“Picture books are two to three times as likely as parent-child conversations to include a word that isn’t among the 5,000 most common English words.”

This is what Dominic Massaro, of the University of California, Santa Cruz found when studying language and literacy.

Of course, there are many reasons to read aloud to our children. Through read-alouds, children learn not only vocabulary, but also sentence structure and prosody. It provides a much-needed pause in our busy schedules and gives parents and children and teachers and students something to relate to simultaneously, opportunities for discourse, ways to engage in emotions and ideas.

I had never heard of Library Lion when I stumbled upon it in my local thrift store, but I was immediately enthralled by the illustrations.


And of course, with the topic being libraries, I immediately took it home with me!

Library Lion is a sweet, engaging story about a lion who begins visiting his local library. Everyone is shocked at first, but he turns out to be a helpful friend to both the rule-following head librarian, Miss Merriweather, and the children who frequent it as well as immensely interested in attending the daily story time.

Even lions love a good read-aloud!

However, trouble strikes when the lion must choose between following the library’s rules of using a quiet voice and walking and helping a friend.

Areas to Target:

Social Skills | Library Lion is a lovely story that demonstrates that age-old wisdom of not judging a book by its cover, developing friendships in unlikely places, being willing to help those you care about, and knowing when rules need to be broken. For students struggling with different areas of socials kills, this book provides ample opportunities for conversations in the way of friendship, rule-following, and forgiveness, even without accompanying materials.

Vocabulary | Like many picture books, it also comes with varied vocabulary and opportunities to use context clues: words like “circulation,” “particular,” “striding,” “stern,” “budge,” and “twitched” weave their way throughout the story.

Cause-Effect | Library Lion learns and adapts over time to life at the library. There are natural opportunities to discuss actions, consequences, as choices as the lion and the people at the library change over time.

Articulation | The story is a great opportunity to target the later developing sounds /l/ and /r/. Through letting children read the story, providing opportunity to retell, or asking appropriate questions, students can easily practice these sounds at the word – connected speech levels.

Predicting | The illustrations in Library Lion are not only lovely, but also do a splendid job of telling the story, even without words. Using post-it notes, index cards, or copy paper to cover the text, Library Lion’s illustrations are a great way to let students predict what they think the story will be about, as they can create a story of their own just by looking through the pictures.

Compare-Contrast | A follow-up activity to predicting, have students listen to the story after making their own predictions, then compare and contrast their version to the author’s version.