Saturday, May 31, 2008
Of course the go to caterpillar book is Eric Carle's classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Oh, how we have loved this book! Clearly many other readers have as well, judging from the toys, card game, baby clothing line, and other products inspired by it. Educationally, it is a gold mine, teaching the days of the week, counting, and the process of metamorphosis. It's also just a delightful read. I have yet to meet a child who does not love the list of foods the very hungry caterpillar eats on that fateful Saturday. And, of course, they all love when he turns into a beautiful butterfly in the end.
Also on the list of invertebrates we love is the very clever green inchworm protagonist of Leo Lionni's Inch by Inch. Inchworm as underdog. He outwits the vain nightingale and saves his own neck in the process.
Finally, for school age children is the baseball cap wearing earthworm in Doreen Cronin's Diary of a Worm. The entries are fresh and witty as are Harry Bliss' illustrations. My children particularly enjoy the worm's June 15 diary entry which reads, "My older sister thinks she's so pretty. I told her that no matter how much time she spends looking in the mirror, her face will always look just like her rear end. Spider thought that was really funny. Mom did not."
Friday, May 30, 2008
These engaging books about a mild mannered mouse named Geronimo Stilton who has many varied adventures are more chapter book than comic book, but they are chock full of engaging illustrations, interesting fonts, fast plots, and outrageous characters. Originally published in Italy, there are now more than 30 Geronimo Stilton books, and they have been translated into 35 languages. Some popular titles in our household are The Mouse Island Marathon, The Phantom of the Subway, and The Wild, Wild West.
One nice feature for the adult who reads these aloud ( in our case, my husband, nightly, to our five year old)- the chapters are very short. When a child begs for just one more chapter, you can easily indulge him or her.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
So my daughter and I were excited and my sons were doubtful as we all climbed on my bed Monday night to begin the book. What a surprise when pages 5 to 18 went into great detail about Butchering Time! The slaughter of venison, pig, and bear are recounted. The smokehouse Pa built from a hollow log is described in great detail. My nine year old son was rapt with fascination and my daughter had the horrified look on her face of someone who has fallen for the old bait and switch. My five year old son looked a little bored. The description of the making of head cheese only intensified these reactions. All I know is we'd better get to some corncob dolls and barn dances soon!
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I love a good novel and have to push myself to read more nonfiction. My chief complaint is that nonfiction is often boring. However, every once in awhile a biography or autobiography really moves me and I find myself raving about it to anyone who will listen. C. Vivian Stringer's Standing Tall: A Memoir of Tragedy and Triumph is one of those books.
Stringer is the head coach of the Rutgers University women's basketball team. That is what got me to pick this book up, as my husband, my three brothers, many of my friends, and I all graduated from Rutgers and have an interest in Rutgers athletics. I'm assuming many people will read it to find out more about the controversy sparked by radio personality Don Imus's negative comments about the team. Stringer does cover that incident, but this book has so much more. What an inspirational life she has led!
With dignity and quiet humor, Stringer writes about the tragedies in her life, including her fourteen month old baby daughter's spinal meningitis which made it impossible for her to walk or speak again, the death of Stringer's beloved husband of a heart attack in 1991, and her own battle against breast cancer. At the same time, Stringer writes of her professional triumphs (bringing two different teams to a National Championship tournament), and personal ones such as her strong marriage and the love and support of her family and friends.
Stringer admits mistakes she has made in her life and extolls the importance of hard work, education, and a can do attitude. It is a fantastic choice for a teenager or young adult, even one who has no interest in basketball.
Monday, May 26, 2008
With that in mind, I have an excellent book for children about the Gettysburg Address that would be perfect to read at this time of year. Although Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address during the Civil War, he movingly and in few words, gets to the heart of memorializing the dead who bravely struggled on that battlefield.
Just A Few Words, Mr. Lincoln: The Story of the Gettysburg Address by Jean Fritz and illustrated by Charles Robinson tells the story behind the writing of that famous American speech. It is made interesting by details of Abraham Lincoln's life at the time he wrote it, the fact that his son Tad was sick when he left to deliver the speech, the other guests in the house where he stayed who had to bunk together, the too small horse he originally had to ride, and so on. Fritz makes the readers understand what it was like to be in the audience standing outdoors surrounded by frsh graves listening to the president with his Kentucky accent deliver those 271 words. The book includes the Gettysburg Address at the end.
Even if you don't get around to checking out this well written easy reader, Memorial Day is a good opportunity to look up the Gettysburg Address and reread it. It's about the same length as the blog entry you just read and certainly more significant. Oh, and enjoy your barbecue!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
So, here are a few books we've read recently that have gotten the Burts to laugh out loud:
-the Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel (perfect for preschoolers and early readers)
-the Poppleton series by Cynthia Rylant (also great for preschoolers and early readers)
-Superfudge and Duble Fudge by Judy Blume ( these make my second and third grader laugh as much on the second and third readings as on the first)
-the entire Captain Underpants collection by Dav Pilkey (my kids started enjoying these around the age of five and still chuckle at George and Harold's antics)
-The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (this one inspires my two older kids to enact selected scenes, and then they laugh while acting them out.)
-Jim Benson's Dear Dumb Diary series while set in a middle school really make my second and third grader laugh, as do
-the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney. The genius of these books is that they make me laugh out loud as well, but I don't think my kids and I are always laughing at the same parts. I think that they will reread these for years and keep finding new humor in them.