Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pick of the Week -- Little Boy

Little Boy by Alison McGhee (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008)

"A father reflects on how the future depends upon the all of the little things in his son's world, from his yellow drinking cup to a big cardboard box."

This book, along with author Alison McGhee's previous title, Someday, is a potential tear-jerking read for parents of little children. Little Boy is an endearing book about boyhood and fatherhood alike. Perhaps best appreciated by parents themselves, this still works as a book to be shared with boys as a sweet tribute to all that makes being a small boy (and the parent of one) a precious time to not be rushed.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pick of the Week: The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum

The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum by Kate Bernheimer, illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008)

In a toy museum filled with eclectic toys, children peer into a glass globe. Inside the globe they see a castle - and within the castle is a girl. As children peer inside and she peers back out at them, a quiet dialog of imagination begins. The girl is lonely and just waiting for visitors: "Now in her room and in her dreams, inside the castle inside the museum, inside this book you hold in your hands, you keep her company in a magical world. Do you see her? She sees you." Italian artist Nicoletta Ceccoli creates fantastic magical layouts with a mix of photography, illustration, clay figures and digital media. For children and adults whom the realm of fantasy and imagination is appreciated, this unique and beautiful book will surely hit the spot.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Children's Book Week

May 12 - 18, 2008 is Children's Book Week!

"Since 1919, Children's Book Week has been celebrated nationally in schools, libraries, bookstores, clubs, private homes-any place where there are children and books. Educators, librarians, booksellers, and families have celebrated children's books and the love of reading with storytelling, parties, author and illustrator appearances, and other book related events.

It all began with the idea that children's books can change lives. In 1913, Franklin K. Matthiews, the librarian of the Boy Scouts of America, began touring the country to promote higher standards in children's books. He proposed creating a Children's Book Week, which would be supported by all interested groups: publishers, booksellers, and librarians." - Children's Book Council site. For more information for kids, parents, and librarians, see The Children's Book Week Site from the Children's Book Council (CBC).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Writing Experiences

Writing is an important literacy skill and it takes on many preliteracy forms - from scribbing to coloring to the first attempts at writing letters. Using symbols to represent letter names, sounds, and eventually putting them together as words is a complex cogntivie and fine motor skill. The more experience - and fun - a young child has with writing, the easier it may be for her to eventually master the skill of writing in school.

Keeping crayons and paper around the house to draw, scribble, and write with are just the beginning. Include your child when you're writing a to-do list, a check, or a thank you letter. Talk about what you are doing and let them see you write. Encourage writing as part of pretend play. A child can scribble a list of ingredients to "buy" at the store, write your "order" down while playing waiter at a restaurant, or write a letter to mail to Grandma. Even toddlers can journal! Reuse paper grocery sacks by letting your toddler draw "what happened today" on the sack. Cut them into smaller pieces and tie them together with yarn to create a journal or book of your child's creations.

Here are a few books to inspire writing experiences with a small child:

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson (Harper, 1955)

The classic imaginative tale about Harold, who heads out into the moonlight for adventures with his purple crayon. After reading this one, take your own purple crayon adventure with your child! A great inspiration for ending boredom.

A Piece of Chalk by Jennifer A. Ericsson (Roaring Brook Press, 2007)

A little girl makes a chalk drawing outside of her home until the rain comes along and changes the image into something she can still enjoy. Read this one right before heading outdoors with the children to create their own masterpieces.

Duck's Tale by Harmen van Straaten, translated by Marianne Martens (North-South Books, 2007)

"When Toad finds some reading glasses and Duck finds a pen, they also acquire some skills they never knew they had." For older picture book readers and beginning writers - a great story about friendship and collaboration.

Go to Bed, Monster! by Natasha Wing (Harcourt, 2007)

"Trying to avoid bedtime, Lucy uses her imagination and some crayons to draw a monster to play with." A fun story to inspire drawing. At a library conference I recently attended, another children's librarian suggested also writing the monster's exclamations (Chase! Hungry! Potty!) as you read the story out loud.

My Crayons Talk by Patricia Hubbard (H. Holt, 1996)

"Brown crayon sings "Play, Mud pie day," and Blue crayon calls "Sky, Swing so high" in this story about talking crayons." This is a lively picture book for encouraging writing, drawing, and talking about language.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pick of the Week

A new book for the littlest ballerinas:

Little Ballet Star by Adele Geras, with illustrations by Shelagh McNicholas (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2008)

Tilly is thrilled when she gets to see her aunt perform in the ballet, "The Sleeping Beauty," especially because she gets to go backstage and even on the stage itself. **Starred Review, Booklist

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Books to Help with Biting

As many parents know, sometimes unpleasant habits - like biting - develop in young children. Here are a few books that address this issue in a variety of situations (whether biting nails or biting others) for babies through school-aged children:

The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Habit by Jan and Stan Berenstain (1986)

With the help of her family, Sister Bear breaks her habit of biting her nails.

Bootsie Barker Bites by Barbara Bottner (1992)

Bootsie Barker only wants to play games in which she bites, until one day her friend comes up with a better game.

No Biting! by Karen Katz (2002)

A refreshingly honest and funny book offers flaps to lift to show toddlers that there is a better way to act out their frustration than to bite.

No Biting, Louise by Margie Palatini (2007)

At the urging of her family, Louise, a young alligator, tries hard to kick her biting habit.

No Fighting, No Biting! by Else Holmelund Minark (1958)

Sometimes Rosa and Willy behave like the two little alligators in the stories Cousin Joan tells them.

Teeth Are Not for Biting by Elizabeth Verdick (2003, Board Book)

"Crunch crunch crunch. Teeth are strong and sharp. Crunch crunch crunch. Teeth can help you chew. But teeth are not for biting. Ouch! Biting hurts." Sooner or later, almost all young children will bite someone—a friend, a parent, a sibling. This upbeat, colorful, virtually indestructible book helps prevent biting and teaches positive alternatives. " - from

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Pick of the Week

Night of the Veggie Monster by George McClements (Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2008)

Many parents know all too well the daily battle otherwise known as dinnertime. If you've ever had the experience of desperately trying to convince your child to eat his or her vegetables (or witnessed the protest from a child faced with a plate of veggies), this book should connect with you. In Night of the Veggie Monster, every Tuesday night - when presented with three peas to eat (yes, only three!), the boy turns into a monster. Never fear, once he actually swallows the peas, he discovers they aren't that bad after all. A fun new offering from George McClements for all veggie-timid eaters.