Reading Together

The other day my family and I went to our local library to pick out books.  I try to make this a weekly occurence.  Of course, I bring home a stack of books every day (I just can’t help myself) but I also want my daughter to have the experience of choosing books to take home. 

A two year old’s method of choosing books to take home is basically pulling books from the shelf and throwing them in our book bag.  I often don’t “preview” the books until I get them home.  Or I am in a rush and see books I would like to read to my daughter and they end up in the bag as well.

So this method of choosing books have resulted in some not so great choices and I asked myself “should I be reading these before I read them to my daughter.” This is something I am in the practice of doing at work.  I have had some embarassing experiences being in a rush at work and going in front of a group of students and being surprised.  I really don’t have the time to read all the books my daughter and I choose at the library. 

Here are the ones we chose that didn’t turn out exactly as I expected:

Firefighter’s Thanksgiving by Maribeth Boelts

My daughter really like “fighterfighters” which is why my husband pulled it off the shelf.  Seemed harmless enough until the firefighters went out to fight a fire and one of them ended up in the hospital.  Not the upbeat story I was hoping to share with my two year old.

The Nine Lives of Rotten Ralph by Jack Gantos

Rotten Ralph has used up eight of his nine lives and only has one more life to live.  On one page the little girl is looking for Ralph and sees a shape in the sky that could be Ralph’s ghost or something. Not really sure what they were going for here.  You don’t know whether Ralph managed to stop being rotten or did he get himself killed one last time.  Then you turn the page and there is Ralph happy as can be.  I found it a little twisted!

We only read this ones once before they were returned to our book bag and back to the library.  Not really what I was hoping for with either of them.  So, since I can’t preview every book before I read it.  What do I do? We managed to get through these mostly because of my daughter’s age and the upbeat voice my husband continued to read them in.  I think we also skipped a few parts here and there.  These books were definitely intended for older children who could perphaps appreciate the humor of Rotten Ralph. 

Oh well, atleast we enjoyed our reading together time.

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I am excited to be a part of a reading challenge that is being hosted here. The challege is to read 4 books in the following categories by October 31st!

Mystery.

Suspense.

Thriller.

Dark Fantasy.

Gothic.

Horror.

Supernatural.

I love reading scary books this time of year and apparently I am not alone. Here is a reading list related to these themes that have been published for children and teens.  I can’t wait to get started. I will be trying to read atleast 4 on this list.  I’m cheating a little because I’ve been reading two of them on the list already.  I know that if I want my children to be readers they have to see me read! This is a wonderful way to get yourself motivated to read if y0u aren’t already a reader!

Children’s Books

Revenge of the Witch Series

The Seer of Shadows by Avi

Ghosthunters Series by Cornelia Funke

Teen Books

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney by Suzanne Harper

The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer

Ruined: a Ghost Story by Paula Morris

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

I have discovered a new favorite children’s book writer: Robert Munsch.  His classic story, Love You Forever always brings me to tears.  I am not exagerrating.  I have actually hid our two copies of this book in our house because I seriously cannot read it without crying! (Munsch wrote it as a song for two stillborn babies he and his wife had).

 He has written tons of other great books that are hilarious! Munsch began telling his stories to children at the daycare he worked.  Eventually, he was convinced to get his stories published.  With Love You, Forever he became the bestselling children’s book author in Canada and later the United States. 

His books are wonderful for reading aloud.  Here are some of my favorites:

1Stephanie’s Ponytail

Stephanie is the trend setter at school and everyone blindly follows her, even when she shaves her head!

 

paperbagThe Paper Bag Princess

A dragon burns down the castle and when the princess goes to rescue her prince she realizes what a “bum” he is.

 

mortimerMortimer

Mortimer won’t go to bed and sings instead.  I love this story and I am trying to think of a way to incorporate into a storytime.  I am, however, afraid to read it to my daughter who already sings loud at bedtime already!

The Offical Robert Munsch Website

For more information and to listen to some of his stories  go to the Robert Munsch website.

Once you watch your young child graduate from preschool it is time to prepare for the next step: kindergarten.  This is the most important milestone in your child’s school career.  It can also be a frightening transition for a young child.  New school, new teachers and new friends all make transitioning to kindergarten an emotional experience. The National Head Start Association and the SERVE Regional Educational Laboratory state on their Terrific Transitions website that, “There is a great deal of information indicating that a child’s success in school can be linked, at least in part, to effective transition practices and activities”  (http://www.serve.org/TT/). Parents and caregivers must do their part in preparing their child for this transition into kindergarten.
               Parents can ease the stress of this transition by providing children with literature experiences that discuss this new kindergarten and school experience.  Reading books about a potentially stressful situation, with a parent, can take the stress out of the situation.  Here are a few book suggestions parents can share with their child:

