Today we are pleased to have guest blogger, and our very own PR intern, Katie Rossi share tips on how books like our new Peek-a-boo series title Who’s in the Farmyard? can help engage young readers, even if they might be a little reluctant to enjoy story time at first. In her words…

When I took on afternoon story time with the little boy I used to babysit, I was shocked to encounter such a reluctant little reader. It took a bit of research and a bit more perseverance, but in the end I managed to find a way to make reading as fun as it always should be!

Phillis Gershator’s Peek-a-boo series incorporates many of the techniques that I found useful when reading to uncooperative little ones. For those kids that don’t yet read independently, it’s best to get them excited about the possibility of reading on their own! After you read a book through the first time, the child can share what they remember from it the next time around, which helps to get them involved with the reading process. With Who’s in the Farmyard? kids can remember the “oink oink” of the pigs or the “cock-a-doodle-doo” that’s waking everyone up!

Another trick that gets reluctant readers interested in story time is to choose books that make for a creative read through. Who’s in the Farmyard? make use of this technique through the peek-a-boo illustrations used in all three Barefoot Books peek-a-boo titles. Kids can predict the next page of the book through the cutout pictures, like the hens and their baby chicks, which helps them to learn the flow of a narrative, as well as getting them excited about what’s coming next.

Apart from beautiful illustrations with tons of eye-catching elements, it’s important for young children to also be engaged in the words themselves. “Repetition, rhyme, rhythm, surprise, and a satisfying closure” are the five elements that Phillis Gershator names as essential to sparking a child’s interest. She also notes that even more excitement can be added by bringing the stories to life through crafts and activities. “Creating the props would be fun too. [Illustrator Jill Mcdonald's] use of patchwork and collage offer some good clues on how to make a memorable environment for the action.”

Phillis took inspiration for story time from her work as a former children’s librarian, saying, “I usually read three picture books, including at least one familiar and participatory story, one very young and easy to follow story, and one ‘new’ tale. Sometimes the books were theme related and I tried to include one with a song,” which is how the writing in Who’s In the Garden? and the subsequent two books started out! Whichever methods you use, the most important thing is that you’re reading to your child. In Phillis’s words, “A parent reading to a child, the younger the better, is a true expression of love.”

We couldn’t agree more!

Please visit Phillis Gershator’s website for some great tips on how to bring her first peek-a-boo title for Barefoot Books, Who’s in the Garden?, to life!

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