Books that Inspire

A box is just a box . . . unless it’s not a box

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 9.14.36 PM

Stories read aloud to children often inspire  further exploration.  Not A Box by Antoinette Portis prompts children to allow their imagination to lead them in the creative process.  After reading this story aloud in the classroom, several students visited the Production centre where they initiated an opportunity to assign new meaning to the materials selected.


This is not a paper plate … it is a sunset – K Student


Read Aloud

The books listed below are among our favourite read-alouds for early learners.  These 10 book are an amazing addition to any kindergarten library…

Peter Reynolds

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 3.32.51 PM

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 3.32.19 PM

Kathryn Otoshi

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 3.35.51 PM

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 3.34.52 PM

Herve Tullet

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 3.34.00 PM

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 3.34.24 PM

Annika Dunklee

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 3.59.38 PM

Drew Daywalt

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 3.59.15 PM

Amy Krouse Rosethal, Scott Magoon

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 4.01.10 PM

Jesse Klaumeier

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 4.12.01 PM

A+ Book List

We are often asked by other educators to recommend a professional text to read. There are countless books that we have been inspired by and it is often difficult to pick our favourites.

This being said, a few standout and are often the ones we suggest as”first reads”.

Here are our top three:

Screen shot 2014-07-02 at 1.00.57 PM

Bringing Reggio Home highlights an american educator’s experience on an year long internship with the preschools of Reggio Emilia.  A variety of projects are described, highlighting the guiding principles of the approach. We feel that this is an accessible entry text when beginning your own journey with the Reggio Emilia approach.

Screen shot 2014-07-02 at 1.01.50 PM

Beautiful Stuff is a must read for any early childhood educator! A fantastic text with beautiful colour photographs and stories guiding you through an engaging and emergent project. We feel that this project acts as a beautiful provocation to begin your school year with young children.

Click here to see our post on the Beautiful Stuff Project.

Screen shot 2014-07-02 at 1.01.31 PM

A Place for Wonder: Reading and Writing Fiction in the Primary Years has been an excellent resource as we transition into the grade one setting. Heard and McDonough share with the reader how reading and writing development can be inspired by children’s natural curiosity and wonder about the world around them. Practical ways to nurture this development are outlined and excellent open ended graphic organizers are included.

Happy Reading

Wordless Books

Wordless books are a fantastic addition to any early years classroom. We love using this type of text to promote and support literacy development. Through carefully examining the illustrations children begin to construct and make meaning of the illustrations. This allows the child to become deeply engaged in the story telling process.

How to Read a Wordless Book with a Child:

1. Predict – use language like “next” and “then” this will support children in developing an understanding of the flow of a story.

2. Language – Expose children to rich and complex language to describe, explain and make connections to the text.

3. Alternate – The story can be told in many different ways!

4. Yahooo! – Make noises, be creative, create games and make sure to PLAY!

We have used these texts in a variety of ways in our classrooms:

1. Shared Reading – Invite the children to view the book with you. Encourage the children to tell the story in their mind.

2. Poke Game – After sharing the book with the students review the book again. Tell them their finger is magic and when they poke something on the page they can either speak or make a sound. You can vary the game asking for: thoughts, dialogue, sound effects etc.

Screen shot 2014-06-24 at 5.30.07 PM

“Chalk” by Bill Thompson is a great book to introduce the ‘poke’ game.

3. Partner “Reading” – Partner reading allows all children to participate in the process of reading. Encourage students to read the book silently first. Once they understand the story they can ‘read’ the book to each other by alternating pages, taking on specific character roles, or playing the ‘poke’ game.

4. Illustration Study – Use wordless books to take an in-depth look at illustrations. Discuss the various techniques illustrators use to show motion, emotion, background etc.

Screen shot 2014-06-24 at 5.44.22 PM

“In Pictures and In Words” by Katie Ray Wood is an excellent resource to support you in developing an illustration study with young children.

A few of our “Playfully Inspired” favourites are:

Screen shot 2014-06-24 at 5.28.24 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-24 at 5.30.36 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-24 at 5.47.54 PM

Click here for more wordless books on our Pinterest page.

Ella & The Balloons in the Sky


Ella and the Balloons in the Sky is a beautifully written story by Danny Appleby with whimsical illustrations by Lauren Pirie. These two Torontonians collaborated to create what we believe is a magical tale with an inspiring message, with a soothing and delicate aesthetic to boot.

In the story, Ella awakes one day to find her pets are mysteriously floating up to the sky. She does what she can to keep them on the ground, but learns that while her treasured animal friends may be leaving her, they will be forever in her heart to cherish. This story of love and loss designed for young children is sure to capture the hearts of your students.

This rich read-aloud has endless possibilities for learning in the classroom. Not only does the book act as a beautiful provocation for drawing and painting, but reading this story to our students has elicited thoughtful dialogue and deep connections to their own lives.

Here are a few of our own student anecdotes:

This makes me think about mom when I am at school. I am here at school and she is at work, but I can keep her in my heart and see her later – E

My dog was dead one time. I think about him and love him and I can look at the sky and know he is there and I still love him. – P

Even if someone is gone, you can still be connected. – J

There is nothing like having one of those books in your collection that you can pull out time after time and still receive a thunderous applause and see an audience of engaged little faces. For us, this is that book.

Feeling inspired to own a copy? It’s available at various book stores throughout the city. It can also be purchased online at Amazon or Indigo.