Christian Robinson: Telling Stories With Pictures – A Lesson

A few weeks ago I was invited to an elementary school to teach an author study with four second grade classes. When I’ve done this in the past, I usually begin with a short bio about the author, an overview of their books and then read aloud one or two of my favorites. This month I decided to teach a lesson that was a bit of a change. Rather than do an author study, I did an illustrator study and it was so much fun! I chose Christian Robinson, the illustrator who won the Caldecott Honor award in 2015. I began by sharing this PBS video. I hope you’ll share it with your kids. Christian Robinson’s Brief, but Spectacular Take on Telling Stories with Pictures. After viewing the short video, we discussed what they learned about Christian Robinson’s life and the steps he follows as creates the illustrations for a book. We then read Last Stop on Market Street, and The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade or School’s First Day of School. They had heard the first book, because it’s currently one of the Illinois’ Monarch books, but the other two were new. I decided to reread Last Stop on Market Street, because I’m a big believer in the importance of discussing a book as it is read aloud, and because of this, every time a child hears a story it helps them to learn something new about the book. We discussed the vocabulary in the books, the themes of the stories, the emotions that the characters were experiencing and of course, the illustrations. We compared and contrasted each of these aspects of the books and were excited to find a lot of similarities, especially in the illustrations. The children pointed out things that I hadn’t even thought of! For example the women in all of the books are wearing triangular shaped earrings, and the children in every story look very much the same. They were thrilled to discover they could recognize Christian Robinson’s style and technique in all of the books. Here are the three books I shared.

Last Stop on Market Street

Words by Matt De La Pena; Pictures by Christian Robinsonchristian robinson

This award winning book tells the story of C.J., who yearns to go home and play after attending church with his Grandma. Instead, C.J. and his nana ride the bus to the very last stop on Market Street. Along the way, CJ peppers Nana with questions about their fellow bus riders and the people they pass by. His wise Grandma’s calm and optimistic explanations help to open CJ’s eyes to the beauty in his world, and also help him to realize just how fortunate they truly are.

Kindness, Diverse stories

 

christian robinsonthe smallest girl in the smallest grade

Words by Justin Roberts; Pictures by Christian Robinson

Sally is the “smallest girl in the smallest grade” and no one notices her. However, Sally notices everyone and everything from Tommy “tripping” in the hall to the 27 keys on the janitor’s ring. She notices how a whisper can ruin someone’s day and how someone feels when they are pushed off the slide. She finally has enough and announces to her classmates “I’m tired of seeing this terrible stuff! Stop hurting each other! This is enough!” Her outburst inspires not only the children, but also the adults of the school to be a bit kinder and to feel a bit more connected, all because Sally had been paying attention.

Kindness, thoughtfulness

school’s first day of schoolchristian robinson

Story by Adam Res; Pictures by Christian Robinson

Did you ever think about how the school feels on the first day? School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex tells the story from the school building’s perspective. I love imagining what inanimate objects might be thinking and feeling and this story certainly does that. School is brand new and it doesn’t realize what the first day of school means, but his friend the janitor tries to prepare him. When that first day actually arrives, School isn’t so sure he likes the children being there. The children are everywhere and some actually say “this place stinks”. School’s feelings are hurt! When a kindergartner’s mother has to carry her little girl into school, School worries that he must be an awful place. Then lunch time comes and children spill food and milk all over School. School isn’t too happy about that! But afterwards the little kindergartner makes a sparkly picture of School, which he really likes and which makes her feel so much better. At the end of the day, School confides to Janitor that he is probably lucky to be a school! This book is a great one to teach about perspective and point of view, as well as helping those first timers get over their anxiety about the new school year.

Perspective, point of view

I hope your children will enjoy learning about Christian Robinson, as much as the second graders did! Also, I want to remind you that the Caldecott and Newberry awards will be announced on Monday. You can watch the announcement live to learn if any of your favorites are winners!

 




5 Memorable Middle Grade Chapter Books

I share new books on my Instagram feed several times a week, but I haven’t shared any new chapter books on Red Canoe Reader in a while. Here are five memorable middle grade chapter books that I don’t want you to miss!

Josephinememorable middle grade chapter books

Words by Patricia Hruby Powell

Pictures by Christian Robinson

This story is a free verse biographical poem about the dancer and civil rights advocate, Josephine Parker. It is best for grade 3 and up and is a perfect choice for a reluctant reader who is looking for a biography. The colorful illustrations and the short free verse poems on each page entice the reader to keep reading and to learn about Josephine’s fight for fairness, her kindness, her persistence and her success. It tells of her struggles in the U.S. when the country wasn’t ready to accept an African American dancer, no matter how talented. A country where she had to enter the theater by the back door and couldn’t even try on hats in a department store. We learn that all of this injustice prompted Josephine to flee to Europe where she was welcomed with love and standing ovations. Josephine entertained the troupes during World War II and joined the French Resistance, which led to her being awarded France’s highest honor.

Nest

by Esther Ehrlich

memorable middle grade chapter books
I couldn’t put this touching book down and finished it easily in a day. Miss Ehrlich’s beautiful descriptions of the marshes made me feel like I was trudging through the woods and climbing the dunes with Chirp, the main character. This is the first book from Esther Ehrlich and I’m eagerly awaiting her next novel!
Chirp loves the salt marshes around her family’s home on Cape Cod where she lives with her mom, a free spirited dancer, her dad, a psychologist and her older sister Rachel. She is never without her binoculars as she explores the sand dunes and woods watching for her favorite birds.  Chirp feels like she has an almost perfect life except for a few things. For one thing, a new family has moved in across the street and Joey, who is Chirp’s age, and his two brothers are what her dad calls “tough guys”.  Secondly, her normally active and happy mom is experiencing mysterious problems with her leg. This leads to a very difficult year in sixth grade and even though Joey may be a “tough guy”, a tender and moving friendship develops between Joey and Chirp as they each deal with some very difficult family problems. I wanted to hug both of them and not let them go! This is a good chapter book for your middle grade reader, but I promise you, you’ll love it too!

