An elephant and a pig might seem like unlikely friends, but Gerald the Elephant and his pal Piggie are best buds in this classic Mo Willems beginning reader book series.
by Meredith Bartolo Pappas
These twenty-five-plus books are geared for children ages five to eight and are just right for beginning readers, or one that is gaining more confidence in their reading fluency. But their silly humor makes them great for read-alouds too! There are lots of fantastic corresponding activities, like printables, DIY puppets, and activity pages, that can help support early reading skills, so here’s a quick look at how these books get your beginning reader laughing and learning.
Why Elephant And Piggie Are Great For Beginning Readers:
- Word Repetition
One asset of these books is that they tend to repeat words over and over, which is helpful for new readers who might be picking out words by sight. This can build confidence because once they know a word, they will feel stronger in their reading skills each time they recognize it.
- Sounding Out Words
Even though these books are great for recognizing sight words, there are ample opportunities for sounding out words in each story too. Words like “bananas” or “party” are fun words for practicing blending sounds. They also give readers a chance to figure out the word without too many context clues or distractions, which is especially beneficial for new or struggling readers. Since many of the words are repeated throughout the story, children can really get familiar with the words they have sounded out and be able to recognize them in other places.
- Learning Lessons With Humor
Some of these laugh-out-loud stories play double duty by having a more complex lesson mixed in with all the silliness. They can help children understand or identify complex feelings like jealousy all while keeping things light and easy. This can be a much more approachable way to explain complicated feelings or teach these kinds of lessons to young children, especially when you are reading them over and over, which is guaranteed to happen with these favorites!
- Story Stretchers
Keep the fun going by heading over to Mo Willems websites, Pigeon Presents and Thankorama. They are chock full of free downloads, printables, coloring pages, and more all about his popular titles, including Elephant and Piggie and the Pigeon books. Thankorama.com even has a free download for making Elephant and Piggie paper bag puppets that kids can use while reading the books or make up their own stories all about these two loveable friends.
- Costume Fun
Gerald and Piggie also make the cutest costumes and are so easy to make yourself with just paint and cardboard! They are a fantastic addition to any Halloween party or parade, Dress Up As Your Favorite Book Character Day, or World Literacy celebration.
Though the whole series comes in a bundle, you might want to have just your favorites on hand. Here is a list of the absolute best of the Elephant and Piggie books that will have your child laughing while reading.
11 Favorite Elephant And Piggie Books
We Are In A Book
A fantastically clever book that is amazing for teaching about reading! Gerald and Piggie find out that they are in a book and that they can make the reader say funny things, like “banana.” They also realize the book will come to an end, unless the reader reads it all over again! So cute and a perfect addition to any home or classroom library.
Can I Play Too?
Everyone knows that Gerald and Piggie are best of friends and always ready for a game! So when a worm wants to play with them, they have to figure out a way they can all have fun together, even if the worm can’t catch the ball without any arms. A sweet way to talk about inclusion with the typical Elephant and Piggie silliness.
I Am Invited To A Party
When Piggie gets invited to a party, she asks Gerald to be her guest because not only is he her bestie, but he knows parties! After getting ready for a fancy pool costume party, they are ready for all kinds of fun. This book is sure to get anyone excited about their next party invitation.
Let’s Go For A Drive
Each time Gerald and Piggie think they are ready to go, they realize they need one more thing. They get all the things they need, except a car! So what are Elephant and Piggie to do now? Piggie comes up with a plan to save their adventure in this super silly story with lots of word repetition.
Should I Share My Ice Cream?
On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than an ice cream cone! Gerald gets one and is all set to enjoy it when he remembers that his best pal Piggie also loves ice cream. Should he share with her? A sweet tale about friendship and treats.
My New Friend is So Fun!
When Piggie makes a new friend, Gerald thinks he has lost his bestie. But surprise! Your best pal still loves you even when they play with new friends too because there’s room for everyone! A great tale about friendship and jealousy, especially for preschool and kindergarten-age kiddos who might be dealing with new feelings around friendships.
Waiting Is Not Easy
What is the surprise that Piggie has in store for Gerald? Well, he will just have to wait to find out. But for how long? Too long, it seems to Gerald! This is a silly way to illustrate the skill of waiting and gives new readers lots of chances to practice both sight words and sounding out new words.
Listen To My Trumpet
Piggie wants to use her new trumpet to serenade her pal Gerald, but is her sound actually music? This is such a cute one because it includes lots of made-up words, which can be a fun way to practice sound blending, and is a sweet story about different ways of being a good friend.
The Thank You Book
Piggie is so enthusiastic about thanking everyone, but will she forget her best pal? A lovely way to talk about gratitude and thanking others, while also learning more about reading…and maybe even writing thank you notes!
We Are In An ART-Ivity Book!
If your kids need a break from reading about Elephant and Piggie, why not do some art with them instead? This is the most fun art activity book out there, chock full of cool activities, art ideas, and more!
Can’t get enough of Elephant and Piggie? Of course, no kid can! So why not get one of the Biggie books that contain multiple stories. Biggie Biggie is a fantastic choice because it contains five classics, including two from this list: We Are In A Book and Listen To My Trumpet. But there are multiple Biggie volumes, all containing at least four stories to enjoy.
Harold and Hog Pretend For Real
If you want another version of Gerald and Piggie, try Dan Santat’s Harold and Hog! It’s such a cute and clever story of Harold, an enthusiastic elephant, and his best pal, the ever-cautious Hog. Even though they are a dynamic duo like Gerald and Piggie, can they pretend to be them? A hilarious favorite, and is part of a series called Elephant and Piggie Like Reading.
So if your beginning reader needs some laughter on their reading list, look no further than Elephant and Piggie. It’s such a great series that promotes reading skills, friendship, and fun, these early readers are sure to be on the favorites list!
About Meredith Bartolo Pappas
Meredith is a licensed teacher with almost twenty years of experience in education. Her specialties are holistic learning, early literacy, and social-emotional development. She is also a reading specialist, artist, and mom of two. She loves all things bookish, magical, and cozy. Find her at Sharing Circle Education sharingcircleeducation.com and on Instagram @sharingcircleeducation.