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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bedtime Stories

The chaotic pace of my weekdays is both the reason for my recent lack of posts, and the inspiration for this one.  The days whir by as every moment of the day is scheduled with something, and the routine of it all often makes me desperate for a time-out.  That time for me is bed time.  No, not my bed time....but that of my sweet Little One.  

I know that I should get her used to falling asleep on her own....that I should get things done around the house after she is asleep.....that I should make her go to bed earlier....

BUT, instead, we stay up late reading stories, cuddling, laughing, playing with her stuffed animals....and she always tells me "you're my best friend, mommy!" before she falls asleep.  Come on now, who can resist that?

I've been doing better (and by better I mean not falling asleep in her bed every night, only to wake up at midnight and crawl off to sleep in my own bed, leaving all the chores undone).  But bed time stories are still a staple for my LO who loves to read. 

Here are a few fun books we have enjoyed in the last few months that are all about this special time of the day!

This is a fun story to read if you're one for theatrics -- the bulk of the story is a "brave" cowboy singing his faithful herd to sleep....with a few moments of hysteria here and there!  Fun to both croon in your best cowboy drawl, and squeal with the most fearful delight, your little one is sure to enjoy your own creative telling of the story!  On top of it all, it is a cute story that hints at overcoming fears (espeically in the dark), becoming confident but not OVER confident, and to not judge a book by its cover.  Listed on the 2013 Texas 2x2 reading list.



Such a sweet and beautiful book - perfect for bed time!  I love children's books that are poetic but still great at storytelling...what a great way to introduce children to the beauty of poetry while still holding their interest with plot lines.  In this story, a little girl does not want to go to sleep (which I'm sure is about the most common theme in bedtime routines around the world).  Her parents, wisely, tell her that she doe not need to sleep, but that she should get ready for bed.  As she gets ready for bed, they talk about how all the animals in the world sleep.  The beautiful pictures perfectly illustrate the creative text, and ultimately the little girl falls asleep in her bed, just like all the animals that she has been imagining.  This book won a 2013 Caldecott Honor Award.



One of the most elaborate parts of our bedtime routine is putting all of the animals to bed, and choosing which ones will join LO in her bed each night.  Sometimes it can be maddening, the sheer number of small imaginary creatures that my daughter feels obligated to care for (we have to put a blanket over a small bunny-shaped puzzle piece, because lately this puzzle piece has become her best friend, lovingly named "Bunny Shape.")  These creative ways in which my daughter procrastinates getting into bed are frustrating at times, but also adorable and caring in nature. 

Kids seem naturally attached to their toys, and this book is all about getting the animals ready for bed.  The text is clunky at times, and rather goofy, but this book clearly speaks volumes to my LO who loves her animals, and she asks to read it often.  I keep telling myself that there will come a day when I miss my LO kissing all of her toys before bed every night.......for now, we patiently wait for everyone to be tucked in!



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

For Love of Libraries

After 4+ weeks of packing, shipping, saying goodbye, and unpacking....we have finally (mostly) settled into our new home.  It has been a grueling process, but such a relief to finally be (mostly) done!  Through all the stress and the endless mountain of boxes that need unpacked, I have tried to make room for plenty of time to explore and spend quality time with my sweet Little One.  We have made it to the zoo, a theme park, the science center.....and of course, to the Library!  

Our first family trip to the library in our new home was probably my favorite and most hopeful activity so far.  First off, the branch closest to our house is HUGE compared to our local branch back home, and it has an ENTIRE FLOOR dedicated to the kids section!  This means that when I  "SHHHH-ed" sweet LO when she first squealed in delight at all the lovely books, the librarian actually looked at me and said, "it's OK - we love it when they're excited!  She doesn't need to be quiet here!"  Not only can she laugh, run and read carefree in this book wonderland, it is also extremely well-stocked with books and toys/activities alike, which means that trips to the library will likely be frequent and highly anticipated in the years to come.  Finally, the most wonderful and coincidental thing happened on our inaugural trip to the library:  LO and I made new friends!  It reminded me so much of first meeting some of our dearest mom/tot friends back home, and it gave me great hope for the future:  a future of continued reading, a future of exciting new adventures, and a future of meeting new friends.  Oh, do I ever love libraries!!

