What the Kids are Reading (in April 2015)

We didn’t have all that many new picture books that we finished this month. We’ve been reading more chapter books, and rereading old favorites, so the new picture book total is slim:

QuestQuestQuest by Aaron Becker by Aaron Becker

Becker’s the author of JourneyJourney by Aaron Becker (mentioned on the blog previously), and if you liked that one you’ll want to read Quest as well – it’s more of the same, in the very best way. I like hearing what the kids think is going on with each page. Wordless picture books took a little getting used to, but now I generally love them.

Angus and the DucksAngus and the DucksAngus and the Ducks by Marjorie Flack by Marjorie Flack

We may be relatively new to Flack, but I’m a huge fan of her work now. Love the illustrations in this one! My son loved it too – he asked for it to be repeated twice the first time we read it, and has continued to ask for it. A prime example of why there weren’t many new picture books finished this month. ๐Ÿ˜‰

You Are the Best MedicineYou Are the Best MedicineYou Are the Best Medicine by Julie Aigner Clark, illustrations by Jana Christy by Julie Aigner Clark, illustrations by Jana Christy

My daughter’s pick from the library – she always goes for the ones with pink colors. And this one got a quick scan by me and then it went back into the library bag. No, nope, not gonna read it. But if you are looking for a cancer book, or just a book where a parent is sick – this might be one you want to check out.

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What the Kids are Reading (in March 2015)

John Philip DuckJohn Philip DuckJohn Philip Duck by Patricia Polacco by Patricia Polacco

Really fun – we read this one dozens of times. The only thing I wish is that there was a note at the end with a little more detail as to what’s the real story, and what’s Polacco’s invention.

Math Fables TooMath Fables Too: Making Science CountMath Fables Too: Making Science Count by Greg Tang, illustrated by Taia Morley by Greg Tang, illustrated by Taia Morley

We’ve been on a kick as far as reading fun math books, and this was another winner in that string. Loved the little animal facts included in this one as well!

How Do You Know What Time It IsHow Do You Know What Time It Is?How Do You Know What Time It Is? by Robert E. Wells by Robert E. Wells

The Wells books have been very popular with my children, especially my son, and this was no exception.

DruthersDruthersDruthers by Matt Phelan by Matt Phelan

Unexpectedly delightful – this is a charming story with lovely illustrations. Both kids enjoyed it, but my daughter especially loved it.

Bear Snores OnBear Snores OnBear Snores On by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman

We’ve read two other Bear books, but this was our first time with the original title, and it was just as fun as I expected it would be. My daughter liked repeating the “bear snores on” line quite a bit.

Never Tease a WeaselNever Tease a WeaselNever Tease a Weasel by Jean Conder Soule, illustrated by George Booth by Jean Conder Soule, illustrated George Booth

I was more amused by this one than my kids were, especially my daughter who adamantly did NOT want me to read it again. It’s got some funny lines and vocabulary words, but I didn’t like the illustrations all that much.

Farmer Brown Goes Round and RoundFarmer Brown Goes Round and RoundFarmer Brown Goes Round and Round by Teri Sloat, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcot by Teri Sloat, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcot

This was ok. The kids were mildly entertained by the silliness, but I didn’t think it was worth repeating, and they didn’t ask for it again.

Because You Are My FriendBecause You Are My FriendBecause You Are My Friend by Guido Van Genechten by Guido Van Genechten

Another one picked out by my daughter because of the pink cover, another one that went right back into the library bag after one reading. In the “well at least it’s got that” aspect, the little bear has texture, so it becomes a touch-and-feel book for babies. There are better of those out there (much better), so don’t let that persuade you to give this one a try.

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What the Kids are Reading (in February 2015)

Mommy Is a Soft Warm KissMommy Is a Soft, Warm KissMommy Is a Soft, Warm Kiss by Rhonda Gowler Greene, illustrated by Maggie Smith by Rhonda Gowler Greene, illustrated by Maggie Smith

Picked out by my daugher, and we read it every. day. until it “had” to go back to the library. Had to, because I didn’t try to renew it as I was tired of reading it. My love for it is not as strong as my daughter’s, who has already stated that she wants to get it again.