Frazzled

By Booki Vivatmemorable middle grade chapter books

When I was an elementary school librarian, I often heard the question “what book is like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Big Nate?” Well I wish Frazzled, Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom was available a few years ago, because it would have been flying off the shelves! Frazzled is not a graphic novel, but is filled with illustrations on every page, which makes it into a very inviting book for even reluctant middle grade readers. Frazzled tells Abbie Wu’s story about starting middle school and how she is “totally freaking out.” She is the middle child in her family and she isn’t brilliant and cool like her older brother or cute and adorable like her little sister. She is just Abbie who is struggling to find “her thing.” Will it be drama club like her best friend Maxine who has wanted to be an actress since third grade, or possibly the coding club like her friend Logan who has always been a whiz with puzzles? Or maybe cooking, or dance or sports? The trouble is, is that Abbie is terrible at all of these and couldn’t be less interested. This book will both entertain your middle grader, as well as reassure anyone who is dreading the transition to middle school. In the end, Abbie decides maybe she’s not “100% doomed!” and you find yourself hoping Booki Vivat finishes the next installment about Abbie Wu very quickly!

The Thing About Leftoversmemorable middle grade books

By C.C. Payne

Fizzy is a good southern girl with good manners who is trying very hard to be perfect.  This is really difficult after her parents divorce. She suddenly has a new stepmother and her mother has a new boyfriend and Fizzy is feeling like a leftover, as both of her parents begin their new families. Fizzy does her best to be the perfect daughter to all of them, as she cooks nonstop to reach her goal of winning the Southern Living Cook-off. She’s hopeful that if she wins, maybe her mom and dad will no longer think of her as just a leftover. The story is both poignant and full of humor as Fizzy and her new friends, Zach and Miyoko, each deal with their family problems. The Thing About Leftovers is a perfect choice for a middle grader, but your older kids will enjoy it too.

 

 

Tru and Nellememorable middle grade chapter books

By G.Neri

This middle grade novel is based on the true life childhood friendship of Nelle Harper Lee and Truman Capote in their hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. Both Nelle and Tru, next door neighbors, were avid readers, lovers of Sherlock Holmes, misfits and motherless. One summer, Tru’s cousins built a treehouse for Sherlock (Tru) and Watson (Nelle) in between their houses, which became their secret clubhouse and the place where they met to solve the mysteries of their small town and plan their adventures. Nelle used both her strength and her brains, and Truman his creativity and determination to help them confront the town bullies, as well as face the trials in their daily lives.  Although these authors will be unfamiliar to your middle grader, the adventure and the humor in the story will definitely hold their attention. Personally, I was fascinated to learn about this childhood friendship between the two famous authors. Although the book is fictional, it is based upon the author’s research. I especially enjoyed reading the author’s note at the end of the book which told of Capote’s support of Harper Lee when she moved to New York City in 1956. He introduced her to a couple who sponsored her for one year, which enabled Lee to write To Kill a Mockingbird. Then In turn, Harper Lee’s research and support was instrumental to Capote’s when he wrote In Cold Blood.  

These are my latest favorite  middle grade chapter books. What have you read that you loved? Please let us all know in the comments!

 




Seven Picture Books You Don’t Want to Miss

First of all, you may be wondering about the flowers.  These were a special gift from my son-in-law that brightened my day! Even though we’ve had unusually warm weather, my garden is a long way from blooming. These are helping me wait! Now, on to what I want to share today. There are so many picture books published every week. I follow lots of publisher websites and Twitter accounts, as well as Instagram accounts to help me learn about all of these. I often add the titles to my reserve list at the library, and thankfully I have a great local library which usually has every one. And if they don’t, they are happy to order it! Once I get the books, if I like them, I share them on Instagram. If you’d like to see my favorites, be sure and follow me there. The link is toward the bottom of this page on the right hand side. Or another option is to wait for me to share them on Red Canoe Reader. That’s what I’m doing today! Here are seven picture books you don’t want to miss!

MY WASHINGTON, D.C.

BY KATHY JAKOBSENSeven Picture Books You Don't Want to Miss

Are you planning a family trip to Washington, DC this spring to see the cherry blossoms and visit some of the museums and monuments? If so, My Washington, DC, is a great book to prepare your kids for the experience. Kathy Jakobsen’s lavish paintings illustrate each stop that the two characters, Becky and Martin, make along their way as they explore our capital. The kids learn lots of little known facts, as well as a lot about history. The book ends with some fun facts about Washington, along with a seek and find throughout the pages in the book. The paintings contain so many details, that your kids will pour over the book for hours. It might even keep them occupied during your travels!

Washington, D.C.; history

the unexpected love story of alfred fiddleduckling

by timothy basil ering

Seven Picture Books You Don't Want to Miss

I was completely enthralled by this story. The illustrations are exquisite from the first endpaper to the last. Timothy Basil Ering’s words and paintings draw you into the story as you find yourself rooting for Alfred Fiddleduckling, Captain Alfred, his dog and his wife.  You are hoping they can all find each other in the end, and the magical conclusion on the final pages of the book convinces you this will happen. In between, Ering uses his beautiful words and colorful illustrations to describe Alfred Fiddleduckling’s voyage, his love for the violin and the beautiful music Alfred creates as he drifts through the sea. I heartily recommend this story, that will warm your heart as you cozy up with your kiddos and get to know Alfred.

Caring; friendship; family; perseverance 

that’s me loving you

by amy rosenthal

Seven Picture Books You Don't Want to MissThis sweet book is the perfect one to share with your little one before his or her first day of school, or anytime the two of you will be separated. Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s reassuring text promises that “wherever you are, wherever you go, … that feeling you always have in your heart? That’s me loving you.” I could see this as a graduation gift for your child before they leave for college, or a book that will help your little ones as they struggle to work through their grief over losing a loved one. The simple, muted and whimsical illustrations add to this tender family story. Be sure and look for this on your next trip to the library!

Families; love.; grief

teacup

by rebecca young

Seven Picture Books You Don't Want to MissRebecca Young’s lyrical text and Matt Ottley’s magical illustrations tell the story of a young boy who is forced to leave his home and everything he has ever known to find another. All he carries with him is a backpack filled with a water bottle, a book and a blanket, along with a teacup filled with a speck of soil and a few seeds. Sometimes his days are peaceful and sometimes they are filled with peril. But as he travels, the seeds begin to grow, and grow, until he has an apple tree to protect him from the sun, to give him food to eat and to provide a cozy nook for reading. This beautiful story reminds us of what it must be like for the children who are currently fleeing their homelands in search of safety. And of how, even though we all face hardships, with bravery and determination we can succeed.

Determination; bravery; immigration; refugees.

the friend ship

by Kat Yeh

Seven Picture Books You Don't Want to MissThe Friend Ship ✨by Kat Yeh ✨illustrated by Chuck Groenink. Hedgehog is lonely and craves to be surrounded by friends, so he bravely sets sail in search of The Friend Ship. As he and a curious beaver sail along, they encounter animal after animal who also would love to find some friends, but no one has seen The Friend Ship. After sailing the world, Hedgehog’s boat is full of animals, but he’s so sad that he hasn’t found The Friend Ship. He’s instantly surrounded by his shipmates who offer encouragement “you can count on me”, we’ll stick with you till the end!”, and “don’t give up!” He vows to sail on, after all of the reassurances that he will indeed find The Friend Ship, until he meets an elephant on a very small island, who asks “isn’t that it right there?” This tender story will lead to a discussion with your little ones about friendship and the fact that friends are out there waiting for us. We just need to be a friend and to remember to keep looking!

Friendship; kindness; perseverance.

barefoot book of children

BY tessa strickland, kate depalma and david dean

Seven Picture Books You Don't Want to Miss Barefoot Book of Children will help your kiddos better understand the diversity of our world. It reminds us, that although children live in many different places and in many different situations, they all need a home to live in and people to teach them about the world. Barefoot Book of Children will help your little ones understand that there are many different families in our country and in our world. Some may be large, some may have a mom and dad, some may have two dads, some may be a foster family or some families may be yearning for someone who is very far away. The colorful illustrations will lead to a better understanding of our differences and to the fact that even though we eat different foods, play different games, speak different languages and worship differently, we all have love to give and we all have our own story to share.

Families; diversity; differences.

found

BY salina yoonSeven Picture Books You Don't Want to Miss

After reading and loving Salina Yoon’s, Be a Friend last fall, I decided to look for more of her books and I wasn’t disappointed after reading Found. Bear finds a lost bunny in the forest and decides to help the sad little rabbit find it’s home. He posts flyers all over the forest, by the pond and even on the top of the highest tree on the mountain. Sadly, he doesn’t get a response, so he decides to take the sad bunny on a picnic. They have an absolutely perfect day, until…they encounter Moose who is thrilled to find his long lost Floppy. However, Moose knows that sometimes passing along a special toy to someone who will love it very much is the kind thing to do. This heart warming book is full of empathy and kindness messages to share with your little ones.

Empathy; kindness.

That’s all for this time, but look for a post about more of my favorite picture books next month. Meanwhile, have you found some picture books lately that have become family favorites, old or new? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

 




Kids’ Books to Remember and Some Links for Mom and Dad

I hope you’ve had a good week beginning with the school holiday on Monday. It was wonderful to have such warm temperatures on President’s Day! We had a great dinner with my sister, brother-in-law and niece and nephew on Monday. It was fun to catch up! Then on Thursday, we visited old friends and on Friday we got to take one of our niece’s out for dinner. Now I’m ending my week by sharing some Kids’ Books to Remember with you.

KIDS’ BOOKS TO REMEMBER: READ ALOUDkids' books to remember

Hank the Cowdog  by John R. Erickson

Agnes and Clarabelle  by Adele Griffin and Courtney Sheinmel. This is the first book of a new beginning chapter book series that you won’t want to miss.

Judy Moody Predicts the Future  by Megan McDonald

 

KIDS’ BOOKS TO REMEMBER: PICTURE BOOKSkids' books to remember

Freedom Summer  by Deborah Wiles. This is an excellent book that will help your kids better understand our country before the Civil Rights Act was law.

Four Feet, Two Sandals  by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed. This story will help your children develop an understanding of, and develop empathy for the refugee children of our world.

Magic Beach  by Alison Lester. This story will help you prepare for your trip to the beach for spring break!

KIDS’ BOOKS TO REMEMBER: CHAPTER BOOKSkids' books to remember

Trixie Belden mysteries, along with Nancy Drew books were my first true favorite series. I was surprised and so happy when I found this on the library shelf!

Trixie Belden, The Mystery at Bob-White Cave  by Kathryn Kenny

Mallory vs. Max  by Laurie Friedman

The following two books are part of a fun series that appeal to both boys and girls.

The Girls Get Even  by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Boys in Control  by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

 

LINKS FOR MOM AND DAD

In celebration of President’s Day:

Fantastic Kids Books about American Presidents

As you begin to get ready for spring break, here are some audio books that will help your trip go much faster.

Great Audio Books for Kids

This link tells about one of my favorite chapter books of the past year.

Survival and Wildness with Peter Brown

This is a new blog you will want to follow. The Loud Library Lady shares a new series that is bound to become a favorite with your family.

We Love Fenway and Hattie!

Thank you for once again inviting me into your inbox. I’m taking a few weeks off, so Kids’ Books to Remember will return on March 19th. Have a good few, hopefully warm, weeks!




Kids’ Books to Remember and Some Links for Mom and Dad

It may just be the nineteenth of February, but it feels like May! I don’t think I could ask for more perfect weather – 70 degrees, sun and low humidity. Can we just keep this until it actually is May?? In addition to enjoying this amazing weather, I’ve had a good week. On Thursday, National Read Aloud, I read to two second grade classes at my old school. We had a fun afternoon learning about the author, Mac Barnett, and reading three of his books, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, Extra Yarn and The Skunk. We watched some fun video clips of interviews with Mr. Barnett, explaining his inspiration for his stories. and had lots of discussions about how they could get inspiration for stories they might write. Then on Friday I had the opportunity to spend time with both of my sisters, which is rare. Between living in different places and our schedules, that is a rare occurrence and a real treat! So now, after those fun days, and a delightful walk downtown yesterday, I’m ready to share another addition of Kids’ Books to Remember with you.

kids’ books to remember: read aloudkids' books to remember

These are great choices to read to all ages. 

Amber Brown is Not a Crayon by Paula Danziger

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins

 

 

KIDS’ BOOKS TO REMEMBER: picture bookskids' books to remember

Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper

Grumpy Gloria by Anna Dewdney

Thidwich the Big-Hearted Moose by Dr. Seuss

 

KIDS’ BOOKS TO REMEMBER: chapter bookskids' books to remember

The first two books are historical fiction titles. The first tells the story of a boy living in a California internment camp in 1942. The second book tell’s about Sofia’s life after her family immigrates from Italy in 1903.

My Name is America series: The Journal of Ben Uchida by Barry Denenberg

My America series: Home at Last, Sophia’s Immigrant Diary by Kathryn Lasky

Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

links for mom and dad

The author of Wonder, R.J. Palacio, is a person I greatly admire. In this first link she shares her ideas about a subject that is very close to my heart.

