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Author and illustrator Rosemary Wells has written more than 120 books with funny and realistic themes and characters. In a recent interview with TYC, Rosemary said that the most significant thing teachers can do at the beginning of a new school year is speak to children’s families or caregivers about the importance of reading aloud. Reading aloud should be done “as frequently and as regularly as you brush your teeth!” Rosemary says. Reading aloud is a wonderful activity that parents, caregivers, teachers, and children can all do together. As you head back to school, use the following books to inspire in children a love not just of reading but also of reading aloud!
Rosemary Wells. 2011. Candlewick Press.
A young rabbit learns to be brave as he watches his mother and father leave for work each morning. His parents imagine what their son is doing while they are gone and look forward to seeing him again at the end of the day. The family members send love waves back and forth, letting each other know that, no matter how far apart they are, they will always be together. Inspired by Rosemary Wells’s own experience of leaving her children at home for the first time, Love Waves can help comfort children and adults who may have anxiety about separation.
For some children, the beginning of the school year may be their first experience being away from home. Teachers can read this story to support children who miss their parents and are struggling with their first days at school. Ask children what reminds them of their parents or caregivers. Have them illustrate a scene showing something they did in school that day, so they can share it with their families. On the bottom or the back of the page, write down children’s dictations explaining their drawings. Have extra copies of Love Waves on hand that families can borrow to learn about love waves for themselves and to reread to children at home.
My Very First Mother Goose (Twentieth Anniversary Edition)
Ed. by Iona Opie. Illus. by Rosemary Wells.  2016. Candlewick Press.
For over 200 years, Mother Goose nursery rhymes have been some of the first stories many children hear. The short, engaging rhymes are great for supporting literacy development. In this edition, Rosemary Wells’s whimsical illustrations give the classic verses a new spin. She depicts Jack and Jill as two rabbits and Wee Willie Winkie as a mouse in a nightgown. Wells’s detailed pictures will spark children’s imaginations and allow them to experience these well-known rhymes in an enjoyable new way.
Have children recite nursery rhymes along with you as you read aloud. Or pause at the end of each line and let children chime in with the rhyming word. To start them off, encourage them with rhyming words different from the ones in the poem. It’s extra fun when the new rhyming words are nonsensical and bring lots of laughter. Recite the pat-a-cake rhyme together, and have children mark their “cakes” with the first letter of their names.
Rosemary Wells. 2009. Disney-Hyperion.
Based on an experience Wells’s daughter had at school, Yoko is the story of a kitten who is teased by her classmates because of her sushi lunch. At lunchtime, when Yoko takes out her bento box—filled with sushi, seaweed, and red bean ice cream for dessert—the other children don’t seem to find it as appetizing as she does! Yoko’s teacher decides to hold an International Food Day so the children can learn to appreciate new foods, ideas, and customs.
Have the children in your class create a menu listing the foods they would like to serve at their own International Food Day. Children can write invitations to their families, urging them to share a traditional dish.
Book covers and artwork copyright of Candlewick Press and Disney-Hyperion
Joellyn Powers, MFA, is an assistant editor for Young Children and Teaching Young Children.