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 Picture Books

by Carrie Anne

As the cold weather creeps in, nothing beats snuggling with your little one under a warm blanket and enjoying a fun book together. Here are a few new books you might enjoy.

Candy 1 to 20
By Laurie Wolf and Pam Abrams, photographed by Bruce Wolf
20 pages
Board Book
Chronicle Books/Raincoast Books
On the heels of Halloween, kids might have their minds on candy. Candy 1 to 20 is an early concept counting book full of bright, colourful candy photographs. Each page displays just the numeric number using actual candy photos taking on the shape of that number. The actual numbers are big, taking up the whole page, and are uncluttered by other elements or words on the solid white background. Each number consists of that same number in candy pieces. One liquorice strip represents the number one; thirteen gummy bears are laid out to represent the number thirteen. Kids can see and trace the number shape, plus they can count the individual candy elements to reinforce the number on the page. It’s a sweet book to enjoy together.


Julius: I Love Color: A Paul Frank Book (Paul Frank Books)
10 pages
Board Book
Chronicle Books/Raincoast Books
Paul Frank is always a lot of fun for kids. I had the chance to review Paul Frank’s Only In Dreams board book on EverythingMom . Kids will jump right in to a world of colour in I Love Color, especially with Julius the monkey as a finger puppet to take them through the pages. I actually love that the puppet is just his head with arms illustrated on the page; it’s easy and fun to move his head around to look at the image on the page. Along with matching the band of the rainbow, kids can pick out images on the page that are red and it opens it up to a discussion on other things they see in the world around them in that colour.

Amazing Baby! A Sing-Along Board Book
12 pages
Board Book, oversized
Silver Dolphin/Raincoast Books
This isn’t a new book by it’s a great book for parents and baby. The oversized board book is filled with colourful shapes and objects familiar with the Amazing Baby! books. The pages contains the words to some much loved and perhaps a few new lullaby songs. There are big chunky tabs on the side making it easier for little hands to turn the pages. The CD included contains beautiful versions of the lullabies within the book, acoustically sounding. I even found myself enjoying them. The book and CD can be used together or separately. Even my 7-year old son asked to hear the music before bedtime.

Clare Beaton’s Nursery Rhymes
Clare Beaton
14 pages
Board book
Barefoot Books
I love the illustrations and wordily tales told in many of the books from Barefoot Books. Clare Beaton’s Nursery Rhymes is another example of the publishers great illustrative work. The book contains words for 7 popular nursery rhymes but it’s the illustrations that add a wonderful warm feel to the book. Each image is a collage of fabric, like a story sewn in a family quilt. Even the rhyme titles themselves look hand-stiched on the page. What a wonderful way to share a classic nursery rhyme together.

Shadow
Suzy Lee
44 pages
Chronicle Books/Raincoast Books
I understand the benefit of wordless storybooks; they’re a great way to let a child use their imagination and tell a tale based on pictures. Most kids learning to read take a picture walk through a book prior to looking at the words. That being said, I’m not a fan of this type of book. But sometimes I do come across a wordless picture book that does interest me. Shadow is one such book. What starts off as a girl discovering her shadow while in the garage, turns into an adventure in the jungle. The girl’s world and her shadow world meld together, until mom calls her for dinner. I love seeing how shadows can transform and stir up a child’s creative thinking. After reading, why not try your own shadow adventure.
I want to thank Crystal from Raincoast Books and Leah from Barefoot Books for my review copies.

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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.

Halloween Word Search

word games for new readers

I can’t take full credit for this activity idea . Word searches in bottles of rice, popcorn kernels etc.. have been around for as long as I have been teaching and probably much much longer. I was reminded of the simple genius of these last night when searching Pinterest for sight word ideas for a reader who was looking for more activities for her son.  I pinned this activity onto my early literacy pinterest board but felt like I needed to make my own version using Halloween words.  Here is what we did.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some filler ( we used our Halloween Sensory tub filler ) like black beans , orange lentils and creepy toys!  You will also need some stiff paper ( we used paint chips but card stock will work too), a clip board, markers and a permanent marker. You will also need a large plastic jar, water bottles work too but you may want to take the larger spooky toys out of the mix.
  2. Write out the words your child is searching for I had my son help me think of Halloween words.
  3. Write them on the paint chips or card stock. I wrote some words out multiple times and some like Boo! only once. Just to make it successful but challenging.
  4. Cut and pop them in the jar with the filler.
  5. Search !
  6. Cross the words out when you find them.
  7. We challenged each other to find words. I like this game because it gets kids reading, searching and can be adapted to any level. For younger kids use plain letters, older ones cut the letters of the words out and have them search and spell!

