Friday, December 15, 2017

The RAHK Report for 12/15/17

Family Read-Alouds

  • A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
    Miss Muffet really enjoyed this book, so I was happy to read it for her (and for Bo Peep, who only listened sporadically), but I was also glad to see it end. Paddington just causes mess after mess in each chapter and after about three such episodes the gimmick got old for me. I will not be in a hurry to read this again to the little girls.
  • Once in Royal David's City by Kathleen Lines and Harold Jones
    We're planning to go to a Living Nativity at a local shrine this weekend, and last year, the text they used was nearly identical  to what is in this book. I read the story aloud and the girls acted it out using the punch-outs from Make & Play: Nativity. (Lines and Jones also collaborated on Lavender's Blue, my all-time favorite nursery rhyme collection.)
  • The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia Scarry
    My husband I had vastly different tastes in books as kids, but we have this book in common. We bought a new copy for the girls when Miss Muffet was a baby and we read it every year. Bo Peep has a cold and kept insisting she couldn't smell anything during our two readings of the story, but she did seem to enjoy scratching and sniffing anyway. 
  • Hanna's Christmas by Melissa Peterson, illustrated by Melissa Iwai
    Wednesday was the feast of St. Lucy (aka Santa Lucia) so we made crowns and read this sweet story about a girl who moves from Sweden to the US and worries that her family won't celebrate St. Lucia day anymore. We also discovered that the author, better known to most as Melissa Wiley, made a YouTube video of herself reading the book. Since copies of the book are rare and expensive, this is a great way to enjoy the book if you can't own it yourself.
  • "Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Claus" from A Classic Christmas
    My husband read this aloud to the big girls after dinner one night, and it was a big hit. They both love Laura and Mary. I'm excited for them to enjoy all the books of the Little House series as they get older.

Little Miss Muffet (age 4)

  • The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden, illustrated by Barbara Cooney
    I'm slowly reading this aloud to Miss Muffet on her own, since Bo Peep isn't ready for such a long story yet. There are actually quite a few characters, and I find that we need to recap them each time we return to the book so she can keep track of who is who. We're not even a quarter of the way through the story yet, but we have until the end of the Christmas season so there is no rush. 
  • Christmas in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren and Ilon Wikland
    Of the dozen or so Christmas picture books I took out for the girls this week, this is the one Miss Muffet keeps asking me to read. She also loved it last year, though I don't think she remembers that. I really enjoy it as well, and I'm hoping to read The Children of Noisy Village in the coming year.
In addition to these read-alouds with me, Miss Muffet is reading tons of books on her own. I frequently see her reading picture books and easy readers to her little sisters as well. Jumping Joan is a slightly better audience than busy Bo Peep, but they both enjoying having a big sister who can share stories with them.

Another fun thing I observed this week was Miss Muffet using the words of a picture book character to describe her own feelings. She was upset with Bo Peep for not being scolded for something and she said, "When she does something wrong it was always last year." She was paraphrasing what Frances says about Gloria in A Birthday for Frances when Frances is upset that Gloria stole her shovel and pail and her mother points out that this happened a long time ago. I loved that in her anger she used a literary reference to make her feelings known.

Little Bo Peep (age 2 years, 2 months)

  • Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella by Adrienne Adams
    Little Bo Peep loves this book both because it can be sung and because it contains two illustrations of Baby Jesus. I've had to limit her access to the book a little bit because she gets very upset when she can't find the pages that have Baby Jesus, and there have been several tantrums. But she loves the book and I've probably read it once a day this week. 
  • Deck the Halls by Veronica Vasylenko
    This is another singable book, which Bo Peep has requested several times. She's slowly learning to sing along with it. 
  • My First Prayers for Christmas by Maite Roche
    We have all four of the board books in this series, and we only bring this one out during Advent and Christmas. Bo Peep has taken a real liking to it. One night, I read it as her bedtime "story" and another day she took it to bed with her for her nap. 
  • We're Going on a Bear Hunt: Snow Globe Edition by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
    After a short break from this book, Bo Peep has a renewed interest in it. I think it helped that we had a little snowstorm this week. 

Jumping Joan (age 8 weeks)

Jumping Joan has started smiling more regularly so now we can tell when she's enjoying a story. Here are the books she heard this week: 

  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle
  • Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle
  • Mrs. Wishy Washy by Joy Cowley

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fumbling Through Fantasy: The Trouble with Jenny's Ear by Oliver Butterworth (1960)

Jenny's older brothers are very interested in telecommunications. Their uncle, who shares their fascination, regularly brings them radios, speakers, microphones, television screens, and other equipment so that they can experiment with new technology and maybe even come up with ways to make their lives easier. As her brothers find ways to revolutionize everything from schoolwork to waking the household up in the morning, Jenny finds that she has developed an even more efficient way to receive messages from those around her. Jenny's ear is able to hear what people are thinking. When her brothers learn of this exciting new ability, they immediately look for ways to use it to make money, taking their sister to the local spelling bee, and later, to nationally televised quiz shows, where she can't be beat - at least, not until her unique ability begins to fade away.

As he did in The Enormous Egg, here Oliver Butterworth tells a fantastical story that almost feels plausible. In many fantasy novels, characters who develop strange abilities panic about them and go to great lengths to keep them a secret. In this book, though, Jenny's family learns of her newfound sensitive hearing and begin to fold this new information into their lives as though it is no big deal. They do keep it a secret from the quiz show hosts and such, at least at first, but the book is less about hiding a magic power and more about exploring the ethical and practical implications of being able to spy on the thoughts of others without even really trying.

The Trouble with Jenny's Ear is a light, humorous story which explores serious subjects in a whimsical way. The focus on quiz shows and the novelty of television and other electronics decidedly dates the book to the '50s or '60s, but that just makes it more charming and fun to read. This would be a fun family read-aloud, even for kids as young as 5 or 6, and a good independent read for ages 8 and up.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Read-at-Home Mom's Favorite Books of 2017

As 2017 winds down, it is time to name my favorites of the books I read this year. I have divided my list into three categories: new children's books published in 2017, "old school" children's books published in the 1980s or before, and adult books new and old.


Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Brian Floca
Read 3/1/17; reviewed 4/27/17.
Why I loved it: appealing illustrations, faithful to the conventions of the fairy tale genre, clever writing with many laugh-out-loud funny moments

Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Read 8/21/17; reviewed on Goodreads.
Why I loved it: great characterization (especially of the difficult-to-love protagonist), funny quotable lines, perfect marriage of text and illustrations 

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
Read 8/25/17; reviewed 10/5/17.
Why I loved it: traditional feel, strong sibling relationships, heartwarming ending 

Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Read 9/2/17; reviewed 11/15/17.
Why I loved it: festive winter mood, unpredictable plot, wonderful sense of setting 

Slider by Pete Hautman
Read 10/22/17; reviewed on Goodreads.
Why I loved it: great voice, unique subject matter, well-developed supporting character with autism

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
Read 12/2/17; reviewed 12/6/17.
Why I loved it: unique and compelling historical setting, buoyant and resourceful main character, believable conflicts and resolutions


When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson
Read 4/12/17; reviewed 4/24/17.
Why I loved it: beautifully descriptive writing, straightforward storytelling style, intriguing and unpredictable plot

Those Miller Girls! by Alberta Wilson Constant
Read 7/21/17; reviewed 7/28/17.
Why I loved it: clever dialogue filled with literary allusions and Latin phrases, details about early 20th century daily living, heartwarming family relationships

The Haunting by Margaret Mahy
Read 9/10/17; reviewed 11/8/17.
Why I loved it: fascinating family secrets, interesting mix of characters, fantasy elements rooted in psychology rather than magic

The Crow and the Castle by Keith Robertson
Read 9/28/17; reviewed 10/17/17.
Why I loved it: mischievous and boyish sense of humor, lots of details about the game of chess, far-fetched yet grounded in reality

Where the Lilies Bloom by Vera and Bill Cleaver
Read 9/27/17; reviewed 11/22/17.
Why I loved it: engaging and meaningful descriptions, compelling characters, unusual and interesting setting


Gates of Excellence by Katherine Paterson
Read 8/17/17; reviewed 9/8/17.
Why I loved it: insights into Katherine Paterson's writing process, reviews of obscure books, wonderful essay about faith and children's literature

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence
Read 8/22/17; reviewed on Goodreads.
Why I loved it: great concept, good mix of genres and types of books, laugh-out-loud funny commentary

Still Life by Louise Penny
Read 9/22/17; reviewed on Goodreads.
Why I loved it: strong sense of place, believable quirky characters, effective use of shifting points of view

Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child by Anthony Esolen
Read 10/4/17; reviewed on Goodreads.
Why I loved it: uses many literary allusions to bolster arguments, calm and rational arguments regarding complex and emotional issues, excellent and persuasive writing

Real Murders by Charlaine Harris
Read 11/3/17; reviewed on Goodreads.
Why I loved it: unique plot for a cozy mystery, quirky small-town setting, flawed and funny main character

The Deep End by Julie Mulhern
Read 11/4/17; reviewed on Goodreads.
Why I loved it: ironic tone, 1970s pop culture references, well-structured plot

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
Read 12/2/17.
Why I loved it: wealth of information about veterinary techniques, comedy of errors in Herriot's courtship of his wife, descriptions of the quirks of various English farmers

I'm linking up today with The Broke and the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday, where this week's theme is Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

The RAHM Report for 12/11/17

What I Finished Reading

  • Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
    I had never read anything by Hilderbrand, and this was an enjoyable first experience with her books. It ended on a cliffhanger so I immediately had to start the second book. 
  • Prairie School by Lois Lenski
    This was not as wonderful as Strawberry Girl, but it was still quite good. I enjoyed the illustrations as well as the story. 
  • Snowbound Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner
    The Boxcar Children books really do not hold up that well. I loved these as a kid, but found this one tedious to read as an adult. The mystery was barely a mystery, and the four kids' personalities are too similar. I was going to review this for Old School Kidlit, but may end up skipping it. 
  • Betsy's Winterhouse by Carolyn Haywood
    Another charming and nostalgic read from this series. It wasn't quite as wintry as I was expecting, but it did include Christmas and lots of fun ideas for playing indoors when the weather is too cold to go out.
  • The Tough Winter by Robert Lawson
    This is the sequel to Rabbit Hill. It's good, but not great. Review coming at the end of the month. 

What I'm Currently Reading

  • I'll Have What She's Having : How Nora Ephron's Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy by Erin Carlson
    I'm almost done with this one, and I have really enjoyed it. It's interesting to hear the background behind a lot of the decisions that were made during the filming of the three movies referenced in the title. I really want to see the movies again now!
  • Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand
    I'm only a few pages into this one, but it seems comparable to the first book of the series so far. I want to try to finish the series before the new year - I usually don't want to read these holiday-themed family stories anymore once the Christmas season passes.
  • Far Out the Long Canal by Meindert DeJong
    I haven't started this one just yet, but it was my original pick for a winter story for Old School Kidlit. I still plan to read and review it even though I have already read several winter titles.

I'll be linking up today with Unleashing Readers/Teach Mentor Texts and Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Review: We're Going on a Bear Hunt Snow Globe Edition (2017), Make & Play: Nativity (2017), and Press Out & Color: Christmas Decorations (2017)

With a new baby in the house, it can sometimes be difficult to keep my older girls, Miss Muffet (age four) and Bo Peep (age two) entertained during times when my attention has to be on their new sister. That's why I was so thankful to receive review copies of new novelty and activity books from Candlewick Press/Nosy Crow.

The video of Michael Rosen performing We're Going on a Bear Hunt that Walker Books put out for the book's 25th anniversary has been a huge favorite of both Miss Muffet and Bo Peep. Bo Peep, especially, has taken a real liking to it, and she has learned to recite and move along with the video each time it plays. She was thrilled, therefore, to receive the snowglobe edition of the book for her birthday a few weeks ago. This is a pop-up edition of the original book, with full-color illustrations and a fun plastic snowglobe on the front cover. Bo Peep is rough on her books, but for a pop-up book, this one is surprisingly sturdy, and so far only one pop-up has been bent out of shape. Because she already knows the story, she can entertain herself without adult involvement by retelling each page from memory. She also loves to follow along with the video with the book in her lap. Even if you already have a copy of the original book, it's worth introducing this special edition into your collection, especially if it's a long-time favorite and you'd prefer not to let your toddler tear up a hardcover.

Miss Muffet gets bored more easily than her sister, so for her, I like to have some easy hands-on activities available to bring out when she needs something to do. Nosy Crow's new Christmas-themed gift books have been great for this so far this Advent season. For her birthday, I wrapped up the Make & Play Nativity by Joey Chou. Similar to the Busy Builders sets I reviewed on Tuesday, this book includes a set of punch-out pieces that can be assembled to form the key figures and props of a nativity scene. Our family nativity scene is too fragile to be handled by little hands, so this set was instantly appealing, as it makes it possible for Miss Muffet to act out the story without worrying about anything getting broken. There are 20 pieces in all, including Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus in the manger, shepherds, sheep, a donkey, an angel, and the three kings. We're going to see a living nativity in a couple of weeks, so this set is also a great way to prepare her for what she will see then.

After the section of the book containing the punch-outs there is also a section of Christmas activities and songs. The activities are pretty basic and unlikely to be new to a seasoned parent, and the songs, too, are easily found in almost any Christmas songbook. It is handy to have the songs right there to sing as we play with the pieces, but I doubt we will try any of the suggested crafts. I typically find more interesting ideas just scrolling Instagram or Pinterest. Overall, though, I was pleased with the quality of the cardboard pieces and the ease with which they can be put together. Miss Muffet had a little trouble getting them on straight, and as a result, some of our pieces wouldn't stand at first, but this was easily fixed with a quick adjustment and removing and replacing the stands on the figures did not seem to damage them at all.

The other Nosy Crow activity book we have been eager to begin using is Press Out & Color: Christmas Decorations by Kate McLelland. This is a set of 20 sparkly Christmas ornaments, embellished with gold accents, which kids can color and assemble. Though some of these ornaments are three dimensional when they are completed, others can lie flat, and I am planning to have Miss Muffet paint or color those and then mail them to relatives as gifts. The others I think we will hang on our own tree.

I like these ornaments because the cardboard is not too glossy to use with crayons, and because the designs are basic enough that painting over them with watercolor paint isn't likely to ruin them or distort them, even if the painting itself is a little messy. They make it possible for a preschooler to give a homemade gift that the recipient might actually want to save as a keepsake instead of an unidentifiable craft that can't really be used. (I'm all for process art, but sometimes you just want to give Grandma a gift that looks like what it's meant to be!) This book also works well across multiple age groups and abilities, as the ornaments are basically blank canvases to which kids can add their own personal creative touches.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Reading Through History: Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk (2017)

Once an infant in a skiff washed up on the shore of a tiny piece of land among the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts. Osh, the only man who lived there, found the baby, named her Crow, and began to care for her with the help of Miss Maggie, his neighbor on the nearby island of Cuttyhunk. Now it is 1925, and twelve-year-old Crow is happy with her little family, but she wishes she knew more about where she came from. The Cuttyhunk locals are convinced she came from Penikese, an island which previously housed a leper colony, and they are wary of her, refusing to make physical contact with her, to handle objects which she has touched, or to allow her to attend school for fear of contracting leprosy. When a scientist comes to Penikese to study birds, Crow notices his fire burning across the water one night, and she feels a sudden urge to also visit the island to seek clues about her origin. From here, Crow sets into motion a series of surprising events that lead to the truth about her identity, both in the past, as a newborn baby and now, as a young girl.

Lauren Wolk's sophomore children's novel, published on the heels of her Newbery Honor book, Wolf Hollow, is another piece of truly excellent writing. Unlike Wolf Hollow, which was initially written for adults, Beyond the Bright Sea was written with a child audience in mind, and it perfectly captures everything I think about when I imagine the quintessential middle grade novel. Everything about this book feels real and true: the insular setting, the quirky and unusual characters, the historical details about leprosy, and, most of all, the character of Crow. Akin to someone like Bo from Bo at Ballard Creek or Omakayas from The Birchbark House, she is an appealing optimist, equally loving toward her found family and curious about the one she lost, respectful of the adults who care for her, but also stubborn in her desire to know the truth at any cost. Osh, the wary and private older man who has become her adoptive father is her perfect foil: pessimistic where she is positive and uncertain where she is completely sure and secure. Osh and Miss Maggie are also the kind of adults lacking in the lives of most middle grade protagonists. The fact that they take Crow seriously and give her the latitude to explore the questions that concern her make them feel like real-life parents who truly love their child. These three characters form a wonderfully complex family unit that stirs up strong emotions in the reader.

But why, you ask, would a middle grade reader want to read historical fiction about a leper colony in the first place? Well, because this is not really a book about leper colonies, or even about the 1920s. Wolk uses these historical elements to tell a story that deals with universal questions and concerns. All kids, even those who have always known their parents, are curious about the way they were as young children, and about incorporating facts about their pasts into their images of themselves in the present. All kids, too, enjoy reading about characters who feel believable and whose success matters to them. Crow doesn't come across as someone living nearly 100 years ago. Instead, she is presented as a spirited girl with an appealing personality and a strong sense of determination that today's kids can easily appreciate and love. Sure, if you try to sell this to a middle school kid by telling her it's a historical fiction novel about lepers, you're not going to get far. But if you introduce a reader to Crow, I'm convinced that reader will follow her wherever she leads because she is compelling, and everything else in the book - from lepers to orphanages - becomes interesting because the story is hers.

In the old days, before politics overtook the ALA Youth Media Awards, I would have stated with complete confidence that this book would be the clear Newbery winner this winter. As things stand now, with committees yearly trying to push the envelope of what is Newbery-worthy, however, I will tentatively predict another honor and just keep my fingers crossed in case there is any chance of more. Truly, though, Beyond the Bright Sea is the best book I read in 2017. It was fast-paced, suspenseful, realistic, and emotional, with a very satisfying conclusion. I recommend it very highly and I look forward to more from the amazing Lauren Wolk.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Review: Busy Builders Books and Playsets: Construction Site (2013), Fire Station (2016), and Airport (2016)

Over the summer, I received review copies of three Busy Builders sets from Silver Dolphin Books: Construction Site, Fire Station, and Airport. Miss Muffet and I had a lot of fun building and playing with each one, and I shared photos on Instagram, but now, with holiday gift-giving on the horizon, I'm finally getting around to writing a proper review.


