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April 2017

    book reviews, children's books, diverse books, read aloud

    This Is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe (A Book Review)

    This Is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe

    Publisher: Chronicle Books
    Pages: 52
    Age Range: 8 – 12 and up
    Grade Level: 3 – 7 and up
    Available for Sale:
    May 2, 2017

    Synopsis
    Follow the real lives of seven kids from Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia for a single day! In Japan Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda Daphine likes to jump rope. But while the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days—and this one world we all share—unites them. This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as a mirror reflecting our common experiences. Inspired by his own travels, Matt Lamothe transports readers across the globe and back with this luminous and thoughtful picture book.

    Reflection
    If you’re a fan of music from the 1990’s, I’m willing to bet the first thing that came to mind when you read the title of this post is the hit Montell Jordan song entitled “This is How We Do It“, am I right?  I was surprised to recently find out Montell Jordan is now a born again Christian and pastor living in the state of Georgia.  Who knew?  Anyway, I digress.  Let’s get on with the book, shall we?

    Little readers will love following these seven real life kids from around the world for a single day. The kids are from: Japan, Uganda, Italy, India, Iran, Peru and Russia. You get to find out their names, how old they are, what type of house they live in, how they play, what they typically eat and more.

    The author’s note explains how the concept of this book came together. He found seven children from different parts of the world who agreed to share their typical day. He communicated with their families through email and messaging apps to collect photos that he used as references to create all of the illustrations. The author also notes that some of the things the kids do or foods they eat may not necessarily reflect each child in that particular country. I think the idea is to just give readers a general idea of how other children are different or similar to them.

    This beautifully designed book easily serves both as a mirror and a window for children. I absolutely love the ending that shows we all have the same night sky reinforcing the fact that we are all indeed connected. And although we may have some differences, ultimately we are all the same. Just gorgeous! Look for this one when it publishes on May 2, 2017.

    Your turn: Are you excited to check this book out with your little readers?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's books, diverse books

    Baby’s First Books: 11 African-American Board Books for a New Baby + A Giveaway!

    Baby’s First Books: 11 African-American Board Books for a New Baby + A Giveaway!

    My absolute favorite gift to receive for my kids is a stack of great children’s books.  Of course that’s NOT the ideal gift my kids always want though as they’d much rather receive toys they can play with.  If I could gift every child in the world a stack of books to start their own little home library I would.  I think all children should have a collection of beautiful books to treasure, to enjoy, and to help them get the right start in life.  Wouldn’t you agree?

    When my kids were younger I used to enjoy watching their interactions with books.  Once they got past the phase of chewing on them, they began helping me turn the pages and lift the flaps.  It’s truly amazing to see the progression kids make over time if they are consistently exposed to books and magazines.

    Here are a few board book recommendations for building a baby’s first library.  I chose board books because they are more durable and can withstand all the wear and tear better than hardcover books. Enjoy!

    Leo Loves Baby Time by Anna McQuinn

    On Wednesdays, Leo and his mom go to Baby Time. There he plays peek-a-boo; sings the rolly song, the happy song, and the name song; plays with animals; and meets new friends.

    Joy by Joyce Carol Thomas

    This book is now out of print now, but you can still find a few copies online.  I believe the cover has also been updated too, but I like this cover best.  I think this book is such a sweet and tender story about a grandmother expressing her love to her grandson.  Absolutely LOVE this one!

    Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering by Ruth Spiro

    It is never too early to become an engineer!  With this adorable board book, babies will love learning the basics of flight giving them the head start they need.  Featuring friendly, simple text, cheerful illustrations and facts, this book is the perfect fun introduction to engineering.

    Baby’s Big World Book Series from Barnes and Noble

    This book in the Baby’s Big World series introduces children to important concepts using simple text and delightful art. Discover how we make music, from the letters for each note, to tempo, volume, and types of instruments.

    Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang

    This is a sweet counting book that showcases the bond between a father and daughter getting ready for bed.  Little ones will love counting down from ten to one.

