Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Books about Immigration, Refugees, and Being Kind

It’s been a heck of a year or four. While we’re thinking back and being thankful for what we have, let’s keep in mind those people who need even more kindness, more understanding, more care. And let’s hope that the coming year will be kinder to all of us, and bring understanding and reunion to those who have been taken from their families.

A Journey Toward Hope, by Victor Hinojosa & Coert Voorhees/Illustrated by Susan Guevara, (Aug. 2020, Six Foot Press), $19.95, ISBN: 9781644420089

Ages 6-8

Four children set out across Central America, leaving their homes and families for different reasons, to find a new life in the United States. They come together as they journey through Mexico and form a family unit of their own as they travel into the States in this hopeful story. The children in the book come from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, fleeing violence and poverty, and represent the 50,000 unaccompanied minors who present themselves to the United States border every year seeking asylum and refuge. A Journey Toward Hope weaves these four lives together and gives readers a glimpse into the fear and the peril each child faces in their quest for a better life. Muted colors are beautiful and blend together to tell this quietly powerful tale, and each child is represented by a folk art rendering of an animal that tells readers something about their character: a jaguar, a bird, a monkey, a butterfly.

Back matter includes additional information and resources created by Baylor University’s Global Hunger and Migration Project. Visit A Journey Toward Hope‘s website and the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty to learn even more.

A beautifully written book that deserves a place in collections.

 

Sugar in Milk, by Thrity Umrigar/Illustrated by Khoa Le, (Oct. 2020, Running Press Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9780762495191

Ages 4-8

A young girl arrives in a new country to live with her aunt and uncle. She’s lonely; she misses her friends and her home, and wishes she could make new friends in her new home. Her aunt takes her on a walk one day and tells her a folk tale of how, long ago, people in Persia were forced to leave their home and sought refuge in India; the local king met them and – since language was a barrier – explained, using a glass of milk, that his country had no room to accommodate the new arrivals. The Persian leader took the cup of milk and stirred in sugar; he didn’t spill a drop, thus illustrating that his people would only sweeten everyone’s lives with their presence. The king laughed and welcomed the new people to his land. The girl is inspired to reach out, and discovers that it’s easier than she imagined to make new friends: and she carries around a packet of sugar to remind herself of the tale.

The story is a myth that was part of author Thrity Umrigar’s Zoroastrian upbringing as a Parsi child in India, but will resonate with everyone who hears the tale; especially families of immigrants and refugees. The artwork is stunning; rich, deep colors look like tapestries as the girl’s aunt recounts her story. There are gorgeous touches of cultural artwork throughout the story, including richly woven rugs and artwork. The fall colors are incredible. I’d hang every page of this book up in my library if I could.

Sugar in Milk has starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. Put a copy in every pair of hands you can find and discuss the need for empathy and understanding, and how a diverse community enriches the lives of everyone in the community.

 

Counting Kindness: Ten Ways to Welcome Refugee Children, by Hollis Kurman/Illustrated by Barroux, (Sept. 2020, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 9781623542290

Ages 4-7

A sweet counting concept book that encourages kindness and awareness of refugee and immigrant children, Counting Kindness starts by telling readers that “When a place gets so scary that we have to leave home, every kindness counts”. A brown-skinned mother leaves a smoking homestead with her two children and an infant, encountering moments of kindness that include “two hands lifting us to safety; four beds keeping us safe and warm; nine hearts welcoming us to our new school”. The story illustrates, in gentle watercolors, how crucial it is to others to receive kindness and open arms. Back matter includes links to humanitarian organizations. The characters are cartoony and cute, but the message is real; words and text come together to create a heartwarming, yet heart-aching, statement that explains to younger readers as well as school-aged readers that there is a need for welcoming and empathy in our world. Count along with your kiddos as you read; consider, if you have the ability, to count cans or possessions you can donate.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Yum! Books about Food

It’s getting near to Thanksgiving here in the States, but that’s another post. Here, it’s late afternoon, so I’ve got the snacky urge – you know, that urge that hits after lunch, but while dinner is still too long away to wait? Let’s talk about food books and see if that takes the edge off (or I’ll just brew a cup of coffee, while I’m at it).

