Author: Cynthia Rylant

4-Year-Olds Storybooks

This book tells the story of a summer visit from distant relatives. Engaging illustrations show visitors and family settled in everywhere throughout the house, with lots of hugging, eating, and having fun together. The book also explores the feelings of sadness that pop up when it’s time for visitors to leave, and the hope that they’ll see each other again soon.

Before, During and After Reading

Oral Language

Gather some photos of family members your child knows – maybe even some she doesn’t know yet. Talk about who or what you see in the pictures. Ask her about her memories or talk to her about family members she hasn’t met. 

Introduce the book and talk about the illustrations on the front and back covers. Read the title of the book and ask her to predict what the story will be about. 

Oral Language

Ask your child to tell you about something she remembers about a trip or a family visit. You might say:

Tell me about the time we took a car ride to visit Aunt Rozy. Do you remember what kinds of things you did with your cousins?

Or you might say:

What do you think it would be like if Uncle Jeff and his family came here to visit you?

Phonological Awareness

Have fun playing with the sounds of language. Choose one of the illustrations in the book, such as the mealtime picture. Tell your child that you’re going to name something from the picture in a funny way, and you want her to listen and guess what you’re looking at. Say the beginning sound of the word, pause, and then say the rest of the word and see if she can guess what word you are saying. If she’s not able to guess, touch the picture in the book and repeat the word. It might go something like this:

Listen, I am going to say something in this picture in a funny way, one part at a time. Let’s see if you can guess what it is! Ready? /b/  owl, /b/ owl 

If she does not guess, touch the picture of the bowl and say one more time: /b/ owl. 

Yes, when I say /b/ owl, I’m saying bowl. You guessed it! Let’s try another one: /r/ ug /r/ ug



Letter Knowledge

Play games with letters and names. Print the names of family members on index cards to play the following game. Using magnetic or foam letters, place the first letters (uppercase) for each of the names in a bowl or basket. Have your child choose a letter and the match it to the first letter written on one of the cards.

Beginning Writing

Encourage your child to draw a picture of a memory of a family visit or vacation. Then, ask her to write a letter to a family member.  Let her tell you the words she would like to say to the person or the whole family. You might put her drawing and letter in an envelope and send to that family member, and ask the family member to write back. 

Explore more easy at-home activities designed to build pre-reading skills in your four-year-old, or 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.