     

    You Can Do It Too! by Karen Baicker

    In You Can Do It Too! a little girl passes newly won skills and abilities to a younger brother, teaching him everything she thinks he needs to know. The simple cadence of text and direct-to-the-heart art result in a book as warm and generous as its message, providing reading pleasure for toddlers, older siblings, and the grown-ups who love them.

    Whose Toes Are Those? by Jabari Asim

    My kids favorite part of this book is the “this little piggy” rhyme. This book has easy and fun rhymes, vibrant colors and cute illustrations…just look at those toes on the cover! A wonderful book for both infants and toddlers.

    Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora

    Join this sweet toddler in the morning fun, sharing words your baby can repeat and pictures your baby will recognize.

    Peekaboo Bedtime by Rachel Isadora

    In this story a toddler boy plays peekaboo with everyone from his grandparents to his puppy, until it’s finally time to snuggle into bed with his blankie.

    Baby Dance by Ann Taylor

    For babies who are responding to music and movement, here’s a playful poem that has father and child dancing lovingly across the pages.

    Please, Baby, Please by Spike & Tonya Lewis Lee

    From moments fussy to fond, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee and his wife, producer Tonya Lewis Lee, present a behind-the-scenes look at the chills, spills, and unequivocal thrills of bringing up baby!

    BONUS: I’ve also included a few picture book recommendations as well.

    Welcome, Precious! by Nikki Grimes

    This book is so sweet and beautiful!  It’s a great book to read with newborn babies and makes a perfect gift for new parents, parents-to-be or older siblings to-be.

    Lola Reads to Leo by Anna McQuinn

    Lola has a new baby brother and she can’t wait to read with him!  A precious story to read with babies and older siblings upon the arrival of their new baby brother or sister.

    Baby Blessings: A Prayer For the Day You are Born by Deloris Jordan

    Did you know Michael Jordan’s mother is a published author?  I think this is a cute book for introducing a new baby into the home.  The single sentence structure makes it a quick read to enjoy with babies letting them know what a blessing they are.

    The Giveaway!
    I’ve teamed up with Laurel and Octavia to bring you this giveaway for your baby.  You can either choose one of their popular bookworm onesies or a $25 credit towards any purchase in their Etsy shop.  Open to US residents age 18 and over only. Good Luck!

    Laurel and Octavia Bookworm Onesie Giveaway

    Your turn: What baby board books would you add to this list?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    book reviews, children's books, diverse books

    Book for Children of Incarcerated Parents: Far Apart, Close in Heart

    Far Apart, Close in Heart: Being a Family when a Loved One is Incarcerated by Becky Birtha, illustrated by Maja Kastelic

    Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 32
    Grade Level: Preschool – 3
    Age Range: 4-8 years and up

    Synopsis
    Looking for a book for children of incarcerated parents?
    Children can experience many emotions when a parent is in jail or prison. They may be angry, sad, lonely, or scared. Sometimes friends act differently toward them. Sometimes the children begin acting differently too. In this important book, young readers will learn that even when it feels like nothing can get better again, there are ways they can improve their circumstances. Sending letters, talking to a trusted grown-up about their feelings, and even visiting a parent in jail or prison can help keep a parent close in their hearts. Use this title as a helpful tool to start a conversation with any child in this situation and to remind them they are not alone.

    Reflection
    As much as social media leads you to believe, life isn’t always a bed of roses. People and pets pass away, innocent children are abused, and parents go to jail or prison. In the United States alone, nearly 2.7 million children have a parent in prison or jail. That’s staggering!

    As the number of people in American prisons grows, so too does the number of children affected by their parents’ absence. The book Far Apart, Close in Heart serves many purposes: it shows children with parents in prison that they are not alone, it helps them understand and cope when a parent is incarcerated and teaches other children how to be compassionate toward others who are in this situation. The back matter includes tips for talking to kids about their incarcerated loved ones and provides some suggestions to help them cope.

    It features a diverse cast of children of different skin tones and races. The text is not too wordy and is written in a way that makes it easy for children to understand. Recommended for children ages 4-8 and up.

