Posts tagged ‘boys’

October 15, 2014

robot smartypants burp the alphabet

I think the title of this book Robot Burb Head Smartypants, pretty much says all you need to know. Our favorite robots from the totally awesome Robot Zombie Frankenstein book by Annette Simon are back. Only this time they are trying to teach you things. Like counting. And saying the alphabet. But, inevitably, burping gets in the way. So as you can see, there is NOTHING NOT to like about this book! It’s phenomenally awesome.

robotTitle: Robot Burp Head Smartypants
Author/Illustrator: Annette Simon
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 0 – 7 (This is one of those picture books older kids will appreciate just as much.)

Here’s a sample page:


Seriously. If you need more than that, I can’t help you. Well, okay, I can give you one more reason to get this book. The illustrations–digital images made of geometric shapes mixed with real photographic images–are as awesome as the text. So there. And check out Robot Zombie Frankenstein too!

October 10, 2012


Racing across the finish line is 1-2-3 Va-Va-Vroom!, a brightly colored book about three kids whose imaginations take them from their toy cars to laps around a race track. Kids can count to ten with each lap, with the numbers featured both in the story and prominently in the illustrations.

The author has some tips for parents who want to go the extra mile 🙂 with this book. “Parents can encourage their children to repeat the “Va-va-vroom” aloud. The children can also repeat the lap number,” Sarah says. I love this, because it uses the repetitive aspects of the book to fully engage the child. The child can hear the rhythm of the words and, if they are a little older, start to associate the pattern of letters on the page with the pattern of the words they are repeating. Repeating the lap number, or pointing to it in the picture starts to familiarize them with the number symbols and also counting from 1 to 10.

Sarah also has a great way to teach writing to young kids. “They can do this by holding matchbox cars and “writing” the number in the air, or on the ground. They can use shaving cream and “drive” the shape of the letter with their fingers. They can decorate cupcakes with different numbers in frosting. These activities can be done at home or in a classroom setting.” Driving cars around in number shapes is a great hands-on exercise to familiarize kids with our number symbols!

Or, Sarah says, “for those kids just learning to count (and not yet ready for writing numbers), they can line up cars and count them together. They can drive the cars around a makeshift track and count the number of times they go around.
“It’s also just fun to use imaginations with cars. My kids brought their cars everywhere. In the tub. In the shower. In their beds. On the towels. On the blankets. On the sidewalk. In the dift. In the mud. In the sand. I used to carry several cars around in my purse for immediate entertainment.” If your family is a little like Sarah’s, you will no doubt find ways to use your toy cars as a form of education.
I hope you like the book and our ideas about what to do with it–other than read it, of course!
Title: 1-2-3 Va-Va-Vroom!
AuthorSarah Lynn
Illustrator: Daniel Griffo
Genre: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 5

You can also watch the book trailer:

October 12, 2010

Okay, I get it, you are two. You don’t need to prove it.

Right now, we are spitting.  Spitting water, spitting milk.  Spitting anything and everything we get to drink.  Not so consistently that we think dehydrating him until he turns into a raisin would be a good idea, but consistently enough that we think about it.  Knows better.  Proves it by saying after he spits “NOT a good idea!” or “NO! NO! NO!” or “Time out?”  Me not having to say these things somehow does not make it better.  And these are the times I turn to Michael Thompson.

This is not a children’s book.  But if you have children, you should probably have this book.  So I’m going to throw it up here.  I’ve seen Michael Thompson speak a few times on the educator’s circuit.  He is funny, educated, well-spoken, and he doesn’t talk down to you.  He speaks the language of a parent, with the heart of a parent, the time-tested soul of a parent, but filters everything through the brain of a PhD.  And that, to me, is useful.