My Favorite Halloween Book For Little Ones

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara is on my must buy list! A little girl moves into house and soon finds out it is haunted. Luckily she is a witch and knows just what to do. The ghosts in the story seem mischievous but never scary and even when she washes them in the washing machine, they are still smiling! My son loved this book, the text was the perfect length for a 3 year old, short but still descriptive.  I loved the simple  black and orange colors and had to look at the copyright twice because I was certain this was written sometime in the 30s, nope 2008. The simplicity of the book and colors is balanced so well with the little details like the litt;e girl’s constant companion , a white cat that puts on a black costume when the little witch pops on her hat. This detail had my son in stitches, “Cats don’t wear clothes , silly cat!” .  Absolutely a perfect Halloween book for children not yet ready to be scared for fun!

Rhyming Tree – Word Game

My son is all about games and challenges and this rhyming tree was just the right amount of learning ( and fun) after a long day at preschool.  Whether you homeschool or just add little bits of learning into a day full of errands and play remember that lessons don’t have to be long, they just need to be targeted. This morning as I nursed my daughter my son and I played with rhymes so when he got home I had this tree prepped for him to revisit the rhymes and some new ones too.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sticky back foam( I used up lots of scrap pieces finally), construction paper ( I also used part of a paper bag… I love reusing things), markers , scissor and a glue stick.
  2. Start by drawing a tree without leaves.
  3. Write one word on each branch.
  4. Cut out and glue on the construction paper.
  5. Write rhyming words on the foam and cut out in the shape of leaves.
  6. Glue the tree on the paper.
  7. Add one rhyming fool . Peel and stick the words onto the rhyming branches. This isn’t a quiet time activity because I added some words to spark discussion like pair and pear as well as said which he recognizes in books but I suspected ( correctly) that out of context he doesn’t recognize. So even a little lesson( or game as my son calls it) like this can let me talk about homonyms and check on his sight words stress free.
  8. He loved it and laughed hysterically at me when I asked if I could add one becuase I was SURE that chair and bee rhymed. Another reason to stay and play… giggles! When we were done he counted up all the words on each branch to see which branch won. Yay a little math too !

The best part about learning to read are these games and play that becomes possible so don’t forget to make words a game…even if there is a lesson or two hidden inside.

5 Books I’d Save In A Fire

I love picture books and I am asked all the time what 5 books I’d take with me to a deserted island. I usually try to choose a balance of books that could be used to teach letters, numbers and more. A more sentimental question I think would be to ask someone what books they’d save in a fire. I know that in a fire you don’t save books, you save your life and get your kids and yourself out ,  but this is hypothetical and these are my 5 books.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is a classic for a reason and the only book on this list that I chose that isn’t from my childhood, but from parenting. My son has loved it since day one and it really does a great job of calming before bed, like all great bedtime stories should. As a teacher I hated this book probably because it’s not a great book for groups I admit I was wrong, this is a gem ! The rhythm and rhymes are perfect to go from a busy day to a calm night. My son chooses this book to read to us often since he knows it by heart and when he’s having trouble sleeping I can lay with him and simply recite it to bring him back down. I say that is pretty great proof of the power of this classic.

Babar and Father Christmas  by Jean De Brunhoff was one of my very favorite Christmas stories as a child. As an adult I have had some great belly laughs at some of it’s writing .Babar books in general beg to be pre read , just trust me. In this book  Babar goes looking for Father Christmas because he wants to ask him to visit Elephant country. He searches all over Paris and finally ends up in the North Pole and finds after much effort Father Christmas. I love the details in this book, as a child I would lay looking at the pictures of Santa’s workshop and imagine what visiting it would be like. As an adult I appreciate the smallest details like how Father Christmas’s flying machine ( not a sled) has P.N #1 on it , meaning of course Pere Noel #1.

Joe Kaufman’s Book About Busy People and How They Do Their Work by Joe Kaufman was such a big part of my childhood that I was nervous sharing it with my son, worried he’d reject it. He gobbled it up even though it is terribly out of date ( I think it was when I read it too!).  The book is all about different jobs and all the responsibilities of them. My favorite was Trudy Teacher and like my son who’s favorite was Fred Fireman I skipped Carlos the Clown. Even as outdated as it is, it’s useful for learning about community helpers and I didn’t notice the diversity of the jobs , and people in the book as a child but appreciate it as a parent.

The Seasons in Fern Hollow by John Patience. This book is a cute look at the world of Fern Hollow where there is a large cast of animal characters who live in a small idyllic English village. The book itself is sweet, going through village life one season at a time but my favorite thing about this book and the others by the same author was the map of the village at the start and end of each book in the series. I would lay in bed staring at the map, trying to find different ways to get from one character’s house to another. This book inspired my imagination.

Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever (Golden Bestsellers Series)is on a shelf in our playroom ( see if you can find it in this post ) , well the French edition that I flipped through as a young girl in Canada growing up. I loved the same things about it back then that my kids do today, the incredibly detailed pictures that offer an unparalleled launching pad for a young imagination.

What are your 5 books?