Book Review: Anna at the Museum by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert

Read

I have to admit, the last place I wanted to take my kids when they were small was the art museum. The rooms were big, they echoed loud and there was so many ways they could get themselves (and me!) in trouble.

Thankfully the Cleveland Art Museum, in our city, has a lot of opportunities for family to enjoy art together, with outdoor installations, rooms for kids to explore.

In Anna at the Art Museum, Anna can’t help but attract the attention of the attendant. The art begs to be touched! The rooms insist she run, and when Anna gets hungry she doesn’t understand why she isn’t allowed to have her snack. When she finds a door marked NO ENTRY, Anna tries very hard not to walk through the door and to find out what happens you will have to read the book.

 

(I am an Amazon Affiliate, which means if you click on a picture it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale. I was not paid for my review, I received a NetGalley copy for an honest review)

Talk

This book has a lot of great conversation starters with your child. Who hasn’t taken their child to a doctor’s office, or the grocery store or a special event and found yourself saying:

It’s no surprise our kids run when they say to get their shoes on! This book is a great way to introduce the expectations we have for our family when we are in different public places. Try to use positive language like: Ask before you touch something that isn’t yours. Use walking feet when we are indoors. Use an indoor voice when we are at the store. Not only will it help your child prepare for “field trips,” it will also help you think about what you want to see happen before you reprimand. I know for me, I often give consequence without ever having any clear discussion with my kids about the behavior I expect when we are out of the house. These types of positive conversations don’t only make for pleasant days out, but it also helps your child build vocabulary.

MDW Anna

Another great way to take this book out in the world is to talk about the different signs in buildings, while driving, and even at school. Point them out as you see them and talk about what the mean, why it is posted, and what you should do when you encounter them.

Sing

There are a lot of great ideas on Incredible @rt Department, but one I liked in particular was to put on different types of music and have your child, “follow the line”. You can use finger paint, colored pencils, whatever you have on hand. There are no rules for this, just have your child draw what the music feels like, and make sure you point out the lines in the book when Anna is moving around and when she is in the hidden room and the color’s she experiences. Listening to the music will also strengthen your child’s phonological awareness which will help them when they are learning to read and sounding out words.

Play

This book begs for a field trip to a local art museum or art gallery. Many art museums are free or ask for a donation. Plan out the trip beforehand and keep the time short. Modern art would be a great place to start and make sure you talk about and describe what you see and have your child do the same.

Another option is to find a child/parent paint session at the library or a local paint and sip store. Spending time together allows for many opportunities to talk without the pressure of home and schedule AND it is play which is what all kids need to grow.

What to read next

Funny stories about an outing with your child? Share in the comments below or share with us your favorite art museum.

Happy Reading

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?

 

 

Book Review: Flashlight Night by Matt Forrest Esenwine

What is it about the dark that scares and intrigues children at the same time? How many times has your child come downstairs after you’ve tucked him in and said, “I’m afraid of the dark.” To be honest, aren’t we all still a little afraid? Shadows loom larger, sounds are louder, problems bigger.

Books that help kids explore their fear in a safe and encouraging way are great from preschool ages. They acknowledge the scariness of night but also open a world of possibilities.

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

Flashlight Night is a perfect book to read around a firepit in the summer or before a walk in the winter night sky before bedtime. Esenwine creates a magical world of stories that starts with a flashlight, a boy and the night sky.

The rhyming text builds phonological awareness and the sophisticated vocabulary will help your child learn new words. Afterall, when was the last time you used the words mizzenmast or craggy?

Reading comprehension and narrative skills are highlighted through the detailed illustrations that accompany the words. There are many things to explore on the page that aren’t in the text. The pictures can lead to further conversation about pirates and pyramids and castles. Have your child tell their own story either using the book as a jumping off point or create their own using a flashlight and shadow puppets.

flashlight

Flashlight Night is a great example of how simple books can introduce complex ideas and topics while answering questions all children have about what happens in the dark.

More books to help with fear of dark

What other books have helped your child process fear of the dark? Share in comments.Happy Reading

Book Review: Belinda the Unbeatable by Lee Nordling and Scott Roberts

Graphic novels and comics often get a bad rap from teachers and parents. They are seen as not as legitimate as “real books.” But they have been a game changer in our family. My son is an avid reader, but not in the traditional sense. Give him Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Garfield or any graphic novel and he will read for hours. Graphic novels have deep narratives, help kids derive context from the pictures which builds reading comprehension, teach how to follow a story through the panels, and are just plain old fun.

Graphic Novels are becoming more prevalent for young ages which is a great thing. Reluctant readers will pick up a book that is more picture drive, boys and girls alike will find something they like with the diversity of what is published now. I was even excited to see that there was a wordless graphic novel which isn’t only perfect for school age kids, but a great way to introduce the genre to preschoolers. It will give them a way to “read books” on their own. And it will strengthen reading comprehension and narrative skills through the story they create where they can practice their growing vocabulary and understanding of the printed word.