Little Green Donkey, by Anuska Allepuz, (July 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536209372

Ages 3-6

In this relatable story that will give preschoolers and grownups a giggle, Little Donkey LOVES to eat grass, even when his mom pleads for him to try something different. Little Donkey just responds, “No thanks!” and keeps munching on leafy, chewy grass until waking up one morning and discovering, upon seeing his reflection, that – AHHH! – he’s turned GREEN! After unsuccessfully trying to disguise the new color, Little Donkey has to try new foods: Blech! Pew! Pew! Yuck! But hey… carrots are pretty good… watch out, Little Donkey! What color will you turn next? Mixed media illustrations bring this hilarious story to life, and kids and parents alike will recognize the picky eater in all of us (I’ve got a chicken nugget Kiddo here, myself). Pair this with Greg Pizzoli’s The Watermelon Seed for extra laughs and dramatic reading.

 

Every Night is Pizza Night, by J. Kenji López-Alt/Illustrated by Gianna Ruggiero, (Sept. 2020, Norton Young Readers), $17.95, ISBN: 978-1-324-00525-4

Ages 4-7

Pipo is a little girl who loves pizza. Pizza is the best, and she wants it every night, no matter what her family says: after all, she says it’s a scientific fact; she’s done the research. But maybe…. just maybe she needs to collect more data, so off she goes to visit friends around the neighborhood and try their foods. For data collection, clearly. As she tries different foods like bibimbap, tagine, red beans and rice, and more, she discovers that other foods are really good, too! Pipo learns that pizza can be the best, along with other foods, too: it just depends on what you need at that moment. Beautifully written with humor and sensitivity, Every Night is Pizza Night looks at the connection we have to food within our cultures and our homes and hearts: Pipo learns that food can be “something that reminds you of home”; “the kind that says ‘I love you’ without making a sound’, or something to share”. Food brings us together. Front endpapers feature all the pizza makings splashed colorfully across the spread, and back endpapers incorporate other ingredients for the foods Pipo discovers in the story. The artwork is colorful, bright, a touch frenetic when Pipo declares her love for pizza, and adorably delivers the story’s message. A pizza recipe at the end of the book invites readers to cook with their families. Pair with William Stieg’s Pete’s a Pizza for a tasty, ticklish pizza storytime.

 

Hot Pot Night!, by Vincent Chen, (Sept. 2020, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-62354-120-0

Ages 4-7

This modern take on Stone Soup is diverse and adorable. It’s evening in a building, and everyone asks the eternal question: What’s for dinner? A young boy proposes hot pot, a traditional dish in Asian countries, and the whole building is in! Neighbors arrive with a hot pot and ingredients to share: one neighbor brings the broth; another, the meat; one grew the vegetables to add to the pot, and others help out by prepping the food. Once it’s ready, everyone partakes until the last scrap is gone… until next time! A story of coming together and sharing food, culture, and company, Hot Pot Night is perfect for storytime reading and would be great with flannel board figures you can easily make. Digital illustrations are colorful, bright, and fun. A hot pot recipe at the end encourages readers to start their own hot pot nights. Endpapers feature colorful hot pot ingredients.

While we can’t eat together as often as we’d like these days, there’s always Zoom and Google Meets. Try a virtual storytime and dinner one night! Publisher Charlesbridge has loads of free downloadables for a Hot Pot party!

 

Veg Patch Party, by Clare Foges/Illustrated by Al Murphy, (Oct. 2020, Faber & Faber), $15.95, ISBN: 978-0571352852

Ages 3-7

From the team that brought you Kitchen Disco and Bathroom Boogie, we get a Veggie Patch-a-Palooza as the farm beds down for the night and the vegetables take the stage to dance and sing in the mud for a Veg Patch Party! Kids will love seeing cartoon pumpkins put on disco boots, carrots forming a conga line, and red hot chillis rock out on stage. The rhyming story has great repetition with its call to action: “So conga like a carrot, / Party like a pea, / Rock out like a radish, / YEAH! / And boogie like a bean!” Bathroom Boogie went over huge for me at storytime, so I’ll be enjoying Veg Patch Party with my littles next. Perfect for flannel storytimes, and there are lots of cute vegetable coloring pages to have handy. I like doing a “cute vegetable coloring pages” search so you get animated, kid-friendly faces, like this selection. Endpapers have veggie sketches with smiling vegetables to greet readers. Pair with one of my oldies but goodies, Food Fight, for a storytime about feisty food.

