Saturday, July 16, 2011

So Long, Farewell

I am officially ending The Almost Librarian - somehow I didn't think ahead to what would be after completing that library degree and getting a librarian position. So the journey continues here, at Cozy Up and Read. I hope you'll join me in sharing more great children's books and early literacy ideas. And so long to The Almost Librarian.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Literacy Lava 6

The latest issue of Literacy Lava is available! Check out this free downloadable newsletter featuring articles about literacy for parents, teachers, and caregivers. In each issue you will find tips and ideas that you can start sharing with your children today.

To access Literacy Lava, please follow this link to The Book Chook's site. Share and enjoy!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Go Ahead - Add One More!

Sharing stories that contain repetitive phrases and concepts help develop early literacy skills. Because the phrases are used again and again, young children are able to start participating in the telling of the story because some lines are repeated multiple times in one telling. Also, this helps children develop a sense of sequence - what comes first? what comes next? Below are a number of books that use the repetition theme through 'adding one more'. Each lively and active title adds a new character one at a time while repeating the presence of the previous characters. Because these books are so much fun and filled with rhythm, rhymes and alliteration, they are often a reader's choice among the preschool set. Also, see these books from previous posts: Farmer Dale's Red Pickup Truck and Mr. Gumpy's Outing. Check your library for these great reads!

The Mitten by Jim Aylesworth
This traditional folk tale retold here by Jim Aylesworth is the story of a young boy who loses a white mitten in the snow - a mitten that his grandmother knit. One at a time, a series of forest animals burrow their way inside for warmth. It's a tiny, little mouse that finally stretches those stitches too far. (Ages 2-7)
(Full bibliographic info: Aylesworth, Jim. The Mitten. Helwig Industries, 2008.)

Move Over Rover by Karen Beaumont
Rover is lonesome in his doghouse until the heavens open and a storm pours down. Now all the local animals are taking up residence making for a very overcrowded house. (Ages 2-5)
(Full bibliographic info: Beaumont, Karen. Move Over Rover. Harcourt Trade Publishers, 2006.)

One-Dog Canoe by Mary Casanova
A perfect book to share during the summer, this young girl and her best canine companion set out for a canoe trip (life jackets in place), but their calm trip is interrupted by a series of animals who hop on board. (Ages 2-6)
(Full bibliographic info: Casanova, Mary. One-Dog Canoe. Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2003.)

The Squeaky Door by Margaret Read MacDonald
The little boy is sleeping at Grandma's house tucked snugly into an enormous bed, but it's the squeaky door that causes the severe concern. Add one family animal at a time into bed to help comfort little boy and you add up to a smile-inducing and endearing story. Not to be missed. (Ages 4-7)
(Full bibliographic info: MacDonald, Margaret Read. The Squeaky Door. Harper Collins, 2006.)

My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann
This Caldecott Award winning tale is of Mouse, Mouse's new toy airplane and Mouse's friend Rabbit. Rabbit gets Mouse's plane stuck and sets about solving the problem in a humorous way. Get ready for some giggles. (Ages 3-6)
(Full bibliographic info: Rohmann, Eric. My Friend Rabbit. Roaring Brook Press, 2002.)

The Napping House by Audrey Wood
There is a house, a napping house where everyone is sleeping. They pile, one at a time, on the cozy bed until one little flea sets the whole crew into a flurry. The illustrations draw the reader in - set initially during a blue-gray rainstorm, the story finishes on a bright and glorious afternoon. (Ages 2-7)
(Full bibliographic info: Wood, Audrey. The Napping House. Harcourt, 1984.)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Color Wonder

Like alphabet books, there is no shortage of books about the colors of the rainbow. And with good reason - this is a very popular toddler and preschool topic. The trick is to find color themed books that are good outside of the basic concept they are trying to teach - books that are fun and entertaining while they are also showing off red, blue and yellow. These are some favorites to track down at your library. Plus don't forget to check out these previous posts: Freight Train by Donald Crews, Planting a Rainbow, Color Farm, and Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert, and In Living Color by Steve Jenkins.

Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd
Dog has quite an exciting day collecting many more colors than just his one black spot as he romps out and about. This is a double hit - it's a counting book as well. If you like Dog, check out his ABC and Noisy Day books as well. (Ages 2-6)
(Full bibliographic info: Dodd, Emma. Dog's Colorful Day. Dutton Children's Books, 2001.)

