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Terry

Bookworm Basics: Summer Reading

Posted by Terry on June 2, 2010 at 10:30 AM in DatabasesLibrariesRecommendationsSeries
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ben-addy.jpgToward the end of April, the "summer reading" whispers started. But now it's June and school is out or almost over, so today I'm shifting gears and thinking about summer reading.

Reading is a lot like exercise. You need to do it regularly. When you take a vacation from your workouts, it takes some time to get back to where you were before. If I skip exercising for just ten days, I feel like I'm starting over when I get back. The same thing happens on a reading vacation. For kids, that can last three months! Ouch! To help prevent "injury," schools often send home a "reading list" so students can keep "fit" over the summer.

There are lots of opinions about the lists, particularly when the list hasn't changed since you were in school. Just know they are singular in their plea: please keep your child reading this summer. It can be tricky finding books that will keep them reading through the summer, especially with one of those stagnant, age-old lists! So what's a parent to do?

SMTD_2c_72.jpgFirst, introduce yourself to the librarians! Libraries across the country will be launching their summer reading programs over the next few weeks, and these programs are a great way to connect kids with books and keep them in tip-top reading shape. Another option is to seek out some books from ... lists of recommended books.

That's a reading list by another name, right? Yes and no. Yes, it is a list of books, but it isn't a standardized group of books. These are collections of books created by people who have road-tested the books and believe in their value. The recommended lists are often built around a theme. For example, Reading Rockets (and many other websites) have lists of books by theme or by award or recognition. At Reach Out and Read, you'll find books by developmental age. I love Reading Rocket's guide for how to find that 'just right' book. Hint: read page 2!

Thumbnail image for bookstack.pngYesterday, Susan Kusel took us behind the scenes of creating a book list. She not only shared how book lists are created, but also shows why librarians are the go-to resource for reading ideas. What I love about What's Next, a resource created by the wonderful librarians at the Arlington Public Library, is that it is part reading list, part idea box. I can find suggestions by book format (e.g., picture book), audience (infant through teen), and/or subject (apples to zoos and beyond) Here are two other all-inclusive resources I recommend.


  • For Share a Story-Shape a Future 2009, we put together a magazine called the Big List of Books. It includes every book recommended by parents, teachers, and librarians; and covers all ages and topics. Many of the resources in these lists include books across the full spectrum of readers, from infants to teens and beyond. For simplicity's sake they are listed just once.

Emergent Literacy - Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

Children's Picture Book Data Base - Miami University (OH) maintains a database is filled with more than 5,000 picture books, complete with abstracts! It is designed for educators who are building their curriculum, but it is a very handy tool when you're a mom looking for books about tractors.

Toddlers Booklist - On this Montgomery County (MD) Public Library list you'll find books that the librarians likely have used at storytime ... with great success. There is a bookcover image and short description with each title listed.

Early and Transitional Literacy - Kindergarten to Second Grade
SteveLambert_Card_Catalog.pngInfo Soup - This is a multifaceted, cooperative website maintained by a group of Wisconsin Public Libraries. You can find books via the page of book lists, or you can start at the InfoSoup.org home page and search any or all collections by title, author, keyword, or topic.

Zuckerman's Barn Kids Lit - This site offers a searchable database of book reviews by students for students. The goal of the site is to "create a community of readers across classrooms and schools, including both students and supportive adults." Search books by title, author, subject, grade level, and more.

Fluent Readers - Third Grade and Beyond
SteveLambert_Library_Book_Cart.pngLittle Willow's Booklists @ Bildungsroman - Little Willow's lists are my go-to recommendation when someone asks for a list. You'll find recommendations sorted by audience, themes, and topics, as well as her personal recommendations.

Best Books List @ Children's Literature Web Guide - The University of Calgary (Canada) maintains this site (link takes you to the Guide's topical list). What I love is that the topics go beyond the norm and focus on traits or interest for older kids, like books with artistic protagonists.

Many libraries create and maintain their own lists, too, so check out their sites. The Monroe County (IN) Library hosts a Children's Booklists on the Web page, where you can find a bunch of them in one place. Not all lists are created equal, and your librarian can point you toward some great ones or offer some "read alikes" that might work for the list you have.

purzen_Icon_with_question_mark.pngNow for the Million dollar question: Will my child will like the books on these lists? Odds are they won't like every book on any given list. They may not even like the first book from a list. Don't give up. If you get a couple pages in and the book isn't working, drop that one and find another one. If you've narrowed your options to things your child likes, it doesn't mean the entire list won't work, only that book. Just keep reading ... it's good exercise!

Image credit: Toddler and infant reading - Beach Book Trip by Kristi on Flickr.
Clipart - Open Clip Art Library: card catalog (Steve Lambert); library cart (Steve Lambert); pile of books (J Alves); question mark (Purzen)

Susan

How to Write a Booklist

Posted by Susan on June 1, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Librarian Job DescriptionLibrariesRecommendations
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librarian3.jpgThis post is part of a series about what children's librarians do all day. Very few people seem to know what the job entails, so I thought I'd shed some light on this wonderful and often misunderstood field. For the rest of the posts in this series, click here. Got a question about something a children's librarian does? Please post it in the comments and I'll feature it in one of my upcoming posts.

Need a new book to read? Librarians are here to help! One of the ways we provide guidance is through booklists. How does a booklist get created? Having just finished work on an immense booklist project, I can tell you exactly how it works. Warning: these projects can take anywhere from a a few months to a few years (and involve dozens of spreadsheets, meetings, phone calls and e-mails.)

booklists.jpgWhere to start? Let's say we're writing a recommended booklist for two year olds. The first thing to do is to think of all the books appropriate for two year olds. This involves reading the books that are brand new, browsing through the shelves, brainstorming with colleagues and remembering all of your personal favorites.

Got your list? Good. Let's divide it into categories. Take a good look at your list. Do you have several books about cars and trucks? Make a transportation category. How about a spot for books about animals, friends, family, etc? Next, assign a category to each book on your list. Now check all the books for age appropriateness. The best way to do this is by pulling every single book off the shelf and checking if it's right for two year olds (or whoever you're writing the list for.)

Once that you've eliminated several titles, go through the library's catalog. Check every last book to make sure that the title, author, and call number appear on your list exactly the same way they do in the catalog. Then get someone (ideally someone who hasn't been involved in the project) to proofread everything for typos and mistakes you may have missed.

Printing press.jpgYou now have your beautiful and perfect list. But wait, aren't you forgetting something? You've got to print it. This involves designing it, laying it out on the computer, finding the cute pictures to go along with it, working with a printer, selecting paper size, type, color and quantity. Then you need to check the proofs from the printer and (assuming that you have the budget for it) get the lists actually printed. This is one of the hardest parts.

Finally, after months of effort, you're holding the completed list in your hands. What to do now? Pass it out to every single person you can. Then, start the process from the beginning in a year or two. It's important to update them regularly in order to keep the lists relevant and current.

Want to see the results? Click here and check out all of the Arlington Public Library lists for younger and older readers. For the younger folks, we've got Shower Your Baby With Books, Tales for Twos, 3, 4 Read Me More, and 5, 6, 7 Read it Again. For elementary school kids, take a look at our lists for kindergarten and first grade, second and third grade, fourth grade, and fifth and sixth grade. But wait, there's more! We also have a Historical Fiction list for first through sixth grade.

Also, check out Terry's excellent post featuring suggestions of where to find many more terrific booklists for kids.

Pam

Thursday Three: Asian Picture Books

Posted by Pam on May 27, 2010 at 1:14 AM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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Minji’s Salon
by Eun-hee Choung

Minji's SalonThis book comes to Kane/Miller publishing from South Korea, but it could just as easily be set in any of the bustling Korean neighborhoods in America. While her mother is getting her hair colored and styled, Minji follows suit with her own customer — a black dog — and in her own way. The child’s desire to do grown-up things is universal, and is captured well in this simply worded picture book. The illustrations are engaging, especially when capturing the expressions of Minji and her mom. Enjoyable, lovely book.

If Not for the Calico Cat,
by Mary Blount Christian, illustrated by Sebastià Serra

If Not for the Calico CatA ship’s crew believes that a calico cat will bring them good luck on their sea journey. They load the silks, rice, tea, fans, vases, jade... and of course, a calico cat from the pier. But they may have picked the wrong cat. This fluffy pet just wants to find a nice place to rest, even if it means inadvertently causing chaos. There was a moment toward the conclusion of the book when I felt that it was going kind of dark, but all was okay in the end. At least for the cat. An interesting book on sea journeys and kitties with a little old Japanese flair thrown in for good measure.

The Silk Princess,
by Charles Santore

The Silk PrincessThe Chinese legend of the discovery of silk is expanded in this picture book. A child sees a silkworm cocoon fall in hot tea and begin to unwind. She takes one end and walks away from her mother to see how far it stretches. She walks and walks and soon gets worn out and lies down. She continues her adventure, running away from a dragon and then meeting an old man who teaches her the way to use the silk. She takes the story — or dream — back to her mother and silk is introduced in China. The illustrations are beautiful and very detailed. There’s a lot of text, so a better story for older preschool or early school-age kids.

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.

Pam

Thursday Three: Beginning Bookshelves

Posted by Pam on May 20, 2010 at 2:10 PM in Recommendations
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In March, I listed ideas for Thrifty Reading with ideas for finding books on a budget. Last week, Susan offered ideas on ways to build your child's library in an economical way with her post Have I Got a Deal for You! Then Monday, Terry took the idea towards what titles should be in that library with Bookworm Basics And now I'm coming back to the concept with three types of books to look for in filling the bookshelves.

1. Classics
Curious GeorgeThere are really two kinds of classics: the ones that you read as a child and the new classics that have come out in the intervening years. Your child's bookshelf should have some of both. Reading the books that you grew up on gives you a chance to share that connection with your child. Maybe these books don't honor the faster pace of today's child or use the latest research on teaching to the developing brain of a toddler. But they mean something to you, and that's important. Many also have a place as cultural reference that continues through generations. (Hello Man in the Yellow Hat.) Such books like Curious George; Madeline; Goodnight Moon, Corduroy, Where the Wild Things Are, Bread and Jam for Frances, and The Cat in the Hat belong on every child's bookshelf. You may have some books from your own childhood that are special to you that you should also share. New Classics are ones that you'll see featured at any bookstore, like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom; The Hungry Caterpillar, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!; Clifford the Big Red Dog; Guess How Much I Love You; and Fancy Nancy. Here's a hint on finding the New Classics: they often have a line of related merchandise. I'm not condoning it, I'm just saying'.

2. Mulitcultural/Diverse
How Do You Wokka-Wokka?Reading is one of the first ways that we see the greater world around us, so take the opportunity to widen that exposure with books that are diverse and multicultural. In looking for books featuring children of color, I've become fond of the illustrator Randy Cecil who used a great cast of characters in Looking for a Moose and How Do You Wokka-Wokka? (written by Phyllis Root and Elizabeth Bluemie, respectively). Kadir Nelson brings his art to life in every book he illustrates, but young readers will especially enjoy Please, Puppy, Please. Grace Lin incorporates Asian children and themes in the many, picture books she has written and illustrated - like in Kite Flying and you'll find Hispanic themes in the works of Pat Mora and Tony Johnson, among many others.