 

Posted in picture books

#HomesCool: Picture Book Math

How’s everyone doing with blended learning, in-person learning, or remote learning? Third grade math has been interesting to revisit, to say the least, so I decided it was time to enjoy some picture book math: let the games begin.

Sir Cumference Gets Decima’s Point, by Cindy Neuschwander/Illustrated by Wayne Geehan, (Oct. 2020, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-57091-764-6

Ages 7-10

If you haven’t discovered the Sir Cumference series of books, you are missing out. I was introduced to them a few years ago, as a new librarian working with a student educator on a STEM/Discovery Club in our library. There are now 11 books and a book of classroom activities in the series, which follows a knight named Sir Cumference and the people he encounters, all named after math concepts. Each adventure takes on a new math problem, and the adventures use storytelling and mathematics to teach concepts like radius and diameter, area and perimeter, decimals, and more.

In this latest Sir Cumference adventure, Pia of Chartres, the best baker in Camelot, has been kidnapped by ogres! But they’re only borrowing her because they need her help: they are holding their annual feast and want her to make her famous Crème de la Crumb for the event. When Sir Cumference and the rest of the rescue party arrive on the scene and realize that Pia is in no danger, they all set to work baking and devising a way to make sure there’s enough food for everyone: ogres and surprise guests alike! The story introduces the decimal system in a way that blends easily into a story about baking and portions (for younger readers, think of Pat Hutchins’s The Doorbell Rang) as it explains tenths, hundreths, and thousandths. The warm, colorful artwork will draw readers right into its medieval fantasy world. Get the set and leave lots of scrap paper around; invite your littles into the kitchen with you and let them figure out portions of brownies and cakes as you bake!

 

Jefferson Measures a Moose, by Mara Rockliff/Illustrated by S.D. Schindler, (Aug. 2020, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763694104

Ages 6-9

Thomas Jefferson was a big fan of numbers; he measured, counted, and journaled things he was interested in, like how much it cost to see a monkey (11 pence) or how long it took to grow a pea (85 days). When he caught wind that a famous French naturalist, the Count de Buffon, published a book saying that America was a “miserable, cold, damp place where nothing good could grow”, he had to answer back. Not only were Buffon’s observations mean, they were wrong. He’d never seen the animals in America, let alone weighed them, measured them, or listened to them! He sent a book of his numbers to Buffon, but the Frenchman would not be swayed. So Jefferson called on his friend, James Madison, to help: he needed to get hold of a moose. A humorous look at a moment in math, U.S., and natural history, Jefferson Measures a Moose is about a former President’s mania for math and the truth. Back matter includes more information on Jefferson’s passion for numbers, and primary and secondary sources. Colorful ink and watercolor illustrations bring humor and history to the story. This is a fun choice for a readaloud to a STEM or Discovery Club project on weighing and measuring. Publisher Candlewick has a free Teacher Tips sheet available.

Want more math fun for kids? AMP has math, science, and other lesson plans incorporating their 8-Bit Warrior series.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Get ready for a Pumpkin Hunt!

We’re Going on a Pumpkin Hunt, by Mary Hogan-Wilcox/Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, (Aug. 2020, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-62354-118-7

Ages 3-7

The latest spin on the classic “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” is this Fall story about a group of animal friends who go off in search of the biggest orange and round pumpkin in town! Dressed in costumes for trick-or-treating fun, the friends wander into the “dark, shiver-your-socks night”. The story has all the sensory fun that every retelling features; in this case, squeaky gates, blinking night time bugs, tickly grass, and an unexpected surprise! Lots of repetition helps kids get into the story with you, and the check-ins – “I’m not scared. / Are you? / Not me.” – are a nice opportunity to check in with your own listeners and make sure no one feels too nervous about the story. Pen, ink, and watercolor artwork is gentle and soft. A cute addition to your storytime collections; most folks are familiar with We’re Going On a Bear Hunt and like the different variations on a familiar theme.

