Book Review: I Am A Story By Dan Yaccarino

  • I am a story. Dan Yaccarino. Harper: New York, 2016.
  • Toddler and Preschool

 

 

 

A short simple story of how books and stories came to be. The different iterations of story and the power the written and oral word holds over children and adults alike today.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK

This is a great narrative that explains about all the different ways a story can be told. It is a great way to introduce kids to different types of books and different ways of showing a story. The text itself lends to great sequencing for children. Stories started around campfires, then were drawn on walls, then carved and written and on and on. A perfect history on story for our youngest readers. It celebrates the diversity of storytelling in all different cultures and the many ways we tell tales of people in the world.

The pictures are bright and engaging. I have always appreciated Yaccarino’s style of illustration. Kids are naturally drawn to his beautiful pictures. They are classic and new all at the same time.

Vocabulary will be strengthened in each reading of this book. There are so many new words: Papyrus, woodblocks, ink, clay, illuminate. And so many more. The words are all focused around the central theme of books and stories which will be a great starting point for further conversations and a deeper understanding of books.

This is also a great book to use to start introducing toddlers to picture books. While you will still mainly use board books, the text is simple and the story is quick enough to keep even the youngest reader engaged.

I love how the story starts around the campfire and adds technological advances before it comes back to the simple story around a campfire. It is a great way to demonstrate to children how stories grow but return back to the beginning. Always.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

This story has three parts to it: How stories are told. How stories are used. How stories make us feel. Pick one of these areas and create a story. Tell stories around the fireplace or campfire and teach your kids about oral traditions. Maybe a family story that happened before them. Or roll out play dough and take a toothpick to “carve” a story into “clay tablets.” If you focus on how stories are used, choose a movie or audio book or even play and view a story being reenacted. Or choose a book off the bookshelf and talk about how you felt while you read.

As a kid, I loved Reading Rainbow. In recent years, a kickstarter was created to bring back this much loved series. There is a channel on Youtube where you can see new episodes of this classic series. The video I shared below is called, I am Book. It is a compilation of poems by well known authors about books! It is a great way to encourage discussion of Print Awareness in a unique and fun way.

Find time to create your own stories with your child. It builds a natural time in the day to be together without the pressures and demands of schedule. It provides a space for you and your child to be together and create.

WHAT TO READ NEXT

What is the most interesting way you have heard a story? Comment below to share ideas!

HAPPY READING!

Book Review: Good Morning City by Pat Kiernan

Good Morning City. Pat Kiernan. Pictures by Pascal Campion. Farrar Straus Giroux. New York, 2016.

Toddler and Early Preschool

A city doesn’t wake up all at once. See how different people start the day. Some wake up before the sun comes up and others don’t open their eyes until the morning is well underway.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK

The natural rhythm of the story builds a natural narrative. Books with strong narratives help children understand that stories have beginning, middles and ends as well as how the story builds throughout the pages. Narrative skills help children develop reading comprehension and create her own stories. Pay attention to how the beginning pages show only one or two people and as the story progresses the pages are busier and busier until the end when it shows a family waking up.

The vocabulary is unique and playful and fun. Here is a line from the third page of the story.

It’s busy inside the bakery.

Measure. Mix. Knead.

Fresh bread will soon rise like the sun.

In this one passage you see the fresh words: Measure, mix, knead. They are each in a sentence of their own which also highlights letter knowledge. Each word is set apart and brings more focus to it. The first sentence also has a cadence which helps children hear the sounds that make up the words. It’s busy inside the bakery. If you clap along while you read the sentence you will hear the beat. Not only does it make for a great sentence it is fun to read. Lastly, the passage uses a metaphor. It likens bread to the rising sun, not only giving a great picture of the bread it follows the story of the city waking up. Although your child might be too young to make metaphors of her own, hearing them will make them familiar and easier to recall when she begins writing on her own.

I love when authors use onomatopoeia in writing for children. Not only are the words fun to say, they give new sounds which helps build phonological awareness. The more sounds your child hears in a book the better reader he will be in the future.