    Your turn: Do you know a child who could benefit from this book to help them cope?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's books, national poetry month, read aloud

    16 Poetry Picture Book Recommendations for National Poetry Month

    Looking for poetry picture book recommendations?  The KidLitPicks Book Club has a few recommendations.

    Parents have the capability to open the door to an incredible world for their child(ren). They have the sole pleasure of sharing the beauty and wonder of poetry with them. Poetry books contain soothing rhythms and rhymes, short, simple sentences and clever repetition of key words and phrases. There is nothing like the rhythm of words flowing together to form a story in such rich language. Poetry is such a happy thing! It’s magical to watch children’s eyes, minds, and hearts dancing along the rhythmical lines of poetry and into a lifelong love of lyrical language.

    The variety of language and structure in poetry is great for children’s growing brains and imaginations. It’s also refreshing for the grownups who read with them! With National Poetry Month now that we’re in April, it’s a splendid time to let poetry blossom in your household and in the young hearts of your children.

    Finding Wonders, by Jeannine Atkins 

    “’Knowing our history can make us stronger.’ Having examples of strong, determined, intelligent women from history for our own girls to read about can make them stronger.” — Summer from @readingisourthing

    Things to Do, by ​​Elaine Magliaro and Catia Chien

    Things to Do shows readers that wonder and enjoyment can be found anywhere and everywhere.” — Mel from @spiky_penelope

    A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson

    “It’s easy to hear [poetry] and immediately jump to Shel Silverstein… But before there was Shel, there was Stevenson.” — Katie from @afriendlyaffair

    Noisy Poems, by Debi Gliori

    “It makes a nice change from stories every now and again and it’s worth mentioning that it is chosen by Little Miss Bookhabit quite regularly so it gets the child friendly seal of approval.” — Claire from @alittlebookhabit

    A Family of Poems, by Caroline Kennedy and Jon J Muth

    When read aloud, poetry is rhythm and music and sounds and beats. Young children may not understand all the words or meaning, but they’ll feel the rhythms, get curious about what the sounds mean and perhaps want to create their own.” — Leah from @astoryaday

    Feelings, by Richard Jones and Libby Walden

    “Full to the brim of delightful illustrations and with a brilliant use of colour, this book is a beautifully poetic look into a wide range of emotions ranging from ‘happy’ to ‘angry’ to ‘alone’ and ‘calm.’” —  Kim from @bookbairn

    Voyage, Billy Collins and Karen Romagna

    “My selection has sentimental value as it was given to me by a dear friend to celebrate the arrival of our daughter.” — Miranda from @bookbloom

    Poems to Perform, by Julia Donaldson

    “This book was such a great find and has propelled me to explore poetry and performance in the classroom.” — De from @books_and_babycinos

    Animal Ark, by Kwame Alexander and Joel Sartore

    “Stunning images and beautiful text! National Geographic does it again!” — Arielle from @childrensbooksgalore

    What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About? by Judith Viorst

    “This collection of thoughtful, funny, and touching poems is grouped into child-centred topics, such as feelings, school stuff, family, home, friends, help, best and worst, seasons, mysteries, and unfinished business.” — Rossa from @curiouslittlepeople

    Tan to Tamarind: Poems about the Color Brown, by Malathi Michelle Iyengar  and Jamel Akib

    “Who knew there were so many beautiful shades of the color brown!” — Charnaie from @hereweeread

    The Moon and Me, by Anna and Brian Boyter

    “This easy read is perfect for little ones, especially with its lyrical text.” — Wendy from @homegrownreader

    A Poem for Peter, by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Lou Fancher, and Steve Johnson

    “It’s a heart-burstingly inspiring and beautiful read. And one that I foresee becoming a well-thumbed, much-discussed book in this household for years to come.” — Shannon from @ohcreativeday

    Poetrees, by Douglas Florian 

    “Ripe with information, Douglas Florian’s poems in Poetrees are perfect for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers.” — Jamie from @smallysbookshelf

    Come With Me To Paris, by Gloria Fowler and Min Heo

    “I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and share my love of this big beautiful city with my kids.” — Michelle from @the.book.report

    The Land of Nod, by Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Hunter 

    “It’s a phantasmagoric journey through twilight shadows and moonlight.” — Liam from @words.and.illustrations

    This post may contain affiliate links.

