35 posts categorized "Baby Bookworm" Feed

Books My Family Received for Christmas

My daughter received quite a number of books for Christmas. I must confess to having purchased quite a few of them myself. Here is the full stack:


And here they are listed, with comments (and links):

Jules Feiffer: Bark, George. A friend on Facebook recommended this one back in October, when I was looking for books to read aloud to a mixed age group of preschoolers. I didn't end up using it for that, but I ordered it, and saved it to be a Christmas present. Baby Bookworm think it is hilarious. 

Mo Willems: That Is Not a Good Idea! OK, the truth of the matter is that I coveted this book for months, and used Christmas as an excuse to buy it for my daughter. I'm happy to report that she enjoys it, though I don't think she 100% understands the trick that the author pulls on the reader. But she will!

Beverly Cleary: The Complete Ramona Collection. This was a gift from Baby Bookworm's godparents. It was on our Amazon wish list because I look forward to reading it to my daughter when she's just a little bit older. And I wanted to have the books here, ready, when we are. Thanks, G&G!

Charles M. Schulz: Peanuts: A Charlie Brown Christmas. My husband picked this one up. The television special is one of his favorites. He also got the Record a Story: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, but that book is just annoying (it makes noise every time you touch it, and we couldn't figure out how to actually record). 

Eileen Rosenthal & Marc Rosenthal: Bobo the Sailor Man! We loved the first two Bobo books (my reviews of I MUST Have Bobo! and I'll Save You Bobo!). I happened to learn right before Christmas that there was a third book out, and couldn't resist. 

Deborah Hautzig & Diane GoodeThe Story of the Nutcracker Ballet. My husband and I spent some time in a bookstore between a Nutcracker show and dinner reservations. I decided to bring this back for our daughter (who isn't quite old enough to sit through the show - maybe next year). 

On the same bookstore visit, I picked up Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts (reviewed here), and Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins & Paul Zelinsky. This is what happens to me when I go to bookstores. I had a copy of Toys Come Home, and it seemed like we would eventually want to start reading this series from the beginning. I gave Toys Go Out a try with my daughter the other night, but the lack of pictures on the first two pages put her off. "Maybe later."

Cynthia Rylant: Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake. My dear friend's daughter loved this series when she was younger, so they picked out this one for Baby Bookworm. I suspect it will be the start of an appreciation of this series in our house, too. They also sent Caroline Repchuk's My Little Supermarket, which is very fun, and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers, which was on our wish list. Thanks, my friends! 

I also gave my daughter several books that I had ordered from Scholastic Reading Club. In truth, I probably would have given them to her anyway, so they were a bit of a cheat as Christmas presents. But that's how I roll this time of year. And actually, one of them, a set of three Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems in paperback editions, was the (book) hit of Christmas day. We had to stop opening presents and read all three immediately (I Love My New Toy, There Is A Bird on Your Head, and My Friend Is Sad). The other, Dav Pilkey's A Friend for Dragon, we haven't read yet, for some reason.

I think that's it for her pile, not including sticker books and workbooks and the like. I also received Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park (from the same friend who I sent a copy to, in a delightful coincidence) and The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert: Take a Whiff of That by Richard Betts. A copy of Cynthia Lord's Half a Chance arrived on my doorstop from Scholastic on Christmas Eve, and that felt like a Christmas present, too. My husband received a Boston Red Sox Stocking Stumpers book.

We naturally gave away quite a few books as gifts, too. But I'll have to share those another day. Did the holiday season bring new books to your house, too? Wishing you plenty of time for reading in the New Year. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

Literacy Activity: Typing Names on the Computer

TypingI wouldn't call this one a milestone, but my daughter and I came up with a little literacy-themed game earlier this week. I was working on the computer in my office. My daughter came in, climbed up into my lap, and asked if she could "use the letters" on the computer. So I opened up a notepad application, and she started typing words.

She would suggest a word (generally the name of someone important in her life), I would tell her how to spell it, and she would find and press each letter on the keyboard. She was able to type "Mom" (see previous post) and her own name without any spelling help, though she required a bit of help in finding the letters. Where possible, I would sound out the word, and let her figure out what the corresponding letter. Had it not been bath time, I think that this game could have continued for quite some time.

So we have:

  1. Practice at spelling;
  2. Practice at recognizing which letters go with certain sounds; 
  3. Practive at memorization, as she worked to remember where each letter was located on the keyboard (something that is hardly intuitive); and
  4. Fun with Mom.

Item #3 is extra-challenging on my computer, because some of the letters have been worn off due to repeated use (the "n" is completely gone, presumably because I have several in my name). 

