Book Review: A Wonderful Day by Michael Samulak

  • A Wonderful Day. By Michael Samulak. Tate Publishing: Mustang, OK, 2015.
  • Ages: Early Reader.Toddler. Preschool

An engaging early reader that follows a child through the excitement of spending a day together with a parent at the zoo.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK

I love books that can be used for all different age levels. The book is advertised as an early reader but this book can be read with toddlers and preschoolers as well. My youngest daughter is a new reader and she enjoyed helping read the story as well as listening.

The author’s educational background shines through the text of the book. He demonstrates through lyrical prose how a parent engages with the child while reading. The text asks questions and prompts the child to make guesses about what will happen next. This will help building reading comprehension and strengthen narrative skills. Narrative skills are important because it helps children understand and process what they read and hear. An important step in building future readers.

The child can also help sequence the story events after a few readings which contributes to strong reading comprehension. One of the most important skills our children will need as they go through school.

As we have discussed before Print Motivation develops when  child sees herself in the book she reads. Books that handle normal, everyday routines or special relationships not only help our readers see themselves on the pages but motivate them to pick up books to read and hear. There are many ways a reader connects with a book and kids and parents alike will relate to the story of parent and child spending a special day together.

Vocabulary is also a strength of this book. There are animals to label and fun words like fuzzy, shipwreck, explore and many more. Books help children hear words we don’t use in everyday conversation with them. The more times you read this story the more sophisticated his vocabulary will become.

The book also uses similes and alliteration. Literary devices kids won’t understand yet, but hearing them used in stories gives them a background he can pull from when he starts writing his own stories.

The best part of this book is it is gender neutral and diverse. All children, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity will be able to see themselves on the pages of this book. I appreciate the realistic drawings that are simple but enhance the story.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

I love the opening to the book because it starts conversation between you and your child right away. After reading the book, if it is morning, talk about what will happen during the day. Or if read before bedtime, talk about what happened during the day and what might happen the next day. Not only does this help a child feel more secure with the family routine, it provides a space to talk with your child in a positive and affirming way. Without knowing it, she is learning about time and how our days have a beginning and middle and end, just like the stories she reads. You can get adventurous and have your child tell you a story of the day while you write it down, highlighting not only letter awareness but narration.

Visit a zoo or if no zoo is nearby go to a local library and find books on animals you might find at the zoo. Learn about what they eat and where they sleep and what they do all day. Reenact the story A Wonderful Day either through creative play or drawing a map of the zoo you visit, complete with pictures, to the animals in the book. Writing and drawing are great activities to increase hand strength.

Find pictures online of the different animals, or draw your own, and label each picture. Cut them out and paste on squares of paper. Flip them around and play a memory game. Seeing the word with the picture helps not only cement the new words they learn, but brings awareness to the letters that make up each word.

Another fun activity is to gather the different animal toys your child has and place them in a bag. Have the child feel the shape of the animal while in the bag and have her guess what the animal is. Picturing an object the child can’t see is great for imagination and putting the concrete into the abstract.

What to read next

Check out the author’s other book, which I will review this week:

Other great books that talk about parent child relationships:

What books do you share with your child help you feel closer? Share in comments.

HAPPY READING!

Book Review: I Know a Bear by Mariana Ruiz Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

Ages 2-5

With simple text and beautiful illustrations, I Know a Bear, tells the story of a little girl going to the zoo and imagining what life might have been like for the animals if they were free to live as intended. At the end of the story she thinks about her own pets and how they are meant to live.

This book has unique and strong vocabulary that is repeated throughout the book. It can take kids about thirty times of hearing a new word before it becomes a part of his vocabulary so books that introduce new words and repeat them help build a large repertoire for the future. The concepts might be too abstract for the young age. Children are very concrete so extrapolating what he sees in a zoo and putting it in the world might be hard for them to grasp.

What skills your child builds reading this book:

iknowabearskills

Questions to ask while reading:

  1. For children 3-5, point to the front cover of the book and ask your child what she thinks the book will be about. For younger children point to the picture on the cover and in the pages and help her name the objects.
  2. Flip through the pages without reading the text and have her make a guess about what will happen. For younger children, flip through the pages and make a guess about what the story will be about. This helps children draw context and meaning from the pictures while building narrative skills, being able to tell the story on his own.
  3. Talk about feelings. Look at the expressions on the girl’s face. Ask your child what he thinks the girl is feeling. For older children you can ask them how they might feel.
  4. Discuss what animals your child has seen at the zoo.

Take it further:

  1. Go to the zoo with a world map. Go to the different exhibits and place a dot for each of the animals and where they live in the natural world. Label it with the animal name. This will help build vocabulary through the naming of animals and the countries and continents of the world.
  2. Research bears! Go to your local library or bookstore and find a book on bears. Add the different types to the map.
  3. Find ways to use the unique words from the book in your conversation because repetition equals learning. Lush and vast are not words we use everyday but make an effort to find ways to include them in your conversations.

What activities have you used to enrich the reading experience with your child? Post suggestions in the comments to share ideas.