When I first got pregnant last May and leading up to my three-month maternity leave, I started compiling lists of books I was going to read while I was home with my new little angel. You know, the world’s first newborn that was going to sleep at night and take 3 long naps during the day, and obviously let me read while I fed her or rocked her. I even brought home a stack of books with me, making a plan for who could pick them up and bring me more.
Yeah, I think we call that new mom disillusionment…
Well, I’m happy to say I read exactly one book in the last three months and it’s the one I’m going to recommend to you. I was really excited to get an email from long time family friend and artist, Annie Barnett. She asked me if I’d be willing to read and review a children’s book she illustrated. I thought this would motivate me to spend my exactly 15 minutes of free time (usually while my husband helps our daughter get used to eating from a bottle) reading instead of watching marathons of Teen Mom, Real Housewives, and various other reality TV time sucks. It turned out that I was right, I actually kept reading after I put my baby to bed last night because I had to finish the book! That really means something when you are so sleep deprived you look forward to the 6 minute ride to church with your husband so you can take cat nap!
So, what did I give up my valuable and coveted zzzz’s for? The Growly Books: Begin by Philip and Erin Ulrich and illustrated by family friend, Annie Barnett (Annie’s blog and more of her art work can be seen here and it’s worth checking out!).
Even my two-month-old loves it:
One of the biggest complaints I get from my patrons is that their children are reading above reading level but can’t find appropriate books. They can’t seem to find books that appeal to their young reader that will challenge them without introducing content that they aren’t ready for. Well, The Growly Books by the Ulrich’s are the answer!
Here’s what the authors say about the book:
In this classic bildungsroman, Growly’s travels take him to new lands where he meets new creatures, including his future best friend, Chippy the monkey. Readers will learn all about different animal societies in this imaginary world. Growly takes a personal journey, too, realizing the strength of his customs, the support of his family, the love and comfort of friendship, the power of hope, and the courage that is within him. The twists and turns, the growing love between Ember and Growly, the desire to know what happens to CJ all leave you waiting impatiently for the next installment.
Begin is full of suspense, with surprises around every corner. It’s a great adventure novel that would definitely appeal to the imagination of young readers and younger listeners. The sweet and whimsical illustrations speak to the nature of the characters and the spirit and tone of this short chapter book. While the reading level of the book is perfect for the 8-12 year-old range, it’s an excellent choice for younger readers who are looking for books above their reading level with safe, fun and interesting content. An excellent choice for a family read-together, with plenty of opportunities for discussion about the choices we make in life and where they lead.
Growly, Chippy, Ember, and the other creatures have great potential to join the ranks of the many beloved book characters we all cherish. Take your family on this adventure with Growly and the rest of his gang!
This one is for Librarians, teachers, and for at-home fun.
Once we take our Christmas decorations down here at the library (and at home) and it’s not snowy outside, and it’s not quite time for Valentine’s Day, I get a little depressed. It’s a weird in-between-theme time. We do lots of snow stories and hope for snow, but sometimes you need something else and that’s when I turn to GINGERBREAD!
You may think gingerbread is for the holidays, but you’re wrong! We had a Gingerbread Party this past week and it had nothing to do with holidays. We had about 40 children show up and it was a ton of fun. This year Mrs. Janson planned the party. I did one in the past that I will share after I share her program.
Here’s what we did:
Gingerbread Stories: We read 3 of our gingerbread stories:
Maisy Makes Gingerbread by Lucy Cousins
The Baby Blue Cat and the Whole Batch of Cookies by Ainslie Pryor
Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett
Then, we decorated gingerbread cookies. We bought a bunch of the Pepperidge Farm Gingermen cookies. They look like this:
Then, we made little baggies of goodies including mini-marshmallows, licorice whips, m&m’s, and pretzels.
We handed out a cookie, a bag of goodies, and a hunk of frosting to each child on a paper plate and let them decorate (and eat) whatever they wanted.
What we’ve done in the past has been a little less tasty. It works better with older preschoolers. We started off by decorating giant paper gingerbread men. We used glitter, sequins, pom poms, and whatever else we found in the cabinet. We laid them out to dry and went to another room to hear gingerbread stories. Then, when we were done with story time, I sent the children back to pick up their men and they were missing! We had another librarian hide the gingerbread men and leave little notes that sent the children on a scavenger hunt around the library. We used simple clues that led them to places like the fish tank and the front desk. They had a ton of fun! You could easily do this around the house- set up the hunt during nap time if you want to stay secretive.
Of course if you are at home, you could make your own gingerbread. Here’s a really easy recipe for you. Remember that baking with young children is a great way to get some pre-math skills into their day! Measuring, counting, and timing things are important. Also, fine motor skills are developed through stirring, pouring, and rolling.
More Gingerbread and cookie stories:
Ahlberg, Allan. Previously (I love this story- it connects a whole bunch of fairy tales!)
Aylesworth, Jim. The Gingerbread Man
Brett, Jan. The Gingerbread Baby
De Las Casas, Diane. The Cajun Cornbread: A Well Loved Tale Spiced Up (Cajun version of the gingerbread boy)
Hillert, Margaret. The Cookie House
Cookie Rhymes and Fingerplays (remember even if you are not in a school or library setting, rhymes and fingerplays are important to do with babies and toddlers to help develop their language, vocabulary, fine motor skills, and early literacy (pre-reading) skills.
Five Little Gingerbread Men
Make felt gingerbread men to go along with the song. Make them from gingerbread colored felt & cut them large. Create faces and hats and collared vests with buttons- all painted on with slick paint that squeezes from a bottle. Kids LOVE this song.
Five little gingerbread men in a row
(Hold up five fingers, waving back & forth)
Not gonna’ eat one no, no, no.
