board books · books for little hands · read aloud

10 Board Books Beloved by My Baby Boy #pb10for10

pb 10 for 10 015
The Reflect & Refine and Enjoy & Embrace Learning Blogs are hosting their annual picture book extravaganza today.

Today’s the day… it’s time for PICTURE BOOK 10 FOR 10, an event co-hosted by Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek.

Isabelle seemed to love being read to more than Ari does. While Isabelle munched on her board books more than her baby brother, Ari likes to turn his board books upside down, crawl on them, and smack the pages as he’s being read to. Despite his babyish (He is a baby, after all!) reading habits, he does have favorite board books! Here are ten board books the little man in my life loves to listen to (and flip through) right now.

  1. Bear on a Bike by Stella Blackstone and Debbie Harter (Barefoot Books, 1998) –> Great rhyming and adorable illustrations.
  2. Hair by Leslie Patricelli (Candlewick Press, 2017) –> This is the first book Isabelle learned to read to Ari so, naturally, he loves it!
  3. I Love You, Little One by Patricia Hegarty and Thomas Elliott (Tiger Tales, 2017) –> Sweet, loving rhymes made even cuter by touch-and-feel pages.
  4. I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay (Barefoot Books, 2004) –> Stunning illustrations match the soothing cadence.
  5. In My Forest by Sara Gillingham and Lorena Siminovich (Chronicle Books, 2010) –> The plush baby deer on every page delights my little guy.
  6. Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions photos by Molly Magnuson (Abrams Appleseed, 2017) –> It has a mirror on the final page. Need I say more?
  7. My Little Cities: New York by Jennifer Adams and Greg Pizzoli (Chronicle Books, 2017) –> A favorite way to prep the little guy for his first trip to Manhattan.
  8. Peek-a Moo! by Nina Laden (Chronicle Books, 2017) –> Cute rhymes, bold illustrations, and another mirror!
  9. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star illustrations by Yu-hsuan Huang (Nosy Crow, 2015) –> An interactive book that mommy sings is always a hit.
  10. Where is Baby’s Yummy Tummy? by Karen Katz (Little Simon, 2011) –> Squeals of laughter come from every flap that’s lifted.
Ari’s Board Book Stack
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read aloud · reading · slice of life

Questioning Myself (as the Parent of an Emerging Reader)

Every afternoon, after Isabelle gets off of the bus, washes her hands, and eats a snack, we read together. She’s comfortable reading books like this:

But she wants to read Elephant and Piggie books. I have a feeling it’s because many of her peers are reading E&P books independently. A few weeks ago, her teacher and I discussed her taking home I Am Going, which is an E&P book. After a lot of support from me (and about three weeks), Isabelle was able to read I Am Going independently. (I have a feeling a lot of it was memorized due to the repetition.)

Tricky Words Flash Cards
Six weeks have passed since our initial foray into reading E&P books together. We’re about ten or so days into our third one, Happy Pig Day. This one is harder than the previous ones we’ve read since it contains more complex words Isabelle hasn’t encountered yet. Therefore, I made flash cards for Gerald’s part, which is the part she’s chosen to read in this book. We review them prior to each reading of Happy Pig Day.

Here’s a peek into her reading aloud from Happy Pig Day today.

Not bad, right? I cannot tell how much is memorized, but I do know she is self-correcting when she misreads, so that’s a positive thing. 

If I’m being honest with myself, I know this book is too challenging for her right now. However, I believe motivation is crucial, which is why I’m allowing her to read this with a high amount of support from me. Therefore, we’ll continue reading the eight-page books her teacher sends home, as well as the E&P books she wants to read. And, I’ll probably keep second-guessing myself every day.

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chapter books · read aloud · reading · slice of life

First Chapter Book

We're ready to pick up where we left off with All About Sam -- on the couch -- after Isabelle returns from school today.
We’re ready to pick up where we left off with All About Sam — on the couch — after Isabelle returns from school today.

I had no intention of sharing chapter books with Isabelle yet. But she was intrigued when she spotted me unpacking a box from HMHCo this morning. She plodded into my office and said, “What’s that?” She pointed at the book. It was a review copy of All About Sam by Lois Lowry.

“It’s a chapter book,” I replied matter-of-factly.

“What’s a chapter book?” she asked.

I handed her the book. “Take a look and tell me what you notice.”

