Monthly Archives: September 2014

Have a Fruit-full Autumn Reading Together!

We’re in the peak of fruit season in the Finger Lakes in New York  State. We’ve seen cherries on trees earlier this summer; peaches and plums have ripened recently; and now that it’s officially autumn, apples and pears are ready for the picking–and eating.

How many fruits have you introduced to your young child? Read about them in picture books and then try them out. See which fruit your child likes or doesn’t like. Explore the tastes, the textures, and smells. Compare the colors and the shapes. Are there some unusual fruits you’ve seen in books that you can find at the store? Be adventurous and taste something new!


Here are some children’s books to give you ideas:

  • “Eating the Alphabet” by Lois Ehlert. Learn the names of vegetables and fruits from A to Z in this colorful book, then see if you can make your own list of foods for each letter of the alphabet.
  • “Apples” by Gal Gibbons. You will discover how an apple is formed from flower bud to fruit in this non-fiction book. The text introduces new words about pollination at a level that young children will understand.
  • “The Biggest Apple Ever” by Stephen Kroll. Here’s a story about friendship, competition, conflict resolution, and apples, too. This book lends itself to many related projects involving teamwork–with a side of apple pie.
  • “Play with Your Food” by Joost Elffers. Photographs of fruits and vegetables that are slightly altered to give them humorous and witty personalities may give you some ideas for how to creatively play with the food in your own kitchen.
  • “Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McClosky. Little Sal and her mother go blueberry picking on one side of a hill while a mother bear and her bear cub look for blueberries on the other side of the hill. Find out what happens when their paths cross.
  • “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. “… and he was still hungry” is the refrain as this growing caterpillar eats his way through a smorgasbord of fruits and other delicious food until he is a big, plump caterpillar ready to become a butterfly.

Happy reading!

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Welcome Back to School!

Going back to school is an exciting and happy time of year for children, with friends to make, a new teacher to meet, and a classroom to explore. But, there can be anxiety, too. Different schedules, feelings, and expectations can give a child butterflies and even create some queasiness for parents. We all want our children to do well and adjust quickly.

To keep your family positive and ease any trepidation about starting a new school year, establish a few daily routines so there are at least some things to count on that aren’t new every day. Keep your child’s morning “get-up and get off to school” routine the same each day, so everyone knows what to expect. Do a quiet activity or snack every day when your child comes home as a way to transition from school. Keep your child’s bedtime the same time each night so your child is well-rested for the next day at school.

And, of course, build in some read aloud with your child. Even after he or she learns how to read independently, snuggling up with a parent and hearing a book read aloud reassures your child that some things don’t have to change. Quality time together is still part of everyday family life.

Older children can listen to chapter books read aloud and will learn new vocabulary and ideas hearing you read. Younger children listening to you read picture books will learn words and ideas too, and can come to understand their feelings and how to handle new situations that arise at school.

Reading any books together is comforting, but here are some books especially about the elementary school experience that open up discussions for you to have with your child. Laugh, talk, and learn together!

“The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School” by Laura Murray, illustrated by Mike Lowery. In this book the gingerbread man chases after the school children instead of the other way around. He just wants to join in the fun, but can’t quite keep up! He enlists the help of all the grown-ups at the school and finally does meet up with the children, after touring the whole building.

“How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?” by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague. Huge, colorful dinosaurs innocently create havoc as they start a new school year. The rhyming text has a rhythm that keeps the story going as the dinosaurs learn what kind of behavior is appropriate at school. As they get used to school, they share, are polite, and even keep things picked up.

ItsHardtoBe5“It’s Hard to Be Five: Learning How to Work My Control Panel” by Jamie Lee Curtis, illustrated by Laura Cornell. This is another winner by this writer/illustrator team. Actress Jamie Lee Curtis writes with humor and honesty at a level that children embrace. It really is hard to be five-years-old. The book describes how the days of being little are gone, but you still haven’t practiced a lot of self-control. Thank goodness that we each have a “control panel” that we can learn how to use!

“The Incredible Book Eating Boy” written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. This is not a typical “back to school” book, but has just that kind of humor a kindergartner will enjoy. When a boy develops a habit of eating books, yes, actually taking bites and swallowing books, the words get all jumbled in his stomach (and brain). He finally learns he can “digest” a book much better just by reading it. The illustrations are collaged type written words, images, and drawings.


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