We have loved each book in this Utensils series, so we were looking forward to the last one of the trio–Straw written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Scott Magoon. In the previous books, we learned about teamwork and individuality, what could we learn from the straw?
With my kids starting back to school AND increasing their independence since they are learning remotely, this was a very timely book to read at bedtime. Not to give it all away, but Straw, who liked to be first all the time, had some really smart friends that were trying to convince him that that wasn’t always a good thing. Rosenthal did a wonderful job of teaching us a lesson that not everything needs to be done quickly.
Although we are sad to see the series end, Spoon, Chopsticks, and Straw are characters I will be referring to for years to come.
You can read our thoughts about the other books in the series here.
Looking for something to read with your kiddos around voting or Election Day? I’ve got a great recently released book for you.
A Vote is a Powerful Thing, written by Catherine Stier and illustrated by Courtney Dawson is a great bedtime read for kids about the power of democracy. In Ms. Trask’s class, she’s teaching her students about how important voting is and has created a project for students to help get students invested in the act. Thanks to one of Ms. Trask’s students, our main character Callie, she and another student create campaigns to convince students to vote for the field trip of their choice.
Callie is particularly invested because her grandma is trying to save the same wilderness park that Callie is campaigning for. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I will say both campaigns work hard to get their classmates to pick their choice.
The thing I really appreciated about this book was what I felt was a different type of campaign that the students ran. Usually in children’s books the students are running for class president, which is a cool idea, but in my own elementary education as both a child and teacher, I’ve never had a class president. As a result, I found those books to be a little less relatable. Voting for a field trip though? That I could see happening, which makes it that much better to connect with its readers. There’s even a couple of pages of information about voting at the end, including a timeline of voting rights in the United States. It was a winning bedtime read for us!
So if you want to introduce your kids to how democracy works, A Vote is a Powerful Thing by Catherine Stier and illustrated by Courtney Dawson is the way to go.
*I received an Advanced Reading Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This title was released on September 1, 2020 and can be purchased wherever books are sold.
So for the last couple of summers, my kids and I have read a chapter book together for our summer #bedtimereads. Last summer we enjoyed The Last-Last Day of Summer and previously we read a book from the Ramona Quimby series. I really enjoy the change from picture books, and because its summer, bedtime isn’t that big of an issue, so reading an extra chapter or two isn’t that big of a deal.
This summer however, we were on the struggle bus when it came to finishing a chapter book. I don’t know if it was because of the pandemic or because we had already read a chapter book during quarantine or what, but I even tried starting a chapter book that I thought they would enjoy and we abandoned it after the first chapter.
Next, I chose a book that had been recommended to me based on a different read aloud we had recently enjoyed–Holes. 24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusty Bowling was one I figured would be in a shoe-in because one–both my daughter and I have read other books by her and adored them, and two– the three of us loved the adventure piece of Holes. So we started 24 Hours in Nowhere, a novel whose chapters are organized by hours, so as you may have guessed from the title–there are 24 chapters. After 4 or 5 chapters they seemed interested, sorta, but I wasn’t sure and I wasn’t getting the pleas for “one more chapter pleeeease” that I usually get with our read alouds. So after about a week or so, I was ready to give up.
However, here’s where things change. One night as we were getting ready for bed, my son says, “we need to keep reading that book we were reading”…and that was all it took. I picked it back up that evening, and the chapter I started with was HILARIOUS (who knew bat poop could be funny) and at the end of that chapter what did I hear? “You have to read one more!” from both children, and so that night I did, and quite a few more nights I did, and we finally finished and enjoyed a chapter book this summer–Whew!
I share this story for a couple of reasons, particularly if you and your kids have ever been in a reading rut. First, as adamant as I am about raising readers through reading to my own children, even we have pockets of time where we struggle to keep our reading routines, and that’s ok. Second, I almost abandoned a book too quickly! Not every book is for every body, but I should’ve trusted the recommendation and my history with the author and continued on.
Now we’re back to picture books for the moment, but I’ll let you know when we start our next chapter book bedtime read!
In this colorfully illustrated picture book, Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, our main character is upset after her first day at school because no one can pronounce her name correctly. On their walk home, her mother explains to her that her name is a song, and by using lots of other names as examples during their conversation, she turns the her daughter’s mood around.
By the next day at school, the young girl has gained the confidence to sing her name as a song, as well as a few others. My kids and I both enjoyed the suspense in wondering what the girl’s name was, as well as the beautiful illustrations done by Luisa Uribe.
As a person with a name that has been mispronounced most of my life, I could definitely understand what the main character was going through, and it made the book that much more powerful to me. I think that Thompkins-Bigelow does a wonderful job of explaining how important names are at a level that children will be able to understand. My favorite part of this bedtime read of a few nights ago is when Momma explains to her daughter, “…Their real names were stolen long ago so they dream up new ones. They make a way out of no way, make names out of no names–pull them from the sky!” What a way to explain how and why parents come up with unique names!
This is a beautiful book to share with young children at the beginning of a school year. It is a great way to boost the confidence in children who may be nervous about sharing their names and shows others how important it is to say their classmates/friends names correctly. Plus, I can only imagine the cheesy smiles and joy some kids would get hearing their name in a book, and there are definitely some original names in there. (And if that freaks you out at all, the awesome part is that Thompkins-Bigelow has the pronunciations next to them. Plus, how awesome is it for your kids to see an adult put in the work to say words correctly?)
Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Luisa Uribe, has a release date of July 2020. We loved it, and I’m sure your kids will too!
Have you ever had one of those nights where you started the kids’ bedtime process just a little earlier in the hopes that that means they’ll be falling asleep faster? Has that attempt ever backfired on you? Yeah, that happened to me last night, but for once I actually was ok with it.
I was thought I was being slick. It wasn’t super early, but early enough that I was anticipating getting in a decent amount of TV or reading time in, but my book choice derailed my plans. We read an ebook copy of Little Cloud: The Science of a Hurricane written by Johanna Wagstaffe and illustrated by Julie McLaughlin, a cute informational book about how hurricanes form. Now I’m sure you’re wondering how a book about hurricanes could derail bedtime, because before we started the book, I felt the same way. However, in school both of my kids have learned a lot about clouds, the water cycle, and the water crisis, and so they had a lot to add to the facts in this book. My son just had to elaborate on what makes up clouds and the different types of clouds. My daughter saw sandbags in one of the illustrations and took us off on a tangent about their many purposes. The book only has 30-something pages, but with all those extra conversations, it took us almost 30-something minutes to read it.
But, and especially considering how our school year has ended, anytime I experience my kids recalling things they learned I get excited for them because that means it stuck. So, I decided I wasn’t disappointed that our bedtime read was a little longer than usual, because I ended up with a #proudmama moment.
Whether your own kids are water “experts” or not, I would recommend this cute book, just be warned ahead of time, it may bring out questions and/or comments, so be sure to start bedtime early that night. 🙂