Tag Archives: books

How to Choose a Children’s Book as a Gift

Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

Open a picture book and inside you’ll find a world of wonder waiting to be discovered. It could be an exciting story about far-away lands or a comforting tale about everyday life. It could be a story that introduces new ideas or shows how something works. There are so many children’s books to read!

Share the magic of stories with the young children in your life and give a book as a gift for a holiday, a birthday, or your own spontaneously created special occasion. Start a tradition of making books part of family celebrations. You’ll be giving more than just a physical book. You’ll be giving the experience of sharing it together again and again, creating memories that last a lifetime.

Out of the many choices of books for young children, consider the interests and personality of the child who will be receiving your book gift.

For a wiggly child, choose books that have motions that can be acted out as you read. There is no need to sit still for these stories. Bend, stretch, and make noises. After a few readings your child will come to anticipate what action or sound is coming next.

  • “Wheels on the Bus” by Raffi, illustrated by Sylvie Wickstrom
  • “Dinosaur Dance,” by Sandra Boynton
  • “There’s a Monster in Your Book” by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Greg Abbott

To wind down at bedtime, choose a book with a calming storyline that leaves children ready to doze off to sleep.

  • “I Love You to the Moon and Back” by Amelia Hepworth, illustrated by Tim Warnes
  • “Steam Train, Dream Train,” by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
  • “Goodnight Little Bear” by Patsy Scarry, illustrated by Richard Scarry

Around age 3 or 4 children start developing their own sense of humor. Pick a book with silly, unexpected happenings that will elicit giggles.

  • “Come Home Already!” by Jory John, illustrated by Benji Davies
  • “Silly Sally” by Audrey Wood
  • “Ball” by Mary Sullivan

For a child who loves learning about new things, there are many fact-filled picture books with engaging stories that will make them want to know more.

  • “The Story of Snow” by Jon Nelson, illustrated by Mark Cassino
  • “The Raft” by Jim LaMarche
  • “Hello Hello” by Brendan Wenzel

When you find an author or subject that your child loves, you can find similar books at your local bookseller or library. Enjoy!

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Filed under book gifts, book routines, family book traditions, family reading, traditions

Giving Thanks

A sunny day, a hot meal, your family, and a friendly face are a few of the many reasons to be thankful. Sometimes it’s the small things that we may take for granted that bring comfort and joy to life.

Identifying those things to appreciate is just the first step in experiencing gratitude in a deeper way, according to the “Raising Grateful Children” project at UNC Chapel Hill. This project promotes four steps of gratitude that children can practice with the help of an adult.

  • NOTICE what you feel grateful for in your life.
  • THINK about why those things are in your life.
  • FEEL the emotion that comes with your gratitude.
  • DO something to express your appreciation. (such as saying “thank you”)

Young children are just learning about perspectives that are different from their own and developing emotional intelligence. Reading picture books about gratitude will introduce your child to some ideas of what to be thankful for in his or her own life. From there you can think together about why they are grateful, how they feel about it, and say “thank you” with words, by drawing a picture, or doing something nice for someone else.

Here are some book suggestions:

“Thankful” by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Archie Preston. A gentle rhyming story about observing the world around us and how we can each be thankful for the simple things that make our lives more meaningful.

“The Thank You Book” by Mo Willems. Laughs abound as Piggie thanks everyone he knows and Gerald the Elephant worries the whole time that Piggie will forget to thank someone. Piggie does indeed forget some special friends, and Gerald is there to remind him who they are.

“Thanks a Million” by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera. Sixteen poems in different formats point out why we should be grateful and how easy it is to say “thank you” in return. The poems are just right for young children.

“Last Stop on Market Street” by Matt De La Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson. Set in a busy city, a young boy named CJ rides the bus with his Nana to the soup kitchen where they will get a meal. On the way, Nana points out the beauty she sees all around them from a smiling child to a rainbow over an apartment building.

“Too Much Noise,” by Ann McGovern, illustrated by Simms Taback. This retelling of a folk tale is a humorous account of seeing a different perspective. Sometimes what you have already is quite good enough! Repetition and creative problem solving make for an engaging story.

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Encourage Creativity and Wonder

Katrina Morse
For Family Reading Partnership

The next time you are at your local library or favorite bookstore, make a point to find the biographies in the non-fiction section of the children’s books. Once you know your way to those shelves, you’ll have access to the true-to-life stories that can inspire and engage your child into learning new things and dreaming big.

Stories about activists, composers, athletes, inventors, artists, engineers, and more will spark your child’s imagination. Many biographies written for children start by describing the childhood of the accomplished adult. They tell how that man or woman began with an idea as a young boy or girl and how their curiosity and wonder drove them to pursue their passion.