The Author of Wonder on Why Parents Need to Teach their Middle Schoolers Kindness 

Building a World of Empathy Simply by Reading Aloud

Why The Bridge to Terabithia is Still as Relevant as it was 40 years Ago

Thank you for inviting me into your inbox to share my stories and some Kids’ Books to Remember. Do you have any old favorites you’d like us to know about? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Have a wonderful week and enjoy the amazing weather!




Kids’ Books to Remember and Some Links for your Holiday Week

As I was working out on this snowy, cold morning, I realized that Christmas Eve is just a week away! I love all of the lights, the music and the special times with friends and family. I plan to savor every moment! I hope that you find some quiet time to cuddle with your kids under a warm blanket with a cup of hot chocolate and your favorite Christmas story. Maybe you’ll even find a new favorite story in these Kids’ Books to Remember. Those are the holiday moments you’ll always cherish!

kids’ books to remember: read aloud

Charlie and the Chocolate Family by Roald Dahl

The Tough Winter by Robert Lawson

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne

KIDS’ BOOKS TO REMEMBER: picture books

Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant

Santa’s Favorite Story: Santa Tells the Story of the First Christmas by Hisako Aoki

Christmas in the Country by Cynthia Rylant

KIDS’ BOOKS TO REMEMBER: chapter books

Lulu and the Brontosaurus Judith Viorst

Rules by Cynthia Lord

The Last Christmas Concert by Andrew Clements

links for mom and dad

10 series to read after Harry Potter
a gift guide for the girl with gumption
book gift ideas for reluctant readers: ages 6 – 12
top 50 building toys for mighty girls

This is my last post of the year. I wish you all a very warm, peaceful and memorable holiday season with your families and friends. I will be back in January!

 posts you may have missed on red canoe reader
14 Books to Help your Child by More Compassionate
Kids’ Biographies
Our Pilgramage to the Eric Carle Museum

 

 

 




Our Summer Adventure at The Eric Carle Museum

After reading about the opening of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in 2002, I knew I wanted to visit. The museum was founded by Eric Carle and his wife, who after visiting Japan in the 1980s and visiting many picture book museums, decided to create their own picture book museum. This opened in 2002 in Amherst, Massachusetts. It houses over 6000 illustrations in its permanent collection, as well as many more pieces in the many exhibitions which are held every year. The good news is that I get to visit next week! My husband and I are traveling to our niece’s wedding in Doylestown, PA this week. After the festivities and the special family times that are sure to occur, we are taking a road trip to Massachusetts! I plan to take lots of pictures and share them with you once we get back home.

eric carle museum exhibitions

When we made the decision that we would add the museum to our travel plans, I began doing my research. I was delighted to learn that there are three special exhibitions at the Eric Carle Museum this summer, featuring three renown American illustrators, Robert McCloskey, Eric Carle and Louis Darling. After learning this, I checked out many books by these men, and as a result had so much fun revisiting old favorites!

The art of eric carle: hide and seek

During Eric Carle’s fifty year career, he has illustrated more that 70 books. In reading about this exhibit, I was amazed to learn that Mr. Carle has hidden an R and a C in many of his illustrations, which are the first letters of his children’s names. He’s also hidden names of people and places that are important to him. This exhibit invites the visitor to find these hidden gems. We’ll see how well I do!

Americana on Parade: The Art of Robert McCloskey

eric carle museum

When I read about this exhibit at the Eric Carle Museum, I couldn’t have been happier. You see, I began a love affair with Robert McCloskey’s books when I was in my Children’s Literature class at Purdue, many many years ago. My professor was friends with Robert McCloskey, so we were extremely fortunate to have him visit our class and talk about his books. I remember him as a quiet man and very kind. I didn’t really realize at the time how amazing it was to have this opportunity to chat with a two time Caldecott Award winner in our small group setting. I look back now and I can’t really believe it! However, I have proof. Here’s my signed copy of Time of Wonder. Two years later my brother started college in Boston, so I was able to have many joyful visits to The Public Garden, the swan boats and of course the duckling statues. And thanks to Robert McCloskey’s books, I also developed a love of the rocky beaches of Maine.

eric carle museum

The Eric Carle Museum’s exhibit is in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Make Way for Ducklings. The exhibit of over 90 pieces includes sketches, drawings, watercolors and paintings. I can’t wait!

Louis darling: drawing the words of Beverly cleary

The Eric Carle Museum is celebrating Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday by presenting this exhibit of Louis Darling’s illustrations of Beverly Cleary’s books. Mr. Darling illustrated Ms. Cleary’s books beginning with her first work, Henry Huggins in 1950 until his untimely death twenty years later. In all, he illustrated twelve of Beverly Cleary’s books. After learning about this exhibit, I visited my local library and was able to find these copies that are illustrated by Louis Darling. After his death, and through the years new copies of her older titles were newly illustrated, but if you look hard you can find some titles with the original illustrations. Here are two that I found!

eric carle museum

 

I’ll be posting again in a few weeks and report on our trip. In the meantime, why don’t you visit your library or peruse your book shelves for copies of Eric Carle’s, Robert McCloskey’s and Beverly Cleary’s books? I’m sure you’ll enjoy revisiting these classics, as much as I did! Can you find the hidden letters in Eric Carle’s books? Let us know in the comments below.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 4.28.46 PM

 




Midsummer Reading Ideas for Your Kids

How did it get to be the middle of July?  We’ve had a whirlwind summer, hosting our niece’s wedding shower, several trips to Michigan and then finally attending our niece’s wedding last weekend. It was a very special day and such a fun wedding. We were able to reconnect with many old friends and spend some extra time with family. It all meant so much to us, but by Sunday, we were exhausted!