I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the images it takes you to Amazon, where if you make any purchases I receive a portion of the sale.

Belinda the Unbeatable is a great first graphic novel. It is about Belinda and her best friend Barbara. Belinda is outgoing and Barbara is shy. They join a musical chair game at the school and it becomes more than just the run-of-the-mill game. Will they work together to stay in the game?

This is a book you have to see for yourself. The pages will take you and your child on a journey of imagination.

Graphic Novels for Kids

Common Sense Media has a great article with suggestions on why graphic novels for kids. Read it here.

I Love Libraries has suggestions by age/grade here.

Three Reasons Graphic Novels Can Be Great for Young Readers by Scholastic.

Other Graphic Novels to Enjoy

Ages 6+

Ages 6+

Ages 7+

Ages 7+

Ages 6+

Have you and your family enjoyed graphic novels? Share what you’ve read in the comments.

 

Happy Reading

Book Review: On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna

Smartphones, tablets, computers are a part of our lives and the lives of our families whether we embrace it or not. The American Academy of Pediatricsdeveloped guidelines to help parents make decisions about how and when to incorporate screen time into a child’s life. Under the age of 18 months, they do not recommend having screen time other than video chatting with family. Any age over that parents need to engage in a family media plan that will set boundaries on when, where and how media and screens will be consumed.

Although, technology is here to stay, it doesn’t mean we as parents have to give in to it. Our children still need time to play outside in mud puddles, be bored, and read.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate, the links to the pictures take you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)

On a Magical Do-Nothing Day, the author Beatrice Alemagna explores the complicated relationship parents, families and children have with screens. On a rainy day a mother and daughter go to a cabin in the woods while the father stays in the city. The mother works and the daughter mindlessly plays a videogame which irritates her mother. Who tells her, “Is this another day where you do nothing.” She takes the game and hides it, but the daughter finds it and goes outside. What she discovers is a world she couldn’t find in her video game.

smart phone and kids

Alemagna’s book reminds me of my youth spent exploring the woods and creek outside my front door. We weren’t allowed to watch TV during the day and at that age I wouldn’t want to. Boredom isn’t lethal, but sometimes as parents we act as it is. My kids are forever asking me to watch T.V. or play on the tablet or have “screen time” because they are bored. We set strict limits that works for our family but even with the limits it doesn’t stop the kids from asking to cure their boredom with so easy to digest media.

natural world

The book doesn’t just provide rich discussion about how to combat boredom it also has rich, lyrical vocabulary filled with imagery using metaphors and similes. The book uses a lot of directional/positional language which is great for young preschoolers beginning to understand the concept of over, under, top, bottom and etc. But the book can also be used with older preschoolers/kindergarten aged children with its sophisticated vocabulary.

As you read this book with your child you will notice that the narrative skills are developed strongly throughout the text. It focuses on imagination, discovery of the natural world, parent relationships, and yes screen time. This will help foster a conversation between you and your child and even family about how to handle the balance between t.v., games and quiet times without those screens. After reading the story talk about how you find quiet time in your day without screens. And if that isn’t something you do, maybe as a family you can learn to incorporate media free times together.

Kid painting Santa on a paper plate

Our kids need space to explore the world independently in a safe and unstructured way. They need time that isn’t scheduled with activities. They need time to be bored so they can create, develop and grow. Play is one of the most important times in our child’s day. It is where the most learning takes place. On a Magical Do-Nothing Day will take the story of a boring, rainy, dreary day and encourage our children to go explore a fascinating and ever changing world.

After Reading the Book

Go outside. Even if the weather is terrible. Dress appropriately and go explore.

As you walk with your child, ask her what she notices? How is today different than other days? What is the same? And if it is age appropriate, go to the backyard or a park and allow them some free range time to look around and play on their own.

For Parents

A good picture book is one that not only makes kids think and learn, but parents as well. There is a lot in this book to make us think about how we spend our time. The work/family balance, our relationship with phones and screens, and how we include time for ourselves to explore, create and dream. Use this book as a starting point for discussion about how your family will handle screens. Each family is different, so do what works best for you. We have decided that screens are limited to weekends, but during the week we will watch movies or a T.V. show together. And during school breaks, the rules are relaxed. But if the kids have screen limits, it is only fair to see how grown ups should too.

Articles on Screen Time

Common Sense Media

Consumer Reports

What do we do all day

Becoming Minimalist

Books on Wonder, imagination and exploration

Do you have a favorite book about play, imagination or boredom? Share in the comments at the end of the post.

Happy Reading

Book Review: Can I Touch Your Hair by Irene Latham and Charles Waters

Can I Touch Your Hair by Irene Latham and Charles Waters. Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. Publishing date: January 1, 2018 by Carolrhoda Books.

Available for preorder

Ages 8 and up

(I received an ARC of this book for a fair review. I was not paid for the review. However, I am an Amazon Affliliate and if you click on the link and make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)

friendship

Conversations about race at any age is difficult. It is a topic often avoided with kids because of the worry they aren’t old enough to handle the intricate topic. “Can I Touch Your Hair” provides a starting point for deeper conversations in our schools, our families and with our friends. The authors handle cultural differences and new friendships with sensitivity.