Who will inspire your child’s love of learning? Check out some of the following biographies of scientists and inventors. And make sure to read more biographies about other life adventurers that followed their dreams and in doing, made the world a better place.

“Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist” by Jess Keating, illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens.
This is the story of marine biologist Eugenie Clark and her daring pursuit of studying sharks at a time in history when women were discouraged from careers that were dangerous and traditionally held by men.

“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” picture book edition, by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. This modern day biography was released as a chapter book and is now a motion picture and a picture book for younger children. This is the story of a young boy and his vision to bring electricity to his village in Malawi. With a mixture of illustration and photos, the reader sees the real life account of a boy whose search for answers started at his public library and led him to invent the design for a windmill to generate electricity that changed life in his community.

“On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein” by Jennifer Berne Page, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky. We think of Einstein, the man, as a genius, but first he was a curious, imaginative child who didn’t speak much. As an adult he was funny and loved jokes and tricks, and still wasn’t comfortable in social settings. But, Einstein never stopped wondering how things worked and had the courage and motivation to explore the physical world around him and the world in his mind to come up with revolutionary theories in physics.

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Back to School!

by Katrina Morse
for Family Reading Partnership

Get ready for school! New routines, new friends, and new challenges are part of the school year ahead. Is your child starting a new school or moving up a grade and joining a new classroom? Ease any first-day-of-school jitters by reading stories about what school might by like and talking about your child’s feelings.

The characters in books often have the same feelings that your child may have, so reading a book together can give you and your child ideas and the words to talk about and overcome any worries.

Sharing any book with your child also adds to their personal sense of security. Sitting together and giving your attention to your child as you read aloud shows them that you support them, care for them, and love them. It helps your child feel confident enough to try new things, which they will be doing all school year long.

Here are some books to read before the big first day:

“On the First Day of Kindergarten” by Tish Rabe, illustrated by Laura Hughes. Count all the fun first days of kindergarten, starting right on day one. You will see how many exciting things happen in school, like making new friends, painting, running a race, and counting. Upbeat and engaging with a diverse classroom of children depicted in the illustrations.

“The Pigeon HAS to Go to School” by Mo Willems. Pigeon cannot believe he has to start school. He already knows everything and doesn’t want to make new friends. What is school about anyway? He just doesn’t want to go! If your child already loves Mo Willems’ books, this is going to be another winner in your family. If you have yet to meet Pigeon–and Elephant and Piggie–in other Willems’ books, you are in for a treat, and some laughs! Pigeon has many of the same fears as any child about going to school, but your child can giggle at Pigeon’s overblow reactions.

“Monsters Love School,” by Mike Austin. A little monster named Blue is anxious and worried about going to school. He wonders, “What do you eat at school? What do you learn? What about friends?” Adults and teachers are reassuring at every turn during Blue’s first school day. From the art teacher, to the school lunch worker, to the gym teacher he hears the same messages, “School is for trying new things. You’ll meet new friends. You’ll like school!” Told with humor and light-heartedness, this story will be a comfort to a Pre-K or kindergarten child before their first day at a new school.

“Planet Kindergarten” by Sue Ganz-Schmitt, illustrated by Shane Prigmore. Put on your helmet and get ready to blast off to a classroom. This story creates an outer space adventure of going to school. Starting with a flight plan for the journey, school as a space capsule, and fellow students as the crew, the playful story reveals that the main astronaut is a bit worried about the trip. Cute and clever, the story ends with the young space-goer back on his original planet with a splashdown (in the bathtub) in the comfort of his own home.

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Filed under back to school, benefits of reading together, family reading, Feelings, Mo Willems, opportunities for conversation

Summertime Read Aloud!

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

What are your family’s favorite summer activities? Picking and eating fresh strawberries, open ended fun at the playground, or cooling off with a swim? Bring along books to read aloud wherever you go and you’ll have a ready-made way to take a break from your action-packed day.

By reading books aloud to your children – even after they can read on their own – you’ll be introducing them to new words and ideas, sparking their imagination and curiosity. Here are some summer-themed books to enjoy with your family:

“I See Summer” by Charles Ghigna, illustrated by Agnieszka Malgorzata Jatkowska. Bright and colorful illustrations depict cheerful summer scenes from sailboats to gardens. This is a great point and say book. Ask your 2-3 year old where things are that you name on each page or count the objects together. You can extend the book experience after reading by continuing the book’s phrase, “I see…”, and filling in what you see around you in real life.

“Gorilla Loves Vanilla” by Chae Strathie, illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne. This book will tickle the funny bone of your 3-5 year old. Stinky blue cheese ice cream? Squirmy wormy ice cream? Ice cream flavored with mud? Who eats all these unusual flavors and what will Gorilla choose as his favorite?