You and Me TogetherExplore the world without leaving home in the wonderful picture books of Barbara Kerley, with photos from National Geographic - like You and Me Together. Start even younger with the board books like Global Babies or broaden the concept with If the World Were a Village. Think about different kinds of families with The Family Book by Todd Parr (speaking of children of color, you'll see all the colors of rainbow represented here - literally) or And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell which tells the story of two male penguins who raise an egg together.

3. Art
Metropolitan Museum seriesIf you're stuck on buying a book, look for the one with great art. I don't mean books with classic artwork in them - though I am fond of the Metropolitan Museum series - but instead books that have amazing illustrations. Step into the art of Steve Jenkins in books like Actual Size or the surreal world of David Wiesner in Flotsam or the perfect spareness of Peter Reynolds in Ish. Investigate the soft tone of Jon Muth or the lively colors of David Diaz. Compare the watercolors of E. B. Lewis to the scratchboard work of Beth Krommes. Find books that are illustrated with beauty, style, and creativity and you'll likely find yourself in possession of very, very good books.

Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site MotherReader.com may receive a referral fee.

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.


Terry

Bookworm Basics: Once Upon a Time - The Magic of Fairy Tales

Posted by Terry on May 12, 2010 at 11:00 AM in ClassicsPicture BooksRecommendations
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Most of the time you will find me reading a children's book, but this past week I took time out to read Ten Tips for Raising a Reader by Fran Hawk, a school librarian in the Charleston County (SC) school system. Fran talked about lots of genres and ways to use books, but her discussion about the power of fairy tales and folktales really stuck with me. By way of background, Fran was talking about her first job as a librarian. She worked in a rural school library where the students came from farmers and migrant workers.

Little Match Girl

I was unprepared for the realization that ingratitude and a sense of entitlement were major characteristics of these children ... A friend in a similar situation tackled this frustrating attitude with a direct hit. She read the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale,The Little Match Girl, to her first grade class. They were stunned, as well they might have been! ... For the first graders, it turned out to be a powerful magic bullet. That story unleashed a cascade of empathy and sympathy never seen before. Weeks later, the students were still mulling over the implications. Imagining themselves as 'little match girls' was helping them understand the importance of gratitude and kindness. This reaction could probably be expected regardless of the children's social and/or economic status.

Wow, never underestimate the power of a story! Especially one that has a lesson in it.

Folktales are both a category of literature and a type of story that includes fairy tales, legends, fables, and tall tales, to name a few. In general, the story has just a few characters, a plot build around specific events, an element of good v. evil, and a "moral to the story." Not all folktales have royalty and magic, but many do.

All cultures have their own folklore, but not all stories are suitable for all audiences. Some fairy tales, like The Elves and the Shoemaker, are universal and can be enjoyed by even the youngest audience. William Austin's Peter Rugg legends (described as tall tales and ghost stories) are for more mature audiences. Reading is Fundamental (RIF) has a terrific list of folktales and fairy tales that gives you a story summary and an audience recommendation.

Folktales, fairy tales, legends, fables - whatever you call them - are stories that allow us to explore history and cultures, social dynamics, and feelings. They stretch our imaginations and some even make us laugh! Because there are so many ways we can engage with these types of stories, today's Bookworm Basics explores folktales of all types.

Emergent Literacy - Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

It is easy to bring folktales to life with this group! Whether it's through puppets or on the playground, kids love to act out these stories. Who doesn't like to huff and puff and blow the house down? On the First-School Wisconsin site you'll find lots of coloring pages for fairy tales and fables.

The Mitten by Jan BrettWhen it comes to picture books, Jan Brett is probably the most prolific author/illustrator in the genre. Her stories include classics like Beauty and the Beast as well as tales from around the globe. On her website you'll find coloring pages, videos, and printable games that can bring the story into "real life."

