Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Friday Discovery

My Black Friday discovery!

I am NOT a black Friday shopper.  It would have to be something beyond amazing to get me out of bed in the wee hours of the morning to stand in a cold line for the privilege of fighting crowds inside the store and then waiting in another long line to check out.

That said, my husband and I did eventually venture out of the house to check out some black Friday deals that our local used book store was running.  We figured it could be a good place to buy some gifts and stocking stuffers for our family (and maybe even a book or two for ourselves).

Back in the children's section of the store, I largely struck out on what I was looking for but I did make one great discovery.  The store had a large selection of read aloud anthologies.  Oh, how I wanted to buy each one, but sadly I don't know anyone with children old enough for that type of collection yet and I have years before my little one is ready for such a book. 

The basic idea was the editor had pulled selections from popular children's stories that each took about 10 minutes to read.  (A great length for a bed time story or for filling extra class time!).  The particular book pictured here had such a great variety of selections.  The used book store I was in, also had variations of the book above including a poem version, Bible story version, and a few others.  It took all of my will power not to snatch them all up!

For now, I'll have to content myself with pinning it to my bookshelf on pinterest so that when the day comes and my son is old enough, I'll remember this discovery.

Friday, November 23, 2012

What I'm Thankful For This Year

I come from a family that loves to read.  (Lucky me!)  So around our Thanksgiving table this year we of course talked books, and magazine articles, and Russian literature (my husband's favorite topic).  My brother brought a magazine article about his favorite TV show, Shark Tank, that we read and discussed.  My dad and I swapped book recommendations and my sister-in-law and I talked about our favorite books for babies (she has a 6 month old).  I also got recommendations on some of my brother and sister-in-law's favorite books about raising a toddler.

Of course, we talked and joked about plenty of non-reading topics, but this year, in addition to the many other blessings in my life, I'm thankful that I come from a family that loves to read.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sheep In a Jeep

I made the greatest discovery by accident this week.  (Well, technically it was my boss who made the fantastic discovery.)  I have long loved the book Sheep In a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw.  For years it was my go-to book that I gave to new and expecting mothers.  This week my boss, knowing how much I loved the book Sheep In a Jeep, bought me a surprise gift, Sheep On a ShipSheep On a Ship is just as great as Sheep In a Jeep!  (I may even like it just a bit more than Sheep In a Jeep!)  But the real gift was learning that Nancy Shaw has a whole series of Sheep books.  (A flock of sheep books if you will...ha ha ha.)  I had no idea!  I thought Sheep In a Jeep was just a one book thing.  But, I could not have been more wrong!  There is a bunch of Sheep books, including Sheep Take a Hike, which fits so perfectly with our nursery theme.  I can't wait to check some of the other titles out from the library and add a few of them to the Christmas list. 

The Sheep books all feature simply rhyming text and tell of an ill fated adventure that a flock of sheep take on.  The books are charmingly illustrated by Margot Apple.  They are funny and clever and I am just so excited that there is more than one!  I can't wait to read them all to my son!

Currently Published Sheep Books by Nancy E. Shaw

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Books for a Camping Themed Nursery

When it came time to create a theme for our son's nursery we wanted to create something that was not only reflective of who the two of us were as a family, but who we hoped the three of us would be as a family.  My husband and I both love nature, and specifically we love camping.  So we decided to piece together a camping themed nursery.  (Easier said than done by the way!  There is lots of forest themed pieces for a nursery, but not many camping specific pieces.)
We, of course, wanted to enhance our theme by including a few good camping picture books.  Not only do they make a great display, but they are so much fun to read.  With each reading my husband and I hope we are building an interest in our son that will continue to grow into many happy camping memories with his family.  Here's the list of books that we included in our nursery to go along with our camping theme.

A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen
S is for S'mores: A Camping Alphabet by Helen Foster James
Toasting Marshmallows by Kristine O'Connell George
When We Go Camping by Margiet Ruurs
Forest Bright, Forest Night by Jennifer Ward (Great science content!)
Over In the Forest: Come and Take a Peek by Marianne Berkes (Beautiful cut paper illustrations)
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Fire Flies by Julie Brinckloe
Night in the Country by Cynthia Rylant- This was added mostly because I love Love LOVE Cynthia Rylant.  It's not about camping exactly, but it is about the quite nights in the country.

I hope to add to the collection as he grows.  I'm always open to recommendations!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bedtime Story

My husband and I have been struggling with when we should begin to incorporate a story into our son's bedtime routine.  We, of course, want him to have a rich tradition of a bedtime story, but at his young age (almost 4 months old) it seems a bit early.  We read aloud to him at other times, but just not usually right before he goes to bed for the night.  In his book, The Read Aloud Handbook, author Jim Trelease encourages reading aloud to children from day one.  While another book, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg, encourages reading aloud to children, but discourages a bedtime story until your baby is 6 months old.  At that age she feels babies are better able to focus and sit up.  Right now we seem to be leaning toward incorporating reading into his daytime routine and not yet into his bedtime routine.  I'm not sure exactly when we'll change this, maybe at 6 months, maybe another time, but I can't wait until it can be part of my son's bedtime routine.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"It's easier to get a gun than a book."

My school had parent teacher conferences last night.  It is so fantastic to speak with parents who care deeply for their child and their education.  However, one parent said something that is perhaps the most striking and honest comment a parent has ever said to me.  In speaking of her daughter's love of reading and her battle to keep her daughter focused on school she said this, "It's a shame that in my neighborhood it's easier for my daughter to get a gun than a book.  She can walk to any corner and get a gun, but the library is so far away and not even open when we need it to be."