The writing and illustrating teams gave each character and picture its own distinct voice and style through free style poetry. This is the first picture book I have read using this technique, and I enjoyed its fresh approach to the picture book genre.

The book stayed away from stereotypes of each culture, and highlighted the fact they exist. Its universal theme of fitting in makes the book a relatable for everyone. Each of the characters struggles to find his or her place in the community they live in and find friendship in the last place they expected to.

Although the concepts are sophisticated, parents and teachers shouldn’t shy away from the book. Use the book  as a discussion starter about race and our similarities and cultural differences.

“Can I Touch Your Hair” shows no matter our perceptions we are all a part of the same community.

Try It At Home

reading together

Reading aloud should never stop. This book is a perfect read aloud book for older kids. Research shows that fluency improves when kids hear books being read aloud even if the child reads independently. The back and forth nature of Can I Touch Your Hair, makes it perfect for a read aloud. Your child can practice reading with emotion and pauses and learn from you as you read the same way.

poetry

Poetry aids self-expression and builds creative writing skills. Poetry isn’t only a great way to express emotions, it is a great way to build reading and writing skills. Free style poetry is a great way to introduce creative writing to kids because it doesn’t have the rules of other types. We often think of poetry as having to rhyme and this book is a perfect example of creativity at work. Write poems with your child about what is important in his or her life. Emotions she might have a hard time expressing or places where he feels insecure. Don’t stop there! Haiku’s are a great way to connect with nature and writing and are fun to produce. Poetry doesn’t have to be intimidating as the authors demonstrate.

letter writing

Rekindle the art of letter writing. Feeling different or out of place happens to all of us and as kids age they have a harder time telling us what they are feeling and what is happening in his or her life. A friend of mine when my kids were young suggested sharing a diary that the child can write in and the parent can respond to. It gives kids a chance to let out the emotions they have a hard time discussing and gives us as parents time to think through our response. Added benefits are increasing narrative skills through the letter writing or diary format and handwriting practice.

Try these Books:

Tune in tomorrow when Building Future Readers interviews the authors Charles Waters and Irene Latham about the book!

 

 

What books do you read to begin a conversation about race and cultural differences and similarities?

Happy Reading

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: 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!

Book Review: Lucía the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza

By Cynthia Leonor Garza. Illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez, 2017. New York: POW!

Ages 4-7.

( I am an amazon affiliate, if you click on the pictures or links it takes you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)

What this book is about

One day on the playground Lucía is teased by the boys that she can’t be a superhero. It makes her mad and that night her Abuela tells her about the luchadora’s. A luchador is more than an acrobatic wrestler. A luchadora is brave and spunky and fights for what is right. Lucía wears the luchador costume the next day on the playground and soon all the kids show up in masks and costumes. She has fun until the boys tease again that girls cannot be superheros. She takes off her mask to reveal her true identity and show the boys that girls are superheros.

What I like about this book

Print Motivation

It is hard to find picture books that feature diverse characters. This book not only features Mexican culture through the main character it is also a universal and empowering story for girls.

The pictures are vibrant and complement the text well and I love the influence from comic books and Mexican culture.

Vocabulary

The vocabulary is rich in the book. Every page introduces unique words.

Lucia the luchadora
From Amazon.com

As you can see from the sample pages your child will learn the words masked, swift, slick, style, luchadora, agile.

Print Awareness/Letter Awareness

Print Awareness will be developed with each reading. As is typical in comic books, the onomatopoeias are set apart and larger than the rest of the text. This is a great way to use your finger to follow the sentences and also highlight the places where the words deviate from the typical sentence structure. Paragraphs are in different colors which also will help children differentiate the text.

This book provides many opportunities to stop and have the child trace the letters with her fingers and sound out words even if she aren’t reading on her own yet.

Phonological Awareness

Onomatopoeias are also a great way to help kids learn different letter sounds. They are short words, often one syllable. As you read these words, follow along with your finger and then stop and have them repeat the sound.

The text, while doesn’t rhyme, has a strong cadence which gives it a beat like a rhyming book. The flow, not only makes it enjoyable to read out loud, strengthens your child’s expressive reading when they become independent readers.

Narrative Skills

Feeling different is a normal part of growing up and this book will provide a jumping off point to discuss this in your own family. Often times societal norms tell us girls act one way and boys act another. Talk about what you did as a child and some of your favorite memories that might help dispel the stereotypes.

There are many places in the book to stop and ask further questions about what is happening on the page that might not be told in the sentences. Ask your child about the pictures and what is also going on in the story.

Why you should pick this book up today

This book is a great read aloud that girls and boys will enjoy together. It features a strong Hispanic girl, provides rich vocabulary and strong text that makes this a book you will come back to again and again.

 

Other great picture books with strong female characters

Happy Reading!