Author: Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

3-Year-Olds Nonfiction

This interactive guessing book will introduce your child to the many interesting ways animals use their noses, ears, tails, eyes, feet, and even mouths. This book was awarded the Caldecott Honor for beautifully illustrated cut paper collage images, and introduces body parts up close and then the animal that each belongs to. See if your child can recognize familiar animal body parts and guess what animal has that particular feature.

Before, During and After Reading

Oral Language

Look at the picture on the front cover and ask your child what he thinks it might be. If he doesn’t know, read the words in the title, moving the book as the words swirl around. After reading the words as a clue, see if he can guess what the object is now. Turn the book over so that he can see a tail on the front cover and the body of a lizard on the back. Say the name of the book again and ask him what he thinks this book will be about.

Oral Language

As each body part is addressed, have your child guess which animal it might belong to, and what the animal does with the body part. Have him show you the same or similar body part on his body and tell you something he does with it. Ask him to imagine what it would be like if he had a tail — what would it look like and what would he do with it?

Phonological Awareness

As you read the name of an animal, encourage your child to say the name fast and then to say it slowly.  Add a movement like a clap, stomp, or tap for each syllable in the word.  You might say:

This animal has a funny sounding name, platypus. Can you say the name fast, platypus.  Now let’s say it slow…ly.  Pla…ty…pus.  Let’s clap it slow…ly.  Pla…ty…pus. How many times did we clap? Yes, we clapped three times because platypus has three syllables.

Can you pick another animal?  Alligator.  This time when we say it slowly we will stomp our feet.  Say it  Al…li…ga…tor.  How many times did you stomp?  Yes, you stomped four times because alligator has four syllables. 

Continue with other animals in the story. 

Letter Knowledge 

Go back to the front cover and bring your child’s attention to the letter D.  Say the name of the letter and the sound it makes. Encourage him to trace the letter with his finger.  Then, go on a letter hunt through the book.  You might say:

Look, here is the letter D. The letter D makes the /d/ /d/ sound.  Can you say that with me?  /d/ /d/ D.

Can you trace it with your finger? Let’s look in the book and hunt for the uppercase and lowercase letter D.  

Beginning Writing

Give him some paper and crayons or markers. Invite him to go through the book and find his favorite animal to draw. Encourage him to tell you about the animal and to describe where he thinks the animal lives, what it eats or what it likes to do. Engage him in conversation as he draws. If he begins to tell a story, write the words as he talks. Read his words back to him and display his work where all can see.

Ask him to imagine himself with a tail and invite him to draw a picture of it and what he would do if he had one!  

Explore more recommended children’s books and at-home reading activities for three-year-olds, or take the Reading BrightStart! Preschool Reading Screener. The screener can help you determine if your child is on the path to reading readiness, and provides a free plan for moving forward.