St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is nearly upon us and that means spring is around the corner.  But, if you live on the East Coast the ground is still too wet to take out little ones to play.  So give them and yourself something to look forward to and celebrate St. Pat’s Day.

Here is an adorable craft to make:marshmallow-rainbow-craft-for-kids-

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some multicolored mini marshmallows, glue, markers and paper.

Picture 289

Start by drawing a rainbow on the paper.

Next add some squiggles of color in the rainbow to act as a guide. Older children can skip this step.

Add glue

Add marshmallow

Let dry- it takes a while but it will dry!

Cut out.

And thanks to the Savy Auntie, here are some suggestions for fun books to celebrate the day:

#1: Tim O’Toole and the Wee Folk
by Gerald McDermott

This is a very funny tale about poor Tim O’Toole, ostracized by the townspeople for his misfortune. One day he comes across a group of Little People and demands some of their treasure. The evil McGoons in turn rob Tim of his fortune, until he utilizes the help of ten tiny men with clubs to retrieve the goods. This whimsical story is full of Irish humor, making it an enjoyable St. Patty’s Day read for kids.

#2: The Leprechaun’s Gold 
by Pamela Duncan Edwards

There is a contest to find the best harpist in Ireland, and it comes down to two musicians- Tom and Pat. Pat is clearly the more talented of the two, so Tom relies on a sneaky scheme to try to win the title. His attempt fails miserably, thanks to the assistance of a leprechaun Pat befriended. Children will enjoy the moral of this suspenseful little story, and will have fun searching for the shamrocks hidden through the book.

#3: That’s What Leprechauns Do
by Eve Bunting

Ari, Col, and Boo set out to find their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but like most leprechauns, they find themselves creating quite a bit of mischief along the way. Their antics will tickle the funny bone of every child as the endearing trio creates havoc throughout the beautiful Irish countryside.

#4: The Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day Ever
by Teddy Slater

Sit back and enjoy this lighthearted rhyming romp with a group of leprechauns celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. The day is filled with music, dancing and a fun parade. Young children will enjoy the colorful illustrations and simple story about a day full of cheerful little people.

#5: O’Sullivan Stew
by Hudson Talbott

Mix things up a bit with a story about an Irish girl who takes it upon herself to restore peace to her Irish village. Kate O’Sullivan is a clever heroine who, despite her good intentions, gets into trouble. She manages to outwit the king and saves the day in a funny tale full of subtle humor and vibrant illustrations.

Also, don’t forget my book, Before I Was Born.  It makes a wonderful present for St. Patrick’s Day or any day.  When you buy Before I Was Born you are giving two gifts.  A gift to the child who receives the book and a gift to a unknown child who benefits from the sale of the book.  I donate 100% of the cost of the book to Story Storks.  The folks over at Story Storks give a new book and a packet on literacy to children born in two area hospitals.  If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, just send me an Email at blag515@gmail.com.  The cost of the book is $20 and will be tax deductible for you.

MARDI GRAS FUN

Mardi Gras is March 4 this year.  It is a great opportunity to expose your child to different celebrations.

This is a list of five fun Mardi Gras Picture books recommended by Holidays Central:

King Cake for Cassius: A Mardi Gras Story by Diane Renton Boyle [Trafford Publishing, 2004]
Boyle explains Mardi Gras through Cassius, a boxer. Cassius discusses the traditions and terms associated with Mardi Gras. Boyle includes a Mardi Gras activity list, float ideas, and a recipe for king cake.  Ages 4-8.

Mimi’s First Mardi Gras by Alice Couvillon, Elizabeth Moore, and Marilyn [Pelican Publishing, 1991]
The history and traditions of Mardi Gras through the eyes of young Mimi includes descriptions of  the different groups in the Mardi Gras parades, delicious beignets, and experiences with trinkets,  doubloons, and floats. The illustrations are lovely in traditional purple, gold and green. Ages 4-8.

Throw Me Something, Mister: Two Young Children See their First Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans by Malcolm Wright [AuthorHouse, 2006]
Erin and Nathan travel to New Orleans for their very first Mardi Gras parade. They wear costumes and experience the floats, the bands, and different foods and catch beads and doubloons. Experience the celebration of Mardi Gras through Erin’s and Nathan’s eyes. Ages 9-12.