Each of these sets is contained in a box which opens up, with a flap on either side, to become the central building of each playset: the firehouse, the airport, and a school for the construction workers to build. Puzzle pieces snap onto the flaps to make a road going around each building, and there are various other cardboard pieces which punch out and are used to build vehicles, people, etc. A book is also part of each set. These colorfully illustrated volumes provide lots of facts and vocabulary associated with each setting, as well as the instructions for putting together all of the models.

Because my daughter has only just turned four, she couldn't do much of the actual building herself. She was able to put the stands on the people, and to put together small accessories like fire hydrants and traffic cones, but the larger tasks of putting together the firetruck, airplanes, and diggers were left to me. If she were six or seven years old, however, I think she could have put together everything herself, as all of the instructions are clearly illustrated and all that is required is snapping cardboard pieces together in the correct order.

The books are surprisingly full of information, despite being only 32 pages, a good chunk of which is devoted to building instructions. There isn't much of a narrative to any of them; rather, they illustrate the vehicles, equipment, and buildings pertaining to the fire station, airport, and construction site, label each item and provide short blurbs to explain how they are used by the various workers. Miss Muffet was not yet reading when we first received these, but she still spent a good long time poring over each book and even making up stories about the characters in each illustration. The books also helped inform her play, as she had very little knowledge of construction, firefighting, or airports prior to playing with these sets.

Unfortunately, as much as these kits really enriched Miss Muffet's first lesson about community helpers, there were some problems with the playsets. For one thing, the boxes which serve as the buildings for each set are weakly attached to the flaps that fold out from them, which makes it easy for them to come apart. One of our sets arrived with the box already completely detached, and I had to glue it back together. This was easily accomplished with plain Elmer's white glue, and the set was still perfectly usable after the fact, but it was disappointing to start out with a broken set.

The puzzle pieces that make up the roads also don't fit together perfectly, especially on a carpeted floor, so that was frustrating for both me and my daughter, as pieces kept popping out of place whenever we pretended to drive a vehicle over them. This problem seemed to be most pronounced in the fire station set and least troublesome in the airport, but none of the three had pieces that were a perfect fit. We ran into similar difficulties with some of the stands for the people and with certain pieces of the airport aircraft and the fire station's helicopter. In cases where a piece was too loose, it would fall off whenever the model was moved. In other cases, the pieces were such a tight fit that they wound up bending or tearing slightly on their edges when I tried to put them in place. Again, these were not problems that interfered heavily with our enjoyment of the sets, but it was frustrating to continually have to pick up wheels or a tail from the floor every time Miss Muffet pretended to fly a plane across the sky.

The final problem I encountered was with storage. While the sets are self-contained and all of the pieces can be stored in the buildings/boxes, this is only the case if you take each set entirely apart between uses. I was not prepared to reassemble every single model every time my daughter wanted to play with them. Instead, I wound up storing all of the assembled vehicles in a wooden tray which I could take down from a shelf upon request. For an older child, though, it might be appealing to build the sets over and over again, in which case storage would be very easy, as the boxes with everything tucked inside can fit easily onto a bookshelf.

Though these kits are not likely to last as long as something made of plastic or wood, they are a nice inexpensive way to engage kids who are interested in cars and trucks, community helpers, model-building, and who are desperate to know every little detail about how people do their work, and the tools they use to do it. While my daughter was able to enjoy these as a preschooler with plenty of adult supervision, they would probably be best for a slightly older child who could work on them independently and feel a sense of pride in having built the models himself, and who can be careful enough with the delicate cardboard to help the sets last a while. Though my favorite of the three is the fire station - it was the easiest to assemble, and had a good mix of people and vehicles - any of these would make a great gift for an elementary-aged child, and Miss Muffet and I recommend them.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The RAHM Report for 12/4/17

Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge 2018

I have decided to host Old School Kidlit again this year, with some modifications. Click here for instructions for signing up and guidelines for participating.

What My Kids Are Reading

Check out Friday's RAHK Report for news on my older girls' favorites from our recent library haul, Miss Muffet's fourth birthday presents, and Little Jumping Joan's first picture book read-aloud!

What I Finished Reading

  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
    I really enjoyed this, and I'm hoping to eventually see both the new film adaptation and the one from 1974. I also want to read some more Agatha Christie. The only other book of hers that I've read is And Then There Were None.
  • Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber
    This story has a lot in common with the plot of You've Got Mail, but that was fine with me. I think it was better than Macomber's Christmas title from last year, The Twelve Days of Christmas.
  • Dangerous Curves Ahead by Sugar Jamison
    This book was really too long and had way too much descriptive sex in it for my taste. Even though it was well-written and the characters were sympathetic, I found it difficult to get through the last 100 pages. I'll probably skip the sequels.
  • Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay
    Another great addition to the series. My review is on Goodreads.
  • All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
    I loved this book so much. I will review it here on the blog soon. 

  • All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
    This book felt much more substantial than a lot of the other graphic novels I have read, and it actually took me two nights to read. The Renaissance Faire setting was well-developed and I liked the parallels between training to be a squire and navigating middle school. Review to come on Goodreads.
  • A True Home by Kallie George
    Kallie George writes so well for the beginning chapter book audience. This was an adorable animal story set in a woodland hotel, starring an orphaned homeless mouse in need of a true home. I didn't like Graegin's black and white drawings as much as her color illustrations, but they match the sweet tone of the story nicely.  I will happily read the rest of the series.
  • Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
    This was beautifully written and completely engrossing. Possibly my favorite book of the year. Review coming soon. 

What I'm Currently Reading

  • I'll Have What She's Having : How Nora Ephron's Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy by Erin Carlson
    I'm one chapter into this book, and so far I really like the writing style. It's a perfect mix of academic and conversational, with lots of information about Nora Ephron herself, as well as the actors featured in her films. I'm excited to get further into it this week. 
  • Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
    I was craving a Christmas-themed family story and decided to give this author a try. The writing in this book is better than in most of the romance novels I've been reading, and I like the alternating points of view. 
  • Prairie School by Lois Lenski
    I'm starting my reading for the final month of my Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge, for which the focus is winter stories, with this Lois Lenski book. I love stories set in schoolhouses, and after one chapter, I can already tell this is going to be a quick and enjoyable read.

