It’s no secret: I love to discover a great new children’s book. While Max’s Words by Katie Banks is not actually a “new” book (it was published in 2006), it is “new to me” and I’m so glad I found it!
In this story, Max’s brothers have huge, wonderful collections of coins and stamps, from which they certainly aren’t willing to share with Max. So, Max decides to start his own collection. He struggles with what he should collect before finally deciding he will collect words! Max cuts words out of magazines and writes them on slips of paper. The illustrations are just great in this book, with the words coming to life and taking shape to show their meanings. “Hungry” has a bite taken out of it, and “Park” is surrounded by trees.
Max’s brothers slowly become curious, particularly when Max begins to use his words to create stories. Eventually, the brothers realize how cool Max’s word collection is and agree to trade a stamp and a coin for a pile of words.
I love this story for the way it calls children’s attention to the power of words, and the way these individual groups of letters on a page carry so much meaning. It’s done effectively and naturally within a fantastic story!
As just one more endearing point of note, both the author and the illustrator each have a son named Max, to whom the book is dedicated (“To my Max- KB” “No, to MY Max- BK”). In fact, the two have another, more recent Max book called Max’s Dragon, which I think I may have to track down as well!
After the story, join your children in searching for words and letters in magazines. Cut the words out together and create your own word collection like Max. You may want to create stories together or simply glue the words onto another piece of paper. Your children may want to cut out pictures of objects they like as well, and that’s OK too! Point out any words on the picture, find the word describing the picture on the page to cut out as well, or simply write the word on a slip of paper like Max did.
This type of activity not only gets children excited about words, but makes them more aware of environmental print and helps to reinforce print awareness– the understanding that print carries meaning, that words are constructed from letters and arranged and read in particular ways. But perhaps most importantly, this is just a fun read that your children will enjoy sharing with you! And that alone will go a long way in building young readers!