As for what’s happening here in Naperville, our town’s summer sports are over and the park district activities are winding down. The streets are much quieter, because so many families are on vacation.After all, school starts again in just three weeks! However, there’s still time to get some summer reading done before the middle of August rolls around. Now that I am finally recovered after our big weekend, I want to share some wonderful books with you for your midsummer reading pleasure! I’ve found these books by connecting with my many Instagram friends, through many trips to our local library, through reading reviews and following publisher’s announcements. It’s always so much fun to track these books down and read them myself. I think I have some memorable ones for you!

chapter books for midsummer reading

midsummer reading chapter book

I am sure many of you are as concerned and upset as I am about what has been happening in our country this summer. As I learned about yet another act of violence, I was reading this book and I realized this is a perfect title to add to my list of Kindness books that I wrote about in the spring. In The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz, Nina is spending her summer between middle school and high school pretty much on her own. Her parents, both lawyers, go to work early and return late, her older brother is always busy, her best friend has discovered boys and only wants to talk about clothes and makeup and her beloved grandma has died. So Nina spends a lot of her day in her room looking at all of the houses in her cul-de-sac. On the first day of summer she watches her next door neighbor, Mrs. Chung who lives by herself, struggling to plant her garden full of marigolds as she always does, even though she has a broken leg. After Mrs. Chung gives up and goes inside, Nina remembers something her favorite teacher told the class on the last day of school. He said, “It is very often the ordinary things that go unnoticed that make a difference.” At that moment, Nina comes up with a plan that will change her summer and change her neighbors’ summers, as well. Nina decides to do something unnoticed every day for the 65 days of summer and see if she can really make a difference. This is an inspiring story that I wish I’d found earlier, because it would make a good beginning of summer read aloud. However, the principle idea holds true in any season of the year. And maybe that’s what we all need to do right now. We need to decide to do something ordinary and unnoticed for someone and see if it makes a difference. I’ll bet it does!

Kindness, caring, middle school

midsummer reading chapter book

In the thing about jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, we are introduced to Suzy Swanson. Suzy notices many things about the world that others don’t even realize exist, and she can quote scientific fact after fact to anyone who will listen. So to Suzy, the fact that her lifetime best friend has drowned while on a beach vacation, makes no sense at all. Especially, since the last time she saw Franny, Suzy had played a terrible trick on her. And now Suzy would never be able to apologize. As a result, Suzy has decided never to talk again.

The story follows Suzy through seventh grade and describes her struggle to understand about Franny and to find a way to live with her grief. Suzy insists that Franny couldn’t have drowned, she was much too good of a swimmer, so Suzy sets out to find a reason. And along the way, she discovers that there are still people out there who love her and want to help her to find a way to forgive herself.

Grief, healing, friendship, middle school

midsummer reading chapter bookThe Tale of Rescue by Michael J. Rosen, is a perfect book for the dog lovers in your life who might be looking for an exciting story, but are interested in reading something that is a bit shorter than the average chapter book. This selection received starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.

The Tale of Rescue tells the story of a cattle dog and how he rescued a Florida family caught in a blizzard the the Appalachian Mountains. The book is full of suspense and adventure, and offers proof of a dog’s tremendous will and why a dog is truly man’s best friend.

Adventure, dogs

picture books for midsummer reading

midsummer reading picture book

In A Perfect Place for Ted by Leila Rudge, introduces us to Ted, who has always been a pet store dog. He longs for somewhere to call home, somewhere that is perfect for him. However, the circus doesn’t like his tricks and the pet pageant doesn’t like his looks. However, when he sees a sign advertising for “A furry friend for Dot. Must enjoy long walks and ball games”, he thinks he might have found his perfect place! This is another ‘perfect’ story for the dog lover in your house!

Fun read aloud, dogs

midsummer reading picture book

The Three Questions is a beautifully written and illustrated story by Jon J. Muth and is based on Leo Tolstoy’s short story, The Three Questions. Tolstoy’s story was written for adults, and in this version, Mr. Muth tells the story with kindness and warmth so that children can understand Tolstoy’s ideas. Jon Muth strives to help children understand that showing compassion for those around them, and for living in and appreciating the moment, is the secret to how a person should live. In fact, a good friend of mine, who is a retired third grade teacher and is one who always cared about her kids and strived to help them grow in kindness during the year, would begin the school year by reading and discussing this story. Maybe that is why so many of her kids were always the caring ones.

Kindness, caring

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One of the most touching books I’ve read recently is The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers. I’m a huge fan of Mr. Jeffers and I always share his books with my kindergarten classes and first graders. This selection tells the story of a little girl who appreciated, and was always amazed, by the world around her. Every page, beginning with the amazing end papers, gently and tenderly shows the little girl and her Grandpa together, whether its telling stories, looking at the stars or wondering about a flower.  These wondrous times continued until one day she found an empty chair, instead of seeing her special grandpa ready to help her understand the curiosities of the world. So the girl decides she must keep her heart in a safe place, in a bottle she wears around her neck. She no longer sees the wonders of the world as she grows up, always with the heavy bottle hanging around her neck. But she knows her heart is safe. This goes on until she meets a little girl who teaches her that maybe it’s safe to let her heart come out, and to let her enjoy the wonders of the world once more.

Grief, healing, grandparents

midsummer reading picture book

The Happiest Tree by Uma Krishnaswami. Meena is excited that her class has written, and is going to perform an updated version of Red Riding Hood. When she eagerly starts working on the sets, she dumps a can of paint. After she receives her part in the play, she immediately falls on stage during rehearsal causing all of the other trees to moan, “Meee – na!”

At dinner that night, she laments about her clumsiness to her parents. Her mother assures her, it’s okay because she’s growing so quickly and her dad insists it’s okay not to be perfect. But Meena still feels miserable. While shopping with her mother the next day, she sees a yoga class for kids going on nearby. After a few classes, she begins to gain some confidence and not topple over. She learns about breathing and relaxing. She even learns how to do the tree pose!

I’m always so glad to find a book about yoga. Because it’s becoming more and more popular, I always had requests for yoga stories. I’d definitely recommend this one!

Yoga, confidence, read aloud 

midsummer reading picture book

The Bell in the Bridge by Ted Kooser tells the story of Charlie. Charlie is visiting his grandparents on the farm for two weeks in the summer while his parents go on vacation. Unfortunately, his grandparents are too busy with cooking, cleaning and driving the tractor to spend any time with Charlie. This meant that he was bored and lonely and the two weeks seemed like a really long time. So Charlie goes fishing, plays along the stream and drops stones from the bridge. When he decides to hit the bridge railing with a large stone, it rings like a church bell and then pretty soon the echo returns to him. He visits the bridge every day, and on one visit, after he hits the bridge railing with the special rock, he not only hears an echo, but also another sound as well. Could it be that there’s someone down stream who is returning his bong? Maybe he’s not really alone? Suddenly his summer becomes a lot more fun!

The warm illustrations enhance this cozy story of a little boy’s solo summer adventure. It makes you wish for the peacefulness of the countryside and the time to go exploring.

