Children’s books about gender nonconformity

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the link and make a purchase on Amazon, I receive a percentage of the sale. The opinions contained within are my own and I was not paid. I did receive a copy via Netgalley for a review)

Even though I am not that old, I still find times that I hold old school beliefs. My own children, their friends, and the children I work with have been incredible examples of acceptance of the complex and diverse world around us. And because of this, I have found my eyes opened to ways I unintentionally contribute to stereotypes and biases. I am still growing and learning, and grateful for the journey I am on. Books like Jacob’s room to choose by Sarah and Ian Hoffman, lead me even deeper into this journey.

I have found my eyes opened to ways I unintentionally contribute to stereotypes and biases.

Jacob’s room to choose tackles the ongoing cultural discussion of gendered bathrooms. The authors explore how gendered differences are established in cultural and how that impacts our young children. Even though the concept might be advanced for very young readers, the authors handle the material in an age appropriate and sensitive way.

I am glad to see more books about gender acceptance entering mainstream children’s literature, although I would like to see less message driven books surrounding this topic and more books about kids being kids no matter how or if they identify with any certain gender or stereotype.

The vulnerability of the authors’ own struggles will bring insights and encouragement to other parents facing the same issues as well as classroom teachers and communities. A worthwhile book to read and would be a great addition to a parenting section at the library or parent resources in a school setting.

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Other Books to Read:

Julien is a mermaid by Jessica Love. Julien has always wanted to dress up like the three beautiful women he meets on the train. With the support of his abuela, Julien sparkles inside and out when he is free to be himself.

My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis. Dyson loves the color pink and the more glitter the better. A great book for parents and kids learning to live together with differences.

Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman. A easy to read book about how there is no girl colors or boy colors. A freeing book for children and parents alike.

Red: A crayon’s story By Michael Hall. A story about a crayon who is mistakenly labeled and the hurt suffered when friends, family and strangers try to force him to be who they see on the outside. The crayon finds help from friends who encourage him to be true to who he is on the inside.

Books for Grown-ups:

Becoming Nicole: the extraordinary transformation of an ordinary family. By Amy Ellis Nutt. How a family pulls together to support their transitioning child and the ups and downs that come with the changes.

The Transgender Teen: a handbook for parents and professionals supporting transgender and nonbinary teens. Stephanie A. Brill and Lisa Kenney. A resource for parents, teachers and others who support a teen transitioning or living a nonbinary life.

Beyond Magenta: transgender teens speak out. Susan Kuklin. What is life like for a transgender teen? Read 6 stories of triumphs, struggles, and more.

 

What books have you found most helpful in initiating discussions with your family about gender stereotypes and labels?

 

Happy Reading

Best Bedtime Stories for Kids

The best time for most families to build a reading routine is right before bed. Reading not only provides a safe and comfortable place for parents and kids to engage in conversation, but reading calms the mind, soothes the heart, and whispers to the body to rest.

What you read before bed isn’t too important, but I’ve learned a few tips in my parenting years that will make for a smoother transition to bed.

Three Tips for Smoother Bedtime Reading

Dark night
Image published on Amazon
  1. No Scary Stuff. My son loved the book a Dark Night by Dorothee De Monfried  . Regardless of how much he loved this book, it was a daytime book because what kid wants to read a book about dark scary noises in the night, right before bed?
  2. Keep the Screaming to a minimum. This might not be the time for Marvin K. Mooney will you please go now.  But maybe you will be lucky and your kid won’t continue screaming the phrase long after lights out.
  3. No Disney Movie book stories. I don’t know how many times my kids would hand me one of the movie books, knowing that I couldn’t skip pages drawing out bedtime until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Keep stories long enough to engage with your child, but not so long they will be tucking you into bed.

Building Future Reader’s Top Five Bedtime Reads:

(All links are affiliate links. If you click on a link and buy, I receive a portion of the sale.)

  1. Roar of a Snore by Marsha Diane Arnold. Dial Books for Young Readers ,2005.Who is snoring so loud and is there any place where the sound won’t keep our protagonist awake? Solve this mystery while sharing rhymes, giggles and rich language.

Roar of a Snore

Image published on Amazon

2. Bear Can’t Sleep by Karma Wilson. Margaret K. McElderberry Books, 2018. Bears sleep in the winter, so why can’t this bear find any zzzz’s. Your child love joining in with the refrain and thinking up solutions to bear’s insomnia.

