Since we have been counting down the Best of 2009 today’s book post will feature my favorite books for each month. I hope this list gives you some new titles to share with your children! Remember that reading with our kids not only develops their literacy skills it also deepens our family bonds. So snuggle up and read these selections for a book a month.
My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Christine King Farris. Teaching preschoolers about history is tricky. But you can do it, you just have to break it down and give them bits they can relate to. This book does a fantastic job! While reading it I always have to hold in tears, it is just such a unique look at the childhood of a man whose dreams changed the world. What I love about this book is that the majority of it is about his childhood and children can relate so much more easily to him as a child growing up than simply as this great man on the podium. Kids always love learning that he played pranks on people just like they like to do.
The author explains prejudice and segregation in a straightforward and simple way so that children can understand and reflect on how it feels to be treated like that. The book doesn’t ignore the great accomplishments and wonderful man the little boy became but does a wonderful job making Dr. King into a hero your child can feel something in common with, and in return become more interested about.
Snuggle Puppy by Sandra. 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.
First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger is the perfect book to introduce life cycles to young kids. It doesn’t go into great detail, but it doesn’t have to it is perfectly effective just the way it is. Each page shows one stage like a seed and the following the result of a flower. My son loved this book and I think older children would too, it’s simple but isn’t infantile. If your child is in the “Why?” stage be prepared for a long but fun and informative storytime!
The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling by Alison Inches is awesome! I only wish that my son was old enough to enjoy it as much as I did. It’s not aimed at 2-year-olds at all, but he did like to open it to the page with the recycling truck and point out all the parts to me. The book itself takes the reader through the complete process from crude oil, to bottle and then to synthetic fleece. I am not too proud to admit I learned s a few new things and had a few good laughs along the way with the books little bits of humor too. I think most 5-year-olds would enjoy this book, and it’s easy to break it down for those unable to sit for this much text. Also, the book was printed on 100% post-consumer waste paper.
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 heartbroken 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 parent’s tenderness to his feelings. We can’t recommend this book more highly. It should be noted that this is not a book for toddlers, I would probably wait until a child is 4-5 before reading them this gem.
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.
Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet S. Wong is an awesome book. I am always awed by authors who can tackle complicated “adult” issues in the pages of a children’s book successfully. In this case, the issue is 1st generation identity and immigration, at least that’s my take. The little girl in this book is sulking around her parents’ store on the 4th of July. They are busy making Chinese food for customers she is sure won’t come, who would want Chinese food on such an American holiday is her rationale. Of course, there are layers about her connection to her ancestral culture and her own national pride.
As a proud owner of a green card and a Canadian passport, I relate to this story. Sure the differences are as deep or as obvious to an outsider. However, unlike the previous book when this book ended with fireworks I got tingles of pride for my adopted country. Fantastic book! And my son liked it too.
The Kissing Hand by Audrey 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.
Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington is another instant favorite in our house. My son loves this author and I like how simple but informative this book is. Your little reader will learn about the basics of what happens at an apple orchard. However, you can take it further if you want. On many of the pages, there are chances to learn more. Like the page about sorting and classifying, where there are apples ready to count 1-10, and sorted by colors. I love the last page that says that Annie is so happy to have her own apple farm. I loved that message and think it’s a lot more powerful than some may think. Women on farms in most books are “farmer’s wives” and I love that there is no one but Annie doing her own thing.
Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara is on my must-buy list! A little girl moves into the 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 30’s. Nope, 2008.
The simplicity of the book and colors is balanced so well with the little details like the little 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!
Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey was such a treat to read. It’s a reworking of the classic Christmas poem, with a Thanksgiving twist. A bus full of kids head off to the turkey farm the day before Thanksgiving and is immediately enamored with the birds. When a child asks the farmer what the ax by the door is for – well let’s just say the truth is told and the kids fall apart. They don’t stay down for long though. The kids outsmart the farmer and their teacher to save the turkeys from the ax. Somehow the author finds a way to make the possible slaughter of these happy friendly, named turkeys funny. My son was giggling while I was kinda nervous that they’d get the ax! Great rhymes throughout this hilarious book!
Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson is such a heartwarming story about friendship. Bear is hibernating but his friends wake him up to celebrate Christmas. It’s not easy at first. Bear is super sleepy and wants nothing more than to cuddle back up and fall back to sleep. They get a tree, decorate it, hang their stockings, and sing carols. When all the other animals snuggle in and go to sleep Bear stays up. He is busily making gifts for all his friends. Bear is so busy he doesn’t even notice Santa coming and filling the stockings. He delights in the friendship and when his friends present him with a lovely quilt, he snuggles under and goes back to sleep happy and filled with friendship. This is such a wonderful book, I love its focus on friendship and the excitement of giving gifts!
Have you read any of these books from the a book a month list? What did you think? Comment below or share on my Facebook page!
For more quick tips on helping your child learn to read check out my book; Raising A Rock-Star Reader. It is packed with fun ideas for families, book lists, and advice for parents.