No matter what you choose, you’re going to love seeing how happy your kid is.
  • Toy
    • What kid doesn’t want to play birthday party over and over? This cake and this one are very cute. We got this one from Etsy from an upcoming 3rd birthday, but we haven’t gotten it yet since it’s shipping from Russia, so I’ll have to report on it another time. A friend also gifted us this Duplo birthday set and it’s been a big hit.

 

Michael Hall’s House Mouse

Thank you, Harper Kids! The mixed media makes this book extra charming. In the story, step by step, Mouse learns what makes a home- beginning with a “warm and welcoming” flame and ending with hospitality.  Plenty of sweet conversations are bound to be sparked (pun intended) by this one.

  • Activity
    • Make a mouse house, but of course! I used to love doing this as a kid.  Hopefully you have some boxes on hand.  Have fun painting the outside and cutting out windows and doors.  Make little furniture out of things you gather outside or craft inside, or find little dollhouse furniture you have around. Talk about why they’re choosing what they’re putting into their home and who they want to invite into the house.
  • Toy
    • You already know Maileg’s mice, right? They’re on the pricier side, but I really believe in quality over quantity and they get so much play around here.

 

Jon Klassen’s The Rock from the Sky

Thank you, Candlewick!  This book is weird.  Kids like weird.  The characters are deadpan, the premise is bizarre, the illustrations are bleak.  But your kids are going to laugh.  I caught our daughter flipping through this one the other day laughing to herself and saying, “the rock’s going to fall!”. If you know Klassen’s many other bestsellers, Klassen just gets kids, so do add this to your list.

  • Activity
    • I’m thinking it’s a combination of the sparse imagery and the quirky storytelling that brings shadow puppet theaters to mind.  There are lots of DIY guides online to check out.
  • Toy
    • I  think that this storytelling card set would be a wonderful way to explore how stories are traditionally told and what makes some stories, like Klassen’s, more unique.

 

Grahame Baker-Smith’s Wild is the Wind

Thank you, Candlewick! Following the path of migrating swifts, this book poetically explores the power of the wind and beautifully illustrates a journey from Southern Africa to Beijing, China.  Nature lovers are sure to want this on your shelf.

  • Activity
    • You’ll need a fan, a straw, and an excitable kid, plus whatever light things you can gather around the house: feather, paper, felt pom pom, stack of napkins, toilet paper roll, balloon, etc.  Take turns setting up the different items and making predictions about if they’ll move, how quickly they’ll move, how they might move.  The fun is in turning on the fan and blowing through the straw and just blowing and creating motion and chaos in general.
  • Toy
    • Do you know the foxtail ball? This was a favorite as a kid, I used to love watching the tail ripple in the air, and one we’ll definitely be getting for our daughter at some point.

 

Sam Usher’s Free

Thank you, Candlewick!  Our daughter loves this book.  It’s about a boy and his grandfather who find an injured bird.  The bird keeps coming back to him, so the boy wants to keep him, but the grandfather says the bird must go back to where he can be free. The book takes a whimsical turn as they adventure off to find that home and the imaginative quality of this is delightful.

Just like I remember doing as a kid, our daughter always checks the back of the book to see if there are other book covers there, so we’ve ended up going down a lovely Sam Usher rabbit hole, which I’d also recommend.

 

Lauren Tobia’s Oscar’s Tower of Flowers

Thank you, Candlewick! In this wordless picture book, Oscar’s mom has to go away and his grandmother comes to stay.  To help cheer him up, they go to a flower store and end up buying lots of seeds, taking care of them, and then sharing with all the neighbors.

Kim Tomsic’s and Hadley Hooper’s The Elephants Come Home

Thank you, Chronicle!  Hadley Hooper is one of our favorite illustrators and her art plus elephants had us very excited about this one.  This is a true story of  a couple who run a wildlife sanctuary taking in a herd of elephants who keep trying to escape, due to their past traumatic experiences, and the relationship that develops. It’s so sweet and beautifully immersive, one that you’ll all love poring over.

  • Activity
    • Make a little wildlife Bingo card or checklist, gather up a backpack and whatever other explorer type things you have around the house, and have fun identifying the flora and fauna around where you live.
  • Toy
    • I recently came across this wooden safari set and think it’s such a fantastic, open-ended toy.

 

Elizabeth Shreeve’s and Frann Preston-Gannon’s Out of the Blue: How Animals Evolved from Prehistoric Seas

Thank you, Candlewick! This fascinating book about how life has evolved from the water is both packed with science and written lyrically with lovely, soft illustrations.  It’s engaging and delightfully nerdy, perfect for your kid who loves to learn about life.

  • Activity
    • I came across this ocean in a bottle and am already jealous of any kid who gets to do this one : ).
  • Toy
    • I really appreciate that this ocean puzzle isn’t just solve it once and the kid is sick of it. Similarly, the sea animals we have around here get a lot of play in and out of the bath.  And this sensory bin set? What kid wouldn’t love it?

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