Bear Can't Sleep

Image published on Amazon

3. Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. Philomel Books, 1987.  If your child likes longer books, this soft quite read will have the room on the edge of their bed waiting to see if the child and father spot a moon on this dark night. Beautiful picture and sophisticated text make this award winning book a classic.

owl moon

Image published on Amazon

4. Moongame by Frank Asch. Aladdin, reissued 2014. Frank Asch gets kids. He knows what they like and how to talk with them so they don’t feel talked down to. Moonbear can’t find his friend the Moon and he is worried he’s lost his friend. A great discussion starter about the moon and where it is, and whether or not it really moves in the sky.

5. Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasam. Viking Books for Young Readers, First edition, 2011. Little owl wonders if the day is as sweet and fun as the night. A great book for those curious children who would like to test the boundaries of their endurance and your patience as the plead to stay up all night like Little Owl.

little owls night

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See my board on Pinterest

What are your top bedtime reads?

Happy Reading

Library Pick

Work, writing and family keep me busy. I don’t always have the time to keep up with the in-depth literacy reviews I would like to give each book I read. I am going to do a quick review of a book you should buy today!

Goodbye Brings Hello. Diane White and Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Boston, 2018.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the link it takes you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale. I do not receive payment for my review.)

Transitions are hard for everyone, but kids feel change in every aspect of their life, sometimes daily. The first five years if life their brains and bodies are growing and changing and developing fast and with those changes come emotional upheaval. And those are just normal physical growth!

 

“In the first five years of life, your child’s brain develops more and faster than at any other time in his life.”

Retrieved on October 15, 2018 from Raising Children.net.au 

 

Think about all the environmental changes they face: new babysitters, new schools, new activities, new family members and so much more. In Dianne White’s book, Goodbye Brings Hello, she brings all of those changes onto the page for readers toddler through Kindergarten. Daniel Wiseman’s illustrations are bright, engaging and approachable.

This book also shares rich language, rhyming to build phonemic awareness, and relatable text.

A perfect book for fall as we change from warm summers and shining skies to cold and shortening days.

 

Consider adding this book to your child’s library for a book that grows with them!

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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!

Building Future Writers

Play Matters to reading success

Rock Wall

We’ve talked a lot about reading in this blog and I was reminded at a work training this week that not only do we prepare our kids to become future readers, but we prepare them to become future writers as well.

I was under the misconception that writing was all about fine motor skills. I did a lot with my kids to strengthen their pincer grasp, but I didn’t know how important shoulder, back and forearm strength was for future handwriting success.

This workshop opened my eyes to a whole new level of early literacy success.

Some of the ideas I share below came from the workshop and others came from a great website called Your Therapy Source: Gross Motor Skills and Handwriting. I’ve put it in a graphic format so you can print it out and remind yourself to add play into your day to help your child develop the muscles he needs to become a strong handwriter.

Develop Future Writers

This afternoon go find a park and try out some of the activities, not only will you and your child spend some quality time together, the play will actually build the arm and hand strength needed to be a successful student.Hanging

There are also great blog posts about how handwriting develops.

Developmental Progression of Handwriting Skills at Mama OT

Activities to Practice Handwriting Skills at Home at Growing Hands on Kids

What other gross motor skills have you used to build shoulder, back, and arm muscles for writing?

Reading aloud should never stop

When my kids were toddlers and preschoolers we literally spent hours a day reading. First thing in the morning, right after lunch, after naps, before dinner, and as a getting ready for bed routine. We were a read aloud family.

As the kids get older it is harder to keep up with the routine. First my oldest started reading independently and then soon after her brother followed and my youngest will still hand us books to read but as she becomes a more confident reader the read aloud routine is sporadic at best.

I know the research that shows reading aloud benefits all ages. Babies, toddlers, preschoolers, school age kids, tweens, teens and yes, even adults.

“The first reason to read aloud to older kids is to consider the fact that a child’s reading level doesn’t catch up to his listening level until about the eighth grade,” said Trelease, referring to a 1984 study performed by Dr. Thomas G. Sticht showing that kids can understand books that are too hard to decode themselves if they are read aloud. “You have to hear it before you can speak it, and you have to speak it before you can read it. Reading at this level happens through the ear.”

Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook.

Retrieved on 10-11-17 from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/05/14/why-reading-aloud-to-older-children-is-valuable/

Read aloud tips for older kids:

  • A level or two above their own reading level. This helps mature reading comprehension and vocabulary.
  • Give them something to do with their hands while you read. Coloring books, Legos, knitting, drawing, it doesn’t matter what, as long as their hands stay busy their minds and ears stay open.
  • Make it a family event. Turn off phones and the TV. Make it part of the bedtime routine or after dinner routine or even in the morning. Find a time that works for your family.

It does become challenging the older our kids get to find time to read together. Sports, homework and extracurricular activities overtake the evenings and weekends, but there isn’t a better gift you can give your children then reading together as a family.

Copy of Building Future Reader's Read Aloud List for Big Kids

 

More Resources

Check out the Read Aloud Revival podcast for read aloud tips

Look for the read aloud classic and find book lists at  Jim Trelease’s Website

Common Sense Media: 10 Amazing Books to Read Aloud to Big Kids

Common Sense Media: 10 Reasons You Should Read Aloud to Big Kids Too

What are your favorite chapter books to read with older children? Post in the comments section to share ideas.

 

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Wet by Carey Sookocheff

Ages: Toddler-Early Preschool

Wet. Carey Sookocheff, Godwin Books: New York, 2017.

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

About this Book

A book all about the different ways we can feel wet. Either a day at the pool, rain, our goldfish, mopping floors, this book is a child-like exploration of the world of water.

Vocabulary

The text in this book is very simple but there are plenty of opportunities to build vocabulary through the pictures. The author deepened the text on the page through the contextual pictures. Take a picture tour of the book before you begin reading. Look at the pages and point out different objects and name them. For example on the first page the boy is at a pool. Talk about the pool deck, the bench, the tile on the walls and the life preserver etc. Talking about the pictures in the book is as helpful as reading the text when we teach our children new words.

Phonological Awareness

Although this isn’t a rhyming or lyrical book, there are ways to help play with the sounds of the words so a child can hear the different syllables. For example in the line:

Sometimes I get wet

Very Slowly

Try drawing out the syllables for Ve rrryy Sloowwlly. Not only do you demonstrate the meaning through how you say it, reading at different speeds helps liven up a book.

Also there are a lot of great songs that would be a great supplement to the story.

Letter Knowledge and Narrative Skills

On each page help your child match the main idea of the picture with the text. For example as the boy goes down the slide. Point out the word slide. Talk about the letters you see that make up the word and then point out the slide. This also helps build reading comprehension by connecting the words on the page with the pictures that take the story a little further.

Print Awareness

Take time to show the different parts of the book. Using your finger highlight the title. How many letters are in the title? Who do you think the boy on the cover is hiding from? Show the end pages and the title page and as you flip through the pages ask questions about what you see. Have your child make predictions about what the book is about and what might happen.

Print Motivation

Many picture books have a story question and answer but this book explores a topic that your child is naturally curious about. Rain, pools, fish, cleaning all of these are connected through water! Your child’s natural curiosity will drive the interest in the book and help them think about a topic, like water, differently.

Experience the Book

Make a list of all the different ways a person can get wet. Write down what your child says in a list. This will not only build letter knowledge but also sequencing.

Take a favorite action figure that can get wet and a glass of water. Submerge the figure different ways like the boy in the book. How do you put the toy in water quickly or slowly. Is there an in between speed? Have fun with water play either in a bath or filling up the kitchen sink with water and some dish soap and let your child explore water with measuring cups, spoons, bowls, cups, funnels and whatever else you can find!

More Books about Exploration

Is anyone more curious than Curious George?

 

Happy Reading!

Book Review: If my love were a fire truck by Luke Reynolds

Ages: 2-5

If my love were a fire truck: a daddy’s love song. Luke Reynolds. Illustrated by Jeff Mack. Doubleday Books for Young Readers: New York, 2017.

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

What the Book is About

A book celebrating the love between a father and son through bright pictures and a rhythmic text.

Before you start the book

Look at the front and back cover. Point out the title while you say it. Show your child the author and illustrator’s names. On the back cover make the onomatopoeia sounds. Ask your child what might make those sounds. (This will build Letter Knowledge and Print Awareness)

Look at the title page and ask what the child and Dad are doing and before you read, flip through the pages of the book and have the child think about what is happening. Is the child waking up or going to bed? Who drives a fire truck? Who do you think will win the race?