Jenny Giraffe’s Mardi Gras Ride by Cecilia Dartez [Pelican Publishing, 1996]
Jenny Giraffe learns about Mardi Gras and the entire Carnival season all the way through Lent. Children will get exposure Mardi Gras terms and activities in this Jenny Giraffe Series book. Ages 4-8.

Mardi Gras: A Cajun Country Celebration by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith and Lawrence Migdale [Holiday House, 2005]
Joel, a young Cajun fiddle player, shares information on the history of Mardi Gras, and how it is celebrated in Eunice in South Louisiana. Joel also describes different types of Mardi Gras celebrations. In exchange for food for a large public dinner, partygoers and musicians entertain residents. The text is lively and photographs support the text wonderfully. Ages 9-12.

Also here is a really fun Mardi Gras craft project from No Time For Flash Cards:

twizzler candy necklaces for parties Fat Tuesday is March 4th this year and even though we don’t have any Mardi Gras parades locally I have been telling my kids all about it and showing them photos of the different parades and explaining how beads and other trinkets are thrown from the floats. We decided to make our own beads from purple, yellow and green Twizzlers. My daughter was game from the start but my son was not into the idea until his sister came down stairs and said I was letting her eat her finished necklace. Then he came up asking if he could make one too and honest to goodness I have never seen a child bead that quickly! These candy necklaces are fun ( and include a great patterning lesson) and could be made as party treats with any combination of colors.

Gather your materials. You will need some multi-colored Twizzlers , some stiff beading thread, scissors and tape.DIY candy necklaces

Cut your Twizzlers into beads. Even if the ends stick together you can give them a squeeze and the hole will reappear.

Also, don’t forget my book, Before I Was Born.  It makes a wonderful present for Valentine’s Day or any day.  When you buy Before I Was Born you are giving two gifts.  A gift to the child who receives the book and a gift to a unknown child who benefits from the sale of the book.  I donate 100% of the cost of the book to Story Storks.  The folks over at Story Storks give a new book and a packet on literacy to children born in two area hospitals.  If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, just send me an Email at blag515@gmail.com.  The cost of the book is $20 and will be tax deductible for you.

Crafts and Books for the Winter Olympics

With the Winter Olympics starting this Friday, I thought it might be fun to give you a couple of books and crafts to get the family involved in those wonderful games.

The first are some easy craft ideas from The Imagination Tree:

How about making salt dough medals to celebrate with?! So quick and easy to do!

This paper torch is perfect for the opening ceremony, from Rainy Day Mum!

Try out these edible Olympic torches from The Fairy and the Frog!

Or threading some Olympic rings, also from The Fairy and the Frog.

Try sponge painting an Olympic torch like JDaniel4′s Mom!

How about having a mini-Olympics as part of a family fun night?! Shared from Creative Family Fun

And these ideas for Toddler Olympics outside are fab, from Inspire Imagination through Creation

How about setting up a small world play scene of the Olympic sports, like the one we made?

How about an Olympic rings hoopla game from  Multiple Mummy?

These gold medal winner biscuits from Domestic Goddesque look delicious!

Next are some books about the Winter Olympics and Russia from Reading Rockets:

 

Ancient Greece and the Olympics (A Magic Treehouse Research Guide)

By: Mary Pope Osborne
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Where and how the Olympics began is explored in this factual companion to Hour of the Olympics (one in the fantasy series in which siblings Annie and Jack time travel). The informational book stands alone or can augment the novel (for 6-9 year olds) as they explore the origins of the Olympics.

Cross-Country Cat

By: Mary Calhoun
Illustrated by: Erick Ingraham
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

What kind of cat would go sliding off on skis, and who’d believe it anyway? When the family accidentally leaves Henry, their sassy Siamese, behind at the ski lodge, he takes matters into his own paws in this beguiling adventure.

Freeze Frame: A History of the Winter Olympics

By: Sue Macy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The winter games began in France in 1924. This compelling examination of their start, the evolution of the games, and more are revealed in photographs and compelling text. It is current through the 2006 winter Olympic Games.

Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee

By: Chris Van Dusen
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

In this rhyming adventure, Mr. Magee and his dog Dee learn to ski. They didn’t expect to run into a very curious moose, however, which turns their outing a real cliffhanger!

