book stack · lift the flap books · media · picture books · universal themes

It’s Icy! It’s Monday! What are you reading?

This meme was started by Sheila at Book Journey. The kids’ version has been adapted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Ricki and Kellee at UNLEASHING READERS. Visit their blogs to find out what other people are reading.

All of the rules go out the window when my daughter is sick.  Last week, she was really sick with a fever, a cold, and croup.  Therefore, I let her watch as much TV as she wanted.  She watched HOURS of “Sesame Street,” “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Super Why,” “Cat in the Hat,” and “Curious George.”  As she got better, I tried to coax her back to her toys and books.  However, she tried to assert her independence pitch a fit every time I turned off the TV.

My husband and I put her on a “Television Detox” program over the weekend.  We allowed her to watch one show “Sesame Street” or “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” each day.  She was less than pleased about this. Since she was well enough to go out (to synagogue and dinner on Saturday and to breakfast, grocery shopping, and on a play date yesterday) over the weekend, the detox program went pretty well.

Overnight we had freezing rain that topped the dusting of snow that fell yesterday.  Enter an ice day where not much is moving in the outside world today.  So we’re home.  ALL DAY.  I brainstormed a list of things we could do this morning in lieu of television. Heck, I even looked on Pinterest for ideas (since I’m pretty tapped out after being home with her for a week!).

This morning Isabelle has rediscovered her toys that she shunned while she was sick.  She also rediscovered some of her favorite books and enjoyed some new ones with me.  Here’s what we’ve read so far today:

Izzy’s favorite page in The Silver Button.
  • Chloe, instead by Micah Player — A post I wrote last week sums up my thoughts about this favorite.
  • Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems — I tried to introduce the Knuffle Bunny books to Isabelle earlier this year, but she wasn’t into them.  NOW she loves hearing them read aloud.  In fact, she even gets some of the humor.  What a treat for me since these are some of my favorite picture books.
  • The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud — The illustrations are exquisite in this book, but they seem to overwhelm Isabelle.  There’s a LOT on each page and therefore I tried reading it to her this morning while she was playing.  She really enjoyed hearing the story without looking at the pictures, which makes me think she’ll come to love the illustrations in this book as she gets a bit older.
  • The Queen of France by Tim Wadham and Kady MacDonald Denton — This is a book about a little girl, Rose, who loves to dress up as the Queen of France.  Her parents go along with her and make her realize just how lucky and treasured she is as Rose.  (Izzy likes the pictures in this one since she enjoys putting on my bracelets — just like Rose.)
  • The Runaway Hug by Nick Bland and Freya Blackwood — This is a new picture book I received a review copy of last week.  The book is filled with specific words, which I’m trying to infuse into my interactions with Isabelle.  There’s a loving sentiment to this book, which needs to be added to our bedtime stack.  (I’ll have more on this book in an upcoming post!)
  • The Silver Button by Bob Graham — This book helps youngsters realize lots of other things are happening in the world at the same time as they’re engaged in their own lives.  Isabelle, who is great with babies, especially likes the page where the baby is born!
  • Truck Stop by Ann Rockwell and Melissa Iwai — This is a favorite book of Isabelle’s, which she requested when I went upstairs to brush my teeth this morning.  We explored the book’s end pages, which contain colorful illustrations of a variety of trucks, at length this morning.
  • Walk This World by Lotta Nieminen — There are LOTS of flaps to lift in this book that takes you on a journey around the world.   The illustrations helped me travel around the world from my couch this morning.  What a treat!

After two straight hours of reading books we made banana bread:

Mashing the Bananas and the Butter in her Play Kitchen

And then… I caved.  I let her watch “Sesame Street.”  But just one.  (She’s watching as I’m typing on my laptop.  I never use my computer in front of her, but if I have to watch any more kids’ programming after the week I had in with her, I might lose my mind. Therefore, I’m breaking my “no computer in front of the kid” rule.)

Next up we’ll eat lunch, read some more, and then I’ll put her down for a nap so I can get some work done.

book stack · lift the flap books · picture books · universal themes

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

This meme was started by Sheila at Book Journey. The kids’ version has been adapted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Ricki and Kellee at UNLEASHING READERS. Visit their blogs to find out what other people are reading.

