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: 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: All Shook Up! By Alain Crozon

  • All Shook Up! By Alain Crozon. Chronicle Books: San Francisco, 2015.
  • Board Book. Toddler and Early Preschool

Help your child learn body parts, opposites and numbers in this fun interactive book.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK

Interactive books are perfect for young listeners. It keeps him engaged while he learns during reading time. The child can move the animals on the page reinforcing the new words he hears. The pages are made of firm cardboard. Sturdy enough to have little fingers turning the page. This helps encourage Print Awareness. Print Awareness is understanding the parts of books and how one reads a story and turns through pages.

The book will teach your child opposites, numbers and new vocabulary. It has great words like Flutter, Wag, Wiggle, Strut and many more. As your child moves the animals on the page she will also learn the differences between front and back. Left and Right. Open and Shut. There is also simple counting from 1-4 which is a great way to use math in reading to help increase math literacy. The text has simple rhymes that will help her hear the different sounds that make up words.

It also has great onomatopoeia words like Huff! Puff! Whack. Smack. Crack! Remember onomatopoeia are fun ways to put names to sounds. The book also uses a literary device called polysyndeton. Polysyndeton is when you use punctuation in between words to give them more attention. For example the author uses this technique on page seven.

Be careful not to

Whack. Smack. Crack!

Notice how it draws attention to the rhyming text. It also makes it fun to read for the adults. It may be years before he will use this devise in his own writing but learning now that it is a way to express himself will reinforce the concepts he learns later in life.

The pictures are cartoonish, with minimal colors and the actions in the words directly relate to how the she will interact with the animals on the page.

I love simple books that contain so many rich opportunities for learning. I have even used these board books for my early readers.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

After reading through the book a few times, reinforce the new vocabulary learned by having your child act out the different movements the animals demonstrate. Have her flutter and wag her arms. See if she remembers what the movements are and help if needed.

Learn more about the animals on the page. Go to the library and see where rabbits live and what they eat. Learn the differences between donkeys and horses. Books are a great jumping off point for learning how to research topics your child is interested in.

Practice opposites. In your house practice the difference between open and closed by seeing what doors are open and which are closed. Open up the refrigerator and talk about what is at the front of the shelves and what is in the back. Walk up stairs and walk back down or toss a ball into the air and call out up when it is highest and down when it hits the ground.

Also practice counting by doing simple drawings of the animals on the page. For example draw one butterfly, then two, then three and so on. Cut out the pictures and practice putting them in order with your child. You can even print out doubles and play a memory game.

I am sure you are a better artist than I am, but here is an example:

scan-3

WHAT TO READ NEXT

 

What are your favorite lift the flap or interactive books? Share in the comments section.

 

HAPPY READING!

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: 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: Strong As A Bear by Katrin Stangl

  • Publishing Information: Katrin Stangl. Enchanted Lion Books, New York, 2016.
  • Ages: Toddler, Preschool, Early Reader

 

 

 

STRONG AS A BEAR is a great vocabulary building book. The pictures are simple and coordinate with the words on the page. The sentences are short but the words o are unique adjectives and animal names that will increase your child’s wordbase.

The opening lines are Free as a Bird. And show a picture of a child escaping from his crib with a bird calling from the rail. There are other objects on the page that will encourage your child to engage deeper in the book through naming what everything is.

What I Love

What I love about this book is the strong use of unique words. Vocabulary helps build future readers by providing a large dictionary of words in your child’s head that he can use to retrieve from when learning to read. I also love how this book grows with a reader. A toddler will engage with the simple text and bold pictures. A preschooler can delve deeper and discuss the emotions of what each picture creates in their heads. A new reader can use this book to begin to sound out and blend sounds. The familiarity of the book will help her feel confident as she explores the world of words.

How to use this book.

The first few times you read this book with your child, focus on the words. Read through it a few times. Ask questions but start small. Ask about the colors or objects in the pictures. Then as your child becomes familiar with the text have them anticipate the animal. When ready pick some of the words your child may not have heard often like mischievous, magpie, clever. Give definitions and help him find examples in other books of what those words mean.

Tell stories using the pictures. Each picture is a starting off point for a story. Why is the boy climbing out of his crib? Where do you think he is going? What will happen when he gets there? Why is the clown following an elephant? Where do you think they work?

This book creates conversations. One indicator of reading success is the quality of talk between parent and child. The richer the conversations, the more words a child hears. Books are a great way to stimulate and help make space for talking with your child in a meaningful way each day.

I love simple books that pack so much within its pages. Unique vocabulary and opportunities to increase narrative skills from the pictures are cornerstones of success for future readers.

What to read next

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

I reviewed Big Bear, Little Chair earlier this year.

 

 

 

 

 

A die cut book that will help increase narrative skills by creating stories about what is happening inside or outside.

 

 

 

Another great wordless book that will encourage young readers to create stories and worlds of her own.

 

 

 

What books with simple sentences do you love to read with your child?

Happy Reading!!

 

Book Review: Abracadabra, It’s Spring by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Abracadabra It’s Spring. By Anne Sibley O’Brien. Illustrated by Susan Gal

Ages: 2-5

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. I do not get paid to review books but if you click on the link and purchase a book I do receive a percentage. I am using the proceeds to start a literacy non-profit.)

Abracadabra It’s spring is simply written text about the surprises and magic of spring. The sturdy-fold-out pages and colorful and bright pictures will draw in young and older preschooler readers alike. Children can open the fold-outs to reveal the surprise inside. (PRINT MOTIVATION, PRINT AWARENESS) The magical incantations are fun ways to explore the sounds of words and the words are written in different colors highlighting the letters used. (PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS, LETTER AWARENESS) The realistic and concrete story is perfect for young children. Have fun naming the animals and plants revealed on the pages. (VOCABULARY) Although the picture book doesn’t have a strong narrative the progression from wintery days to sunny spring will provide a natural story rhythm for the child.

SKILLS HIGHLIGHTED:

  • PRINT MOTIVATION
  • PRINT AWARENESS
  • PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS
  • LETTER AWARENESS
  • VOCABULARY

QUESTIONS TO ASK:

  • Look at the cover of the book together with your child. Talk about what they see during the spring. How is it different from the other seasons of fall, winter and summer.
  • Question to ask during story: What happened to the snow on the ground? Where did it go?
  • Question to ask: What plant do you think the green chute will turn into? What do plants need to grow?
  • After the story: How many birds do you see in the book?
  • After the story: What other kinds of animals are there? Which is the biggest animal in the book? Which is the smallest? Which animal do you like the most?
  • After the story: What are the children doing? How do they celebrate spring do you think?

 

TAKE IT OFF THE PAGE:

  • Help birds make a nest! Cut up short pieces of string and yarn with your child and set out for birds. You can also gather small twigs, untreated pet hair etc. for birds to use.
  • Take a nature walk in a nearby park or woods and see how the season is changing. Notice what plants are around and identify them for your child. Look for animal habits and animals. What do the leaves look like now, and how will they change as the weather changes.
  • Write your own season book! Think about what the animals are doing, what plants are out and “usual suspects” suspects of the season.

OTHER GREAT BOOKS ABOUT SPRING: