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Posts Tagged ‘Children\’s Books’

Children's Book Week

Thanks to Nari over at The Novel World, I realized that the week of May 11-17 is Children’s Book Week, courtesy of the Children’s Book Council.

In a quote from their website:

“Since 1919, Children’s Book Week has been celebrated nationally in schools, libraries, bookstores, clubs, private homes-any place where there are children and books. Educators, librarians, booksellers, and families have celebrated children’s books and the love of reading with storytelling, parties, author and illustrator appearances, and other book related events.”

I’ll be doing a guest post on The Novel World this coming Wednesday the 13th about my experiences with reading as a child, and how that translates to reading as an adult and with my son.

In my opinion, there is nothing more important to a young child than access to books, and being read to. This week, make the time to do something bookish for a child. Read to your own child, re-read a children’s book you once loved, donate new and gently used books to a shelter, or donate money or time to a local library.

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” – Emily Buchwald

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Read Sunday Night

Opposites by Sandra Boynton

I liked this book a lot. A very simple book showing opposites and the words. Hot and Cold, Wet and Dry, etc. The art style is really fun to me, and who doesn’t love reading a book full of cool animals. Giraffes, elephants, bunnies, they all make the pages of this book. There are a few funny scenes, too, like the one on the cover showing the poor bunny stuck on the seesaw. Kids just eat that stuff up.

There’s really not much to say about it, I think it does its job well. It’s not really a story, but unlike My Very First Book of Shapes, there’s enough shown through illustrations that you could definitely add your own narrative.

Stillmog is especially good at this. I have a tendency to read word for word from the page, which is usually fine, but I think sometimes his version is more interesting than mine for Water Boy. I’m better at voices and sound effects, though.

I recommend this book for toddlers and pre-readers. I think an older reader would probably find the word simplicity pretty boring.

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Read Friday Night

My Very First Book of Shapes by Eric Carle

Imagine me heaving a big sigh right here. This is a cute book. But this is not a good “story time” book. There isn’t really a story, more of a matching game. And the book is constructed very awkwardly. It’s split into two sets of flip pages. The top pages are standard shapes (circle, square, rectangle) in black. The bottom pages are real-life representations of those shapes, but not in top-bottom matching order. You must flip through the pages, matching them up yourself.

Like I said, it’s a cute book. Eric Carle is a well-loved children’s author. But blah, I don’t like this book. I can see what they were trying to do, in order to help children recognize and match the different shapes. But I think this was not a good way to do this in book form. I don’t like pop-up books for the same reason. Books are for reading, in my opinion. Water Boy has accidentaly destroyed every pop-up book my mother-in-law has given us, and she keeps insisting on giving him more. If you want them to pull, play, and tug on things, get them some nifty manipulatives or make some. I have a collection of wine corks just begging to be played with. I also have a book about Things You Can Make With Corks, but that’s another post.

I just can’t recommend this book. It’s too complicated, in my opinion, for the audience it was intended for.

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Read Friday Night

The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base

Oh Graeme Base, with your intricate pictures and interesting stories. We’ve ended up with several of your books, and that’s a good thing. But I get so distracted by the pictures that reading them for Water Boy takes twice as long as necessary!

In The Eleventh Hour, several party animals are invited to Horace the Elephant’s eleventh birthday. They play hide-and-seek, poker, and pool, among other things, all while in costume dress. The Zebra comes as a Punk and the Swan as a Princess, for instance. They are anxious to eat the birthday feast Horace has prepared for them, but wind up disappointed! It’s discovered at the end of the book that someone has stolen and eaten the beautiful feast that was laid out waiting for them! They sorrowfully eat plains sandwiches and wonder amongst themselves who could have eaten the wonderful food.

This would seem like story enough for anyone, but you now have the opportunity to solve the mystery! Hidden on each page are clues to solving the case of the feast thief, and it’s as though you’re reading a story within a story. At the very end of the book is a sealed section that you must open to finish the entire mystery, adding a whole new dimension to an already great experience. The story is written in rhyming couplets, which adds a nice touch. I once again highly recommend this book by Graeme Base for readers of all ages.

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Read Thursday Night

Tuesday by David Wiesner

This a great book for using your storytelling skills. The only words it contains are those telling you what time of the night it is. Everything else is expressed through beautiful pictures depicting, of all things, flying frogs. Or should I say, levitating? They float around on their lily pads, causing chaos and surreal scenes, such as the one where they are casually watching late night television with an elderly woman, cool as cucumbers.

Narrate some funny stories for you child, or let them do it for you. All in all, a very imagination-sparking “read” and good for any age.

(As an added bonus, for those of you who love Futurama, the frogs look an awful lot like the infamous Hypno Toad.)

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Read Tuesday Night

The Three Wishes by M. Jean Craig

I didn’t enjoy this book very much at all. I think it’s actually based off of a folk tale, but I wasn’t thrilled with the story and feel that it really isn’t worth a re-read. A woodcutter comes across a tree he’d like to cut, but the fairy the tree belongs to begs him to spare it. When he agrees, she grants him three wishes. He goes home to his wife, and they sit thinking about all the things they’d like to wish for.

They end up making very silly wishes by accident, leading to a possible moral of “Be Happy With What You Have”, “Watch What You Say”, or maybe, “In the End, All Anyone Needs is a Big Sausage.”

The story is overly-simplistic while still being a very long read. I’m sure most kids will laugh about the funny things that happen because of the wishes, but I felt that it really didn’t reflect well on either character, and wasn’t a very entertaining read. Personally, I would skip it.

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Read Monday Night

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll
Visually interpreted by Graeme Base

Based on the poem by Lewis Carroll from Through the Looking Glass, this book is a visual and aural feast to the imagination. Illustrated by Graeme Base of Animalia fame, you could easily sit for hours pouring over the fantastical creatures detailed on the pages. One of the best aspects, of course, are the words invented by Carroll, such as this opening phrase:

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

You don’t know what the words mean, but you can almost infer from the context and organization. This would be a great exercise with an older reader, to try and think of new words, or new meanings for words. For a younger pre-reader or toddler, I really think the text is a little beyond them, and could possibly cause confusion. However, when read with this beautifully illustrated version, you can almost skip the words and just look at pictures. The book does have many pages with no words at all, Jabberwocky actually being a relatively short poem.

Be warned, the illustrated Jabberwocky creature can seem scary to some children, and the ending page may also disturb them, being comprised of a two-page spread of fantastical creature’s heads on a trophy wall. But I do recommend this to older readers and to those toddlers and pre-readers who aren’t too sensitive.

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