If you are looking for a literary gift for your truck-obsessed toddler or preschooler this holiday season, I have the perfect book for you! A friend told me about Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site this summer, as it was becoming a family favorite in her house. I finally bought it in November when I was able to hear the author (Sherri Duskey Rinker) and illustrator (Tom Lichtenheld) speak at the NAEYC conference in Orlando, FL. Sherri Duskey Rinker talked about her son and his obsession with all things trucks and how this book really just flowed out of a need for a way to shift gears at bedtime and quiet down for sleep, while still keeping in mind the topic of greatest importance to her child. My two-year-old is getting to the point of obsession with trucks and he was totally hooked the very first time I read it to him. In the book, various construction vehicles are introduced as they are going through their unique bedtime rituals. Once in place for the night, each is wished “Goodnight” by name. My son, without prompting, started wishing them all goodnight as well. Now we have to tell his beloved “trash truck” goodnight as part of our bedtime ritual after finishing our nightly reading. The illustrations in this book are wonderful as well. Each truck is personified in such a way that each becomes an endearing character, much like a child’s trucks have a life and a personality all their own. You may be familiar with Tom Lichtenheld’s Duck Rabbit, but the illustrations in this book are very different. The trucks are endearing, yet still earthy and tough. In his talk, Lichtenheld said that when drawing the sketches for the book, he knew very quickly that he would use old trucks as models because newer trucks just didn’t have the same feel. The combination of cleverly crafted truck rhyme and engaging illustrations, makes this book one that is read over and over again at our house. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!
I am quickly becoming an expert at children’s truck literature, so here are a couple of others that I think are worthy of your time as well. Roadwork, by Sally Sutton, takes the reader through the construction of a new road. The onomatopoeia is thrilling to young readers and my son often repeats these fun, noisy words after me, like Boom! Whoosh! and Whiz! The trucks in this book are great, but the reader also sees the construction workers engaged in various jobs, from surveying to painting lines, to planting trees in the medians.
Along similar lines is Easy Street, by Rita Gray. (A few months ago I wrote about another book we love by Rita Gray, called Mama Mine, Mama Mine). The illustrations by Mary Bono are akin to Claymation, so they look three dimensional. My son also likes the simple, rhyming text and he can read it along with me. Another interesting note is that the punctuation marks are all in a different color, so they are enhanced for beginning readers.
One more recommendation is for a book I recently read for the first time. It is called Good Morning, Digger by Anne Rockwell. A little boy watches from his window as a digger arrives in the empty lot next to his apartment building. Other trucks and workers arrive to build a new community center. Everyone gets involved and adds special touches to the new community center. When the project is done, Digger heads off on a flatbed truck to another project.
I hope you and your child will enjoy these books as much as we do!
*If your child attends a school that participates in Scholastic Book Clubs, you can also order Roadwork! and Good Morning, Digger through your child’s classroom.