Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Toddler Cookbook

My son is an original. I mean, how many two year olds lose their minds when they have to leave Bed, Bath and Beyond, specifically the blender and mixer section? He could not care less about Toys R Us or any other toy store but loves Target for the mixing bowls. Truly, heaven for my little man is Crate and Barrel. So when it comes to reading, we are out of the box thinkers. B loves reading kid cook books. One of his favorites is The Toddler Cookbook by Annabel Karmel. He loves the page with a full spread of all the small appliances and kitchen utensils, all labeled. To be honest though, no need for labels for B because he will correct you if you call a whisk a beater or a colander a strainer. This is serious business for him. Each recipe has a picture to go along with the numbered step. They are fairly easy to make with children helping out and quite appealing. We have made the baked chicken fingers (with crushed low fat potato chips instead of bread crumbs,) meringues, tropical ice pops, and homemade lemonade (with added strawberries thanks to my kids’ suggestion.) Only problem that we have found is a lack of breakfast food recipes.

*Write steps for any daily activity like ‘how to get ready for bed.’ Include numbers and pictures and turn it into a book. Use simple sight words with repetition when learning to read. (I brush my teeth. I wash my face. I change my clothes.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Here’s a little story for you. When my brother was 8 and I was 5, my dad decided we would be able to choose a Christmas present for my mom. To be honest, no one can remember what I chose since my brother’s gift was so…um…memorable. My brother loved the Atari. What boy didn’t? So, naturally he chose the game Frogger.
For the Atari.
For my mother.
So when my husband and I put into effect a limit of $35 on Christmas presents, you can imagine my shock in receiving a Kindle. Now that’s love. Or was it genius. You decide. That evening I found myself looking at my husband read the first downloaded book to the Kindle. It wasn’t Anita Shreve, Geraldine Brooks, or Ann Patchett. It was something like Selling Power or The Cold Call Gone Hot. After a few weeks of sharing my new present, my husband so kindly downloaded the Kindle to my Blackberry. And then it dawned on me…I had been Froggered.
With my birthday and Christmas right around the corner, I am now lobbying for an iPad. It’s either that or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from turning pages almost constantly on my Blackberry. So to all my friends out there, remind my husband of my wish as he claims those two days sneak up on him every year.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thesaurus Rex

Thesaurus Rex by Laya Steinbrg is exactly what you think: synonyms + a dinosaur. It may sound odd, but it is a house favorite. So much so that I actually remember trying to hide it from my daughter after the 1000th reading. Thesaurus Rex's day is filled with fun and mischief--you all know what I am talking about--like most of our houses. The best part of this book is that everything Thesaurus Rex does in a day is described with four different words that have the same meaning. Where else is your child going to be exposed to the word 'rollick'? It's catchy, includes rhyme, and plays with language.

*Describe an action from your own day with different words that mean the same thing.
*Make text-to-self connections.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sally and the Purple Socks

Sally and the Purple Socks by Lisze Bechtold is a fun story about a little duck (I think) that orders and receives a comfy pair of purple socks. They arrive too small to fit, but a note tells Sally that they will grow to the size she ordered. Oh wait, did she specify the size? So the socks grow and grow and grow. And Sally, being the clever duck (I think) that she is, begins to use the pair of socks around the house--scarf, hat, curtains, bedspread, carpet, the tent of a circus...Thankfully, it begins to rain, and the socks shrink back down to the most perfect fitting socks, ever.

*Make predictions about how Sally will use the socks around the house as they grow.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Freckleface Strawberry

I have never been big on celebrities-turned-children's-book-writers, but I have to admit that we really like this one. Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore introduces us to a fiery little red head who is like everyone else except for those pesky freckles. We love (but had to discuss our house rules) that she tries to draw on herself with a pink marker in order to 'connect the dots.' She is so tired of these freckles that she finally decides that the best plan is to hide them and wear a ski mask at all times. Not only is it hot and itchy, but she misses her friends and her friends miss her. Loud and clear, we get the message. So I asked M and B, my two little ones, what makes them special. M said the way she plays with her tea set. And B said, mixing (that is any pretend food in a bowl.) Can't argue with that!

*Love all of the talking bubbles, great for teaching kids dialogue.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Love Story

I have always LOVED books. Well, not always. I can remember my mother making me go to the library to check out books. Then, sitting on my bed for what seemed like forever 'reading' the book. I was daydreaming about doing anything other than reading that book. I wasn't a quick reader and that really made me dislike books. Even through high school, I remained steadfast on my stance that reading was not a good choice for free time. But, something changed when I went to college--yes, it took that long. I remember calling my brother to talk about declaring a major. I told him that I had chosen English. The first thing he said to me was, "You know you have to read books." It was no secret that my love for soccer out shined my love for school work. But, I knew that English was right for me. How I knew that, I did not know.

This is where my love story begins. I devoured books, some more pleasant than others but couldn't believe what I had missed out on all those years. And as I moved from college to graduate school for elementary education, I began to fall in love with children's books. My teaching career brought me the opportunity to make book choices that pulled students into reading. I wanted to see them turning the pages with an anxious furry, a desperation to find out what was next. I loved teaching Language Arts and knew I had to move into that direction in my career. In my application for my reading program, I had to describe myself as a reader. On a scale of 1-10, I would have given myself a 12. I never left the house without a book in my purse and used any opportunity: red light, line at the bank, an unnecessary trip to the DMV (okay just kidding) to read a page, a paragraph, or just a few words. This is the love story I want my children to know. It's a love that in the end will leave a person's heart and mind filled with imagination, questions, loyalty, and pure bliss.