Animal Books For Babies and Kids

by Carrie Anne
From baby animals to a secretive mouse, this months books have a distinctive animal flavour.
DK Canada
specialty board book
12 pages
Young kids are very tactile, holding, feeling, rubbing everything they come in contact with. Add to that baby animals and you have a book that will interest young readers. Baby Animals is sturdy for little hands to turn the pages and rub the fur of rabbits and calves. Touch a Feel books are a great way to explore vocabulary with young kids too, helping them to find words to describe what they are feeling. Baby Animals is just one of the books recently re-released in the Touch and Feel series.

 

Richard Scarry’s Readers (Level 2): A Smelly Story
Richard Scary’s Great Big Schoolhouse Readers – Level 2
Erica Farber, illustrated by Huck Scarry
age 5 to 6
24 pages
Sterling Publishing

The animal village created in Richard Scarry books were part of my childhood and have been popular with my own kids. A Smelly Story uses short sentences, limited vocabulary and repetition to make it an easier story for new readers to enjoy on their own. The front cover provides a few tips on sharing the book with kids and how to encourage them to read it on their own. The garbage angle might even appeal to boys who may be more reluctant to read. Who doesn’t love a good story about chasing a pile of garbage?

Wendy the Wide-Mouthed Frog

by Sam Lloyd
age 3 to 5
10 pages
Silver Dolphin Books/Raincoast Books
Like it or not, our kids will probably encounter someone who thinks they are better than anyone else (or they may go through a stage of this themselves). Wendy is a frog who thinks just that and criticises the other animals in the wild for not being as great as she is. That is, until she meets a squid. At first I thought, with Wendy poking fun of other animals, that the book was somewhat negative in nature. Although Wendy isn’t nice and does change her tune at the end (though doesn’t apologize to others for her behaviour), the book does open up an opportunity to discuss how negative comments can make our friends feel bad. Wendy herself is a hand puppet which mom can use to bring Wendy to life but the kids will love the squid page where they too can stick their hand in to be the squid’s tentacles. This moves kids from being passive listeners to interacting with the book too.

Little Mouse’s Big Secret

by Éric Battut
age 3 to 5
24 pages
Sterling Publishing
As a child it’s great to find or receive a special treat. Sometimes we’re worried we’ll have to share with others so we keep it a secret. That’s what Mouse does in Little Mouse’s Big Secret. Each page has a friend asking Mouse what he’s found but he doesn’t tell. Eventually Mouse’s secret is discovered and Mouse finds out sharing with his friends isn’t all that bad. I love the very simple look of this book, with a small line of text and just illustrations of a tree and mouse. Early readers will enjoy helping out as one line is repeated on many pages of the book. And then of course there’s the fun of actually sharing and enjoying something with your friends, as Mouse discovers near the end.

Carrie Anne is a contributing writer on No Time For Flash Cards , she is a mom of 3 , and is the Managing Partner and Editor-in-Chief at EverythingMom.com.

 

New Books For The New Year

by Carrie Anne

From concept books to story books, resolve to start the New Year by spending more time sitting and exploring the joy of reading together.

This New Baby
by Teddy Jam, illustrated Virginia Johnson
Groundwood Books
board book
22 pages

Holding a new baby, staring into a newborn’s eyes, can evoke a feeling that is hard to put into words. This New Baby, with it’s water colour illustrations, tries to express what mothers, fathers, relatives feel through the use of poetic versus. A wonderful book to read with your new baby and remember those first moments of joy.

 Except the Color Grey
by Arlene Alda
Tundra Books
age 3-5
24 pages

What’s your favourite colour? It’s a common question asked of kids. The answer comes quick but usually it’s not just one colour. And who can blame them. Except the Color Grey explores this question with kids using wonderful coloured photographs depicting the sites kids might take in during their day. The words say what the kids are thinking about some of the colourful things they see outside. This is a great book exploring the idea of colour and how it exists in every day things. I love the use of general photos of things the kids could encounter when out. Why not explore some of your child’s favourite colours around the house or on a neighbourhood walk?

 Bear in a Square
by Stella Blackstone, illustrated by Debbie Harter
Barefoot Books
age 3 to 5
32 pages

Bear in a Square is a fun concept book that combines shape recognition and counting. Follow bear’s adventures, from when he gets up until he goes to sleep. Each spread shows bear in his next environment, such as at school or visiting the circus bears. Readers are invited, through large text on the page, to find a shape in the illustration. As you turn the page, you’re asked to find a new shape and the number of images on each page increase from 1 to 10. Kids can count the shapes as they find them, plus they can count the line of shapes down the right, illustrating the number for that page. At the back is a page showing al the shapes with their names. Although the text is simple, the flow does illustrate a story which is nice within a concept book.

