All About Halloween

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Halloween is… by Gail Gibbons is a wonderful all about Halloween book for young readers. This non-fiction book explores the origin of many common aspects of Halloween from trick-or-treating to jack-o-lanterns. Readers can learn about how different Halloween traditions have evolved over time.

The headings make it easy for a reader to navigate the text and identify the parts he/she wants to read. The illustrations support the text to promote understanding. I always tell young readers that the difference between fiction and non-fiction reading is that non-fiction informational texts do not necessarily have to be read from beginning to end.

Gail Gibbons is a phenomenal, prolific non-fiction writer for young readers. Halloween Is.. is just another staple in any 1st-3rd grade classroom library.

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“We’re not all the same. Thank goodness we’re not.”

Nancy Tillman’s newest book You’re All Kinds of Wonderful is another magical, empowering picture book for young children that teaches an important lesson. Written in beautiful couplets, the story celebrates differences and the fact that we are not, in fact, all the same.

You’re All Kinds of Wonderful digs deeper than more picture books that explore differences, focusing on our different personalities and abilities as individuals. The story embraces the idiom of “bells and whistles” and says that when we are born, we’re each supplied with our own bells and whistles to set us apart. The bells are what we do best, but for some people it takes practice to make those bells ring. Sometimes figuring out what that bell is takes patience, other times getting good at ringing it does.

You’re All Kinds of Wonderful teaches the reader that not only are we all good at something, that the journey of uncovering what that something is can sometimes be long and challenging but to stick with it because in the end it’ll be worth it.

The powerful impact of this story reaches readers of all ages as it beautifully promotes resilience and perseverance. You’re All Kinds of Wonderful is a must have in any home or school library. As a classroom teacher, books like You’re All Kinds of Wonderful are invaluable in that they open up the dialogue for celebrating what makes us unique individuals.

Click here to purchase a copy of this book.

*I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest and open review.

 

A Happy Merry Birthday to You!

When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano perfectly captures a child’s excitement for her birthday. It begins in an almost breathless way with, “when’s my birthday?/ where’s my birthday?/ how many days until my birthday?” The tone of urgency unique to a young child spills across the pages, too excited to even utilize proper capitalization!

This book explores the idea of being patient and having to wait for a fun event or celebration. In a way it reminds me of Kevin Henkes’ Waiting.

At first the narrator wonders when her birthday is, from specific date to season. Then she continues to wonder about the different activities, the menu and the guest list. The process of planning the party is not that different from my own train of thought when I am tasked with planning an event.

Illustrated by Christian Robinson, one of my all time favorite illustrators. His illustrations include beautiful collage work, combining photographs and painting with thick, expressive brush strokes.

The repetition of the text and the topic of birthdays, will make this a delightful addition to any home library as well as the perfect birthday or even pre-birthday gift.

Click here to purchase a copy of When’s My Birthday? (affiliate link)

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest and open review.

An Autobiographical Account of a Penny

One of my most memorable experiences as a student teacher came from a regular math routine early in the school year in a second grade classroom. Each day the class came together for a morning meeting and part of that routine included tracking the number of days we’ve been in school. They kept track of this number by writing the number, collecting colored dots on the tens frame and also by collecting coins that equaled the total number of days. On the first day the teachers put a penny underneath the document camera for the class to see. They asked the students, “What do you notice about this coin?” A young boy named Jack raised his hand and instead of describing the shape of the coin or the color of the coin, as we’d all expected, he gave the lengthy history of the coin. This experience was so important to me as a future teacher, you never know what to expect from kids and what knowledge they bring with them into the classroom if you don’t ask.

One Proud Penny by Randy Siegel is an awesome picture book that presents historically accurate information about the penny. It is narrated as an autobiographical account by a penny. It begins with information about when this penny was “born” and where, in 1983 in Philadelphia. Then continues on to explore the different uses of a penny, from providing exact change to spinning and flipping out of boredom or for fun.

One Proud Penny hints at the argument of whether pennies should be banned, one we explore in my 4th grade classroom during our argument and persuasive writing unit. It also highlights some important change over time (pun intended). For example, a penny used to be enough to buy ice cream or a newspaper, but that’s no longer the case.

One Proud Penny even details the difference in the composition of pennies when they were originally minted and today.

One Proud Penny is a wonderful tribute to the penny. A small yet durable coin that at times is a nuisance in our pockets or taking up lots of space in our wallet, and other times, helping us make exact change. The illustrations by Serge Bloch blend simple line drawings with actual images of pennies, in a way that adds to the comedic tone of the text. Together they create an informative and exciting informational book.

This is a must have book for any classroom and school library as well as any home collection of a kid who loves facts and information about money and coins. Click here to purchase a copy of One Proud Penny (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Mr. Tweed and the Band in Need

Mr. Tweed is back! This time he is at the zoo to see his favorite 10-piece band perform, but Wollo the walrus and band leader, can’t seem to find any of his band members.

Join Mr. Tweed and Wollo as they explore the different animal exhibits for their friends. The illustrations are bright, colorful and super detailed. For example, can you find the banjo playing jellyfish?

Mr. Tweed and the Band in Need is more than an amazing hidden images picture book. It incorporates counting, colors, and animal and instrument recognition. Each creature is hidden in its habitat, for example Jimmy Toots the toucan is hidden in the tall trees. Readers can use different clues on each page to help them find the missing band member. This book teaches children to look carefully at illustrations as they hunt for the tiniest of details.

Mr. Tweed and the Band in Need written and illustrated by Jim Stoten is an engaging and fun read. It teaches about the importance of collaboration and helping others in need. This book is making it on my go to list of books to give young readers as a gift.