In honor of our exceptional outing, here are some books about libraries that LO and I enjoy!

Lola At The Library 

When the Library Lights Go Out

When the Library Lights Go Out  

This is a cute (albeit long) story about a pair of library hand puppets that go on an after-hours adventure to find one of their friends "when the library lights go out."  The story is very imaginative, a la "Toy Story,"  and I know that LO likes to imagine that her animals come alive at night.  There are many clever plot devices that are hidden in the dialog-heavy text, which gives the reader the opportunity to pause on every page or two to discuss.  Since there is a lot of dialog between the two friends,  it forces kids to pay attention to understand who is saying what (it also gives the reader the opportunity to practice their voice acting if they wish!). As if libraries weren't magical enough during the day, this book opens up the whole world of possibilities as to their magic at night! 

Library Lion


Monday, June 17, 2013

Storybooks Can Teach School Readiness Skills!

I'm a firm believer that kids learn best by experiencing the world, which is why Little One and I treat every outing (from museums to gardens to shopping at Sam's Club) like an adventure worth great excitement and discussion.   And while I certainly don't read to my LO every day because I hope that she will read by age 3 and graduate from medical school when she's 15 (trust me, there's some genius out there who has done that!)..... I do value the future academic skills that a love for reading will hopefully foster in LO!

Here are a couple of particularly well-done books that LO adores for their humor and fun readability, and that I adore for the clever way that they teach important early-learning skills.

Big, Bigger, Biggest! by

Up, Tall and High by

Up, Tall and High

This book is really three silly stories in one.  The book is fun to read, with silly birds in silly scenarios, and several lift-the-flap surprises along the way.  It also does a good job of illustrating the differences between concepts that young children often get confused.  The birds go through a variety of scenarios in which they show that they may be up, but they aren't tall....they may not be tall but that doesn't mean they are small.... and what does it mean to be up or down?  Since we started reading this book, I have noticed that LO asks about whether we are up or down, and if things are tall or small.  The framework of the story has clearly taught her to ponder these concepts....all in a silly story!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Mother Love

The worst part about our impending move is that my family is not together.  My husband is in one place, my precious Little One is somewhere else, and I am holding down the fort here at home base, tying up loose ends.  In keeping with the theme of my previous post, I am very thankful to all our friends and family who are making this transitional time possible for us.  But I miss my family!  I have never been away from her for this long, and I look forward to her sweet hugs and her silly kisses soon.

Some of my favorite books to read to my sweet LO are about that pure love between a parent and their baby.  LO must pick up on the love that oozes from these stories, because she loves to read them with me.  Here are some of my favorites, for the kinds of love that they demonstrate so well:


All of Baby, Nose to Toes by

Pouch! by

Supportive love:  The mother love in this story is not front and center, but more behind the scenes.  I include it in this post because it is a reminder to me that one of the things that loving parents must do is to encourage independence and growth.  Joey the baby Kangaroo has a hard time leaving his mother's safe, warm pouch.  He hops further and further away with each attempt (giving the reader an opportunity to practice counting with their audience), but it takes him awhile to feel safe enough that he doesn't have to return.   This book is very fun to read with a child, and LO always giggles when we scream "POOOOOUUUUUUCH!" A great lesson that mother will always be there for support as you become more confident and learn to explore the world.

