Monthly Archives: November 2012

Give the Gift of Reading!


Looking for a gift that doesn’t cost too much, will last a lifetime, and that your child will cherish? Give a book! In the pages of books are laughter, excitement, togetherness, and memories. What a gift!

At this time of year you’ll find seasonal themes mixed in with other good children’s books. Avoid books that rely on “special effects” like textures and moving parts for excitement and have a weak story line. Instead pick a book with a story that touches your child’s heart and sparks his or her imagination. For children 2 and under, choose a board book with sturdy cardboard pages that can withstand teething and dropping. For infants choose books with bold images and very few words.

It’s best to read a book through before you purchase it. Imagine reading out loud to your child and choose a book that you know will keep his or her attention. Here are some wintery books that may be just right for the young person in your life.

“Charley’s First Night” by Amy Hest, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. A boy named Henry, who is about 4 years old, gets a new puppy. What Henry finds out is that his little furry friend Charley, needs just the same kind of love and reassurance that a young boy needs. Charley needs a warm place to sleep with a stuffed animal to snuggle. He needs to be held when he is lonely or afraid. Set in a city in the snowy wintertime.

“Cold Snap” by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman. What if it stays cold day after day after day? Then you have a cold snap! The remedy is hot lemon tea, long underwear, and even a big neighborhood bonfire. There is a lot of activity in each of the illustrations and descriptions of icicles, snowballs, and making sugar on snow (recipe included). Choose this book for a child who has a longer attention span and likes to look closely at the pictures. This book does have a glittery cover, but has a story full of substance.

“The Reader” by Amy Hest, illustrated by Lauren Castillo. This is a peaceful book about a boy and his dog, outside in the quietly snowing landscape, walking and walking until they reach the top of a hill. What does this boy, “the reader,” do on top of the hill? Read of course! His dog proves to be a wonderful listener.

“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” by Jane Cabrera. Parent animals and their young each see a twinkling star up above. All around the world, in different habitats, animals witness the same beautiful night sky and parent and child celebrate the love they have for one another. The few words on each page are just right for very young children.

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Grateful, adj. 1. Appreciative of benefits received; thankful. 2. Expressing gratitude. 3. Affording pleasure or comfort; agreeable.

Especially on Thanksgiving, but certainly all year long, be an example to your children of how much you have to be thankful for each day. It is easy to forget how much we all have already–not in material things, but in having loved ones in our lives that support and care for us.

Read some of these books about being grateful and talk to your child about what it means to give thanks.

“Something Beautiful” by Sharon Dennis Wyeth, illustrated by Chris K. Soentpiet. A girl looks outside her apartment building and sees trash, broken bottles, graffiti, and a woman sleeping on the sidewalk, wrapped in plastic. The picture is bleak. Her teacher gives her the idea to look for something beautiful and this girl is off on an adventure, finding beauty wherever she turns. Beauty is in her cute baby cousin, a delicious fish sandwich, a friend’s jump rope. The most beautiful thing she finds right at home, in her heart, knowing that her mother loves her.

“Grateful: a Song of Giving Thanks” by John Bucchino, illustrated by Anna-Liisa Hakkarainen. Saturated blue, orange, and green pastel illustrations are rich with emotion. The text gives thanks for the simple things in life and is also a song, sung by Art Garfunkle, on a CD that comes with the book.

“A Tree is Nice” by Janice May Udry, pictures by Marc Simont. Published 25 years ago, this book still a relevant tribute to all a tree gives to the earth and to us as people. Trees make shade, a place to swing, a beautiful scene, and so much more. Reading about giving thanks to trees may give your child ideas about other things to be thankful for, such as a warm place to live, a pet, a best friend, or even being able to have apple pie for dessert at Thanksgiving dinner.

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Books About Mama Warm a Child’s Heart

As the weather gets colder, warm your family with some inside activities. Wrap up in a cozy blanket together, put some fuzzy socks on feet to warm toes, and open the pages of a favorite children’s book. These are the moments when memories are made.

When you sit down to read with your child, you are giving the message that “You are worth my time. You are a valuable person.” You are warming your child’s heart with your love.

This simple act of paying attention to your child goes a long way in developing healthy self-esteem. When your child knows you are consistently there for support, guidance, and reassurance, he or she will develop self-confidence and resilience and be better able to handle life’s ups and downs.

Every person in a child’s life can add to that child developing a positive self-image, starting from when that child is just a baby. Here are some books for young children about a mother’s love. There are just as many books in print about a father’s love (and grandma’s and grandpa’s too); ask your librarian or local bookseller for suggestions.

“Mommy, Carry Me Please!” by Jane Cabrera. Simple, engaging, painted illustrations of animal moms and babies show how all animals carry their offspring differently. The book ends with a boy being hugged by his own mommy. High-spirited text.

