Thematic Reading List: Supporting Executive Function


Executive Function is a buzzword today, referring to the skills that humans need to control their impulses and contribute positively to society. Pre-schoolers are working heavily on this task, and sometimes books can reinforce the message better than parents or caregivers can. The books included in this list are selected to support the continuing growth and development of preschool children, specifically with regard to executive function.
Contributed by: Mary Lanni

9780763656478 Baby, Be Kind
By: Jane Cowen-Fletcher

Easy-to-read, rhyming text provides examples of how to show kindness that even a baby will want to try.
0590316818 How do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?
By: Jane Yolen

Mother and child ponder the different ways a dinosaur can say goodnight, from slamming his tail and pouting to giving a big hug and kiss.
9781631982231 I Share: A Book About Being Kind and Generous
By: Cheri Meiners
Illustrated by: Penny Weber

“I have some special things that belong just to me. I want to get along. What can I do?” So begins this charming book that guides young children to see that sharing is their choice, why they might choose to share, and how sharing can be good for everyone. A little girl thinks about the way her family, her friends, and other children share with her—and how happy she feels when this happens. “I might think, ‘That’s how I want to be!’ I want to show that I care. So, I may choose to say ‘Yes!’” Colorful scenes in a variety of settings help little ones see that everyone has “plenty to share.” Includes downloadable bonus activities.
9780374305789 In a Minute, Mama Bear
By: Rachel Bright

Mama Bear tries to hustle her cub through the day’s activities and errands, but Bella Bear insists on going her own pace and showing Mama the value in taking her time.
9781575423135 Manners Time
By: Elizabeth Verdick
Illustrated by: Marieka Heinlen

Simple text and illustrations explain how to use manners.
0689834578 Please, Baby, Please
By: Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee
Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson

A toddler’s antics keep his mother busy as she tries to feed him, watch him on the playground, bath him, and put him to bed. On board pages.
9780545788922 Please, Mr. Panda
By: Steve Antony

What is the proper way to ask Mr. Panda for doughnuts?
Patiently and politely, Mr. Panda asks the animals he comes across if they would like a doughnut. A penguin, a skunk, and a whale all say yes, but they do not remember to say “please” and “thank you.” Is anyone worthy of Mr. Panda’s doughnuts?
9781433822643 Stickley Makes a Mistake!: A Frog’s Guide to Trying Again
By: Brenda Miles
Illustrated by: Steve Mack

With help from his grandpa, Stickley the frog, who hates making mistakes, learns to say, “oh well,” hop up, and try again when mistakes happen.
159643161X Time to Get Dressed
By: Elivia Savadier

While time flies by on a busy morning, Solomon is determined to dress himself, but his father intervenes and all goes smoothly–for a while.
0786852933 Time to Say Please!
By: Mo Willems

As a companion book to the popular Time to Pee!, Mo Willems has created a book on manners in his own signature style. Groups of enthusiastic mice narrate this humorous text as young children try in vain to get what they want, learning along the way that it is helpful to say “Please,” “Thank you,” “Excuse me,” and “I’m sorry.” Oh, and you have to mean it, too.
9781680100723_p0_v1_s600x595 Tiny Tantrum
By: Caroline Crowe
Illustrated by: Ella K. Okstad

Tiny Tantrum is the happiest girl around-as long as she’s getting her own way! But when it’s time to clean up, or take a bath, or put on her coat, she throws a terrible tantrum. Then one day, friendly monsters show up. Could they be just what Tiny needs to tame her tantrums?
9781423199571 Waiting is not Easy!
By: Mo Willems

Piggie tells Gerald she has a surprise for him, but it is not there yet so Gerald must be patient.
9781631984662 Waiting is not Forever
By: Elizabeth Verdick
Illustrated by: Marieka Heinlen

Toddlers live in the moment. When they want something, they want it now. But learning self-control and delayed gratification will set up young children for success in school and social settings. Practicing patience is the key. With her trademark mix of empathy and encouragement, author Elizabeth Verdick acknowledges that waiting can be frustrating and offers toddlers simple ideas to make waiting easier. Little ones can use waiting time to watch the world around them, listen to music, tell stories, sing songs, whisper, play games, build with Legos, draw pictures, move or stretch, and more. Children learn, “I can wait a while. I can do it with a smile.”
9781576876817 Who Did it?
By: Ohara Hale

Describes a variety of bodily functions and explains how to have a healthy attitude toward them and deal with them politely in social situations.


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