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Posts in Book Buying Category

Terry

Bookworm Basics: The Early Reader Bookshelf (ages 5 to 7)

Posted by Terry on August 16, 2010 at 11:00 AM in Book Buying Early LiteracyEasy ReadersPicture BooksRecommendations
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Oh, how I have procrastinated filling the early reader shelf! This is a very fluid period, not unlike your child's transition from crawling to pulling up to walking independently. Looking back, one probably came pretty quickly on the heels of the other. Finding easy readers that have longevity on your bookshelf can be a challenge.

In this phase of learning to read, children are moving beyond recognizing individual letters to combining them and learning words. Students move fairly quickly from books with one word per page to two or three sentences on a page. From there it transitions to short paragraphs and then short chapters.

Because kids will move through these books at a steady pace,quickly, variety is definitely an ally!Your local library and your child's school library have lots of excellent choices that will engage young readers.

goodnight_moon.gifSo do you need an early reader bookshelf at home? Definitely! It is important for kids to own their own books and to have fun reading at their fingertips. If you still have them, pull out some of those toddler books that have pictures and simple words. They are established favorites, but now your daughter can read them and use them to build a word bank of sight words. Let her create picture/word cards that she can hang up or make her own book with.

You might pull out some favorite picture books, too. If you think your son has memorized the story, then ask him to point to each of the words as he reads. That will force him to look at the page and the content. You might also try reading the book from the last page to the first.

EPNewToy.jpgDr. Seuss is the master of the easy reader classic, but there are other authors who ascribe to his philosophy of great books for new readers. Some of those books, like Mo Willems' Cat the Cat and Elephant and Piggy series have the "I Can Read" imprimatur on them. But some - like Duck! Rabbit! and Little Oink! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal - don't scream "easy reader" but are delightful choices for new readers, too.

When searching for books that can double as read-along stories and developmental readers, look for simple illustrations and lots of white space on a page; short sentences; and/or rhyming text.

cat_in_the_hat.jpgAlthough easy readers are not generally literary classics, Dr. Seuss has shown us that there are are always exceptions! Just like Hop on Pop and The Cat in the Hat, there are easy readers that we keep and enthusiastically wait to share with our grandchildren.

Check your bookshelf - you may already have some favorites!

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Bedtime Stories (5 to 9)

Posted by Terry on June 9, 2010 at 10:30 AM in Book Buying Easy ReadersPicture BooksRecommendations
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Creating a starter library can be lots of fun, but it can also get very expensive. Kids are interested in more involved stories and the list of bedtime stories is endless. There are bedtime-themed books that cover their worries (monsters, the dark) or their favorite things (dinosaurs, unicorns), as well as quiet, soothing stories that have nothing to do with sleep but are perfect just before lights out.

Because there are so many options, it may help to borrow a couple from the library to see if any become instant treasures and then make a buying decision (or not). This is also the time that many families introduce chapter books into their bedtime routine. I'm a picture book gal, myself, but I have discovered some great early-reader chapter books that allow us to share reading with our daughter.

Thumbnail image for bread-and-jam.jpgTo start, you can't go wrong with any of Pam's Beginning Bookshelves recommendations. You'll find some favorite characters from our childhood, like Curious George, Madeline, and Frances; and new friends like Fancy Nancy, Knuffle Bunny, and the Pigeon. Some of these stories now have multiple editions, too. For example, there is an easy reader edition of Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban. Here are a few more recommendations ...

anatole.jpgSusan Thomsen and her son like Anatole by Eve Titus. Anatole, a mouse who lives in France, rides his bicycle to the cheese factory each day. He earns his living tasting cheese and offering suggestions on how to improve it. Anatole is a 1957 Caldecott Honor Book, and Anatole and the Cat is a 1958 Caldecott Honor Book. There are two other titles in the series: Anatole and the Toy Shop and Anatole and the Piano. These last two books are out of print, but probably available at your library.

monster-trap.jpgThe Monster Trap by Dean Morrissey was a favorite in our house for about a year! Paddy, a young boy, is staying with his grandfather. His house seems different - spookier - than he remembered. Paddy can't sleep because he is sure he heard a monster. Together, they build traps to catch the monsters, each trap becoming more elaborate than the last. When they finally snare a monster, they learn just how much fun these critters are. This book turns the monster theme upside down. From Publishers Weekly: "The pictures comically reveal benign, silly-looking creatures as the source of the boy's fears."

poppleton.jpgCynthia Rylant's easy reader series - Henry and Mudge, Mr. Putter and Tabby, Annie and Snowball, the High Rise Private Eyes, and Poppleton - are wonderful stories that allow you and your audience to share the reading. The stories are light, build on each other, and have a twist that make it fun for adults and children alike.

To see the full list of favorites, and to keep the ideas in an easy-to-grab spot, I have created a list of these titles at Indie Bound and an Amazon aStore.

