Book Review: Am I Yours? by Alex Latimer

All children get lost at some point in early childhood. It is a frightening event and with all the talk of stranger danger, kids are even more afraid than ever. This is a rhythmical story about an unlucky egg that gets blown out of its nest and tries to find its way home. Reminiscent of PD Eastman’s Are You My Mother? It is a perfect story to read to help allay your child’s fears of getting lost and a good conversation starter about what to do when you can’t find a familiar face.

 

(I received a free advance reader copy of this book from the publisher. I was not paid for my review. The opinions expressed are mine. I am an Amazon Affiliate and if you click on a picture it will take you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)

 

Build Comprehension

Book Talk Cover Story

Build Vocabulary

I have to admit Dinosaur books always worried me a little. Kids love the books, but I can’t always pronounce their names on the first try! We know that fluidity matters, but this is a great opportunity for you to show your child how to approach new words. Sounding them out, will not only help them hear each of the individual sounds that make up the word, it will also demonstrate how to work through new words.

Am I yoursmillionwords

Build Conversation

It will happen. Even the most attentive parents and kids will get separated at some point. At the park, the store, the pool it is an inevitable part of life. Talking about what to do when your child is lost is important, and it needs to be done in a way that won’t scare them. There are a lot of resources out there and every family, parent and child is different, so find what works for you and your child and then talk about it. This isn’t only for their own safety, but talking about life skills is a good way to have a positive and meaningful discussion with even the youngest of children.

5 Things your kids need to know about getting lost

What should your child do if she gets lost

Help, I’m lost! How to teach your child what to do if he’s lost

In addition, it helps our kids to think about situations and how to respond before it happens. You can discuss the feelings he might have or the questions she might experience. All of this not only gives them information they need, but talking with our children helps build future readers!

Build Word Sounds

Songs are a great way to help your child learn word sounds. Singing builds phonological awareness which he will need as he learns to sound out words for reading.

My Address

Have Fun!

Reading shouldn’t stop when the book closes! Find ways to continue the story outside or around the house. Play isn’t only for fun, it is a time for learning as well!

Find different objects that are round. Apples, oranges, balls, eggs and see how each one rolls (or doesn’t roll so well) Have your child predict which when she thinks will roll the best. You can use a small hill or go to the park.

At craft stores like Jo-ann Fabrics or Michaels you are often able to find inexpensive plastic dinosaurs. Buy some for your child and as you are waiting at the doctors office or for school pick up for older siblings let your child’s imagination soar.

Feel like a kid again! Find a big hill and roll down with your child. Not only will the physical experience enrich your child’s play, play helps parents and children bond!

What to read next

Other books by Alex Latimer:

How do you talk about getting lost with your children?

Happy Reading

Book Review: Sir Simon, Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson

(I received a free copy from the publisher for review. I was not paid to write the review. All the opinions expressed in the post are mine and mine alone. In addition, I am an Amazon Affiliate, if you click on an image it will take you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a percentage of the sale.)

This book was published on September 4, 2018

In my fourteen years of parenting, I have checked a lot of closets, I have turned on a lot of nightlights, I have checked under beds and snuggled with my kids (and dogs!) during storms.

Fear of the unknown, make-believe or real, happens to all kids. A safe and reassuring way to help our kids work through normal fears is through reading. Children are able to visit the dark and look at the monsters and scary things all within the comfort and reassuring arms of their grown-ups.

Sir Simon, Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson is the perfect book to read with your child to help begin conversations about what scares them. Simon is a ghost, who wants to not work so hard and he is excited to learn the woman moving into the house he haunts is a “grandma.” Grandparents don’t take a lot of work and Simon can’t wait to get to work on all the hobbies he hasn’t had time form. It all goes awry when a little boy moves in as well and won’t leave Chester alone. Chester devises a plan that keeps the boy happy and Chester free until he realizes what he really needed was a friend.

Million Dollar Words Sir Simon

I was drawn to this book, not only for the unique language and the emotional intelligence it builds, but also the way it uses the illustrations to highlight the text. The text doesn’t only go from left to right, top to bottom. It will be on the stairs, or in the tree or in text bubbles. This allows for the reader to use their finger to point to the sentences which builds an awareness of the words that make up the story on the page.

The illustrations are simple but rich in color and do not overwhelm the reader. It would be a great book to tell by only using the pictures which helps the child learn to “read” through the story on their own.

Another reason this is a must read, is because your child has a lot of opportunities to participate in the storytelling. They can make the animal ghost sounds or find pots and pans or other household items to recreate the clomping, creaking and stomping sounds. Engaged listeners are engaged learners.