Print motivation is a fancy way of saying how kids enjoy books encourages them to read more books. This book motivates kids to read in many ways. It follows normal routines he will connect to. How the bakery he goes to prepares for the day, how the morning paper gets delivered and how people get to work and school. Also, the pictures are fantastic, large two page spreads really showing the action of the text. Both these in combination make for a read your child will request over and over. And the more a child reads a book, the better! He will learn new vocabulary from repetition and routines he isn’t familiar with.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

This book is centered around how a city wakes up. Take some paper and a pencil and write your own story about a farm waking up or a city going to bed. It will help your child sequence events of her normal routine and you can add new words to her repertoire by making suggestions of the different parts of a farm or city she didn’t think of.

Earlier I discussed the use of onomatopoeia in this book. Make up your own words for sounds you hear. In the house, outside, or wherever you are! If a faucet drips in the house write DRIP-Drop and have your child draw a picture. Or ask him how snow sounds under his feet. The sky’s the limit on this one. It helps him recall words he knows and associate the picture in his head with the sound further ingraining the vocabulary in his head.

Take a driving tour of some of the places in the book. You can play BINGO with the pictures on the page. Use this BINGO Sheet, find pictures to go along with the word or draw and let your child mark off what he sees as you drive through your hometown or city.

Click to open. car-bingo

WHAT TO READ NEXT

 

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a picture it will take you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I will get a portion of the sale.)

Book Review: All Shook Up! By Alain Crozon

  • All Shook Up! By Alain Crozon. Chronicle Books: San Francisco, 2015.
  • Board Book. Toddler and Early Preschool

Help your child learn body parts, opposites and numbers in this fun interactive book.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK

Interactive books are perfect for young listeners. It keeps him engaged while he learns during reading time. The child can move the animals on the page reinforcing the new words he hears. The pages are made of firm cardboard. Sturdy enough to have little fingers turning the page. This helps encourage Print Awareness. Print Awareness is understanding the parts of books and how one reads a story and turns through pages.

The book will teach your child opposites, numbers and new vocabulary. It has great words like Flutter, Wag, Wiggle, Strut and many more. As your child moves the animals on the page she will also learn the differences between front and back. Left and Right. Open and Shut. There is also simple counting from 1-4 which is a great way to use math in reading to help increase math literacy. The text has simple rhymes that will help her hear the different sounds that make up words.

It also has great onomatopoeia words like Huff! Puff! Whack. Smack. Crack! Remember onomatopoeia are fun ways to put names to sounds. The book also uses a literary device called polysyndeton. Polysyndeton is when you use punctuation in between words to give them more attention. For example the author uses this technique on page seven.

Be careful not to

Whack. Smack. Crack!

Notice how it draws attention to the rhyming text. It also makes it fun to read for the adults. It may be years before he will use this devise in his own writing but learning now that it is a way to express himself will reinforce the concepts he learns later in life.

The pictures are cartoonish, with minimal colors and the actions in the words directly relate to how the she will interact with the animals on the page.

I love simple books that contain so many rich opportunities for learning. I have even used these board books for my early readers.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

After reading through the book a few times, reinforce the new vocabulary learned by having your child act out the different movements the animals demonstrate. Have her flutter and wag her arms. See if she remembers what the movements are and help if needed.

Learn more about the animals on the page. Go to the library and see where rabbits live and what they eat. Learn the differences between donkeys and horses. Books are a great jumping off point for learning how to research topics your child is interested in.

Practice opposites. In your house practice the difference between open and closed by seeing what doors are open and which are closed. Open up the refrigerator and talk about what is at the front of the shelves and what is in the back. Walk up stairs and walk back down or toss a ball into the air and call out up when it is highest and down when it hits the ground.

Also practice counting by doing simple drawings of the animals on the page. For example draw one butterfly, then two, then three and so on. Cut out the pictures and practice putting them in order with your child. You can even print out doubles and play a memory game.

I am sure you are a better artist than I am, but here is an example:

scan-3

WHAT TO READ NEXT

 

What are your favorite lift the flap or interactive books? Share in the comments section.

 

HAPPY READING!

Author Interview: Michael Samulak

I am excited to interview a fellow Cleveland Author! I had the opportunity to meet Michael Samulak at our school book fair. I appreciated his education background and how he uses that knowledge to empower the books he writes. The inspiration for his book A is for Africa came while he was on a mission trip to Uganda. He met a local artist who he collaborated with to create his alphabet book. I emailed questions to Mr. Samulak, which he graciously took time out of his busy schedule to answer.

I will review both of his books: A Wonderful Day! and A is For Africa. Please check back throughout the week for the book reviews!

Give a Building Future Readers welcome to Michael Samulak, our first author visit!

