Archive for ‘Book for boys’

July 18, 2013

anagram THIS

Okay, don’t do that because that would mean a different four-letter word and this is a family-friendly blog. But if you would like to work on some other anagrams, boy do I have the book for you. I LOVE this book! One of the most excited things about having a book blog is getting unexpected goodies in the mail. And Chronicle Books always sends me some awesome ones.

annandnanTitle: Ann and Nan are Anagrams
Author: Mark Shulman
Illustrator: Adam McCauley
Genre: Picture Book
Age: 4 – 9

Ann and Nan are Anagrams is a picture book filled with anagrams. (In case you are thinking “WHAT is she talking about?”, an anagram is a word or a phrase rearranged to make another word or phrase. Like Ann and Nan in the title of this book. Or spot, stop, tops, pots, and post on pages 4 and 5.)

There are some anagrams in the text itself.

Then she whispered like a wise shepherd.

Or how about one of my favorites:

…bring me your aunt. She’s a nut.

And as you might expect, the anagramming leads the story a bit, which leads to a crazy, goofy plot. This page gets an interesting illustration:

The schoolmaster was in the classroom teaching vowels to wolves and feeding presents to serpents.

There are also anagrams spread through the illustrations. Such as “eleven plus two = twelve plus one” on the chalkboard at school or “Gold Roaches Grade School” on the door.

The illustrations are bright and fun and remind me of an old circus poster for some reason. Maybe the fancy fonts (to point out the anagrams) combined with all the yellows and reds.

I love this book for a young reader or even a pre-reader who is learning a few words, because they can really stop and enjoy the words. It teaches them that stories are made of words and words are made of letters and that sometimes, there’s a lot of fun to be had in that!

Let your kids find the anagrams in the text. (It’s made easier with matching font for each one. And you can move on to the anagrams hidden in the pictures as well. Then have them make up their own anagrams. You could write letters on index cards and have them mix and match them around until they find different words. (For example, give them one card with “S”, one with “P”, one with “O” and one with “T” and see if they can rearrange them to make the words from the book I listed above.) Good luck!

July 8, 2013

Need some science with your watermelon?

I have never tired to make my love for science a secret. Except in high school, and then I actually hated it so there was no secret, just a catastrophic misunderstanding that was luckily remedied by some more creative teachers in college. But that’s another story for another time. Right now, I want to talk about how you can get your kids to love science, too, because, really there is nothing NOT to love. And while most parents know to keep up on reading over the summer, and many also do some math or writing, not everyone thinks about science.

So today I’m linking to an article I wrote for ParentMap magazine in Seattle. It talks about how to bring science to your kid, whether that kid is scientifically, artistically, linguistically, or anything other-istically inclined. So go ahead and click on the link below.

Turn Cooking and Collecting Into Summer Science Fun!

And then, depending on which part you (and your child) likes best, head to the kitchen or the backyard or the library. And let the science learning begin!

Some of the books mentioned in that article can also be found on this blog. LIke Swirl by Swirl, Forest Has A Song, and Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different.

June 3, 2013

Putting Down Roots

kathy headshotHi! I’m so excited to introduce Kathy Higgs-Coultard, who is a new contributing writer for The Family That Reads Together. This post is great timing for me as my son and I just planted our first garden; we will see how THAT goes. Kathy’s writing will be featured on the 2nd Monday of each month. Kathy’s contributions will mainly focus on the traditions, (mis)adventures, and discoveries she’s experienced while raising her four children to be voracious readers and writers. You can read more about Kathy at our about the authors page or visit her at Write with Kathy.

Putting Down Roots

I have never been much of a gardener.  I think the problem stems from my love/hate relationship with plants—I love them, they hate me. No matter how much care and attention I give a plant, it always dies. So when we decided to transplant our four children from Forest Hills–a subdivision dominated by pachysandra, myrtle, and impatiens, to a new home on two acres of wooded property, I panicked. Especially when Laura (then six) announced, “Now we can finally have a garden.” Her face was so bright and hopeful, I did what any good mom would do. I lied. “Yes, sweetie,” I said, “a garden. We can do that.”

