Tag Archives: read-aloud

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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Filed under children's books, creativity, family, family reading

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

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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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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Filed under family reading, family time, humorous

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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Summertime Fun!

Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

Summertime is here! Enjoy the sun, the warmth, and all the family fun that summer brings. Are you planning a vacation? Will you be spending some time at the pool? Are you looking forward to some backyard exploration? Whatever you do this summer, there are many books to read with your young children to enrich experiences and give your family ideas for summer activities. Here are a few favorites:

“LaRue Across America: Postcards from the Vacation,” written and illustrated by Mark Teague. Told from the perspective of Mrs. LaRue’s dog, Ike, you can follow their road trip across the country visiting landmarks, cities, and small towns. It would be a much better vacation for Ike if they didn’t have the neighbor’s cats along with them in the car!

“Summer Days and Nights,” written and illustrated by Wong Herbert Yee. A celebration of the simple pleasures of summer, this story features a little girl’s adventures in one day, sun-up to sun-down. Butterflies, lemonade, picnics, and swimming during the day and owls, frogs, and sounds to explore in the night. This book will inspire your family to head outside and appreciate the natural world.

“Frog and Friends: The Best Summer Ever,” by Eve Bunting, illustrated by José Masse. This beginning reader book is written in 3 short stories. In each, Frog interacts with his friends and learns about accepting differences, compromising, and being generous, with summertime as a backdrop for the tales.

“Hello Ocean,” by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Mark Astrella. This poem will bring you right to the ocean with rich language that evokes the feel, sights, sounds, smell, and even the taste of the ocean. Squishy sand between the toes and salt spray on the face are also depicted in the realistic illustrations.

“Maisy Learns to Swim,” written and illustrated by Lucy Cousins. With a little trepidation, Maisy goes to her first swim lesson and step-by-step we see what she learns from kicking, floating, and blowing bubbles. Maisy is cold getting out of the pool, but gets dressed, and has a snack. The story covers all the nuances of learning to swim.

“Bailey Goes Camping,” written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes. Bailey, the rabbit, wants to go camping with his older brother and sister, but they tell him he is too little to go. Mother finds a way for Bailey to camp out right at home. This is one of the author’s first books and has become a summertime classic.

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Filed under activities, summer, summer reading