Reading for Valentine’s Day

1 Feb
"Never Too Little to Love" by Jeanne Willis

“Never Too Little to Love” by Jeanne Willis

It’s February, so that must mean love is in the air. Everything is pink and red, and there are hearts all around. Of course, it doesn’t have to be just on Valentine’s Day that you and your child can fall in love with these great books:

Tiny Too-Little is a very small mouse with a very big problem: he’s in love. All he wants is to be able to plant a big kiss on the object of his affection, but he’s just too little to get to her! He gets creative and uses all the resources at his disposal. Disaster strikes! Will he get the kiss he longs for? You’re Never Too Little to Love.

Froggy’s First Kiss is a great book to read aloud with children. Kids love Froggy’s antics and they know things are never going to turn out like he planned. And of course, the book is filled with the familiar refrain of, “FRROOGGY!” which kids love to help with, and lots of other sound effects, like squeaky voices and a very loud “Ewww” which you can have a lot of fun reading. It’s a great book to get kids talking about feelings that they have but may not be able to explain, like when Froggy feels all wiggly and funny inside whenever Frogalina looks his way.

Hugless Douglas is a bear that wakes up from a long winter in desperate need of a hug. He hugs whatever he can find: rocks, trees, shrubs, and a variety of other animals that are not too pleased, but none of the hugs feel right until he gets one from someone who loves him. It’s a great book to lead children into talking about what they think love is, and how they find love with family and home.

–Kelli Parmley

“The Day the Crayons Quit” by Drew Daywalt

17 Jan
"The Day the Crayons Quit" by Drew Daywalt

“The Day the Crayons Quit” by Drew Daywalt

Although I’m no expert, I personally consider this to be the best children’s book of 2013. It is extraordinarily creative and laugh-out-loud funny for children and adults. When young Duncan reaches inside his crayon box, he finds instead, a stack of letters. Red and blue are overworked in comparison to the others, orange and yellow can’t agree on which of them should get to color the sun, and pink and beige have become bored because they’re always left in the box. In the end, Duncan comes up with a solution to make all the crayons happy.

This book can be used with kids of all ages. It can help younger ones with colors, and encourages them to “think outside the box” with their artistic expression and imaginations. While in older children, it can help them learn about letter writing, opinions, and how to express a point of view.

Daywalt’s writing is matched by the wonderful illustrations by Oliver Jeffers.  If you enjoy his illustrations, I would encourage to also read This Moose Belongs to Me and to watch this short video about his work in this book.

–Kelli Parmley

Books about emotions

28 Oct
"David Gets in Trouble" by David Shannon

“David Gets in Trouble” by David Shannon

Dealing with a cranky toddler or preschooler?  Here is a list of books about handling emotions, and hopefully emerging unscathed.  No Fits, Nilson and Maya was Grumpy are two new favorites at my house.  They’ve helped us all to recognize that everyone gets grumpy from time to time, but you don’t have to stay mad.  When in doubt, take a cue from Daniel Tiger and count to four:

Feelings by Aliki

Theo’s Mood by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Doodle Bites by Polly Dunbar

No More Biting for Billy Goat by Bernette Ford

Olive and the Bad Mood by Tor Freeman

Rotten Ralph by Jack Gantos

No Biting by Karen Katz

Monster Be Good by Natalie Marshall

No Fits, Nilson by Zachariah Ohora

Maya Was Grumpy by Courtney Pippin-Mathur

Brownie & Pearl Make Good by Cynthia Rylant

David Gets in Trouble by David Shannon

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells

How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad? by Jane Yolen

–Katie Camp

Four new board books to look for

21 Oct
"Opposites" by Xavier Deneux

“Opposites” by Xavier Deneux

When selecting board books for a baby, I look for a sturdy format that will endure love and many reads, simple text with bright pictures or photos, and tactile elements that encourage exploration.  Board books usually don’t grab my attention, but the Lexington Public Library recently purchased two great board books: Opposites and Colors. Both titles are written by Xavier Deneux and are part of Chronicle Books series, Touch Think Learn. These books definitely invite little hands to touch and explore the pages! The artist utilized die cuts, cut outs, and layering to produce a spectacular layout. For instance, when demonstrating the difference between high and low, the artist placed a cat high on a tall ladder. To emphasize how far above the ground the cat is, the artist used a raised image and then paired it with a mole far, far down in a hole. Deneux went one step further and inset the mole, so the pictures stress the difference in the presented concept. I really love these new books and can’t wait till March when two more (Shapes and Numbers) will be released!