Read aloud, Summertime, bridges

 

midsummer reading picture book

When I first checked out Reach for the Stars by Serge Bloch, I thought it would be a perfect graduation gift. It would be, and in fact Amazon includes it on a list with many other graduation picture books, but it’s also a wonderful choice for a read aloud in a classroom to introduce idioms. When this book is shared, it can provoke a discussion not only about life and the obstacles you might encounter along the way, but also about the true meanings of the idioms that are found on every page. From “you won’t always be top dog” to “when you have all your ducks in a row, you’ll fly”, your kiddos will be thinking and asking “just what does that mean?” The simple illustrations are delightful and are great depictions of every thought.

graduation, idioms

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I found this book at my library just before I left for a vacation in Michigan, which included many trips to the beach. I love Lake Michigan and have so many fond memories of family times during our yearly trips to Manistee to visit my great grandmother every summer. Lake Michigan might not be the ocean, as this book describes, but it has its own wonder, and the cover of this book immediately brought those fun times to mind! This book is written by Alison Lester, one of Australia’s most popular authors, and is the 20th anniversary addition. The soft colors in the cozy illustrations describe the part imaginary and the part real world of a day at the beach. You feel the peacefulness, the joy and the adventure that such a day might include. After rereading it just now, I’m yearning for a day at the beach!

Summer, beaches, read aloud

midsummer reading picture book

Part of my joy of summer, is sitting outside as it’s getting dark and watching the lightening bugs come out. I imagine this grows out of so many favorite memories from my childhood and from my boys’ childhoods. How many nights did I spend outside with my sisters and brother catching fireflies and filling up our glass jars? Our dad, of course had punched holes in each our of the lids so our new little pets could breathe. What was so unusual about these evenings was the fact that I was normally an inside girl who would much rather be curled up reading a book instead of going outdoors, but those summer evenings would lure me outside and I (who would NEVER, EVER touch a bug) would happily catch lightening bugs and fill my jar. I think my kids found just as much joy as I did, when it came to catching fireflies. So many summer nights, they begged to stay up and wait for the lightening bugs to emerge. The only difference was that they had bug boxes, rather than glass jars (of course, they would never have been allowed to run around with a glass jar! Haha!). So when I discovered this new book recently, Among a Thousand Fireflies by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder I was immediately a fan. Ms. Frost’s poem describes how one firefly discovers a very special friend in the midst of thousands of lights one starry summer evening. Her lyrical words are illustrated with Mr. Lieder’s amazing photographs. This is one you don’t want to miss!

Summer, fireflies, read aloud

Finally, I want to share some links with you that you might find helpful when you’re looking for books for your kids, when they’re saying “I don’t know what to read”!

midsummer reading websites

Brightly is a wonderful site that I really enjoy following. You can find wonderful lists of all types of books divided by age, genre, and interests, as well as interesting articles about books and reading by many different authors. I suggest you check it out!

Finally, if you are looking for some new titles for your youngest kiddos, or for baby gifts, School Library Journal, one of the best source for kids’ book recommendations, has assembled a great list of the newest and best board books, Across the Board: The Latest for Small Readers.  

In closing, I wish you many lazy summer days filled with lots of time for midsummer reading adventures! What books will you be reading? What books do you suggest? Let us know in the comments below.

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New Picture Books for All Ages!

 Well, it’s Mother’s Day and I just received phone calls from both of my sons, so it’s been a good day! This book, This is Sadie, is all about a child and her imagination. I loved this book for many reasons, but probably most importantly because it reminded me of my own kids when they were growing up. Just like Sadie, they had lots of toys and art supplies, but some of the most fun they had, at least in my memory, were the times when they were lucky enough to have an appliance box to play with. It would morph into so many different things from a ship to a Millennium Falcon to a castle. In the winter there were always pillows and blankets, along with the dining room table to help them hatch a new idea for another adventure. I hope your Mother’s Day was as special as mine, and your days are full of happy memories with your little ones. 💕

My last post was about new picture books and chapter books for kids. There were so many picture books that I wanted to include in that post, but the list was getting a little lengthy, so I decided to write about some more new picture books this week. I’ve included ideas about using the books, which I hope are helpful. These are books that were published recently, and I didn’t want you to miss them!

I WISH YOU MORE BY AMY KROUSE ROSENTHAL AND TOM LICHTENHELD

new kids books

This is a heart warming story that would be a perfect graduation or baby gift. The narrator wishes the children many things from “I wish you more ups than downs,” to “I wish you more stories than stars.” And each wish is accompanied by a darling picture which perfectly illustrates the wish. In fact, I just put it into my Amazon cart so I’ll be prepared for those graduations!

Read aloud for all ages; great baby or graduation gift

ASK ME BY BERNARD WABER

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The illustrations in this book by Suzy Lee captivated me when I first saw it on the book store shelf. The golds, oranges, and reds are so alive and so happy. Ask Me is a heartwarming story about a walk that a father and daughter take through the park and woods. We learn that this is just an ordinary walk on an ordinary day, but each of them are delighted to be with one another, to be outside and to be enjoying and observing everything around them. The little girl keeps up a running narrative telling her dad to ask her lots of questions about everything from ice cream cones to lightening bugs. This continues until Daddy tucks her in with a good night kiss.

Read aloud preK – grade 2, illustrations, families.

LITTLE RED BY BETHAN WOOLLVIN

new kids books

The illustrations are all black and white except for a tiny bit of red on each page, which gives a sinister feel to the story from the very beginning of this “fractured fairy tale” about Little Red Riding Hood. This Little Red isn’t at all afraid of the Big Bad Wolf. She sees through his disguises and his trickery and decides to play along, which leads to an unhappy ending for the wolf. The story requires a lot of inferences throughout the book, which will lead to many discussions whether it be one on one or in a class setting. In fact, I am using this as an example of an updated fairy tale when I am a guest teacher in some second grade classes.

K – 6; fractured fairy tale example; inferences

FINDING WINNIE: THE TRUE STORY OF THE WORLDS MOST FAMOUS BEAR BY LINDSEY MATTICK

new kids books

From the amazing end papers through the family photo album at the end of the book, the story and the illustrations in this year’s Caldecott Winner,tell the story of the little bear who inspired the Winnie the Pooh books, It was written as a true story for the author’s son about his great great grandfather and his bear who became Winnie in the A.A. Milne books. I think this is going to be my new “go-to” gift! This is one to keep!

