Posts Tagged ‘book suggestions’

Summer Reading is Upon Us!

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

It’s finally summer!  Yippee!  Time for lazy days at the pool, family vacations, and non-school-required reading! 

Need help getting started?  Check out our suggested books for: reading aloudbabies, toddlers and preschoolers; very beginning readers (kindergarteners); readers who are moving up (first grade); second graders; third graders; fourth graders; fifth graders; middle schoolers; and teens.

And don’t forget to come to our Summer Reading Program Kick-Off Party this Thursday, June 10th from 9:00 — 5:30.  We’ll have balloon animals, face painting and jugglers! 

Don’t worry, even if you miss the party, you can still sign up for the SRP anytime starting Thursday.  With programs and prizes for pre-readers, kids, teens, and adults, we’ve got something for everyone!

Read This! NurtureShock:New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Monday, May 10th, 2010

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

I’m a little late to the praise party for this book, but I can’t help myself from jumping on the bandwagon.  Disclaimer:  I don’t like to read non-fiction, and I have never successfully completed a “parenting book.”  But I devoured this book.  Why?  Because it’s written in a completely accessible style and it’s not a “parenting book.”  It’s a book about how kids (of all ages) work, and ways that we’ve been completely misinterpreting them for years.

For example, most of us praise our kids, for all kinds of mundane things, all the time.  It’s the best way to instill confidence and self-esteem, right?  Wrong!  Read chapter 1, “The Inverse Power of Praise” to find out more.

And what’s up with teens, anyway?  They’re so angsty and moody.  But, I guess that’s just the way things are, they’ll grow out of it.  Or maybe it’s that chronic sleep deprivation increases moodiness, adversely affects problem solving skills, and actually causes our brains to process unhappy experiences more effectively than happy ones.  Chapter 2, “The Lost Hour” explains it way better than I ever could.

And I wish I could copy chapter 10, “Why Hannah Talks and Alyssa Doesn’t” and hand it out to every mother I see with an infant or toddler in tow.  See, we’ve always been told that the most important thing you can do to develop your child’s language skills is talk to them.  A lot.  About anything.  But that’s not it at all — it turns out how we respond to our child’s babbling has a lot more to do with language aquisition than what we say to them.

But wait, there’s more!  Chapters about race identification, why kids lie, “gifted” children, sibling relationships, teen rebellion, self-control and social skills literally offer something for every parent, regardless of the age of your child.

So here you go — a non-fiction book anyone can appreciate.  Don’t be put off by the science and the scary number on the spine.  You’ll like it, I promise.  I’d never steer you wrong.

And it this doesn’t float your boat, check out some of our other parenting books to find something that works for you.

Read This! The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

Miss Penelope Lumley is hired right out of school (Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females) to work as governess for Lord and Lady Ashton.    She is looking forward to starting her job, but nobody will tell her about the children until she discovers them on her own—in the barn, howling like dogs!  It’s then she learns that she has been hired to “civilize” these kids, who have been raised by wolves (really, they howl, bark, and chase squirrels!). 

The book is a cross between Jane Eyre and Lemony Snicket—with emphasis on the Snicket—and is, pardon me, a howl!   Warning: nothing is neatly tied up—the book ends with a cliff-hanger.

More new chapter books!

More of Miss Susan’s favorite books!

How to Operate Your New Book

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

I wasn’t going to do another picture book review for a while, but my Move with Music kids’ reaction this morning to My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall made me rethink my position.

I confess, I didn’t pick this book for storytime.  In fact, the first time I read it I thought, “Eh.”  It was cute, but I didn’t see anything special about it.  It’s just about a bunch of animals.  “My heart is like a zoo — eager as a beaver, steady as a yak,” etc., etc., etc., as the King of Siam would say.  That’s been done before.

But for reasons I cannot explain, the kids loved it.  Sometimes that just happens.  Even better, this also happens to be a great book for several of the early literacy skills.  The fact that the kids loved it, well there’s your print motivation (interest in and enjoyment of books) right there.

And all the animals are composed almost entirely of hearts.  As you may recall from this post, shape recognition is the first step of letter knowledge.  Kids need to be able to pick out the differences in shapes in order to recognize letters and subsequently assign meaning to them.  And of course the kids had so much fun pointing out all the different hearts in the pictures:  “The feet are hearts!  And the nose is a heart!  And look, the bee’s wings are hearts!”  That alone is super cute, once you get past the grown up tendency to shout, “Yes, they’re ALL hearts!”

The text is in rhyme, which is great for phonological awareness (hearing and playing with the smaller sounds in words).  That is, if you can hear the text over all the shouts of locating hearts all over the place.  All that talking, by the way, does great things for your kid’s narrative skills (ability to tell a story).

And finally, this is a great vocabulary book for several reasons.  You’ve got all the different animals, some of which are a bit unusual such as heron, yak and hornet.  And the text itself is a bit adventurous.  The fox is crafty.  There’s a gloomy lone coyote walking in the fog.  The peaceful portly walrus is lounging on a towel.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t use these words very frequently, and I don’t often see them in kids’ books.