She sat beside me and opened the book. “It has no words.”

“What do you mean, ‘it has no words’?” I knew she meant it has no pictures. However, I wanted to hear her to say ‘it only has words’ or ‘I don’t see any pictures.’

“I don’t see words,” she said.

“Do you mean that you don’t see any pictures?” I asked.

She nodded.

“Well, there are some pictures,” I said pointing to a few of the illustrated pages. “But it’s mostly words.”

“Read it to me,” she said.

“Right now?” I asked. We only had 20 minutes before we were to depart for school.

“Yes,” she replied.

I had never read this book, but I knew it was related to the Anastasia Krupnik Series. However, I went in blindly. I read the title and author and dove right into chapter 1. (Very unteacherly of me, right?)

By the end of chapter one, Isabelle was snuggling on the hardwood beside me. I would’ve been uncomfortable, but she looked cozy. She giggled at the parts where Sam described the first few hours of his life. By the end of chapter one she said, “keep going!”

“I can’t. We have to leave for school in 10 minutes,” I replied.

“Let’s read more!”

“Do you like this book?”

“Yes!”

“Why?”

“Because it’s funny. It’s about a baby. And he’s funny.”

I looked at my watch again. I counted the pages in chapter two. There was no way I’d make it through the entire thing, but she doesn’t know what chapters are yet. I acquiesced.  “Let’s sit on the couch and I will read a little more.”

And so we did.

Once I found a good stopping point, midway through chapter two, I said, “Okay, we have to go to school. We can read more when you get home if you’d like.”

“Yea!”

Later in the day I looked up the level of All About Sam online. It’s a level Q. That’s a fourth-grade level book! I’m not sure if she’ll still be interested as the chapters go on since this is way above where her interest level is. But you never know! So, we’ll keep reading — after school!

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com  for more slices of life.
Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.
nonfiction · picture books · read aloud · slice of life

Mea Culpa

Mea Culpa: I haven’t read enough informational books to my daughter.

There, I said it.

I’ve known this is a problem for a long time. However, Isabelle doesn’t seem to gravitate towards information books since she isn’t deeply passionate about anything. She isn’t obsessed with trains or dinosaurs. That is, she isn’t one of those kids who marvel about facts. Isabelle’s strongest interests are going to hotels (She likes to travel!) and visiting Hersheypark. However, there aren’t too many informational books for four-year-olds about hotels and she’s too young for the biographies of George Ferris. I suppose these are halfway decent excuses for not exposing her to much nonfiction. But, honestly, I really haven’t wanted to fight a reading battle I didn’t have to fight with my kid, which is why I haven’t pushed anything other than fiction and poetry.

This weekend, I reorganized some of our bookshelves they were beyond messy. Isabelle helped me reorganize a shelf containing picture books. Afterwards, she pulled a book that looked attractive to her and asked me to read it. I was delighted when I saw the title since it was…

…an informational text!

She must’ve picked it because of the leaves on the cover. (She had just come in from jumping in leaf piles my husband was trying to rake.) I didn’t question why she grabbed it off of the shelf. Instead, I cozied up next to her on the couch and read.

I started out by stopping and talking with her after reading each page spread since I wanted her to hear how I was synthesizing the information I was learning from the text. I asked her questions and tried to have conversations with her about what she was learning. She was less-than-interested in talking about what she was learning, which was evidenced by her slouchy posture on the couch and a few “I don’t knows.” Therefore, I tried not to push too hard since I didn’t want her to equate a book that we can learn from to torture. I eased up on the talking and focused more on the reading. I even used some Whole Book Approach strategies with her, which I often do while reading fiction texts, so that we could talk about the design and pictures.

In the end, Isabelle said she liked the book because she likes fall and leaves. However, I don’t know how she’d feel if I kept picking informational texts to read with her. She’s the kind of kid who likes a good story. And right now, I think it’s more important that she has a positive view of books and storytime with mommy. She has the whole rest of her life to read nonfiction.

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com  for more slices of life.
Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.
picture books · read aloud · slice of life

Reading Aloud: The Cure for Sparing with Your Child

Read #2 of Goose by Laura Wall.
Read #2 of Goose by Laura Wall.

Isabelle and I sparred with each other a few times before I dropped her off at preschool this morning.  I was tired (I was at my computer writing until after 11 last night!) and she wasn’t listening.  Neither of us were in the right.  I figured things would be better when I picked her up from school.

