Saturday, June 1, 2013

Whew...I made it!

Well, it's offical.  As of 2:30pm yesterday I am on SUMMER VACATION!  Although, this summer promises to be a summer vacation like no other now that I've got Little Man C around to keep me on my toes.  With the start of summer vacation, it also means that I'm back to blogging about my adventures in reading.  Over the winter the stress of teaching full-time, creating products for Teachers Pay Teacher (check out  my shop!), and taking care of Little Man C just got to be too much and something had to give, so I took a step...well several giant leaps...away from blogging for a moment.  But, summer promises to be a much more relaxing time.

I signed my son up for the local libray's summer reading program.  Even though he's only 10 months old my library offers a program for kids his age.  (I'm so grateful to live in a community with an amazing library!)  I picked up my list of literary activities for kids his age yesterday and we've already done three of them.  I'm sure I'll have more to post about the list of activities later as we accomplish a few more of them.

My husband and I are also signed up for the adult summer reading program and while we were there we scouted out the library's selection of books on cd's for our trip to the beach this summer.  The adult summer reading program is generous in their guildines and allows you to log audio books as well as books you actually read so we always try to pick up a few to keep our minds occupied as we drive.

I'm busy cooking up some other great book adventures for the family this summer and I can't wait to share them with you.  Plus I've got some books that I'm excited to read.  I'll be sure to let you know about the good ones!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Return of High Contrast Books

High Contrast books were our son's favorite books for about the first four months of his life.  But as his eyesight improved my husband and I move onto other books.  After all, we were a bit sick of looking at the same simple black and white pictures with one word per page.  So when our son started to show interest in other books we were more than happy to put those books aside to accommodate his changing tastes.    However, three weeks ago I pulled out one of his high contrast books to move into our family room for the week.  (We keep most of his books in his room, but actually do most of our reading in the family room so I pull a fresh selection of books to move from the nursery to the family room each Sunday.)  It wasn't that I thought he'd be that interested in the book, it's just that we hadn't read it in awhile and I like to pull a new selection of books each week.  Well, imagine my surprise when he loved the high contrast book.  I pulled it out to read and he was captivated.  His eyes were focused on the page, and his hands were involved too.  He kept slapping the pages, not really pointing at different things but just reaching out to touch all over each page.  I truly hadn't seem him that excited about a book in ages!  I was shocked.  I thought he'd be mildly interested, but mostly just board with the overly simple black and white drawings.  Boy was I wrong!  I thought maybe it was just a fluke.  Maybe he was just excited because he hadn't been read that book in about three months.  So, I pulled it out the next day too, curious to see if his interest would still be high, and it sure was.  There, for the second day in a row, was excited exuberance to look at the pages of this book.  I told my husband about the unexpected response when he arrived home from work and he sat down to read the book with our son and even though we'd just looked at the book about an hour ago, he put on the same display of enthusiasm with my husband that he did for me.  Needless to say, we learned our lesson.  A seven month old is not too old for high contrast books.  We'll be sure to keep our three high contrast books in our regular rotation, at least as long as our son's enthusiasm lasts.

Just in case you'd like to get your hands on some high contrast books, here are a few titles.  The first three we own and love.  The last three we just check out of the library.
  1. Fish and Canoe by Flying Frog Publications
  2. Me and You by Flying Frog Publications
  3. Sock and Shoe by Flying Frog Publications
  4. Cluck and Moo by Flying Frog Publications
  5. Look Look by Peter Linenthal
  6. Hello Bugs!  By Smriti Prasadam

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Favorite Books 7 Months

Yet another month has passed; I can't believe how fast it went!  My son is already another month older.  He still loves to be read to, but he wants to be much more involved in the reading.  He loves to grab for books, reach for pages, close/open books and turn pages.  Although he rarely does these actions when you want him to.  More than once I've had a book closed on me while I'm in the middle of the page.  I mostly read board books to him so he can reach for and play with the books without causing too much damage, but sometimes I still like to read nonboard books.  When I read nonboard books I try to give him a toy to play with to keep his hands busy.  My husband is much more successful than I am when it comes to reading nonboard books because his arms are long enough that he can put our son in his lap and hold the book in his hands far enough away that our son can't reach it.

For the first time he's really showing interest in the book Peek A Who?  We've had this book for awhile, but he loves it right now.  I think he likes the cut outs that he can grab onto and he always spends sometime looking in the mirror at the end of the book.  Previously he really hadn't cared much about the mirror, but now he's into it.

Here are a few more of our favorite books for him right now:
  1. Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert
  2. Sheep on a Ship by Nancy E. Shaw
  3. Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton
  4. Peek a Who? by Nina Laden

Monday, February 18, 2013

Library Time for Babies

Today I took my 6 month old son to a program my local library does called Wee Wonders.  It is specifically designed for babies 0-18 months.  I've wanted to take him for a long time, but as a full time working mom, I'm not usually around on a Monday morning to take him.  Well, boy am I glad I finally found the time to go.  We had so much fun!  The librarian who ran the program did a lovely job.  She started by having us sing a simple song as she went around an introduced a Lamb Chop puppet to all of the babies.  Then we sang some more songs with simple hand motions.  Sometimes I helped my son do the hand motions other times I just did them with my hands in front of him so he could see what I was doing.  After about 3 songs she read a story to the babies and then we sang a few more songs.  Just like before all of the songs had simple melodies and hand motions to go along with them.  For the last 10 minutes of the program she passed out bubbles and we could blow bubbles for our babies.  This was my son's first experience with bubbles and he was fascinated.  Unfortunately he doesn't yet move fast enough to reach the bubbles before they pop, but I think that's part of the mystery of bubbles for him.