Olympics

By: B.G. Hennessy
Illustrated by: Michael Chesworth
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

All over the world, people are getting ready for the Olympics. Runners, swimmers, skiers, and skaters are practicing; teams are learning to work together. Meanwhile, workers are making flags, medals, uniforms and equipment. But soon the Olympic torch will be lighted and the games will start.

Russia ABCs: A Book About the People and Places of Russia

By: Ann Berge
Illustrated by: Jeffrey Joseph Yesh
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Privyet! Welcome to Russia! Come along on this ABC exploration of the people, geography, animals, plants, history, and culture of Russia. Read about diamond studded eggs, the deepest lake in the world, and other fascinating facts.

Skating Superstars

By: Scholastic, Inc.
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Figure skating has become a popular Winter Olympics sport. Meet well-known figure skaters from around the world in full color photographs and a readable but brief text. A table of contents allows newly independent readers to easily find their favorite skater in this collective biography.

Snow

By: Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by: Lauren Stringer
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Snow has a different impact on those who experience it. This lyrical celebration of snow and related activities allows readers to experience it in many ways, from seeing trees anew or getting out cavorting in it told in poetic language and evocative illustrations.

Snowy Sports: Ready, Set, Play!

By: Per-Henrik Gurth
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Bright, boldly colored illustrations depict how young animals prepare to play outdoor winter games and sports. This basic, primarily visual introduction will serve as a simple introduction to lesser and well-known outdoor activities.

Tacky and the Winter Games

By: Helen Lester
Illustrated by: Lynn Munsinger
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

While Tacky’s friends train for the winter games, he sleeps during sit-ups, pigs out on pizza and doughnuts, and goofs off late into the night. The author brings in many facets of the Olympics: training before the games, the march of the athletes into the stadium for the opening ceremonies that include the lighting of a torch. Of course, there are also differences between these games and the televised ones — for skis, the penguins strap frozen fish to their feet!

The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder

By: Mark Cassino
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

What makes snow crystals unique? What conditions allow their formation? How does one catch a snowflake? These and additional information and activities about snow are explored in this lucid and attractive presentation just right as one watches winter games.

Also, don’t forget my book, Before I Was Born.  It makes a wonderful present for Valentine’s Day or any day.  When you buy Before I Was Born you are giving two gifts.  A gift to the child who receives the book and a gift to a unknown child who benefits from the sale of the book.  I donate 100% of the cost of the book to Story Storks.  The folks over at Story Storks give a new book and a packet on literacy to children born in two area hospitals.  If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, just send me an Email at blag515@gmail.com.  The cost of the book is $20 and will be tax deductible for you.

 

 

Valentines and Numbers

If you are looking for a fun craft idea for Valentine’s Day to share with your preschooler, the following post from No Time For Flashcards will interest you.

January 27, 2014

valentine's day math My daughter loves math and I couldn’t be happier. This Valentine’s Day math game is all about things she loves. Toys, numbers and hearts! This game is pretty simple but you will need enough items that are obviously alike for the groupings. What I loved about this game was that there were so many math skills combined into the game. She had to recognize the number then match it to the amount in the groupings. This naturally led her to counting the objects many times as she checked to see if they were match. Sometimes she remembered the amount and didn’t have to recount. I loved watching her think through this.

 

Gather your materials. You will need some hearts ( we used post its) and a marker, a bunch of small objects that you can put in groups of 1-10 , space to play and I used our wall for the number line.Heart math game for Valentine's day

 

Start by setting up your groups. We did this in our playroom so I used toys and craft supplies but you could do this outside and use rocks, leaves and sticks.

math activity for children

Write out the numbers on your hearts.heart mathI did 1-10 and then popped them on the wall. Then noticed my daughter writing something and she’d made her own 0 and added it to the line.heart math for valentine's day

 

I told her that each heart belonged to a group but we needed to count the toys to see where each heart should go. And she was off. Matching them up and counting like crazy!!valentine's day math activity

 

She may not have told me she was using estimation as a strategy but she was. She’d look at a grouping and if the number was low and the group was large she’d move on to a more reasonable match before actually diving in to count. I didn’t tell her to go from 1-10 but she picked the hearts off in order. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t go in numerical order, it’s not important. Number much like letters are rarely in order anyway.math valentine's day craft for kids

 

Hooray she did it!!math game for valentine's day gross motor

Counting Books We Love

Here are a few great counting books for kids. All book lists include affiliate links.