 Lots of Dots
by Craig Frazier
Chronicle Books/Raincoast Books
age 3 to 5
32 pages

Okay, this isn’t a new book (released in 2010) but I do love it so. This colourful book invites you to examine the world around you, a world filled with dots of different sizes and functions, but dots none the less. I love the bright colours on the white pages with the dots highlighted. My kids loved pointing and counting all the dots on the pages. Plus afterwards they were more attune to the world around them, pointing out dots in things they never gave a second glance at before. A fun book.

 You Are a Gift to the World / The World is A Gift To You
by Laura Duksta, illustrated by Dona Turner
Sourcebooks/Raincoast Books
age 3-8
32 pages

It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea of ‘items’. This uniquely designed book is really two books in one but with the same message: people and the beautiful world around us are the best gifts we can receive. You Are a Gift to the World, talks about how important our kids our to us, how they make us feel and how that is gift enough. This can translate into all people who are important in our lives. The World is a Gift to You, reminds us of the special gift the world is with the animal, plants and nature surrounding us. Each tale ends in the middle with a simple message. Forget the Barbie, LEGO and transformers, this is a message of appreciating the gifts that are really important. I love that.

I want to thank Crystal from Raincoast Books, Sylvia from Tundra Books, Leah at Barefoot Books, and Trish at Groundwood books for my review copies.

 

Carrie Anne is a contributing writer on No Time For Flash Cards , she is a mom of 3 , and is the Managing Partner and Editor-in-Chief at EverythingMom.com.

Books For Your Next Field Trip

Yesterday on our  facebook page  I asked readers where their children loved going on family outings. Museums, the zoo and the beach were all mentioned along with science centers and more. I think that part of learning through play is setting a launch pad for a deeper experience and using books as a tool for that is an easy option . Whether you homeschool or just want to enrich your family time using books to deepen these hands on experiences your kids will learn more.  I have rounded up books for each of these popular sights, click through the image or text for the full reviews of each title.

 The Zoo

The Beach

Art Museum

The Planetarium

The Ballet

The Symphony

Lego Books We Love

If you are a loyal reader you may have noticed that my son’s seemingly ever present Batman shirt has been replaced. Yes we are on to a new obsession. Are your kids like this too? Do they dive into something obsessively? Well our new thing here is Lego – mostly Lego Star Wars but Lego City is a close 2nd. I firmly believe in using their love to keep them learning and finding books that interest them instead of trying to force their interest in books we like.  So here are some Lego themed books to look for at the library or while you are shopping for holiday gifts.

 

City Adventures, No. 3: Calling All Cars! (Lego Reader, Level 1) by Sonia Sander was the first Lego book we checked out from the library a while back. We’ve since bought the book because my son loved reading it and could do it without any help.  The story is a simple one about a bank robber and the police that must save the day. Stories like this really appeal to young kids because they are so black and white. The bad guy stole money , now the good guy will get him! What I love about them is that they involve him even more in the Lego world, and after reading he does go and create more.

LEGO City: Fire Truck to the Rescue (Level 1): Fire Truck To The Rescue! by Sonia Sander is another great Lego book for emergent and early readers. If your child is like my son and loves fire fighters and fire trucks this is a great book. Not just because of the subject matter but also because they may already be familiar with how some of those words look in print, giving them some confidence to tackle this book solo! My son likes to make stations out of duplo and act out this book after reading it. It’s also a favorite for rides in the car.

LEGO City: Ready for Takeoff! (Level 1) is not just a cute book for Lego fans but also for anyone taking a trip by plane to get their kids ready for what to expect.  I was pleasently surprised by the quality of the details and how well it helps my son prep for air travel. We got it for a trip from Seattle to Chicago we took this summer and it was an instant hit. The text is a great mix of sight words, words that need to be sounded out and the illustrations are wonderfully helpful for kids needing visual clues for some words.  Even if you aren’t going on a plane any time soon this is a good book all about air travel, and it just happens to also be set in Lego City.