What makes you fall in love with a children’s book and how do you incorporate those techniques in your own writing?

A book that can I connect with on a deeper level is what I would have to say brings me to a level that I would call – love.  Pink and Say, by Patricia Polacco comes immediately to mind.  When feelings and connection flow so easily through you as a reader I believe you have a real winner.  Nothing is forced.  Nothing has to be explained.  Everything is just all there: ringing real and true within.

Now, incorporating such magic into my own writing is the challenge.  Writing a story that is perfectly balanced between mechanics and content while at the same time connects instantly with the reader – well, wherein lies the recipe for perfection, does it not?

I suppose I do what I can to write what is precious and real to me, from the heart.  If I cannot connect or be moved by my own work, I find it hard to believe that this would be happening with others who would pick it up.

Who are your favorite picture book authors? Why do you like him/her?

To pick favorites is almost unfair to ask.  I feel so many authors are masters in their own respects.  Their books can be vastly different, but still something I treasure equally.  That being said, I suppose I am a big fan of Patricia Polacco and Tomie dePaola probably for many of the same reasons I stated earlier concerning lovely books and finding love for a book.  I found both of these two authors early on in the days of my studying to be an early childhood educator.  Speaking to making connections and provoking literacy with early readers, I feel that both of these two are master storytellers who engage their young readers, (heck me!) in a way that swallows you up whole and transports one right into the narrative.  I would love to be able to say that I could one day, as I feel they do, fill page after page with emotion and heart that keeps one engaged till the very last period of the very last sentence: Truly, masters of the trade.

What do you hope your readers and listeners will find in your books?

a-wonderful-dayTheir world, their interests, depicted in a way that they not only connect with, but also affects them personally on many levels.  I love to help young readers along their literacy journey, utilizing my formal education in reading and teaching to blend content and presentation together in a way that is at their level and fun, funny, well written, and it has to be from their world (that is, their perspective and needs are attended to).  One of the best ways that I know how to help a young person to fall in love with reading is to give them stories that they are interested in.  I try to write not only in a way that is engaging, but also have my content be about something that they can relate to or that they care about.  A lot of my books are laced with learning moments that do aid emerging readers in becoming better readers, but the content is purposefully aimed at that same young readers’ interests and current real world experiences.

How do you hope parents use your books with their children?

I hope they read with them.  Interact with them.  Ask them questions and engage with them beyond the text so that young readers gain a full experience of reading.  I hope my books are loved and read, but I also hope that they enlarge and enrich the overall reading experience of those who read them to be more than words, more than the black and white that is immediately in front of them; that they grow and learn that there is a full and rich experience to reading that the reader is meant to have, and ought to have, while reading.

Is there a picture book you wish you had written? Why?

I think I can honestly say no to this question.  I feel that we all have our unique stories that are to be known and enjoyed by the world.  These come from unique experiences and people that basically I feel cannot be duplicated.  I so appreciate those who have been able to put their stories out for all of us to enjoy, but those are not my stories.  I have my own stories to tell, as I believe we all do, and so have learned to simply love, enjoy, grow from and appreciate that which has come forth from others.

What is your best tip for parents to help build future readers?

Be involved in your child’s literacy journey.  Read to them.  Speak with them about what you read, engage them with the text; help them make connections to their hearts and minds.  Talk with them about what you are reading, what you enjoy from what you are reading, what you find difficult about reading.  Let them see and know that you too are a reader and how much of an important part reading and literacy overall is to a happy and successful life in this world.

Make it practical and personal: Take them to the library.  Buy them books – and you buy one with them.  Have a reading party and talk together as a family over cookies or popcorn about what you have been reading.  What made you laugh, what made you cry – Why?  Have a family library that they also contribute to every year.  Signing them up for long-term subscriptions to an age-appropriate magazine is always a great way to build a future reader: Who doesn’t like getting something in the mail with their name on it!

I feel that we learn very early on what our parents and adults truly ascribe value to:  what is taking our time, our money, our hearts?  Our children see it – They know it.  Reading has to be one of those things.  It takes a real conscious effort on our part to make sure that our children not only hear from us the value and need for reading, but also practically see it and know it to be more than words in our own lives and how we would practically bring literacy into theirs.

Are you working on any new projects?

