After years of being a vocal and enthusiastic champion of picture books and literacy development, Carol Franks Randall has published her first book titled Jamal and Me.
Mrs. Franks Randall based the story of Jamal and Me on various experiences during her extensive professional career in education. She believes that picture books can help to illustrate and illuminate social/emotional issues that plague our schools and greater community. In this picture book, Jamal is a lonely boy struggling to find his place in a new school. With the help of a loving but firm principal, Jamal finds the tools within himself to have success in school and life.
After reading Jamal and Me several times with my children, it is clear that this first time author has found a perfect blend of entertaining young children (so that they ask for it again and again), communicating a clear message (so even a young child can follow the story and relate to it), and giving a parent or older child a new way of looking at an old problem (because we all need to do a better job of coming up with ways to educate children, especially those that don’t fit into a perfect box).
Book Birdie is a huge fan of Carol Franks Randall and hopes that her second book will be announced soon!
January is the perfect time to set some reading resolutions. Over the past week my social media feeds have been full of fantastic ideas for setting reading goals for 2018. But one reading goal for all moms and dads to consider is to resolve to give your children access to more incredible picture story books. There’s nothing like a beautiful drawn and fascinatingly told new picture story book in the house to draw the curiosity of a child.
What if for 2018 you set a goal to bring home one new (or new to them) picture story book a month?
It can be picked up from your favorite independent bookstore! Set a reminder for yourself that on the first day of every month you’ll pop into the bookstore on your lunch break.
An on-line order can be delivered right to your mailbox! Set a reminder for yourself on the first day of the month to order the book to be delivered.
It can be borrowed from your town library! Set a reminder for yourself to log into your library website and request the book which will be pulled from the library shelves, delivered to the front desk, and prompt an on-line notice of its availability.
I strongly believe that every child who doesn’t love reading or being read to simply has not had that great passion awakened yet. One never knows what picture story book might seem the most perfect, exciting, beautiful, loving, or hilarious one to capture their attention. 12 new books this year for your child may just be what it’ll take to make that happen.
Below is a list to use as inspiration for your year.
Baby – 2 Years Old
3 – 5 Years Old
6 – 8 Years Old
In Juli Fraga’s recent article in OnParenting in The Washington Post, she describes the many ways parents can suffer from holiday burnout. There is a certain amount of pressure parents put on ourselves to make sure that our children’s holiday season is filled with all of the “magic” and excitement that we convince ourselves they need. Ms. Fraga’s article includes helpful tips from psychologist Sheryl Ziegler to create a more peaceful environment between now and New Year’s Eve such as accepting help from friends, neighbors and partners! She also recommends being selective when filling up the December calendar with parties and special events.
Sheryl Ziegler says that “The best gift we can give our children is our presence”. These wise words inspired me to give you a single “To Do” item to add to your growing list of “Make Holidays Completely Perfect and Magical” list. Put it at the top of your list, because it’ll mean more to your children than anything else this season. Request these books from the library…TODAY! Your amazing local library will send you emails when they’re ready for you to pick them up and you’ll have a glorious supply of holiday reading for some peaceful, restful and “magical” time, snuggled up with your children.
Our absolutely favorite book to read this month, October 2017, is Creepy Pair of UNDERWEAR! Written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown, it’s 1/3 spooky, 1/3 hilarious and 1/3 adorable. Your 7-year-old will love it as much as your 3-year-old.
If Creepy Pair of UNDERWEAR! is a hit, we also recommend Creepy Carrots!
I’m a big boy. I’m a baby!
Don’t come in with me. Hold me, mommy!
I can do it alone. Why aren’t you helping me!?
I’m just a few weeks into life with a six-year-old boy and I’m finding it extremely confusing. Is he a little kid completely dependent on his mother or is he a young, independent man learning to navigate the world? I’m positive that the answer is either “he’s both of those people” or “he’s neither”, I’m just not sure which one.
One thing that this baby-man and I can agree on these days is that chapter books are a great addition to our reading time together. There comes a time when every child is ready to peek out of the picture book world and dip their toe into the chapter book world. For us this began this past year when my son was in kindergarten and just beginning to read.
I hope his first love will always be picture books, but as he develops as a curious and enthusiastic 1st grader, I love discovering fun chapter book series with him.
For all of these series, I highly recommend reading them in the correct order, Book 1, Book 2, etc. The plot isn’t so complicated that you “must” go in order, but the jokes will be funnier for your young reader if you do. Additionally, just because a new reader, “can” read these books, doesn’t mean they “have” to read them to you. Sometimes my son wants to read them to me but most of them time he likes to snuggle in and have me read them to him. Other times we compromise and I’ll read one side of the page and he’ll read the other side. The important thing is that we’re spending time reading together…regardless of what that looks like.
Author: Abby Hanlon
Age Group: 6-8
Boys and girls alike will instantly love the adventures, jokes and life lessons found within the Dory Fantasmagory books. When she’s not annoying her older brother and sister, she’s making new friends, learning to read and making every day as fun as possible with her outstanding imagination.
Author: Tom Angleberger
Illustrator: Cece Bell
Age Group: 6-9
How could a 7 year old not love a series about a venus flytrap plant who takes himself very seriously and spends his time solving big deal mysteries? His clients and their requests are beyond ridiculous but none more than Inspector Flytrap’s assistant/goat, Nina, who can’t help but eat almost everything in sight.
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot
Author: Dav Pilkey
Illustrator: Dan Santat
Age Group: 4-8
I had high hopes for the Mighty Robot series because they are created by the same team that brought us the literary gem, Captain Underpants… The Mighty Robot series is a great compromise for a child and parent. It’s got all of the comedy and adventure that kids love about Captain Underpants, but it’s delivered in a format that I was able to actually enjoy. Each book also has a solid life lesson for the young reader that is delivered in between page turning tales.
The Bad Guys
Author: Arron Blabey
Age Group: 6-10
This series tells the story of what happens when some stereotypical “bad guys” decide to turn over a new leaf. They attempt to work as a team to prove that they can be heroes and “good guys”. Let’s just say that it’s hard to teach old dogs new tricks…
Author: Tom Watson
Age Group: 7-12
Stick Dog and his friends are almost always on a quest for food. In particular the perfect burger. These stories are fun and light hearted but also filled with wonderful examples of kindness and loyalty.
A wise mama once told me that the way to keep the holiday season joyful for children is to limit gifts to:
Something You WANT
Something You NEED
Something to WEAR
Something to READ
Book Birdie has got you covered! Have a safe and happy holiday season.
BOOKS TO KEEP THEM BUSY
Don’t Let the Pigeon Finish this Activity Book (Author: Mo Willems, Age: 3-8)
This is a huge book and will provide hours and hours of activity time for your kids. Any young fan of Mo Willem’s books will be delighted to come across their favorite characters while completing the interesting activities.
The Super Book for Super Heros (Author: Jason Ford, Age: 6-11)
All of the components of a superhero that make them so addicting to kids, can be found in this activity book. The drawing assignments and tips, the code cracking, etc. make this book a perfect gift that can be enjoyed by a wide age range of kids.
Sticker Shape Create (Author: Thereza Rowe, Age: 6-11)
While this book is a bit too advanced for my young artists, I had to include it because I can’t wait until they are a couple of years older so I can buy it for them. With a few shapes and simple instructions young artists can combine stickers and drawings to create masterpieces on a variety of background scenes. It’s spectacular.
BOOKS TO KEEP THEM IMAGINING, DESIGNING AND BUILDING
Ada Twist, Scientist (Author: Andrea Beaty, Illustrator: David Roberts, Age: 5-9)
Ada has a huge hunger for knowledge and an impressive imagination. This series of books from Andrea Beaty is everything I want for my daughter (and son for that matter). Even if the storyline is a bit advanced for preschoolers, the pictures and general concepts will keep them coming back to Ada.
Some Bugs (Author: Angela Diterlizzi, Illustrator: Brendan Wenzel, Age: 2-6)
There’s no short supply of cool bug picture books in the world, but this particular bug book is a new favorite at our house. Each page gives some interesting and digestible information about a bug and the last page of the book sums up all of them with their proper names.
The Dot (Author & Illustrator: Peter Reynolds, Age: 4-8)
This simple story about self discovery will teach your child that there is immense creativity inside all of us. We just need to gather the courage to find it. This book always leads to my kids asking me to take out our markers.
BOOKS THEY WILL WANT READ OVER AND OVER AGAIN
King Baby (Author & Illustrator: Kate Beaton, Age: 4-8)
This book will have you and your kids laughing at the antics of a new baby in a household. The language may be a bit advanced for a new reader, but young and older kids will love to have this read to them.
