Author: Kevin Henkes

18 to 23 Months Storybooks

Meet the animals, whose days have started off in an unhappy way. Simple drawings show sad expressions on their faces, illustrating how they feel in different situations. Your little one can probably relate to losing something important, being in a tough situation, or being scared when mom is not in sight. See how things turn around for these little animals, and how they end up having A Good Day.

Before, During and After Reading

Have your child sit on your lap; this cozy, comfy feeling will help create a loving atmosphere toward reading. This is a great book to read when you have some uninterrupted time, especially if you choose to explore and talk about feelings.

Letter Knowledge

Practice book handling skills together. Help your child turn the book so that the words and letters are right side up.

Oral Language

Ask questions that encourage your child to respond by pointing or touching a picture or answering a simple question. Look at the front cover of the book and ask your child what she sees. You might ask:

Where is the yellow bird? Yes. You found the yellow bird. What sound does a bird make?

Touch the picture of the squirrel. Where is his fluffy tail?

Don’t be concerned if your child cannot answer the questions. You can ask the questions, wait several seconds to see if your child responds and then provide the answer. You are modeling for your child what a question and answer dialogue sounds like. Over time, as your child hears more questions and answers, she will begin to answer questions spontaneously.  


As you read, ask your child to name and touch pictures. For example:

Touch the picture of the bird and say: Can you help the bird find the feather?

Oral Language

Adjust your pitch and tempo to set the mood of the story. For example:

On the first few pages where the animals are upset, set the mood by reading in a soft, low tone.

On the last few pages where the animals are happy, set the mood by reading in a bright, happy tone.

Spend some time looking at each illustration and talking about the expressions on the faces of the animals and why they might feel that way. For example, you might say:

Look at little yellow bird’s face. He looks sad. Why do you think he’s sad? He lost his feather. Look, I can make a sad face; can you make a sad face?

Look at little white dog’s face. She looks worried. Why do you think she is worried? Because she is tangled on the fence. Look, I can make worried face. Can you make a worried face?  

Look at little orange fox’s face now. He looks happy. Why is he happy? Because he found his mommy. Look, I can make a happy face. Can you make a happy face?


Beginning Writing

Provide “scribble time” when your toddler can practice her fine motor skills through drawing. Cut paper into the shapes that resemble the animals in the story. Provide crayons that match the color of each animal. Encourage your child to choose a color for each animal and to draw the eyes, nose and mouth. Retell the story to match the colors of the animals that your child made.

Phonological Awareness

Change the words to the song “If You’re Happy and You Know It” to different feelings, sounds or movements that represent the animals in the story. For example:

If you’re happy and you know it, flap your arms (like a bird).

If you’re sad and you know it, bark out loud.

More to Do

As you reread the story use props to act out the story.

  • Gather stuffed animals similar to the ones in the book.  
  • Look in a mirror and make facial expressions together to demonstrate feeling sad, angry, worried, scared and happy.

Explore other books that explain feelings, like Calm-Down Time. Or, browse at-home activities for toddlers 18 to 23 months.