It’s fun for children to learn about new places. In a recent preschool storytime I read three new books that had New York City as a location. Each story was unique but contained locations that were similar. By the third book, children began to identify some of these places including The Empire State Building, The Statue of Liberty and the New York harbor. All of these are inviting books that spark children’s imagination and curiosity about the real world.
Mighty Tug by Alyssa Capucilli, published by Simon & Schuster Books, 2019.
The large format pictures of this book, sound effects and rhyme make this an ideal choice for reading aloud to a preschool group. Beautifully modern cartoon illustrations by David Mottram give life to the boats in New York’s harbor. The boats have faces, but still maintain a large degree of realism so that children are able to identify several different types: cargo boats, fireboats, as well as Mighty Tug. Mighty Tug is the tiniest girl boat, but her hard work throughout the day proves that she is one of the strongest. She works the busy harbor guiding ships, pulling barges and helping with rescues. Familiar sites of New York City such as skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty are also introduced.
Syd Hoff’s Danny and the Dinosaur in the Big City by Bruce Hale, Charles Grosvenor and David A Cutting. Published by HarperCollins, 2019.
Syd Hoff’s original Danny and the Dinosaur, first published in 1958 is a classic of children’s literature. Hoff himself followed up the original with several additional titles in the series. Hoff passed away in 2004 at age 91 after an extensive career as a cartoonist and children’s book author. The spirit of Danny lives on. In this new book, the three creators involved really emulate the spirit of Hoff in the look and feel of some of his best books. The story is modern though in that it contains updated views of New York City as Danny and the Dinosaur visit such locations as New York City’s High Line and Rockefeller Center.
In New York by Marc Brown, Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.
This inviting and informative guide to New York is a love letter to the city by someone who calls the Big Apple his home. Reader’s may be familiar with Marc Brown as the creator of Arthur. The prolific artist shows off a different side of his range of styles here. The pictures are incredibly detailed yet still remain appealing to children. Each spread shows off a different aspect of the city such as the subway system, the Empire State building, Times Square, Central Park, The Statue of Liberty and more. Other aspects of the city, such as the diverse types of foods available, are also introduced. Children will be able to identify objects that were introduced in the previous books read in this storytime such as the boats in the harbor and the High Line. Even Arthur himself makes an appearance as a balloon in the Thanksgiving Day Parade. This is another excellent read aloud choice with enough details to propel rereads. Like New York City itself, each visit will allow the reader to discover something new
Finally, children can create their own cities using stickers and coloring pages from a workbook. In this case, I used the book Fold Out and Play! by Craig Shuttlewood published by Paragon Books, 2017 (see below)
-Bonus Book ***************************************
Her Right Foot by Dave Eggars. Chronicle Books, 2017.
Her Right Foot is not an ideal book for preschoolers but it is my favorite picture book that takes place around New York City. The foot in the story refers to The Statue of Liberty and how her right foot was designed to be in movement. The message is that the statue is not just a symbol of liberty but also of forward thinking and moving with the times. Parallels to what the statue represents about America and welcoming immigrants is clear. Even the statue itself was conceived, designed, and even originally built in another country – France. This is a beautifully conceived book that puts its focus on an ever relevant topic.