It's not that I'm eager to have my child spending more time on electronic devices. But it does please me that she enjoys making words, whatever the format. And the seek/find/remember aspects of doing this on the keyboard are a learning bonus. I won't be pushing this activity, but I will be receptive to it when she asks for it. Because really, work can usually wait a few more minutes... 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

Literacy Moments with Baby Bookworm

I've been sharing occasional milestones on my three-year-old daughter's path to literacy. Today I have a few tidbits - not quite full-fledged milestones, but recent moments that have brought me joy. I thought that some of you might appreciate them. 

  • Pretending to play in the attic, when we have no attic, because that's what the Berenstain Bears do in the The Berenstain Bears and the Nutcracker
  • Suggesting that we read the "really funny" new book that we got from Scholastic Book Club (I'm Not Ready by Jonathan Allen), because a friend of ours had read it to her, and she knew that I hadn't read it yet. 
  • Initiating a spontaneous acting out of I'm Bored by Michael Ian Black and Debbie Ridpath Ohi. I was the bored potato, while Baby Bookworm acted out many of the neat things kids can do. What was surprising to me was that we returned this book to the library at least a month ago. 
  • Interrupting my work day with a book in hand and asking, softly, "Would you please read this book to me?" (Who can resist that, I ask you?)
  • Making me recite "Peter Piper" over and over and over again, thanks to Hey, Diddle, Diddle, a nursery rhyme book from Tiger Tales, and planning to teach it to her friends. 
  • Requesting "a longer book" when we were reading picture books together the other night. (Fortunately I just ordered The Big Alfie and Annie Rose Storybook, at the recommendation of The Read-Aloud Handbook.)
  • Recognizing Trixie on the cover of Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems, and insisting that I refer to her as Trixie instead of Goldilocks throughout reading the book aloud. She is loyal to characters she loves. 
  • And in general, seizing new books as soon as they arrive, if they appear to be remotely in her age range, and demanding "Read it now!". This is particularly true of her best-loved series titles. Currently these are The Berenstain Bears, the Little Critter books, Fancy Nancy, and Curious George. Today she also had to sit down immediately, before eating lunch, to read the new books that we picked up at her school's Scholastic Book Fair (and which I had let her choose, with only a tiny bit of guidance). 

Less joyful for me was when she interrupted my watching of the Red Sox in a pivotal playoff game the other night and said "Baseball is just boring. Read this book to me." Just kidding - in the big picture, that one is ok, too. For the record, I set the game to record, and turned off the TV. (But it was difficult.)

These moments make me happy because they make me feel like I'm having success in my quest to raise her as a child who loves books. I know that there's a long path ahead of us, with the demands of electronic devices, the pressure of assigned school reading, and other obstacles along the way. And I am aware that sometimes she's using my own love of books as a way to get my attention (clever little manipulator that she is). Still, right now, at 3 1/2, it's safe to say that she loves books. And that's something to celebrate. Do you have moments like these that you'd like to share, too?

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

Does It Matter If You Read to Your Kids at Bedtime (Specifically)?

The Guardian recently reported, in an article by Liz Bury, on a study that found that "only 13% of parents read to their kids at night every day of the week." The title of the article is:

"Children's bedtime stories on the wane, according to survey"

It's a brief article, but says:

"A poll of 2,000 mothers with children aged 0-7 years, carried out by the clothing and homeware retailer Littlewoods, highlighted the extent of the change. Only 64% of respondents said they read their children bedtime stories, even though 91% were themselves read bedtime stories when young."

Participants said things like that they were too stressed, or didn't have time to read to their kids before bed, even though they think it's important. This part is sad: "Only 13% of respondents read a story to their children every night, but 75% recall being read to every night when they were kids."

I shared this link on my Facebook page with a sigh, and my friend Jennifer remarked that she would have to answer no to the question, because she tends to read to her kids at other times, rather than at bedtime. Which got me thinking that perhaps this survey wasn't really asking the right question. (To be fair, the survey was focused on whether bedtime reading was on the decline, more so than bigger picture questions. So it was the right question for them, but not for me.)

RAM1_shadowI've been helping the organization Read Aloud to spread their message, which is: Read Aloud for 15 Minutes. Every Child. Every Parent. Every Day. This is delightfully concrete, and I've been happy to share it. But I still see people saying: "But I want to read for more than 15 minutes." Or, "I can't read every day." 

ReadAloudMantraTo me, the right message is something like:

Read aloud to your child whenever you can, as often as you can, for as long as you can.

For many families, bedtime is the easiest time for reading aloud, because you have a routine in place, and it's relatively straightforward to make reading aloud part of that. This is great when it works. But if you can’t read at night without falling asleep after 5 minutes, or you have different kids of different ages, and you're working on the older kids' homework, and you just can’t fit the reading in then, ok. Find another time.

