On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!

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On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!

Picture Books That Get You Moving


Get ready for Summer Reading at DCPL with children’s books that promote physical activity to go along with this year’s theme of fitness, wellness and sports. After all, sometimes our little ones don’t like to sit still and listen to a story - and that’s perfectly okay! In fact, research has shown that exercise helps children learn and retain information better. So in that spirit, here is a list of picture books that promote movement, along with tips on how to read and move to the book with your child.

Pretend You’re a Cat by Jean Marzallo
Pretend You’re a Cat asks readers to move like different animals: a dog, a bee, a cat, a fish. The vibrant images of children and animals doing the movements will draw readers right in, and the repetitive rhyming text will stimulate children’s phonological awareness by helping them hear the smaller sounds in words, an important early literacy skill. Ideal for Pre-K to 4th grade.

Clap Your Hands by Lorinda Bryan Cauley
Clap Your Hands invites readers to move along with the story from cover to cover. Rhyming words and vibrant images of children and animals in colorful costumes adorn each page. Cauley asks readers to stomp their feet, stick out their tongues, touch their noses, and roar like a lion. Every line in this book is a command to move. This book is perfect for even the youngest of readers, as parents can help babies move along to the story. Movement will help refine motor development in little ones, and younger children will be introduced to number concepts and names of body parts and some actions. Perfect for ages birth to 7.

The Happiest Tree: A Yoga Story by Uma Krishnaswami

The Happiest Tree introduces us to Meena, a young Asian Indian American girl who is excited about the school play until she realizes she is much too clumsy to fulfill her role as a tree. She has trouble keeping still and is sure she will tumble over. One day, on a trip to an Indian grocery store, she signs up for children’s yoga classes. Through the class, she learns how to breathe slowly and deeply, which helps her body relax. With the support of her teachers and family, she learns how to grow roots and stand straight as a tree during the school play. The story features rich, warm images and many details from Meena’s culture. The book will introduce children to the benefits of yoga, while providing an encouraging lesson about overcoming challenges. Pair the book with a yoga lesson, or practice the moves Meena does in the story. In the back of the book, you will find descriptive explanations of how to do all the poses. Great for 1st through 4th graders.

Swing! by R.B. Seder
Swing! focuses on children in motion, asking readers if they can perform different sports activities, such as kicking a ball, running, and swinging a bat. This is Seder’s second Scanimation book, a technique he developed using acetate paper overlays on board pages that give the illusion of movement. Images burst into activity, accompanied by rhyming text that captures the energy of the figures in motion. Swing! will capture children’s attention and engage reluctant readers, especially those who have an interest in sports. Readers are invited to spring into action with each page as they watch children kicking a soccer ball, swimming through water, and pirouetting on ice skates. Everyone from babies to early elementary students will enjoy this book.

Animal Action ABC by Karen Pandell
In Animal Action ABC, each letter of the alphabet stands for a different animal’s action, which is described in a short poem. Photographs of each animal as well as a child imitating its movement are included for each letter. Children can move while learning about different animals, which is conducive to some learning styles. The movements would work well for children of different abilities, and will work for a variety of ages from preschool to the early elementary years. The back of the book includes notes on different animals for those interested in learning more.

Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres
Up, Down, Around presents a garden of vegetables on the move. Some grow up, like corn, peppers, and broccoli, while others grow down, such as carrots and onions. Still others grow around and around: cucumbers, pumpkins, green beans and tomatoes. While reading, children can be encouraged to do the actions for each of the vegetables either with their hands or their whole bodies. This book is appropriate for even the youngest of readers, as babies’ bodies and limbs can be moved by caregivers to the actions. Older readers might enjoy a “test” after reading to see if they remember which direction each vegetable grows. This book includes many great action words: vegetables twine, vine, curl, and wind around. It will also expose children to new words and provide a chance to talk about different vegetables children may be unfamiliar with. The book includes images of children, animals, and bugs enthusiastically enjoying the delights of the garden, and ends with a nutritious lunch.

Ready, Set, Skip! by Jane O’Connor

In Ready, Set, Skip!, a young girl wishes she could skip like the other kids. She can do many other things - leap, twirl, skate, blow a bubble, and even burp, but she has not learned to skip. Eventually, her mother shows her how to skip: “hop on one foot/then the other.” O’Connor tells this charming story in short, rhyming text, that is paired with charcoal drawings full of movement. The story ends with mother and daughter skipping hand in hand to school. Ready, Set, Skip! is ideal for preschoolers up through younger elementary students. Readers can ask students to follow along with each action the girl demonstrates, and then skip along with her, or teach each other how to skip. Preschoolers through 2nd graders will enjoy this story.

Dunk Skunk by Michael Rex
Dunk Skunk describes animals engaged in different types of sports whose names hint at the sports they play. The story is told with simple, two word rhymes, such as “Receiver Beaver,” “Coach Roach,” and “Bat Cat.” Young sports fans will enjoy the energetic animals and clever details throughout the book. As the book is read, children can pretend to dunk a basketball, throw a football, and swing a bat. Perfect for Pre-K to Kindergarten.

Bearobics: A Hip Hop Counting Story by Vic Parker
Bearobics is full of rhyme and rhythm.  Children are introduced to different numbers as a variety of animals join the party, hopping, bopping, shimmying, and sliding. The story naturally invites readers to mimic the movements of the animals and try their own dances. It would work great for preschoolers through 2nd grade. Read the story and then play music for students to try their own “bearobics.”

Move! by Steve Jenkins
In Move!, children learn how different animals move. Readers can follow them as they jump, dive, swing, float, and slither. Illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist Steve Jenkins, Move! features large, eye-catching paper collages of each animal, along with text describing how the animals move. A description of each animal and its habits is also included. Readers are invited to guess the unique ways animals get around. Children can mimic the movements during the story. It would pair well with a lesson about animals and would work best for Pre-K to 3rd graders.