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: 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: 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: 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: I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

Ages Toddler-3

A girl explores the sounds of her neighborhood while she walks with her mother. She discovers beautiful rhythms in everything and everyone she meets. With fun illustrations, a diverse cast of characters and engaging text this is a book that all children will relate to and love.

This is a perfect book to build VOCABULARY. Body parts are named, sounds are described and unique words layer the text. Children will experience the parts of sounds, called PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS through the onomatopoeia used in the book as well as the gentle rhymes in the story. The diverse cast of characters participating in the every day routine of taking a walk in the neighborhood will draw all readers into the story encouraging PRINT MOTIVATION.

Literacy Skills Highlighted:

skills chart 2

Questions to ask:

  1. Look at the cover of the book. Ask your child what she thinks the story is about.
  2. Flip to the back page. Ask her how she thinks the story will end.
  3. Before reading the story flip through the pictures and ask what is happening on the page.
  4. Where do you think the mother and daughter are going?

Take it a step further:

  1. Have your child find their own rhythm. Break out the pots and pans, oatmeal container, plastic tubs or whatever you have that makes noise! Use utensils, your hands and help your child discover the rhythms of your house. Have them mimic your beat or create their own sounds.
  2. The book focuses on parts of the body and what they do. Explore the senses.
    1. Taste. Mix together sweet(honey), sour (lemon), bitter (tonic) and salty water. Have the child taste the different waters.
    2. Smell. Find different smells around the house. You can use dishsoap, lotion, shampoos, spices etc. Make sure they are distinguishable smells. Guide your child through each smell and help her identify whether the smell is strong, light, flowery, sharp etc.
    3. Texture. Use fabrics, blocks, sandpaper, towels, etc. Help the child explore the feeling of each different material and name how it feels. Is it rough or smooth? Soft or hard? Fluffy or thin?
    4. Sound. We used pots and pans above but explore other sounds. Music, dry beans or rice in a tube. Make maracas out or old medicine bottles or spice jars. Go on a walk like the girl in the book and name the sounds you hear together.
    5. Sight. Patterns are all around us. Find wrapping paper or scrapbook paper and notice the different patterns. Highlight the colors and shapes he finds.
  3. Try these Montessori based materials.


Montessori sensorial – Nuts and Bolts

 


NEW Montessori Sensorial Material – Color Tablets Box 3 by PinkMontessori

NEW Montessori Sensorial Material – Rough and Smooth Boards by PinkMontessori