Showing posts with label preschool. Show all posts
Showing posts with label preschool. Show all posts

Sunday, March 17, 2019

In the Middle of the Night: An interview with Laura Purdie Salas about her writing process (ages 3-8)

I'm delighted to celebrate a new poetry book In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House, by Laura Purdie Salas. This delightful collection of poems captured my imagination as they describe the adventures of everyday inanimate objects found at night.
In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House
by Laura Purdie Salas
Wordsong / Highlights, 2019
Amazon / your local library
ages 3-8
As part of the blog tour celebrating her new book, Laura was kind enough to share about her writing process with me.

Mary Ann: I'd love to share with readers a little bit about your writing process.

Laura: Thanks so much for being part of the blog tour! Unless I’m writing while traveling, I write on my laptop. I might write individual poems on napkins or my phone, but with a big project like a poetry collection, I do less of that. I write most freely when my fingers can move fast, and I can type much faster than I can write longhand. On July 24, 2012, I wrote in my journal:
I spent 30 minutes, finally, on Nobody's Looking (my original name for this idea) last night right before bed. I don't know why I keep procrastinating. Maybe because I don't have a super-clear image of the finished project in my head.
Mary Ann: I can relate to that so much! Procrastination is really difficult to deal with. What did you do when you felt stuck?

Laura: One thing that helped me was reading lots of poetry books I love, that were in a style I was trying to capture. That day, I wrote this blog post about using mentor texts: Finding My Writing GPS. Reading these books gave me a new sense of enthusiasm.
"Animals on the Go"
Mary Ann: I love your use of words. "Lion flips. / Monkey snips. Dolphin drums. / Dragon strums." Your poems are so much fun to read aloud as each word takes shape first on my tongue and then in our minds. How do you gather words for a poem?

Laura: I collect words on a project by project basis. For example, for a draft of a project I'm currently working on, I wrote in my journal:
Also want to brainstorm some words, synonyms and phrases for belonging, accepted, trust, valued...things like that. Not to mention, just...good. Enough.

belong, fit, like a puzzle piece, believed, traditional, standard, agreed, shouldered, believed, faith, belief, hope, rely, trust, expect, care, protect, guard, depend on, count on, be sure about, worth, price, cost, importance.
Those are all just synonyms, but I often make lists of specifically juicy words I come across in my research that I think, Oooh, I want to use that word somehow in my draft.

Mary Ann: Our students and teachers use a word wall. Do you have a word wall at home? What is your writing space like?

Laura: I love so many words. If I had a word wall, I think our townhome would sag under the weight of it! I love walking while I write, so this is my writing space:
Laura Purdie Salas walking and writing
Mary Ann: I love the way stuffed animals come to life in this! Do you have a story about a stuffie from her own childhood?

Laura: What a great question. I have hardly anything from my childhood. Six or seven books, about a dozen photos, and no toys. But I do have Tommy the Turtle. I may originally have “borrowed” him from my big sister, Patty (don’t tell). He has come with me everywhere I’ve ever lived, and I think Tommy would love to have Octopus teach him how to skate!
Laura Purdie Salas and Tommy the Turtle
Thank you so much, Laura! Many congratulations on a wonderful book. Here are all of the stops on the blog tour:
The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Highlights Press. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2019 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Ten favorite picture books (ages 3-10)

Picture books are truly for everybody. Read them together with young children, sharing a story together, savoring the joy of discovery. Encourage older children to take a break with picture books and savor the story. Here's a selection of old and new picture books I love.

Alma and How She Got Her Name, by Juana Martinez-Neal: Oh how I love this book. As one young reader told me, “it makes me want to learn more about my own name.” Alma helps us all feel like we are special for being unique. Alma Sofia Esperanza Josi Pura Candela worries about her long name until her father tells her family stories, one for each person she's named after. The illustrations are soft and gently sweet, showing the distinctive essence of each ancestor and the affections between Alma and her family. (ages 4-8)

Drawn Together, by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat: When a young boy visits his grandfather, they struggle to communicate because the grandson only speaks English and his grandfather only speaks Thai. After an uncomfortable dinner where the cultural divides are palpably painful, the boy pulls out a sketch he's made of a superhero. He's surprised when his grandfather starts drawing a Thai warrior. As they start drawing together, they build a new world layered and complex with both cultures. Not only is this a beautiful story, it is full of universal emotions: connecting across generations and cultures, relating to each other through art and storytelling, and discovering shared passions. (ages 4-9)

