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.

Promoting a Love of Math from a Young Age

Danica McKellar (also known as Winnie from the Wonder Years who went on to major in math at UCLA) wrote an awesome book, Goodnight Numbers. This is the perfect bedtime picture book that teaches a love of numbers and math from a young age. This seemingly simple picture book has many carefully planned details that encourage kids to see numbers and math all around them in their everyday contexts. There are many opportunities for the reader to count up to the designated number by looking at Alicia Padron’s lovely illustrations. Each page includes a tens-frame a math tool kids become very familiar with once they start school to support their counting by ones and eventual skip counting.

Promoting a love of math from a young age is so important. Giving kids to see math in real life contexts allows them to see firsthand how relevant math is to their everyday lives. As a result, they are much more engaged and open to learning math at school.

Click here to purchase a copy of Goodnight Numbers (affiliate link). 

 

The Special Relationship Between Mom and Child

Bloom is a lovely picture book about a mother and daughter who plant tulip bulbs together one day. They take turns digging holes and planting the bulbs one by one while laughing along the way. Deborah Diesen, author of the Pout-Pout Fish series, captures the tactile experience of planting, from handling the dirt to carefully examining the bulbs. Each character wonders silently how bulbs could possibly bloom into something big and tall.

 Time passes. Celebrations. A big trip. So much happens that the mother and daughter both almost forget that they’d planted the bulbs. Mary Lundquist’s illustrations are beautiful and capture not only the emotional setting but the passing of time perfectly.

But, day by day they grow. As does the relationship and love between mother and daughter. Bloom is a wonderful ode to the special connection between mom and child. The love blossoms as do the tulips at the end of the story, slow yet strong. Bloom celebrates spending time together and making memories that will last a lifetime.

Click here to purchase a copy of Bloom (affiliate link).

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

 

 

Wildlife Coloring Book

Wildlife: A Map Coloring Book by Natalie Hughes is the perfect gift for budding artists who love to learn about animals and different places in the world. Each map is jam-packed with different creatures that live in that particular part of the world as well as interesting facts about each. It would be fun to have kids compare and contrast the creatures they see across the pages and to draw bigger generalizations.

Wildlife is the perfect way to engage kids in learning about different species and places in the world. This book invites many great conversations about protecting the environment and the consequences of human actions on the well-being of Earth’s creatures.

Click here to purchase a copy of Wildlife: A Map Coloring Book (affiliate link).

 

We’re All Wonders

We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio is the perfect companion picture book to Wonder. As a teacher, I’ve never seen a book capture the attention of a more diverse group of readers as Wonder. I was delighted to see that it’s powerful message has been perfectly captured in a picture book for younger readers.

Auggie is a young boy who is ordinary in all ways except for his appearance. Even though his mom thinks he’s a wonder, but many people cannot see beyond they way he looks to see him for who he really is.

We’re All Wonders is not only about accepting the differences of one child, but acknowledging that which makes us all unique and embracing that.

We’re All Wonders is a must-have for every home and school library to teach kids from a young age that we are all different whether that is our appearance, our religion, the languages we speak, etc. and that is not only okay, it is wonderful.

Click here to purchase a copy of We’re All Wonders (affiliate link).

 

A Wonderful Picture Book about Ramadan

Lailah’s Lunchbox is the perfect introduction to Ramadan for young students. Lailah is finally old enough to participate in fasting during Ramadan and she is very excited. Her mother writes a note to her teacher, Mrs. Penworth, explaining that Lailah should be excused from lunch in observation Ramadan. Lailah is worried that her teacher and classmates will think that she is strange for fasting or that they won’t know what Ramadan is, so she keeps the note to herself and acts as if she has forgotten her lunch. When her friend Anna offers to share her cream rolls with Lailah, she sits quietly and begins to second-guess her decision to fast.

Lailah asks to go to the library, where she confides in the librarian Mrs. Carman all that is on her mind. Together they come up with the perfect way for Lailah to open up to her teacher and to share with her all about Ramadan.

Lailah’s Lunchbox is a fantastic story based on Reem Faruqi’s own life experience moving to the United States and explaining what Ramadan is to classmates and friends in Peachtree City, Georgia. This story captures many different and important social issues, including moving somewhere new and different religions. This story emphasizes the humanity of the children and their experiences and promotes understanding and empathy of others.

Lailah’s Lunchbox is a must-have in every classroom library. It is the perfect read for kids ages 6-9. This year, Ramadan begins May 26 and lasts until June 25.

Click here to purchase a copy of Lailah’s Lunchbox (affiliate link).

 

Interactive Picture Books for Young Readers

I discovered Fly! by Xavier Deneux in the recent arrival section of our local public library branch. It is a stunning board book with movable pieces that complements the story perfectly. Bird arrives at the foot of a tree after a long journey. Time passes and a friend arrives and joins her in the tree. Together they build a nest and raise two baby chicks. Fly! is a sweet story perfect for the youngest of readers. The smallest of hands will enjoy manipulative and maneuvering the pieces from one page to the next in order to help the story develop.