Ninja Baby (Author: David Zeltser, Illustrator: Diane Goode, Age 3-6)
Hands down my favorite book for a family with a second or third baby on the way. This sweet and hilarious story sums up what having siblings is all about. The ups and downs and everything in between. But you definitely don’t need a new baby on the way for your kids to love this book.
The Princess and the Pony (Author & Illustrator: Kate Beaton, Age: 4-8)
Another Kate Beaton book made the list because this hilarious picture book will win your kids over immediately (and not just because the pony farts) and it includes a strong female antagonist who will remind us that just because something isn’t exactly what we had in mind, there still may be something wonderful there for us to discover.
They All Saw Cat (Author & Illustrator: Brendan Wenzel, Age: 3-6)
This particular cat made a big impact on my kids and me this year. The book introduces that concept that everyone has their own point of view and may see the world very differently from their neighbor. In other books this concept has always been above their heads (and quite honestly mine too), but with the illustrations in Brendan Wenzel’s book, they were able to grasp it and talk about it afterwards.
The Ninjabread Man (Author: C.J. Leigh, Illustrator: Chris Gall, Age: 3-6)
Try as I may, my kids can’t seem to get their fill of Ninja themed stories. This take on the classic story of the gingerbread boy will become an instant classic for your little ninja because of the action and clever rhymes.
The Lost House (Author & Illustrator: B.B. Cronin, Age: 3-7)
Before the kids in this book can go to the park with their grandfather, they need to search for some items lost in his house. This visually gorgeous book will be enjoyed over and over again by your kids because after they have found the missing items, you can have them search for other items that you spot in the various rooms.
LOOK THE PART
This brand of super soft t-shirts was founded in order to create apparel with positive messages. I nearly lost my mind when they created the READ shirt a couple of months ago. They make shirts from toddler sizes all the way up to adults.
Both of my kids are getting this shirt for Christmas. Just reach out to the designer and request the color and size you have in mind, and she can most likely accommodate you. And Santa…maybe one in my size?
A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA
I came across these and knew my young readers would love them.The designer has several characters and styles to pick from.
I’m not sure any child “needs” a clip book light but it’s a fun and simple way to bring some extra excitement to reading. Especially to young independent readers who spend some time reading alone before bed.
A Gift Card to Your Local Independent Book Store.
After witnessing the joy my 5-year-old experienced, buying books with his own money at his school book fair, I’m confident that your child will love the excitement of a trip to a bookstore to select a book for themselves. The only catch is that you don’t get a say in what they select. This isn’t easy for a crazy controlling mama such as myself. But we left the book fair with several lego and ninja turtle books that don’t exactly fall under the category of “Picture Books that Make My Heart Soar”.
There is nothing quite like a Book Festival to provide a lover of books with a safe space to embrace their inner “fangirl” (or “fanboy…”). If you’re hard at work raising your children to love books as much as you do, this fall is your chance to take them to a book festival where they can….
- meet one of their favorite literary characters like Curious George.
- have an author sign a copy of their favorite book.
- rock out during a music concert while stuffing their face on concessions.
There are so many book festivals taking place this fall and below are the ones that have fantastic events, activities and authors for children.
Baltimore, MD: Baltimore Book Festival
Dates: September 23-25
Check out the schedule on the Enoch Pratt Free Library Children’s Stage.
Washington, DC: National Book Festival
Date: September 24
Way too many family friendly activities to list.
Morristown, NJ: Morristown Festival of Books
Dates: September 30 and October 1
KidFest! Taking place all day on Oct. 1 at Presbyterian Church Parish House, 65 South Street
Boston, MA: Boston Book Festival
Date: October 15
A full schedule of events, activities and appearances for Boston’s youngest readers.
Collingswood, NJ: Collingswood Book Festival
Date: October 1
Farmville, VA: Virginia Children’s Book Festival
Dates: October 13-15
Beyond INCREDIBLE lineup of children’s authors
Austin, TX: Texas Book Festival
Dates: November 5-6
They don’t yet have info on the website about what children’s events will be provided, but this is an amazing festival and there will be loads of family friendly activities.
Miami, FL: Miami Book Fair
Dates: November 13-20
Head to Children’s Alley Today on Sunday, Nov. 20th from 10am-6pm.
