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I had a blast at the SLV Fiber Festival this past weekend in Monte Vista, Colorado. I had storytimes with kids, demo’ed cat’s cradle string games, and sold the best and most fun kid’s books related to sheep, llamas, yarn–)and one chicken book ’cause it’s my favorite).
If you’re in the San Luis Valley and are interested in purchasing some books before I ship them back, shoot me an email at babette(dot)reeves(at)gmail.com. You know you’ve got birthdays, holidays, baby showers, and other special occasions coming up! And there’s nothing better than a book! 🙂
- Feeding the Sheep–a little girl follows her mother’s activities through the year, learning along the way where her warm and lovingly made sweater came from.
- Sheep in a Jeep (book & CD)–silly sheep try to drive a jeep, great rhymes and pictures, good for reading aloud or for beginning readers.
- Where is Green Sheep–a Mem Fox classic with more silly sheep doing silly things (skiing down a sliding board?!), available in board book bilingual version.
- Extra Yarn–brand new story about a magical yarn box and a girl who transforms her grey world with it, I think we’ve got a classic in the making with this one.
- Tillie Lays an Egg–I am ga-ga over this book, Tillie lays her eggs all over and kids get to hunt for it in the photos created with retro farmhouse collectibles.
- The Shepherd’s Trail–a cultural treasure, fabulous photos and just enough text to capture the dying art of the shepherd with the sheep in the back country, a real treasure. Only one copy left!
- The Surprise–gives me giggles to even think about it and elicits an “awwww” every time at the ending, and don’t you want to see a sheep on a bathroom scale, with a blow dryer, and on a motor scooter?
- The Dogs of Bedlam Farm–I generally despise children’s books written by adult authors (because they are usually just dreadful) but Jon Katz pulls this one off with just the right combo of photos and text to introduce children to Katz’ four farm dogs and their individual personalities and jobs.
- The Littlest Llama–an overlooked gem, the littlest llama in an Andean herd can find no one to play with, wanders off, escapes trouble only to hurry home and discover she’s not the littlest any longer, bonus points for being told in well-structured rhyme.
- Llama Llama Red Pajama–first in the series of Llama Llama books, if you don’t have this one yet for your little one, you need it (especially for bedtime “llama dramas” at your house).
If your budget necessitates getting these at the “big A,” I understand. Getting books to your kids is the most important factor.
But for now, you can get them from me with no shipping and only a dollar or two more. (And you’ll be supporting a local business with this mission).
Thus begins each chapter in the Juvi novel, Anna Hibiscus, one of the most delightful books I’ve read over the last year. Four chapters tell four stories of Anna Hibiscus’ life with her very large family in a very large city in Africa. By the end of the book, I was ready to move to Africa and into that big, happy family.
Everything is not perfect but everything is manageable. A trip to the beach becomes overwhelming until the whole family arrives; “‘It is not good to be alone,’ Anna heard them whisper…’A husband and three children is too much for one woman alone.'” Anna learns compassion and hard work when she sells oranges instead of the street children. The family frets over a daughter returning from Canada for a visit; will she have forgotten the African ways? And Anna shows initiative and gets to visit Canada–and see snow!
Great elements in Anna Hisbiscus?
- Family is the central focus and what a great family they all are!
- Each story is written from a child’s point of view, expressing a child’s feelings and showing how children can grow and learn when supported by family.
- Each story shows a realistic view of modern Africa with a blend of the traditional and the modern.
- Each story just feels so natural even though the setting and culture will be so different for many children here in the US.
I can’t wait to add more in the series to my collection!
Hope you enjoy too!
I live in one of the poorest areas in Colorado. I do storytimes at the local Head Start programs. I see kids who come from homes that are struggling. And the kids from these homes experience the wear and tear of such a life on a daily basis.
So what kind of books do I choose for kids who probably haven’t grown up being read to? Who might not know what a book is or is for? Who might not care or be interested in books? Who might have even shorter than normal attention spans?
Do I choose books by famous authors? Books with award winning illustrations? Or do I choose the shortest books? Books with the fewest words on a page? Books with sounds and lights and gizmos and gimmicks?