–Susan Price

Monster season is here

15 Oct
"Go Away, Big Green Monster!" by Ed Emberley

“Go Away, Big Green Monster!” by Ed Emberley

When fall arrives and you are looking for books to read with your preschooler, don’t get so consumed with apples, leaves, and pumpkins that you forget one of the most important topics:  MONSTERS!

If you are going to read about monsters, there is an author that really makes them fun:  Ed Emberley.  He’s probably best known for the classic Go Away Big Green Monster with its purple hair and squiggly ears and sharp teeth (which is also a very simple craft to make with kids). It may help ease the fears of kids who may scare easily.

He’s also written a great book about emotions.  If kids are feeling a little sad that summer is over, they can enjoy all of the colors and faces in Glad Monster, Sad Monster.

It’s probably best to wait until after dinner to devour There Was an Old Monster, because the critter in this book swallows all kinds of things that are sure to cause a loss of appetite!

Finally, get the wiggles out before bedtime with some music.  You can sing If You’re a Monster and You Know It.  The kids can stomp, snort, growl, twitch, wiggle and roar until they fall asleep.  But be sure to check under the bed and in the closet to make sure they aren’t hiding any of their new friends in their rooms!

–Kelli Parmley

The Three Little Pigs and material science

24 Sep
"Huff & Puff" by Claudia Rueda

“Huff & Puff” by Claudia Rueda

Young children love to build things–Legos, wood blocks, sandcastles, and so on–and then knock them down, but they lack an understanding of the concept that some structures are stronger than others. To introduce the simple science concepts of materials and strength, you need only to turn to the age-old tale of The Three Little Pigs to create a fun and easy science experiment that encourages them to build and demolish!

To introduce kids to the idea that building something with different materials makes a difference in the strength of the structure, share with your children an updated and very fun, interactive twist on the three little pigs story by Claudia Rueda, called Huff & Puff, and then supply them with different building materials. Examples include any kind of paper or plastic cups, wood blocks, straws, craft or popsicle sticks, dominoes, empty yogurt containers, shoe boxes, etc. Encourage them to build several different structures with each individual material. Ask them to make a guess (make a simple hypothesis) as to which structure the wolf would most easily blow down as he did in the story. Have your children test that hypothesis by blowing down each structure, talking about what it was made of, and how easy or difficult it was to blow down. Make a note of your children’s remarks. After all structures have been blown down, review the notes you’ve taken together and discuss your results: “Which material was the hardest to blow down or the strongest material? Which was the easiest or weakest material?” After the basic experiments are done, encourage them to build structures using combinations of  different materials or arranging materials in a different way to make them harder to blow down. The possibilities are endless.

In the midst of all the building and the destruction, children will have gained some very important early insight as to what makes a structure more stable and hours of fun!

–Christy Morrow

“Nonsense & Common Sense: A Child’s Book of Victorian Verse” by John Grossman and Priscilla Dunhill

22 Aug
"Nonsense & Common Sense: A Child's Book of Victorian Verse" by John Grossman and Priscilla Dunhill

“Nonsense & Common Sense: A Child’s Book of Victorian Verse” by John Grossman and Priscilla Dunhill

Nonsense & Common Sense is a collection of poems from the golden age of children’s literature.  The offerings range from silly nonsense to gentle instruction to the beautifully lyrical.  Many of the poets are recognizable names such as Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Robert Louis Stevenson, but lesser known bards are included also.  Each poem is wonderfully illustrated with artwork from vintage children’s books, die cuts, or other Victoriana memorabilia, and some of the poems are even accompanied by interesting side notes on the history of the verses.  My only complaint about this book is the underlining sexism of a few of the poems, but there are not many of these, so it does not detract from the overall enjoyment of this charming and whimsical read.

–Sabrina Pollock

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