Sunday, August 30, 2009

Custom Greeting Cards (Give-Away)

Those who know us well know that we are a little obsessed with taking photographs of our little man.  We have thousands of photos of him since his birth 21 months ago.  It's always fun to discover new ways to showcase them for family and friends.  Here's what I've been thinking about doing with them this week:


Uprinting allows you to create fun custom greeting cards and custom postcards.  As cute as the popular single sided photo cards are, I love the idea of a traditional folded greeting card (personalized with a photo), so that we can still write individual messages inside.

A few ways I'm thinking about using this service:
  1. Holiday cards (the obvious choice).
  2. Thank you cards.  How cute would it be to take a photo of our son holding up a placard that says, "Thank you," and using those cards throughout the year as thank you's for gifts?
  3. Blank notecards with a photo of us, maybe even reading together, so I can use it as a sort of calling card when I send out blog-related mailings.
  4. Happy new year cards with a collage of all of our favorite moments from 2009.
How would you use 250 custom greeting cards from Uprinting.com?  Start deciding, because...
we're doing another give-away!

Two different prize winners will receive:

250 (wow!) 7 x 5" Greeting Cards (Half-Fold); 10 pt Cover with matte or gloss coating

Full Color Outside and Blank Inside (4/0)

Shipping Must be Paid by Winner. Offer Valid for UNITED STATES SHIPPING ONLY.

To enter: 
  1. Leave a comment on how you might use the prize (required)
  2. Subscribe or follow Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile (comment to let me know)
  3. Tweet this give away (comment to let me know)
  4. Blog about this give away (comment to let me know)
Deadline: Midnight, September 3, 2009 CST (Hurry, this is a quick one).  Winners will be chosen randomly, announced in a post here, and contacted directly by Uprinting with a coupon code for redeeming the prize.

Disclosure: Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile participates in Uprinting.com's "blog sponsorship program." We will receive a set of greeting cards in exchange for this post.  


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Library loan? No thank you.

I'm a big fan of the public library, but there is at least one kind of book that I feel a bit squeamish taking out on library loan...  you know just where those books about potty training have been.  A few weeks ago, I placed an order for a yellow Babybjorn Potty Chair (he was very excited about the idea of a yellow seat coming in the mail for him)  and an Attachable Toilet Trainer  to go on the big toilet.  I added this book to our order:

A Potty for Me!: A Lift-the-Flap Instruction Manual (Hardcover), by Karen Katz. Karen Katz has authored books to delight young readers on every topic from belly buttons to holidays, so why not potty training too? Although her books are usually referred to as "lift the flap" (as in the subtitle), the book doesn't have what I normally think of as flaps (tiny windows which reveal hidden items). Instead, each page on the right hand side of the book folds out to reveal another page underneath. The story, paired with bright cheerful illustrations, walks a child through the appearance of a first potty, a few attempts at using it, and ultimate success. I like the patient attitude of the parents which shows in the text.

Excerpt:

"Mommy got me a brand new potty! But I'm not ready yet! I want to run and play. Uh-oh, I peed in my pants. But Mommy says, 'That's okay!'"

Bookworm's interest at 21 months: He enjoys reading the book. He requests it to be read at least twice in a row. I'm not sure if he understands what's going on in the book or not. (We are having some success in the potty training, but I'll spare you the details.)

Parent's Peeve: I admit that reading this book aloud still kind of gives me the inner giggles, but I think it accomplishes what it aims to, with all of the right messages (it's OK if you're not ready yet, accidents are no big deal, just keep trying, etc.).




Do you have any potty training books in your arsenal?  Feel free to comment and share them.  

Are there any books you don't like to take out of the library?  (I never liked how a lot of the infant board books had chewed up corners, so I'd try to steer us toward the newest additions to the collection).


Friday, August 28, 2009

Product Review: Melissa and Doug puzzles from All Children's Furniture

Our infant bibliophile hasn't given up on his love of books, but he also has a new obsession: puzzles.  We received a stack of hand-me-down wooden puzzles from his cousin last Easter, and he loves them.  So when All Children's Furniture asked us which items we might like to review for our blog, I went straight for the puzzle section.

I was really impressed by the company's website.  The store carries a fantastic range of kids products, and the site is really convenient to browse.  Prices seem very competitive, and each item even has a button to click on and let the company know if you've seen an item priced cheaper elsewhere.
 