Pink Cupcake MagicPink Cupcake MagicPink Cupcake Magic by Katherine Tegen, illustrated by Kristin Verner by Katherine Tegen, illustrated by Kristin Verner

Also picked out my daughter (if there is a pink cover, she grabs it). Another one that will be going back to the library without being renewed. This one does keep her brother more entertained however, because of CUPCAKES!! And the big brother getting his reward at the end. ๐Ÿ˜‰

CorduroyCorduroyCorduroy by Don Freeman by Don Freeman

Somehow we’d never read this classic before. Now we have, and both kids liked it. Neither of them requested it again though.

Sir Cumference and the First Round TableSir Cumference and the First Round TableSir Cumference and the First Round Table (A Math Adventure) by Cindy Neuschwander, illustrated by Wayne Geehan and Sir Cumference and the Dragon of PiSir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi (A Math Adventure) by Cindy Neuschwander, illustrated by Wayne Geehan by Cindy Neuschwander, illustrated by Wayne Geehan

I get a kick out of these math-themed books. The illustrations are wonderful too!

Green Lantern vs. the Meteor MonsterGreen Lantern vs. the Meteor Monster!Green Lantern vs. the Meteor Monster! (DC Super Friends)

This one is bad, but unfortunately it was one my son picked out. He does love his superheroes! I don’t mind the superhero books so much when he’s the one reading them, but this one isn’t one he can manage. It’ll go back to the library next time, as I hid it back into the library bag after only one reading – it’s just that bad.

Bedtime MathBedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up LateBedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late (Bedtime Math Series) by Laura Overdeck, illustrated by Jim Paillot by Laura Overdeck, illustrated by Jim Paillot

This is a work in progress, and my son loves it! We don’t read it at bedtime though. I like how it’s structured, and how there are different levels of problems – one of the levels always works for my son. Sometimes it’s the “wee ones” and sometimes it’s the next level up, but it’s fun.

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What the Kids are Reading (in January 2015)

Lots of new library books, lots of books that just missed out on being super favorites. We spent a lot of time reading our own books though, so no worries when the library picks aren’t major hits.

The World According to Musk OxThe World According to Musk OxThe World According to Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers

We love the books A Is for Musk OxA Is for Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers, and Musk Ox CountsMusk Ox Counts by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers. This is another good one, but some of the humor is over my kids’ heads. (That’s perhaps a good thing, like when the musk ox is getting flirty.) The illustrations are fantastic, and I loved the “hysterical markers” for each continent. Lots of fun!

Naked Mole Rat Gets DressedNaked Mole Rat Gets DressedNaked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems by Mo Willems

Love Williems – I tend to just wander over to his shelf at the library and grab anything we haven’t already read. This one wasn’t one of our favorites however, and it went back to the library without regrets. I doubt we’ll borrow it again.

HogwashHogwash!Hogwash! by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jim McMullan by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jim McMullan

I’ve become a huge Karma Wilson fan, but like with the Willems title mentioned above, this wasn’t our favorite from her.

Bear Says ThanksBear Says ThanksBear Says Thanks (The Bear Books) by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman

See above, about Karma Wilson. This one is a little late for Thanksgiving, but that’s ok – it’s still a great book.

DragonsDragons (Mythical Creatures)Dragons (Mythical Creatures) by Charlotte Guillain by Charlotte Guillain

My daughter requested a book on dragons, as we drove in to the library. I had no time to go searching for picture books featuring dragons, so instead I went to the nonfiction area. Yes, nonfiction about dragons – it does exist!
For general interest though, I think she’d have preferred a regular picture book. This one didn’t keep her attention.

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Favorite Kids’ Books of 2014

Favorite Kids' Books of 2014

Picture Books

AlmostAlmostAlmost by Richard Torrey by Richard Torrey

Probably my daughter’s favorite picture book for the year – I think she related to the younger sibling aspect, even though the main character is closer in age to my son instead of her. She liked to “read” it to me, by reciting the text since she knew it all by memory.

Randy Riley's Really Big HitRandy Riley’s Really Big HitRandy Riley's Really Big Hit by Chris Van Dusen by Chris Van Dusen

Perhaps my son’s favorite picture book of the year. The illustrations, the topic, and the inclusion of a telescope and giant robot all combined to be a BIG HIT. Pun very much intended.

The Great DivideThe Great Divide: A Mathematical MarathonThe Great Divide: A Mathematical Marathon by Dayle Ann Dodds, illustrated by Tracy Mitchell by Dayle Ann Dodds, illustrated by Tracy Mitchell

Who knew division could be so entertaining? Not that the kids realize what’s going on in the book; they just think it’s fun.

