Giving Thanks for the Little Things

Book cover for Ask my kiddos what their favorite holidays are, and they choose Halloween and Christmas, “because of the candy!” My favorite special day, however, is Thanksgiving, and not just because I am a related to a number of skilled pie-bakers. I enjoy dedicating a whole day to spending time with loved ones, sharing a meal with parents, cousins and close friends. I appreciate the way the day makes me pause and appreciate all I have to be thankful for – healthy children, meaningful work, a roof overhead. A book recently added to the library’s collection made me realize how easy it is to encourage gratitude on any day. Amy Schwartz’s “100 Things That Make Me Happy” uses cheerful rhymes to catalog simple pleasures – a great antidote to the feelings of dissatisfaction, greed and false need that all of the holiday shopping advertisements can generate this time of year.

“Mud puddles/soap bubbles,” “Grandma’s lap/gingersnap” and “polka dots/forget-me-nots” represent a small sample of the clever pairings in this book. A bonus is that if you have an emerging reader, the rhyming words and the colorful pictures provide context clues that make puzzling out the longer words much easier. Continue reading

Seek and Find at the Library

magnifying glassDo you remember spending hours pouring over pages searching for Waldo? I do! Seek-and-find books are no longer just looking for a tall skinny guy in a striped shirt (although we check out plenty of those, too). We have books in which readers are asked to locate differences between two images or find small images inside full-size illustrations. We even have some seek-and-find books featuring pages with real photographs. The more books I looked for, the more I found (truly seek and find)!Find Momo the border collie.

One of the more charming titles I have come across is “Find Momo” by Andrew Knapp.  This book is full of photos, and each photo contains a border collie named Momo for readers to find. Sound easy? Not so much.  While you won’t have to go crazy looking up the answers online, you may find yourself needing a few minutes to actually find this adorable dog who enjoys playing peek-a-boo with readers. Another fun seek-and-find book is the Where’s the Meerkat series by Paul Moran. In these books you seek out a family of meerkats in a style similar to Where’s Waldo. However, in my opinion I find it easier to find a handful of meerkats (even if they are wearing sunglasses) in a crowd of humans than it ever was finding Waldo. Plus, the meerkats are just cute! Continue reading

Check It Out: Caramba

“Caramba looked like any other cat. He had soft fur and a long, stripy tail. He ate fish. He purred. He went for long walks. But Caramba was different from other cats. He couldn’t fly.”

Book cover for Caramba So begins the tale of Caramba, the cat who couldn’t fly. Caramba does want to fly, and he tries several times without success. In truth, Caramba is just different from all the other cats. Author Marie-Louis Gay has created an endearing character, with which we can all sympathize. We have all felt different at some point or been unable to do what seems easy to everyone else. Yet once Caramba accepts his differences and discovers his own personal talents, he is able to let go of his anxieties and even encourages his friend to try new things. If you have a little one worried about his or her own differences, check out this beautifully illustrated story.

Stories Without Words

Children love to tell tales, both of their own true experiences and those they have created. Often before a child can read print, you will see a child “reading” a book, ignoring the text, but using the illustrations as inspiration for a story he fashions as he turns the pages. In doing this, the child will learn to use illustrations as guides and will later be able to use this skill to help him in figuring out difficult words on a page and understanding more complex texts. Listening to a child “read” a book in this manner is a great way to build an early reader’s confidence and narrative skills. You can encourage your child to look closely at illustrations by providing her books without words. Try a few of our favorites:

Book cover for Chalk by Bill Thomson

Interested in more stories without words? Check out some of these.

Explore the World of Panoramic Books

Book cover for Where's Waldo! The Fantastic JourneyDo you remember “Where’s Waldo?” and how much fun it was to not only find Waldo and his accessories, but also see who else was in his world and what they were up to? As it turns out, there are more books like this. We at the library have classified them into two categories: seek-and-find and panoramic.

Seek-and-finds are just what you would expect – detailed illustrations in which you search for specific items from a list. Panoramic titles, however, do not have a list of items to find, and often they don’t have any text at all. But the more you look, the more you see in their fantastically full pictures.

Book cover for The Yellow BalloonPanoramic books are enjoyable for all age groups. The pictures are enchanting and pull you in, especially those by Charlotte Dematons, such as “The Yellow Balloon,” “Holland” and “Let’s Go.” Personally, I have poured over one book for several hours, amazed at the details, colors and scope of each page. Other titles will show how a location changes over the course of time. “In the Town All Year ‘Round” by Rotraut Berner shows how several places are transformed by each season. “Busy Bunny Days” by Britta Teckentrup shows thee locations (town, farm and port) over the course of one day. Books along these lines are also good for helping young minds understand time and how it passes, as well as the differences in seasons. Continue reading