The Read-Aloud Handbook

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Of all the parenting books in the library I'd argue that The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease is really the only parenting book you need. In fact I've written about it before. My copy was gifted to me at my baby shower and I've referenced it numerous times in the last couple years. A combination of research, personal anecdotes, and read-aloud suggestions (yes, actual book lists) make this book both informative and practical for any adult that reads to children.

If you don't have time to read the book in its entirety, follow along with #littlelitbookseries today on Instagram for key highlights and salient quotes.

"Reading is like riding a bicycle, driving a car, or sewing: In order to get better at it you must do it. And the more you read, the better you get at it. The past thirty years of reading research confirms this simple formula, regardless of gender, race, nationality, or socioeconomic background. Students who read the most also read the best, achieve the most, and stay in school the longest.”

A Conversation with Tee & Penguin

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

One of the best things about finding like-minded picture book lovers is gushing over some of our favorite stories and discovering new books together. Plus I LOVE having an arsenal of favorite picture books at the ready to give at baby showers or kids' birthday parties. I'm pretty certain that fostering reading with beautiful books is one of the best parts of parenthood! On that note, I'm delighted to be featured over at Tee & Penguin today.

What are 3 ways you foster reading in your home?

Like a lot of new parents I read a TON of board books to my daughter during those first several months. By the time she was ten-months-old I needed some variety, so I started reading picture books to her while she ate lunch. This made the dining experience much more enjoyable for both of us. Now my husband and I take turns reading to her during lunch and it’s one of my favorite parts of the day.

Each week we go to two different storytimes. Depending on the week we either go to the history museum, library, bookstore, or the local animal adoption center. This routine has been a great way to introduce my daughter to reading in new environments. Not to mention the interactivity of these experiences helps her connect reading to something that’s an enjoyable activity.

Lastly, we foster reading in our home by making books available and accessible. Meaning that we have books in every room of the house and in our car. All three of us have our own bookshelf and we have two designated library totes that get a lot of use!

What 10 picture books do you think every home library should have?

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
Knuffle Bunny
A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Snow (by Uri Shulevitz)
A wordless picture book (SO many that I love)
The Tea Party in the Woods
Dragons Love Tacos
Max Deluxe 
A Frank Asch book (again, so many great ones)
The Little Prince (although it’s not really a picture book, I couldn’t leave it off the list)

If you had to pick your top 5 favorite illustrators who would they be?

Hopefully I’m not cheating by answering this question with a couple individuals that wear both hats of author and illustrator. Obviously this is a trick question, because there are too many talented illustrators to choose just five.

Christian Robinson
Julie Flett
Zachariah OHora
Tomi Ungerer
Molly Idle

What did your parents do to promote reading in your childhood home?

I have vivid memories of my mom reading a Childcraft book of Poems and Rhymes to me growing up and I’m lucky enough to have inherited that special book. I also appreciate that I was never made to feel bad for anything I was reading, even though some of my 5th grade reading choices were pretty abysmal. Finally, as a child, I loved bringing home those newspaper-like Scholastic book order forms on a regular basis. And even though I may have wanted to order a dozen books every month, my mom always made sure I was able to order at least one or two. Thereby fostering my love of reading and enabling me to grow my own little childhood paperback collection. I wish I still had some of those books. Then again, would I really re-read The Babysitters Club as an adult?

What are you reading right now with your kids?

We’ve been on a poetry kick lately, which has been fun to read bite-sized vignettes to our little girl. Some of our favorites include The Pet Project, Lemonade (or anything by Bob Raczka), and Stories from Bug Garden. Our other recent favorites are Let’s Go to the Hardware Store and The Bear and the Piano.

What are you reading right now for yourself?

Currently I’m reading two nonfiction books: Rising Strong and Bad Feminist; while my husband and I are reading Crucial Conversations together. I also just started reading Pax to have something a little lighter in the mix.

What are your favorite places to shop for books?

I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon, but still, it’s where I end up purchasing most of the children’s books in our home. Also, I try to hit up our local library sale every year because it’s massive and has much better pricing. You can find similar sales here. Lastly, I’ve been purchasing more books from museum gift shops lately, because they offer well-designed and unique selections that are hard to find elsewhere.

Do you have a favorite children's Christmas book? If so, what is it?

Great question! I’ve actually collected children’s Christmas books since I was in college. Which means I have several beloved favorites. How can you not? However, I absolutely adore Red Ranger Came Calling. It’s best for ages 4+, but I’ve been known to read it aloud at holiday Christmas parties.

9 Art Books for Children

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Recently I did a little research for an Instagram feature and in the process I came across a lot of beautiful picture books all related to art. Everything from artist biographies, to alphabet books, to imaginative stories championing creativity in many formats. Most of the books I immediately wanted to add to our personal collection! Which, for me, is the mark of a good book. Next time you are stumped for something to read may I suggest grabbing a stack of children's books related to a single topic. Guaranteed you'll be amazed to discover something new.
  1. Get Into Art: Animals (People, Places and Telling Stories) - I imagine many art teachers use these books in the classroom, as they feature renowned works of art from various genres and artists (Degas, Warhol, Seurat, Matisse, etc). Plus the corresponding fold-out activities are a terrific way to get kids excited about making their own creations.
  2. Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter - Growing up we had a red book of nursery rhymes and in that book I remember this image most vividly. Which means Mary Cassatt's work was imprinted on my brain at a young age. Plus I love that this book is about a woman artist. 
  3. Let's Paint - With a firm but playful beginning There are no mistakes in painting, this book is a celebration of ideas, that with care and execution can become art. This is an especially good reminder that there are no right or wrong ways to create. 
  4. A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet - This is unlike any alphabet book I've ever encountered. One artist constructs art instillations of various materials (tires, metal, collage, paint) and then describes them with alliterative accuracy. Kids will also appreciate some of the hide-n-seek aspects within the text and art. 
  5. The Museum - Creating art is only part of the process, experiencing it on an emotional level is another part. Which makes the young girl in this story such a charming character. Follow along her antics as she is literally moved by the art she sees at the museum one morning. 
  6. Art - Meet Art, an imaginative young boy, who coincidently likes to make art. The familiar cartoon illustrations will draw in readers of all ages, while the plastered fridge and appreciative mother make this a sweet story.
  7. Andrew Drew and Drew - A little reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon, Andrew believes that making a drawing is a bit like magic— what he needs always appears at the right moment. With fold-out flaps this book is especially fun for kids that like to doodle.
  8. Beautiful Oops! - This is a terrific book about how mistakes are really opportunities for creativity. Finding shapes in spills and animals in bent corners is all part of the process. This is a must-read for any mini perfectionist. 
  9. Matisse's Garden - If you've ever seen a Matisse canvas you know how color and form play prominent in his art; where every piece seems to dance with movement and light. This book is a beautiful depiction of how Matisse created collage, inspired by nature. 
Ps. These art board books are also great for little fingers. See more children's book recommendations here

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