The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey
The Train to Timbuctoo by Margaret Wise Brown
The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter
The Boy with a Drum by David L. Harrison
They don’t make ’em like they used to! This applies to the Golden Books, for sure. You know, those picture books with the stiff covers and gold foil spines? The new Golden Books are thinly disguised marketing strategies for TV shows and toys that line the aisle at Walmart. And while many of the old Golden Books didn’t have amazing literary merit, (they were fairly straight-forward narratives about a visit to the farm or to Grandpa’s), there are still enough gems among them as far as illustrations go (by Eloise Wilkins, or Garth Williams—think Little House books), or as far as stories go (by authors like Margaret Wise Brown—of Goodnight Moon fame).
My favourite of these oldies but goldies to read aloud are The Poky Little Puppy for its repetition and rhythmic language, The Train to Timbuctoo for the same reason (can anything top this book for rhythm?!), The Little Red Caboose because it’s just a hit with preschoolers (being a train book with interesting pictures, some drama, and a little repetition), and The Boy with a Drum (okay, maybe something can top The Train to Timbuctoo for rhythm and repetition—it’s this book!). I just love The Boy with a Drum.
You have probably noticed the recurring theme for what makes a great preschooler’s book: rhythm and repetition. Why do kids respond so strongly to these aspects? Probably because the repetition helps them join in the “reading” of the book, and because the language introduces a rhythm that their wiggly bodies readily respond to. The third thing that makes these books great is their vocabulary. None of these authors sat down and tried to write a simple book for little kids using limited vocabulary. No, these olden-golden books were written by lively people struck by an idea who played around with words and word sounds until their story came alive…as it will for your little ones. 🙂