In the U.K. (“England” to Americans) it’s National Poetry Day–a holiday or cause, depending on your point of view, that I wholeheartedly support! Children, not yet encumbered with what I think of as the “math of poetry”–the rules, the ways, the whys and hows of it–enjoy rhymes whether we call them poetry, song lyrics or even raps!
Today I’m presenting some of my favorite children’s poetry books. Won’t you take time out today to read–or listen–to at least one poem? Even just recite one you may no if only to yourself.
I have a poetry loving child–we enjoyed this one many times. I like to give it as a special baby gift to parents I know are book lovers. Robert Frost’s Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.
I wish I’d found this book in the summer of 2004 when my son played his only season of baseball. We read this poem from my copy of a read classics to your kid collection so many times! This is a Caldecott Honor book, too, so it’s lovely! Casey at the Bat.
Some may get twitchy and actually take offense (none intended) at me calling Psalms mere poems, but so many children today receive absolutely no exposure to the Bible–let alone to the beauty of the King James Version of the Psalms, that I must include this. Psalm 23.
This is the classic of classics when it comes to poetry for children! First my brother and I, then his children, then my children, all enjoyed these poems from my Dad’s childhood volume (not shown). I really should find it (its in a box) so his great-grandchildren (now as old as 2nd grade!) can enjoy it! A Child’s Garden of Verses.
This tremendous series, Poetry for Young People, is fabulous. The pictures, the poems–all of it. Tremendous. Superb books. Poetry for Young People(various authors)–link is to Maya Angelou (not included in the illustration above).
Lyrics as Poetry
Dolly Parton’s classic song is vividly brought to life in this little book, Coat of Many Colors.
I remember learning to sing this song in first grade! This version has amazing illustration to introduce our country to young people thru the classic folk song by Woody Guthrie. This Land is Your Land.
Are you doing anything special for National Poetry Day? I’m going to make time to listen to Prince Charles read Seamus Heaney’s Poem the Shipping Forecast.
You can listen to Charles, too, on the video below.
So if your church doesn’t do M.A.D. Camp–“Music, Arts & Drama Summer Day Camp” or your school doesn’t offer a summer enrichment program or the Community Theater unhelpfully planned Equisfor the summer, these books will help your budding thespian survive the summer.
The incomparable Helene Hanff of 84 Charing Cross Road started out to be an actress. This is her story of those early years of casting calls, youthful ambition and paying for life. Underfoot in Show Business by Helene Hanff.
Suite Scarlett is the first volume of a new Young Adult series. It was well-written and fun and held my attention. It brought back so many memories of high school, when the drama club was one of the focal points of my life and my friends all wanted to study acting. I was the lone hold-out who wanted, instead, to be a writer and diplomat. I liked the values of this book best. The family features two parents, very happily married, with children who respect them, feel remorse, and stop to consider the ethics of their decisions. Another adult appears on the scene who mentors two of the children. Yes, they do mention being drunk or that the brother has a box of condoms in his room–things that DO come up in normal teenage conversation. But in the end, right prevails (or true remorse follows). No one is hopping in and out of bed or having too much PDA on the subway. They set goals and work toward them. Education matters. Family matters. I will probably listen to the next book in this series–it was that much fun! Suite Scarlettby Maureen Johnson. Note: This review originally appeared on my old blog in July of 2013.
Theater Shoes follows three orphans thru drama school and much, much more! Finding hidden talents and learning about themselves as they go makes the story even better. Theater Shoes by Noel Streatfeld.
My kids really enjoyed many of the Magic Tree House books. This was one I actually bought for them instead of getting it at the library. A fun look at Shakespeare and the theater. Follow this one up with a family night at Shakespeare in the Park or another performance of “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” You can read a classic child’s version of the play here, free, from the wonderful Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare.
Lola is a bold little girl, but going on the stage? No, thanks! Read about how she conquers her fear to be in her class play. I love that Lola has such a loving “Bubbe”–grandma. Lola Levine: Drama Queen by Monica Brown
Can you recommend others for this list? Leave me a comment.
