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Homeschool with A Baker’s Dozen Booklist and Activities

March 30, 2020

In these stay-at-home days of the coronavirus pandemic, A Baker’s Dozen booklist is a valuable online resource for teachers and guardians of preschoolers who are in search of educational materials and have books available via e-libraries, YouTube read-along posts, etc.

A Baker’s Dozen: The Best Children’s Books for Family Literacy highlights 13 fiction/nonfiction picture books selected by the Pennsylvania (PA) Center for the Book at Penn State University Libraries each year. Those chosen must be published in the previous year and go through a rigorous selection process to ensure text and illustrations within support the interests and developmental milestones of children ages three-to-six (with many titles suitable independent-reads for those seven and eight-years-old).

This is an illustrative image of the website for the booklist, A Baker's Dozen: The Best Children's Books for Family Literacy
A Baker’s Dozen on the PA Center for the Book website

The website houses booklists by year from 2004 to 2019, with 2020 forthcoming, that are annotated with summaries, tips, and activities. Families, caregivers, and educators can discuss the concept of remembering with kids by referring to thought bubbles on the pages of Teddy’s Favorite Toy, for example – a book by Christian Trimmer, illustrated by Madeline Valentine (Atheneum) from the 2019 Baker’s Dozen.

Or while exploring the 2014 Baker’s Dozen book Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley (Peter Pauper Press), “…adults can ask children what they would do if they found an egg like Hank did. How would they take care of the egg? Adults can allow children to touch and hold a hard-boiled egg. What words would children use to describe the egg? What would happen if the egg was not handled gently?”

Tips and annotations provide instructions on emphasizing words and phrases to further age-appropriate core learning concepts, as well as hands-on activities. Books that rise to the top of the selection jury’s picks have readable fonts, natural and repetitive phrasing, amply and evenly spaced formatting, illustrations that extend text concepts, a diversity of appealing topics for families, and/or a smooth cadence for reading aloud.

A snapshot of the Baker's Dozen website shows a summary and tips for Hello, Door
by Alastair Heim, Illustrated by Alisa Coburn from the 2019 booklist.
Summary & Tips for “Hello, Door” by Alastair Heim, illustrated by Alisa Coburn

So while huddled inside, try A Baker’s Dozen to warm and enrich the space for young ones with more than just sweet treats from the oven! Be sure to revisit A Baker’s Dozen online in the coming months for the latest 2020 titles!

A Baker’s Dozen is administered by PA Center for the Book Director, Karla M. Schmit, with team members Caroline Wermuth, James McCready, and a dedicated jury of experts on children’s literature.

The PA Center for the Book—sponsored by Barbara I. Dewey, dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, and Penn State State University Libraries—is an affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. It encourages PA’s citizens and residents to study, honor, celebrate and promote books, reading, libraries and literacy.

For more information, visit the PA Center for the Book website or contact Caroline Wermuth (, outreach coordinator.

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