What We’re Reading Wednesdays: The Dot and Ish

Welcome back to What We’re Reading Wednesday!  Emily returns to share two more recent favorites in her home.

I love sharing books with people who get just as excited as I do.  My dream job is to be a children’s librarian.  My husband thinks that would be the world’s most boring job, but then again he flies airplanes upside down for a living.  I thought you all might appreciate my dream.

I had a tough time picking the next book I wanted to review because there are just so many good ones!  So I decided to pick two: The Dot and Ish are both written and illustrated by Peter Reynolds. It was impossible for me to choose which I liked better so I’m sharing both!

the-dotThe Dot is about a girl named Vashti who is frustrated in art class and cannot think of anything to draw.  Her teacher tells her to, “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.”  Through this simple encouragement, Vashti unleashes her creative juices and finds her love of drawing.  Along the way she discovers that she does have talent when she was sure she had none.  This lovely tale ends as Vashti encourages another boy who believes he can’t draw by passing along the same advice she was given.

ishIsh is another tale about a would-be artist, Ramon, who loves to draw, but gives way to doubt when his older brother makes fun of his drawings.  His epiphany comes when he finds all his crumpled up, self-rejected drawings have been rescued from the trash by his sister.  She has smoothed them out and lovingly taped them all to her bedroom walls.  Ramon learns that even though he drawings aren’t perfect, they’re still beautiful.

These books are both quick reads with beautifully simple illustrations.  Although they are about children’s frustrations with art, I think the lesson could be translated to any subject with which a child was struggling.

I will be adding The Dot and Ish to my list of favorites, and I’m just sure you will too!

What We’re Reading Wednesdays: James and the Rain

What a fun day here at Simple Kids!  We are launching What We’re Reading Wednesdays – a weekly feature in which members of the Simple Kids community offer reviews of some of the best of children’s literature.  The series begins today with this review from Emily:

james-and-the-rainAs I was sorting and cataloging books for the list a few weeks ago, I began creating my own must-be-checked-out list.  With my background in education and childcare, I was already familiar with quite a few of the books.  I was surprised, however, with how many that were brand new to me!

The first book I want to share with you is James and the Rain written by Karla Kuskin and illustrated by Reg Cartwright.  The title and beautiful cover drew me in, and because it was available at my local library, that’s where I began.

I’m actually really sad that I didn’t know about this book until now!  I would have used it on every single rainy day when I was teaching.

The basic premise is a young boy, James, takes a walk in the rain where he meets a menagerie of animals that share their favorite thing to do in the rain.  It is a counting book as he meets one cow all the way up to ten cats, and children could practice one-to-one counting by pointing at the pictures.  Also, each page builds on the last, including all of the animals, so older children could practice counting past ten.

The text is written in a rhyming and chanting manner, making it fun to read and to listen.  In the course of my studies, we talked a lot about the importance of “word exposure” for children, and how it’s important for their vocabulary for them to hear a wide variety of words even if they don’t understand the meaning of them all.  Well, I’m going to steal Tsh’s phrase and assure you that this book is indeed “twaddle-free”! The language is rich and delightfully descriptive.  Also, the illustrations are just gorgeous.  The kind I enjoy looking at over and over again.

My favorite page is the one where James meets four birds:

“Well,” said the birds, “when it rains we soar

up to the clouds and a little bit more.

We seek and we search

soaking our skins

to try to find out where the rain begins.”

Do yourself a favor and snag this lovely book on your next library trip.  You won’t be disappointed!

The List – Children’s Literature We Love!

booksLast month, I asked you – the Simple Kids community – to share some of your unsung favorites of children’s literature.  The overwhelming response resulted in a list of more than one hundred literature recommendations for children from birth through upper elementary.  What an amazing resource!  But not as useful – or simple – as it had the potential to be while still in the format of a comments section.

I asked for volunteers to help sort through and organize the book recommendations and several of you offered your help right away.  Life picked up its pace and before I knew it, weeks had gone by without me having time to organize the volunteers.  You can only imagine my utter shock and surprise when someone in our community emailed to let me know she had taken up the task of organizing that list all on her own!

Emily of The Pilot’s Wife is an absolutely wonderful, sweet, funny, and helpful woman I met at the Tulsa Mom’s Night Out for Oklahoma Women Bloggers.  As a former elementary school teacher, she is well-practiced in the work of organizing learning material – even when that material lives in a virtual context.  In just a matter of a few days, she had broken that massive list of recommendations into three age groups and then alphabetized within by author’s last name.  What follows is the result of her magnanimous gesture for this community.

After you review this outstanding resource, please take a moment to offer a word of gratitude to Emily for her hard work on this project!  (And if your recommendation inadvertently got left off of this list, please do let me know!)