LEGO Kingdoms Defend the Castle (DK READERS) by Hannah Dolan is another Lego book I find my son curled up reading solo. This one is about two feuding groups of knights and there is an evil wizard in there too. Knights are a big part of my son’s pretend play so I knew this book would be a hit when I bought it. I like the vocabulary in this book, my son loves big words too andI find him repeating the words quietly to himself as he practices the pronunciation.  It makes me happy to know he is reading what he wants to but I don’t have to worry that he isn’t being stretched as a reader or reading complete drivel in an attempt to read what he’s interested in.

LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia was the most loved 5th birthday gift my son received.  I can not tell you how much my son loves this book and as someone who adores reference materials herself I can’t say I blame him. I love this book too, it’s helping me speak his language and know who and what he’s talking about all the time. So like the cover says  it’s a character encyclopedia, there is no story, instead every page is dedicated to one Star Wars character turned mini figure. Now most of the text tells you about the Lego sets the mini figure comes in , variations on the mini figure and when it first appeared in the toy. However there is still a great description of the characters and huge illustrations of each. The small amount of text is perfect for my son and since he is into the characters not the collector like details he simply skips that without missing out on anything. I should say that this unlike the previous books is not a leveled reader. If I was making a guess I would say that it’s geared towards the average 8-10 year old. I definitely have to help and or read the majority of this book, especially the more obscure Star Wars names. I love that we can read a little or read a lot and that the book is not such a heavy volume because I have a feeling it will be the book of choice at night for months to come!

New Books To Check Out!

 by Carrie Ann

Little Miss Austin: Pride & Prejudice
words by Jennifer Adams, art by Alison Oliver
Gibbs Smith/Raincoast Books
board book

Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite stories; I’m a romantic at heart I guess. BabyLit from Gibbs Smith/Raincoast Books is a fun way to introduce children to the world of classic literature. Little Miss Austin: Pride & Prejudice is a sweet counting book focusing on elements from the story: 1 English Village; 2 Rich Gentlemen (Mr Bingley and Mr. Darcy). Each spread focusing on one number (up to 10) with the number in large type on the left side and a simple drawing to illustrate the number and story on the right. The book helps reinforce number recognition with the large number and counting elements in the illustration. Even without the Pride and Prejudice references it is a lovely counting book but who doesn’t want to count the courting couples or sisters? Even the cover art makes the book look like a piece of literature versus just a board book. I’m looking forward to seeing more classics come out in this collection.

Ones and Twos
by Marthe Jocelyn and Nell Jocelyn
picture book
24 pages
Tundra Books
This lovely rhyming book follows two girls and a bird. The copy is fun, focusing on the numbers two and one: one bird, two eggs. One girl, two legs. The collage-like illustrations are colourful and extend into the bottom border of the page where readers can enjoy finding pairs and explore patterns. My 4-year old loved picking out the patterns (one, two, one, two) as well as finding examples of one and two in the images themselves. Ones and Twos adds an early concept book appeal with a delightful story to go along with it.

If I Could Keep You Little
picture book
32 pages
Sourcebooks/Raincoast Books

I love Marianne Richmond’s books, like the Night Night book I mentioned in an early post. If I Could Keep You Little is a book for parents as much as kids. Although it’s not a new book (released in 2010), this fall season always seems to be a time of reflection. Perhaps it’s the timing with back to school. We cherish the special moments and stages our kids are at right now like singing them lullabies or dressing them in cute outfits. Sometimes we wish they would never grow-up, never loose their dependence on us, but we also know these new accomplishments bring other special moments to share. Parents will recognize their own feelings painted through the lovely pages. This books is a great way to talk about your child’s development and achievements and might also address some fears they may have about growing up.

Happy Birthday, Hamster
picture book
36 pages
Scholastic

Birthdays are such an important thing for kids. The day is all about them. They want to feel special and they want their friends and family to feel excited for them too. Happy Birthday, Hamster follows Hamster and his friend dog as they do some errands: visit the bakery, toy store, and card shop. Hamster can only think about his birthday but dog just seems to be doing errands. But the surprise is on Hamster when they get home to find a party waiting. I love the story pattern in this boo: description of all the fun things in the shop, Hamster’s ideal choice, what dog ends up getting, then moving on to the next shop. The images are colourful and fun, the way a party book should feel. On the shop page the author uses rhymes to describe what’s in the shop, kids will love being pulled in when asked what they would choose.

I want to thank Crystal from Raincoast Books, Sylvia from Tundra Books and Nikole from Scholastic Canada for my review copies.

What are you reading with your kids today?

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Carrie Anne is a contributing writer on No Time For Flash Cards , she is a mom of 3 , and is the Managing Partner and Editor-in-Chief at EverythingMom.com.