Friday, October 26, 2018

Grandma's Book of the Month Club: A New Family Tradition

About 10 years ago, when my brother's first child was born, I decided that I wanted to send a book to him each month. They live in another state and I wanted to be an influence on his life. Our family has no living grandparents or great-grandparents for these littles, and I wanted him to have a taste of what it would be like if his Grandma Jean was still with us.

I chose some of my favorites, and loved reading them with him whenever I would visit. Then my youngest brother had his first child, and she joined Aunt Carrie's Book of the Month Club as well. Then came 2 more nieces who could enjoy all of the well-loved books Aunt Carrie sent to Utah. (Thank goodness for Amazon Prime!)

I had such fun choosing books that I thought they would enjoy and read over and over again. In fact, I enjoyed myself so much that I decided to start Grandma's Book of the Month Club when my Little Gingersnap was born.

She lives even further from me than my nieces and nephew do, and it hurt my grandma heart to think of not being able to see her as much as I would like, but with Grandma's Book of the Month Club, I feel like a little part of me is with her every single day as she reads and rereads the books I've selected especially for her.



I admit that Grandma sends more than one book a month and I may even take multiple books when I go to visit Sweet Lovey. I like to wrap them up and label them by month so she and Mom and Dad can enjoy opening them throughout the month or open them all at the beginning of the month, whatever they want to do.



Miss Betty has quite a collection of books now, and she is following in her father's reading footsteps.









^ One of her FAVORITES! A few weeks ago, her mama turned the pages while I recited the book from memory over the phone - that's how often we read this story!

I learned pretty quickly to purchase board books rather than standard hardcovers or paperbacks. She loves her books and they get toddler-handled. Every once in a while, I find a book I cannot resist that isn't a board book, but her parents are teaching her well about caring for special books :)




When I started this tradition, I created a Wish List on Amazon titled, what else, Grandma's Book of the Month Club. When I see or hear about a book that I want to share with Queen B, I add it to the list. 

When the holidays roll around, I do an Amazon search for board books about that holiday and check them out. I prefer to add books to my list that allow me to preview the inside pages so that I can tell whether or not the story and illustrations will be engaging for a little one.

She loves animals, so many of the books I buy for her feature animals, but I also include books about colors, numbers, shapes, old classics, and newer soon-to-be classics.


We are a family of readers, so books are often our go-to gifts. We created a shared Google Doc that we add titles to as we purchase books for Miss B to avoid duplicates.

Here are a few of the books from our Grandma's Book of the Month Club. Be sure to check these out and if you order via these links or the link at the top right of the blog, I might get a small commission, so your purchases via this website are much appreciated.

Notice that The Itsy Bitsy Leprechaun (Bottom row) is on sale right now for $2.62!

Do you have any book recommendations I can add to my Wish List? Please comment below - I love getting recommends from other book lovers!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Room on the Broom


When I pulled this book out of the Halloween bin, my Kinders and Firsties went crazy!

Them: "I love that story!" "I watch that movie all the time!"
Me: "Oh, well if you've already read it, let's choose another one."
Them: "NO! No! Please read it!"

And so we did, and we enjoyed every minute. We talked about how cool it is that Emily has beautiful ginger hair, just like the witch, that Isaac has a cat but it doesn't look like the witch's cat, and Nina's family just got a new broom, too, but it doesn't have seats or a nest or a pool. And by the way, did you know that Julia's bow is almost the same color as the witch's, and Kaden's brother had a wart on his foot once?

Life with the littles :)

Be sure to add this one to your Halloween repertoire.



Julia Donaldson website

Axel Scheffler website

SchoolKidzTV animated version

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Miss Smith and the Haunted Library


If you love the Miss Smith series, be sure to pick up this title - perfect for the days leading up to Halloween.

Miss Smith takes her class to the community library, just a block away from school, and, naturally, they take her Incredible Storybook with them.

When they arrive at the library, they are greeted by the librarian, Ms. Creeper. When she hears that they are on the hunt for spooky stories, she borrows the Incredible Storybook and begins to read bits from each of her favorites.

