Reaching and Reading

Playing Around with Words

One of the best things you can do to encourage your child as a reader is to show them that language can be playful. Word play, including rhymes, made-up words, idioms and all kinds of silliness, builds awareness of the ways that words are composed of distinct sounds. Here are some great picture books that will help build skills, but just as importantly, will make you laugh!

Double Trouble in Walla Walla by Andrew Clements  Word Play by Ivan Brunetti

Even More Parts by Tedd Arnold  How do You Wokka-Wokka by Elizabeth Bluemle

Word Wizard by Cathryn Falwell  Take Away the A by Michael Escoffier  Eight Ate by Marvin Terban

Here are some great ideas from the American Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read Program:

  • Read a book with lots of made-up words. Try How do You Wokka-Wokka by Elizabeth Bluemle or a book by Dr. Seuss. Trying making up more words to go with the story.
  • Silly poems are fun and can teach new vocabulary.
  • Kids love riddles and jokes, which often use a “play on words”. Laugh along as you talk about the answer to the riddle or joke.
  • Having fun with words helps your child become more conscious of words and eager to learn more.

 

Call of the Wild: an American Classic

Hollywood often turns to literature for inspiration. In the past two months we’ve seen new versions of Little Women and Dr. Doolittle. The newest adaptation of Jack London’s Call of the Wild will be released in theaters on February 21st and looks very promising. Call of the Wild is a very short novel; it was first published in four installments in the Saturday Evening Post. That makes it a great book to read with your family before seeing the film!

Jack London had spent a year in the Yukon at the height of the gold rush, and he wrote Call of the Wild after returning to California. He sold the publishing rights in 1903 and the book has been in print ever since.

The book is obviously in the genre of animal fiction, but Call of the Wild by Jack Londoncan also be looked at as a hero story, and it follows the example of other American classics like Huckleberry Finn in its depiction of a hero returning to nature.

White Fang by Jack London

 

After reading Call of the Wild, you’ll want to also check out London’s other dog story, White Fang.

 

The Struggle for Civil Rights

The fight for Civil Rights in America is a continuing struggle, but it’s often difficult to know how to discuss these issues with our children. Here are some resources from the Aurora Public Library District that can help you on that path. Click on each picture to see the full description of the book in our online catalog. Some of my choices are for young children and others are more appropriate for older students, but reading the descriptions or clicking on the “Reviews” link for that book will often show you a recommended age level.

The quotations on this blog post are all from the book Powerful Words: More than 200 Years of Extraordinary Writing by African-Americans.

Heart and Soul by Kadir Nelson

 

 

“… however variable we may be in society or religion, however diversified in situation or colour, we are all of the same family…”        Benjamin Banneker in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 1791

 

 

 

 

 

Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells by Philip Dray

 

 

 

” The student of American sociology will find the year 1894 marked by a pronounced awakening of the public conscience to a system of anarchy and outlawry which has grown during a series of ten years to be so common, that scenes of unusual brutality failed to have any visible effect upon the humane sentiments of the people of our land.”

Ida B. Wells in A Red Record, 1895

 

 

 

Remember by Toni Morrison  A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson

“…the Fourteenth Amendment prevents states from according differential treatment to American children on the basis of their color or race.”   – Thurgood Marshall in Brown vs. Board of Education, 1953

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni   Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds

“I was determined to achieve the total freedom that our history lessons taught us we were entitled to, no matter what the sacrifice.”    – Rosa Parks in Rosa Parks: My Story

Don't Hold Me Back by Winfred Rembert   Spies of Mississippi by Rick Bowers

“My right and privilege to stand here before you has been won – won in my lifetime – by the blood and the sweat of the innocent.”    – Jesse Jackson, 1988

When Thunder Comes by J. Patrick Lewis Martin & Mahalia by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney

“Now, more than ever before, America is challenged to bring her noble dream into reality, and those who are working to implement the American dream are the true saviors of democracy.”   – Martin Luther King, 1961

What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? by Chris Barton

 

 

 

“We are attempting to fulfill our national purpose, to create and sustain a society in which all of us are equal.”   – Barbara Jordan, 1976

 

 

 

Chinese New Year

 

In 2020, Chinese New Year begins on January 25th and ends on February 4th and it would be a great time to explore this Asian holiday by sharing some of our children’s books with your family.

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim

The Dancing Dragon by Marcia Vaughan  Long-Long's Newyear by Catherine Gower

Moonbeams, Dumplings, and Dragon Boats discusses several Chinese holiday and has great recipes and activities for celebrating the Chinese New Year. D is for Dancing Dragon will give you additional information about Chinese culture.

Moonbeams, Dumplings, & Dragon Boats by Nina Simonds  D is for Dancing Dragon by Carol Crane

Older children who read or listen to chapter books will enjoy the next three titles with ties to the Chinese holiday. 2020 is the Year of the Rat, so Grace Lin’s book is a perfect choice. You may also want to read The Year of the Dog by Lin.

Happy New Year, Julie by Megan McDonald The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao The Year of the Rat by Grace Lin

Nic Bishop Animal Books

If you are an animal lover, you need to take a look at these astounding books by biologist and wildlife photographer Nic Bishop! These library books are shelved in the juvenile non-fiction area, but are truly great for all ages; you’re guaranteed to learn something new. Nic Bishop’s web page is also fascinating, with information about his travels, his books, and techniques he uses to set up his photographs.

Snakes by Nic Bishop Marsupials by Nic Bishop Spiders by Nic Bishop

Butterflies and Moths by Nic Bishop Lizards by Nic Bishop Big Cats by Nic Bishop

In addition to this series of book written and illustrated by Bishop, his photographs have also been used to illustrate many of the books in the Scientists in the Field series. His work has taken him to some of the most remote regions of the world, and Bishop describes each photographic subject as a whole new adventure requiring new knowledge, new techniques, and lots and lots of patience.

Chasing Cheetahs by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop Kakapo Rescue by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop

Children’s Author Patricia Polacco

One of the best-loved authors of children’s books, Patricia Polacco finds inspiration in family stories and in historical events. Although some of her books are written for a very young audience, other books are most suitable for older children and actually are wonderful to share with people of all ages. To locate her books at the library, you may need to consult the online catalog or ask for help, because her books can be found in the Board Book area, the Picture Book collection, or the Juvenile Fiction area.

Polacco’s latest book, The Bravest Man in the World is an account of Wallace Hartley, a fiddle player who continued to play as the Titanic was sinking.

The Bravest Man in the World by Patricia Polacco

Polacco often draws on her family’s Ukrainian-Jewish ancestry. This heritage is highlighted in books like Chicken Sunday, Rechenka’s Eggs, and The Keeping Quilt.

Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco  Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

As a child, Polacco experienced difficulty reading due to dyslexia. She honors the teachers who encouraged her in The Art of Miss Chew, Thank You, Mr. Falker, and Mr. Wayne’s Masterpiece.

The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco   Thank You, Mr. Falker

Mr. Wayne's Masterpiece

 

Where Do the Animals Go?

The days are shorter, temperatures are colder, and a common question for children is “Where do the animals go when it’s cold?” Of course there are many answers to this: they dig under, they fly away, they hibernate, and they grow thicker coats, for example. If your child is curious, why not check out a book to read together? Here are some great choices from the library’s collection. So cuddle up, stay warm, and share the joys of reading and learning together!

When Winter Comes by Pearl Neuman   Secrets of Winter by Carron Brown

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner  Animals in Winter by Bancroft and Gelder

Under the Snow by Melissa Stewart   Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman

Unicorns, Unicorns, and More Unicorns

Unicorns….what’s not to love about unicorns? Children everywhere are falling in love with them, and many children’s authors and illustrators are picking up on the trend. More and more books are coming out with a unicorn character. Why? Because this gives the author and illustrator a more creative outlet. Unicorns can be anything you want them to be. They can be any color, have any power, do anything you want them to do. That’s why they’re so magical!

The Very Short, Entirely True History of Unicorns  Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

Unicorn Thinks He's Really Great by Bob Shea   Unicorns 101 by Cale Atkinson

Uni's First Sleepover by Amy Krouse Rosenthal  The Midnight Unicorn by Neil Reed

Twelve Dancing Unicorns by Alissa Heyman  Unicorn Day by Diana Murray

How the Crayons Saved the Unicorn by Monica Sweeney  Stories of Unicorns by Rosie Dickins

See a book that caught your eye? Click on the picture and put the book on hold today!

This Little Piggy

We all know that there are lots of great picture books featuring pigs, but there’s no need to let the little kids hog all the great stories. When you’re rooting through the library shelves, don’t overlook these books that can smooth the transition to chapter books.

Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig by Kate DiCamillo Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes by Kate DiCamillo Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise by Kate DiCamillo

The Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo features easy-to-read chapter books with lots of illustrations and white space to keep young readers from getting frustrated. If you enjoy these, you’ll also like the Tales from Deckawoo Drive books, set in the same neighborhood.

Babe the Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith       Lady Lollipop by Dick King-Smith

Dick King-Smith was a prolific British writer best known for Babe the Gallant Pig (turned into Babe the movie). Lady Lollipop is a common pig who manages to tame an unruly princess.

The next title is written by Janette Oke, the writer of historical romance novels, and highlights the escapades of a family of piglets. The Pirate Pig by Cornelia Funke features a shipwrecked pig with the ability to sniff out buried treasure.

This Little Pig by Janette Oke   The Pirate Pig by Cornelia Funke

Pigs are very smart animals as seen in the next two highlighted books. Flora and Wilbur both manage to prove they have value as much more than a source of protein. The Adventures of a South Pole Pig by Chris Kurtz is aimed more at middle readers, coming in at just less than 300 pages. Of course, Charlotte’s Web is wonderful as a read-aloud for the entire family or for older kids to read alone.

The Adventures of a South Pole Pig by Chris Kurtz    Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

Finally, a book that is new to our collection! The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City is a heartwarming tale of family, belonging, and growing bigger when you’ve always felt small. This book by Jodi Kendall was chosen by Indiana school librarians for the 2019-2020 Young Hoosier Reading List.

The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City