Title: It’s a Boy!
Author: Michael Thompson
: Parenting
Age: Adult, Parents of boys

Summary and Review:

Thompson, like some others, has a lot of books on raising kids.  He almost exclusively focuses on boys.  He is a guru on boys.  Of course, there will be some who don’t like his ideas and strategies, but I have to say they are middle-of-the-road enough and varied enough that I think there is something for everyone.  Thompson has really led the bandwagon of others who are just now starting to figure out that our way of raising, schooling, and often medicating boys is failing them in huge, huge ways.  This book is less about those issues than what you can do at home as they are growing up, but following his advice at home is certainly likely to help you out in the future and maybe help you avoid some of the problems boys tend to have in schooling later on.

The book covers the development of boys from birth to age 18, which I guess is Thompson’s idea of when they are supposed to leave and be on their own.  Given current trends, I’m not so sure that we won’t need an extended version as adolescence seems to stretch later and later these days.  But that’s another story for another blog.

Thompson combines personal stories from families he’s worked with and schools he’s observed with summaries about what happens at each age of development.  Right now, we are reading both the “toddler” section and the “powerful little boy” section, which seems to cover everything he’s doing and a lot more.  The book is wonderfully reassuring, and speaks very frankly about things some parents don’t want to admit or talk about, such as playing with the penis or turning every toy into a weapon of some sort.  It’s well organized, with short, clearly-titled sections that are easy to read and even easier to reread when you need to reference something.

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

I think anything you want to follow up with is in the book.

October 7, 2010

Boys (yes, and some girls, too) will love the trucks, You will love the paintings

Look, it’s not that I’m sexist.  At least, not any more than most other people I know.  I understand that there are gender stereotypes out there that can really hurt people, careers, and families.  But at a baseline, it’s true that boys and girls are different.  And so when I say that boys will love the trucks, I’m not saying all boys will, and I’m not saying all girls won’t.  I’m just pointing out the obvious–that more boys are likely to be into trucks than girls.  Just to clear that up.  I mean really, I have a son in ballet.  (There’s a blog entry for you, maybe another time–what people say to me when I tell them THAT.  We do live in a sexist world.)

Title: Machines go to work
Author: William Low
: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 6

Summary and Review:

This book is gorgeous!  Not the first thing you’d expect someone to say about a book on trucks and machines, but it absolutely is.  The paintings are first-rate, beautiful, and I never tire of looking at them.  The backhoe isn’t standing in the middle of a construction site, but is surrounded by tulips and crabapple trees.  The fire-engine is in front of a backdrop of blooming cherries, and the pick-up on top of a hill overlooking the water.  I’m not sure where the illustrator lives, but the scene reminds me a lot of Seattle; if you told me it was somewhere else, I would be surprised.

I don’t know if my toddler appreciates the art, but he loves the machines and he loves the stories.  For each machine, there is a question.  Then you turn the flap for the answer.  The answer always starts with “no”, and my son is excited to shout “no!” every time the flaps are turned.  (E.g., “Is the backhoe digging up the flowers?  No, it’s digging a hole for new crab-apple trees.”)  In fact, the language of the book is such that even though we’ve only read it a few times, he’s already memorized most of it and likes to “read” it himself.

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

It’s a book about machines, and it shows really nicely how there are a lot of different machines for different kinds of jobs.  There is also an index in the back with pictures of all the machines in the book, so at the end of the book, you can review, which is my son’s favorite part of reading anything.  Ask your child about the different machines–which one is for digging?  Which one is for rescuing people (or cats in this case)?  Which one carries things in cars that it pulls?  Which ones ride on the road?  On the water?  On tracks?  Etc.  Pointing out that different things have different purposes will help them develop their observation and think critically about what they are looking at.

Another game you can play is “find the machine”.  I can’t take credit for this–my son invented this game.  Any book that has pictures in the back, if we see the pictures, he has to search through the book to find where they are in the book.  Why not?  It keeps them involved with the book and the content, encourages them to learn the book’s layout and materials, and also teaches them that books are a place you can find information.

Hopefully, when my son grows up enough to start writing those nonfiction school reports, books will still exist for him to look through.  🙂