Once our order was placed, we received an email confirmation, then shortly thereafter a message to let us know our item was shipped; our boxes arrived in lightening fast time.  A bonus for crafty moms: I don't know if this is specific to the items we ordered, but our boxes were filled with A LOT of brown packing paper.  I like that this is a little more environmentally friendly than bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts, and we can use the paper for art crafts.

Here's what we got:


Melissa and Doug Upper and Lower Case Alphabet Puzzle: This is my favorite item we received.  I love this puzzle, and so does the little guy.  My son knows all of his capital letters, but I didn't teach him the lower case first, and sometimes I think he's a bit confused about the whole idea of lower case letters.  This puzzle has upper case and lower case letters next to each other, and beneath each letter, a painting of an appropriate item beginning with that letter.  So, I sit by him as we do the puzzle, and if he gets stuck on where something goes, I say, "that letter is A, it goes on the apple," and he hunts for the item.  Within ONE day, he is getting almost all of the letters by himself!  I think this puzzle will be fun for a long time, because I figure as he gets older we can put it together in combination with word games, like thinking of things to eat that begin with each letter as we place them on the puzzle.  My only pet peeve is that some of the letters that you would expect to be symmetrical -- H and X, for instance, only fit one way, so he often tries to put it in upside down and gets frustrated.  In general, though, the wood is really well sanded and of great quality.  This is my favorite Melissa and Doug puzzle so far, I think. 

Melissa and Doug Construction Site Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle: I knew he'd be ready for the alphabet puzzle above right away, and I knew he'd need a little more time before he was ready for the map puzzle reviewed below.  This construction site puzzle, which features a dump truck, cement mixer, crane, and bulldozer, was our middleground pick -- he can almost do it himself, but still needs a little help.  The base of the puzzle is wooden, like the alphabet puzzle above, but the pieces themselves are cardboard, like puzzles for older kids.  It's a great transitional puzzle for children ready to graduate from the heavy wooden puzzles but not quite ready for floor puzzles.  The quality is excellent, and he enjoys putting it together with help from mom or dad.


Melissa and Doug U.S. Map Floor Puzzle: This is a large, 51-piece floor puzzle (thick cardboard, not wood) featuring all of the U.S. states.  It is meant for children older than mine (21 months), but he enjoys trying to put together the harder ones - hunting for edge pieces, handing them to me, pressing them down when I put them in the right place - so I decided to get this as a puzzle I knew he would grow into.  We had a lot of fun putting it together, and mom realized that she has to revisit her geography studies before she has to start teaching him where all of the states are.  This is a wonderful learning tool and a fun puzzle.  While the edge pieces fit together with traditional puzzle shapes, the center states don't necessarily have the typical "circle fits in hole" style interlock.  I don't think that's a bad thing, though, as the pieces all fit together nicely.


Melissa and Doug Single Wire Storage Rack Unit:  A somewhat handy little contraption to slide the wooden puzzles into for safe (and neat) keeping.  It doesn't fit some of the puzzles we own (which I figured would probably be the case), and the ones it does fit have to be pressed in with a small amount of force -- too much for my son to use to put puzzles away himself, although he can take them out.  When you put a slightly too thick puzzle in the rack, it causes a little bit of give in the rest of the openings in the rack, which helps with the sliding problem.  We usually keep all of our puzzles in a large basket, and that works fine, although it is starting to overflow. I think I'd recommend forgoing this item and buying another puzzle instead.  Soon enough, we'll graduate from the wooden puzzles and the rack won't be very useful after that.


Thank you to All Children's Furniture for the opportunity to review these items, which will be used with great joy over the next few weeks and months.  I'm honestly very happy to have discovered the store, and my only problem now is how to stop myself from emptying my bank account on their amazing line of children's rugs.

Do your kids like puzzles too?  What are their favorites?  Want to buy us one of those large rugs?  (Hey, we tried).

Disclosure: We are not affiliated with All Children's Furniture.  We received the items reviewed in this post free of charge in exchange for this review, which reflects our honest opinion of the products.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lovable furry old Grover

One of my favorite childhood books was The Monster at the End of this Book (which we reviewed here).  I was delighted this week to receive two other books written by the same author -- Jon Stone -- starring "lovable furry old Grover."  I think they might both be out of print, but I'm going to review them anyway, because there are plenty of places to find used copies of them (amazon.com and ebay, of course, and maybe even your local library).   