Full HouseFull House: An Invitation to FractionsFull House: An Invitation to Fractions by Dayle Ann Dodds, illustrated by Abby Carter by Dayle Ann Dodds, illustrated by Abby Carter

Another math picture book, another one beloved by my daughter. Both kids really enjoy Dodds work – no idea if it’s making any impact on them from a mathematical standpoint, but the books are fun regardless.

JourneyJourneyJourney by Aaron Becker by Aaron Becker

A wonderful wordless picture book, with a storyline that reminded me just a bit of Harold and the Purple CrayonHarold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, although the illustration style is completely different.

Tweak TweakTweak TweakTweak Tweak by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier

My daughter adored this one, and asked for it again and again and again. She also tried to reenact it, which was awfully cute.

Have You Seen My New Blue SocksHave You Seen My New Blue Socks?Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
My daughter especially enjoyed this one. It’s a very quick, very cute read, with lots of simple rhymes that encouraged my kids to guess the sentence ending. It was an ideal library book – we read it endlessly for about 6 weeks, and then happily sent it back for fresh material.

Musk Ox CountsMusk Ox CountsMusk Ox Counts by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers

Funny story line, cute illustrations – my kids think it’s hilarious, even though they’re too young to get all the jokes. Maybe they just like the illustrations that much? I don’t like it as much as A Is for Musk OxA Is for Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers, but it’s still a cute counting book.

Nonfiction Picture Books

I Can Name 50 Trees TodayI Can Name 50 Trees Today!I Can Name 50 Trees Today!: All About Trees (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library) by Bonnie Worth, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu by Bonnie Worth, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu

The Cat in the Hat nonfiction titles were new to us this year, and we read several of them. This was the most popular, but they also really liked the Why Oh Why Are Deserts Dry?Why Oh Why Are Deserts Dry?: All About Deserts (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library) one.

Berenstain Bear's Big Book of Science and NatureThe Berenstain Bears’ Big Book of Science and NatureThe Berenstain Bears' Big Book of Science and Nature by Stan & Jan Berenstain by Stan & Jan Berenstain

I’ve lost track of how many times we read this one, but it might have been the most frequently read title of the year.

Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? (Wells of Knowledge Science) by Robert E. Wells by Robert E. Wells

My son adores the Wells science series, and this is probably his favorite. Blue whales and outer space and so much fun!

What's Under the SeaWhat’s Under the SeaWhat's Under the Sea (Starting Point Science)

My son seems to love all the Usborne books we ever read, and this was no exception. We read it quickly, and then reread it and reread it.

Things People DoThings People DoThings People Do by Anne Civardi, illustrated by Stephen Cartwright by Anne Civardi, illustrated by Stephen Cartwright

This was initially a good-but-not-great book for my son, and then he hit the halfway point of it and became obsessed with it, looking at it by himself whenever he could.

Chapter Books

The Boxcar ChildrenThe Boxcar ChildrenThe Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children, No. 1) (Boxcar Children Mysteries) by Gertrude Chandler Warner by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The book that turned my son into a chapter book reader – this is the first book we (successfully) read that wasn’t illustrated on every page, with a plot that continued on through successive chapters. We read it multiple times as well, with both kids asking repeatedly for the story about the “four hungry kids.”

Bink & GollieBink and GollieBink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile

An excellent bridge from picture books to chapter books – each chapter stands alone, it’s got illustrations on every page, and the plot is easy to follow.

Mercy Watson to the RescueMercy Watson to the RescueMercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

Another excellent bridge from picture to chapter books. My 3 1/2 year old daughter especially loved this one – she found the story line to be really funny.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

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What the Kids are Reading (in December 2014)

No surprise, we’ve been reading lots of Christmas books. We have managed to read a few other titles as well though, besides the holiday-themed ones. I already mentioned some of the books in our literary advent, but two of the ones that have been the biggest hits I didn’t mention. So I’ll do that here. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mortimer's Christmas MangerMortimer’s Christmas MangerMortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman

I showed this one on Instagram, because I was so pleasantly surprised by it – my kids loved it, and it had a lot more depth than I thought it was going to have based on the cover. I got it from the library, but I think I need to add it to our collection.