Note: The bookcover images in this post link to Amazon.com and include an affiliate code that, through purchases, may earn income for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards (aka Cybils). The Indie Bound List and aStore include an affiliate code for the Reading Tub that, through purchases, may earn income for this literacy nonprofit. You are not obligated to use those links or make purchases through them.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Books for Your World Explorer (0 to 5)

Posted by Terry on May 26, 2010 at 10:00 AM in Board BooksBook Buying Early LiteracyPicture BooksRecommendationsSeries
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The great thing - and the frustrating thing - about infants, toddlers, and preschoolers is that they are into everything. They are discovering something new all the time, beginning to label the world around them, and even deciding what they like and don't like. [Dinosaurs - yes. Spinach - not so much!]

Last week we talked about bedtime stories for your home library. This week it's all about those waking hours! One suggestion: opt for the board book edition if there is one. This audience is notoriously tough on books!

Cars and Trucks and Things that Go by Richard Scarry. Susan Thomsen counts this and Freight Trains by Donald Crews among her son's favorites at this age. This is a timeless classic. With Car, kids can figure out what moves (and what doesn't), make the sounds of myriad transportation modes and animals, and feed that passion for things that move! Scarry did a great job of "hiding" other things in the illustrations that will keep young children glued to the page.

Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty. When Pam narrowed down her gift choices for 3-year-old niece, Jeremy was on the list. From Pam: "This title is one of my favorites of 2009, though it seems to have slipped under the radar in the book world. I didn't think the amazing message contained within was too subtle, but maybe it did escape many readers who looked at the surface and saw a simple, light story. It's a shame, because people missed one of the better combinations of art, story, and message that I've ever seen."

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems. I admit, that while I love Mo Willems, Knuffle Bunny isn't a personal fave. Still, as Gina points out in her Show and Tale last November, Mo and the Bunny have LOTS of adoring fans. Here's what Karen told Gina: "My daughter loves Knuffle Bunny in all its forms (including the sequel). She adores the combination of photography and cartoons and has been able to recite the story since before she could read." What more could you ask for?

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. When we knew we were going to adopt, this was one of my first book purchases. I loved this story as a child. Even through the pages you can engage your senses, from the chill of Peter's hands to the crunch, crunch, crunch of the snow.

Picture books are a natural choice when it comes to piquing and satisfying a young child's curiosity. There are so many wonderful choices - what books do you recommend for a play-time library?

To see the full list of favorites, and to keep the ideas in an easy-to-grab spot, I have created a list of these titles at Indie Bound and an aStore on Amazon.com.

Note: The bookcover images in this post link to Amazon.com and include an affiliate code that, through purchases, may earn income for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards (aka Cybils). The Indie Bound List and aStore include an affiliate code for the Reading Tub that, through purchases, may earn income for this literacy nonprofit. You are not obligated to use those links or make purchases through them.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Building a Bedtime Library (0 to 5)

Posted by Terry on May 19, 2010 at 10:05 AM in Book Buying Picture BooksRecommendationsSeries
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Last week, Susan Kusel offered a wonderful guide on budget-friendly way to build your child's library with library book sales. She even has some suggestions on when to shop (early) and what kinds of books to look for (hardcovers and series). If you haven't read it yet, check out Have I Got a Deal for You! You might also check out Pam's Thrifty Three ways to keep reading in tough economic times back in March.

I love Susan's post, bookmarked it, and even referenced it in a couple of places; but it left me with one question: If I'm starting a library for a child what titles should I try to find? Voila! A Bookworm Basics mini-series is born. Over the next few weeks, I'll have some recommendations with books for different ages.

Today we're talking bedtime stories. When I hear "read with your child," the first image that comes to mind is cuddling up close and sharing a picture book. These are the first books you're likely to own, and here are some of our favorites.

Night Lights by Susan Gal. Pam featured this in Thursday Three last November. Here is what Pam offered in a comment: "at my first look, Night Lights didn't grab me. But I realized that I was taking it too fast, and it's a book that needs you to slow down. It's there that I found its quiet value. I didn't even mention this, but I also like that it's about just a girl and her mom (and dog). Maybe it's a single mom or a dad in the military, but I liked seeing that represented."

The Owl and the Pussy Cat by Edward Lear, illustrated by Jan Brett. With Jan Brett's beautiful illustrations of this story of an unlikely couple, what's not to love? The rhyme is a soothing counterpoint to the bright illustrations. As Susan Thomsen says this one is not about sleep, but it is a beloved book that she and her son have shared repeatedly at bedtime.

Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep by Joyce Dunbar, illustrated by Debi Gliori. In her February 2010 Show and Tale, Gina shares colleague Tracy Wynne's story about how she came to love this book after her 5-year-old daughter started having bad dreams. "In my frantic search to ease her fears, I came across the most delightful book ... This wonderful read-aloud is sweet and reassuring. I love how it addresses the power of positive thinking; a skill that will serve children well, even at night."