Little Mist  by , Sarah Fox-DaviesLittle Mist

Inspiring love:  Little Mist is a beautiful baby snow leopard who has never left his mothers lair.  The story is of the mother leopard showing Little Mist his beautiful mountain kingdom, and telling him all the amazing things that he will do, see and become as he grows up.  The book is absolutely gorgeous, and perfect for kids that like animals (especially mommy and baby animals).  LO picked this book up off the floor in the library and wouldn't put it down, so I checked it out without knowing anything about it.  I am so glad that Little Mist found its way to our home!  It is a beautiful and very touching story about a mother's hopes and dreams for her baby.

Meet Me at the Moon by

Meet Me at the Moon

Persistent love: This story is the origin of my Little One's pet name, for Little One and Mama the elephant have a special place in our reading adventures together.  Like "Little Mist" above, this book is perfect for the animal lover, with gorgeous illustrations of beautiful creatures.  Unlike "Little Mist," Mama must leave LO in this tale, making it especially poignant for me right now while I am separated from my own LO.  I love this book because it teaches that parents come back, and that they love their babies from afar.  Mama tells LO, "You are in my most secret heart."  I say to my baby:  Mommy's always come back!  I will see you soon, and I love you so much!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Being Thankful

My break from writing here has certainly not been due to a lack of great reading adventures, but more due to the addition of new adventures in the real world.  While my sweet Little One and I have continued to read great books for the last three months, we have also been consumed with preparations to leave our home and to explore another.  Our real life "moving adventure" will be a mix of the excitement of a new place and a return to the familiar, since we will be closer to family and our hometown.

Every move is challenging, and this one is particularly bittersweet.  This place was my first great adventure with my husband - we lived, learned and loved here for eight years.  We have wonderful friends here..... we bought and cared for our first home together here.  Most bittersweet of all, our LO first explored the world here, and it is hard to drive down a street without remembering something cute that she said or did in that place.

But for all the sadness surrounding this move, there are still many things to be thankful for.  I am thankful for the opportunities that my family had here, and I am thankful for the opportunities that have and will present themselves in our new home.  I am thankful for the great friends that we have made, and thankful for the opportunity to keep in touch with many of them through this blog.  And I am thankful for a curious and adventurous LO, who I know will grow and flourish anywhere that we go.

Here are some books that I have shared with LO about being thankful.  What a great life lesson and habit to teach every adventurous mind!

Gracias/Thanks by

The perfect book about thankfulness for my Texan baby!  The bilingual storyteller shares his thoughtful sentiments in both English and Spanish.  He expresses thankfulness for the mundane and the profound, with humor and insight.  His expressions of gratitude are a great reminder for adults to see the world through a child's eyes....and they are great examples for children, to show them what thankfulness means.  If you are not comfortable reading in Spanish, you can certainly enjoy the book by reading English only.  As someone who studied Spanish for a long time, I enjoy reading both languages - it stretches my mind to enunciate and pronounce correctly, as well as refreshing my memory of vocabulary and grammar (in fact, this excellent book has made me seek other bilingual story books to read aloud so that I can continue to practice!)

The Thankful Book by

The Thankful Book

This book became a part of our permanent collection last year for Thanksgiving, and it is has become a year-round favorite.  Reading this book before bed has become a great point for which LO and I talk about the things in her life that she is thankful for.  While it still takes a lot of prompting from me at this point, I think that she is slowly putting together the concept of how she should feel thankful for the things that she loves, the people who love her, and the wonderful life that she has.  I am thankful for this book, because it has provided a colorful and poetic way to teach thankfulness to my young child!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Silly Hats

LO is just finally getting into the concept of dress-up, which is truly an area for an adventurous mind to shine.  Of course, having an impeccable dress-up wardrobe of princess dresses and chef's outfits is fun for a kid....but I think that watching kids create their own dress-up outfits using their imagination is even better.  Lately, LO has been wrapping herself in our big, fluffy blankets on the couch and exclaiming, "Look at my princess dress!"  In her mind, swimming in large swaths of fluffy fabric makes her a princess, whether it is sparkly and looks like Cinderella or not.....and I love that.  Hats do the same magic trick - a good hat can help you imagine that you are anything!

