Easter Egg Letter Match – Alphabet For Starters

easter egg letter recognition activityby Allison McDonald

This uppercase lowercase letter match activity is not ground breaking but combining it with an Easter theme helps makes letter recognition practice and skill development into play.  Adding a fun novelty like a holiday theme does wonders for kids motivation and a motivated child is a child ready to learn. This activity is part of our Alphabet for Starters series which focuses on fun playful ways to learn the alphabet.  A few easy adaptations for different levels would be doing a straight identical letter match having only all lower or all uppercase letters and doing this with sight words for emergent readers.

  1. Gather your materials. I got this egg tray at Walmart for under a dollar. I almost bought all 4 colors but I restrained myself and let my daughter pick her favorite color. You could use an egg carton just as effectively no need to buy anything special. You will also need some paper, marker , plastic Easter eggs and a bucket for the eggs. A circle paper punch is optional for the letters in the tray. You may also want some tape to tape the paper in the tray down. Ours got staticky and interrupted the flow a few times. easter egg letter match 2
  2. Start by writing lowercase letters on small pieces of paper. Try to include a majority of letters your child knows ( about 2/3) and some you know have been challenging in the past. This will hopefully give them a good balance of ” This is challenging but I can do it!” which is the perfect zone for learning. Easter Egg Letter Match 3
  3. Pop them in your tray. easter egg letter match 5
  4. Write the corresponding upper case letters on the eggs in marker. easter egg letter match
  5. Put the eggs in the bucket and invite your letter matcher to the table. easter egg letter activity for kids
  6. Start matching. easter egg letter match alphabet activityShe wanted to put the lowercase letter in the egg after matching them which is a fun add on even though a few of the eggs didn’t want to close back up and that frustrated her greatly. I think an older child would do wonderfully with this add on even if it proved to be too much for a 2 year old. I was tricky for her but with some help she got it. After that it was smooth sailing.easter egg letter match 4 I thought Q would give her trouble but she was a champ.Easter Egg Letter Match 10 Celebrate any and all victories. Easter Egg Letter Match 9

Books About Easter

Where-Are-Baby-s-Easter-Eggs

Where Are Baby’s Easter Eggs? by Karen Katz is a great way of having an Easter egg hunt while reading a story. If you aren’t familiar with the ” Where are  Baby’s …” series of life the flap books, they are simple books where the reader searches for an item finding other things first before finally finding the title object, in this case Easter eggs. My daughter loves these books and plays with them even when we aren’t reading them together. I love the bright illustrations and the simple holiday theme.

Easter books

The Best Easter Eggs Ever! by Jerry Smath is an adorable book about Easter. The story follows the Easter bunny and his 3 young assistant bunnies as they prepare for their big day. The Easter Bunny is getting tired and a little bored of his polka dot design for the eggs and decides to send out his assistants in search of new designs. The little bunnies head out with one egg and paints to all different places to find inspiration. When one of the little bunnies is captivated by the night sky she doesn’t notice how dark it is and how lost she has gotten. The Easter Bunny and his other assistants find her and in the morning the new designs are celebrated. My son loves an inside look at any sort of secret place like  the Easter Bunny’s or Santa’s workshop so he was drawn into this book immediately. I liked the illustrations and how detailed they were , it certainly got me excited about Easter.

easter books for kids

The Night Before Easter by Natasha Wing is a Easter version of the classic “Twas The Night Before Christmas” . With fun pictures and an Easter Bunny so joyful I wanted to apply for his job this book was a hit at our house. My son was engaged through the whole book guessing at the rhymes and listening intently from one page to the next. Of all the books this was the only one that really engaged my toddler as well. She pointed out animals and loved the little boy in the book. Great Easter book.

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14 Books About Love

14 books about love for kidsValentine’s Day at our house isn’t about mom and dad getting dressed up and going out for a nice dinner (although maybe it will be again soon! ) instead we celebrate it as a family and talk about love, friendship and respect.  These 14 picture books are about all kinds of love. Romantic, platonic and lots of love you find in families. Some of these may not even seem like books about love but dig a littler deeper and you’ll see they are… or at least I think they are. These are some of my very favorite picture books and I hope you love them too.

Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton. This author is a preschool parents dream, short and easy to read melodic books with illustrations to die for. The story is simply a little love song about all the ways the dog loves the puppy, simple and touching. As an educator something I love is that the dogs don’t have an obvious race , they don’t even have an obvious gender which is perfect. Regardless of who loves who in your family your child can see you in the dog and themselves in the puppy! I think that is the perfect valentine! My son didn’t warm up to this book right away, but now not only does he love it he is very very specific that only I can read it to him . It’s become a big favorite in our house.

owen and mzee

Best Friends (Owen And Mzee) by Isabella and Craig Hatkoff is a board book with real photographs of the friendship of orphaned baby hippo and his 130 year old adoptive tortoise named Mzee. The text is simple and perfect for toddlers, although older children will better understand how amazing the story is. There are so many learning opportunities between these pages from the Tsunami, to learning about hippos and tortoises. The real lesson though is about friendship and I like that it shows animals being affectionate , something rare to see and something that can help foster a true appreciation for animals in young kids.

Princess Hyacinth (The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated) by Florence Parry Heide is such a fantastic ( and funny) fairytale about a little princess who has a very odd problem. She can’t keep her feet on the ground so her parents worried that she will literally float away weigh her down. The problem with being weighed down is that she can’t be herself and one day when she is set free to float she discovers that that is who she is. The only problem left is how does she get down? Luckily a little boy with a big heart and a kite comes to help . He’s not a rescuer coming to fix everything simply a true friend helping . His quiet actions teaches more about love than any grand romantic gesture. I love this book and the messages of breaking free from your limitations and of being yourself while staying connected to those you love.


Mama, Do You Love Me?
by Barbara M. Joosse is a well loved book. I have read it many times but never reviewed it. There are a lot of books about children testing their mom’s unconditional love but this one stands out for me. In it the little girl seems to go out of her way to aggravate her mom and really test her love. The mother is fantastic because she isn’t gushy or sickeningly sweet, she says she would get angry , worried, sad depending on what her daughter tests her with. However after each honest answer she follows it up with how she will always love her. Kids need to know even if they make us sad or angry it doesn’t change the depth of our love for them.

Did I Tell You I Love You Today? by Deloris Jordan is a very practical yet heartwarming look at all the ways parents show love to their children everyday, from feeding them healthy food to praying after they go to bed. My son loved all the big boy things in the book like, the school bus, basketball and the playground. I teared up reading the book, but I cry at American Idol so that may not be indicative of anything!

books about love

Henry in Love by Peter McCarty is a sweet book that will transport you back to your elementary school crushes but it won’t just appeal to the adults it’s got plenty for the little ones too. Henry has a crush on Chloe although all that is every really said is that he thinks she is lovely. The best part is that Chloe seems to like him back.  This book can teach children a lot about interpreting people’s actions to explain feelings. Simple but expressive illustrations give subtle clues that give great opportunities for conversations about what it means to love not just to feel love.

I love you stinky face

I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt is a wonderful mushy book that will still appeal to kids that aren’t so into mush. A little boy in his PJs asks his mom if she will still love him even if he was a series of terrible monsters. It 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.

 

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch is perhaps the classic tear jerking picture book. I read this for years and years to children and had no problem getting choked up, it never bothered me, then I gave birth and I can’t read it without sobbing. The premise is simple, a mom sings this simple song to her son as he grows ” I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as you’re living , my baby you’ll be.” until she can’t sing it anymore and it’s his turn. For days after I read this I tear up as I lay my son in his crib. * Edited to add that many readers have commented that they do not like this book at all! What do you think? Leave a comment and tell us!

The I LOVE YOU Book Kids need to know that love is unconditional and this book drives that point home is a simple , bright and funny way. I cried through reading most of it , but my son laughed and loved it. I specifically loved that the author includes that a child is loved even when they are sad, not sleeping and more. The cover of the book has a cut out heart shape and would be a great add on to a shape activity about hearts.

kishand2

The Kissing Hand by Audry Penn is an absolute favorite . Chester is a raccoon who like most of us doesn’t like change. In his case it’s starting school. He wants to stay home with his mama and play with the friends he already has instead of going to school away from her and his friends. So his mama explains to him the magic of the kissing hand . The real magic is the message that we have to do things that scare us sometimes but that the love of our family is always with us to help us through. Go get this book.

tango

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson is a much debated book. It’s the true story of two male penguins in central park zoo who didn’t have any interest in the girl penguins but definitely liked each other. When the zoo keepers noticed that they were in every way a matched pair they also noticed that they prepared for a baby just like the other penguins. Time after time they were sad until they were given an egg to care for. Just like all families love and care is what matters when creating a family and baby Tango and his two daddies have thrived . My son loved this book and asked me to please go see the penguins when I was in NYC. I didn’t have time to but I wish I had. Their story simplifies a very debated topic and I think it’s a great book not only to explain how all families are different but also how love and care are really what makes a family even for penguins.