Short answer: Yes indeed.  I have been working on a few pieces so that I can hopefully present to an agent who is willing to take me on and work with me as I step further on in the next chapter of this beautiful journey I have been on as a writer.  I’ve have been trying to branch out with these new projects to touch not only the early readers and Children’s Picture Books that I am comfortable with, but also a few that are a bit risky in that they attempt to address issues and matters that children today are having to face or deal with, such as the loss of a loved one.  I don’t want to say too much more here…spoil the soup that’s cooking and all, ya know!

Anything else you would like us to know?

I am a husband and father of five children.  They are my world.  So much of what I write about is inspired by them, and for them.  My books are a sort of extension, not just of me, but also of my family and so I hope that when people read my works they touch that, they feel that, and come to realize that it is more than stories but also a bit of me and my own family that is hiding behind those words.

Connect with Michael Samulak



(I am an Amazon Affiliate. I do not get paid to review books. The opinions are mine. However, if you click on the pictures it will take you to Amazon, where if you make purchases I will receive a percentage of the sale.)

Do you have any questions for the author? Post in comments below.

HAPPY READING!

Book Review: A Wonderful Day by Michael Samulak

  • A Wonderful Day. By Michael Samulak. Tate Publishing: Mustang, OK, 2015.
  • Ages: Early Reader.Toddler. Preschool

An engaging early reader that follows a child through the excitement of spending a day together with a parent at the zoo.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK

I love books that can be used for all different age levels. The book is advertised as an early reader but this book can be read with toddlers and preschoolers as well. My youngest daughter is a new reader and she enjoyed helping read the story as well as listening.

The author’s educational background shines through the text of the book. He demonstrates through lyrical prose how a parent engages with the child while reading. The text asks questions and prompts the child to make guesses about what will happen next. This will help building reading comprehension and strengthen narrative skills. Narrative skills are important because it helps children understand and process what they read and hear. An important step in building future readers.

The child can also help sequence the story events after a few readings which contributes to strong reading comprehension. One of the most important skills our children will need as they go through school.

As we have discussed before Print Motivation develops when  child sees herself in the book she reads. Books that handle normal, everyday routines or special relationships not only help our readers see themselves on the pages but motivate them to pick up books to read and hear. There are many ways a reader connects with a book and kids and parents alike will relate to the story of parent and child spending a special day together.

Vocabulary is also a strength of this book. There are animals to label and fun words like fuzzy, shipwreck, explore and many more. Books help children hear words we don’t use in everyday conversation with them. The more times you read this story the more sophisticated his vocabulary will become.

The book also uses similes and alliteration. Literary devices kids won’t understand yet, but hearing them used in stories gives them a background he can pull from when he starts writing his own stories.

The best part of this book is it is gender neutral and diverse. All children, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity will be able to see themselves on the pages of this book. I appreciate the realistic drawings that are simple but enhance the story.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

I love the opening to the book because it starts conversation between you and your child right away. After reading the book, if it is morning, talk about what will happen during the day. Or if read before bedtime, talk about what happened during the day and what might happen the next day. Not only does this help a child feel more secure with the family routine, it provides a space to talk with your child in a positive and affirming way. Without knowing it, she is learning about time and how our days have a beginning and middle and end, just like the stories she reads. You can get adventurous and have your child tell you a story of the day while you write it down, highlighting not only letter awareness but narration.

Visit a zoo or if no zoo is nearby go to a local library and find books on animals you might find at the zoo. Learn about what they eat and where they sleep and what they do all day. Reenact the story A Wonderful Day either through creative play or drawing a map of the zoo you visit, complete with pictures, to the animals in the book. Writing and drawing are great activities to increase hand strength.

Find pictures online of the different animals, or draw your own, and label each picture. Cut them out and paste on squares of paper. Flip them around and play a memory game. Seeing the word with the picture helps not only cement the new words they learn, but brings awareness to the letters that make up each word.

Another fun activity is to gather the different animal toys your child has and place them in a bag. Have the child feel the shape of the animal while in the bag and have her guess what the animal is. Picturing an object the child can’t see is great for imagination and putting the concrete into the abstract.

What to read next

Check out the author’s other book, which I will review this week:

Other great books that talk about parent child relationships:

What books do you share with your child help you feel closer? Share in comments.

HAPPY READING!

Book Review: Big Bob, Little Bob By James Howe

big-bob-little-bob

Big Bob, Little Bob. James Howe. Illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson. Candlewick Press, Somerville, 2016.