The kids are back in school and Candy Corn has returned to its rightful place as a staple in my diet. It must be my favorite season! While fall does not have quite as many opportunities for vacation (a.k.a. reading time) as summer does, the cooler temperatures are nothing if not the perfect excuse to skip the nightly TV binge in favor of curling up under a blanket and reading before bed. Below are my recommendations and plans for fall reading (for Mama!), along with the books that inspired them.
Because I loved: You’ll Grow Out of It
I had the pleasure of reading Jessi Klein’s book last week and I have to admit that I was a bit of a sceptic. Her book came out right around the same times as Amy Schumer’s book (Klein is the head writer for Inside Amy Schumer) and obviously Amy’s book has a larger publisher and publicity machine behind it. But Klein’s book was so wonderful and you will do yourself a favor if you read it this weekend. It’s of course laugh out loud funny but it also has such a soul that by the end of the book you’ll not only feel like you really “know” Jessi Klein, but you’ll be researching every thing else that she’s written and performed in an attempt to get a bit more of her.
I’m going to read: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo
Because I loved: Pretty Girls
If you’re looking for a page turner wrapped in a mind bender and you liked the way Gone Girl made your pulse race, “Pretty Girls” is what you’re looking for. It could possibly…maybe…most certainly…give you a few nightmares, but it’s worth it!
I’m going to read: The Trespasser
It’s not hard to love and devour all of Tana French’s novels. They’re intelligent, fast paced and just scary enough. Her new book, The Trespasser is what I’m most looking forward to reading this October. But if you’ve never read any of her work, go immediately to your library and check out “The Secret Place”, “Broken Harbor” and “In The Woods”. Don’t worry about your boss or your kids…they’ll be fine. Go!
Because I loved: The Nest
A trust fund. A scandal. You’re welcome.
I’m going to read: The Assistants
Larceny. Blackmail. I’m in.
Because I loved: Sweetbitter
“Sweetbitter” wasn’t the book that I wanted it to be and I didn’t enjoy it the way I had anticipated. But my preconceived expectations aside, I’m still very glad that I read it. It was completely therapeutic and brought up the memories I have about my experience working as a waitress. My few years as a waitress were nothing like the drug fueled, fast pace of a high-end NYC restaurant as described in the novel, but things did get a bit wild at the Okemos, MI Mongolian BBQ in the early 2000’s. Seriously. I mean…we all have different definitions of “wild”. If you spent any time being a restaurant server, this book will bring it all back and potentially help you deal with any PTSD you’re still dealing with because of it.
I’m going to read: Kitchens of the Great Midwest
This book was recommended to me by a great couple I know who have their own bookclub. Meaning…they are two adults in a loving relationship, with jobs, kids, responsibilities, but they still make time to read one book a month so that they can discuss it together. #relationshipgoals (Hashtags are still a thing?)
READING Oh What a Busy Day by Gyo Fujikawa. It may draw bedtime story time out longer than you’d like (trust me no one’s more “over it”by bedtime than I am) but it’s so worth it because your kids will LOVE it. It truly captures a child’s day in a beautiful and basic way that will remind you why picture books are so special.
EXCITED for the sequel to Dragons Love Tacos, one of our favorite funny books, that will be available in May 2017. The author, Adam Rubin and the illustrator, Daniel Salmieri are clearly going to hit another home run, simply based on their hilarious comments about the upcoming book.
“After the success of the first book, I struggled with ideas for a worthy follow up,” says author Adam Rubin. “Failed attempts include: ‘Ogres Love Ice Cream’, ‘Dragons Love Nachos’, ‘Dragons Love Tacos: In Space’, ‘Dragons Love Christmas’, and ‘Dragons Make Tacos: an illustrated guide to Mexican Cuisine’. Finally, I asked myself, ‘What would happen if the world ran out of tacos?’ The answer is: I would finally write a sequel that I really like.”
Illustrator Daniel Salmieri adds, “After four years, I was worried I had forgotten how to paint tacos, but it turns out it’s just like riding two thousand tiny bicycles.”
OBSESSED with making it to NYC in time to check out the exhibit The Picture Book Re-Imagined: The Children’s Book Legacy of Pratt Institute and the Bank Street College of Education.
IMPRESSED and inspired by the women of Bharat Babies. Their mission is to design and produce developmentally appropriate books that tell children’s stories about India’s heritage. I’m planning to check out Hanuman and the Orange Sun and Ganesh and the Little Mouse this week.