Where_The_Wild_Things_Are

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is one of those books that makes me cry just when I think of it. If you aren’t familiar with this book it’s not sad. It’s about a little boy who is acting up and gets sent to his room. While in his room his imagination runs wild and he is transported to a world where there are no rules , no parents and no consequences for bad behavior. Ultimately though Max’s heart pulls him back home where he is loved most of all, even when he’s wild. I think this is an amazing love story about parents and children and unconditional love.

tough stuff 6

Hair for Mama by Kelly A. Tinkham is beautiful. The story is about a little boy who is desperate to find some hair for his mama who has lost hers to chemotherapy. Marcus wants mama to be in the family photo but she doesn’t want to be the way she looks. His mission comes to a climax when he shaves off all his own hair hoping to give it to his mama. When the barber sweeps it up with the other hair on the floor Marcus is heart broken and goes home in tears. I was sobbing reading this, I knew it was a story about a mom having cancer but the way the author wrote it , it was magical. The complex emotions this little boy felt for his mom and she for him, jumped off the page and you can’t help but cry. I wasn’t sad ,I was touched by the love and desire to fix his mom and make everything better, and his parents tenderness to his feelings. I can’t recommend this book more highly. I should note that this is not a book for toddlers, I would probably wait until a child is 4-5 before reading them this gem.

The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jennifer Wojtowicz is one of those books that stays with you. Rink is a little boy who’s family is strange, Rink is no exception, with every full moon he sprouts flowers , from his head. At school he is an outsider and only when a new girl comes to school does he make a friend. He reaches out to her because she too is an outsider, not at school, in her own family. In the end the kindred spirits celebrate their uniqueness. This odd romantic story will warm your heart and serves as a great lesson about how we all feel different and like an outsider sometimes. The illustrations by Steve Adams will stun you, they were so vibrant and paired so perfectly with the story. Wonderful!

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10 Picture Books About Colors

10 books about colors for toddlers and kids

Learning about colors is not limited to the art easel. Books about colors are a great way to work on color recognition with little ones while having fun doing it.

white-rabbits-color-book-alan-baker

White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker is a classic in my mind and if you have never read it you must. It’s not a complicated story, instead it’s a brilliant book and lesson about color mixing . The cover illustration of the bunny in the paint always makes me think of dying Easter eggs which is another great opportunity to teach about color mixing. Kids love this book and adults reading it will enjoy the fun and dynamic language used to describe the vibrant colors that the bunny plunges into.

Duckie's Rainbow

Duckie’s Rainbow by Frances Barry is a clever little book , you walk with her as she passes things like a yellow cornfield and blue pond until the pages above create a rainbow . I love the idea but reading it with my son ( who was 2 at the time) all he wanted to do was turn the pages as quickly as he could to make the rainbow. Not a big deal but this would make a better story time book then a bedtime one for that reason.

Hello Red Fox

Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle is a fun interactive book about colors and the color wheel. Kids will love the “trick” on each page. The trick being that if you stare at a color for long enough then stare at a blank page the complimentary color will appear! This book is great, but not for a group, a class will disintegrate into “Let me!!” and “My turn!” quickly so this is really is best read one on one!

Dog's Colorful Day

Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd was a huge hit at our house. My son loved identifying the colors of all the drips of paint, ice cream and more that Dog gets on him throughout the day. This is a great book not only because it has counting and colors but because of the language it uses while the spots of color are splatting, squashing ans squishing onto his beautiful white fur. My son loved repeating these words with enthusiasm as he noted how poor Dog was getting so messy! It’s a fun book to read and one that I have added to my wish list !

planting-a-rainbow

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert is a wonderful book to use for teaching about flowers and colors. The illustrations are bold and bright, perfect for little curious minds. I have always liked this book because you can sit down and dive into it reading each flowers name on every page , or browse it more casually with a younger child simply noting the colors.

little-blue-and-little-yellow

Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni is a profound book with underlying commentary about race relations while the surface story is about little blobs of color who when squished together turn into one green blob! You’ll be surprised by how easily your preschooler will pick up on the connection between the two. In my PreK class I had more than a few kids make the connection all on their own.

Brown Bear Brown Bear

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. is a book that can go with a baby from infancy through toddlerhood and into the preschool years. The bold colors of the illustrations by Eric Carle are perfect for catching infant’s attention and will continue to grab it through the years. With the turn of each page the reader is left wondering what’s next, and if the reader is my son he will cut you off to tell you what’s coming next before you have a chance to turn the page. There are other titles in the series , including ; Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? , and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? but this one is my very favorite! My daughter actually sits looking at these pages instead of simply trying to eat the book, which in my opinion is a great review from a 6 month old!

I love colors

I Love Colors by Margaret Miller is one of my daughter’s favorite books. When we went to the library she started pulling the parenting books off the shelf because there are pictures of babies on the covers. The librarian was quick to notice and started finding us books with babies and this was one of the winners. We have now renewed this book twice and read it many many times a day. The book is super simple and each page shows a baby with a colored item like glasses, a hair bow etc… the photos are big and of real babies which if your toddler is like mine, makes a big difference.

books about colors

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh is a cute little story about mice that get into paint and not only make a mess but discover what happens when you mix colors. Great for every day but even better when you are learning about colors specifically mixing colors.

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Lemons Are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger is a clever book each page offers a sneak peek at what it next, which my son thought was genius and I have to agree. Soon my son was making his own predictions about what object would be revealed when we turned the page. The book offered so many chances for me to step in and ask my son questions about what we were reading without stalling the momentum of the book.

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Books About Bedtime Challenges

Bedtime challenges are one thing that most families face from time to time. Reading books about anything that your family may be facing is such a great way to talk about it when emotions are calm. These books make me feel normal and I hope at least one may really help you too!

Looking for Sleepy by Maribeth Boelts is a perfect bedtime book. I really think it’s brilliant. I was gifted it and it probably wouldn’t have jumped off the book shelf to me if I had been browsing at the book store but I am so glad it ended up in our hands. The book is about a little bear and his papa bear getting ready for bed. They go through their bedtime routine, starting by looking for sleepy hiding under toys, in the bath , in his pjs, in the bedtime stories etc… I love the dad in this book. I love how he’s patient and kind and the illustration on the page where they are reading in bed and his toddler’s hand is awkwardly on his head cracks me up. My favorite part though is that when the toddler asks Papa to stay a little longer while he falls asleep Papa does. I enjoy books that are reassuring and provide a sense of security for young children at bedtime and this does that with ease. Awesome book!

I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed (Charlie and Lola)by Lauren Child is a story about Lola who will not go to bed easily. Charlie her older brother has been asked to help his parents and get her to bed and Lola makes him work for it. She is full of imaginative ways to stall the inevitable and Charlie plays along all the while trying to stay one step a head of his little sister. Kids love Charlie and Lola because they are absurd and funny and if you can read it to them in a British accent it’s even funnier.

Can’t Sleep Without Sheep by Susanna Leonard Hill is an absolutely fantastic story about a little girl who needs to count sheep to get to sleep but there is one big problem the sheep are too tired to jump. They promise her to find  replacements but animal after animal is just not working out. I laughed out loud at many pages of this book  ( especially the chickens) and my daughter loved it even if she didn’t get all the layers of humor. Very sweet book .

Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban is a classic. Frances and her very loving mom and dad are struggling with bedtime. She goes to bed but then keeps getting out of bed with reason after reason as to why she can’t sleep. The start of this story is really sweet and her parents were kind and gentle with her trying to alleviate her fears without fixing  everything for her. As the evening wears on and her parents go to bed themselves their patience is tested. Now I am not a fan of spanking and I have never spanked my kids so I had t explain to them what a spanking was and why Frances didn’t want one. I don’t think that you should avoid this book if you are ideologically against spanking I think it’s a great opportunity to talk about different discipline techniques and a chance to talk about frustration and sleep when you aren’t frustrated because your kids can’t sleep.