Remember, even though I link to the books on Amazon, I do this for your convenience. I do not make any money at all off this blog.
Sometimes parents can use a great story to advantage. Today we’re exploring a few children’s books that help kids to try new foods. Mom or Dad, during nap time why not go online and request a few of these from the library and buy one or two from Amazon. Then pull them out when needed. Might just have a better dinner that night!
“I’m NOT eating anything blue!” Well, let’s be honest, on the face of it eating something blue doesn’t necessarily sound very good. But blueberries are delicious! And so darned good for you! Watching Sal delight in picking and eating the berries, then being distracted by the bear–well, it just might work! Cue the blueberries and maybe a little vanilla yogurt! Blueberries for Salby Robert McCloskey.
Maybe you’ve decided to cut the eating out budget. Maybe you’ve lost your job. Perhaps you have given in and joined a Dave Ramsey class. Sacrifices aren’t always easy. Soup may not have ever been dinner in your house before. This fun story will help get your children involved in making the soup in a fun way that will leave them wanting to not only make the soup, but also eat it.Stone Soupby Marcia Brown. Or, if you have a small garden, try this one: Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert and this one: How to Grow a Friend.
Guacamole can look off-putting to grown-ups, so it’s no surprise that children often balk at even tasting it. This book, part of a series, is a bilingual introduction to guacamole, it’s origins and the recipe. I love this book on so many levels! If your little one won’t eat anything Mexican except a meat and cheese taco, the entire series is worth a look! Guacamole by Jorge Argueta and Margarita Sada. As a fun extras, why not read Avaocado Baby, and Dragons Love Tacos, too?
Blackberries can share the same image problem as blueberries. But it’s summer and, well, blackberries, am I right? Here’s a sweet book that shows one desert passed down thru the generations of one family. Maybe your family has such a desert? Relating the blackberries to it just might help. This book should, too. A Fine Desert by Emily Jenkins
Tired of getting Chinese only to have to slap together a quick PB&J for you-kn0w-who? This story just might do the trick–it focuses on the story of the chopsticks, not the food. My four favorite little kids in the whole world recently experimented with chopsticks while trying some new foods. I wonder if they read this book? I’ll have to ask. The Story of Chopsticks by Ying Chang Compestine
Say the word “Stew” and some kids freak out. Food is…well…things are…you see.. TOUCHING each other. Bang goes a peaceful dinner. This fun book is worth the hunt–ask about an Interlibrary Loan at your library. (That means your library borrows it from another library for you). Two for Stew by Laura Numeroff
Finally, I’m leaving you today with my childrens’ all-time favorite food book:
Leave me a comment with other good books for picky eaters. Other Moms and Dads will thank you!
Did you come here today from the Diverse Children’s Books link up? If so, thank you! Use the Tag Cloud in the Sidebar to click on KIDS BOOKS and see more great books–most posts have at least one great diverse title.
Summer is beach time for many families. If you are fortunate enough to live on a Coastline your kids may just take the beach for granted. Perhaps your favorite lake has a beach for swimming–it may be man made but it’s still “your” beach. But for some folks, going to the beach means saving up the money to drive or fly and pay to stay somewhere just to enjoy the beach. Today, I’m presuming you are one of those families and am helping you prepare for the beach part of your trip. Note: If you are flying–ship the stuff via U.P.S. it will save you time and frustration. Be sure to let the hotel or timeshare company know you are shipping to yourself and put the date of arrival on the outside.
First of all, build interest. That’s right, get them excited about the trip. One way to do that is to read beach stories at bedtime. I asked my friend Jeanne at A Peaceful Dayfor her suggestions on beach books to augment my favorites. Here are some of our favorites–they’ll be a few more later this week.
Books for any age
It was love at first sight for me with Harry–you remember him? Harry, the Dirty Dog? Harry and his family go for a day at the beach. Harry’s adventure is one of my favorite childhood book-memories. Harry by the Sea. Jeanne recommends an Australian classic, the Magic Beach. This story is told in a fun rhyming manner that encourages children to use their imaginations at the beach. The story, coupled with this realistic illustrations helps children experience the true magic of the sea and the beach. At the Beachis a marvelous look at both the beach and the Chinese way of writing. I love the way the mother gently introduces her child to the complex Chinese characters as a fun activity in the sand on their day out together. Lovely.
For slightly older children
Jeanne recommends Holling C. Holling’s classic, Pagoo, for older children and I happily second the recommendation! There is so much here to love and, like all of his books, this lends itself well to read aloud of silent reading. Humphrey the Lost Whale recounts the dramatic true tale of a whale beached in 1985 and rescued by caring humans. Finally, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid may not be a typical “beach” story, but the vivid story will connect modern kids with classics–just don’t say it’s a “classic” or a “fairy tale” and they’ll enjoy it. I have not previewed the other stories in this collection, but Chinaberry is one of my favorite bookstores so I’m including it anyway. The Little Mermaid and Other Fishy Tales.
But where are the books on shells? On plants and fish? Calm, down! We’ll get there. We want that first trip to the Seashore to be magical–and that means don’t spoil it with too much pre-teaching. Just fun books for now.
Tomorrow we’ll pack for our trip! All those must-haves for fun family day at the beach.
Do you have other book recommendations? Leave me a comment.
Did you know the Queen Elizabeth is not only a contemporary of Downton Abbey’s Sybie, George and Marigold, but is an exact age-mate of Winnie-the-Pooh? To celebrate both British cultural icons’ 90th birthdays, a new story book has been released for FREE online.
Winnie the Pooh and The Royal Birthday tells of Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore all troop off to London to give the Queen a birthday present and a very special Pooh-Bear “Hum.”
But, that’s not all. A certain adorable little prince is at the Palace with his Gan-Gan. Yes, Prince George joins in the fun.
This is a sweet little story and royal fans of all ages will enjoy it.
You can read more about it hereand download it from the link in the article. It is delightful. There is a read-along audio for it as well, but it may possibly be only for the UK–it would not play for me.
Sherlock Holmes, the great fictional detective aided by his friend Dr. Watson, has been reborn for our today’s young people. You’d have to live under a rock not to have heard of today’s Sherlock–old Harrovian Benedict Cumberbatch
But, the great detective has also been immortalized in print a-new as well. Today I’m looking at an assortment of new Sherlock Holmes stories for various age groups.
Parents today are angst-ridden and troubled. They want the world for their children and they want it to be a safe and carefree world! After day two of their child’s life they lower their expectations and settle for making it to day three. Babylit.com books are here to help do just that! Among the many amazing classics retold for little Hetfield Grace Paisley or her twin brother Shasta Shea Simarillion, is The Hound of the Baskervilles. This introduces the surely Harvard-bound tyke to the sounds of mystery. They come to understand, for example, that Hounds Howl. Brilliant. And, after the 9,642nd reading of it, the child will then be old enough to torture the parents with constant reading of Knuffle Bunny or Goodnight Moon or the dishwasher manual, depending on his or her taste. No, matter for these Baby Lit books are absolutely adorable. Paired with a literary themed baby shower they are bound to be a very, very well-received gift. Plus, the child will like it far more than that satelitedish-sized flower on a headband any day. And, once the new yummy mummy has tried to wrestle that thing onto the kid’s head, she’ll prefer the book as well. Hound of the Baskervilles, by Jennifer Adams.
Kids enjoy mysteries, too. Remember Blues Clues? Encyclopedia Brown? Or even the greatest of them all, the very first Harry Potter book?
Sherlock Academy is a cute, readable, chapter book for elementary schoolers. The children are (what else?) mysteriously chosen to attend the Academy. They must de-code their class schedule. The library rearranges itself. The teachers are all specialists in Sherlockian crime solving methods. There’s classes in codes and disguises, among others. Rollin E. Wilson and his friends start their first year at school by arriving in a hansom cab. And, imagine! The playground is on the roof! How’s that for fun?
Finally the day comes when there is a real live mystery to solve…..Shhhh no spoilers!