To my defense, I did not intend it to be a lie. Laura and I researched plants and chose those best suited to shady areas. We fertilized. We watered. We prayed. We really, really tried. But the hostas we used as a border along the back of the yard were nibbled down to nubs. The tulips we planted in a mulch bed were gnawed to nothing. And the purple azeala Laura loved withered to barren sticks when some creature burrowed under it. “Why does everything I love die?” Laura asked.

I knew how she felt. I’d begun to wonder if maybe Mother Nature herself hated me. It was possible that she still held a grudge from that time I cut every bud off my grandmother’s rosebush and used them to frost a mud pie. Maybe Mother Nature had sicced her forest friends on our garden.

Then, in the serendipitous way things always seem to happen, I came upon one of my favorite childhood stories while leading a book drive. “I loved this book,” I told Laura, showing her the cover of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. She liberated it from the pile and insisted we begin reading it that night.

Night after night we worried over Mrs. Frisby’s plight to move her sick child before the farmer could plow up her home. When we got to the part where Mrs. Frisby goes to visit the rats living under the rosebush, Laura jumped up and yelled, “That’s what happened to the azeala!” To test her theory, she set up an observation station by the picture window overlooking the backyard. It took a few weeks of on and off again observing for us to learn that it wasn’t rats living under our azeala, but hosta-eating rabbits. We also discovered that deer enjoy a tulip or two in the evening. Most impressive were the variety of birds flitting through to snag berries off the wild bushes at the wood’s edge. We even spied a family of wild turkeys, although they seemed more interested in using our yard as a shortcut to somewhere else than a feeding ground.

“We need to go back to the garden guy,” Laura announced when we talked about her findings. I nodded. Tim would be able to give us tips on protecting our garden from our furry friends. But Laura shook her head. “No! We need to find out what other animals eat and plant that, too! Maybe we could see opossums, and raccoons, and unicorns.”

Oh my.

mrsfrisbyTitle: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Author: Robert C. O’Brien
Genre: Adventure, Science Fiction
Ages: Listening 5 yrs and up; Independent 8 and up

1972 Newbery Medal Winner. Although some older books do not capture the attention of today’s children, this book pulled my kids right in and held them enthralled as they worried for Timothy’s health and Mrs. Frisby’s safety. Side note: O’Brien’s daughter wrote two sequels to this book.

touchabutterflyTitle: Touch a Butterfly: Wildlife Gardening with Kids
Author: April Pulley Sayre
Genre: Nonfiction
Ages: Adult

Beautiful—in photos and lyrical language, April invites parents to create nature adventures in our own yards. From helping readers understand the necessary components of a habitat to providing advice on how to build a low maintenance, sustainable environment for wildlife, April encourages all to approach wildlife gardening with confidence and to include their children in the adventure.

What about you? Do you have gardening attempts to share? Successful or otherwise?

May 14, 2013

Your glove is on the wrong hand but that doesn’t matter when you are reading

 

 

 

 

 

Is there anything better than standing in the outfield? The sun on your back and a glove in your hand? If you are a baseball fan, you might not think so. But I think I recently found something slightly better. And that is standing in the outfield, the sun on your back, telling the five-year-old next to you that their glove is on the wrong hand and they should probably switch it over before the batter swings, even though the likelihood of the batter connecting with the ball–much less hitting it to the outfield, even though the outfield in this case is about 18 inches behind second base–are, frankly, low.

In honor of the upcoming t-ball season, of the promise of hours in the green grass and the sunshine gently suggesting to batters that they face the pitcher, not the catcher, and to fielders that they put the glove on the other hand, I’m re-posting some of my favorite baseball books for kids. Try reading them right before you grab the tee and head outside.

 

TitleHome Run!
Author: David Diehl
Genre: Board Book, Sports
Ages: 0 – 3

 

The David Diehl sports books were some of my son’s favorite early books. They were the first he learned to “read” by memorizing the words on each page and he was excited to turn the pages and shout out what he remembered. (This one already made the blog, so you can read more about it here if you like.)

 

TitleBaseball Saved Us
Author: Ken Mochizuki
Illustrator: Dom Lee
Genre: Picture Book, Sports
Ages: 2 – 10

 

I’ve blogged about this book already, but this is a great one for young kids and preschool kids and even elementary students. They will each get something a little different out of it. It’s a very versatile book: the youngest readers will hear a great baseball story and be introduced to some harder topics they will only really understand later. Older readers could use this to talk about more serious historical and ethical issues, especially in a teacher-led discussion. In fact, you could use this book in a middle school class and have the kids do their own picture book on an historical event. That would be interdisciplinary awesomeness! 🙂

 

TitleFantasy Baseball
Author: Alan Gratz
Genre: Fantasy, Sports
Ages: Upper Elementary and Middle School

 

I’ve never read this one! But I bought it recently and am excited to. Have you read it? Let me know what you think. He’s got other baseball books out there, including Samurai Shortstop, if you are interested in more.

 

 

TitleThe Art of Fielding
Author: Chad Harbach
Genre: The Great American Novel (I read recently that this is now a “genre” which I thought was both hysterical and accurate. This books certainly fits within that genre, Moby Dick references and all)
Ages: Adult

 

I loved this book. It’s a great read for anyone who likes literature and baseball. And if you had to pick only one of the two, I’d probably buy it for a literature-lover before a baseball-lover, although the whole book really does revolve around the sport.

 

Enjoy your summer, your baseball, and your books!

Betsy's_Day _at_the_Game-coverTitle: Betsy’s Day At The Game
Author: Greg Bancroft
Illustrator: Katherine Blackmore
Genre: Early Reader, Sports
Ages: 4 – 10

Betsy’s Day at the Game is the size of a picture book, but really an early reader, meant more for the adult to read to the child. It’s a text-heavy given the nature of teaching, but explains the game and score-keeping well. This is a book that brings it’s own family acitivity: simply read, head to the ballpark, and start keeping score! Don’t forget to include the family memories like Betsy does, and if you aren’t heading to a ballgame anytime soon, you could start your own memory book instead.

April 24, 2013

even in the April snow, the forest is singing

Each silver
snowflake
sings my name.
Guess what?
No two sound the same.

foresthasasongI love LOVE LOVE that last line. We all know that no two snowflakes look alike, but that they sound differently? When they call our name? What a wonderful image! And while you might think it strange to start a blog in April about snow, the flakes are fast and furious outside my window right now, so I’m just trying to stick with what mother nature is dealing.

This poem is from a wonderful book of poems just sent to me. And it’s poetry month, so that’s perfect, don’t you think? It’s called Forest Has a Song and in it a girl walks through the forest in all four seasons, listening to the song. There are so many wonderful kid-friendly images that really make the forest come alive.

exploding a mushroom:

Puff!
I found one.
Puff!
It’s plump.
Puff!
Come see this
mushroom pump.

tiptoeing on moss:

Barefoot on this emerald carpet
toe-by-toe I squish across.
I softly sink in velvet green.
Oh how I wish for socks of moss.

Aren’t those great? Other poems detail a fossil, a pile of animal bones, a squirrel, the song of the forest, deer, and many more.

This would be a great book for a classroom. It would be fun to read on or before a family camping trip or hike. It would be fun to read any night, really. And you can challenge your kids to look for the sensory images in the poems. Can they hear a snowflake? What do they think it sounds like? Can they see a cardinal and do they think he looks like a kite?

You could also turn it into a scavenger hunt if you live near or are visiting a forest. Can they find mushrooms? Lichen? A squirrel? A deer? How many images from the book can they remember and see for themselves?

Older kids can make up their own images. Have them walk barefoot across something…a lawn, a pebbly beach, or maybe through a cool brook. What does that feel like? Would they want pebble slippers like the author wanted moss slippers? Can they think of a different image they would like?

Have fun with this book, and I hope you enjoy some of nature this summer. Just not the snowflakes, maybe.

foresthasasongTitle: Forest Has a Song
Author
: Amy Ludgwig Vanderwater
Illustrator: Robbin Gourley
Genre: Poetry, Pictures, Nature
Ages: Almost any

April 18, 2013

Peanuts and crackerjacks

Pete O’Brien was my favorite player. He played first base for the M’s, back when the Mariner’s had yet to have a winning season. If you are saying “Pete O’Who?”, that’s okay. He was mostly my favorite player because he wore glasses and so did I. And I’m still pretty sure that’s a good reason.

Ballpark

There is nothing I like more than playing or watching baseball on a sunny day. I remember playing ball with my dad in our yard and then cheering with him at the stadium. I remember thinking the Mariner’s were going to win (every time) even during the years when their bullpen lost it in the ninth (every time–except when they lost it in the eighth). I remember doing all of my homework with the games on the radio (Dave Neihaus, you are responsible for any bad grades). I remember getting into an argument about Dave Valle (catcher) with my Middle School Crush (now husband) that ended in him sitting (temporarily) on the other side of the movie theater. I remember wearing my M’s hat with duct tape over the “S” during the strike in 8th grade. I remember gleefully watching the postseason games with the Yankees in 1995 with a Yankee fan and personal foe. I remember Edgar’s double.

Betsy and Grandpa

As I’ve “grown up” (for lack of a better term), baseball still has me. At a recent Tiger’s game, I could feel my heart race just walking into the stadium, seeing the light reflect on the grass. I’ve lost a little of my loyalty to the major leagues, but paying attention to money and drugs will do that to you. And while you will never see me root for the Yankees, I’ve transitioned to a Tiger’s fan with little ado.

Which is why I was excited to see Betsy’s Day at the Game come across my desk. I love that the book is about a girl going to the game, as sports books often target boys. I love that it focuses on keeping memories along with the scores. And I love the way it integrates a story with a lesson on how to keep score, which is complicated business. I remember the first time I learned how to read a box score and to check player’s stats in the paper. Keeping score is a great way to watch a ballgame. It’s a great way to stay focused on the action. And it’s great for kids who are more numbers-oriented than sports-oriented: it might open up a world they never knew was there.

page 16

Betsy’s Day at the Game is the size of a picture book, but really an early reader, meant more for the adult to read to the child. It’s a text-heavy given the nature of teaching, but explains the game and score-keeping well. This is a book that brings it’s own family acitivity: simply read, head to the ballpark, and start keeping score! Don’t forget to include the family memories like Betsy does, and if you aren’t heading to a ballgame anytime soon, you could start your own memory book instead.

Betsy's_Day _at_the_Game-coverTitle: Betsy’s Day At The Game
Author: Greg Bancroft
Illustrator: Katherine Blackmore
Genre: Early Reader, Sports
Ages: 4 – 10

If you’d like to win a copy and help pass on the love of baseball to your sons and daughters, students, or grandchildren, please leave a comment below. Maybe tell me your favorite player, or favorite team. I’ll choose a winner with random number generator and forward on the copy the publisher sent to me. Good luck! [AND UPDATED NOTICE: YOU MUST LEAVE THE COMMENT WITHIN ONE WEEK OF POSTING, SO BY NEXT THURSDAY…I’LL GIVE YOU UNTIL MIDNIGHT EASTERN TIME] TO BE ELIGIBLE.]

And if you need some more baseball inspiration, I will end with a link to my absolute favorite essay ever, The Green Fields of the Mind, by A. Bartlett Giamatti.

April 10, 2013

Fast-paced mythological fun

Rick Riordan, author of the mega-smash hit series about Percy Jackson and the Olympians, almost makes my days in the Junior Classical League cool again. (In case you missed JCL while you were off doing something more normal like cheerleading, it was a competition where you could recite Latin poems, play ancient-Roman-based trivia games, and wear togas.) I said almost, okay?

I’m into the Kane Chronicles right now, a trilogy that follows a brother and sister team as they try to learn their family’s ancient Egyptian magic and save their father. The books are told in the first person from both Carter’s (the nerdier, grew-up-homeschooled-and-on-the-run-with-archaeologist-dad, darker-skinned brother) and Sadie’s (the hipper, cooler, sometimes-braver and fairer-skinned sister) point of view. You can meet these kids here. And you can learn more about their family’s magic here. And if you really need to, you can play some Egyptian games here.

As always, I’d encourage you to read these with your kids! This one is an easy assignment, because you are going to love it and before you know it, you’ll be done and off looking for some more Riordan ancient civilization fun.

After you do, you can talk about one of the fun ideas in this book, a secret name. Everyone has one and knowing someone else’s gives you complete control over them. Sadie controls the God Set because she knows his secret name (Evil Day). Tere’s a great moment in the book where she needs to guess her brother Carter’s secret name, something she can do because she knows him so well. Why not discuss your secret names around the family dinner table? Or in a classroom? Kids could come up with names for themselves or friends, tapping into their best qualities or highest ambitions. What better way to get close to your child than to know their mythologically secret name?

serpents-shadowTitle: Kane Chronicles: The Red Pyramid, The Throne of Fire, The Serpent’s Shadow
Author:
Rick Riordan
Genre:
Fantasy
Age Group:
Middle School kids

This book would be great for:

– reluctant boy readers (it’s big, but fast-paced and action-packed)
– anyone into mythology or ancient Egypt
– anyone studying mythology in school
– readers looking for mixed-race main characters (I’ve had many parents ask about this before: their race is not an issue in the book, just a fact about them, which is nice)
– anyone who likes a LOT of action (sometimes I find myself needing to catch my breath!)

So, what is your secret name? And if you have this conversation with your kids, let me know how it goes! Or don’t, if it’s a secret…

March 26, 2013

Win something to read when you’re done swimming

Are you taking the kids to the lake this summer? Maybe you are going for awhile and need something to do when it’s time to come in from the sun? Or they need a break from the rain? Reading A Day At The Lake would be a great place to start, and then they could make up their own sound-alike words. “Flippity swish wish we were fish” is such a great line. Younger kids could think of alternatives for “flippity swish”. What are some other good words (or neologisms, they don’t have to be real words!) for fish movement? Or instead of fish, what about a butterfly, bird, cat, dog, squirrel, deer, raccoon, small child, car, motor boat, sail boat…I could go on forever!


aDayattheLake_8_9

Literacy doesn’t have to end when school is out and it doesn’t have to be limited to reading and writing. You could think of these words over ice cream cones on the porch or fish tacos at the dinner table. Encourage your kids to play with words–after they’ve played outside–and they will be hitting all kinds of multiple intelligences on what they think is just a fun family vacation.

I love the way this book plays with words, and your kids just might be inspired by that. There is some not-overwhelming rhyme, some great onomatopoeia (look that one up with the kids if they don’t know it yet!), gorgeous illustrations as you can see, and when it’s all said and done, a very fun day at the lake.

aDayattheLake_5

Win this great book by commenting below. Tell me what you like to do with your kids in the summer, and if you have any good ideas about keeping literacy alive in between campouts, let me know that, too! You have until Saturday, March 29th, at midnight Eastern time to leave your comment. Winners will be announced next week. MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE YOUR EMAIL OR SOME WAY FOR ME TO CONTACT YOU IN CASE YOU WIN!

aDayattheLake_coverTitle: A Day at the Lake
Authors: Stephanie Wallingford and Dawn Rynders
Illustrator: Erica Pelton Villnave
Genre: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 7

Want more chances to win this book? Check out the full blog tour schedule here.

March 25, 2013

I won and you can, too!

Thank you to all who voted for my story, Little Fox’s Springs, which won second place in Susanna Hill’s blog contest! In the spirit of contests and all things Spring, I will be holding a giveaway here tomorrow for the very awesome book, A Day At the Lake. Come back tomorrow and enter to win! Happy Passover and Easter week everyone! I’m sure the flowers will be here soon. Here’s a sneak peak at tomorrow’s book:

aDayattheLake_6_7

March 7, 2013

You can’t put the kids in a cardboard box, but you can call on Neville, Boomer, and Big Ernie

We did it last summer. The neighbors are doing it this summer. It’s as American as apple pie and the Fourth of July: the long distance move. The snow might still be on the ground, but I can hear the birds chirping, and they aren’t the only ones looking for a new nest. I can tell by the posts on my neighborhood moms’ group that many human families will soon be following suit. (***Note to people who aren’t moving soon: just skip the next part and read the bit about “Neville”, a great picture book. Then go back to Facebook and thank the heavens you don’t have to move.)

Let’s be honest, nobody likes moving. But let’s be honest again, I only thought I knew how hard moving was when my husband and I moved from the east coast to the Pacific Northwest. And then from the Pacific Northwest to the South. But I didn’t know, not until we moved from the South to the Midwest. It wasn’t the locations that mattered so much, but the cargo: we now had two kids. Things were about to get interesting.

And what do I do when things with my kids get interesting? That’s right, I buy books. Here are some that were awesomely helpful during that time:

neville

Title: Neville
Author: Norton Juster
Illustrator: G. Brian Karas

Neville was our absolute favorite. It was recommended by a fellow children’s book lover in Nashville. Unlike the others mentioned here, it’s not meant as a how-to on moving, but just a great picture book that happens to be about a kid who just moved. A young boy ventures out into his new neighborhood fairly certain that his mom is WRONG when she hints that he might make friends just by walking down the street. But what happens when he stands on the corner and yells “NEVILLE!” at the top of his lungs? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out. I’d recommend this one even if you aren’t moving.

berenstainbearsmovingday

Title: Berenstain’s Bears Moving Day
Authors/Illustrators: Stan and Jan Berenstain

Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day. Some people like these famous bears, some people don’t. And while I understand that they are long and a little preachy, especially by today’s trendy and zen-like picture books, I happen to love the Berenstein bears. And my kids do, too. They tell it like it is, and as long as you agree, they are the way to go. I think this one is an especially good one and definitely useful for a kid who is moving. Brother Bear is sad to leave his cave and his friends, but he learns to love his new tree house (the one we all know and love from other Berenstein Bear books) and find new friends.

boomersbigday

Title: Boomer’s Big Day
Author: Constance W. McGeorge
Illustrator: Mary Whyte

Boomer’s Big Day might be my favorite, especially for the littlest set (2 and up). Boomer is a dog and the family doesn’t really play a major role at all in the story, which I think is nice–it really hits that kid-centric point of view where everything revolves around their world, they aren’t getting enough information, and they are trying to figure it out for themselves. Boomer’s troubles start when he can’t understand why he isn’t getting his morning walk, escalate when his favorite toys are boxed up, but disappear when he sees…his new backyard!

bigerniesnewhome

Title: Big Ernie’s New Home
Authors/Ilustrators: Teresa and Whitney Martin

Big Ernie’s New Home also uses an animal as the point-of-view character, although Big Ernie (a cat) has a friend (Little Henry) who is going through the move right beside him. A little more prose than Boomer, so it might be better for a slightly older crowd (4 and up perhaps) or littler ones who can sit through a story. (It’s not long by any means, but I guess it seems that way in comparison with other books–picture books are getting shorter and shorter every year. One thing I liked about Big Ernie is that it doesn’t make the assumption that the kid is moving to a better place, which some of the books do. It’s a different place (in this case Santa Fe) and doesn’t describe the new house.

Title: Usborne First Experiences: Moving House
Author: Anne Civardi
Illustrator: Stephen Cartwright

Usborne First Experiences: Moving House was a nice short read, factual but with a story about a family. This family is moving across town, so they are able to visit their house before they move. (This was not the case with us, and as a result my son didn’t request this one as much and I didn’t pick it up as much). The book also includes details about how their new house is getting painted and new carpets before they move in, and compares the old house, which is an attached row house, to the new house, a large stand-alone home. If those facts match up, or at least don’t conflict with your story too much, this–while not great literature–is a nice, quick book that’s easy to understand. I think there is also a sticker book that goes with this, so that could be good, too. Especially if you have a long car ride built into your move.

themovingbook

Title: The Moving Book: A Kids’ Survival Guide
Author: Gabriel Davis
Illustrator: Sue Dennen

The Moving Book: A Kids’ Survival Guide was great, and would have been even better had I taken more time to help my son fill out the answers. Part scrapbook, part tutorial on how to move, and part planner for your new town, this book will help calm kids’ anxieties by making them part of the process. I love the way it asks them to find things they are looking forward to doing in their new town. And it has ideas for saying goodbye to friends and keeping in touch.

If you are moving this Spring or Summer, good luck! Give your kids some concrete ideas. The Wizard of Why asked a thousand times how his bed was possibly going to fit into a truck, so we googled it and found pictures of a bed going into a moving truck. I cannot tell you how much that helped! Plus, when are truck pictures a bad idea? Find a map of the city you are moving to and make some definite plans: is there a children’s museum you can go to? Find pictures on the web and show your kids. Or an art museum or a movie theatre…anything that gives them something to look forward to and convinces them that you are moving them to an actual place on the planet Earth with fellow human beings–and not to whatever dimension of outer space their toddler mind is imagining.