Book Review: Big Hair, Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Bates

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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: 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

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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: 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

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What are your favorite books about bears? Help others discover new books in the comments below.

HAPPY READING!

 

 

Book Review: Best Frints in the whole universe by Antoinette Portis

  • Publishing Information: Antoinette Portis. Roaring Brook Press, New York. 2016.
  • Ages: Preschool

BEST FRINTS IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE is a fun book about friendship and feelings. It is a great book for preschoolers who are learning to handle arguments and conflict as they play more with children their own age. It acknowledges the common fights that happen and what the children hear in response to those fights. I can hear children giggling as they see the pictures of the friends doing things that they themselves get in trouble for.

It celebrates differences and diversity in relationships and shows how working together is so much more fun than doing things on our own.

What I love About this Book:

The vocabulary building skills in this book are actually phenomenal. The authors use of “alien language” gives parents and children the opportunity to translate the words into “Earth language.” It builds vocabulary in a fun and unique way.

It also creates a space to talk about feelings. Using the two best friends as guides, have your child tell about a time where she disagreed with a friend. Ask questions about what she felt and how she acted and what she might do in the future to solve the fight.

Kids will really gravitate to the bright, simple pictures and the common issues the book addresses. It will definitely be one you go back to again and again. Kids will have fun while learning. The best kind of fun.

How to Use this Book:

Learn to Translate. This is a great opportunity to discuss different languages. Go online or find a book at your local library or bookstore to help translate everyday words into another language. You can print out labels on the computer and go around the house placing the English and Spanish or German or whatever language you choose! Click here for a list of  premade English/Spanish Vocabulary labels.

Make a story about a disagreement your own child has had. Using the feelings he felt, the actions he made and the solution he comes up with to create a low pressure way to work through feelings and help your child name them when he feels them.

Create your own alien. Use Playdo or paint or crayons or whatever you have on hand to create your own version of the planet Boborp and friends Omek and Yelfred. Drawing, coloring and Playdo are great ways to build hand strength for future handwriting.

What to Read Next:

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. When you click on a picture it will take you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a percentage of the salem.)

 

What are your favorite books about friendship? Comment and share!

Happy Reading!!!!

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: Small Elephant’s Bathtime by Tatyana Feeney

Ages: Preschool 3-5, Toddler age 2

(I do not get paid to review books. The opinions I express in the post are mine. If you click the link it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I do receive a percentage of the sale.)

 

 

 

Small Elephant loves to play with water unless it is bathtime! His mother finds different ways to get Small Elephant into the tub but she only succeeds in making him more mad. When Small Elephant disappears his mother brings in reinforcements in the form of his Dad who finds a way to make bathtime funny.

Children will identify with the routine of bath and not always enjoying the process. It is a familiar situation for them which will engage the young reader in PRINT MOTIVATION. The pictures are simple drawings but drive the story helping a child to retell on their own building NARRATIVE SKILLS. The unique VOCABULARY and emphasis on feelings will introduce the child to new words and ideas. The simple text and colorful print will highlight LETTER KNOWLEDGE. This is a great book to demonstrate PRINT AWARENESS by using your finger to follow along with the text, point out the different parts of the book and the pages are sturdy to allow little fingers to turn the pages.

Interact with the Book:

  1. Why do you think Small Elephant likes to play with water but not take a bath?
  2. What happens when you have to do something you don’t want to do? How does it make you feel? What picture in the book looks like the face you make?
  3. What face would Small Elephant make while jumping in puddles? What face does he make when his mom asks him to take a bath? How does he look when he sees his Dad in the bathtub? How do you think he feels at the end of the story?

Take it further:

Go outside on a rainy day and jump in puddles just like Small Elephant. Put on some rainboots and a rain coat and explore the different splashes that the puddles make. Have your child guess which puddles will make the BIGGEST splashes. Shake tree branches and see what happens.

Put on some of your child’s favorite music and blow bubbles! Sing along and have them join in. Singing is a great way to build PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS which helps your child learn to pull apart the sounds of words as they begin to read.

Go to the library or bookstore and find other books that explore feelings. Classics such as:

Book Review: Bear and Duck by Katy Hudson

Ages 3-5

Bear doesn’t want to be a bear anymore. He is tired of missing winter, being uncomfortable in the summer and being chased by bees when he finds food. He discovers a flock of ducks and tries to fit in. No matter what he does he can’t become a duck. One of the group decides to help bear out and show him how much he is appreciated exactly as he is. Bear may not be able to become a duck but he can be a great friend.

Children will relate to wanting to be something they are not or feeling like they don’t fit in. The topics tackled in this gentle read are feelings all children understand. This book encourages PRINT MOTIVATION because of the universal theme of wanting to be something we are not. The VOCABULARY is strong in the book. Words like chimed, growled, circumstances to name just a few. There will be lots of words your child won’t have heard in everyday conversation.

The flow of the book will help introduce PRINT AWARENESS. There is the traditional text and a list of rules which will help a child learn to follow along. It is done in a way that doesn’t take the reader out of the story but compliments it instead. NARRATIVE SKILLS will also be built reading this book together. There is a strong story line of how the bear feels at the beginning of the story, his challenge, how he attempts to overcome the challenge and what he learns about himself in the process. It is a complicated storytelling thread that is made approachable to the youngest of readers.

What skills your child will learn:

SKILLchart

Questions to ask while reading:

  1. Have your child name the animals on the front cover. What sounds do each of the animals make? What do they eat? Where do they live?
  2. Flip the book over and look at the back of the book. How do you think the Bear and Duck feel about each other?
  3. Open the book and look through the pictures. Ask the child to tell the story or if unable to you tell the story just through the pictures. Then start at the beginning and read the book. Do the pictures and words tell the same story?
  4. Why do you think the bear doesn’t want to be a bear anymore? Do you ever feel like you the bear does?
  5. After reading the story look again at the pictures. Focus on the bear’s faces and ask the child how you think the bear feels. Have your child mimic the expressions.

Take the story further:

  1. Have your child name their favorite animal. On paper, write down the “rules” for being that animal. What do they eat? Where do they sleep? How do they move?
  2. Talk about feelings. Part of developing reading comprehension is being able to draw concepts from the words on the page. Have your child draw pictures of different faces and have them explain how the face feels. See if your child can match the expressions to some of those that the bear feels.
  3. Act like a duck! Take the list of rules and see how well you and your child can act like a duck. Talk about what was easy and hard about each of the rules. What other animals can you act like?

What else have you done to enhance your reading experience today? Comment below and share ideas.

 

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