Some of my students come from pretty rough-and-tumble neighborhoods.  I know what this mother said is true, and it breaks my heart even more for knowing it to be true.  It is one thing to sit in my home, surrounded by books and write about reading to a child, and creating a family of bookworms, when I know I live someplace where it is easier to get a book than a gun.  But, it is quite another to know that for many families the truth is that it is easier to get a gun than a book.  The issues involved with this problem are varied and complex and a real and lasting solution will not be easy to come by.  However, with the holiday season approaching, there are ways that we can help, at least in the short term.  Please consider donating new or used books to organizations that help put books into the hands of underprivileged kids.  Many organizations collect toys and gifts for children.  My husband and I always donate toys, but this year, I am going to make an effort to include a book or to with the toys that we donate.  It will be my small way of making it easier for one family to get a book than a gun.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Russian Literature

My husband really enjoys "classic literature".  While I am a fan, I read far more popular books each year than I do classics.  He happens to be a fan of Russian literature, especially The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  He steadfastly claims it to be one of the best, if not the best book, he's ever read.  For years he has been asking, pleading, beseeching me to give Russian literature a shot.  I've resisted without even batting an eye until recently.  I saw a preview for the new Anna Karenina movie staring Kira Knightly and I was intrigued.  Now, there is no way I'll finish (or even start) the book before the movie comes out.  And once I've seen the movie I won't be able to read the book.  So my plan is to not see the movie and read the book.  (The book is always better anyway.)  My husband is beside himself with joy that I am finally going to give Russian literature a try.  (And secretly he's hoping I'll love it as much as he does and I'll have to admit that he's been right all these years.)  We shall see.

Part of being the mom of a future bookworm is being a bookworm myself.  And, I suppose, it will be nice to brag to folks that I can join the elite group of readers who have tackled Dostoyevsky.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

High Contrast Books

The first books we read to our son when he came home were high contrast books.  At 3.5 months age they are his favorite books.  We were lucky enough to stumble upon three high contrast books at our local used bookstore.  For just $1 a piece we purchased  Fish and Canoe, Me and You, and Sock and Shoe.  All three books are published by Flying Frog and written by Frida Bing.  (There is a fourth book, Cluck and Moo, but sadly we couldn't find it at the used bookstore.)  All four of these books are sturdy board books.  These were the first books that our son showed any interest in. 

The idea behind high contrast books has more to do with the development of a baby's eyes than his reading abilities.  Babies are not born with 20/20 vision, it takes time to develop.  So, at first what they are most drawn to look at are bright colors, and high contrast items.  They make high contrast flash cards, but why use flash cards when you could read a book!  His interest in these books really started to pick up around 2 months of age.  As an adult you won't be all that impressed with the books, but just watch your baby stare at the pictures and you'll soon fall in love with them yourself!  The books feature simple illustrations in black and white with one or two words of text per page.  It is one of my favorite activities to put my son in my lap and read to him and talk about the pictures while he looks in wonder at the images in front of him.  In addition to exercising his developing eye sight, he is learning the joy of sitting in a parent's lap and being read to.  If you haven't given high contrast books a chance they are worth checking out for the truly young readers in your house.

Friday, November 9, 2012

My Favorite Gift for New Parents

In packing my hospital bag to prepare for labor I, of course, packed books for my husband and I to read.  But, what I forgot to pack was a book or two to read to our son.  So, the first books that we read aloud to him were adult books.  My husband read selections from Brave New World, while I read him selections from The Looking Glass Wars

Inspired by this oversight I've decided that my new go-to gift when I visit new parents in the hospital is going to be a baby book or two.  Flowers are beautiful and I certainly loved the multiple bouquets that decorated our hospital room, but what I would have loved, and really could have used, were a few books to read to my son.  What new parents wouldn't cherish reading from On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman, You Are Special by Max Lucado, or Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney to their brand new precious bundle.  There are so many wonderful titles to choose from when selecting a book that may well end up being the first book a baby has read to them.  And just think of the memories those parents will have of the first time they settled in to read to there new baby.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Book Every Parent (and Teacher) Should Own

If there's one book that I love more than any other is has to be the Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.  (Seriously, run, don't walk, to your nearest library or book store to get a copy!)  If you are a person (parent, teacher, aunt, uncle, grandparent, loving neighbor, or anyone else born on planet Earth) who is passionate about reading with your family then this book is a must have for you.  I've owned this book for years and loved it for years.  It has helped me countless times as a teacher.  But, now I get the joy of rediscovering it as a parent!  As a teacher I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book and wish I could afford to buy copies for all of my student's parents every year. 

There's almost too many good things to say about this book, but I'll list my top 5 reasons this book is so great.
1.  The treasury of read alouds in the back.  If you've ever wondered what to read to your child, this will solve your problem today and for years to come.  If this book was only a lists of books it would still be worth buying, but it is so much more!
2.  The book makes the often hard to understand topic of reading instruction seem easy to understand.
3.  Inspiring writing about the impact that reading to a child can have on all aspect of his/her life.  (And, honest writing about the damage that can occur when a child isn't read to.)
4.  Simple tips to help you make the most of your read aloud time with your family.
5.  Tips on how to create a reader friendly home.

The only negative I can say (and it is seriously the only one) is that the latest edition was printed in 2006.  I'd love to see him update this and release a newer edition.  Which, of course, I'd be first in line to buy!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

And so it begins....

Just a few months ago my husband and I welcomed our first baby into the world!  Just like any parents we are filled with hopes and dreams for our baby, but one in particular is that he would grow to share our love of reading.  I come from a reading family and I have watched my husband develop into a reader as well.  (He'd tell you he was always a reader, but just didn't have time to read more than textbooks while he was a student!)  I love the legacy of reading that my parents gave me and I hope to pass the same onto my family.  This blog is going to be my place to chronicle the journey of developing a family of bookworms.  I hope you'll join me in growing the next generation of bookworms!