If You Give a Preschooler a Book

Oona Baker
November 5, 2009

"If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk. When you give him the milk, he'll probably ask you for a straw. When he's finished, he'll ask for a napkin. Then, he'll want to look in a mirror to make sure he doesn't have a milk mustache. When he looks into the mirror, he might notice his hair needs a trim. So he'll probably ask for a pair of nail scissors..."

Some picture books are perennial favorites among the preschool crowd, and Laura Numeroff's series of kooky creatures and their escapades always end up as top choices for birthday gifts and story time gatherings. Sure, the stories follow a easy to identify formula, but that's what makes them so adored by young children!  Felicia Bond's cheerful watercolor illustrations are instantly recognizable, and toddlers may wish they could crawl inside the book and get into some mischief too. The predictability of cause and effect, as each character always has more and more demands, is an excellent way for children to learn about what happens next, and begin to make their own predictions. Children can relate to the frantic starting/stopping of activities and needs that are immediate and ever so important. (Sound like anyone you know?) Preschoolers, and even bigger kids, will delight in seeing subtle spoofs on everyday objects, like the "Goodnight Mouse" book, or the familiarity of a spilled can of Ajax.

Numeroff's series of books are excellent conversation starters, as you talk about consequences of actions, and what behaviors are ok in different settings. The stories have a nice rhythm to them, and always come full circle at the end, which is probably why your toddler may request this book seventeen times a day--there is a sense of completion that is satisfying to a young mind. Sequencing--and all the mess and fun that is involved in these books--can be a tool for your child to make up their own stories, about everyday trips to the grocery store or fantastical forays that involve the complete annihilation of your house.

So, if you give a preschooler a lap to snuggle on and a book to listen to, chances are they'll want you to read another, and another, and another...

From the Parents

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