Soon, as any Miss Smith fan knows, the characters begin to come out of the storybook and fill the room. The children are simultaneously enthralled and worried, but Ms. Creeper doesn't seem to notice Frankenstein, Count Dracula, the Hound of the Baskervilles, or the frightened students clinging to their teacher.

When Ms. Creeper suddenly stops reading aloud and begins passing out cider and cookies, they realize she is not only aware, but has just started a party in the library.

Everyone is having a great time, and the characters don't seem so scary anymore as they tell jokes, play fetch with the Hound, and go on horsey rides with the Headless Horseman.

Until...the senior citizens' book club arrives at the library, and we all know what Miss Smith has to do

Pick up this Miss Smith sequel and enjoy seeing all your favorite spooky characters brought to life in Michael Garland's inimitable style, and, as a bonus Ms. Creeper has included a list of each of the spooky creatures and the book that features them.



Other Halloween books:
Halloween Rhythm and Rhyme (8 books in one post!)

National Geographic Kids: Halloween

Halloween Night: Twenty-One Spooktacular Poems

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Miss Fiona's Stupendous Pumpkin Pies


This is the most adorable Halloween book I've ever read!

Author Mark Kimball Moulton introduces Miss Fiona through the eyes of a neighborhood child. The child describes her dilapidated home and property and then Miss Fiona's appearance, from her stringy hair, pointed hat, pale green skin, wart, and long black dress, to her age - Fiona is rumored to be 403, but "...she never looked much older than 200 years to me!"

Miss Fiona has a large pumpkin patch and she grows hundreds of pumpkins in order to make homemade pumpkin pie for the community every Halloween.

She spends Halloween day prepping the pumpkins and making the pies while the trick-or-treaters peer into her windows, anxiously awaiting the finished product.

When trick-or-treating is done, the children gather outside Miss Fiona's house and she chooses one lucky child to be her helper. Everyone waits outside while Miss Fiona and her helper prepare the pies for serving.

When the church bell tolls at midnight, Miss Fiona calls them in and feeds them her delicious pie and while they eat, she reads spooky stories to them, then sends them on their way with an extra slice of pie to share with their families.

Karen Hillard Good's illustrations take this book above and beyond the normal Halloween book. Her folk art style, with muted colors and rusted tintype look, keep it warm and friendly. Every page is a treasure trove of detail - spiraling stars, sunflowers, black cats, jack-o-lanterns, and pumpkins spilling out of every possible nook and cranny.

One of my favorite moments is when the child narrator observes, "...who cares how kooky someone looks, when there's goodness deep within." The other is when Miss Fiona finally reveals the secret to her scrumptious pumpkin pie.

Mark Kimball Moulton Blog

Karen Hillard Good website

Other Halloween books:
Halloween Rhythm and Rhyme (8 books in 1 post!)

National Geographic Kids: Halloween

Halloween Night: Twenty-One Spooktacular Poems

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Bone Soup


According to the book jacket, author Cambria Evans had an experience with eyeball stew in Peru that inspired her to write this story.

An innovation on Stone Soup, this Halloween version features Finnigan, a  skeleton known for his voracious appetite. Finnigan is always hungry, in fact, every where he goes, he brings along his eating stool, his eating spoon, and his big eating mouth.

On Halloween, Finnigan approaches a town hoping for a Halloween feast. But his reputation has preceded him and the towns"people" have hidden all their food. The witch hides her jars of imported eyeballs, the beast locks up his bat wings, the zombies put away their frog legs, and no one will share with Finnigan the Eater.

So, in true Stone Soup form, Finnegan lights a fire under a humongous cauldron in the middle of the town square and drops in an old, dry, crusty bone. Soon, the town creatures join him in the square to see what he is doing, and one by one, they add their contributions to create a "delicious" Halloween feast.

Evans' illustrations are just spooky enough to give this story Halloween flavor and while Finnigan doesn't look anything like a skeleton to me, I do love the little black-eyed zombies.

Cambria Evans' website is supposedly coming soon, though it appears that it has been in the making for almost a decade. In the meantime, here's a link to an interview with her.

