Tag Archives: Book Lists

Bibliomaniacs Beware!

I feel I need to confess my addiction.  I am a bibliomaniac.  In spite of the fact that I have a library card, which gives me access to plenty of wonderful books, and which I enjoy using regularly, I still find the need to OWN them.  I just love books!  It doesn’t help that my husband feels the same way.  Who’s going to put on the brakes? 

In our home library we have one side of shelves filled with children’s picture books (largely my doing), and another side filled with a mixture of leather-bound literary greats, biographies of historical figures, and Tom Clancy-type novels (all my husband’s forte).  Of course between those two collections there is also a smattering of how-to’s, neighborhood book club favorites, and of course a bit of Calvin and Hobbes.  We just love books around here!  I feel like it’s a justifiable guilty pleasure.

So with all that said, I hope you appreciate the hazard of what I’m about to do.  A friend of mine asked if I could find a list of the 100 books you should read to your preschooler and post it here.  I agreed to do it, but I hope you know that because of that, I’ve discovered about 20 fantastic books that I don’t own, and now feel the compulsive need to find them!  (So while you’re perusing the list, I’ll probably be over at half.com!)

I found my favorite 100s list at Children’s Book Guide, complete with cover shots, summaries, and individual links to amazon.

Reading Rockets also has several other lists, including Caldecott and Newberry winners and the most notable books for the years 2010 and 2009.  (I’m afraid to even look at them!)

What do you think?  Was there a book on the top 100 list that brought back memories of sitting “criss-cross-applesauce” on the reading rug of your first-grade classroom?  What book did you not find on the list that you would definitely have in your personal top 100?  Go ahead.  I already want 20 more books.  What’s another 10?

Top photo by Horton Group.

 
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The Best Books are Ageless

About seven years ago, as a first grade teacher, I attended a workshop featuring Dr. Jean Feldman.  There were many things she shared that influenced me as a teacher, but there was one thing she said that I have thought back on many times:

“We are often so eager to give children all the things we didn’t have, that we forget to give them the things we did have.”

She was referring to the importance of Nursery Rhymes in building phonological awareness, and the tendency of many teachers and parents to neglect these classics in favor of the newest, coolest, and latest gadgets, gizmos, and doo-dads.  While nursery rhymes originate as far back as the 16th or 17th century, they are still one of the most effective tools for teaching children.

Lately, I’ve thought back on this quote again, as I’ve noticed some of my boys’ favorite stories were some of my favorites as a child as well.  As I pull some of our very favorite stories from the shelves and page through to the copyright, I’m often surprised to see how long some of these fantastic books have been around! 

And so, in spite of the fact that there are some truly fabulous new books out, I wanted to focus today on some of the classics that every child should get the chance to enjoy!

Caps for Sale Big Book (Reading Rainbow Book)

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina was first published in 1940, but its charming patterned story will always be one of my favorites!  Even though it was written before their grandpa was born, my boys love it too!

Goodnight Moon

What parent doesn’t have the words to Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown forever memorized?  I would love to see a counter displaying how many times this story simple story, first published in 1947, has sent children off to slumber.

 Image of Theodor Geisel - Dr. Seuss

All Things Seuss!  While the works of Dr. Seuss have been around since the late 50s, I’m often surprised to find children who have never actually heard the stories of a persistent boy named Sam-I-Am, one mischievous cat, or the Sneetches on beaches.  (Familiarity through cinema doesn’t quite countNo offense, Jim Carrey.  You make a great Horton, but as with most based-on-the-book movies, you just have to read the book!

(Find Seuss activities here.)

Very Hungry Caterpillar

  The Very Hungry Caterpillar , written by Eric Carle and published in1969, is another book that has aged incredibly well.  Despite the fact that this op-ed writer finds the text lacking in “narrative creativity” and “devoid of surprise” those who love and teach young children know that the repetition and pattern of text is instrumental in building new readers.  Besides that, kids love it!