Lunch by Denise Fleming
Mouse is hungry and is using his sniffer to seek out some colorful things for lunch. Each page gives a visual clue to the fruit or vegetable such as yellow corn, blue berries, and orange carrots. Bright illustrations and short, simple text make this a good choice for the youngest readers. (Ages 1-5)
(Full bibliographic info: Fleming, Denise. Lunch. Henry Holt, 1992.)

Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood
Little owl makes the decision to find out what he might be missing all day when he is normally asleep. And what he is missing is a beautiful array of colors which are shared with us through gorgeous illustrations. This is one not to miss. (Ages 2-6)
(Full bibliographic info: Hopgood, Tim. Wow! Said the Owl. Farrar, Straus and Grioux, 2009.)

A Day with No Crayons by Elizabeth Rusch
While not a concept book to introduce the rainbow colors, A Day with No Crayons, instead, introduces the idea that color can be found and used within our everyday world. Liza is a girl who loves her crayons and in fact her whole world is organized by the colors of crayons. One day she runs out of paper and logically continues her work on her walls. Her mom removes her crayons and Liza's world goes literally grey until her imagination breaks free and she discovers sparks of color all around her. (Ages 5-8)
(Full bibliographic info: Rusch, Elizabeth. A Day with No Crayons. Rising Moon Books for Young Readers, 2007.)

Blue Goose by Nancy Tafuri
One day while Farmer Gray is away, the fowl of the farm decide to give it a splash of color. The sky, barn, grass, doors and even the sun are painted. This simple, but imaginatively fun book also introduces the concepts of mixing the primary colors to get some of those secondary shades. (Ages 2-6)
(Full bibliographic info: Tafuri, Nancy. Blue Goose. Simon and Schuster, 2008.)

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Three white mischievous mice are hidden safely from the cat while they are planted on a sheet of plain white paper. But the fun begins while cat is asleep and the mice discover three jars of paint - red, blue and yellow. They douse themselves in the primary colors and then delight in dancing in spilled puddles to make new colors. This color concept book never grows old. (Ages 2-6)
(Full bibliographic info: Walsh, Ellen Stoll. Mouse Paint. Voyager, 1995.)

The Deep Blue Sea by Audrey Wood
Similarly constructed in the pattern of This is the House that Jack Built, The Deep Blue Sea builds a rhythm of vibrant colors - and all atop that red island in the middle of the deep blue sea. Readers will be drawn in to the cadence to read along. (Ages 2-6)
(Full bibliographic info: Wood, Audrey. The Deep Blue Sea. Blue Sky Press, 2005.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Now I Know My ABC's

There is no shortage of alphabet themed picture books available in the market. You think of a theme; there's bound to be an ABC book. Many of them are delightful, creative and clever books that deliver both a joyful experience and the educational experience. A problem exists, however, in that sometimes the alphabet format can end forced and contrived - how many things really start with the letters Q and X? So just be cautious and just because it's an ABC book, you still need to evaluate it. You'll find below a few alphabet books out of the many great ones - enjoy and check them out from your local library!

The ABC Mystery by Doug Cushman
Follow a detective and his assistant through the alphabet as they chase an art thief. Clever rhyming text pairs with lively illustrations in this multipurpose title - alphabet book and mystery. (Ages 3-7)
(Full bibliographic info: Cushman, Doug. The ABC Mystery. Harper Collins, 1993.)

ABC NYC: A Book about Seeing New York City by Joanne Dugan
Photographer Joanne Dugan treats readers to a tour of New York City through her lens and through the alphabet. Some unusual choices for the letters make this an interesting alphabet choice. (Ages 4-7)
(Full bibliographic info: Dugan, Joanne. ABC NYC: A Book about Seeing New York. Henry N. Abrams, 2005.)

Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming
For all the arts and craft, tool and construction enthusiasts out there, Alphabet Under Construction takes us through the ABC's and through Denise Fleming's characteristic and bright illustrations. (Ages 3-7)
(Full bibliographic info: Fleming, Denise. Alphabet Under Construction. Holt, 2006.)

The Racecar Alphabet by Brian Floca
Racers, start your engines! Featuring detailed and beautiful watercolor illustrations, Floca leads the reader through the alphabet and through the history of the automobile. (Ages 3-7)
Full bibliographic info: Floca, Brian. The Racecar Alphabet. Atheneum, 2003.)

Alphabet: A Child's First ABC by Alison Jay
Featuring visually appealing old-fashioned illustrations, this alphabet book can also be an interactive I-spy. Each page features a main item and smaller objectives that start with the specific letter as well as an item that starts with the following letter. (Ages 2-6)
(Full bibliographic info: Jay, Alison. Alphabet: A Child's First ABC. Dutton, 2003.)