“Jabari Jumps” by Gaia Cornwall. This is a story about a boy who is working on being brave. Jabari would like to jump off the high dive at the community pool, but when he looks at the long ladder to the board, he sees that it’s mighty high up. Told in a playful, yet emotionally sensitive way, the story describes Jabari’s determination to overcome his fears. The longer text of this book, with sounds effects, repetition, and rhythm, will engage 4-7 year olds.

“Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH” by Robert C. O’Brien, illustrated by Zena Bernstein. Published in 1971, this chapter book still remains a favorite with its themes of self-sufficiency, ingenuity, and “doing the right thing.” This is a fantasy story set the in the summer months, featuring the mysterious Rats of NIMH. Read this book aloud, a few chapters at a time, to your 6-10 year old. Or, you could take turns and your child could read to you. Suspenseful and heroic, this will be a story your family will remember.

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Making Friends

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

What does it take to be a good friend? Sharing adventures, working out problems, and accepting each other despite differences is a good foundation for a long-term friendship.

As the parent of a young child, you can model good friendships and show your child the type of supportive people that you want to have around that add meaning and richness to your life.

You can also talk to your child about what character traits you value as a family such as honesty, kindness, being a good listener, and being able to share. Reading books together about friendship gives you the opportunity to talk about the joys and the occasional frustrations of being and having a friend. Enjoy some of these stories and learn more about friendship.

  • “Carrot and Pea, an Unlikely Friendship” by Morag Hood. Can a small, round, green pea and a tall, straight, orange carrot stick be friends? With illustrations made of simple shapes and bold color, this clever story explains to the very young child how differences can be the bond for friendship.
  • “Stick and Stone” by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Much like “Carrot and Pea,” with one round and one straight character, this rhyming story goes into more detail about what it takes to be a friend through good times and rough patches. Even though friends can be very different from each other, true friends care about one another.
  • “George and Martha” short stories by James Marshall. These two goofy hippos are best friends and do everything together. They go to the movies, the beach, eat meals, and like all best friends, laugh together and sometimes have misunderstandings. Although written over 30 years ago, these stories are timeless.
  • “Gerald and Piggie” books by Mo Willems. When an elephant and a pig get together, anything can happen! Each story explores an emotion that arises in this unlikely friendship using very simple language, with just a few words on each page.
  • “Leonardo the Terrible Monster” by Mo Willems. Being terrible at being a monster means that you can’t scare anyone! Leonardo works at becoming scary, but when he succeeds he realizes that perhaps being kind is a better way to gain a friend than being frightening.

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Play with Books!

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

Dramatic play is what children do naturally. Acting out scenarios from real life settings such as home, the grocery store, or a city street or pretending to be someone else like a musician, pirate, or scientist give children the opportunity to explore their own feelings and learn how to talk about them. They confront fears, make choices, and solve problems. There is so much learning that happens in play!

Children’s books are a rich source of ideas for pretending. After reading any of your favorite books together, ask your young child which character they would like to pretend to be and start acting out the story. Grown-up hats, scarves, and shoes can used be as costumes that transform your child into another person or creature. Recreate the setting of a book with a few simple props you already have at home. Pillows can become a boat, car, or a picnic table. Stuffed animals and action figures can become other characters in a story. Let the play expand to new make-believe stories and let your child’s imagination blossom.

Here are some books for young children that will inspire the fun:

“This Jazz Man” by Karen Ehrhardt, illustrated by R.G. Roth. This counting book has a bee bop rhythm in the descriptions of how a jazz band makes music. Snap, tap, pound a beat on a drum, and lead with a conductor’s baton. Make your own instruments at home out of pots and pans and create your own sounds just by humming, clicking, and tootling to a beat! Can you work together to make music?

“Wiggle” by Doreen Cronin, illustrations by Scott Menchin. From the author of “Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type,” here is another story that will tickle your child’s funny bone and spark some creativity. Follow along as a dog wiggles his way through the day. From the morning wake-up wiggle, to wiggling with his shadow, wiggling like a crocodile, and wiggling as slowly as a polar bear, this is a book that you’ll want to read standing up. Then your child can practice all the ways to wiggle.

“Little Blue Truck Leads the Way.” By Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry. A sequel to “Little Blue Truck,” this story is set in a city with many other types of vehicles, lots of people, and tall buildings. Little Blue Truck is in the right place at the right time and saves the day. Phew! How did he feel about that? You and your children can pretend to be a line of cars, trucks, and cabs with Little Blue Truck out in front, leading the way through a city made by the furniture and doorways of your home.

 

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Filed under creativity, dramatic play, imagination, movement, music, rhythm