I’m not much on realistic fiction typically. Living through upper elementary and middle school was hard enough the first time, right?! For some odd, quirky reason though, the realistic graphic genre has totally grabbed me. I get knots in my stomach every time a character hits an awkward spot and am cheering them on when they have a victory. The graphic format is just more powerful for me.
Real Life by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham is one of the best in this genre, by far. This should come as no surprise. This is the duo who has already blown us away with The Princess in Black series.
This new title though is one that unlike their fantasy series for early readers, lands us in the very real, very challenging topics of friendship, growing up, and finding your “tribe”. The friends who get you and have your back no matter what. Anyone who spends time with children knows friendship brings some of the highest highs and lowest lows. This book delves deeper into that from the child’s perspective. The anxiety, the fear of rejection and confusion surrounding why, the joy and peace of acceptance.
The story is actually a memoir written about Hale’s own childhood, revisiting the ups and downs of friendship, family, and change. As I read it, it brought back all the memories of the tumultuous nature of childhood friendships from my own childhood and the immense joy felt when you have acceptance and compassion.
The relationship between Wendy and Shannon is one I feel a lot of readers will connect too. Between family dynamics and mental health issues, these two characters are pushed apart but in the end, come to see that they actually have an ally in each other and are family, regardless of past hurts.
This graphic novel is beautifully done and fans of Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, and Smile by Raina Telgemeier are going to eat this one up!
You can tell Spring is in full force! The rain is steadily coming down almost daily. Of course, this means we have had tons of parents and teachers in asking us what books we recommend for Spring and rainy weather as they try to keep their little ones happy, taking advantage of the indoor hours together. Here are some of our favorites! What books would you add to our list?
Stormy Night by Salina Yoon
Rain! by Linda Ashman
Once Upon a Rainy Day by Edouard Manceau
Worm Weather by Jean Taft
Splish! Splash! by Josepha Sherman
Let It Rain by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle
Rainy Day! by Patricia Lakin
Puddle by Hyewon Yum
And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano
Spring is Here! by Heidi Pross Gray
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
Spring is Here by Will Hillenbrand
Who’s Awake in Springtime? by Phillis Gershator and Mim Green
When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes
Everything Spring by Jill Esbaum
Mud by Mary Lyn Ray
Hopefully you have enjoyed reading our favorite reads of 2016. And now *insert drum roll here* our what we thought were the BEST 2016 had to offer…
Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian
This book celebrates the fact that love is love is love!
Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm
This is one of the best, most entertaining, kid-accessible historical fiction books I have read in a long time. The chapters read quickly and are packed with action or information to put the story together. This book is so well written that it will capture even your most reluctant reader. Beans Curry and his marble-playing gang The Keepsies had me rooting for them as they work with the New Dealers to rebuild Key West after the Depression while dealing with fires, illness, mobsters, and friendships.
There’s a Bear On My Chair by Ross Collins
Mouse complains, with escalating rage, that there’s a (polar) bear on his chair. When his words fail, mouse leaves and gets his revenge. Sure to be a classic read-aloud!
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Like all great fairy tales, this book shows the light in a work filled with darkness and woe. Several stories in one, this magical tale weaves separate narratives together to a riveting conclusion that will leave even the most seasoned reader enthralled.
We are almost to our top books of the year, but first… which ones made runner up? #2 slot here we come! To see more of the books we loved in 2016, click here!
The Thank You Book by Mo Willems
Gerald and Piggie’s final book is filled with gratitude for everyone, but will someone be left out of the thank-o-rama?
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
Adjusting to a new town is hard enough for Cat. Not only is she trying to make new friends, figuring out how to get along with her neighbor, and creating a social life for herself without her little sister butting in, but she also is going to have to figure out how to live in a town filled with ghosts! The relationship between the sisters in this book is so realistic and the art, as always, is amazing!
The Airport Book by Lisa Brown
As a family takes to the friendly skies, no one know what happened to Monkey except the little girl who packed him (with his tail hanging out of the suitcase)! Follow along in this Knuffle Bunny-esque narrative to see if Monkey is reunited with his girl. More than just an introduction to the airport, the story is a look at the wide world itself.
Meltdown! by Jill Murphy
Parents everywhere can relate to this tale of the evolution of a child’s world-class tantrum. The illustration style is a bit old-school, but the interactions of Mom and daughter are spot-on, and my daughter clearly identified with the tantrum-ing Roxy.
Down to our final 3! This year has been full of amazing books, so we are down to the ones we absolutely LOVED. If you missed yesterday’s #4 post, click here.
Good Night, Baddies by Deborah Underwood
An unusual look at fairytale baddies as they get ready for bed.
Home At Last by Vera B. Williams and Chris Raschka
This story represents an end and beginning. This story was written as Vera B. Williams was succumbing to cancer and Raschka worked closely with her to help bring her final vision into the world when she was too ill to go on and after she passed. Knowing this background made the story that much more powerful, and it was already powerful on its own. Through beautiful illustrations and warm text, we follow the story of Lester, a lucky little boy who has been adopted by Daddy Rich and Daddy Albert. Though Lester’s new life is a very good life, he just can’t manage to stay in his own bed. Even his daddies are having trouble and no one is getting sleep! What will help Lester adjust to his new life and his new bed?
Old Dog Baby Baby by Julie Fogliano
“old dog lazy lazy/ lying on the kitchen floor/here comes baby baby/crawling through the kitchen door…” With charming watercolor illustrations by Chris Raschka, author Fogliano spins a lovely tale of a faithful dog and its family, told in verse.