Lovable, Furry Old Grover's Resting Places (Paperback), by Jon Stone. In this fun book, Grover forages through his toy box to come up with little shapes (most often, circles), which he holds up and deems "resting places" for various body parts -- an elbow, an ear, and even a bellybutton. Readers are encouraged to rest the appropriate body part on the designated spot. A fun, interactive read, sure to delight fans of the ever-popular The Monster At the End of This Book.

Excerpt:

"Behold! An EAR RESTING PLACE - one of my all-time favorites. TRY IT! Put your tired old ear right on it. Now rest the other one. It works for both of them."

Bookworm's interest at 21 months: He wasn't very interested, but I think I'll try again tomorrow. I have a feeling I can get him hooked if I can explain the concept of resting your body part on the page.

Parent's Peeve: I couldn't imagine what the book was about when I saw the title. A "resting place" to me involves a cemetary. But luckily children won't have that preconception anyway.



Hide and Seek: with Lovable, Furry Old Grover (Paperback), by Jon Stone. "Would you like to play Hide & Seek in this book with lovable, furry old Grover? Please say yes!" The cover says it all. Grover tries to hide all over the book -- at the top of the page, the bottom, squeezing into the middle, painting the pages blue to camouflage himself, scrunching paper around him, behind dialogue balloons, etc. His escalatingly exasperated voice makes for a funny book -- a delight for Grover fans.

Excerpt:

"You know, if you were my good friend, I would try to hide, and even if you saw me you could pretend that you did not see me. If you were my good friend you could. I will hide one more time."

Bookworm's interest at 21 months: I couldn't get him to sit through this one either (we're 0 for 3 on the Jon Stone Grover books, but I still love them!). Hopefully he'll enjoy them when he's older.

Parent's Peeve: I love these books. Elmo has NOTHING on Grover.



Do you remember these from your childhood? Own copies now? Let us know what you think of them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Review: I'm Your Bus

I'm Your Bus (Hardcover), by Marilyn Singer. If your child is a bus-lover like mine, this book will probably be a hit. Cute rhyming text follows the day of a loyal bus, carting kids to their destinations and back home again. "Tomorrow you can count on us. Daytime, nighttime, I'm your bus." (If you like to see your kids' names in print, note that Jamie, Carlos, Gus, Casey, Lacey, Hailey, Michael, Hannah, Russ, Lisa, Devin, Chloe, and Mo are mentioned).

Excerpt:

"Watch those backpacks coming through. Have fun today. Learn something new. Later we'll come back for you. Hailey, Michael, Hannah, Russ, see you later. I'm your bus."

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: He chose this one off the shelves of a local bookstore as a treat after having been sick all week. (I tried to sway him toward Goodnight Gorilla at first). He enjoys it every time we read it.

Parent's Peeve: A couple of the rhymes are a little forced, but overall I enjoy reading this, so I don't mind very much.


The Big Reveal: Photos of the Infant Bibliophile




I usually don't post photos of our infant bibliophile here.  Why?  I don't know, it just seemed like some sort of security precaution I should take.  But, really, it seems a little silly.  Is anyone really going to want to come snatch our son because he is the handsomest baby on the internet?  I thought I'd relax my fear a little bit and share two photos.  (But, just in case you are still thinking about snatching him, let me just add that he still doesn't sleep through the night and is allergic to everything, so I think you might want to reconsider your plans, please).

First, I just happened upon this photo when browsing through our gallery recently.  I have many photos of Dad and son reading together (because I always grab the camera), but not as many of me reading to him.  This was taken at a church wedding, where I brought a few favorite board books to entertain him:



I think having a child - and all of the sleepless nights, loss of career, abandonment of hobbies, etc. - was worth it just to get that photo.

This next photo was taken last weekend at a Book Bloggers picnic organized by Natasha at Maw Books.  Among the attendees were Britt at Confessions of a Book Habitue and Cari of Book Scoops, two blogs I enjoy following.  It was nice to put friendly faces to the names.


A sweaty Infant Bibliophile, me, and Natasha at Maw Books


Thanks, Natasha, for organizing such a fun event!  Next time we'll stay longer.

Would you like to join me in posting your favorite photo of reading to your child?  If so, leave a link in the comments.  I'd love to see!