They weren’t.

Instead of completing her entering the house routine quickly (i.e., coat off, shoes off, washing hands), she took over five minutes to remove her coat and one shoe.  It was agonizing.  I raised my voice.  She yelled back at me.  This cannot continue, I thought.

“I have some picture books I want to share with you.  Would you like to read them in the great room or your playroom?” I asked Isabelle once she finally finished washing her hands.

“The Gweat Woom,” she replied.

“Okay. I’ll get them and meet you in there.”

RALH PostFirst we read I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld, which allowed me to remind her how much I love her even though we had been fighting today.  Next we read Beach House by Deanna Caswell and Amy June Bates, which allowed us to talk about how much we cannot wait to go to Maine this summer.  Afterwards, we read Peace is an Offering by Annette LeBox and Stephanie Graegin, which allowed me to snuggle Isabelle close and plant some kisses on her cheek.  Finally, we read Goose by Laura Wall — twice! — which allowed us to imagine what life would be like with a pet goose.

30 minutes after we started reading together, we were at peace with one another.  Reading picture books is one of the best ways to fix a problem, isn’t it?

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com  for more slices of life.
Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.
bedtime stories · giveaway · interview · picture books · read aloud · slice of life

A Bedtime Slice + An Author Interview

Enter to win a copy of this book by leaving a comment on the bottom of this post.
Enter to win a copy of this book by leaving a comment on the bottom of this post.

You know you’ve found a great picture book to read to your kiddo when you hear her say “again!” as soon as you finish. That’s what happened with Mama’s Day with Little Gray, which I received a review copy of two weeks ago. It’s what I think of as a quiet book that tells the story of one day in the life of an elephant, Little Gray, and his mama. They talk about what life might be like when Little Gray grows up and his Mama grows down.  (Isn’t that a marvelous way to think of growing older and having one’s body change?)

I have a heightened awareness about everyday moments since the Slice of Life Story Challenge is happening now.  As a result, Mama and Little Gray remind me a bit of me and Isabelle since they spend a lot of time together and love each other very much.  As a result of reading Mama’s Day with Little Gray with Isabelle, I’ve begun to talk to her about what life will be like when she gets older (and taller than me). She claims she will still love spending time with me.  I hope that’s true. I can’t rely on her responses since she is, after all, three.  I can just hope for the best and seize the day since my little curly girl probably won’t want to snuggle in bed for bedtime stories in another five to seven yeas.  😦

Mama’s Day with Little Gray is Aimee Reid‘s first picture book.  I knew I wanted to interview her since she’s also an educator and a mom who believes in finding the beauty and joy in everyday moments.  Therefore, I thought it’d be neat to mesh a slice of life story post with an author interview this month. My interview with Aimee Reid follows. Also a snippet of tonight’s read aloud of Mama’s Day with  Little Gray with Isabelle comes towards the end of this post.  Finally, leave a comment on this post if you’d like a chance to win a copy of Reid’s book.

SAS:  What inspired you to write Mama’s Day with Little Gray? How do elephants help you convey your message in a way humans couldn’t?

Liitle Gray 1AR:  Mama’s Day with Little Gray began with my daughter’s words one bedtime. She liked to ask about our plans for the next day. That way she knew what to look forward to.

One night, our discussion inspired her to dream about being a grown-up. She said, “When I grow up and you grow down . . . .” Then she listed off a number of activities she would want to share with me. Her words were like a spark that flew straight to my imagination. This could be a story, I thought.

The choice of elephants for this book happened as a flash of intuition. I was attending a writers’ conference in L.A., and I had woken up with this version of the book writing itself in my head. I grabbed a pen and jotted down the draft. Then I took a break to go swimming. As I relaxed in the water, I remembered a time several years prior when I had seen an elephant family swimming together. Suddenly I knew: the characters for my book are elephants!

Since that time, I’ve researched elephants a great deal. I continue to be impressed with their intelligence and loyalty.

SAS:  I love the language of growing up and growing down. How did you think all of that wonderful language?

AR:  As I mentioned above, my daughter’s words during a bedtime conversation first gave me the idea of playing with this sort of role reversal in a picture book.

Another aspect of Mama’s Day with Little Gray also arose from that discussion. When my daughter imagined our ideal “growing up/growing down” day together, she spoke of sharing normal activities.