Duck! Rabbit!, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld: Is it a duck? Or a rabbit? What do you think? Turn it upside down - do you see anything different? The off-stage narrators argue back and forth, trying to convince each other that their perspective is right. Lichtenheld's illustrations, with absolute clearness and utter ambiguity, are perfect for encouraging your own kids to join the debate. (ages 4-9)

Firebird, by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers: A young African American girl looks up to Copeland saying, "the space between you and me is longer than forever"--how could I ever become as beautiful and graceful as you? Copeland turns to the young girl, reassuring her that she was once just as small, just as shy--and the magic comes when you pursue your dreams. (ages 6-10)

Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson: One night, Harold decided to go for a walk. Bringing only his giant purple crayon, Harold draws himself a world full of wonder and imagination, from a sailboat on a stormy sea to a picnic with a moose with nine kinds of pie! This classic picture book has inspired young children since 1955, but it captivates children still, showing them how far their imagination can take them. (ages 3-7)

Hello Hello, by Brendan Wenzel: This picture book will delight young readers, saying hello to different animals. Read the spare rhymes slowly, encouraging readers to notice how the animals are similar and different. "Hello Stripes. Hello Spots." Sure, tigers have stripes and cheetahs have spots, but what about fish and lizards? Which they have stripes and spots, too! I especially love the way Wenzel gives clues on each page of what's coming next--the whale shark's spotted tail, leads into: "Hello Giant. Hello Not." Wenzel's animals are full of life, and a key in the back will help eager readers to learn all of their names. (ages 3-8)

Julián Is a Mermaid, by Jessica Love: After Julián, a young Afro-Latinx child, sees three fabulous people dressed as mermaids, he creates his own costume. When Abuela discovers this, will she support him or chastise him? In this delightful story, Julian's grandmother embraces his creativity, helping him complete the outfit, and then proudly taking him to a parade. This story delights readers and never becomes too preachy, staying rooted in the joy of imagination and the importance of being seen and recognized. (ages 4-8)

Niño Wrestles the World, by Yuyi Morales: With a huge imagination and a love of luche libre, the popular Mexican wrestling sport, little Niño battles his own make-believe monsters. Whether he’s defeating the Guanajuato mummy or exploding the giant Olmec Head, this is one confident little kid. Morales brings humor, dynamic energy and vivid artwork to this terrific picture book. (ages 4-8)

Press Here, Hervé Tullet: This ingenious interactive book invites readers right into the action of this story, pressing dots to multiply them, blowing on them to scatter them across the page, clapping to make them blow up like a balloon. It is utterly simple and yet completely engrossing, showing readers that they are truly part of making any story come alive and leap off the pages of a book. (ages 3-7)

Rain, by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Christian Robinson: Have you ever noticed that a good mood can be contagious? One a rain day, a grumpy old man complains about his "nasty galoshes" and the "dang puddle." But not everyone feels that way. A little boy is so excited to put on his froggy hat and rain boots. When they bump into each other, the little guy's mood eventually rubs off on the old man. A delightful story, perfect for spreading a smile. (ages 4-8)

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2018 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Sunday, August 19, 2018

We Don't Eat Our Classmates, by Ryan T. Higgins -- back-to-school fun, with a dollop of empathy (ages 4-8)

Each fall brings a bevy of back-to-school books--helping young children get used to new classrooms, make new friends, learn new routines. Earnest advice might appeal to parents, but kids love stories combine humor, empathy and advice. If you're looking for a heartfelt back-to-school book, check out We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins.
We Don't Eat Our Classmates
by Ryan T. Higgins
Disney-Hyperion, 2018
Amazon / Public library
ages 4-8
As the first day of school approaches, Penelope worries about making friends. The cuddly cute little T. Rex wonders what her classmates are going to be like, whether they will be nice.

When the first day arrives, Penelope "was very surprised to find out that all of her classmates were... CHILDREN!"

Penelope is so surprised, she ate all the children. "Because children are delicious." The teacher is not impressed, and instructs Penelope to spit them out immediately. Penelope's classmates are covered in slimy spit--you can imagine the giggles that will erupt from young readers.

