Fourth in a series of columns that will appear on Thursday’s Education pages.

Are you getting your family ready for a vacation or a weekend away? Pack a few books for your children! Why books, you ask? Well, here it is: a lucky-seven set of reasons to keep books with you wherever you go! Whether on a trip, or a visit to the doctor, when you have a book, you have endless opportunities to engage your child in literacy moments.

1Books are excellent companions! When your child bonds with a character in a book, they’ll feel as if they’re visiting with their best buddy every time they read! Try these series:

Elephant and Piggy series by Mo Willems

Stella and Sam series by Marie-Lousie Gay

Lola series by Anna McQuinn

Joshua series by Angela Johnson

3Books provide moments of peaceful reflection. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes daily for “book time.” Together, find a quiet place to sit with a stack of favorite books and read. When all family members read, children learn that reading is valued and is as important as pausing to eat together.

4Books expose children to beautiful language and expand their vocabulary. Children’s authors select their words carefully, immersing their readers in descriptive language and rhythmic, stylistic literary elements. When you read aloud, pause after reading an especially unusual word or phrase and talk it about it with your child.

“Ride a Purple Pelican” by Jack Prelutsky

“Beautiful Blackbird” by Ashley Bryan

2Books create special bonds between children and their parents. When you take the time to read with your child, you share a moment that cannot be replaced in any other way. You laugh together, gasp together, think together. This unique, never-to-be-duplicated literacy moment is priceless. Here are a few favorites to read together:

“Today We Have No Plans” by Jane Godwin

“My Lucky Day” by Keiko Kasza

5Books engage children in creative thinking. Picture books promote both artistic and literary appreciation. Look at the pictures together and encourage your child to use the illustrations to make predictions, or to seek out new information not contained in the written text. Think about these books as jumping-off points for children’s own creative expression: perhaps they want to draw a picture about the story, too! Look for books illustrated by these talented artists:

Christian Robinson

Lois Ehlert

Jerry Pinkney

Ana Aranda

Diane Dillon

Maurice Sendak

Ed Young

7Books get us thinking! Informational picture books tell stories, too — they just happen to be true. All children are interested in learning about their world, so be sure to pack informational books. Children can scan the book and look for a topic of special interest to them and read about it, in any order they want! Here are several excellent informational picture books that promote learning and fun.

“Actual Size” by Steve Jenkins

“Martin’s Big Words” by Doreen Rappaport

“Bugs are Insects” by Anne Rockwell

“Freight Train” by Donald Crews

“I Face the Wind” by Vicki Cobb

“Hands” by Lois Ehlert

“Press Here” by Hervé Tullet

6Books are our windows to the world! When we bring children face to face with culturally diverse subjects, we convey that our world is made up of many people and customs. Books allow us to see ourselves, to meet new people, and to enter into each other’s worlds.

“Amazing Grace” by Mary Hoffman

“Meet Danitra Brown” by Nikki Grimes

“Grandfather’s Journey” by Allen Say

“Seven Blind Mice” by Ed Young

“This is My House” by Arthur Dorros

Jacqueline Witter-Easley is dean of the division of professional studies and an associate professor of education at Carthage College.

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