Books for Babies & Toddlers

Aigner, Julie.  Mimi’s Toes
Barton, Byron.  My Car
Bauer, Marion Dane. Toes, Ears & Nose! A Lift the Flap Book
Benjamen, A.H.  Baa! Moo! What Will We Do?
Boynton, Sandra.  Belly Button Book
Boynton, Sandra.  Snuggle Puppy
Cyrus, Kurt.  Slow Train to Oxmox
Fox, Mem.  It’s Time for Bed
Freedman, Claire.  Snuggle Up, Sleepy Ones
Joel, Billy.  Goodnight My Angel
Katz, Karen.  Ten Tiny Tickles
Kent, Jack.  Socks for Supper
Lindgren, Barbro.  Sam’s Potty
Maccarone, Grace.  Bless Me: A Child’s Goodnight Prayer
Maccourt, Lisa.  I Love You Stinky Face
McCue, Dick.  Bunny’s Numbers
Perkins, Al. Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb
Rathmann, Peggy.  Goodnight Gorilla
Shustak, Bernadette Rossetti.  I Love You Through and Through
Tankard, Jeremy.  Grumpy Bird
Waddell, Martin.  Owl Babies
Whybrow, Ian.  Say Hello to the Animals

Books for Preschool thru Elementary-Aged Children

Adler, David A.  Cam Jansen series
Ahlberg, Allan and Janet.  Each Peach Pear Plum
Alborough, Jez.  Fix-it Duck
Allard, Harry.  Miss Nelson is Missing
Anderson, C.W. Billy and Blaze Series
Asch, Frank.  Happy Birthday Moon
Aylesworth, Jim.  The Full Belly Bowl
Barklem, Jill.  The Brambly Hedge books
Barrett, Judi and Ron.  Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Bemelmans, Ludwig.  Madeline
Beskow, Elsa.  The Children of the Forest
Beskow, Elsa.  Aunt Green, Aunt Brown, and Aunt Lavender
Beskow, Elsa.  Woody, Hazel, and Little Pip
Bland, Nick.  The Very Cranky Bear
Bond, Michael.  Paddington
Bradfield, Jolly Roger.  Pickle-Chiffon Pie
Brett, Jan.  Annie and the Wild Animals
Brett, Jan.  The Mitten
Broach, Elise.  Wet Dog
Brown, Margaret Wise.  Big Red Barn
Bunting, Eve.  Riding the Tiger
Burton, Virginia Lee.  Katy and the Big Snow
Burton, Virginia Lee.  The Little House
Burton, Virginia Lee.  Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Cannon, Janell.  Stellaluna
Carle, Eric.  The Very Busy Spider
Cosgrove, Stephen.  Leo the Lop
Crews, Donald.  Freight Trane
Cronin, Doreen.  Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type
Curtis, Carolyn.  I Took the Moon for a Walk
Cusimano, Maryann. You Are My I Love You
Degen, Bruce.  Jamberry
Demi.  The Empty Pot
dePaola, Tomie.  Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs
deVarennes, Monique.  The Sugar Child
Devlin, Harry.  Cranberry Thanksgiving
Dewdney, Anna.  Llama llama Mad at Mama
Eastman, P.D. Are You My Mother?
Flack, Marjorie.  Angus and the Cat
Fox, Mem.  Harriet You’ll Drive Me Wild
Freedman, Clair.  Aliens Love Underpants
Gilman, Pheobe.  The Balloon Tree
Gilman, Pheobe.  Something From Nothing
Godden, Rumer.  The Story of Holly and Ivy
Gollub, Mathew.  The Jazz Fly
Guarino, Deborah.  Is Your Mama a Llama?
Gurney, Nancy.  The King, the Mice, and the Cheese
Hargreaves, Roger.  Little Miss Bossy
Hefter, Richard.  Sweet Pickle Series
Henkes, Kevin.  Sheila Rae, the Brave
Hennessy, B.G.  The Boy Who Cried Wolf
Hest, Amy.  Kiss Goodnight
Hoban, Rusell.  Bedtime for Frances
Hoberman, Mary Ann.  The Seven Silly Eaters
Hoberman, Mary Ann.  Mary Had a Little Lamb
Hobbie, Hollie.  Toot & Puddle
Hutchins, Pat.  Ten Red Apples
Isaacs, Anne.  Swamp Angel
Jeffers, Oliver.  The Incredible Book Eating Boy
Jeffers, Susan.  The Three Jovial Huntsmen
Johnson, Crockett.  Harold and the Purple Crayon
Johnson, Paul Brett.  On Top of Spaghetti
Kahl, Virginia.  The Duchess Bakes a Cake
Klein, Abby.  Ready, Freddy! Series
Kleven, Elisa.  The Paper Princess
Kuskin, Karla.  James and the Rain
Krause, Robert.  Leo the Late Bloomer
Lamarche, Jim.  The Raft
Lasky, Kathryn.  Humphrey, Albert, and the Flying Machine
Lawler, Janet.  If Kisses Were Colors