“Tell Me a Story, Mama” by Deb Lund, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata. A little girl asks her mom the story of when she was growing inside her mama’s belly. Now they look forward to another baby coming.

“Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman. An oldie, but a goodie about a little bird looking for his mother. This will tickle the funny bone of your pre-schooler as the bird mistakes all kinds of animals­ and objects for his mother.

“Mama is a Miner” by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Peter Catalanotto. Realistic, richly colored watercolor tell the story of what a mother does in the coal mine during the day, and then shows how much her daughter misses her. A story about hard work, family love, and the warmth of home.

“Mama, Do You Love Me?” by Barbara M. Joosse. Along the same lines of “The Runaway Bunny” by Margaret Wise Brown, this Inuit child tests the patience of her mother to find that no matter what happens, her mother still loves her.

“Jonathon and His Mommy” by Irene Smalls, illustrated by Michael Hays. A boy and his mother go on a playful walk through city streets in their neighborhood, enjoying their time together.


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10 Favorite Books About Numbers

Counting is one of those skills that is learned gradually by young children, starting with counting in every day life. How many apples are in the bowl? One, two, three! Count how many fingers and toes, buttons and shoes, books and stuffed animals? Enjoy learning about numbers and counting with your young child, and extend the fun by reading some of these number books together.

1. “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons” by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean. Pete has a coat with four buttons, then three, then two, then one. All of Pete’s buttons pop off until he finds one more unexpected button.

2. “Ten, Nine, Eight” by Molly Bang. Counting at bedtime from ten down to one with illustrations of items in a child’s room, starting with “ten small toes, all washed and warm.”

3. “I Spy Numbers” with rhymes by Jean Marzollo and photographs by Walter Wick. Visual puzzles about numbers with clues in the rhymes.

4. “The Grapes of Math” by Greg Tang, illustrated by Harry Briggs. The sequel to “Math Fables” this book encourages the reader to think and count in groups of numbers.

5. “26 Letters and 99 Cents” by Tana Hoban. Photographs of coins teach math concepts, then half way through the book, flip the book over and it continues with letters of the alphabet.

6. “Big Fat Hen” by Keith Baker.  A re-working of the nursery rhyme, “One, two, buckle my shoe,” with baby chicks and colorfully illustrated hens.

7. “12 Ways to Get to 11” by Eve Merriam. Simple addition with clearly illustrated examples provide the opportunity to talk more about number combinations.

8. “Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On” by Lois Ehlert. Vivid colors and cut out circles will engage young children in counting.

9. “How Much is a Million?” by David M. Schwartz, illustrated by Steven Kellogg. Big numbers can be abstract, but this book puts them in perspective.

10. “One Grain of Rice: a Mathematical Folktale” by Demi. Greed, courage, and kindness come through in this story about sharing.

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Bedtime is Better with Books

There are many excuses your youngster can come up with for not going to bed. Thirsty, too dark, worried about monsters, too many wiggles, the wrong pajamas, or just not tired (or so your child may think!). No wonder so many children’s books end with a good night scene. Winding down and finally sleeping is something all parents are trying to encourage, for a well-rested child the next day and for parents to have some quiet time of their own.

Consistent routines help make bedtime easier. An hour before “lights out,” intentionally do quieter activities with your child. Then go through the same steps each night to help your child prepare for sleep. Maybe brush teeth, change into PJs, pick out a stuffed animal friend to bring to bed, and definitely read books!

Reading a few books at bedtime can ease the transition from play to sleep and give you and your child some “snuggle time” together. Try some books of these books about bedtime and send me the titles of your family’s bedtime favorites at:

“Llama Llama Red Pajama” by Anna Dewdney covers all the possible reasons that your own little llama won’t go to bed. When it becomes a loud “llama-drama,” mama steps in and reassures her child that it’s going to be all right. Young children will love the real-life concerns about going to bed and the comforting resolution by the mom.

“Shadow Night” by Kay Charao. A boy is frightened of the shadows in his room until his parents show him how to make hand shadows. His dad tells a story using all the animals his hands can make like spiders, snail, birds, and finally a boy shadow monster!

“The Boy Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed” by Helen Cooper. A boy is trying to go to sleep during the summer, but it’s still light outside when it’s bedtime. It’s hard to sleep! He goes on an imaginary journey in his toy car, past all the toys in his room, which have become large and interactive. His toy train, stuffed lion, and model castle are all life-sized and as fun as an amusement park. Finally, after his toyland adventure, he falls off to sleep.

“The Squeaky Door” retold by Margaret Read MacDonald, pictures by Mary Newell DePalma. This is a very funny story about a boy staying overnight at his grandma’s house.  Grandma has a surprise for her grandson. On this visit he gets to sleep in the big brass bed all by himself! But, it is a little scary in the big bed, in the dark, with a squeaky door. Grandma tries to comfort him with the cat, the dog, and more animals–until the bed breaks!

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