At the time, our routines were simple. We read, we met up with friends, we visited the library and had picnics on the living room floor. No matter how ordinary our plans, my daughter would wiggle her toes in delight as she anticipated the next day’s agenda. I was struck by the incredible preciousness of time with loved ones—that shared connection that makes the everyday extraordinary.

Thus, Little Gray’s picture of an ideal imaginary day mirrors the one he is already experiencing with his mama. It’s the shared joy of being together that transforms these moments. I wrote a little about appreciating the ordinary beauty of our lives here: http://www.aimeereidbooks.com/timetogether.

SAS:  How do you balance your roles as mother, educator, and writer?

AR:  Well, I resigned from my teaching position, so I am no longer in the classroom. That decision certainly changed the contour of my days.

I love the seamlessness of my life now. I ponder a plot line while I stir the soup. Often something one of my children says or does opens up a window of inspiration for me.

I think being a mother provides a deep wellspring for my writing. I’m right here to listen in on children’s conversations and witness their worries and celebrate their triumphs. Writing for children means knowing them, and being a mom certainly helps with that.

It’s tricky to speak of balance, isn’t it? I think each individual has to find the right mix.  I don’t try to be a super-anything. That helps.

SAS:  This is your debut picture book. Can you tell a bit about your journey from writing to publication?

AR:  Sure! The conversation with my daughter happened about eight years ago. I then wrote a rhyming picture book that featured a human girl and her parent.

I attended my first retreat with the Canada East chapter of the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators and read my manuscript aloud. The retreat participants encouraged me to submit the piece. I did sent it out to a few agents as well as some editors I’d met at SCBWI conferences, but it wasn’t the right fit for any of those people.

Little Gray 3 (2)Let’s fast forward a few years. In the meantime, I continued writing and formed a great writer’s critique group with fellow picture book writers. I also rewrote this piece, taking it out of verse and replacing the humans with elephants.

In January of 2012, I attended the winter conference of the Florida SCBWI chapter where I submitted four manuscripts for evaluation. An editorial assistant critiqued Mama’s Day with Little Gray and loved it. She encouraged me to submit it to her house.

After the conference was finished, I was swimming in the pool. (Did I mention that I’m Canadian? How could I resist taking a dip in an outdoor pool? Under palm trees? In January?)  Along came Jill Corcoran, an agent who had been at the conference. As we chatted, she found out about the favorable reception of my manuscript and asked me to show it to her.

Jill handed me a towel, and I climbed out of the pool. We met in the hotel restaurant just before she left to catch her plane, and she offered to represent me. A few weeks later, we had an offer from Random House Children’s Books.

SAS:  What are you working on as a writer?

AR:  I love to read. Lately, I’m working on being a reader who thinks carefully about story. Whereas I used to skip sections of novels that were dragging, now I try to single out what has pulled me out of my immersion in the story world.

My children are my best first readers. One day, after listening to my draft of a humorous chapter book and rewarding me with some belly laughs, my daughter said, “Good work, Mom.” She turned to go and then poked her head back in the room. “Remember,” she added, “keep out the boring parts.” Writing engaging stories that leave out the boring parts is what I’m working on right now.

Thanks for hosting me on your blog, Stacey.

Images Courtesy of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.

And now for a slice of our bedtime routine:

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

  • This giveaway is for a copy of Mama’s Day with Little Gray for one reader. Many thanks to Random House for sponsoring a giveaway of Mama’s Day with Little Gray.
  • To enter for a chance to win a copy of Mama’s Day with Little Gray each reader may leave one comment about this post in the comments section of this post.
  • All comments left on or before Wednesday, April 2nd at 11:59 p.m. EDT will be entered into a random drawing using a random number generator on April 3rd.  I will announce the winner’s name at the bottom of this post on April 3rd. Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address and have my contact at Random House send the book out to you. Please note: Your e-mail address will not be published online.

Comments are now closed.

Thanks to everyone who left a comment on this post.

Congratulations to Brittany Butler whose comment number was chosen at random.  She’ll win a copy of Mama’s Day with Little Gray.  Here’s what she wrote:

Growing up and growing down! No absolutely adore that concept! I also liked this interview a lot for many reasons. One being how she came to using elephants (a huge hit with my 2 yr old). Two, that she explained how the book transformed over time. I have a bunch of little stories like this that I
should maybe dust off and give a new spin too. Very inspiring! Great slice!