It doesn’t matter if you read in the morning before breakfast, or after lunch during quiet time, or before bed. It matters that you:

  • Always have books around that you can read to your child, whether they are your family’s own books or library books.
  • Try to say yes when your child asks you to read aloud.
  • Make reading part of your daily routine, no matter how busy that routine is, by fitting it in somewhere.
  • Keep reading together fun!
  • Keep reading aloud to your child even after your child can read to herself, for as long as she will let you.

These are the important things. These are things that you can do as a parent that will make a difference in your child’s happiness now, and future success later.

In my house, I tend to let read aloud time be dictated by what my daughter requests. Sometimes she wants to read a couple of books before even heading down for breakfast. Often she asks her babysitter to read to her after lunch, in the time period that she used to nap. If a new picture book arrives in the mail, she’ll usually want to read it right then. Same for times when she arrives home from the library with new books. I can't always say yes to reading at any particular minute, but I try to say yes as frequently as possible. 

We do usually read to her at bedtime. Mostly my husband does the nighttime reading these days, because my daughter in a major “daddy phase.” I’ll often sit nearby and read my own books, so we’re still together. But sometimes she falls asleep on her own before we get to the bedtime reading, and, well, there isn’t any. Especially if we’re out somewhere, and she falls asleep on the way home (sound familiar, anyone?). But most of the time, she’s been read to at some other point during the day. Some days she’s probably been read to at 5 or 6 points during the day. So I figure that what we’re doing is working for us, and I don’t get too hung up about the occasional missed night.

I know that I'm lucky because I work from home, and can sneak in extra reading time during the day. I'm lucky because I have other people who read to my daughter, too, and because I only have to worry about one child's schedule. I realize that it's going to get harder as my daughter gets older, and has homework and activities. But I'm going to try to keep this mantra in my head:

Read aloud to your child whenever you can, as often as you can, for as long as you can.

I'm going to try to seize, and appreciate, those moments, regardless of what time of day they occur. 

How about you? Does your family read before bed, or at other times, or both? 

 © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

The Five Series I Most Look Forward to Reading with My Daughter

FiveSeriesI wrote a couple of weeks ago about my three-year-old daughter's newly expressed interest in being read chapter books, in addition to her regular diet of picture books and early readers. I asked people on the post and on Facebook to share titles that they had read with their children while were still pre-readers. I collected a number of titles, and was especially pleased to be reminded of a post that Melissa Wiley wrote a couple of years on this very topic (Chapter book suggestions for a four-year-old). Out of these suggestions, and my own opinions, I've come up with a list of the top five series I most look forward to reading with my daughter. They are (in approximate age order):

1. The Clementine Books by Sara Pennypacker (ill. Marla Frazee). I absolutely adore Clementine. I think she is a wonderful character, and that the books are spot on in terms of both realism and humor. Frazee's illustrations perfectly capture Clementine for me, too. And there are enough illustrations that I think Baby Bookworm will be ready for the first book soon. In fact I just ordered a new copy, because I apparently gave mine away (back in the days before I knew that I'd have a daughter to read it to, I suspect). And as a bonus, the books are set in Boston, where my family's pro sports loyalties will forever lie. 

2. The Pippi Longstocking Books by Astrid Lindgren. My daughter has a 3-year-old's love of the ridiculous. I think that she'll be as charmed by the irrepressible Pippi as I was. And perhaps she'll be inspired by the way that Pippi solves her own problems. Pippi gives new meaning to the term "strong girl." My second grade class did Pippi as a class play, with my friend Holly as Pippi (her real braids manipulated out to the sides with a coat hanger or something). I was Annika, and I'll never forget it. 

I also splurged on the DVD boxed set of the four Pippi movies from the 1970s. This was more for me than for Baby Bookworm, in truth (though she adores movies), because I have fond memories of my dad taking my siblings and I (or probably just my next-youngest brother and I) to see them in the theater. Pippi in the South Seas was my favorite of the movies, and I look forward to seeing it again (after we read the book). 

3. The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (ill. Garth Williams). This was the first series that I remember reading on my own, devouring book after book. Little House in the Big Woods will forever be the first middle grade title that Baby Bookworm expressed a serious interest in reading (admittedly inspired by Little House in the Big Woods paper dolls). So it is naturally on our Top 5 list. But as we've progressed in attempting to read the first book, it's become clear that she's more interested in hearing the stories associated with some of the pictures than in actually listening to the whole book right now. No worries. The books will wait. 

4. The Penderwicks Books by Jeanne Birdsall. I adore The Penderwicks. To me these books are modern classics, with the characterization and emotional resonance of the Elizabeth Enright books (childhood favorites of mine), but with a more up-to-date feel. Clearly 4-year-old Batty will be Baby Bookworm's favorite character, if we read the books any time within the next few years, but I imagine that one day she will identify with Jane or Skye or eventually Rosalind. These are books I'd like to read with her while she's in elementary school, when she's old enough to discuss Rosalind's crush, and Jeffrey's loneliness. But young enough to feel the endless potential of summer in the first book. 