Click here to purchase a copy of Mr. Tweed and the Band in Need (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

What George Forgot

What George Forgot by Kathy Wolff is a fantastically hilarious book about a young boy who is great at remembering things, but he can’t seem to shake the feeling that there is something important he’s forgotten. He replays his day, retracing all his steps in order to ensure that he’s remembered everything.

For example, he didn’t forget to eat breakfast. He also remembered to eat his pre-breakfast and post-breakfast snacks. Don’t worry, he also remembered to shave. Just kidding! He only shaves on Tuesdays.

As George prepares to leave his house, he still can’t seem to remember what he is forgetting. Can you help him figure this out?

What George Forgot has a overall tone of seriousness with so many funny lines tucked in that make this book a delight to read for kids and adults. The illustrations complement the story perfectly, helping the reader visualize each part of George’s morning routine. This book is an awesome addition to any home library and will undoubtedly be requested over and over again for story time.

Click here to purchase a copy of What George Forgot (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

Finding the Perfect Spot to Read

A Place to Read by Leigh Hodgkinson is a special picture book about a boy looking for just the right place to read. It should be comfy, but not itchy, fuzzy or even stinky. The young boy is very excited to read his book. Somewhere free of distraction, where he can become fully immersed in reading. On each page, he describes the ideal reading location and gathers another friend who is also interested in hearing the story.

Ultimately the boy learns that it doesn’t matter where he reads, the best book is a story that is shared with others.

A Place to Read is a fantastic picture book for children ages 2-6. The main character loves reading and is so excited about settling down with his book. The illustrations are whimsical and imaginative. They capture the worlds that we are ofter transported to by a good book. It is reminiscent of The Good Little Book by Kyo Maclear and A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers.

Click here to purchase a copy of A Place to Read (affiliate link).

For more books that promote a love of the act of reading click here!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

Dare to Imagine

In the last year or so there has been an explosion of picture books that encourage young readers to imagine and dream. This is a niche that I just can’t get enough of. As an upper elementary school teacher, I work with students ages 9-11, who are experts at being in school and knowing how to navigate the day and what is expected of them. It is only now that I have a one-year old daughter, and I see how much she learns through hands-on exploration and being genuinely wonder about things, that I start to ask, “How do we hold on to imagination and curiosity in kids as they get older and begin to navigate school and the education system?”

Imagine That! by Yasmeen Ismail is a terrific book about the imagination of childhood. Lila’s mother is preparing for a visit to Grandpa’s house. Little Lila seems very distracted, in reality she is very busy quietly imagining the different adventures.

For example, instead of putting on her shoes, she’s struggling to tame the fearsome octopus so that it will become her faithful pet. The contrast between what the mother bear sees, and what Lila imagines is portrayed by flawless watercolors. In the everyday version, the story is set in realistic setting, and Lila fumbles with her shoes under a table. The text consists of simple dialogue and short answers. In the pages that represent Lila’s imagination, color is everywhere, the text is written in delightful rhyme, and even the font dances across the pages.

The mother bear remains unaware of what Lila is actually doing. She is focused on getting her daughter safely to meet Grandpa.

It is Grandpa who takes the time to notice and ask Lila what she is doing. Though imagining alone is fun, having opportunities to be creative and involve others is even better.Will she find a companion to imagine along with?

Imagine That! is a great picture book for encouraging young children to imagine and playful. The energy and excitement are contagious. It teaches grown ups to also be aware of the power of imagination and to leave room for it despite our tendencies to want to remain on a schedule.

Click here to purchase a copy of Imagine That! (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

A Delightful Counting Picture Book

Counting with Barefoot Critters by Teagan White is a visually stunning picture book that infuses counting and numbers within the daily activities of a cast of forest creatures. It begins with a single fox enjoying solitary activities, including reading a good book in one’s own home. Once she finishes her story, it’s time to bake pancakes as a pair.

One page flows to the next with lovely rhymes, that prepare the reader to say the next number. The characters participate in a variety of outdoorsy activities that involve imagination and collaboration. They are inclusive and playful, all while having lots of fun. This is the perfect picture book for encouraging young kids to play with one another and to welcome others in their games and activities.

The story comes full circle, after a day of adventure fox returns home to her bed and has the opportunity to reflect on the events of the day.

Counting with Barefoot Critters is a about so much more than numbers, though that part I love too. It’s about making the most out of each day and being a positive, inspirational, good friend. This book teaches resilience, collaboration and independence simultaneously, all in a wonderful way!

Click here to purchase a copy of Counting with Barefoot Critters (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Building a Community Garden

Green Green: A Community Gardening Story by Marie Lamba and Baldev Lamba is a wonderful picture book for promoting environmental awareness for young readers ages 2-6. Written in simple, poetic form and accompanied by vibrant, dynamic illustrations, Green Green follows the transformation of the land and the way a group of community members work together to restore some elements of nature.

The story starts with a group of kids playing in an expansive field, filled with beautiful flowers and butterflies.

Gradually, the natural landscape evolves into a cityscape and the green and brown are replaced by browns and grays of digging and construction. The green in each scene is reduced to a small potted plant here and there or a solitary tree.

The members of the community see the potential for creating a community garden on a small plot of land. They work hard to remove litter and garbage to restore a small piece of nature among the hustle and bustle of the busy city.

Green Green is the perfect picture book for exposing young children to the concept of environmentalism and showing them some simple ways that they can feel empowered to make a difference. The illustrations by Sonia Sanchez are breathtakingly beautiful, subtle yet powerful. They bring the simple yet impactful text to life and give readers a lot to talk about.

Click here to purchase a copy of Green Green A Community Gardening Story (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.