Mice

Mice make great characters. Remember the one who ran up the clock? And the three blind ones? Everyone likes a good mouse story. (We hear there’s an entire World – and a Land – built by a certain mouse in red shorts.) Here are a couple of our favorite mouse books. Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh Young children are drawn to bright, bold colors, particularly the primary red, yellow, and blue.  This book taps into a child’s playful curiosity about color and teaches a few lessons about how those primary colors combine to form the rest of the spectrum.  The three white mice in Walsh’s story dip themselves in paint jars and begin an adventure in color exploration that will delight young artists and their parents. When I was a kindergarten teacher, we read this book and then used finger paints to learn about color and addition.  Children chose a color for each hand, made a print of each, and then smooched their hands together to create two handprints of the combination color.  For example, one red hand plus one blue hand equals two purple hands.  They loved it.  If you’re at home and want to get really messy, try…

Not Every Post Needs a Theme

  The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster To a little girl, the window in her grandparents’ home is magical.  From the outside, she can peek in and see her Nanna and Poppy in their kitchen with “all kinds of pictures from the olden days.”  From the inside, she can see the world – the neighbor’s dog in the garden, the pizza delivery guy, or perhaps even the Queen of England coming for tea. Raschka won The Caldecott Medal for his playful illustrations full of bold colors and happy faces that seem to be the work of an incredibly talented child.  They fit perfectly with the narrator’s voice, artfully constructed by the great Norton Juster, author of my personal favorite,The Phantom Tollbooth.  Juster knows how children think, which makes this story sound as if a child really were writing it, rather than an adult’s interpretation of a child’s world.  Case in point: “When I get tired I come in and take my nap and nothing happens until I get up.” The Hello, Goodbye Window reminds adults that children see magic in the mundane.  In my classroom, I read this book to young children and then began a conversation about what…

Trucks Are For Girls, Too

Boys like trucks. Girls like trucks. Cowboys, farmers, marine biologists, librarians, chefs, and pretty much all the people who have stuff to haul like trucks. Zelda loves trucks. (She loves airplanes more, so stay tuned for a post about flying.) She says trucks are “so big!” She would like to drive a truck, but Mean Mommy says she can’t do that for at least another 14 years. Until then, Zelda will have to stick to books about trucks. So far, these are her favorites. First 101 Trucks by Roger Priddy There aren’t actually 101 trucks in the book. I counted. There are definitely 101 vehicles, though. There are cars, planes, trains, construction equipment, and – yes – lots and lots of trucks. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle A good friend recently told me about this little truck’s adventures.  I was skeptical at first, thinking it was a lame imitation of The Little Engine That Could, but by the end of my first read-through, I couldn’t stop smiling.  There’s something about happy-go-lucky animals helping a friend out of a sticky situation that makes me happy.  And the truck “beeps!” (Update: There’s a sequel! The Little Blue Truck goes into the city and…

Favorite Author: Eric Carle

I’ve never met a little kid who didn’t like Eric Carle books, and I hope I never do.  Indeed, no child’s bookshelf is complete without at least one Eric Carle book. Here are the two that we’ve been reading again and again (and again) for the last few months. Zelda can “read” both of these books now because she’s heard each word so many times. Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle The word “charming” comes to mind when I think of Eric Carle.  He created a world of visually pleasing and gentle characters, each with its own book.  Most, if not all, are now in board book editions.  In this story, the caterpillar eats his way from egg to butterfly. (I only have one negative comment about this book.  He uses the word cocoon, but should have used chrysalis. The former is for moths and other insects; the latter is for butterflies. Did we mention that Zelda’s Mommy teaches science?) The Mixed Up Chameleon is another of my favorites by Carle.  You can read my review of that classic tale (or should I say tail?) here.  If you’re looking for a lovely gift set, try a trio of Eric Carle board…

Board Books Part 2

So many board books, so little time between bath and bed… The good news is that you can take board books in the car, and they can be thrown from a car seat by an angry/hungry/tired toddler without being damaged. I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt When we as parents say that we love our children unconditionally, we mean it.  As this adorable book points out, even if our children were smelly, scaly, carnivorous beasts, we would still love them with all our hearts. Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton As previously mentioned, I am a huge fan of Sandra Boynton.  She is a tremendously prolific writer of hysterical board books full of lovable animals that have a tendency to sing, dance, and make kids smile.  Barnyard Dance is one of my favorites.  Her poetic verse lends itself to rhythmic storytelling.  You and your child will want to act out the action on the pages, and you will have a grand ol’ time doing it.  You can’t go wrong with any of Boynton’s books; I’m sure I’ll write more about her in the future.  (I already wrote a funny little blog about her Belly Button Book that you might enjoy.) How…

BabyLit!

BabyLit Series by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver I admit it.  I have an author crush on Jennifer Adams.  Her series of classic literature for babies is absolutely fantastic.  We are collecting ALL of these books for our library.  Not only are these fun and age-appropriate board books, but they are conversation starters for many of the themes presented in the original works.  As a life-long lover of reading, I have read each of these classics, and at first I couldn’t imagine how someone had condensed such complicated masterpieces into something a young child might understand.  Luckily, Adams doesn’t try to accomplish such a mighty feat.  Instead, she uses the title work to create a theme in which to set a simple lesson.  For example, Wuthering Heights teaches about weather with quotes from Bronte’s original.  For the “stormy” page, we read, “The storm came rattling over the Heights in full fury.”  In Moby-Dick, children learn ocean-themed vocabulary, such as “captain” and “whale,” but there’s no mention of the obsessive madness of the actual Ahab.  In Sense & Sensibility, we learn about opposites; in A Christmas Carol and Alice in Wonderland, it’s all about colors.  Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Dracula (which never…

Board Books Part 1

Board books are sturdy; their pages can’t be ripped, bent, or swallowed.  Many picture books have been republished as board books so that younger readers can begin to enjoy classic texts at an earlier age.  Children younger than 12 months and older than 18 months will also enjoy these stories when shared at bedtime or playtime or on the go.  Before kids learn to “be gentle” with books and after they’ve graduated from cloth books that are mostly for the touchy feely crowd, it’s time to bust out the boards.  Just about all of these books also come as paperbacks and hardcover picture books, but if you’re looking for something that can be gnawed as well as enjoyed by the whole family, it’s best to stick with the board book editions. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown Everyone needs this book.  EVERYONE.  I can’t imagine how children ever enjoyed bedtime before this book was published.  (Of course, ever since I saw the Simpsons episode in which Christopher Walken reads a portion of this book, I’ve read it – in my mind – in his voice, which is both hilarious and terrifying.) There are some odd things about the story (including, but…

Touchable Books Part 1
Baby Books , Toddler Books / May 1, 2015

For the discerning infant, a good book not only has to look interesting, it has to feel great, too. (Zelda says they have to taste good if a baby is to learn to devour literature, but I think she’d just being cheeky, as usual.) Little hands love to grab, poke, and rub, so give them books that offer a full sensory experience. This list includes our favorites (thus far) and will be updated whenever we can get our hands on another set of good books. Although they’re probably best for children ages 6-12 months, these books are fun to touch – especially the cloth ones – so babies as young as 3 months who are learning to grasp will most likely enjoy them. Pat the Bunny Deluxe Edition (Pat the Bunny) (Touch-and-Feel) by Dorothy Kunhardt Classics are classics because every generation remembers how much a book was loved and wants to share that magic with their children. Pat might seem a little outdated to some, but Zelda and I love the soft bunny and the coarseness of “Daddy’s beard.” Moo by Matthew Van Fleet Welcome to the barnyard! Feel the animals as your baby enjoys the vivid photographs of the…