The Very Hungry Caterpillar – 50th Anniversary — A Teacher’s Reflections

This was one of my favorite books as a child, I distinctly remember checking it out of the library multiple times.  I’m amazed and happy that it is still popular today. This blogger, Jennie shares some of the backstory and some interesting stats about this wonderful book.


Fifty years. That’s a very long time. For a book to still be alive, vibrant, and read all over the world – fifty years later – is astounding. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year, with a golden book jacket. The caterpillar in the story wasn’t always a […]

via The Very Hungry Caterpillar – 50th Anniversary — A Teacher’s Reflections


Book Series Review– Eloise by Kay Thompson

Book Series Review– Eloise by Kay Thompson

If for some reason you are interested in trying to see if you can run out of breath during a #bedtimeread, then I highly recommend the Eloise books by Kay Thompson. Or, if you or your children like books about mischievous children (or are mischievous children themselves), then they might want to get to know Miss Eloise.

In my son’s class when they’re the Star of the Week, they can have an adult come in and read to the class. Recently, a parent came in and read Eloise, and my son could not stop talking about it and asked if I could get it from the library. I had to put it on hold, so he may not have been the only student from his class that made that request.

Although this book was written in the 1950s, I personally have never read these books. Eloise is a young child who has a nanny and basically runs havoc in the hotel that she lives in, which is the part my child naturally could not get enough of.


Here’s the thing, since Eloise herself is telling the story, the book reads like you would expect an active 5 year old to talk, and that’s how I ran out of breath. There’s a lot of repeated phrases, and not very many periods. Both of my children loved listening to the book, even though there were some aspects that they thought were a little strange about Eloise, including the lack of parental supervision.

Since they enjoyed that one, I decided to get some of Eloise’s other books, including Eloise at Christmastime and Eloise in Moscow.


Dad got to read the Christmastime book (yay!), and I got to read the one about Moscow. As much as we enjoyed the original book, I’ll be honest and say the Moscow one was not one we could identify with. The important thing for me to reiterate is that this book was written in 1950s, when America’s relationship with Russia was clearly not a friendly one and it is very clear in this book. Since my children don’t know anything about Russia, they didn’t really relate to any of it. Eloise had a good time of course, and continued to tell her story in her cute rambling manner, but for us, not so much.

Now from my research, it appears there’s many updated versions of Eloise’s stories, including a movie and “easy-to-read” books, none of which our family has read, but I can imagine that she’s still as rambunctious as she was in the 1950s.

Although Eloise in Moscow wasn’t a hit, we still enjoyed reading about Eloise’s adventures, even if I was out of breath when it was over.

Keep #RaisingReaders!

Be Patient and Respect the Process

Be Patient and Respect the Process

I recently read a post a friend of mine shared on Facebook (not hers, but someone else’s) that basically talked about living in the moment with your children, not trying to hurry them, and as a result, hurrying life away. As usual, these things make a lot of sense, and I try to adjust my life accordingly, sometimes more successfully than others. However, this go around, within a day, I encountered a situation involving reading with my son that actually helped me put it into practice!

A short time ago we visited our local public library, and one of the books I checked out was This Book is Out of Control! by Richard Byrne. Yes, I checked out a children’s book to read myself (first), and this book was laying on my bed when my son came to chat. Since we’ve read the other books with these characters, he saw the book, opened it, and started turning the pages. Exciting, right? Initially, not so much, because he was turning the pages very quickly, like too quickly to actually be reading the words. Of course, my first reaction is to tell him, “Dude, you can read the words. How about you slow down and actually read the words so you know what the story is about?” But hey, I’m trying to resist the constant need to redirect, trying to let him have his moment, so I say nothing…


A few moments later, after he’s turned all the pages, he goes back to the beginning of the book. Now this time, I’m still not sure if he’s reading the words, but he’s definitely going slower than he was the last time. And then, at the end he’s like, “Mom, look…” and proceeds to explain to me part of the plot!

Now, naturally I don’t honestly know what would have happened if I had interrupted his first read through, but there’s a chance I could have turned him off to the book completely. It could’ve been frustrating to the both of us, but instead, I was the only one who was frustrated, and that was only in my head, and only for a moment.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to my son, and here’s just another example that sometimes when #RaisingReaders, you just have to let them do their own thing.

Side note: If you or your children haven’t read We’re In a Book! or This Book Just Ate My Dog!, also by Richard Byrne, I suggest you do so.

Pull Your Child Out of a Reading Rut!

Pull Your Child Out of a Reading Rut!

Even as adult readers, I know we all have times where we are losing steam when it comes to reading, whether due to life’s distractions or bingeing a series on Netflix. So its not a surprise that sometimes kids can get in a rut too. However, I found this list from Brightly that has some creative and different ideas to keep your child reading this month!

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Need a New Bedtime Read?–Grab a Non-Fiction Book!

Need a New Bedtime Read?–Grab a Non-Fiction Book!

Reading non-fiction or informational books may not be your first thought when deciding what to grab for your kids’ bedtime read (or you may think that it will send them to sleep faster), but reading a good non-fiction book can be just as entertaining as a story.