Everything about this book is delightful. It would be a good silent read for the child or a nice bedtime read-aloud. Sherlock Academy by F.C. Shaw
Back in the day, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew solved crimes, drove roadsters and did their homework. Later they were updated for my generation (those born when J.F.K. was in the White House) on television. Today, there are two teen, excuse me, Young Adult, Sherlock series to enjoy. Both are fun.
“You think you’re more clever than me.”
It was true, but I supposed I should show him a bit of deference. “I am female. That comes with a few advantages.”
“Understanding and perception, a unique worldview, and the power that comes with being constantly underestimated….”
“So you believe women are more clever than men, but men cannot see it?”
“….We can be, if we assert ourselves. Unfortunately, many do not. And, yes, sadly, men see very little when it comes to women.”
“So, you are a feminist?”
“No, feminists fight for equality, which is an unsatisfactory goal.”
…”You’re not satisfied with equality?”
“Why should I be? Men aren’t. For all generations, men have fought for equal control and power. Why should women be satisfied to be merely equal?”
…”I don’t understand the need for power, really. There are more important pursuits.”
“Only those who have never been powerless can afford to think like you.”
Sherlock titled his head and studied my face a moment, then broke into a giant smile that once again seemed to age him backward. “You are brilliant.”
I bit back my own smile and said, “I am right.”
Chapter 10, Lock & Mori, E-pub edition.
You can see why I can’t wait to read book two of this great new series! Miss James Moriarty meets Mr Sherlock Holmes in secondary school. A murder–actually a string of murders–brings them closer. Sherlock is brilliant, but has his doofy-sweet moments such as when he admits he likes her calling him “Lock” since he’s never had a nickname. Mori, still hurting deeply from her mother’s death by cancer, realizes the murders are hitting close to home in more ways than one.
This is whip-smart pair’s circle of friends is a bit limited. Mori’s BFF is Sadie–an American expat who introduces Mori to the private London Library (more on that tomorrow). Sherlock’s brother, Mycrof, who has “gone off girls” since kissing his first guy is about the only other person in their lives aside from Mori’s little brothers.
As other reviewers have pointed out, the chemistry between Lock and Mori is amazing! But, parents, be aware that this is a Young Adult novel–there is a physical side to their romance. The story has its gritty side as well in more ways than just the murder story.
Heather W. Petty writes very, very well. She does not dumb-down her story, nor does she fill it with pages of profanity or tacky descriptions of sex. This is a well done book that will appeal to more than just teenagers. I hope her series continues to be as classy as this first book. Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty.
The last series features the modern-day descendants of Holmes and Watson–aka Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson. Thrust together due to, what else? a murder at their top-drawer New England prep school where sex and drugs are part of the privilege and entitlement. The pair must use all the inherited where-with-all and brilliance of their famous forefathers to solve the crime and save themselves. Yes, they are suspects! This is the first in a projected trilogy. If the first is indicative of the author’s ability to craft a story, then sign me up for the entire series! A Study in Charlotteby Brittany Cavallaro.
Here are a few lovely little Sherlockian gifts you might find fun to give to you Sherlock fans of all ages.
The bookmobile conjures up all sorts of images to devoted library users. It may have been the library of our youth. Today, the humble bookmobile is likely to be a mobile computer lab as well as a library of books, magazines, CDs and DVDs on wheels. Yesterday we looked at librarians on horseback, today I’ve linked to a great NPR-StoryCorps program on bookmobiles. I hope you’ll take the three short minutes to enjoy the video. If ever there was a great explanation of why we need libraries of all sorts, it is beautifully expressed in this video. In a word–Hope.
In some places the terrain is so awful that people can’t really go to the library. So today, and in times past, the library has often come on horseback. Today, we’re looking at two such library services.
The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky
In Appalachian Eastern Kentucky, where the coal mines were, people often lived in places barely accessible by any means but walking. An area of grinding, hard lives and intense poverty, people often had no jobs to go to in the 1930s while the Depression raged. The WPA, the great public works program of the Roosevelt years, funded traveling libraries in many areas. In Eastern Kentucky, the lady librarians visited their patrons on pack horses.