Anno's Counting Book

Anno’s Counting Book  by Mitsumasa Anno almost didn’t make it into my library bag. I am so glad it did. This is a wonderful book full of possibilities. There is no text just simple aerial illustrations of a field as it evolves one number at a time. The field fills up quickly and it can be tricky to classify the pictures on each page to match it with the number displayed but once you do , each page is a lesson!

daddy hugs

Daddy Hugs by Karen Katz is a cute little counting book for toddlers. I gave it to my husband in 2007 for his first father’s day to read with my son and my son hated it. However in the years since it’s become a favorite and nothing beats a board book for when toddlers get to that destructo stage. Edited for 2013: My daughter has always loved this book!

ten on the sled

Ten on the Sled by Kim Norman is a really fun and educational book. The book is a new spin on the old song ” Ten in A Bed” but instead of squeezing onto a bed these cold weather animals pile on and off the sled one at a time. What is wonderful from an educational sense is not just the obvious counting element but as each animal exists the sled the verb used for how they exit begins with the same letter as the animal does. This was fantastic for my son who wanted to sound every animal and verb out.  Add a fun rhyming sing song text and this is a great read.

Also, don’t forget my book, Before I Was Born.  It makes a wonderful present for Valentine’s Day or any day.  When you buy Before I Was Born you are giving two gifts.  A gift to the child who receives the book and a gift to a unknown child who benefits from the sale of the book.  I donate 100% of the cost of the book to Story Storks.  The folks over at Story Storks give a new book and a packet on literacy to children born in two area hospitals.  If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, just send me an Email at blag515@gmail.com.  The cost of the book is $20 and will be tax deductible for you.

SNOW DAY BOOKS AND A CRAFT PROJECT

The past few days have been bitterly cold.  Almost everyone in the country was introduced to the concept of the polar vortex.  I found this adorable craft and books about snow on the web site No Time For Flash Cards.

January 6, 2014

winter activity for preschool Snow has clobbered many of you along with freezing temps but here in the Pacific North West we are still green and wet and needed to make our own snow . Whether you are in sunny Florida or too cold to go outside Minnesota you can play with snow and stay warm while you do with this fun indoor winter activity for kids . This is a fun exploration that is opened ended and really encourages creativity. My daughter ran with it and I love what she made. She has always wanted to make a snowman and even though we’ve never had enough snow ( that she can remember) to make one she managed to make one with this winter activity .

Gather your materials. You will need some contact paper, painter’s tape ( you could use real tape but it might muck up your windows), cotton balls, q-tips ( some cu in half) , cotton pads and a window!snow themed preschool activity

Start by taping the contact paper to your window sticky side out. I find it’s easiest if you tape the top edge on first then peel and tape the sides and bottom last.snow window sticky window activity

Get the snow bits ready by the window and invite your child to explore.  As she created she told me all about how this was her yard and it snowed and she was playing…Snowflakes came first…snow activity for kids

Then she discovered that dabbing the cotton ball created little puffs of cotton on the window.snow mural for preschoolVery similar to when we made a pompom window last year.cotton ball snow window art activity

Snowman time!snow window activity for 3 year olds

She didn’t forget arms.snow window toddler activity

I loved watching her and really didn’t get involved at all. This was all her.snow windowShe explored textures, shapes, and cause and effect with serious intent while also working on fine motor skills and storytelling as she went.

Books About Snow

All our book lists include affiliate links to Amazon.com

un-brella

Un-Brella by Scott Franson is such a cool book. There is not a single line of text in the book , and it’s not missing a thing! The illustrations are so vivid, so layered and tell the story perfectly. A little girl has a magical umbrella that brings sun on a snowy day and snow when her yard is green and sunny. My 2 year old was beside himself laughing and saying “No no” to the little girl wearing her swim suit in the snow. Grab this book and enjoy!

snow snow snow

Snow! Snow! Snow!by Lee Harper captures the excitement of a snow day spent sledding and defying gravity for those precious few moments as you zoom down the hill. My son gave the book a thumbs up but my daughter wasn’t as into it although when the 3 dogs in the book landed with a thump both kids were giggling. Edited to add :  The next morning my daughter ran to this book and smiled the whole way through loving it! Funny how 8am reading gets a different response than 5pm after a long day.

the snowy day

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a classic. Some classics are the type of books that lose their relevance and leave readers wondering what the hype is about. This book is timeless. A little boy goes exploring in the snow and discovers his world in a new way. The illustrations are magical and the way that  they convey the emotions this little boy experiences throughout the day are nothing short of perfect.

