Friday, June 17, 2016

Read It Wrong: One Tip to Make Reading Aloud Even More Fun

Hello friends! And Happy Father's Day weekend to you. Today I have another post for you from Bethany. You'll remember that she recommended some picture books about cleaning close to Mother's Day. Today, Bethany shares a story about her dad, (which translates into a great tip for us) and some good book recommendations.

When I was a little girl, whenever my Dad read stories to me and my siblings he always did it wrong. He would mix up the words, use a funny voice or just change the story completely. We loved it!


Now that my Dad is Grandpa, he reads to my kids the same way. One of their favorites is, The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems. Now this is a very funny book all by itself, but when my dad read it with a German accent it sounded like, the pigeon wants a "poopy." Oh, did my children roar with laughter.


Here are more picture books that are all about charismatic reading:


The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak  


I was not sure about a picture book without pictures. Illustrations are usually my favorite part.
"Well, at least it has words," said my five-year old. That is pretty lucky and it's lucky that the words are entertaining, but you have to read all of them (also, this book is a little bit bossy). Sometimes the print is small, straight and black, other times it's large, colorful and bubbly. Even though there are no pictures, this book communicates graphically..


My kids love this book. I first read it to my daughter who was four at the time. This is my interpretation of her reaction to it:
That was a good try Mommy. You did a great job with the voices and the little song in there, but I think this book is broken. All the drawings are missing. Now here's a book with a pink princess on it. Put that pile of printed words down and read me something I can look at.


When my older kids came home from school (ages ten and seven) they read it together. They giggled and whooped. My youngest was intrigued. The next time we read stories, this was the book she picked and she knew all the right places to laugh. So unless you have someone to help out the younger kids, this book is probably for ages six and up.


I Stink! by Kate McMullan and Jim McMullan
My boys loved this book so much they had it memorized. Take a big breath before reading. This book needs gusto. The words are big because this monster garbage truck has a lot to do. It is also a great alphabet book.


The Sword in the Stove by Frank W. Dormer


This book was just released, but I got to read it before it hit the shelves. The author brought an early copy to share at my writer’s group. It is not a retelling of the classic tale of King Arthur, but instead a mystery of who would put a sword in a stove...and a helmet and a shield. The art enhances the silliness of this story and I especially like his exclamations...Holy Haddock! Add to the fun and read it Britishly.


Parents, I know your tale of woe. A child latches on to a favorite story, which must be read over and over and over again lest ye be punished with no sleep for a hundred years. It's exhausting!
So, if you can't stand to read Pinkalicious one more time, try reading Stinkalicous (all in good fun) and see if it's just a little more enjoyable.

Bethany lives in Connecticut with her brilliant husband and four creative children. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Brigham Young University and is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

End-of-school Reading: 8 Books that Started My Summer

Hello!

Yesterday was the first day of summer for my kiddos. Man, Connecticut goes well into June before summer break starts and that is so strange to me! I grew up in Arizona where school is in session from early August and ends in May. And of course we were in Georgia previously -- Atlanta keeps a schedule similar to AZ. So to start school in September and go all the way in to June was weird for me. However it seems to match the weather well. We went to the beach today and it was a cool, breezy day. Barely summer.




Anyway, I wanted to tell you what I've been reading lately, as my kids wrapped up school.

For book club:

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen -- I didn't get very far into this one, maybe a little more than 50 pages. There was just too much nudity and swearing for me, and I wasn't in the mood for it. I took it with me to the doctors office though and the receptionist was like "ooh, good book!" and many of the book club members seemed to enjoy it. It is a light romance about a woman reconnecting with her sister and falling in love with a neighbor with the help of her magical heirloom garden.


The Lost Art of Dress by Linda Przybyszewski -- Also didn't finish this one, but it was more interesting to me. It details the rise and fall of "the dress doctors," who helped women in the U.S. dress well, learn to sew etc. It's a thick book, and sometimes I feel like it's a dry lecture (but maybe that's because I read that the author is a professor?). However I did read several anecdotes I really enjoyed before passing it on to a group member who needed it. I wish it was a little more prescriptive, I have to say. I just want someone to dress me, honestly.  

