It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Joining up with Jen from Teacher Mentor Texts to share what we’ve been reading in our household this past week.

Mom is reading:

I finished reading The Lions of Little Rock.  I’d read several rave reviews and wasn’t disappointed.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to teach a whole classroom full of Marlees?

The book is set in Little Rock in 1959, at a time when young girls of different races could not be friends, and ignoring that rule was dangerous for everyone.  It’s a quick read, but a good one.

Next up is an adult novel, Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks.  I haven’t even cracked this one yet.  Hoping to get it read over the next two weeks, but we’ve got two birthdays, Easter, and a baptism on the horizon, so that may be too optimistic.

Kiddo is reading:

Reading to Peanut by Leda Schubert, illustrated by Amanda Haley

This book had the potential to be really cute.  The story follows a girl’s quest to “learn to read and write” for a very special purpose revealed at the end.  Throughout the book, the little girl and her family members write/spell out words on signs and place them all throughout the house on the corresponding items (a great strategy, by the way).  Despite the cheerful illustrations and positive lesson about learning to read, this just didn’t keep our interest.  A swing and miss at our house.

 Silly Baby by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

I’m recommending this one for preparing very young children for the arrival of a new sibling.  I didn’t think the “silly baby” phrase repeated throughout the book quite corresponded with the examples (even though I understand what the author was trying to do), but the story does give a clear, concise understanding of what it means to have a new baby in the house.

Thump, Quack, Moo: A Whacky Adventure by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin

 This is the same team that brought us Click, Clack, Moo
(my personal favorite), Duck for President, and Giggle, Giggle, Quackamong so many others.  This was not my favorite read, especially by this author/illustrator team, but there’s nothing wrong with the story, either.  Just not my personal preference.

Mo’s Stinky Sweater by David Bedford, illustrated by Edward Eaves

Saving the best for last!  This book made it into our library bag because my daughter loves monkeys, and the cover grabbed her right away.  The bright illustrations continue throughout the pages, and any parent with a child who has become obsessed with wearing the same item of clothing day after day after day will appreciate the predicament Mo’s mother finds herself in. Consider this my “get thee this book” recommendation for the week.

That’s been our week. What are you reading?  Anything we should add to our library list for our next visit?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

(Okay, okay, it’s actually Tuesday. Shh!! Don’t tell!)

Joining up with Jen from Teacher Mentor Texts to share what we’ve been reading in our household this past week.

Mom is reading:

I finally finished reading The Book Thief.  Amazing.  Powerful.  I’ll be thinking about that one for awhile.

In the meantime, I’m moving on to The Lions of Little Rock by Kristen Levine.  I haven’t gotten far enough into this to have anything to say about it yet, but I have high hopes!


Kiddo is reading:

I’ve Got an Elephant by Anne Ginkel, illustrated by Janie Bynum.

This fun, rhyming, counting book was a hit at our house.  In fact, we read it several times in a row (as in, I closed the cover, and Preschooler announced, “Again, please!”).  The text has a pattern that allows children to participate in the story by predicting the next scene.  We also took the time to count the elephants on each page. This one is Preschooler approved!

 Apple Pie ABC by Alison Murray

The classically styled illustrations and simple color scheme in this book are visually appealing.  The writing is creative, weaving a story as you progress through the alphabet.  Some of the vocabulary was a little advanced for my 3yo, but still a wonderful example of an alphabet book.

Bedtime for Bear by Brett Helquist

Bear is ready to settle down for a long winter sleep, but his friends want him to come out and play just one. more. time.  Fun story, and could be a jumping off point for a conversation about hibernation.

The Very Fairy Princessby Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, illustrated by Christine Davenier

Yes, THAT Julie Andrews.  Fans of Pinkalicious or Fancy Nancy might like this alternative series.  Some of the text is overdone, but the message of every little girl having her own “sparkle” inside is a good one.

Love, Mouserella  by David Ezra Stein

I enjoyed Mouserella’s voice in this one.  The plot isn’t captivating, but it’s cute and might inspire your child to letter-writing.  The book was recommended by Danielle at There’s A Book.  You can read her thoughts here.


Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff

My favorite part of this book are the illustrations, but the text is wonderful, too.  Baby Bear wakes up from hibernation and as he begins to explore the world outside, he is introduced to all the brilliant colors of spring.  Preschooler  caught on to the story’s pattern quickly and was soon “reading” along with me. This book was recommended to me by Susan at The Book Maven’s Haven.

That’s been our week. What are you reading?  Anything we should add to our library list for our next visit?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Joining up with Jen from Teacher Mentor Texts to share what we’ve been reading in our household this past week.