(PS  Don't forget to enter our current give away for a Do-A-Dot art set!).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Review: Hop, Plop!

I could have sworn that I posted this review already.  You'll see below that we read it when the infant bibliophile was 15 months old, and he's 21 months old now!  The book's author, Corey Schwartz, has her own blog, cleverly called Thing 1 and Thing 2.  I still feel like after I post this, I will find the original post...

Hop! Plop! (Hardcover), by Corey Rosen Schwartz. Set in a playground, this charming tale follows a couple of unlikely friends - Elephant and Mouse - as they attempt to make use of the various forms of entertainment (swing, seesaw, etc.) and are foiled by their abnormally sized frames. Ultimately, they make do, and their friendship shines through.

Excerpt:

"'Look,' said Mouse, 'A seesaw. My favorite!' 'Yeah!' said Elephant. 'Mine too! Let's get on.' HOP! / PLOP! BOOM! BOP!"

Bookworm's interest at 15 months: Once he read the excerpt above, (in particular, "BOOM! BOP!"), he was giggling aloud, turning pages, shouting "Buh! Buh!" until I repeated the phrase. He loves going to the playground and recognized the swing and slide, and he likes pointing to mice ever since we bought "Goodnight Moon."




Give Away: Do A Dot Art Set

A couple of weeks ago I posted about our son's love of his Do-A-Dot Rainbow Art Set.  Now I get to share the fun... Do-A-Dot Art has generously offered to give away a set of paints to one lucky reader!








The rules:
Open to U.S. addresses only.  Deadline: Midnight September 1, 2009.  To enter:
1) Post a comment (mandatory): saying how or with whom you plan to use the paints
For additional entries (leave 1 comment per additional entry so I know):
2) blog about this give away
3) become a follower of Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile
4) subscribe to Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile
5) tweet about this give away

That's 5 possible entries per person.

Good luck! 

Disclosure: We have not received any remuneration for this post, nor are we affiliated with this company.  

Monday, August 24, 2009

Shopping


All Children's Furniture recently contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing some of their products.  They have an amazing selection of items, from kids chairs to toys.  When we were moving into our new house recently, we bought the little guy one of these Deluxe Canyon Train and Track tables.  He LOVES it.  We ordered ours the day we saw it in action at a friend's house, and everyone who plays with his at our house wants to buy one too.  The great thing about it is that it works really well with hotwheels/matchbox cars, in addition to trains.  I had been wanting to buy him a train table, but cars are more his thing.  It also comes with a sturdy white board to cover the table to use it as an additional play surface (I should use that more for crafts).

I've been thinking about branching out to post about some of our son's favorite toys and games, so when we were asked if we would review some products, we jumped at the chance.  Want to see what we picked?  Stay tuned...

Disclosure: We have not been compensated for this post, and have no affiliation with All Children's Furniture.  We will be receiving a small shipment of free products, which will be reviewed in a future post with an additional disclosure.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Enjoying some early readers

Here are a couple of easy readers we've been enjoying this week (although we're certainly not up to easy reader level yet).


In a People House (Bright & Early Books(R)) (Hardcover), by Dr. Seuss. In this fun, simple book, a mouse gives "Mr. Bird" a tour of a People House. A great vocabulary-building book for the youngest crowd, A People House inventories the items in the home, in Dr. Seuss's wonderful rythmic style. It's nice to find a book that is both a picture book, in the sense of a word identification sort of book, and also has a storyline and rhyming, fun-to-read text.

Excerpt:

"Banana bathtub / bottles brooms That's what you find in people's rooms."

Bookworm's interest at 21 months: He really enjoys this book. He knows many of the words in it already, and tried to say a few of them ("banana" is a word he just learned to say last week, for instance). He's brought this to me many times to read. I'm looking forward to when he can practice reading it himself.



Are You My Mother? (Hardcover), by P.D. Eastman. As a mother bird flies away to fetch some food for her about-to-be-born egg, the baby bird hatches. "Where is my mother?," he asks, and goes off to find her. He encounters all manner of animals, asking each in turn: "Are You My Mother?" He even asks a boat and (can you see the excitement in my son's eyes?) a DIGGER, which the author refers to as a "Snort." After a bit of an adventure with the Snort, baby bird ends up back safely in his nest, and of course his mother returns.

Excerpt:

"'Yes, I know who you are,' said the baby bird. 'You are not a kitten. You are not a hen. You are not a dog. You are not a cow. You are not a boat, or a plane, or a Snort!' 'You are a bird, and you are mother.'"

Bookworm's interest at 21 months: Loves it.

Parent's Peeve: I think I might prefer if the "snort" was driven by someone.

When looking at Are You My Mother on amazon.com, I realized that all of these early readers are also available in Spanish (makes sense, but it just never occurred to me to buy the English and Spanish versions... I keep looking for good bilingual story books.). I think it would be so fun to own English and Spanish versions of some of these.


Do you remember learning to read? If so, did early readers like this help? I can't really remember. I remember big flip charts at school that we used in "reading groups" (segregated by level of reading ability). But I can't remember which books taught me to read.



Friday, August 21, 2009

Review: When Sophie Gets Angry - Really, Really Angry ...


When Sophie Gets Angry -- Really, Really Angry . . . (Paperback), by Molly Bang. Sophie gets angry after being forced to share her toy gorilla with her sister. So angry she "wants to smash the world to smithereens." Vivid, impressionist-style illustrations in rich orange, red, and yellow show Sophie about to explode like a volcano. Sophie runs to a forested area and cries for awhile. She then notices the trees, birds, breeze, and water. She calms down, returns home, and rejoins her family. Recommended ages: 4-8. Recipient of a Caldecott Honor.

Excerpt:

"She runs and runs and runs until she can't run anymore."

Bookworm's interest at 21 months: Although the lesson here is aimed at an older child, he did enjoy as I read this to him. He's just starting to understand frowns and smiles as representations of happy and sad (and mad), so he found Sophie's frowning face somewhat amusing. Or at least, he found my imitation and explanation of her frowning face amusing.

Parent's Peeve: I have mixed feelings. My first thought was that I didn't like the idea that a child should run away from home and into a wooded area alone when angry. As a city dweller now (and the parent of such a young child), it's difficult to imagine allowing my children that freedom, which I know I had when younger. I took a peek at amazon's customer reviews to see if I was alone in my thinking, and reviews are mixed, because of the same concern. The last page poses a question (nearly missed, beneath the author 's dedication): "When Sophie gets angry, she runs out and climbs her favorite tree. Different people handle anger in different ways. What do you do when you get angry?" I can see this being a very useful tool for having these conversations with children, particularly those prone to angry outbursts. So I'd recommend reading this together if at all.



What do you all think? Do you have other books about dealing with anger or emotions? How do you teach your little ones to handle anger and frustration? Our little guy sometimes starts to fuss when he can't do something (and don't dare offer to help!), so I'm trying to teach him to take a breath and try again slowly. But I think it can be useful to think about tools for anger before you really need to use them.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

There Are Cats In This Blog Post

I was trying to get our little guy out of the library playspace this week without tears, so I led him to the stacks of books and told him we could get There Are Cats in This Book out again. He ran excitedly alongside me until we realized it wasn't available. Oops. Not wanting to lose momentum, I asked if he wanted to find another book about cats ("meow meows" to him). He did, and we enlisted the help of a kind librarian. He showed me a trick I didn't know about, which will come in very handy. In the library's online catalog, I knew we could search by subject, but I didn't realize we could enter "cats juvenile fiction," for instance, to bring up picture books about cats within the children's section of the library. Score! There were thousands, but we didn't have to look far, because he led us over to the shelves and pulled two of his favorites. We actually sat down and read them there in the library (he's much better about reading in the library and doesn't get overstimulated nearly as much anymore), and he loved them both. We highly recommend them - the first for a younger child than the second one, although he enjoys both at 20 months, and they'd certainly be suitable for children older than him too.

Kitten's First Full Moon (Hardcover), by Kevin Henkes. Black and white drawings pair with bold text in this charming tale about a kitten who mistakes the moon for a bowl of milk. The language is perfect for a toddler; fairly short and straightforward. It concludes happily (of course).

Excerpt:

"It was Kitten's first full moon. When she saw it, she thought, There's a little bowl of milk in the sky. And she wanted it."

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: He enjoys this one very much. He says "muhmuh" when we start, and I can never quite discern whether he is calling the circle a moon or milk. If I say, "is that milk?" he'll say no. If I say "is it a moon?" he'll say yes. If I ask if the kitten thinks it is milk, he will occasionally make the sign for milk. Is he picking up on the fact that the kitten is mistaken? I'm not sure, but I think he's close to getting it.




Cat Up a Tree (Hardcover), by Ann Hassett. This is one of those picture books that parents delight in reading as much as children enjoy having it read to them. Nana Quimby notices a cat in a tree and calls the fire station to come help. She's out of luck, as the fire station doesn't rescue cats anymore. The cats begin multiplying, and she can find no help despite her increasingly frantic calls to the police station, library, post office, etc., culminating in a last ditch call to City Hall. In the end, her frustration with speaking to City Hall (who can't sympathize?) leads her to toss the phone right out the window. The open window and cord create a path for the cats to all hop into her house, where she appears happy to welcome them. In the amusing twist of an ending, all of the places she called begin calling HER now, for help with mice. This is a fun book, and it offers plenty of opportunities for counting, as the cats increase in number with every turn of the page.

Excerpt:

"Nana Quimby went to the window and counted five cats up the tree. She rang the police station. 'Help!' she cried. 'Five cats up a tree.' 'Sorry,' said the police station, 'we do not catch cats up a tree. Call back if the cats rob a bank.'"

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: I'm a little surprised each time that he makes it all the way to the end, because the text is a little longer than he'll usually sit still for, but so far he has completed it nearly every time. He loves when I count the cats, so he points to them and prompts me to do that.

Parent's Peeve: Near the end, the text uses the (as far as I know, non-) word "mouses" once.




Other books about cats that we've enjoyed (the link brings you to our review):
Kitty Up!
My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes
The Cat in the Hat
The Pudgy Peek-A-Boo Book
There Are Cats in This Book



Do you have any other favorite feline books?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Do you Do-A-Dot?

Lately our son loves art time almost as much as reading time (well, not quite THAT much). One of his favorite tools is his set of Do-A-Dot markers.



They're like bingo markers, with washable paint. Easy to hold and fun to dab with, the markers come in sets of six. We have the bright primary colored pack. He loves to take the box, carefully choose a color, give it a shake, then hand it to me to open. I hand it back, he dabs four or five times, then reaches for the cap. He really enjoys trying to screw the cap back on, making sure to "accidentally" touch the tip with his finger in the process (did I mention the paint is washable?). Then he chooses another color, and we repeat. We had an issue with one of our markers a couple of weeks ago, so we contacted the company, and they very generously replaced his problematic marker and sent along this fun activity book in the envelope.



The pages inside are nice and sturdy (not flimsy coloring page type sheets), with simple, thick black line drawings and circles here and there for kids to practice their aim at with the dot marker. They're also perforated for easy tearing out of the completed works of art. He was so excited to open it up and get to work. He doesn't have the dexterity (or interest) to hit the dots yet, but he had a great time coloring in a fish and then a butterfly. I had no idea these existed, and now I see they come in all different varieties, including one about cars and trucks:



You know that will find it's way into our Christmas stocking this year.

Up to this point, we've mainly just used our dots on blank sheets of paper (or on precut pieces of cardstock to make bookmarks). I think I'll still keep using them this way most often, because I like to encourage the creativity and imagination of a blank sheet of paper. But the coloring pages look like they'll be great for practicing too. The inside cover of the book offered the idea of using white crayons for resist painting, which I'd never tried before. I took a blank piece of paper, asked him to name some letters that he'd like me to draw for him, then drew them thickly with white crayon. Then we dotted over them with the markers. We did the same thing with a few stars and hearts added to the coloring pages. He was delighted to see the image "magically" appear.

I think I'll be pulling these out often once winter hits. Do you Do-A-Dot? What is your favorite activity with them?

Disclosure: Although this reads a bit like an advertisement, we're not being compensated in any way (other than the activity book above, which was not in exchange for this post.) I just like to share the products that bring us joy.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Richard Scarry is not my uncle

... or my brother, or grandparent, or any other affiliated relative or friend (don't I wish). Our little guy just loves his books. So we keep reading more, and then I can't help telling everyone about them. Here's our latest find:

Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever! (Giant Little Golden Book) (Hardcover), by Richard Scarry. As the cover boasts, this thick (288-page!) tome includes "82 wonderful stories for boys and girls." Some "stories" will look very familiar to those who have read Richard Scarry's other picture books, with pages identifying different work vehicles and foods, for instance. But unlike the other Scarry books we've read, this one also includes a number of short tales - some suited for children as young as ours (1 1/2) and others with more lengthy text for an older child. It also includes nursery rhymes and poems or stories about colors, months of the year, the alphabet, shapes, and numbers, among others. I might be mistaken, but there don't seem to be any pickle cars, apple cars, etc. here, so if you're looking for that kind of trademark Scarry silliness, you'll want to check out one of his other word books. I guess it's because I don't have a page-ripper, but I love this book all the more for not being a board book. It seems like one that we'd treasure for years as he grows into the rest of the stories. Oh no, I might feel ANOTHER Richard Scarry purchase coming on.

Excerpt:

"Goodnight, Little Bear. by Patrician Scarry. It is time for Little bear to go to bed. Mother Bear closes the storybook. She gives Little Bear a good-night kiss. / Then over to his big furry father runs the little bear. Wheee! Father Bear swings his little one high up to his shoulders for a ride to bed. / 'Duck your head,' calls Mother Bear, just in time. And into the snug little bedroom they go."

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: He loves it. Already familiar with the picture identification pages from Scarry's other books, he honed in on those right away, but there are also some new favorites, like a story about colors. His only complaint is that he loves to count the three crosses on the ambulances in Scarry's books ("Unnn!, two!, eeeee!"), and the ambulances in this book only have ONE cross each.




You can read about our other Richard Scarry favorites here.

Mi perro se ha perdido!

I love this book, which we were lucky enough to receive a copy of this week. Amazon says ages 4-8. I suppose that's right, but we're enjoying it immensely at 20 months. (Apologies for the lack of a proper Spanish font in the review. I can't get it to work at the moment and want to post. I'll go back and edit later, time willing).

My Dog Is Lost (Picture Books) (Hardcover), by Ezra Jack Keats and Pat Cherr. My dog is lost! or "Mi perro se ha perdido!" is about a boy named Juanito, who has just moved to New York City from Puerto Rico, and doesn't speak any English. His homesickness is compounded when he loses his dog Pepito. He tries to find him, but can't communicate with others to help him. He sees a shop window with "Aqui se habla espanol" written on it. The inhabitants help him to make a sign (as pictured on the cover), and he walks around showing people. Using gestures and a few words of Spanish, he answers questions about his dog, and a diverse group of strangers (African American, Chinese, white) begin to help him search. In the end, a policeman on a horse helps him recover his beloved perrito, and of course all are happy. A brief dictionary in the back reinforces the Spanish words learned throughout the short book. The illustrations very effectively tell the story in black and white sketches with bursts of an orangey red throughout.

Excerpt:

"Juanito walked to Chinatown. He showed the paper to Lily and Kim Lee. Lily pointed to the crayons in her little brother's hand and asked, 'What color is your dog' Juanito tugged at his brightly colored shirt. / Rojo!"

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: At first, I tried reading the book as is, and he quickly tired of it and fussed as I wanted to finish reading it myself. Once I'd finished, I gave it another try without all of the text. I just pointed to the images and explained the gist of the story line, and the Spanish words. He loved it, and we've read it about 7 times since with no fussing. I'm sure he'll grow into the book in time, and I'm so pleased to have this one on our shelf.




More on Jack Ezra Keats, per Wikipedia. In part, "Keats is best known for introducing multiculturalism into mainstream American children's literature. He was one of the first children’s book authors in the English-speaking world to use an urban setting for his stories, and he developed the use of collage as a medium for illustration." We've been holding our review of Snowy Day until wintertime.

Help:
Do you have any favorite books that weave Spanish vocabulary into a story? We recently bought a bilingual version of a Richard Scarry book we love, but I'm interested in other picture books rather than word books.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Advice for a Budding Bibliophile

I received an email from a reader asking for advice this week, and I hope she doesn't mind me answering here.

The reader has an 8 1/2 month old son. She wonders whether our "infant bibliophile" showed interest in books at that age, and if so, what kinds of books he liked. She has been reading to her son since he was in the womb, but he doesn't seem interested in books (despite having tried reading him classic, popular titles). He tends to look away or close the book and start playing with it.

My thoughts:

First, good for you for introducing books to your son! I'm sure eventually your love of books will be contagious, and you'll be moaning that you have to read him a favorite book for the tenth time in a row. I'll share a few of our son's favorites at that age and some ideas for helping to spark your son's interest in books. But I do so with the caveat that I think you're doing a great job and that he's probably just at a stage where he wants to explore everything around him at the exclusion of sitting still.

Before I offer book recommendations, here are some general suggestions off the top of my head:
  1. Feel free to ignore the text if it is too much for him or he doesn't like it. Just point to things instead. I won't tell the author.
  2. Teach him to turn the pages if he doesn't already, and make a big deal out of him doing it; clap when he does it, etc.
  3. Choosing the right titles. I offer some specific book recommendations below. If he shows an interest in anything, like trucks or horses or dogs, try to get a book with that in it and point it out to him. This might not work until he is older, but it definitely works for us now at 20 months (that's why we read so many books with cars and trucks!). You can also read this post with 15 Suggestions for Picking the Best Children's Books for Your Little Readers
  4. Pack some small board books or cloth books in your bag to entertain him when he's a captive audience in his stroller, in waiting rooms, etc.



Book recommendations:

Our son did love books from when he was an infant (hence the blog title).  But not all books.  Certain ones would keep his interest more than others.  There are a number of well-loved, popular children's titles that our son wouldn't look at at that age, or even now.

The first books he really LOVED were probably Nina Laden's cute board book Peek-A-Who? and Open the Barn Door, a "chunky" board book with lift the flaps for farm animals.

Peek-A Who? (Board book), by Nina Laden. Peek-A-Who? has a mirror at the end (as do some of her other books), and his face would light up when he got to the mirror. To this day he kisses the mirror whenever he gets to the end of the book. We would prop it up on his quilt for tummy time so he could try to crawl toward it.

Open the Barn Door (A Chunky Book(R)), by Christopher Santoro. Open the Barn Door is a simple book about animal sounds. The flaps were difficult for him to maneuver at first, but he absolutely loved staring at it in rapt attention while we read it and did the flaps for him. I love the size of those "chunky" brand books for little hands to grasp.

Another in that size that he always liked is this ABC Board Book, which he received at his 6 month doctor's visit (thank you Reach Out and Read!).

A B C Board Book (Board book).






He also always loved large picture books like these:

My Little Word Book (My Little Books) (Board book), by Roger Priddy. He loves almost every Roger Priddy book he's seen, and Roger Priddy has written MANY books.



Big Board First 100 Words (Bright Baby) (Board book), by Roger Priddy.




Also, many children that age love "touch and feel" type books. Our son didn't like them as much as flaps, but some of his favorite touch and feel books were:

Fuzzy Bee and Friends (Cloth Books), by Roger Priddy.






Fluffy Chick ( Cloth Books), by Roger Priddy.






Curious George at the Zoo A Touch and Feel TV Board Book (A Touch and Feel Book) (Board book), by H. A. Rey.



Lift the flap books were always a hit in our house, although I can't remember by what age he started to be able to lift the flaps -- certainly by one year.  He loved Open the Barn Door, and also:

Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book (Board book), by Rod Campbell.




Kids also love to look at other babies' faces, so maybe your son would like some books with baby faces.  These are two cute (slightly sappy) ones, with babies and their moms and dads:

Mommy Loves Me (Board book), by Rachael Parfitt.






Daddy Loves Me (Hardcover), by DK Publishing.







Have other suggestions for this reader? Feel free to chime in with a comment!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Paying It Forward


One of my favorite blogs, Unplug Your Kids, recently posted about a Pay It Forward sort of game.  I'd read about these things around the "blogosphere" before, but never participated.  I was tempted to join in this time because it came from a blog I enjoy reading so much, and when I read that the recipient would need to be patient because the gift might come from a trip to France, well, I was sold.  We received our package tonight, including a lovely bookmark (perfect for an infant bibliophile), oversized postcard, and scented stone for our linen cupboard.  Thank you!

Now it's your turn.  The first three people to leave a comment on this post saying they want to participate will receive a mystery package from us.  I'll email you for your address, so make sure your email address is available in your profile.  The only stipulation is that you "pay it forward" by doing the same thing for three other people.  What you send doesn't have to be expensive or fancy or large.  Just a little something to brighten someone's day.  I'd tell you what we're sending, but a) it might ruin the surprise, and b) I don't really have any idea yet!  

Who wants to play?