Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Picks for Parents

Sometimes the best thing for a child can be having a parent who has taken some quality time for themselves. Need a good read, good laugh or good cry about parenting? Escape into these books written by and for parents...if you can find the time!

Alternadad by Neal Pollack (Pantheon Books, 2007)

Mixing ironic skepticism with an appreciation for the absurdities of everyday life, Pollack offers a hilarious true story of two people trying to raise a child without growing up themselves. "Alternadad" is a portrait of a new version of the American family: responsible if unorthodox parents raising kids who know the difference between the Ramones and the Sex Pistols.

Baby Laughs: the naked truth about the first year of mommyhood by Jenny McCarthy (Dutton, 2005)

Jenny McCarthy, the best-selling author of Belly Laughs, tells everything about the first year of mommyhood that your polite girlfriends won't, in this hilarious account of what it means to have a newborn and the challenges that new mothers endure.

Crouching Father, Hidden Toddler: a zen guide for new dads by C. W. Nevius (Chronicle Books, 2006)

Humor for the new father. Short essays explore fatherhood and the art of mastering that Buddha-like patience needed to raise a child.

Growing Girls: the mother of all adventures by Jeanne Marie Laskas (Bantam Books, 2006)

Beloved columnist Laskas explores the often-weird, always-wondrous landscape of motherhood in this soulful, witty, extraordinarily wise collection of essays.

It's a Boy: women writers on raising sons edited by Andrea J. Buchanan (Seal Press, 2005)

The most popular question any pregnant woman is asked -- aside from "When are you due?" -- has got to be "Are you having a girl or a boy?" When author Andrea Buchanan, already a mom to a little girl, was pregnant with her second child, she marveled at the response of friends and total strangers alike: "Boys are wonderful," "Boys are so much better than girls," "Boys love their mothers differently than girls." This constant refrain led her to explore the issue herself, with help from her fellow writers and moms, many of whom had had the same experience. The result is "It's A Boy, a wide-ranging, often-humorous, and honest collection of essays about the experience of mothering boys.

I Wear the Maternity Pants in This Family by Susan Konig (
Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2007)

Acclaimed humorist Konig follows her successful debut, "Why Animals Sleep So Close to the Road," with this hilarious and realistic account of the joys and struggles of being a mother, writer, wife, and carpooler.

Literary Mama: reading for the maternally inclined edited by Andrea J. Buchanan and Amy Hudock (Seal Press, 2006)

For Mothers Who Write or Aspire to, who find meaning and humor in the demanding but wondrous daily experience of raising children, and who value the sharing of these varied experiences, comes a wonderfully rich compendium by mothers who write the lively, refined, honest, and witty Literary Mama.

Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay: and other things I had to learn as a new mom by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2006)

For moms who like their reading a little on the irreverent, crass side of humor, comedian Sylvie Wilder-Taylor's reflection on new motherhood should bring laughter, nods of understanding, and reassurance.

Toddler: real-life stories of those fickle, irrational, urgent, tiny people we love edited by Jennifer Margulis (Seal Press, 2003)

These clever, succinct, and poignant tales capture all the hilarity, magic, and chaos of raising the complex little people we call toddlers. Poised between the baby's and the child's world, toddlers teach us to take joy in the texture of a small yellow ball, in the comfort of a warm blanket, in the beauty of a spider web. They exasperate us, defy us, and devastate us, yet they fill us with a profound sense of wonder. From a blind mother's struggle to keep track of her very mobile two-year-old to the humorous resignation of a father who comes to realize that even his bathroom time is now a family event, these essays reflect the delight, as well as the frustration and heartbreak, that define this vital time in a child and parent's life. (Book jacket.)

*Book summaries courtesy of Syndetics Solutions.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Value of Play

Browsing through articles in parenting magazines, newspapers, class descriptions for parents, and new book titles, it's not hard to spot that the topic of children's play is of special concern to parents, researchers, and policy makers alike these days.

The New York Times and NPR both featured the topic this past month:

"The Evolution of Play: Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills" by Alix Spiegel was featured on NPR's "Morning Edition" on February 21, 2008. Focusing on imaginative play, this report calls attention to what researchers are saying: imaginative play allows children to work on self-regulation, an important skill for future success in life. Click here for the full story.

"Taking Play Seriously" by Robin Marantz Henig in the February 17, 2008 issue of The New York Times. Researchers have been studying the evolution of play and its purpose for years. What is the value of play for humans? With so many parents concerned about the loss of play in their children's lives, Henig reports on what the research says about play and why it is so important. Read the full story here.

