Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Zen Shorts

source: openlibrary.org

What do you do when a big panda bear appears in your backyard?  What can he teach you?  And why is he wearing shorts?


Jon J Muth's Caldecott Honor book is filled with lovely watercolor illustrations with a beautiful oriental style.  The very fat and meditative panda named Stillwater shares short stories from Zen literature and Taoism that have been passed down for centuries.  

They are simple stories retold in a way that is understandable to children and inspire reflection and critcal thinking.  In the authors own words, they are "ideas to puzzle over." (author's note)  Plus, the book includes an insightful note by the author that elaborates a little on the Japanese traditions that inspired this book.  I love a little taste of other cultures. 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Good Night Moon

What happens when a little rabbit goes to bed in a green room with a red balloon?  Will the cow jump over the moon?  And what rhymes with a bowl of mush?


Okay, I was skeptical before I read this book.  I had heard of it but it wasn't one that I had read as a little girl.  My daughter and I read it for the first time 4 days ago and we have read it before bed every. night. since. 3 times. each night.  This book is sweetly whimsical and totally vintage.  There's something special about older, simple times.  

I loved flipping open the front cover and seeing that this book was first printed in 1942.  And it's still so popular!  Someone did something right.  The story emphasizes how little ones love to say goodnight to everyone and everything.  The rhyming is wonderful and enchanting.  No joke, I felt calm and sleepy after reading it (3 times).  

The perfect bedtime book. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Splat the Cat

It's Splat's first day of school and he is scared.  Will he like school?  And will his classmates like his pet mouse?

Can I just say, I love the illustrations in this book.  I immediately loved Splat's texture-rich black fur from my first glance at the cover.  Love the fact that he rides an old-fashioned penny-farthing bicycle to the first day of school (see image at left, yep, that one).  You'll notice the beautiful bold colors that pop next to the overall grey-feeling palette.

The story is cute.  It's a great book to read to a prereader.  Very early readers will need a little help from parents to read it aloud.
Kids that are apprehensive about starting school might benefit from Splat's story.

My favorite part of the book?  The lessons Splat takes away from his first day of school.  "I've got lots of friends...cat's don't chase mice...I'm amazing."  

My Great Idea (Family Fun)

This book has the perfect title.  Great ideas that are lots of fun!  If you get the magazine, I have noticed that they recycle one or two ideas from the book in each magazine so you may have seen some of them before, but it's still a great reference.  There's a new idea (or two) on each page and they are all submitted by Family Fun readers from around the country.  I personally love Family Fun magazine.
Some of my favorite ideas range from how to make a doll house out of an old bookshelf to listing chores on a bingo board.  Consensus. This is a wonderful book for moms that are striving to be organized, creative, and fun!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

"An Elephant and Piggie Book" Series

Piggie gets a new toy but what will happen when Gerald throws it up in the air?  Will it break?  And will they ever be friends again?

Gerald and Piggie can't wait to go out and play, but what will they do when it starts to rain?  And what will they do when it stops?


These books are great for my prereader because there is only one simple sentence for every page or so.  The stories and ideas are funny and easy to follow.  My preschooler loved to identify the wide range of emotions that the characters display.  They are very readable for early readers for the same reasons.  I love that these books have a "See Dick Run" kind of quality to them.  Here's an example of the dialogue: 

"I broke your toy."
"You broke my toy.
My new toy!
I am...mad!
And sad.
I am mad and sad!"
"I am sorry."
"You are sorry."

See!  Lots of repetition with simple words and ideas.  I absolutely love the illustration style.  It is super simple but the characters are so likable and the emotions depicted are right on.  I read a little introduction of the author one time that described his art style as "deceptively simple." So. True.  The books are somewhat lengthy (50+ pages) but you would never guess that because they read like frames of a cartoon and just as funny and entertaining. 

Kids will love them and want to read them all. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood

by Jim Fay and Charles Fay

Probably the best parenting book I have read so far.  I like the attitude of the authors and that their goal is for you to enjoy your children.

This book is chock full of practical solutions, not just nice ideas.  One of my favorite parts is how to teach empathy to your children.  Instead of the parent being the bad guy all the time, you model empathy for your kids when they get in trouble such as, "Uh-oh. How sad!  Looks like a little time in your room."  Instead of being so mad at you, they see that you feel sorry for them!  What a great idea!  And then they start feeling empathy for others.  My little 3 year old really caught on and she is the first to pipe up and say "How sad!" when something bad happens.  

So many other great ideas in this book.  It's highly recommended and honestly improved my parenting!  I still want to take the classes they offer at the library when I get the chance.  Even if it's an exact review of this book, it would be worth it.

Child Sense

This was a really interesting read and I might add that I actually read the whole thing!  A lot of times I skip around a little in parenting books, but I read this cover to cover.

I don't think this book (or any book) has all the answers to child rearing woes, but I really appreciated how it expanded my perspective.  

Basically it teaches that each child has a dominant sense, as in touch, sight, hearing, and so forth.  This seems true to me because as a teacher I know that some students learn better with visual aids and others with hands-on experiences, etc.  It goes through the process of identifying your dominant sense and then the dominant senses of your kids and even your baby.  For my kids it was so obvious after I read this book that my daughter is Tactile and my son is Visual.  

The book provides some strategies to try out, but I think that is greatest value is found in the way it might expand your perspective.