Phe tries really hard at school, but she keeps eating her classmates. After this, Penelope's classmates don't want to be her friends. They're worried about sitting next to her at lunch.
"It was lonely."
Penelope can't understand why her classmates are reluctant to play with her. It isn't until a goldfish chomps on her finger that she understands just how much this can hurt. When she changes her ways, Penelope starts making friends.

Young students know just how difficult it is to control themselves. Higgins creates a very likable main character--readers will identify with her fears, worries and lack of self-control. With gentle humor, Higgins reminds us to think about how your actions might impact others.
"Now, even when children look especially delicious, she peeks at Walter (the goldfish) and remembers what it's like when someone tries to eat you."
Ryan T. Higgins is the author of one of our favorite read-alouds: Mother Bruce. He is a masterful storyteller, knowing just how humor can help resolve important issues. I appreciated reading this interview on Publisher's Weekly about his process creating this story.

Check out more back-to-school favorites on my Goodreads shelf. Illustrations copyright ©2018 Ryan T. Higgins, shared by permission of the publisher. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Disney Hyperion Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2018 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Stop, Go, Yes, No!: A Story of Opposites by Mike Twohy -- terrific fun for youngest readers (ages 3-6)

As a school librarian, I delight in sharing books that make kids laugh and want to read more. Stop, Go, Yes, No! is just this sort of book -- our youngest kids will love reading this together again and again. It's funny, full of energy and utterly relatable. The icing on top is that it helps little ones learn about opposites and develop early reading skills.
Stop, Go, Yes, No! -- A Story of Opposites
by Mike Twohy
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2018
Amazon / Public library / preview
ages 3-6
*best new book*
A grey cat peacefully sleeps on the opening page, and the word "Asleep" is written in large, clear letters. Turn the page, and the joyful dog from the cover shouts "Awake!" jolting the cat from its nap.
Twohy keeps a steady rhythm of paired opposites, as the dog chases the cat and tries to convince it to play. Happy-go-lucky dog just wants to play, but the cat clearly wants to be left alone.
With just 28 words, Twohy builds a story that pulls readers in, makes them laugh and want to find out what happens next.
I appreciate the way Twohy keeps plenty of space around each word, encouraging young readers to look at the picture and then the word. Using these picture clues is an important part of reading development.

Twohy masterfully creates two distinct characters. Try asking young readers how the cat and dog are feeling at different moments. Then have fun role-playing these two characters, or making up your own pairs of opposites. Also be sure to check out Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run! Twohy's previous book with this lovable dog.

Illustrations copyright ©2018 Mike Twohy, shared by permission of the publisher. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2018 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Monday, June 4, 2018

#SummerReading 2018: Preschool, TK and Kindergarten (ages 4-5)

Summer is here. Kids are excited to have free time, but with that can come the eventual moans of: "I'm bored!" Head to the library or bookstore to stock up on a pile of books.

Here are some of my favorite books to recommend for kids just finishing preschool and kindergarten. Each day this week, I'll be sharing a post to help families read over the summer, organized by grade levels.
#SummerReading: Preschool & Kindergarten
click for full 2018 summer reading lists
Note: Our schools use the Fountas & Pinnell reading levels to help indicate "just right books" for students. I like to band these levels together, to look at a group of similar books.

New Picture Books We're Loving
Alma and How She Got Her Name, by Juana Martinez-Neal
Is Everyone Ready for Fun?, by Jan Thomas
When's My Birthday?, by Julie Fogliano

Wordless Books to Read Together
A Ball for Daisy, by Chris Raschka
Little Fox in the Forest, by Stephanie Graegin

Favorite Books to Read Aloud
Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
Lola at the Library, by Anna McQuinn

Beginning to Read (levels C-D-E-F)
I See a Cat, by Paul Meisel
When Andy Met Sandy, by Tomie dePaola

Folktales and Trickster Tales
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, by Natasha Yin
La Princesa and the Pea, by Susan Middleton Elya

Beginning to Read More (levels F-G-H-I)
Super Fly Guy, by Tedd Arnold
The Watermelon Seed, by Greg Pizzoli

Exploring Animals All Around
Can an Aardvark Bark?, by Melissa Stewart
Puppies and Kittens, by Penelope Arlon

Picture Books that Make Us Laugh
How to Find an Elephant, by Kate Banks
Niño Wrestles the World, by Yuyi Morales

CLICK HERE for all of the 2018 summer reading lists, grades K through 5.

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2018 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Mommy's Khimar, by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn -- full of love, sunshine and imagination (ages 4-8)

Mommy's Khimar is a delightful new picture book that is full of love, sunshine and imagination. A young Muslim girl plays dress up with her mother's khimar, or Islamic headscarf. When she wraps it around herself, she feels her mother's love surrounding her and she imagines all of the things she can be. The bright, warm illustrations convey all of this love and draw young readers to this story.
Mommy's Khimar
by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn
Salaam Reads / Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018
Amazon / your local library
ages 4-8
*best new book*
I especially appreciate how this picture book is both specific to this young girl's African American Muslim culture and universal. Many of my students will recognize themselves in this story. Some wear a headscarf every day and will see their family's love and heritage in this story. Others will recognize the joy in playing with their mother's clothes.
Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
I am honored to have Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow as my guest here today. My questions are in red below, followed by her answers.

What planted the seeds for writing Mommy's Khimar?
Wearing a khimar or an Islamic headscarf is part of my everyday life but I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to focus on that in writing kidlit with Muslim characters. I remember thinking people always make this piece of cloth so serious but as a kid I didn’t really see it that way. Khimars were soft, silky scarves I borrowed from my mother when it was time to pray or wrapped around myself to create pretend dresses and gowns. So, I guess I ended up telling a story about how four-year-old me saw the khimar.
"A khimar is a flowing scarf that my mommy wears."
What ran through your head the first time you saw the delightful illustrations by Ebony Glenn?
I was just so giddy! I loved the main character’s facial expressions. She’s very adorable. The scene when she is playing in the closet with all of the khimars is magical every time I look at it. And--this may sound strange--but I loved that the characters have dark skin. In the rare stories about Muslims, I rarely if ever see Black Muslims depicted. It was nice to have more diversity.
"Some have tassels. Some have beads.
Some have sparkly things all over."
I'd love to learn more about why you wear a khimar. Can you tell me a little about this tradition and what it means to you?
I was 14 years old when I decided to wear full hijab. Full hijab is the khimar/head covering and clothing that covers everything except the face and hands. I started exploring my faith more around that time and I saw this as a way to demonstrate my faith in God. I also liked and continue to like the way it identifies me as Muslim. Although I am a religious minority, I get to feel connected to other Muslims who are also identifiably Muslim--even strangers on the street. This wasn’t actually a tradition of my family though. My father is a convert to Islam and although my mother grew up in a Muslim culture, she didn’t regularly wear a khimar when I was growing up unless she was going to the mosque.
"When I wear Mommy's khimar, I am a mama bird.
I spread my golden wings and shield my baby
brother as he sleeps in his nest."
I'm curious about your family heritage. I love the diverse families included in your story. Can you tell us a little about your family?
My family is bicultural. My mother is from Guinea, which is in West Africa and she is from the Mandinka ethnic group which has been predominantly Muslim for centuries. My father is a Black American, descended from the Africans who were brought here through the transatlantic slave trade. He was raised as a Christian but became Muslim as a young man. On his side of the family there are Christians, atheists, and Buddhists. My husband is also a Black American convert to Islam, and so my kids have Christian and Muslim grandparents. My oldest immediately recognized Mom-mom in Mommy’s Khimar as being just like his own Mom-mom or grandmother who often exclaims, “Sweet Jesus!”

I see you're a program director for Mighty Writers--I love the sound of this! Can you tell us a little about your work there?
The mission of Mighty Writers is to teach kids to think and write with clarity. We are a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that provides writing instruction in after school, evening, weekend, summer, and mentorship programs to youth ages 2 to 18 and we provide all of that instruction for free. My work is to create writing programs, teach writing programs, and engage volunteers in doing that work too.

What are some other favorite picture books you like to read with your students at Mighty Writers?
There are so many! In recent months, I have enjoyed reading It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr, The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi, and Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena. I think the kids and I have had the most fun reading Say Hello! by Rachel Isadora.

Thank you so much, Jamilah. Your book has already brought my students and me so much happiness. Much luck to your continued writing.