We’re Going on a Pumpkin Hunt has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Runaway Pumpkins is fun Fall reading

Runaway Pumpkins, by Teresa Bateman/Illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman, (Aug. 2020, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1580896818

Ages 3-6

A school trip to the pumpkin patch goes awry when all but one of the pumpkins fall through a loose hatch… but the townspeople and the kids are determined to look at the bright side in this sweet Fall story, originally released in 2018. The story, written in rhyming verse, captures the excitement of a class trip, including the bouncing bus and the excited kids. The illustrations capture the crisp Fall feeling, with orange, yellow, and occasionally, green trees and a darkening blue Fall sky. Kids imagine creating all sorts of jack-o-lanterns with their pumpkins in an amusing spread, with all sorts of pumpkin faces and the children dreaming them up. When the escaped pumpkins are discovered, the kids salvage the remaining pumpkin and focus their attention on it, while the townspeople who’ve discovered the broken, banged up pumpkins in their yards decide to show kindness to the children, and surprise them with a veritable pumpkin feast at the harvest fair. Kids look on in hungry astonishment at pumpkin soup, pie, even ice cream and barbecue, earning the cutest line in the book, “Our pumpkins are back, but they came in disguise!” A recipe for caramel frosted pumpkin cookies at the end lets readers and their grownups experience some of the fun.

A fun Fall readaloud for preschoolers and Kindergarteners, have plenty of pumpkin coloring sheets ready. There are some great ones on The Spruce Crafts and First Palette, and Education.com has some really great activities, including a dress-up pumpkin and paper bag Jack-o-Lantern.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

#HomesCool: Storytelling Math RULES!

Charlesbridge Publishing has a new series that’s just in time for school, whether you’re fully remote, homeschooling, unschooling, or blended learning. Storytelling Math is all about looking at math a little differently. The authors and illustrators are diverse, their characters speak different languages, and they all speak the universal language of mathematics. The series was developed in collaboration with math experts at STEM education non-profit TERC, under a grant from the Heising-Simons Foundation.

Let’s start with award-winning author/illustrator Grace Lin’s new math board book series!

What Will Fit?, by Grace Lin, (Oct. 2020, Charlesbridge), $6.99, ISBN: 9781623541255

Ages 0-3

Olivia, a little girl, heads to a farmer’s market, ready to fill her basket with good food. What will fit? The beet just rolls around, but the zucchini is too long, and just sticks out. How will Olivia find the best fit and bring home some healthy food? What Will Fit? is all about spatial relations. A section called Exploring the Math explains the math – in this case, spatial sense and how things fit – in the context of the story. A Try This! section offers easy activities that parents and caregivers can incorporate lessons into a child’s day. Exploring Math and Try This are written by Douglas Clements, Kennedy Endowed Chair and Professor at the University of Denver and executive director of the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy.

Grace Lin’s artwork is always so colorful and fun. Setting What Will Fit? in a farmer’s market allows her to let her character, a young girl of color, wander through a colorful setting, with delicious foods that kids can identify, count, and name shapes and colors.

 

The Last Marshmallow, by Grace Lin, (Oct. 2020, Charlesbridge), $6.99, ISBN: 9781623541262

Ages 0-3

It’s a cold day out, and Olivia and Mei warm up with some hot chocolate. There are two friends, and three marshmallows: who will get the last marshmallow? All about division and fractions, The Last Marshmallow is also about sharing and friendship. Exploring the Math explains how sharing leads to a real-world understanding of fractions and division, and Try This! suggests having kids figure out how to share food in different increments in a way that’s fair to everyone.

The artwork is cheerful and focuses mainly on Olivia and Mei, with two yummy cups of hot cocoa, and three plump marshmallows to split between them.