I'll be linking up today with Unleashing Readers/Teach Mentor Texts and Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge 2018

I am once again hosting the Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge in 2018!

Here is how to participate this year:
  1. Set a goal for the number of "old school" children's books you want to read in 2018.
  2. Comment to this post with your goal number and a link to wherever you will post about the books you read (your blog, a Goodreads shelf, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
  3. Check in at the end of each month with a list of what you've read and links to any reviews you have posted.
  • A book is considered "old school" if it was published in the decade of your birth or before. 
  • There are no monthly themes this year - read whatever you like! 
  • You can join the challenge at any time during the year. 
  • When you post on social media, tag your posts with #OldSchoolKidlit2018
  • Help promote the challenge by sharing it with your friends!  

Friday, December 1, 2017

The RAHK Report for 12/1/17

Family Read-Alouds

  • The Read-To-Me Storybook illustrated by Lois Lenski
    We finally finished this over Thanksgiving weekend. It was really not my favorite. The stories are very repetitive and it seemed like they had been written to a particular formula. The highlight for me was really the poems, but the girls seemed to like everything, even if the stories didn't make as strong an impression as other read-alouds.
  • Happy Birthday from Carolyn Haywood by Carolyn Haywood
    Miss Muffet turned four this week, so we read this book as part of her celebration. We started kind of late, so we read three chapters a day for three days. Miss Muffet loved that Betsy appeared in multiple stories and she even survived the trauma of reading "Jennifer's Birthday," (which is actually really sad and always made me cry as a kid) without shedding a tear.
  • A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
    I have never read this and only vaguely know the character from watching Disney's Lunch Box as a kid, but I have heard it recommended fairly often as a good read-aloud for preschoolers. We've read just one chapter so far, and it is a great read-aloud. I think only Miss Muffet is following the storyline, but Bo Peep was quiet and seemed to be listening, so she might be getting more out of it than I realize.

Library Books

After a few months out of the habit, we borrowed library books this week. I had 23 in my stack, and at least half were picture books, but not all of them ended up being appropriate for the girls at their current ages. These are a few of the titles they wound up reading:

  • Go Sleep In Your Own Bed! by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Lori Nichols
    This is a fun story with a repetitive structure, funny animal sounds, and a subject - sleeping arrangements  - that appeal perfectly to preschoolers. Miss Muffet and Bo Peep have been heard all week telling each other to go sleep in their own beds. This is also the book they most frequently fight over. 
  • Littles and How They Grow by Kelly diPucchio, illustrated by AG Ford
    The appeal of this book is really the illustrations, which feature cute babies doing a variety of baby things. I was not crazy about the text but the girls enjoyed oohing and aahing over the babies, probably because they remind them of their own baby sister. Personally, I thought this was more of a book for parents, since it emphasizes the "it all goes by so fast" cliche but I'm fine with them enjoying it until it goes back to the library. (Note: There is an illustration depicting a same-sex couple cuddling their baby. My girls didn't notice, and I didn't comment. I did, however, decide not to share Alyssa Satin Capucilli's Blanket of Love with them because almost every family in the book was "non-traditional" and promoting such things seemed like more of a focal point.)
  • Time Now to Dream by Timothy Knapman, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
    This book was a disappointment to me, mainly because it tries to domesticate an animal that is traditionally seen as a villain, using its role as a nurturing mother to negate its wildness. I did like the relationship between the brother and sister main characters, and Bo Peep, in particular, had a strong reaction to the story's sense of suspense, but it was just not great, and I wanted it to be. 
  • Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht, illustrated by Jarvis
    This festive rhyming book about selecting a Christmas tree is the closest my kids will get to having a real tree. (We always had one when I was a kid, and I was always sick with allergies on Christmas!) The illustrations are the best part of the book; the rhythm and rhyme of the text could be a little less clunky in some places. Overall, though, it was a good first holiday book to read to kick off the season.  
  • In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek
    Kevin Henkes seems to be losing his touch. This book is very generic compared to the other books he has collaborated on with his wife, and just felt forgettable. Miss Muffet has been reading it aloud to herself and Bo Peep, but no one has asked me to read it a second time. 

Little Miss Muffet (Age 4)

In addition to the library books, Miss Muffet has also been enjoying the books she received for her birthday: 

  • The Jolly Postman, or Other People's Letters by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
    We bought this book new to ensure it would have all of its pieces, and she has loved opening all the letters and piecing the story together. We have The Jolly Christmas Postman all set to give her for Christmas.
  • The Human Body by by Carron Brown and Rachael Saunders
    We enjoy the Shine-a-Light books, and this one is especially great because the flashlight makes each page look like an X-ray. My mom sent this to her, along with Melissa and Doug's human body magnet play set, and Miss Muffet is enjoying learning what the different parts of her body do. 
  • George Balanchine's The Nutcracker 
    We bought this book at a used book sale and it was one of a few ballet-themed presents Miss Muffet received. It has photos from the film version of The Nutcracker (including pictures of a young Macaulay Culkin, much to my amusement) and Miss Muffet has enjoyed looking it while listening to music from the ballet.

Little Bo Peep (2 years, 2 months)

The library books have been Bo Peep's main interest this week. She is still really into her interactive books, Pancakes and Pizza, and strangely she's been talking about The Witch Who Lives Down the Hall, letting me know that it's scary and has too many shadows. Otherwise, there haven't been any real standout favorites for her this week.

Little Jumping Joan (1 month) 

At six weeks old, Jumping Joan finally has enough time during the day where she is awake and calm and can enjoy a few picture books. Here are the very first ones I read to her:

  • Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker
  • A Good Day by Kevin Henkes
  • My Lucky Little Dragon by Joyce Wan
  • Jane Foster's Black and White 

She didn't really react much to any of them except A Good Day. When she saw the squirrel in that book, she gave it a crooked little smile.

Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge, December 2017 (Winter Stories)

In this, the last month of the Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge, we're focusing on Winter Stories.