Snowbaby Could Not Sleep by Kara LaReau is a sweet winter themed story about a little Snowbaby that simply can not get to sleep. He counts snowflakes, his Snowmama gets him extra snow because he was too hot and still he can’t sleep. What finally gives him enough comfort is when his parents make him his very own Snowpuppy to snuggle all night long.  I like gentle books like this because as a child I had terrible nighttime anxiety and as a mom have always been very gentle at bedtime until I knew my kids felt secure enough to handle each new stage of nighttime independence. My toddler who is 2 loved this book .


Mortimer (Classic Munsch) by Robert Munsch is a fun bedtime book, it’s not the calmest and is pretty funny so you may want to read this one before some more chill books, but it’s so cute I couldn’t leave it off my list. I can’t remember the first time I read this book, but whether reading it to a group of preschoolers or to my son I have never had a child not sing along with Mortimer who is driving everyone bonkers by not going to sleep! Instead he is singing and making noise and not even the police can stop him!


Otto Goes to Bed by Todd Parr is a really fun and positive book. Otto is a dog who doesn’t want to go to bed, he wants to play, chase his tail and a bath and brushing teeth don’t help. Instead he figures out that there is something he likes about bedtime, dreaming! I like that this book addresses that going to bed feels like missing out on things for kids, I know I felt like that for years. Instead of blankly saying “Sleeping is great” or “You have to go to bed” this book finds something positive about going to bed . The illustration of Otto as a super hero dog makes my son howl with laughter every time.

Creak! Said the Bed by Phyllis Root is hilarious especially if you like me start the night in the bed with just your spouse and wake up with the whole family in your bed.  The family in the book is asleep all in their own beds but as the night wears on each child comes in and when the dog does the bed simply can’t hold. My kids liked this book but I loved it, it spoke to me especially the bit about the dad sleeping through each child waking up and the mom welcoming them with open arms. That is our family exactly. You will all giggle at the funny sleeping positions too.

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea is such a great book for toddlers. Dinosaur is a tornado full of energy much like a 2 year old and attacks each event in his day with serious gusto. When it’s time for bed he roars through bath and toothbrushing and then just roars like mad when it’s time for bed. Much like my little dinosaurs he eventually gets sleepy and unlike the rest of the day bedtime wins and he falls asleep. My kids love all the Dinosaur Vs. books and I do too. They are fun , simple and if you can manage a really loud gruff voice it’s that much more fun to read.

 

 


I Don’t Want to Go to Bed! by Julie Sykes is a story about a tiger who refuses to go to bed. His mom decides to let him stay up. Little tiger goes around to all his friends and asks them to play but they are all getting ready for bed or already asleep. The jungle isn’t nearly as fun at night as he thought and it’s much colder too! He’s getting scared when he finds a new friend who takes him home just in time to fall asleep. My son liked this book and so did I it addresses a child’s feeling of missing out on fun and explains the reality which is that they aren’t missing out on anything at all.
Jake Stays Awake by Michael Wright made both my husband and I laugh hysterically. My son enjoyed the book but we loved it. It’s about a little boy who can’t sleep without his parents and they don’t like sleeping with feet in their faces. Can you relate?  We can , which is why we found this book so funny. What I liked was that Jake wasn’t disciplined for wanting to sleep with his parents they were just being honest that it wasn’t working anymore. They tried so many different places hoping a change of venue would be all he needed.  My son loved the page that they were all sleeping in garbage cans and I loved that Jake looked to be about 12 , it gave me hope that my son may sleep alone by puberty.

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Books about bullying, moving, death & other tough stuff.

I am often asked by readers and friends if I know of any books about this or that to help their kids with transitions and life events. I am always happy to oblige and below are the  most common titles I pass along when I am asked for a great book about a tough subject. You will find books about moving, divorce, bullying,  death, anxieties, potty training, bad behavior , being different and even about a parent who has lost her hair because of cancer. I am warning you now more than a few of these books have put me in tears but all of them have helped kids going through something tough and I hope they are helpful for you too.

