Shapes, Shapes, We're Gonna Read Books on Shapes!

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Shapes, Shapes, We're Gonna Read Books on Shapes!

As a children's librarian, I am constantly asked for recommendations for early literacy concept books like shapes, colors, numbers, letters, etc. One night as I worked with a mom to find great books on shapes, I realized that while there may be lots of shape books, not all of the shape books were GREAT! So, I rummaged through the shelves for the best books about shapes, and in turn, I created this list of my favorite shape books - just for you! Enjoy! 

Round Is a Mooncake by Roseanne Thong
When a child first learns about shapes, it can make for some easy connections in their lives. Round is so many things in this little girl's life - and then the book asks the reader what they see that is round. Square-stamps, tofu and radish cakes, dim sum, pizza box, etc. Rectangles are mobile phones, inking stones, stacks of rice

I love how it merges cultural understanding with learning about shapes - it’s such an easy connector for kids and it helps normalize differences while exposing to new subject matter. Another great feature of this book- is the glossary in the back for the "unfamiliar" shapes that this book discusses. 
 
Shapes by Tana Hoban
It starts with a guide of the shapes to look for in the book: Arcs, Circles, hearts, Hexagons, Ovals, Diamonds, Rectangles, Squares, Stars, Trapezoids, Triangles - with a picture of each one. Hoban's books always use real pictures and real moments from children’s lives and experiences. These are great books for taking a picture walk or making up your own story. There are no words, so you can add your own voice to the story, and connect the shapes to your own life. 
 
Friendshape by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
Four shapes are best friends - a yellow square, a blue ball, an orange rectangle, and a green triangle. It is really cute and smart how the author uses the shapes to explain friendship to others - they can make a home, they can play, they think the same thoughts - banana!, they are fair and take turns, welcome new friends like an octagon. They may quarrel - and the shapes get wobbly, but they don’t bend out of shape for too long. This book is so simple but a gem. And I love in the end when they use their letters to spell out a block - LOVE!
 
Shape Shift by Joyce Hesselberth
Another book that gives you shapes to search for: Triangle, Semicircle, Crescent, Trapezoid, Rectangle, Circle, Oval, Diamond, and Square. It enforces that shapes all around us with the very block-y illustrations - it points out blocks that it sees and asks you to look around. The two main characters a girl and boy make a game out of the shape work - they take two shapes and then think about what they see - this is so good for divergent thinking - and for creativity. It also shows POV (point of view), as two people look at the same two shapes and can see different things. They play three games with two shapes - seeing really interesting things like a bull with the crescent and the trapezoid, and then a fish jumping into the waves. You could cut out your own shapes like the ones suggested and play all day long!
 
Perfect Square by Michael Hall
Perfect Square is a red square with equal sides and corners. And it was happy that way. Until on a Monday, it is cut into pieces, poked full of holes and has to remake itself into a fountain. Tuesday, the square is cut into scraps - and looks yellow/orangeish. So it became flowers in a garden. On Wednesday, it is green and shredded into strips, and made itself into a park. On Thursday, it was a teal color and it was shattered into sharp pieces, so it became a bridge. On Friday, it was snipped into violet ribbons, it became a river. Saturday, it was crumbled and ripped and purple, and it became a mountain. On Sunday, it was a red square again, waiting to see what would happen next. But nothing did, so it made itself a window to see all of the creations that occurred that week. This book is great for young ones to think of what happens next to the colors (a rainbow) and what the square will do with the new shapes. Having a good attitude about what life gives you is also a central message.

This is one of my favorite children’s authors; for a focus on hearts, read My Heart is a Zoo.

Circle, Square, Moose by Kelly Bingham
If the author had her way - this would have been Circle, Square, Triangle - but a pesky Moose longs to be included in the shape fun! After the first two shapes, a button (circle) and a sandwich (square), the moose makes it’s appearance, grabbing the sandwich to eat! The author jumps in to tell the Moose that it is in the wrong book and tries to get back to triangles (cheese, pie) and then the Moose brings in cat’s ears! Basically, the Moose wants to help tell the story! After a while, a Zebra referee tries to jump in and catch the Moose and chases after it throughout the story. It’s so funny to see the chase scene blow by pages of the book. When the author shows a curve, they both get stuck in the ribbon. Until the Moose finds an escape: a black hole for the Zebra to fall in! It’s probably the funniest book about shapes!

Shape by Shape by Suse MacDonald
This book is another guessing game - but you won’t believe what it is! Each page starts with a cut in clue - like two round eyes, then lots of sharp teeth, then a wide mouth, and a fierce glance, an oh-so-smooth head, and many, many scales. The book builds both forward as you see more shapes, and then backward when you turn the page to look at what shape it built. The end flips out and it’s a huge Brachiosaurus! And they even tell you how to pronounce it: "BRACK-ee-uh-SAWR-us"! Kids love this book - they love guessing and the building element! And they love dinosaurs!
 
Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Walsh’s books feature bright illustrations of some mischievous mice trying to outsmart a hungry cat! I always feel like these stories are about Gus and Jaq from Cinderella trying to get away from the cat, Lucifer. But maybe that’s just me. Walsh presents early literacy components like Shapes, Colors, and Counting by using the objects in the ever important game of escaping from a cat. With one oval, one circle, and eight triangles, the mice build their hiding spots and escapes routes. Readers will delight in the tale of these clever mice!

City Shapes by Diana Murray
Readers will join a young girl's journey through her home, a city. While the author is writing from her own experiences growing up in NYC, I think this book shows the average city life that anyone would experience, in any city. The illustrator uses watercolors and collages to bring this city to life. I think it works really well to draw the reader's attention to the shapes. The story is one of the few that talks about the experience of shapes - how they feel in the world, and what they mean to their community. 

Square Cat by Elizabeth Shoonmaker
To win the heart of a librarian, add a cat! This concept book on shapes is about a square cat - not a cat stuffed into a square box -  an actual cat shaped like a square. Unfortunately for Eula the square cat, she lives in a world of round cats and round experiences - like mouse holes! This book is about more than just shapes. It uses them to talk about fitting in, something that children and adults can both relate to!

Go, Shapes, Go! By Denise Fleming
Now that we know our shapes, let’s see them do some work. The shapes in this book are ready to perform for you! I love how Denise uses scraps of different paper/elements to create the shapes in this book; the shapes are also always labeled. Each page features a particular shape and an action, making this book great for some movement! After a few pages, you can guess what the shapes are building. But what was built, must fall, and tumble they shall!