What We’re Reading: Mem Fox’s Time for Bed (and more!)

Three new book reviews and recommendations for this What We’re Reading Wednesday!

Baby and Toddler

from Catherine (Adventures with Kids)

timeforbedMem Fox is my favourite children’s author and Time for Bed is one of my favourite children’s books.  This is a delightful book, perfect for sharing with your baby at quiet times (or even at bedtime!).

Darkness is falling and all the little animals are getting ready to sleep. Their mum’s and dad’s are tucking them in and saying goodnight …


It’s time to sleep, little bird, little bird,
So close your eyes, not another word.

It’s time to sleep, little bee, little bee,
Yes, I love you and you love me.

Each page is accompanied by an illustration showing the little animals snuggling with their mummy or daddy.  And you’ll smile at some of the lines, as baby animals seem to do the same little things to avoid sleep as human babies.

The rhythm and repetition through this story make it easy to read aloud and soothing for your child.  And if you use a read-aloud tip from Mem Fox and drag out the last line to create a feeling of reader satisfaction, by the end of the story your little one will be ready to kiss goodnight and go to sleep.

Preschool

from Emily (Homespun Light)

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big, Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood.

bighungrybearThe mouse might be small, but he is brave and clever. The reader warns him that a big, hungry bear will find the mouse’s strawberry…”no matter where it is hidden, or who is guarding it, or how it is disguised.” Together, however, the reader and mouse are able to come up with a perfect solution: sharing!

The illustrations are visually appealing and funny. The simple text keeps the story moving along. The best part, though, is the characters: you (the reader) and the mouse. You can’t help but pull for the cute, nervous mouse.

Early Elementary

from Amy Anderson (Let’s Explore)

newkidI love sharing poetry with my girls – poems are a great example of just how fun words can be!  If we’re in the mood for something silly, we often pull out one of Jack Prelutsky’s poetry collections, The New Kid on the Block.

Prelutsky’s poems are filled with colorful descriptive language, great rhythm (and often rhyme), and some silly nonsense words for good measure.  Here’s a snippet from one of our favorite poems from New Kid on the Block, “Bleezer’s Ice Cream”:

Tutti-fruitti stewed tomato
Tuna taco baked potato
Lobster litchi lima bean
Mozzarella mangosteen

Yes, crazy ice cream flavors!  Because poems and imagination go hand-in-hand, my girls are often inspired to create their own wacky menus or silly monsters after listening to a few of these poems.  From “Do Oysters Sneeze?” to “Eggs!” to “The Flimsy Fleek,” there’s plenty of giggling to be had!

You can read more samples of Jack Prelutsky’s poems on his really fun website.  If you have a few minutes during snack time or while brushing teeth, why not read a poem?  Happy reading!

September 25th: SK Showcase and Weekend Links

I’m curious to hear if any of you in the SK community participated in Turnoff Week.  I can’t say we completely turned the screens in our home off this week, but we did cut way, way back on TV and computer time.  Watching my girls spend more time at the table coloring and creating and more time in the playroom making up games challenged me to consider that we don’t “need” the TV and computer time in the ways I thought we did!

This week’s Showcase comes from Julia of Julia Janzen.  She wrote:

Here’s a little something I did with my 3 year old this summer: Photojournalism for Toddlers.

Katie – the photojournalist

PhotojournalistKate1

Her view of daisies

Daisy-kate

Julia explains, “It got us outside, we were able to appreciate some really beautiful trees, plants and neighborhood in general.  If you don’t have a camera for your child you could always buy a little one use camera, or a little more on the green side, buy a used camera at a yard sale, or thrift shop.   For a little older kids I think it would be a lot of fun at birthday parties or family gatherings to give kids cameras and just let them go for it!”

Thanks for sharing this practical way to introduce little ones to the art of photography, Julia!

And now, your (fall-inspired) weekend reading:

Simply Practical

The Mother Load: 5 Quick Dinners for Busy Weeknights (fall tends to bring a flurry of activity to families, doesn’t it?)

Simply Delicious

Under the High Chair: 7 Inspiring Recipes for the Thanksgiving Table
Playful Learning: Apple Picking, Apple Recipes & Apple Inspiration

Inspired Projects

maya*made: nature crowns and cuffs
red bird crafts: finding fall box: remake
Ordinary Life Magic: Crow Puppets

Inspired Images

SouleMama: the colors this season

Inspired Words

Brain, Child: Two Hearts Beat as One (okay, so this may not exactly be autumn-inspired, but I adore Catherine Newman and her writing, and I had to slip this in.  And it is in the Fall 2009 issue of Brain, Child, so that counts, right?)

