Book Review Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers Uncategorized

How I Am Reminded Representation Counts, even during Shark Week

Every time my daughter points to a character and says, “She looks like me!”, I remember how important it is for my children (and all children) to see themselves in books. She gets excited and instantly feels a bond, whether its the curly hair or the brown skin that she’s connecting to.  Luckily, my child has been able to see herself in quite a few book (definitely more than I did as a child), and If Sharks Disappeared is one our recent favorites. I love that not only is the storyteller brown skinned, but I love the fact that the book has nothing to do with the fact that she is of color. She’s an expert on sharks…who just happens to have brown skin and curly hair. What a simple way to open up my daughter’s eyes to a different career option! Here’s our review of this intriguing title:


If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams is a great book about what could happen if those pesky, scary, downright terrifying animals were to go away.

Of course, initially during our bedtime read, all 3 of us are down with sharks disappearing. However, with the help of the main character, we were eventually able to see that if sharks did disappear, there would be serious consequences that would even reach us in the Midwest! This informational picture book takes us step by step and tells us why changing that one thing could result in a disaster. The illustrations do their part in teaching and the text is short and sweet. And as with most good informational books, there’s additional sources and information at the end.

This book would be awesome for anyone, but if you have a #sharkweek lover, this would be the perfect time to introduce them to this book.

*Also, I recently learned from the author that there are going to be two more books in this series, If Polar Bears Disappeared and If Elephants Disappeared coming in the next year!

Book Review Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers Uncategorized

An Excellent Earth Day Book

Last year, I wrote about our Earth Day selection, as well as my unpreparedness to read it to my children…

via Always read it yourself first–Earth Day edition

Book Review Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers Uncategorized

Our Tree Named Steve–Our Review

So, I ordered this book because I like to plan ahead, and although its November, I was looking for books that could be used for Earth Day at my school this year. And of course, I always try it out on my children first to get an initial reaction to see if its any good.

Simply summarized, Our Tree Named Steve, by Alan Zweibel, is about a family who falls in love with a huge tree on their property. They use it for just about everything you can think of– climbing, hanging laundry, all good things, and the kids are super attached to the tree. Unfortunately (SPOILER ALERT), a weather related event ends the life of the tree as the kids know it.

Our experience: Both my kids really liked the book. Before we even started, my daughter mentioned that the drawings on the cover reminded her of Molly Lou Melon. So we had to grab that book and of course–David Catrow is the illustrator of both. My kids liked and appreciated the storyline, but they spent most of their time analyzing the illustrations, which are wonderful.

Recommendations: Now it wasn’t until later that I read reviews that mentioned this book as a good read for kids who are dealing with loss. I wasn’t thinking about that when I read it to my kids, but I definitely understand how it could be used in that manner.

I still am keeping it in the running for part of our Earth Day celebration, and generally speaking I think it is a good read aloud for K-3.



Book Review Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers Uncategorized

Always read it yourself first–Earth Day edition

So, not long ago one of our bedtime reads was The House That Jane Built, and I felt really good about starting a conversation with my children about how they could possibly help the less fortunate, so I thought I’d try to continue that with a similar book a few days later.

To help celebrate Earth Day, classes in the school I work at will be reading this book:


The Water Princess is based on a true story about a young African girl who has to walk miles with her mother each day, just to get the water her family will use to do the most basic things, i.e. clean clothes, cook food. I wanted to give my babies some perspective about things that are expectations to us are luxuries to others.

And as usual, I brought it home first to read it to my kids beforehand. Standard protocol, I read through it at some point, just to make sure everything’s kosher and my reading of the book will be of thespian quality. (ha!)

The kids were excited about reading it, so I was all set to impart some more wisdom and continue my quest to mold multi-dimensional people (ha! again). We were about halfway in, when we came to this page:


This book is beautifully poetic, but because of its setting in Africa, it also has a couple of French words, including “maman”, which means “mom”. But when I got to that page, I stuttered.

“My ma-man?”

“My mama-n?”

As I’m trying to figure how to say the word, my children are cracking up laughing. Granted, it is kinda funny, but hey, I was trying to help these people learn about another culture, and I’ve completely lost them. Ugh.

Eventually I was able to finish the book, and it has a nice little “About this story” type page at the end of the book, so I started to explain to them how it was based on a true story, and Gie Gie, the main character, had to walk 4 miles one way each day just to get water. My giggling son was already out of the room, but I got to have a brief conversation with my daughter about how this is a big deal. Of course her solution, after being excited to not have to go to school, was to have me teach her on the walk to get the water, once she realized that not going to school at all was vastly different than missing a day occasionally to have to get water.

So I did get a little teaching in, but the moral of this story is, at least glance at, if not read through a picture book (chapter books are more difficult to read through) before you share it with your children. It makes for a smoother read on your part, as well as increases your chances of maintaining their interest in the story.

(Also, this book is great for Earth Day, plus I love Peter H. Reynolds’ illustrations!)