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 .

Thanksgiving Books

” A Plump and Perky Turkey “ by Teresa Bateman is such a cute and funny book about a town that needs a turkey and the lengths they go to to find one. The town is sadly outwitted by the turkey and end up eating shredded wheat for thanksgiving. The illustrations kept my little man interested even though the story’s humor was above his head.

“10 Fat Turkeys” by Tony Johnston was a classroom favorite, it’s about as silly as a book gets and the kids had no clue they were actually learning about subtraction while listening to the crazy rhymes. This won’t explain the pilgrims , or talk about the Mayflower, but it will make your kids laugh! Very cute!

“The First Thanksgiving Day : A Counting Story” by Laura Krauss Melmed is a stunning gem of a book. I can’t believe I haven’t read it before, normally great books like this go through teaching circles like wildfire. The book has so many layers it will keep toddlers and preschoolers alike busy and engaged. The text explains the first Thanksgiving while counting 1-10 in rhyming poetry and the illustrations by Mark Buehner have hidden treasures, see if you can find them! After I return this to the library, I will be buying it for sure!


” Thanksgiving is for giving thanks” by Margaret Sutherland is book that explains what Thanksgiving is, and gives lots of examples of things to be thankful for. I like this book although I could go without the page where the narrator is thankful for lollipops, all the other things are wonderful like a teacher’s encouragement, grandma’s hugs, and sunny days and to me the lollipops sorta fall flat. Easily skipped over if you are not keen on it but the book as a whole is valuable teaching tool about thanksgiving.

Halloween Books Part II

More Spooky Reads!
I think any holiday especially one as awesome as Halloween ( that’s my sweet tooth talking) is a fantastic catalyst for reading. Use your child’s excitement to get some learning in ! Here are three more fun Halloween Books.

“Dem Bones” by Bob Barner is sort of two books in one. The superficial layer uses the words of the ever popular old time spiritual with fun Halloween inspired skelleton illustrations. There is also a second layer that has longer text for older children that goes into the anatomy of the bones the song sings about. Great way to keep a Halloween theme strong while teaching about the human body!

” Maisy’s Halloween “ is a cute board book for toddlers that follows Maisy’s search for the right Halloween costume. There is something about this little mouse that children just love, it’s also a cute introduction about the fun we have dressing up for Halloween.

” Big Pumpkin” by Erica Silverman is a staple in most preschool classrooms. It’s a cute story about a witch who is desperate for pumpkin pie but her giant pumpkin is too big for her to pick up! Luckily she enlists the help of a ghost, vampire, mummy and bat and with a little teamwork they save the night! The rhyming text is almost like a song and kids love it!

Halloween Books!

Scary Good Books !

I am posting this now so there is some hope that my readers will be able to find these books in their local library before they are all snatched up!

” Monster Math” by Anne Miranda is a fun math lesson turned into a fun and entertaining storybook. You can simply read the book or you can have your little mathematician help you guess how many new monsters arrive and leave on each page. The illustrations are adorable and even if the math skills are above your toddler or preschoolers heads they will still enjoy the book.
” Inside a House That Is Haunted” by Alyssa Satin Capucilli was the hands down favorite Halloween book for my 3 year old class in 2005. I must have read this 200 times and even after Christmas had come and gone it was still requested all the time. The story is a rebus read along, so it is repetitive and it builds upon itself. This is great for children who are eager to “read along” before they are able to read words. The repetitiveness allows them to anticipate what is next and feel included. Very cute even after reading it hundreds of times.

” 10 Trick – or Treaters by Janet Schulman was the book I bought to try and eclipse ” Inside a House That Is Haunted” and while my class loved this one two my plan didn’t quite work out. This book has the most adorable pictures and in every page there is an owl hidden somewhere, which is a great trick to keep reluctant readers involved. The story counts down from 10 to no trick or treaters with fun rhyming text and a fun array of trick or treaters in cute costumes.