Journey, Adventure & Discover


“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  – Dr. Seuss

Part III:  Journey, Adventure & Discover with Picture Books

Cam2#10There are four sections in this chapter:  Getting Ready to Listen, How to Select Picture Books for Storytime, Read Aloud Tips and One-on-One


“Reading aloud with children is the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills for learning to read.”- Marilyn Jager Adams

1. Getting Ready to Listen

After your opening, it’s time for passengers to turn on their listening ears.  Remind children of this prior to beginning each new story with simple directions or by using a story stretch.  I call these short and simple activities “getting ready to listens”.  Here are examples:

  • Have your audience rub their listening ears to warm them up.
  • Have children turn on their ears by pulling on earlobes like lightbulbs.
  • Find a good story stretch about listening.


“Teaching reading is rocket science.”  – Louisa Moats

2. How to Select Picture Books to Read Aloud.  Choose books with:

  1. Big illustrations that are easy to see from a distance.
  2. Comedy and humor.
  3. Engaging interactive components.  In groups, it’s very important to involve listeners in stories.  Repetitive words, character’s questions and dramatic feelings provide such opportunities.  Cue children to repeat parts of stories or interpret character’s feelings through their facial expressions.  Naming and expressing feelings is a key component of kindergarten readiness and emotional development.
  4. Lots of action.  Have children make sound effects that go with big actions.
  5. Plot hooks on the first few pages.  A great read aloud will hook listeners


“Oh please we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away.  In its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall.”-Roald Dahl

3. Tips on Reading Aloud

Here are some technical pointers on reading aloud to preschoolers in groups:

  • storytelling3Hold books open at shoulder level with one hand.
  • Keep the book steady throughout the story.
  • Turn pages with your other hand.
  • Ask kids to help you tell the story.  Direct them on how to do this before you begin.
  • Show children the cover and ask them what they think the book is about.
  • Pause to ask brief questions for the group to consider during the story.  Questions like these don’t need verbal answers.
  • Don’t take questions while reading.  When kids interject questions, just move forward.  If necessary, gently remind a child that it’s listening time.
  • Read slowly.
  • Pause and fan extraordinary illustrations (these often cross the fold).
  • Honor the artists.  Read the complete title, author’s name and illustrator’s name. Read the words as written.
  • Ask children how books work, about a book’s parts, etc…


“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”  – Emilie Buchwald

4. One-on-One

A note to parents:  A lap, nap or bedtime reading routine builds basic trust.  Child development experts encourage two-way communication.  Let children relate stories to their experiences.  Reading routines provide opportunities for children to talk about their questions and concerns.  Time spent reading one-on-one with a child is excellent for his or her emotional development.  A reading routine is a time to be fully present for a child.

You are now free to move about the cabin.  It’s time to StretchNEXT


Recent Posts

Philadelphia Chickens – an imaginary musical comedy revue (in the form of a picture book)

th-26Infectious showtunes performed by an all-star cast playing original Boynton characters in an imaginary musical revue.

Bibliographic Info:  Boynton, Sandra  Philadelphia Chickens Workman Publishing (2002) 64pp  $16.95  Formats:  Hardcover with CD, ISBN:  978-0761126362  Interest Level: preK-grade 3  Genre: Song, Comedy and Humor  Themes: Music, Animals, Dance

Summary:  Philadelphia Chickens is a songbook with CD that includes 17 1/2 illustrated story-poems by Sandra Boynton.  Composer Michael Ford, who also composed Boynton’s Rhinoceros Tap, transforms these story-poems into original songs performed by many well-known actors, including Patti LuPone, Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep, Laura Linney, Eric Stoltz and Scott Bakula.

StorytimeWow_FinalLogo-1Philadelphia Chickens was given the StorytimeWOW Marquee Seal on May 8th, 2015 and has been selected for the PictureBookWOW collection at

th-27Review:  Philadelphia Chickens is a wacky, hilarious and toe-tapping musical show in a picture book. The piece is more than a book, it’s an event.  Infectious showtunes are performed by an all-star cast who play original Boynton characters in an imaginary musical revue.  Standout numbers include “Cows”, “Pig Island”, “Snuggle Puppy” and “Be Like a Duck”.  The cast of childlike animal personalities appeal to kids of all ages.  As always, Boynton’s colorful hand-drawn illustrations are full of visually expressive humor and emotion.

Storytime:  th-28 Storytime is a great occassion and opportunity to share Philadelphia Chickens with groups of children.  They will love it.  Choose one story-poem/song to include in your weekly program throughout a Philadelphia Chickens-storytime sing-along series that lasts three months.  In these storytimes, package and introduce the sing-along series and project your chosen story poem’s illustrations and lyrics onto a big screen to create a hilarious, enjoyable, toe-tapping and highly engaging sing-along story group experience.

Awards:  Grammy nominee. #1 New York Times bestseller, Recording Industry Association of America Platinum album.

Read-alikesBlue Moo by Sandra Boynton, Frog Trouble by Sandra Boynton, Dog Train by Sandra Boynton, Rhinocerous Tap by Sandra Boynton,

Links:  author’s website, Amazon

Bio (from  Sandra Boynton is a popular American cartoonist, children’s author, songwriter, producer, and director. Since 1974, Boynton has written and illustrated over fifty children’s books and seven general audience books, including five New York Times Bestsellers. More than 60 million of her books have been sold–“mostly to friends and family,” she says. She has also written (with Michael Ford) and produced five albums of renegade children’s music. Three of her five albums have been certified Gold [over 500,000 copies sold] and “Philadelphia Chickens,” nominated for a Grammy, has been certified Platinum [over 1 million copies sold.] Boynton has also directed six music videos of her songs, including the award-winning “One Shoe Blues” starring B B King. She lives in rural New England, and her studio is in a barn with perhaps the only hippopotamus weathervane in America.

Reviews:  Common Sense Media, Goodreads

I chose to review this musical in a picture book because it’s full of Sandra Boynton’s unique brand of humor and comedic characters.  And moreover, storytime deserves more showstoppers.

3Make Reading More Fun

Written by Tom Schween

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