Personal favorites:

Burro's TortillasBurro's Tortillas by Terri Fields, illustrated by Sherry Rogers (Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2007). If you've read The Little Red Hen, you know the sequence of events. Still, this retelling - with different animals and some Spanish mixed in - offers a nice change.

rabbit cooks up a cunning planRabbit Cooks Up a Cunning Plan by Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by Bruno Robert (Child's Play, 2008). The story has the feel of a classic fable. It has a clever twist on the outwit-the-bully theme. I also loved how it captured the idea that sometimes we are our "own worst enemy."

Early and Transitional Literacy - Kindergarten to Second Grade

chicken littleFairy tales and fables can be excellent "easy reader" books. Because they are simply told and have lots of repetition (think Chicken Little), they offer new readers a chance to practice sight words. With these readers you can also take folklore to the next level with fairy tales that tell a classic story but add a new twist, sometimes called fractured fairy tales. The Hennepin County Library has a nice list of recommendations to get you started.

Personal favorites:

bee-man.jpgThe Bee Man of Orn by Frank B. Stockton, illustrated by P.J. Lynch (Candlewick Press, 2003). This is a gorgeous book, with a not-well-known story. There is an audio reading of the story included, too. This is great for letting children follow along with text to build their sight vocabulary.
little-ruth.jpgLittle Ruth Reddingford and the Wolf by Hank Wesselman, illustrated by Raquel Abreau (Illumination Arts, 2004). This is another fractured fairy tale. Instead of wolves there are bullies; and Ruth isn't without fault, either.

paco_chile.jpgPaco and the Giant Chile Plant / Paco y Planta de Chile Gigante by Keith Polette, illustrated by Elizabeth Dulemba (Raven Tree Press, ©2008). Think Jack and the Beanstalk with a great new storyline and a totally unexpected twist.

Fluent Readers - Third Grade and Beyond

With older kids, some of the fun of reading folklore can be exploring the cultures that "created" them. The Wikipedia List of Fairy Tales has a nice chart that lists fairy tales and the culture that popularized it. Another idea is to contrast/compare a story across cultures. In the May 2000 edition of Book Links (an American Library Association journal), Mary Northrop has an annotated list of Cinderella stories from around the world. She offers some activity tips at the end that would work with any book.

Another way to engage kids is to let them rewrite the story. At KidWebsites.com, children ages 8 and older can write a fractured fairy tale. If you're looking for a place to start, Marilyn Kinsella has a ready-made bibliography of fractured fairy tales, as well as some suggested activities to engage kids in modifying existing stories or creating new ones.

Personal favorites:

grandmother.jpgGrandmothers' Stories: Wise Woman Tales from Many Cultures edited by Burleigh Muten, illustrated by Sian Bailey (Barefoot Books, 1999). Some of the stories in this collection will sound similar to stories kids already know. What I love is that it captures some timeless tales of magic, wisdom, and perseverance that children will remember their whole life. There is a CD that comes with the book, which makes it a nice selection for dormant readers, too.

monsters and water beastsMonsters and Water Beasts: Creatures of Fact or Fiction? by Karen Hokanson Miller; illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier (Henry Holt and Company, 2007). This nonfiction (!) book provides a brief description of nine mythical creatures and shares facts and fables about their existence.

scratchy-mountain.jpgUp and Down the Scratchy Mountains or the Search for a Suitable Princess by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Greg Call (Random House Children's Books, 2008). If I have to have one princess book, this is it. This is not a straight-forward once-upon-a-time fairy tale, and it does take about a chapter or two to get into the author's style. Once you do, though, you're rewarded with a great story.

Fairy tales and folkore are timeless stories we can all enjoy together. It is a chance to pull out a favorite from your own childhood and pay forward that love with the kids in your lives. Whether you grab a book or start telling the story from memory, you're kids will always remember that once upon a time, ...

Note: Book title links take you to Amazon.com, with which the Reading Tub has an affiliate relationship. Purchases made through those links may provide income for our nonprofit. You're not obligated to purchase through those links; they are provided for your convenience.

