Archive for the ‘The Reading Nook’ Category
Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
Last week, we held a small party to celebrate the launch of my friend Elisabeth Dahl’s first book, Genie Wishes. Genie Wishes follows the ups and downs of fifth grader Genie Kunkle. There’s friendship trouble, body changes, and on top of it all, Genie is selected to be the class blogger. Her challenge? Write about her and her classmate’s wishes, hopes and dreams.
Elisabeth beautifully captured the transition from childhood to adolescence in the book. As a parent, I sincerely appreciated how Elisabeth wrote Genie. She isn’t bold, brash, or boy crazy. Instead, she unfolds with maturity and finds her voice.
It’s a rite of passage read for the next generation of girls.
Here are more photos and giveaway details… (more…)
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
The ability to write is one of the most important skills that our kids can develop. Better writers are better thinkers and more creative problem solvers. No matter what our kids end up doing for paid work, strong communication skills are a must.
But what if your child is a reluctant writer? And even if they love writing, how can we help them avoid the “summer slide” in writing skills over summer vacation?
I have the solution – it’s a craft and a writing activity all rolled into one: a writing prompt jar.
Ever sat down to write and come up blank? Our kids are no different. Before you write anything, you need an idea. Writing prompts prime the pump of our kids’ creativity.
Find a jar for your kids to decorate.
Write up some writing prompts and cut them into separate pieces. (I curled them around a pencil but you can fold them up too).
Need some ideas for writing prompts? Here are a few to get you started: (more…)
Monday, April 15th, 2013
We’re all about encouraging reading, right? And you know that one of the best strategies is to have lots of books around the house. Our children love to pick up the same books again and again – first having us read to them and then later reading them on their own.
But here’s a problem – the cost of building a home library adds up quickly. And we only have so much space. What to do?
I have the best solution for you – host a children’s book swap. It’s easy, it’s social, and it’s fun.
The ingredients are few – you need book lovers and you need books. Here’s how… (more…)
Monday, March 18th, 2013
There once was a girl named Lulu and she was a pain. She wasn’t a pain in the elbow. She wasn’t a pain in the knee. She was a pain–a very big pain—in the b u t t.
And so begins the delightful, quirky chapter book Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day fame.
You can tell that Viorst is also a poet as the rhythmic sentences make this book a treat to read aloud. The style and humor appeal to grown ups too.
Have you been watching House of Cards on Netflix? You know how the Kevin Spacey character speaks directly to the camera? Viorst does the same when she talks directly to readers in funny asides.
The theme of Lulu and the Brontosaurus? When Lulu demands a brontosaurus for a pet she learns that you can’t always get what you want.
You’ll adore the charcoal illustrations by Lane Smith, winner of four Caldecott Honor awards, four New York Times Best Illustrated Book Awards and named Eric Carle Honor Artist in 2012.
His personality comes through in his answers to interview questions: (more…)
Monday, March 4th, 2013
We’re ALL about reading over here. I’m like a dog with a bone – kids need to read. By giving your kids the habit of regular reading you are giving them the gift of a lifetime. Want an easy and fun way to do that? Start a kids’ book club with your child and their friends. It’s like hiding the shredded zucchini in the cookies – with the fun comes all the side benefits.
Here are the reading “zucchini” benefits hidden in the fun:
- it works for every level of reader – from the reluctant ones to the book hounds
- it helps develop their critical thinking skills as they learn to express WHY they like a particular book
- it gives your kids a chance to socialize outside of school
Need a blueprint? Here it is. (more…)
Monday, February 18th, 2013
What makes a particular children’s book a classic? So many are published each year and are promptly forgotten. Yet others we can’t help but read again and again. They might be decades old but they are timeless.
One of my favorites is Sven’s Bridge, written in 1965 by Anita Lobel.
Sven is a friendly bridge-keeper in a small town. He opens the drawbridge for ships and closes it again so the townspeople can visit each other. Everyone loves Sven.
One day the king sails up the river. He is an impatient king who cannot wait for Sven to raise the bridge. Stomp goes his foot, bang goes the cannon and down goes the bridge. What will the village do without it?
The entitled, tantrum throwing king and the patient, kind bridge-keeper – the former might be more powerful but it’s Sven who ends up being the role model.
Study the pen and ink illustrations up close. Such detail! And such a beautiful water color palette. You can see the influence of Anita’s art school large, heroic murals.
Trivia fact number one: Anita was married to Arnold Lobel, author of Frog and Toad fame.
Trivia fact number two: Their Catholic nanny saved five-year-old Anita and her three-year-old brother from the Holocaust. After the war she and her brother were reunited with their parents in Sweden. They moved to the United States when Anita was 16.
Now out of print, Sven’s Bridge is available in libraries or at Amazon.
Get ready to enjoy it many times over.
Monday, February 4th, 2013
We all know how important reading is, right? And we all want our kids to be readers. But how does that happen? How do we create the environment to give our littles the best chance to learn to read?
Let me start by telling you to put away the flash cards. Rote memorization won’t get them to where they need to be. These tips are all playful ways to build an awareness of the sounds in words.
And the best part? They won’t even notice the learning part because you’ll be having so much fun together! That’s the best kind of learning – when it’s a byproduct of some fun.
Clap in time to syllables with familiar words and names
Mommy: –; alligator: —-; book: -; banana: —
We all know the color I-Spy but this version uses letter sounds.
“I spy with my little eye and I see something that begins with the mmm sound”. Or “I spy with my little eye and I see something that begins with the same sound as the word ‘book’”. (more…)
Thursday, January 10th, 2013
Did you know January was National Book Month? I had no idea, but I’m totally in for a celebration. It’s the perfect time to curl up with the kids, maybe a mug of cocoa, and a good read!
Need a book? Check out these great recommendations from our Reading Nook Editor Sandra Harris (don’t you just love her reviews? There’s always a fascinating back story):
Red Riding Hood
Mr. Pusskins: A Love Story
The Day the Babies Crawled Away
The Three Robbers
Mercy Watson to the Rescue
Bob and Otto
Sir Charlie Stinky Socks & The Really Big Adventure