5. The Harry Potter Books by J.K. Rowling (ill. Mary GrandPre). OK, this one is a bit of a cliche. But really, who doesn't look forward to reading the Harry Potter books with their child? I did, in fact, read Baby Bookworm the first book when she was an infant, but I look forward to her being old enough to appreciate the story. I don't want to start too soon, because the later books are pretty dark, and I know that once we start we're likely to want to keep going. But I do look forward to spending time with my daughter in Harry Potter's world. In fact, I think this one will be a family affair, because I can't imagine my husband not wanting to participate, too. 

There are lots of other books that I hope to read with my Baby Bookworm when the time is right. I hope that she will be as captivated by the work of Elizabeth Enright and Zilpha Keatley Snyder as I was, and am. I imagine that she'll love The Borrowers. I hope that she doesn't find A Little Princess or The Secret Garden dated. I hope that we are able to read book after book after book together. I think that there are some books that she'll enjoy more if she discovers them on her own (though I can't say which ones off the top of my head). But the above five are the series that I am most looking forward to sharing with her. Perhaps in a future post I'll look at some standalone titles (Matilda, perhaps?).

What books do you look forward to reading aloud with your children? What books did you enjoy when they were younger? If you've already been through it, don't you kind of envy me, having all of these books still ahead of us? An unintentional upside to having a child late in life. Thanks for reading!

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

Six Recent Baby Bookworm Favorites

This post is the fourth in a series (here are number onenumber two, and number three) in which I have been highlighting some of my daughter's favorite reads (even when they are not necessarily my favorites). She turned three in April. Here are six books that she has been especially enjoying over the past few weeks:

1. Peppa Pig and the Busy Day at School. Candlewick Press. Review copy. I must confess that Baby Bookworm's interest in this book stems from the fact that she watches the television show when she is at her friends' house. She literally jumped up in the air when I removed it from the package (I had requested a review copy from Candlewick, knowing that it would be a hit). But I have to say, it's pretty educational. 

2. I'm Bored, by Michael Ian Black & Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Simon & Schuster. Library copy. The first time she read this book, Baby Bookworm pronounced it "boring." I am fairly sure, however, that this a mark of her developing sense of humor. Because we have read it many times since then. She also delights in acting this book out. She is the little girl, of course, and I am the grumpy potato. As for me, I think that this one is well done (particularly Ohi's illustrations) and entertaining, though it skates a tiny bit close to message-y for my personal taste. (Kids should never be bored. Here are all the great things kids can do.) 

3. Back to Bed, Ed by Sebastien Braun. Peachtree. Review copy. This is a book that I received for potential review three years ago, and didn't end up reviewing. I liked it enough to keep it, though. And recently, after my daughter had woken up my husband every night for about three months in a row, I pulled it out from the bookshelf. It's been a hit with both father and daughter (though I can't say that it's actually worked, in terms of discouraging my daughter from getting out of bed in the middle of the night). 

4. Amelia Bedelia (50th Anniversary Edition) by Peggy Parish & Fritz Siebel. Greenwillow Books. Review copy (reviewed here). To me, this story of a literal-minded maid from 50 years ago holds up beautifully. I'm still a bit surprised that my modern-day three-year old enjoys it. She can't possibly be understanding all of the jokes ("put out the lights", "change the towels"), and she's never even had lemon meringue pie. But for whatever reason, she asks for this book every night. This may possibly have something to do with her newly developed obsession with words that rhyme. 

5. Chamelia by Ethan Long. Little, Brown. Review copy. Chamelia is another title that I passed on reviewing a couple of years ago (finding it a bit message-y), but liked enough to keep around. It's about a little chameleon who prefers standing out over blending in, and how she learns to compromise to fit in better. For whatever reason (perhaps the colorful, quirky illustrations, or perhaps the fact that Chamelia rhymes with Amelia Bedelia), Baby Bookworm adores Chamelia. Her father reads it to her every night, and I've actually just ordered her a copy of the sequel, Chamelia and the New Kid in Class.  

6. 20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street by Mark Lee & Kurt Cyrus. Candlewick. Review copy (review here).  20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street is a combination of counting book and truck book. But I think that Baby Bookworm likes it for the story, and the facts that a) a boy on a bike comes up with the idea that solves a 20 truck traffic jam and b) there is ice cream at the end. We do use it for practicing counting. 

