board books, Reading

TEN Tips for Reading BOARD BOOKS with Babies and Toddlers plus a PRECIOUS Memory

Every night when my kids were little – starting when they were babies – we would wrap up our day with some cozy reading time, followed by a lullaby and a prayer. They loved it. I loved it. My husband loved it. 

We had our favorite board books which included Goodnight, Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (to which we always added a long list of items in their room), Time for Bed by Mem Fox, and my son’s all-time favorite What to Wear, Jesse Bear” by Nancy White Carlstrom (to which we made up our own tune and actions).

And this picture, oh this picture, makes me smile.  I think my husband took it or maybe my sister. It was taken shortly after our sweet Miss A arrived and my son, then four, was so excited that he held her hand during our bedtime readings. Wasn’t that a precious and tender way to demonstrate his love?

Now, in celebration of the joy and bonding that happen when we read with our little ones, here are 10 tips for reading board books with babies and toddlers.  What would you add?

Tip #1: Make reading time special. (It’s about more than just reading. It’s about
bonding, interacting and fostering love of story and storytelling.)

Tip #2: Ask questions. “Where’s the___?” “Who/what’s that?” “What’s ___ doing?”

Tip #3: Read anywhere, anytime. Read often.

Tip #4: Add simple actions and/or sounds. (Like animal sounds)

Tip #5: Vary the delivery. Sing the story. Use different voices.

Tip #6: Let toddlers turn the pages. Anticipate what will happen.

Tip #7: Point and name things as you read.  

Tip #8: Extend the story with an activity. (Like counting or drawing)

Tip #9: Read the same stories again and again… if they ask! That’s how they learn and grow.

Tip #10: Establish weekly library visits. (Let them pick some of the books.)

Happy Reading, all!

Looking for some new board books for your littles? Check out mine in the Books Tab above!

Note: If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my blog using the subscribe button in the footer. I post once or twice weekly with inspirational reflections, tips, interviews and more.

Extension Activity, Interview, kids' activities, Picture Books, Reading

AND I THINK ABOUT YOU: Interview Plus SIX Book-Themed Activities

In celebration of the release of AND I THINK ABOUT YOU (Kids Can Press) I’m pleased to host picture book author Rosanne L. Kurstedt for an interview followed by SIX book-themed activities over at Read, Discuss, DO! I hope you will hop over for a read. Here’s the link: https://www.readdiscussdo.com/2022/09/and-i-think-about-you-interview-plus.html

Created by picture book author Rebecca J. Gomez, Read, Discuss, Do!  is a reading website designed to help children and their caregivers extend the magic of story time beyond the last page by following three simple steps:

Read a book. 

Talk about the book. 

Do a simple activity inspired by the book.

Happy reading!

Guest Blog, Reading

TAKING STOCK:  Thoughts on Kitchens and BOOKS (of course!) 

How did I ever take the leap from repainting and reorganizing my kitchen to books? And what on earth could scrubby brushes and cheese grates and colorful utensils have to do with fostering a love of reading with your children? Something, I promise. Find out in my post today over at Read, Discuss, Do!  

Created by founder and picture book author Rebecca J. Gomez, Read, Discuss, Do! exists to help you extend the magic of story time beyond the last page by following three simple steps: 

Read a book. 

Talk about the book. 

Do a simple activity inspired by the book.

And now I hope you’ll head on over to read the post. (And how do you like my newly spruced up kitchen?)

Interview, Picture Books, Reading, review

LITTLE MOLE GOES TO SCHOOL: A Back-to-School interview with… LITTLE MOLE!!!

Oh my, but do we have a special treat for you today.  It’s an interview.  And who is our guest?  It’s Little Mole, the darling protagonist in Glenys Nellist’s newest book LITTLE MOLE GOES TO SCHOOL (Beaming Books, Fall, 2022) When I received my advanced reader’s copy a few weeks ago, I fell in love with Glenys’ sweet story about Little Mole, who is nervous about starting school for the first time. Will he like his teacher? Will he make friends? Will he be able to learn? My Little Owl worries about these things, too, so we read the story together. And guess what? Little Mole in the story (and my Little Owl, too) discover that school is a marvelous place where we all have special roles to play and gifts to offer. Little Owl loved the book so much that he asked if instead of having me interview Glenys, as I would normally do, he could interview Little Mole instead.  So that’s what we’ve done!  Take it away, Little Owl and Little Mole!