Here are some books about hats that we have been reading lately.  One is a classic that I remember from my childhood, and the other two are classics-to-be with some dark and edgy humor that still goes over great with the kiddos.

Caps for Sale

I Want My Hat Back

 This is the companion piece to the above Klassen "Hat," and the winner of the most recent Caldecott Award for best picture book.  It is equally as popular, funny, and challenging as its predecessor.  The premise is very similar, but told from a different perspective: we are now identifying with the hat thief, who is hopelessly trying to evade the hat owner from whom he just stole.  The ending of this book is equal parts vague and horrifying, and the tale offers chances to explore the issue of stealing and remorse.  The best part about this book is how perfectly the illustrations tell the story:  just a simple change in the direction that eyes are looking conveys the plot perfectly, and gives the reader the opportunity to ask the listener what they think the characters are feeling/thinking before reading the text.  LO really enjoys this hat book, questionable ending and all.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Baby's Best Friend: Stuffed Animal Pals

I am always astounded to watch my sweet Little One and her friends play with stuffed animals....what an amazing example of a budding imaginative mind!  These stuffed, soft friends are there for everything, from learning to potty, to being scared of the dark, to having tea parties.  Children seem to project all of their feelings - imagination, fear, joy - onto their stuffed buds.  Is it any wonder that they love books about them, too?

This is in no way a comprehensive list of great stories about stuffed animals and the great place that they hold in your child's adventurous mind.  It is just a list of books that we have read in the last few months that have made my LO smile.  I hope that you will enjoy them, too!

Where's My Teddy?

 Where's My Teddy?

This book incorporates so many great toddler ideas:  big vs. small, scary situations vs comfortable situations, great rhyming text, and of course, the favorite teddy bear.  Our version of this book is a board book, and I'm not sure it it is abridged (as many are), but this has been a favorite.  My LO asks to read about "Eddie and his Teddy," as they embark through the scary, dark forest to reunite. 


Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale 

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale 
Knuffle Bunny has become a standard frame of reference in our household.  When LO is throwing a fit, I tell her that she's "going boneless" like Trixie.  When we are just being silly and laughing, LO says "AGGLE FLABBLE KLABBLE!" and we all have a good laugh.  In short, we adore this series...especially the first book.

Apparently, the author of this book is writing about his own child, Trixie.  Since I'm not really a children's literary expert, I had no idea, until we checked out a video of the first Knuffle Bunny and I saw that it was narrated by Mo and Trixie Willems.  Long after Knuffle Bunny 1 became a beloved classic in our tiny family, we checked out the following two volumes, and the epilogue at the end of book three brought tears to my eyes.  These are books about the love of parents for their daughter, and the love of the daughter for her stuffed rabbit, and how these great loves shape great lives.  The stories are simple, but their simplicity and humor is what makes them so great.  I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Book 2 of Knuffle Bunny has Trixie grown up, going to Preschool, and learning more about friendship.  This is a sweet tale, and answers the great question:  is it pronounced Kuh-nuffle Bunny, or Nuffle Bunny?

(We always say "Nuffle Bunny" around here...)

Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion 

I Must Have Bobo!

I Must Have Bobo!

Bobo is a sock monkey.  Earl is the cat that likes to capture Bobo.  These funny little books are essentially about a boy who loves Bobo, and his eternal consternation that his cat loves Bobo, too.  The stories are silly and it is slightly irritating to me that the boy dislikes his pet so much...but at the same time it makes perfect sense to me:  we have three furry animals with free reign of our house, and sweet LO loves them all....but like any good "sibling" rivalry, they certainly have their moments.  Let's just say that LO has no problem telling the animals off when she doesn't approve of whatever they are doing.  And that is probably why she cackles with delight.... "Oh, Earl!!!"

I'll Save You Bobo! 

I'll Save You Bobo!
The adventures of Bobo and Earl continue in a couch-fort safari.  A fun sequel in the same spirit as the original.