    Your turn: What poetry/haiku books would you add to this list?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    book reviews, children's books, diverse books

    Wedding Book for Kids: The Ring Bearer by Floyd Cooper

    The Ring Bearer by Floyd Cooper

    Publisher: Philomel Books
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 32
    Grade Level: Preschool – 2
    Age Range: 3- 7 years

    Synopsis
    Jackson’s mama is getting married, and he gets to be the ring bearer. But Jackson is worried . . . What if he trips? Or walks too slowly? Or drops the rings? And what about his new stepsister, Sophie? She’s supposed to be the flower girl, but Jackson’s not sure she’s taking her job as seriously as she should.

    In a celebration of blended families, this heartwarming story, stunningly illustrated by the award-winning Floyd Cooper, is a perfect gift for any child who’s nervous to walk down the aisle at a wedding, and shows kids that they can handle life’s big changes.

    Reflection
    Are you looking for a cute wedding book for kids?

    Now that spring is here, wedding season will soon be upon us! Little Jackson isn’t thrilled about the idea of his Mama tying the knot. He’s worried about having to call Bill his dad and sharing his stuff with his soon-to-be stepsister, Sophie. But most of all, he’s nervous about being the ring bearer in the wedding. What if he trips? Or even worse, drops the rings?

    wedding book for kids

    I enjoyed reading this book with the kids because I love everything about weddings!  As a little girl I never had the chance to be a flower girl in a wedding, so I hope my daughter has the opportunity to one day.  I also would love to see my handsome little guy be a ring bearer in a wedding.  This would definitely be a book we’d read together to help prepare them for their important jobs.

    wedding book for kids

    Told from the perspective of the ring bearer, this book shows little readers that getting married symbolizes the start of something new. It also shows children how families grow and change and teaches them about responsibility and commitment. I think it’s the perfect book to gift to a little ring bearer or flower girl for an upcoming wedding as it may help them cope with feeling nervous about the wedding or adding new people to their family. A beautiful book with gorgeous illustrations and themes of: family, love, coping with change, blended families, dealing with feelings, being responsible and honoring your commitments.

    This post may contain affiliate links and may include items that I received at no cost in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

    Your turn: Will you consider gifting this book to a little ring bearer or flower girl for an upcoming wedding?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    book reviews, children's books

    A Book of Bridges Here to There and Me To You (A Book Review)

    A Book of Bridges Here to There and Me To You by Cheryl Keely, illustrated by Celia Krampien

    Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 32
    Age Range: 5 – 8 years
    Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3

    Synopsis
    Bridges are some of the most fascinating structures in our landscape, and they come in all forms. From towering suspension bridges to humble stone crossings, this book visits them all in sweet, bouncing text with expository sidebars. But while bridges can be quite grand, this reminds us that their main purpose is bringing people together. This is perfect for budding architects, as well as readers who can relate to having loved ones who live far away.

    Reflection
    Children are curious and fearless by nature.  They love exploring and observing their environment and the world around them.  You could think of children as being natural born engineers and architects.  A Book of Bridges Here to There and Me To You is a great book to read with your little budding architects and engineers.

    This book features a diverse cast of characters exploring several different types of bridges including: wood-covered bridges, stone bridges, drawbridges, suspension bridges, wildlife bridges and more.  The overall text is sparse, but there is additional text on each double-page spread that provides more factual information about the different types of bridges.  For example, did you know Banff National Park in Canada has the most wildlife bridges in the world?  Or that days before the Brooklyn Bridge opened to the public P.T. Barnum led 21 elephants over it to prove it was safe?


    Image courtesy of sleepingbearpress.com

    The kids and I really enjoy this STEM themed book.  By reading this book children will discover the many ways bridges can bring people and animals together which may spark curiosity in how to construct their own bridges.  I also love the overall message of this book about staying connected and building bridges with people.

