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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.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Building an Adventurous Library (or.....where do you get all these books??)

I am blessed with many things in life.  One of them is a family that surrounded me with books my whole life. We are a family of readers - each with a different taste, a different take - and that truly helps to build an adventurous mind.  Another thing that I've been blessed with of late is a great group of mom friends that are genuinely devoted to not only their work and caring for their families, but also to creating wonderful experiences for their kids....which is an essential component to cultivating an adventurous mind.

Many of these wonderful mom friends have lately asked me some version of the question, "where do you find all these great books?" So I thought I might share a bit of my (hopefully) sensible strategy for sharing a wide array of books with my sweet Little One.

First off, I absolutely believe the you can grow a reader.  I'm certainly no expert, so on this topic I defer to someone who is, and has compiled a lovely list of "tips for growing bookworms."

I love many of these tips - #3  reminds me of my wonderful husband, who insists he hated reading as a child because all the books were dumb (turns out he has a voracious appetite for non-fiction but finds fiction a waste of time.  While I cringe to suggest going soft on fiction....if that is what it takes to get your child reading, go for it!)

It is tip #4, "Make sure your children have books of their own," that I struggle the most with.    This is because I am a bookaholic.  If I let myself buy every book that I ever loved and couldn't live without, then you would never see me again because I would be buried under a mountain of biopics, epics, historics, romantics, etc.  I once worked at a bookstore part time for extra spending money, and came out in the red.....Bad. Idea.

So, this is a how a full-time working mom with a rowdy toddler and very little to no spare time who suffers from bookaholism builds an adventurous library for her sweet LO's budding imagination.

 Sensible rules for building an adventurous home library:

  1. If you don't have a library card, get one. 
  2. Start finding books you want to share with your LO!  
    • Think of topics that interest your child (frogs? rain? rainforest treefrogs?) and use google or amazon to find books about that topic.  They don't have to be the BEST books on the topic, or award winners....just find some books that look interesting!
    • Check out some book blogs (the ones that I have on my blogroll to the right are a great place to start).  Here you will often find some of the newest and up-and-coming classics.
    • Check out the Texas 2x2, an annual list of 20 notable books for children ages 2 to 2nd grade.  It even comes with a list of activities for each book.  We're currently reading our way through 2010 (don't ask why that year, just picked randomly), and you'll be reading about those adventures soon. 
    • Look at winners of awards like the Caldecott (for younger kids) and Newbery (for more advanced readers). 
    • Think of books that you remember loving as a kid!
  3. Log on to your local library's website.  Almost all of them have an online catalog.  If you haven't found books yet in step 2 above, you are certain to find great kids books by perusing the library kids catalog.  If you have a list in hand,  you can check to see if your library has the books and request them to be held for you.
  4. When the books are ready at your local branch, you can go pick them up in a jiff.  This way, when you're tired and hungry and your toddler is throwing a fit, you can be in and out of the library in 5 minutes with a haul of great reads (and the librarians don't throw you out for too much giggling and/or crying....yes, this HAS happened to me thanks to the joys of motherhood).  
  5. Read the books!  Over and over.  You will be able to tell which ones your child loves and which are personal duds.  Don't be disappointed if they don't like one...they are bound to love many more.  Reading the books (even the less-than-favorites) multiple times offers many advantages.  As the reader, it gives you a chance to practice your narration and maybe point out something new.  As the listener, it gives your child a chance to remember and a chance to form a bond with characters and settings.
  6. There will come a time when you have to part with these wonderful tales and return them to the library.  If you are a bookaholic like me, there are many ways to deal with this pain.  One of them is to blog about your favorites.  Another is to make a Wishlist.  I do both. 
  7. Only buy books on your wishlist.  This way, you are buying "pre-adored" books that you know your child loves, already has a connection with, and will want to keep reading.  These are going to be the books that they remember, the ones that they will want to read to their kids some day.  
  • Exceptions:  

    • Supplement your home library with classics that you think every kid should have or know.  We started with Curious George, and she adores that little monkey.  
    • You never know when an impulse book buy may turn into a lifetime favorite.  We have several books that we grabbed as we rushed through Target just to keep her preoccupied that have become lasting loves.
    • You will get some amazing books as gifts!  Notable among our favorite books that originated as kind gifts are Limu and Cooper (among many others).