Preschool

Big Bob and Little Bob are the same in name only. The new neighbors learn how to navigate a different kind of friendship and discover that what makes us different can also bring us together.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK

In building a long relationship with reading, kids look for books they relate to. How they see themselves reflected on the pages. How they relate to the characters in the story. How the story problem can help the reader solve his own problems. This is a huge part of Print Motivation, which simply means enjoying the books we read. And there are a lot of different reasons that make a book a fun book to read.

James Howe has been writing books for decades. I fell in love with his characters: Bunnicula, Howard and Chester when I was a child. He has written early reader books and picture books as well. Howe is one of those authors who remembers what it was like to be a kid and this picture book is a reflection of his insight.

All kids feel out of place or different. There is a pressure to be like everyone else. Howe helps kids explore how to celebrate our differences instead of conforming to them. Sharing this story with a loved one will help kids feel safe as they explore this topic.

I also appreciate that he shows the complicated relationship between the neighbor boys and how conflict is handled not with action but with words. Picture books do so much more for our kids than build future readers. They help build empathy and problem solving skills that will benefit our kids as they go through school.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

Use this book as a conversation starter. Talk about a time you felt out of place. What you felt, how you acted and how you solved the problem. Sharing stories of our own emotional journeys will help our kids talk about their own feelings and allow a space for them to think about conflict with others before it happens and how they will handle the conflict. Books are always a great jumping off point for deeper talk with our kids.

I really like this activity from the Pinterested Parent blog. Take paper plates and draw different faces. Glue a popsicle/craft stick to the plate and label the emotion at the bottom of the face. It will connect the word with the picture increasing vocabulary. Read through the story again and stop and ask your child to lift up the face he thinks the character feels. For example:

big-bob-little-bob-catch
Image from Amazon

Read the page and ask your child: How do you think Little Bob feels when he doesn’t catch the ball?

The faces can even be used when your child is having strong feelings. Sometimes our kids can’t verbalize the emotion, but try using the plates to help her express what she feels. Always lead by example. Say how you feel about the disagreement you are having and choose the face that best expresses that. Then ask your child to do the same. It will help build emotional literacy and allow your child a better understanding of how to express herself.

What to Read Next

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on one of the pictures below, it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)

 

What books have you read with your child that has sparked interesting conversations? Share in the comments section of the post.

HAPPY READING!

Book Review: Billions of Bricks by Kurt Cyrus

billions-of-bricks

Billions of Bricks: A counting book about bricks. Kurt Cyrus. Henry Holt, New York, 2016.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK

Counting books are important aspect in building future readers. Literacy isn’t only about reading. A good foundation of counting and numbers from a young age helps each child get a strong start in school. What better way to prepare kids for future success in math than by reading together!

Billions of Bricks shows the different ways we count. We can count by twos, fives, tens, twenties and more. In this book, the author demonstrates counting through a construction site and the number of bricks it takes to build the structure and the end result of all those billions of bricks.

There is a lot of unique vocabulary in this book. (Arches, Pillars, Cellars) It also has a strong, fun rhyming text along with alliteration (Bricks and blocks abound. Build beneath the ground) Both of these techniques help build phonological awareness, which children need to develop before they begin to sound out words on their own. This isn’t a book that will build a strong narrative skill but children can develop reading comprehension by following the pictures on the page and describing what happens from start to end.

The pictures will help children identify shapes like cylinders, rectangles, squares and more. A good example of how pictures don’t just move a story along, they also are a helpful learning tool all on their own.

Kids at this age love to build, so it will tickle their natural curiosity on how buildings are put together and what keeps them from falling!

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

Bricks might be hard to find, so go on a walk and find rocks. As you collect them, count them one by one. When you arrive home, you can show your child the different ways of counting. They don’t know it but they are learning to do basic addition and multiplication as they do this.

Use the rocks and separate into texture, shape, color. Organizing is a great way to build reading comprehension without opening a book. Organizing makes a child look at how to describe and understand the object. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh the rocks and note the numbers on the page next to each item. Then you can organize rocks from biggest to smallest. Heaviest to lightest. Sequencing is a great way to also build comprehension skills.

Go on a driving or walking tour and find different types of stone or building materials that make up buildings. Find houses, stores, sheds and more and highlight the construction portion of the book. It builds vocabulary and will interest your child in engineering.