What do you think? Do children still have ample opportunity for play in their lives today? What form does this play take? Is it important? How important is play at the preschool level? For school-aged children? For adults?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pick of the Week

Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary by Beverly Donofrio, illustrated by Barbara McClintock (Swartz & Wade Books, 2007)

"While Mary, a girl whose family lives in a big house, is learning things at school, a young mouse whose family lives in a small house within the big one is learning the same things at her school, and when the two eventually meet they become friends."

This is a simple story that fans of Barbara McClintock's illustrations will enjoy. It should also please young readers who like to imagine and pretend about the hidden possibilities within their homes and the secret lives of small creatures. Incorporate this book right before play time and see what stories you can come up with to recreate with figurines, boxes, and doll houses. The book's ending also offers a gateway to conversation with young listeners. What do you think will happen next? As the children and mice continue to grow up and move, will the story continue in the same way?

Other books illustrated by Barbara McClintock include:

Adele & Simon by Barbara McClintock (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006)

"When Adele walks her little brother Simon home from school he loses one more thing at every stop: his drawing of a cat at the grocer's shop, his books at the park, his crayons at the art museum, and more."

*Try this with fans of the I-Spy books for an alternative and very visually appealing treat!

Aunt Pitty Patty's Piggy retold by Jim Aylesworth, illustrated by Barbara McClintock (Scholastic,1999)

"A cumulative tale in which Aunt Pitty Patty's niece Nellie tries to get piggy to go through the gate."

Dahlia by Barbara McClintock (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002)

"Charlotte does not like dolls, until she receives a special doll from her aunt and they become good friends."

The Gingerbread Man retold by Jim Aylesworth, illustrated by Barbara McClintock (Scholastic, 1998)

"A freshly bake gingerbread man escapes when he is taken out of the oven and eludes a number of pursuers until he meets a clever fox."

Cinderella retold by Barbara McClintock (Scholastic, 2005)

"Although mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters, Cinderella meets her prince with the help of her fairy godmother."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

25th Annual Family Resource Fair

The 25th Annual Family Resource Fair is being held on Saturday, March 8, 2008 from 9:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. at the Linn-Benton Community College Albany Campus. Keynote Speaker, Renea Arnold, Multnomah County Library's Early Literacy Program Director will be presenting "Why Reading With Your Kids Will Change Their Lives Forever". Don't miss this change to hear an amazing speaker, attend Parenting Workshops, visit Community Resource Booths during lunch, and meet other families from the community. Parenting Workshops include a variety of topics - from Couples Communication and the Art of Step-Parenting to So Many Books, So Many Choices (Choosing Books for Our Youngest Readers) and Play Literacy: Using Imaginative Play to Build Literacy Skills. Admission is $1.00 per adult and child care is available for a minimal cost ($2.00 per child).

Sponsors of this year's event include the Corvallis School District, Greater Albany Public Schools, and Samaritan Health Services. To register or for more information and the schedule of workshops, click here or visit LBCC's Family Resources and Education Division online.

Love, Love, Love: Pick of the Week

That's Love by Sam Williams, illustrated by Mique Moriuchi (Holiday House, 2006)

This paean to love in the ever-growing collection of love picture books for children has beautiful illustrations perfect for Valentine's Day or any snuggle-up-and-cuddle-up storytime with someone you care for. Describing the complexities of love or any feeling can be a challenge for adults or children, but this is the aim of this heartfelt book. While some of the text's definitions of love ("the softness of silence") may be too esoteric for some young listeners, concrete examples are given ("Holding me when I cry." and "Helping me to try again."), and all will understand the message. Share this one with your special little someone.

Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cooke, illustrated by Paul Howard (Candlewick, 2003)

For Jay Jay, Sunday dinner at Gran's house is full of love, hugs, kisses, delicious food and the people he loves. A celebration of big family gatherings sharing food with one another. This is a great selection to read-aloud before any special holiday or family gathering around the table. It will leave you feeling happy...and hungry!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Year of the Rat

The Year of the Rat began last Thursday! To celebrate the Chinese New Year, the Corvallis Multicultural Literacy Center (128 SW Ninth St.) has been hosting a celebration. From February 8 through February 13th, the Corvallis Multicultural Literacy Center you can find an art exhibit from the Hua Hua Fun Language and Art Studio and from the Corvallis Chinese School. Stop by and enjoy!

Read more about the Chinese New Year in Karen Katz's book My First Chinese New Year and other books at the library. For fun craft ideas see: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/chinesenewyear/

Sunday, February 10, 2008

New Music Selections for Children

Welcome Home to Maestroville by Little Maestros

This is one of my favorite new finds in the world of children's music. Little Maestros is a hip music class for babies, toddlers and preschoolers in New York City. With great musicians, imaginative songs, puppet shows and musical storytimes, this is one fun act!

Check out their first cd Welcome Home to Maestroville at the library and check out their website: www.littlemaestros.com.

