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Explore the City: A Walk & Talk

Engage your little one with counting, singing, open-ended questions, and imagination as you explore city life in this interactive book.

Photo of Devon Laudenslager
3 3

Written by

The bold parts of this book are planting a seed

Play along with these actions - they help me learn how to read!

Pause to let me answer the questions,

Even if I’m still learning to talk!

And point to the words as you read…

now let’s take a walk!

Let’s walk through our city, and greet people we know

We can nod, we can wave, say hola, or hello

How do we say hello?

I see the corner market,

What’s on display?

Let’s pick out our items, and then we can pay

What do we buy at the corner store?

I see two dogs at the park, who both look the same

Can you pet each dog 3 times (count!) 

Great! Now give each dog a name


I see a stop sign

Can you find it with me?

Trace each letter as you say it: 


I see the laundromat, where we make our clothes clean

Can you count the 8 quarters, on the coin machine?


I see the bus that we ride, when we need to go far

Can you find the bus, subway stairs, and red car?

I see the fountain, in the center of town

With kids in their bathing suits, splashing around!

Where do you like to splash?

It’s time to go home, the day has been long

But before we all sleep, let’s sing a song

Sing any song that your child loves, in any language

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

I intend for this book to grow with a child, from birth through age three, and to can change with each reading, depending on how children would like to answer each question. I also intend for the questions in this book to be answered, and the counting and singing to be done, in any language the reader or listener chooses.

Share your suggested book title

Explore the City: A Walk & Talk

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

This book supports language development with infants and toddlers through embedded literacy-supporting actions such as: using a finger to follow words as they're read, to learn concepts of print, specifically directionality - or how we read from top to bottom, left to right in English. Asking open-ended and close-ended questions, and explicitly asking the readers to pause to let the child respond - even if the child does not yet speak in full words or sentences - encourages children to both understand how to use oral language and strengthens their comprehension. Spelling out the letters on a STOP sign while tracing the letters with your finger supports letter-sound knowledge. This book is written in rhyme, to strengthen phonological awareness. And singing is encouraged - any song, in any language - because incorporating singing is one of the easiest ways for parents to support language development anywhere, in a way that is engaging to children and can be done in the absence of books.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

I live and work in Philadelphia. I work in multiple neighborhoods across the city that are diverse from each other in all senses: geographically, racially, linguistically, culturally, socio-economically, etc., although my work is largely concentrated in neighborhoods of greater need. I live in Center City, so between where I live, where my office is located, the various places I socialize and explore, and where I work in communities, I am familiar with the full scope of Philadelphia and Philadelphians, and all of their challenges and triumphs. It is a city and a people that I adore.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

I crafted this manuscript to reflect what I see in most neighborhoods in Philadelphia: corner stores, laundromats, public and private transportation, street signs, parks, dogs, and children playing. For example, when it is hot out in Philadelphia, children splash in anything from community pools, to public fountains, to fire hydrants. I included children splashing in fountains in this book as it is common in Philly, but also asked: "where do you like to splash?" to allow for all experiences of playing with water (it could even be the bath tub or sink!). I also wanted to reflect the communal experience of urban life: such as washing clothes at the laundromat or riding a bus or subway.

Location: Country

United States of America

Location: State or Department


Location: City


Tell us more about you / your team

I work directly with and in the communities at the heart of this challenge, running an extensive Literacy & Language Development program for birth-5 years. I work with childcare teachers and I approach my work with care, enthusiasm and a spirit of the teamwork it takes for adults and communities to support children's learning. What does not change across Philadelphia communities, regardless of income, trauma, native language, race, or immigration status, is how much teachers and parents want to do what is best for their babies and toddlers, and how much they are looking for the knowledge of how to best support their child's learning and development. In providing books for very young children, I am especially passionate about making sure I find books that reflect the identities and experiences of those children. I care about books that reflect the reality of living an urban, and sometimes impoverished, life, but without seeming bleak. I want joyful representations of city life.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

I would love to see my manuscript come to life with bold, bright color, and positive, inviting, and characters representing multiple races and cultures.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • No

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • There was an announcement in a Read by 4th Partner Newsletter.

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists


Join the conversation:

Photo of Dawnnbooks .

The questions will indeed prompt interaction between the reader and the little one.
Interesting story.
Good luck to us all.

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