As you’ve probably guessed by now, I am a big proponent of literacy. I love reading, and, come hell or high water, my little boy is going to love reading, too. Where I’ve run into unexpected hurdles, however, is in finding good books to read with my son: I know all of the childhood classics, like Goodnight Moon or Guess How Much I Love You, but when you move from ‘great story, good pictures’ requirements to ‘simple illustrations, high contrast,” WTF do you do? There’s no index out there of books that have simple, high-contrast illustrations that are good for visually-impaired kids; even if you’re well-educated (aside from being an inveterate book-lover, I am a former college-level teacher with a MA in English) and haul in all of your best resources (including polling your retired-teacher family members, grilling your children’s librarian, and asking your college advisor who teaches children’s literature to future teachers), people just don’t remember and catalogue books based on how appropriate their illustrations are for kiddos like mine.
So, in the hopes of helping you find books to read with your own little ones, I’m going to start reviewing books as part of our adventures. I’ve managed to instill a love of books in Peanut, and, hopefully, some of these will help you instill the same love in your own children. Books are, after all, their own adventure.
We’ll start out with one of Peanut’s favorites, Trucks Go by Steve Light. Dad picked this up at the library book sale in Topeka, and it has quickly become a must-read in our house. There are eight different trucks in the book: a garbage truck, a box truck, an auto carrier, a tanker truck, a fire truck, a tow truck, a cement truck, and a horse trailer. The words are printed in all caps on the left page, and the trucks take up the full right page; I want to say that these are watercolor, but I’m not enough of an artist to swear to it. The words are high-contrast, big and easy to read, and the trucks are easy to see. This book definitely fits the bill for simple, high-contrast pictures.
To make this book really work for your child, you have to get into it: don’t just read the words, but work the onomatopoeia (for you non-English-majors out there, onomatopoeia is when words sound like sounds, like woosh or honk). Do your best to make the words sound like the sounds they’re portraying: bumpada like a car, honk like a truck. This is part of what Peanut likes best about this book. If you’re enthusiastic about the book, your child will be, too.