Book Reviews–Spoon and Chopsticks by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Book Reviews–Spoon and Chopsticks by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Even as an adult, I love everything I’ve read by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, like not that I just love them for kids, but I love them myself.  I feel like I should have a Rosenthal shelf in my house. You can see my excitement about one of her last books, Dear Girl, here. Recently, thanks to a conversation with a colleague, I was introduced to two of her earlier books, Spoon and Chopsticks, which I think are great books for bedtime reads.

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Even though my colleague recommended Spoon to me, we read Chopsticks first, because Spoon was checked out of the library. Chopsticks is a great picture book all about the transition from only being able to function with a partner, to figuring out how to do things independently. It’s a great lesson for twins, siblings, or kids who have that one friend that they can’t do anything without. The message of the book is NOT that you can’t have a solid dependable partner, but more that you can be successful both alone and with a friend.

After what seemed like forever, we got to pick up Spoon from the library. Now in this book, our main character, Spoon, has basically decided that he’s jealous of his other friends. The knife gets cut things, the fork gets to eat all kinds of things that spoon doesn’t, and of course, you can’t beat the chopsticks, there’s two of them that get to hang out with each other all the time.  However, as we adults know, perception is everything. So as the story continues, we learn how the other utensils also wish they could do the things spoon can, such as eating ice cream. After we finished reading Spoon, I immediately asked my kids what the message of the story was, and they were instantly able to tell me, “be happy with what you have” and “be careful what you wish for”, which thrilled me.

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So, if you are looking for some cute, engaging, funny, and well illustrated books that will also teach lessons, these books (and really any other book by Amy Rosenthal) are the way to go!

*I recently found out that there’s one more book in this series coming out in February 2020–Straw! I’m so excited to see what we learn from that character.

 

They Are Never Too Old

They Are Never Too Old

My children are 8 and 10, are Harry Potter enthusiasts, have their own library cards, and enjoy reading independently. Now, for those who have read my blog before, it may seem like a random bit of information to share at the beginning of this post, but there’s a reason for it.

The other night my children and I read (and enjoyed) Owls Are Good at Keeping Secrets: An Unusual Alphabet, written by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Jacob Grant. Yes, this is an alphabet book and my kids learned their letters a long time ago. But I saw this at the library and thought I would be interesting and grabbed it.

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Now this may surprise you, but when we settled in for our bedtime read the other night and I pulled out this book and read the title, there were no complaints. These kids, who  when reading independently are reading books with action and/or themes of bullying and friendship drama, had no issues with listening to a book about the alphabet. Why? Because just like as adults we have our guilty pleasure books or TV shows, kids sometimes like to just relax when listening to a story. Whether its silly, funny, or even what some may find babyish, a good story is a good story. Also, its just a relaxing way to end the day, so it doesn’t have to be complicated.

So, don’t feel like you always have to read a book that is heavy in content or equal to or above their own reading level. Sometimes they just want chill and spend some quality time with their adult, even if it is a book about the alphabet.

Keep #RaisingReaders!

Read to Them by Steven Layne

Read to Them by Steven Layne

Read to them
Before the time is gone and stillness fills the room again
Read to them

What if it were meant to be that you were the one, the only one
Who could unlock the doors and share the magic with them?
What if others have been daunted by scheduling demands,
District objectives, or one hundred other obstacles?

Read to them
Be confident Charlotte has been able to teach them about friendship,
And Horton about self-worth;

Be sure the Skin Horse has been able to deliver his message.

Read to them
Let them meet Tigger, Homer Price, Aslan, and Corduroy;
Take them to Oz, Prydain, and Camazotz;

Show them a Truffula Tree.

Read to them
Laugh with them at Soup and Rob,
And cry with them when the Queen of Terabithia is forever lost;

Allow the Meeker Family to turn loyalty, injustice, and war
Into something much more than a vocabulary lesson.

What if you are the one, the only one, with the chance to do it?
What if this is the critical year for even one child?

Read to them
Before the time, before the chance is gone.

 

Steven Layne is an educator and author who renewed my passion for helping children read as a classroom teacher, which then in turn fueled my desire when I had my own children to make sure I spent time reading with them. I happened to read this poem this morning and thought it was a good reminder as to why I write this blog. We all like to think and hope that our child’s teachers are reading great books to our children, but like the poem says, sometimes that doesn’t happen, at no fault of the teacher themselves. However, as parents, although we also have some of those same issues, i.e. schedules and the like, it is easier for us to find that time to read with our children, and we know the benefits can be endless.

Just some #morningmotivation! Keep #raisingreaders!

Whew, July is Rough!

Whew, July is Rough!

For the last couple of years, probably since my son has been in school, July has been a rough month when it comes to #RaisingReaders.  Is it just me?

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June is good. We are still in our routines from the school year, they usually come home with a couple of books from school they are excited about reading because they get to keep them. The public library starts its summer reading program with a bang (this year they had a awesome performer who swallowed a sword) and we go there pretty regularly and get new books, both written and audio. Although some of it may be extrinsic, they are motivated readers at the beginning of summer.
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August is also good. School starts midway through the month, so we start getting back into school routines before then. They are excited to go back and they want to be prepared (and sometimes I guilt them into being prepared), so they pick up books more often. That book that they brought home from school in June, they grab that off the shelf again and decide to finish it.

But man, July, not so good. Part of it is the routine piece, with camps/vacations and just staying up late in general, there are nights we don’t have a #bedtimeread.  Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, they’ve found other activities to do, games, tables/game consoles, so the suggestion of a book instead can produce a tantrum. Also, they don’t want to be reminded of anything related to school, so if there’s no tantrum, suggesting a book gets a side-eye from either child. I don’t want to make reading a chore or an unpleasant experience, so I don’t push it.  Usually they fall asleep reading a book and/or listening to an audio book, but the other night my son did neither!

Now because I know August is coming and I know there is not a complete aversion to books, I’m not horribly concerned, but it is still a struggle. So, if anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears! Keep #RaisingReaders!

Reading Traditions

Reading Traditions

As I’m writing this, it is my son’s 8th birthday, and we just finished our bedtime read. I was particular about my choice since it is a special day, and I luckily, I had just borrowed this gem from the library:

This book, by the daughter and husband of the late Amy Krouse Rosenthal, is a love letter to young boys that will help them grow into responsible, compassionate men.

One reason I love this book is because it says almost all the things I want to say, but am afraid that I won’t remember to say. People always quote the prolific advice their parents gave them, and gosh darn it, I want my children to do that too.

Another reason I’m all in with this book is because I think this is going to be a great book to start a tradition with. Since the Rosenthals have said almost everything I want to say, in order to make it stick, I think I’m gonna read it on his birthday every year. It’ll be our thing, and I will know I’ve given sound advice at least once a year.

I’ve already written about the companion book, Dear Girl, you can read about it here. Of course, my plan is to read that one to my daughter every year, so I’ll have that tradition going with each of them.

So, as you’re looking to raise readers, think about what sort of reading traditions could be appropriate for your kiddos. As for me, let’s just hope I can remember to break out the book each year.