Holiday Gift Showcase

Picture Books
I started my Holiday Gift Showcase with gifts inspired by children’s books so I think it’s fitting that I would wrap it up with a list of wonderful books that would make great last minute gifts.

” The Very Grouchy Ladybug” by Eric Carle is more than a cute book about a crabby bug. The Lady bug is looking for a fight and each hour she finds a bigger and bigger animal to fight with until she is unintentionally slapped by a big whale’s tail! I loved using this book to teach telling time, as there is a picture of an analog clock on each page. I would use a play clock and as I read each page ask one child to come and set our classroom clock. Also don’t be put off by the fact that the lady bug tries to pick fights, no animal takes her up on her offer and you can spin that into a great lesson about not giving into people who are trying to pick fights.

Sink or Swim “ by Valerie Coulman is my new favorite book, it’s about a cow who is determined to learn how to swim. He seeks out advice, gets all the equipment and never gives up! The story is a wonderful lesson about tenacity in the face of adversity . The cow just keeps trying!


” Alphabet Under Construction”
by Denise Fleming is a wonderful example of what an alphabet book should be. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers learning their first letters, the text is short , the letters are front and center and the illustrations are fun and interesting. My son loves this book, I grabbed it at the library after remembering how much my Pre K class loved it too! Many alphabet books are too long to read entirety at circle time or in one shot with a toddler but this my 19 month old will sit through Z every time!

” Dig Dig Digging” by Margaret Mayo was an instant favorite as soon as my son opened it last night. I bought it without pre reading it at all , hoping that just the fact there was a digger on the front my son would love it. The book is so much better than I expected. It goes through all different types of vehicles, not just diggers and the text uses a repetitive format that kids love. The best part is the opening line of each page where is says what each vehicle is good at. ” Diggers are good at dig dig digging!” ” Tractors are good at pull pull pulling!” are just two of the many. I love this because it had my son trying to say it and by the 3rd reading he was saying it along with me. Great book for toddlers and preschoolers!





” I Love You, Stinky Face” by Lisa McCourt reminds me of “The Runaway Bunny” but less saccharine and creepy. Sorry if I have just called your favorite book creepy but I’ve never been a fan of “The Runaway Bunny”. Back to this book and why I like it, I love that the little boy in the book keeps trying to find ways to make him unlovable and the mom keeps finding ways to love unconditionally. There is a deeper meaning here and moms will see past the fun illustrations to the real heart of this book, which is no matter what we love our children. When I found this in a thrift store and read it quickly, I couldn’t look at my son in his stroller throwing puffs on the floor without tearing up!

Freckleface Strawberry” by Julianne Moore is one of the few celebrity books you will see me giving a good review, I really like this book. It doesn’t talk down to kids, and the humor is funny for parents and kids alike. I like that her freckles do not go away as she got older too, instead she learns to accept and love them.

“The Paper Bag Princess” by Robert Munsch is one of my very favorite books. Some parents have shared their dislike of Elizabeth’s outburst at the end calling Ronald a bum but I think not only is it justified, he treated her horribly, but people say things when they are angry and you can easily use it to teach your child about anger. I think it’s a wonderful story about a princess taking things into her own hands and saving herself and the prince! My kind of fairytale.

” The Family Book” by Todd Parr is a book that doesn’t give readers a narrow definition of family , it doesn’t say that your family has to look a certain way, or be the same as your neighbors. As a teacher I really appreciated the matter of fact way it embraced diversity. Kids see that families are not all like theirs and it’s important to validate the truth while recognizing that while they may not all look alike, all families are made with love. Great book , cute illustrations and children love it.


” How to Make an Apple Pie and see the world”
by Marjorie Priceman cost be a total of 15 cents! It is worth so much more than that. This book is a gem! Perfect for older preschoolers who are getting a sense of the world beyond their own home and city, this book takes you on a ride around the world! You follow the little girl to Italy, France , Sri Lanka, England, Jamaica and back to Vermont! This wonderful book takes such a simple idea of searching for ingredients and blows it into a wonderful global adventure!