Mom is reading:

Still reading Mark Zusak’s The Book Thief.  It’s still gripping, but my personal reading time has been limited this week, so I’m still not quite halfway.  I have to say, though, the man is a master at foreshadowing.  Which is, in part, what keeps me reading.  He’ll reference an upcoming event, but it may be another 50 pages (or more!) before that event comes to fruition.   Smart, Mr. Zusak, very smart.


Kiddo is reading:

Continuing with our Mo Willems theme, we read Elephant and Piggie’s Should I Share My Ice Cream?  The Elephant and Piggie series have a long “shelf life”.  The simple text is appropriate not only for read alouds with young children and short attention spans, but also for beginning readers who are just starting the process of reading to themselves.  And no matter what, Willems books always make me smile.


While at the library this week, Preschooler selected this one to read. I Don’t Want to Go to Schoolby Stephanie Blake would be a cute book to prepare a little one for his/her first school experience. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the illustrations, but the superhero style character would appeal to both boys and girls. And I could relate to the way Rabbit’s parents responded to the oft repeated refrain of “No way!”  Small kids at home, anyone?


I love, love,lovethis book. Ella Sarah Gets Dressed  by Margaret Chodos-Irvine is a must for any parent who is tempted to say “no” when your child wants to walk out of the house in a superhero costume, or princess gown, or Punky Brewster-style ensemble.  I don’t know what else to say about this.  If you haven’t read it– please do.

Karen Katz has long been one of my favorite authors for the baby/toddler set.  At almost 3, Preschooler is just about too old for Katz’s books (sob!).  BUT!  She loves to sing, so when I saw this on the library display, I scooped it up.  The illustrations are bright and cheerful.  The text includes some of the well-known verses to “The Wheels on the Bus”, but also has some new and original verses mixed in.  We actually sang this one at bedtime and I know it was a hit because I then heard Preschooler singing it to her babies after I had tucked her in and shut the door.

That’s been our week. What are you reading?  Anything we should add to our library list for our next visit?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

In my quest to get back into blogging here, I’m joining up with Jen from Teacher Mentor Texts to share what we’ve been reading in our household this past week.  I have to say, though, that the other bloggers linked up are able to cover alot more material each week than I am, so if you’re really looking for recommendations, head on over there.

Mom is reading:

I just started Mark Zusak’s The Book Thief.   I’ve been reading and hearing about this title for a long time, but only recently have I been able to start reading for pleasure (thank you, Baby, for sleeping through the night!)  I can see what the fuss is about.  This book sucks you in from the very beginning, with it’s unique narrator, and from there it’s difficult to put down.  Even when you know that there’s a 4am feeding on the horizon, and that the Preschooler is feeling under the weather and is going to want extra attention in the morning, and there’s that doctor’s appointment that you made for 9am, and…and…and…. How’s that for a recommendation?

Kiddo is reading:

I’ve been a fan of Mo Willems since reading the original Knuffle Bunny.  However, that particular book (and the Knuffle Bunny books that followed) still go slightly above Preschooler’s head.  However, this one has become a bedtime favorite.  She likes the simple text because she can “read” it herself.  The flutter, flap, and zoom sounds don’t hurt either.  I’ve heard her read this one aloud to her stuffed animals after I’ve tucked her in and closed her door for the night.

This was my first introduction to Karma Wilson, but we’ll be back.  One of Preschooler’s favorite activities is when we visit the “aminals” at a nearby farm.  So this book, with its featured farm animals and wonderful repetition was an instant hit.


We had several children’s bibles in our house, but none that I really loved, until we recently received this one as a gift.  This is the first one I’ve found that’s truly appropriate for preschoolers.  The stories are extremely short and cover the basics.  The illustrations are bright and simple.  There are a couple stories missing that I might have included. But as far as writing to the audience… Juliet David does an amazing job.

In addition, we’ve been visiting some constant favorites like Clifford, Thomas and Friends, and Curious George.

That’s been our week. What are you reading?  Anything we should add to our library list for our next visit?

Book Review: Pam Allyn’s Best Books for Boys

Best Books for Boys: How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways that Will Change Their Lives by Pam Allyn 

Published by Scholastic Teaching Resources (2011)

176 pages

ISBN: 978-0545204552

When I received an email asking if I would be interested in reviewing Best Book for Boys, the classroom teacher/librarian in me jumped at the opportunity to read something so relevant to literacy instruction today.  Those who have spent time in the classroom can attest to the fact that young, male readers often represent a struggling population.  Recent studies suggest that elementary and middle school boys express more negative attitudes towards literacy and independent reading than their female peers.  This, in turn, manifests itself in lower test scores, higher drop-out rates, and an overall higher illiteracy rate among young adult males.  Why? Certainly not because our young males are less intelligent, or less capable of grasping new skills.  Rather, classroom teachers, administrators, and parents, need to recognize that our young boys possess unique literacy needs, needs not always being met in the classroom.

