“The Reading Mother” by Strickland Gillian
You may have tangible wealth untold:
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be-
I had a Mother who read to me.
I started Kiddos and Books as a gift to the community, a way to bring parents and kids together through a shared love of reading. This morning, it was wonderful to see this community spirit returned in something as simple as setting the room up for story time.
Usually, I’ll arrive 15 minutes early to rearrange heavy coffee shop tables and chairs so that the kids have a better view of the books. But this morning, the family and I were running late.
We were literally running through the snow, trying not to wipe out on the ice because we left the house 20 minutes later than usual.
Imagine my surprise when I saw the room already set, parents patiently entertaining kids and welcoming newcomers as we coasted in at 9:29.
I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful, supportive community.
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
A moving tale of friendship. A boy finds a penguin on his doorstep (how cool!) and, being the responsible lad he is, takes the penguin back to the South Pole. But, what if that’s not what the penguin really needs…
Not A Box by Antoinette Portis
Yes, Rabbit, that does look like a box next to you. Yet you insist that it isn’t. This is a wonderful book to show kids what they can do with all of those Amazon Prime boxes.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr.
Those crazy alphabet letters. What did they think was going to happen if all of them climbed up the coconut tree? This book is such a classic, you can see kids mouthing the words as you read it aloud.
Hattie and the Fox by Mem Fox
A book from the land down under with a very observant hen and some pretty clueless farm animals. Great repetitive story with a surprise ending.
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
Wordless books are wonderful for engaging kids. Ask them what they think is happening in the story. Quite often, their answers will surprise you.
We had the usual suspects…and a dinosaur (very popular with the toddler set) and a kangaroo!
The Wheels on the Bus
I feel like the “Change on the bus” line should be changed to “The Venta Card on the bus goes FAIL FAIL FAIL”
After story time last Saturday, a parent asked me whether I thought it made sense to take a 6 month old to Paris. I instinctively answered, “Good God No!”
Her eyes widened in surprise at my vehement response. So I backpedaled.
“What I meant to say was, it’s really up to you and your husband. But if your in-laws are happy to dote on your son for a week, and it gives you time to reconnect with the hubby, then you should go. Besides,” I added with a shrug. “It’s not like he’s going to remember it anyway.”
When my partner and I took our three-year-old son to the Azores, we sat in a mud bath, drank raw cow’s milk, saw dolphins and took a carriage ride.
Now 7, he gives us blank stares whenever we mention the trip. This “childhood amnesia” – as coined by Freud – means that the earliest memories that we can recall start at around the age of 3. Anything before that is a bit of a wash.
So why do we spend so much time and energy on the 0-3 age range? We sing, read, play, coddle, dance, swim and otherwise engage in activities that can be as exhilarating as they are exhausting.
“That’s my nose. Where is your nose? There it is…yes, that’s still my nose. Where is your nose? No, that’s my ear. Sweetie, let go of my earring…”
Because we are building a foundation – one that no one will ever see, but without which the structure will crumble. Maybe through time or environmental stresses or both.
It is this foundation that our children will weather the storms to come.
We are doing more than building people.
We are building our future.
Books We Read
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
A read-aloud favorite with fun pictures and plenty of opportunity for silly voices.
The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud
My criss-cross-applesauce book since kids inevitably draw closer and closer to see the intricate drawings. Who can blame them? The detail is remarkable and the message – adventures are best shared – makes this one a keeper.
Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard
Grumpy Bird is, no surprise, grumpy. Thankfully he has cheerful friends or this book would be a real downer!
Pezzetino by Leo Lionni
Existential yet engaging. A “little piece” goes in search of himself. Satori follows.
Fortunately by Remy Charlip
Poor Ned, first a birthday invitation, then an exploding plane. Fortunately, things turn our ok in the end and fortunately, kids giggle at Ned’s ups and downs.
We got a parrot…and a dinosaur…and of course, a cow.
If You’re Happy and You Know It
Of course you were! It was story time! We did clap your hands, stop your feet, wave your arms, wiggle your fingers and give yourself a BIG HUG!
“Since last week, my kids have been saying all of the stories that you read last week.”
This is one of the highest compliments you can receive from a story time parent. I started Kiddos and Books to show parents ways to read to their kids so that they really get it. That could mean using funny voices, asking questions, paraphrasing, or even inserting sound effects. The tactics are not as important as the parent’s commitment to making that book the most interesting, engaging story ever!
And honestly, which would you rather hear your kids reciting around the house – Miley Cyrus or Ezra Jack Keats?
Books We Read
Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
Farmer Brown’s cows and hens have gone on strike! Conditions in the barn are just unacceptable!Will the negotiations lead to a equitable outcome? You’ll have to read it to find out.