Apart from the above six titles, Baby Bookworm remains obsessed with Mercer Mayer's Little Critter books as well as any and all books about the Berenstain Bears. We have quite a few books from each series, and she brings home more whenever she goes to the library. Despite being relatively text dense books for her age group, she listens to every word. Asked what we should buy for two friends who have a birthday party coming up, she replied without hesitation "Little Critter and Berenstain Bears books." So there you have it! Kid approved. On Trevor Cairney's recommendation, I just purchased her the Little Critter Collection #1 for the iPad (10 of the books read aloud, with some interactive elements). 

What books have your children been reading and enjoying lately. What do you do when your taste and your child's taste are not aligned? 

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. 

How We're Doing with Screen Free Week

SfwAs I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Screen Free Week is being observed this week, April 29th - May 5th. Random House has been urging families to Unplug and Read. As you might infer by the fact that I'm blogging right now, I'm not going screen free myself. However, I am attempting to keep my 3 year old daughter, Baby Bookworm, free of screens. Because she never uses screens during the day anyway, this mainly consists of three things:

  1. Not letting her use the iPad in the morning after breakfast (something that I often allow, so that I can read the paper, shower, etc.).
  2. Not letting her watch television in the evening (we sometimes watch a movie or television episode after dinner - she's currently in the middle of Season 1 of Full House). 
  3. Not using my iPhone when she is around (because this makes her want to play with it). 

So how are we doing on these three things?

  1. Monday morning she cried for a few minutes over not using the iPad. But then we did some gymnastics, pretended we were taking an airplane to Los Angeles, and read two books. Tuesday morning she didn't even ask for the iPad, wanting instead to play a game in which I was the baby, and she was the daddy. I convinced her that "the baby" wanted to read books, and she went and dug out some of her early baby books for us to read together. Wednesday morning, again, no request for the iPad. We did puzzles, read several books, and packed up for a pretend trip to the beach. 
  2. BooksReadSFWMonday night she protested quite loudly about wanting to watch "a movie" (she calls everything on the TV a movie). But only for a couple of minutes. Then we went into the playroom and played Little People, and she went on a pretend camping trip with my husband. Tuesday night she asked a couple of times for television, but was even more easily deflected by puzzles and pretend camping. We also read a lot more books before bed than usual, because we got started earlier (see stack to the right).  
  3. Not looking at my iPhone screen when she's around has been the hardest one for me. Baseball scores! Facebook! Checking my email! But I don't think that she has even noticed. This one is going to be a lot harder on the weekend, when I'm with her all day. 

We're only a couple of days in, but already, I'm noticing a few things.

  • It doesn't take very much time to make or break habits when you're dealing with a three year old. I was surprised that on the second day she didn't even ask for the iPad. It's possible that we'll get the to end of the week, and she'll completely stop asking for the iPad at all. 
  • When she's not watching TV or using the iPad, she is engaging in more creative play. We did at one point pretend to be watching television, I must admit, but she was perfectly happy to pretend, and didn't ask for the real thing. While I do think that she learns some things on the iPad (we have apps that are helping her with letter recognition, for example), I have to think that active pretend play is more beneficial at this age. We are also reading more books, which is certainly a good thing. 
  • I think that the reason she is ok with giving up the screens (which she loves) is that she gets more of mommy and daddy's time and attention. If I was trying to send her off to play by herself in the mornings, I don't think that this whole thing would be very successful.

There's no question that this is a sacrifice in terms of my time. I feel like I'm starting off every day behind, because I get so little time to myself in the mornings. I'm not sure whether I'll be able to continue after this week is over. But there's also no question in my mind that this Screen Free Week is having good outcomes for my daughter.

It's not too late to jump in to Screen Free Week, if any of this sounds interesting to you. My personal view is that it's a good excuse to look at how much time your kids are spending on screens, and see what happens if you scale that back a little bit. I'll report back again after the end of the week. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Eight Recent Baby Bookworm Favorites: April 19

This post is the third of a series (here are number one and number two) in which I have been highlighting some of my daughter's favorite reads. She just turned three, and her tastes do not always coincide with mine (as highlighted below). Here are eight books that she has been especially enjoying over the past month:

1. Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck! by Kyle Mewburn (ill. Ali Teo & John O'Reilly). Peachtree. Reviewed here. This is a book that I've had for years, ever since reviewing it back in 2008. It pops in and out of favor with Baby Bookworm, but she's been requesting it lately. It's about a little boy who runs away from the sloppy kisses of his Auntie Elsie, but then misses those kisses when Elsie is unable to visit for a while. It's funny, and a bit touching at the end. I think that Baby Bookworm is just at the right age to find the idea of kisses being "yucky" entertaining. 

2. A Bedtime for Bear by Bonny Becker (ill. Kady MacDonald Denton). Candlewick. Reviewed here. The grouchy Bear and "small and gray and bright-eyed" Mouse are always popular with Baby Bookworm. Lately she's been requesting A Bedtime for Bear at bedtime. Could be because it's a relatively long picture book, or because she is just starting to appreciate the humor in Bear being scared of the dark. 