On Market Street by Arnold Lobel
This husband-wife team have created excellence for the children's literature field and this Caldecott Honor alphabet book is a delightful treat. (Ages 3-7)
(Full bibliographic info: Lobal, Arnold. On Market Street. Greenwillow, 1981.)

Superhero ABC by Bob McLeod
With alliteration throughout, dazzling and bright illustrations accompany a different superhero type character for each letter of the alphabet. This is one ABC book not to miss. (Ages 3-7)
(Full bibliographic info: McLeod, Bob. Superhero ABC. Harper Collins, 2008.)

Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet by David McLimans
Featuring endangered animals for every letter of the alphabet, the art work in this ABC earned the Caldecott Honor. (Ages 5-8)
(Full bibliographic info: McLimans, David. Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet. Walker and Co., 2006.)

Creature ABC by Andrew Zuckerman
The power behind this recently published alphabet book is Zuckerman's gorgeous photography. Mostly, each letter features an animal such as elephant for E, but occasionally other words fill in like quills for Q. (Ages 3-7)
(Full bibliographic info: Zuckerman, Andrew. Creature ABC. Chronicle Books, 2009.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Truckin' on Down the Road

Almost anything with wheels is a popular choice for preschoolers, but trucks in particular are favorites. And what happens often is that little ones find a favorite theme (like trucks or trains or butterflies) and then they want many, many books about the same topic. Sometimes it's easy to keep fulfilling their requests, but other times it's a real challenge! Below you'll find some great books featuring trucks and here are some links to previous posts as well: My Truck Is Stuck, Stuck Truck, I Stink, and Duck in the Truck. Don't forget to check out your local libraries for these titles.

Trucks by Byron Barton
This very simple board book is one in Barton's series. The illustrations are bold and feature different trucks in action. The text is simple making this a great choice for the youngest truck enthusiasts. (Ages 1-3)
(Full bibliographic info: Barton, Byron. Trucks. Harper Collins, 1986.)

This Truck by Paul Collicutt
Like the other titles by Collicutt, This Truck features simple text with realistic illustrations of actual trucks and it's not all the usual suspects - fork lift, excavator, fire engine, dump truck. (Ages 2-5)
(Full bibliographic info: Collicutt, Paul. This Truck. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2004.)

Truck by Donald Crews
This 1981 Caldecott Honor book is a wordless journey of a delivery truck loading, traveling, and unloading its cargo. The illustrations are packed with signs, vehicles, building, and action - plenty to describe and talk about. (Ages 2-5)
(Full bibliographic info: Crews, Donald. Truck. Greenwillow, 1980.)

Five Trucks by Brian Floca
Five Trucks takes us on a trip to the airport and features all the trucks that work on the tarmac. Lots of transportation fun for young readers. (Ages 2-6)
(Full bibliographic info: Floca, Brian. Five Trucks. DK, 1999.)

Red Truck by Kersten Hamilton
On a rainy day some time between winter and spring, a school bus becomes stranded in the muck and the mud. Who is on the way to save the day? Red Truck! (Ages 1-5)
(Full bibliographic info: Hamilton, Kersten. Red Truck. Viking, 2008.)

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
Unassuming, old fashioned Little Blue Truck has a spark of tried and true friendship and good will. Filled with farm animals and friendly illustrations, this is a story not to miss. If you like this book, check out the second in the series, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way. (Ages 2-6)
(Full bibliographic info: Schertle, Alice. Little Blue Truck. Harcourt, 2008.)

Farmer Dale's Red Pickup Truck by Lisa Wheeler
Is there room for one more? Farmer Dale always thinks so. As the animals squeeze in, the poor pickup truck finally breaks down and it takes a helping hand from everyone to get her running again. (Ages 2-6)
(Full bibliographic info: Wheeler, Lisa. Farmer Dale's Red Pickup Truck. Harcourt, 2004.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Simple Story Extensions for Preschoolers

Preschool aged children are learning all the time from their experiences at home, at school and out in the world. As they are trying to make sense of their world, preschool children are sorting new information in several different ways. One way is when they experience something new and they mesh this information into existing knowledge to form a deeper understanding. Another way that young children process new information is that they change their existing knowledge to accommodate the new knowledge thereby creating a new understanding. The more connections that young children make about their world, the deeper and more meaningful their understanding.

