Friday, October 4, 2013

CLEL Bell Awards-PLAY

It's my pleasure to wrap up the Bell Award blog tour. I think it's a fabulous new award that helps make early literacy skills and practice accessible for everyone!

"The Bell Awards are designed to support parents, caregivers, librarians, and early childhood professionals by celebrating great picture books that model and inspire the early literacy practices of reading, writing, singing, talking, and playing with young children. You can join in and share your expertise with your colleagues by nominating titles and adding to the conversation on the CLEL blog."

To me, the best books that highlight PLAY are ones that I can see inspiring families to imitate at home, and those that cause lots of giggles and imitation in storytime. These are some of the books that I've chosen to highlight the practice of PLAY:

Tell Me the Day Backwards by Albert Lamb, illustrated by David McPhail
A mother bear and her cub take turns reminiscing about their day backwards--from bedtime to breakfast. I love that this is an activity can be easily translated into home life. “Parents, a simple bedtime activity like the one in this book help your kids get ready to read by building narrative skills, adding to their vocabularies, and creating background knowledge about how daily life works.”

Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett
This is one of my all-time favorite storytime books. A young girl and her toy monkey pretend to be various animals following the refrain, “Monkey and me. Monkey and me. Monkey and me. We like to be____.” The repetitive nature of the chant builds phonological awareness, and the format of the book lends itself to vocabulary-building chatter about animal names, body parts, and actions.

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson
This book asks readers to interact directly with the pages rather than passively observing the illustrations. “Tap the magic tree twice,” and the page turn reveals changes ostensibly created by the reader’s actions. Intrinsically playful, stories like this reinforce the idea that books are something to be interacted with, full of the power to surprise and delight. They help create the connection between the real world, and the symbolic world of reading and writing by integrating both worlds in one experience.

Traction Man is Here! by Mini Grey
The text narrates the heroic adventures of action-figure Traction Man, while the illustrations show the reality of the situations--Traction Man’s epic undersea adventure is shown to be a normal night of dishwashing at the kitchen sink. This book introduces some great vocabulary, and serves as a fantastic model for creative, language-filled imaginative play. This title also does a great job showing how through imagination we learn how to let one object represent another--which is a big part of what reading boils down to! Also: totally hilarious.

Banana by Ed Vere
Two monkeys manage to evoke a huge range of emotion as they converse using only the word, “Banana.” Aside from the narrative building that naturally happens in a wordless (or nearly wordless) book, this book invites readers to play along--and it’s easy to encourage families to play the ‘banana game’ at home by having one-word conversations that rely on facial expressions and body language to convey meaning. We know how important comprehension is, and games like this are good practice for inference and interpretation. 

Now it's your turn--what books do you think best exemplify the five practices? Do you have a book you'd like to nominate? The deadline for nominations is November 15th and the winners will be announced February 15, 2014. 

There are lots of ways to get involved:
Don't miss the other great stops on the tour:

Talk -- Great Kid Books  
Sing -- Jbrary 
Read -- LibLaura5


  1. Thank you, Anna! I love your choices for playing. I appreciate how they show different aspects of play: playing with the book, like in Tap the Magic Tree, as well as a story about playing with toys, like Traction Man. There's lots of inspiration here!

  2. Thank you for spreading the word about the CLEL Bell Awards. This is wonderful way and opportunity for anybody who loves to read picture books to get involved in celebrating them. Playing has so many different components and allows the readers to be an active participant. What a great way to learn.

  3. Whoop whoop! Banana and Monkey and Me are two of my favorites as well - and I use them both when I do a monkey-themed storytime! Such fun! Thank you for supporting the Bell awards!

  4. Great book selections that support the CLEL Bell Awards. Thanks for your blog.

  5. Monkey and Me has always been a favorite with my preschool classes. They love acting out the animals while chanting the rhyme. After the story, they add their own favorite animals creating the physical mage and sound of the animal. The CLEL Bell Award books will provide parents and caregivers a way to use the five parent practices to support the early literacy development of their preschool children. Thanks for promoting the awards.


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