Posts tagged ‘board book’

April 4, 2011

The wheels on the book get lost all over the house, all over the house, all over the house

This book is falling apart.  Which paradoxically means that it’s of the highest quality.  Because in a house with an active 3-year-old, nothing of low quality gets played with enough to fall apart.  But this book?  My son has literally loved it to death.  (It’s own death, not his, although I would say that it’s not totally destroyed yet, just on it’s way to a well-deserved rest home…)  This book has been read at bedtime and in the car.  It accompanies my son around the house when he wheels his toy bus on his hands and knees.  It’s even used as a reference book–when he sings the song and plays his banjo, or his drums, or his piano, or his accordion (we are big into the toy instruments here), he dutifully checks the book between each verse to see what’s next.  God forbid we sing the song in the wrong order…

It’s even been peed on.  (Notice that I only give book advice, not potty-training advice.)

Title: The Wheels on the Bus
Adapted and Illustrated by: Paul O. Zelinsky
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Toddlers and Preschoolers

Summary and Review:

The pictures in this book are vibrant and interesting.  After probably hundreds of reads, I’m still not tired of looking at them.  Each page has something tangible for the kids too–wheels to turn, doors and windows to open and close, etc.  I don’t love books with moving parts in general because I find them hard to maneuver and they don’t usually stand up to a curious toddler.  However, this is one of the longer-lasting ones, and definitely the most played with.  If it weren’t for a short temper tantrum a few months ago, we’d still have both wheels attached to the book.  🙂  I highly recommend this interactive version of the popular song!

Follow-up with the kids:

Music is the best follow-up with this book.  You can read it to your toddler and then sing it the next time.  You can have him practice moving the pieces at the same time as the song lyrics and get a sense of the rhythm as he does so.

Also, there is a lot going on in the pictures that isn’t in the text.  I love it when an illustrator makes a book even more interesting!  There’s a whole story to be told with the boy with the box of cats.  Why does he have them?  When does he lose one of the cats and when and how does he get it back?

Another example of this is when the song talks about the windows open and closing, notice the weather and how it changes over the few pages before and after.  Asking your child to notice these illustrated “subplots” helps hone their observation skills, which helps not only with reading comprehension but also is an early science skill.

Also, the book is animated in a wonderful DVD by Scholastic that also comes with some other great animated picture books.  We don’t do a lot of TV, but this is something I really recommend.  I found it here on Scholastic’s site as part of a travel pack, but I’m sure it’s also elsewhere online:

Hope you enjoy it as much as we have in our family!

October 24, 2010

Our nation’s pastime, in funky illustrations

My mother-in-law bought us this book.  I still remember meeting her at Barnes and Noble with growing newborn in his sling.  She took one look at me and burst out laughing, and admittedly, it does look funny when the baby is hidden away in a sling.  He was getting bigger, but still able to fit inside the sling, tucked away from all the world around him.  At some point during the shopping trip, she picked out this book.  At that point, he was too young to read for himself, so I was choosing books that I liked to read, like Winnie-the-Pooh chapter books or really anything short of a Biology textbook because, seriously, it didn’t really matter.

This book was one of my first introductions to board books as a parent (and I don’t remember them as a kid so it was really my first introduction).  I remember wondering what was the point of board books, especially since it would take quite a few of them to meet our nightly reading ritual of fifteen or twenty minutes.  My husband wondered too.  Not for long.  It turned out to be a brilliant choice of a book, my son’s favorite above all other books and as I sit here writing about, two years later, the same copy sits here next to my computer held together with tape on my desk.  And now, our son “reads” this book to us.  If that isn’t beautiful, I don’t know what is.

Title: Home Run!
Author/Illustrator: David Diehl
: Board Book, Sports
Age: 0 – 3, although I can tell you right now, we are going to be older when we stop reading this book

Summary and Review:

Each page is a colorful and fun illustration of a crucial part of the baseball game, usually with one simple word to describe it (bat, ball, glove, etc.)  I love the drawings, and if I knew more about art, I could probably describe with with some sort of high-falutin’ word, but I can tell you that they are fun and slightly funky.  One of the greatest things about this book is that even though it appears at first glance to be just a list of baseball terms, one on each page, it actually reads as the story of a whole game.  There are hits and slides, runners who are safe and those who hit fly balls and get out.  And of course, there is a home run, which looks by the scoreboard at the end of the book to be a game-winning, bottom-of-the-ninth, grand slam.

To say that my son loves this book would in no way capture his true feelings.  He knows it by heart and has for some time.  He recently took it to school with him to share with his classmates.  And it’s almost always in our car, ready to go with us wherever we end up.  As we enjoyed this one so much, we’ve since bought the soccer and basketball ones, and there’s a football one as well.