On one of our recent library trips, I was super excited that we got Jess Keating’s What Makes a Monster? I had read Pink is for Blobfish by Keating and really enjoyed it, so I was pretty confident this would be a hit. It was, and so here are a couple of the advantages of reading a non-fiction book:

It’s easy to break it up. When we sat down to read it, I explained to both kids that we weren’t going to be able to finish it in one night. They were fine with that and it was easy for me to figure out where to stop, because there was no story line.  Each time we turned the page, there was a new animal to look at, so I didn’t have to worry about figuring out where would be a good stopping place. And, they were super excited the next night to continue the book.


There are cool things to look at. As long as its not a chapter book, most informational books have great photos and illustrations. And if its been written in the last 5 years or so, oh my, the choices for great informational books are endless! My kids loved gazing at the different animals that could be considered monsters!

–Your kids may learn something new! This not to say that there aren’t things to learn from a good novel or picture book. However, non-fiction books are usually pretty straight forward in what they are teaching. For example, who knew that prairie dogs were monsters?! Not me or my babies! 20180211_172658.jpg

So, don’t resist the next time your child pulls a non-fiction book off the shelf, you may both enjoy the book!


Don’t Kill Their Reading Joy

Don’t Kill Their Reading Joy

My 6 year old son is convinced he can read chapter books. If you’re familiar with my blog, then you probably know that he once proclaimed, “I’m not afraid of chapter books!”, which was wonderful…then.

Now don’t get me wrong, he’s a pretty good reader, and right now he’s still ahead of the game. But at their first trip to the school library, he picked a book to check out that was WAY above his reading level. I mean, we’re talking close to my reading level. Fine, whatever, the logical side of me knows that choice is important, yada, yada yada. However, my problem comes in when he tells me he’s reading it, and he’s clearly NOT. 

Me banging my head against the wall.

Each day he would come home and tell me how many pages or chapters he read on the bus, and I know, I should focus on the fact that he’s choosing to read on the bus. However, when I asked him what the book was about, in my nice teacher voice mind you, the response was most often something close to, “I don’t want to tell you about that right now.”  What?! Who says that? Only my child.  And when I offered to read it at bedtime, he didn’t want to because, “he was already reading it”. It got super frustrating for me, but because I didn’t want to kill his joy, but it was grating at me that he wasn’t really reading his library book.  It was taking everything in me to not make him read it out loud to me so I could “prove” that he wasn’t reading it. Luckily, in steps my daughter…

One night while we were preparing for our bedtime reads, my son came in my daughter’s room saying that he was finished with his book and needed something to read from her shelf while he was falling asleep.  While the initial suggestion was Super Fudge, she ended up giving him a book from the Press Start series, which is much closer to his actual reading level. The kicker was as he was leaving she (with no prodding from me) says, “Yes, you can take that one, and make sure you pay attention and actually read it, ’cause I want you to tell me about the book tomorrow!” Then she whispers to me, “You know mom, he wasn’t really reading that other book.”  No reply from me, just a compliment that the book she let him read was a good choice for him. But in my mind, I was giving her a high five and doing my happy dance.

These Branches books from Scholastic are wonderful for the transition to chapter books.

Now, let’s be clear–this was no miracle moment where he realized the error of his ways and now only reads books that he actually understands. He does better, but its definitely a work in progress. I’m was just happy that 1) they were sharing books and 2) that at least 1 child has been listening to me. 🙂

So, in your #RaisingReaders quest, remember that although it may be difficult, don’t kill the joy your child may have reading…just get their sibling to do it for you. 😉

Sam & Dave Dig A Hole–Our book review

Sam & Dave Dig A Hole–Our book review

How I had never seen this book before, I don’t know. But I grabbed it from our public library a couple of weeks ago, and I’m so glad I did.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen is literally about what the title says, these two boys, digging a whole. There aren’t a lot of words in this book, which makes it a quick read, but my kids LOVED the illustrations, so there’s still a lot to talk about. Here’s an example:


Sam and Dave are SO close to discovering treasure, but guess what?…it doesn’t quite happen for them. Each time they get so close my kids started cracking up and yelling and Sam and Dave for not getting there. The dog seems to be the only one who is on the right path. There were also some questions about where Sam and Dave ended up, so we spend some time analyzing the illustrations at the beginning and at the end of the book. It does leave the reader with some unanswered questions.

Like I mentioned, we got this book from the library, so when we went to put it into the book return slot, my son says, “No mom, can we keep this one, its so funny, I want to read it again.” And so, back into the bag it went so we could renew it.

So if you (or your child) are looking for a quick and funny read aloud with excellent illustrations, Sam & Dave Dig a Hole is the book for you.


“Mom, I don’t have anything to read!”

“Mom, I don’t have anything to read!”

Sometimes when I hear those words, I can hand my child the perfect book to drown out the whine. Other times, its met with, “I don’t want to read anything I have!” and I have to just walk away.

Now besides trying to rack your own brain to find the perfect book for your child, there are many different avenues to help get your child out of a “I don’t have anything to read!” rut. They include taking them to the library to ask a librarian, the bookstore to ask an employee there for suggestions, or if school’s in session, having your child ask their teacher for some ideas. However, I recently found a solution that turned the responsibility completely to my daughter.