If I was around on Monday mornings this would become a regular part of my baby's week.  It was fun for him to be around other babies and fun for me to watch him explore and interact with me and other babies.  Lucky for me, summer is just a few months away, and then we'll be able to make library time a regular part of our week.  In the mean time, at least I've got about five new songs (with hand motions) that the two of us can sing together.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Graeme Base

Allow me to introduce you to your new favorite picture book author...that is if you haven't already met!  Reader meet Graeme Base am amazing, fantastic, wonderful, author and illustrator of stunning picture books.  He is both an author an illustrator of all of his books and all of his illustrations are done with elaborate detail.  I was first introduced to Graeme Base books when, in high school, I read the Sign of the Seahorse.  Shortly there after I came across the book The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery and that was the book that truly turned in into a devotee.  I was in college at the time and my boyfriend (now he's my husband) and I spent a few happy hours engrossed with the book pouring over the pictures tyring to solve the mystery.  It was his first encounter with Graeme Base and he was instantly hooked as well.   Over the years I've developed a small collection of his books.  What makes them so great is their wide ranging appeal.  The rhyming language in books like the Sign of the Seahorse appeal to the very young, even though they have no hope of following the plot.  The story is suitably complex for older readers (say fourth grade on up) and the pictures are just stunning and make reading the book a treat for any adult.  The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery has the same appeal.  On the surface, the story is simple enough to appeal to a young reader, but the mystery and again the stunning pictures (which this time play an important part in the mystery) keep even older reader enthralled.

When my husband and I found out we were expecting we added one more book to our Graeme Base collection, Animalia.  This ABC book puts all other ABC books to shame.  The book is filled with Base's brilliant pictures.  Each page features alliterative tongue twisters.  The pictures, as in all of his books, seem to unfold in layers.  Just when you think you've found all of the hidden quirks in his illustrations you'll notice something you over looked the first hundred times you read the book.  I would say if you had money to buy only one ABC book this would be the one to buy.  Long after your child has lot interest in other ABC books, he'll still love to read and look at this one.

Here's a mini-list of some of my favorite Graeme Base books.  Get your hands on one (or all) of his books soon.  They are perfect for filling the time on these cold winter days and nights!

Sign of the Seahorse
The Eleventh Hour: A curious Mystery
The Water Hole

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sitting Up On My Own

Whew!  It has been a busy week!  Parent teacher conferences always throw off my whole week even though they only take a two days.  I sure am glad the weekend is here, but I can't believe it's Sunday afternoon already.  How did that happen!?

Well, enough about my life and onto reading.  It seems my little baby is starting (already) to grow up and push away from his parents.  He has recently mastered the art of sitting and that seems to be all he wants to do, and that includes when it's story time.  Until recently my baby would sit in my lap and enjoy looking at books and listening to me or my husband as we read them, but (temporarily, I'm hoping!) that doesn't seem to be the case.  He still loves to look at books and listen to stories, but he wants to sit on the floor, not on mom or dad's lap.  I know I should be happy that he still loves to listen to stories, but there is a part of me, okay a large part of me, that's sad when I take out some books to read and I try to put him in my lap and he just squirms and wiggles until he's happily seated on the floor.  I'm sure this is just going to be one of many reading phases my son goes through, but for now I can't wait until he's happy to sit in my lap again.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Reading Junk Mail

The strangest things happened about a week ago.  While my son was sitting on the floor playing next to me, I was trying to multi-task and look through an advertisement for a grocery store.  As I casually glanced between my son and the flier in my hand I noticed that my son was paying closer attention to the advertisement than I was.  I thought maybe he was bored and I tried to give him a new toy to play with but he kept staring at the ad in my hands.  After puzzling over this for a moment a light in my head went off and I realized he probably liked all of the bright colors on the flier.  So, I picked him up, set him in my lap and the two of us "read" the grocery store ad together.  I didn't actually read the words on the ad, but I pointed out pictures and named foods.  I added a few other details like how we might use an ingredient in a recipe, or if it was something I didn't like to eat I'd tell him that I thought a particular food was yucky.  He loved it.  He babbled along with me and kept reaching his arms out to grab paper.  When I was all done I let him hold the flier in his hands.  If I thought he'd enjoyed "reading" the advertisement with me it was nothing compared with how much he enjoyed holding it in his hands and crinkling it in his tiny fists.  As a result of this accidental discovery we have been reading grocery fliers together for the past few days.  Finally a use for all of the junk mail that arrives at my house!  We, like you, get tons of advertisements, fliers, and catalogues at our house some of which we've requested but most of which we haven't.  Before I would casually glance through about 3% of what we got, while the other 97% wouldn't even make it through the door before it hit the trash can.  However, for the past few days I've sorted though our junk mail looking for good "reading" material that I think my son will enjoy.  Grocery store ads are my favorite because they include bright colorful pictures of foods.  This is especially fun for me since he's just starting to eat solids so when we look at the pictures of produce I talk to him about what they taste like and how much he's going to enjoy eating apples, pears, sweet potatoes, or whatever picture we are looking at.  I point out the fruits he's tasted and the one's he'll taste soon.

Who'd have thought, I finally found a use for all of those fliers and junk mail after all!