On the Day His Daddy Left by Eric J. Adams made me gasp for air I was crying so hard. It was a great book for my son who is just starting to notice differences in his friends families, although the book is really geared towards children 5 years and older. It’s about a little boy who knows his parents are divorcing and his dad is moving out after school that day. Early in the book he writes a secret question on a piece of paper and throughout the day shows it to select people. When the question is revealed as ” Is it my fault?” I dare any parent not to choke up. My son was saying ” Mama, mama read it to me.” and I couldn’t I had to have a cry first. I think the authors did a wonderful job addressing both this little boy’s anxiety, guilt and the reactions of very loving and concerned parents.

It Hurts When I Poop!: A Story for Children Who Are Scared to Use the Potty by Howard J. Bennet was a life saver for us. Many kids start holding their poop after one painful one, and that happened here and we went from no issues to fussing, fighting the potty and finally he admitted he was scared it will hurt. Of course holding it made that worse but try to explain that to a frightened toddler. This book was amazing. The story is long, I skipped some text with my son , but read it all for myself since it’s packed with awesome information for parents too! The book explains digestion, why it hurts and how to make it better on a kids level as well as in more detail for parents. I can’t recommend this more for parents whose children have hit this very common but very distressing problem.

I Don’t Want to Go To School! by Stephanie Blake is a funny little book that deals with the big issue of not wanting to go to school. The little bunny Simon in this book doesn’t want to go even though his parents are supportive and try to make him feel confident about going. I loved that when he got to school the first thing he did was cry and the author was so matter of fact about it. That lets kids know that there is no shame in expressing emotion and even after they cry things will probably get better, it did for Simon. My son loved that all Simon ever said was “No way!” and quickly took over every one of Simon’s lines. It was a big hit, got lots of giggles and had a great message.

I Remember Miss Perry by Pat Brisson is a great book.  There are some really wonderful aspects to this book that aren’t apparent at first but upon reflection really impressed me. The story is about a beloved teacher who is young, vibrant and one day tragically dies in a car accident. The rest of the book is devoted to how children grieve, from questions about if they will see her again to the realization that she wouldn’t want them to be sad and cry. I loved that the person who dies is someone important and close but not a family member. For children just learning about death it sort of eases them in. My son only kinda gets it , and his questions were more about if there was a firetruck and ambulance at the car accident than about death itself. He did understand and relate to the grief though, and how it’s OK to be sad when someone dies. The other wonderful thing I found was that she died in an accident, she wasn’t sick, it was sudden. SO often we teach our kids that people die when they are old or sick, and that just isn’t always true. Obviously this is an intensely personal subject and up to every family how and when they broach it , but that is what I liked.

Ballerino Nate by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley   is on my must buy list. I don’t say that often, especially with such a great public library, but this book is wonderful. Nate is a little boy who after seeing a ballet school production with his class at school, decides he too wants to take ballet. Of course his older brother has something to say, and say and say but Nate is pretty confident with the help of his parents , that boys can take ballet.  I love that Nate wants to dance but he hates the idea that he might have to wear pink, clearly pink is not a good thing to him, he just wants to dance.  What I love about this book as a woman who spent more than her fair share of time at a ballet bar in her growing up years, is that it depicts boy dancers well.  I encourage parents of boys and girls to read this, to open our kids’ horizons to being interested in whatever their heart desires, not to what older brothers, neighbors or anyone else tells them to be.

Edwardo the Horriblest Boy in the Whole Wide World by John Burningham is a must read for anyone who is in a position of authority among children, it is a poignant look at what happens when you scold and belittle a child and then what the outcome is when you praise.  I have always had a extra special place in my heart for students who act out . It’s rarely not for a reason and this book will help remind anyone how children need understanding more than harsh words and punishment especially when they are being horrible.

Jim’s Dog Muffins by Miriam Cohen doesn’t beat around the bush. The first line informs the reader that Jim’s dog was smushed by a truck.  At first I thought, uh no , this book is not one I am going to like but I really do. The author has a knack of writing the story the way young kids deal with things. Kids are blunt and so is this story. I really liked that Jim got angry when a classmate suggested to him that being sad doesn’t help , and loved their teacher’s response too. Another good book about a tough subject.

