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May 2009 Archives


Favorite Books to Read Aloud: Susan

Posted by Susan on May 6, 2009 at 6:00 AM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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Whether it's a colorful character or a great rhyming text, there are certain books that just beg to be read aloud. As I mentioned in my earlier post about favorite picture books, it was impossible for me to choose just ten. So here's part two: my favorite read aloud books.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd.
If ever a book was meant to be read aloud, it's this one. Goodnight Moon has a perfect cadence that matches the illustrations beautifully. This book can lull anyone to sleep.

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow. Five Little Monkeys.jpg

The bouncy rhythm and repetition of this familiar rhyme makes it a natural candidate to read aloud. Christelow's drawings add a whole new dimension by allowing the reader to see the growing exasperation of the doctor whose advice is consistently ignored. And, the last page (which shows the mother jumping on her own bed once the monkeys have finally gone to sleep) always gets a huge laugh.

Jamberry.jpgJamberry by Bruce Degen.

What a joyous celebration of language. Bruce Degen strings together wonderful phrases such as "raspberry, jazzberry, razzamatazberry" that just roll off the tongue. The vibrant pictures bursting with color are a perfect compliment to the text. Plus, I love the "Boys-in-Berries" pun on the side of the berry train.

Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley.Go Away Big Green Monster.jpg

Emberley confronts childhood fears head on in this book about a big green monster. But his creative papercut illustrations go a step further by allowing the reader to literally strip away every single scary part. It's great fun to read aloud and it empowers kids by showing them that they have the power to get rid of monsters all by themselves.

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer. Bark George.jpg

This book works every time I read it aloud, whether it's to a crowd of during storytime or to my son at bedtime. Famed cartoonist Jules Feiffer uses delightfully silly illustrations, terrific pacing and repetition to make this book a surefire hit with the preschool crowd. This is another book that ends with a great punch line.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and Jon Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.jpg

This rollicking, rhyming book is always lots of fun to read aloud. Not your average alphabet book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom has flair, style and a playful story. If you've only read it as a board book, be sure to check out the full edition where the letters manage to get themselves untangled. I always end the book by singing the alphabet song and following along with the large printed alphabet on the end papers.

The Baby BeeBee Bird by Diane Redfield Massie, illustrated by Steven Kellogg. Baby Beebee Bird.jpg

Who can resist the baby beebee bird? All the animals in the zoo who are trying to sleep, that's who. Steven Kellogg's new illustrations add a wonderful exuberance to this old read aloud favorite. Everyone will want to join in with the baby beebee bird. Warning: this book causes the side effect of hearing your child say "beebeebobbibobbi" for the rest of the day!

The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone, illustrated by Michael Smollin. Monster at the End of this Book.jpg

I love how Grover connects with the audience in this book. The ropes and brick walls that Grover creates in an attempt to keep the reader from turning pages are simply delightful and egg the reader on. I've read this book at countless storytimes, and every time the kids beg me to keep turning pages even as Grover implores them not to. Like Go Away, Big Green Monster, this book empowers kids to keep turning pages and to confront their fears in a very humorous way.

Lady with the Alligator Purse.jpg The Lady with the Alligator Purse by Nadine Bernard Westcott.

"Miss Lucy had a baby, she named him Tiny Tim" is often familiar to adults as a jump rope song. Nadine Bernard Westcott has adapted this simple rhyme into a joyful book that's lots of fun to sing along with. This one is great for all ages.

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems. Don't Let the Pigeon.jpg

This is a fantastic book to read aloud. The simple text and illustrations build slowly and expertly to an extremely humorous climax. I always love hearing the kids in storytime shouting "No!" loudly at the pigeon as he keeps trying to drive the bus. And of course, I have a weak spot for the pigeon. This book also turned up in Jen and Pam's top picture book lists.

What books do you love reading aloud? What books do your children love listening to?


Booklights on Twitter!

Posted by Gina on May 5, 2009 at 4:54 PM in KidlitsosphereLiteracy News
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booklights_twittericon.pngCheck out our updates at -- we'll be posting blog updates and fun reading activities to do with your kids.


