Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sky Color

Have you read Dot or Ish?  Sky Color, by Peter H. Reynolds, is the third book in his Creatilogy.  As a family, we love drawing, painting, and making things.  We’ve been talking about making connections to text and self.    Marisol, the young character in Sky Color is an artist, so it was easy for us to make a connection!

Marisol faces a problem in that she is going to paint the sky for a class mural, but doesn’t have blue paint in her box.  By watching a sunset and remembering her dream, she comes up with a solution to her problem in a very colorful way.  Seeing her creative solution is a delight!  The great thing about the book is that is just opens up conversations about how to “see” things in different ways!

*Do you think Marisol is creative?
*What problems have you solved creatively?
*What was your favorite illustration in the book?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Child Was Born, A First Nativity Book

A Child Was Born, A First Nativity Book, written by Grace Maccarone and illustrated by Sam Williams, is a good example of simple verse used to tell the story of the birth of Jesus.  The muted colors of the detailed pictures invite discussion as the book is read to children.  Beginning readers will also find the book easy to read to younger children.  We enjoy reading this book, but we also make a point to clarify the Child is named Jesus, which for some reason is omitted in this book.  We still find the book has merit due to its way of unfolding the birth, but we want to make it more concrete Who the book is revealing.  We hope your family enjoys this book.

*What are some of the names used for the Child in this book?
*What’s your favorite scene in the book?
*Can you draw a picture to go along with the book?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cookies, Bite-Size Life Lessons

Cookies, Bite-Size Life Lessons, written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jane Dyer, is a beautiful book exploring character traits.  Cookies are used as the item to depict how the character traits (examples:  respect, compassion, loyalty, etc.,) are defined in various situations.  The book can be read in its entirety, but a page or two can be read and discussed when needed.  I think this book is a great teaching tool for families and classrooms.  The pages are interesting while also exemplifying how our actions affect others.  And, as an added bonus, a recipe for chocolate chip cookies is included in the back of the book!

*Which part of this book did you like the best?
*Have you shown any of these character traits?
*Which character traits are important in a friendship?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Jingle Jokes

Jingle Jokes (Christmas Riddles to Deck the Ha Ha Halls), by Katy Hall and Lisa Eisenberg with pictures by Stephen Carpenter, is a lift the flap book with bright illustrations of Santa, his elves, and polar animals. Some jokes are printed on the page with the answer, and some require lifting the flap to discover the answer.  A favorite of ours is:  Where do elves keep their money?  In the snow bank

Jingle Jokes is a great book to add a little humor to your family times during the Christmas season.  As life gets busy, it’s nice to take some time out to share some good laughs with your children!

*What’s your favorite joke?
*Which picture is the funniest to you?
*Can you think of some other Christmas jokes?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Book of Christmas Carols

The Usborne Book of Christmas Carols, compiled and arranged by Anthony Marks and illustrated by Stephen Cartwright, is a fun book that can be enjoyed by the whole family.  Fifteen well-known carols are found in this oversized book.  When opened the left page displays the carol so it can be played by a melody instrument and/or guitar.  The right page gives the lyrics, usually with several verses of the song.  The arranger’s note indicates the tunes are written for children’s voices.

With carols such as "Away in a Manger," "Silent Night," and "O Little Town of Bethlehem," we enjoy using this book to refresh our memory of all of the lyrics!  It’s also fun for children to use a keyboard to play the melody.  We think this book would make a great gift for any family who enjoys singing. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

If You Take a Mouse To The Movies

If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond, follows the same wonderful format found in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Take a Mouse to School.  The story starts with the boy taking the mouse to the movies where the mouse asks for some popcorn.  As readers of this series know, one thing leads to another with the story circling back round to the popcorn.   Activities such as stringing popcorn, buying a Christmas tree, building a snowman, listening to Christmas carols, and making Christmas ornaments fill out the mouse's activities.  It’s a fun read, especially during Christmas season.  If your children enjoy other Laura Numeroff books, this one is a great addition to your library.  A fun gift idea would be to buy this for a family and present it with a big box of popcorn!  Enjoy!