Read aloud for all ages; baby gift

LITTLE TREE BY LOREN LONG

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Little Tree loves his life in the forest and especially loves his leaves. When autumn arrives, he refuses to let his leaves fall, although all of his friends surrounding him have shed theirs. In the spring, he notices his friends have grown a bit, but he’s just the same. This continues for many years until Little Tree is by far the smallest tree in the forest, which finally convinces him to let go of his leaves and to begin to grow. This sweet story encourages us to have the strength and the bravery to face change and to welcome the future. Loren Long, the author of the Otis books, has given us another very special book to add to our libraries.

Read aloud for all ages; growing up; bravery

IDEAS ARE ALL AROUND BY PHILIP STEAD
new kids books

The newest book from Caldecott Medal winning author, Philip C. Stedman, which has earned four starred reviews, is a remarkable and simple picture book with a mixture of photographs and splatter art, as well as ink and watercolor drawings. It is the story of the author and his dog’s wanderings through their neighborhood as they notice everything around them from the frog in his pond, to the line at the soup kitchen, to a train roaring by. As the author sits and talks with his friend, Barbara, and his dog, Wednesday, chases squirrels, he realizes that thoughts lead to more thoughts and that ideas are truly all around. You just need to know where to look!

Read aloud for all ages; imagination; creativity

Octopuppy by Martin McKenna

hot new kids books

Edgar wanted a dog for his birthday, but somehow he ended up with an octopus named Jarvis. Edgar does his best to make Jarvis into a puppy, but Jarvis just doesn’t fit in. After disappointing Edgar many times, Jarvis leaves. This book teaches a great lesson that we need to appreciate our friends for their talents and not expect them to change into someone we want them to be.  Be sure and check out the amazing end papers!

PreK – grade 2; friendship

last stop on market street by matt de la pena

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This book won almost more awards than you can count. In addition to the 2016 Newbery Medal, it also won a 2016 Caldecott Honor Book Award,  a 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book Award,  a New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book Award of 2015 and a Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Book of 2015. It tells the story of a boy and his grandma’s bus ride through the city on a Sunday after church. Grandma’s appreciation of everyone and everything they encounter helps CJ to find the beauty in the world that he never thought about before.

Read aloud PreK – grade 5; appreciation of beauty; optimism

please mr. panda by steve antony

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I learned about this book through an Instagram post by Appyreading.com. By following Appy Reading, I have learned about many wonderful books, including this one. Mr. Panda has an entire box of donuts he wants to share with his friends. He asks each friend, and they always have an answer, but it’s never the right one until one friend knows the perfect way to ask for a treat! Your little one will be willing each animal to ask the “right way”. The story provides a great opportunity for a conversation about the polite way to ask for something, whether it’s at home or when they’re at the library or a restaurant!

Read aloud preK – grade 2; manners; sharing

this is Sadie by sara O’Leary

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The charming illustrations of this book pulled me in and then the story captivated me. As you can tell, I love this book! It describes all of the places and all of the things a child can do with imagination. It’s tells about the childhood that we dream about, and wish for all of our children. It’s definitely on my baby gift list!

Read Aloud; PreK – grade 2; imagination, illustrations, baby gift.

who done it?  by Olivier tallec

hot new kids picture book

I learned about this through an online friend, who writes amazing book reviews on her blog and on Instagram, averyandaugustine.com. This book provides lots of opportunities for conversation with your preschooler, which in turn gives them practice in conversing, and helps teach inferential and early reasoning skills. It’s going to be a favorite for both of you, because you’ll love hearing your child’s different answers every time you read, Who Done It?

Read aloud; PreK – grade 2; inference, questioning, early reasoning skills.

the dark by Lemony snicket

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I was first attracted to this book because of the author, Lemony Snicket. He was a favorite in my library for many years, because of his chapter book series, A Series of Unusual Events. I was curious about what his picture book might be about. As it turns out, it is just what the title suggests! It tells the story of Laszlo who is afraid of the dark (as I sometimes am during the dark winter days in northern Michigan!). It would be a great read aloud with your child who might be feeling the same way. It brings up lots of thoughts and ideas about the dark and why we need it. A wonderful bonus for this book, are the illustrations by Jon Klassen. You may recognize his style from another very popular book during the last year, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole.

Read aloud preK – grade 3. Fear of the dark.

raindrop rolls by april pulley sayre

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I first learned about this book, through a review on A Storybook Year blog. This is an ambitious family project where they read aloud a new storybook every day and then share a review on their blog. I’m sure you’d find some new books, if you browse through the posts.

The cover photograph of Raindrops Roll gives you an idea of the delight you will feel as you turn the pages of this photo illustrated nonfiction book. Raindrops Roll tells the story of what happens to all of nature in a forest, both during a rain shower and after the rain stops. It includes a brief science section at the end of the book that explains what is happening to the water on each page.

When I was with a three year old this past week, who was fascinated with taking pictures of his aunt to be as she tried on her wedding gown, I had an idea about this book. This would be a great introduction to your children about photography and science, and perhaps they could make their own photographic science book!

Read aloud all ages; science of water cycle; nonfiction; photography

Are there some new picture books you’d like us to know about? Please let me know in the comments!

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New Kids Books You Don’t Want to Miss!

 

Spring has come to the Midwest! We’ve had an amazing weekend that felt more like summer than spring and so far this week, we’ve held on to the warm weather. I was even able to take some of my pictures outside, which seems to be easier with better results. As you all enjoy our great weather, here are some new kids books you that you might want to investigate.

As most of you know, I’m a recently retired elementary school librarian. Throughout the over 20 years in my job, I kept up with book reviews through library magazines and more recently online sources. However, because I was also trying to save some time during the evenings and on the weekends for my husband and family, I missed learning about some books.  One of the best parts of my retirement, is that I now have the time to peruse the online sources, social media and literature blogs to learn about new books and authors. It has been so much fun! I spend a part of each day reviewing these sources and making notes about ones I want to try. I’ve become a very frequent visitor to our wonderful public libraries (which amazingly always seems to have the books I am looking for!) to check out these books so I can determine if I agree with the reviews. Most of the time I do! I have found that the quality of the writing, as well as the illustrations, is impressive. Therefore, because of my past experiences, I understand how hard it is for you busy moms, teachers and grandmas to keep up with it all and to find some special books for your kids. Hopefully this list will help! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll recognize some of the titles, but there are lots of new ones as well. Here we go!

new Middle grade kids books  

El deafo by Cece Bell

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This book won the Newberry Honor this year and after reading it, I think it was an excellent choice. It’s a graphic novel memoir which is very touching, but full of humor. Cece became deaf after contracting meningitis when she was four. She describes her experiences and the reactions of those around her. She just wanted to be accepted and have friends, but it wan’t always easy. It would be a great book to read with your child. It would also be a wonderful choice to share with hearing impaired kids and their friends. I think it helps all of us have empathy and a better understanding of the world of a hearing impaired child.