To participate, read a book or books connected to this month's theme with a publication date in the decade of your birth or before. Post about it on your blog, or wherever you typically review books. At the end of the month, I will publish a link-up post for you to share your reviews from the month.

Feel free to share what you're planning to read here in the comments and/or on social media using #oldschoolkidlit2017. Happy reading!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

November Link-Up: Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge (Year/Decade of Your Birth)

I've been a bit busy adjusting to our new addition, so I read just one book published in my birth year during this month:

The Haunting by Margaret Mahy (1982)

What about you? Share your links in comments!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Reading Through History: The Boyhood of Grace Jones by Jane Langton (1972)

Grace Jones just can't go to school without her father's old Navy uniform. Dressed in his middy, Grace might look like a tomboy, but her outward appearance simply reflects her inner conviction that she is really Trueblue Tom, ship's captain and trusted companion of Swallows and Amazons characters John and Nancy. As she begins her first year of junior high school, Grace does her best to avoid most stereotypically girly experiences, worrying what John and Nancy might say, while also working toward becoming a member of the  Girls' Leader Corps, headed up by the fascinating Chatty Peak.

I have enjoyed several of Jane Langton's books (e.g., The Diamond in the Window, The Fledgling, and The Fragile Flag), but had not heard of this one until stumbling upon it at a used book sale. It's actually a sequel to Her Majesty, Grace Jones, which apparently establishes Grace as the kind of child whose imagination frequently runs away with her, and who internalizes the traits of people who inspire her to the point that she begins to behave as they do.  Though I have not read the first book, I had no problem jumping right into this one. There are a few references to Grace's past phase where she felt she was royalty, but these are relevant to this story and not at all confusing. I do think, though, that it is important to be aware of Grace's penchant for make-believe so that the reader does not begin to think of this as a book about gender. Surely, with the current societal focus on the supposedly myriad gender identities people can have, a contemporary reader might wish to make this book fit that agenda, but it doesn't really. Grace may feel like Trueblue Tom, but there is nothing in the book to suggest she wants to become a boy, or that she should want such a thing. Grace is a girl, and, strangely enough, her imaginings about a life at sea are part of her journey toward femininity, not away from it. This is very much a story about a young adolescent learning how to be herself, not by morphing into an alter ego, but by trying on different points of view until she can understand and become comfortable with her own. It is not, as a Goodreads review suggests, a "queerish" book, and parents with reservations about that sort of content need not be concerned.

In fact, I would recommend seeking out this book. It is funny in a clever, subtle way, and Grace's flaws and foibles make it easy for today's middle schoolers to relate to her, even though Grace lives during the Great Depression. Though many of the topics explored by this book are typical fare for a middle school story, the author's characterizations and use of descriptive language give it more substance, more emotion, and more depth. As a fan of the Swallows and Amazons series, I was also thrilled by the many allusions to those books which whet kids' appetites for reading them but avoid spoiling anything specific about the series.

Also wonderful is the way Grace becomes enamored of the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Two of his poems, "Kubla Khan" and "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," are so significant to Grace's junior high experiences that the author actually includes them in their entirety in an appendix to the book. The author also includes some subtle commentary on the way poetry is taught in school. Grace is so bowled over by "Kubla Khan" that she goes home and memorizes the whole thing in a single night, clearly appreciating the poem for its beauty and depth, all without any adult involvement. When discussing the poem at school, however, Grace's teacher takes all the magic from Coleridge's writing, asking questions such as "Do you happen to know the circumference of Kubla Khan's real estate development?" and "Of what vegetable species is honeydew a member? Does it contain seeds or pits? Where is it grown? Of what country is it the principal commercial product?" I laughed out loud during this scene, as it is a great commentary on the way some teachers take all the enjoyment out of poetry by over-analyzing it.

With its drab cover (not Emily Arnold McCully's best) The Boyhood of Grace Jones could be easily overlooked, but it's really worth a second glance. Langton is such a unique author, and Grace is one of the most memorable middle grade heroines I have encountered. I would absolutely recommend introducing her to readers ages 9 to 14.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The RAHM Report for 11/27/17

What My Kids Are Reading

On Friday, I posted about our Thanksgiving read-alouds, Miss Muffet's love for Jack Prelutsky, and Little Bo Peep's new obsession with singable books. Read more here

What I Finished Reading

  • Cress Delahanty by Jessamyn West
    Last week, I characterized this book as a serious coming-of-age novel, but it didn't end up being as difficult to read as I expected. In the end, I gave it four stars, and I'll be posting a review soon.
  • Guaranteed to Bleed by Julie Mulhern
    I love this author's writing style, and that her books make me laugh. I have to clear my to-read list a little bit before borrowing the next in the series, but I'm already looking forward to it. 
  • Gone Camping by Tamera Will Wissinger
    This was on my list of most anticipated 2017 books and I finally got around to reading it. It was every bit as good as the first book, Gone Fishing. 

What I'm Currently Reading

  • All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
    I am loving every second that I spend with this book. I'm glad there are three sequels because one book spent with James Herriot is definitely not going to be enough. 
  • Dangerous Curves Ahead by Sugar Jamison
    There is a lot of descriptive sex in this book - way more than in any other romance I have read - so that keeps pushing it to the bottom of my reading stack. But the writing overall is really good, and I am invested in the characters so I plan to finish the story. I may decide not to look for the sequels, though. 
  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
    I barely touched this book this week, but I was enjoying it when I last put it down, and I'm hoping to seriously get into it in the next few days.
  • Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay
    I haven't gotten very far in this one either, but that's partly because I want to make it last. This series always makes me nostalgic for my first library job. 
  • Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber
    I was planning to put a hold on this when I discovered that no one had checked out my library's copy from Cloud Library. So I decided to snatch it up before the rest of the world discovered it was available. I just can't resist Debbie Macomber during the holiday season. 

Library Haul

I haven't borrowed physical books from the public library since the summer, but I jumped back in this week. Aside from a stack of picture books for the girls and Gone Camping, which I read right away, I also borrowed a bunch of middle grade and adult books for myself. 