Enter Pam Allyn, and Best Books for Boys.

The Breakdown:

After a brief introduction, this resource breaks down into the three main parts.  The first focuses on the need for identifying books for boys.  Allyn discusses various studies and outcomes which suggest that the literacy needs of young males are not being met in today’s curriculum and literacy instruction.  Understanding these specific needs will increase literacy success among boys.

The second part, a Q & A, identifies 24 common questions.  These topics include determining the specific needs of male readers, creating a positive reading climate, selecting appropriate material, and meeting the needs of all students in a classroom environment.

While the first two components provide valuable information, it is the third component, “Pam Allyn’s Best Picks for Boys: A Thoughtfully Annotated List”, that makes this resource so invaluable for classroom teachers, librarians, and parents.  Allyn identifies 19 specific genres, from adventure, to the arts, to poetry, to mathematics.  Each genre offers specific titles, complete with brief summaries.  Each title is also labeled according to the reading level, and some even include “talking points” to help generate discussion amongst readers.  Also included are websites and magazines specifically geared towards boys, and the topic of male readers

The Verdict:

Allyn has compiled a resource I’d recommend to any classroom teacher or parent of a young male reader.  Her writing style is clear and informal, avoiding the textbook-type nature of some professional resources.  The annotated list takes much of the leg-work out of selecting materials for male readers.  Let’s face it, children’s literature is a huge market, and identifying quality, age-appropriate, interesting titles can be daunting. A resource such as Books for Boys, means that busy classroom teachers can support the literacy needs of young male readers in their classroom through the selection and implementation of materials, while still having the time to focus on the most important part of education: the students themselves.

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this title for review.  I receive no monetary compensation for this review, or any of the links therein.  All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Five Silly Monkeys and Good Morning, Good Night

Remember on Sunday, when I said that I would be back Monday to give you more information about that cute little book?  Yeah.  I didn’t take into account The Sickness that was about to descend upon our house.  So we’re crawling out now, and I’m back.  Without further ado…

When Piggy Toes Press offered me the chance to review two books at Once Upon A Story, I jumped at the opportunity.  A few days later, a package arrived on our front porch while I was making dinner.  I retrieved the box, peeked inside, and then decided to put it aside until after dinner when The Toddler and I could sit down and enjoy the books together.

Except The Toddler had already seen me open the box and pull out one of the books, and that was the end of that.  Dinner was put to the side as she gleefully pulled out her treasures.

Five Silly Monkeys,  illustrated by Steve Haskamp (2003)

Mom Thoughts: We know the familiar Five Little Monkeys nursery rhyme, but this book adds a nice little twist.  Not only do the little monkeys jump on the bed, they also eat, swing, slide, and spin.  This is great for building vocabulary!  The Toddler and I act out each of these verbs as we read.  I also appreciated the new ending…”Nobody mentioned anything about…jumping on the couch!”

Toddler Thoughts: Monkeys happen to be a favorite animal, so you can imagine the excitement!  She loves touching and “counting” the 3-dimensional faces.  The book is the perfect size for little hands, and extremely portable.  This one has ended up in her “purse” which goes with us in the car and on errands.  She calls it her “ooh-ooh!” book.

Good Morning, Good Night! A Touch & Feel Bedtime Book designed by Laurie Young, illustrated by Melanie Mitchell (2007)

Mom Thoughts: The easy rhythm of this makes this an ideal read-aloud, especially at bedtime or when you have a little one cuddled sleepily on your lap.  Which is exactly what we did.  Several times a day, as The Sickness took its toll and worked its way through our house, we cuddled and read this story.

Toddler Thoughts: The Toddler loves that the pages open further to reveal a full spread.  The touch-and-feel component, of course, is also a win.  She enjoys turning each page, pulling open the spread, and then whispering “nigh-nigh” to each animal as we read.  Her favorite part, though, is tucking the little girl into her big girl bed on the very last page.

Thank you, Piggy Toes, for our delightful reads!  We’ll be enjoying these for a long time!

Want to learn more about what Piggy Toes Press has to offer?  Visit their website to flip through the catalog, or find them on Facebook!