Snail's Pace by Eric Herman

When Eric Herman visited the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library last summer, he was met with great enthusiasm. This 2007 release brings fun children's songs certain to please.

Play by Various Artists

I like albums that are compilations of a variety of styles, artists and sound. It's a great way to sample individual artists and find musicians and styles you may have missed otherwise. This album's self-description claims it is "aimed at adults and young people who like kid-friendly music that can be listened to over and over and over again." And if you're a fan of Mudhoney, the Supersuckers, or Visqueen, you'll be happy to know they make an appearance on this album.

Ratatouille music by Michael Giacchino

The movie was a hit with kids and adults alike. Take home and revisit the music in Ratatouille with the soundtrack by Michael Giacchino.

Play! by Milkshake

This is what rock music for kids is all about! Singer Lisa Mathews and guitarist You may have seen their videos on PBS Kids or Discovery Kids' ToddWorld (hint: Lisa is often dressed in a tutu). Milkshake's PLAY! cd won a Parents Choice Recommended Award and the Nappa Gold Award for Best Children's Music 2007. Check out their website at: www.milkshakemusic.com.

You Are My Little Bird by Elizabeth Mitchell

Elizabeth Mitchell has been making delightful children's music for several years, but she is new to my ears. This is the music of childhood that I love. Her rendition of Woody Guthrie's "Little Sack of Sugar" still remains my favorite find in the world of children's music this past year. (You can hear it on the Bright Spaces 2 cd). Elizabeth's voice might also sound familiar to you - she sang backup vocals for Lisa Loeb's first hit "Stay (I Missed You)".

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Alvin and the Chipmunks made their first appearance when I was growing up. Now they're back, with their new movie out on DVD and the soundtrack available at the public library. If you just can't get enough of the signature sound of Alvin and his friends singing, this album is for you.

Get on the Bus! by Doodlebops

Television viewers can watch the Doodlebops each day on the Disney Channel and their fans can also check out their songs at the library. These colorful characters sing and rock their way through 22 children's songs. Also available at the library on DVD.

Fascinating Creatures by Frances England

For children and parents who like the sounds of Elizabeth Mitchell and Dan Zanes and his folk/indie blend, try Fascinating Creatures. Reviewers at Zooglobble, School Library Journal, and Cookie Magazine, have all give high praise to Frances England. Evoking the sounds of Sarah McLachlan, Neko Case, and Ani DiFranco, Fascinating Creatures is definitely worth a listen!

Disney Mania 5 by Various Artists

Today's top music stars sing classic Disney Songs - "their way." Featured artists include Miley Cyrus, Corbin Bleu, the Cheetah Girls, the Jonas Brothers, Ashley Tisdale, Vanessa Hudgens, Everlife and others sing everything from "Part of Your World" (Little Mermaid) to "Find Yourself" (Cars from Pixar Studios).

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Going To Bed

Recently I had an opportunity to present "Going to Bed" books to a group of parents who have toddlers, babies, and a few preschoolers. Throughout the storytime, the group discussed the bedtime issues or ideas that were presented in each book.

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight by Jane Yolen is a great book to think about the overall "going to bed" routine. Is it simple? Regular?
A challenge every night?

Brush Your Teeth, Please A Pop Up Book. This book addresses the brushing your teeth routine in a very fun way. When is the appropriate age to start brushing your child's teeth? And, watch out for what your child is drinking....juice, milk, or water. You want your child to go to bed with clean healthy teeth.

Flora's Blanket by Debi Gliori is a great book to address the favorite toy, blanket, item of clothing that goes everywhere and what to do when it goes missing. It's fun to reflect on what is your child's favorite item. Also think about what was your favorite item. Mine was a soft yellow blanket.

Goodnight Sigmund by Nancy Coffelt is a great book to talk about some of the games and routines children enjoy just before bedtime. In this particular book the child is looking for his kitty bedtime. This book is much like a quiet hide-and-seek.

So, when you are reflecting on the going to bed routine, and it is exactly that, think about the wonderful moment of bonding it can be for a parent and child. Snuggle up, turn the lights down low, read a good book, listen to some soft music, and off to sleep.

For those of you struggling with the bedtime routine, don't give up! Visit your local library to get some encouraging parenting books which discuss the "going to bed" routine and challenges.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Pick of the Week

Lickety-Split by Robert Heidbreder, illustrated by Dusan Petricic (Kids Can Press, 2007)

Lickety-Split is a side-splitting smorgasbord of sights and sounds unlike any other book. Tag along as our hero trips the rhyme fantastic and spins a tongue-twisting tall tale for his heroine. He ziggity-zags, clickity-clacks, skippity-skips and zippity-zooms from one adventure to the next. Will he defeat the Viking warrior? Tame the dragon? Knock one out of the park? Will our heroine believe him if he does? -- Publisher's description