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 He gobbled it up even though it is terribly out of date ( I think it was when I read it too!).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 Even as outdated as it is, it’s useful for learning about community helpers and I didn’t notice the diversity of the jobs , and people in the book as a child but appreciate it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?

 

Rhyming Jars

rhyming activity

Rhyming is an important component to learning to read, specifically phonological awareness ( or the knowledge of sounds letters in words make) and it’s also really fun! This game is designed to work with word families , working on reading ( decoding unfamiliar words) and rhyming. For children not yet at this level of learning to read this game can be adapted using pictures. That way they can still group and sort by rhyme without the frustration of trying to decode words they are not able to yet.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some baby food jars or other containers, popsicle sticks, masking tape and markers.
  2. I started by writing the words to match to on the tape. I find it easiest to put the tape on the table , write then rip it off. You may want to use painters tape like I did if you do it this way. If all you have is regular old masking tape , write it on the roll, then rip off. Add it to your jar.
  3. Now write the words on the sticks. I started by doing it right onto the stick, and it ran weird. Learning to read is hard enough let’s not make it harder with weird writing… so instead…
  4. I wrote it on more tape and wrapped it on the end of a stick. I wrote some words starting with uppercase and some with lowercase. I did this deliberately because my son was asking if they make different sounds. I put them both in to show him that the word still sounds the same.
  5. Time to play. Games and activities like this should be marketed to your kids as that , play. If these tasks aren’t fun try to find some way to make it fun or find other tasks they like and adapt. When learning is attached to play , the lessons stick and learning is fun not a daunting task.
  6. Encourage them to say the words out loud to match up the sounds. Here he is saying the words out loud to see if they rhyme… these did not.
  7. Keep sounding them out and matching them up.
    Rhyming Jars - early literacy lesson
  8. Soon he could hear and see the patterns , which was super cool.

Even if your child iosn’t ready for this activity, take time to be silly and talk in rhyme with them and read books with rhyming texts. It’s such a fun part of language !

Books That Rhyme

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.

Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs! by Sandra Boynton is a cute little book about opposites with dinosaurs as it’s characters. This is a good book for little people who love dinosaurs but aren’t really ready to dive into facts about dinosaurs yet. The melodic rhyming text and adorable pictures appeals to younger toddlers, and on the page where the dinosaurs are called bad for painting on their friends made both me and my son laugh.

My Truck is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis is a fun book full of great rhymes and funny illustrations from Daniel Kirk. The story is simple a truck is stuck and even though other vehicles come to help, nothing budges until a tow truck arrives. The best part is the cargo of bones in the truck are slowly stolen by hungry gophers while the others work to free the truck. It’s got a great message about helping people and the illustrations make me giggle, especially the guy in the moving van who is blowing bubbles. I have never understood that but it makes me laugh.

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss is a big hit at our house and if you have a child into music or musical instruments this is a great book. You count the instruments as they come on stage for a performance and not only is this a great counting book, but it introduced musical instruments in it’s rhyming text and super fun pictures. I am biased though my little man is really really into instruments and loves this book. The day we bought it I had to sit in the back with him on the way home from the bookstore because he couldn’t wait to read it .

3D Word Search

When children are learning to read playing games with their developing skills is a great way to practice while playing. This giant 3D word search can be used so many ways. For my almost 5 year old I put in simple words he could recognize or easily sound out.  I also helped him by making all the words a consistent color and horizontal only. With younger children it can still be a fun game simply looking for specific colors or letters. With older ones you can make words multi colored, going every which way. The learning isn’t just in the searching either, using the dry erase marker to carefully circle the letters or words is fantastic writing practice and the foam letters are a sensory experience too.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a sturdy backing like a inexpensive canvas or even some cardboard, contact paper ( which will make it wipe off) foam letter stickers ( two packs) and scissors. Also a dry erase marker to play with.
  2. Start by covering your canvas or card board with clear contact paper. This makes the surface friendly for dry erase . I found that a baby wipe worded the best to get the marker off after we played.
  3. Start making a column of letters.
  4. Decide on some words to pop in. Like I said in the preamble you can customize this to your child’s specific stage of learning.
  5. Add the words mixed with some random letters.
  6. Invite your child to play. I meant to make a list of the words I included but forgot and it turned out we didn’t need them. You may want one though.
  7. Oops he circled the o but it was no biggie because it’s dry erase!

I was fascinated by which words he knew by sight and which he sounded out. He loved this and I can see myself making a few more over the next few months for sure.

{Last Week} Summer Reading Challenge

In Washington we've needed long sleeves this summer.