Little Owl: Hoot, hoot, welcome Little Mole. I’m so excited to meet you, but I have a confession to make. Just thinking about back-to-school makes my feathers tremble. How did you feel when you first learned you were going to be in book about going to school?

Little Mole: Hi Little Owl! I’m excited to meet you too! When I found out I would be starring in Little Mole Goes to School it was a whole big mixture of excitement and anxiety! I mean, I was thrilled to be in a book, but starting school is a big deal, and I was pretty nervous about lots of things. What if I was the last to know my alphabet? What if I wasn’t good at anything? What if I had a bad first day? (But I didn’t!)

Little Owl: I love everything about your story, Little Mole.  Did you have a favorite a-ha moment in creating it with your author, Glenys?

Little Mole: Well, when she first wrote the story, we didn’t know what the title should be. Our ideas at first were: Little Mole Saves the Day, Little Mole to the Rescue, or Little Mole is a Hero! But the a-ha moment came when we realized it should simply be called, Little Mole Goes to School. Back-to-school books are always popular (and we hope ours will be too!) 

Little Owl: The woodland world your illustrator, Sally Garland, made for you, is so fun looking. I just want do dive in and become part of the story. Do you have a favorite scene?  Why is it your favorite?

Little Mole: Sally Garland is amazing, isn’t she, and she really brought me to life! My favorite illustration might be the one at the end of the book where I’m standing with Little Lark.  In the story, I meet three new friends and we all use what we’re good at to help each other. (I won’t tell you what happened, in case you haven’t read it yet, but I felt so good about myself… as you can tell by looking at my little face!)

Little Owl: There might be a lot of other little owls and moles and mice and, oh all sorts of littles, who might be a little scared about going back to school.  How might your book help?

Little Mole: Well, I hope that my story will help anyone out there who might have their own ‘what ifs’ about going back to school. And also, in the back of the book, you’ll find five great tips to help a child who’s feeling anxious about starting school written by a child and family therapist. I’m pretty sure they’ll be helpful, too. There’s even an activity pack full of helpful and fun activities.

Little Owl:  Thank you, Little Mole, for joining me today.  Where can I ask Grammy (and anyone else who might want it) to get your book? 

Little Mole: Grammy can buy my book at her favorite bookstore, at Amazon, or wherever good books are sold. I do hope she loves it!

GUEST BIO

Little Mole was born and raised in the imagination of author Glenys Nellist and brought to life by the pen of illustrator Sally Garland. He is the star of three popular picture books, including Little Mole Finds Hope, Little Mole’s Christmas Gift, and his most recent release, Little Mole Goes to School. When he’s not digging for worms, Little Mole enjoys playing with his friends at Woodland School. He is looking forward to starring in his fourth picture book entitled Little Mole Gives Thanks, publishing August 2023 from Beaming Books.

INTERVIEWER BIO

Little Owl is the sweet protagonist in Laura Sassi’s LOVE IS KIND, published by Zonderkidz. He loves adventure, chocolate, and making new friends. This is his first time interviewing a guest for the blog.

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!! If you’d like a chance to win a fresh off the press copy of LITTLE MOLE GOES TO SCHOOL (Beaming Books, 2022) follow this blog and leave a comment letting us know. (NOTE: Must be U.S. resident and at least 18 years old to enter.) Thank you, Beaming Books, for providing the winning book. This giveaway ends Thursday, 9/1/22 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be announced the next day.

[Note: Thank you, Beaming Books, for sending me a copy of the book which I was under no obligation to review. The views and opinions expressed on this blog about books and other things are purely my own. Also, if you enjoyed this post, please consider following my blog. I post once or twice weekly. Posts are devoted to celebrating reading, writing and life!]

Picture Books, Reading, review

Eight Engaging BACK-TO-SCHOOL PICTURE BOOKS for Little Ones

I can smell it in the air, can you? The fragrance of dry leaves, the scent of new crayons and notebooks and sneakers. A new school year is just around the corner, or perhaps it has already started in your neck of the woods. As a kid I always looked forward a little nervously to the first day of school. Would I like my teacher, I wondered? Would I make friends? Would I understand what we were learning?

We didn’t take pictures of every little moment back when I was a kid like families do now, but here’s a favorite first day of school picture from my childhood. I think you can catch a glimpse of my nervousness in the way I’m holding that book bag and have my feet tucked so tidily side-by-side.

And what better way to soothe back-to-school jitters than with a picture book, or two, or eight! Each of these is engaging and full of back-to-school messages of hope and joy and acceptance. I give them all two thumbs ups!!! Enjoy!

