Monday, July 29, 2013


Wave, by Suzy Lee, is a beautiful, wordless picture book!  Through the use of a few colors (blue, gray, and white), a story is told about a girl and her experiences with a wave.  This is a book you’ll want to pick up again and again to look for details and to experience how a child discovers her natural world.  From seeing the girl splashing in the water at the beach to sticking her tongue out at the wave, the reader feels like he/she is at the beach along with the girl.  A beach trip would provide a great opportunity to introduce this book to a child.  Enjoy this fun book with your family!

*Which scene is your favorite?
*What do you think the girl is thinking?
*What do you think the girl will do the next time she’s at the beach?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar?

We have found a new book that seems destined to become a classic!  Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar?, written by George Shannon and illustrated by Julie Paschkis, is a wonderful book that really opens our eyes to how people work together.  The book begins with one hand taking a cookie out of a jar.  But on the next page, the reader is asked about how many hands put the cookie in the jar. The author and illustrator lead the reader through the journey of all of the people whose hands have helped make the cookie.  From the hands that milk the cow to the hands that make the pens for the chickens (so that hands can gather the eggs) to the hands that stock the shelves, one can see that there are many hands that have put the cookie in the cookie jar!  This book is a great springboard to discussion!  We think this would be a great book for teachers to start the school year or for any time when it’s important to look at cooperation.  We hope you enjoy this delightful book!

*Were you surprised by how many hands put the cookie in the cookie jar?
*Can you think of any other hands that helped?
*What job do you think you’d enjoy?
*What lessons did you learn from this story?
*Can you think of another object and how many hands it took to get it to you?

Monday, July 15, 2013


Ponyella, by Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans, is a retelling of the fairy tale, Cinderella, with a pony representing Cinderella.  This is a fun retelling, especially for girls who love anything about horses and/or ponies!

Ponyella is living a charmed life until new owners bring their ponies, Bun Bun and Plumpkin (the wicked stepsisters) to live on the farm.  They quickly make life miserable for Ponyella.  The story turns when it’s announced that Princess Penelope is going to pick the winner of a pony championship.  Of course, Ponyella is left behind when the other ponies leave for the show.  Fortunately, her fairy godmare appears to grant her wishes to go.  Instead of the traditional glass slippers, Ponyella receives sparkling diamond horseshoes!  As can be predicted, the story has a happily ever after ending!

This is another great book to spur children’s writing and storytelling skills.  It’s fun to compare this story with the traditional Cinderella fairy tale.  One interesting thing we noted was that the story ends with a look at Plumpkin and Bun Bunn after Ponyella is chosen and says there’s another story. Because this book is by Laura Numeroff of the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series, we wonder if Plumpkin and Bun Bun may appear in another book! 

Have fun reading this with your children!

*What’s your favorite part of this story?
*How does Ponyella compare to Cinderella?
*How is Ponyella different from Cinderella?
*What kind of story could you write that’s based on Cinderella?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer Learning Collection, Part 2

As summer progresses, we hope that you and your family are enjoying learning, playing, and extra family time.  Here's a collection of learning ideas we've found that we hope will give you some new ideas as summer continues!

Scholastic Summer Challenge --Your child can join the challenge to have fun reading and win prizes.  We like the graphics that show  reading progress.

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading--Your child can join the Barnes and Noble Program and win a free book.   Book lists are given according to grade levels. 

Reading Calendar Idea--This idea comes from a classroom teacher's site about how to generate ideas about reading in various ways.  We found some fun ideas and we're sure you and your children can add to the list!

Start with a Book--This is a great resource for finding books based on themes, especially if your children are looking for something new to read.

Great tips on creating a home library can be found here.  Some simple ideas, but it's always a great way to think about how to add books.

Parents Choice Award Winners Mobile Apps--This is a great compilation of apps.  Click on specific pictures to find more information.  We like that these apps have been reviewed by parents and give us information that's accurate before we purchase new apps.

For more ideas we've found, check out Part I of this collection.  Please share any ideas you've found with us.  Enjoy learning!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ballerina Swan

Ballerina Swan, by Allegra Kent and Emily Arnold McCully, begins with a swan, Sophie, who loves watching a ballet class from her pond.  She then wants to learn how to dance, but is discouraged by Madame Myrtle.  Sophie doesn’t give up on her dream and returns to the studio one day when Miss Willow is teaching.  With Miss Willow’s encouragement, Sophie learns to dance even though some moves are hard for her.  The authors use terms from ballet (a glossary is given at the beginning of the book) and explain how Sophie has to adapt to learn the moves.  The story has happy ending with Sophie performing in a performance.

Although this book is centered about ballet, we think it gives some important lessons about following your dreams.  It lends itself to discussing how some people discourage you while others encourage you.  It also demonstrates the importance of practicing and persevering.  We hope you and your family enjoy discovering Sophie, the ballet swan!

*What is your favorite part of the book?
*Have you ever been discouraged by someone?  Have you ever 
            been encouraged by someone?
*What encourages you to do your best?
*Why do you think Sophie never gives up?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Here Comes Trouble!

If your child likes reading humorous books, Here Comes Trouble!, written by Corinne Demas and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones, is a great read!  A dog, named Toby, very clearly doesn’t like cats.  The author uses great descriptions of the kinds of cats Toby doesn’t like.  Trouble starts when his owner, Emma, agrees to keep the neighbor’s cat, Pandora, when they go on vacation.  Toby tries to get Pandora to notice him by doing various mischievous things.  Of course, Pandora doesn’t notice, but she starts doing things and nobody notices.  Toby is not happy about all of the things Pandora does until he discovers Pandora can’t get down from the tree she has climbed.  Then Toby does everything to get Emma’s attention so that Pandora can be rescued.  Pandora is rescued, and it is quickly apparent to the reader that Pandora and Toby become friends. 

This book would be a great mentor text for children in writing discussions.  The author uses alliteration to describe the kinds of cats Toby doesn’t like.  The simple narrative is a great study for character development.   One quickly gets a sense of the personalities of Toby and Pandora.  There are many ways in which children could build upon this book to develop their own stories about Toby and Pandora (or other animal characters).

We hope you enjoy the humor of this book as much as we do!  It’s a book that will make you laugh out loud!

*Do Toby and Pandora remind you of any dogs or cats you know?
*Why do you think Toby helped Pandora?
*What do you think Toby and Pandora will do next?