Some Winning Books!

Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

In the mid 1700’s an English book publisher, John Newbery, started a series of books especially for children called “Little Pretty Pocket-Books.” Newbery worked to make children’s literature popular and a profitable part of the literary market. Years later, in 1921, the Newbery Medal for best children’s literature was named after him in recognition of his contributions.

In 1938 the first Caldecott medal was awarded for best illustrations in a children’s book. Since then, many more awards in different categories have been created to encourage writers and illustrators to produce high quality children’s literature.

The American Library Association (ALA) and its committees decide on winners and announce their choices at their midwinter meeting in January each year. It’s an exciting time as authors and illustrators in the children’s book world eagerly await the decisions!

This year’s winners are:

  • “Merci Suárez Changes Gears,” a middle grade novel written by Meg Medina received the John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature.
  • “Hello Lighthouse,” illustrated and written by Sophie Blackall received the Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children.

Caldecott Honor Books:

  • “Alma and How She Got Her Name,” illustrated and written by Juana Martinez-Neal
  • “A Big Mooncake for Little Star,” illustrated and written by Grace Lin
  • “The Rough Patch,” illustrated and written by Brian Lies
  • “Thank You, Omu!” illustrated and written by Oge Mora

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award was inaugurated in 2006, awarded to the authors and illustrators of the most distinguished beginning reader book. The 2019 winner is:

  • “Fox the Tiger,” written and illustrated by Corey R. Tabor

Geisel Honor Books:

  • “The Adventures of Otto: See Pip Flap,” written and illustrated by David Milgrim
  • “Fox + Chick: The Party and Other Stories,” written and illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
  • “King & Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth,” written by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers
  • “Tiger vs. Nightmare,” written and illustrated by Emily Tetri

Check out all the categories and winners online at ALA.org. See how many you and your family have read already and find some titles you want to look into reading. Award and honor books have a round metallic sticker on their cover, so you can spot them when looking through a book collection.

Maybe you and your children have your own ideas of award winning books. What are the winners in your household?

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LOL with These Books!

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

When will a baby laugh at the game of peek-a-boo? At the time in their development when they start knowing what is expected and unexpected in their world. This first sense of humor revolves around the physical world and slap-stick scenarios like mom or dad pretending to drop an egg or playing dress-up with the dog.

As children learn more words, start to see different perspectives, and have practiced stretching their imaginations, language-based jokes become very funny. They will laugh at unlikely combinations of words, double meanings, and incongruous situations. They are now ready for some children’s books that will tickle their funny bones!

Get ready to laugh out loud while reading some of these books:

  • “Grandpappy Snippy Snappies” by Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Christopher Santoro. Grandpappy has some super useful suspenders that can make everything wrong turn right with just a snap. This fast paced story with rhyming text is full of surprises. When Grandmammy is in trouble and the suspenders are worn out, how will Grandpappy save the day?
  • “Those Darn Squirrels” by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. Old Man Fookwire loves painting pictures of the birds at his backyard feeders, until the birds fly south and the squirrels take over! This grumpy old man changes his tune when the squirrels come up with a plan.
  • “Silly Tilly” by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by David Slonim. “Tilly is not an ordinary goose. She takes her baths in apple juice. She wears a pancake as a hat. She tries to ride the farmer’s cat.” She’s not like any of her farm animal friends. When Tilly’s silliness gets to be too much, the barnyard animals demand that Tilly stop being silly. But then the farm is much too quiet and they miss their silly friend Tilly.
  • “I’m Bored” by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. A little girl is so very bored with life, until she meets a potato that actually talks. But the potato decides that kids are boring. The little girl is determined to show this potato that he is wrong about kids.
  • “A Little Stuck” by Oliver Jeffers, author and illustrator of “The Day the Crayons Quit.”  What would you do if your kite was stuck in a tree? Floyd tries to knock his kite down by throwing his shoe at it, then his other shoe, then a whale, a firefighter, an orangutan and more and more unlikely items as the story continues.

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Children’s Books That Inspire Winter Fun

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

Long winter nights and chilly days with the children home on vacation from school are perfect times to snuggle in, stay warm, and read favorite books with your family. Read about the winter season–then go outside and enjoy the frosty wonderland! If your children need some encouragement to bundle up and go out in the cold and snow, reading books about the magic of snowflakes, making tracks in the snow, and how much fun it is to go sledding will kick-start their winter adventures. Try some of these titles:

“The Story of Snow: the Science of Winter’s Wonder” by Mark Cassino and Jon Nelson. What is at the center if each snowflake that is formed? Why do snowflakes have 6 sides? How many types of snowflake crystals are there? Give your children magnifying glasses and they’ll be able to see how each snowflake is unique, just as described in this fascinating book. Photographs are mixed with illustrations to depict the science of snow.