LITTLE MOLE GOES TO SCHOOL, written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Sally Garland, is the sweet tale of Little Mole who is worried about all of the above (see the intro to this post) but learns we all have special roles to play and gifts to offer. (Beaming Books, 2022) *Stay tuned for an interview with Little Mole later this week!

TWO TOUGH TRUCKS, written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez and illustrated by Hilary Leung uses two big trucks as stand-ins for two kids. It is the perfect story to calm back-to-school nerves and set the wheels in motion for a terrific school year. Written by two of the best rhymers around, it’s also full of fun word play that will tickle the engines of young readers everywhere. (Orchard Books, 2019) See here for a post with activities I rounded up for the book when it first came out.

SCHOOL’S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, written by Adam Rex and illustrated by Christian Robinson, imagines what the very building itself might be feeling on the first day of school!  (Roaring Brook Press, 2016)

IT’S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS, written by Jody Jensen Shaffer and illustrated by Claire Messer, showcases the excitement and worries little ones experience as they prepare for their first day through the lens of a very special bus. (Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018) Check out five fun facts about the book from the author here.

I WALK WITH VANESSA, illustrated by Kerascoët, wordlessly tells the story of one girl who inspires a community to stand up to bullying. It makes a wonderful conversation starter for being the kind of people who connect rather than divide. (Schwartz & Wade, 2018)

AND I THINK ABOUT YOU, written by Rosanne L. Kurstedt and illustrated by the Ya-Ling Huang, poignantly captures the love and connection shared by a working mama bear and her cub. During the day, they are apart while at work and school, but they are always thinking of each other. Told with the feel of a letter (or love song) from mama to child, it is just the kind of story I would have loved to snuggle up with with my own kids when they were little. (Kids Can Press, 2022) *Stay tuned for a post with activities for this book coming soon!

BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB GOES TO SCHOOL, written by Annie Silvestro and illustrated by Tatjana Mai Wyss, is a delightful read celebrating friendship and books through the antics of Bunny and friends. (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2019)

MY KINDERGARTEN, written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells, charmingly captures the magic and wonder of kindergarten through a series of vignettes that take readers through the school year. This is a family favorite! (Disney-Hyperion, 2004)

In closing, what books would you add to my round up? Let me know in the comments below.

Note: If you enjoyed this post, please consider following my blog. I post once or twice weekly. Posts are devoted to celebrating reading, writing and life!

Library, Reading

10 Things to LOVE about LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES

I’ve been a big fan of Little Free Libraries ever since spotting my first one at the Jersey shore several years ago. These days, I make a point of looking for them both in my own community and when I’m visiting other places.  Recently, I discovered one while on a day trip and wanted to take a book, but didn’t have a book with me.  Instead, I left a special book mark which I happened to have in my purse.  I’ve done that that at other Little Free Libraries too.  I’ve also left copies of my own and others’ books!  

Lately, I’ve taken to keeping a tote bag by the front door with books to drop off (and space to stow the new treasures I find). My favorite Little Free Library finds include the books pictured below, an eclectic, but fun collection.

Now, in celebration of BOOKS old and new, here are 10 things to LOVE about LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES.

  1. Little Free Libraries are curated and managed by local people who love books.
  2. Each Little Free Library structure has a unique design.  (Yes, you can order building kits and the Little Free Library website offers building tips, but you can still paint and decorate it in a way that’s one-of-a-kind.) 
  3. The books in Little Free Libraries are FREE!
  4. Little Free Libraries are a great way to exchange books from your collection with books from other book lovers.
  5. The inventory in Little Free Libraries is always changing, which means each visit feels brand new.
  6. Little Free Libraries help ensure that books are accessible everywhere – and you don’t need a library card.
  7. Perusing the shelves in Little Free Libraries is a great way to discover new books.
  8. Little Free Libraries are open 24/7 – even during a pandemic!
  9. There is a world-wide Little Free Library website which includes maps which means you can easily find libraries wherever you are (or even make a special cross-country or transcontinental trip just for that purpose. Yes, people actually do that.) Here’s link to the map.
  10. You don’t need to return the books!  You can, of course, but the idea is to bring another in exchange. (That’s how the inventory stays fresh.)