On my own:

Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown -- This one is a graphic novel I had heard a lot of good buzz for. And, being a huge fan of The Princess Bride, I was interested to learn more about Andre and his wrestling career. Ultimately, I was saddened by this book, though. The storytelling is great, the art is good, I just felt sorry for Andre. I feel like some of my sadness about his life came from his condition, acromegaly, some from the way people treated him, and some from the choices he made. It was a good book, but it was kind of a downer. I much preferred learning about Andre in As You Wish.


Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Laura Markham -- I found this one because my friend Rachel, whom I consider to be a wonderful mother, shared this on Facebook:
"People say there's no manual for parenting, but I argue this is it! I feel so empowered as a mom having read this and the guidance throughout rings truer to me than any other parenting book I've read. If I were to sum up the message of this book in one word it would be: empathy. But, there's so much more. I would even go so far as to say that I look forward now to tantrums and challenges my kids present because it gives me an opportunity to show unconditional love and model how to handle distressing situations healthily. That sounds crazy, but it's true!" 
I was like "Whoa, I've gotta read this book!" So I put the audio on hold at my library and it came in pretty quickly. I really enjoyed listening to it in the car, and the funny thing is that most of the time my kids were riding and listening along with me. It brought up a LOT of great conversations. I definitely feel like a better parent for having read this book. It did bother me a little bit to do it on audio because I couldn't flip back and read something again easily, os skim over parts that didn't apply at the moment. So, I finished the audio and put the paperback on hold. :) I've also got my hands on a copy of a book that is recommended in Peaceful Parent Happy Kids, that's called Playful Parenting, and I'm really enjoying that. I read a story from it at dinner tonight, in fact, and we ended up playing all evening.


I'm glad I found both of these books because I've been worrying about summer with the kiddos. I love my kids, but last summer, when we moved, was totally crazy and also the longest summer ever (because there was no school from May to September, see above). Add to that the fact we didn't know many people or many places and it was kinda rough. I feel like we're definitely getting settled here (in fact today marks one year that we've lived in CT!) and I'm glad I've been reading these books because they've been helping me make good plans for how to deal with summer.


Calamity by Brandon Sanderson -- I know this came out a while ago, but Jacob and I finally got us a copy. So much fun to read. I loved it. I won't say too much about it, since it's the end of a trilogy, but I'll point you to my review of Steelheart, which is book one, and I'll tell you that Jacob and I both like the series. Dystopian YA, lots of special ops missions and a little bit of romance. No swearing, no sex. An engrossing read with, of course, a huge twist at the end.

With the kids:
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin -- I've been reading this one aloud to the kids. So great for read alouds because it's interesting and fun and the chapters are short and the illustrations are occasional and lovely. It is the story of Minli, who goes on a quest to change her family's fortune and meet The Old Man of the Moon. It won a Newbery Honor. After about two pages Benjamin was hooked. He read ahead and finished the book. Levi has read ahead some, but the book is pretty far above his reading level, so he's enjoying hearing me read it, too. Jubilee listens in as well. And it's been a few years since I read it myself, so I'm thoroughly enjoying the refresher.


Yo Gabba Gabba board comics -- Just had to mention these because Jubilee made me read Gabba Ball to her at least ten times on Monday. Jacob saved me, eventually, and read it to her a few more times. I reviewed these years ago.

Anyway, that's it for now! It is much harder to find time to blog now that Jubilee isn't napping. What have you been reading? And I love to read your comments and thoughts, whatever they are.

Friday, June 3, 2016

10 Perfect Books for a Woodland Nursery

Hi guys! 

I have a friend named Meghan Read. She's fantastic. We met at book club. She's the mother to an adorable little boy who is nearly two years old. She loves the idea of a woodland nursery, and has the Pinterest board to prove it. She even has an adorable wall hanging made from a tree branch in her son's room. 



But there is a hole in Meghan's life. . . .


Hi, it's Meghan. When I think of a woodland-themed nursery, there are certain words that come to mind: rustic, wild, brave, and adventurous. This is my dream nursery, folks. Probably because I love nature and the outdoors, but who doesn't? And what is a dream nursery without books? Rhetorical questions aside though, this is a serious matter. HOW has a woodland nursery book list been overlooked by every single woodland nursery pin on the planet?! 