Pam

Thursday Three: Mothers

Posted by Pam on May 6, 2010 at 3:25 PM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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It's time again to focus on Mom with cards, flowers, and... picture books starting with baby, moving to preschooler and ending with a story of a little girl all-grown-up.

Before You Were Here, Mi Amor
by Samantha R. Vamos, illustrated by Santiago Cohen

Before You Were Here, Mi AmorAn Hispanic mother talks to her baby about all the loving thoughts, wishes, and preparations in the time before he or she was born. Filled with Spanish words that flow seamlessly within the text, the book brings a fresh take to the mommy-love category of picture books. The illustrations make the translations clear, though a glossary is included at the end. For example, the picture of the little girl with her ear on mommy's tummy with "Before you were here, tu hermana placed her face against mi barriguita and whispered, "¬°Hola, bebe!" Oh, and before we drift too far from illustrations - or fresh takes for that matter - the artwork with its bright colors and bold lines is a nice change from the usual pastels that tend to dominate these books about a mother's love. Definitely a keeper, and if you don't believe me, you can check out the universal five-star ratings at Amazon's reviews.


Just Like Mama
by Leslea Newman, illustrated by Julia Gorton

Just Like MamaAs a mommy and daughter share a regular day, the little girl recounts all the wonderful things a great mom can do. The glowing testimony to a mother's love starts in the morning, "with a whirl and twirl across the fuzzy purple rug, she swoops down on my bed and scoops me up into a hug. Nobody wakes me up just like mama." At the end, it becomes a love letter right back, "Nobody loves mama just like me!" This sweet book will remind you of all the little things that us moms do right. Things that are sometimes perfect in their very ordinary nature - like brushing hair - or ordinary things that can be made special with an extra touch - like whipped cream in the cocoa. Simply delightful for young readers.


In Our Mothers' House
by Patricia Polacco

In Our Mothers' HouseA grown-up daughter tells the story of her and her siblings' years in their mothers' house. And note that apostrophe, because this is a book about two mothers and their adopted kids. The topic is handled in a nonchalant manner, except for occasional reference to a neighbor who "just plain didn't like us." Okay, and one page where the neighbor spits out her hatred of the two moms. But after that, it's back to the block party, and making dresses and growing up. Regular life. Polocco's illustrations are always special, and here they capture the love of this beautiful family. The amount of text and meandering story would make it a better choice for older picture book readers or younger ones with longer attention spans. Overall, a wonderful view into family, love, and acceptance.


Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site MotherReader.com may receive a referral fee.

Gina

Show and Tale: Great Day of Gratitude

Posted by Gina on May 5, 2010 at 6:31 AM in Nonfiction BooksPicture BooksRecommendationsShow and Tale
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Our friends the Supersisters had the wonderful idea of taking today, May 5, to thank some of the most important people in our community: teachers. As you go through the Supersisters' ideas and make your own, try this book to spark conversations about gratitude and giving thanks with the kids in your life.

listen_to_the_wind.jpgListen to the Wind by Greg Mortenson, illustrated by Susan Roth. Dr. Greg's story of a life-changing visit to a Pakistani village that ignited his relentless quest to build schools for local children will be familiar to adults who've read Three Cups of Tea. This picture book, appropriate for kindergarten through fourth-grade, shows the importance of schools and the huge effort that some students must undertake to get an education. Not a bad way to dispel it's-almost-summer blues.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Growing Readers of All Sizes

Posted by Terry on April 28, 2010 at 8:00 AM in PoetryRecommendationscreative literacy
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jkrROUNDUP.jpgNo sooner had Jen Robinson finished her Ten Tips for Growing a Bookworm series and her daughter arrived - ten weeks early. Ten tips ... ten weeks. Coincidence or just an anxious bookworm? Ah, the mysteries of life.

