Tag Archives: Old Books Posts

Emerging Readers

Among the hardest things to find in the library is a really good book for the earliest emerging reader. An ideal book would have just a few words on each page, easy words that can be sounded out, that repeat, that are reflected in the pictures on the page. They would feature topics that are concrete and use vocabulary that the children learning to read will already know. They will only introduce one new concept at a time, rather then overwhelming readers.

Perhaps most importantly, they will be published in hard back or library binding, and will each have its own ISBN number, so we can catalog them. This is because I know that there are lots of books put out for emerging readers in kits that are used by teachers and schools. Typically these are a few pages that frequently are stapled together and come as part of a kit where children build from the bottom up. Unfortunately, we do not have the capability to circulate these items. If we buy a kit with many books, they all have to go out together, which means they get put into an unattractive case and never go out at all. Now we don’t buy them at all.

So what is there for the emerging reader? Most publishers put out a level one reader, but that could mean anything—usually these books are too difficult for the beginners. Occasionally I find a pre-level one book, or a my first book, but these are few and far between. Here are a few examples of books suitable for the earliest reader:

Puppy Mudge Finds a Friend (Puppy Mudge Ready-to-Read)Puppy Mudge books by Cynthia Rylant are some of the most simple out there, and I wish there were more!

Hello, Freight Train! (Scholastic Reader, Level 1) Hello Freight Train is one of three books all very simple, all on transportation, which is one of those high appeal topics. The downside is these are flimsy paperbacks.

Inside Outside Upside Down (Bright & Early Books(R)) Inside, Outside, Upside Down, by the Berenstains. The very early Berenstain bear books were early readers that are very simple, just a few words to tell the story.

See Pip Point (Ready-to-Read. Pre-Level 1) There are a handful of Otto books, most out of print, but all good for emerging readers.

I’d love suggestions for other good very early reader books or series. We did order the Bob books that were printed together, but I’m always looking for more books!

Suprise Second Grade Visit

So apparently I scheduled a 2nd grade visit while I was in the middle of a long reference question, and now do not remember what I said I would talk about. Yeah, not great. I plan on calling on Monday before to double check, but in the mean time I am planning a simple class visit. We have some fun programs coming up at the library and ideally these class visits will encourage more kids to come to the library.

Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles While the schools I visit are all pretty close to the library, I’m always amazed how many of the kids have no idea where the library even is! So I like to start with an introduction to me and where the branch is located. I’m hoping to include more poetry in my school visits, but I’m always tempted to read a few of the poems from Spot the Plot, though I’ve used it a number of times.

Interrupting Chicken After that I encourage the kids to come to the library and ask me for book suggestions, or to find a book they can’t quite remember. Then I read a longer story, this time I want to try Interrupting Chicken, which I love, but haven’t had a chance to read to any kids yet. I think it will work well for the second graders.

A Picture Book of Harry Houdini I’ll finish with a book about Houdini to promote our magic show, I’m thinking A Picture Book of Harry Houdini, by David Adler.

This will work, so long as the teacher doesn’t tell me they had something specific in mind!

Guys Listen

Audio books are enormously popular at the library where I work, with many patrons returning their 10 CD items just to pick up a new selection. Whether it is truck drivers, IRS workers, stay-at-home moms, or folks with long commutes, adults praise audio books as fantastic ways to make their day go by faster and get some reading in. Audio books are equally popular with kids and teens at my branch, but somehow there seems to be more of a negative connotation connected to kids and audio books. Somehow people seem to think that if a kid listens to the book they are cheating, but in reality listening to books, rather then reading, offers its own set of literacy skills, and can actually help kids become better readers.


Some of the benefits of audio books:

  • Improve critical listening skills
  • Improve vocabulary and pronunciation skills (more likely to use words you have heard and can say, than ones you have just read)
  • Enjoy stories, rather then struggle with words.
  • Demonstrate how to read fluently, including important skills like pacing, intonation, and phrasing.
  • Expand access to materials, so kids can enjoy stories that they do not have the reading skills to read.
  • Help struggling readers to develop their skills, both by following along with the text as they listen and by improving their comprehension of what they have read.

In Guy’s Listen, Jon Scieszka has attempted to draw attention to some of these literacy benefits to encourage boys to read or listen. The literacy advantages, however, are the same regardless of gender and age, which is why audio books are such an important part of a library collection.  There are a number of interesting articles and handouts on the BooksonTape website, which is admittedly commercial in nature. But the content is true regardless of where you buy your audio books, they can enhance reading and books in a way that is not cheating. So the next time a kid wants the audio of The Scarlett Letter rather than the text, consider that listening to the text may make him or her a better reader then trying to wade through the printed version.

Twisted Fairy Tales

After I did my historical fiction book talk in February, the teacher e-mailed me to invite me back to share books again. *happy dance* I was also invited to visit another fourth grade class in the school. I’m planning on sharing the same books in the two classes, as there shouldn’t be any overlap of students. My theme for this set of book talks is twisted fairy tales/old fashioned fairy tales, with the Adam Gidwitz’ A Tale Dark and Grimm as the inspiration. In my library system it is in the teen section, but I think it is suitable for the 4th grade audience. Most of the kids are good readers, reading Percy Jackson and the like.

A Tale Dark and Grimm After introducing myself and announcing upcoming programs, I’ll read the introduction to A Tale Dark and Grimm, which lays out the theme for the book talk: fairy tales, and how they once were awesome and still are pretty good adventures. It is a good introduction to the tone of the book, as it is the narrator talking. I’d describe this book as a cross between the Brother’s Grimm and Lemony Snickett.

Then I plan on reading an original Brother’s Grimm’s tale, one of the more grim tales. I’m thinking the “Seven Ravens.” Grimm’s Fairy Tales are available from Project Gutenburg for free. We just got a new copy at the library, and I’ll bring that to show them where they can find these stories. I also have another collection of Grimm’s fairy tales called Grimm’s Grimmest, which is a little scary for them. I do warn them that it is violent, but that just gets them excited. Grimm's Grimmest

The Frog Princess (Tales of the Frog Princess, #1) Next I share something lighter, The Frog Princess, which is not as girly as the cover suggests, though there may be too much kissing for much crossover appeal. Honestly, if they cut a few of the kissing scenes this could be a good boy book. There are good parts about eating bugs, and adventure scenes running away from snakes. I was surprised that none of the kids had read it in the first class I visited.

How to Save Your Tail*: *if you are a rat nabbed by cats who really like stories about magic spoons, wolves with snout-warts, big, hairy chimney trolls . . . and cookies, too. After that, I introduced them to a pretty easy read How to Save Your Tail*: *if you are a rat nabbed by cats who really like stories about magic spoons, wolves with snout-warts, big, hairy chimney trolls . . . and cookies, too. It is sort of a Geronimo Stilton meets the Brother’s Grimm, with a little Arabian Nights. It is fun and not too scary, but also an easier read for struggling readers.

The Ordinary Princess I wrap it up with a book I loved from my childhood: An Ordinary Princess, it is kind of a girly book, and like the last book, it is easier read. I introduce the basic premise, but there is no cliffhanger in this book. At the same time, I think it is a gentler read and a nice counterpoint to the scariness of the first books.

For the first group I also did a little blurb for the Sister’s Grimm, but I think I’ll cut it for this final talk.
This post is part of Book Talk Tuesday, at Lemme Library, check out the other great posts!

Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum, and Some Other Treats!

Looking for something tasty to start the week? Here are three delicious non-fiction picture books to get you on the road!

Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan Mccarthy. This is a delightful confection of a book, with bright cheerful illustrations, and an interesting story that will keep kids interested. I don’t even LIKE gum and I loved this book. It would make a great read aloud or book talk for 2nd and 3rd graders.

George Crum and the Saratoga Chip George Crum and the Saratoga Chip by Gaylia Taylor. Potatoes are one of my favorite foods ever, and potato chips are a wonderful invention (says my taste buds, not my hips). Since much of America agrees with me, I have to assume that they will also agree that the story of how they came to be is good reading. Like the snack, there isn’t much substance to the story as little is known, but it still manages to provide a good reading experience. The idea that a demanding customer led a chef to make chips just seems right, especially after a long day working with the public. Another fun idea for 2nd and 3rd grades, who are looking for another great food story.

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman is a classic for a reason, it shows how the ingredients that go into a traditionally American treat really come from all over the world. This book is probably suitable for a younger audience, but when combined with the other two present an interesting look at the history of some of our favorite treats.

