Category: Book

Friendship Booklist (Part 2)

By Mariah Bruehl,

Friendship Booklist (Part 2)

Rebecca from Thirteen Red Shoes is with us today to share Part II of her book recommendations that cover the ever-important topic of friendship.

Previously I shared with you nine of my favorite friendship books (find them here). Today I am going to share more that are just perfect for helping littles develop the skills necessary to be a special friend.

1. Half a World Away | Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood This is one of the very first books I bought for Little R when he was first born. A close girlfriend had also given birth to a little boy called Louis and I thought this would be perfect.  That was almost six years ago and I didn’t realize that it would be on our favorites list. This book teaches children that even when friends move away from each other, the beautiful bond they share is not necessarily broken.

2. Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley | Aaron Blabey Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley are the best of friends, but they are different in almost every way.  How can you be such good friends with someone that is so very different? A delightful tale by Aaron Blabey about friendship and self belief.  See a lovely handwritten interview with Aaron here.

3. Henry and Amy | Stephen Michael King Henry and Amy are so very different.  He is messy and always seems to be doing the opposite of everyone else.  Henry bumps into Amy one morning and thinks she is simply perfect.  She can write her own name, knows left from right and can tie her own shoe laces. Meanwhile, Amy wishes everything she did wasn’t so perfect and wishes that she was creative and exciting, like Henry.  These two are a perfect match for each other.

4. A Bear and a Tree | Stephen Michael King This is the perfect story to share in Autumn (although that has now long passed, in the Northern hemisphere at least).  It is a story about the passage of time, the change in seasons and in friendship. What more could you ask for in a picture book?  This book is thought provoking and open to so many different challenges based on questions.  A fantastic book to use as a morning provocation. Unfortunately, it is not available in the US at this time.

5. The Little Prince | Antoine de Saint-Exupery A timeless classic, and the perfect friendship book to read as an early chapter book.  I have not shared this with my eldest son yet (aged 5), however it is on the list.  There are many beautiful versions available, including a pop up book that I would love to own.

6. A Ilha / The Island. The Island, tells the story of people on an island working together to create a bridge.  It is all about friendship and striving to achieve a common goal.  Simply a delightful book and I hope that an International publishing house picks up the rights and releases the story in English. The team from Planeta Tangerina actually constructed a bridge at a book fair in Lisbon.  How amazing is this creation? The perfect provocation for developing friendships and community!

7. Stellaluna | Janell Cannon A delightful tale of a little bat who becomes friends with three baby birds.  “How can we be so alike and yet so different and how can we feel so alike and yet be so different?” This story is read aloud here on Storyline by Pamela Reed, a member of the screen actor’s guild.

Friendship Booklist (Part 2)

And lastly, a few websites to visit about friendship:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Recommended Read: The Missing Alphabet: A Parents’ Guide to Developing Creative Thinking in Kids

By Mariah Bruehl,

Recommended Read: The Missing Alphabet
Rebecca from Thirteen Red Shoes is with us today with an inspiring book review…

I am a teacher and a parent, so what I gather from reading new articles, publications, and books can help me both at home and at work. The latest book to cross my path is the newly released title, The Missing Alphabet A Parents’ Guide to Developing Creative Thinking in Kids, by S. Marcus, S. Monday and C. Herbert.

All that this book entails is fascinating. I adore the process of viewing one’s image of the child and seeing them as a complete being with endless knowledge and ideas.

The Missing Alphabet focuses on a sensory alphabet by looking at nine central elements:

  • color
  • sound
  • light
  • space
  • movement
  • rhythm
  • line
  • shape
  • texture

The sensory alphabet relates closely to my strong love of the Reggio Emilia philosophy, which allows children to be the center and key instigator of their learning.

Our task, regarding creativity, is to help children climb their own mountains, as high as possible. No one can do more

-Loris Malaguzzi, founder of Reggio Emilia.