So what does this mean in regards to reading stories? When children spend time listening to stories, they are taking in all the new knowledge and they are making connections and changes to what they already know. And this all by itself is wonderful, but what if you, as a caregiver, could provide experiences to make this meaning and knowledge even deeper for the children by offering simple story extensions to build on the children’s understanding of the new information?

And what, you might be wondering, is a story extension? A story extension occurs when you’ve shared a story or book together and then afterwards you naturally infuse related activities into your day-to-day routine. These activities might include songs, fingerplays, poems, additional related books, crafts, storytelling, authoring books, reader’s theater, cooking, pretend play – the sky is the limit!

While it might appear overwhelming, creating story extensions is actually an easy task to accomplish. You need a little creativity, a little time, and a few supplies. Here are some tips to get you started and some sample ideas – remember that you can’t go wrong in being creative. Also, these are opportunities to have fun as well as spend quality time with your children!

Tips for Story Extensions
1. If you’ve never planned a story extension before, start simple and pick just one extending activity.

2. Choose favorite books to extend that way you’ll probably have your child’s attention automatically if you’re referencing a book that is already loved.

3. Integrate the story extensions into your everyday moments such as breakfast time, bath time, craft time, etc. You don’t need to carve out specific “story extension time”. In fact, it’s more meaningful and authentic if you mesh into your regular activities.

4. The sky truly is the limit – you can get as creative as you want and it never hurts to try a new idea. If it doesn’t work, then you can stop and try something different later.

5. Talk about the story and the book – help explicitly draw the connection between the extending activity and the story that was shared earlier.

Story Extension Samples

1. Cooking: After you read a gingerbread story like Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett, plan on baking gingerbread cookies with your little ones on the same day. While you’re in the kitchen working through the recipe together you can talk about the story. You can make some wondering statements such as “I wonder what would happen if our cookies jumped up off of our cookie sheet. I wonder where they would go!”. As simple as that, you have made a story extension and created an opportunity for deeper meaning.

More stories that lend themselves well to cooking extensions: Who Ate All the Cookie Dough? by Karen Beaumont, If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff, and The Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson.

2. Songs: If you’ve read a book about a car such as My Car by Byron Barton, then you might want to follow up by singing some songs about driving cars like Drive My Car by Laurie Berkner or Drivin’ in My Car by Ralph’s World.

See my previous blog post about matching songs to books for more ideas!

3. More Songs: Of course, you don’t have to have songs on CD to extend a story with song. You can use readily known songs such as “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes” after reading From Head to Toe by Eric Carle.

Some more books and songs: And the Train Goes by William Bee with I've Been Working on the Railroad, Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming with Old MacDonald had a Farm, and School Bus by Donald Crews with The Wheels on the Bus.

4. Even More Songs: You can also always make up your own song. Take a familiar tune such as Old MacDonald Had a Farm and you can change it to anything you need. For example, “Our Friend, Molly, Had a Snow Day” might be a song you sing after reading The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. The verses of the song would be anything to do with a snow filled day.

5. Storytelling: You can retell the story in your own way using props from around the house. For example, in Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins, a farmer is growing alarmed because apples are being eaten from his tree by the animals. To retell this story, cut out ten red paper circles for the apples and gather up a group of animal toys. Sit down with your child and start retelling the rhythmic story, acting it out with the toy animals. Have your child move the animals to eat the “apples” from the tree. A terrific and simple story extension.

Some more stories that lend themselves to storytelling: Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell, The Napping House by Audrey Wood, and I Went Walking by Sue Williams.

6. Arts and Crafts: Creating art is a natural way to extend a story. For example, you could read a butterfly book such as Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert. Then you could make caterpillars out of egg cartons and butterflies with construction paper and glitter glue all the while talking about the life cycle of the butterfly.

More stories that lend themselves to arts and crafts: Blue Goose by Nancy Tafuri, Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd, and Not a Box by Antionette Portis.

7. Pretend Play: The story Below by Nina Crews shows a boy who loses a toy beneath a staircase and brave effort he enacts to save it. You could act out this story and create your own accidents and rescues with your own toys. Pretend play offers an infinite number of ways to extend stories.

More stories that lend themselves well to pretend play: We're Going on a Lion Hunt by Margery Cuyler, Machines at Work by Byron Barton, and Red Truck by Kersten Hamliton.

Extending a story provides children with the opportunity to expand their understanding and to construct deeper meaning about their world. Getting started in story extensions is quite simple if you take it one story and one extension at a time. Have fun and get creative – you never know where a story can take you!