It’s December, and my list-loving heart rejoices! Websites and publications have been naming the best children’s books of 2013 since October. (October! Isn’t that a bit like Christmas carols before Halloween?) These lists are wonderful resources for gift ideas for the young readers in your life, or simply a nice reference if you want to make sure you didn’t miss any highly rated chapter or picture book published this past year. From the fantastically detailed and dazzling illustrations in Aaron Becker’s wordless picture book “Journey” to the antic adventures described in Gregory Hughes’ chapter book “Unhooking the Moon,” you’ll find something to satisfy any kiddo on your gift list. Here are a few of my favorites from these lists, followed by a round-up of links to the lists themselves for your browsing pleasure.
“Mr. Tiger Goes Wild” by Peter Brown
Any kid who has ever squirmed uncomfortably in dress pants or tight shoes, having been admonished to “sit still” and “be polite” (and what kid hasn’t?) will identify with Mr. Tiger. The animals in Brown’s not-too-preachy book about the joy of just being yourself are stuffy, formal and exceedingly proper. Mr. Tiger tries to fit in, but he finally sheds his finery and takes off for the jungle so he can go wild. When he begins to miss his friends, he returns to the city and is pleasantly surprised by changes that have occurred in his absence. A joyful, funny read about self-expression and finding a happy medium. Continue reading
I have strong memories of my mother “needing” my help to count or stir things as she baked. She had me move toothpicks from one pile to another to keep track of the number of eggs, cups of flour and so on as “we” baked. Now I know she had me participate for many reasons. I was kept busy, and these activities helped my motor skills, math skills and even my communication skills. As you cook with your child and wait for something to finish baking, enjoy sharing some of these tales of baked goods.
Have a school-age child working on fine motor skills and who loves art? Decorate cakes in an art bakery. Explore fun ways to work on math. Enjoy!
As a mother of two boys (3 and 7 years old), I am always looking for reading material that grabs their interest. At our house there is one author who has stood the test of time — Jon Scieszka. We first started reading Scieszka’s series Trucktown, a great choice for any parent who has a truck crazy little one (boy or girl). There is also an interactive and educational website that accompanies the series. Our obsession with Scieszka continues today. My seven year old son has discovered Scieszka’s quick-witted, fast paced Time Warp Trio series.
In addition to creating the Trucktown and Time Warp Trio series, Scieszka is the first National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature. He has developed a web-based literacy program, Guys Read, that is devoted to helping boys become “self-motivated, lifelong readers.” Continue reading
Jan Thomas’ books are known for their humor, and “Let’s Sing a Lullaby With the Brave Cowboy” doesn’t disappoint. Turning a typical bedtime routine on its head, the parent – played by the brave cowboy – continues to halt the bedtime process. Cowboy’s wild imagination turns flowers into spiders and sticks into snakes. Luckily the cows and a not-so-scary wolf alleviate his fears, and he happily croons everyone to sleep.
Kids love guessing what inanimate object is scaring Cowboy. Their enthusiastic and imaginative guessing reminds me of a simple game I made up as a child. I called it… “The Peek Game.”
How do you play this marvelous game, you ask?
- Gather a file folder, scissors and some interesting images from magazines or calendars.
- Cut several flaps in the front your file folder. Larger flaps are perfect for young ones. Tiny flaps make the game more challenging.
- Hide an image inside the folder.
- Let one player pick a flap to open.
- Given this peek, what could the image be?
- Continue opening windows and guessing until you guess correctly.
- Swap places and let the other player pick an image.
Looking for more fun? In the vein of Throwback Thursday, take a peek at our past blogs for another popular guessing game and my favorite cowpoke lullaby (actions included).
I love Neil Gaiman’s books, and his new one, “Fortunately, the Milk,” is no exception. What I love the most about this story is that it’s about a dad, a really great dad, as told by his son. Orphans and absent parents abound in children’s literature, but silly books about amazing parents are rare. It seems like even fewer books are about dads.
This story features a father’s quest to bring milk home for his little children’s breakfast cereal. Kids will love this crazy tale. There are pirates, aliens, volcanoes and tinkering with the space-time continuum, all complemented by Skottie Young’s super expressive and crazy line drawings. After I read this story, I went into the kitchen and said to my husband, “Guess what! This book could be about you!” Then I read it to him while he made dinner. (He’s also a really great dad.)