Tag Archives: children’s books

April is National Poetry Month!

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

There was a young child homeschooled.
She found there were all different rules.
When she tried raising her hand
Her dog jumped up to land
Right onto homework – not cool!

Poetry can add humor and fun to your new family routines and safe ways of learning. Encouraging children to work on schoolwork when the grown-ups may be trying to work at home can be challenging. Poetry can be an enjoyable diversion and a way to stretch your kids’ imaginations.

April is National Poetry Month, so right now you can find many resources online. You’ll find books of poetry collections to buy or read online, authors reading their own poems, and ideas for writing poetry with kids.

Poems are a way to play with words. Some poems rhyme, others are verse, some have a rhythm, others are don’t at all. Poems can be funny and other poems can be serious. Try writing some poems with your children and see what you all create. Here are some standard forms, but all rules can be broken when it comes to poetry!

Limericks: Like the example above, limericks are made of 5 lines with a set rhythm scheme and are usually silly. The first, second, and fifth lines rhyme with each other and are longer. The third and fourth lines rhyme and are shorter. Limericks were made popular in the 19th century by Edward Lear. Look up some of his work online and say them out loud to catch the limerick beat, then try your own!

Haiku: This is a Japanese form of poetry that is made of just 3 lines. Typically the first and third lines have 5 syllables and the second line has 7 syllables. Haikus are often about nature or a moment in time. They don’t have to rhyme. Here is a “What am I ?” haiku from http://www.kidzone.ws: Green and speckled legs/Hop on logs and lily pads/Splash in cool water.

Acrostic: This poetry form creates a word puzzle. Take any word or phrase and write down the letters that spell it out vertically. Each letter will be the beginning of one line of the poem. Now brainstorm ideas that describe your word. An acrostic poem using the word POEM could be: Pencils are ready/ Open your mind /Everyone can do it/ Many words can work.

Free Verse: This is a great form if your child has an idea or a feeling and some words that describe it. Break up the words into groups of 2, 3, or 4 words per line and see how the emphasis of the words or meaning may change.

Find more resources for word play and poetry with children online. Family Reading Partnership is a community coalition that has joined forces to promote family reading. For examples of poems on their website visit www.familyreading.org/resources/ and look under Family Book and Reading Activities.

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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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All About Trees

by Katrina Morse
for Family Reading Partnership

A tree can be a memorable part of childhood. A tree can hold a swing or a birdhouse. Some trees are good for climbing and others for picking apples. A tree’s leaves can change from green to bright red, yellow, and orange. Children can watch a small tree grow bigger, just as they are growing, too.

Learn more about these remarkable plants by reading some of these books together, and maybe you’ll look at the trees around you in a new way.

“We Planted a Tree” by Diane Muldrow illustrated by Bob Staake.“We planted a tree and it grew up. We planted a tree and that one tree helped heal the earth.” Two families on opposite sides of the world both find that trees are important for shade, cleaning the air, giving us food, and helping to keep soil from washing away.

“The Great Kapok Tree” by Lynne Cherry. When a man comes to the Amazon rainforest to cut down a Kapok tree, he first takes a nap at its base and then hears whispered messages of the animals that depend on the tree for survival. When the man wakes up, he has changed his mind about using his axe to cut the tree down.

“Tell Me, Tree: All About Trees for Kids” by Gail Gibbons. Along with giving the reader facts about all the ways trees are an important part of the web of life, this book teaches how to tell one tree apart from another. You and your child will learn types of trees and why we all should appreciate these amazing plants.

“Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf” by Lois Ehlert uses simple text and collage illustrations to describe the life of a tree. The book text will engage young children and older children will appreciate the glossary the back of the book that goes into more detail about the life cycle of a tree.

“The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever” by H. Joseph Hawkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry. This is a biography of Katherine Olivia Sessions in the 1800s. As Kate was growing up, she became fascinated with the trees around her in northern California. Although it wasn’t common for girls at that time to get dirty hands or to be a scientist, Kate pursued her love of trees. When she was older she helped change San Diego, in southern California, from a desert city to one with an abundance of lush green trees. Charming illustrations depict the events in the life of this environmental pioneer.

“Strange Trees and the Stories Behind Them” by Bernadette Pourquie and Cecile Gambini. Trees are very adaptable and have developed special characteristics that help them live in many different habitats. Early elementary aged children will appreciate the unbelievable tree forms and a map showing where all these unusual trees grow around the world.

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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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Reading Aloud to an Active Child

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

Before the age of 5, children are usually on the go, learning about their world by exploring. How can you share a book with a wiggly child who has a short attention span? Use some of these strategies while your child is growing to have more self-awareness and concentration:

  • Read books that encourage movement and act out the story together.
  • Read books that are interactive and require your child to look for details in the illustrations or guess what happens next.
  • Pick a time of day to read aloud when your child isn’t wound up and is more likely to slow down and listen.
  • Give your child something to do with his or her hands while you are reading, such as holding a small toy or making marks with a crayon on paper.
  • Be ok with your child getting up in the middle of the story and coming back to hear more.
  • Don’t force it. If your child doesn’t want to listen, choose another book or another time to read aloud.
  • Keep read-aloud fun for everyone!

Try some of these books about animals in motion with your active youngster:

“Waddle!” by Rufus Butler Seder. One of a series of board books made with a technique called “scanimation” that layers transparent illustrations on top of each other. When you turn the page, the scanimation picture looks like it’s moving. In this board book there is plenty of word play with alliteration and rhyming. “Can you hop like a frog? Flip. flop. flop.” Each page features one animal and asks the young child to do some pretending and moving.

“Dancing Feet” by Lindsey Craig, illustrated by Marc Brown. Babies will be visually mesmerized by the patterns of animal footprints illustrated in “Dancing Feet” and toddlers will respond to the rhythm and rhyme of the text. The story is packed full of actions you can do with your child along with guessing which animal will be on the next page. This book received a Gold Award from National Parenting Publications.

“Move!” by Robin Page, illustrated by Steve Jenkins. Perfect for a toddler, this book asks the listener to slither like a snake, leap like a frog, and make the motions for all kinds of animals. Your child will learn how his or her body can move! Check out the author’s other books for more animal adventures.

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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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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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Filed under activities, book gifts, book routines, family book traditions, family reading, family time, science books, winter

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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