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

Invite your child to really interact with the art in this book.  What does the umpire do when he calls a “strike”?  My son loves to throw his hand up in a fist and yell “strike!”, imitating the book, even when we are playing baseball at home and he’s the one with the bat in his hand who just missed the ball.   Same with the sign for “safe” which I am all but required to deliver when my son slides onto our carpet after running around the bases, which is either a lap around the house or about twenty laps around the carpet, necessary of course because almost everything he hits he declares a “home run!”

You can also engage your toddler in the story.  Instead of just showing him the “grounder” page and the “out” page, show the two-page spread as part of a story.  The fielder is getting the grounder, so the runner is then tagged out.  This will help them recognize story format, even in a simple board book, and also help teach them the flow and rules to America’s greatest game; which, seriously now, is an important lesson.  On the next page, the two pictures are “steal” and “slide”, and you can do the same thing–telling the story of the base runner who slides when he steals a base–with these pictures as well.

The pictures are simple, so asking your child to recognize details can also help them become good observers.  (I have to laugh every time I use the word “observe” now because it’s something they taught my son as part of some introduction to science lesson and now he is fond of complimenting almost everything I say with “That’s a good observation, Mom.”  Seriously.  But an example: the “on deck” page shows a donut-style bat weight on the bat.  Ask your child if he notices anything different about the “on deck” bat and the other bats and then you can tell him or her about the weight.

At the end of the game, the final score is 8 to 9.  Ask younger children to read the numbers and ask older children which is the higher number–i.e., which team won the game?

And then, if it’s the right season, head out to the ballpark and test your toddler’s new knowledge in the real world.

October 21, 2010

The first time he laughed

That, at least, is how I will always remember this book.  As the first time my baby laughed.  There might have been other times, but I remember this one.  In the rocking chair, reading the brilliantly simple language and looking at the beautifully simple illustrations of Leslie Patricelli.  Every time I read the loud pages, he laughed.  I think we tried to film it; not sure if we were successful.

Title: Quiet LOUD
Author: Leslie Patricelli
: Board Book
Age: 0 – 3

Summary and Review:

If you are a baby, the whole world is a wonderful mystery, waiting to be discovered.  It’s easy for adults to forget this, but this is one author who hasn’t.  Her simple books are to be loved and marveled at for the talented way she makes us see everyday actions and items for what they are–truly amazing.  This book is a great example of that.

“Thinking is quiet.  Singing is LOUD.”  This might seem obvious, but this book makes it seem like a wonderous mystery of life, and to your baby, that’s probably what these mini revelations are. Each two-page spread includes one of these pairs of opposite sounds and then the final spread includes a whole page on each side of many quiet things (pillows, bunnies, and plants, for example) and many loud things (teakettles, burbs, and fire trucks).

The illustrations are perfect–kids get them and they love them.  And if there was a way to illustrate loud sound, Patricelli has found it in this book.  Other similar titles by Leslie Patricelli include Yummy YUCKY and BIG Little.  So the fun doesn’t have to stop with this one!

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

First, just have fun with the book.  Whisper the first page “whispering is quiet”, and then shout (or speak loudly) the next one “screaming is loud”!  Continue that pattern throughout the book–you are teaching your baby about sounds, volume, opposites, and of course, having fun.

Because of the repetition, this is a good one for early talkers to participate in.  Leave out the last word as you read: “whispering is …” and let them finish in their own whispered voices and screams!  (But beware that you will get what you asked for!)

When you get to the last pages, these provide a great opportunity to learn words.  Ask them to point to the bunny or the firetruck.  Or ask them to point to something quiet and tell you what it is in a whisper.  Or make the noise of one of the loud objects (a drum, horn, rooster, etc.) and ask them which ones makes that noise.  Or point to an object and ask them to make the noise of the object.  There are an infinite variety of these games to play!  Have fun, and if you enjoy them, try some of Leslie Patricelli’s other books!

September 15, 2010

Yes! Yes! I love you! More than you will ever know (unless you have kids someday and I promise I won’t bother you about that for at least 30 more years)

Let’s admit it; sometimes we buy books for our toddlers that are really for ourselves.  This might qualify as one of those.  Why?  Just the title alone should tell you it’s a book moms are going to want to buy.  And the illustrations are beautiful.  And the story is a different culture–a native american/eskimo family instead of the standard white kid in a picture book.  So really, we buy it because it’s the kind of book we want our toddler to like.  But here’s the best part–mine loves it!  Loves it!  So I’m especially happy to write about this one today.  Dads might feel left out of this one, but single moms might appreciate that it’s only about them and the kid.