 

Press Here by Herve Tullet is another delightful read. Follow the directions presented on each page to embark an adventure of fun and imagination. Begin by pressing a single yellow dot and on the next page discover two yellow dots. Press the dot again and now there are three! Press Here is a great read. Even as an adult I enjoyed reading it and seeing the cause and effect relationships that spanned the pages. Let’s Play! is the third book of the series and captures the same whimsy as the first two books with even more movement and unexpected outcomes.

Click here to purchase copies of Fly!, Press Here and Let’s Play! (affiliate links).

The Power of Change

Allan Drummond’s Pedal Power is a non-fiction picture book that tells the story of how Amsterdam became the cycling capital of the world. This is a wonderful example of cause and effect or problem and solution text structure which is clear for readers from the onset.

When I travelled to Amsterdam while studying abroad in Spain many many years ago, I was taken aback by how prominent cycling was in this gorgeous European city. Pedal Power captures the energy of bikes buzzing down the wide streets.

Back in the 1970s Amsterdam’s streets were dominated by vehicles. Many beautiful buildings were being torn down to make room for wider streets and tunnels to accommodate all the traffic. The streets became too dangerous for cyclists. Young moms decided to take a stand. Led by Maartje Rutten, the dialogue about making the streets safe for everyone was ignited. People began congregating and protesting in conventional and more creative ways.

Overtime, they saw the impact of their protesting and change started to happen. Pedal Power encourages readers to not settle for the status quo but to take a chance and speak up for what you believe in. In this case, Maartje Rutten and a group of young mothers and children came together to make a change that impact not only their community but set an example for many big cities across the world.

Click here to purchase a copy of Pedal Power (affiliate link). 

*I received a complimentary copy of Pedal Power in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

Preparing to Celebrate Earth Day

I love books that teach kids about the Earth, nature and its creatures. Hopefully exposing them to fiction and non-fiction books that teach us about the Earth from a young age will create a generation driven to saving what we have so effortlessly destroyed over time.

Ella Bailey’s books One Day on Our Blue Planet… in the Savannah and One Day on Our Blue Planet… in the Antarctic are a perfect celebration of animals in their habitats.

In One Day on Our Blue Planet… in the Savannah young readers spend a day with a playful young cub learning and exploring life in the desert. From spending time with its family to finding trouble around every corner, this picture book is a celebration of life in an African desert. The illustrations are highly detailed and captivating, inviting the youngest of readers to engage in a conversation about what they see. One Day on Our Blue Planet… in the Savannah is the perfect book for budding animal and nature enthusiasts.

One Day on Our Blue Planet… in the Antarctic learn all about an Adelie penguin chick as she prepares to leave home and sets out to sea. The reader tags along as the penguin swims, finds food to eat and avoids danger. This is another stunning celebration of a rich habitat. The illustrations are filled with blues and whites and movement that captures the energy of life in the Antarctic.

Stay tuned for some additional picture books to help us celebrate Earth Day, which falls on April 22, 2017.

Click here to purchase a copy of One Day on Our Blue Planet… in the Savannah and One Day on Our Blue Planet… in the Antarctic.

 

 

Entertaining Easter Reads

   Here Comes the Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood is a hilarious Easter read. It accurately portrays the personality of many cats. Claudia Rueda’s illustrations add an extra layer of comedic value, making this book a must have for any cat-loving family.

Cat sees a poster announcing that the Easter Bunny is coming soon and it upsets him. The narrator tries to reason with Cat, explaining that the Easter Bunny’s job is a hard one and not just anyone can take his place, but Cat cannot help but feel jealous and angry. The narrator invites him to be the Easter Cat and bring nice things to children everywhere as well. See his response for yourself!

Yes, that’s a hairball!

As the story continues, Cat comes up with unconventional ways to one up the Easter Bunny every step of the way on his journey to becoming the Easter Cat. The ending to this adorable story is unexpected and thoughtful.

Here Comes the Easter Cat is a must-have if you are looking for a fun-filled Easter-themed picture book. Click here to purchase a copy of this book (affiliate link).

Another fantastic Easter picture book is Chester’s Colorful Easter Eggs by Theresa Smythe. Chester the bunny is eager to decorate Easter eggs and hide them for his friends. He carefully dyes and designs each egg a special color and finds the perfect hiding spot. This book is perfect for young readers learning colors to reinforce names. It’s also great for looking at the bright and bold illustrations and naming familiar objects and creatures.

Chester’s Colorful Easter Eggs is a simple yet fantastic book about friendship and making meaningful memories.

Click here to purchase a copy of Chester’s Colorful Easter Eggs (affiliate link).