So here’s this great, multi-faceted book that I would have completely overlooked had it not been for the programming prowess of Mr. Michael.  Which leads to the title of this post.  Although I often wish they did, books don’t come with owner’s manuals.  But with a little creativity, even seemingly simple books can offer big learning opportunities!

And by the way, Move with Music is just about over for the season.  If you just can’t wait until fall to get your groove on again, check out Get Musical this summer!

Read This! All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

All The World by Liz Garton Scanlon

“Rock, stone, pebble, sand
Body, shoulder, arm, hand
A moat to dig, a shell to keep
All the world is wide and deep.”

This charming story, told in a lilting, singsong rhyme, walks us through a single day of one family’s beach vacation. Each stanza offers a mini vignette: an unexpected rain storm teaches us that sometimes things we don’t want to happen, do; a grumbly tummy wait at a restaurant illustrates that patience is indeed a virtue.

Nearly every page of this seemingly simple story, either the text or the nostalgic illustration, invites further discussion. That makes this a great book for developing narrative skills, and the rhythmic rhyme naturally enhances phonological awareness. Take this with you on vacation for a relaxing and timely bedtime read!

More new picture books!

Early Literacy Tip: Best Books for Narrative Skills

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Last week’s book review mentioned narrative skills, so I thought I’d take a moment to give you a little more information.  A child who can describe things and events and tell a story has well developed narrative skills.  Being able to talk about and explain what happens in a story helps a child understand what he is reading.  In other words, good narrative skills lead to good reading comprehension.

This is the most difficult of the early literacy skills to work on, largely because it requires the most parental involvement!  The easiest way to work on your child’s narrative skills is to talk to her — or more appropriately, have her talk to you — as much as possible.  Ask her about her about her day, then ask questions to get her to explain even more.  Have her “read” you a wordless picture book.  Read a book with a repeating theme and ask your child to predict what will happen next.  Read a book a couple of times, then ask your child to tell it back to you in their own words.  Check out our narrative skills page for even more suggestions!

More great books for building narrative skills!

Read This! Chalk by Bill Thompson

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Chalk by Bill Thompson

A rainy day.  Three kids at the park.  A bag of chalk.  Magic! 

Big and little kids alike will delight in the lifelike illustrations of this wordless picture book.  Have your child “read” this story to you, then have your very own book club.  Talk about how the kids in the story might have felt.  Ask what your child would draw if they had magic chalk.  Would magic chalk be a good or a bad thing?  These are great activities for enhancing your child’s narrative skills!

More new picture books!  More stories without words!

Early Literacy Tip: Best Books for Print Awareness

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Print Awareness simply means that your child notices print, understands that it means something, and knows how to handle a book.  Children with well developed print awareness know how to hold a books the right way up, that books have a cover, a front and back, and eventually understand that we read from from top to bottom and left to right.

An easy way to help develop your child’s print awareness is to occassionally point to words as you read them.  Let your child turn the pages as you read.  Books with different sized or expressive text, or signs and words as part of the illustrations, also draw the child’s eye.  Find a book with a phrase that repeats and have your child help say it when you point to it. 

Or try this silly tip — open a book upside down and say, “That’s funny, I can’t read this book!  I wonder what’s wrong.”  If your child can’t figure it out right away, say, “Oh, look, it’s upside down!  Silly me!”   Be sure to point out the text and illustrate what it looks like upside down and right way up.

It’s also easy to work on print awareness without books.  Words are everywhere!  Point out street signs, signs in the grocery store, or print on the cereal box.  For more early literacy tips, check out our Born to Read pages.

More great print awareness books!

Stuck in a Rut

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Ahhh, days are getting longer, trees are budding, the air is a little warmer…it’s Spring!  Break out of your winter doldrums with some books about being stuck

Then dance to “Stick to the Glue” by Jim Gill , “Sticky Bubble Gum” by Carole Peterson, or “Chew Chew Chew” and “Molasses Molasses” by the timeless Ella Fitzgerald.  Furthering a reading experience with related music is a great way to work on early literacy skills

And don’t forget to come to Saturday Tales for more fun ideas like this!

More books about getting stuck!

Read This! Stone Voice Rising by C. Lee Tocci

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Stone Voice Rising by C. Lee Tocci

Six year old Lilibit, who lives with her two old aunties, has talked to stones for as long as she can remember. When a mysterious man as tall and strong as a tree comes to take her to Kiva, a safe haven where her abilities will be honed, her only concern is to teach him a lesson. No one treats Lilibit like a foolish child and gets away with it.When she escapes during their cross country trip, she finds she has unwittingly put herself terrible danger.

Five years later she arrives at an orphanage, battered and broken, with no memories of her prior life. After a devastating earthquake, Lilibit and six other orphaned children with mysterious powers decide they must journey to Kiva. But the shape shifting evil being Syxx and his forces are hot on their trail.

This equally touching and suspenseful fantasy will appeal to boys and girls alike.

More new chapter books!