When Jen announced the birth of her little bookworm, she also explained that she was taking a hiatus from blogging. On Mondays, Jen often starts us off with Literacy 'Lights, a quick roundup of family-reading related ideas and tips from around the kidlitosphere. For the next few weeks, while Jen is enjoying all of the joys that come with bringing home a new baby, Susan Kusel will be here on Mondays and I'll stop by on Wednesdays with Bookworm Basics.

Jen and her passion for growing bookworms is the inspiration for my column. I wanted to do something that complements what she does AND celebrate bookworms of all ages. So each week I'll offer ideas about literacy and reading in the context of how a reader grows, from emergent literacy (infant/toddler) through fluency (third grade). I will incorporate my Prompt Ideas, too, when they fit. This week, I thought I'd round out National Poetry Month with ideas that draw on a poetry theme.

Emergent Literacy - Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
When we think of poetry for kids, we often think of rhymes, which are perfect for this audience. At these ages, kids are exploring, testing, and repeating sounds ... a lot! The sillier or sing-songy the sound combinations, the better. In the process, these pre-readers are learning how to make sounds and give them meaning (gurgles to dada); discerning words and vocabulary (recognizing that shluba is a silly word and tuba is a real thing); and beginning to connect a letter sound with the symbol.

Nursery rhymes and silly words - like the ones we think of as "classic" Dr. Seuss - are great ways to combine poetry and learning. In this YouTube video, a young boy is "reading" by exploring the sounds in Dr. Seuss' ABC Book An Amazing Alphabet Book. The video is about 4 minutes long, but you can get the idea of how he is exploring words and sounds with about 45 seconds.

Early and Transitional Literacy - Kindergarten to Second Grade

poetrymosaic.jpg Now that they can recognize individual letters and sounds, readers-to-be are ready to start combining them into words and learn how one letter (silent e) affects the sounds of others around it (star becomes stare). Rhyming and repetition often remain central to helping kids build vocabulary and pronouncing words they don't quite know yet. Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, and Kenn Nesbitt are wonderful children's poets who combine rhymes, recognized song lyrics, kids' favorite (and least favorite) things, and silliness to engage kids as readers - without them even knowing it!

One way to engage kids in creating their own poems (and silly words) is to add a set of poetry magnets to the fridge. Every time someone reaches for the milk they can create something new! This is an activity that lest kids stretch their imagination, explore language, and work on spelling all at the same time. It's also a game that everyone can play ... including Mom and Dad. To help with the (dreaded) weekly word list, you might try making some magnets of your own using materials from a craft or hobby store.

Fluent Readers - Third Grade and Beyond
This is the group of independents (in more ways than one). Once kids are reading at a third grade level, they have mastered the strategies they need for reading without help. They have the tools to put understanding, vocabulary, and spelling together and combine them in whatever format is presented. They also compose lengthier original works, from synopses to full-length stories and reports.

Those rhyming books they loved last year are now "for babies," though there are exceptions. The magnets on the fridge can come in handy, because they let your reader independently explore their creative side. And Mom and Dad sneak in a little writing!

Another idea would be to pull out their old alphabet letters and let them "text" on the refrigerator. I know, it confuses me too, but there is research that suggests texting can help kids with spelling. If the study doesn't convince you, maybe this video by Mr. J.A. Gill, an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, will add a perspective that makes sense.

There are some great resources to help you engage kids as readers across the spectrum of development. Reading Rockets, for example, has some wonderful parent guides with tips in English and ten other languages. I have always loved their practical ideas, and I was tickled to find their new parent tip sheets for babies and toddlers.

One of the great things about growing a bookworm, as Jen has explained, is that the old can become new again. Reading aloud to them as infants and beyond (Tip 1) might just lead to them sneaking a flashlight to stay up late and read under the covers (Tip 10) . At least we can hope!

Note: Dr. Seuss ABC Book title link goes to Amazon.com and the Reading Tub affiliate. Purchases made through that link may generate income for the Reading tub, a 501c3 nonprofit.

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