I hope over the coming year to incorporate these sensory concepts more explicitly into my daily provocations at home, possibly one element a month. Being able to communicate, understand and symbolize ideas is an amazing gift to receive. Creativity is such an important skill to have in life. By offering our littles endless play and provocations in these key elements, surely we are aiding them in the long run. The book focuses on creative thinking as something we have to learn by doing, through practice and focus (p.14) stepping away from the traditional alphabet and numbers as we prepare our littles, referred to by the authors as “digital kids” (p.32), for their future.

Recommended Read: The Missing Alphabet
Color was the initial component of the sensory alphabet that resonated with me and is one of the “most visible and notable elements” (p106). I decided that this would be my starting point. Through using an overhead projector and colored transparent counters, my littles, aged five and two, were able to engage with and explore this world of emotions and intensity. This first time was all about free exploration. As I present this provocation to them again in the coming days, I will offer something new and thought provoking, be it through questioning and discussions about colors, picture books shared during the play (such as Frederick by Leo Leoni), a digital camera to capture their creativity themselves, or overhead transparencies and colored markers to explore.
Recommended Read: The Missing Alphabet

This is just one example of an activity inspired by this book, the possibilities are endless! Which element from the sensory alphabet stands out to you?


Twelve Picture Books about Love

By Mariah Bruehl,

12 Picture Books about Love...

Rebecca from ThirteenRedShoes is with is with another one of her wonderful lists! Today she is sharing her favorite, love themed, children’s books.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, it is always lovely to share books which inspire kind, loving, honest and good thoughts. The following titles all tell the story of love in their own unique way. Be it between a Father and his children, a Grandparent and Grandaughter or between a stick man and his stick family!  I adore a story abut love and these are some of our family favorites from our home library:

1. The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers – The Heart and the Bottle is a story about loss and love by the wonderful Oliver Jeffers, whom I had the pleasure of meeting last year with my Little R. This book brings a tear to my eye, each and every time I read it. We have the version with the audio CD included. The amazing voice of Helena Bonham Carter reads the story with such eloquence and emotion that it is certainly not only for the littles. There is also an iPad app , which I would love to download for the boys this Valentine’s Day. You can find more information about the app here.

2. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney – In Australia, this story is a classic and every child receives at least one copy when they are born, or even earlier! The story is about Little Nut Brown hare and his Father Big Nut Brown hare and a game they play to see who loves who the most. A delightful tale that shows how difficult it is to measure love. We have three or four copies alone, including an audio version. I love audio books!

3. I Love series by Anna Walker – Anna Walker has created a lovely little series, each title based around different family members. There’s  Mum, Dad, Grandmother, Grandson, and the list goes on. Her illustrations are beautiful and suit the simple text perfectly. See Anna’s blog for some lovely inspiration.

4. & 5. My Dad  and My Mom, both by Anthony Browne – These titles both have a lovely flow and have been read so often that both my  husband and I know them by heart. Anthony’s illustration style is so very original and is adored by children around the world.

6. The Shape Of My Heart by Mark Sperring and Alyson Paterson – This title is new on the market, only released this month. The illustrations are bright, bold and ever so adorable. The world is full of lots of different shapes, but the most important shape of all is the shape of your heart. We love is book!

7. Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler – Stick Man lives in the family tree with his Stick Lady love and his stick children three and suddenly he is not there any more! This is a story of adventure, as we follow Stick Man on his journey home to his greates love: his family.

8. The Potato People by Pamela Allen – This is a beautiful story about a Grandmother and her Grandson. They love spending time together. When they are separated, Grandma misses her Grandson so very much and longs to be reunited.

9. When I Was Born by Isabel Minhos Martins and Madalena Matoso – This is a story about all the things that you are exposed to as you grow up by those who love you. When I Was Born was originally published in Portugal, but now has been released in numerous languages.