*What is your favorite Christmas activity in this book?
*What was the funniest scene to you?
*What other Christmas activity do you think the Mouse would like?

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Christmas Story

If you’re looking for a board book to help your children understand the Christmas story of the birth of Jesus, The Christmas Story, by Patricia A. Pingry and illustrated by Wendy Edelson, is a great choice.  Taking a picture walk through the book first can help children understand the story before it’s read.  It’s also fun to use the pictures as prompts so children can re-tell the story after it’s been read several times.  This book would make a great gift to families with toddlers and preschoolers. 

*Which picture is your favorite?
*Can you point to the people as I name them?
*Can you tell me the story of Baby Jesus?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas in the Manger

From the star to Baby Jesus, Christmas in the Manger, written by Nola Buck and illustrated by Felicia Bond, describes the characters in the Christmas story through first person rhymes.  This board book is good for children who enjoy simple pictures and a break-down of the figures usually seen together in Nativity depictions.  Although a board book, the text lends itself to being read by early readers, so it’s a book that can be used through several years.  For children who like riddles, the reader can use the clues in the rhyme to formulate questions about each character.  This simply written, simply illustrated book is able to convey the greatest story so that children can learn about Baby Jesus.

*What’s your favorite picture?
*Why do you think these characters are important?
*Can you remember some of the characters from the book?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Room for a Little One

Room for a Little One, A Christmas Tale, written by Martin Waddell and illustrated by Jason Cockcroft, is a favorite Christmas read in our home.  The gentle story describes the story of animals that, one by one, enter the stable by the inn.  The beautiful illustrations add to the richness of the story with soft colors and accurately drawn animals.  The Kind Ox welcomes each animal by saying there’s always room for a little one.  Animals that are usually seen as rivals, such as the dog and cat, find room and are not harmed.  The story then finds Mary and Joseph looking for a room, and of course, the Kind Ox welcomes the donkey along with his riders.  The highlight of the story is that Jesus is born and welcomed by the animals in their stable.  We love reading this fictional account of the reason we celebrate Christmas, Baby Jesus.  We hope that you and your family enjoy the conversations that can result from the reading of this book.

*Why was the Kind Ox so welcoming to the other animals?
*Did you think the animals would get along?
*Why do you think the book is titled Room for a Little One?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Advent Reading Countdown

Are you looking for a new way to begin the countdown to Christmas?  We do a paper chain (alternating links of red and green), an Advent box with 25 small doors that open to a small item each day, and last year, we started a fun, new tradition—Advent reading countdown!

We gather 25 books about Christmas, wrap them up in Christmas wrapping paper, number them 1-25, and put them in a big basket.  Then, each morning, the numbered gift is opened and read.  It’s a fun event for children to anticipate each day, and helps keep the Christmas books in rotation.  Some of the books we use are on our home library shelves all year, but the thrill of unwrapping a gift adds to the excitement of December!

Our local used bookstore has quite a selection of Christmas books priced $1-$2, so we added some new ones this year.  You could easily modify this to use library books or not do the full 25 days, but wait until the week before Christmas.   To see some of the books we read last year, click here.  We’ll be adding more
Christmas books in upcoming weeks.

The focus for us is to have some meaningful reading time during a busy season.   We hope you will find time to sit down and read with your children during this important time of year!  Merry Christmas!

Santa Paws

If you and/or your children like looking at funny pictures of dogs and cats, then you’ll enjoy Santa Paws, by Rachael Hale.  This board book, written in rhyme, has delightful photos of dogs and cats dressed for Christmas to accompany the story.  This is a great book to introduce very young children to a picture walk.  The photos are cute and fun.  Even primary children will enjoy reading the book.  Have fun!