Time for Bed by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jane Dyer. It is hard to beat Mem Fox for wonderful stories. Mother animals beg their young one to go to sleep, and each mom has a different way of imploring their child to settle in for bed. For years this was our go-to book at nap time and bedtime. It is a particularly soothing story that offers a quiet "hush" with every turn and always got our busy toddler to stop what she was doing and hop into bed.

It's hard to beat the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with snuggling together to share a book. Including reading as part of your go-to-bed ritual is a wonderful tradition, an easy way to share a love of reading, and a great way to close out each day for you and your child. Do you have a family favorite? We'd love to hear about it!

To see the full list of favorites, and to keep the ideas in an easy-to-grab spot, I have created a list of these titles at Indie Bound and an aStore on Amazon.com.

Note: The bookcover images in this post link to Amazon.com and include an affiliate code that, through purchases, may earn income for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards (aka Cybils). The Indie Bound List and aStore include an affiliate code for the Reading Tub that, through purchases, may earn income for this literacy nonprofit. You are not obligated to use those links or make purchases through them.


Susan

Have I Got a Deal for You!

Posted by Susan on May 10, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Book Buying
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Books are expensive. As someone who's been both a bookstore employee and a book buyer, I can attest to that. And I'm sure you know that too. As a librarian, obviously, I always recommend coming to the library where you can get as many books as you want for free.

But I also understand the importance of owning your own books. I have a huge collection (part of it is pictured here) and those books are truly special because we can return to them month after month, year after year. But how do you amass such a collection on a budget? Here's some advice: it's all about book sales. Now, I'm not talking about used bookstores. I love those too, but the books are often between $5 and $10 each.

I'm talking about the magic sales. The ones where hardcovers are $1 and paperbacks are 50 cents. Haven't seen one? You can find them in nearly every community.

Start with your local library. Virtually every library has an ongoing book sale. There you'll find books that were removed from the library because they're not in good enough shape for the collection. You'll also see lots of books that were donated to the library but weren't needed in the collection. Most library systems also have large book sales too, usually once or twice a year. The book sales are run by the Friends of the Library, and all of the money goes directly to the library. And it's not just libraries. I've seen $1 books at sales organized by elementary schools, churches, preschools, scout troops, etc. Look around, and you'll find them. The one pictured below is from Arlington Public Library's incredible semi-annual book sale. (Keep in mind that you're only seeing a very small part of it in the picture.)

APL Booksale.jpg

And once you find them, here are a few tips about how to make the most out of them:

-Arrive early, arrive early, arrive early. I can't stress this enough. That's when the good books are for sale. If you wait towards the end, you'll be looking at the dregs.

-Buy hardcover books. I've got nothing against paperbacks, but let's face it, they're cheaper. An average children's picture book costs between $6-$8 in paper and $15-$20 in hardcover. You get the most bang for your buck with the hardcover books, which last much longer. At a large book sale like the ones I'm describing, if you come early it is possible to get 15 hardcover books in newish condition for $15... or the same price as one hardcover picture book in a store.

-Stock up on series. Does your child have a favorite series? You'll always find these books at book sales. You can pick up a multitude of Magic Tree House or Berenstain Bear books, for example, for fifty cents each (and sometimes 25 cents!) These all come in paperbacks, which of course negates the piece of advice above.

-Buy books that are rare. I know I just told you to buy well known and popular books. But, also keep an eye out for books that you don't see everywhere. For example, Good Night Moon and the Very Hungry Caterpillar are everywhere. They're easy to find. But that book you loved as a child that's out of print now is harder to come by. Snatch it up before someone else does.

-Volunteer to help with the book sale. I've helped sort donations and organize the books for a few of these kinds of sales. It's great fun and extremely helpful to the organization running it. You don't need to know anything about books... except maybe the difference between picture books and chapter books. Plus, you're one of the very first people to see the available books.

Can't find a book sale like this anywhere near you? Organize one yourself. It's a great fundraiser for any non-profit organization. Donations are not hard to come by... everyone has a box of books or two they aren't using in their attic or basement.

Keep in mind that what you can get at a book sale varies wildly. If you're looking for a specific book, you should definitely go to a book store. If you're looking for a serendipitous find at a low price, try a book sale. Why did I write this post today? Because this weekend, at my son's elementary school I bought a stack of books that were a mixture of hardcovers, paperbacks and series, plus CDs and DVDs for $12.50. The actual retail price was over $200.

If you're ever in the DC area, be sure to make a special stop in Montgomery County, Maryland. The Montgomery County Friends of the Library run three permanent year-round bookstores where the books are a dollar and below. Don't miss the one at the Wheaton Library, the bookstore there is absolutely enormous and larger than many retail bookstores.

Have you found something incredible at one of these sales? Do you know of a great sale that you want to tell us about? Please leave a comment!

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