Book Reviews of 2016

The blog turns two in January. I have loved reviewing books and helping parents and children connect over reading. I hope this blog has encouraged your family to add a reading routine in your busy schedule.

In our family, books are always included in holiday gift-giving, birthdays and more. Finding quality and fun books can be a daunting task, so I’ve made it as easy as possible. I have created a section on my Building Future Readers Blog Board that will highlight the book reviews for each year.

Visit my pinterest page and follow to find the best books of the past two years on Building Future Readers.

First up is Picture Book Reviews from 2016

 

Did you have a favorite book from that year? Share in the comments below.

Happy Reading

 

Book Review: When’s My Birthday by Julie Fogliano

Written by Julie Fogliano and Illustrated by Christian Robinson

Roaring Books Press: New York, 2017

Good for any age but particularly Ages 18 months to 3.

What the Book is About

Every child can’t wait until their birthday and this book shares the excitement and joy of waiting for a day that never seems to arrive.

What I Like About the Book

The illustrations have the whimsy of childhood and use mixed media for a fresh approach. The illustrator, Christian Robinson is a Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honor artist. You may have seen his other collaborations with Mac Bennett, Cynthia Rylant, Adam Rex, Kelly DiPuccio, Margaret Wise Brown and so many others. His illustrations engage the youngest readers through their simplicity and childlike whimsy. I adore the books he illustrates and so excited to see another great writing partnership in this book.

The book, while simple in text, carries a lot of vocabulary to enrich your child’s speech throughout the pages. The pictures will spark conversation and help your reader learn new words.

A lot of opportunities to practice counting appear throughout the book. Who doesn’t love to count candles! And food! And snowflakes. Build math literacy while having fun.

Books that have repeating phrases are great books to use to highlight print awareness. Anytime you get to the refrain, follow along with your finger and have your child say the phrase. While they are not yet reading the words, this connects the words on the page to the words they hear you reading. In addition the text appears in different ways and offers different ways to point out how books are read.

The text reminds me of a child’s excited wonder. All kids are excited about birthdays and the cadence of the story fits our kids natural speech patterns making this a perfect read.

The author obviously has experience with young children because it hit exactly how my kids talk about their birthdays as if they are always just around the corner. Birthdays are a great way to talk about how time passes and to look at calendars. Not only will it build math skills it also is a great way to beef up narrative descriptions and reading comprehension.

when’s my birthday, explores the excitement and wonder of childhood in an accessible and familiar way to our young readers. The illustrations by award winning Christian Robinson and the lyrical text of Julie Fogliano work together to create an engaging read that your child will come to over and over again.

Take It Further

The learning doesn’t have to end with the closing of the book. Try these activities at home to continue the learning and fun of the book.

calendar

Develop a home calendar!

The passage of time is difficult for our kids to understand. This post has a lot of great ideas to adapt for your home to help your child learn to become familiar with calendars. The one I like in particular is a list of the days of the week and then pictures for the different activities that will happen during the week. You could do this in a variety of ways: morning routine, bedtime routine, lunch/naptime. It will not only help your kids understand what will be happening during the day, but it will help them begin to connect to calendars. Don’t worry if they don’t seem to get the concept of today, yesterday and tomorrow, all you need to do is provide the access and as they age the understanding will develop.

balloons

Throw a birthday party for a favorite stuffed animal!

It may be months until your child’s birthday, so recreate the fun of a party for a favorite toy or animal. Gather art supplies and make banners and pictures to decorate the room, building scissors skills and strengthening writing skills. Bake cupcakes, cookies or a cake. The recipe is a good way to demonstrate print awareness by following along with your finger as you read the recipe and the measurements, not only show numbers, but exhibit measuring skills. Young kids love to pour, so give them an opportunity to help dump in the ingredients. Set a table and have fun!

kid writing

Practice writing!

Make lists! Of guests, of food for the party, of party games or more. Have your child dictate and write down what they say. This is a great brainstorming activity so there are no wrong answers. It is a way to introduce them to sequencing by adding numbers to each item listed. Also it connects the words they say to the written words. You can continue by creating your own invitations. If your child is older preschool, let them create the invitations. Spelling will be creative but it is a great way to encourage writing.

What to read next

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. I am not paid to suggest or review books, but if you click on a link it takes you to facebook and if you make any purchases I receive a portion of the sale.)

Gerald and Piggie never disappoint! This book will provide a fun conversation starter with your child about how hard it is to wait.

 

 

Kids really have no concept of time. This will help them explore the feelings they have about excitement and waiting.

 

 

A different way to talk about daily routines through the sounds we hear.

 

 

What books do you enjoy with your child about birthdays, routines, or waiting? Share in comments.

 

 

Happy Reading

Literacy Activities for Toddlers

The bus pulls in front of the house and the kids are home for the day. How can that be? I am still in my pajamas sipping coffee?

Oh, yeah. Pinterest happened.

I love Pinterest for a lot of reasons but it is an invaluable resource for parents and encouraging literacy skills. Skip the perfect party pictures and the snacks too beautiful to eat. There is a smorgasbord of easy to do, no frills activities for the average parent to create for their child. You don’t have to be Picasso or Van Gogh to recreate the pins.

Follow my Pinterest Board Literacy Activities Toddlers to find great ways to encourage gross motor skills, fine motor skills, letter awareness, phonological awareness, books, and more.

Some of my favorites use objects we have in our homes. No fancy tools needed and keeping it basic is the best way to go. None of this should feel overwhelming, so if it starts to feel that way pare it down! Learning should be fun for both you and your child.

The best teachers know where to look for information instead of recreating the wheel. Find what works for you and your family and enjoy!

Share in the comments section your favorite games and activities to share with your kids that help them learn while having fun.

Upcoming Releases I look Forward to Reading

The one part of library work I miss the most is getting my hands on brand new books. It takes a lot more effort to keep on top of upcoming releases. Publications for publishers help, Amazon and others, but it isn’t the same as getting my hands on the books and flipping through them.

That being said, there are several book releases in the next several months that I can’t wait to read. I hope the list inspires you for your upcoming holiday shopping for the little readers in your life.

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

I love this series. It highlights so many diverse historical figures in an approachable way. A great way to introduce your young reader to nonfiction. Available on 1/16/2018

 

 

 

We all need space to calm our minds and bodies and I love having a resource guide that children will enjoy and relate to. This would make a great holiday gift! Available on 12/05/2017

 

 

 

The title and cover attracted me to this book. Another great holiday gift idea for the girls and boys in your life! Available 12/05/2017

 

 

 

 

I know Matt De La Pena’s work as a young adult writer and I was excited to see that he has written a picture book to introduce new readers to his body of work. Available 1/09/2018.

 

 

 

Fairly sure Sandra Boyton never goes out of style. My kids ADORED her books throughout their baby and preschool years. This makes a perfect gift for the holidays or buy for a long Thanksgiving road trip to grandmother’s house. Available 11/17/2017.

 

 

As a librarian in an inner city neighborhood I always struggled to find books with diverse characters. I appreciate that more books are being published and hope the it continues. This is a book that all kids will relate to. Another great holiday gift idea! Available 11/21/2017.

 

 

 

Who doesn’t love Click, Clack, Moo? Another collaboration from Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin sure to bring smiles and laughs to your child’s face. Available 12/5/2017.

 

 

 

There have been a lot of news articles and blog posts about teaching our kids grit. I love this series of books from Cloverleaf that teach life skills outside what was available when I was a kid like sharing, lying, kindness. A book that will help our youngest leaders build confidence and self esteem in a healthy way. Available 1/1/2018.

 

 

What books are you looking forward to reading this winter?

Happy Reading

Book Review: Big Hair, Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Bates

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

Crystal Swain-Bates. Illustrated by Megan Bair. Goldest Karat Publishing, LLC, 2013.

What this Book is About

A girl with big hair, different from everyone else’s, finds all the reasons why she loves her hair!

What I like About this Book

The text has a strong cadence and full of rhyme. Rhymes help build phonological awareness, which children need in order to build reading skills. Rhymes break apart the different sounds in the words, strengthening the ability to sound out words.

Big Hair Million Dollar words
Find ways to use these new words with your child throughout the week.

 

Vocabulary

The vocabulary the author uses is strong and unique. She describes different hair styles with accompanying pictures. She chooses descriptive words like view, unique, chic, flair, fluffy, crowd and so many more. Vocabulary is essential in building future readers. The more words a child knows and hears, the larger the “database” she has to pull from when learning to read.

 

Print Awareness

This is a great book to use to develop print awareness because the text is large and easy to follow. Print awareness helps kids learn how to follow along with the text. While you read, use your finger to follow the text. It will teach your young reader that we read books front to back, left to right. The illustrations follow the text of the story which builds strong reading comprehension.

Print Motivation and Narrative Skills

Kids always love to participate in a story. With the repetitive phrase: “I love my hair” it won’t take long for your reader to start repeating it with you. This develops narrative skills as well as print motivation. Both of these early literacy skills motivate kids to enjoy reading and understand what they read better.

Confidence and Self-Esteem

Books that focus on daily life and activities are always a crowd pleaser. The simple illustrations and following a girl through activities most kids are familiar with brings comfort and familiarity all the while teaching them new concepts and words. It still is hard to find books with protagonists of different cultures and backgrounds and I appreciate so much this is a confidence building and universal book that all children will relate to.

Take the Book Further

Build vocabulary while you have fun! Find new hairstyles on the internet or check out a book from the local library and play hair salon. Take turns being the client and beautician. Dig out aprons, hair curlers, brushes, bobby pins and more. Write out the names of the different tools and set the items on the paper.

Talk about what your child likes about herself. This book is all about being different and loving the differences. Start by telling him something you like about yourself. Write down his answer and the answers of the other people in your family and make a book. Another great way to increase vocabulary through conversation and narrative skills through descriptions.

Try Out These Other Confidence Boosting Books

 

What are your favorite books to read about self-esteem and confidence? Comment in the post to share book ideas!

Happy Reading!