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What’s in a Name?

2 Nov

When I was born, my parents named me Katie. Well, okay, technically  they named me Mary (that’s what’s on my birth certificate) but always intended to call me Katie. That was back in the days when lots of girls were named Mary Chris, Mary Pat, Mary This, Mary That… but weren’t actually called Mary. So, until I was 5, everyone called me Katie.

Then Kindergarten happened. And my 5-year-old self informed the teacher that my name was Mary and I was to be called that. I then proceeded to make everyone else I knew begin calling me Mary instead of Katie. Why did I decide to change my name? I have no idea what was going on in my young brain, but as an adult I’ve speculated that it’s because we’d recently moved to Denver and lived almost next door to a family with two twin girls – one of whom was named Katie. Strangely enough, her real name was also Mary Something.

I’ve been Mary ever since. Kudos to my family for going along with my self-inflicted name change.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because it kind of relates to why one of my katyfavorite books growing up was Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton. Oh, how I loved the story of Katy, the bulldozer/snow plow who did her work in the City of Geopolis and saved the day one particularly snowy winter. I adored the detailed illustrations with maps of the town so that I could follow Katy’s route as she made it safe for the mail carrier to continue his route and the doctor to get his patient to the hospital. But most of all, I loved that Katy and I shared the same name (albeit a slightly different spelling).

lolaFinding yourself (or even just your name) in a children’s book is a powerful thing.  Each year, I am fortunate enough to be able to gift each child whom I visit in my preschool outreach a brand new book. As the kids in one class were making their selections, one young lady saw Anna Quinn’s Lola at the Library. The book features an adorable, smiling African-American child as she makes her regular visit to the library. The young lady pointed at the book, eyes wide, and said “I want THAT one.” What made this encounter so powerful? The girl who chose the book looked EXACTLY like Lola in the story. Right down to the pigtails.

Children need to feel like they are important and have worth, and seeing yourself and your story reflected in a book provides some measure of that. Just as I was proud to share a name with hero snowplow Katy, my young book selector probably was proud to see that she, or a child that looked like her, could be the star of her own story.

What story are YOU the star of? Are there any books that made you think “hey, that’s me!”?

Happy Book Birthday to Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons!

1 May

I am in possession of a copy of this book RIGHT NOW and I can’t TELL you how excited I am. It’s wonderful! A good match for the first book. And the colors are bright and glorious. Plus there’s a very catchy chant:

I do NOT apologize for getting that stuck in your head. “My buttons, my buttons…”

What Do Storybook Dinosaurs Have in Common?

25 Jan

I was reading dinosaur stories to my preschoolers yesterday, and I noticed a common theme between three books we read. I wonder if you can figure out what it is? One of the teachers got it. The books were:

  • Waddell, Martin. The Super Hungry Dinosaur.  I love this book – especially for Hal’s bravery when defending his family and how he makes the dinosaur apologize.
  • Yolen, Jane. How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food.  All these dino books are favorites of the kids. Even if they won’t admit that YES, sometimes, they DO bubble their milk. But NEVER stick beans up their noses.
  • Shea, Bob. Dinosaur vs. Bedtime. ROOAAARR! Dinosaur wins! Except when it comes to bedtime. Bedtime ALWAYS wins.

Have you figured out what these books have in common? I mean, besides DINOSAURS, obviously. It is…..

Spaghetti. Yes, spaghetti. In The Super Hungry Dinosaur, after Hal makes the dino apologize and clean up, he declares he’s still hungry. So Hal’s mom makes him a Super Hungry Dinosaur Dinner, which happens to be spaghetti and meatballs. In How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food we are asked if a dino would “flip his spaghetti high into the air?” And finally, in Dinosaur vs. Bedtime, the dino goes up against a bowl of spaghetti. Who will win? Dinosaur, OF COURSE.

*SLURP*

The Caldecott Challenge 2012: Nerdcott!

2 Jan

The end of last week I saw some kids’ librarian folks on twitter talking about “#nerdcott” and decided to check it out. I followed the twitter trail to this post by LibLaura5, describing a challenge she was setting to read ALL of the Caldecott winners (not just the medalists, but honors too!). Well, I love a good (do-able) challenge, so I decided that I’m in! I’m pretty knowledgeable about winners and honors from the last 15-or-so years (or at least the last 12 years that I’ve been working as a librarian), but the early years? Not so much. Did you know that the Caldecott Medal was first awarded in 1938? And that there are over 300 Caldecott medalists and honor books?

I’d better get crackin’. The best thing about Laura’s challenge is that THERE ARE NO RULES. You don’t have to read the books in any particular order (which is good because some of them we have in the library, and some I will have to request from other libraries or ILL). You don’t have to set a time limit, if you don’t want to. So, my personal goal is to simply READ THEM ALL. Preferrably this year.

I’ve already started from the bottom up; again, not in order, but that’s how I’m keeping track: I’m ordering the books from the earlier years first and reading them as they come in. I read Andy and the Lion and Barkis this morning, and have Wee Gillis, Abraham Lincoln, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves on my desk. I probably won’t review all of them here as I really only like to write reviews of books that a) I love and b) feel inspired to write about.

Wanna challenge yourself? Get the full list of Caldecott Medal and Honor books. If you have a blog and want to indicate your participation, Laura has made an icon available.  And remember, if you tweet, don’t forget to add the hashtag #nerdcott so we can all enjoy each other’s company!

 

 

Trailer Tuesday: Lots of Bots! a Counting Pop-Up Book

25 Oct

My preschoolers love pop-ups. Just like pretty much every other kid. I shared David Carter’s One Red Dot with them for a numbers/colors storytime and they LOVED hunting for the dot and shouting “I see it!” when they found it. I used the story as an opportunity for vocabulary building – the kids had to tell me WHERE on the page/structure they found it, and not just point and say “there” (which they are inclined to do).

Now David Carter has come up with another delightful pop-up that I think my kids will love: Lots of Bots! A Counting Pop-Up Book.  Robots and pop-ups. How could learning to count get any more fun?

 

And, to make things THAT MUCH MORE FUN, Random House is taking advantage of how tech savvy today’s generation is by giving us an app based on Lots of Bots, called Bot Garage! It works on iphone, ipad, and ipod touch, and of course I had to have it.  Give your bot arms, legs, a torso and head, and add a background and accessories. At $.99, it’s a steal!

 

Here’s a picture of a bot I created, whom I named “Trixie”:

Trixie

 

 

Ahoy, Mateys! In Honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day

19 Sep

I bring you…. Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s Bubble Bath Pirates. And now, I want some ice cre- er, TREASURE!

Sign up to Read for the Record! This year featuring a little llama in red pajamas

18 Sep

Pledge to read to kids and support early childhood education!

Once again, Jumpstart is organizing a “Read for the Record” event, which asks adults to pledge to read to the children in their life on October 6, 2011. Whether you read to your own children or someone else’s (as I will do, reading to my preschool classes), we can together demonstrate that reading aloud to children is powerful and important! By pledging to read, you’re showing the world that you believe that early childhood education matters!

This year, we’re pledging to read Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama Red Pajama which is a storytime staple around here. In fact, I was already planning to use my bedtime stories theme in early October, which of COURSE little llama is a part of. Red Pajama is a delightful rhyming story which accurately reflects a child’s bedtime anxieties. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy getting to read the words “llama drama?”

Join me and take the pledge to read on Oct. 6!

This is a Thing: Trailer Tuesday! Ollie and Moon

6 Sep

A few weeks ago I posted the book trailer for Jarrett J. Krososzcka’s upcoming Ollie the Purple Elephant. Since then, I’ve been looking for more trailers of upcoming picture books, and decided I would start a new “thing” on this blog – Trailer Tuesday! Every Tuesday I’ll share a trailer for an upcoming picture book that I’m looking forward to checking out. Mr. Schu’s centered his whole blog around book trailers (although he’s an elementary school librarian and so doesn’t limit himself to picture books) and has enjoyed great success, so I thought this would be a fun thing to try.

Book trailers, like movie trailers, give you a taste of the story and characters. Sometimes they’re animated, sometimes not. Sometimes, as is the case for chapter books, the publisher has even created a little film with live actors in order to give a real flavor of the story. Many publishers have their own YouTube channels on which they can promote their books.

What a neat way to get readers excited about an upcoming book!

So, without further ado, I present my first (well, second, if you count Ollie) upcoming book trailer! It’s for Ollie and Moon (another Ollie? What the heck!) by Diane Kredensor. Not an upcoming book, technically, since it was published in April, but I personally haven’t gotten my hands on it yet so it’s upcoming for me! It looks perfectly delightful! I can’t wait to find out what the surprise is!

 

 

Story Stretcher: In Front of My House by Marianne Dubuc

21 Aug

Some books really lend themselves to discussion. They make storytimes REALLY conversational and fun. Marianne Dubuc’s In Front of My House might not make the best storytime story (the book is kinda small so wouldn’t work for big crowds) but reading it one-on-one could prompt some fun storytelling, or, if you’ve got a class of kindergarteners or 1st graders, lead to a great writing exercise.

The story begins with: “On a little hill, behind a brown fence, under a big oak tree, [and on the opposite page] is…” The next page follows with a noun: “my house.” Opposite that is another prepositional phrase: “In front of my house….” and we have to turn the page to see what’s in front. The book continues in this way, with noun on the left and prepositional phrase on the right, as the story gets more and more outrageous, and princesses, vampires, an orangutan, and outer space come in to play (not at all in a scary way).*

Can you see the possibilities? It would be great fun to create your own story using In Front of My House as a model. Kids could write and illustrate their own stories, or you could take turns creating the story out loud.  Mine would go something like this:

On a mountain, by a lake, there is….a cabin

In front of the cabin…a garden

In the garden….some flowers.

On the flowers….a bee.

Near the bee…a window.

In the window…a face.

On the face…a smile.

Hmmm…I’ll have to think about the rest of it.

 

*One picture is of a hunter with a gun. He’s not doing anything with it, or aiming it, just holding it. It’s not mentioned in the story. But some schools have rules about guns, so I thought I would give a heads’ up.

Books to look forward to: Ollie the Purple Elephant by Jarrett J. Krosoczka!

13 Aug

I adore Jarrett J. Krosozcka’s books – especially Punk Farm, which allows me to release my inner Ramone - so it’s a foregone conclusion that I would be excited for the release of Ollie the Purple Elephant. And after watching this video, where Jarrett describes how Ollie was imagined, and a bit of the story, I’m even more excited to read it!

Bonus: learn how to properly pronounce “Krosoczka.” I am pleased to hear that I’ve not been mangling it all these years.

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