Nope! I choose books with “good stories.”
Let me give you an example. The Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday (so already I have one stroke against me), I visit a Head Start classroom. Actually it’s two classrooms combined into a teeny tiny reading space (two more strikes against me). And I start to read Don’t Want to Go by Shirley Hughes.
I can see the teachers look wide-eyed at me as I open this book. It’s got LOTS of words in it. And there’s nothing snazzy, razzle dazzle about the pictures.
It’s the straight forward story of a preschooler whose mom wakes up one morning with the flu. So dad (who has to go to work) takes her to an adult friend’s house for the day. The little girl’s plaintive cry is, “Don’t want to go!”
Of course, she goes anyway. She really doesn’t have much say in it. But there she meets a smiling mom with a friendly baby. The dog licks her hand, she helps the mom glue pictures into a book, she plays peekaboo and holds the dog’s leash on the way to the older brother’s school and even gets to watch a little TV with him. At each transition her cry is, “Don’t want to go!”
And when dad comes to get her at the end of the day, once again she exclaims, “Dont’ want to go!” Adults love the ending–but kids? Kids love the in-between parts. These are situations and feelings they have experienced. They would want mom up in the morning. They would want to stay home, too, not go to a stranger’s house. They would lose their mittens on the way and pout under the table and say “don’t want to” but then with warmth and understanding and careful coaxing find themselves enjoying the new moments–just like Lily.
What’s this have to do with “good stories?” An essential element of any good children’s story (for children of any age up through teens) is that the story needs to meet the kid where the kid is at developmentally.
The books that hold kids’ attention with no gimmicks or gizmos are the ones that reflect their experiences, their perceptions, their learning edges, their developmental issues, their world. These are the books with staying power. These become the classics.
Shirley Hughes understands three and four year olds. You hear it in Lily’s reactions, whether in her cry, her pout, her laugh, or her saying no and then helping anyway. You see it in the illustrations–in the postures and faces of the characters. You hear it in the details she notices (“It was a yellow door, the color of the inside of Lily’s egg,” an egg which she remembers, btw, because she dropped it on the floor earlier). You see and hear it in the reassuring manner in which the adults react to her.
The book is clean and simple. It’s a “good story” for young children any time but perhaps especially right now during the holidays. There can be so many changes on a daily basis. And change is not easy when you are little and adults run the world.
So don’t let the number of words or the non-glamour of this book scare you away. My Head Starters were dead into it, all the way through! Yours can be too! It is a winner–for groups or for just one or two in the lap–cause it’s a “good story!”
Give it a whirl!
I don’t know how often this has happened to you, as parent or teacher or librarian, but it’s happened to me more and more over the last several years. I pick up a new book. It is the size, shape, and thickness of a picture book for little kids. It has gorgeous or cool illustrations like a picture book for little kids. It might even be shelved in the little kids’ picture section of the library.
It walks like a duck, sounds like a duck–but heads up, folks! It ain’t no duck.
I love these books! Most are so well done. Most tell such awesome stories. And they all give us the chance to read aloud to an older kiddo, something that read-aloud experts like Jim Trelease say older kids still need. But they often get lost in the little kids’ picture book section and never reach their intended audience, the older kiddo.
How do you find them? Well, unless your library does some special cataloging for them (mine does ;-)), it’s not easy. You have to keep your eyes open for them. Check the new shelves. Ask your children’s librarian. Often the title will give it away. You’ll think, “That doesn’t seem like a topic for a four year old.” Or you’ll flip through them and see looooots of words on each page. Or you’ll read it and think, “That’s a really (thought provoking, heavy, subtle, different kind of humor, pick your phrase etc.) book for a four or five year old; maybe it’s not meant for a four or five year old!” Voila! You’ve found one!
Here’s a list of a few to get you acquainted with this breed. Once you find one, you’ll start spotting others!
Molly Bannaky by McGill
The Goat Lady by Houle
Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation by Sherman
Abe’s Fish by Bryant
One Candle by Bunting
Rabbit Pirates by Cox
The Pirate meets the Queen by Faulkner
A Big Cheese for the White House by Fleming
Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Krensky (I’ve read this one aloud to 6th graders!)