10. When You Were Small by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad – Little F, aged two, adores this book! At the moment it is part of his nightly bed time story request. It is the story of a Dad sitting down each night and sharing stories with his son of when he was small.

11. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox Helen Oxenbury – In my eyes, Mem Fox can do no wrong. Her books are precious and so beautiful to read. This book is the perfect gift for a new baby.

12. Ivy Loves To Give by Freya Blackwood – Freya Blackwood is an amazing children’s illustrator and now, also a children’s author. This book is all about the love of giving and receiving. The main character, Ivy, loves to give, but sometimes her intentions, which are well meaning, can be a little bit muddled.

Please feel free to share your favorite story of love below. Did I miss one of your favorites?

Author Spotlight: Peter H. Reynolds

By Mariah Bruehl,

Peter H. ReynoldsIt is not very often that picture books make it into my “all-time favorite” category. Throughout my career in education and as a parent I have read many varieties and have a lot of “good” ones that I recommend… but “all-time favorites” only come along once in a blue moon. Ish, written by Peter H. Reynolds has recently been inducted into my picture book hall of fame. The most exciting part of falling in love with the book Ish, is that there are plenty of other inspiring books where that came from. Peter H. Reynolds has written The Dot, The North Star and many others – he also recently collaborated with Marlo Thomas and Carole Hart to redesign and illustrate the 35th Anniversary Edition of Free to Be You and Me.

Peter H. Reynolds is an author and illustrator with the mission of inspiring children to believe in themselves. Ish is a story about a boy who becomes easily discouraged by his artistic abilities and crumples up his work if it is not perfect (exactly what my daughter used to do). Yet as the story progresses he becomes liberated when he realizes that rather than having to draw an exact replica of the vase, it can look vase-ish. The term “Ish” is now a standard part of our family vocabulary as we celebrate the “Ishness” of our endeavors – and the crumpled papers have vanished!

The North Star is another book that promotes positive family dialogue. The main character is happily following life’s path when along comes some confusing signs and characters that cause the character to stray and get lost. The story is about staying true to your own personal North Star and encourages the reader to listen within in order to know the right course to take in life. Again, this book has given our family a common language and context that we use to discuss similar issues that surface in our own lives.

I recently discovered that Peter H. Reynolds has founded the media company FableVision, which is “dedicated to helping all learners discover their true potential.” FableVision has created some truly amazing software programs (see below for links to free demos). My favorite right now is Stationery Studio, which has brought new life to our writing area. Children can use it as an introduction to word processing software or parents/teachers can print out a wide variety of writing papers and customize everything from the fun borders to the style and width of the lines. It is definitely worth a visit over to the FableVision Website – there are plenty of inspiring things for both children and adults to explore.

Sparking the Creative Spirit by Peter H. Reynolds
Fable Library
The North Star – Read the Story Online
Clip Art by Peter H. Reynolds – Here & Here
The Stellar Cafe Blog
Stationery Studio – Free Demo
Animation-ish – Free Demo
SmartMoves – Free Demo

Dear Tooth Fairy

By Mariah Bruehl,

My five year old just lost her second tooth! She lost one right after the other, so the topic of the Tooth Fairy has been big around our house.

Last weekend, at the local bookstore I found the book, Dear Tooth Fairy, by Alan Durant. It is a fun book that is similar in format to The Jolly Postman, by Janet & Allan Ahlberg. Dear Tooth Fairy is the dialogue between a young girl who has lost her first tooth and the Tooth Fairy. There are real letters that can be taken out of the envelopes and held by the readers.

I was only halfway through reading the book when my oldest stood up and went straight to her “office” to write the Tooth Fairy a letter. Of course her sister was right behind her! They each took a piece of the letter paper I have out for them and started to write! You can see what they created above & below…
Also…I can’t write about the Tooth Fairy without mentioning these adorable tooth pillows I found on Etsy…

We would love to hear about Tooth Fairy traditions you share with your family!