 The Monster at the End of this Book (Sesame Street) (Big Little Golden Book)

As a shout-out to the children of the 70s, I have to add The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone.  It was one of my very favorites growing up!  I thought it was just a trendy book, lost in the past, until one of my first grade students brought it to school on the day the children were asked to bring one favorite book.  Soon after that, I bought a new copy for my own library while pregnant with my first son.  Six years later it is still getting good miles around our house!

I could go on and on….but I want to hear what you have to say!

What are some of the ageless books at the top of your “favorites” list?

Top photo by Horton Group.
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Have You Met My Friend Stinky Face?

I Love You Stinky FaceI have a friend who has made a tradition of giving books to her children on Valentine’s Day.  (No, she’s not the one named Stinky Face.)  She tries to find some kind of love themed book to give to each of her children.  I love this idea, and as I thought about my favorite love themed children’s book, particularly from the perspective of a mom, my hands-down favorite is “I Love You Stinky Face” by Lisa McCourt

This is a great story about a child who keeps asking his mother “what if” questions to test how much she really loves him.  Questions like, “What if I were an alligator with big, sharp teeth?” or “What if I were a green alien from Mars and I ate bugs instead of peanut butter?”  Of course the mother answers in perfect, funny, unconditionally loving fashion

Some “I love you books” overdose on sentiment and end up as illustrated greeting cards that c0uld only really appeal to adults.  Not this one! It is both tender and silly, and I just love it!  Even more importantly, my boys do as well.  And don’t think of it only as a book for family story time.  I read this to my class when I taught first grade, and it quickly became a top-requested read-aloud!

So whether you’re looking for a loving book for Valentine’s Day, or just a fun read, don’t pass this one up!  (And as a bonus, it’s currently in some of the Februrary Scholastic book orders!  Who doesn’t love a bargain?)

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Wonderful Winter Books!

I love picture books!  In our family library, my husband’s beautiful leather-bound tomes  line one section of shelves, while my continually growing collection of children’s literature fills another section.  I’d say our respective collections take up about the same amount of real estate, but since I can fit about 20 picture books in the same amount of space as one “War and Peace”, I’d say my collection is larger.  There just never seems to be a bad time to read a good children’s book.  Start of an activity – great!  Rowdy transition time – perfect!  Bedtime – ideal!  It reminds me of the iPhone commercials (“There’s an app for that”).  Any situation, there’s a book for that.  New puppy in the family?  There’s a book for that.  Having a really bad day?  There’s a book for that.  Want to become a pirate?  There’s a book for that too.  Ate too many cupcakes and now you’ve turned pink, which you were really excited about at first, until the birds and bees thought you were a flower and swarmed you, and after one more cupcake you’re actually red, which isn’t nearly as neat as pink and now you need to know how to get back to your normal self?  Wouldn’t you know, there’s a book for that too! (If you think I’m totally off my rocker with that last reference, you need to read Pinkalicious!)

During a winter themed preschool unit, there are plenty of opportunities for a great book.  You might use one to start off outside time, an art project, a game, or a discussion.  Or you might just read one to enjoy it together with your little ones.  For any occasion, here’s a quick list of some of my favorite winter-themed books. Instead of summarizing them myself, I’ve linked each picture to Amazon, which also gives a story summary. 

Snow book & CD set

Snow by Uri Shulevitz

The Snowy Day

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (Try out Deborah’s idea for an activity, the first comment on this post, or make snow globes like these – though I would use a glue gun instead of duct tape.)

The Snowman

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

All You Need for a Snowman

All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle (Try With Activity Here)

Snowmen at Night

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn and Mark Buehner (Book Activity Here)

Snowballs

Snowballs by Lois Ehlert

Snip, Snip...Snow!

Snip, Snip, Snow! by Nancy Poydar (Book Activity Here – Combine with this treat!)