This book, which I got from a Scholastic book order, has been a godsend for my daughter (and by default, for me). We love the way this book is organized and the suggested titles in the book. Here’s the Table of Contents and the Index in the back:

Things we love: the Table of Contents is organized by age. This makes it easy for my child to focus on certain titles now, as well as what kinds of books to look forward to as she gets older. In the back, the titles are organized by genre, so if she decides she wants to read a book about families, she can find titles there.

Additionally, when it comes to the individual titles, there’s more than just the title on the page, and here are some examples:

There’s a summary of the book (with no spoilers!), suggestions of what to read next, a rating scale to fill in, and a spot to write comments. I love this, because it will be a keepsake to look at many years from now. For example, for The Story of Ferdinand, my daughter wrote, “This book is going to be a movie in 2018 or 2017”. I think this will be great to read and remember in the future, even if we no longer have the actual Ferdinand book.

At any rate, as you can see from the pictures, my daughter has been using this book to decide what to read, and to keep track of books we’ve already read. She’s even taken it to the library a couple of times to help her check out books. So if in your #RaisingReaders quest you are tired of hearing, “I don’t have anything to read”, I would strongly recommend this book for your child (and your sanity).

Patience is a virtue, even with graphic novels…

Patience is a virtue, even with graphic novels…

So, my daughter loves graphic novels, I myself have enjoyed quite a few graphic novels this summer, and I’ve already written about how I’m excited my son got into chapter books via graphic novels. However, graphic novels and I almost had to come to blows this summer.

My 6 year old son tends to be a visual learner. He loves looking at illustrations to analyze stories, checks out lots of National Geographic Kids books at the library and spends the majority of the time staring at the photos in them. All of this is fine, I recognize and love it.

However, my boy is also sort of a reluctant reader. When we go to the library, he loves picking out books, is all about them on the ride home, and occasionally even for another 30 mins or so after we get home. He also likes being read to at bedtime. However, when given choices, rarely is reading independently the one he chooses, which is starting to try my patience.

After one of our library trips…

The initial joy about his attachment to graphic novels has turned into frustration because he won’t even try to read the words. When he first started reading graphic novels, he had just started kindergarten and hadn’t learned to read yet, so I wasn’t concerned. But now, 1st grade is coming quickly, and he left Kindergarten reading above grade level. So you would think that would inspire and motivate him to try to read the words? Nope. Nada.

“Mom, I can’t read the words!”

“Let me help you, we can read together”

“No, these words are too hard!”

Now the last thing I want to do is make him dislike reading or think its a chore, so I don’t push it, I just walk away dejected. I won’t keep him from reading graphic novels, but I also want him to read the words in the books he has. If he has books that are closer to his “level”, which would be shorter and have fewer words, then it raises the probability that he will actually read and understand them.

On the way home, reading Dog Man. See that stray gray hair there? Yeah, he’s the root of that…


Recently, I have decided that there’s got to be an in-between, some sort of compromise that will make us both happy.  What I’ve decided is that I’m going to read the graphic novel to him. Why I haven’t done that sooner, I have no idea. Especially since he already enjoys rereading our bedtime story when its a picture book. Let’s cross our fingers that this plan actually works out.

Graphic novels are wonderful, and a great way to get kids, including mine, reading books. However, I’ve got to practice patience and adjust my bedtime reading with my child so that my reluctant reader doesn’t become a non-reader. Wish me luck!



Going on a trip? I’ve got a tip! (Summer tip #3)

Going on a trip? I’ve got a tip! (Summer tip #3)

Like many of you, we’re planning on taking a vacation this year.  And in preparation for that little trip, I will be bringing in some books.  I started this a couple of years ago, when we took our first vacation to the beach. For that trip, I grabbed Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach. It was just a small gesture, something they could read before the trip, as well as on the drive down. However, it also helped them make connections with their beach experience.

Plus, who doesn’t love Pete the Cat?

It is something I also noticed both my kids experienced when they each made their trip to the zoo when they were in Kindergarten. In class they learned a lot about different animals they would see, and even had their own coloring book (that also had words) about those animals. And when we actually went on the field trip, they made references to their learning. For example, this year my son was explaining to me how orangutans are endangered as we are walking to the primate section. I was in shock, yet impressed at the same time.

So this year one of the highlights of our trip is going to be visiting an aquarium. Now luckily, my daughter is really into aquatic animals, and has already asked way too many times whether or not we’ll be seeing dolphins. She’s already got background knowledge, but during our next library trip we’ll look into getting some books, both fiction and non-fiction, that connect to that part of our trip.  Even if you’re going to visit family, trust me, there’s a book for that.

Not only will it make the vacation more enjoyable, it will also expand their vocabulary, and importantly, keep them reading over the summer.

In short, my tip is to somehow, someway, connect literacy to your vacation this summer. Not to mention, reading on vacation may buy you some silence in the car, plane, or train on the way to your destination, which will kick off your vacation the right way. 🙂

Have you made any connections with books for your vacations? Feel free to share below. Also, you can find my first two summer tips here and here.