Favorite Children's Books: Jen

Posted by Jen Robinson on May 4, 2009 at 6:00 AM in Middle Grade BooksRecommendations
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JenRobinsonEarlyReader.jpg Continuing last week's discussion of favorite books, I would like to share some of my favorite titles for middle grade readers (ages 8 to 12). I've been a reader since a very young age (as is apparent from the photo to the right) It's nearly impossible to narrow down to 10 titles, out of all of the children's books out there. But here are a few of my treasured favorites, books that I've read multiple times. I've limited myself to one title per author, though many of these authors have written other books that I loved, too. Most of these are books that I own in multiple editions, because I can never resist them when I run across them. I have not ranked this list, because that would be truly impossible. It is alphabetical by author.

  • 21WXW4GJCQL._SL500_AA140_.jpgReturn to Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright. I love all of Elizabeth Enright's books. Her Melendy family quartet sets the standard, I think, for kid-friendly, accessible stories about families (see my reviews of the first two Melendy family books: The Saturdays and The Four-Story Mistake). But Gone-Away Lake and the sequel, Return to Gone-Away, are magical. They epitomize summer, adventure, and things that kids find cool. They are timeless. I give the edge to Return to Gone-Away, because I love the house that the children move into. But anything by Elizabeth Enright is worth reading.
  • Maida's Little Shop by Inez Haynes Irwin. Maida's Little Shop was originally published in 1910, and was the first of a series of 15 books about the motherless daughter of a magnanimous tycoon, and her close-knit group of friends. I can't really say how these books hold up for new readers, but they were among the first books that I loved and collected. The Maida books also taught me, early, that children's books are not just for children. My grandmother introduced them to me.
  • ForgottenDoor.jpgThe Forgotten Door by Alexander Key. My review. The Forgotten Door is the book that made me fall in love with science fiction. It's about a boy from an advanced world who falls through a long-unused door into our own world, where most people are less than kind. It's a slim novel, but one that makes readers think. Key also wrote Escape to Witch Mountain.
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. A Wrinkle in Time is another classic title that taught me the joy of reading science fiction and fantasy novels. The bonus with AWIT, though, is that the main character feels so very real.
  • TheGiver.jpgThe Giver by Lois Lowry. The Giver was probably the book that ignited my passion for dystopian fiction. It is also famous for having an ambiguous ending (though that ending becomes more clear in a later companion story).
  • AnneOfGreenGables.jpgAnne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. I truly believe that Anne Shirley helped to shape the person that I became. There's a reason why people are still reading about her (and even writing prequels) after more than 100 years.
  • Clementine.jpgClementine by Sara Pennypacker (ill. Marla Frazee). My review. Clementine is a modern-day children's book character, one who I feel deserves a place right along with Pippi Longstocking and Ramona. Clementine is 100% real, and hilariously funny. I think that all early elementary school children should have a chance to read about her. I also enjoyed the next two books in the series, The Talented Clementine, and Clementine's Letter.
  • TheLightningThief.jpgThe Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. My review. The Lightning Thief is the first book in Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. These books are modern classics. I think that they will be read for generations. They are well-written, engrossing, funny, and filled with mythological details that never feel like lessons. The fifth and final book in the Percy Jackson series, The Last Olympian, is scheduled for publication tomorrow.
  • HarryPotter1.jpgHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling. Of course the Harry Potter books are modern classics, too. The thing that I like best about this series, apart from the fact that I enjoy reading the books, is the fact that they have turned millions of children and adults on to reading children's books. Their impact can't be over-estimated.
  • TheVelvetRoom.jpgThe Velvet Room by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. My reviews: here and here. Zilpha Keatley Snyder was probably my favorite author when I was growing up. Her books are filled with magic,, adventure, and memorable characters. My two favorites, The Velvet Room and The Changeling, are books that I read over and over again. The Velvet Room also houses my favorite fictional room from children's literature.

One thing that's clear to me from assembling this list is how strong childhood loyalties are. It take a lot for a recent title to push aside one of my childhood favorites. But the ones on this list made the cut. What are your favorite children's books? Are you able to find recent titles that take their place alongside your childhood favorites, or do your childhood preferences reign supreme?

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