Every year at Thanksgiving, when all the relatives are gathered around the table ready to eat, my husband pulls out one of his favorite books. Printed in 1858 in New York, it’s a worn, but still beautiful old, leather bound copy of Book of Psalms. As a US historian with a focus on religion in America, it’s no surprise he treasures it. He purchased it many years ago in the little “attic sale” corner of my grandmother’s retirement community. Not only is it a beautiful artifact from the past that reminds us of my grandmother, it also contains familiar and wonderful words that are loved by our family.
That book – and my husband’s joy in sharing it with us each year – reminds me of the richness books add to our lives – shaping us as we grow, helping us through tough times, sparking special memories, offering joy and laughter and more. With that in mind, maybe it’s time this weekend to give a little thanks – book style!
We’ll be doing this as family – and all ages can participate. And here are a couple that stand out in our family:
E.B White’s Charlotte’s Web helped my then eight year old daughter process her sadness at her grandmother’s passing.
Amy Krause Rosenthal’s We are thankful for the way COOKIES: Bite-Sized Lessons led to such great conversations about living kindly and to lots of cookie baking!
My son remembers fondly the joy of reading every single Hardy Boys book – several times! He loved them so much, that just like his daddy, he enjoyed perusing old book shops for old treasures like this 1942 edition of The Clue of the Broken Blade.
Want to “Give Thanks, BOOK STYLE!” with your family? Here’s how it works:
Gather: Ahead of time, let your family and friend know that as part of the Thanksgiving festivities, you will be sharing a book that you’ve been thankful for. If possible, they should bring it.
Share: At a designated time, perhaps after the main course and before you serve up the pumpkin pie, let each person who would like share their book.
If they need help structuring their thoughts, it might go something like this:
This is name of book and I am thankful for it because ______________. (Possible reasons could include: it made me laugh, it reminded me of _________, it taught me that __________, it helped me when I was feeling _________ etc. )
Then, if you want, each person can share a favorite page or passage from the book.
Celebrate: When everyone is done, celebrate the blessings of books with dessert!
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There’s a new alphabet picture book popping up on shelves everywhere, just perfect for cozy bedtime reading with your child. Written by Susanna Leonard Hill and illustrated by Betsy Snyder, ALPHABEDTIME is a rollicking introduction to the alphabet – with a restful, bedtime wrap up. My kids are almost grown, but this is just the kind of alphabet book they would have asked me to read again and again because it’s not your ordinary “a is for apple” type of alphabet book. Instead, it’s a fun story with letters infused and lots of game-like opportunity to hunt for the letters on each spread.
Here’s the official description:
“A cast of adorable alphabet characters make this clever bedtime story a standout!
Suppertime’s over. Everyone’s fed.
Alpha Mom says, TIME FOR BED!
It’s a busy night for the Alphabet Family—after all, there are 26 kiddos to get ready for bed. A, B, and C declare they are not ready, and Impish I and Jazzy J don’t want to settle down, but by toothbrushing-time the crew seems to be headed in the right direction. Bath time requires six bathtubs and is super-splashy—and getting into jammies is no joke—but finally, after a story has been read and they are all tucked in tight, peace should reign. Except what’s this? When Mom turns off the light, it’s an Alpha pillow fight! Toddlers are sure to get a huge kick out of this lively alpha family—and hopefully following each and every little letter’s antics will tucker them out!”
Now, in celebration of the book’s release, and in the hope of sparking some good alphabet fun, here are SIX extension activities for ALPHABEDTIME!
1. Go on a letter hunt. As you read the story together, pause to look for and point to the letters as they are creatively presented. (Note: Each child’s shirt has their letter stitched in bright colors.) For added fun, after reading a spread, pause and play a game of “I spy” as you and your child take turns naming and then hunting for letters.
2.Do a picture read through. After reading ALPHABEDTIME aloud to your child, flip things around by having your child re-read it to you using the pictures (and letters) as clues. Reading the pictures is a great pre-reading skill because it encourages interacting with the page. It’s also a wonderful way to foster storytelling and memory skills. So, snuggle up and enjoy being “read” to.
3. Sing some alphabet songs. Singing songs is a fun and effective way to learn and remember new information (like the letters of the alphabet) so after reading the story, sing some alphabet songs together. Here’s a variation on the traditional one that I learned as a child, that you and your child might enjoy:
4. Do a hands-on alphabet activity. A quick search on-line reveals an abundance of alphabet-themed activities and crafts, but here are a couple of simple ideas that my own kids enjoyed when they were small:
Make pizza dough letters. Make or buy a ball of pizza dough. Sprinkle flour on a clean work surface and then have fun rolling out “snakes” and then shaping them into letters. Gather all your letters on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt or parmesan and bake and eat!
Have alphabet fun at the sandbox. Visit your local sandbox (or the beach!). First, smoothe out the sand using your hands or feet. Then take turns etching letters into the sand using your fingers or a sand tool like a shovel or stick. For extra fun, turn it into a guessing game.
5. Play a “what if” game. Inspired by Susanna Leonard Hill’s wonderful imagining of what bedtime might be like for 26 rambunctious letters, have fun imagining what might happen if the Alphabet family encountered different situations. For example, “What if it was breakfast time? What would each alphabet child eat?” or “What if the Alphabet family decided to plant a garden? What would each Alphabet child pick to plant?” And your choices, of course, must pair with the letter names!
