2015 Missouri Building Block: Down By the Barn

Down By the Barn bookIn “Down by the Barn” by Will Hillenbrand, a dog happily drives a clunky blue tractor around a farm. Hitched to the tractor are two wagons, which the dog uses to collect a scarecrow and an array of baby farm animals. When the wagons are packed full of critters, the dog makes a stop at a school bus full of excited children. The story ends on a sweet note, with the scarecrow reading a book aloud, sharing a story with all of the children and animals.

The text is simple and contains repetitive phrases (Puff puff, clank, clank, moo, moo, and OFF WE GO!), adding new sounds to the end of each phrase as baby animals hop into the wagon. “Down By the Barn” is bursting with cheery art and onomatopoeic text that begs to be orated by all, making it a wonderful read aloud.

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2015 Missouri Building Block: Oh So Brave Dragon

Oh So Brave Dragon book coverDragons are fierce and mighty and SCARY- or are they? The lovable red dragon in David Kirk’s “Oh So Brave Dragon” is the scared one. Afraid of what terrible beasts might lurk in the woods, the dragon roars his loudest roar. Frightened by the ferocious sound he hears, the dragon bands with the little forest animals to roar back and scare the beasts away.  Only the little yellow bird and the readers recognize that there is no monster; little dragon is making the entire ruckus and scaring himself. This is NOT a quiet read. Your young ones will be roaring along in no time.

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The Raising of America: Free Community Screening

The Raising of America Logo

Children’s earliest interactions and environments shape their developing brains, building foundations for life-long emotional, intellectual and physical health. It’s important that parents and educators understand and start conversations about how early conditions affect babies and young children, and a great way to do that is to become educated on the topic.

The Raising of America” is a new five-part documentary special that explores how conditions faced by children and their families during infancy and the early years can literally alter their brain and affect a child’s future success — in school and in life. Many families are struggling to provide the nurturing environment all young children need to thrive. How does the growing squeeze on parents — for time, for money and for resources — impact the future mental and physical well-being of their children? What are the consequences for the nation? And how might we do better? The Signature Hour (episode one)  covers all of these issues. The four subsequent episodes each dive in for a closer look.

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2015 Missouri Building Block: Hooray for Hat!

Hooray for Hat bookHooray for Hat!” is a fun, brightly colored picture book that follows animal friends as they go from being grumpy to being happy, all thanks to wonderful hats! The simple text and the animals’ facial expressions let us clearly know the animals’ moods throughout the book. Brian Won, both the illustrator and author, begins the book with a gray elephant waking up grumpy. What will change his mood!? Why, a stack of fun hats of course! Elephant then wants to show his friends his hats and share the joy.

As a gal who hosts lots of story times, I think this book is fantastic! It’s perfect as a read-aloud, boasting large bright illustrations, simple text and the message that it’s the little things in life that can brighten a grumpy mood. Continue reading

2015 Missouri Building Block: This Book Just Ate My Dog

This Book Just Ate My DogIn “This Book Just Ate My Dog” by Richard Byrne, a girl named Bella takes a walk with her dog. During their walk, her dog disappears into the gutter of the book (the center seam where the pages come together). Friends and various vehicles come to the rescue only to be eaten by the book.  Bella goes in after them but then sends out a note to the reader asking for some help. Continue reading