Jake’s Best Thumb by Ilene Cooper is a pretty realistic look at a preschooler who is happily sucking his thumb despite the adults in his life warning him about bad teeth, thumb sucking not being for big boys and asking him gently when he thinks he will be ready to stop. What I love about this book is that Jake’s reactions are spot on. I like how sometimes he doesn’t even know he is sucking his thumb, how he denies he is a bog boy ( compared to his big sister) when it’s suggested he is too big to suck his thumb now and the shame he feels when he starts kindergarten and is teased for doing it. School is a turning point, teasing hurts but it’s not just the realistic reaction of a bully that forces Jake to suck only at night. It’s the realization that lots of kids need something at night, even as he discovers the class bully.

Spaghetti in A Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are  by Maria Dismondy is about bullying but it’s also about doing the right thing and not losing yourself especially when it’s hard. We both really liked this story about a little girl who is teased mercilessly by a classmate and how she deals with it. What we liked so much was that the bully was really mean and the bullying seemed to come from nowhere. I think that is so important because when you are getting bullied it’s hard to make sense of it, and often there is no clear reason for being a target. The dialog that this opened for us was so enlightening and this book offers parents and teachers  many chances to talk about the complex issues of bullying. The thing about this book is that it’s not even so much about bullying but about not losing confidence in yourself and who you are in the face of a bully. Lucy struggles with being teased but ultimately she helps her bully when he needs it even though he doesn’t deserve her help . She does the right thing and gains confidence in herself in the process.

My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis has been talked about so much I think I had inflated expectations. Don’t get me wrong I think the message is so important and the book does a good job at introducing readers to her son who is different , to how he gets hurt when people laugh at him and how great his family is at accepting him. I like how simply blunt  the book is and it should be because the lesson should be about acceptance and allowing people, especially children to express their true self. I think I was expecting more of a story even though I knew it was non fiction. It opened a great dialog with my 5 year old son about how he would treat a male friend if they wanted to dress in a dress- good discussion at our house , worth the read for sure!

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell is a fabulous book about a little girl who is bullied mercilessly. Molly Lou Melon is all the things that her bully picks on her about . She does sound funny, she is very short and she does have buck teeth but she is also confident and strong and celebrates them in the face of being bullied. I particularly love that her confidence comes from her grandmother who tells her to stand tall and be proud of who she is. This is exactly the message I want to yell from the rooftops to kids. Celebrate who you are!  Children love the super fun illustrations by David Catrow which always remind me of Seuss so much so that I have referred to Molly Lou as Cindy Lou Who more than once over the years. If you have never read this book you really must!

The Pirate of Kindergarten by George Ella Lyon is a really cute book. This is the story of Ginny who doesn’t know that the way she sees things is a little different than the other kids in her class. She is teased, her teacher reprimands her for squinting but it’s not until she has an eye screening that the nurse figures out she has double vision. I like this book because it really allows children to experience what Ginny goes through , how being different but not knowing it can be fixed feels.  Ginny is given a patch and that too could be a source of humiliation but she is proud to be a pirate! Great and unexpectedly tender look at being different at school.

The I’M NOT SCARED Book by Todd Parr is a great simplistic book about fears. Like all our other favorite Todd Parr books this one scratches the surface and lets parents dig deeper if  they need to. What I appreciate about this book is that it covers so many common childhood anxieties and gives simple solutions for them too. Toddlers just starting to verbalize their fears will connect well to this and absolutely love the humor and bright illustrations. Great find for little worriers.

A Kiss Goodbye by Audrey Penn is a sequel to one of my favorite books ” The Kissing Hand” . In this book Chester the little raccoon has to leave his home to move to another tree because his is being chopped down. This book really focuses on the feelings of fear of the unknown, the loss of security and the uncertainty that comes with moving. Feelings that even as a 34 year old mom and veteran mover I am still facing ! This is a great book and while you grab it grab all the other books the library has by this author, you won’t regret it.

The Kissing Hand by Audry Penn is an absolute favorite . Chester is a raccoon who like most of us doesn’t like change. In his case it’s starting school. He wants to stay home with his mama and play with the friends he already has instead of going to school away from her and his friends. So his mama explains to him the magic of the kissing hand . The real magic is the message that we have to do things that scare us sometimes but that the love of our family is always with us to help us through. Go get this book.