Bear Stays up for ChristmasBear Stays Up for ChristmasBear Stays Up for Christmas (The Bear Books) by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman

Another library book, another one I think we need to get for ourselves. Super cute, and both kids loved it.

PinkaliciousPinkalicious: The Pinkamazing Storybook CollectionPinkalicious: The Pinkamazing Storybook Collection by Victoria Kann by Victoria Kann

My daughter picked this one out, entirely based on the cover. Kudos to the artist – you know how to appeal to my girl! While I got a little tired of the made-up “pink” words in the text, overall it didn’t bother me anywhere near as much as I feared it might. Most of the books my kids select based on the covers don’t live up to even my low expectations, so yay for one that does. That’s not really saying much though, and it’s not one I recommend, or will miss when it goes back to the library. ๐Ÿ™‚

0-439-45948-610 Fat Turkeys10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Rich Deas by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Rich Deas

My son’s pick. A couple of the rhymes were clunky, but both kids liked counting down along with the story, and read it happily multiple times before I got tired of it and stashed it back into the library bag for our next trip. Yes, I do that.

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New Christmas Books

New Christmas Books 2014Last year I wrote about the Christmas and Advent books I was reading with my children, and my plans to continue adding to our collection. I wanted to get to the point where we could do a literary advent and wrap 24 books, to open and read one a day.

Thanks to looking for used books throughout the year, and a handful of new purchases this month, we’ve got enough books – now I just need to wrap them!

We’ll still use most of the books from last year (and that “baby” mentioned then? That’s H, who was 2 at the time. I wrote that post just before finding out I was having another baby, so those board books I anticipated would soon be dropped from the rotation will be sticking around a few more years. ๐Ÿ™‚

Some of the books we’ll be adding to our reading this year that I’m most excited about:

The Jolly Christmas PostmanThe Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allen Ahlberg by Janet & Allen Ahlberg
This one looks like it will be so much fun. It also seems like it might be one that will require a lot of policing. ๐Ÿ™‚

1001 Things to Spot at Christmas1001 Things to Spot at Christmas
My kids love these sorts of books, so this might be the first one we unwrap – I can easily imagine them both wanting to look at it day after day.

S Is for Star: A Christmas AlphabetS Is for Star: A Christmas Alphabet (Alphabet Books) by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds, illustrated by Pam Carroll by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds, illustrated by Pam Carroll
Beautiful illustrations, and there are two levels of text in the book – a simple entry for each letter, and then a sidebar with more details. I like that structure a lot for a wide age range.

Humphrey’s First ChristmasHumphrey's First Christmas by Carol Heyer by Carol Heyer
Lots of humor, and yet the focus is still on Christ. I think my kids will get a kick out of the camel’s expressions.

I’m really excited to try some of the new-to-us books with my kids this year – last year while we had several that they really enjoyed, a number were just so-so. Hopefully we can continue to develop our collection until it’s filled with nothing but hits. And I know I’ll continue to add books as they get older and can appreciate other titles more. ๐Ÿ™‚

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What the Kids are Reading (in November 2014)

Recently it’s been almost all about the science books and/or Dr. Seuss for our library book reading. We still repeat our favorites that we own, but for new material we’ve had a heavy rotation of:

I Can Name 50 Trees TodayI Can Name 50 Trees Today!I Can Name 50 Trees Today!: All About Trees (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library) by Bonnie Worth, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu by Bonnie Worth, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu.

A Cat in the Hat Learning Library Title, and I’ll be looking for more of them. It’s got lots of info, but in a fun style that keeps the kids listening, and keeps me reading happily.

Why Oh Why Are Deserts DryWhy Oh Why Are Deserts Dry?Why Oh Why Are Deserts Dry?: All About Deserts (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library) by Tish Rabe, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu by Tish Rabe, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu

Another Cat in the Hat Learning Library book. This series has been a good discovery for us, and I’m thrilled to see how many titles have been published (and are available through our library). They seem perfect for G’s age (5) and interest level as well.

The Wild Leaf RideThe Wild Leaf RideThe Wild Leaf Ride (Magic School Bus, Scholastic Reader, Level 2) by Judith Stamper, illustrated by Carolyn Bracken by Judith Stamper, illustrated by Carolyn Bracken.

