‘What Makes a Rainbow?’ – A Reading Circle Find

I just ran across the most delightful book for babies and toddlers. It’s been around for a while, so I don’t know what took me so long to cross paths with it.

“What Makes a Rainbow? A Magic Ribbon Book” is one of the books that my 3-year-old nephew brought with him when family gathered for a post-Christmas reunion. The book was lying on a couch, so I flipped it open out of curiosity. The smile was instantaneous. I know a good book when I see one. What a fun introduction to reading, I mused. It’s also a good way to teach colors.

Written by Betty Ann Schwartz and illustrated by Dona Turner, the book features colorful artwork and a real string rainbow that magically grows each time a page is turned. If that weren’t cute enough, the last page includes a pop-up rainbow – which will definitely catch the eye of a pre-reader.

I think this would make a perfect book to share in a daycare reading circle or when a grandparent wants some snuggle time with a grandchild. Because the shiny strings and pop-up might get mangled, I would suggest that you not toss this board book in the basket with the rest of the toys. I’d save it for special supervised reads.

I discovered another set of board books in a little children’s boutique in town. They were first produced in The Netherlands, but are now published by San Francisco’s Chronicle Books. I decided the “Little” Finger Puppet Books would make a sweet introduction to story time, so I got enough to give to the new moms that I mentor. (Sh-h-h! They are a surprise.)

In each book, a soft three-dimensional finger puppet pops through a hole on each page. The books are visually stimulating and offer tactile appeal.  I counted 17 different versions in this book series. “Little Puppy,” “Little Bunny” and “Little Giraffe” are particularly cute ones. The books are pint-sized and sturdy, making them a good candidate for hands-on “reading.”

While Big Universe can’t offer finger-puppets or magic string books, it does offer a huge variety of online picture books – some of them animated and with audio, too. The books are organized by age, topic, language, and reading and grade levels. If you want the book for your permanent collection at home or school, Big Universe makes that easy with links to the publishers’ websites.

 Big Universe offers a free 14-day trial of its online library, which includes thousands of premium publisher books, member-written stories, and an Author Tool to write and illustrate a book.

UPDATE:(March 16, 2011) My nephew’s honorable mention in this Big Universe blog garnered the attention of Lee Becknell of Piggy Toes Press, who invited him to be featured as the Fan of the Week this week. You’ll see him pictured on her blog, reading “What Makes a Rainbow” — one  of his favorite picture books. Keep reading, Michael!