3. Nini Lost and Found by Anita Lobel. Random House.Reviewed here. This is a book that I love, despite not being at all a cat person. It's about a housecat who sneaks outside. Nini enjoys exploring the woods until things become a bit scary after dark. She makes it home safely, of course. I think Baby Bookworm likes the fact that this book is scary in the middle, but ends up safe and cozy at the end. 

4. If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff (ill. Felicia Bond). HarperCollins. Baby Bookworm was introduced to this series (which starts with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie) by her cousins. She received a boxed set of five small books in the series, and she requests them constantly. In truth, I find them hard to read aloud without falling asleep, due to the repetition. But Baby Bookworm loves them, especially If You Give a Moose a Muffin (she is partial to muffins herself). 

5. The Peace Book by Todd Parr. Little, Brown. This is a book that Baby Bookworm picked up from the library. It lists various definitions of things that are related to "peace" in some way (some of them quite tangential). For instance, wearing different kinds of clothes. The book shows children of various (and unearthly) skin colors. Baby Bookworm quite enjoyed it, but I found it a little too overtly message-y for my taste. 

6. The Dark, by Lemony Snicket (ill. Jon Klassen). Little, Brown. Review coming next week. This book is fabulous, and is a favorite with our whole family. I won't be at all surprised if it turns out to be award-winning. Not only is it a great read, with gorgeous illustrations, but I think it actually has helped Baby Bookworm in coping with fear of the dark. At the very least, it inspired me to buy her a night light. 

7. The Teeny-Tiny Woman by Paul Galdone. Sandpiper. This is another library book that Baby Bookworm became fascinated with. I was a little surprised, frankly, because it's kind of a creepy story. It's about a "teeny-tiny woman" who goes for a walk, finds a bone in a graveyard, brings it home, and is subsequently hounded by a ghost. But it's fun to read aloud. "Teeny-tiny" is repeated almost enough to make it a tongue-twister.  

8. The Three Bears, by Byron Barton. HarperFestival. Another library book, this 1991 edition of the classic story is very straightforward, with uncomplicated illustrations. It was a nice introduction for Baby Bookworm to the three bears (she also has a doll that shows Goldilocks one way and the bears another way, but she hadn't known the story until now). We read it over and over again. Rather than buying her this version, though, I think we'll just try out some others, and see which ones she likes best. 

What books have your children been enjoying lately? Do you find them clamoring for you to buy them copies of favorite library books? We had to do this once lately, after my daughter would not let me return Soup Day by Melissa Iwai. Fortunately, she had a birthday coming up! 

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. 

Our Favorite Birthday Books

BirthdayBooks2Today is my daughter's third birthday (can you believe it?). I suppose that I'll have to stop calling her "Baby" Bookworm eventually. But not quite yet! In honor of her birthday, I'd like to share some of our favorite birthday books. 

Birthday Monsters by Sandra Boynton. Workman. Board Book. This has been one of our family's favorite read-aloud books since Baby Bookworm was tiny. My husband especially enjoys it (and he tends to be very hard to please when it comes to children's books). We've read this one so much that is has entered into our family vocabulary. Like if it happens to be 6:08 someone might say "It's 6:08." Then someone else would respond, "Your present-opening can't wait." Birthday Monsters is a book that truly lends itself to reading aloud, and showcases Boynton's genius. 

Happy Birthday, Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton. Robin Corey Books. Board Book. This has been another longtime household favorite. Baby Bookworm especially loves it when Pookie is so excited to start his birthday that he wakes his parents up at the crack of dawn (they later need a nap). Hmmm. Perhaps we shouldn't be reading this one around Baby Bookworm's birthday after all. This book inspired us to acquire all of the other Pookie books, but I think this is the best of them. 

Scaredy Squirrel Has A Birthday Party by Melanie Watt. Kids Can Press. Picture Book. Reviewed here. In truth Baby Bookworm is still a little young to appreciate the humor of this one. But it is one that all Scaredy Squirrel fans should own. Basically, Scaredy tries to plan his own, completely safe, birthday party. But when his friend dog becomes involved, things change (becoming less safe, but more fun). There are tons of tiny details in this book to entertain adults or older children. But Scaredy's cuteness will appeal to younger readers, too. 

Happy Birthday, Hamster by Cynthia Lord (ill. Derek Anderson). Scholastic. Picture Book. We are big Hamster fans in our house. See my review of Hot Rod Hamster. Not sure why I never reviewed Happy Birthday, Hamster, but I can tell you that we read it all the time. It's taken Baby Bookworm a while to completely appreciate what's going on in the story (Hamster's friends pretend that they have forgotten his birthday, only to surprise him at the end). But she loves all of the birthday trappings (cake, presents, balloons, etc.), and the participatory nature of the story (the text asks, frequently "Which would you choose?").

