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!

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!

Look at Our Stack of Picture Books!

Look at Our Stack of Picture Books!

Here’s a stack of library books I recently got from our local public library:

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It had been a while since I got a stack of picture books this big, but I’m happy I did. I decided to share this picture with you for a few reasons:

Look at the variety of books in this stack–we’ve got an Elvis biography, an informational book about segregation and a number of “silly” books. I grabbed the book Don’t Touch My Hair solely because my daughter has curly hair that people want to touch, so I knew she could identify with it, and I was right. The book I’m Tough is part of a series of books that my son and I used to read years ago when he was younger, but we hadn’t read this one. He jumped up and down in excitement when I showed him that I had checked this one out. The options these days for picture books are endless, and you and your children should take full advantage.

My kids are 7 and 10 and are both mostly chapter book readers. However, they still enjoy a good picture book now and then, especially when they’re being read to. We had a great time giggling over these different stories, and it was a nice change of pace for them from the biographies and serious historical fiction they had been reading.

Picking out these books didn’t take very long. Our public library has a “New Books” section, and I got all of these titles from there, so it didn’t take me very long at all to pick them out. Even if your library doesn’t have that type of section, librarians often have books on display that you can pick from.

As you are #RaisingReaders, regardless of how old they are, don’t forget that there’s always time for a good picture book!

I Have A Balloon by Ariel Bernstein—Book Review

I Have A Balloon by Ariel Bernstein—Book Review

Have you ever, even just for a moment, felt like deep down your children do actually love each other, but most of the time will do anything they can to irritate each other (and you)? Then you need to read this book, for yourself, and to them.

We came across this book at the library, quick shout-out to the librarians for putting it on display, it makes my quest for the perfect picture book so much easier. At any rate, I Have a Balloon by Ariel Bernstein was just right for a bedtime read for my kiddos.

We have two main characters, Owl and Monkey. Owl has a plain red balloon he isn’t super excited about. However, when he shows it to Monkey, all of a sudden, it becomes as he says, “The only thing I’ve ever wanted, since right now”, which of course means Owl suddenly loves it. Sound familiar or is it just my kids who don’t understand the concept of sharing with each other?

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Monkey starts to offer Owl different things to trade for the balloon, but naturally he doesn’t want any of these things. I mean, why would he, when he’s got this lovely balloon that he didn’t love 5 minutes earlier. *insert eye roll here*

I read this to each of my kids separately, and they both found the story funny.  I made sure I told them that Monkey and Owl reminded me of them, which they found amusing, but I was so serious. I love Monkey and Owl, and my children, and I do think they love each other, but would it kill them to share the balloon?

The best thing is, I discovered today that there’s a sequel to I Have a Balloon, titled Where is My Balloon?, and I can’t wait to read that one with my kiddos.