A blank page can be quite intimidating whether you write a lot or are a beginning writer! That is why we all need prompts for writing. As I think about it, my monthly postings for Booklights have been prompted by those of the other bloggers' postings throughout the previous month.
Terry started March out by giving great suggestions for prompting young writers. As she reminds us, a picture is truly worth a thousand words (or at least 20 if you are six-years-old). And while I don't want to "steal" any of the ideas for prompts for April that Terry might share, I think a delightful prompt for today comes from Megan McDonald, author of Judy Moody books.
Her prompt is an illustration of a practical joke the Judy Moody plays on her brother Stink. Young writers are then invited to write about a practical joke played on someone or make one up.
Pam's posting earlier today reminds us that we will celebrate National Poetry Month during April. Here is a website that provides great prompts for writing poetry. It includes a 40 minute webcast of Jack Prelutsky and interviews with Maya Angelou, Karla Kuskin, and J. Patrick Lewis.
Pam also reminds us that this is a wonderful time of the year to bring off the bookshelf Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit. While the book is rather dense in text, don't postpone reading it to young children. They catch on to language quite quickly. I tell my university students of the child who, after hearing Peter Rabbit numerous times, was overheard telling his tired, old dog, "I implore you to exert yourself!"
Susan has introduced me to several Passover books that are excellent. And the "old" Easter book of which Pam reminds us, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, was a favorite of an author I mentioned last August. I told about a visit with author Jean Davies Okimoto. She talked about The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, by Dubose Heyward and illustrated by Marjorie Flack (who later won a Caldecott Honor). Although first published in 1939, this is a very progressive book. Jeanie remembers how she knew this was a tale with a truly feminist perspective. She noticed the ranges of bunny colors and the inclusiveness of the story.
In that same August posting, I suggested that parents and teachers might want to read Jeanie's picture book Winston of Churchill, One Bear's Battle Against Global Warming, which is illustrated by Jeremiah Trammell. As I said , the book brings forward concerns for the environment in an interesting way for children and their parents.
So that brings me to look ahead to April 22 which is Earth Day. While I don't usually start our recommendations for books to get for special days, I will go ahead and get us started this month with three books released this year that you might check out.
Fancy Nancy: Every Day is Earth Day, by Jane O'Connor. An "I Can Read!" book for beginning readers.
Where Do Polar Bears Live? by Sarah Thomson. This is a piece of non-fiction with challenging concepts written for primary graders. Be sure to notice the end papers!
Global Warming, by Seymour Simon. A publication by the Smithsonian and written by my favorite writer of science picture books. Wonderful photographs!
I would add to that list an older book, one that I mentioned in September, Peter, Pamela and Percy in the Big Spill. The story relates the oil slick off of Cape Town that harmed many sea birds in 2000.
It seems appropriate that this month, I have gone back to postings from March as well as throughout the year. For the day after Earth Day, April 23, was the day in 2009 that Gina first welcomed everyone to Booklights. So, happy anniversary to a wonderful group!
Happy Reading, Ann
Tonight is the first night of Passover, and the perfect time for me to share some of my favorite Passover books with you. Of course, as mentioned a few weeks ago- they might be hard to find at your library today, but there's always next year.
I really enjoyed Rabbi Mindy Portnoy's new book, A Tale of Two Seders. It talks about how a child with divorced parents is able to celebrate in different and special ways with both of them. Plus, it also includes many different Passover traditions and some great charoset recipes from many different countries and cultures.
I always recommend the Sammy Spider books written by Sylvia Rouss and illustrated by Katherine Kahn for Jewish holidays. They're fun to read, creatively illustrated with great holiday descriptions and they always introduce a new concept such as colors, shapes or the five senses. There are three books for Passover: Sammy Spider's First Passover, Sammy Spider's Passover Fun Book and Sammy Spider's First Haggadah. I also like The Mouse in the Matzah Factory by Francine Medoff that explains how special handmade shmurah matzah is made.