“All About Animals in Winter” by Martha E. H. Rustad. Have you ever seen a butterfly in the snow? Find out why some animals migrate, some hibernate, and some change the color of their fur to be camouflaged in the snowy landscape.

“Over and Under the Snow” by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. Even though the winter landscape is very quiet, there is a lot going on top of the snow and especially underground. Animals have all kinds of homes they build for the winter and ways of keeping safe, warm, and well-fed.

“Tracks in the Snow” by Wong Herbert Yee. This rhyming book is a mystery story for the very young listener. A little girl makes tracks in the snow and then finds more tracks to follow. Who else is making tracks in the snow with her?

“The Thing about Yetis” by Vin Vogel. Any large, white, furry Yeti, also known as an Abominable Snowman, loves winter. You’ll learn about all the ways this cute little Yeti enjoys the winter season, snow, and cold. But don’t be surprised that like many children, he also misses the warm days of summer!

“The Snow Bear” by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Claire Alexander. This is a story of two children, a Snow Bear, and a sled. How do their imaginations help them when they get lost and have to find their way back home? A story of suspense and of friendship.

Celebrate your family’s winter holiday and the winter season with books you give as gifts or that you find at your neighborhood library. Make giving, getting, and reading children’s books a family tradition. You’ll be making memories for your family that will last a lifetime!

 

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Getting to Know a Picture Book Character

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

When you think of children’s books that are written as a series of 2, 3, 4, or more books with the same characters in different stories you may think of chapter books for independent readers. Maybe you know some of these series for young readers such as “Junie B. Jones,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and “The Magic Tree House,” to name just a very few of so many that are popular.

But picture books also have character series that can hook the pre-reader. Getting to know the same characters in a series is like making new friends. As you see the characters develop relationships, face challenges, and solve problems, the young listener can relate to those events in their own life.

Try out some of these series and see what grabs the attention of your young child:

“Little Pig,” written and illustrated by David Hyde Costello. In 2 books (so far) this young pig faces the challenges of being the smallest and youngest in his family. In each story he wants to join in the activities that his older brothers and sisters are having but isn’t allowed. Without any fuss, this tenacious and creative little pig finds his own way of having fun.

“Frog and Toad,” written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel. Each of these 5 books is a collection of 5 short stories about two friends who have opposite personalities. The stories are about quiet times in every day life such as making a list of things to do, cleaning the house, and baking cookies in the context of what it means to be a friend.

“Good Dog Carl” written and illustrated by Alexandra Day. In over 15 mostly wordless stories, Carl the Rottweiler looks after a baby girl who gets into all kinds of predicaments. Young children will see the humor in the ongoing dilemmas.

“Elephant and Piggie” written and illustrated by Mo Willems. In a 6 book series that is growing, we see that these two best friends have very different personalities. Gerald the elephant is careful, solemn, a worrier. Piggie is happy-go-lucky, smiles, and tries anything. Every child will be able to relate to some qualities in these two characters.

“The Princess in Black” by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. In this 4 book series we are introduced to a young girl who looks like any normal princess until she is needed to save the day and changes into a superhero.

“Flat Stanley,” by Jeff Brown, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan. This series of 6 books started with the original Flat Stanley book over 50 years ago. A boy named Stanley Lambchop is accidentally flattened to be just one half inch thick when a bulletin board falls on him in the night. Being that flat, Stanley can be mailed, rolled up, flown in the sky like a kite and becomes an unlikely hero by catching two art thieves.

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Take a Look in Picture Books!

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

How is a “p” different from a “q” and a “b” not the same as a “d”? The little details that make letters different from one another require good observation skills that children develop with practice. Noticing differences and similarities also helps when learning to draw, read, study the natural world, and learn a new sport. Details matter! Slow down and just look. You and your child will see a new world.

It’s easy to use picture books to help your child develop observation skills. Most children’s books have little details in the illustrations that may tell even more about the story than the words. The next time you read together notice what is the same and different in the pictures from one page to the next. Are there objects or actions not mentioned in the story that you find? It’s a fun game to play.

Use any of your favorite picture books or try some of these and play the “same and different” game.

“Birds,” by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek. Simple, playful text describes how birds are many colors, shapes, and sizes. Compare them all. Then in some “what if”” scenarios we see how with some imagination birds can paint colors across the sky with their tails and a tree-full of crows can fly away in a rowdy surprise.

“Little Cloud,” written and illustrated by Eric Carle. A picture book for the very young child. See Little Cloud as he changes from one shape to another before becoming part of a big rain cloud. After reading, look at real clouds in the sky with your child and see if any look like familiar objects.