A Birthday for Bear by Bonny Becker (ill. Kady MacDonald Denton). Candlewick. Early Reader. Bear and Mouse are also popular in our household year-round (see my reviews of A Visitor for Bear and A Bedtime for Bear). Baby Bookworm gave a little gasp of joy when she spotted this book in the Early Reader section of the library. She enjoyed it so much that the Easter Bunny put a copy in her Easter basket this year. Although technically an Early Reader, A Birthday for Bear reads much like the other books in the series. Baby Bookworm especially enjoys pointing out Mouse in this one, even as he disguises himself as a mailman, and even as Santa. 

The Cake that Mack Ate by Rose Robart (ill. Maryann Kovalski). Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Picture Book. This one is only loosely a birthday book. It's about the entire food chain that's required to produce a birthday cake, a cake that is, sadly, eaten by Mack the dog. We have a paperback edition of this book, and it's one that we frequently take on trips with us. It has a nice cadence for reading aloud, and never gets old. 

And finally, two books that aren't birthday books but that end with birthday parties (and with which we always sing Happy Birthday).

Bear's Busy Family by Stella Blackstone (ill. Debbie Harter). Barefoot Books. Board Book. This was more a favorite when Baby Bookworm was a bit younger, and I still know it by heart. It celebrates the different things that various family members do ("Smell the bread my Grandma bakes", etc.). At the end, all of the family members and their contributions come together for a feast for Baby's birthday. 

Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers (ill. Marla Frazee). HMH Books. Various Editions (we have the lap-size board book). Reviewed here. This book remains one of our all-time favorites. Each page spread features a different aspect of the life of babies. For example, "Every day, everywhere, babies are fed." Then rhyming text, and pictoral vignettes, give more specific examples (in this case, of what babies eat). Frazee's illustrations include multicultural babies, and families of all types. But Baby Bookworm just likes seeing so many pictures of babies. At the end of the book, a baby celebrates her first birthday.

We have other books floating around the involve birthdays, but these are our favorites. What are your family's favorite birthday books? 

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. 

Another Little Literacy Milestone

LiteracyMilestoneABaby Bookworm also had another little literacy milestone this week. She came running in from her playroom, all excited, waving an orange marker. "Mom, I drawed an A." Alas, the A was drawn on the floor, and didn't actually look a whole lot like an A. But she gets that drawing letters is an accomplishment, so that's something to celebrate.

Thank goodness for washable markers. I don't know how any parent manages without them. 

This post © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

Eight Recent Baby Bookworm Favorites: March 18

Last month I did a post sharing Ten Recent Favorites from Baby Bookworm (Almost 3). That post was well-received, so I've decided to try to make this a monthly feature. Here are eight titles that have sparked requests of "Again!" recently, in no particular order (though I can tell you that her favorites right now are numbers 6 and 7 below). 

1. Louis the Tiger Who Came from the Sea, by Michal Kozlowski & Sholto Walker (Annick Press). Back in 2011 I reviewed this, saying: "I recommend Louis the Tiger Who Came From the Sea for preschoolers and early elementary school kids, or anyone looking for a laugh. It would make a good classroom or library read-aloud, with engaging illustrations and delightfully dry humor." Baby Bookworm definitely misses some of the humor in this one, but she still loves it. Whenever we see a tiger in another book now she says "like Louis". (See Making Connections Between Books and Day to Day Life)

2. Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine (Harcourt). Ella Sarah Gets Dressed is a delightful picture book (we have it as a lap-size board book) about a little girl who knows exactly what she intends to wear, despite the best efforts of her family members. When her friends show up for a tea party as elaborately dressed as she, Ella Sarah is shown to have made the right choice. I think it's pretty clear why my almost three year old daughter, who is just learning to dress herself, enjoys this one ;-)  

3. Big Mean Mike by Michelle Knudsen & Scott Magoon (Candlewick). I reviewed this one before reading it with Baby Bookworm, and in truth I didn't expect her to "get it" for a while. But she greeted her very first read with peals of laughter, as being followed around by four little fuzzy bunnies caused embarrassment for a big, tough dog. This one is a little bit longer than many of the books that we read, but remains a favorite. And it's one that my husband and I think is quite funny, too. 

4. How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti & Yancey Labat. I reviewed this one last year, saying "If you are looking for a book for preschoolers that conveys the concept of large numbers, How Many Jelly Beans? is an excellent choice. It's bright and creative, and the foldout section (displaying a million jelly beans) is a wonderful surprise." I also warned of the "risks of tearing of the pullout section", and that fear has been proven out in our household. But we keep plenty of tape around. Baby Bookworm talks about this book all the time. She doesn't understand the numbers past about 20, I don't think, but she talks about Emma and Aiden and their dog as though they were real. And she adores the fold out section.