Check out the other slice of life stories at http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com.
Check out the other slice of life stories at http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com.
accomplishments · bedtime stories · OBSERVATIONS · read aloud

The Benefit of Reading the Author and Illustrator Names at the Start of Each Read Aloud Book

We’ve been reading the name of the title, author, and illustrator every time we’ve read a book with Isabelle for the past few months. Yesterday, for the first time, I understood that it’s been having an impact on her since she knows who writes some of her favorite books.

We were eating lunch with my parents and we were talking about bedtime stories (since they were going to be watching Isabelle while my husband and I went out to dinner and a movie). My dad said something like “On the day you were born” for one of the books they might read at night.

“It’s actually On the Night You Were Born, Dad,” I said.

“By Nancy Tillman!” Isabelle said.

“What?” I asked.

“Nancy TIllman!” she declared.

“Did you hear that?” I asked my parents and Marc. “She said ‘Nancy Tillman’! Wow!” Then I turned my attention back towards Isabelle. “You know who writes On the Night You Were Born! Is that one of your favorite books?”

“Yes!”

Tonight when we were about to read bedtime stories I asked Isabelle to “hand me a book by Nancy Tillman.”

“No, pigeon!” she said.

“Huh?” I asked.

“I want pigeon!” she said.

“Is that book by Nancy Tillman?” I asked.

“No!” she said.

“Do you want to read Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“Okay. We’ll read that one. Hand it to me.” She did.

“Now, would you hand me a book by Nancy Tillman?”

She searched through the stack carefully. After a moment she picked up Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You. “This book Nancy Tillman!”

“You’re right,” I said. “It is by Nancy Tillman.”

{Proud Mama Moment}

UPDATED on 1/20/14: An impromptu podcast of Izzy “reading” Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late last night. (Because I couldn’t resist.)

giveaway · picture books · read aloud

Q&A with Author and Illustrator Tatyana Feeney

My daughter doesn’t have a blankie because I won’t let her have one.  Seriously.  I know it sounds cruel, but I had terrible visions of carting around a kid with a filthy blanket in-tow.  (I was thinking Pig Pen from the Peanuts.)  Therefore, I used to change around the blankets I would place on top of her legs in the car seat and in her stroller when she was under a year old.  Ever since she started using a blanket in her crib this past spring (For those of you without kids, you put them in a zip-up or velcro sleep sack for the first year or so.), I have made sure to swap out the blanket in her crib every few nights so she wouldn’t get too attached to it.  I have been on a mission to make sure that she doesn’t get attached to a blanket.  (Pay no attention to the teddy bear she sleeps with nightly, we’re talking about blankets here!)

After all that intentionality about blankets, along came Tatyana Feeney’s book Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket this past summer.  I burst out laughing upon the initial read of the book since Small Bunny’s mom feels that the time has come to wash his precious blankie.  The book hit close to home for me.  Who can’t relate to the idea of carrying something around ’til it’s filthy (and then needing to have it washed)?  The story is genius, as are the pictures, which are also illustrated by Feeney.  Therefore, I wanted to ask her some questions about her incredible picture book.

I’ve been interviewing authors over at Two Writing Teachers for the past couple of years. However, this is the first author/illustrator interview I’ve done on this blog. I started out my interview with Tatyana by asking her some writing-related questions.  (Her answers to those questions can be found over at Two Writing Teachers.)  Then I shifted to questions that seemed more appropriate for this forum.  Here’s what she had to say about her book:

SAS: Who inspired Small Bunny?

TF: The actual bunny character started from some drawings I did in college for my “corporate identity.” The bunny was supposed to be my logo. Anyway, I drew him a lot and as I did his personality started to develop. I imagined him being young and a little bit of a rascal. When I started thinking about the blue blanket story he seemed like the perfect character.

SAS: Your story has such a universal theme that many kids can relate to. How did you come up with your idea for this book?

TF: When I finished art college and was thinking about stories to send to publishers I remembered a story about my husband as a child- his story is very similar to Small Bunny’s, although he used to hold onto his blue blanket while it was still wet on the line!

SAS: How do you envision your book being a springboard for conversations between parents and their kids?

TF: I imagine there are many parents who have children who are very attached to a toy or blanket- I hope Small Bunny can help kids talk to their parents if they are worried about something that has to be washed or mended. In our house there is a panda that goes everywhere and generally smells like a real panda. There is always some discussion before he can be washed.

