Feed Me Books Friday: Making Memories

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I leave for vacation tomorrow, so for this week I hope you will oblige me with a little break and enjoy some of my previous travel related posts, like: 

Looking forward to reading all your suggestions when I return! Have a great week!


Feed Me Books Friday: Prioritizing Packing

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How Many Monster Trucks Can You Fit in a Suitcase?
I’m starting to prepare for our summer get-away; I’m a list-writing, pile-making, basket-sorting kind of packer. I need to start early. B must have learned his packing behavior from me, or maybe he’s just eager. As soon as we even talk about a trip on the horizon, he’s ready to pack his bag. Unfortunately, he hasn’t yet mastered the art of practical packing. (I know, I know, HE’S 5!)
Diffusing a Potential Argument with Humor
The Bag I'm Taking to Grandma'sRather than arguing about B’s choices after he’s already gotten his heart set on taking 5 pairs of shoes, Mr. Potato Head, and a squirt gun, I’ve learned to have a conversation early about what we’ll need when we get there and what kinds of toys we’ll be able to enjoy. It helps him make better choices, and he develops the cognitive skill of prioritizing and sorting. A fun prelude to making smart choices is Shirley Neitzel’s The Bag I’m Taking to Grandma’s. We love every one of her rebus books we’ve come across, but this one is especially high on the list. The young packer in this story is preparing for a trip to Grandma’s and some of his choices are understandable, if impractical, while others are downright outlandish! The bag could never realistically hold all the items he chooses, but that is part of the fun. Eventually, Mom intervenes with some more practical suggestions, but he still gets to make some decisions too. The story is told in rhyme, with rebus pictures representing all the items he wants to pack, making it perfect for a read-together activity. Read it enough times (like us) and your child will be “reading” the whole thing on his own.
Appropriate for toddlers, preschoolers
Any suggestions for packing success with a preschooler? Cool ideas for fun in the hotel? Remember, I’m making lists here!


Feed Me Books Friday: Father’s Day Book Picks

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Don’t Spoil the Surprise!

I’m running the risk of revealing my husband’s Father’s day gift by sharing my book choices this week, but what good would they be to you next week? I’ll just have to keep his eyes off my blog for a couple days…

Making Memories Cover to Cover

It’s a chicken-or-egg question: do books evoke such strong feelings and memories for me because I love to read, or do I love to read because books evoke such strong feelings and memories? In either case, books play a prominent role in vacation memories, birthdays, and holidays in our lives. It stands to reason then, that part of Daddy’s Father’s day present would be a book. In past years, I’ve chosen books that highlight special relationships between fathers and children or those that feature dad as the hero. This year, Daddy will be receiving two books to share with his two little boys.

The Big Boys
2-Set: The Boy Mechanic & The Boy Mechanic Makes Toys (The Boy Mechanic 200 Classic Things To Build, The Boy Mechanic Makes Toys 159 Games, Toys, Tricks, and other Amusements)
Daddy and B will hone their motor skills while they enjoy The Boy Mechanic Makes Toys, from the Editors of Popular Mechanics. As an honest reviewer, I have to admit I have not read all 275 pages. That said, I was sold after reading the jacket, the foreword, the table of contents, and a few random pages. The book contains an array of 159 projects from the pages of Popular Mechanics magazine in the early 1900s. The foreword emphasizes the value of ingenuity and craftsmanship. Methods and materials have not been updated for modern advancements, and some projects are more entertaining to read about than to actually produce, such as the folding-chair sleigh or fighting roosters toy. However, the majority are intriguing and sure to result in some quality father-son time for anyone with some mechanical inclinations. Chapters include: Making Magic, The Science of Fun, The Really Great Outdoors, Fun for Little Ones, Fun for Older Kids, and The Toy Workshop. I know B will be excited to learn the old-time magic tricks, and will definitely want to try out projects like the toy water plane or dry cell toy tractor.

The Little Guy
Daddy Cuddles
T is not yet big enough to participate in the “projecting” that B and Daddy enjoy together (though he thinks he is) so the book I chose for him to enjoy with Daddy will help them spend some quiet time together and is sure to lead to some giggles. Toddlers like T who spend all day with Mommy need special time to develop an emotional bond with Daddy, too. Daddy Cuddles, by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben depicts six different animal daddies cuddling their young. The text is repetitive, but that’s comforting and developmentally appropriate for toddlers. Each page reads, “Daddy [animal] cuddles his [young].” The illustrations show how the animal families exchange “cuddles” and I’m sure Daddy and T (and even B) will share some laughs as the boys cling to Daddy’s belly like the baboons or nuzzle noses like the tigers. We already enjoy Mommy Hugs and Daddy Kisses from the same series, and this one is sure to become a bedtime favorite too.

Appropriate for: babies, toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades, Dads

What are your favorite Daddy books? Will you be doing anything special to celebrate fathers this weekend?


Feed Me Books Friday: Feeling Full

Friday, June 10, 2011

And Not from Dinner… This may sound like a riddle, but it’s no joke: What do you possess that multiplies every time you give it away? The answer: love, gratitude, and joy. It reminds me of a song called the Magic Penny that lingers in my brain from somewhere in childhood:

I’m full of gratitude for the amazing people in my life and the blessings they bring. Recently B “graduated” from preschool. While “graduating” did not require a whole lot of determination or perseverance on B’s part, it is an important milestone because he feels emotionally prepared to enter kindergarten in the fall (even if I’m not). The sense of completion and accomplishment he possesses is thanks to a fantastic teacher, a caring assistant teacher, and all the committed parents that make the class successful. So how does one acknowledge such a deep sense of gratitude with a token end-of-year gift? I’ll bet you know my answer: with a book!

Be a Filler, not a Dipper
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
If you are not already familiar with the concept of bucket filling, you may want to check out How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, or the associated strenths-based website. If you are familiar, you know that a bucket-filler is someone who uses their words or actions to make others feel good, and doing so makes the filler feel good as well. A dipper is someone who spreads negativity or unkindness. It’s one of those concepts that’s so simple it’s profound. While I think the depth of the grown-up version is worthwhile, the idea is soundly presented in picture book format by Carol McCloud in Have You Filled a Bucket Today? McCloud explains the bucket filling and dipping metaphors in terms that kids can understand and contexts they can relate to. Her message is straightforward and upbeat. It is in fact the source of whole behavior programs in schools around the country!

Fill and Be Filled

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? made a great gift for B’s teacher because it exemplifies the way she teaches and leads her life and also provided her a tool for sharing that attitude with future students. I found a printable bookplate to include, and we personalized the book by tracing B’s hand and including a photo. I designed my own card to accompany the gift, and I was so happy with it I’m going to keep a few printed and ready for acknowledging other bucket-fillers in my life – there are lots! I'm including a linke to download the card - it's a MS Publisher file. I am not yet saavy at converting to a PDF, but if you are and want to teach me, I'm happy to share it in any format that works for you!
Appropriate for toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades
Who fills your bucket? Have you done any bucket-filling today?


Feed Me Books Friday: It’s Birthday Time Again

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Party Prep

My regular readers know birthdays are a BIG deal in my family; not in the ponies in the front yard, contracted entertainers, and fireworks kind of way, but it’s really important that the birthday –boy or –girl feel celebrated. That means making choices for the meal, as many family members as we can round up, and enjoying (or enduring) a birthday song over 2 minutes long! I’ve been prepping this week for a pirate party – namely a Jake and the Never Land Pirates party. B is completely enamored with the new show on Disney Junior, and since it’s so new (and I’ve never been one to spend a bunch of money on licensed character paraphernalia anyway) I’m creating a lot from scratch. We’re still on the hunt for a pirate book to enjoy as a Jake alternative – suggestions?

Our Tradition Gift
Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You
Each year, along with toys and games and clothes, I select a book for each of my boys that expresses how loved and special they are. This year, my choice for B is Wherever You Are, My Love will Find You, by Nancy Tillman. Tillman was nominated for a Children’s Choice Book Award for her illustrations in this book, which is how we were first introduced to it. The illustrations are indeed captivating, but the text is also worthy of recognition. It catalogs the places and situations that love finds its recipient without feeling list-like. The rhythm and rhyme is almost reminiscent of Dr. Seuss a la Oh, The Places You’ll Go:

“You can dance ‘till you’re dizzy, Paint ‘till you’re blue. There’s no place, not one, that my love can’t find you.”

If a little mush leaves a bad taste in your mouth, this one probably isn’t for you, but if you’re a sentimental like me, you’ll enjoy just the right amount of creative language, thoughtfully evoked memories, and beautiful illustrations, without feeling sappy. I’m quite tempted to use the text as a jumping off point for a scrapbook for each of the boys. I see childhood pictures spanning many years illustrating phrases like:

“Make a big splash. Go out on a limb. My love will find you. My love can swim!”
Whether I’ll get to work on this project or it will become another of my “best laid plans,” remains to be seen, but this birthday book will be enjoyed for years to come.

Appropriate for: everyone!

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