 

Circle! Sphere!, by Grace Lin, (Oct. 2020, Charlesbridge), $6.99, ISBN: 9781623541248

Ages 0-3

Manny, Mei, and Olivia are playing outside together and want to blow bubbles. There are three bubble wands; one for each friend. Each wand has a different shape, but they all blow spherical bubbles! Teaching children the foundation of geometry, Circle! Sphere! looks at shapes and 3-dimensional objects using a day outside, spent blowing bubbles with friends. Exploring the Math explains how the story helps build that mathematical foundation, and Try This! introduces new vocabulary words, including sphere, circle, and round, along with suggestions for encouraging children to think about shapes.

The artwork is cheery , depicting three friends playing outside on a warm day. Bubbles and wands offer the chance to go over shapes and colors with little learners.

 

Up to My Knees!, by Grace Lin, (Oct. 2020, Charlesbridge), $6.99, ISBN: 9781623541231

Ages 0-3

Mei celebrates the spring by gardening! She plants a seed and waits for it to grow. With water, sun, and time, the plant grows and grows: first it’s as tall as her toe; then, her knees; her shoulders, and finally, when summer arrives, the sunflower is in full bloom and taller than Mei! Up to My Knees introduces height and measurement in a story about plants, growing, and the seasons. Explore This explains how stories like Up to My Knees set the stage for understanding measurements and, eventually, using tools like yardsticks and rulers. Try This! encourages parents and caregivers to work with kids to measure things in their homes and environs, and introduces vocabulary words like longer and taller.

The artwork is cheery and bright: it’s spring and summer! Mei is out in the open air, gardening and growing a lush green plant that blooms into a bright sunflower.

Setting the stage for everyday math concepts, Grace Lin’s board book series features diverse characters and tells deeper stories of sharing and friendship. While Grace Lin’s website doesn’t have anything about the Storytelling Math books up yet, she does have some great resources available for parents, caregivers, and kids. The Storytelling Math website has author Q&A and videos; I’m hoping we get some educator and parent resources soon, too.

 

Lia and Luis: Who Has More?, by Ana Crespo/Illustrated by Giovana Medeiros, (Oct. 2020, Charlesbridge), $15.99, ISBN: 9781623541279

Ages 3-6

Twins Lia and Luis try to one-up one another when it comes to their favorite snacks. Lia’s got two chicken croquettes, and Luis has a bag of tapioca biscuits. So who has more? Depends on how you look at it: if you’re counting, a bag of chips has a lot more than just two; but if you weigh them, two chicken croquettes weigh more than a light bag of chips. So how do they even things out without anyone feeling bad?

The twins use the math concepts of comparing, measuring, and counting to work out who has “more”: depending on what you consider more, the answer is going to be different, as they learn. They learn that quantity and weight are two very, very different things! It’s an easy way to put learning into practice: the next time you go to a grocery store, show your kids how different packaging doesn’t necessarily mean there’s more of something; point out how the weight really makes the difference, especially when it comes to getting the best deal for your money.  A Try This! section at the end of the story, by Sara Cordes, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology at Boston College, offers practical ways to help kids put this story into practice.

This is a fun story made even more fun by the fact that Lia and Luis speak Portuguese! The narrative text of the story is in English, and Lia and Luis, who are Brazilian, speak Portuguese to one another. A glossary of phrases is there for readers (but they’re largely understandable in context). Friendly characters, warm colors, and an exciting new language lesson make learning math even more enjoyable!

 

The Animals Would Not Sleep, by Sara Levine/Illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens, (Oct. 2020, Charlesbridge), $15.99, ISBN: 9781623541286

Ages 3-6

Marco has to get ready for bed, but his stuffed animals are causing a ruckus! He tries to sort them into bins to get ready for bed, but they aren’t happy! He attemps different classifications to sort by – he IS a scientist, after all! – and finally arrives at an arrangement that works well for everyone. Incredibly relatable – my Kiddo loved this, because it mirrors has bedtime arrangement – and sweetly affectionate, The Animals Would Not Sleep is a good bedtime story, but it’s also a great way to start talking about the concepts of classification, sorting, and characteristics. Each time Marco classifies and sorts his animals, he’s spot on – some are flying animals, some move on land, some swim – but they complain. He changes them up according to size, and then color, but someone is always feeling left out. His last arrangement takes everyone’s feelings into consideration and leads to a good night’s sleep.

Back matter talks about sorting in science, and a sections on Exploring the Math and Try This! by Karen Economopoulos, Co-Director of the Investigations Center for Curriculum and Professional Development at TERC, introduces ways to bring sorting and classifying into your homes. Encourage your kids to sort some of their toys or school supplies and explain what led them to their decisions. Encourage scientific thinking!

Most Storytelling Math books are available in both English and Spanish, which makes me very happy.

Posted in Toddler Reads

#HomesCool: Baby Senses Board Books!

I LOVE the Baby Loves series from Ruth Spiro and Irene Chan. They introduce the five senses to little learners in a way that we can demonstrate and they can understand, with an ittty bitty bit of science to introduce them to new words and ideas. There are three new books out right now that are wonderful for adding to your snuggle time reading time.

Baby Loves The Five Senses: Taste!, by Ruth Spiro/Illustrated by Irene Chan, (Aug. 2020, Charlesbridge), $8.99, ISBN: 9781623541545

Ages 0-4

Baby loves tasty food! Baby helps in the kitchen and loves to snack on strawberries. The easy-to-understand text works with Irene Chan’s adorable illustrations of a wide-eyed baby discovering why strawberries taste so good, and why food smells so yummy (it’s all connected!). Illustrations of the major flavor groups – sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami – help readers map flavors to descriptive words. Surrounded by yummy foods, a happy baby indulges! The cover gives visual cues to the sense we’re exploring, with a bowl of yummy food next to the word “Taste”.  Do you have to read words like “receptor cells” and “flavor molecules” to babies? Why not? Stick your own tongue out and let babies stick theirs out, to get the main idea across. And have some yummy foods, like yogurts, Cheerios, and fruit, available (at home, please) to let your own little ones explore their senses of taste.

Pair this with Leslie Patricielli’s Yummy Yucky for a fun, tasty read-aloud!

 

Baby Loves The Five Senses: Touch!, by Ruth Spiro/Illustrated by Irene Chan, (Aug. 2020, Charlesbridge), $8.99, ISBN: 9781623541552

Ages 0-3

This one is all about the textiles and the tactile. With a feather on the cover, ready to tickle the title, we know this is all about the sense of touch before even cracking the cover. Sure enough ,there’s a happy baby, helping with the laundry. The baby notices that clothes go into the dryer feeling wet and cold, and come out feeling dry and warm. How does he know these feelings? He touches things! Two spreads explain the science behind touch, followed by the simpler breakdown: “Touch helps baby pick things up. / It also helps him know when to put things down. / TOO HOT!” New vocabulary words include receptor cells and epidermis: roll up a sleeve and let baby touch your arm, and give baby a soft tickle on the foot or neck!

Leslie Patricelli’s Blankie and Tickle are nice read-alongs with this book. Get all sorts of tactile surfaces for baby to touch and explore, like a soft blankie or lovey of their own, a cold bowl of cereal, or a warm sweater. And remember Pat the Bunny? That is a PERFECT accompanying read!

 

Baby Loves The Five Senses: Smell!, by Ruth Spiro/Illustrated by Irene Chan, (Aug. 2020, Charlesbridge, $8.99, ISBN: 9781623541538

Ages 0-3

The cover image of bread, the scent wafting from a freshly baked slice, gives us a clue about where Baby’s latest adventure will take us. Baby is shopping at the market and smells something tasty… bread! How does bread smell so good to Baby’s little nose? Illustrated spreads explain the science of molecules and how they release and mix with other molecules in the air, delivering them right to Baby’s nose. Baby smells yummy things like bread, and some not-so-yummy things, too! But Baby’s favorite smell is the smell of lunch!

Point to your nose and Baby’s nose to explain where smells enter, and have tasty-smelling things around for your own Baby to enjoy: some flowers, some tasty toast or fresh bread if you have some, and something sweet, like an orange or apple, for starters. You can point to toes and hold your nose, saying “Stinky!” for giggles. Read with Leslie Patricelli’s Yummy Yucky or Annie Kubler’s What Can I Smell? for extra sensory fun.

Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction

No Voice Too Small lifts up kids voices

No Voice Too Small: 14 Young Americans Making History, edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila Dawson, & Jeanette Bradley/Illustrated by Jeanette Bradley, (Sept. 2020, Charlesbridge), $18.99, ISBN: 9781623541316

Ages 5-12

Fourteen outstanding young people who saw injustice and took action are celebrated here in poetry and art. Activists include Mari Copeny – “Little Miss Flint” – who demanded clean water for her community and got President Obama’s attention; Virsidiana Sanchez Santos, whose quinceañera at the Texas State Capitol called attention to the state’s stringent immigration policy; and Marley Dias, the girl who started the #1000BlackGirlBooks initative to collect books with characters who looked like her, and so many other readers looking for representation. These activists and 11 more find a place in the pages here, celebrated by luminaries including G. Neri, Nikki Grimes, Joseph Bruchac, and Lesléa Newman. Each profile includes a biographical paragraph; back matter explains the poetry forms used throughout the book, and profiles on each of the featured poets. Callout quotes invite readers to think about ways they can take action. The artwork showcases each of individual, and endpapers look like blackboards, with quotes from each activist in a chalk-white font. One percent of hardcover sales will go to TeachingforChange.org.

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

#SummersCool: Concepts, Political Science, and MAD LIBS!

Summer marches on, and we still don’t know what Fall is going to look like. So let’s keep pulling together all the learning material we can get our hands on, because whether or not we realize it, we’re all learning alongside our kids these days. Let’s make it fun!

This or That? What Will You Choose at the British Museum?, by Pippa Goodhart, (March 2020, Nosy Crow), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536212235

Ages 3-7

First up, I’ve got a great concept book: This or That? is part of the Early Learning at the Museum series from Candlewick’s Nosy Crow imprint. Author Pippa Goodhart and the Trustees of the British Museum have curated 12 spreads of artifacts from the British Museum’s collection, each with a different theme in mind: would you rather wear a skirt or a shirt? Live in a tent or a tree house? Soar above the ground in a balloon or skim the water in a boat? There are hundreds of jumping off points for more questions, some posed in the text (“Do you see any vehicles pulled by animals?” “Do you see any buildings with a ladder?”), and endless questions you can come up with as you look through the pictures with your kiddos. This is serious I Spy territory for colors, shapes, and counting here. The index has numbered spreads that provide more information about each featured piece. This is just a gorgeous, fun book that always offers something new to discover.

 

Baby Loves Political Science: Democracy!, by Ruth Spiro/Illustrated by Greg Paprocki, (April 2020, Charlesbridge), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-62354-227-6

Ages 0-5

And now, for political science! The Baby Loves… series of board books have been a hit at my library (Baby Loves Science titles include Baby Loves Quarks! and Baby Loves Aerodynamics!), so I’m especially interested in this latest offshoot of the series. The first book, Baby Loves Political Science: Democracy! introduces the democratic process to little ones with easy-to-understand explanations of choosing leaders and defining terms like “candidate”, “rally”, and “polling place”. Bright, colorful and cartoony illustrations appeal to the littlest listeners, inviting them to look at the action in the books and get used to hearing these new vocabulary words; the text is wonderful for explaining the political process to pre-K readers and Kindergarteners. Ruth Spiro and Greg Paprocki let kids know that there’s enough room for everyone to get involved and have a voice, including cheering parents on when they’re voting, stamping postcards, and coloring signs for rallies. Involve children early on so they’ll grow up knowing they have a voice! Charlesbridge has a free, downloadable activity kit with coloring sheets and more.

 

Baby Loves Political Science: Justice!, by Ruth Spiro/Illustrated by Greg Poprocki, (Sept. 2020, Charlesbridge), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-62354-228-3

Ages 0-5

Coming in September, we have a new Baby Loves Political Science book, Justice! Here, a little boy learns that breaking rules come with consequences, when he breaks something at home; it’s a jumping off point to explain how laws are rules that keep our communities safe and fair, and touches on an explanation of the Constitution, three branches of government, and how lawyers and courts help interpret the law to keep things as safe and fair as possible for all of us.