INVITATION: If you enjoyed this post, please consider following my blog using the “follow blog” button either in the sidebar or by scrolling all the way down if are on a phone. I post twice weekly.

faith, Picture Books, Reading

GUEST POST: Exploring PICTURE BOOK LAYERS with Children

Did you know picture books have multiple layers?  Those of us who write them are aware of this because it plays into how the story unfolds.  But children might not be aware of this. With that in mind, I’m delighted to share a wonderful post written by artist, teacher and children’s writer, Kathy O’Neill as she delves into the multiple layers of picture books with tips for using those rich layers to spark curiosity, faith in God, and a love of reading in our littlest ones.

And in the super special department, guess which book she features with examples of activities that delve into each rich layer? Little Ewe (Beaming Books, 2021)! Thank you, Kathy and thank you, Sally Matheny, for hosting her.

Read the post here and while you are there be sure to further explore Sally’s terrific faith-based website, chock full of bookish and educational posts for families. Kathy O’ Neill also has an engaging blog with posts to help children discover God through art history and nature.

board books, Reading

10 Things to LOVE about BOARD BOOKS!

In celebration of fostering a love of reading in even the LITTLEST ones, here are 10 things to LOVE about BOARD BOOKS!

  1. Board books can be read in one sitting, but also enjoyed again and again.
  2. With stiff cardboard pages, board books are extra durable, perfect for the toddler age set. 
  3. They can also be wiped down if they get spit up on, or licked, or chewed, or held with sticky fingers (all of which happened in our house when the kiddos were little).
  4. Board books can be read with your little ones on your lap, all cozy and snug. 
  5. Board books foster good pre-reading and speaking skills because there’s so much to point to, name, predict etc. 
  6. Like picture books, board books are a magical intertwining of text and image (though sometimes they have no text at all!)
  7. Board books are an engaging introduction to littlest ones to the joy of reading.
  8. Board books can be enjoyed and treasured by all ages. 
  9. Board books make great baby shower gifts – especially paired with a cute stuffy or onesie.  
  10. Smaller than a picture book, board books are the perfect size to stuff in your stroller, purse, or diaper bag so you can have story time on-the-go at the park, in the car, at the restaurant etc.

Did you know that I have four board books out with the fifth releasing in October? Request them at your library or order for yourself today. They include Goodnight Ark, Goodnight Manger, Love is Kind, Bunny Finds Easter and my newest Happy Birthday Christmas Child which releases in October and is available for pre-order now.

Extension Activity, Picture Books, Reading, Story Time

READ, DISCUSS, DO! Snack and a Story with LOVE IS KIND

I’m so excited to be a part of a fabulous reading initiative geared to families, librarians, teachers and anyone, really, who enjoys reading picture books with their kids.

Created by founder and picture book author Rebecca J. Gomez, Read, Discuss, Do! exists to help you extend the magic of story time beyond the last page by following three simple steps:

Read a book. 

Talk about the book. 

Do a simple activity inspired by the book.

And this summer we are launching our second annual summer reading challenge. Each week features a fun reading theme with suggested books and ideas for engaging with books in creative and kid-friendly ways. Jump in whenever! Download the printable calendar (plus bookmarks) here.

In the super fun category, this week’s theme is Tasty Treats and, as part of the fun, Rebecca has put together a delightful Snack and a Story post featuring LOVE IS KIND. Thank you, Rebecca!  Here’s the link so you can check it out.

Mentor Texts, Reading

TEN Things to LOVE about Children’s Magazines

In celebration of fostering a love of reading, here at 10 things to LOVE about children’s magazines.

  1. Children’s magazines can be read in one sitting or enjoyed in bits and pieces, again and again.
  2. Children’s magazines introduce young readers to fiction, non-fiction, poetry and more, in a short, engaging format.
  3. A brand new issue arrives at your doorstep or inbox each month.  (Something my kids always looked forward to.)
  4. Children’s magazines foster good reading skills by incorporating text and image to engage young readers.
  5. Children’s magazines foster not just reading, but also writing and drawing, because most include a section where children can send in illustrations or short writing pieces. (My son had his first joke published in a children’s magazine when he was eight!)
  6. Children’s magazines can be read with your little one on your lap, all cozy and snug, or independently.
  7. Children’s magazines are a light, portable alternative to a book, when you need a quick something for those grab-n-go moments.
  8. Children’s magazines are a great “comfort” read when you and your child are sitting in the waiting room at the dentist’s or doctor’s office. (That’s where I read my first Highlights for Children when I was five or six.)
  9. Children’s magazines are wonderful for pre-readers and beginning readers because there’s so much to point to, name, predict etc. Many even include games or puzzles.
  10. They’re also wonderful mentor writing texts for older readers looking to write their own narrative fiction, poetry, how-to pieces, non-fiction reports and more.