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: 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: Too Princessy! By Jean Reidy

  • Infant, Toddler, Emerging Reader
  • Illustrated by Genevieve Leloup
  • Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers

 

Board books aren’t just for babies! The sturdy pages and simple illustrations and text make this a perfect book for kids on the go, toddler fingers and kids learning to sound out words on their own.

It is a fun book about a girls who can’t find anything to interest her on a rainy day. I’m sure our kids can all relate. Everything seems not quite what the girl is looking for until the end of the book where she finds something that is just right.

I like this book for its Vocabulary and Rhythmic text. Not only will your child hear new words he will also hear the sounds through the use of rhyming (last syllables sound the same), alliteration (the words begin with the same sound), and assonance (begin with different consonants but repeat the same vowel sound). It will help him become a discerning listener and reader.

The only problem I have with this book is how princessy it looks. It is a great book but may turn off readers for its pink cover. I almost wish it had Too Marsy instead of the girl with the crown on front.

Regardless of the book cover this is a great book for infants, because it is short; toddlers, because it is sturdy enough to withstand their sticky fingers; and emerging readers because the text is simple and the pictures support the words on the page.

This is a great book to highlight the point, all good books grow with us.

 

Happy Reading!

(Reminder: I am an Amazon Affiliate. When you click on a picture you are redirected to Amazon, where if you make a purchase, I receive a portion of the sale. I am not paid to review specific books. The opinions on the books are mine and mine alone.)

Find Others in the TOO! Series:

 

And other great books by the author: