Take a look! I'm sure that before long, Leo Lionni will be one of your favorite authors, too.
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A Bit About Leo Lionni
Leo Lionni was born in Holland in 1910, and had a tremendously successful career in advertising in the United States before settling in Italy in 1959.
Lionni began his career as a children's book author after he made up a story for his grandchildren using torn colored paper while riding on a train. That story eventually became Little Blue and Little Yellow, and was the first of many treasures to come.
He wrote over 40 picture books for children, and recieved Caldecott Honor Awards for Inch By Inch, Swimmy, Frederick, and Alexander And The Wind-Up Mouse.
The messages in Leo Lionni's books are simple and easy for children to understand. They gently teach children about kindness, empathy, courage, and acceptance of others and yourself.
Some of Our Favorite Leo Lionni Books
Pezzettino is a tiny orange cube who feels certain that he must surely be a part of one of the larger, more courageous and exciting creatures around him. Eventually he learns that he, too, is complex and daring just like his friends.
A clever inchworm saves himself from being eaten by birds time and time again by showing how useful his measuring skills are. He measures tails, beaks, and bodies. But when a nightingale asks him to measure his song, the little worm must come up with a way to escape unharmed!
Two friends, Little Blue and Little Yellow love each other so much that they hug until they turn green. After their parents initial concerns, they get in on the color mixing fun as well.
Cornelius, unlike all the other crocodiles, can walk upright. Because of his unique ability he can see and do more than the others. Cornelius learns that it is okay to be different, and that even if others don't initially show their admiration, it may be lurking in the background.
Alexander, a real mouse (reviled by the human occupants of the house), meets and then wishes that he were a wind-up mouse (beloved toy). Despite their differences, the two mice become friends. Alexander learns that the grass is not always greener on the other side, and cherishes his friendship with the wind-up mouse enough to save him from the garbage after his novelty has worn off.
Man, oh, man, do I love this book. Three frog friends spend their time arguing and claiming that everything is "MINE!" Eventually they learn that practicing teamwork and sharing makes for a much more pleasant life. I read this story to my girls on days when they are having trouble getting along!
Frederick the mouse spends his summer days daydreaming and collecting words and colors. His companions, busy collecting nuts and seeds, pester him about it but they are grateful during the long winter days when Frederick is able to provide them with beautiful imagery and poetry.
In A Color Of His Own, a chameleon laments the fact that everything else has its own color, but he does not. He learns self-acceptance after he finds a friend to share his time with.
Swimmy is the lone survivor after a tuna eats all his friends. He explores the wonders of the ocean and makes some new friends. Then Swimmy comes up with a clever camoflauge strategy to help his new friends explore the ocean as well.
Matthew is a poor mouse who lives in a dusty attic with his mom and dad, who want him to grow up to be a doctor. After a class trip to a museum, Matthew dreams of being a painter, allowing him to see the beauty and wonder in the world around him.
Activities To Go Along With Leo Lionni's Books
Explore Pezzettino With Duplo or Lego Bricks from Cutting Tiny Bites
Pezzettino Characters With Linking Cubes from Room 166 Transformation
Pezzitino Activity from Fantastic Fun and Learning
Pezzettino Construction from Accidentaccio (in Italian)
Swimmy Stamp Painting from Cutting Tiny Bites
Fish Bowl Craft from 4 Crazy Kings
Swimmy The Fish Stamping Craft from Mama Jenn
Sticky Fish Craft from Toddler Approved
Colorful Chameleons from Cutting Tiny Bites
Paper Plate Chameleons from Tippytoe Crafts
Chameleon Color Clothespins from Joyfully Weary
Color Changing Chameleon Activity from Artsy Momma
Mouse Craft from No time For Flashcards
Frederick The Pebble Mouse from Kitchen Counter Chronicles
Paper Plate Mouse from Glued To My Crafts
Ball Painting and Color Mixing from Teach Preschool
Color Changing Rose Experiment from Homegrown Friends
Color Mixing With Gel Baggies from Mama.Papa.Bubba
Play Dough Color Mixing Activty from Buggy And Buddy
Other Leo Lionni Resources
You may want to check out some of these other resources about Leo Lionni and his work.
- A few videos from Leo Lionni himself.
- A resource book for teachers: Teaching With Favorite Leo Lionni Books: Creative Activities for Exploring Friendship, Self-Esteem, Cooperation, and Other Themes
- A reading guide with questions: Reading With Leo Lionni
- Animated versions of several stories from Scholastic Storybook Treasures: Five Lionni Classics