Book Review: Joseph’s Big Ride by Terry Farish

  • Preschool-Age 7
  • Illustrated by Ken Daley
  • Annick Press

 

You may have seen on Facebook, Twitter or other social media the call for publisher’s to produce more diverse books. When I was a children’ librarian in the inner city I struggled to find books that the kids I worked with could relate to. Illustrations skewed towards traditional families and more northern European features. And the multicultural books that were published had heavy themes and mature content that young children would struggle to relate to.

Joseph’s Big Ride is a wonderful book that brings together the universal experience of being a child and the life of a child living as a refugee in camps and in America. All children will respond to the childhood bucket list item of riding a bike. But Farish brings a sensitivity through Joseph’s story of kids who long to participate in this rite of passage but life circumstances have kept them from it. Although it could have been a heavy topic of life as a child refugee, Joseph’s story reminds us we are all children with similar dreams and goals. Instead of differences separating the children it brings them together.

The book is beautifully illustrated with vibrant, rich pictures. As noted on the back cover the illustrations are modeled after the illustrators African-Caribbean roots. The pictures are engaging and draw the reader in along with helping tell the story.

The text is just as beautiful proving that children’s books can be literary works. Farish uses metaphors, similes, alliteration, assonance and more to bring the story to life. The carefully thought out text makes this book the perfect read a loud and, although young kids aren’t ready to write their own rhetorical devices, the repetition of such tools in the books they hear will build future readers and discerning students.

The book builds phonological awareness by using onomatopoeia which is a fun way for kids to hear different sounds that they will use as they learn to sound out words on their own. The strong narrative will build reading comprehension. The vocabulary is sophisticated but also approachable in the text. Your child will walk away with a stronger personal dictionary of words to draw from as they experience the world around them. (What are the 6 pre-literacy skills?)

This is a great book to use as a guide when selecting books with your child at the bookstore or library. Not all books are created equal and what we look for as parents in books are stories that engage our children (and us too!) while helping build the skills that will provide the stepping stones for future reading success.

Happy Reading!

Other Books By this Author:

 

Book Review: Thank You, Jackson by Niki and Jude Daly

Ages 3-5

Thank You Jackson. Niki and Jude Daly. Francis Lincoln Children’s Books. 2015.

(I am an Amazon affiliate member which means when you click on the pictures it takes you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I receive a small percentage. I do not get paid to review books.)

 

A farmer takes his donkey Jackson up a hill every day with a load of goods for the market. The donkey completes his job without complaint until one day Jackson won’t go up the hill. The farmer gets frustrated and no amount of prodding, pushing or yelling will get the donkey to move. Jackson loses his load and the farmer threatens to punish him and gives him to the count of ten to move and as he speaks the number ten his son, Goodwill appears. He stops his father from punishing Jackson and whispers something in the donkey’s ear. The donkey rises. The farmer asks what the boy said to get the donkey to move and the boy answers,, “Mama, says, that it’s the little things, like saying please and thank you, that make a big difference in the world.” Shamed for his attitude the farmer and boy carry the goods to market and allow Jackson to graze and rest. The story ends at the end of the day back home with the farmer thanking Jackson for all he does.

I love folktales. Not only because of the lessons they teach but they are perfect stories to teach narrative skills to emerging readers. They often hold a child’s interest with phrases that can be repeated which increases print motivation. Even though the story takes place in Africa it is a story with a universal theme that all children will relate to. This story provides unique language, using words such as market, stubborn, task, load and many more. Unique language is words we do not use in our every day conversations with our children. These unique words build vocabulary as the books are read and reread many times. There is also an emphasis on letter knowledge with the bold text numbers written out. The children can say the number out loud as you point to the text.

I highly recommend you add this book to your reading list and find other folktales and fairytales for your growing reader.

SKILLS BUILT:

  • Narrative Skills
  • Print Motivation
  • Vocabulary
  • Letter Knowledge

 

ENGAGE WITH THE STORY:

  • Talk about the book before you begin reading. Look at the pictures and name the objects you see on the page. Have your child point to pictures and identify what the object is. You can focus on colors or animals or shapes. This teaches your child how to interact and go deeper into the story than the words on the page.
  • When you come to a word your child may not be familiar with, for example task, stop and explain what the word means and give an example. It can take up to Word frequency to build vocabulary using and hearing a word before a child learns it. Find ways to incorporate these new words into your conversation today.
  • Before you turn the page, ask your child what she thinks might happen. Before you reveal what the boy says to the donkey, ask what the boy could say. When the farmer is frustrated ask your child what he thinks the farmer might do next to get the donkey to move. Reading comprehension is one of the most important skills for a child to learn and it starts early with helping your child engage in the text, anticipate and see how their guess matched up with the ending.

