As the Easter season approaches, gifts for the little ones are often in the form of chocolate bunnies, colored eggs and marshmallow peeps. If you are trying to think of a gift that you can share with your small children or grandchildren, one of the most memorable and engaging things that you can do is to read with them. Read-aloud books create precious memories that both you and the kiddies will cherish forever.
The question then becomes, what kinds of books should be selected? They should be illustrated with vibrant colors that will interest the children and the typeface should be large; large enough for you to be able to point out each word. This is very helpful as the children learn to read and want to follow along. You’ll want books that will be read with expression. Let your voice reflect the tone of the story and the personalities of the characters. Children love when adults use different voices and above all – don’t read too fast. Vary your pace so you can pause for emphasis. Allow time for children to think about what is happening or what might come next. There should be plenty of “What happens next?” moments, where you will have the children try to guess what will be the next feature in the story. This is particularly satisfying to the child, parent or grandparent, when the same story is being read for the second (or third or fourth or fifth time – you know how kids are). Also, you don’t want the books to be too long, especially if it is a bedtime story, 15 to 20 minutes is ideal.
With that in mind, New Jersey author Joan Surace has written a series of children’s books, each containing different characters and telling different stories. Colorfully illustrated by Bryant Crisos and edited by Joycelyn Engle, you and the children will find uplifting stories about family, love, responsibility, friendship and togetherness.
“Little Joseph the Bunny Rabbit” focuses on the importance of family and how, even when we become distracted, it is the value of family that is very, very important. Along the way, he receives praise and encouragement and makes a new friend. In “Leo and his Guitar,” children learn about listening to your heart, pursuing your dreams and also getting along with others. “A Red Rose for Mama” is about a tiny ladybug who wants to give her mother a big surprise, but along the way, she needs the help of others in different ways in order to make her dream come true. The finest book in the series is “A Bright Star.” It is the story of Christmas and is a heartwarming tale about the true meaning of the momentous day.
Each book in the series fits all of the key criteria that you should look for in a read-along book. Pick up all four and enjoy reading time with the children or grandkids. They will remember those times forever!