If you're looking for a masterpiece or 12, go no further than the PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest, which just announced its national winners. These dozen stories, written and illustrated by kids in grades K-3, are online and ready for you to read aloud and share with your kids. Don't miss gems like "Desk: A Totally True Tale of Terror" or "The Adventures of Sniffy Pete and Drono."
Plus, your kids can make their own story mash-ups featuring the places, characters, objects and words taken from other Writers Contest entries. The possibilities are endless!
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 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.
Tracey Wynne of PBS Parents shares her new favorite, Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep:
Last month, my five-year-old daughter became fearful of going to sleep. There was no monster under her bed, in her closet or creeping down the hall. The monster she feared was in her head in the form of bad dreams.
In my frantic search to ease her fears, I came across the most delightful book, Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep, by Joyce Dunbar. Written over 10 years ago, it tells the story of a little rabbit named Willa who can't fall asleep because she fears bad dreams. She asks her big brother, Willoughby, to tell her something happy before she goes to sleep. He obliges. Willoughby gets Willa to see how the many simple things in her life bring her joy, such as wearing cozy pajamas, eating certain foods or looking at the night sky. Eventually, Willa falls asleep.
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.
Reading Tell Me Something Happy... with my daughter has become part of our nightly routine. Although she still frets about bad dreams, I now know how to help - I get her to tell me something happy before she goes to sleep.
What books have helped to calm your child's nighttime fears?
Mom Jodi picks the beloved tearjerker Bridge to Terabithia. Katherine Paterson's classic story of Jess and Leslie, who create their own kingdom in the woods, is popular reading in schools, was a Trophy Newbery, and has been made into a movie.
"This book is my favorite because when it was read to me as a child, it began my love affair with reading," Jodi says. "It brought me to another world of imagination."
What book has opened you or your child's minds to other worlds?
Author/illustrator extraordinaire Mo Willems has many fans here at Booklights (and beyond), and Mom Karen counts herself among them.
"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."
Many kids know a story word-for-word before they can read. Do your kids have any favorites that they know backward and forward?
Mom Betsy's pick for Where the Wild Things Are comes at a good time, with the movie making its debut last weekend. She loves the book because "Max was a wild child like me!"
Betsy nails a big reason why Maurice Sendak's book is such a classic -- we all have a little (or a lot) of Max in us. Anyone else out there identify with Max? And what about the movie? Should true fans avoid it or give it a try?
Mom Jessie loves the classic Eloise, written by Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hilary Knight, and she's in good company. This memorable character, who first saw publication in 1955, has captured the hearts of millions, adults and kids alike.
"My favorite book is Eloise, because of the whimsy and she's naughty," Jessie says.
What naughty book character has stuck with you? And are there any books where you've preferred the crafty villain to the hero?
Jyl from Mom it Forward picks P.D. Eastman's classic picture book "Are You My Mother?" This 50-year-old tale follows a newly hatched baby bird as he tries to find his mother, asking several different animals.
Jyl says, "When my oldest was a baby, I read him Are You My Mother? every day. I focused on intonation. He loved how I'd raise and lower my voice and make interesting sounds. It's still one of his favorite books six years later."
What books have been your children's favorites year after year?
For a book that was originally published in 1964, Harriet the Spy, written by Louise Fitzhugh, remains remarkably relevant and readable. Nate Eagle, a designer for PBS KIDS Interactive and unabashed book (and movie and philosophy) aficionado, says this about his favorite children's book:
Harriet is one of the greatest characters in young fiction. She's a spy: insatiably curious and brutally honest. And she writes down everything she sees and thinks. When her notebook gets discovered by classmates, they banish her. Harriet has to wrestle with how and when to be honest, and how and when to compromise that honesty for the sake of friendship. Seeing Harriet pass through this gauntlet is heartbreaking in many ways -- the compromises of relationships are frequently painful -- but it's also movingly human. Above all, the story's a reminder of what tremendously complicated, fascinating inner lives all children lead, inner lives that adults sometimes forget or dismiss.
What is your favorite character from children's books? Or does Harriet take the cake?
Stay-at-home dad Charlie, a former library assistant, shares his love of books and music with his toddler daughter. His pick is This Jazz Man, written by Karen Ehrhardt and illustrated by R.G. Roth.
Charlie says, "My soon-to-be three year old and I have fallen for This Jazz Man, a clever riff on the "This Old Man" nursery rhyme (you know, "This old man he played one...") Karen Ehrhardt's lively text offers great opportunities for kid participation, and R.G Roth's beautiful collages, in a cool, "Mad Men"-era style, feature portraits of real jazz greats like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Little capsule biographies of each of the musicians portrayed close out what is surely the grooviest counting book out there!"
Do you have a favorite book about music, or even one where the words just sound musical?