Illustrations copyright ©2017 Ebony Glenn, shared by permission of the publisher. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Simon Schuster. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2018 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Facing our fears: picture books give us courage to keep trying (ages 3-8)

Fear is a powerful force, in our lives and in our children's. How do we help young kids face their fears and keep moving forward? There is no one easy answer, but several picture books help acknowledge the power that fear has and different ways to overcome it. Today, I'd like to share four with different approaches for young kids.
Sam, the Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the Whole World
A Leonardo, the Terrible Monster companion
by Mo Willems
Disney-Hyperion, 2017
Amazon / Public library
ages 3-6
One day Sam makes a terrifying discovery. You might think that it's Frankenthaler the monster, but actually it's another little kid Kerry! You see, Sam is the most scaredy-cat kid in the whole world. But guess what? Kerry is also terrified of Sam! What are their monsters going to do?

Sometimes, kids need to discover that they can just carry on and deal with their fears. Sam & Kerry's monsters just leave them to "figure it out," and guess what? These two kids discover that they have more in common then they do to fear, especially as they fall into giggles when they play a trick on their monsters. A fun companion to Mo Willems' Leonardo, the Terrible Monster.
I (Don't) Like Snakes
by Nicola Davies
illustrated by Luciano Lozano
Candlewick, 2015
Amazon / Public library
ages 4-8
A young girl can't believe it, but her family really likes snakes. When she says, "I really, really, REALLY don't like snakes!" they are amazed--setting the stage for the young protagonist to explain just why she can't stand these slithering, scaly creatures with flicky tongues.

There are times that facts and knowledge help us overcome our fears. Each time this young girl tells her family why she doesn't like snakes, they tell her a little more about these amazing creatures. "Snakes HAVE to slither," said my mom. "They don't have legs, so they bend like an S and use their ribs and scales to grip. It's the only way they can move." Davies then provides more information about different types of motions: concertina slithering, serpentine slithering and caterpillar crawling.

This skillful blend of humor and information models a terrific way of overcoming our fears by learning more about them.
I Am (Not) Scared
by Anna Kang
illustrated by Christopher Weyant
Two Lions, 2017
Amazon / Public library
ages 3-6
I'm not sure about you, but I scream like crazy on roller coasters. I get terrified when I zoom along in those tiny cars. And yet I leave the ride with an incredible rush. How do you explain this blend of fear and adrenaline? And can we extend this to other fears?

 In this delightful picture book, two bears share their fears of hairy spiders, hot lava and fried ants. But what's really on their mind is the roller coaster (with a snake!) right in front of them: The Loop of Doom. With simple, bold text and exaggerated cartoon characters, Kang and Weyant deliver the message that these friends can face their fears together, and that a little fear can be a whole lot of fun.
The Thing Lou Couldn't Do
by Ashley Spires
Kids Can, 2017
Amazon / Public library
ages 3-7
Sometimes, we are convinced that everyone else can do something and there is just no way we can do it. My youngest is absolutely sure that she cannot ride a bike. Lou loves adventure, but she is terrified of heights. When her friends decide to build their pirate ship up in a tree, Lou isn't sure she can climb it.
"Lou tells them that her arm is sore. And anyway, the cat needs a walk... There are so many reasons not to try."
After deliberating and avoiding it for a few pages, Lou decides that it's time for her "to climb aboard." She struggles and groans and is sure "she must be nearly there," but when readers turn the page they discover that she's just climbed a tiny bit.

I love this ending, with its message of trying new things and persevering. Even though she didn't climb very far, it's that she can't do it yet. "She'll be back. Maybe even tomorrow. After all, Lou loves an adventure."

The review copies were kindly sent by the publishers, Disney-Hyperion, Candlewick, Two Lions and Kids Can Press. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Grandma's Tiny House, by JaNay Brown-Wood -- a counting book that rises above the rest (ages 3-6)

Counting books are a dime a dozen, but Grandma's Tiny House rises above the rest of this crowded field. Teachers and families will appreciate this loving African American family, the story and rhymes that bring this beyond your typical counting book.
Grandma's Tiny House
by JaNay Brown-Wood
illustrated by Priscilla Burris
Charlesbridge, 2017
Amazon / Your local library
ages 3-6
A grandmother welcomes her family, friends, and neighbors into her home for a wonderful feast, and everyone brings food to share. Cheerful rhymes mark the arrival of different guests. "THREE neighbors knock on the brown wooden door, with FOUR pots of hot greens and ham hocks galore." As more folks arrive, the house quickly fills. Where is everyone going to go? Aunties, cousins, grandkids -- it's quite a houseful.