Title: Mama, Do You Love Me?
: Barbara M. Joosse
: Barbara Lavalle
Genre: Board Book
Age: 0 – 5

Summary and Review:

A girl wants to know:  Will you love me even if I fall and drop our eggs?  Even if I do something on purpose like pouring water on our lamp or putting fish in your jacket?  EVEN if I turn into something different than I am now–like an animal?  EVEN if it’s a scary animal and I scare you?  EVEN if I run away?

Of course, the answer is always “yes”, and the story is beautiful and real.  The pictures are also great and I also love that it has new vocabulary for my son to learn–umiak instead of canoe, ptarmigan eggs instead of chicken eggs, mukluks instead of boots.  Not that I expect my toddler to go around using these words in everyday discourse, of course.  But I think examples like these only serve to show kids that there are so many different ways to live and eat and dress.

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

Basically, when you read this book you just want to give your kid a big hug and assure them you DO love them!  SO much!

While I don’t think you need to lecture, it’s never too early to teach a student about what to do when they read a word they don’t know.  So ask them.  What’s an umiak?  Can they tell from the picture?  What is an ermine?

You could even take this a step further.  My 2-year-old loves to look things up.   And while I know we are supposed to limit screen time (and believe me, I try) I think a great introduction to the computer is uses like this–you are using the computer as a tool to learn something, and not as an end in itself for entertainment.  Also, it doesn’t take that long.  Search for a picture of ermines and learn more about them.

Or go the more traditional route and get a book from the library–my son is also very much into this–he gets to type “ermine” into the search box (or whatever it is–usually “baseball”) and then we go and find a book.  He gets to take home new books on different subjects every week or so.  And he loves it!

September 13, 2010

Is there anything as exciting as a cardboard box? This kid wouldn’t think so.

Title: The Birthday Box
Author: Leslie Patricelli
: Picture book
Age: 0 – 6

Summary and Review:

I love this book.  It’s quite possibly my favorite picture book.  (I know, I know, I’ve said that about other books.  But this one, well, just take a look at it for yourself.)  The pictures are wonderfully cute and spare.  The writing is just as spare, eloquent in just a few words, which takes great talent.  But the best part is simply the kid himself–a kid who unwraps his birthday present to find a cardboard box–and he’s so excited!  It’s a airplane!  A boat!  A robot costume!  A great place to take a nap–which he takes (and I love this part) with the stuffed dog he later finds inside the box.  Not even considering for a moment that the dog was the actual present, the boy simply gives the dog a name and excitedly shows him the box.  Brilliant.  Genius.  I could read it over and over again.  (And I do.)

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

No, no, no.  Don’t have a conversation.  Just get out a cardboard box and have fun.  Decorate it, cut it, get inside of it.  Copy the activities of the boy in the book or come up with your own.  My guess is that your child will teach you as much about what the box is as you will.  Just have fun!

And while the whole point is to use a plain box and your imagination, for another time, I encourage you to check out one of my favorite kid websites (Green Party Goods), which has recycled (and recyclable) play structures made out of cardboard.  No giant plastic thing in your living room.  And when they are down with it, it goes in the recycling….

September 8, 2010

Is there anything better than a best friend? Gossie and Gertie wouldn’t think so.

Title: Gossie and Gertie
Author/Illustrator: Olivier Dunrea
: Board book
Age: 0 – 3 years

Summary and Review:

I could read this book every day.  And do, sometimes.  It is, after all, a board book, and I have, after all, a toddler.  This book captures the friendship of children at its best.  As the book says “Gossie wears bright red boots.  Gertie wears bright blue boots.  They are friends.  Best friends.”  What more do you need to know?  Well, you follow Gossie and Gertie on their everyday adventures of diving in the pond and playing in the haystacks.  And will Gertie follow Gossie everywhere?  It would seem so, until she gets distracted…first by a frog, then by a butterfly, then by a beetle.  And just when it seems Gossie is going to explode from exasperation at not being the leader, Gertie is distracted by food.  And Gossie follows.  I LOVE THIS BOOK!

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

Okay, I realize that picture book conversation is not the same as conversation about a deeply moving 500-page fantasy book.  But it can still be fun and educational for parents and kids!

Things to notice in this book and perhaps point out to your child:

1) Outdoor activity!  Ask your child what kind of things Gossie and Gertie like to do outside and then ask him what he likes to do outside.

2) Friends!  Ask you child who she likes playing with and what kinds of things they like to do together.  If they go to daycare/school or have playdates or maybe a sibling, even if they are still in the parallel play stage of toddlerhood, chances are they can name some friends they like to be with.