Sir Simon tackles a subject all kids deal with throughout their childhood: FEAR Simon is a relatable and unscary ghost who will provide an opportunity for our children to explore their feelings in a caring and controlled environment.

Find more about the Author/Illustrator Cale Atkinson here

 

Activities/Enrichment

Make your own silly ghost noises. Onomatopoeia is a great way to build the phonological awareness our kids need to build their reading skills. You can also build in some narrative skills by classifying sounds like Animal sounds, motor sounds, or letter sounds (like words that start with the k sound: creeping, clomping, crawling)

 

Ghost Sounds

 

What do you remember?Story Questions

Recall not only helps reading comprehension, but it also aids in a child’s understanding of how stories are built, what makes a good story and what they need to make their own story. After you have read the book a few times, ask your child what happens. Put it on different pieces of paper with enough space for them to draw/illustrate and then they can retell the story using the pieces of paper. They won’t remember ever single page, but by helping them remember how the story started, what the problem was and how the problem was solved, your child will be miles ahead when it comes time for them to do book reports and reviews in elementary school.

 

What to read next

Other Books about Monsters, Make-believe and Fear

Other Books by Cale Atkinson

Books for Grown-ups to Read

Understanding how to talk about feelings and emotions with our kids not only builds literacy it builds EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE. Emotional Intelligence benefits our kids not only during childhood but throughout life. Below are a list of suggestions of books that will be helpful in learning how to help your child discuss feelings and describe emotions.

 

What scary books do you share with your children?

 

 

Must Read Fall Books

Summer may technically be around for a few more weeks, but every year when the calendar hits August, I slip into fall mode. The days are shorter, the cicadas hum their loud tune and school buses fill the streets. Seasons, for me, have never been about the meteorological changes but the rhythm of life. Spring is new life, awakenings, possibilities. Summer is all about relaxation, warmth, resting and reading in the sun. Winter is blazing fires, cozy sweaters, hot chocolate and togetherness.

boy-child-dry-leaves-36965

Fall has always been about new beginnings. I haven’t been in a classroom myself for well over 20 years, but Fall always makes me yearn for new notebooks, fresh pencils, and fun lunchboxes. Enthusiasm for whatever work I do is at an all time high. I am excited and full of energy.

Since I started my job as a literacy specialist last year, fall brings with it new pre-k classrooms and new students to introduce to a love of reading.

My first unit this calendar year is all about autumn. These happen to be some of my favorite books because they are colorful and full of unique words and routines familiar to most children. As I was preparing for the upcoming story times I had a chance to look at some of the new books out there about fall.

What to read next

FOUR FALL MUST READS

I am an Amazon Affiliate. I am not paid for my reviews or to endorse any particular book. However, if you click on a picture it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.

 

This book caught my eye, not only for the illustrations, but the diversity of children and town portrayed. It is important for all kids to see themselves in the pages of the books they read and this book is a great way to explore the themes of fall while building story interest with familiar images.

 

 

Henkes will be a familiar name for most readers. He has written some of my own children’s favorite stories. His illustrations are always simple and attractive and his beautiful use of language will help learns discover new words to use.

 

 

 

 

 

This book came out a few years ago, but when I saw it while browsing the shelves of the library, I was immediately drawn to the illustrations. Again, the children who are on the pages of the book are diverse. The language is fresh and unique. Her use of yellow unifies the pictures of the book and make it art as well as literature.

 

 

 

 

 

Published last year, Full of Fall is a book I love to share with kids. Real photographs capture the children’s attention. At the preschool level kids are more about concrete ideas than abstract. When a picture book uses photographs instead of illustrations, we often spend more time talking about the pages. Photos have a depth, that no matter the illustration, inspires our young learners. The text also makes use of alliteration which not only makes the book a more interesting read a loud, but it helps kids hear the different sounds that make up the words they will learn to read.

 

I hope you are as excited about fall as I am. Take time out of your day to crunch through the leaves, take a hike through the colorful forests, go apple picking, and find a farm that provides hay rides and other fall activities. Research shows that along with reading, singing and playing are just more important in our children’s development than the scheduled activities we sign them up for.

While the rest of the country submerges itself in pumpkin spice lattes, Halloween decor and football start a new fall routine and include great autumn books.

If you are looking for more books about fall please contact me at jes@jeszsmith.com !

Happy Reading

Book Review: Tilly and Tank by Jay Fleck

I received access to an ARC of this picture book through Netgalley. I was not paid for my review.

 

 

 

Tilly and Tank by Jay Fleck celebrates friendship in the most unlikely pairs. This book is available on January 9, 2018 but can be preordered on Amazon.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. I am not paid to review books, but if you click on links and make a purchase from Amazon I receive a portion of the sale.)