Also, don’t forget my book, Before I Was Born.  It makes a wonderful present. When you buy Before I Was Born you are giving two gifts.  A gift to the child who receives the book and a gift to a unknown child who benefits from the sale of the book.  I donate 100% of the cost of the book to Story Storks.  The folks over at Story Storks give a new book and a packet on literacy to children born in two area hospitals.  If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, just send me an Email at blag515@gmail.com.  The cost of the book is $20 and will be tax deductible for you.

Illustrated Poetry

Lately I have been thinking about rhyme.  And how important rhyme is in helping a young child to learn.  The best part about rhyme is young children usually are having such a happy time learning the rhyme that they don’t even realize any learning is going on.   I taught each of my sons to spell their names by adapting the lyrics to Bingo was his namo to their names.

I started to look for illustrated poetry books for children.  Something that would take their experience beyond the usual nursery rhymes, something that parents and children could equally enjoy.

I stumbled across God got a dog.  GodGotDog1

It is written by Newbury winner, Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Caldecott honored, Marla Frazee.  This little book will make your heart sing.  Read it to your children and read it for yourself.  I promise you will come away from this book with your heart lighter and a smile on your face.  The following is the first poem in this book:

godpoem

Also, don’t forget my book, Before I Was Born.  It makes a wonderful present. When you buy Before I Was Born you are giving two gifts.  A gift to the child who receives the book and a gift to a unknown child who benefits from the sale of the book.  I donate 100% of the cost of the book to Story Storks.  The folks over at Story Storks give a new book and a packet on literacy to children born in two area hospitals.  If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, just send me an Email at blag515@gmail.com.  The cost of the book is $20 and will be tax deductible for you.

Reading on a Snowy Day

It is winter here in spite of what the calendar indicates.  Winter is the perfect time to snuggle up and read a picture book to your child.  Somehow that quiet snowfall leaves a space in time that begs to be filled by a fire, an afghan, and a beautiful picture book.

Here are some suggestions from the Family Reading Corner for winter reading:

Winter Words… Brrr!

by Family Reading Partnership

SnowmanReading11CLRWith snow in the forecast and much more cold weather ahead, it’s time to read about the season with your children and appreciate winter while it’s here. Sure it’s chilly, but that the fun! There are plenty of ways to play with snow and traditions you can start now so your family will look forward to this time of year.

Winter books to read with your young child:

“The First Day of Winter” by Denise Fleming. What does it take to build a snow person? A song and friends! Written to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” this tale describes the ten days leading up to creating the perfect snow creature (will it be a snow man or snow woman?). Collecting trimmings such as a cap, mittens, and pockets builds the anticipation. Fleming illustrates her books with handmade paper images that are warm and colorful and uses playful words combinations.

snowballs “Snowballs” by Lois Ehlert. Each image in the book is a collage with added found objects such as buttons, fabric, and seeds. Children can recreate Ehlert’s illustrations outside with real snow and household items. Pack some snowballs; roll them in more snow to make them big, then add clothes, kitchen gadgets, sewing materials, and whatever else is handy to make a whole family out of snow. Make an indoor snow family by using white paper circles and small items you have at home, glued or placed on the paper snowballs.

“It’s Winter” by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Susan Swan. Even though this is written as a story, this book is full of facts about cold weather, snowflakes, and the change of seasons. Illustrations are beautiful cut-paper artwork and there are suggestions for activities in the back of the book. This book is the third book in a series of four titles on the various seasons, appropriate for early elementary ages.

“Snow” by Roy McKie and P.D. Eastman. Two kids play in the snow and tell us about the fun they have skiing, making snow angels, building an igloo, making a snowman, and finally relaxing with mugs of hot cocoa. The rhyming text in this book is designed for beginning readers.

“Animals in Winter” by Henrietta Bancroft. Illustrated by Helen K. Davie. Where do monarch butterflies go in winter? What does a woodchuck do when the grass is covered in snow? What do mice and deer find to eat when it is cold out? Each illustration in this short book has a few lines of simple text about the winter habits of a variety of animals.