Though a great many people in that region had never been to school and couldn’t read, they still loved getting books and magazines with lots of photos and illustrations to lighten their days. Schools in the area were lucky to have books at all, so the “book lady” brought reference books for lessons as well as books for the children to read.
The ladies’ days were long and dangerous but the rewards were immense. Because this was before the modern welfare system, people were often suspicious of “charity” like the WPA. Many folks insisted on giving the librarian something so that it was an equal exchange. Old family recipes and family quilt patterns were among some of the “gifts” given to the librarians. What a sweet legacy.
This has to be one of the most civic-minded of all WPA programs. For it brought hope, encouragement, education and pleasure to an area starved for just about every human need.
I liked, too, that the book gives credit to Lorena Hickock, whose relationship with crusading First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was the subject of another book I recently reviewed–Loving Eleanor. And, I found this book while looking for another book by its author, Kathi Appelt, when I did my Nature Womenpost last month for Women’s History Month. She also wrote Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers a book I love.
What saddens me is that this is a such an amazing book to use in a Kentucky state history in elementary school, but due to Common Core it likely isn’t being used. Too bad. There are surely still elderly people in the area that the children could interview for oral history on their memories of this program. Losing local control of curriculum has cost our children a lot of great lessons.
Photo source: Putu Sayoga via New York Times LENS blog
This morning, an item from one of the New York Times’ blogs was in my Facebook feed and instantly caught my eye:
A Quixotic Mission: Indonesia’s Library on Horseback
What difference can one person make? A world of difference! Ridwan Sururi, and his horse, bring books to the residents of Central Java–an island that is part of the nation of Indonesia. Mr. Sururi previously worked taking care of horses and one of his clients, Nirwan Arsuka, gave him the books to start his traveling library. The photograph above, and the others in the story, were inspired interestingly enough, by–what else today? A Facebook post on horseback librarians! The photographer then decided to tag along and record Mr. Sururi’s journey.
When I served in Peace Corps in Malawi, people were starved for books and magazines. I ordered books from the National Library of Malawi which provided small traveling collections to just about anywhere that requested them. I also had long waiting list, scrupulously adhered to, for my Reader’s Digests and Catholic Digests my Dad’s cousin sent me as well as for any books I received from friends at home. But how awesome if the four librarians in my Peace Corps class had been able to go to the most remote and poverty-stricken areas. How much greater the impact than to sit in a World Bank funded library used almost elusively (aside from my books and magazines) by international scholars who could, if necessary, call their home institution for information. Other Peace Corps Volunteers, those working with the country’s credit union, had dirt bikes. Those would have given a new purpose to Iron Horses–a good and positive one at that.
All this week we are celebrating National Library Week. Each day will feature a different aspect of libraries and how they make our world a little better.
Unless you’ve been a hermit lately, you likely know that Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (that’s “England” to folks here) is turning 90 on the 21st. To celebrate this milestone a new picture book is out featuring the Queen and the two best-known of her five great-grandchildren, Prince George and Princess Charlotte of Cambridge–i.e. Wills & Kate’s kids.
This book is being touted all over the place and it’s easy to see why–it’s adorable. With a white haired Queen, adorable corgis and little George and Charlotte, it’s a winner from cover-to-cover. Will the Queen at last find the “right” crown for her birthday? Read it and see. The Birthday Crownby Davide Cali and Kate Slate. Here’s a linkto one of the news stories on the book so you can see more.
Coming out in May, in time for Princess Charlotte’s first birthday, this cute story tells of a group of children who find Charlotte’s teddy bear which she tossed from her pram. Here’s a link to a news story that talks about it.
I don’t think the Queen, as mother of four, grandmother of eight and currently great-grandmother of 6, would be shocked that little children are curious about what type undies famous people wear. While I can’t see her, as ex-daughter-in-law Sarah Ferguson once did, explaining the workings of the very, very antique toilets at Windsor Castle, I think she probably took in her stride one odd day on the Royal Round. She arrived to see an elementary school (as part of documentary even) in which the classroom was bedecked with clothes lines to which little children’s renderings of her “knickers” (panties) were attached! They’d been reading the book, The Queen’s Knickers, you see!