” Truck Driver Tom “ by Monica Wellington is one of my son’s picks. The story is simple, Tom and his puppy drive produce from the farm to the market and see the country side and much more along the way. The best part of this book are the fun bright and detailed illustrations, there is a wide variety of trucks, cars , emergency and construction vehicles! Also it’s a great lesson about how our food gets from the farm to us

Book Showcase

Board Books
No craft or song will ever surpass the importance of reading to our kids, a house can never have too many books so here are a few more for you to consider!

” How Big Is A Pig” by Claire Beaton has fast become a favorite in our house around bedtime. I love the felt illustrations, the detail amazes me and helps distract me from noticing that I have read it 20 times in as many minutes. The story itself is great too, it focuses on opposites in the farm yard with a zippy rhyming text.


” Moo , Baa , La La La ! “
by Sandra Boynton is brilliant and cheeky little book for your toddler to love. Young children will jump at the chance to correct the silly story that has pigs saying “La La La” instead of oink!




“The Little Fire Engine” by Lois Lenski is a simple little book about a fire engine that goes to put out fire. Nothing special right? Wrong! My son can spot this book from 3 shelves over at our library and in the past 6 months we have signed it out 4 times! The bright retro illustrations and simple text is perfect for your fire fighters in training!

“Brown Bear Brown Bear” by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle is a classic, it is genius in it’s simplicity. So often we think things have to have fancy bells and whistles to keep toddlers and preschoolers interested and this book proves us wrong yet again. I haven’t met a child who hasn’t responded well to this book about colors and animals!


Chica Chica ABC” by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is a fantastic board book and a shorter version of the ever popular “Chica Chica Boom Boom”. My son loves this book and it’s the perfect amount of text for a toddler. The illustrations by Lois Ehlert are so bright and bold that even a very young baby will respond to it. A must have for all home libraries!


” Good Night Gorilla”
by Peggy Rathmann is a silly story about a zookeeper and his charges that follow him home to bed. Luckily his wife is on her toes and gets those silly animals back to the zoo ! I love to use this book as a bedtime story.

“One Duck Stuck” by Phyllis Root looks like an everyday book , but inside you will find a brilliantly repetitive storyline, that promotes teamwork, and mathematical skills! My students a few years ago were nuts about this book and yours will be too!

Reading In A Winter Wonderland

The children’s librarian at my local library shared a tip with me yesterday, if you are getting sick of holiday crowds stop by the library, it gets very quiet as everywhere else gets insane. Here are a few winter books I found at the library yesterday.
“The Lonesome Polar Bear” by Jane Cabrera is a cute little book about a little polar who’s only friends are a snow cloud and snow animals that keep melting away. The book has a cute message about not giving up hope and to keep trying to make friends , a lesson that is worth wile for everyone. The illustrations are very cute and my son loved it!


“It’s Snowing!” by Olivier Dunrea is a beautiful book , that I read twice in a row because I just loved the magical flow of it and the stunning art work. My son was not too interested which doesn’t surprise me , the story is slow and I should have introduced it at bedtime for someone as young as he is. It is definitely worth a look and I am looking forward to reading this again when my son can sit a little longer and is interested in something other than bulldozers and dump trucks.

“Stella : Queen Of The Snow” by Marie-Louise Gay is my kind of book. If I were to quote all my favorite bits of this book I would write out most of it. I just love the writing, it’s simple but doesn’t talk down to the reader. The characters are sweet but not saccharine and I love how inquisitive Sam is . Stella is a know it all but not bratty about it at all! Sam has never seen snow before and Stella tells him all about it as they explore the first snow fall of the year.

Carve Out Some Time For

Reading!

