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Guest Blog: Top Preschool Books to Encourage Language Development - featured March 18, 2011

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Guest Blog: Top Preschool Books to Encourage Language Development

By: Sherry Y. Artemenko M.A., C.C.C.
Copyright 2011. Reprinted with the express permission of the author as it appeared on her blog.

Here are some of my favorites, old and new for your preschooler to encourage language through a great story:

The Great Fuzz Frenzy by Janet Stevens. Check out my review. Kids love this book for the zany antics of the prairie dogs with their fuzz and the wild vocabulary and comical alliteration.

Clancy the Courageous Cow by Lachie Hume. This is a new book with a clever story about being different, discrimination, and grace. There is lots to talk about as you encourage your child to predict what will happen, talk about feelings, solutions, and how to react to someone who is different.

Amos and Boris by William Steig. This is a clever book about adventure, rescue, friendship, and sacrifice. It is packed with good vocabulary. Try other books by this author.

Picnic at Mudsock Meadow by Patricia Polacco. This isn’t just another Halloween book, but a clever story of competition, courage and finally friendship. The illustrations are magnificent with their detail and action. Lots of predictions can be made based on these beautiful drawings.

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs by Giles Andrede and Russel Ayto. This is every little boy’s dream, to uncover a pirate captain in a closet and set sail with him. Of course they encounter the ferocious pirate dinosaurs and a battle ensues. The illustrator has created beasts with “tonsils wobbling ferociously at the back of his throat” who have a whimsy about them who draw us in to a tale created in a little boy’s mind. Talk about what you would do if you met a pirate in the closet?

I Wish I Were a Butterfly by James Howe is a lovely tale about self-esteem, listening to criticism, acceptance While the little cricket was wishing he was a butterfly, after the frog at the edge of the pond told him he was ugly, the ladybug wisely replies, “…you must learn to be content with what you are and not mind what a silly old frog tells you.” Friendship finally brings acceptance. There are many themes to talk about with your child after reading this story that relate to her life—teasing, feelings, self-worth, friendship and acceptance.

The Featherless Chicken by Chih-Yuan Chen. In this playful tale, a featherless chicken is trying to part of the gang of artfully adorned chickens. Finally when he acquires a costume of leaves, silverware and a fish can, he looks good enough to join the others. This is another story about fitting in, being transparent and having a roaring good time!After reading this book, it would be fun to make a collage costume for your own featherless chicken.

Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She was Extinct by Mo Willems. Loveable Edwina meets her match with the incorrigible Reginald who is trying to convince her she is extinct. This story is about winning over a bully with kindness. Talk about ways to show kindness to those who are nice and not nice to us.

Chuck Lends a Paw and Funny Bunnies on the Run by Robert Quakenbush are full of laugh-aloud consequences for the antics of bunnies and mice. You can use these books to ask questions like “Why did that happen?” since there is a reason for all the catastrophes in the stories! These are early readers but can also be used as read-alouds.

Our Featured Guest Blog/Author:Sherry Y. Artemenko M.A., C.C.C.

Thanks to Sherry and Play on Words for sharing her blog post with us. Please support our contributors and visit

About Sherry Y. Artemenko M.A., C.C.C. and Play on Words
For more than 30 years, Sherry Artemenko has worked with children to improve their speech and language, serving as a speech-language pathologist in both the public and private school systems and private practice.

Working and playing with children daily, Sherry has become an expert in evaluating children’s toys, games, and books for their language-building value. She has contributed articles and reviews to Parents Choice Foundation and her reviews appear in promotional media for Playmobil, International Playthings, Alex Toys, Thinkfun Games, and Baker Taylor Publishing, among others.

Sherry has been tapped as an expert and her insights shared in the Chicago Tribune, on News12 Connecticut, and as a guest blogger for

Currently, she is advising children’s authors and startups for children’s toys and media.

Sherry started Play on Words LLC in 2003, after 16 years with the Fairfield Public Schools. The mission of her practice is threefold: 1) to serve as a therapist to special needs children, ages 1 to 10 years, helping to build their speech and language skills and 2) to assist new moms and dads of typically developing children, ages birth to 3 years, as a personal trainer, teaching parents how to talk, read and play with their child to enhance language, and 3) to advise parents, companies and authors on the attributes of the best toys, games and media to build language.

Prior to establishing Play on Words LLC, Sherry’s career as a speech-language pathologist spanned 22 years in the Illinois and Connecticut public and private schools, where she worked with pre-school to high school-aged special needs children. In this capacity, she served on multidisciplinary diagnostic teams at the preschool and elementary levels. In addition, she helped to develop programs for teaching language through literature and worked in collaboration with classroom teachers to bridge language, reading and writing in school curriculum.

Sherry graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees in Communicative Disorders, where she currently serves on the Alumni Council. Licensed in Connecticut, she is a certified member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and has been a member of the Connecticut Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Infant and Toddlers Committee. She serves as the Chairman of the Adult Regional Committee of “Young Lives,” providing support for unwed teenage moms and their babies in Connecticut and New York.

Sherry and her husband Bob have been residents of Southport for more than 25 years. They have three sons who served as Sherry’s first Play on Words clients: Bill, Yale 2000, Andrew, Northwestern University 2003, and Peter, Duke University 2005.

Tags: Article Language Vocabulary Newsletter 18 March 2011