Greg Poprocki’s artwork is adorably bright and sweet, creating expressive cartoon characters who lead readers through classrooms, public spaces, and the halls of the court and government. Ruth Spiro explains huge concept in an easy-to-understand way that kids (and, like me, some adults) will easily understand and appreciate.  I’m a fan of this new offshoot of Baby Loves Science and look forward to seeing what else is on the horizon. (Psst… Baby Loves Civil Disobedience? Anyone?)

 

Mad Libs Workbook: Grade 2 Reading, by Mad Libs, (Apr. 2020, Penguin Young Readers), $8.99, ISBN: 978-0-593-09616-1

Ages 7-9

WOW, I never thought I’d see the day when Mad Libs was recognized as an actual ELA aid! Mad Libs kept me sane during many a summer road trip as a kid, and seeing these new workbooks now just make my ’80s kid heart happy. Remember Mad Libs? You created crazy stories by inserting random adjectives, verbs, names of animals, numbers, planets, you name it, into the dialogue, and then read it back? Hilarious! Well, now, my generation must be in the driver’s seat, because there’s a line of Mad Libs Reading Workbooks for Grades 1-4. I checked out a copy of Grade 2’s reading workbook, because I have a second grader (well, he’s a rising third grader now) at home, so why not?

WOW. So spiffy.  Now aligned with State and National Common Core Standards, Mad Libs workbooks have phonics work, grammar and spelling explanations, comprehension exercises, and vocabulary words. There are rebuses throughout the stories, helping readers use pictures to look at columns and identify the types of words that get dropped in the slots. Rather than just note, “adjective”, for instance, there will be a picture that leads the child to a column full of descriptive words. There are phonics exercises, with work on prefixes and suffixes, plurals, digraphs, and more. This is a phonics workout wrapped in absolute fun, and my kiddo and I are having a ball with it. Mad Libs, I’m so glad you’re still with me. Parents and educators, use some of these for summer reading challenges – or rewards!

 

That’s all for this #SummersCool. More to come! Stay cool and safe!

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Dream Big, Little Scientists encourages and inspires

Dream Big, Little Scientists, by Michelle Schaub/Illustrated by Alice Potter, (Feb. 2020), Charlesbridge, $16.99, ISBN: 9781580899345

Ages 3-7

Twelve kids who dream of being scientists get ready for bed in this adorable, rhyming bedtime STEM story. Each spread features a different child who favors a different area of science, and the spreads are a feast for the eyes. The verse maps to each child’s preferred area, bringing art and verse together to give kids a mini-science lesson on each spread: each child has favored scientists in each field; bedding and room decor cleverly gives readers a guessing game of scientific proportions. A little girl looks out her window at the moon, shining through her planetary curtains; on her bedside table is a book on stars and planets, and she has posters of Carl Sagan and a Space Shuttle hanging up. The verse reads, “The sun has tucked itself in bed; the moon is on the rise”; on the next spread, a boy lays across his map of the world rug, reading; his bedding depicts a mountain scene, and he has a shade with an erupting volcano drawn. A poster of geologist Jess Phoenix hangs on the wall, and the verse reads, “Under rumpled mountain quilts, the earth is snuggled tight”.

It’s a wonderful way of teaching through exposure: younger readers will love the rhyme, bright colors, and bold digital artwork; school-age readers can guess each kid’s favorite science and name disciplines as they navigate their way through each spread. Back matter offers brief profiles of each discipline spotlighted, and a link to visit for more information. The book detail page on publisher Charlesbridge’s website includes a link to information about the featured scientists in the story, plus a downloadable educator’s guide and storytime kit.

I’m definitely incorporating this into a Science Storytime. Pick a few branches of science and go for it! I really like Toronto Public Library’s suggestions here, and there are tons of great Toddler/Preschooler STEAM craft ideas on Pinterest and all over the web (homeschoolers, I love you).

Dream Big, Little Scientists is great for bedtime, science time, or anytime!