 

TAKE IT OFF THE PAGE:

  • Write a thank you note. Your child may not be able to write yet but sitting down and writing with you will show them how it’s done. You can have them dictate the note and you write but make sure to leave a space for them to practice their letters. At age 4 they will start forming letters especially those letters in their name. But no worries if they aren’t there yet, the simple act of using a pencil or colored pencil will help them develop the hand strength needed to develop writing.
  • Have a snack with the vegetables shown in the book. It may be an opportunity to go to the “market” just like the farmer, boy and donkey in the book. The store is a fabulous place to build vocabulary. Bring home the food and set up your own marketplace and finish with a snack.

 

Book Review: Bye-Bye Binky by Maria van Lieshout

  • Bye-Bye Binky by Maria van Lieshout. Chronicle Books, 2016.
  • Ages 1-3

(I am an Amazon Affiliate Associate. I choose the books to review and am not paid for my review. However if you click on any of the pictures in the post it will direct you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I do receive a percentage of the sale.)

 

A girl decides she is ready to give up her binky that has brought so much comfort in her life. She knows why it was important to her and how she will handle her emotions in the future without her safety-binky. This is a simple but fantastic book. The colors are amazing and will draw children immediately to the pages. The pages are printed on heavy paper making this a great book to involve your child in turning the pages and showing them how to hold and use books. (PRINT MOTIVATION and PRINT AWARENESS) I appreciate that the main character is a diverse face. It is a common milestone in children’s lives that mst children will relate to. In addition the author helps start a discussion between kids and their parents about how to handle strong emotions. This is a great book to build VOCABULARY, especially around emotions. The words are large and onomatopoeia is used which increases LETTER KNOWLEDGE.

Simple books are powerful in engaging young children in reading.

 

SKILLS BUILT:

  • PRINT AWARENESS
  • PRINT MOTIVATION
  • VOCABULARY
  • LETTER KNOWLEDGE

 

TALK ABOUT THE BOOK:

  • What do you think the story is about? Have your child flip through the pages and discover what might happen. Then say, “Let’s read the words and find out.”
  • What do you do when you are sad or angry or worried or afraid? Talk about blankets or toys that help them calm down. Then talk about how the girl in the book asked for hugs and snuggles when she felt any of those emotions.
  • Explain that a binky is another name for pacifier. Do you have nicknames for other common objects? This is a great way to build vocabulary.

 

TAKE IT OFF THE PAGE:

Emotion time. Help your child name emotions they feel. It will not only help them say what they feel when they are feeling a strong emotion but it also will help build their vocabulary as they read. Board books are a great jumping off point for talking about emotions. Board books often use real faces which children prefer. Choose a few books at your favorite library or bookstore. Talk about the emotion on the page and when your child might feel that emotion. You can go even further and talk about ways you comfort yourself when you are scared or angry, etc.

Label it. Labeling objects in the house where a child can see the labels is a great way to increase Letter Knowledge. They can’t read it yet but seeing the words with the object is a great step towards independent reading. Find objects around the house that your child loves and put a label on it. You could even identify them with happy faces or other emotions.

There are other great self care books in this series:

 

Book Review: Looking for Bongo by Eric Velasquez

Age 2-4

(I do not receive money to review books. I choose all books I review. But if you click on the image it takes you to Amazon where I do make a small profit if you purchase the book.)

 

 

 

 

A boy wakes up and finds that a beloved toy is missing. The boy searches through his house and investigates what each of his family knows in order to find it. Will he discover who is responsible for taking his favorite toy? The vibrant pictures and integrated Spanish text will delight young readers.

Why I like this book:

The pictures really drive the text. A child could pick up the book and easily tell the story just by looking at the pages which helps develop reading comprehension an important skill in emergent readers. Losing a favorite toy, stuffed animal or blanket is a familiar scenario for children. This story is told with a bit of humor and playfulness. It is a nice slice of regular family life with no heavy messages or teaching lessons perfect for young children who are concrete. The text is simple on the page so young listeners will stay engaged but also challenged with the multilingual dialog. New words will be learned through the text. I appreciate the diversity highlighted in this book not only in pictures but through text and how the nuclear family includes the grandmother. This book highlights VOCABULARY, PRINT MOTIVATION and NARRATIVE SKILLS.

Engage and interact with the story

1. What is your favorite toy? What would you do if you couldn’t find it?

2. After the first page, ask the child who she thinks Bongo is. An animal? A truck? Who do you think the boy is looking for?

