Book Review: As Time Went By By Jose Sanabria

Ages 3-5

As Time Went By. Jose Sanabria. Translated by Audrey Hall. North South Books Inc. New York: 2016.

 

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What the Book is About

The changing life of a steamboat and the changing faces of who inhabits and uses the boat.

How to Use this Book

Below are suggestions broken down by literacy skill to help you engage your young listener. You will not use each activity or skill in one sitting, but choose one or two to focus on each reading.

Print Awareness

It is always important to orient the child to the story and book before you begin a reading. This particular book’s cover illustration goes from front cover to back cover. Open up the book, so both front and back cover show. Start at the left of the picture and ask questions about what the child sees. Ask about the people, the colors, the different types of transportation shown before you even open the book.

Next, underline with your finger the title and author. Point out the author and illustrator and then mention that the author is from another country and this book was written in Spanish and translated into English.

Flip through the book and show how it is structured into part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Simply describe that books are put together or assembled in different ways. This one has two stories that become one story.

Vocabulary

Research shows that the more unique words a child hears in everyday conversation, the more prepared she is when it comes time to read. Face to face conversation is critical because not only are the children listening to the words, but they watch how the mouth moves when the words are formed. Tablets, TV and smartphones do not provide the same benefit. (see Talking with Young Children)

Try to find unique words that are in the story or words you might use while talking about the story. For example:

  1. Translate
  2. Rebuilt
  3. Assembled
  4. Abandoned
  5. Company
  6. Luxury
  7. Village
  8. Harbor
  9. Steamship
  10. Sea
  11. Sail

Pick a few words each day and find ways to incorporate them into conversation. With repetition these words will become a part of your child’s vocabulary. Some words are hard to find ways to use naturally! So find a game or activity that would allow you to use them. And don’t forget, that is why we read books! The more we read, the more kids hear, the bigger vocabularies they build.

The more we read, the more kids hear, the bigger vocabularies they build.

Activities to use:

Categorize words. For example: From the list above, categorize words into nouns: People, places or things; Adjectives or describing words; Verbs or moving words. Write lists or make drawings in each of the categories. This will help the child connect with the words on a deeper level.

Find the words in the book: Abandoned, luxury and homeless. The illustrator uses different colors on pages that these words appear. Talk about happy and sad emotions (and remind them that emotions are feelings) Then look at the pictures and have the child say whether the people on that page feel happy or sad or a different emotion. This not only builds vocabulary but helps the child reinforce reading comprehension and narrative skills. You could even make paper faces and draw the face and label happy or sad and have the child hold up how the picture makes him or her feel.

Phonological Awareness

Alliteration is a big word and concept that can be simplified for kids by pointing out the beginning sounds of words. For example:

Ship that sailed beside the sun.

Ship. Sailed. Sun.

See if you and your child can write your own alliterative phrases.

The sun shines severely.

The board barely broke.

Write out and underline the similar starting sounds. This also encourages letter awareness/knowledge along with phonological awareness which is hearing the smaller sounds that make up the whole word.

Sing Row Row Row your boat. Singing is a great way to build Phonological Awareness. Add in motions to make it a whole body experience.

Narrative Skills (Building Reading Comprehension)

Connect the book to other ideas the child might know. For example, discuss what a steamship is and then talk about other types of boats. If you search for images online you can print out the pictures of different types of boats and then create labels for each type. Play a matching game. This also builds letter awareness and vocabulary.

Boat Color Sheets

Britannica Kids: Motorboat

Kidzsearch: Steamship

Questioning:

Ask questions about the story as you read. Not every page, but every few pages. It is also a good way to see if the child is understanding the story or if it is still a little too hard comprehension wise. At the end of the book, go back through and pick out main points of the story and discuss them. It may take a few readings before the child can tell you the story on his or her own.

Print Motivation

Repeated phrases are a great way to engage listeners in the book. Reading should never be a passive event! A repeated phrase in the book is, as time went by. When you get to that line, make sure to follow with your finger and encourage your child to say it with you. After a few times he or she may say it with you with little prompting.

After the Story

Do your own As Time Went By story. Take a loved toy, or hand me down clothing or some other repurposed object and write its story. Use the story as a guide, but have your child dictate what you are to write. Have him illustrate and put it together like a book.

Take a field trip. Find a repurposed building in your city to visit. Talk about what it had been and how it is used now. Was it ever abandoned like in the story? It is a good way to not only practice vocabulary, but to connect the story with the real world, a stepping stone to critical thinking.

Write in the comments section what skills and activities you tried. How did they work? What did you try different?

