Police Officers on Patrol by Kersten Hamilton; illustrated by R.W. Alley, 2009
(Ages 2 – 5)
This book has been around for a few years, but I wanted to write about it now because it is one of the few books that my son asked me to check out from the Library again and again….and again. Over a span of two years, we have probably checked it out on five separate occasions.
The soft color palette and rhyming refrain makes this an inviting and engaging picture book that gives a nice overview of a police officer’s many duties. The story starts with three diverse police officers walking into the station and putting on their uniforms. And so begins the reoccurring refrain of, “Uniform! Badge! Radio!” Officer Mike, an African American man, heads out to traffic duty where he begins his day by helping turtles safely cross the street. He then quickly responds to a call to direct traffic when a stop light malfunctions due to some mischievous squirrels leading to the second reoccurring refrain, “When people need help / we rock and roll!”
Officer Jan, a white woman, heads out on mounted patrol where she helps tourists with directions and then promptly responds to a call to find a missing boy. This scene provided the perfect opportunity to talk with my son about the importance of never walking away from a grown up. We also discussed what to do if he ever does get separated from an adult. We had had this conversation when we went somewhere with large crowds, but seeing the lost boy call the police department and have the officer help reunite him with his family, helped to reinforce what to do.
Finally, Officer Carl, a white man, is settling a dispute between those troublesome squirrels and a peanut vendor when he is called in to assist with a bank robbery. This scenario also sparked an interesting conversation with my son about stealing. In thirty-two pages, the story is able to capture several duties of police officers and create a lot of important conversations about the world around us.
This is one of those books that is fun to read multiple times because there are many reoccurring details in the illustrations that you might not notice upon the first reading. For example, in the scene with Officer Mike and the traffic jam, you see the family with the lost boy in their car headed to the park, a balloon that floats through almost every scene in the book, and the bank robbers hiding in a truck. It is fun to look for these reoccurring details and make the connections between scenes.
The story ends with the sentence, “Uniform! Badge! Radio! If YOU need help, we’re on patrol!” A nice reminder to children, that police officers are always there to help them. This is a perfect book to read one on one or for a preschool storytime with a police theme.
Why read this book?
Kids will love watching the police officers perform their duties and the rhyming refrain.
Adults will love the opportunity to have important conversations about safety with children.
Kersten Hamilton has also written a fun series for toddlers and preschoolers that revolve around rescue vehicles.