This counting story is firmly set in an African American home with specific details, a joyful community and lots of love. Many families and teachers are looking for diverse stories just like this, where race and ethnicity is a part of the story because it's just part of the family's life -- not a point of conflict. This is a counting book with lots of feeling and smiles to go around.

Enjoy this trailer to get more of a feel for this joyful story:


If you're interested in more math books, check out the Mathical Prize for children's books. "The Mathical Book Prize is an annual award for fiction and nonfiction books that inspire children of all ages to see math in the world around them." Thanks to friend and fellow blogger Betsy Bird for bringing this award to my attention! This prize is organized by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), in partnership with the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Charlesbridge Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Monday, June 19, 2017

#SummerReading 2017: Preschool & Kindergarten

Summer is here. Kids are excited to have free time, but with that can come the eventual moans of: "I'm bored!" Head to the library or bookstore to stock up on a pile of books.

Here are some of my favorite books to recommend for kids just finishing preschool and kindergarten. Each day this week, I'll be sharing a post to help families read over the summer, organized by grade levels.
click for link to full 2017 summer reading lists, including printable form
Note: Our schools use the Fountas & Pinnell reading levels to help indicate "just right books" for students. I like to band these levels together, to look at a group of similar books.

New Picture Books We're Loving
Dad and the Dinosaur, by Gennifer Choldenko
Jabari Jumps, by Gaia Cornwall

Wordless Books to Read Together
A Ball for Daisy, by Chris Raschka
Journey, by Aaron Becker

Favorite Books to Read Aloud
Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
Press Here, by Herve Tullet

Beginning to Read (levels C-D-E-F)
I See and See, by Ted Lewin
When Andy Met Sandy, by Tomie dePaola

Folktales and Trickster Tales
Can't Scare Me, by Ashley Bryan
Little Roja Riding Hood, by Susan Middleton Elya

Beginning to Read More (levels F-G-H-I)
Super Fly Guy, by Tedd Arnold
We Are Growing!, by Laurie Keller

Exploring Animals All Around
Biggest, Strongest, Fastest, by Steve Jenkins
Puppies and Kittens, by Penelope Arlon

Picture Books that Make Us Laugh
The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra, by Marc Tyler Noble
Niño Wrestles the World, by Yuyi Morales

CLICK HERE for all of the 2017 summer reading lists, grades K through 5.

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Growing little gardeners: picture books to encourage young children in the garden (ages 3-8)

The sun shone brilliantly on today, making me wish I were out in the garden. My children loved digging in the dirt when they were young. Is that something you enjoy doing with your kids?

Check out these favorite picture books to share about gardening, and share your excitement with your children. All feature a diverse range of kids. Several are new in paperback this spring.
In Anywhere Farm, Phyllis Root uses upbeat rhyming text showing all the places we can grow our vegetable garden: “Plant a farm in a crate! / Plant a farm in a cup! / In a box on a balcony / ten stories up! / Plant a farm in a truck! / In a box on a bike! / Plant an anywhere farm / anywhere that you like.” Illustrations by G. Brian Karas emphasize how children in an urban community comes together to help create a neighborhood garden. "Anybody can do it. / You've showed it's not hard." (Candlewick, 2017)

It's Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden (by George Ancona) chronicles a year in the life of a school garden, from spring planting all the way through preparing for winter. Color photographs show students composting soil, watering plants, and sampling the edible delights. The garden at Acequia Madre Elementary School will inspire you to make the garden an outdoor classroom for your children. (Candlewick, 2013)

In Lola Plants a Garden (also in Spanish), Lola wants a garden just like in her favorite nursery rhyme "Mary, Mary, quite contrary." Anna McQuinn's simple text and Rosalind Beardshaw's joyful illustrations make this a great choice to read aloud to preschoolers, or for first graders to read independently: "Lola and Mommy make the garden. The seed packets mark where the flowers are planted." (Charlesbridge, 2014)

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt (by Kate Messner and Christopher Neal) explores a garden above ground and below, as it transforms from early spring through late autumn. A child and her grandmother garden for long hours above ground, while below ground animals of all shapes and sizes forage for food and maintain the soil in their own parallel efforts. "Up in the garden, we pick cukes and zucchini, harvesting into the dark...Down in the dirt, skunks work the night shift. They snuffle and dig, and gobble cutworms while I sleep." (Chronicle Books, 2015)