An Outlaw Thanksgiving by McCully
Little Flower by Rand
Mailing May by Tunnell
Wolf Wanted by Machado
Summer Birds by Engle
Bird by Elliott
I’ll try to post some more of these in the future as well.
Read on (even to your 1st-6th graders who can read on their own!),
OK, so mostly this blog is about little kids. But I am a librarian for babies up through young college aged folks. And I love reading YA (when I have the time) especially nowadays when I think some of the best ficiton writing for anyone is coming out of the YA camp.
So “life” and teaching in the last weeks, things were too crazy for me to get my top ten list into Persnickety Snark’s polling for the top 100 YA novels. But I did make a list and here it is. It’s in no particular order (ranking things I love drives me nuts and I don’t need that right now).
The Outsiders by Hinton
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Mortal Engines by Reeves (the whole series! although the first part of two really drags, you’ve been warned)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee
The Once and Future King by White
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Peck
The Crucible by Miller (I know it’s a book–but it’s soooo right for YA)
The Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood
And number 11 I throw in for good measure unofficially. I truly love this book. I’m terribly interested to see if it ever gets the readership it deserves (from guys and girls)–and what its staying power will be over time.
Crazy Beautiful by Baratz-Logsted
I have this horror of posting and then remembering all kinds of terrific books I’ve forgotten to include! But if that happens, I may do list #2. 😉
You’ve probably already seen the final countdown, (my life has been really crazy as far as trying to get this posted), but this is primarily a shopping list, not an announcement list. 🙂 So happy shopping!
24. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by Rowling
23. Little House in the Big Woods by Wilder
22. The Tale of Despereaux by DiCamillo
21. The Lightning Thief by Riordan
20. Tuck Everlasting by Babbitt
19. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Dahl
18. Matilda by Dahl
17. Maniac Magee by Spinelli
16. Harriet the Spy by Fitzhugh
15. Because of Winn-Dixie by DiCamillo
14. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by Rowling
13. Bridge to Terabithia by Paterson
12. The Hobbit by Tolkien
11. The Westing Game by Raskin
10. The Phantom Tollbooth by Juster
9. Anne of Green Gables by Montgomery
8. The Secret Garden by Burnett
7. The Giver by Lowry
6. Holes by Sachar
5. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by Konigsburg
4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Lewis
3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by Rowling (yeah, the first one)
2. A Wrinkle in Time by L’Engle
1. Charlotte’s Web by White
Thanks to Bird for putting together such a terrifically fun project! And Happy Reading!
And here’s the other parts of the lists:
One hundred books makes for a really long list! 🙂 Here’s the next twenty-five. And on the Fuse #8 blog, the countdown has made it to #13; click here to see more. But now, back to the “shopping list!”
50. Island of the Blue Dolphins by O’Dell
49. Frindle by Clements
48. The Penderwicks by Birdsall
47. Bud, Not Buddy by Curtis
46. Where the Red Fern Grows by Rawls
45. The Golden Compass by Pullman
44. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Blume
43. Ramona the Pest by Cleary
42. Little House on the Prairie by Wilder
41. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Speare
40. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Baum
39. When You Reach Me by Stead
38. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by Rowling
37. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Taylor
36. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Blume
35. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fired by Rowling
34. The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Curtis
33. James and the Giant Peach by Dahl
32. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by O’Brien
31. Half Magic by Eager
30. Winnie-the-Pooh by Milne
29. The Dark is Rising by Cooper
28. A Little Princess by Burnett
27. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Carroll
26. Hatchet by Paulsen
That’s all for now. I’ll add #1-25 after she finishes her countdown. And then I’ll tell you my favorites for the whole 100. 😉
Thomas Cahill has a marvelous piece in the NYTimes today about the Irish and how they saved Western Civilization after the fall of Rome. How did an obscure, ragtag bunch of folks in the early days of the Dark Ages manage such a feat? They copied books.
What’s an added bonus in his article is his mention of their sense of play in the midst of all the seriousness of the world dissolving around them and the rest of Europe. And of course, it being St. Patrick’s Day, Patrick gets his fair share of credit as well.