Over the years, Queen Victoria’s undies have come up for sale and newspapers report in shock the waist measurement of the garment. Had they bothered to care they’d see that the garment was meant to gather at the waits like a petticoat or skirt. Queen Victoria’s wildly out-of-style Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granny-Panties are featured in another cute book, Queen Victoria’s Knickers.
After all these years, few accessories are as recognizable as Queen Elizabeth II’s purse. It’s never changed style, though she occasionally has been seen with a clutch bag for evenings and once, ONCE, tried a shoulder bag in the 60s. The Queen is also one of the few women around who still wears hats (and headscarves, too, for that matter). The hat helps her be “seen” and never hides her face. It is always coordinated with her matching dress (or suit) and coat. These two delightful books are wonderful chases thru London and elsewhere in search of blown away hat and purse swiped by, of all things, a swan! But, Her Maj gets a 007-worthy Astin Martin to chase that purse in though, so how cool is THAT? The Queen’s Hat and The Queen’s Handbag.
Happy Birthday, Your Majesty! Here’s to many more years to reign o’er UK, if not over us!
Previously we looked at 50s style icon Grace Kelly. This week we look at the dark-haired 50s icon, Audrey Hepburn. One of Audrey’s most beloved films is Roman Holiday. The bored Princess Anne of a fictitious country strangely like Great Britain in its courtier’s approach to monarchy, decides to have a day off. Without asking. In Rome. I convinced that had Princess Diana, back when she was Lady Di, been made to watch this movie she’d have never taken the job…er…I mean..never married what’s his name. The gilded cage of royal life is shown off to perfection, as is the press. And, sadly for Diana, the way the press worms its way into the lives of the famous.
But Lady Di was years in the future. Roman Holiday gave us the free-spirited, fun-loving young lady on a Vespa, riding around with oh-so-handsome and older, wiser Gregory Peck. What’s not to love about THAT combination? Well, for me, what’s not to love is that famous hair cut!
While Audrey and anyone else with a hairstylist on par with 60s icon, Kenneth, looked great in it, the entire 60s generation of Lisa’s and Karen’s and Tracy’s and Amy’s didn’t always fare so well with it. Don’t believe me?
Here’s the proof…
…circa Christmas 1969 after a hair cut in a basement “salon” in Crete, Illinois. Yes, I’m the little mess on the left in the pink sweatshirt. (Sadly, while I hated the way my hair looked, I became devoted to short hair. Not always a good thing, believe me. You can read more about the struggle with body image here.)
Audrey, well Audrey in Sabrina, Love in the Afternoon and Charade, was one of my gateways to older man– younger woman romances, the sort I write today. She could was the total package–gorgeous, lithe, a smile and eyes that light up a room, that signature personal style–the whole package, which is why the 50s ladies adored her. She was also inspiring to me and to the generations that followed. When the Besty’s and Linda’s of the 50’s gave way to the Lisa’s of the 60’s and the Jennifer’s of the 70’s, Audrey didn’t bat a perfect eyelash. She went on to inspire the Molly’s and Megan’s of the 80’s, the Morgan’s and Madison’s of the 90’s and is now wowing the tween-aged Harper’s and Hadley’s and Ava’s and Zoe’s of today.
One fun novel imagines the impact of Audrey on a young woman of my daughter’s generation–the crew that grew up with Clarissa Explains it Allin re-runs on t.v. In fact, that show’s creator, wrote this book.
I read this thinking I’d not finish it. Instead I came away charmed and having enjoyed every minute of it! I’d love to see it become a movie–that’s how fun it was. But I imagine to become a movie it would have to have full-frontal teen sex and all kinds of other bad changes. Instead, why don’t you read the story of how Lisbeth (funny–a corruption of my names!) follows a design-student friend to work one evening and ends up trying on the little black dress from Breakfast at Tiffany’s–the real one. She then stumbles into an Audrey-inspired “Fake it till you make it” life. Just read it, ok? Becoming Audrey Hepburn by Mitchell Kriegman.
All this week we will look at Audrey thru different lenses. I hope you come back and read more. Leave me a comment–what’s your favorite Audrey memory?