  • The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
    I borrowed this for my Catholic book club. We're not meeting until January, but I figured it's better to get an early start, especially since there aren't that many library copies of this book out there. 
  • The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor
    I know nothing about this author, but I saw this book in a few places online and it sounded good, so I'm giving it a shot. 
  • I'll Have What She's Having : How Nora Ephron's Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy by Erin Carlson
    I saw a post about this book on Instagram and it caught my eye. I heard Nora Ephron speak when I was in college, and I love the three movies this book focuses on, so I think it will be an enjoyable read.
  • Revenge of the Happy Campers by Jennifer Ziegler
    I read the first two books of this series and recently stumbled upon this third one on Goodreads. I was looking for a quick, fun read, and I'm hoping this will be that.
  • Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
    I have been wanting to read this because of how much I enjoyed Wolf Hollow. It's not something I'd probably pick up otherwise, but I'm looking forward to it. 
  • All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
    I've been curious about this book, and I'm hoping it will be as good as Roller Girl.
  • A True Home by Kallie George, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
    I added this book to my holds list because I love this author's Magical Animal Adoption Agency books, and I have also been interested in seeing more artwork from Stephanie Graegin after enjoying her picture book, Little Fox in the Forest
I'll be linking up today with Unleashing Readers/Teach Mentor Texts and Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Friday, November 24, 2017

The RAHK Report for 11/24/17

Family Read-Alouds

We're still reading through the The Read-To-Me Storybook at lunchtime. I've been doing a few stories at a time because it's starting to get tedious for me, and I'm eager to move onto something else. Miss Muffet mostly enjoys the stories and poems; Bo Peep tunes in and out depending on her mood and whether she finishes her lunch while we're still reading.

Yesterday, we did a lot of reading at both the lunch table (to keep them busy while Daddy cooked) and the dinner table (to keep them contained between dinner and their Skype date with their grandmother). In addition to Thanksgiving poems from The Year Around by Alice I. Hazeltine and Elva S. Smith and Callooh! Callay! by Myra Cohn Livingston (our go-to collections for holiday poetry), we also read The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh, Little Indian by Peggy Parish, and All for Pie, Pie for All by David Martin. My Goodreads review of The Thanksgiving Story was surprisingly negative when I went back and read it. I will need to make an update because I thought it was actually quite good and more than age appropriate for Miss Muffet. 

Little Miss Muffet (4 years, 11 months)

It's hard to keep track of everything Miss Muffet is reading because she is pretty much constantly reading something. This week, besides her usual McGuffey lessons and the local newspaper, which she picked up randomly, she has also enjoyed reading these titles independently:

  • It's Thanksgiving by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Marylin Hafner
    I had this when I was a kid and bought a copy for her over the summer knowing it would be good for a beginning reader. She loved it so much, she asked to read us a few selections after dinner, including the poem about the dad who carves the turkey and cuts his thumb. 
  • Pippa Mouse by Betty Boegehold, illustrated by Cindy Szekeres
    I bought this randomly at a book sale after recognizing the name of the illustrator, Cindy Szekeres. I haven't read it yet, but Miss Muffet read it cover to cover in just a couple of days, and she seemed to really love it. I do like the pictures, and I plan to read it myself when I have a chance. 
  • The Wonder of Stones by Roma Gans, illustrated by Joan Berg
    We realized that, despite Miss Muffet's strong interest in science, we haven't been reading a whole lot of science with her. We have a box full of Let's Read and Find Out About Science books, so I've decided to start leaving them for her to read after her nap. I know she won't understand everything on her own, so my plan is to re-read each book with her as well. So far, she has read this one and part of How You Talk by Paul Showers, but we haven't had a chance to read either together yet, so that will probably happen this weekend.
  • Sounds of Laughter by Bill Martin, Jr.
    This is an old elementary school reader that I found at the library's used bookstore and bought mostly for my own amusement. But it has a lot of stories in it that Miss Muffet can read, so I gave it to her one afternoon and she has asked for it every day since.

Little Bo Peep (2 years, 2 months)

This week, Bo Peep has been in a musical mood. She keeps asking me for "story books," by which she actually means singable books. By far, her favorite of the week was Over the River and Through the Wood, illustrated by Christopher Manson. We have sung it over and over again, sometimes accompanied by me on the ukulele, and at the conclusion of each time through, she immediately wants to hear it again. When she's not belting out "Hurrah for the pumpkin pie," however, she does allow me to sing and play from other books, including Songs to Grow On and More Songs to Grow On by Beatrice Landeck and Go In and Out the Window published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Little Jumping Joan (1 month)

I don't think I read anything specifically to the baby this week. She did have some time with Tana Hoban's Black and White, and she was around for a lot of the sing-alongs I had with Bo Peep, but I didn't sit down to read with just her. But I do have a mental list of picture books I want her to hear, so it's just a matter of finding a time when she's awake and calm and the other two girls are not around to interrupt.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Book Review: Where the Lilies Bloom by Vera and Bill Cleaver (1969)

Mary Call Luther lives in Appalachia, where the lilies bloom. Her mother, Cosby Luther is deceased and her father, Roy Luther, is very ill and not far from death himself. As sharecroppers on land belonging to Kiser Pease, Mary Call's family needs to be able to continue working in order to keep a roof over their heads. Without parents to rely on, Mary Call takes on the role of head of the family, looking after "cloudy-headed" older sister Devola (whom Kiser wishes to marry, despite Roy Luther's fervent objections), younger brother, Romey, and younger sister, Ima Dean, and putting them to work taking care of their home and learning to "wildcraft" using the plants that grow on the nearby mountains. As their situation becomes more and more dire, however, Mary Call finds herself buckling under the pressure even as she remains determined to keep all the promises she has made to her father.

My husband read this book before me, and I watched the 1974 TV movie with him before deciding to read the book myself. I ordinarily try to avoid doing that, as the filmmakers' interpretation of a book can so easily taint the reading experience, and I prefer to imagine the characters myself rather than envision actors' voices and faces as I read. In this case, though, it really didn't matter much, as the film remains extremely faithful to the book (with a few exceptions), and reading this book is about much more than just the plot.