Other Halloween books:
Halloween Rhythm and Rhyme (8 books in 1 post)

National Geographic Kids: Halloween

Halloween Night: Twenty-One Spooktacular Poems

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow


Friday, October 12, 2018

The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin


I haven't blogged much since school started. I've got a new assignment and between moving into a new classroom and pulling together materials for math intervention and ELA support for our Spanish Immersion students, I've been...busy.

But when I pulled out my Halloween books and saw this, I knew I had to share. Whenever I read this to children, I always ask if they have read Goodnight, Moon or Runaway Bunny. Most of the time, the answer is yes and we talk about what they like about those stories before I tell them that this book is written by the same author. That always gets them ready to hear something wonderful. The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin follows a tiny, green pumpkin as he grows into a big, orange pumpkin in a field he shares with a one-eyed scarecrow whose ferociousness he wishes to emulate.

As the field mice scamper around him in the big field, the little pumpkin watches the scarecrow chase away the blackbirds and he vows that someday he will scare the field mice away. His wish comes true when a trio of children choose him to be their jack-o-lantern, carve him up, set him out on the porch, light a candle inside him, and...the mice run away.

Margaret Wise Brown turns a typical tale about a pumpkin becoming a jack-o-lantern into an absorbing adventure filled with both rich and childlike language - zigzag, gallop, dreadful, ferocious, inky black, droopy.

Caldecot medalist Richard Egielski uses warm colors and shadows to evoke the mood of Brown's writing. The light on the children's faces as they gaze at their jack-o-lantern took me back to the years of carving pumpkins in our home.

Smithsonian Magazine article about Margaret Wise Brown

Richard Egielski website

Other Halloween books:
Halloween Rhythm and Rhyme (8 books  in 1 post)

National Geographic Kids: Halloween

Halloween Night: Twenty-One Spooktacular Poems

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Over in the Hollow



This adaptation of the song "Over in the Meadow" is a fun Halloween romp/counting book.

Sing it or read it, either way, your child will love it. Dickinson uses well-known Halloween creatures such as werewolves, vampires, Frankenstein, and skeletons to take us biting, boogieing, stomping, and howling through the hollow in 13 (what other number suits a Halloween song?) verses.

Rebecca Dickinson obviously loves Halloween since this is her 5th Halloween-themed book for children. Be sure to check out her other work when you visit Amazon to purchase this one ;)

Stephan Britt illustrated this one and the pictures are adorable, a word we don't often associate with Halloween, but he makes every page of this book FUN! Be sure to spend time carefully examining each picture with your child, looking for Britt's humorous touches.

This book is a great addition to a family or classroom Halloween collection.

Other Halloween books you might enjoy:
Halloween Rhythm and Rhyme (8 books in 1 post)
National Geographic Kids: Halloween
Halloween Night: Twenty-One Spooktacular Poems
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Todd's TV


This story makes me laugh! Todd loves his parents, but they are busy and he is often told to go watch TV while they take care of their adult stuff. So Todd and his TV become close. So close, that the TV offers to attend Todd's parent-teacher conference in place of his parents. Then the TV starts making breakfast and driving Todd to school, taking Todd on vacation, playing catch with Todd, giving Todd advice.

At first, Todd's parents are relieved, but when the TV announces that it wants to adopt Todd. His parents are jolted into action and begin the long process of trying to win back their son.

First, they try talking to the TV, but it uses commercials to distract them. Then they try competing with the TV - performing tricks and dressing up like a TV, but all their efforts flop.

Finally, Todd points out the switch and they turn off the TV and that is the beginning of a good life for their family. Until...

James Proibos wrote and illustrated this entertaining story. Kids and adults will enjoy the ridiculous antics of the cheeky, invasive TV, and hopefully, the timely message will resonate and and extend to all the other devices that distract us so easily.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Well Said, and High Time Someone Said It!

This principal has implemented wonderful practices to boost student reading and build classroom libraries. He exemplifies what it means to “do the right thing.”

Read the article, then take a moment to ponder what our schools would be like if every principal followed his example.

Article link

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Back to School Scavenger Hunt

If you’re looking for a simple, fun, low-prep BTS activity for grades 2-6, you can’t go wrong with this.