Both kids love this one, which is part of The Magic School Bus series. I kind of hate it – after a half dozen times through it I was ready to hide it until it could go back. Fortunately it’s an early reader type book, and my son isn’t far away from being able to read it himself. I’ll look for another one in the series after he gets a bit farther along in his reading lessons and see if he can handle it all on his own, so I don’t have to repeat these titles.

Hop on PopHop on Pop (I Can Read It All By Myself)Hop on Pop  (I Can Read It All By Myself) by Dr Seuss by Dr Seuss.

Read by G with very minimal help (as in, only a couple of words – mother/father/sister/brother tripped him up, and maybe something else I’m forgetting).

We did also read two picture books:
Pumpkin BabyPumpkin BabyPumpkin Baby by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Susan Mitchell by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Susan Mitchell

Usually I like Yolen’s books, but didn’t care for this one, and I whisked it away before the kids could ask for it repeatedly. The language wasn’t as easy to read aloud as it typically is for her works.

What's in the Egg Little PipWhat’s in the Egg, Little Pip?What's in the Egg, Little Pip? by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman

I didn’t realize what either of the picture book titles were about when I brought them home, and was amused that they both dealt with new babies coming into the family and the big sister’s feelings about that. How appropriate for us right now, although I could have used the Little Pip title even earlier – this one would work during a pregnancy that might be keeping mom from playing in the same ways as before. Great illustrations and very readable – I’ll look for more Little Pip titles, and other books by the author.

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Recent Readaloud: What’s So Special About Planet Earth

What's So Special About Planet EarthWhat’s So Special about Planet Earth? What's So Special about Planet Earth? (Wells of Knowledge Science) by Robert E. Wells by Robert E. Wells

The Sonlight program we’re doing this year includes several science titles by this author, but he has written many additional ones, and my library seems to carry them all. Of course that means we’ll have to look at them – and I started with the one about the planets in our solar system.

My verdict:
A simplified look at the planets. It’s basic and there isn’t a huge amount of content on any particular planet, but for a quick picture book it’s well done. The end of the book gets a little bit preachy when it gets into protecting our planet because it’s the only one suitable for us to live on (and I agree with everything he’s saying, but the way it’s phrased at times was a bit eye-roll-inducing).

The kids’ verdict:
They are big fans of this one, and the other Wells’ book we’ve read – Why Do Elephants Need the Sun?Why Do Elephants Need the Sun? (Wells of Knowledge Science Series) by Robert E. Wells I image we’ll work our way through the entire series.

Publisher’s Description:
Move to another planet? Sounds interesting! In our imaginary spaceship, let’s check out the planets in our solar system. Mercury is closest, but it has no air, and it’s either sizzling hot or bitterly cold. The atmosphere on Venus is poisonous; plus, human beings would cook there. Mars might work, but you’d always have to be in a protective shelter. And if you got to the outer planets, you couldn’t even land as they are mostly made of gas! Our home planet is looking good. Why is Earth so comfortable for plants, animals, and people? As Robert E. Wells explains, it’s because of our just-right position form the sun, marvelous atmosphere, and abundant water. Our planet is very special and perfect for us, and that’s why we must do all we can to keep Earth healthy.

Book Details

Title: What’s So Special about Planet Earth? What's So Special about Planet Earth? (Wells of Knowledge Science) by Robert E. Wells
Author: Robert E. Wells
Category: Children’s Nonfiction

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What the Kids are Reading (in October 2014)

Not a lot of new-to-us books recently; most of the books we’ve been reading have been old favorites. We did still manage a few new titles though:

Moonshot The Flight of Apollo 11Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca by Brian Floca

I thought G would be more into this than he was – he has loved some of Floca’s other books, and he loves outer space related titles, but this one wasn’t a favorite. It’s probably just a bit too old for him, so I’ll give it another try at a later date.

Tweak TweakTweak TweakTweak Tweak by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier

H especially loves this one, but G doesn’t mind listening to it as well. It’s very cute, with charming illustrations. I don’t think it’ll be one that H continues to ask for again and again, but that just makes it a perfect library book.

Hana in the Time of the TulipsHana in the Time of the TulipsHana in the Time of the Tulips by Deborah Noyes, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline by Deborah Noyes, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

The illustrations are beautiful, but the storyline doesn’t keep their interest. I think it’d be a better choice for older kids, even if it is a picture book.

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