I wish Cahill had mentioned another saint, though, one equally as important to the preservation of books and thereby civilization. That is St. Columba. I learned about him through a fascinating children’s book, Across a Dark and Wild Sea by Don Brown.
As a boy St. Columba was known as Columcille, and he was son of a king. But the church taught him reading and writing, and he was forever hooked–to the point that he copied a book rather illegally and thereby started a war. Yes, a war over a book. (Boys eat this up, let me tell you!)
Devastated afterward by what his actions had wrought, he exiled himself to an island off the coast–and thus was born the religious community of Iona.
The book combines fact, some of the legends associated with Columba, watercolor illustrations that stir up the windswept coasts of Ireland, a calligraphic guide to the Uncial alphabet from Columba’s time, and a bibliography. There’s even a diagram of a coracle (no, I’m not going to tell you; you have to read the books! ;-))
As you can tell, it’s one of my favorites.
Happy St. Paddy’s Day,
With no further adue, here’s the next batch!
75. Love That Dog by Creech
74. The Borrowers by Norton
73. My Side of the Mountain by George
72. My Father’s Dragon by Gannett
71. An Unfortunate Series of Events: The Bad Beginning by Snicket
70. Betsy-Tacy by Lovelace
69. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Stewart
68. Walk Two Moons by Creech
67. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Colville
66. Henry Huggins by Cleary
65. Ballet Shoes by Streatfeild
64. A Long Way from Chicago by Peck
63. Gone-Away Lake by Enright
62. The Secret of the Old Clock by Keene
61. Stargirl by Spinelli
60. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
59. Inkheart by Funke
58. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Aiken
57. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Cleary
56. Number the Stars by Lowry
55. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Paterson
54. The BFG by Dahl
53. The Wind in the Willows by Grahame
52. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Selznick
51. The Saturdays by Enright
I almost entirely cannot quibble with the selections–although I’d love to dicker on a few of the rankings. What a list though!
I’m loving reading Betsy Bird’s Fuse #8 Top 100 Children’s Novels. And the collection of covers after each review is fabulous.
But I also want to just see a list of them. The better to go shopping with, my dears. 😉 So if you are feeling somewhat frustrated with being list-less, here they are by nothing but title and author! (I’ll post twenty-five at a time and she is posting from number 100 down to number one.)
100. The Egypt Game by Snyder
99. The Indian in the Cupboard by Banks
98. Children of Green Knowe by Boston
97. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by DiCamillo
96. The Witches by Dahl
95. Pippi Longstocking by Lindgren
94. Swallows and Amazons by Ransome
93. Caddie Woodlawn by Brink
92. Ella Enchanted by Levine
91. Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Sachar
90. Sarah, Plain and Tall by MacLachlan
89. Ramona and Her Father by Cleary
88. The High King by Alexander
87. The View from Saturday by Konigsburg
86. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by Rowling
85. On the Banks of Plum Creek by Wilder
84. The Little White Horse by Goudge
83. The Thief by Turner
82. The Book of Three by Alexander
81. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Lin
80. The Graveyard Book by Gaiman
79. All of a Kind Family by Taylor
78. Johnny Tremain by Forbes
77. The City of Ember by DuPrau
76. Out of the Dust by Hesse
Ok, maybe I was skimming my reader too fast. But when I first saw this headline, Great ‘Read-Alouds’ for the New York Times, I thought it was for a kids’ book list.
I’ve never seen a read-aloud list for newspaper articles! What a fabulous idea! Children will hear a different style of writing and a different “grammar” beyond a story grammar. No one has ever said that when we read aloud to children, we need to read children’s picture books. But how often do we assume that’s what “read-aloud” means?
I spend a fair amount of time encouraging parents to continue reading aloud to their children beyond the preschool years and beyond the years when the child can read on his or her own. Now I have another angle to encourage!
Bear in mind, any reading aloud, as long as the child enjoys the time together, is good reading aloud. The material really doesn’t matter (my mother once read a dictionary aloud to my oldest when he was a baby; he was entranced! :-))
So find a book–or better still, change the pace and find a Times article and read on,