5. The Fox in the Dark by Alison Green & Deborah Allwright (Tiger Tales). In my review of this one I noted that while I found the illustration style a bit distracting, it was a nice text for reading aloud. This has continued to be true. It's one that Baby Bookworm will ask for, especially in the evenings. She loves to chime in when we get to the page where the fox in the dark shows up on the rabbit's doorstep. I've found (for good or ill) that a number of the book's rhymes stay in my head between readings. Honestly, it's one that I've come to appreciate more and more over time. 

6. Corduroy by Don Freeman (Viking). Corduroy was a book that I had put on my Amazon wish list before Baby Bookworm was born. We received a copy from a dear friend back then, but for whatever reason (an abundance of books, I suppose), I only introduced it to Baby Bookworm recently. As I had hoped, she fell head over heels in love with Corduroy on the very first read. She feels so strongly that she's compelled to interact with the book. On the page where "no one ever seemed to want a small bear in green overalls" she always chimes in with "I do!". She also likes to pretend that she thinks that our stairs are a mountain. Such a happy thing when your child cherishes a book that you love. (In contrast, Where the Wild Things Are fell completely flat - I have put that back away until she's older). 

7. Soup Day by Melissa Iwai (Henry Holt). Soup Day is a book that I would probably not have picked up on my own. Baby Bookworm selected it on our recent library visit, and we have read it dozens of times since. It's a fairly simple story about a girl and her mother making soup on a snowy day. They go to the market for vegetables, they cut them up, they mix everything together, etc. It's one of those books that packs in a lot of education. There is counting and color recognition ("three long orange carrots, four smooth tan potatoes", etc), shape recognition ("the celery and onions become tiny squares"), and examples of following the steps in a recipe. I think it may be that Baby Bookworm is at an age in which she likes to cook with me herself, and she likes to test her own knowledge. So this book works for her. She'll miss it when the time comes to return it to the library. 

8. Monsters Love Colors by Mike Austin (HarperCollins). I have a review pending of this new picture book, about several monsters who love to "scribble, scribble, mix, dance, and wiggle." The book starts out with several monsters in primary colors. They then do some mixing, to color several smaller, gray monsters with secondary colors. Baby Bookworm identifies with the smallest gray monster, who has the chance to be purple snatched away from him (though he gets rainbow coloring as a consolation prize). She will bring this book up in conversation, reminding us that "the little one wanted to be purple."  

This post © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

Three Things I Learned from Visiting the Library with Baby Bookworm

This weekend I took my daughter, who is nearly three, to the library. It had actually been a while since we'd been the library together, and I noticed a three things that increased Baby Bookworm's excitement in reading:

  1. Self-Selection. Being able to pick her own books dramatically increased her excitement in reading said books. The few books that I picked out, we haven't read yet. The books that she picked out? We've read several of them 5 or 6 times already. We read her top picks (the favorite was Soup Day by Melissa Iwai) in the library, as soon as we got home, after nap, before dinner, etc. Her selection process was pretty random, but apparently empowering. 
  2. New Books and Authors. Just having new books by new authors also increased her excitement in being read to. I've been guilty of not visiting the library very often because we have SO many books in our house already. But I must say that we spent more time reading yesterday than we have spent in ages. There's something about having new books in the house, books that we will only have for a limited time, that increased Baby Bookworm's excitement in reading. New authors, too. She is now crazy about Rachel Isadora's books, especially The Pirates of Bedford Street and Uh-oh!
  3. Familiar Characters. Seeing familiar characters drew her attention. She spotted the early reader A Birthday for Bear by Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton, and scooped it right up. We have all three Bear and Mouse picture books (see two reviews here), and for her, seeing a book about Bear that she hadn't read was like finding a friend unexpectedly waiting at the library. Of course this recognition of familiar characters can be a bit of a mixed bag, as some of the characters that are familiar because of television shows do not inspire the highest-quality books. But for us, with a child who doesn't really watch television shows, this seeking out of familiar characters worked out great.

These particular benefits of going to the library may be obvious to all of you. They should have been obvious to me. One of my Ten Tips for Growing Bookworms series (written before I had a child) was Visit Libraries and Bookstores. And of course there are other benefits of going to the library, too (storytime is good for socialization, the whole environment reinforces the importance of books, etc).

In our case, I think that the large quantity of picture books that we already have in our home has made me a bit lazy about packing up the child and taking her to the library (I mean, we have plenty of picture books here that we haven't read to her yet). This weekend's library visit has inspired me to reprioritize a bit. Yay for libraries!

This post © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.