Picturebooks are key to every child’s learning development. They help children recognize letter sounds and learn new sight words. But they can also go beyond teaching simple literacy skills. They can open the door to new thoughts and ideas. They can encourage children to think about the world in new ways
The Blue Spruce category of the Forest of Reading program showcases ten different picturebooks that have different themes ranging from friendship to ingenuity. Here are three of my favourite picks from this year’s nominees:
Are you a Cheeseburger? by Monica Arnaldo
Every raccoon loves a good cheeseburger. They are Grub’s absolute favourite. One day, when he was rooting through a trashcan, he discovers Seed. Seed asks to be planted so he can grow into food. Grub hopes that Seed will grow into a cheeseburger plant.
As they wait for Seed to grow, they spend time together telling stories. Then finally Seed sprouts and he’s not what Grub expected.
This is a sweet story about friendship and acceptance. It highlights the lesson that sometimes you don’t always get what you want and that’s ok. Friendship is more important than any tasty cheeseburger.
Friends are Friends, Forever by Dan Liu
Dandan and Yueyue are best friends. They do everything together. They even have their own Lunar New Year’s Eve tradition – making snowflakes out of red paper and freeze them outside. But this Lunar New Year’s is different. It will be the last time Dandan is in China. Her family is moving far away. Before she goes, Yueyue gives Dandan a special gift. It’s a stack of red paper so she can continue their tradition in her new home.
Life is a new country is hard for Dandan. Everything is strange. The clothes are different. The streets are different. Even the words are different. But Dandan still has Yueyue because friends are friends, forever.
The book is based on the author’s own immigration story. While there are many books about saying hello to a new home, there aren’t that many about saying goodbye to your old home. This is a good example of the endurance of friendship and keeping love in your heart.
A Sky-Blue Bench by Bahram Rahman
Aria goes to school in Afghanistan. She was in an accident and now she wears a helper-leg. Her school doesn’t have benches, so the students sit on the floor. Sitting is difficult for Aria so she stands instead. If only she had something to rest on, school would be much easier. Aria decides to solve the problem herself. She gathers wood pieces and borrows some tools. People tell her she can’t build things, but Aria knows she do anything. After a lot of hard work, she completes her very own bench. She paints it sky-blue which is the colour of courage, peace and wisdom. The other girls in her school are so impressed with her bench they ask Aria to teach them how to build one.
The author wrote this book based on his own childhood experience of growing up under the Taliban regime. It covers many important issues from barriers to education to living with a disability. The main focus of the story, however, is the power to problem-solve and take charge of your own destiny.
You’ll find the rest of the nominees below if you are interested in checking them out!
- Abuelita and Me by Leonarda Carranza and Illustrated by Rafael Mayani
- Be a Good Ancestor by Leona Prince and Illustrated by Carla Joseph
- Bharatanatyam in Ballet Shoes by Mahak Jain and Illustrated by Anu Chouhan
- Granny’s Kitchen by Sadé Smith and Illustrated by Ken Daley
- Meena’s Mindful Moment by Tina Athaide and Illustrated by Åsa Gilland
- Rodney Was a Tortoise by Nan Forler and Illustrated by Yong Ling Kang
- That’s Not My Name! by Anoosha Syed