Paired Picture Books

It is never too soon to discuss books with your kids.

I’m not advocating turning family reading time into a lesson. In fact, I don’t really advocate for classroom reading time to become a lesson. There’s plenty of time for lessons but not nearly enough time for just enjoying a good book.

Book discussion should come naturally. If you read to your kids regularly, you know how this works.

“How come he did that?”

“Where did the bear go?”

I love when kids make connections between two books or stories. If you read to them enough, it is bound to happen. In fact, pairing texts might help it happen.

I thought of paired picture books when I read two very different counting books—Kathi Appelt’s Counting Crows and Kelly Milner Halls I Bought a Baby Chicken—to a two-year-old.

Then, Hannah Harrison’s Friends Stick Together and Tammi Sauer’s But the Bear Came Back showed up at my house within days of each other. I sat down to read them both on the same evening. I was immediately struck by how they were alike and how they were different.

Both are books of unlikely friendships and both contain wry humor.

In the Sauer book, illustrator Dan Taylor’s touches, especially the book titles, are a hoot! And Harrison’s illustrations always deliver.

The youngest kids will enjoy the books read straight through without the asides and the parent footnotes. With repeated readings, though, they will begin to notice the sophisticated (and Levi’s sometimes unsophisticated) humor. Let them make discoveries.

I recommend both books heartily. So does the two-year-old. I recommend them as a pair. And I dare you to find the long-legged bird that makes an appearance in both books.

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