Well this is it. Our last week, let’s go out with a bang! As of Saturday morning y’all have read 25 thousand books with your kids this summer. Seriously?! It amazes me.

On Friday I will be drawing the winner of the $50 Amazon.com gift card and will announce it here as well as our facebook page.

If you haven’t joined our Summer Reading Challenge yet you are not too late. All the details are here but the gist of it is that you read with your kids, tally up how many books you have read, submit a tally sheet once per submission period ( see below) and then you are automatically entered to win a $50 Amazon.com gift card at the end of the summer. Pretty cool!

Submission Periods :

June 3-9th , 10th -16th , 17th- 23rd , 24th-30th

July 1st-7th , 8th-14th, 15th- 21st , 22nd-28th

July 29th – August 4th

August 5th-11th , 12th-18th , 19th -25th.

The winner will be drawn on the 26th of August.

Submit Your Tally Here

Books About Knights

knight books for kids

We love knights!  I am so thankful that my son is interested in knights because not only are there lots of story books about them, there are fantastic non fiction choices too. Here are our  reviews of a few books about knights that we have read recently.

books about being different

Small Knight and George by Ronda Armitage is a gem! This story is funny, cute and a great message about not being what we think we should be but rather who we truly are. Small Knight is not so sure about being, brave and fighting but he does know how to make a friend. When he sets out to slay a dragon he ends up befriending one. A great book for all kids . Even though my son is presently all about battles and weapons he still likes and relates to this more peaceful story of a knight. As soon as I read it to him I was searching for the next in the series.

Imagine You’re a Knight! by Meg Clibbon is a fantastic book for children interested in what being a knight is all about. There are so many great details and answers given that I am eager to read more in this series. My son loves this book and not just because it answers his many questions about knights but also because it’s the type of book that you can open and close as time permits , reading a little or a lot and still enjoying it. I like the humor and illustrations by Lucy Clibbon. It’s a great choice for 4 and older. 3 year olds might find it to be too much.

Knights & Castles (Insiders) by Phillip Dixon is a visually stunning book. This is not a book intended for preschoolers . But kids eager to learn more about medieval life, how castles were constructed and the realities of being a knight ( and other social positions) will appreciate it.  I urge parents to read through it first because it’s geared towards older elementary through adult and explains the history in great ( not necessarily preschool appropriate) detail.  My son loves this book, mostly due to the incredibly illustrations that offer a look back in time.  As a mom who has a degree in history I adore these books but make sure to read it with him to explain the more complex information that is included.

The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke is a tale about a princess named Violet who was raised with her 3 older brothers  by her father after her mother dies in childbirth. Her brothers are trained to be knights and she to learns to joust , ride horses and sword fighting.  Her brothers ( like most) tease her and tell her that she’ll never be as strong and it’s a maid who tells her that she won’t be as strong but she can be smarter. That message stood way out for me and is why I think this is such a great book. When her father sets up a tournament for Violet’s hand in marriage she takes things into her own hands. She shows everyone how she is smarter than all the other knights and with hard work trains to  win her own hand in marriage . I love this book not only as a great empowering one for girls but also to show boys that girls don’t have to fit a specific mold either.

My Favorite Michael Laura Heiman is such a wonderful book about pretend play. In it a little boy Michael dresses up as all sorts of roles from business man to knight to pirate. Eventually he pops out with no costume and his mom tells him that she likes him as all those other roles but that this everyday Michael is her favorite. Kids who love to dress up and get deep into pretend play will like this book. My son who is almost never without his sword and shield and loved this book, since taking it out of the library a few days ago it’s been read many many times.

The Bravest Knight by Mercer Mayer had my son smiling on the edge of his seat until the end. The story is about a little boy who imagines he’s a knight living a thousand years ago. He imagines he is a squire who is loyal to a knight and even saves the knight from time to time. My son loved this, especially the part about the squire saving the knight. Then in the end the knight battles a troll and dies. You don’t see it but after that the little boy decides maybe living back then wouldn’t be so cool. I was like really Mercer Mayer? He’s dead? What?! I totally didn’t pre-read it either ( will I ever learn??) and my son was stunned.  Thankfully my resilient bossy 4 year old  announced I needed to turn back the page and re read it saying the knight was just inside eating . So yeah we loved most of the book.

Take Care, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas such a sweet book about three little dragons who agree to cat sit a wizard’s pets and the Good Knight who helps them get it right. The story is filled with mishaps when the dragons who can’t read yet try to figure out the wizard’s written instructions. The outcome is hilarious and will have your children giggling. I also love the message about using pictures to give clues for reading, but to remember to ask “Does this make sense?”