Friday, December 23, 2011

The Night Before Christmas Pop-Up

The Night Before Christmas Pop-Up, by Clement Clark Moore and Robert Sabuda, is our favorite version of this classic tale.  The beauty of the artwork and magic of the pop-ups contribute so much to this story.  We handle it carefully because of the intricacies of the pop-ups.  This is a great book to discuss author and illustrator and how they complement each other to bring a story to life.  We read this through the holidays and traditionally read it again on Christmas Eve.  Merry Christmas!

*Which pop-up do you like the best?
*How does this book compare to other books with the same story?
*Can you quote some of the lines from memory?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Mouse Before Christmas

The Mouse Before Christmas, by Michael Garland, is a fun variation of The Night Before Christmas.  We had fun reading this and enjoying the hilarious actions of Mouse.  Younger children also enjoyed finding the mouse on each page.  It was fun to compare this book to the other versions of the story we’ve read.  Enjoy Mouse!

*How is this book like the original story?
*How is this book different?
*Can you think of how other animals might appear in another version?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Llama, Llama, Holiday Drama

Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year, but for children it can become overwhelming!  If you and your children are looking for a book that explores (in a funny, heartwarming way) the drama of Christmas, take some time to read Llama, Llama, Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney. 

The Llama, Llama books are favorites of ours.   We have referred to them in various life situations because it’s easy for kids (and parents) to identify with the Llama family.  Llama, Llama, Holiday Drama continues the series with lots of fun situations and pictures.  We hope that your family enjoys this book as much as we do!

*What’s your favorite holiday activity?
*Are there any activities that make you feel like Llama?
*How do you feel about the ending?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Queen of Christmas

The Queen of Christmas, by Mary Engelbreit, teaches an important lesson about Christmas through the antics of Ann Estelle.  Anyone who loves the Mary Engelbreit’s illustrations will enjoy the colorful details in this book.  Children can relate to Ann Estelle as her Christmas wish list grows and grows and grows!  By laughing at Ann Estelle we also learn much about ourselves.  This is a fun book to add to your collection of Christmas books.

*Does Ann Estelle remind you of anyone?  Who?
*What do you think of Ann Estelle’s list?
*Did you think the ending would be like this?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Where, Oh Where, Is Santa Claus?

Where, Oh Where, Is Santa Claus?, a fun book by Lisa Wheeler, uses rhyming words and a easily read rhythm to bring enjoyment to a comical story.   This is a great book to use your voice (and that of the listener) to further the cadence.  The animals’ sounds (example:  pit-pat, pit-pat) help lead the reader and listener to Santa. The illustrations by Ivan Bates add to the beauty of the scenery.  This book makes us laugh out loud!  We hope you enjoy it too!

*How many animals are in the story?
*Which animal sound is your favorite?
*Can you find some rhyming words?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Telling the Greatest Story--Christmas Nativity Set

One of our favorite ways to learn about the birth of Jesus is through our Nativity sets.  Some of them require more adult supervision because of their breakable, fragile nature, but this one by Fisher Price is great for children!  The story can be told and retold while playing with the figures.   It’s very meaningful to read the story from the Bible as the child acts out the story with the figures.

We’ve watched as children of all ages are drawn to this set we display in our playroom.  Like the Thanksgiving set we’ve used, this is a fun display to video as the child retells the story.  It’s become an important part of our family Christmas tradition.  We hope your family enjoys telling the story of Christmas as much as we do!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree, by Gloria Houston, is a wonderful Appalachian story to be shared with children.  The timelessness of the story shines through in this wonderful family tale of true giving. Barbara Cooney's illustrations further enhance the story's beauty.  This book is a great conversation starter to connect generations with Christmas memories of growing up.   We recommend this book to start a yearly Christmas reading tradition with your family!