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate
               A delightful book with fun illustrations by Ashley Wolff depicts a kindergarten teacher and her students getting ready for kindergarten.  It also introduces the letters of the alphabet which is perfect for budding kindergarteners.  The first of a series, this is a must for any preschooler getting ready for kindergarten.
The Berenstain Bears Go to School by Stan and Jan Berenstain
               Sister Bear is nervous about starting school but discovers all the fun stuff she gets to do at school.   Mama Bear helps to soothe Sister’s fears but taking her to the new classroom and meeting her new teacher.  A classic book, which gently acknowledges a child’s fears while easing the stress of starting school.
The Wheels on the School Bus by Mary-Alice Moore
               A favorite song is tweaked to introduce the many people who make up the daily life of a school as they all travel on the school bus.  Children will love to sing along the new verses such as “the librarian on the bus…” and parents can discuss with their children the new experiences and new faces kindergarteners will encounter day to day at their school. 
Kindergarten Countdown by Anna Jane Hays
               Children won’t be able to help getting excited about kindergarten with this appealing picture book.  Rhyming text is perfect for preschoolers and the enthusiasm of the text will rub off on even the most skeptical of would be kindergarteners.
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
               Chester the raccoon is reluctant to head off to kindergarten but his mother devises a secret way he will be reminded of her love throughout the day.  Separating from parents can be a tough issue for children who haven’t spent that much time away from home.  This sweet picture book can ease a child’s mind and give parents an idea to help with soothing separation anxiety.
               Parents must acknowledge the fact that moving up to kindergarten is hard for their young child.  Using children’s literature can help with the transition.  Reading together and discussing the situation will help take the stress out of starting school

It has been awhile since my last post and I have a very good reason! The best reason actually.  My new baby boy was born on May 3rd.  He is wonderful but life has been very busy since then.  He is a month old and I have just been able to get back to writing recently.  In his short life he has, of course, been introduced to books.  He has sat in my lap on more than one occasion when I have read to his big sister.  He doesn’t look at the book though but stares at me while I am reading like I am the only thing in the world.  Motherhood is beautiful! I have read to him exclusively, although moments without his big sister around are few and far between and often when I am in need of sleep.  I enjoy reading my favorites to him: Goodnight Moon and Guess How Much I Love You. 

blackandwhiteI have also introduced him to the Tana Hoban books.   These are wonderful board books with black and white contrasting pictures.  Babies are better able to see these high contrasting black and white illustrations.  I use them during his “tummy time” to get him looking up.  There is only one object on a page and I tell him what they are and talk about them.  Talking to your baby is so important to increase language skills.  I also get big sis involved.  She will tell him what the pictures are as well and turn the pages.  It is never to early to read to your baby!

Books by Tana Hoban include the following titles: Black & White, White on Black, Black on White, and Who are They?

TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they’ll have with twenty-six. Open your child’s imagination. Open a book. ~Author Unknown

I will be the first to admit that Twilight is not my favorite book.  In fact, if someone would ask me to give a review of the book it would not be favorable.  But, like Harry Potter before it, Twilight has turned reluctant readers into actual readers. I am a full-time children’s and teen librarian and I would say in the course of my day I am asked atleast once if we have the book or now the movie.  I see it or its sequels exchange hands atleast three times a day.  It has definitely made a mark on the literary world no matter what my opinion of it is.

One such “reader” is one of our library employees who is 16.  I have known him for several years and in that time I have seen him read one book.  Can you guess what that book might be? That’s right! Twilight! He actually picked it up and read it.  And not just that but he liked it and he talked about it and he was excited about it.  His status updates on Facebook were what page he was on in the book.  He has since finished it and moved on to the second in the series. He and other teens in the library have forced me to have a Twilight party at the library in the summer.  He has gotten excited about this party and I’m sure, because of his excitement, it will be a success.  

I love Harry Potter.  When I read the series I fell in love (again) with children’s literature, quit my job, and returned to school to become a children’s librarian.  So I credit the series for propelling me into a careeer I love.  Many people have written about how the series has turned kids back on to books and even some adults.  I know my husband never read until he read the series and know reads all the time. 

I don’t love Twilight but I have seen it turn kids and teens into readers.  It may not be on the same literary level (in my opinion) as Harry Potter but it has had a very similar effect.

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  • Amber: Thanks for sharing my blog with your readers! You summed up the reason for the name better than I've been able to :) Good luck in the giveaway!
  • Musing: I wasn't able to finish Twilight myself, but I'm always glad to hear of young people being turned on to reading. :)
  • juliannahelt: I forgot about Twelve Hats for Lena. It is a great book! Thanks for mentioning it.