For next year's Passover, Jaqueline Jules has a great new board book called Going on a Hametz Hunt due to be published in September. In simple, rhyming text it makes a fun counting story and Rick Brown's illustrations visually guide you to turn the next page.
There are several other books I'd like to recommend, but they all seem to have gone out of print, even those published in the last few years. Check your library (in a few weeks) for Passover! by Roni Schotter, This is Passover illustrated by Santiago Cohen, The Magician's Visit: A Passover Tale retold by Barbara Diamond Goldin and The Matzah that Papa Brought Home by Fran Manushkin.
There are many Haggadah options ranging from simple to complex. No matter which one you use, read it out loud to your children before the seder. This will help them prepare and know what to expect. If you're invited to someone else's house for Passover, ask if you can borrow their Haggadah to help get your kids ready.
Happy Pesach! Do you have any favorite Passover books? I'd love to hear them.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Did you visit your library this week to find a book for St. Patrick's Day? Did you find anything? I'm guessing that you didn't. Or if you did, it was an old battered book that was published many years ago.
How can I be so telepathic? Because at every single library, on every single holiday, the relevant books are all checked out by the actual date of the holiday. And this doesn't just go for holidays. If you go into my library today, you'll find that all the books for spring are checked out. Pretty soon, as caterpillars start crawling onto the sidewalks, every book about how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly will be gone from our shelves.
Here's a tip: Never wait until the last minute to find seasonal books. Check them out a month before the season or event (even earlier than that is fine too). If you look at the Christmas books in November, you'll find all the newest and most popular books available for your perusal. If you wait until the middle of December, you'll find the dregs that other people decided no to check out.
I can certainly understand the desire not to spread out the holiday. However, most libraries lend books out for three weeks (with the option of renewal for another 3 weeks.) Many libraries let you renew twice, which means that if no one is waiting for the book, you can have it for up to nine weeks (over two months).
Don't forget to be considerate and remember that you're not the only one looking for books on that subject. Try not to take more than one or two holiday books so that there's enough for everyone else. (Unless, of course, you check out all the Passover books in September, when no one's looking for them). Also, as soon as you're done with a seasonal book, return it to the library so other people can check it out. For example, even though the St. Patrick's Day books got checked out already, we were able to find a couple that recently came back to give to the people who were looking for holiday books this week.
If the library is completely out of the books you're looking for, be creative. A book like Mem Fox's beautifully crafted Where is the Green Sheep? works perfectly well. Or try one of Tomie dePaola's Irish folktales.
My library has the holiday books in the regular collection, but not every library has the shelf space to do that. If yours doesn't, ask the librarians where the books are when they're not on display. Many libraries keep their holiday books in their storytime rooms.
Have a lovely holiday.
I read that this winter is the only instance recorded that snow was on the ground in 49 of the 50 states at the same time. Hawaii was the holdout, even though they do get snow on their mountaintops sometimes. With the snowiest season I remember - and a record-breaking one in the Washington, DC area - it seems most appropriate to bring out the snow books.
In the Snow
by Peggy Collins
When a young boy wakes up to discover a world of white, he is in for a day of snowy fun. He finds animal tracks and tries to catch the rabbit who made them. He builds a snowman with his daddy, complete with hardhat and a wrench. And at the end of his adventure, goes inside for warmth and hugs. With bright, lively pictures and simple text, this is a book for the youngest readers.
Danny’s First Snow
by Leonid Gore
When a little rabbit goes out in his first snowfall, he sees friends in the piles of snow all around him. But they turn out to be trees and such buried in the snow. But it’s all good, because Mommy's waiting for him. The fuzzy art style makes it appear as if we’re viewing the illustrations through a sleet-encrusted window, which is nicer than it sounds. Gentle snowy-time book.
by Lester L. Laminack, illustrated by Adam Gustavson
“Did you hear that? Did the weatherman just say what I thought he did? Did he say... SNOW? Oh please, let it snow. Lots and lots of snow.” This person is ready for a snow day and all the things that go along with it. No alarm clock. Staying in PJs. Playing outside. A day to watch TV and read a new book. To sled and throw snowballs. The special fun in this book is the surprise that I won’t spoil, and the fun illustrations that bring the reader into the imagining of the perfect snow day. (Even if you've had enough of them this year.)