And because I couldn’t end with just an apple pie after traveling the world, I wanted to include one of my all time favorite non-fiction books: What the World Eats, by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio. Taking readers around the world, this book share’s profiles of families in different parts of the world. Each family is pictured with a week’s worth of food, with the quantities and prices listed out. The book also discusses where the food was obtained, how it was cooked, where it was stored, and includes stories for each family. There is something addictive about this book that just fascinates people, draws them in again and again. I once placed this book on display and everyday I’d see the same people reading through it. They were amazed they could check it out (it sounds strange, but it is a public library, so not the strangest thing I’ve heard).
What the World Eats What the World Eats

Nonfiction Monday is hosted by L.L. Owens today, head over to check out the awesome books reviewed today!

Love These Dogs

Love That Dog Recently I read Love That Dog by Sharon Creech, which did make me cry right there in my office on my lunch break. Not to spoil the ending or anything but something bad may or may not have happened to Jack’s dog. It is a powerful and simple book, and a perfect reminder of the way a few words can communicate so much more clearly sometimes then a rush of words. That is something I forget, when I can type, type, type to try to be clear, when more words just muddle things up.

So here is my poem, inspired by Sharon Creech, who was inspired by Walter Dean Myers

Love These Dogs

Love these  dogs like a bear loves  honey
I said I love these dogs
like a bear loves honey
Love to come home in the evening
love to come home
to see them dance so funny

Ok, so it isn’t great. But it is also my first poem since grade school. Plus it is true, and my dogs really do a crazy dance when I come in at night.
If you love poetry I recommend you read Walter Dean Myers’ hauntingly beautiful original poem, or the lovely story of Jack and his dog by Sharon Creech.

Poetry Friday is hosted at The Poem Farm today, stop by and check out all the other awesome poems!

Author Study–Kevin Henkes

One of the things I emphasized when I contacted teachers in local schools was that I wanted to contribute to the curriculum they had to cover and not take time away from covering the state standards. I want teachers to feel like the library has resources to help them achieve their goals and show that we can help extend the learning experience out of the classroom and help children bring books to life. So when I got a call from a local 1st grade teacher inviting me to come speak to each class in her grade at her school, I wasn’t surprised when she requested that I speak on a topic familiar to all early elementary grade teachers: the author study. I remember in library school having to put together a packet of information on an author, but this is the first time I’ve actually done it in the field.

They left the specific author up to me, giving me examples of Carle or Lioni. After some thought, I selected Kevin Henkes as a favorite author/illustrator that is still producing books, but has a substantial body of work. This is my first presentation of the kind, so I’m still working out the best structure.

Sheila Rae, the Brave After introducing myself and the library, and talking a little about our programs and getting a library card. I read Sheila Rae, the Brave and asked if the children have ever had a time they were frightened or were brave for their siblings. Then I shared some information about Kevin Henkes, from this biography , how

“Books played an important part in Henkes’s childhood, spent in Wisconsin. His family regularly visited the local public library, and checking out his own books and carrying them home was an important event for Henkes. Illustrations often determined which books he would select, and the works of Crockett Johnson and Garth Williams were particular favorites.”

And then after talking about what books are their favorites, I continued with this quote from the author’s website:

“”I also loved books, and the ones I was lucky enough to own were reread, looked at over and over, and regarded with great respect. To me “great respect” meant that I took them everywhere, and the ones I still own prove it. They’re brimming with all the telltale signs of true love: dog-eared pages, fingerprints on my favorite illustrations, my name and address inscribed on both front and back covers in inch-high crayon lettering, and the faint smell of stale peanut butter on the bindings. I wondered about authors and illustrators back then – What did they look like? Where did they live? Did they have families? How old were they? – but I never imagined that one day I would be one myself.”

Chester's Way Then I read Chester’s Way and discussed how Henkes likes to use animals in his picture books, because as he said “I found I could get much more humor out of animals, and besides it freed me from having to sketch from a human model,” I’ll show some of the other mouse books, and talk about how they tend to discuss common situations that the kids might encounter.

My Garden I finished by introducing his other picture books—Kitten’s First Full Moon, Old Bear, My Garden, and reading My Garden. And I encouraged children to come to the library to check out more books by Kevin Henkes.

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is one of those books that shaped my childhood, filled it with wonder, and prompted many flights of imagination on my part. My mother had a copy and I remember pouring over the images and creating stories in my head as I drifted off to sleep. One teacher even had us write a story to go along with an image of our choice, I think I wrote a 20 page fantasy based on the door knob moving. That I can remember almost twenty years later this writing experience, shows what a lasting impact this book had on my life. Of course I became a librarian not a writer.

