In My Day

I’m sure we will revisit these authors in future posts, but for now we offer a sample of the books from her parents’ childhoods – and earlier – that Zelda has begun to love herself.   Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss Learn important life lessons with Yertle, a bird named Gertrude McFuzz, and a rabbit/bear duo that can’t stop arguing. Yertle might be Zelda’s favorite story in this collection – at least for now – in large part because she loves stacking and counting. She doesn’t yet understand the metaphor, but that’s okay. One of the best things about rereading Dr. Seuss books as an adult is finding the larger themes that we absorbed as children without even noticing that we were learning some of life’s greatest lessons. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak Sendak is by far my favorite author for children, though he didn’t really consider himself as belonging to that category.  This is his most famous book and an excellent introduction into the world of Sendak. Zelda hasn’t seen the movie adaptation yet, but some day we will snuggle on the couch with popcorn and open hearts. Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban “Too…

Flaps Are Fun

Flaps make our board books interactive. Zelda enters the story and contributes to the plot when she peeks behind flaps to reveal hidden illustrations. We can’t get enough of these flap books, even though we definitely know what’s under all the flaps. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell This classic by Rod Campbell is a must-have for every child’s library. The narrator asks the zoo for a pet but is not quite satisfied with each animal that is sent. The elephant is too big (of course); the giraffe is too tall (what did they expect?). The illustrations and accompanying flaps give little readers the chance to guess which animal has just arrived. We in the teaching biz call this “making inferences.” Where’s Maisy? by Lucy Cousins Zelda received this book prior to an airplane ride, and we probably read it a dozen times per flight. It’s not a long book, so you can imagine how difficult it was for Zelda’s parents to read it each time with the appropriately surprised-sounding voice inflection when we did, indeed find Maisy once again. (Zelda’s Mommy doesn’t reread suspense novels because the fun is gone when she already knows how it ends, so “looking for Maisy”…

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…

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…