I asked my friend Alysa, who is conveniently a children's lit expert, to help me create a book list for my dream nursery. (I mean for my child.) And before we get into it, let me share the 2 qualifications for books that made this list:
1) The book illustrations had to reflect the natural woodsy feel of nature. I was thinking simple and rustic, nothing too bright or crazy.

2) The literary themes had to match the feelings embodied by a woodlands nurserybravery and adventure. And a little bit of humor doesn't hurt!

Meghan had a few ideas of what books would be perfect for a woodland nursery, and I helped her round out the list. Some of these books are board books, some are pictures books, some are chapter books, so this list will help you start the woodland themed library for your little one that will last as the man-cub grows. For your convenience I've linked the cover images to Amazon.

Take it away, Meghan!


10 Perfect Books for a Woodland Nursery



1. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. This is hands down my favorite children's book to read as an adult. Which is fortunate because I often find myself reading it over and over again, sometimes multiple times in a row. (Thank you, child who loves repetition.) In this book, a bear asks several animals if they have seen his hat, but none say they have. The bear is about to give up when he realizes that he saw one of the animals wearing his hat. A key to enjoying this book is over-exaggerating everything the bear says at this point. He gets his hat back, but I won't ruin the story for you by saying how! I like to think about what age my son will be when he actually "gets it."  I hope we'll be reading this book for years to come.



2. We're Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. What's more to do with nature and being brave and adventurous than a bear hunt through impassible obstacles? This is my absolute favorite children's book because of the memories that I have of my dad reading it to me as a little girl. My dad worked long days and traveled a lot, so he wasn't always home. I cherish this book not only for those memories, but also for the story. It's a story of a dad taking his kids on a fun adventure, and who doesn't want that? I loved sharing in this story with my dad.



3. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.  A quick and classic page-turner with exceptional illustrations, this adventure story makes me happy. Never overestimate the power of a good monster story! Is there anyone who doesn't know this book?

Now I'm out of ideas. So I'm going to turn it over to Alysa.

Hello again! I have lots of ideas! Here are books 4-10.



4. Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown. This book turns the woodland narrative on it's head, as you can tell from the title. A young bear in the forest finds an adorable little human and wants to keep it for a pet. 



5. Up The Creek by Nicholas Oldland. Moose, Bear, and Beaver go on a canoeing trip together but they soon disagree on the best way to go about it. When I was looking up this book I discovered there are more books with these characters, too! I check out Big Bear Hug as well and it's quite fun. 



6. Peek-a-who! by Nina Ladon. There is no animal that represents the woodland as well as the owl. Am I right? Peek-a-who! Is a cute board book with cut-outs that plays with the "peek-a-boo" theme and different animal noises. Totally adorable. 



7. The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth. What could be more adventurous than chasing a cookie through the woods, only to see it gobbled up by a hungry fox? This is the edition that my family has of The Gingerbread Man and let me tell you it is timeless. One side-benefit I experienced from reading this to the kids is what Jubilee, age 2, said a few days after we had read it: "Run, run, fast as you can. You can't catch me; I'm a girl and you not a gingerbread man!"


8, Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes. I guess I think of woodland rabbits being more brown than white, but I couldn't resist including this book on the list. Little White Rabbit goes on an adventure in his imagination, and returns home to mother. 

9. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. Here are those brown forest hares! I admit that having to say "little nut brown hare" over and over is my least favorite part about the book. But I discussed it with Meghan and she thinks the adorableness of the story outweighs the length of the characters names. So here you go. You could call this the most controversial pick on the list. ;-)

10. Shh We Have A Plan! by Chris Haughton. In this superbly illustrated book, four brothers are trying to catch a bird in the forest. The super simple text paired with the hilarious illustrations makes our whole family laugh. It's definitely an adventure!

Bonus chapter books!
Because it is only a couple of years before you're wanting to read something longer to your little one, here are three chapter books that also fit the bill with rustic illustrations and themes of adventure and bravery.  
  

Winnie the Pooh, Peter Rabbit, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found something that looks good! If you have other recommendations, definitely leave those in the comments. If you're looking for more books little ones, check out my list of great board books to read to groups!. I also have two posts about books to give at baby showers, here and here
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