Book Review: Wake Up! By Helen Frost and Rick Lieder

Wake UpWake Up! Poem by Helen Frost and photographs by Rick Lieder. Published by Candlewick Press: Somerville, MA, 2017.

A poem about new life in the world all around us. Illustrated with beautiful photographs that invite the reader, not only explore the pages of the book, but the world right outside the front door.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK

This book needs to be discussed. It is rare to find books that so naturally include conversation starters within the text. Conversations aren’t just a way to connect people together, they are also important building blocks of future reading success. Talking in a positive way, not only provides a safe space and fond memories, but it strengthens vocabulary and builds reading comprehension. The natural flow of conversation will connect what the child sees on the page to the text and even the world around her. It provides the perfect opportunity to enrich dialogue between you and your child.

This natural conversation will also strengthen vocabulary. The language the poet uses is unique and fresh and in addition there is a pictorial glossary at the end of the book to provide more information about the animals and insects explored in the pages of the book.

The photographs are simple, yet detailed at the same time. The close up shots provide a different vantage point for children to look at the natural world. Preschool children are very concrete thinkers, so this is a perfect book to help him gain a better understanding of how the world works and his place in it. And most important, the mystery and awe and wonder of the natural world.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

This story begs to be read outside at a picnic in a park. It invites the reader and listener to explore the outside world find their own new beginnings. After reading the book, go on a scavenger hunt to see if you can find any of the animals photographed. Use your phone or camera and take your own close up shots and then when you get home, print them out with labels and create your own Wake Up! book.

Allow conversation to flow

Ask questions your child like where she thinks the different animals may be and why? Where does she think they go at night and what does she think they eat. Allow space for her to ask her own questions as you walk. It is okay if you don’t have all the answers! That is what makes nature so interesting and awe-inspiring. And tell her you can visit the library to find out more information on what she finds most interesting and perplexing.

Don’t forget to get up close

The book encourages looking at nature from a different perspective, so tell your child it’s okay to get down on the ground and look at things up close! Stones and dirt, mulch and sticks. Plants and flowers. Take the time to lay on your backs and look at the sky. Watch the clouds roll by and discover hidden shapes and even label the different types of clouds you see.

WHAT TO READ NEXT

The poet and author have collaborated on several similar picture books. (Note, I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a picture it will take you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a small percentage of the sale. The opinions in the review are mine and I have not been paid for this review)

 

What books would about the natural world would you add to the WHAT TO READ NEXT list?

Happy Reading!!

Book Review: This house, once by Deborah Freedman

  • This House, Once
  • Written by Deborah Freedman
  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers: New York, 2017
  • A story about how a house came to be and the materials used to build it before they were used.

A poetic picture book about where the pieces and parts of a house come from and what they might have been before they became a house.

What I Like About This Book

Books that build a strong sequence are perfect for preschoolers. Building a story little by little helps strengthen narrative skills in future readers. Not only is the child learning the materials used in building houses, he also sees the world around him in a different way. See what is in nature and imagine what it could and can be.

The language is unique and fresh in this story. It isn’t too often in a day that a child will hear the words colossal, oozed, cleft, shingled, melted. Each repeated reading the child will learn the words and build a strong dictionary in her mind for when she begins to read later in her school years.

The pictures are simple and complement the text well. Just as the text builds the words around a house, the pictures build the image of a house page by page. It is amazing how this thoughtful act of placement helps children develop their own ability to retell stories.

Lastly, the lilting flow of the text makes this a perfect curl- up- under- the- blanket read.

This door was once a colossal oak tree

about three hugs around

and as high as the blue.

A more perfect sentence was never written! This type of writing not only draw the child into the book but the parent as well making it a shoo-in for reading over and over and over again. With each repetition the child’s vocabulary and narrative skills will build.

How to Use This Book

This is a great book to try and recreate the story on the page. Go outside and gather sticks, dirt, stone and other natural materials and build a house. Name each of the materials you gather. For example if you find branches from a maple tree, look at the leaves and the bark and the roots.

Ask questions about the book after reading like, What is the door made of? How are windows made? Don’t forget to look at the pictures and talk about what is happening on the page that might not be mentioned in the text. This helps build reading comprehension.

Talk about your house or apartment. What is it made of? Start with the door, just like the book and work your way up. Another great way to converse with your child in a positive way, while building vocabulary and relating back to the story.

What to Read Next?

Try these other books that build strong narrative skills.

bag i'm taking to grandmas

Book Review: Round by Joyce Sidman

  • Written By Joyce Sidman
  • Illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
  • Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Boston, New York
  • 2017

Round follows a girl explorer as she discovers the many round shapes she sees and feels in the world.  the world and discovers the many round shapes she sees and feels. Big or small, old or new, moving or stationary it is a perfect read to share with children to grow curiosity about the world around them.

What I like about this Book

Sidman is a children’s poet who writes about nature. She has won a Newberry Honor, a Caldecott Honors and many other awards. She understands well a child’s curiosity of nature and how children naturally gravitate to books about the tangible and real. Preschoolers are very concrete learners and thinkers and this book leads a child to explore the round shapes she sees in her everyday life. She not only talks about the form of round, but also how it moves depending on its mass. She talks about how rain splats and ripples in the water. Dung beetles and the ball it rolls, spins and bounces. Cliffs that start out with sharp edges and are worn away by water and wind and rain. Round isn’t just a shape!

Sidman’s use of words builds strong vocabulary in its readers. She uses fresh language to describe what the child sees in the book. Just a few of her words are  hatch, swell, and budding. The more unique words a child hears in her everyday life the better vocabulary she has to pull from when she begins to read.

Her use of language is also beautiful. Children this young, won’t be able to grasp the metaphors she uses, but the cadence of the story will attract them to the book over and over and over again. This is called Print Motivate and it is an important stepping stone to building future readers.

Or show themselves,

night after night,

rounder and rounder,

until the whole sky holds its breath.

I especially like the last pages of the book that explains why there are so many round things in nature and why it matters that those things are round. Even I learned something from this addition!

How to Use This Book

This is a book that begs to be read outside in a park, a field, near a pond or stream. Spread out a blanket and curl up together. Read the book a few times. Talk about the pictures on the page. A lot of the unique vocabulary is also in the pictures! Afterwards, take a nature walk and see what round shapes your child can spot. Point out what you see and don’t just talk about the shape, but explore the texture as well. If possible, see how it moves and compare how one round object moves in comparison to another.

Go to the store and find round foods. Make a lunch or snack with what you discover together in the store. Talk about the taste, touch, smell and feel of these foods. And if you are feeling adventurous and don’t mind a mess. Try dropping, rolling, spinning or another creative movement.

Find paper and have your child cut out different sizes of circles. Make new shapes with them, order them from biggest to smallest and smallest to biggest. Find different ways to use the paper circles.

What to Read Next

Discover Joyce Sidman’s poetry and nature exploration in these other great books.

 

What are your favorite children’s books about nature? Share in the comments.

 

Happy Reading!!

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: 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: 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!