We’re getting ready for Thanksgiving and Chanukah, which has been affectionately nicknamed Thanskgivukkah, around our house. Gel clings for both holidays have been purchased and affixed to the mirrors where my daughter brushes her teeth.  Isabelle and I have begun talking about what she’s thankful for. We’ll be starting a gratitude poster, which she’ll share at Thanksgiving dinner, today.  And, of course, we’re reading about the upcoming holidays.  Here are some of our favorite titles right now:

9780062198693_p0_v5_s260x420My daughter is OBSESSED with Pete the Cat these days. There’s one Pete the Cat book that will prepare her for Thanksgiving, Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving.  Pete the Cat starts in his school’s Thanksgiving play.  He is nervous about acting in the play, but he is as cool as ever as he retells the story the first Thanksgiving in a way that is genuinely enjoyable for kids to hear.  This is a lift-the-flap book, which keeps Isabelle engaged in a historical lesson that she probably wouldn’t sit for if it didn’t involve Pete the Cat.

Han Board BookIsabelle has been carrying around My First Hanukkah Board Book, which my cousins passed down to her last year.  It’s a pretty basic book about the holiday, which is helping her learn about the symbols and the foods we eat.  I’m not sure I would’ve picked it out myself, but it’s perfect for teaching her basic things about the holiday.

papa's latkesThis week I’ll begin reading Papa’s Latkes by Jane Breskin Zalben. We received this book through the PJ Library.  On the surface it’s a book about a family’s latke making contest.  However, it’s really about shalom bayit (peace in the house), since the family comes together to do something fun.  I’ll talk with Isabelle about things we can do as a family — perhaps playing dreidel together — during Chanukah.

What books are you reading to prepare for the upcoming holidays?  Please share your favorite titles when you leave a comment.

book stack · home library · Jewish · lift the flap books · picture books

At the top of this week’s book stack…

This meme was started by Sheila at Book Journey and the kids’ version has been adapted by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.

This week, there are four books that seem to be making it out of Isabelle’s wall unit bookshelf:

  • City Signs by Zoran Milich has a school bus on the cover.  My daughter is fascinated by all forms of transportation, especially school buses.  She wakes up around 7 a.m. at which time I open the blinds to her bedroom almost immediately.  While she’s still in her crib, we often see a school bus pass by, which delights her to no end.  However, the reason I think this book is out is because she likes it when I sing “The Wheels on the Bus” to her.  In fact, in order to get me to sing the song, she will often open to the page in Milich’s book that has the school bus and then she’ll sign “more,” which I’ve learned means, “Sing the ‘Wheels on the Bus’, Mommy.”  And, of course, I do.
  • Happy Birthday, Moon (Moonbear) by Frank Asch is an older book I recently added to our home collection since my daughter has a great fondness of the moon these days.  I was perusing moon-themed birthday parties (She’s turning two soon.) on Pinterest, which is when I first learned about this book.  Isabelle LOVES pointing to the moon on each page.  As time goes on, I look forward to teaching her about the concept of an echo by utilizing this book.  (Bear calls out to the moon from the mountaintops and believes the moon is answering him back.  In reality, as you probably already guessed, he is hearing his echo.)
  • Isabelle’s cousins gave her The Shapes of My Jewish Year by Marji Gold-Vukson several months ago.  It’s long been a favorite.  As Chanukah approaches, it is a reminder to me to talk about the shapes of things (e.g., the gelt, the candles, the dreidel) with Isabelle so that the holiday isn’t just about religion… it’ll also be a time that reinforces basic concepts as well.
  • Whose Toes Are Those? is a new lift the flap board book by Sally Symes.  Each page spread asks the reader to guess which animal’s nose and toes are hiding behind the flap. Once the flap is lifted the adorable animal is revealed and giggles ensue.  This is one of the cuter lift the flap books I’ve encountered in recent months and I look forward to buying it for friends whose kids also have second birthdays coming up in the next few months.

Come back next week Monday to learn about some of our favorite Chanukah books!

animals · book stack · picture books

Our Hurricane Sandy Book Stack

This meme was started by Sheila at Book Journey and the kids’ version has been adapted by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.

I am hoping, as most East Coasters are, that the power will not go out.  The winds are gusting outside of my house.  The trees in our backyard are swaying back and forth.  I cannot decide what is scarier: looking at those trees or watching The Weather Channel.  Therefore, I decided to gather up a sleuth of new picture books to share with Isabelle if and when the lights go out.  (Let’s be honest, I will share them with her if the power stays on too!  That would certainly make for a better picture-viewing experience, wouldn’t it?)

It is possible (though unlikely based on current weather predictions) that we will get some snow.  Therefore, Cold Snap written by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (Random House, 2012), will be added to our Hurricane Sandy book stack.  While this book is about snow and we’re currently experiencing high winds and rain, the cold snap in the book takes place over an elongated period of time (kind of like this Frankenstorm).  While Hurricane Sandy is the October Surprise for the Presidential Election, the book refers to a winter surprise.  While these parallels are too sophisticated for my toddler to understand, I figured I’d mention them.  Also, there’s an adorable recipe for Miss Dove’s Sugar-on-Snow Candy at the back of the book.  While I doubt we’ll be able to make it this week, Isabelle and I can certainly revisit this book and the recipe once a true cold snap hits here in the months to come.