Next week is Free-Range Kids week here at Simple Kids!  I am looking forward to your thoughts!

Our Unsung Favorite: Carry Me

I have to confess to you all that when I asked for your favorite “unsung” children’s literature suggestions, I never could have anticipated such an overwhelming response!  You all showed up with more than ninety replies and oodles of book recommendations.  What an absolute delight!

It makes me feel a bit intimidated to share a favorite from our home library, knowing there are so many reading who have a depth of insight into children’s literature that far surpasses my own.  A promise is a promise, however, so I’ll take a moment to share.

carrymeYou and your children may already be familiar with Rosemary Wells, the author and illustrator of the Max and Ruby series.  Last spring, my oldest daughter went through a prolonged phase of choosing only Max and Ruby books at each library trip.  One day, we were browsing through the books by Ms. Wells and happened upon Carry Me.  It’s not a Max and Ruby book, but it does include a bunny family, so my skeptical daughter agreed to add it to our stack.  Both of us were absolutely enchanted by this short, sweet book of simple poetry and lush illustrations.

The first poem is called “Carry Me” and tells of all the ways Little Bunny wants his mommy and daddy to include him in their days.  “Carry me up the stairs and down, Hold me while you get dressed for town” and “Carry me over to hear the bees, stuff my pockets with early peas” are some of my favorite lines from this section. 

The next short poem is called “Talk To Me” and it lyrically illustrates the many ways we as parents can include our littlest ones in the conversation all day long.  “Green apple, sour.  Red apple, sweet.  How many shoes are on my feet?”  This section was the first that my daughter and I memorized and we still recite it together from time to time.

The final section is “Sing To Me” and Wells shares the simplest and sweetest poems for each season.  Each season has its own song and shimmery, silvery illustrations to lead little imaginations to think far beyond the text of each poem.

If you get the chance to check this one out from the library or to add it to your home library, I lovingly recommend it.  It truly embodies the philosophy of Simple Kids – utterly uncomplicated and completely charming. 

As promised, one of the commenters has been selected to receive a copy of Carry Me from my girls and I.  The randomly selected commenter is Sherri of Serene Journey!  Her recommended favorite is Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathman which looks to be something my younger daughter would absolutely adore.

Now, friends of Simple Kids, I have a favor to ask.  Several of you have mentioned that the books suggested on that post could prove to be such a valuable resource for our community, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were organized by recommended reading age?  I wholeheartedly agree!  As I am acutely aware of my own limitations, this is a project that would be quite an undertaking on my own.  Are there a couple of you who might volunteer to partner with me in this task?  The more who volunteer, the less time it should take for us to organize the list.  If you are interested in helping, please let me know via comment on this post or through email (simplekidsblog at gmail dot com).

Happy reading!

Creating Enthusiasm for Books Beyond Reading

reading3Many parents know that reading to a child for just fifteen minutes a day builds strong pre-literacy skills.  Study after study provides resounding evidence that reading aloud to even the youngest children (including and especially pre-verbal babies) lays the groundwork for a strong sense of language mastery.

In the article “Setting the stage for a lifetime in love with language,” Professor Janette Pelletier of the University of Toronto states

“Oral language sets the stage for literacy when children are encouraged to pay attention to the sounds of language – rhythm, rhyme, syllables, sounds within words, letter-sounds and, of course, vocabulary.”

We also know that young children learn best through concrete approaches to learning as they have not yet developed the cognition skills needed to fully grasp abstract concepts.  (Read more on Piaget’s theory on cognitive development here.)

How can parents make the reading experience more concrete? 

Here are a few fun and simple ideas:

* Grab an old sock or a paper lunch bag and create a puppet character based on a child’s favorite  book
* Encourage a preschooler or older child to paint or draw a scene from a book
* Use objects around the house to create a touchable, lovable version of a book character.  This might end up being a baby’s preferred snuggle buddy or a preschooler’s first sewing project.  (Perhaps you’ll find inspiration in sweet book buddy creations like Tillie the Turtle from the sharyn’screations shop at etsy.)
* Find aspects of book’s setting that can be touched, smelled, tasted, seen, or listened to.  Little ones can dig their hands into a bucket of sand to understand what a beach would feel like or a whiff of vanilla extract might help them experience how a bakery might smell.
* Explore the tastes of a book by recreating the food featured in a favorite story.  The  Children’s Literature theme week for Muffin Tin Monday (hosted by Her Cup Overfloweth) showcases some brilliant examples of this idea.   The Very Hungry Caterpillar version created by The Masked Mommy provides sumptuous inspiration for creating an edible version of a child’s favorite book.

What are some other ways to make the reading experience more concrete and tangible for our little ones?

Photo by apdk