Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Only One You

"Only One You" by Linda Kranz

Papa and Mama fish decide it is time to impart wisdom upon their young fish named Adri. They tell him about finding friends and beauty, how to navigate around wrong decisions, and how to be an individual.

"Blend in when you need to. Stand out when you have the chance."

The author and her husband painted 308 unique rocks for the illustrations in this book. You can Google this book title along with "activities", and you will find that there are many worksheets and projects used in schools available for free. One obvious activity your child or student could do is paint his/her own rock. 

I like to categorize books in my head because well, I just love so many of them. I categorize this book as a great birthday idea book, "All About Me" themed book, and basic emotional health book.

"There's only one you in this great big world," she said, "make it a better place."

Monday, May 26, 2014

While the World is Sleeping

Soar with a young boy on the back of a large owl While the World is Sleeping by Pamela Duncan Edwards is a fun-to-read bedtime story.

"A sleek raccoon with bandit eyes, takes his nightly exercise. In garbage cans he'll find his prize, while the world is sleeping."

This boldly illustrated picture book full of rhyme and descriptive language paints a vivid world of wildlife during the night. Although it touches on some of the dangers that exist for animals and their prey, it also describes some of the ways in which animals protect themselves.

"In the woods, a porcupine, rattles quills to send a sign, don't come near, this food is mine! While the world is sleeping."

In addition to the enriching language, children will learn about wildlife at night, how animals protect themselves, and how to see the world around them from a different perspective.

Monday, May 19, 2014


"Marshmallow" by Clare Turlay Newberry won the Caldecott Honor in 1943.

Miss Tilly lived in an apartment with Oliver, a gray cat. Oliver lived a great life, indoors, and liked the way things were...until Miss Tilly brought home a baby bunny! This bunny was named Marshmallow.

At first neither Oliver nor Marshmallow were found of each other. Oliver was afraid of Marshmallow and Marshmallow just wanted to go back to his own mommy. As the days passed by, Miss Tilly separated Oliver and Marshmallow and concluded they could never get along afraid that Oliver might hurt Marshmallow. Little by litte, Marshmallow became more comfortable in his new home.

Read this adorable picture book to find out how Oliver and Marshmallow discovered friendship with one another. It is truly a heartwarming tale with a great example of how sometimes we misjudge those who are different from us only to realized we can get along.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Psalms for Children Series

I found this old series from the '80's based on the Psalms by Elspeth Campbell Murphy that I love. It's called The David and I Talk to God Series. I first found them through my library network, and then I ordered some on Amazon.

"Sometimes I'm Good, Sometimes I'm Bad: Psalm 1 for Children"

Although I prefer to specify that kids are not "good or bad" but have good or bad behavior, I still like the message of the book. 

"When I do bad things, I feel a bit like chaff in the wind. Do you know what chaff is, God? It's that stuff that covers a grain of wheat. When the wheat is picked, the chaff just blows away. When I'm bad, I feel like chaff twirling this way and that in the wind with nothing to hold on to. And that's kind of scary...when I do good things, it's like I hang on tight to you, the way a tree hangs on tight to the ground. The roots go deep, deep into the earth, and the tree grows high, high into the sky."

"Sometimes I Get Lonely: Psalm 42 for Children"

This story is told in the form of a prayer to God by a young girl who tells God about the times she feels lonely like when there are only grown ups around or when she fights with her friend.

"You're a special kind of friend. And even though I can't see you, I know you are with me on the playground and at my house, and in my classroom, and everywhere I go. Sometimes I think you are calling to me. But not like my friend who calls from across the street. It's not that I hear your voice with my ears. I hear you inside my head."

"Sometimes I Need to Be Hugged: Psalm 84 for Children"

This story is told in the form of a prayer to God by a young boy whose conversational style encourages children to talk to God as if he were like any other person to talk to. This young child came home after a tough day and was comforted by his mom at the end of the day.

"And I was sure the teacher would pick me for 'Helper of the Day.' But she didn't. And I didn't think I would spill a whole jar of point. But I did...I told mom all about it when I got home. She put her arms around me and said, 'Cheer up honey. Tomorrow's another day.' Suddenly I didn't feel so tired anymore, and I knew everything was going to be all right. And that's the way I feel when I remember how much you love me."

If you're looking for picture books for children about prayer or Christian living vs. the traditional Bible stories, I recommend this series. Children and adults can gain wisdom and understanding from the simple messages.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Legend of the Teddy Bear

"The Legend of the Teddy Bear" by Frank Murphy

President Theodore Roosevelt was nicknamed Teddy and was known to love nature and animals. He was a hunter and often camped in the wilderness. One time when he went bear hunting in Mississippi with some other men, the men successfully captured a young bear for Teddy Roosevelt to kill. When he arrived on the scene, he called for the men to let the bear go free! He couldn't harm this innocent bear even though he originally intended to hunt bears.

Word spread about the President and a newspaper cartoonist drew a cartoon about it. The story continued to spread all across the country. Rose and Morris Michtom of New York read about it. They ran a candy shop and decided to create a stuffed toy bear in honor of the President's deed for children to love and cuddle. They decided to call the bear Teddy's Bear with the President's permission.

And don't let the cover of this book fool you into thinking this story is only for girls! Remember, the teddy bear was named after and invented because of a boy (a man in fact)!

Activity: After reading this picture book with your child, go to a Build-a-Bear store and create your own teddy bears! Click on the link above to find the nearest store.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Just Like Mama

Just Like Mama by Leslea Newman

Not everyone has a Mama like the one depicted in this story, but I like to think that most of us have at least one person in our lives who cared for us when we were young who we can remember something he or she did for us that made us feel special, even if it was just a little bit. 

I remember the way my grandma smelled and how it felt to squeeze beside her in her arm chair and watch television. And I remember how she said the word television with a little bit of a lisp. I remember how she made me feel like I was the only one in the world when we played card games together and how she thought it was adorable when I asked for "holes with cheese" when I wanted a slice of Swiss cheese. She was the best woman in my world.

This cute picture book describes several things a little girl appreciates about her Mama like making apple pancakes in the shape of a moon, snuggling in a cozy, comfy chair, or playing dress-up.

"With a whirl and a twirl across the fuzzy purple rug, she swoops down on my bed and scoops me up into a hug. Nobody wakes me up just like Mama."

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

No Matter What

"No Matter What" by Debi Gliori, 1999

This is a story about a young fox and his mommy. Small was the name of the young child fox, and he was very unhappy. When Small's Mommy, named Large, asked him what was wrong he said,

"'I'm grim and grumpy,' said little Small, 'and I don't think you love me at all.' 'Oh, Small,' said Large, 'grumpy or not, I'll always love you, no matter what.'"

Then Small goes on to ask all of these different scenarios to test and see if Large would still love him, and she said, "I'd always love you, no matter what."

Even with that Small still wondered if there were any conditions in which he was loved less. Large has some final words of wisdom for Small just before bed.

"Look up at the stars. They're far, far away. But their light reaches us at the end of each day. It's like that with love--we may be close, we may be far, but our love still surrounds us...wherever we are."

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Seasons: Alphabet Acrostic Series

Steven Schnur has a four book series on each of the seasons using thematic acrostics beginning with each letter of the alphabet.

"Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic" uses words like acorn, barn, corn, pumpkin and ripe.

The acrostic for ripe is:
    "Red apples in bushel baskets
     In the cellar, soon to become
    Pies or applesauce or shined and       Eaten on the way to school."

"Spring: An Alphabet Acrostic" uses words like eggs, grass, kites, nest, seeds and young.

The acrostic for young is

              "Yellow goslings turning brown,
                          One lamb joins the flock,
                          Up in the oak
                          Nests emptying, all the newborns

"Winter: An Alphabet Acrostic" uses words like cold, igloo, quilt, and thaw.

The acrostic for thaw is
          "The sun rises
           Higher each day,
          And as the ice begins to melt,
          Water runs from the roof."

"Summer: An Alphabet Acrostic" uses words like beach, flags, mosquito's, picnic and lighthouse.

The acrostic for lighthouse is
                              "Large ships head
                               Into port,
                               Guided safely
                               Home by tall
                               Towers perched
                               On cliffs, their
                               Unceasing beacons
                               Sweeping the coast
                               Each night.

I recommend all of these books for elementary age students. The acrostics and descriptive language will help foster creative writing as well as a greater appreciation for reading beautiful language.