• Picturebooking Prof

What We're Reading in Quarantine

Updated: Apr 18



Well, we're on day 6,287,341 of quarantine (okay, day 36), and even though it's April 17th, it's SNOWING outside. (Welcome to Michigan.) So, I decided to forego my daily nap-time sanity walk to share a few of the books that we're reading again (and again, and AGAIN) during our days at home.


As a reminder, I have an almost 3-year-old and a recently 5-year-old, both of whom love books, but both of whom also have gnat-like attention spans--so the books have to be GREAT to work for story time! Today I'm sharing a mix: a new release title, a still-popular best-seller, and a timeless classic.


SO...three of our quarantine go-to's?


  1. TASTE YOUR WORDS by Bonnie Clark, illustrated by Todd Bright (2020, Worthy Kids)

  2. DRAGONS LOVE TACOS by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri (2012, Dial)

  3. THE GRUFFALO by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler (1999, Puffin)



1. TASTE YOUR WORDS

I pre-ordered this title for a couple of reasons, but the main one: my 5-year-old has a razor-sharp tongue, and we are really working with him to help him understand how powerful his words are (for good and for ill). I really liked the premise of this book--a metaphor where the words you speak actually manifest as physical tastes. The illustrations also looked lively and whimsical, so I thought it just might hold the attention of my littles.


Well, the day it arrived, my boys insisted on reading it right away. And we ended up reading through it not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES! In the week since, this has happened on multiple other occasions. Every time I read it, they immediately ask to read it again. I honestly can't think of another book has garnered this consistent repeat-reponse (from BOTH boys!). Amazing!

As a writer, I appreciated the simple prose, and the lyrical descriptions of the various tastes make even my mouth water (or not...spoiled milk? Uck!). The illustrations also did not disappoint, every page has a lovely mix of real world and word-tasting whimsy. As a Christian, I appreciated the nod to Scripture via the Proverb script on the kitchen blackboard, but also like that, because the story itself is free of overt Christian references, I have no issue recommending this story to any non-Christian friends who may be facing this challenge with their kiddos. Win-win!



2. DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

Okay, if you are part of the kidlit world or have had any reason to read to young kiddos over the past several years, you would probably have had to be living under a rock to not have at least heard of DRAGONS LOVE TACOS. The funny, conversational text (opening line: "Hey, kid!"), the hilarious illustrations (my boys laugh hysterically at the pants filled with tacos every time!), and the premise (a taco party for dragons?? Yes, please!!) all combine for picture book gold.


My boys LOVE this book, especially the 2-year-old...he has actually developed a strange fascination with jalapeno peppers as a result. I honestly don't think he even knows what they are, but since they cause such havoc at the dragon party, he knows they must be BAD. So anytime he needs a weapon, or is playing superhero and needs a make-believe villain, we hear shouts of "jalapeno peppers!" My boys also on occasion pretend they are the dragons destroying the house with their fire-breath...at least it's pretend, right? (So far, anyway!)

As a parent, I can also say that even though I've read this book aloud umpteen times (or as my 5-year-old would say, a "googol times"), I am still not tired of reading it (that is, it has not joined the dark abyss of where-books-parents-hate-to-read-go). That's saying a lot! Parents everywhere cheer when we find a book that we love almost as much as our kiddos.



3. THE GRUFFALO

We got this classic title as a gift when my oldest was born, and it's been a favorite in our family from the beginning. After a period of not being read for awhile (no reason apart from other books having their time), this book was rediscovered with abandon during quarantine. Both boys love the story (a mouse rules the wood with his wiley ways), and my 2-year-old has started popping off "siwwy old Mommy, doesn't she know, there's no such thing as a Gwuffawo!" anytime he's detected that I've said or done something silly. Hilarious (for daddy, anyway).


As an aspiring rhymer, you cannot do better than this as a mentor text--the rhymes flow so effortlessly, and they actually enhance the story, rather than hindering or distracting from it. Definitely something to aspire to! The rhythm also makes this an amazing read-aloud. I read it to my kiddo's preschool class during March reading month (before schools shut down, of course!), and it was a definite hit.

My boys' obsession for this story has been so intense at times during quarantine that at one point I had to put a pause on the read-alouds (my voice was getting tired!). Thankfully, we discovered a video version of the picture-book text, with the animation in the same style as the book, and that satisfied the Gruffalo craving until Mommy was back in the reader's chair.



So there you have it! Three of our favorite quarantine reads. What is rising to the top of YOUR pile? Please share in the comments!


Stay well and keep reading/writing!

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