Zip, Zip…Homework by Nancy Poydar is a book about telling the truth at home and school. Violet is so eager to get homework because it makes her feel big and important, she even gets a special new bag for it. Things go haywire when she can’t remember which pocket she put her homework in, and she lies about having finished it.  I don’t know about you but as my son nears 4 years old telling the difference between the truth and lies has become an important subject that is often discussed. This book is another good tool to help keep that topic going .

 Back into Mommy’s Tummy by Thierry Robberecht made both my son and I laugh hysterically, mostly because it was incredibly relevant to us. In the book a little girl asks to go back into her mommy’s belly for her 5th birthday.  She wants to stay close to her mom, never have to go to school, stay up as late as mom does and even tells her mom if she wants to see her she can go get an ultrasound and she’ll wave hello. The absurdity is awesome, and the sentiment is bang on. Late in the book we discover that mom is expecting and she asks if her daughter is worried about her loving the new baby more. I love how the author and illustrator Phillippe Goossens use humor to get to the heart of it all. My son is incredibly attached to me and this book really opened up a great dialogue about having to share my snuggles, and love.

Baby on the Way by William Sears MD, Martha Sears RN and Christie Watts Kelly  has been the very best baby book we’ve found. It explains much of pregnancy from nausea, to aching feet and even nesting. It also describes labor in a really kid friendly non intimidating way. I love that it explains that in mommy’s belly is a baby holder called a uterus. My son has been asking me how my uterus is since reading this daily for the past week. Explaining contractions, that others will likely be taking care of them for a little while and what mommy is doing when she is not with you is all really useful. It also goes on to explain what babies will do , like nursing, crying and what that funny crinkled thing is on it’s belly!  The book also offers many many resources for expectant parents.

Hair for Mama by Kelly A. Tinkham is beautiful. The story is about a little boy who is desperate to find some hair for his mama who has lost hers to chemotherapy. Marcus wants mama to be in the family photo but she doesn’t want to be the way she looks. His mission comes to a climax when he shaves off all his own hair hoping to give it to his mama. When the barber sweeps it up with the other hair on the floor Marcus is heart broken and goes home in tears. I was sobbing reading this, I knew it was a story about a mom having cancer but the way the author wrote it , it was magical. The complex emotions this little boy felt for his mom and she for him, jumped off the page and you can’t help but cry. I wasn’t sad ,I was touched by the love and desire to fix his mom and make everything better, and his parents tenderness to his feelings. I can’t recommend this book more highly. I should note that this is not a book for toddlers, I would probably wait until a child is 4-5 before reading them this gem.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst was another childhood favorite that I have enjoyed sharing with my own son. This book is beautiful, even though it may take a few reads to see  it’s not a story about a whining little boy so much as lesson that sometimes things do not go our way. Days can suck. It’s just the way it is. As a child I related to Alexander’s feelings of frustration and things being unfair. How often to you hear a child say “No Fair!” probably a lot. This book taps into that feeling, being little is hard but just because you are mad, or your day was bad doesn’t mean you get your way. Great book to talk about anger and frustration with your child, and it’s funny too.

Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move by Judith Viorst brings our favorite angry kid Alexander back but this time he’s not threatening to move to Australia, he’s threatening never to move anywhere! I love this author and Alexander is one of my favorite book characters ever, I have often felt like him and I know I am not the only fan who is now reading him to the next generation. In this book Alexander is adamant that he will not move, unlike the rest of his family he has no desire or intention to move. I liked this book, although it’s longer than maybe it should be it touches on kids’ need to control things especially when they have none. Glad my son seems to like Alexander as much as I do.

A Father Like That by Charlotte Zolotow touched my heart. I have always been lucky to have a dad who was involved and present in my life, but this book is about the opposite. A little boy is telling his mom about what he wants in a dad, because he doesn’t have one. The book covers so many things dads do or don’t do, and while the dream dad isn’t perfect he is fair, loving and kind. I was tearing up as the book neared the end because I was wondering how the mom who was hearing all of this was going to react. Throughout the list of things the dad would do there were things for his mom too, mostly her being able to take a break and rest. Which made me feel sad that a little boy would have to worry about his mom, but I am sure that is all too common. The end pushed me over the edge, and my son who was drifting off to sleep while I was reading popped up and wiped my tears which made me cry harder because he was taking care of me. It ends with his mama saying that even though he may never have a father like that , that one day he can be a father like that. Great book for all families.

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