And there you have it!  A sensible approach for a bookaholic to build an adventurous mind without breaking the bank (or having the "hoarders" gang called in to dig me out of my book mountain).

Happy Reading!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Good and bad: lessons in perspective

Ah, Monday.  I have never been a big fan of Mondays (I don't know too many people who are).  But Mondays are even harder when you have a toddler that apparently hates Mondays more than you do.  Today's post is in honor of all those Monday mornings - the dawdling, the screaming, the pleading, the crying, the begging, the bargaining, refusing to eat, begging to eat more - and the list goes on.  Usually by the time I get to work on Monday morning, I feel like I have already worked a whole week.  It takes a shift in perspective to get back in a good frame of mind and buckle down for a productive - and happy - day and week.  

The books that I have chosen for today's post  are great examples of books that put things in perspective.  Even very young children can learn lessons from relatable tales, and in the throes of a tantrum (no matter what time of day or what day of week), I have been able to remind my Little One that she can choose to have a good day by reminding her of these stories.  I'm not saying that it works every time....but the fact that it has EVER worked makes me realize that she is learning from our reading adventures, afterall!


My No No No Day

Good News, Bad News

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Lovely Valentine

Hope you had a wonderful Valentine's Day!  We started the celebration off the weekend before, with a storytime and craft session with our favorite group of mom and tots.  We read many of the books below, and then watched the kids play while the moms created heart-shaped crayons.  My sweet Little One had her first school Valentine's party on Thursday, and then we ate out as a family on Friday. Check out my cool heart crayons below!

You Color My World!  We made heart-shaped crayons as valentines for LO's class

One of the primary ways we get in the spirit of any holiday or season is through books!  As an avid library patron, I had been collecting books with Valentine's Day themes for quite some time.  My goal for this particular holiday was NOT to introduce her to the candy/gift giving traditions, but more to focus on the idea of showing love.  Thus, you will not find a lot of character-themed Valentine's books on this list (though a certain Curious George Valentine's Day book is a favorite of LO).  So here we go, books for a love-ly holiday!


 The I LOVE YOU Book

This book is one of my favorites by Todd Parr (my other favorite is "The Thankful Book," which we read often around Thanksgiving and continues to be a favorite).   As with all his books, the pages are alive with color and so an infant would even be mesmerized.  The more older and more observant read-aloud listener will be able to describe to you what is going on in the pictures without you even reading, and usually goes something like this "the baby is throwing food and the mommy is smiling."  Which pretty much sums up the I LOVE YOU book:  it is about all the scenarios in which parents love their children, teaching them that they are loved no matter what.

Hugs from Pearl


Hugs from Pearl

This is a sweet little story about a prickly porcupine that likes to give hugs.  Her classmates seem to tolerate her prickly hugs rather well, but Pearl wants full acceptance, without the "ouches" and "ows."  Disclaimer:  my gut reaction is that I HATE Pearl's solution to her predicament....let's just say it involves destroying some family household items on the sly.  On the other hand, Pearl does exhibit creative problem solving, and it's for a good cause.  I can't say that I give this one two thumbs up as a great morality tale, but the illustrations are adorable and my Little One always asked to read Pearl. 

Apple Cake: A Recipe for Love

Apple Cake: A Recipe for Love
The real story is told by the illustrations, which are vivid and imaginative and prompt lots of discussion and imaginative storytelling.  A book worm ignores her would-be lover in favor of reading a book (I can always relate to a bookworm!), who decides to bake a cake to get her attention.  He then relates the recipe for his Apple Cake, with each step illustrated in creative detail.  While there isn't much of a real plot, this book has been a favorite due to the fascinating pictures on each page.  I'm certain that LO remembers more about the pictures than about the fact that he was trying to seduce a lady that liked to read.