Lear, Edward.  The Owl and the Pussy Cat
Lester, Helen.  Tacky the Penguin
Lillegard, Dee.  The Big Bug Ball
Lindvall, Ella K.  Read Aloud Bible Stories
Lithgow, John.  The Remarkable Farkle McBride
Lobel, Arnold.  The Frog and Toad Collection
Long, Melinda and Shannon, David.  How I Became a Pirate
Loyd-Jones, Sally.  The Jesus Storybook Bible
Lucado, Max.  You Are Special
Lucado, Max.  You Are Mine
Marshall, James. George and Martha books
Martin, Bill Jr.  A Beasty Story
Martin, Bill Jr.  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Martin, Bill Jr. Chicka Chicka 1 2 3
McBratney, Sam. The Dark at the Top of the Stairs
McCloskey, Robert.  Blueberries for Sal
McMullan, Kate and Jim.  I’m Dirty
McMullan, Kate and Jim.  I Stink
Milne, A.A. Winnie the Pooh and the Pebble Hunt
Morgan, Stacy.  The Cuddlers
Munsch, Robert.  Andrew’s Loose Tooth
Munsch, Robert.  Mmmm… Cookies
Muth, Jon J.  Zen Shorts
Napoli, Donna Jo.  Albert
Numeroff, Laura.  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Oakley, Graham.  The Church Mice Chronicles
Osborne, Mary Pope. The Magic Tree House Series
Palatini, Margie.  Stinky, Smelly Feet: A Love Story
Park, Barbara.  Junie B. Jones books
Pfister, Marcus.  The Rainbow Fish
Pfister, Marcus.  The Happy Hedgehog
Polacco, Patricia.  Thunder Cake
Portis, Antoinette. Not a Box
Portis, Antoinette.  Not a Stick
Potter, Beatrix.  The Tale of Samuel Whiskers
Relf, Adam.  Fox Makes Friends
Rey, H.A. Curious George
Reynolds, Peter.  Ish
Reynolds, Peter. The Dot
Risom, Ole.  I Am a Bunny
Rohmann, Eric.  My Friend Rabbit
Rosenthal, Amy Krouse.  Cookies: Bite Sized Life Lessons
Rosenthal, Amy Krouse.  Little Pea
Rylant, Cynthia.  Tulip See America
Scarry, Richard.  A Day at the Airport
Schachner, Judy.  Skippyjon Jones
Seuss, Dr.  Dr. Seuss’s ABC
Schwartz, Amy.  A Teeny Tiny Baby
Sierra, Judy.  Wild About Books
Silverstein, Shel.  The Giving Tree
Smath, Jerry.  But No Elephants
Smith, Maggie.  Counting Our Way to Maine
Seuss, Dr.  Dr. Seuss’s ABC
Tudor, Tasha.  A Time to Keep: The Tasha Tudor Book of Holidays
Tunnell, Michael O.  Halloween Pie
Tunnell, Michael O.  Mailing May
Van Allsburg, Chris.  The Wretched Stone
Viorst, Judith.  Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Von Olfers, Sibylle.  Mother Earth and Her Children
Weeks, Sarah.  If I Were a Lion
Wiesner, David.  Sector 7
Wiesner, David.  Tuesday
Willems, Mo.  Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
Willems, Mo.  Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed
Williams, Vera B.  A Chair for My Mother
Wood, Audrey.  The Napping House
Wood, Audrey.  Quick as a Cricket
Wood, Don.  The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear
Yashima, Taro.  Umbrella
Yolen, Jane.  The Flying Witch
Yolen, Jane.  Owl Moon
Zion, Gene.  Harry the Dirty Dog

Books for Upper Elementary Children and Beyond

Birney, Betty.  The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs
Blyton, Enid.  Adventure’s of the Wishing Chair
Blyton, Enid.  The Magic Faraway Tree
Brooks, Walter.  Freddy the Detective
Cleary, Beverly.  Ramona Quimby, Age 8
Dahl, Roald.  James and the Giant Peach
DiCamillo, Kate.  The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Edwards, Julie Andrews.  The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
Gannett, Ruth Stiles.  My Father’s Dragon
Jansson, Tove.  Moomintrolls books
Lindgren, Astrid.  The Children of Noisy Village
Lindgren, Astrid.  Happy Times in Noisy Village
Peck, Richard.  A Long Way From Chicago
Wells, Rosemary.  A Voyage to Bunny Planet
White, E.B. Stuart Little

Is there another book you would like to see added to the list? Leave a comment and I will get it added!

photo by kennymatic