The review copies were kindly sent by the publishers, Candlewick, Charlesbridge and Chronicle. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Honoring #VeteransDay with Good Night Captain Mama / Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá, by Graciela Tiscareño-Sato (ages 4-8)

As we get ready to celebrate Veterans Day, I wonder about how we can make this meaningful for young children. In my community, I want to honor families who have a family member serving in the Armed Forces. I highly recommend Good Night Captain Mama / Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá, by Graciela Tiscareno-Sato--a bilingual story that provides an important view of women and mothers serving in the military.
Good Night Captain Mama / Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá
by Graciela Tiscareño-Sato
illustrated by Linda Lens
Gracefully Global, 2013
Your local library
Amazon
ages 4-8
When young Marco asks his mother why she is wearing a uniform as he is going to bed, she explains that it is her flight suit. As she puts him to bed, Mama tells Marco about her job as an aircraft navigator and what each patch on her uniform represents.
"What's this?" he asked, pointing to a square shape on her shoulders. "That's my rank. I am a Captain," Mama told him. "You're a Captain? Like the captain of a ship?" asked the little boy. "Yes, something like that sweetheart," she said with a smile.
The conversation keeps the information grounded in a child's perspective, and the gentle tone emphasizes the mother's love for her son. The patches show different aspects of serving in the Air Force, providing an effective frame for the story. As the story wraps up, Marco wears his mother's patch to bed, thinking of her and her team.
Graciela and crew on wing of KC-135R
Graciela & her son
Graciela Tiscareño-Sato based this story on her personal experience flying in the Air Force and her young son's curiosity about her uniform. I love that young readers are able to see a mother serving as a captain in the military, especially honoring a Latina flight navigator. This brings a personal, immediate connection to our celebration of Veterans Day.

I'm looking forward to reading Graciela's new book, Captain Mama's Surprise / La Sorpresa de Capitán Mamá. In this story, Marco visits his mother's KC-135 aerial refueling tanker on a field trip with his second grade class.

Here are a few other stories you might want to share this week as you honor Veterans Day:
Many thanks to Graciela Tiscareño-Sato for sending me a review copy. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Also an Octopus, by Maggie Tokuda-Hall -- building a story from a little bit of nothing (ages 4-8)

What does it take to build a story? Do you need a magic formula, or can anyone do it? In Also an Octopus, Maggie Tokuda-Hall encourages young storytellers, showing them that every story begins with "just a little bit of nothing."
Also an Octopus
by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
illustrated by Benji Davies
Candlewick, 2016
Google Books preview
Your local library
Amazon
ages 4-8
Every story must start with a main character, and so we have an octopus--a ukulele-playing octopus wearing a cute knit cap. "But in order for it to be a story, and not just an octopus, that octopus needs to want something." Here, our octopus wants a rocket ship, "a totally awesome shining purple spaceship capable of intergalactic travel." But don't be fooled--you can't just go down to your local store and buy one; you have to make one.
"I'm not really qualified to build a spaceship...But it does smell like waffles! So that's nice."
With whimsy and delight, Tokuda-Hall shows young readers the writing process, introducing introducing story elements key to successful conflict and resolution. Her energetic language and playful premise are matched by Davies' bright digital artwork. Just look at the octopus trying to build a purple spaceship out of "soda cans and glue and umbrellas and glitter and waffles"! Talk about a recipe that's going to bring laughter from the storytime crowd.

Young writers will see how a character's desire and the obstacles it faces are key to keeping a story moving. What makes this story stand out is how the narrator's instructions are blended with silly examples and punchy humor. Just look at the rocket scientists who come along to join the octopus's band.
"Rocket scientists who don't just build rocket ships--they also play the saxophone, tambourine, trumpet and lute!"
Kids will love the goofy humor, vibrant illustrations and silly twists that keep the story moving quickly. But the real joy is the way the story ends by encouraging young storytellers to jump right in and try it for themselves.
"So what happens next?
That's up to you.
When one story ends, it's just making room for another story to begin."
A perfect invitation for kids to tell their own stories, this will make a delightful read-aloud at home, in the library or at school.

Illustrations copyright © Benji Davies, 2016, shared with permission of the publisher. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Candlewick Press. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books