 Under My Hood I Have a Hat

Under My Hood I Have a Hat by Karla Kuskin (Book Activity Here)

Snow

Snow by Cynthia Rylant

The HatThe Mitten 20th Anniversary Edition

Jan Brett’s The Hat…No, The Mitten…Oh, I can’t pick a favorite!  Go with a Jan Brett Author study and check them all out!

Snow Day (Blue Ribbon Book)

And don’t undestimate the value of your informational texts.  My boys love Snow Day by Betsy Maestro.  It’s a book I kind of overlooked, thinking it was boring, but my boys love seeing and hearing about all the machines that clear the way through streets, airports, even harbors on a snowy day.

With all the great literature, don’t forget that information books are great to have in your book area as well. You don’t have to read the whole book, just having the pictures for perusing and maybe reading a page or a sentence or two when a question comes up makes it more than worth the effort.  Having these types of books encourages curiosity and sparks interest in the topic.  It also teaches children that they can find answers to questions by reading books.

The Little Book of Snowflakes

Oooh, and something like this would be perfect in this collection as well!

I know I’ve just scratched the surface of a list that could certainly go on for days!  So comment here, and share your favorite winter themed books with all of us!

For more wintry activities, click here!

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The Best Books for Dinosaur Lovers!

I usually start out my lit list with some classic suggestions for incorporating nursery rhymes, fables, fairy tales, and the like, but I can’t think of any old standards involving dinosaurs.  If I’m overlooking something, please let me know.  I can’t think of a single one! 

Here are some great books I like to use in a dinosaur unit, or to share with a dinosaur aficionado and watch his eyes brighten with delight!  It is in no way an exhaustive list, so please comment with your favorites as well!  As always, each picture in this list is linked to Amazon if you’re interested in purchasing information, or just more views of the books.

Can I Have a Stegosaurus, Mom? Can I? Please!?

Can I Have a Stegosaurus, Mom? Can I? Please? By Lois G. Grambling

Such a fun, imaginative story about a child who finds a dinosaur egg and decides to hatch it, dreaming of all the fun the two could have together!

Dino Pets

Dino-Pets By Lynn Plourde 

This book does a great job of making it a fun story, while seamlessly giving lots of information about dinosaurs along the way.  I have used it with the Lumpy Bumpy Dinosaur Scales activity.

Dinosaurumpus!

Dinosaurumpus! By Tony Mitton

This book, as is expected for Tony Mitton’s books, has fantastic elements of rhythm and rhyme, which not only makes it fun to read, but promotes prereading skills.  Follow it up with a percussion band syllable activity to reinforce those skills as well as the musical theme of the book.

Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp

Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp By Carol Diggory Shields

Another great story with great rhythm and rhyme.  You could use the same syllable activity I mentioned above, or make dinosaur tracks  like the ones you see on the inside covers of this book!

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?By Jane Yolen

This book has reached classic status.  If you haven’t read this to a child yet, apologize to all of them immediately!  Just a great read!  It is also a fantastic opener for discussing social skills and appropriate behavior as well.

Trouble at the Dinosaur Cafe

Trouble at the Dinosaur Café By Brian Moses

This one is a favorite for one of my own little guys.  The T Rex bullies some of the plant eaters until they work together to teach him a lesson.  Great elements of rhyme and rhythm as well. 

Sammy and the Dinosaurs

Sammy and the Dinosaurs By Ian Whybrow

(Apparently this is also published under the title, Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs.)  A tender read about a boy’s favorite toys, which seem to come to life for him, and what happens when they get lost.

First Dinosaur Encyclopedia

Of course, you’ll need lots of non-fiction in your library too.  There are plenty of great ones out there, but you can never really go wrong with a DK publishing book like this one, the First Dinosaur Encyclopedia.

Now chime in, don’t be shy.  What’s your favorite dinosaur book?  There are tons out there!  Let us in on which ones are missing from this list!

For more dinosaur activities, click here!

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