6. Have an alphabet book fest! After reading the ALPHABEDTIME, your kids might be inspired to read more alphabet-themed books. If so, head to the library and have a alphabet book fest! Your librarian can help you find some good books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Susanna L. Hill is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, including Moon’s First Friends: One Giant Leap for Friendship, and the award-winning author of over twenty-five more books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis, Can’t Sleep Without Sheep, and the popular When Your Lion Needs a Bath series. Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, Japanese, Chinese, and Thai. She does frequent school and library visits, teaches picture book writing, and has a popular picture book blog. Susanna lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley where she practices the alphabet with her children and two rescue dogs.
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!! If you’d like a chance to win a fresh-off-the-presscopy of Susanna Leonard Hill’s new picture book ALPHABEDTIME follow this blog and leave a comment. (NOTE: Must be U.S. resident and at least 18 years old to enter.) Thank you to the publisher for providing the winning book and to Susanna for providing a signed and personalized book plate to go with the book! THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER. The winner is announced here.
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:
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?)
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.
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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.
Little Free Libraries are curated and managed by local people who love books.
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.)
The books in Little Free Libraries are FREE!
Little Free Libraries are a great way to exchange books from your collection with books from other book lovers.
The inventory in Little Free Libraries is always changing, which means each visit feels brand new.
Little Free Libraries help ensure that books are accessible everywhere – and you don’t need a library card.
Perusing the shelves in Little Free Libraries is a great way to discover new books.
Little Free Libraries are open 24/7 – even during a pandemic!
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.
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.)
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Special Note: This post was created by my ADORABLE niece. She’s just 13 but she sure knows how to create an incredible book scavenger hunt. Enjoy her post. Take it away, Miss E!
Hello, parents! If your kids (and maybe even you!) are really enjoying Laura Sassi’s new book Bunny Finds Easter, you may want to try this BOOK SCAVENGER HUNT. To start, you can read the book to refresh your child’s memory. Then, on each spread, (after reading the words) this list will give you prompts to ask your kids so that they can enjoy the wonderful illustrations even more!
(Remember, if your kid is getting antsy, you don’t have to use all the prompts. You can also make your own–they are open to interpretation. Each illustration can spark many conversations!)
Spread #1 (Bunny waking up and choosing clothes)
Do you see the butterfly? (For older kids: There are six butterflies in this book. Can you find them all?) What color is Bunny’s shirt? How many outfits do you see in Bunny’s wardrobe?
Spread #2 (Scene in the kitchen)
Count the hot cross buns. Can you find 3 plates? Can you find 2 spoons? What do you think is cooking in the pot on the stove?
Spread #3 (Bunny painting eggs)
Can you name and count the colors on Bunny’s palate? Can you count the eggs Bunny painted? (You can point out to your child that the egg Bunny is painting on the left page matches the curtains! These illustrations have many thoughtful details!)
Spread #4 (Bunny picking flowers)
Count the bees. (For older kids: Count the flowers Bunny has picked.) Can you spot the bird’s nest?
Spread #5 (Bunny in the town)
How many lily pads can you find? How many chicks? Can you spot three tadpoles? Can you find the church in the distance?
Spread #6 (Easter egg hunt)
(For older kids: Try to find all 30 eggs.) How many animals do you see? Can you find the church? For an extra challenge, see which animals have baskets.
Spread #7 (In the church)
Count the animals in the room. Which ones are wearing hats? Do you see Bunny? Can you see the cross? What do you think the cross means?
Spread #8 (Bunny and her family)
Have your child point to Bunny’s mommy and then her daddy.
Spread #9 (Happy Easter)
Count Bunny and her friends on the Happy Easter page. Can you find the ladybug? Can you find an animal friend with a heart on his shirt? Which animals have hats? (The list goes on and on.) Then, tell your child more about what Easter is all about!
Wow, Miss E, that was AMAZING! Readers, don’t you agree? And now in celebration of this post (and the fact that Easter is just around the corner), I’m offering a FREE copy of BUNNY FINDS EASTER to one lucky reader. Details below.
BUNNY FINDS EASTER GIVEAWAY!!! If you’d like a chance to win a copy of my newest book BUNNY FINDS EASTER (Zonderkidz, 2022) follow this blog and comment below with your favorite tip from Miss E’s book scavenger hunt. (NOTE: Must be a U.S. resident and at least 18 years old to enter.) Thank you, Zonderkidz, for providing the winning book. This giveaway ends Tuesday, April 5th at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be announced the next day.
In celebration of fostering a love of reading, here at 10 things to LOVE about children’s magazines.
Children’s magazines can be read in one sitting or enjoyed in bits and pieces, again and again.
Children’s magazines introduce young readers to fiction, non-fiction, poetry and more, in a short, engaging format.
A brand new issue arrives at your doorstep or inbox each month. (Something my kids always looked forward to.)
Children’s magazines foster good reading skills by incorporating text and image to engage young readers.
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!)
Children’s magazines can be read with your little one on your lap, all cozy and snug, or independently.
Children’s magazines are a light, portable alternative to a book, when you need a quick something for those grab-n-go moments.
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.)
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.
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.
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, here at 10 things to LOVE about picture books.
Picture books can be read in one sitting.
Though they can be read in just one sitting, the good ones beg to be read again and again.
Picture books are a magical intertwining of text and image.
Picture books can be enjoyed and treasured by all ages.
Picture books area an engaging introduction to littlest ones to the joy of reading.
They can be read with your little one on your lap, all cozy and snug.
They’re wonderful for pre-readers because there’s so much to point to, name, predict etc.
Picture books are perfect when you are the guest reader in your child’s K – 2nd grade class.
They’re also wonderful for grades 3 and up (yes, even through high school) as model texts for examining story structure, voice, character development, figurative language and more.
And because picture books tap into universal themes like friendship, empathy, forgiveness, perseverance and more, they can serve as the spark to heartfelt conversations about life with your kids no matter what their ages.