Authors Vera and Bill Cleaver are masters of characterization. This is not a long book (176 pages), but Mary Call is as well-developed as any fictional character can be, and the difficulties she faces as the hardships pile up around her give the authors many opportunities to show the depth and breadth of their knowledge of her mind and heart. The authors are equally adept at writing engaging and meaningful description. The language they use to conjure the Applachian mountains, Kiser Pease's land, and the Luther family home itself is beautiful, and though it is often poetic, its meaning is never obscured by too much purple prose.

This book reminded me a lot of many of my favorite titles by Betsy Byars, who often writes about strong young characters facing down seemingly unbeatable odds. The Cleavers have their own style, however, and this book is probably more memorable to me than any Byars book I have ever read. It's just such a different story, with such a real and sympathetic main character, and though much of the story isn't happy, it still manages to inspire and touch the reader and to impart a message of hope. A great story, not to be missed by readers young or old.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The RAHM Report for 11/20/17

What My Kids Are Reading:

On Friday, I posted the first installment of a new feature: The Read-at-Home Kids Report. Click here to check out what my three girls have been enjoying lately (including The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook, Frog & Toad All Year, and Owl Babies).

What I Finished Reading:

  • Pumpkins in Paradise by Kathi Daley
    I enjoyed this, despite its flaws. My review is on Goodreads.
  • A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris
    This isn't really a mystery, but since I love the main character, it didn't matter to me. Reviewed on Goodreads.
  • The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
    This was adorable. Definitely Smith's best. 
  • Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
    This was not as good as We Were Liars. I liked it, but the structure of the story - telling events in reverse chronological order - felt pretty gimmicky. Review is forthcoming on Goodreads.
  • Lights, Camera, Middle School! by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm
    The character of Babymouse doesn't translate too well to prose, nor does she become more endearing as a middle schooler. I gave this 2 stars. My quick review is on Goodreads.
  • The Boyhood of Grace Jones by Jane Langton
    I loved this book. Jane Langton is underrated. My review will be here on the blog next Wednesday.
  • Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
    I like Telgemeier's earlier books better, but this one was good, too. I posted a review on Goodreads.

What I'm Currently Reading:

  • Cress Delahanty by Jessamyn West
    I picked this up randomly at a used book sale because it is illustrated by Joe Krush. It's not quite the lighthearted teen read I was expecting. Instead, it's a coming of age tale involving all the serious issues girls face in adolescence. I just hope it's not as excruciating as Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt.
  • All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
    We bought this entire series used over the summer and I've been eyeing them on the bookshelf, I've read a few chapters of this and so far, I like it just as well as Herriot's stories in picture book format.
  • Dangerous Curves Ahead by Sugar Jamison
    My sister graduated high school with this author and she passed the book onto me years ago when it first came out. I wanted to read a romance, and this was hanging around, so I finally picked it up. I like the writing style so far, and the main character has a great voice.
  • Guaranteed to Bleed by Julie Mulhern
    I'm about a quarter of the way through this book and I love it just as much as the first. I also like the fact that the mystery involves high school kids - it satisfies my desire to read YA without me having to look for more appealing YA titles.
  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
    I am not actually reading this because of the new movie, but because of First Class Murder by Robin Stevens, which is part of my favorite middle grade mystery series. But I definitely want to see the movie eventually.
  • Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux
    I read some of this book because my Catholic book club was discussing it and I decided at the last minute to go to the meeting. I don't love the writing style, and the discussion sort of covered everything I will probably get out of it, so depending on how much reading time I have I may decide not to finish.
  • Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay
    My birthday was this weekend, and my mom sent me this book as a gift. I love this series and can't wait to catch up with my favorite characters. 
I'll be linking up today with Unleashing Readers/Teach Mentor Texts and Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Friday, November 17, 2017

The RAHK Report for 11/17/17

As promised when I posted my final edition of Reading with Little Miss Muffet and Little Bo Peep, here is my new and improved format for sharing what my kids are reading: The Read-at-Home Kids (RAHK) Report! I plan to treat this similarly to the Read-at-Home Mom report, posting on a weekly basis and focusing on what the girls are enjoying individually, as well as what I am reading aloud to them collectively. The RAHK Report will be published on Fridays, and I will link to the previous week's post in each Monday's RAHM Report.

Family Read-Alouds

Our lunchtime read-alouds for the past few weeks have come from The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook and The Read-to-Me Storybook. Milly-Molly-Mandy has become a particular favorite of Little Miss Muffet, and Little Bo Peep loves to look at the pictures even if she is frequently eager for the reading to end quickly. I'm hoping to make a peg doll of Milly-Molly-Mandy for Miss Muffet either for her upcoming birthday or for Christmas.

Little Miss Muffet (3 years, 11 months)

Independently, Miss Muffet has been reading the McGuffey readers for the past few months. Recently, she started the third reader, and she does one or two lessons a day. In addition to those lessons, she is also currently reading Frog and Toad All Year. When she finishes it, she will have read the entire series. She is also getting her first introduction to history through Munro Leaf's History Can Be Fun. There is no real expectation that she is retaining everything she reads, but she is picking up great vocabulary words: sculpture, architect, pyramid, papyrus, etc.

Miss Muffet also asked me to start reading aloud from Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey. It was the author that caught her attention more than the subject matter, but ever since our trip to the planetarium this summer, she has been fascinated by space, so it was a great choice.  When her grandmother was visiting this past weekend, she also enjoyed hearing Sarah Morton's Day by Kate Waters.

Little Bo Peep (2 years, 2 months)

Bo Peep is starting to have a longer attention span for listening to picture books. She has been really into the Frances books by Russell Hoban this week, along with Owl Babies (which she read with Grandma during her visit), There's a Nightmare in My Closet, Can You Cuddle Like a Koala? and Clap Your Hands.

Little Jumping Joan (1 month)

When Miss Muffet first came home from the hospital, I used to read Narnia books aloud to her. Since I've been meaning to finish the series, I have been sporadically reading to Jumping Joan from The Silver Chair, but we are often interrupted by a need to sleep, or eat, or have a new diaper, so it's slow-going. The big girls have been showing her Black and White and a couple of the Sassy titles, but she's mostly still too little to appreciate them. She gets her daily dose of early literacy from nursery rhymes that I recite from memory, and singing, which we do randomly throughout the day.