Hearing impaired, empathy, kindness, graphic novel, humor

Escape from Basters’ Barn by Rebecca Bond
 new kids books

This new kids book will be a winner with fans of Charlotte’s Web. The Story is told from the animals’ perspective and describes their friendship, loyalty and teamwork as they try to solve a life threatening problem in the barn.

Animal story, friendship, loyalty, teamwork, adventure, read aloud for all ages

The wild robot by Peter Brown
new kids books

This fantasy book is the first chapter book from the award winning picture book author, Peter Brown. Roz, a robot, finds herself alone on a deserted island with no way to get home. Roz is very intelligent, and very adaptable, however, so she quickly learns how to cope with living in the woods by observing the unwelcoming animals on the island. After a while, the island begins to feel like home when Roz and the animals become friends. This novel is both heart warming, and full of action, and is one you won’t want to miss!

Fantasy, adventure, great read aloud for all ages

paper wishes  by Lois Sepahban

new kids books

This historical fiction book is Manami’s diary from 1942 which describes her family’s experiences as they are relocated from their home on Bainbridge Island to a Japanese American camp in the California desert. She is very sad to go, but refuses to give up her dog, as is required. She tries to smuggle Yujiin onto the train that will take them to their new home, but he is taken from her after he is discovered. From her new home, Manami writes letters and draws pictures for Yujinn everyday promising to take good care of him when he returns home.

Historical fiction, World War II, good read aloud for grades 3-5

brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline woodson

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This is another Newberry Honor book. It is Ms. Woodson’s autobiography about growing up in South Carolina and New York in the ’60s and ’70s, and is all told in verse. Each poem vividly describes her experiences as she deals with both discrimination and the Jim Crow Laws. However, her love of writing shines through in the poignant verse.

Historical fiction, Civil Rights Movement, poetry, autobiography, good read aloud for grades 3-5

new picture books

have you seen elephant? by david Barrow

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This book is sure to become a favorite that you will reading over and over again. The charming illustrations from this first time author just give you a warm feeling. You might notice that it is all dialogue, with the best line being when the elephant tells the little boy that “I must warn you though. I’m VERY good.” when they begin to play hide and seek together. Your children will soon be emphatically (and probably very loudly) pointing out the elephant in each hiding place, as the dog is doing on each stop along the way, but the little boy just can’t find Elephant. A School Library Journal starred review, which will be enjoyed by all!

 preschool – grade 2 read aloud

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes

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The latest book from Kevin Henkes, is beautifully illustrated by his wife, Laura Dronzek (I’m not familiar with her illustrations, but this book definitely makes me want to see more. Actually, I think I’d like for her to decorate my house!). This is a lovely, sweet story that pulls you in through the beautiful and vibrant illustrations covering the end papers and then keeps you turning each page to learn what’s coming next. It made me feel so joyful and cozy, as it engaged all of my senses. It’s a wonderful read aloud for preschool children, which will lead to an understanding of what to expect as Spring emerges all around them.

seasons, preschool – grade 2 read aloud

bear and bunny by daniel pinkwater

new kids books

This is another book which received a starred review from School Library Journal. That happens to be the best recommendation a book can have, in my opinion! If a book received this, the book was always at the top of my “to be purchased list” for my library. Of course, now, this is really dangerous, because I want to add every starred title to my home library! This is a sweet story about friendship, as the two friends are on their quest through the forest to find the perfect pet. As they consider each possibility, it’s a great opportunity to talk with your child, or with a class, about the reading strategy of comparing and contrasting that occurs in the story as Bear and Bunny come to a conclusion.

read aloud preschool – 2, compare and contrast, friendship

boxes for katje by Candace Fleming

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This isn’t a new book, but it’s new to me and I wouldn’t want you to miss it! The historical fiction story is set in Holland immediately after the second World War. Food and clothing were extremely scarce, due to the fact that nothing could be farmed or manufactured during the war. One day, a little girl, Katje, receives a box from America containing socks, soap and chocolate. It caused a huge celebration in Katje’s family, and she sent a thank you note to the little American girl who sent the package.This prompted another box to arrive which was so large that Katje could share the contents with her neighbor. This continued, until the Americans had sent enough food, soap, warm clothing and chocolate for the entire town! And then Katje sends a thank you gift to America. This story will lead to an understanding of conditions after the war, and how the kindness of a few people can help so many.

read aloud for all ages, historical fiction, World War II, empathy, kindness

the first step: how one girl put segregation on trial by susan e. goodman

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Sarah Roberts was attending a school in Boston in 1847 that was near her home, had lots of supplies and books and many teachers. Then she is told she can’t attend, because it is a school for white children. Sarah is sent to a a school for African American Children, which is a long distance away and has only one book. Out of concern for Sarah and their anger at the situation, Sarah’s parents go to court and “put segregation on trial.” This story describes the long battle that Sarah’s family and some hard working lawyers fought to achieve integration in Boston schools. Fairness was finally schieved in 1855 when the mayor declared Boston to be the first city with integrated schools. The story continues to describe the journey toward integrating schools in all of the United States, which concluded with the 1954 Supreme Court Decision which declared all schools must be integrated.

Historical fiction, Civil Rights Movement, segregation, read aloud for grades 2-5

a tale of two beasts by fiona robertson

new kids books

This is a fun story told from two points of view – a little girl on her way home through the woods from Grandma’s house and a strange little beast she finds along the way. First of all, be sure and notice the end papers. They will put a smile on your face before you even begin reading the story. They are also a good discussion starter with your child. Then as you proceed, there are so many details in every illustration for you to find and to point out. It would be a lot of fun to share this story with a child while you are curled up together, or with a class. It would definitely be high on my list for a read aloud with my kindergarten or first grade classes!

Point of view, read aloud preK – grade 2, kindness, friendship

 There are so many more books I want to share with you, but I’ll save those for next time. What are some new books you would like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

P.S. One of my favorite bloggers, Modern Mrs. Darcy, recently published a post titled, Twelve Terrific Books for Tween Girls. Be sure and check it out. It has some terrific recommendations!

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