We shouldn’t teach great books;
we should teach a love of reading.
– B.F. Skinner

I love doing dynamic learning activities, using all different senses, textures, materials but the one thing that all of us must be doing with our children is reading. I am not talking about teaching letter recognition or phonics right now I am just talking about instilling a love of reading, and the wonderful places books can take you! After a busy week a friendly reminder about how important turning off the tv, closing the laptop and snuggling in with a few books is exactly what I need. Here are a few books that are favorites of mine.


“Something from Nothing” by Phoebe Gilman is one of those books that you read and think oh I love it, but will kids? I am here to tell you yes! They love this old yidish folk tale about a little boy, his very special blanket and his grandfather who made it for him. Over the years Joseph’s blanket transforms into a jacket, a vest, a tie, and handkerchief and finally a button. The story is beautiful and kids love not only the repetitive text when the grandfather is sewing but also the continuing storyline of the mice that live under the floor boards who use the scraps of material for all sorts of things. There are no goofy gimmicks, no lights or sounds just a great story and beautiful illustrations in this gem!


“Wemberly Worried” by Kevin Henkes is a favorite of mine, the author has real talent for identifying with children’s emotions and he doesn’t skip a beat with this book. Wemberly is a little mouse who worries all the time, everything makes her sick with worry and nothing as much as the first day of school! What I love about this book is how her parents seem so supportive and caring about her anxiety, and how it still takes a little time for Wemberly to warm up to school, it’s realistic. Also check out the details in the illustrations, my favorite is grandma’s high top sneakers!


“The Colors of Us” by Karen Katz . You may know Karen Katz from her very popular board books, but she has written a number of great picture books too! Lena is learning about mixing colors with her artist mom when she announces that “brown is brown” her mom knows better though. On a walk around her neighborhood she sees that all the people she knows are all different and all beautiful shades of brown. What I like about this book is that it recognizes that we are all different, kids , especially little ones can be really confused when we tell them “We are all the same” they don’t understand what we mean because they can SEE that we aren’t. This book celebrates the diversity while also celebrating the beauty of each color of us.


” the alphabet tree” by Leo Lionni is a stunning book and the first time I read it to a class , at the start if the Iraq conflict was rather poignant. The book is all about letters that come together to make words and then after a caterpillar informs them that they need to say something they join together to make sentences. Up to this point the book is a brilliant teaching tool , but for me the best part is yet to come. When the words get together they decide to say ” Peace on earth goodwill toward all men” and then the caterpillar asks them to jump on his back so he can take the words to the president . Considering it was written in 1968 it’s quite the statement. A fantastic activity to do with your child after reading this would be to ask them what they would write to the president ? For younger children using letters on leaves you could spell out easy 3 letter words like they do early on in the story. All in all a brilliant book.

Grab Some Egg Nog!

Holiday Reads
to
Cuddle Up With

I want you all to have plenty of time to check these books out of your local library, so even though it’s not yet December this is just the tip of the holiday book iceberg.

” If You Take A Mouse To The Movies” by Laura Numeroff is a favorite in our house. I love it because like how your house transforms around the holidays the ever popular “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” transforms too, every page is “decorated” with something from Christmas trees, red and green popcorn buckets, and snowmen. If you aren’t familiar with this series of books the text is cause and effect with each page taking the mouse and a little boy from different holiday situations like listening to Christmas carols, making ornaments and of course going to the movies on a winter day.

” Hurry, Santa!” by Julia Sykes is an okay book. I wanted to like it more than I did. The pictures are cute, the idea of Santa being late for Christmas morning has a lot of potential and the author tried but it just never gelled for me. I would still check it out from the library and test it out with your child, but I won’t be adding this to my must buy list.


“McDuff’s New Friend” by Rosemary Wells was a classroom classic in my last year teaching. I think I read it every day for 3 weeks straight and then a few weeks after Christmas too! In it McDuff the little Westie dog saves the day finding Santa stuck in the snow! I love Susan Jeffer’s retro illustrations and the little details like the dad feeding the baby, the doggy sweaters the McDuff wears in the snow, and how Santa gave them all gifts they needed in the story .