The Biggest Kiss

The Biggest Kiss
This falls in the category of cute animal book.  There isn't much  of a plot, and the flow is a but random, but there isn't a child on the planet that won't like seeing animals big and small getting and giving kisses.  This was not a favorite of LO or myself (probably because there's nothing compelling about it), however she seemed to enjoy it on the three or four occasions that I pulled it out to read.

Love Waves

Love Waves
I really want to like this book.  My sweet Little One struggles with separation anxiety, even though she has been going to day care full time since she was six weeks old.  We work really hard to explain to her that she doesn't need to cry or be worried when we drop her off, because we love her very much and we will always come back for her.  This book attempts to broach this topic.  I love the idea of a "love wave" and we use this concept when we talk to her about our time apart.  I HATE that mommy goes to work to make cookies and daddy goes to work in an office.  I know that every mommy and every daddy have a different job, but the traditional gender typing is a bit much for me.  That said, we read this one several times and LO seemed to like the end of the book, where the love waves circle around the sleeping baby.

All Kinds of Kisses

 All Kinds of Kisses

Another "cute animal" book, but this one is much better in my opinion.  The story is told in a series of double-spread, full-color illustrations of farm animal babies getting kisses from their mommas.  You can often see the animals from other pages in the current illustrations.  Gorgeous book with a sweet theme of baby love.

Snowy Valentine

 Snowy Valentine

This is the only book on this list with a distinct "Valentine" theme to it.  Little One liked it so much that she calls it by the characters names - "read me Jasper and Lilly, mom!"  This is a sweet tale of a rabbit, Jasper, looking for the perfect valentine for his wife.  In the end, the best valentine is his love for her.  This one is a gem.

Plant a Kiss

Plant a Kiss

Zombie in Love


Zombie in Love

I am certain that this book is meant for an older child, that has a sense of what a Zombie is and maybe an appreciation for the macabre.  My sweet LO does not meet either category, and therefore I was certain she would not care for this book.  Oh how I was wrong.  She squeals with delight when I pull out "MORTIMER!!" and this was her hands-down favorite among the Valentine's Day lineup.  It is a sweet story with hilarious illustrations, and I would definitely recommend for school-aged children.....and maybe an adventurous toddler or two :)

How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? 

 How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?
This is the first of the "How do dinosaurs....?"  books that we have read.  Perhaps it coincided perfectly with our new membership at the new Science and Nature museum in town, because LO loves all things dinosaur.  I know this is a popular series, but I have not read any of the other offerings.  This book provides a delightful insertion of dinosaurs of all shapes/sizes/colors into typical scenes in a young childs life.  Again, the lesson learned is that parents love their kids no matter what.  We loved this book.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


We live in a place where I forget it is February because it is 80 degrees outside.  The phenomenon of sweating in December because the instinct to wear boots and a coat (I mean, it's almost Christmas!) outweighs the practical sensory perception that it is warm enough to go swimming is not new to me.  But I did not grow up here.....I grew up with SNOW.  And I want my baby to know what that flaky, white stuff of wonderlands is all about.

The only time my child has seen snow is when she was about six months old, and a freak "blizzard" blew threw town which resulted in a whopping inch or so of glistening powder.  I hauled by sweet infant out dressed for an igloo overnight to snap a couple of shots.  No snow since.

How do you teach a child to wonder at something she will never see?  This question speaks to many deep yearnings of the heart and is more worthy of a cheap attempt to answer here.  But one practical approach is, of course, to read about the mysterious and the unknown.

So here is an abbreviated list of books about snow, snowmen, and winter in general (real winter, that is) that we have been reading and re-reading all "winter" while sitting in our air conditioned home, or in the park on a warm, sunny, January day. 