(shake finger and head side to side)
But they look so sweet from head to toe
(hand binoculars at eyes touch head thentoes)
Crunch, munch… uh oh!
(slap thighs on crunch, clap hands on munch, then put hands over mouth on uh oh)
No little gingerbread men in a row
Wasn’t gonna’ eat one, no, no, no
But they looked so sweet that it’s sad to tell
(binoculars on sweet, then index fingers run down cheeks to represent tears on sad) Crunch..munch… oh well!
(slap thighs once, clap once, then throw hands up and shrug shoulders)
Hope this helps your house or library smell like gingerbread this winter and beat the holiday blues!
It’s been so long since I posted a storytime and that should tell you how busy we are at the library! I love Thanksgiving and it’s a holiday that nobody gets too upset about it if we read Thanksgiving stories during our regular story times. Here’s what I’m planning for next week…
Monday: Lego Club
We are going to build turkeys or Thanksgiving feast tables. It’s not very creative, but I’d like to see if someone can build me a giant bowl of mashed potatoes.
Tuesday: Storytime for 4′s and 5′s
This is quickly becoming my favorite storytime. I was mostly working with the babies and toddlers before and it’s kind of fun to read some stories to older children. Here’s my plan:
Hello Song: Everybody Smile and Wave
Finger Play: Where is thumbkin?
Book: Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey
Song: (to the tune of the “wheels on the bus”) The turkey on the farm says “Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble,gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble.The turkey on the farm says “Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble,gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble.Thanksgiving Day is near.
Finger Play: Two little turkeys sitting on a cloud. One named soft (whisper) and One named Loud (yell). Fly away soft (whisper) Fly away loud(yell). Come back soft (whisper) Come back loud (yell).
Book: Thanksgiving Mice by Bethany Roberts
Finger Play: I have a turkey, big and fat.
He spreads his wings (fan hands at hips)
And walks like that (strut back and forth)
His daily corn he would not miss, (pretend to eat corn)
And when he talks, he sounds like this! (Gobble, Gobble!)
Book: The Perfect Thanksgiving by Eileen Spinelli
Song: Autumn Leaves are Falling Down
(Tune: London Bridges is falling down)
Autumn Leaves are falling down,
Fallin down, falling down. (Wiggle fingers in downward motion.)
Autumn Leaves are falling down
Gently to the ground. (Wiggle fingers in downward motion until you touch the ground.)
Book: Thanksgiving at the Tappletons by Eileen Spinelli
If you’re happy and you know it.
Wednesday: Parachute Storytime for 2′s and 3′s
We will be reading:
A Plump and Perky Turkey by Bateman
This is the Turkey by Levine
I know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson
Parachute play will include:
bounce the turkey on the parachute
the turkey pokey (like the hokey pokey)
Thursday: Traditional Storytime for 2′s and 3′s
We will read:
Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Pilgrims by B.G. Hennesy
Thanksgiving Day by Anne Rockwell
We will also be doing the Tooty Ta dance. If you don’t know Tooty Ta then you should. Here’s where you can find out more about how to Tooty Ta.
You wont find any footage of me doing Tooty Ta- if you want to see that you should come to story time!
So that’s what I’m reading next week.
Here are some of my other favorite Thanksgiving books:
Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende Devlin
My First Thanksgiving by Tomie DePaola
Ten Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston
Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano
Some Extension Activities to try at home:
Summer is coming to a rapid end! Mrs. Janson and Mrs. Sara have been busy reading.
Mrs. Sara has 1300 minutes.
Mrs. Janson has read 134 books.
You still have two weeks left to beat us and get an invitation to the ice cream party!
It’s our last month for the Summer Reading Challenge- and watch out! Mrs. Sara will be on vacation at the end of it, so you should get a big lead!
Mrs. Janson has read 109 books so far. Her favorite book was Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
Mrs. Sara has read 1000 minutes so far! Her favorite book was The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Catling.
Keep up the good work and you might get some ice cream!
We are already at week 7 in Summer Reading! Wow time flies! Here’s our latest updates:
Mrs. Janson has read 90 books so far! Her favorite book for when company comes over is Martha Moth Makes Socks by Cambria Evans. Here’s a description from amazon.com, “It’s Martha Moth’s birthday, and her friends are coming over for dinner. She makes a quick trip to the store, where she picks up:
1 polka-dot scarf, 2 itchy socks, 1 shrunken sweater, and 2 kinds of scrumptious yarn.
Now Martha’s ready to get cooking! She’s just going to taste everything first to make sure it’s as good as it looks . . .” You can find it in the library in the easy section under the call number E Evans. Enjoy!
Mrs. Sara has read for 800 minutes so far! My favorite book has been The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly. Here’s what it’s about, “ Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.” (from amazon.com). Right now all of our copies are checked out because we are using this book for a book club next week, but normally you can find it in the library under the call number Juv Fic Kelly.
Keep reading if you want that ice cream!
With all of the programs and fun we’ve been having here, it’s been hard to keep up with our reading, but we’re going strong and we hope you are, too!
Mrs. Sara is up to 700 minutes, that’s about 20 minutes a day! My favorite book this week was The BFG by Roald Dahl. I liked using my imagination to think about a world where Giants exist. I would want them all to be friendly and helpful, like the BFG.
Mrs. Janson has read 73 books! Her favorite book this week is for anybody who is a Little House on the Praire fan. It’s called Laura Ingalls Wilder Country by William Anderson and it has some real life photos of places you might have read about it Laura’s books. It’s in the children’s non fiction section, with a call number of 813.52 Anderson.
Keep up the good work! Remember, there’s ice cream on the line!