There is magic in books, and when you read to children, they are transported to another world filled with imagination and inspiration. Through the melody of words, the journey of a book leads to uncharted lands and places unknown. Perhaps it is the sound of language that children fall in love with first, or the story line, or maybe the illustrations. But whatever it is that enthralls children, they fall in love with a special book early in life. You can see it in their faces the minute you pull out an old favorite or repeat a phrase from one. The excitement and recognition register in their eyes, their minds, and their hearts. Your group time is perfect for beginning this voyage.

It's Special to Me!

What was your favorite book when you were a young child? Do you have warm feelings when you think of it? Perhaps you even still have a dog-eared copy of it! Sharing your favorites is a perfect way to introduce children to the idea of sharing theirs. Talking about what you love about your book-the illustrations, the language, the story line-helps children observe and compare and provides great conversation starters for when they discuss their own favorites.

"Favorite Book Day"

Try designating one group time each week as Favorite Book Day. In the beginning of the year, invite a few children each week to bring in and talk about their favorite stories. Later in the yeah you can suggest different genres and themes for children to focus or-wordless books, rhyming books, books by particular authors (Dr. Seuss is one of my favorites! ), song storybooks, nonfiction books, fish stories, dog stories-the possibilities are endless! Another day, invite children to bring in favorite books from when they were "little."

The Magic Continues

Children delight in sharing their love of books The best part is they don't really have to be able to read the book. Some children may enjoy showing the cover and the pictures and telling a little something about the book, while others will love to pretend to "read" the book page by page to you and the group. When they "read" a book in their own words, children are practicing important pre-reading skills such as using illustrations to make meaning out of text and new vocabulary to verbalize the story. Since this is a special event, you might want to decorate a special reading chair (the book throne! ) for children to sit in when they share. Some children may prefer to share their book in a one-on-one situation. You can do this at circle time (or at tables during free play) by pairing children with their books for more personal sharings.

Create a Favorite Book Library

Set up a display shelf to show children's favorite books in your group-time or library area. Help the children create a sign for the area. Together the class can create and display a Word & Picture Vocabulary List for the books, which can later be used as a reference tool in the writing center Remember to include the Favorite Books Area as a choice center.

Play With Language! Soup from a stone, fancy that! And the pot bubbled and bubbled.

Such exquisite language-all to be found in the pages of children's books! Language builds and develops with each favorite book that is shared with children. Children learn new words and sounds, new phrases and concepts, and they play with them until they make them their own. Children in one kindergarten were taken by the above refrain from Stone Soup * by Ann McGovern (Scholastic Inc.; $3.25) and repeated it while they "cooked" in the dramatic-play area, "bubbled" at the water table, and gathered stones on the playground. The sound of the phrase percolated in the air for days. At a subsequent circle time, a few children asked, "What does fancy that mean?" and a delicious conversation about words developed. This led to a new version of the phrase, and a whole new story was created. Soup from a cloud, imagine that! And the pot steamed and steamed.