Snow by

 We adore this book.  A little boy and his dog excitedly welcome individual snowflakes and proclaim the snow despite everyone telling them that snow is not coming.  This book feels magical.  It harkens many a night, sneaking into the hall to look out the window that gave the best view of the street.....will the snow come?  Will school close and can we stay home and build snowmen and sled in the backyard?  The colors and symbology are amazing - the world is grey, and then the snow comes and everything is magical white.  We also take the opportunity to use this as a counting book, and count the snowflakes on each page.  This book works on so many levels - imagery, poetry, counting.  This is definitely one of our favorites and we have been renewing our library loan since before Thanksgiving.  Probably time to take it back and buy our own copy, so someone else can learn of the magic that snow brings!

Over and Under the Snow

Over and Under the Snow 
 What a lovely book!  The scientist in me loves this nature walk of a book, which explains what happens in nature during winter.  It is a snowy adventure in the woods and a lesson in woodland animals in one.  The artwork is amazing - both beautiful and effective at making clear the distinction between the worlds both over and under.

When Winter Comes

Another nature walk in the snow, but with more lyrical text.  This book also does a good job of broaching the subject of nature in winter, but can read aloud easier and quicker.  Little one can sit and listen to the lyrical text and take in the artwork without the great explanations and questions that she usually comes up with for the similar work above.

Red Sled
 At first, I didn't understand what the hype was about.  This is a relatively new book that is in high demand - I waited nearly three months to check out a copy, and it is splashed on reading lists everywhere.  But the truth is, my daughter absolutely LOVES this book.  The artwork alone is captivating - who doesn't want to page through woodland creatures careening downhill on a red sled?  But to get the full effect, I think you have to be comfortable in your voice-acting and silly sound effects to fully "narrate" this tome whose only written words are sounds (is it plagiarizing to type "Scrinch Scrunch" here??)  The truth is, this book does a great job of cultivating an adventurous mind...your imagination is left to fill in the blanks left by the lack of narration. 



 Some of my favorite things are creating and reading, and this book represents the perfect blend.  The story is simple:  it snowed, and we made a snow family.  The beauty is in the artwork, where the snow family comes to life with a collection of wonderful things, from knit bags to shoe strings, fruit to rocks.  We have a blast just going through the pages and naming all of the trinkets and knick-knacks that give the snow family life.  Hard to get more imaginative than to think of the plethora of uses for a popcorn kernel!


Snowmen at Night

Snowmen at Night

I love this silly tale.  Apparently lots of people do, since there are many books in this series.  But I didn't know that at the time....I just thought I had found the cutest book about why snowmen look different the next day.  My husband, the ever-realist who hates fiction and calls myths "lies," would probably hate this book.  "Snowmen look different because they melt" he would state, and would likely launch a lecture about the water cycle.  Of course, being a scientist myself, I would appreciate that approach to learning as well.  But to indulge in a world where snowmen dance and play and sled the night away is just too much fun! 


Winter Is the Warmest Season


Winter Is the Warmest Season

This book articulates feelings that I have always held but never thought enough about to verbalize.  The juxtaposition of reality (cold winters) and perception (the warmth of close family gatherings, cuddling by a fire etc) is a great way to explore feelings.

The First Day of Winter

The First Day of Winter

I sing this book.  Instead of giving gifts of birds and rings and ladies dancing (never understood how one gives gifts of people in this song), this book builds a snowman over the first 10 days of winter.  Never mind that there are few locales I know of where a snowman would stick around for 10 days to be decked in all of it's adornments.  It is a fun read/sing-aloud.

The Jacket I Wear in the Snow

The Jacket I Wear in the Snow

A great book for early reading skills.  The text is repetitive, and key words are represented by pictures in the text.  I think that this book helped Little One understand that written words are symbols for spoken words/concepts/things.  I think that we will look for more books like this as we progress toward learning to read.




At first glance, this book is just a sweet and simple story about animals and children playing in the snow.  But on our second time reading it, my sweet two year old noticed something that I had not - each individual picture is connected to the picture before (for example, the picture of the dog has the cat's tail in the corner from the picture before).  I was so amazed at how she put together that connection - she even said "the cat is behind the dog!"  This became one of her favorite snow stories.  She also has a thing for cardinals, insisting that they are not red birds, but cardinals.  Melts my heart. 

What books about winter/snow do you like to read?