There are so many ways to explore this book? Post your suggestions in the comments below?

WHAT TO READ NEXT

 

HAPPY READING!

Book Review: Sleep Tight Farm by Eugenie Doyle

sleep-tight-farm

Sleep Tight Farm: a farm prepares for winter. By Eugenie Doyle. Illustrated by Becca Stadtlander. Chronicle Books. San Francisco, 2016.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK

Sleep Tight Farm follows a family as they prepare their farm for winter. It is a great way to show children the work it takes to put food on the shelves at the store and what happens in the winter to the fields, animals and machinery that keeps us fed and healthy.

There is so much unique vocabulary in this book. From the different types of vegetables, to the animals and the farm equipment. Each page offers new discoveries. I even had to look up some of the vegetables myself!

The pictures are detailed providing a lot of conversation to build reading comprehension. It is a great book for children to retell the story after he has heard it a few times. Another positive of this book is it can be read to younger children with short attention spans. Each page set ends with a one line summary of what happened on the page. Or for children who have heard the story many times it provides a place where he can interact with the story. Understanding the narrative of a story will help future readers write their own and understand better the stories he reads.

It also provides a jumping off point to talk about changing seasons. What we see and do in the fall. What clothes we wear, what traditions we have, what the trees or sky looks like. It goes beyond naming the months of the year and seasons and helps your child understand how the world changes but stays the same.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

This is a great book to come back to again and again and again. After reading the book through, take a few pages and discuss what is happening in the pictures. What is each of the people doing? What colors does your child see? What objects are new to your child? If your kids live in the city like mine do, a farm is a whole new world to explore.

There are many sensory experiences in Sleep Tight Farm. Make a list of each of the senses and go through the pictures on each of the pages and put it in touch, taste, smell, hear, see. This not only helps your child relate to her own experiences of these senses, but labeling and writing will encourage Print Awareness.

If possible, find a working farm to visit. Farms provide a lot of opportunities for learning. If you don’t have any farms nearby, go to the library and find books or movies about farms. This is a great use of Youtube and screen time.

Go to the store and find some of the new vegetables from the book. Discovering new foods will not only help your child become an adventurous eater, kids are concrete learners and if they can touch and feel what the vegetable is it will help them remember it better. Also, find a recipe using one of the new foods and make it to help build math literacy.

This book also encourages the discussion of where our food comes from. Try this short video describing how food gets from the field to our table.

 

WHAT TO READ NEXT

 

What is your favorite book about seasons or preparing for change of seasons? Comment at the end of the post and share ideas!

 

HAPPY READING!

Book Review: Bear’s Winter Party by Deborah Hodge

Bear’s Winter Party by Deborah Hodge. Illustrated by Lisa Cinar. Groundwork Books, 2016.

Preschool Readers

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK

Bear wants to be friends with the other animals in the forest but everytime he comes near they hide. Bear discovers a way to make new friends and show the forest animals he isn’t as scary as he looks.

Bear’s Winter Party is rich in vocabulary. The opening page brings text filled with unique words to enrich your child’s exploding vocabulary.

Bear lived in a forest on the side of a mountain. He felt at home among the trees. He nibbled on sweet wild berries. He sipped cool water from the stream. He breathed in the fresh mountain air.

The author also does a great job of creating word pictures instead of telling the reader how the animals feel.

Wherever he went, Bear heard the other animals talking about him.

“He’s so big!” said Squirrel.

“His claws are long,” said Hare.

“His teeth are sharp,” said Deer.

“His voice makes a rumbling sound,” Said Chickadee.

The author builds through dialog how the animals feel when they encounter the bear. Instead of telling the reader the animals are afraid of bear, she shows through how the talk to each other and how they act around bear. It provides the perfect opportunity to ask questions as you read and create conversation around the story.

The author also includes literary devices such as alliteration (the same starting consonant sound) and assonance (the same ending sounds) to provide a cadence driven text. This type of writing helps young ones hear the sounds that make up words, which helps them learn to decode before they even begin to read.

Before long, the whole group was dancing. Round and round the den they went, swinging and swaying, whirling and twirling, bobbing and bouncing.

And my favorite part is the recipe at the end of the book. Recipes are a great way to build math skills like fractions, number recognition and unique vocabulary. It is a hands on way of learning how to divide and count. It not only helps the story become concrete for your child but it continues learning beyond the page.

Along with all the pre-literacy skills your child will develop with repeated readings of this story, research shows that fiction helps readers gain empathy through others. Most children can relate to being scared of meeting new people, being in new situations, or being scared to make friends. Listening and talking about how Bear solves his problems will help your child be a more compassionate and empathetic friend.

bears-winter-party-text

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

One of the strengths of this book is the conversation created around feelings. After reading the book a few times go back and tell the story by how Bear feels. How he starts out feeling, what he does with those feelings and how he feels at the end of the book. You can also do the same with the forest animals. To continue dialoguing about feelings, draw faces with your child and label underneath each picture how the person feels.

Talk about the pictures on each page. The watercolors are vibrant and full of detail. Point to an object on the page and have your child tell you what she sees. This builds vocabulary.

Because this story takes place in a forest, the end pages are filled with pictures of different types of leaves. Go on a nature walk and see if you can find similar items in your yard or neighborhood. Take leaves home with you and take crayons or pencils and do rubbings of the leaves or trace the shapes.

Make the recipe at the end of the book! Cooking with your children is a great way to build confidence, but also provides an opportunity to point to text on the page and read it to them. They will see how you move across the page and highlight print awareness.

WHAT TO READ NEXT

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the pictures it will take you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase, I receive a portion of the sale.)

 

What are your favorite books about bears? Help others discover new books in the comments below.

HAPPY READING!

 

 

Book Review: My First Touch and Feel Seasons by Xavier Deneux

seasons-book

  • Board Book
  • Ages: 0-3
  • My First Touch and Feel Seasons, Deneux. Twirl/Tourbillon, 2016.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK

  • Bright Colors
  • Simple Illustrations
  • Unique and Rich Vocabulary
  • Tactile Learning
  • Sparks Conversation
  • Builds Reading Comprehension

Infants and toddlers explore the world through touch. They love to put toys, books and anything they find on the ground into their mouths. It is how they figure out what objects are and how the world works. This is the perfect age to explore reading with touch and feel books. My First Touch and Feel Seasons book has bright, simple illustrations and labels all the pictures on the page. It is a great book for building vocabulary, not only through the unique words present, but also through the textures on the page. It is proof that simple books can have big impacts on our children. Babies and toddlers will love the simplicity of the book. It is perfect for a waiting room or in the car. Board books make it is for little fingers to hold and turn pages and with the sturdy construction it can double as a teething ring.

It is proof that simple books can have big impacts on our children

This book will build your child’s words about seasons, but also much much more. You can talk about the textures on the page. How does water feel? Is sand scratchy or smooth? Is the sun hot or cold? For infants, of course they won’t answer! But the back and forth, ask a question and pause for an answer, helps them understand how conversations work. You might even find that your baby will babble back an answer. As language develops they will be able to answer simple questions with simple answers. But by starting the habit at birth will help build towards better reading comprehension in the future.

There are also a lot of colors to explore on the page, patterns and shapes. And of course each season has its animals and clothing and foods. This is a great book in building readers but will also keep young learners engaged and participating.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK:

It can be uncomfortable to read a book that doesn’t have a story. At this age, infants and toddlers are interested in anything you show them. As soon as they are done he will let you know by turning his head, if he is a baby, or finding his favorite toy, if he is a toddler. Point out what you see and don’t worry if the child wants to skip pages. Let them lead and relax.

This book can be read lots of different ways. Focus on textures with one reading or the objects on the page in another. You can also do a read through of just colors. Books don’t always have to be read the same way.

Make up a story about what happens during each of the seasons. Where is the child and what is he doing? What do you think will happen next. Older kids can help you with the story and, for infants, they just want to hear the sound of your voice.

Infants and Toddlers love to explore, so take them out of the house and explore whatever season you are in. Take a walk or play in a yard or go to the park. No matter where you end up talk about what you see. Point out the leaves, or if there are no leaves, say why. Talk about the animals or insects, the temperature, whether it is windy or hot or cold or whatever else you see and feel around you. Mention the Touch and Feel book and relate your experiences outside with what you read inside.

WHAT TO READ NEXT

 

Here are just a few of the many books in Deneux’s My first touch and feel series.

(I am an Amazon affiliate. Clicking on the picture will take you to Amazon where if you make any purchases I will receive a portion of the sale.)

 

What are your favorite touch and feel books? Comment on the post and share ideas!

 

Happy Reading!