Publisher Weekly’s Best Books of 2019

Hard to believe we are coming up on the time of year where publishers, magazines, and organizations are posting their best books list. Most of what comes out before Christmas I consider the best of list….so far. With another month and a half to go, I believe there will be other books to add to this growing list.

The trouble with Best of Lists, especially for librarians, is the time to read all of the books. While I do try to catch up with new books in my down-time, between picture books, early readers, middle grade, teen, and my own pleasure reading, I simply cannot keep up.

The best of lists help me find books that I might have missed, so I can be sure to share these books with the parents who come in to our department looking for books.

Publisher’s Weekly recently published their recent lists. I was dismayed to see I had only read a few of the books on the list. How had I missed so many? However, my dismay didn’t last long, because it meant I had another list of great books to catch up on.

If you are interested in seeing the list, follow the link below.

I am an Amazon Affiliate member. I do not get paid to review particular products. The opinions are my own. I do however make a small commission if you click on a link and make a purchase from Amazon.

Pete the Cat

If you have young kids you probably have read Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy buttons more times than you can count. The reason these books are so popular are:

  • The illustrations are simple and fun
  • The text is repetitive making it easy for kids to join in
  • The story is predictable…in a good way. The kids can anticipate what will happen next giving them confidence and sequencing skills
  • There are songs that go along with them!

In case you have been living under a rock, I present to you Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons… and I’m sorry, you’ll sing it the rest of the day.

Kids not only love hearing the same story over and over again, but they need to hear the same stories to build vocabulary, reading comprehension, and fluency. I know it can be hard to read the same book every night, finding read alongs on Youtube or audiobooks will help your kids get what they need, while you take a much needed break from your child’s most loved book.

Source: Kamboompics on Pexels.com

Don’t forget to connect the book with some fun games. Take all those spare buttons that have popped off clothes that you intend, but never end up sewing back on. Arrange them on a tray. Talk about them with your child. The color, shape and size. Then have them turn around and take one button away. See if they know which one is missing. This helps build working memory, an important reading skill!

Don’ Forget These Pete the Cat books (Like you could!)

I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the links it takes you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale. I am not paid to review products or books, the opinions are those of Building Future Readers.

Sing Together

Go out for a walk and pretend to be Pete the Cat stepping in puddles, mud, or whatever else you find. Talk about the sounds your boots make, or the sound of the water or mud. Use fun onomatopoeia words like squelch, squish, plop and more. See what fun words you can come up with together.

What is your family’s favorite Pete the Cat book?

Youtube Short Film: Hair Love

A friend shared the short film Hair Love on Facebook not too long ago. This short film is heartwarming and beautifully made in its simplicity. I love when books and films show fathers in non-traditional roles and I love to see more diverse projects.

This movie is for everyone. So pull up a box of Kleenex and be prepared to weep.

Keep the Hair Love going with these great books

I am an Amazon affiliate. If you click on a link it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I will receive a portion of the sale.

4 Library Apps to know

Libraries aren’t only buildings anymore. No matter where you are, you and your family can access ebooks, audiobooks, movies and more from these apps. These services are all for free through your local library and come with the added bonus of no due dates to remember or late fines to feel guilty about. Check out what your library has to offer. Here is a small tasting of what’s out there. And if you see a service your library doesn’t have, let them know. Librarians love service suggestions!

Search for new books, magazines, movies and more from the comfort of your home!

Libby

Also known as Overdrive, Libby is an app that lets you access the ebooks and mp3 audiobooks your library or consortium owns. No matter where you are, all you need is a library card number and pin to have access to thousands of books on your phone, tablet or computer. We have used Libby for the kids when they forget required reading at school or if we find ourselves waiting at an appointment longer than we thought. With books for all ages, this app will be a sure hit for families on the go. Better yet, the books return automatically, so no late fines or lost items!

Hoopla

Hoopla is starting to take hold at many libraries. This app created by Midwest Tapes allows multiple people to check out movies, TV shows, music, books, and audiobooks. Popular series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate are always available so no need to wait for the library copy. They also sponsor a movie of the month and book club reads. My favorite option at the library is to use the read -a-long books for programs to encourage print awareness while we have fun reading the story together. Pros are many: easy access, no fines or lost materials, and unlike Libby, you can access an item no matter if 30 other people also have it checked out. The library pays for each download, so it saves the library money and provides incredible access to its customers. The cons: as a new service many popular titles aren’t available, but as their popularity grows and their licensing expands, expect to see new hot titles added in the upcoming months.

Kanopy

Like Hoopla, this is a streaming service for movies and TV shows. You may find hard to find titles and like Hoopla and Overdrive there are no late fees or list materials. The streaming service won’t get you at the top of the list for the newest superhero movie, but you will find some film gems among its listings.

Source: Kanopy, Inc.

Flipster

Love magazines? Hate that you can’t find or check out the newest issue at the library? Flipster has you covered. An app available on phones or tablets, it brings you magazines with the news, style, or designs you seek. All without fees or fines because it returns automatically

Libraries are not a relic of the past but maintain relevance in the community by keeping up with technology and technological trends. Show your local library some love and check out some of the digital services they provide for your community. All for FREE!

What digital library service do you love? How has it helped your family build future readers?

How to teach my child to read

As parents or caregivers we want the best for our kids. We teach them so many different skills over the course of childhood. Practicing self-care, how to tie shoes, safety, and more. It is only natural that we also want to prepare them for school and the knowledge they will need to succeed when they walk through those double doors into kindergarten. Reading is no different, yet I often see parents looking for DVD’s, flashcards, Apps, and computer programs to shore up literacy skills. In this post I will show you low-tech, low-cost methods to build future readers.

As parents we foster independence

Why don’t apps, TV and computer programs work?

TV and technology aren’t the evil articles and click-bait posts would have you believe, yet, there is a time and a place for media. As a tool for pre-literacy learning, the research shows children are better served playing, reading, talking, and singing.

TV puts all of our brains in a passive state. While we watch, it is almost like a dream. Our brains are not engaged as they would be when we are reading or playing. Research shows that children who watch two or more hours of television a day can have a delay in speech, trouble hearing the different parts of a word, and are more likely to develop ADHD and other attention disorders. (http://unitedwayfd.org/reading-view-page.php?page=effects-on-reading)

We help our kids make sense of the world

What does work?

Talking, singing, reading and playing. These are the foundational blocks for early reading success. Conversation and play creates a learning environment where children build vocabularies and explore the world around them through their senses.

We provide a space space for our children to explore

Any normal, every day activity is an opportunity to learn. Going to the grocery store? Set up a scavenger hunt grocery list. Your child might not be able to read the words on the page, but you can have them find an item you tell them and when you get to that section you can show how the word on the page is the same as the word on the product. The same for driving in the car on the way to pick up a sibling from school or going into a store. There are words all around us and it is a great way to engage our kids in a text-rich environment.

Where is the proof?

From Reading Rockets

Show me how?

Reading Rockets is a fantastic sight for educators and parents. They have helpful videos, parent tips and more. Below is a video on how to help your child recognize letters.

From Reading Rockets

Building Future Readers is here to help

Would you like tailored reading plans and activities made just for your child? Email me at jessica.n.smith@gmail.com and see how I can help build your child into a future reader.

The pre-literacy skills Building Future Readers activities are based on

Children’s books about gender nonconformity

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the link and make a purchase on Amazon, I receive a percentage of the sale. The opinions contained within are my own and I was not paid. I did receive a copy via Netgalley for a review)

Even though I am not that old, I still find times that I hold old school beliefs. My own children, their friends, and the children I work with have been incredible examples of acceptance of the complex and diverse world around us. And because of this, I have found my eyes opened to ways I unintentionally contribute to stereotypes and biases. I am still growing and learning, and grateful for the journey I am on. Books like Jacob’s room to choose by Sarah and Ian Hoffman, lead me even deeper into this journey.

I have found my eyes opened to ways I unintentionally contribute to stereotypes and biases.

Jacob’s room to choose tackles the ongoing cultural discussion of gendered bathrooms. The authors explore how gendered differences are established in cultural and how that impacts our young children. Even though the concept might be advanced for very young readers, the authors handle the material in an age appropriate and sensitive way.

I am glad to see more books about gender acceptance entering mainstream children’s literature, although I would like to see less message driven books surrounding this topic and more books about kids being kids no matter how or if they identify with any certain gender or stereotype.

The vulnerability of the authors’ own struggles will bring insights and encouragement to other parents facing the same issues as well as classroom teachers and communities. A worthwhile book to read and would be a great addition to a parenting section at the library or parent resources in a school setting.

bright-close-up-colorful-1317534

Other Books to Read:

Julien is a mermaid by Jessica Love. Julien has always wanted to dress up like the three beautiful women he meets on the train. With the support of his abuela, Julien sparkles inside and out when he is free to be himself.

My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis. Dyson loves the color pink and the more glitter the better. A great book for parents and kids learning to live together with differences.

Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman. A easy to read book about how there is no girl colors or boy colors. A freeing book for children and parents alike.

Red: A crayon’s story By Michael Hall. A story about a crayon who is mistakenly labeled and the hurt suffered when friends, family and strangers try to force him to be who they see on the outside. The crayon finds help from friends who encourage him to be true to who he is on the inside.

Books for Grown-ups:

Becoming Nicole: the extraordinary transformation of an ordinary family. By Amy Ellis Nutt. How a family pulls together to support their transitioning child and the ups and downs that come with the changes.

The Transgender Teen: a handbook for parents and professionals supporting transgender and nonbinary teens. Stephanie A. Brill and Lisa Kenney. A resource for parents, teachers and others who support a teen transitioning or living a nonbinary life.

Beyond Magenta: transgender teens speak out. Susan Kuklin. What is life like for a transgender teen? Read 6 stories of triumphs, struggles, and more.

 

What books have you found most helpful in initiating discussions with your family about gender stereotypes and labels?

 

Happy Reading

Best Bedtime Stories for Kids

The best time for most families to build a reading routine is right before bed. Reading not only provides a safe and comfortable place for parents and kids to engage in conversation, but reading calms the mind, soothes the heart, and whispers to the body to rest.

What you read before bed isn’t too important, but I’ve learned a few tips in my parenting years that will make for a smoother transition to bed.

Three Tips for Smoother Bedtime Reading

Dark night
Image published on Amazon

  1. No Scary Stuff. My son loved the book a Dark Night by Dorothee De Monfried  . Regardless of how much he loved this book, it was a daytime book because what kid wants to read a book about dark scary noises in the night, right before bed?
  2. Keep the Screaming to a minimum. This might not be the time for Marvin K. Mooney will you please go now.  But maybe you will be lucky and your kid won’t continue screaming the phrase long after lights out.
  3. No Disney Movie book stories. I don’t know how many times my kids would hand me one of the movie books, knowing that I couldn’t skip pages drawing out bedtime until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Keep stories long enough to engage with your child, but not so long they will be tucking you into bed.

Building Future Reader’s Top Five Bedtime Reads:

(All links are affiliate links. If you click on a link and buy, I receive a portion of the sale.)

  1. Roar of a Snore by Marsha Diane Arnold. Dial Books for Young Readers ,2005.Who is snoring so loud and is there any place where the sound won’t keep our protagonist awake? Solve this mystery while sharing rhymes, giggles and rich language.

Roar of a Snore

Image published on Amazon

2. Bear Can’t Sleep by Karma Wilson. Margaret K. McElderberry Books, 2018. Bears sleep in the winter, so why can’t this bear find any zzzz’s. Your child love joining in with the refrain and thinking up solutions to bear’s insomnia.

Bear Can't Sleep

Image published on Amazon

3. Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. Philomel Books, 1987.  If your child likes longer books, this soft quite read will have the room on the edge of their bed waiting to see if the child and father spot a moon on this dark night. Beautiful picture and sophisticated text make this award winning book a classic.

owl moon

Image published on Amazon

4. Moongame by Frank Asch. Aladdin, reissued 2014. Frank Asch gets kids. He knows what they like and how to talk with them so they don’t feel talked down to. Moonbear can’t find his friend the Moon and he is worried he’s lost his friend. A great discussion starter about the moon and where it is, and whether or not it really moves in the sky.

5. Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasam. Viking Books for Young Readers, First edition, 2011. Little owl wonders if the day is as sweet and fun as the night. A great book for those curious children who would like to test the boundaries of their endurance and your patience as the plead to stay up all night like Little Owl.

little owls night

Image published on Amazon

See my board on Pinterest

What are your top bedtime reads?

Happy Reading

Future Readers are Children Who Play

Recently, I was in an early head start site and I observed a toddler, dressed as a doctor, cooking at the play stove, while nursing a baby doll. The teacher asked if the child was a chef and the girl answered, she was a “cooker.” The teacher laughed and said, that’s right you are a doctor, mother, chef. While the girl played and acted out routines she saw when she was at home or with her family in the world, her teacher taught her new vocabulary to describe what was happening.

This is a sight you don’t often see in schools anymore. Why is that and how is it harming the future generations?

africa-boy-brick-wall-1686467

The Challenge

Outcomes based learning has hurt play, particularly in early learning classrooms. Teachers are required to prove skills learned and objectives the children have met. Documentation has taken precedence over the process of learning, creating an environment where children regurgitate information without ever knowing how to process, internalize and comprehend what they have heard.

What happened?

Based from an article retrieved on EBSCOhost

Ready or Not, Play or Not: Next Steps for Sociodramatic Play and the Early Literacy Curriculum: A Theoretical perspective. Dr. Tarsha Bluiett. Reading Improvement, Fall 2018. Volume 55:3, 83-88.

No Child Left Behind, initiated by the Bush administration, while with good intentions, has created an atmosphere where children are continually left behind because teachers are forced to instruct and teach at levels the early learners aren’t ready for.

adorable-blur-bubble-218833

Research Shows

Beginning with Maria Montessori in the early 1900’s research has repeatedly shown, that play is the work of learning. Meaningful work happens through an environment rich with opportunities for creative play,  that will not always inspire children to become lifelong learners, but also aids in the development of the oral, aural and visual skills a child needs in order to make the jump from pre-literacy to emergent reader and finally into independent reader.

Dramatic play encourages the development of language, emotional literacy, cooperation with peers, problem solving and moving from internal thought to externalization of thoughts and back to deeper thinking.

Play, not instruction, fosters this connection.

Social interactions through play provide meaningful ways for children to gain important life and self-care skills and emotional learning all while the imitate and reproduce the world they see around them in the safety of the classroom.

adorable-adult-beautiful-1913471

What does this mean for parents of pre-literate children?

  • Don’t overschedule. Keep adult led, organized activities to a minimum if at all in the early years of life.
  • Make a play friendly space. Kids do not need high tech gadgets or expensive toys. Create a home that allows for exploration of the world indoors and outside.
  • Child led. Play shouldn’t be forced, but directed by the child.
  • Adults need to remember how to play. When was the last time you played? Or pretended to be someone else? Keep in mind that when our children play, they are working hard at learning. Play as we age becomes a practice in creativity that will atrophy if we don’t practice. While our kids play to learn, we also play to create.
  • Gives you time to talk with your child. No need to give commands or directions in play. Let your child be the parent, or the doctor. Find ways to introduce words they may not know naturally in the conversation of play.

Play isn’t only for recess

By creating literacy rich and meaningful play areas pre-literate children build the oral, vocabulary and systems they will use all throughout their life. So put away the flash cards and resist signing them up for another enrichment program. Allow your child the gift of time for play and watch them soar.

Play IS the foundation of school success

bridge-columns-foundation-96944

For Further information

 

Check out these websites

The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds
Kenneth R. Ginsburg and the Committee on Communications, and the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health

Play is the Work of the Child Maria Montessori

Book Review: Ida and the Whale by Rebecca Gugger

blur-boat-paper-416904 (1)When I was a kid, I lived in a valley with a creek to the east of our property and a small stream that ran between us and our neighbor’s yard. After a storm, that little stream swelled to the tops of the banks with water and my sisters and I would put together boats with whatever materials we had on hand. Paper, mayo jar lids, sticks. Whatever would float and then we would see if we could race it to where the small culvert dumped into the larger creek.

The illustrations in Ida and the Whale, by Rebecca Gugger, from page one took me right back to that stream and those afternoons we spent in the creek. Making boats, making-believe we were stranded on an island and only had the woods and water to sustain us.

Ida is a girl who questions the world. She wants to see all the big things in the universe. The sun, the moon, the stars, and through her imagination she calls a whale to swim her through the forest of birch trees to touch the sky.

Fantastical? Yes. Whimsical? For sure. Ida is the child that still is inside each one of us, if we could put away our grown up logic and systems and worries. After reading this book, I wanted to take off my shoes and go stomp in a puddle or find a field to lay in and

Just. Hear. Silence.

Ida and the Whale, won’t make sense to most adults, but I know when you read this book to your child she will dream big and isn’t that the magic of stories?

Literacy skill highlighted

Print Motivation. Kids love fantastical books as they get older. This might be a tough read for a young preschooler, but older preschoolers or kindergarteners will enjoy the questions she has.

Activity beyond the book

Get outside. Find a field to lay in, a stream to explore, or just sit and watch a sunset. This book screams to be re-enacted in the real world.

agriculture-blue-sky-clouds-1227513

 

Pre-order

(I am an amazon affiliate, which means if you click the picture and make a purchase from Amazon, I receive a portion of the sale.)

  • Will be published on April 2, 2019
  • Written by Rebecca Gugger and illustrated by  Simon Röthlisberger

Other books to enjoy:

Building Readers begins at home

I recently attended a workshop from a local literacy organization about tools and strategies to help struggling readers. The focus was on how to identify what reading problem the child, teen, or adult reader faced and strategies to build more confident readers.

alphabet-class-conceptual-301926

The workshop fascinated me, because as a librarian, not a teacher, I had never really thought about fluency and decoding and how phonics were taught to new and struggling readers. I gained a lot of knowledge in the workshop about the mechanics of learning to read that I will find ways to implement in future storytimes.

I was left, though, with a question

How do parents of “pre-literate” children participate in the literacy life of their child to mitigate future reading problems.

As any good librarian does, I turned to my local library’s research databases. In my search, I found an article that, although meant for kindergarten and first grade teachers and parents of this age group, I began to see how libraries, literacy organizations, and preschools can partner with parents to build a routine, love, and background in reading.

The Research

A 3-Year Study of a School-Based Parental Involvement Program in Early Literacy. Susan Ann Crosby, Timothy Rasinski, Nancy Padak, and Kasim Yildirim. The Journal of Educational Research, 108:165-172, 2015. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier.

The research looked at the impact of parental involvement in student literacy achievement and the sustainability of a program over the course of 3- years. The program was modified each year and what the researchers found at this one school where the program was implemented is the children and parent’s who had the highest participation in the weekly program had the highest increase of Word Accuracy per minute when tested at the beginning and end of the year. And in Kindergarteners the researchers noted the children knew more sight words.

All it took to improve reading fluency was 2, 10 minute sessions of parent and child reading per week.

The program was simple. Each week a short poem or rhyme was sent home. The parents were to, over the course of the week, practice the reading two days. In particular the parents read the passage several times to the child while pointing out the words. Then the parent and child read the passage together several times, while the parent pointed to the text. Lastly, the child would read the passage several times and point out the text while reading. Afterwards the parent and child played word games using unique words from the text in a variety of ways.

Parent reads poem several times while following the text with her finger

  • Parent and child read poem together several times while following text with finger
  • Child reads poem several times to parent while the child points to words
  • As the program developed there was more emphasis on the program with the poem of the week being displayed in the school and assessment logs submitted every 9 weeks. All it took was two days a week of 10-15 minute sessions between parent and child for the student to experience literacy improvement.

What does this mean for parents of children with young children?

  • Repetition is key. Using poetry and rhymes with our youngest listeners will not only help early literacy skills develop before the child becomes an emergent reader, the familiarity, routine and safe space the reading activity takes place encourages a child to bond with reading.
  • Mini-reading breaks have huge impact. The study only required 10-15 minutes twice a week. Most families can find time in between activities or bedtime to fit in reading rhymes or poems.
  • Reading and highlighting the words are key. We can’t just read to our children, we have to show them that what we say relates to the markings on the page. Think of it as prepping your child’s “reading surface.”
  • Parent involvement is critical. Teachers and librarians aren’t miracle makers. All they do is guide parents and children in a learning direction. The magic happens at home and the school day is practice.

adorable-book-boy-1250722

What are 3 steps you can take today to make a difference in your child’s future reading life?

  • Choose poetry and rhymes to mix up your reading life. Act out the poems or rhymes. Use silly voices. There are a lot of ways to do repeat readings without the experience boring you or your child.
  • Know what books your child is hearing at school and pick them up from your local library. Find ways to explore the themes and ideas in the book by taking “field trips” together to build your child’s context or background knowledge for the book.
  • Play word games. As the researchers saw, when the parents followed up readings by using the new words in the book in their everyday conversation, there was a larger impact on achievement. See how many times you can use a new word in conversation and link it back to the poem you read. Or play a rhyming game by creating a list of rhyming words.

Reading should never be a chore but a bonding experience between parent and child

Building future readers begins at home in ways that don’t have to feel like a chore for either parent or child. By incorporating short spurts of reading throughout the week, your child will be even more ready to emerge as a reader when they enter kindergarten.

Book Ideas to try at home