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The Sleepy Little Alphabet: A Bedtime Story from Alphabet Town by Judy Sierra

24 Nov

When planning an early literacy storytime, letter knowledge is the hardest skill match up with books that work in a group setting.  Alphabet books often lack a cohesive plot, and are better for one-on-one sharing than as storytime fare.  Enter Judy Sierra’s The Sleepy Little Alphabet.  This darling book, with energetic mixed-media illustrations by Melissa Sweet, tells the story of the lower-case letters of the alphabet (the upper case ones are the parents) getting ready for bed.  Each letter’s activities are described in rhyming sentences that include the letter sound at least once (and sometimes more often): “f is full of fidgety wiggles.  G has got the googly giggles.” The text is printed in a bright color that contrasts the background (making it easier to see and reinforcing print awareness), and the letters themselves are printed in a larger size than the rest of the text.  Every child can relate to the nighttime activities happening in this book, and will have tons of fun learning about letters and their sounds.  I, personally, am just so excited to have an alphabet book to add to my bedtime stories theme!  Judy Sierra, the amazing author of such wonderful book treats as Wild About Books and Preschool to the Rescue, gives us another reason to snuggle together and read!

The Great Nursery Rhyme Disaster by David Conway

21 Aug

Miss Muffet is bored: bored of curds and whey, bored of the scary spider, bored of being in the same old nursery rhyme.  So what does she do?  She goes off to find another rhyme to try, of course!  She tries out “The Grand Old Duke of York”, but doesn’t like all the marching (and she completely messes up the rhythm of the rhyme).  Jumping into “Hey Diddle Diddle” is treacherous, as she greatly angers the dish when she tries to run away with the spoon herself.  She feels completely silly climbing up a clock in “Hickory Dickory Dock”.  Soon, the entire nursery rhyme world is in chaos.  Whatever will Miss Muffet do?  Melanie Williamson’s bright, silly, stylized illustrations create just the right chaotic tone. Reciting nursery rhymes is a great way to reinforce phonological skills (the ability to hear the little sounds that make up words, including rhyming sounds).  Little listeners can help the reader with the rhymes, and perhaps play at inserting Miss Muffet into other rhymes not in the story.  “Mary had a little Miss Muffet, its fleece was white as snow…?”  While the ending is a little abrupt and unsatisfying, this is, overall, a delightfully creative story.

Conway, David.  The Great Nursery Rhyme Disaster.  Wilton, CT: Tiger Tales, 2009.  ISBN: 9781589250802

Tiny and Hercules by Amy Schwartz

20 Aug

Tiny (an elephant) and Hercules (a mouse, natch) are the best of friends.  In this collection of 5 short stories, Tiny and Hercules try new things, conquer fears, and solve problems in creative ways.  Tiny is invited to an ice-skating party, but doesn’t know how to skate (and Hercules lives up to his name).  Hercules’ Uncle Roy is turning 103 and so the mouse decides to throw him a party, complete with a large cake with 103 candles.  The friends set up a lemonade and cookie stand, but Tiny is discouraged when a customer complains.  Reader and listener might want to talk about how to solve the problem before turning to the last page of the story to see what Tiny and Hercules have done.  The ending of four of the stories is told by illustration only, providing another chance at conversation: “what did they do?”  “How does this solve the problem?”  These are delightful stories of a cooperative friendship, and I have already added this to my list of friends-themed storytime books.  My one quibble? An art teacher who declares: “Art is GRAND.  Art is BIG.  Art is STUPENDOUS.”  Says who?  Art is subjective.

Schwartz, Amy.  Tiny and Hercules.  New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2009.  ISBN: 9781596432536

Mouse Was Mad by Linda Urban

7 Aug

Mouse is mad.  Hopping mad, in fact.  But, according to rabbit, his hopping is ridiculous.  Rabbit shows him how to hop properly, and when mouse tries again, he lands in a mud puddle.  This makes him even madder.  STOMPING mad, in fact.  But bear has an opinion about mouse’s stomping ability.  One by one, the animals criticize mouse’s actions, making him more and more mad, until mouse finds a way to be mad that no one can top.  Of course, the admiration he receives from the other animals cures his bad mood.  This delightful book would be fun to follow up by talking about feelings, and what we do when we feel mad (and when it’s okay to stomp or scream), or sad, or happy.  Children can feel frustrated if they don’t yet have the words to express how they feel, so giving them that vocabulary, especially in a safe, loving situation like a one-on-one reading session, can really help ease their frustration.

Urban, Linda.  Mouse Was Mad.  Illus. by Henry Cole.  New York, Harcourt Children’s Books, 2009.  ISBN: 9780152053376

Boo Hoo Bird by Jeremy Tankard

5 Aug

Bird and Raccoon are playing catch when, suddenly, “BONK!” A throw goes awry and Bird is hit in the head.  He wails in pain and unhappiness as, one after one, his friends try to find a way to make him feel better: a hug?  A cookie?  A band-aid?  Nothing works, causing Bird’s friends to burst into tears as well.   Surprisingly, that’s just what makes Bird realize he’s fine, really.  Reading this book aloud provides the reader with a great opportunity to really ham it up; pretending to moan and wail.  The kids will love it (trust me, they cracked up when I did it), and the more fun we have with books, the more motivated our kids are to become readers.

Tankard, Jeremy.  Boo Hoo Bird.  New York: Scholastic Press, 2009.  ISBN: 9780545065702

Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli

26 Jun

A little girl is pushed on a swing and on each page has one request: “Higher! Higher!”  She swings so high that she sees the rooftops of buildings, a climber on a mountain summit, and even a rocketship!  At the height of her swing she encounters a friendly alien, whom she greets with a “High Five!”.  This would be a great book to share one-on-one with a young child, building language skills by talking about what the girl can see on each page.  Print awareness might also be increased by pointing out and having the child “read” the word “Higher” as it appears on most pages. 

Patricelli, Leslie.  Higher!  Higher!  Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick, 2009.  ISBN: 9780763632410

Chicken Cheeks by Michael Ian Black

3 Jun

Really, how can you NOT enjoy a book devoted entirely to seeing how many words one can use to describe an animal’s rear end?  From “penguin patootie” to “kangaroo keister” this Chicken Cheeks has them all covered (or not, as the case may be).  What, you may ask, is the purpose behind labeling all of these behinds?  Because bear wants something at the top of the tree, so he has all of the animals pile on top of each other in an effort to reach his goal.  As far a the early literacy skills this book encourages, on is, of course, vocabulary.  Check out the author (a veteran comedian) reading the story aloud on the book’s Amazon page (link above).

Black, Michael Ian.  Chicken Cheeks. Illus. by Kevin Hawkes.  New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009.  ISBN: 978-1-4169-4864-3

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