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!

Reading Habits: Chapter Books with your Preschooler

Signs your child is ready for chapter books:

  • Enjoys listening to longer stories.
  • Enjoys stories where the pictures don’t do most of the talking.
  • Enjoys hearing the stories you read to your older child. (Reading Rainbow)
  • Starts thinking abstractly.

So if you answer yes to most of the questions you are ready to start choosing your first chapter book with your child.

Picking the Right Book:

Make sure the story fits your child’s interests. Like choosing a picture book, we want to make sure our child engages in the story. Look for books where the main character shares hobbies or is in a similar life situation.

Pictures still help. Choose a book that still has pictures throughout the story. It breaks up the text and provides an opportunity for you to talk about what you have read. With more listening than looking it might be harder for your child to hold the story thread in his head at first. Practice stopping every few pages and asking questions.

Start Small. There are a lot of great beginning chapter books like The Magic Treehouse series or The Clubhouse Mysteries or Matt Christopher or Mercy Watson among many others. The sentences and chapters are short and there are usually no more than 5 paragraphs per page.

Slowly start adding chapter books to your daily reading habit. Increase the number of pages you read and don’t worry about reading a full chapter! Since the stories aren’t necessarily driven by the pictures, let your child explore legos, coloring, blocks or another activity while you read. Just because their hands are busy doesn’t mean they aren’t listening. Always talk about what you read the previous day before you start reading. It will help them learn to hold the story in their heads for longer amounts of time in between readings.

Before long your child will ask to add a chapter book or two to the library basket but never stop reading those picture books because they are still a great source of unique and rich vocabulary and reading fun!

Other great chapter books:

(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 percentage of the sale.)


What our family is currently reading together:

 

HAPPY READING!!!

Book Review: This Old Band by Tamera Will Wissinger

  • Ages Infant, Toddler, Preschool
  • Illustrated by Matt Loveridge
  • Skyhorse Publishing Inc, 2014

I love picture books you can sing a long to. Not only are they fun, singing is a great way for young children to hear sounds and how they are broken apart into syllables and singing also accentuates consonants and vowels in ways we don’t always get in reading.

But, if you are musically challenged, don’t worry! Reading the text is still a great way to help build these skills. The great thing about songs, read or sung, is the rhythmic text and the alliteration.

Phonological Awareness

This old band is sung to the tune, “This old man” It is a song most kids will recognize and join in with even if they don’t know the words they can hum along. I love the playful use of onomatopoeia and alliteration throughout the song. The pictures are fun and comic like. There are lots of different objects to talk about on the page. And after a few repeats your kids will be singing along.

Math Literacy

Another great part of this book is the math literacy it builds. Although I wish they used the actual numbers along with the written out number, counting backwards is a skill young preschoolers will find fun. And after the book is finished you can continue the conversation by grabbing sticks, or toys or whatever is at hand and using them to count 1-10 and then 10-1.

Narrative Skills

It is also great to help your child build narrative skills. Talk with your child about what instrument is played first. Maybe write it out on paper, cut them out and help your child organize as you read through the book again.

After all when we talk about literacy we aren’t just talking about words.

This is a great book to pick up when you are short on reading time. It has the vocabulary, the sounds, and the narrative skills we are looking for in a book.

Happy Reading or in this case Happy Singing!

 

Other fun books to sing with your child

(Reminder I am an amazon affiliate. When you click on a picture it takes you to amazon, where if you make a purchase, I get a portion of the sale. I do not get paid to promote any particular book. The views and opinions are mine and mine alone.)

 

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: 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.