Category Archives: Insipiring Books for Kids

Reading with Inflection

Back when I taught middle school kids I was so surprised that mood was completely lost on so many students.  They read in a monotone, word by word manner. No wonder they found it boring!

I definitely don’t want J to get stuck in that rutt.  Reading is way too much fun for monotone.

So I was THRILLED when we discovered Mo Willems at our local library.  His books are perfect for teaching and practicing inflection, even for the beginner or intermediate reader. And it doesn’t hurt that he is hilarious for both child AND adult.

We are in a book! [Book]We especially love his Elephant and Piggie series. In fact I liked “We are in a Book” so much that I decided to go out and buy it and I’m becoming quite the snob in books I deem worth my money.  “BANANA!!!” has become a source of laughter all throughout our day (you’ll have to read the book to find out why).

There are so many great things about these books. They are simple enough that J can read them all by himself but the story is still good enough to keep both of our attentions. So many of the beginning reader books are boring! These books aren’t marketed as beginning reader books, but I think they work great for that… or maybe for intermediate readers. I’m not an expert in early readers! If your child has a good base of sight words and a basic understanding of phonics, I think they will manage the Elephant and Piggie books well.

We can also read them together, each taking a different role so that we get to act the book out. J even wants us to imitate the faces as we read/act.

Should I Share My Ice Cream? [Book]He has learned what think bubbles are and is getting great practice at reading with inflection which I just love. It’s so fun to hear J imitate the emotion and read happily, sadly, with disappointment or surprise, disgust, greed, embarassment, or even dismay, all depending on the story. That is such great practice! Willems does a great job of showing the emotion on the characters faces as well as changing the font to get the mood across (tiny font or gigantic font, italics, wiggly font, etc). Even my 3 year old can figure out it out, many times on his own!

And of course he’s getting great practice at how to interpret the punctuation as he reads. Often J can pick up the purpose of the punctuation or font type on his own from the context of the story. There have been times that he’s asked why the font was so tiny or why the exlamation mark and the question mark are together.  Another plus! The books encourage him to take the initiative so that he gets it right.

And did I mention that these books are funny? J and I just giggle the whole way through. I love that he is getting such great practice reading AND enjoying every second. I’m so thrilled that Willems wrote so many books in this series. We’ve probably read at least 10 different Elephant and Piggie books and have lots more to check out at the library.

Oh and his Knuffle Bunny series is really cute too. That’s actually the series that got us hooked on Mo Willems. Parents especially will find this series humorous. “Blaggle Flaggle” mom and dad, “Blaggle Flaggle!”

 **Willems also has a the Cat the Cat series (seems to be ideal for very early readers since he uses lots of repetition and use of the same word family throughout the book) and the Pigeon series (that will be next on our list to read through).

Great Library Finds for Fall

Sometimes our library visits are well organized, I’ve searched for books ahead of time, placed some holds, and researched authors.  Other times, it’s a random treasure hunt.  I love when you just happen to find great reads roaming the shelves! I have a feeling both of these authors will be place on our favorites list.

Fletcher and the Falling LeavesFletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson is wonderful.  Fletcher, an adorable little fox is concerned for his good friend when it begins shedding…. leaves.  He tries to come to his friend’s rescue to no avail.  Then he discovers that his friend still has beauty to share.  Fletcher is simply adorable.  The artwork by Tiphanie Beeke captures the story perfectly.  I love it!

South by Patrick McDonnell: Book CoverSouth by Patrick McDonnell is a picture book, perfect for a toddler or preschooler “reading” on their own or for mom and dad to join in.  A tiny bird sleeps through the last moment of fall, and finds alone when all his bird-family have flown south.  A friendly cat saves the day as they make the trip towards southern warmth together and the tiny bird reunites with his family. No words, just pictures.  A story beautifully told.

Enjoy storytime and then go outside and play in the falling leaves!

Activity for Perfect Square by Michael Hall

Michael Hall’s Perfect Square  is so cute, walking us through a happy little square’s journey.  On each page the square gets cut, torn, or crumpled and becomes something beautiful.

This book so easily transitions into a fun art activity, I just couldn’t resist!  I cut out 6 different squares, one for each color presented in the book.  I used a tissue box to trace the squares.  This size worked well for a 3 year old. Smaller pieces would’ve been more difficult for him to work with.  You will also need a marker, scissors, glue and large white construction paper (maybe a few pieces if your squares are big).

We walked through each page of the book, cutting and tearing as instructed. Then J glued down his own creation, trying to mimic the pictures in the book.  Most of the pictures he could complete on his own.  The fountain and bridge did require a little mommy-help.

J's version of water, mountain, bridge, park, fountain, and flowers

It does take awhile to complete each piece of square-art shown in the book.  I was actually surprised that J remained fully involved to the end.  I even tried to skip a page, worried he’d lose interest.  Well, he quickly pointed out that I missed a page and that he just must create that square

This is a great activity if you’re working through the shapes. It works best for square-day; it would likely cause some confusion on circle-day! :) It’s also a great review of colors since each page highlights a different color.

Becoming an Artist: The Dot by Peter Reynolds

At our last library trip, we happened across the cutest story! 

The Dot, by Peter Reynolds, is a story about a little girl who thinks she can’t draw until her teacher proves her wrong.  She’s inspired to keep trying and eventually inspires others too. 

This was the perfect book for J.  He is such a perfectionist that he often chooses NOT to do something if he thinks that he won’t be able to do it “right”.  This book fulfilled its purpose and inspired my little guy to become an artist!

After reading the book, we decided to create our own art museum of dots.  I pulled out markers, crayons, map pencils, water colors and cardstock.  J was thrilled.  He was confident.  He became an artist and loved it!  He even wanted to sign his work, just like the little girl in the story.

After all his pieces dried, we hung them in his room.  We now have an in-house art museum featuring my favorite artist.