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Blog - For Parents - ELA & Social Studies

Inspire Play with a Book a Day: Preschool & Kindergarten Learning Books and Activities

May 17, 2021

Believe it or not, for kids, reading books share a similar purpose with play. In both activities, children learn more about their world and surroundings, whether it’s through the lens of a storybook character, or through their own make believe. While it may at first seem like an unlikely pair, books can be used to inspire play activities, forging a positive connection between literacy, learning, and fun!

If you’re looking for another way to jumpstart your child’s creativity and imagination when it comes to play and worthwhile learning activities, why not use books to act as a springboard for exciting ideas? Join us as we explore some of the best titles to use that can spark your little learner’s imagination during play!

Early Learning Books and Activities to Use

Preschool learning books don’t have to be all counting and letters. While those titles are no doubt important, there are many children’s books that can be used to pique their interest and spark their imagination. Search through the list below, categorized by the type of book they represent, and find titles and corresponding activities perfect for kindergarten or preschool.

family reading a book

Heartfelt Books for Family

  • The Wonderful Things You Will Be, by Emily Winfield Martin

This bestselling children’s book is a favorite for families that want to help their children celebrate their dreams and new beginnings. This book is about parents who look at their children and wonder about all the good things that are in their child’s future. It’s a heartwarming read that can help parents connect with their little learners, but it can also spark imagination and creativity each time it’s read together. 

After reading, challenge your child to think about their future and open their minds to the wonderful things they may do. Help your kids create dolls, puppets, or crafts that allows them to imagine all the possibilities. Think about future careers; does your little learner want to be a doctor? A fire fighter? How about an astronaut? Draw pictures of what life might be like one day when your child is all grown up, and perhaps even act it out to make a play!

  • The Magical Yet, by Angela DiTerlizzi

When everyone is born, including your kids, we all are graced by a special condition called “the Yet”. No matter who we are, we are all born not knowing how to do certain things… yet! This book serves as a wonderful way to remind children that they have potential to do anything they want in life, even if they can’t do those things immediately. This title helps little learners cope with frustration as they learn everything they can about life.

Use this book for play by tasking children with creating a list of things they want to do but can’t do yet. Whether its swimming, driving a car, or playing the violin, kids will have a blast acting out each of these exciting things they can’t do, but are committing to learn one day! Alternatively, create a list or book to keep to record your child’s hopes and dreams today so that one day an older kid may look back upon how they’ve changed… or stayed the same! No matter what it is that children can’t do yet, it can perhaps be done in the future!

  • What Can You Do with an Idea? by Kobi Yamada

If your child is like most, chances are they have some pretty big ideas! This title is perfect for imaginative little learners who has ever had an idea that seemed a bit too big or difficult! This book is about cultivating ideas and growing confidence, making it an opportunity to encourage your child to try new things and grow.

This book is so popular that there are optional accessories that can be purchased alongside the book, including an Idea Plush and Idea Crown. Feel free to create your own idea supplies to represent the “big idea” of this book! Using something like an idea plush, hide it somewhere around the house or in the yard when your child is having a tough time determining something do or play. Have him or her hunt for the plush and use the “idea” based on its location to do something like create a picture, a story, or even just play a game where the idea plush landed!

girl reading a book

Learning Activity Books

  • How to Catch a Unicorn by Adam Wallace

This title is a book, and a puzzle… in one! Activity books are great for treating kids to inquisitive and interactive reading, which can also lead to serious play. How to Catch a Unicorn, is just one title in the How to Catch series that presents kids with a task: to catch the elusive unicorn that is hiding behind crazy traps and tricky puzzles!

Children will work through the book reading while solving the mystery to catch the ever-hiding unicorn. When finished, challenge little readers with creating their own puzzle or trap for the unicorn, by drawing out another page. Alternatively, create your own puzzle by making a unicorn to hide and find in your own home via a magical game of hide and seek!

  • Where’s Spot?, by Eric Hill

Where’s Spot? is a classic title featuring an iconic puppy and lift-the-flap interaction. Ask little readers to make predictions while they read along, looking for Spot under all the flaps in this adorable book. After reading, ask children to help create their own story about a favorite stuffed dog or animal. Simply recruit a plushy pal and ask kids to hide it. While you look, your child can create a story of his or her own!

  • Around the Farm, by Eric Carle

Take a stroll around the farm with your little learner using this delightful book by Eric Carle! The interactive aspect to this title includes a hands-on board that allows children the chance to listen to animal noises as the read along. Use it to play by asking little readers to act like those animals and make their own noises to match those in the book! Keep the fun going by creating a puppet show including those animals or crafting some scenes starring your child’s favorites!

mom and son reading a book

Just for Fun: Silly Books

As kids learn to read books, it’s important that they have fun with reading to ensure that they grow up forming positive connections. That’s why it’s crucial to mix in some titles that are meant for pure fun! Try these titles to inspire unique games your child will love!

  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, by Mo Willems

When a bus driver needs a break from his route, he asks the reader to do him one simple favor: don’t let the pigeon drive the bus! This ornery pigeon is a favorite of kids and parents alike! While this title won’t teach kids their ABC’s or 123’s, it will certainly entertain everyone who reads it, and can inspire some exciting ideas for play!

If you haven’t seen the “Lunch Doodles” series with author Mo Willems, it’s definitely worth a watch for both you and you kiddo!  In this YouTube series, the author and illustrator of the pigeon himself teaches viewers to draw their own pigeon. After reading Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, watch episode 1 together to learn how to create your child’s own pigeon to play with. Challenge your child to think of other zany antics the pigeon can get himself into and create your own picture book just for fun!

  • The Book with No Pictures, by B.J. Novak

Can you imagine a children’s book without any pictures? How can a picture book without pictures to entertain kids? While it may seem impossible or potentially very boring for little readers, The Book with No Pictures is a funny read that your kids will actually enjoy! More than anything, this title will encourage readers to gain a new appreciation for words and how they can be used for humor and imagination.

This book often includes nonsense words like “blork” that not only will make your child laugh but provides for an imaginative opportunity. For play, get out some playdough and imagine what the nonsense words might look like if they were an object. Task kids will the silly challenge of creating playdough models of the nonsense words in the book! Alternatively, feel free to act out the words while reading them, or even create your own book with no pictures!

  • Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberly

Perfect for Halloween, or just any time your child needs to banish the nighttime fears and jitters, Go Away, Big Green Monster is a childhood classic! While it features a seemingly scary big green monster, don’t let you child be afraid! This title is interactive with die cut pages, that allow a sneak peak of all of his features while reading, making monsters like him a little less scary with each turn of the page.

After reading, encourage readers to think of some things that may make the big green monster go away. With your child, devise some traps or tactics to get the monster to retreat back to where he came from; use playdough, arts and crafts supplies, or simply create a sign to let the monster know that he isn’t welcome in your house!

Don’t let your kids get trapped into a routine of playing video games and watching TV. As you can see, books can serve as a springboard for fun, playful activities that is not only entertaining, but helps to boost their interest and motivation for reading, as well! Try the titles listed above and think of the possibilities for play. For almost any book, children can go wild creating crafts, new stories, or even acting out the plot during role play. No matter the book, take it off the shelf today to get started!

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