“Snow” by Uri Shulevitz. You know the kind of day when the snow falls lightly, but steadily? The fluffy snowflakes drop down lazily and no one thinks it is anything to worry about. In this story, a boy and his dog know that a few snowflakes can add up to a city being transformed into a winter wonderland, despite what all the grown-ups think. The simple, poetic text paired with watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations mimic the mood of this slowly building snowfall.

 Also, don’t forget my book, Before I Was Born.  It makes a wonderful present. When you buy Before I Was Born you are giving two gifts.  A gift to the child who receives the book and a gift to a unknown child who benefits from the sale of the book.  I donate 100% of the cost of the book to Story Storks.  The folks over at Story Storks give a new book and a packet on literacy to children born in two area hospitals.  If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, just send me an Email at blag515@gmail.com.  The cost of the book is $20 and will be tax deductible for you.

GREAT PICTURE BOOKS FOR CHRISTMAS

Remember, with gift giving time upon us that books make the very best gift.  The following is an article highlighting Christmas picture book suggestions:

TOP TEN CHRISTMAS PICTURE BOOKS by Holly Mueller

15DEC

Every year, my husband and I give each of my daughters a Christmas picture book and a pair of pajamas to be opened Christmas Eve. These are ten of our favorites.

Josie’s Gift by Kathleen Long Bostrom and illustrated by Frank Ordaz

Josie’s only desire the Christmas after her Papa died was that blue sweater in the window display of her favorite clothing store, but there was a Depression going on, and her mother was barely making ends meet on the farm as it was. As Josie reflects on Christmases past when her father carved a new nativity figure to add to the collection he started on Josie’s first Christmas, she feels like nothing will ever be the
same.  Through some miraculous circumstances, Josie eventually realizes Christmas is “not about what we want.  It’s about what we have.”

The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell and illustrated by Paul Micich

The Littlest Angel was four years old when he presented himself to the Gatekeeper to await admittance to the glorious kingdom of God. Upon arrival, the Littlest Angel upset the peace in heaven. He sang off-key, knocked every one’s wings askew, and tarnished his halo by holding it with his sweaty hand while running. He was miserable when he realized he was causing so much trouble. Thanks to the Understand Angel, he was comforted when a box left under his bed at home was brought to him. When it came to pass that Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem, the Littlest Angel decided to give the holy baby his box, which contained a collection of simple treasures from his boyhood. No sooner had he decided this was to be his gift to Jesus, he was filled with remorse. How could he give the Son of God such a shabby gift?   I love what happens when God discovers what is in the box.

Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco


Jonathan is not happy that he and his family had to move to Detroit so his father could help a struggling church get back on its feet. Things seem to go bad to worse when the sacristy wall is ruined by a leak from a terrible snowstorm. Jonathan feels like the Christmas Eve service will be ruined, too, and is not convinced when his father tells him everything will work out for the best. When they go into town to bring back Christmas decorations for the church, Jonathan spots a beautiful tapestry that would be the perfect size to cover up the hole in the wall. They also help an old woman by taking her home so she doesn’t have to take the long bus ride. They stop off at the church to hang up the tapestry, and the woman is shocked. Amazingly, she was the one who made it long ago in Germany. It was her wedding Chuppah – the canopy over her and her husband. But then the Nazis tore her and her husband apart and put them in separate concentration camps. Every time I read the ending, it gives me goose bumps.  I love the way the story weaves together different faiths and makes clear God has a plan.

Jacob’s Gift by Max Lucado and illustrated by Robert Hunt

Jacob is a talented young carpenter’s apprentice. Rabbi Simeon announces to the boys in the shop that whoever builds the best project will work with him on the new synagogue. Jacob works tirelessly on his. One night, exhausted after working, he is woken up from a deep sleep to see a beam of starlight coming through a crack in the shop. He walks toward the star and hears a sound in the stable behind his father’s inn. There he sees a tiny baby lying on a nest of straw as his parents look on. He realizes he has built exactly what that baby needs, and it is his best work. When Jacob tells his teacher what he has done with this project, they realize he has made a cradle fit for a king.

The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett

 

My oldest daughter has a collection of Jan Brett books, so we have several Christmas stories of hers. I always got a kick out of this one because of the troublesome reindeer and the expressions on their faces. Santa gave Teeka the charge of getting his reindeer ready to fly on Christmas Eve, but they rebel at her heavy-handed training techniques, and when they all end up tangled up and crashed, she realizes she’ll accomplish more if she tries kindness and encouragement instead. As with all Brett’s books, the illustrations are delightful.

