Keeping Up With the Kiddos

Keeping Up With the Kiddos

In more recent years, children’s books have begun to discuss and reflect the issues of our times, including bullying, racism, and other issues. I think this is all great, it exposes young people to people and situations they haven’t yet encountered and/or provides them characters that they can actually connect to. However, it can also cause you to step up your parenting game to ensure that they are not learning any misunderstandings or that you’re available to answer any questions they may have.  This is especially true if your children are advanced readers.  Recently, I have had instances with both of my children that gave me reason to write this post.

My son loves graphic novels, and although it used to bug me at first, I have come around to the idea that as long as he’s in a book, we’re good. (Read about my trials here.) A while ago during a trip to the bookstore, he picked out Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Shell. I had heard of it, and heard good things about it, but hadn’t read it for myself. My son was enthralled with this book for a good 2 days, telling me about cool things he saw throughout the book. When I was finally able to get my own hands on it, I realized that it was about more than kids creating communities with cardboard boxes. In reality, although all the stories are connected, there are multiple story lines that include some heavy topics, including gender identity and divorce. My issue became that I didn’t know if my son, who generally pays more attention to the illustrations than the words, grasped those things.  So, knowing my child, I knew that we couldn’t rehash or reread the entire story again, however, we did have some conversation about a couple of the characters just to see if he had any questions about the story, which he did not. I don’t regret him reading the book at all, but I wish I would’ve been able to preview the book with him before he started reading it.

My daughter recently turned 10, and her reading preferences are starting to advance faster than her actual age. Recently, she checked out the audio version of The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore. This novel is about a 12 year old boy dealing with the aftermath of the death of his brother in a gang-related shooting. It’s been on my TBR list for a while, and although I would’ve preferred to read it first, I’m not in the habit of denying my kids books they want to read. I could tell that she really got it into the audiobook, because she would play it in the evenings, not just before bedtime. Honestly, I didn’t think she would stick with it, but she wanted to make sure she heard all of the story.  I kept the option open for her to talk about the book if she wanted, but she didn’t seem to need that.

I say all this to say that as you are #RaisingReaders, be sure to at least try to know what your child is reading, just in case their books are covering topics that may lead to other discussions.

 

Awww, My Kids Still Indulge Me!

Awww, My Kids Still Indulge Me!

So, I’ve shared before that when it comes to my kids’ books, I refuse to believe that they’re outgrowing them. They are both big Harry Potter fans and my daughter has read the entire series, but I won’t let her get rid of her Elephant and Piggie books. I own this, with no shame.  However, in the last couple of days, my confidence has grown and I have found that these books can still come in handy.

We are in the process of moving, so my kids have packed most of their books, but I had them keep some of them out because we must always have something to read available. The other evening, my son grabbed this classic for the three of us to read before bed:

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What?! I loved this book as a child, and for them to love it too is icing on the cake. We hadn’t read it in quite some time, yet I still thought they’d behave as if they were too old to play along. But no, we had a great time reading about Grover’s insistence that we stop turning the pages of the book.

Then, a few days later, in my cleaning/packing, I found some Elephant and Piggie books. I decided I Love My New Toy! was going to be our bedtime read for the evening. Again, I was thinking it would be a quick read where they were half listening. However, they were all into the facial reactions of the characters and even giggled in the right places. Although I couldn’t let them know it, I was amazed that they fell right back into it, like it was the first time we had read it.

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So I share all this to say, in your #RaisingReaders journey, you are completely justified in keeping those books that your child has outgrown…at least a few of them anyway.  You could always bring them back out and take a nice stroll down memory lane.

 

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.

Bedtime Read—Sharing History through a Picture Book

Bedtime Read—Sharing History through a Picture Book

My favorite event in history is the Montgomery Bus Boycott, so as my children have gotten older, I feel like it is time to share my admiration for the event with them. From school, they know the basics of the event, and key players Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which is a plus.  We recently read a book that facilitated a little more of our conversation.

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Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney was a great picture book to deepen our conversation about the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Civil Rights Movement.

In this book, the storyteller is a “dog-tired” dog who is playing the Blues and Jim Crow is a large black cloud that is surrounding Montgomery during the event. These symbolic aspects are conversation pieces themselves, but we didn’t delve too much into that. We focused more on the logistics of the event itself, including talking about how Dr. King was involved and the unification of the Black community during the Boycott.  Even after we were finished with the book, we had conversations about related people and events, including Ruby Bridges.

This book is poetically written, and reading it aloud in the right cadence added to the beauty of the book. As with all books illustrated by Pinkney, the pictures do a great job of showcasing the mood of this historical event.

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So, I’m sharing our bedtime read experience not only because Boycott Blues is a great book, but also because if there’s a historical event that you want your children to know more about, finding a picture book to help you start that conversation is a wonderful starting point.

Keep #RaisingReaders!

Raising Readers with Hamilton

Raising Readers with Hamilton

Because of my obsession with books, as well as my superior expressive reading ;), I do most of the bedtime reading with the kids. However, I do recognize when it makes more sense for their father to have that role, and we recently had one of those moments.

My kids are obsessed with the Hamilton soundtrack. Yes, they’re a tad bit late to the party, but they’ve arrived. And it’s arrived with a whole unexpected conversation about why they can’t use curse words, but I digress…

To coincide with their desire to play the soundtrack every day, I found a book that I thought they would enjoy–

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This book, written and illustrated by Don Brown, is all about the rivalry and eventual dual between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Now, I was all set and ready to read this to the kids, excited even, but then a light bulb went off–why not have their Dad read it to them? My husband is a high school Social Studies teacher, and a general history buff. It would make more sense for him to read it to them, especially if they have extra questions once the story begins, because there’s a big chance I won’t be able to answer them.  And guess what? I was right!

The kids were super excited about the book, my husband enjoyed reading something to him that he already had background knowledge about, and although I love reading to the kids, I had the night off!

So, in your #RaisingReaders quest, if you’re looking to involve another reader, think about what books the reader and the kids could enjoy. Also, if you have kids that enjoy Hamilton, this is a great book for them too!