I've already talked about the lovely Waiting for Winter and at MotherReader, I have a review of a very relevant book, The Terrible Storm. And I have so many others that I like for the winter months. What are your favorites?
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.
One of the great riches of our country is its people. For five centuries people of different cultures have come to the United States, bringing with them experiences and traditions that enrich our communities.
One way to share those experiences is through stories. Before there were books, history and customs were shared through storytelling. You may have even heard a story or two from a favorite relative. Within these stories you can find the history, traditions, customs, and beliefs of a society or group of people. Thankfully, authors and illustrators have collected generations of these histories, folktales, myths, and legend in children's books.
In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15, I pulled together some of my favorite picture book tales. Some are oral histories; some offer original interpretations of well-known stories; and still others show the universal tradition of myths and legends.
by Terri Fields / Illustrated by Sherry Rogers
Now that the corn was tall enough to make tortillas, a burro called his friends coyote, bobcat, and jackrabbit to help him. This picture book builds Spanish words into a story, which offers a twist on the Little Red Hen.
As told to Shelley Dale / Illustrated by Shelly Dale
A young boy asks his grandfather to tell him the story of Juan Quezada, a famous potter. Quezada comes across some clay pots. Curious, he wants to learn how they were made and he begins to experiment. Eventually he figures out how to replicate the process. The entire village helps make the pots. Quezada becomes a famous artist, and his pots are displayed in museums. This bilingual picture book biography introduces kids to primary sources, as Juan Quezada tells his life story.
Nacho and Lolita
By Pam Muñoz Ryan / Illustrated by Claudia Rueda
Nacho, a rare pitacoche bird, lives in a mesquite tree at the Mission San Juan Capistrano. He is a lovely but lonely bird; so when the swallows arrive in spring, he enjoys a wonderful life. In the fall, his friends must fly south, and he is lonely again, uncertain that they will return. He wants to do whatever he can to assure they come back to the Mission. This is a picture book built around a Mexican legend.
Paco and the Giant Chile Plant / Paco y Planta de Chile Gigante
By Keith Polette / Illustrated by Elizabeth O. Dulemba
When Paco's mother runs out of money, she sends him to the market to sell la vaca (the cow). On the way, Paco meets a man who trades him a bag of magic chile seeds for the cow. Paco plants the semillas de chile and waits. When the plant erupts from the ground, Paco immediately grabs some chiles and climbs to the top ... only to be discovered by el gigante terrible. This is much more than a Spanish-added version of the classic story.
The Miracle of the First Poinsettia: A Mexican Christmas Story
by Joanne Oppenheim / Illustrated by Fabian Negrin
It is Christmas Eve (la Noche Buena). Everyone is happy ... even Papa, who just lost his job. Juanita is sad. True, there are no extra pesos for toys or candy, but more importantly, she doesn't have a gift to bring to church for the Baby Jesus. When everyone went in for services, Juanita stayed outside. A stone angel in the garden helps her find the perfect gift. She is skeptical of carrying weeds into church, but she does as the angel suggests. Will people laugh at her? This is a picture book story with a folk legend about how the Poinsettia became part of Christmas.
There are a number of wonderful online resources for exploring Hispanic culture through books. One of my favorites is Colorín Colorado, a PBS-affiliated website that provides resources, ideas, and activities that bridge the Spanish-speaking and English communities with bilingual resources. I regularly use their Books and Authors page and the underlying booklists to help me discover new books to share with my daughter.
Picture books give us an opportunity to visit places and learn new things without the inconveniences of luggage fees or jet lag. Through these stories we can immerse ourselves in the rich traditions of our personal, family, or community's heritage. Where have your picture book travels taken you? Leave a comment to share your journey with us!