*What is your favorite picture in the book?
*Do these animals remind you of any pets?
*Can you count how many dogs are in the book?  How many cats?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cookies, Bite-Size Life Lessons

Cookies, Bite-Size Life Lessons, written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jane Dyer, is a beautiful book exploring character traits.  Cookies are used as the item to depict how the character traits (examples:  respect, compassion, loyalty, etc.,) are defined in various situations.  The book can be read in its entirety, but it a page or two can be read and discussed when needed.  I think this book is a great teaching tool for families and classrooms.  The pages are interesting while also exemplifying how our actions affect others.  And, as an added bonus, a recipe for chocolate chip cookies is included in the back of the book!

*Which part of this book did you like the best?
*Have you shown any of these character traits?
*Which character traits are important in a friendship?

Monday, November 26, 2012


A beautiful story of friendship and great illustrations characterize Otis, a book written and illustrated by Loren Long.  The friendship of Otis (a tractor) and a calf is developed through the beginning of the story.  The reader is drawn into the story by the tractor’s positive outlook on life.  He likes to work and enjoys his life.  The calf is calmed by Otis and follows him around the farm.  Sadly, a big yellow tractor eventually replaces Otis.  However, when the calf is stranded in Mud Pond and no one else can rescue her, Otis comes to the rescue.  Once again the friends are united!

*Why do you think Otis and the calf became friends?
*How do you think Otis felt when the yellow tractor came to the farm?
*What do you think Otis and the calf are doing now?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Review

We hope that you and your family are preparing for a meaningful Thanksgiving!  If you're looking for some more Thanksgiving books to read, here are some that we reviewed last year:

Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks

T is for Turkey

Five Silly Turkeys

The Littlest Pilgrim

Also remember it's a fun time to collect memories by videoing your children re-telling the Thanksgiving story in their own words.  You can create some great memories by doing this and showing them to your children and extended family members each year.  
Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Leaves on the Trees

Learning more about nature is a high priority in our home!  We love to look at nature guides to learn more, but it is often difficult to find simple words and illustrations.  The Leaves on the Trees, by Thom Wiley, is a good way to introduce leaf identification to young children.  The simple text is accompanied by illustrations of different kinds of leaves as seen in the fall.  The repeating refrain that autumn is here reinforces the changes that are taking place in the leaves’ color.   This is a great book to take along on an autumn walk!

*How many of the leaves can you find?
*Which leaf is your favorite?
*Are there any other ways to describe the different kinds of leaves?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

One is a Feast for Mouse

Teaching gratitude is important to our family.  The book, One is a Feast for Mouse, A Thanksgiving Tale, written by Judy Cox and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler, is a fun, engaging story that lends itself to good family discussion.  Mouse goes searching for Thanksgiving leftovers with the mantra, “Give thanks….One will be a feast for me”.  But as more tempting foods appear, one becomes more and more.  The author and illustrator paint vivid pictures as Mouse starts accumulating more than he needs or can handle.  Mouse has to scramble quickly as Cat challenges his feast. We like this book because we enjoy reading about Mouse and the lesson he learns about giving thanks for what is sufficient.  We hope reading this book will help you and your family as you contemplate giving thanks!

*What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?
*What is the moral of this story?
*Have you ever felt like Mouse?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fall Mixed Up

Fall Mixed Up, written by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Chad Cameron is a humorous look at fall happenings.  Using a rhyming pattern, the author tells about fall, except the events are all wrong!  For example, “apples turn orange, pumpkins turn red” according to the rhyme.  Primary school age children will especially enjoy the humor and be quick to point out what’s wrong.  We had some good laughs reading this book!

*Which “mix-up” did you think was the funniest?
*Which picture did you like the best?
*How many “mix-ups” did you find?
*Can you think of a rhyme to add to this book?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Gobble Gobble Crash!

Gobble Gobble Crash! by Julie Steigmeyer, is one of my favorite read alouds!  The rhyming and cadence of the words just enhance the humorous tale of turkeys that crash into a sleepy farm.  Although not specifically a Thanksgiving book, it’s such a fun book to read about some hilarious turkeys!