SAS: I loved the page where Small Bunny has to watch as the minutes pass by s-l-o-w-l-y as Blue Blanket gets clean. You sure helped the reader feel how long it took for the blanket to dry. Why did you choose to stretch out time in this way?

TF: Thanks. I love that page too! I was trying to create a visual sense of how long the wait would feel for a small child.

SAS: What’s your book’s message for readers (both parents and kids)?

TF: I don’t know- for kids maybe: “Don’t worry- nothing can stay clean for too long!” And conversely for parents, “Nothing will stay dirty for too long!”

SAS: How do you feel about ebooks as picture books for children?

TF: I think they can work nicely alongside printed books. I don’t see them as a replacement. There is no substitute for the first books read by a loved one to a small child-I hate to think of a world with no books that can be held, smelled, or with pages that turn. Saying that, I like the idea of being able to see the book as a small animation to go along with the physical printed version.

SAS: Tell me, what are you working on now?

TF: I have just finished a book called, Little Owl’s Orange Scarf. It is due to be published in the UK in April of next year and on June 11th in the US.

Giveaway Information:

  • This giveaway is for a copy of Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket for one reader. Many for thanks to Random House for sponsoring this giveaway, which is also a first on this blog!
  • To enter for a chance to win a copy of Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket each reader may leave one comment about this post (or the one on Two Writing Teachers) in the comments section of this post.
  • All comments left on or before Sunday, October 14th at 11:59 a.m. Eastern Time will be entered into a random drawing using a random number generator on Sunday, October 14th.  I will announce the winner’s name at the bottom of this post by Tuesday, October 16th.  Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address and have my contact at Random House send the book out to you. Please note: Your e-mail address will not be published online.

Comments are now closed.  Thank you to everyone who left a comment on this post.  The random number generator drew Lori‘s commenter number, which means she’ll receive the copy of Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket.  Lori wrote:

I love this reminder of all those blankets and stuffed animals that I’ve seen so well loved. I’m thinking Ellie, my daughter’s well loved elephant will go to school this week.

OBSERVATIONS · read aloud

Reading Aloud to the Teddy Bear

I might be witnessing one of the cutest things ever. Or at least so far in my daughter’s life.

She just woke up from her nap and is sitting in her crib reading some of the board books she keeps in there. But she’s not just reading them about to herself or two me. She has a captive audience that includes her teddy bear, Schlepp. After reading just one book aloud to him she grabbed him by the arm and moved him a little closer… perhaps so he could see the pictures a bit better. (Yes, I am aware that she’ll probably be very unhappy about this post when she’s a teenager, but I couldn’t resist capturing it in writing!)

20121004-163757.jpg

museum · new york · picture books · read aloud

Four Groovy Buttons I Almost Missed!

How did I miss Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, written by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean, when it debuted in May?  The reason I missed it will forever remain unclear, but the reason I learned about it today is one for which I’m thankful!

CMOM has a life size Lite-Brite, which was a neat flashback to my own childhood — but better! (This photo has nothing to do with the read aloud, but I thought this “exhibit” was too cool not to share.)

One of my dearest college friends came to New York for a few days with her family.  Seeing as I haven’t seen her in three years, I made a special trip into the NY Metropolitan Area this week with Isabelle so we could spend some time with them.  Together, we have three kids between us so we opted to spend a couple of hours at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, or CMOM.  The kids loved CMOM, which has a special play space for kids under the age of four.  This was perfect since our daughters are nine months apart from each other in age.

At 11:30 a.m., two staff members gathered interested children and adults together in a part of the play space for circle time, which included some singing and read alouds. We sang the ABC Song, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Open and Shut Them.  Then, one of the CMOM staff members pulled out Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.  She read this book with gusto.  Her voice engaged the children as she sang Pete’s song as each button popped off of his shirt.  I found myself joining in since the book’s repetition lends itself to group participation.  Isabelle was engaged during the entire read aloud, looking at the pictures as still as a statue in my lap (which was shocking considering she was incredibly active both before and after the circle time).  By the time the staff member finished reading the book aloud in the way I bet the author intended for it to be read, I knew I had to order it so Isabelle and I can enjoy it again and again.  The upbeat message of the book, the inclusion of subtraction, and the neat little song makes this book a gem!