The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers

Our Christmas traditions have included trips to see “The Nutcracker” in both Cincinnati and while we lived there, Pittsburgh, so I had to add the story to our picture book collection. There are many versions, but I really enjoy Susan Jeffers’ illustrations. This version of the story is child-friendly and follows the story of the ballet.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry and illustrated by P.J. Lynch

This is another classic Christmas story that I felt like we need in our collection. I’ve always loved the sacrifice and love shown by Della and Jim for each other. This version has gorgeous illustrations and thick, artistic pages.

Winter’s Gift by Jane Monroe Donovan

In 2009, my youngest daughter was enjoying horseback riding lessons, so I was drawn by the cover of his book. It was Christmas Even when an old man awoke, achy and tired. He walked out in the snow to chop and gather firewood, daydreaming of previous Christmases when he and his wife searched for the perfect tree out in the snow-covered woods. She would always tell him the star was the most important part of the tree. It symbolized hope.  But she is gone now, and the old man feels hopeless.  That night, an exhausted, lost mare shows up in his life, and they end up giving each other hope.

The Night Before Christmas by Mary Engelbreit

This is another classic story illustrated by one of my favorites, Mary Engelbreit. I love her whimsical, colorful drawings and overall cheerfulness of her work. I had to buy one of her Christmas books for our collections, and this one was it! I think her Santa is perfect!

Drummer Boy by Loren Long

One of my oldest daughter’s favorite Christmas songs is “The Little Drummer Boy,” so when I saw Loren Long at The Blue Manatee Children’s Book Store in Cincinnati this fall, I bought it for this year’s gift. A toy drummer boy appears on a child’s doorstep one day with a note that read: “Open now and enjoy the Christmas spirit early.” The child loved the toy and played with him all the time until one fateful day when he accidentally got knocked into the trash. He begins quite an eventful, and not always pleasant, journey. Throughout it all, he kept playing his drum. He finally makes his way home and he ends up right where he belongs.  Long signed this book with “To Libby – play your drum!”

Also, don’t forget my book, Before I Was Born.  It makes a wonderful present. When you buy Before I Was Born you are giving two gifts.  A gift to the child who receives the book and a gift to a unknown child who benefits from the sale of the book.  I donate 100% of the cost of the book to Story Storks.  The folks over at Story Storks give a new book and a packet on literacy to children born in two area hospitals.  If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, just send me an Email at blag515@gmail.com.  The cost of the book is $20 and will be tax deductible for you.

Thanksgiving

This post from the Family Reading Corner perfectly captures how grateful we should be that we can buy our children books and spend time reading together.

Thanksgiving Day reminds us of what we should be thankful for all year: a loving family, food to eat, warm clothes on our backs, and time spent with children reading together. Yes–reading together!Reading together is an essential part of growing up, just as important as food and shelter. Reading to your young child, snuggled up to you and a book, feeds his or her brain and makes your child feel loved at the same time, nurturing both cognitive and emotional health.

What books are your favorites to read in your family? Do you read a story with words that are bouncy and rhyming or so silly that you laugh together? Maybe a favorite book is about something familiar that is comforting that your child wants to hear again and again. If your child is curious, a book about the natural world could become a favorite.

Thank you to all the grown-ups that read to young children and help them get the best start in life. Here are some ideas of books that could become classics in your household.

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  • “Silly Sally” by Audrey Wood. Rhyming, repetitive, and downright goofy, this story about Sally walking backwards and upside down into town will have your pre-schooler giggling in no time.
  • “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats. Told from a young child’s perspective, this little boy discovers the wonder of snow as it falls in his neighborhood. He finds out how to make snow angels, go sledding, and how snow melts.
  • “ Pete’s a Pizza” by William Steig. Making a boy into a pizza can be a very ticklish activity! This is a book you can act out over and over.
  • “Officer Buckle and Gloria” by Peggy Rathman. Police Officer Buckle and his dog assistant Gloria give safety lectures throughout the town. No one listens to the lectures until Gloria starts acting out the safety tips without Officer Buckle knowing. Humorous and informative, too.
  • “Where is the Green Sheep?” by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek. Is he here? Is he there? Every page is an enticement to turn to the next. Where is that green sheep?

Also, don’t forget my book, Before I Was Born.  It makes a wonderful present. When you buy Before I Was Born you are giving two gifts.  A gift to the child who receives the book and a gift to a unknown child who benefits from the sale of the book.  I donate 100% of the cost of the book to Story Storks.  The folks over at Story Storks give a new book and a packet on literacy to children born in two area hospitals.  If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, just send me an Email at blag515@gmail.com.  The cost of the book is $20 and will be tax deductible for you.

Chanukah

give books

Chanukah is early this year.  It starts November 27 and coincides with Thanksgiving.  In keeping with my header, I would like to suggest you give some thought to including books in your gift giving for the Chanukah season.  I would like to share some titles with you that I found at the Nerdy Book Club:

Tolerance


The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story by Lemony Snickett and illustrated by Lisa Brown (2007)

Reminiscent of the Ginger Bread story, Snickett’s latke scampers out of the kitchen and encounters several Christmas icons. The dialogue between the latke and symbols expresses the differences between the rituals and the importance that one’s identity be accepted.

The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate  by Janice Cohn and illustrated by Bill Farnsworth (1995)

Cohn’s story is based on events that occurred in Billings Montana in 1993. Families of different backgrounds and faith united against anti-Semitic attacks. The book provides multiple avenues for discussing the importance of standing up for one’s beliefs.

Elijah’s Angel  by Michale J. Rosen and illustrated by Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson. (1992)

A renowned African American Christian woodcutter and a young Jewish boy create a memorable relationship that illustrates the importance of respecting religious differences.  This book can be a starting point for understanding the fundamental differences between Judaism and Christianity.

Poetry

Hanukkah Lights: Holiday Poetry Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and pictures by Melanie Hall (2004)

This small collection of poetry is found in An I Can Read Book Level 2 book.

Hanukkah Haiku by Harriett Ziefert and illustrated by Karla Gudeon (2008)

This is a very short book designed for preschoolers. However, it provides good examples of how haiku can describe simple aspects of Chanukah

Holocaust and Chanukah

One Candle by Eve Bunting and illustrated by K. Wendy Popp (2002)

Through the eyes of a child, readers will learn about how Jews celebrate Chanukah as well as hear a retelling of how some Holocaust survivors cherished the celebration of Chanukah in Buchenwald. Passing the story from one generation to the next reaffirms the importance of following traditions.

Nine Spoons: A Chanukah Story by Marci Stillerman and illustrated by Pesach Gerber (1998)

See previous Nerdy Book Club posting- Notable Holocaust Picture Books Illustrate People Making a Difference.

Historical Fiction

Emanuel and the Hanukkah Rescue by Heidi Smith Hyde and illustrated by Jamel Akib (2012)

Readers will get a glimpse of 18th century American Jewish history in Massachusetts. Jewish immigrants from Portugal were afraid to reveal their Jewish identity. The use of their menorah becomes a lifesaver.

Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky and illustrated by Greg Harlin (2006)

This book takes Chanukah back to the time of the Revolutionary War.  George Washington comes upon a soldier who is lighting Chanukah candles. The dialogue provides information about Chanukah and the significance of fighting for freedom.

Folk Tales

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman (1985)

Hershel comes to the rescue when a town is besieged by goblins who prevent them from celebrating Chanukah. While fighting off the goblins readers learn various things about Chanukah. Good overcomes evil when Hershel is able to outsmart the group of scary goblins.

The Magic Dreidels: A Hanukkah Story by Eric A Kimmel and illustrated by Katya Krenina (1996)

Story teller Kimmel retells the tale of “The Tablecloth, the Donkey and the Stick” in a Chanukah setting . A goblin outwits a trickster woman who is trying to take advantage of a young Jewish boy. Everyone benefits from the goblin’s goodness.

Also, don’t forget my book, Before I Was Born.  It makes a wonderful present. When you buy Before I Was Born you are giving two gifts.  A gift to the child who receives the book and a gift to a unknown child who benefits from the sale of the book.  I donate 100% of the cost of the book to Story Storks.  The folks over at Story Storks give a new book and a packet on literacy to children born in two area hospitals.  If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, just send me an Email at blag515@gmail.com.  The cost of the book is $20 and will be tax deductible for you.