Max and Ruby’s Treasure Hunt (Penguin, 2012) by Rosemary Wells has lift-the-flap clues that I know Isabelle will enjoy! I haven’t read it yet, so we’ll experience it together for the first time.

Benji Davies, who is the creator of the Bizzy Bear books Isabelle likes so much, is the illustrator of Railroad Hank (Random House, 2012), which was written by Lisa Moser.  Isabelle is very into vehicles right now.  She likes to look at them on the road, in the air, or on the tracks.  Therefore, I know she’ll get a kick out of this book, which has great onomatopoeia, which will make it even more fun to read aloud to her!

The Tooth Mouse (KidsCan Press, 2012) is a sweet picture book written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Janice Nadeau.  It is a fable about the French version of the Tooth Fairy.  While Isabelle is in the process of getting her two year-old molars, rather than loosing teeth, I think she’ll love this adorable story, which has delightful illustrations of mice.  Plus, there are lots of French words and expressions throughout the text, so it gives me a wonderful opportunity to expose her to some the foreign language I studied for years.

Of course, we’ll read lots of favorite board books and picture books too!  But these are three new ones which I’m almost positive will delight my little one’s eyes (even if they’re by the light of a battery-operated lantern).

animals · book stack · maine · picture books

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

This meme was started by Sheila at Book Journey and the kids’ version has been adapted by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.

While we were in Maine we got together with Zsofi and her family. They kindly brought a picture book, Counting Our Way to Maine by Maggie Smith, for Isabelle.  It’s an adorable counting book that goes to 20!  (It’s hard to find a counting book for young children that goes past ten.  I have no idea why this is the case, but I love it when books reach further.)  Counting Our Way to Maine (Down East Books) is the story of a family who packs up the entire family for a low-key vacation (like ours) in Maine.  Their trip resembles ours: seven ice creams are eaten, eleven sand castles are built, fourteen buoys are seen bobbing on the waves.  The language is rich and specific and the illustrations are incredibly detailed.  I got so much joy reading it aloud to Isabelle since it is about a place I love.  I’m sure this will be a book we revisit again and again since this was the third consecutive summer we vacationed in Ogunquit, Maine.

We arrived home from our trip to Ogunquit this past Saturday evening.  Although our U.S. Mail won’t be delivered until later today (Gotta love the Hold Mail Service!), our neighbor kindly collected the packages that arrived on our doorstep while we were in Maine.  Quite a few of the packages contained review copies of picture books I will consider featuring as mentor texts on Two Writing Teachers this fall.  A couple of them found their way into our laps as we read to Isabelle that night: Olive and the Big Secret by Tor Freeman and Bears in Beds by Shirley Parenteau.  Both of these books will be released on August 14th by Templar and Candlewick, respectively.

First, my husband read Olive and the Big Secretto Isabelle as she sat in his lap.  It’s an adorable story that reflects the importance of holding a secret close to you once you learn of it.  I can imagine this will be a book I return to again and again as I teach Isabelle the importance of trust between friends (and family).

Second, I read Bears in Beds to Isabelle.  The characters in this book are the same as the ones from Bears in Chairs, which is one of the board books we keep in a basket in her bedroom.  This book is all about the bears and bedtime.  The bears snuggle, tumble, and sleep.  It’s written in rhyme, which makes it engaging for young ears.

animals · book stack · picture books · universal themes

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

This meme was started by Sheila at Book Journey and the kids’ version has been adapted by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.

Two new picture books have found their way into our book stack, which includes lots of board books, in the past week.  They are Foxy by Emma Dodd (HarperCollins, 2012) and Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket by Tatyana Feeney (Knopf, 2012).

Foxy initially caught my eye since the title of the book is the same as my neighbor’s son’s nickname.  In fact, since he’s six years old, I lent him my copy before I even read it to see what he thought of this first-day-of-school-jitters tale.  He liked it and was able to read it aloud smoothly and independently.  Once he returned it, I liked Foxy since Foxy is a magician whose magic tricks to help little Emily get ready for the first day of school sometimes go awry.  In addition, the message Foxy sends to nervous Emily is that making new friends (at school) doesn’t involve magic.  That’s the kind of reassurance all kids need.  Essentially, it’s a way of reminding kids to just “be yourself, always.”  (That’s a little advice one of my elementary school teachers wrote in my fourth grade yearbook.  It’s stuck with me for a long time!)

This is one books I know I will read to my daughter when she prepares to start pre-school, Kindergarten, and even first grade.  So why read it to Isabelle now?  Well, it’s simple.  The illustrations are fabulous!

Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket is one of those stories with universal appeal.  It’s the story about a young bunny who has a blankie that is dirty and needs a washing.  Have you ever waited for something you needed to go through the washer and dryer?  You know when it seems to take an eternity to get an item back that you need.  Well, that’s what this book is about, but it’s from a child’s (or rather a young bunny’s) perspective.  It’s a well-written, simple story that will spark personal connections and empathy with the main character.

animals · book stack · picture books

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

This meme was started by Sheila at Book Journey and the kids’ version has been adapted by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.

I’ve been grading my grad students’ craft tables, which is a project that carries the most weight for the class.  Craft tables are a way to organize one’s thinking about a book that will be used as a mentor text.  Craft tables are three columns.  The left column includes the craft move (aka: buzz word).  The middle column states the pages where the craft move can be found in the text (if it’s not paginated, then students do it themselves).  The right column includes an explanation of the craft move (in other words: why the author might be writing in a particular way).  Craft moves are a teacher’s way of developing theories about why authors wrote books in particular ways.  Since we cannot get inside of a writer’s head, we have to hypothesize why authors wrote in a particular way so we can help students write in similar ways. In order to explain a craft move to a child well, one needs to avoid jargon.   Hence, craft moves are a great way for teachers to think through the “why” behind the writing.

Some of my students are early childhood teachers who selected books I never used with my upper elementary students in writing workshop.  Three of the books they used, which I’ve had the pleasure to read closely and examine are:
  • Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by G. Brian Karas
    • I heard Candace Fleming speak about this book during her presentation at NCTE in 2011.  I’m so glad I finally had a chance to read it, especially since we have some rabbits who like to visit our backyard, despite the fence.
  • Old Bearby Kevin Henkes
    • This one is available as a board book.  Can you say “Amazon Wish List?”
  • We’re Going on a Bear Huntwritten by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
    • I found a YouTube video of Michael Rosen performing the story.  Check it out by clicking on this link:  Michael Rosen and Bear Hunt.
I borrowed copies of these books from the library and am excited to share these books with Isabelle this week.  But first, I will finish my grading!
animals · book stack · lift the flap books · new york · picture books

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

This meme was started by Sheila at Book Journey and the kids’ version has been adapted by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.

This is my first What Are You Reading? post.  I’m excited to be a part of this wonderful meme!  I’ve already a a book, Beach Feet recommended by Betsy, to my Amazon Wish List.  I’m sure there will be many other great recommendations other bloggers have written about today!

Isabelle and I read lots of board books together, but since I’m a picture book lover, I make sure to read her at least one picture book a day.  Take a peek at some of the treasures that were in our book stack last week:

We continue to love Micah Player’s Chloe, instead.  Isabelle and Chloe have a lot in common (though Isabelle doesn’t have an older sibling).  I giggle whenever I see some of the things Chloe does to her older sister Molly since Isabelle does a lot of the same kinds of things (e.g., putting a crayon in her mouth, getting a little too excited about a book, etc.).  Molly expected to have a sister just like her, but she got Chloe instead.  I expected to have a daughter who was just like me, but I got someone who is very daring and full of boundless energy instead.  And you know what?  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Besides, do I really need a mini-me?

If you want to learn more about Chloe, instead be sure to check out my interview with Micah Player, which I shared on Two Writing Teachers last month.

Another book in our picture book stack is Nicola Davies’s What Will I Be?  The pages are a bit sturdier than a typical picture book, which is great since it’s interactive.  One reads a a page that provides a written and illustrated clue and then asks “What will I be?”  Then, the child has to lift the flap, which reveals the grown-up animal it will turn into (e.g., caterpillar turns into a butterfly.)  Additional pages give further explanation and include adorable illustrations.  Even though this book is kids three and up, Isabelle enjoys looking at the animal pictures and lifting the flaps, which is why it continues to be in our book stack.

I just received a review copy of New York, Baby!  It’s illustrated by Ward Jenkins.  I haven’t shared it with Isabelle yet.  It’s definitely going into this-coming week’s book stack!

New York, Baby! is my kind of book.  It’s about a baby who explores my hometown, Manhattan.  The baby in the book starts his day with a bagel and cream cheese, which is my preferred way to start a New York morning.  He takes the reader through Manhattan, from the Upper East Side down to SoHo for a day that includes a stop at the Met, a stroll through Central Park, a Broadway matinee, and a stop at the Empire State Building.  I can imagine that my daughter, who has boundless energy, will enjoy the fast-paced nature of this story.  Plus, it’s told from a child’s perspective meaning the view of everything is from the height of a child who is a new walker or who is riding in a stroller.  It’s too cute.  I hope Isabelle, whose next trip to Manhattan isn’t ’til August, will love New York, Baby! as much as I do.