The Sniffles for Bear by Bonnie Becker
In their first story, Bear and Mouse formed a slow but steady friendship. In this second book, Bear is sick, and it’s up to Mouse to help him get better. Gosh, I hope he doesn’t catch Bear’s cold…sshhh, spoilers!
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Someone took Bear’s pointy, red hat. Surely it couldn’t be Rabbit, who is sporting a pointy, red hat…or could it?
The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud
We read this one last week, and parents often wonder why I repeat books over several weeks. Repetition builds familiarity, which is key to developing a child’s early literacy skills. Little Bear blows off hibernation in search of honey, and Papa Bear must find him…amidst the hustle and bustle of Paris.
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
Photo: Reading by ThomasLife
Pulitzer-Prize winning author and poet Maxine Kumin died over the weekend. Her poem, The Quarrel, is one of our favorites…so much so, that my four year old will recite lines to himself when he’s playing. It’s a funny, fantastic piece that’s a hoot to read aloud.
Said a lightning bug to a firefly,
“Look at the lightning bugs fly by!”
“Silly dunce!” said the fly. “What bug ever flew?
Those are fireflies. And so are you.”
“Bug!” cried the bug. “Fly!” cried the fly.
“Wait!” said a glowworm happening by.
“I’m a worm,” squirmed the worm. “I glimmer all night.
You are worms, both of you. I know that I’m right.”
“Fly!” cried the fly. “Worm!” cried the worm.
“Bug!” cried the bug. “I’m standing firm!”
Back and forth through the dark each shouted his word
Till their quarrel awakened the early bird.
“You three noisy things, you are all related,”
She said to the worm, and promptly ate it.
With a snap of her bill she finished the fly,
And the lightning bug was the last to die.
All glowers and glimmerers, there’s a MORAL:
Shine if you must, but do not quarrel.
Read more about Ms. Kumin here.
We’ve all heard them – those meandering stories that make no sense because they have no discernible pattern of events. Whether it’s a spouse relating the plot of a movie – but forgetting key information. Or a co-worker talking about what they did over the weekend – with the randomness of a pinball machine. You nod and smile, but really, you’re completely lost.
Yeah, those stories.
Today we focused on Sequencing books. These are stories with a series of events occurring in a predictable pattern. They help kids develop their Narrative skills – a key component of pre-literacy preparation – and hooks them on predicting what will happen next.
Pete needs to look where he’s going because he keeps stepping into all kinds of things on his daily walk! Learn your colors while you learn how to have a great attitude no matter what happens!
Someone stole bear’s hat! As he walks through the forest he meets all sorts of creatures, including one wearing an oddly familiar cap! The giggle factor is very high on this one!
A lovely translation of a French book, completely with intricate illustrations that draw kids into the story. Little Bear’s search for honey takes him on an adventure through a Paris opera house. Will Papa Bear find him in time to hibernate?
Grumpy Bird woke up on the wrong side of the nest this morning! Good thing his friends are around to help him cheer up.
A Sesame Street classic with Madeline Kahn and Grover to develop those listening skills our kids seem to selectively employ.
Where Is Thumbkin?
Thumbkin has some pretty rad friends who hang out with him behind your back, so bring them to life! Be expressive when doing this fingerplay by experimenting with tone, attitude and volume.
Encourage participation by asking kids what animals – or other objects – are on the farm. The more outrageous the better because it fires up their imagination. Today’s farm had a kangaroo and a dolphin. Now that’s a farm I want to visit!
Photo:”Blah, blah, blah” du studio Louise Campbell (Maison du Danemark). Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
I have missed reading The New Yorker. Here are some excerpts from a fantastic overview of contemporary picture books that address toddler behavior.
Well worth the read. Key quotes:
“In this confrontation-averse age of parenting, in which the “escalation” of emotions is considered a mark of failure, a favorite way of inculcating discipline is the reading of picture books. The language of a good children’s story is precise and consistent, offering a genial way for parents to address misbehavior.”
“Like the novel or the sitcom, the picture book records shifts in domestic life: newspaper-burrowing fathers have been replaced by eager, if bumbling, diaper-changers. Similarly, the stern disciplinarians of the past—in Robert McCloskey books, parents instruct children not to cry—have largely vanished. The parents in today’s stories suffer the same diminution in authority felt by the parents reading them aloud (an hour past bedtime). The typical adult in a contemporary picture book is harried and befuddled, scurrying to fulfill a child’s wishes and then hesitantly drawing the line. And the default temperament of the child is bratty, though often in a way so zesty and creative that the behavioral transgressions take on the quality of art.”
“Many of today’s popular picture books don’t even bother with storytelling; they present misdeeds as pure spectacle.”
“It goes without saying that we parents should love our children unconditionally, but the implication here is that the slightest gesture of sweetness trumps a day’s worth of belligerence.”