Monday, April 29, 2013

Gusts and Gales

We love discovering new nonfiction books.  Gusts and Gales--A Book About Wind, by Josepha Sherman and illustrated by Omarr Wesley, is a great book to introduce children to weather.  The opening question in the book asks about wind and then as the book unfolds, more is learned about winds (global and local), hurricanes, and tornadoes.  Also included in this book are directions about making a tornado, fast facts, and a glossary.  The glossary is a fun way for children to check their understanding.  The illustrations make this book a great tool!

*How does wind begin?
*What do you like to do when it’s windy?
*What facts did you learn about the wind?

Friday, April 26, 2013

ABC School Riddles

ABC School Riddles, compiled and edited by Susan Joyce and illustrated by Freddie Levin, is a fun compilation of school words from A to Z.  This was another great find for us since we love reading alphabet books

Rhyming riddles give clues to a word.  The first letter is given with blanks that denote the number of letters that must be completed to answer the riddle.  This is a good book to read as a family activity.  I think even reluctant readers who like to solve riddles would be encouraged to try solving these riddles.  An answer key is given with additional ideas for parents and teacher.

*Which puzzle was the hardest to solve?
*Which was easiest?
*Can you make up some riddles like these?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mirror, Mirror

How does a poem about a fairy tale show a new way to read?  Be sure to read Mirror, Mirror, by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Josee Masse, and you'll find out!  It is one of the most clever books we’ve ever read! 

Singer uses the “reverso” technique that takes classic fairy tales and reverses the telling of them.  The first line of her poems becomes the last line in the next poem, the second line becomes the next to last line, etc.  The effect is amazing!  The artwork by Masse parallels the reverse idea with split drawings that capture your eye. 

We think this is a book that can spur conversations about poems, fairy tales, writing techniques, and visual strategies!  I think this book will keep stirring our imaginations.  We hope you enjoy Mirror, Mirror!

*What do you think about the reverso technique?
*Which poem is your favorite?
*Which fairy tale do you think lends itself best to this technique?
*Can you write a reverso?
*Can you draw illustrations to go along with your reverso?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Chicken Socks

Celebrate National Poetry Month!  Chicken Socks, by Brod Bogert and illustrations by Tim Ellis, is a collection of funny poems that young children will enjoy.  One example is The Easter Kitchen bringing out some good laughs if you’ve experienced the accidents that can happen while dyeing eggs!  After reading the humorous poems, I was touched by the concluding poem, The Thank You Poem.  It was a nice way to close the book with leaving the reader thinking about being thankful. 

*Which poem did you think was funniest?
*Which poem was the most unusual?
*What would you add to The Thank You poem?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Echoes for the Eye

Celebrate National Poetry Month!  Echoes for the Eye (Poems to Celebrate Patterns in Nature), by Barbara Juster Esbensen and illustrated by Helen K. Davie, is a fun book to celebrate poetry and nature.  We like to look for patterns in nature so this book was especially interesting to us.  Esbensen categorizes the patterns of nature into the following categories:  Spirals, Branches, Polygons, Meanders, and Circles.  Examples of poems in the Branches category are poems about veins and lightning.  This book is a thought provoking collection!  The illustrations encourage a picture walk, possibly before and after reading.  We hope you enjoying reading and viewing these poems!

*What’s your favorite poem?  Picture?
*What patterns surprised you?
*Can you think of other patterns?

Monday, April 15, 2013

I Am the Book

April is National Poetry Month.  We hope you and your children enjoy poems as much as we do!  We're going to take a few days to look at some of our favorite books of poems.

 I Am the Book, poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Yayo, is a great book of poems to start looking at poems.  This collection by Hopkins sparks thinking about the written word through different poems by different poems with the common theme of celebrating reading.  The illustrations by Yayo are fun to explore while also being thought provoking.  We recommend a picture walk to discover all of the clever ways that books are depicted by the artist.   This book would make a great gift to a child or a child’s teacher.  I think this book should be in every library!