Try these books:

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Princess Cupcake Jones and the Dance Recital by Ylleya Fields

  • Princess Cupcake Jones and the Dance Recital. Ylleya Fields. Illustrated by Michael La Duca. Belle Publishing: Cleveland. 2016
  • Preschool

Cupcake Jones and the rest of the students at Madame’s School of Ballet are preparing for a dance recital. Cupcake Jones is finding it hard to master a difficult move and worries about what will happen at the recital. The students learn that hard work and doing your best is all they need for a successful event.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK

This is the third book in the Cupcake Jones picture book series. The author is a fellow Clevelander and started writing the Cupcake Jones books because she struggled to find books with African American characters in them. As a children’s librarian in the inner city, I found the same problems finding books the kids I served could relate to.

We all want to see ourselves represented in the books we read. It helps build a love for reading. Print Motivation happens when children can relate to the story on the page.

I love that the theme of the book is one that all kids relate to and it is the universal nature of the story that makes this a great book for all children. The more diverse our book characters are and the more universal the themes are I believe it helps all of our children relate to each other better.

The text is rhythmic and full of alliteration which builds phonological awareness. It has strong vocabulary that introduces dance names but also has a strong word choice outside of new dance vocabulary. The author was careful in her text and a few read-throughs of this book and your child’s vocabulary will grow.

The illustrations are fun and realistic and diverse, quite representative of the world we live in. Kids thrive in stories based in reality and familiar routines and emotions. The story is also one with a strong lesson, don’t give up when something is hard. Princess Cupcake Jones will be a good example of how to act when your child is faced with a new or difficult situation.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

If your child doesn’t dance, see if you can observe a nearby dance studio. Watch the activities of the lessons and talk about what he learned afterwards. Field trips are great ways to expand the world your child lives in. It not only helps them have new experiences it broadens her world. Find books at the library on dance or find classics such as the Nutcracker and watch together.

Write a story together about a time your child tried something new or struggled with learning something. Have your child tell the story and write the words. It will teach them how to create a story and seeing the words will reinforce all those great skills they learn hearing a story: How the words are written on the page, left to right; how stories have beginnings, middles and ends; how to connect what they see in their heads to the words on the page through illustrations.

Learn the different ballet moves in the story and write vocabulary cards for them. Hold up the word and practice the move. Your child may not be able to read, but you will see them start to recognize the patterns in the letters. The action will reinforce the new word. It’s a fun way to learn new vocabulary.

WHAT TO READ NEXT

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Connect with the Author: Ylleya Fields

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Big Bob, Little Bob By James Howe

big-bob-little-bob

Big Bob, Little Bob. James Howe. Illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson. Candlewick Press, Somerville, 2016.

Preschool

Big Bob and Little Bob are the same in name only. The new neighbors learn how to navigate a different kind of friendship and discover that what makes us different can also bring us together.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK

In building a long relationship with reading, kids look for books they relate to. How they see themselves reflected on the pages. How they relate to the characters in the story. How the story problem can help the reader solve his own problems. This is a huge part of Print Motivation, which simply means enjoying the books we read. And there are a lot of different reasons that make a book a fun book to read.

James Howe has been writing books for decades. I fell in love with his characters: Bunnicula, Howard and Chester when I was a child. He has written early reader books and picture books as well. Howe is one of those authors who remembers what it was like to be a kid and this picture book is a reflection of his insight.

All kids feel out of place or different. There is a pressure to be like everyone else. Howe helps kids explore how to celebrate our differences instead of conforming to them. Sharing this story with a loved one will help kids feel safe as they explore this topic.

I also appreciate that he shows the complicated relationship between the neighbor boys and how conflict is handled not with action but with words. Picture books do so much more for our kids than build future readers. They help build empathy and problem solving skills that will benefit our kids as they go through school.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

Use this book as a conversation starter. Talk about a time you felt out of place. What you felt, how you acted and how you solved the problem. Sharing stories of our own emotional journeys will help our kids talk about their own feelings and allow a space for them to think about conflict with others before it happens and how they will handle the conflict. Books are always a great jumping off point for deeper talk with our kids.

I really like this activity from the Pinterested Parent blog. Take paper plates and draw different faces. Glue a popsicle/craft stick to the plate and label the emotion at the bottom of the face. It will connect the word with the picture increasing vocabulary. Read through the story again and stop and ask your child to lift up the face he thinks the character feels. For example:

big-bob-little-bob-catch
Image from Amazon

Read the page and ask your child: How do you think Little Bob feels when he doesn’t catch the ball?

The faces can even be used when your child is having strong feelings. Sometimes our kids can’t verbalize the emotion, but try using the plates to help her express what she feels. Always lead by example. Say how you feel about the disagreement you are having and choose the face that best expresses that. Then ask your child to do the same. It will help build emotional literacy and allow your child a better understanding of how to express herself.

