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). 

 

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 Grandest Canyon

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin is a phenomenal non-fiction picture book packed with the history and science behind the formation of one of the seven wonders of the world. More than just a large whole in the ground, the Grand Canyon is home to many different types of plants and animals. In fact the conditions vary so much from level to level of the canyon that each layer sustains a different type of plant and animal life entirely! How cool is that?

Jason Chin tells “the story” of the Grand Canyon as a father and daughter pair embark on a camping trip. Diagrams are great text features in helping the reader better understand complicated scientific concepts including erosion.

This book includes flashbacks in time so the reader can better understand how the Grand Canyon was formed by the movement of different bodies of water over time. For example, this illustration accompanies the description of what the Grand Canyon would have looked like 1.2 billion years ago when the only things living on Earth’s surface were tiny microbes. This mud would eventually transform into a layer of rock that became part of the canyon.

Grand Canyon is packed with many different lenses through which the reader can learn about this amazing natural phenomenon.  Jason Chin leaves us with a breathtaking four-page spread of the Grand Canyon that adds to the awe and wonder he inspires throughout the book.

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

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1596439505/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1596439505&linkCode=as2&tag=g505-20&linkId=288c64b0ee4ab7b68c0510fbb97797de

*I received a complimentary copy of Grand Canyon 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.

 

 

Easter Board Books

Holiday themed picture books are so much fun. It’s our first round of holidays with our little one and I’m still trying to figure out how we will navigate holiday books as part of our own home library collection. Leave them out throughout the year or bring them out as each holiday nears? I’d love to hear how you handle this in your school or home collections!

Somehow spring snuck up on me this year. Maybe it’s the 10-month old and having just gone back to work full time, but Easter is right around the corner. My little one is loving these two board books right now!

In Happy Easter, Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, join the pout-pout fish dressed up as a bunny and his underwater creature friends as they hide and find easter eggs in unexpected places. This is a fun, captivating read for babies and toddlers alike.

Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching by Laura Gehl is a hilarious book. Peep can’t wait for Egg to hatch so that they can begin their many fun adventures today. But Egg is not having it. He’s too scared to make an appearance. Nothing Peep says will convince him to hatch. Young readers will laugh along as Peep tries to coax Egg out of his shell. Will Egg finally take a chance and hatch? Joyce Wan’s illustrations are bold, colorful and add to the comedy of each page.   

Click here to purchase a copy of Happy Easter, Pout-Pout Fish and Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching (affiliate links).

 

 

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).

 

Lucky Lazlo?

Steve Light’s delightful Lucky Lazlo is an energetically fun picture book about a romance gone terribly wrong. Lazlo is on his way to see his love perform in Alice in Wonderland. He purchases the last red rose from the flower seller and he’s on his way to the theater. A mischievous cat lurks in the corner eyeing both Lazlo and the flower.

The cat stalks Lazlo and when the opportunity presents itself it snatches the rose away from him. A chase ensues as Lazlo follow the cat into the theater, backstage, through the orchestra creating chaos and destruction everywhere. Will Lazlo rescue the flower in time to present it to his Alice?

Readers will enjoy meeting the characters from Alice in Wonderland as the characters prepare for the performance. They will see the various aspects of putting on a play, from costume design to props. Not to mention, Steve Light includes a list of theatrical superstitions and invites the reader to find them within the illustrations in a “Where’s Waldo?” style hidden picture hunt.

The pen-and-ink illustrations are captivating and capture the tiniest of details. Primarily black and white, color is used to draw attention to the most important parts of each scene.

Lucky Lazlo is the perfect picture book for kids ages 3-7. Younger readers will enjoy the plot and the pacing of the story. Older readers will enjoy examining the illustrations for details and learning about the different theatrical superstitions.

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

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