*Which poem is your favorite?
*Which illustration makes you smile?
*Where are all of the places a book can take you?
*Can you think of a way to draw another illustration that corresponds to this book?

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Wild Little Horse

A fictional book about a horse that we like to read is The Wild Little Horse, by Rita Gray and illustrated by Ashley Wolff.  The reader follows the journey of a young horse as he listens to the wind, which encourages him to run.  The story is told in rhyme and uses much onomatopoeia to add to the feeling of running with the horse.  The softly illustrated pages add to the beauty of the story.  The Wild Little Horse is a book that can be enjoyed over and over.  We hope you like this beautiful story!

*Which words did the author use to make you hear the sounds?
*Can you name all of the other animals in the story?
*How do you think the wild little horse felt as he was running?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

American Dream Horses

American Dream Horses is a great reference book to add to your nonfiction library.  Any child who likes to learn more about horses will find this book interesting and helpful.  We love looking at the different kinds of horses (21 are listed) to find more information.  Younger children may enjoy a picture walk through this book.  Older children can find many facts and details to add to their knowledge of horses.

Each kind of horse is shown in photographs that accompany a passage (usually a page long) telling the history of the horse.  Additional information is given on descriptions, uses and gaits.  Captions depicted in circles give the height and colors.  We love having guide books such as this to help us learn more about subjects and to accompany fictional stories.  We think you’ll find this book interesting!

*Which horse is your favorite?
*Which kinds of horses have you seen?
*Can you make a timeline of these horses?
*How did the categories help you learn more? 

Monday, April 8, 2013


Does your child love horses?  We’re starting a week of looking at books about horses, one of our current interests!  Horses, by Monica Kulling, is a shape book that introduces children to the world of horses.  The birth of a baby horse, a foal, starts the reader on a journey to learn more about horses and the world in which they live. The illustrations by Betina Ogden are beautiful pictures that invite the reader to study and examine each detail of a horse’s life.  We enjoyed learning about the grooming and care of horses.  Vocabulary is introduced throughout the story in a way that encourages readers to use the text to determine meaning.  If your child is interested in horses, this is a great book to introduce them to various kinds of horses and the vocabulary used in talking about horses.  Enjoy!

*Which picture is your favorite?
*What new words did you learn from this book?
*What is involved in taking care of a horse?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Collection of Learning Ideas!

(seen at the public library in Lexington)

Here are some learning ideas we've been collecting!  Enjoy!

A Thoughtful Place shares ideas for storing books in her daughter's room.

We love hearing about other family's art tables.  Look at this post from Tinkerlab for ideas!

This is a great idea from A Pop of Pretty for organizing kids' art supplies!

Please share links to any great learning ideas you've seen this week!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spotty, Stripy, Swirly

Spotty, Stripy, Swirly, by Jane Brockett, is a beautiful book to explore patterns with your child.  We enjoyed looking at the brightly colored photographs and discovering patterns.  The familiar objects used help extend the ideas by encouraging young readers to look for more patterns in their surroundings.  We think you’ll enjoy looking for patterns in this fun book!

*What was your favorite photograph in the book?
*Where else do you see patterns around you?
*Can you design some patterns?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Mossy, by Jan Brett, is a story about an Eastern box turtle and its removal from its environment.  Mossy follows Brett’s signature illustrations with beautifully drawn pictures and details.  Mossy is removed from its environment to a museum because of the interest of the curator (Dr. Carolina) in the garden growing on Mossy’s shell.  Mossy’s sadness moves Dr. Carolina’s niece, Tory, to find a way for children to see the garden while returning Mossy to its natural environment.  Readers can quickly infer the effects of removing an animal from its natural habitat. 

We especially liked all of the details given about nature.  This is a great book for children who are interested in nature and like to study pictures.  Each page can be reviewed many times to find details overlooked the first time.  Jan Brett continues to be one of our favorite authors!

*Which illustration do you like best?
*How do you think Mossy feels at the beginning, middle, and end of the story?
*Which illustration wants you to learn more about nature?