What to Read Next

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on one of the pictures below, it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)

 

What books have you read with your child that has sparked interesting conversations? Share in the comments section of the post.

HAPPY READING!

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: Red by Jan De Kinder

Red. Jan De Kinder. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2015.

Ages: 4-5

(Amazon affiliate. I receive a percentage of sales when you make a purchase after clicking on the image link. I do not get paid to review books. This book I selected from the local public library)

 

Red is a Belgium story translated into English. It is about a boy named Tommy who is made fun of because he blushes easily. A girl points it out to others on the playground and soon all the kids join in. One boy named Paul refuses to stop when the other children realize how bad they made Tommy feel. And when the teacher asks who started the teasing, one brave girl raises her hand and tells what she saw. Soon other children join in and they all stand up to Paul. Paul wants to scare the girl after her brave act but this time the rest of the class stands up against Paul.

I like this book because of the rich, vibrant language through the use of unique words and metaphor and simile. (VOCABULARY) The pictures are simply but beautifully drawn with a diverse body of characters along with focus on bullying that all if not most children will deal with at some point in their lives. (PRINT MOTIVATION) It has a strong narrative that children will follow easily and because it is a topic on emotions and feelings a child is familiar with it helps in the repetition of the story. (NARRATIVE SKILLS)

This is a carefully written and illustrated book that will help build your child’s vocabulary while helping them navigate the difficult feelings and emotions that arise when they or someone they care about is teased.

By reading together and asking questions as you go along it helps build the important skill of reading comprehension which is a critical learning step in the literacy process. Guide your child into thinking about the story, anticipating what might happen and discussing at the end whether the prediction was right or wrong.

SKILLS BUILT:

  • VOCABULARY
  • PRINT MOTIVATION
  • NARRATIVE SKILLS

 

FOCUS ON THE BOOK:

  • Have your child look at the front cover of the book. How do you think the boy in the middle feels? What about the girl on the left? The boy on the right?
  • Look at the back page and have your child describe the ending scene. Is the boy happy or sad now? What about the girl?
  • After reading the book, discuss why you think the author chose the title Red? Flip through the pages and find all the red in the book.
  • What kind of emotion do you think Red is? Angry? Made? Embarrassed? Ashamed?

 

TAKE IT OFF THE PAGE:

  • Have your child pick an emotion and have him decide what color best represents that emotion. Have them paint or draw a picture using the color to express that feeling.
  • Make a feelings chart. Help build your child’s vocabulary while helping them understand their own feelings. Take pictures while they make different feelings faces. Print them out and label each feeling. You can even list underneath the emotion what makes your child sad or glad or embarrassed or shy.
  • Red is full of similes and metaphors which is a way to connect to a reader on a deeper level. Come up with simple similes and metaphors with your child and write them down or draw a picture to illustrate. For example. Her face was like a red apple; or He was an escalator of feelings. This is a difficult and advanced concept so it is fine to use other books and stories to find these rhetorical devices.

Book Review: I Know a Bear by Mariana Ruiz Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

Ages 2-5

With simple text and beautiful illustrations, I Know a Bear, tells the story of a little girl going to the zoo and imagining what life might have been like for the animals if they were free to live as intended. At the end of the story she thinks about her own pets and how they are meant to live.

This book has unique and strong vocabulary that is repeated throughout the book. It can take kids about thirty times of hearing a new word before it becomes a part of his vocabulary so books that introduce new words and repeat them help build a large repertoire for the future. The concepts might be too abstract for the young age. Children are very concrete so extrapolating what he sees in a zoo and putting it in the world might be hard for them to grasp.

What skills your child builds reading this book:

iknowabearskills

Questions to ask while reading:

  1. For children 3-5, point to the front cover of the book and ask your child what she thinks the book will be about. For younger children point to the picture on the cover and in the pages and help her name the objects.
  2. Flip through the pages without reading the text and have her make a guess about what will happen. For younger children, flip through the pages and make a guess about what the story will be about. This helps children draw context and meaning from the pictures while building narrative skills, being able to tell the story on his own.
  3. Talk about feelings. Look at the expressions on the girl’s face. Ask your child what he thinks the girl is feeling. For older children you can ask them how they might feel.
  4. Discuss what animals your child has seen at the zoo.

Take it further:

  1. Go to the zoo with a world map. Go to the different exhibits and place a dot for each of the animals and where they live in the natural world. Label it with the animal name. This will help build vocabulary through the naming of animals and the countries and continents of the world.
  2. Research bears! Go to your local library or bookstore and find a book on bears. Add the different types to the map.
  3. Find ways to use the unique words from the book in your conversation because repetition equals learning. Lush and vast are not words we use everyday but make an effort to find ways to include them in your conversations.

What activities have you used to enrich the reading experience with your child? Post suggestions in the comments to share ideas.