 Gobble Gobble Crash! is also a counting book as counting numbers are used as the farm is described.   The word choice used by the author paints vivid pictures of the turkeys’ actions.  Children can cheer on the animals as they decide to help the turkeys from becoming the Farmer’s feast.  It is just a laugh out loud book that we hope you enjoy!

*What’s the funniest part of the story to you?
*Can you find the turkeys that are hiding from the Farmer?
*Can you remember some of the rhyming words from the story?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Take Care, Good Knight

Take Care, Good Knight, written by Shelley Moore Thomas and illustrated by Paul Meisel, is an entertaining book that will make a connection with beginning readers.  A wizard asks three dragons (who don’t know how to read) to take care of his cats.   They readily agree.  However, because they can’t read, they look at the picture of water beside the words that tell them to give the cats fresh water and mistake it for a lake.  They assume that means to take the cats swimming!  You can imagine the hilarious pictures of the cats in water. 

More funny scenes follow as the dragons can’t read the instructions.  Finally, their friend, the Good Knight, reads the note to the dragons after they admit they can’t read.  A happy ending is revealed when the dragons receive a book to learn how to read.  This is a book that makes us laugh out loud as we read about the dragons’ adventures with the cats.  We hope you find some laughs too!

*What’s the funniest scene in the book?
*Why do you think the dragons didn’t tell the Good Knight sooner that they couldn’t read?
*Have you ever had to ask help with something you didn’t know how to do?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fisher Price Little People Thanksgiving Celebration

We love having items/toys in our home that promote retelling of stories.  Retelling is a great way for children to make stories become their own stories.  We like to tell the story initially, let play times happen with the items, and then see if the stories will be told.  If they’re not, then we give prompts.  Usually, though, children start retelling stories they’ve heard. 

A Fisher Price set we’ve used for several years is the Little People Thanksgiving Celebration.  It’s much like the Christmas set that we use to retell the Nativity story.  This set comes with two Native American figures and two Pilgrim figures along with a table, benches, food (turkey, of course!), scenery, and a donkey with a wagon.

It’s so much fun to hear a child’s perspective on the First Thanksgiving!  Another fun way to collect memories is to record your child retelling the story, especially recording it as part of your Thanksgiving tradition.  We hope you enjoy this set as much as we have and make your own family memories with it!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Recap of 31 Days of Children's ABC Books

Thank you for your visits, comments, and emails during 31 Days of Children’s ABC Books!  It’s been fun for us to re-read old favorites and to find new ABC books.  There are so many good choices out there!  We appreciate the recommendations we’ve received and look forward to checking them out too.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as we have!  Please let us know if you have other recommendations for us.  We’re looking forward to continuing to add to our learning collection and hope you will join us!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hungry Monster ABC

For Halloween we thought we would share a funny book that uses monsters to tell a story using the alphabet.  Hungry Monster ABC, written by Susan Heyboer O’Keefe and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, is a board book that has the top corner “bitten off” as a monster might have eaten it!

The ten monsters visit a classroom where a boy leads them through the alphabet by showing them words that begin with the letters.  The story, told in a rhyming pattern, is humorous and inviting.  Have fun visiting the monsters!

*What would you show the monsters for each letter of the alphabet?
*Which part of the story was the funniest to you?
*Where do you think the monsters will go next? 

Read more children's ABC books here!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Alphabet Times Four, An International ABC

Do you and your children like to learn words in other languages?  Alphabet Times Four, An International ABC, by Ruth Brown, provides an alphabetical list of words in four languages (English, Spanish, French, and German) accompanied by intriguing pictures.  The pronunciation is given below each word which is helpful as you read through the book.

We think this book is a fun way to explore other languages.  Some words appear the same, but have different pronunciations which can lead to good dialogue about languages.  We think you’ll enjoy this book!

*What other languages have you heard before?
*What words are your favorites?
*Which language had all capitalized words in this book?

Read more children's ABC books here!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Handsigns, A Sign Language Alphabet

Handsigns, A Sign Language Alphabet, by Kathleen Fain, is a wonderful way to introduce children to sign language.  Each letter of the alphabet is represented by a beautifully illustrated animal with an inset of how to sign the letter.  A glossary of the animals concludes the book so that more can be learned about the animal.

This book is a great tool to practice learning the letters of American Sign Language.  We have gotten this book out many times to review the letters.  This would make a great gift to any family who’s interested in learning the American Manual Alphabet.

*Which animal is your favorite?
*Can you learn all of the letters to sign one of the animal’s name?
*Can you sign your name?
*Would you like to learn more sign language?

Read more children's ABC books here!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Twenty-six Princesses

Twenty-six Princesses, by Dave Horowitz, is not your typical Princess story!   Children who enjoy a humorous book will find this book fun to read.  Each letter of the alphabet stands for a Princess who is described in a short line with a word that rhymes with her name.  These Princesses exhibit a variety of traits and actions that make a humorous read.  Have fun laughing with these Princesses!

*Which Princess is your favorite?
*Are you like any of the Princesses?
*Which picture did you like best?

Read more children's ABC books here!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

ABC I Like Me!

ABC I Like Me!, by Nancy Carlson, is a great book to use with young children.  Each letter of the alphabet is used to describe the main character, a pig, by telling something the pig is or has.  The descriptions can be good conversation starters between children and parents.  It could also be used as a mentor text to write a book about things that describe oneself.  It’s a fun read with some good applications for life.

*Do any of the pages describe you?
*Do any of the pages describe something you’d like to be?
*What would you write in a book about you?

Read more children's ABC books here!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Day Alphabet

We like to read seasonal books so we were happy to find the Thanksgiving Day Alphabet written by Beverly Barras Vidrine and illustrated by Alison Davis Lyne.  It joins another book we like to read about Thanksgiving, T is for Turkey. The book provides a nice way to introduce children to various historical aspects of our Thanksgiving holiday in an interesting way.  The bold graphic alphabet letter frames the illustrations so the letter is very obvious and grabs a child’s attention.  These illustrations lend themselves to taking a picture walk through the book first, especially for younger children who are learning more about Thanksgiving.  We hope you like reading and learning more about Thanksgiving!

*What new vocabulary did you learn from reading this book?
*What new facts did you learn from this book?
*Which illustration did you like best?

Read more children's ABC books here!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Paul Thurlby's Alphabet

Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet, by Paul Thurlby, is a fun, graphic book that children and parents will enjoy seeing.  Thurlby uses each letter of the alphabet to make a shape character that reflects the alphabetical word the letter represents.  The designs are bright and modern looking making the book fun to explore.  The Artist’s Note at the end of the book tells more about the process for designing the letters which makes the book even more enjoyable as you learn about this great example of creativity!

*Which letter is your favorite?
*Which letter do you think is most creative?
*Can you think of other character shapes to write the letters?

Read more children's ABC books here!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"R" is for Research

As children are learning more about research in younger elementary grades, it is often a challenge to explain the steps involved in completing a project.  “R” is for Research, written by Toni Buzzeo and illustrated by Nicole Wong, is a great read to help children as they explore resources and steps involved in research.  Using the alphabet to explain concepts is a great tool!

The children in the story (told in a rhyme) are in their media center along with Cal D. Cat as they learn more about research.  Of course the research revolves around cats!  From learning about books, journals, the Internet, and experts, the children are able to complete their project. We think you’ll find this an interesting way to look at research.

*What did you learn about research?
*Which tool did you find interesting?
*What would you like to research?
*What tools would you use?

Read more children's ABC books here!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

B is for Buckaroo, A Cowboy Alphabet

If your children are interesting in cowboys or cowgirls, B is for Buckaroo, A Cowboy Alphabet, written by Louise Doak Whitney and Gleaves Whitney, is a great book to expand their interest and knowledge.  Each letter represents some facet of the cowboy life as told in a four-line rhyme.   Accompanying the rhyme is a narrative that explains the concept in greater detail.  The illustrations by Susan Guy add to the story by making the rhymes come alive.

This book is in the style of  A is for Amazing Sports Moments.   Younger children could enjoy the rhymes and pictures while older children might enjoy reading the narrative for more learning.  Also included is a glossary to define the Spanish words that are used in the story.  Enjoy this fact-filled, fun book!

*What new vocabulary words did you learn?
*Would you like to be a cowboy/cowgirl?  Why?
*Which activity looked like the most fun to you?

Read more children's ABC books here!

Monday, October 22, 2012

If Rocks Could Sing, A Discovered Alphabet

If Rocks Could Sing, A Discovered Alphabet is a beautiful, nature-filled alphabet book!  The author, Leslie McGuirk, in her “Rock Talk” talks about looking for rocks on the Florida seashore for ten years to find rocks that resembled letters.  She found all of the letters except “X” which was found in Maine.  The beauty of this book is that each rock letter is represented by other rocks that look like specific objects.  For example, the letter “P” stands for penguin, and there’s a rock shaped like a penguin on the page.

We found this to be a glorious book depicting the wonders of nature.  We picked it up to read another alphabet book but discovered amazement at rock formations.  We hope you have to chance to look at and enjoy this creative book!

*Which rock letter is the most unusual to you?
*Which rock object do you like the best?
*Which do you think was the hardest to find?
*Would you like to look for rocks that look like letters?

Read more children's ABC books here!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Max's ABC

If your children like Max and Ruby, they’ll enjoy reading the book, Max’s ABC by Rosemary Wells.  This book follows Max’s adventures with the ants that escape from their ant farm.  The alphabet is used and highlighted on each page, but does not follow the familiar format of most alphabet books which use the A is for ___ (specific word beginning with A).  Children still have fun looking for the words that start with the letter in the story and reading about Max’s antics.  Enjoy this story with Max and Ruby!

*Which page was the funniest to you?
*What are all the ways Max and Ruby tried to solve the problem of the loose ants?
*What would you have done if you were Max?

Read more children's ABC books here!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A is for Abigail

A is for Abigail, the Almanac of Amazing American Women, written by Lynne Cheney, and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, is filled with examples of women of great achievements.  An alphabet format is used to spotlight American women whose name or achievements begin with that specific letter.  In addition to the main woman portrayed, many examples are given of women who have high achievement in similar positions.  For example, B is for Elizabeth Blackwell so other women of medical notoriety are listed. 

This book introduces many women to young readers.  Notes at the back of the book give additional information about the women listed.  We found this book helpful, but we felt it was visually overwhelming on some pages.  For some readers this might not pose a challenge, but the various styles used made it feel a little disjointed to us.  It is however, helpful as a reference point to learn more about American women’s achievements.

*What amazing woman did you learn about from this book?
*Which women inspired you the most?
*What occupations sounded interesting?

Read more children's ABC books!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Baby Einstein The ABCs of Art

Baby Einstein The ABCs of Art, by Julie Aigner-Clark, is an outstanding collection of artwork introduced by key words in alphabetical order.  What a fun way to introduce young children to a wide variety of art pieces!  We especially like the questions that encourage interaction (much like our goal of Question Collection) as the artwork is viewed.

Although the book may be marketed as part of the Baby Einstein collection, this is a book that children can return to at any age as they develop more art appreciation skills.  This is a great book to use before a family trip to an art museum.  The art credits given also help in identifying which pieces might be in a particular museum you anticipate visiting. 

*Which art is your favorite?
*Would you like to paint in the style of some of these paintings?  
           Which ones?
*Can you make your own art museum by collecting pictures from  
            magazines and newspapers?

Read more children's ABC books here!