This week I’m sharing three fantastic picture books that make learning grammar fun and memorable!
Punctuation has never been as fun as in A Bunch of Punctuation with poems selected by Lee Bennet Hopkins, illustrated by Serge Bloch (Wordsong; ages 3-7).
This anthology of fourteen poems uses an entertaining, multimodal approach to teach punctuation. Individual poems are dedicated to twelve forms of punctuation: comma, apostrophe, dash, ellipsis, colon, exclamation mark, hyphen, parentheses, period, question mark, quotation marks, and semicolon. Each capitalizes on the power of the poems being read aloud to capture adjustments in tone, pacing, and inflection communicated via the profiled punctuation form. !!!!!!!!—Superhero Kaboom—!!!!!!!! by Julie Larios is so emphatic and infectiously energetic that my kids and I can’t finish a reading without rolling in fits of laughter. While . . . by Allan Wolf leaves me feeling a bit . . . adrift in all its silent ellipses. The art is engaging and dynamic in an unexpectedly anthropomorphic way that draws even my youngest to the page, captivated by imagery of calves lassoed in parentheses and a flood of traffic being stopped by the grammar police’s giant, period-shaped stop sign. All of the punctuation forms are integrated in opening and closing poems that highlight the utility and power of each while encouraging readers to try writing their own punctuation-filled poems.
Overall, this is a tremendously entertaining and educational anthology that captures the reader’s interest and imagination. Seeing punctuation written in the poem and hearing how the poem is read aloud while also viewing illustrations that capture the punctuation’s meaning and function make this book a unique teaching tool. I highly recommend it for anyone teaching grammar or writing to kids of any age, and believe there’s something to be gleaned from it by learners of all levels.
The Know-Nonsense Guide to Grammar: An Awesomely Fun Guide to the Way We Use Words! by Heidi Fiedler, illustrated by Brendan Kearney (Walter Foster Jr.; ages 3-6) is another fantastic installment in the Know-Nonsense series (Guide to Grammar, Guide to Money, Guide to Measurements, & Guide to Space).
Like its counterparts, this guide is comprehensive, fun and perfectly parsed for young readers. The book is broadly organized into three sections: Parts of Speech, Grammar, and Literary Devices. Within each of these sections there are individual pages dedicated to the major concepts within (e.g. nouns, punctuation, idioms). Each individual page defines the concept, briefly expounds upon the definition, and then provides an example sentence. Each sentence is then illustrated on the opposite page in a lighthearted fashion that is as effective in communicating the concept as it is entertaining. The result is a truly enjoyable reference that condenses concepts often found to be complex and confusing (e.g. juxtaposition, idioms, sequence of adjectives) into clear, concise, and memorable lessons. And the final Note to Know-It-Alls tickles me each time with its guide to adopting “proper grammar-snob etiquette” such as not “interrupting those who use the word ironic in situations that are hopelessly predictable.” Overall, this is a stellar book that would be a useful and welcome addition to any home or classroom teaching grammar or writing.
Betty’s Burgled Bakery: An Alliteration Adventure by Travis Nichols (Chronicle Books; ages 4-8).
Alliteration abounds in this appetizing adventure! Betty’s Bakery has been burgled by a bread bandit. Can clever, crime-solving critters catch the culprit? Does the donut-devouring desperado defeat the detectives?
This delightful mystery is a comic written in a series of alliterative text bubbles paired with bold, colorful art. Each letter of the alphabet is cleverly incorporated starting with “A” and progressing sequentially to “Z.” The case is solved through a series of questions, inspection of the crime scene, astute observations, and logical analysis of the available data; this makes the overall storyline interesting independent of the alliteration novelty. For good measure, the last page includes educational information about alliteration as a literary device in addition to interesting facts about animals that eat a lot. The result is a fabulously fun, action-packed mystery that teaches alliteration in an largely indirect yet memorable fashion.
Overall, this is a fantastic book for teaching kids that language can be fun. And though you could easily teach alliteration without this book, the lesson will be much more enjoyable and memorable with it!