Little Night Cat by Sonja Danowski
The images and old-world style of this book were what first caught my eye, but as I read the story, I fell in love with it too. Having just adopted a cat ourselves, this tale really resonated with my little family, and my children loved the sweet pictures of Tony and his kitten Valentine.
Part of an ongoing series highlighting the easy, no-cost ways that you can prepare your child for learning to read, today Christina will be discussing the benefits of playing with your child.
Who says learning can’t be fun?
You may have heard that how important it is to prepare your young child for Kindergarten. However, it doesn’t have to be work. The American Library Association stresses the importance of play as one of their five components to their Every Child Ready to Read program. If you missed my previous posts on talking, reading, writing, and singing you can click on the links to read more.
As you can imagine, play is fun! It is also very important because it encourages creativity and imagination. It gives children an opportunity to express themselves and recreate what they see around them. Dramatic play allows a child to make up stories and become a character they have encountered in a book or replay a typical evening at home. This dramatic play will also reinforce how a story is structured with a beginning, middle, and end.
Little ones can surprise you by taking an object and finding a completely different use than what you had anticipated. This occurred when I did a toddler program. I put out paper towel tubes for the children to look through them. Some children did this. However, I saw many other uses for the tubes such as a bat, an oar, and simply rolling it across the floor. One child even tried to stack them tepee style.
If you are uncertain where to begin in encouraging your child in creative play, stop at the library. There are many activity books, puppets, puzzles, and kits that can be checked out to get you started. In helping your child, you may discover your own creativity start to percolate.
Through play children can learn a lot about language. They start putting words to objects and letting their imaginations fly. By stretching this imagination “muscle” children will be better able to make the leaps and connections necessary when it comes time for school.
So let the play begin!
Part of an ongoing series highlighting the easy, no-cost ways that you can prepare your child for learning to read, today Christina will be discussing the benefits of writing with your child. (See Christina’s posts on Talking, Reading, and Singing here.)
Writing skills are developed long before a child actually starts writing out words at school. You can help prepare your child for this valuable skill when they are very little with any activity that works with their hand-eye coordination. This might be moving a bead along a string, or a knob along a track. This will help them develop their hand muscles. When a child can hold a pencil, using magnetic boards like those found at the library, can also help develop hand-eye coordination. Since children learn best by using a multisensory approach try using many different types of activities with them like the ones listed below.
Finger painting with pudding on paper is a fun tasty way to show that the movement of the child’s hand creates a pattern. Finger paint inside a sealed gallon bag lets your child play with the paint from the outside by pressing and pushing on the bag to draw shapes and letters. This is fun and educational.
Shaping letters with dough or “writing” in a tray with sand or salt will help children develop hand-eye coordination while working with letter and shape recognition.
When your child can hold a crayon, encourage them to scribble and make marks. Have them “sign” their name on a picture to introduce the concept that what they write means something. Often a child’s name is the first word they learn to write. Showing your child the letters in their name and giving them many opportunities to practice writing those letters will help them make the connection that letters create words.
As they get older, talk to your child about what they drew and write down a caption or write down a story with them.This again will help them make a connection between the spoken word and the printed language.
Skills take time to learn so don’t feel frustrated if they do not seem to be learning as rapidly as you would like. The important thing is that they be fun activities for you both to do and share together.
For more information on Every Child Ready to Read and fun ideas for building lifelong learners, stop by the Moline Public Library Children’s Desk!
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Inspired by this blog post, I asked the children’s department staff how they would have answered that question as a kid and why. Marta says…
From the time I was in 5th grade, I pretty much had my life goals laid out. Become a famous author of scary books and possibly marry River Phoenix, if I could fit it into my busy celebrity life. Obviously one of these dreams fell short much sooner than the other.
The dream of writing books, however, stuck with me for a long time. Because I spent a lot of time reading scary horror books as a kid and teen, I wrote stories with the goal of scaring the tar out of the kids who were brave enough to read them. I wrote every chance I got, even when my family went on vacation. Books like Betty Ren Wright’s The Dollhouse Murders, Mary Downing Hahn’s Wait Till Helen Comes, and literally ANYTHING by R.L. Stine were some of my early favorites that I still recommend to kids who tell me they want something scary. These authors are (or were) masters at their craft and inspired me to write.
Eventually, I realized that only the best authors get to lead a glamorous lifestyle, so I chose a field that would be more practical. I have been able to share the scary writers that inspired me as a kid with the kindred spirits who come to the library asking for book suggestions. It may not be as glamorous, but it certainly is a lot more fun!
Luckily, the same authors that inspired me also inspired many other writers who did go on to write some great stories that will give your kiddo a good scare with a great mystery. Some of my favorites are The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein, The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, A Drowned Maiden’s Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz, Doll Bones by Holly Black, and the Skeleton Creek books by Patrick Carmen.
Were you that kid, too?
I have fond memories of, if not staying up all night to read, at least staying up pretty darn late! Now that I’m a gray haired woman of a certain age, I feel much better with adequate sleep. These days, I get a lot of reading done while commuting to work. Yes, I listen to audio books!
When my three children were younger, driving our mini-van on vacation was often a nightmare of bickering and squabbling until we learned to give each child his or her own “row” in the van! It meant one parent had to be in the middle row, a small price to pay for peace and quiet. We listened to audio books as well – it’s amazing how an engaging story can make the drive go smoother and faster.
Kids who love to read will find any way, any time they can to inhale books! Be the parent who encourages this behavior, whether it’s letting them stay up a little bit late with a book light or flashlight, or listening to an audio book.
For some fantastic listening recommendations, take a look at the 2015 Notable Children’s Recordings from the American Library Association.