Some of my earliest memories feature my great-grandmother, whom we all called Pretty Grandma and after whom Peeper is named. I sometimes watched Hollywood Squares with her—for whatever reason, she loved the trivia and cheesy banter. It was all over my head, but that’s the first thing I think of when someone says “shapes.”
Peeper, and probably your preschooler, doesn’t automatically envision a celebrity tic-tac-toe gameshow, though.
To help little ones learn about squares, triangles, circles—and even quatrefoils, add these books about shapes to your reading rotation.
Our favorite books about shapes
Have You Seen My Monster? by Steve Light. A girl loses her giant, hairy, purple monster at a fair, and she wanders through the carnival’s attractions looking for him. The monster is always just ahead of her as he hides in the fun house mirrors, tastes treats at the pie contest and visits his crush, the Bearded Lady. In the fun, highly detailed illustrations are hidden shapes, from simple ones like squares to complex ones like nonagons and trapezoids. Peeper loves searching for the monster on each page and pointing out the shapes she knows.
Round is a Tortilla, by Roseanne Greenfield Thong. This book is filled with not only shapes but also details of Mexican-American culture that make it as rich as homemade chicken tortilla soup. The rhymes help make the sprinkling of Spanish words easy to maneuver (as does a glossary in the back for anyone wondering what metates are). I especially adore John Parra’s vibrant illustrations that give a nod to Mexican folk art.
Circle Square Moose, by Kelly Bingham. Anyone who remembers the moose who interrupts the alphabet in Z is for Moose will appreciate this story, in which he spoils someone’s earnest attempts to teach us about shapes. Moose eats the square (a sandwich), graffitis over the text and eventually falls down a circle (a hole). He and the zebra ruin the book—or will they manage to save it in the end?
Go, Shapes, Go! by Denise Fleming. In this paper collage book, a little mouse is surprised when a jumble of shapes turns into a mischievous creature. Circles, arcs, rectangles and ovals bounce, skip and scoot to become a playmate—and later something more scary!—for the mouse. It would be fun to cut out shapes of paper and challenge your preschooler to make animals out of the shapes after reading this book, just like their pal mouse!
Round is a Mooncake, by Roseanne Thong. I may be biased—this book reminded me of celebrating the mooncake festival in Singapore when I lived there years ago—but the story is charming. A little girl explores the shapes infused in her Chinese-American culture. Squares, for example, are boxes that carry dim sum and pizza. I particularly like the pages that challenge the reader to find even more shapes (the round center of a flower or sprinkles on a cupcake).
Round is a Pancake, by Joan Sullivan Baranski. An entire kingdom pulls out all the stops to make a celebration fit for a king—and one that’s full of shapes, of course. Jesters, bakers, acrobats and animals fill the pages, and Peeper enjoyed pointing to the circles hidden in plain sight. The rhyming text bounces along to the conclusion—a grand finale for the king (and, finally, a moment of rest for the jester).
Shapes, by Xavier Deneux. This book is about—you guessed it—shapes! It’s extremely tactile, which is perfect for babies: Not only do they see the vibrant shapes but they can feel the cut-outs and raised parts that make up each image. I love how the facing pages pair together—an oval is a blimp, for example, that floats past an oval a cloud in the sky. And the graphic illustrations are too cute. We got this book for Kiwi for Christmas, but Peeper loves it, too!
Do you have favorite children’s books about shapes?