3. Give names to the pictures on the page your child may not know. Bookshelves. Checkboard pattern. Conga Drums. Find something new and talk about it.

Take the story off the page:

  1. The author’s father is a musician. Go to a music store and explore different instruments.
  2. Find stories at the library or bookstore where stuffed animals come to life. Corduroy , Pinocchio and The Snowman are great stories to start with.
  3. The boy wanted to find Bongo so they could watch T.V. together. Set up a movie afternoon with popcorn and your child’s favorite stuffed animal and watch Toy Story.

 

 

Book Review: Maya’s Blanket La Monta De Maya by Monica Brown

(I am not given books to review. All books are chosen by me for the early literacy skills they possess. If you click on the picture you will be redirected to Amazon where I do make a small commission if you make a purchase.)

Ages:4-6

A retelling of the classic Yiddish tale I had an overcoat, Maya’s Blanket tells the story of a much loved blanket that Maya’s grandmother made for her. She loves this blanket so much it begins to wear out so her grandmother transforms it into a dress, skirt, shawl, scarf, ribbon and bookmark. She loves the blanket in all its many forms and is sad one day when she can’t find her special bookmark anywhere. Maya finds a creative way to keep her much loved blanket close to her for the rest of her life.

This book is rich in VOCABULARY, NARRATIVE SKILLS, PRINT MOTIVATION, PRINT AWARENESS, LETTER KNOWLEDGE and PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS. It is a great book to hit all the early literacy skills your preschool child has developed throughout their childhood. He will be introduced to layered language in the spanish and english text. There are many words to explore throughout the pages. The book also has vibrant and beautiful illustrations which will engage your child reading after reading. The way the story is laid out will highlight how readers follow a story and draw meaning from the pictures. The Spanish word is named first and then the child will derive meaning from the pictures and following text to understand what that word means and how it is used. Spanish words are in italics which draws attention to the letters. Lastly the mulilingual book is perfect for hearing letter sounds and putting together words from those sounds. The book teaches sequencing in story from the repetition of the transformation of the blanket to each of its next forms.

This is one of those rare books that engages children in every early literacy skill. I love it for its diversity and focus on universal themes of love between family members and those mementos every child keeps with herself to feel safe and secure.

What skills your child practices?

6prereadingskills

Questions to ask will reading the book:

  1. What is your favorite toy or blanket. What could you do to reuse it if it got old and frayed like Maya’s blanket?
  2. How do you think Maya felt when she lost the bookmark? What would you do if you lost your favorite toy, book or blanket?
  3. Can you tell me the story using the pictures?

Take it further:

  1. Create a storybook about your child’s favorite toy, book or blanket. Write down special memories, draw pictures and read the completed story together.
  2. Go to the library or favorite bookstore and find other retellings of the Yiddish tale or other books that are strong in narrative skills like Maya’s Blanket. Joesph had a little overcoat by Sims Taback is a Caldecott Honor book. The bag I’m taking to Grandma’s or any of Shirley Neitzel’s wonderful books.
  3. Make your own special blanket together. Go to a fabric store and pick out fabrics in your child’s favorite colors. Explore the store while there and point out the signs your see and the objects he may not be familiar with.

 

 

Why Diversity in Picture Books Matters

 

 

Books for all kids#WeNeedDiverseBooksHead to the library or bookstore and take a detour to the picture book section. Pick out ten books at random and examine the illustrations on the page. How many of the pictures are animals personified as people? What is the percentage of illustrations where the main character is someone of color? Are the characters predominately girls or boys?

Have you ever noticed how un-diverse picture books really are?

One of the biggest factors in children being motivated to read is how they relate to the words and pictures on the page. Whether the book describes an every day routine, a tradition they celebrate or a face they look like, it matters to how a child connects with a book. In the short term we all enjoy books that take us outside of ourselves but imagine reading book after book where the main character doesn’t look like you? Don’t you think it would impact how you enjoy reading?

Diverse books need to have messages about every day kids participating in every day activities. When I worked in an inner city library I struggled to find diverse books that weren’t about heavy themes meant for older children. I wanted a simple book about a child visiting a store with a parent or going on vacation or heading to school or playing.

They were hard to find.

I want every child to open a book and see themselves on the page. I want the book to relate to the world they see around them.  I don’t want any child to feel isolated or different. I never want a child to put reading aside because they don’t see themselves in the story.

It is time the pictures in our books start looking like the world around us.

Below are my favorite books with diverse characters participating in normal everyday routines. (The links will take you to Amazon. I was not paid to promote these particular books but if you make a purchase I do receive a small commission.)

 



Buy on Amazon

Buy on Amazon

 


  Buy on Amazon