Now almost thirty years later, the mysteries of the 14 drawings of Harris Burdick are back, but this time a group of talented and well known authors have each taken one story to tell. On one level this threatens to take away some of the mystery, and the introduction by Lemony Snicket suggests that these might be the real tales, dropped off by Burdick for noted children’s authors to find. But after reading them, I’m not sure that all of the mystery is explained away in these stories.

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales / With an Introduction by Lemony Snicket While the stories are all very different, in tone, style, and subject, they were mostly well written and entertaining. The only one I struggled with was the first one, by Tabitha King, where I had a hard time following what was going on. That said, only one really seemed a perfect fit for the illustration, and that one was written by the illustrator. The other stories seemed to me to be one explanation of the illustration, but many times I’d read the story and then study the illustration and say “well, what about that part?” This, I think is a good thing. It would be a sad thing if these stories became the definitive answer to the mysteries of these images. The fact that someone could read these stories and say, “well, I would tell the story different,” is a good thing!

Among my favorite of the stories were Sherman Alexie’s funny and grim story of two strange siblings, Jules Fieffer’s dark tale of a children’s author consumed in a madness of his own making, Lois Lowry and Katie DiCamillo’s historical fiction stories based on the images, and M.T. Anderson’s darkly mysterious suburbia.

Definitely a recommended read, especially for children’s librarians who grew up loving the original.

One Crazy Summer, or What’s in the Kitchen?

One Crazy Summer One summer, Delphine’s dad decides that she and her sisters are old enough to fly all the way across the country to spend time with their mother in Oakland California. Only, here’s the thing, it is 1968, Delphine is eleven, and they are flying alone to see a mother that they barely remember, since she left them when they were babies. And they are going to Oakland, which is STILL a scary neighborhood, but THEN it was a hot bed of racial tension. When the girls arrive in California, do you think their mother is happy to see them?

No! In fact, she doesn’t even show up to get them from the airport, until Delphine calls her and begs. And when she does show up, she demands the money they were saving for Disneyland! Things go downhill from there, when she kicks them out of the house the next morning and tells them not to come back until 6 p.m.. All alone, with no breakfast, since their mother wont even let them LOOK in the kitchen, these three girls end up at a Black Panther summer camp. This group is trying to advocate for greater racial equality, and just recently a young man was shot. Things are tense in the neighborhood, and it might get violent. But Delphine and her sisters are there for the free breakfast and not the revolution.

Do you think they will manage to stay out of the revolution and possible violence? Will they ever discover what is in the kitchen? Read One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia to find out what happens to Delphine and her sisters.

I gave this book talk, or something like it as I didn’t write it out beforehand, to a fourth grade class and a boy dragged his mom to the library to get him a card and tracked me down to ask about the book with the kitchen, cause he wanted to know what was in there.

Hosted by The Lemme Library

World Families for Toddlers

Like a lot of the United States, our Summer Reading Program theme for 2011 is “One World, Many Stories,” a fantastic theme that we hope will introduce children in our community to the world. There are SO many good books to use on this subject, and as I’ve reviewed new books coming in I am starting to identify some that I hope to share. Here are some good non-fiction titles for very young participants, which demonstrate how parents and grandparents are similar and different around the world. I think toddlers will enjoy these books, full of pictures and light on text.

You and Me Together: Moms, Dads, and Kids Arounds the World You and Me Together: Moms, Dads, and Kids Around the World There isn’t a lot of information here about how families are actually different, rather this book is mostly pictures with a few words. Each spread features a different thing that families do, like eating or reading together, and has pictures of families from around the world doing that thing. This title focuses on mothers, fathers, and children, while the next features grandparents.

Our Grandparents Our Grandparents: A Global Album . This title is very similar to the previous, only focusing on grandparents and having more representation from different groups in the United States. It does have a very nice introduction by Desmond Tutu, which is written for adults, but the text seems to be designed for toddlers.

At my branch for Summer Reading Club, we have massive programs every other week. So many kids come, that we usually divide the group in two. One group is for younger kids, and is basically a storytime, while the other is a full blown activity. We then gather to do crafts at the end, with some for older kids and some for younger. So it is nice to find books like these that would work for the youngest kids. I’d love to hear about others to add to the list!