    But the bridge I like the best isn’t so grand.  It connects me to you and you to me…through the simple holding of hands.

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise that in order for younger students to succeed in our 21st-century world they are going to need to have experiences with creativity, engineering, and technology.  I think this simple book, yet detailed book is a great example of the type of books you can read with little readers to provide an early introduction to architecture and engineering.  This book may also help children have a better understanding of how bridges help bring the whole world together.

    About the Author
    Cheryl Keely became a journalist because she never wanted to stop learning.  Writing picture books combines her love of learning and love of play.  When not writing, she volunteers with her dog as a pet ambassador team with a local pet therapy organization.  She currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

    About the Illustrator
    Celia Krampien grew up near Owen Sound in Ontario, Canada in a house in the woods.  She was inspired by the surrounding wildlife and developed a love of naure and animals.  She currently lives in Oakville, Ontario.

    This post may contain affiliate links and may include items that I received at no cost in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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    book reviews, children's books

    Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3 (A Book Review)

    Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3 by Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan, illustrated by Grace Zong

    Publisher: Peachtree Publishing
    Pages: 32
    Format: Hardcover
    Grade Level: Preschool – 3

    Synopsis
    Join the children of Room 3 and Mrs. McBee as they find their own ways of helping each other get ready to leave and say goodbye. It’s not just the end of the school year at Mayflower Elementary. It’s time to say goodbye to Mrs. McBee, who is leaving the school. Jamaika, William, and the other kids in Room 3 have to figure out a special way to celebrate their beloved teacher. But everyone has a different idea. How can they arrive at an agreement?

    Reflection
    It’s never easy to say goodbye to the ones you love, but it’s a lifelong process that will happen many times throughout the course of our lives.  There inevitably comes a time when we must say goodbye to people, things, and routines.  As the school year comes to a close, children will be saying farewell to teachers, friends, and a daily routine they have come to expect.  This fall, my daughter will be transitioning to a new classroom and my son will be moving to a completely different school.  It will be great having them both in the same school, but it will be a period of transition and change for all of us.

    The kids in Room 3 at Mayflower Elementary will soon be entering a period of transition too.  The end of the school year is always bittersweet, but it’s even more tough when your beloved teacher decides to leave the school.  Mrs. McBee tells the class she will not be returning after the summer vacation, but she doesn’t say why.  Perhaps she’s retiring or moving to a different school?  Whatever the reason, the kids in Room 3 are sad to see Mrs. McBee go, especially William.

    To help clean up the classroom and get it ready for the next school year, Mrs. McBee assigns each child a job.  The kids help organize the books and pack away all of the classroom belongings.  I liked how all of the kids and cooperated worked together as a team in their own way.  The act of deconstructing the classroom is a concrete way to signify that the school year is ending.  Together with Mrs. McBee, the children in Room 3 created the environment and now they have the opportunity to see and be part of it being treated with respect as it is put away.

    With a lively and diverse cast of characters, this book highlights themes of: teamwork, coping with change, compassion and feelings.  The illustrations are cute and the text isn’t too lengthy.  My favorite illustration is the adorable cover image where all of the kids are shown embracing Mrs. McBee in a group hug.  This is a great book to read with a classroom of preschool and early-age elementary students, especially if a teacher is leaving at the end of the school year.  It’s also a good book to have discussions about dealing with change and respecting others feelings.

    About the Author
    Gretchen Brandenberg McLellan is a former reading specialist at Dorothy Fox Elementrary in Camas, Washington.

    About the Illustrator
    Grace Zong was born in Illinois and moved to Korea when she was seven.  She returned to the United States to study art at the Rhode Island School of Design where she majored in illustrations.  She currently lives in New York and Korea.

    This post may contain affiliate links and may include items that I received at no cost in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

    Your turn: If you’re a teacher, how do you handle end of the year transitions with your students?  Do you do anything special with your class to say goodbye? Feel free to share in the comments.

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