“Flotsam,” by David Wiesner. This is a wordless picture book, so all you can do is look and see what has changed in each illustration! The pictures reveal the story of a boy at the beach finding an underwater camera washed up on the shore. When he develops the film, he can’t believe what he sees. There are many details to discover on each page.

“The Snail and the Whale,” by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Charming illustrations and rhyming text together tell the story of a great adventure. Seagulls, a cat, and many little snails are supporting characters in the pictures at the start of the story, but are replaced by penguins and seals at the north pole and then parrots and crabs in tropical islands. Each place the snail and whale travel around the world is a new place depicted in detail. Is the cat in the beginning the same cat at the end? Take a look.

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The Glory of Autumn in Children’s Books

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

Soon we’ll be seeing signs of autumn and your children may start wondering. Why do leaves change color in the fall? How do you make applesauce? Where are the geese flying? Snuggle up and read some children’s books together and satisfy your child’s curiosity. Read and learn about autumn, go for a walk looking for colorful leaves, taste some newly picked apples, and enjoy the glory of the season with your family.

Here are some books about fall to read with your young children:

 

 

 

 

 

  • “The Busy Little Squirrel” by Nancy Tafuri. Just like the squirrels in your own neighborhood, this little squirrel scurries here and there as the summer changes to autumn and he prepares for the winter ahead.
  • “Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin Pie” by Jill Esbaum. In this story illustrated with photographs, your child will see how a little pumpkin seed becomes a sprawling pumpkin vine and eventually can be baked into a golden pumpkin pie.
  • “Fall Mixed Up” by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Chad Cameron. Words and pictures about autumn are silly jumbles of mistakes. Look for what is not quite right on each page. Do bears really gather nuts and do geese hibernate?
  • “Leaf Jumpers” by Carole Gerber and Leslie Evans. Make a pile of leaves and jump! You’ll learn about why leaves change color and why they fall off trees.
  • “Applesauce Season” by Eden Ross Lipson, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein. Red apples, orange leaves, and bright blue sky–It’s time to make applesauce. You’ll want to make your own after reading how easy it is to do. Start your own fall family tradition!
  • “Hello Harvest Moon” by Ralph Fletcher, illustrated by Kate Kiesler. The big full moon during harvest time is celebrated in words and beautiful illustrations.
  • “The Roll-Away Pumpkin” by Junia Wonders, illustrated by Daniela Volpari. Maria goes on a chase after her pumpkin escapes her grasp one windy autumn day.
  • “The Little Yellow Leaf” by Carin Berger. This little yellow leaf has to be brave because it’s going to be autumn soon and he knows he will fall from his tree.
  • “Autumn Is Here!” by Heidi Pross Gray. See the changes that happen as autumn arrives. Children will enjoy the whimsical text and repeated refrain.

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New Beginnings, New Read-Aloud Books

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

Fall is a time of new beginnings for children and families. A new school or classroom, new routines, friends, and challenges can all bring out some strong emotions in kids. Your child may be worried and excited at the same time and feel a range of emotions each school day. You, as a parent, may feel the same way!

How can you support your child during these changes? Be present and understanding when your child talks about his or her day. Bits of information about your child’s day may come up during play, bedtime, or on the way to school in the morning. Keep things casual and comfortable and over time you’ll be able to talk more about feelings. How are you feeling about your child starting school? Take care of yourself too.

When everything else is new and different, it is comforting for your child to have some things that are familiar and predictable. You could develop a morning routine of having breakfast together or walking to school or to the bus stop with neighbors. After school, maybe try an activity that is calming and relaxing and do it every day: take the dog for a walk, pet your cat, have a friend over to play, have a snack, listen to a book read aloud, listen to music, write a story, or draw a picture. Or your child might need some active time outside after school to release some built up energy.

Reading picture books about starting school and the feelings that go along with being in a new situation provide opportunities to talk together about what your child is experiencing. Helping your child become more self-aware is process. Listen to your child more than talk and be open-minded and supportive. Here are some books to read aloud to young children before the new school year begins.

Books about starting school:

  • “Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten” by Joseph Slate, illustrated by Ashley Wolff
  • “Kindergarten, Here I Come!” by D.J. Steinberg, illustrated by Mark Chambers
  • “My First Day of School” by Ellen Crimi-Trent and Roger Priddy
  • “Kindergarten Rocks!” by Katie Davis
  • “On the First Day of Kindergarten” by Tish Rabe, illustrated by Laura Hughes

Books about emotions:

  • “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn
  • “The Invisible Boy” by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Patrice Barton
  • “Glad Monster, Sad Monster” by Ed Emberley and Anne Miranda
  • “Too Shy for Show and Tell” by Beth Bracken
  • “My Very Own Space” by Pippa Goodhart, illustrated by Rebecca Crane

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