This encourages the child to engage with the book, building Print Motivation. Highlights unique vocabulary and demonstrates how books are read.

Phonological Awareness

This book has a strong rhythmic text which builds phonological awareness. The rhyming text helps kids hear the small parts of words which assists them as they become independent readers.

Take the last word on each page and make a list of rhyming words. Write them out in sidewalk chalk, dry erase board or a piece of paper so the child can connect the writing with the sounds. This will also strengthen letter awareness.

Pick a few words and clap out the syllables. Make a list of words that have one, two or three syllables. Can you find any with more than three? This is another way to highlight the sounds that make up each word, and the list making or sorting will aid Narrative Skills.

Narrative Skills

Make your own If my love were sentences. Think of activities both you and your child enjoy. Write them down and have your child illustrate.

Make a list of the different illustrations and whether they happen on land, in the sky or in the water. It not only helps your child orient the pictures, but it helps them think about the story in a different way which leads to strong reading comprehension.

Vocabulary

Write down any words your child may not be as familiar with.

Or use this list:

  • rodeo
  • buck
  • bray
  • bound
  • shield
  • plain

Try to use these words throughout the day to help your child learn new words.

More stories about Dads

Book Review: Where Will I live? by Rosemary McCarney

Ages 4-7

Where Will I live? By Rosemary McCarney. Second Story Press: Toronto, 2017.

(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 portion of the sales.)

 

What it is about

Children search for a place to call home because where they live isn’t safe anymore. Despite the hardships these children face, they still find joy and laughter and fun.

This book tackles a hard, sad, scary topic on a level kids can understand. You know your child best and not every child will be ready to hear this story. I still remember a fourth grade novel assignment, Bridge to Terabithia, I wasn’t ready for. I cried for an hour after finishing! I could comprehend the book but wasn’t ready for the content.

If your child is ready, I suggest this book. Many of our cities have resettled refugees. It is important to not only understand their difficult journeys to the US, but that even in the hard journeys, kids are kids. Every child longs for a home, family, friends and fun.

Letter Knowledge and Print Awareness

Trace the title with your finger while you read it to the child. Point out the author and say that the author wrote the words. Show on the last page all the photographers who shared their pictures for this book.

Ask the child what letters he sees in the title. Are any of the letters in his name?

As you read the book follow the text with your finger. It familiarizes the child, not only with the letters, but how a book is read.

Narrative Skills

This book talks about community, family, friendship and belonging. After reading the book, use the Cotton Balls Kind Words Sensory Lesson (retrieved from preschoolpowolpackets.) It teaches children the difference between kind words and hurtful words using sensory materials. This lesson not only will strengthen the impact of the book, but it also develops vocabulary and narrative skills through describing the cotton ball and sandpaper.

Talk about times your child felt scared. What helped her feel safe, calmer, loved?

There are different landscapes and climates shown in the book. Have your child find a photograph and describe what he sees. Prompt with the colors of clothes, the temperature they think it might be.

Print Motivation

This book is about a child’s home environment. With a camera or phone, have your child take pictures of your house, neighborhood, town or city, car, favorite toy, where she sleeps, and friends. Assemble the pictures into a book and have child narrate each picture while you write down her responses. This will reinforce narrative skills, vocabulary and letter knowledge.

Phonological Awareness

Find songs that celebrate differences/diversity and community. Find music from other cultures, especially research the countries listed in this book.

Vocabulary

This book is rich with vocabulary. You can introduce new words by discussing the different climates in the pictures and introduce Geography through all of the countries portrayed in the photos.

  • Croatia
  • Hungary
  • Rwanda
  • Lebanon
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Slovenia
  • Greece
  • South Sudan
  • Kenya
  • Cameroon
  • Myanmar
  • Niger

This book uses a lot of positional language. Write out cards using the word list below. Illustrate and have your child act out the action on the card. What else would you add to this list? You can also use a favorite toy and a clear glass to act out the cards.

  • Down
  • Beyond
  • Past
  • Across
  • Under
  • Beneath
  • In

Check out these other books about Refugee experiences to help build empathy and understanding.

What activities worked or didn’t work for your family? List in the post comments.

 

Happy Reading!