*Which illustration is your favorite in the book?
*What things in your house could you use to make gifts for others?
*Have you asked your grandparents about their Christmas traditions when they were a child?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Jolly Christmas Postman

The Jolly Christmas Postman, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, is a delightful Christmas story.   The Jolly Postman visits familiar nursery rhyme characters (Baby Bear, Little Red Riding Hood, Humpty Dumpty, The Gingerbread Boy, and Mister Wolf) to deliver Christmas greetings. The reader checks an envelope page creatively addressed to each recipient to read the greeting.  These messages become stories within the main story to further develop the plot. The rhyming verses of the story add to the overall fun.  The Jolly Postman receives a surprise at the end, which will delight young readers!  We love the Jolly Postman series and are so glad to have this one in our collection.  Happy Reading!

*Which greeting is your favorite?
*Which nursery rhyme character would you like to send a greeting to?
*What greeting would you send to that character?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Little Reindeer

The Little Reindeer, by Klaatje Van Der Pu, is a fun puppet book to read with toddlers.  They enjoy touching the reindeer as the rhymes are read on each page.  They can move the reindeer’s head as the story unfolds.  It’s a fun way to introduce the playful element in reading.   Enjoy!

*Can you make the reindeer move his head?
*What do you think the reindeer wants to say?
*What do you feed a reindeer?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Frosty the Snowman

Frosty the Snowman:  A Musical Book (by Steve Nelson, Jack Rollins and Rebecca McKillip Thornburgh) is a fun way to start the Christmas season.  As you open the cover the Frosty the Snowman music plays.  Children enjoy opening and closing the cover as they learn about cause and effect.  The sturdy book has seen lots of reading and playing time in our home.  As the words become familiar it’s fun to “read” the story together.  We love reading and singing this book!

*What do you decorate your snowmen with?
*What words rhyme in this story?
*What games would you like to play with Frosty?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent Book Countdown

Countdown to Christmas!  We’re wrapping  25 Christmas books---one to be opened each day for some quiet reading moments each day.  The handwritten numbered tags we’re using will be placed in our December Daily scrapbook to record our daily events.  Watch for some Christmas book reviews.  If you’d like a sneak peek at some of our favorite Christmas books, look at our Amazon store.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Picture Walks with Preschoolers

Preschoolers love doing picture walks through their books. A picture walk is browsing through an illustrated book to look and talk about the pictures.  To begin, choose familiar board books and revisit them through a picture walk.  Focus on the pictures rather than the printed story.  Ask your child to tell the story by using the pictures.  

Introduce new books by taking the time to look at each page’s illustrations before reading the book.  When you do pick the book up again to read, ask your child if the pictures helped tell the story.  Picture walks help children visualize and predict story plots.  We love doing picture walks to just have fun with books!

Question Collection:

*Are there any clues in the pictures that help you predict what’s going to happen next?
*Do any of the characters look like people you know?
*Which picture books are your favorites?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Picture Walks with Babies and Toddlers

Picture walks are fun ways to use books with babies and toddlers.  A picture walk is browsing through an illustrated book to look and talk about the pictures.  This lays the foundation for children to use visualization as they later learn to read by themselves.  It’s also just fun to look at pictures and enjoy the story without the words at times.

With babies and toddlers you can extend the learning by noting the color of objects, counting items, noting the position of objects, and/or naming animals.  As children begin to retell familiar stories they can use the pictures to help guide them.  It’s also fun to use pictures and tell a different story than what the author has written.  We rename the characters with familiar family names making each story more personal.  Enjoy the pictures in your children’s books!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks

Learning to be thankful is a character trait we all can learn.  Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks, by Margaret Sutherland, is a thoughtful book that can be read and enjoyed by children and parents.  The illustrations by Sonja Lamut add to the simple beauty of the story.  As a parent I particularly enjoy the explanations that accompany the thankful listings.  As we try to get our children to articulate what they are thankful for, it’s important we help them tell why.  This book is a great way to explore giving thanks.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Question Collection:

*Are you thankful for any of the things that are listed in the book?
*What things are you thankful for that aren’t listed?  Why?
*Which people have you told you’re thankful for them?
*How do you show you’re thankful?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

T is for Turkey

Alphabet books are a favorite in our home library.  They were a great way to learn the alphabet and now have become a great way to introduce those early learning skills.  After several rereadings of alphabet books children can read “A is for…” that appear in most alphabet books. 

A recently discovered alphabet book for us is T is for Turkey, by Tanya Lee Stone.  This book uses the alphabet to teach children facts about the history of Thanksgiving.  We’ve discussed that although Abraham Lincoln is in this book, he wasn’t with the Pilgrims---he was the President who established the first Thanksgiving.  There are other examples that will require explanation, but we’ve learned more about Thanksgiving by reading this book.

Question Collection:

*What did you learn about Thanksgiving?
*Which picture in the book did you like best?
*What can you do to help others have a good Thanksgiving? 

Read more children's ABC books here!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Behind the Scenes--Question Collection

Our family loves to read!  We are always looking for new books while also enjoying our favorites.  We like to make reading aloud an interactive endeavor between the participants.  A quick search on the Web always locates literacy ideas to extend book enjoyment.  We enjoy those ideas, but our focus is on reading and interaction between the reader and listener.  Our Question Collection ideas that follow each book review are ways to enjoy a book and dialogue between family members.  We hope that our questions will help you and your family enjoy the books you read.  We invite you to add questions that will help others as they fall in love with reading!

Five Silly Turkeys

Indoor kinesthetic activities are important for young children during inclement weather.  We love reading and acting out Five Silly Turkeys, by Salina Yoon.  Bright colors, rhyming words, and the crinkly feathers that turn with each page make this a fun book for young children.  It is a much requested book in our reading time and has quickly become one we’ve memorized! 

Question Collection:

*Which page is the silliest to you?
*Can you find the rhyming words for the numbers?
*Which activity would you like to do most?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Littlest Pilgrim

Children love to help!  During the busyness of holiday preparation it can be easy to overlook how children want to help, but may not know how.  The Littlest Pilgrim, by Brandi Dougherty, explores this feeling through Mini, the Littlest Pilgrim.  Mini’s determination in finding a way to help can provide a role model for children to never give up.   There’s also a subtle lesson for parents in this book about listening to children!

Question Collection:

*How did Mini finally find a way to help?
*Did you think Mini would give up or keep trying?
*What ways can you help at Thanksgiving?
*How is making a friend a way to help?
*Have you ever helped a friend by being nice?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Autumn Walk

Outdoor time with a book can be an exhilarating time for a child.  Autumn Walk, by Ann Burg, is a board book that invites children to enjoy the outside activities of autumn.  This book skillfully paints visual pictures of autumn’s beauty through rhymes and vivid words.  As we go through autumn, it’s been fun to be outside and recall the various pictures in this book, making those important connections in developing literacy.

Question Collection:

*What’s your favorite thing to do outside in autumn?
*What colors do you see in nature in autumn?
*Why are the animals preparing in the autumn?
*Can you pretend you are one of the animals and act out what it is doing?

Friday, November 18, 2011


Storytelling is a fun way to develop children’s literacy skills. Thanksgiving lends itself to storytelling.  Most children are familiar with the Thanksgiving story and adults can add the details as needed. 

Retelling the story of the Pilgrims and Native Americans can be done in a variety of ways.  Some children like to draw the story.  Others like to act out the story.  We’ve had fun using the Little People Thanksgiving set. It can be set up in November to have a visual reminder and then it’s available to retell the story either with an adult or in free play time.  Visiting friends and family members can also hear your child retell the story.   Taking a few minutes to video children’s storytelling will make a lifetime memory for the family. It’s fun to hear the story through the eyes of a child!

Question Collection:

*Who will be at your Thanksgiving dinner this year?
*What are you thankful for?
*What’s your favorite part about Thanksgiving?
*What have family members told you about their Th