What I Like About This Book

A strong vocabulary is a precursor to reading. Parents who choose books with unique words (words that you don’t use in everyday conversation) help strengthen this skill so when the child begins to independently read she has a huge background of words to pull from. Tilly and Tank uses 23 words that you most likely don’t use when you talk with your child. Words like curious, detected, barrel, turret, puzzled and so much more. We call these million dollar words. Use them throughout the day to help reinforce the new word. It can take 10-15 times of word use for the new word to stick. Pick a few new words after the reading and find various ways to enrich your child’s vocabulary.

The simple, bright illustrations are easy to follow and highlight print awareness (knowing the parts of books and how to follow along the pages.) The text moves around with the pictures, so get your finger ready and follow the word trail. Not only does it highlight the print, it will also help your child connect the sounds they hear with the words on the page.

Simple narratives help pre-literate children learn to exercise their storytelling muscles. The simpler the story at a young age, the easier it is for the child to recall and retell after a few readings. Not only that, but as a parent guide your child with questions about the story that aren’t in the text. Ask what you think Tilly might be feeling when she sees the stranger from far away? Why do you think Tank responded the way he did (Good way to use a new word and help reading comprehension) In addition there are a lot of different emotions at work in the story and highlighting them and then talking about times your child might have felt the same way not only builds narrative skills, but helps the child better connect to the story and produce a positive reading experience.

Tilly and Tank isn’t just a refreshing story about friendship, it also hits many early literacy skills which will build strong future readers!

How To Use This Book

Make cards with some of the new words your child learned. Have a conversation with your child where you intentionally use the words and as you say them, put the card in front of your child to connect the sounds with the words.

Have your child retell the story and write it down in one line sentences and draw a picture to go along with the sentence. Cut the pictures and sentences from each other and practice reordering the story using the words and pictures.

Play a matching game! Take pictures of your child making different emotion faces. Happy, Sad, Angry, Excited etc. Print them out in duplicate and play a matching game.

Other Books to Read

Tilly and Tank not only explores relationships, but how to handle new situations or times when we feel uncertain about the people we meet. These books are great to follow up to the themes of Tilly and Tank.

What books do you read to help your child understand emotions? Post in comments to share suggestions.

 

Happy Reading

Book Review: As Time Went By By Jose Sanabria

Ages 3-5

As Time Went By. Jose Sanabria. Translated by Audrey Hall. North South Books Inc. New York: 2016.

 

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

What the Book is About

The changing life of a steamboat and the changing faces of who inhabits and uses the boat.

How to Use this Book

Below are suggestions broken down by literacy skill to help you engage your young listener. You will not use each activity or skill in one sitting, but choose one or two to focus on each reading.

Print Awareness

It is always important to orient the child to the story and book before you begin a reading. This particular book’s cover illustration goes from front cover to back cover. Open up the book, so both front and back cover show. Start at the left of the picture and ask questions about what the child sees. Ask about the people, the colors, the different types of transportation shown before you even open the book.

Next, underline with your finger the title and author. Point out the author and illustrator and then mention that the author is from another country and this book was written in Spanish and translated into English.

Flip through the book and show how it is structured into part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Simply describe that books are put together or assembled in different ways. This one has two stories that become one story.

Vocabulary

Research shows that the more unique words a child hears in everyday conversation, the more prepared she is when it comes time to read. Face to face conversation is critical because not only are the children listening to the words, but they watch how the mouth moves when the words are formed. Tablets, TV and smartphones do not provide the same benefit. (see Talking with Young Children)

Try to find unique words that are in the story or words you might use while talking about the story. For example:

  1. Translate
  2. Rebuilt
  3. Assembled
  4. Abandoned
  5. Company
  6. Luxury
  7. Village
  8. Harbor
  9. Steamship
  10. Sea
  11. Sail

Pick a few words each day and find ways to incorporate them into conversation. With repetition these words will become a part of your child’s vocabulary. Some words are hard to find ways to use naturally! So find a game or activity that would allow you to use them. And don’t forget, that is why we read books! The more we read, the more kids hear, the bigger vocabularies they build.

The more we read, the more kids hear, the bigger vocabularies they build.

Activities to use:

Categorize words. For example: From the list above, categorize words into nouns: People, places or things; Adjectives or describing words; Verbs or moving words. Write lists or make drawings in each of the categories. This will help the child connect with the words on a deeper level.

