Preschool Storytime – New York City

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

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.

big city

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)


Picture Books on Gardening

It takes persistence, patience and teamwork to develop a healthy garden.  These concepts are beautifully illustrated in the following three picture books.


The Curious Garden by Peter Brown.  Little Brown & Co., 2009

Liam is a curious boy who lives in a drab industrial place.   There is little nature to be enjoyed in his world.  One day he discovers some wildflowers along an abandoned rail track that used to run on a raised platform throughout the city.  He begins to care for the plants.  Eventually the garden grows, covering the railway with color and life.  When winter comes, it takes its toll and nearly destroys the garden. Quickly however, because of his previous knowledge gained, Liam revives the garden and inspires others to do the same.  Eventually the whole look of the city changes into a green and creative environment.  The illustrations in this book often speak for themselves with beautifully painted spreads, at times divided into panels.  They show a transformation of not just a city, but also of the heart.


The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes.  Flying Eye Books, 2015.

In this imaginative and lavishly illustrated book a miniature gardener, smaller than a blade of grass, tries to tend the land.  He works hard but the size of the garden is overwhelming.  His efforts tending to a flower goes noticed by normal sized children in the real world.  They begin to tend the garden, not knowing the little gardener exists.  As a result the garden flourishes.  The story speaks to the value of beauty in nature, quiet partnership and caring for your environment.  The text is simple but the detailed artwork lends itself to an almost search and find feel where a reader can make new discoveries with each viewing.

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We are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines and Kids.  Illustrated by Julianna Swaney. 2019, Thomas Nelson.

The narrative of this book demonstrates how all great achievements begin with humble intentions.  It shows how a family’s interest in gardening began with an interest in a small potted fern in a hardware store.  When the fern dies, the family becomes interested in why and goes to the library to do some research.  In the process, they learn how to better take care of plants and their interest grows.  Eventually they begin planting a variety of vegetables and flowers, facing some obstacles along the way.  This is an inspiring and informational story told with a light touch in pastel-hued watercolors.

Here are some other resources on this topic: