Sweet Reads

whizz pop chocolate shopMagical candy is kind of a draw in children’s literature. Mr. Star Wars recently read The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop and let me borrow it when he finished. In the book, a family inherits a closed down chocolate shop with lots of magical secrets. It is my newest Charlie and the Chocolate Factory “read alike” book. Books that use food (particularly chocolate) as a central plot detail are a big hit with kids.

Mr. Star Wars and I tried to name all of the books we know that use food in some way. We came up with chapter books with candy, chapter books with non-traditional foods– like worms (!), picture books, an even some books that one food item steals a scene. I cut us off after we started on the picture book titles because there are just so many books we could list. What is your favorite book that will make your mouth water?

snicker of magic

Candy (mostly chocolate)

beetles lightly toasted

Gross (but hilarious)

  • Beetles, Lightly Toasted by Phyllis R. Naylor
  • Freckle Juice by Judy Blume
  • How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

bone soup

Picture Books

Scene Stealer

charlie and the chocolate factory

 

Board Books (an Addendum to The Best Baby Gifts)

childrens board books

I am not sure what I was thinking when I did not include baby books as a suggestion for The Best Baby Gifts in my last post.

Board books are a great newborn baby and first birthday gift. The heavier page is sturdy and stands up to the wear and tear of a baby or toddler. They are specifically made to protect against drool damage. They are a good price point and wrap very well.

Many classic children’s picture books that were originally published in traditional hardback with paper pages are now available in a board book version too. Board books are typically not longer than 30 pages, so you may get an abridged version of the original book in the board book style. If you want to get your money’s worth, go for the board book version as a first book.

What books have you given as a baby or toddler gift?

  • Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
  • Baby Faces and others by DK Publishing
  • The Cheerios Play Book by Lee Wade
  • Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
  • Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Jamberry by Bruce Deegan
  • Moo, Ba, La La La! and Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
  • My Truck is Stuck by Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk
  • The Napping House by Audrey Wood
  • 1 is One by Tasha Tudor
  • Open the Barn Door by Christopher Santoro
  • Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
  • Sheep in a Jeep and Sheep in a Shop by Nancy E. Shaw
  • Time for Bed by Mem Fox
  • Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and others by Eric Carle

1 is One page sample

School Stories

In Andrew Clements’ book The School Story, one character says that a school story is “a short novel about kids and stuff that happens mostly at school.” I asked a friend of mine who works in children’s publishing if this type of story really is one of the most popular genres in children’s literature as Clements implies in his book. She said that Clements is an expert at the school story and would know. I get it. These books are typically humorous and easy for children to read because they portray a world that the reader knows well– life at school. Here are a few titles that have received rave reviews from my children, my children’s friends, and my students. What other titles get a gold star?

Chapter Books for Upper Elementary Grades

  • Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger
  • Blubber by Judy Blume
  • Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
  • Lunch MoneyThe School StoryNo TalkingFrindle, or others by Andrew Clements
  • The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
  • 7th Level by Jody Feldman
  • Double Dog Dare by Lisa Graff
  • The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
  • Loser by Jerry Spinelli
  • Hank Zipzer series by Henry Winkler

Chapter Books for Primary Grades

  • Bailey School Kids series by Marcia T. Jones
  • Marty McGuire series by Kate Messner
  • Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
  • Jigsaw Jones Mystery series by James Preller

Picture Books

  • Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  • Miss Nelson series by James Marshall
  • David Goes to School by David Shannon
  • Miss Bindergarten books by Joseph Slate
  • How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Tolen and Teague
  • How the Second Grade Got $8205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty by Nathan Zimelman

Because I Just Can’t Read That Book One More Time

There are many benefits to reading picture books and chapter books multiple (even hundreds) of times, but if you are the parent doing the reading, this can be a labor of love. A dear friend told me that if she reads Pinkalicious one more time, she may have to “set the book on fire” (original comment has been censored).

As repetitive as it can be for parents, it is a good thing to read a picture book so many times your kid can recite the words from memory. Children are absorbing the words into their “sight” word bank without realizing it. They are picking up word and sentence structure patterns like capitalization at the beginning of a sentence and punctuation at the end of a sentence. They are learning to follow the story from left to right and top to bottom. I am not recommending you force yourself to suffer through the same book beyond your breaking point, but I am recommending you read aloud often with your children (and that may include a re-run or two… or ten).

Reading aloud to your child models good reading techniques and helps with fluency. It gives you time to stop and talk about what is happening, so you can informally check listening skills and improve your child’s comprehension. Picture books are short, so it is easy to complete a whole story in one sitting. Picture books for older readers have a lot of depth and require some critical thought, so you can keep reading these books all the way through elementary school; there are many I use for lessons with my 4th grade students. Lastly, it is enjoyable and relaxing and how often do you get that kind of time with your child?

The picture books on the list below pass my can-be-read-10-days-in-a-row test. Help me out with additional read aloud suggestions that won’t get stale too quickly. The books below may be new to you, but they have been in high rotation at my house for awhile now.

Amazing Illustrations

  • King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood (or others by this author)
  • The Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem
  • Flotsam by David Wiesner (or others by this author)
  • The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett (or others by this author)

Puzzle-y/Interactive

  • Who’s Hiding? by Satoru Onishi
  • Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young
  • What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
  • Who is Driving? by Leo Timmers
  • I Spy: An Alphabet in Art by Lucy Micklethwait
  • Press Here by Herve Tullet

Non-Fiction/Based on a True Story

  • Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell
  • My Apron by Eric Carle (be sure to read the author note at the end)
  • One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh
  • Two Bobbies by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery
  • Emily by Michael Bedard

For a Laugh

  • Dear Deer: A Book of Homophones by Gene Barretta
  • Giggle, Giggle, Quack by Doreen Cronin (or others by this author)
  • A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech
  • Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

Other Picture Book Authors I Like

  • Mem Fox
  • Patricia Polacco
  • David Shannon
  • Mo Willems
  • Chris Van Allsburg