Find the words in the book: Abandoned, luxury and homeless. The illustrator uses different colors on pages that these words appear. Talk about happy and sad emotions (and remind them that emotions are feelings) Then look at the pictures and have the child say whether the people on that page feel happy or sad or a different emotion. This not only builds vocabulary but helps the child reinforce reading comprehension and narrative skills. You could even make paper faces and draw the face and label happy or sad and have the child hold up how the picture makes him or her feel.

Phonological Awareness

Alliteration is a big word and concept that can be simplified for kids by pointing out the beginning sounds of words. For example:

Ship that sailed beside the sun.

Ship. Sailed. Sun.

See if you and your child can write your own alliterative phrases.

The sun shines severely.

The board barely broke.

Write out and underline the similar starting sounds. This also encourages letter awareness/knowledge along with phonological awareness which is hearing the smaller sounds that make up the whole word.

Sing Row Row Row your boat. Singing is a great way to build Phonological Awareness. Add in motions to make it a whole body experience.

Narrative Skills (Building Reading Comprehension)

Connect the book to other ideas the child might know. For example, discuss what a steamship is and then talk about other types of boats. If you search for images online you can print out the pictures of different types of boats and then create labels for each type. Play a matching game. This also builds letter awareness and vocabulary.

Boat Color Sheets

Britannica Kids: Motorboat

Kidzsearch: Steamship

Questioning:

Ask questions about the story as you read. Not every page, but every few pages. It is also a good way to see if the child is understanding the story or if it is still a little too hard comprehension wise. At the end of the book, go back through and pick out main points of the story and discuss them. It may take a few readings before the child can tell you the story on his or her own.

Print Motivation

Repeated phrases are a great way to engage listeners in the book. Reading should never be a passive event! A repeated phrase in the book is, as time went by. When you get to that line, make sure to follow with your finger and encourage your child to say it with you. After a few times he or she may say it with you with little prompting.

After the Story

Do your own As Time Went By story. Take a loved toy, or hand me down clothing or some other repurposed object and write its story. Use the story as a guide, but have your child dictate what you are to write. Have him illustrate and put it together like a book.

Take a field trip. Find a repurposed building in your city to visit. Talk about what it had been and how it is used now. Was it ever abandoned like in the story? It is a good way to not only practice vocabulary, but to connect the story with the real world, a stepping stone to critical thinking.

Write in the comments section what skills and activities you tried. How did they work? What did you try different?

Try these books:

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Princess Cupcake Jones and the Dance Recital by Ylleya Fields

  • Princess Cupcake Jones and the Dance Recital. Ylleya Fields. Illustrated by Michael La Duca. Belle Publishing: Cleveland. 2016
  • Preschool

Cupcake Jones and the rest of the students at Madame’s School of Ballet are preparing for a dance recital. Cupcake Jones is finding it hard to master a difficult move and worries about what will happen at the recital. The students learn that hard work and doing your best is all they need for a successful event.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK

This is the third book in the Cupcake Jones picture book series. The author is a fellow Clevelander and started writing the Cupcake Jones books because she struggled to find books with African American characters in them. As a children’s librarian in the inner city, I found the same problems finding books the kids I served could relate to.

We all want to see ourselves represented in the books we read. It helps build a love for reading. Print Motivation happens when children can relate to the story on the page.

I love that the theme of the book is one that all kids relate to and it is the universal nature of the story that makes this a great book for all children. The more diverse our book characters are and the more universal the themes are I believe it helps all of our children relate to each other better.

The text is rhythmic and full of alliteration which builds phonological awareness. It has strong vocabulary that introduces dance names but also has a strong word choice outside of new dance vocabulary. The author was careful in her text and a few read-throughs of this book and your child’s vocabulary will grow.

The illustrations are fun and realistic and diverse, quite representative of the world we live in. Kids thrive in stories based in reality and familiar routines and emotions. The story is also one with a strong lesson, don’t give up when something is hard. Princess Cupcake Jones will be a good example of how to act when your child is faced with a new or difficult situation.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

If your child doesn’t dance, see if you can observe a nearby dance studio. Watch the activities of the lessons and talk about what he learned afterwards. Field trips are great ways to expand the world your child lives in. It not only helps them have new experiences it broadens her world. Find books at the library on dance or find classics such as the Nutcracker and watch together.

Write a story together about a time your child tried something new or struggled with learning something. Have your child tell the story and write the words. It will teach them how to create a story and seeing the words will reinforce all those great skills they learn hearing a story: How the words are written on the page, left to right; how stories have beginnings, middles and ends; how to connect what they see in their heads to the words on the page through illustrations.

Learn the different ballet moves in the story and write vocabulary cards for them. Hold up the word and practice the move. Your child may not be able to read, but you will see them start to recognize the patterns in the letters. The action will reinforce the new word. It’s a fun way to learn new vocabulary.

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.)

 

Connect with the Author: Ylleya Fields

Happy Reading!

Book Review: A is for Africa By Michael Samulak

  • A is for Africa. Michael I Samulak and Illustrated by Sswaga Sendiba. Trafford Publishing: Victoria, 2008.
  • Preschool

A is for Africa is an alphabet book with the peoples and animals and traditions that center around Uganda. The pictures are bright and beautiful artwork that will take you on a journey through the country of Uganda and help explore the continent of Africa.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK

The most striking aspect of this book is the rich vocabulary. The author is familiar with Uganda, the animals and plants and people. This knowledge helps him introduce another land to our earliest readers. Some of my favorite words in the book are fowl, Ibis, Kob, Pygmy chimpanzee and tilapia. These are animals that are kids don’t often see, even in the zoo. It expands their world, imagination and, of course, vocabulary.

The author also uses rhythmic language and alliteration to reinforce phonological awareness, the important building block for sounding out words.

It may seem a stretch in an alphabet book, but the author’s use of a land and a people helps tell not just a story of the alphabet journey, but the life of a people who live far away. He brings in ritual life and traditions that help kids explore a world they do not hear about. These types of books and book experiences open up creativity to our youngest readers and enrich the stories they tell.

The pictures are bold, boisterous and beautiful. The illustrator is an artist in Uganda, who uses a particular style of painting called batik. There is more information about this process in the back of the book, but his illustrations invite the reader onto the page and the reading becomes an interactive experience instead of a passive one. Interesting and unique pictures that support the text on the page produce a love of reading called, Print Motivation. The more our kids love a book, the more they develop a love for reading.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

This book is a great start to study different forms of art. Create your own “batik” style paintings or drawings while talking about what your child sees in her every day life. The book is an exploration of Africa, so explore the city or state you live in with the animals you see around you, the traditions or food you eat in your region. This is a great way to build hand strength, through picture drawing, and a great way to introduce new vocabulary. It also helps her learn about the place she lives in which will help with cultural awareness.

Since this is an alphabet book, I would be remiss if I ignored the different alphabet activities out there. Pinterest is a great place to find cute and interactive ways to learn the alphabet. You don’t have to be super creative though, some of my favorite alphabet building fun is taking rice or oatmeal or sand and filling a cookie sheet. Trace the alphabet and have your child mimic. Imprinting the shapes and movement of the alphabet will bring the letters to life.

What to Read Next

(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.)

See our other book reviews of author Michael Samulak’s work:

a-wonderful-day

Author Interview

A Wonderful Day Book Review

 

Connect with Michael Samulak

 

 

What is your favorite way to practice the alphabet with your child? Share in the comments at the end of the post.

 

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: 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: Best Frints in the whole universe by Antoinette Portis

  • Publishing Information: Antoinette Portis. Roaring Brook Press, New York. 2016.
  • Ages: Preschool

BEST FRINTS IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE is a fun book about friendship and feelings. It is a great book for preschoolers who are learning to handle arguments and conflict as they play more with children their own age. It acknowledges the common fights that happen and what the children hear in response to those fights. I can hear children giggling as they see the pictures of the friends doing things that they themselves get in trouble for.

It celebrates differences and diversity in relationships and shows how working together is so much more fun than doing things on our own.

What I love About this Book:

The vocabulary building skills in this book are actually phenomenal. The authors use of “alien language” gives parents and children the opportunity to translate the words into “Earth language.” It builds vocabulary in a fun and unique way.

It also creates a space to talk about feelings. Using the two best friends as guides, have your child tell about a time where she disagreed with a friend. Ask questions about what she felt and how she acted and what she might do in the future to solve the fight.

Kids will really gravitate to the bright, simple pictures and the common issues the book addresses. It will definitely be one you go back to again and again. Kids will have fun while learning. The best kind of fun.

How to Use this Book:

Learn to Translate. This is a great opportunity to discuss different languages. Go online or find a book at your local library or bookstore to help translate everyday words into another language. You can print out labels on the computer and go around the house placing the English and Spanish or German or whatever language you choose! Click here for a list of  premade English/Spanish Vocabulary labels.

Make a story about a disagreement your own child has had. Using the feelings he felt, the actions he made and the solution he comes up with to create a low pressure way to work through feelings and help your child name them when he feels them.

Create your own alien. Use Playdo or paint or crayons or whatever you have on hand to create your own version of the planet Boborp and friends Omek and Yelfred. Drawing, coloring and Playdo are great ways to build hand strength for future handwriting.

What to Read Next:

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What are your favorite books about friendship? Comment and share!

Happy Reading!!!!