High quality non-fiction can be hard to find for children, especially at the lower grades. That’s why I was so excited to review these three new offerings from Seattle-based Sasquatch Books. They are fictional picture books, but include so many facts that a K-3 teacher could use them to support several of informational content threads from the … Continue reading
Where to Start will give you ideas for toddlers and preschoolers, and Afterschooling is for Kindergarten on up. Every child deserves one-on-one instruction, and that experience can begin in your home.
When I took my kids to see the 2015 animated film “Home” I was blown away. To me as a person who loves many people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it seemed like the entire movie was a parable for what it’s like for kids with ASD as they attempt to navigate life.
The hook of “Home” is that aliens called the Boov invade Earth and relocate all human beings. As a species, Boovians are cowardly, antisocial, and strict rule followers. They avoid confrontation whenever possible. But Oh, the main character, is different from the rest of the Boov. He is eager to make friends and fit in, yet everything he does annoys his neighbors. When Oh tries his hardest to blend in, he sticks out the worst. The customs of his fellow Boov are foreign to Oh. They speak a social language he can barely understand.
Facial expressions also confound Oh. He doesn’t understand when another Boov is angry with him. When Oh attempts to make friendly conversation, he drives Boovians further away.
Despite his lack of social awareness, Oh is quite brilliant. He’s a mechanical genius, even by the advanced technological standards of his fellow aliens. Oh has a gigantic heart and proves himself to be a loyal friend.
Jim Parsons did an exceptional job voicing Oh and made him a loveable character in spite–and because of–his quirks.
As a former teacher, I think “Home” could be a great tool for classroom conversations because it could help neurotypical children empathize with students who have ASD. “Home” can also help children better understand relatives who have ASD which is an ongoing topic in so many households today.
Besides all that “Home” is entertaining too!
I am very picky when it comes to historical fiction–and I enjoyed Deception on Sable Hill by Shelley Gray immensely. It has the perfection combination of great storytelling, good writing, and enough historically accurate detail to earn my admiration and respect. I detest historical fiction books that go of course in terms of authenticity, but Deception on Sable Hill stays true to the time period.
At its heart, the book is a romance between the wealthy Eloisa Carstairs and the middle class Sean Ryan, an Irishman who has worked his way up in the police force to become a detective. Set in 1893 against the backdrop of the Chicago World’s Fair, Eloisa confides in Sean that she is a sexual assault victim.
As a reader, I enjoyed the novel because in was a great story. As a writer, I was impressed by Shelley Gray’s mastery of the craft. This is probably something most people won’t notice, but she hardly ever uses sentence tags like “he said” or “she asks.” The dialogue is seamless and this is part of what makes Gray’s book so gripping.
Deception on Sable Hill is the second book in the The Chicago World’s Fair Mystery series, but it holds up exceptionally well as a stand-alone novel. I have not read Secrets of Sloane House but I did not feel lost at all. In fact, I loved Deception on Sable Hill so much that I am definitely interested in reading the entire series.
P.S. I received a free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinions and review.
Are you in the mood for an old fashioned magical jaunt? Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest by Keira Gillett is a classic “perilous adventure” book for middle grade readers. Set in Norway, Zaria Fierce includes trolls, winter-wyvern, ellefolken and more. It also has a modern timeframe, so don’t be surprised if you see iPads or mobile phones pop up.
The plot centers around a girl named Zaria, who has recently moved to Norway because of her father’s role in the military. On her way to school one day she crosses a bridge and accidentally encounters the attention of a horrible troll named Olaf. He demands Zaira pay a price that will take all of her courage and ingenuity to pay.
There were times I found the dialogue to be a bit unusual. Most kids don’t say things like “We are fickle are we not?” or “I met the criteria of your demands.” But there were many other parts of the book that were quite clever like the appearance of dry-ice grenades and the plot twist at the end. I especially enjoyed the illustrations by Eoghan Kerrigan. Somebody please give this man a picture book contract!
I received a free copy of Zaria Fierce from the author in exchange for my honest opinions and review. You can find out more, by checking out the beautiful book trailer.
If you’re a parent you know life can get so busy sometimes you don’t have time to take a deep breath let alone write a blog post. It’s doesn’t matter if you work full time in the workforce, or are a SAHM, your plate fills up fast. But sometimes the universe tells us we need … Continue reading
Redo Your Room: 50 Bedroom DIYs You Can Do in a Weekend is a how-to book for jazzing up a tween girl’s bedroom. It’s full of bright pictures, easy projects, and good advice. At only 5 and a half years old, my daughter is not the target age for Redo Your Room, yet she was enthralled by the photography and studied every picture closely. We will definitely be holding onto this book for the future.
For me as a mom, what I really liked was that the projects were doable and not too expensive. One trip to the craft store and $100 later, you’d probably have everything you need to do at least five projects. I hate decorating books that build unrealistic expectations. Redo Your Room is not one of them. (Btw, this book would be a really cool present grandmas could give combined with a generous gift card to Michael’s.)
Ideally, *ahem*, I would have loved to see an entire chapter devoted to the art of cleaning your room and keeping it that way. But that’s the mother in me talking, not the twelve-year-old girl!
In the past two weeks, Jenna has made mind-blowing progress in her RUN, BUG, RUN! reader. I need to buy more star stickers! Most of these stories are at a Guided Reading level of A or B, but a few of them, like “Get the Moth, Meg” and “The Sad Hog,” are at level C or … Continue reading
Last Saturday my daughter ran around the house saying “Pinch me. Is this a dream? I can read!” It was the cutest thing ever, but it also broke my heart a little bit. Two months ago we realized “Jenna” needed glasses. Now, we’re still regrouping. One thing I know for sure is that Bob Books weren’t … Continue reading
This is a hard post to write without sounding like a Tiger Mom. My daughter “Jenna” is 5-and-a-half years-old and reads at Guided Reading level D, which is roughly 1st grade. She is witty, articulate, cheerful and loves to draw. Jenna has been immersed in language since she was a baby and learned her letters and … Continue reading
Chalk this down as one of the most unusual YA books I’ve read this year. “You Have a Brain: A Teen’s Guide to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G.” is the memoir of pediatric neurosurgeon and presidential hopeful Ben Carson, co-written by Gregg Lewis and Deborah Shaw Lewis. It tells Ben Carson’s personal story of growing up on the streets of Detroit, being labeled a “dummy” by his peers, working hard at school and eventually attending Yale and the University of Michigan. He went on to become a famous neurosurgeon who performed ground breaking surgeries on conjoined twins.
What particularly interested me about this book was Ben Carson’s mother’s approach to “Afterschooling,” which is nearly identical to my own. For starters, Sonya Carson required her sons to read two books a week of their own choosing, and then write book reports that they read aloud. This push to read more, write more and think more, directly led to Ben and Curtis’ success.
I’m not sure what teen readers will think of “You Have a Brain: A Teen’s Guide to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G.” It’s marketed to young adult readers, but is probably also serving as a tool to further Ben Carson’s political aspirations.
I gave aspirations too, primarily to spark a national conversation about how massive parental involvement is the key to high quality education. That’s the mission of my blog, “Teaching My Baby to Read.” For me the take home message of Ben Carson’s book was that without his mother Sonya overseeing her boys’ Afterschooling, their story might have been very different.
P.S. I received a free copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for my honest opinions and review.
A month ago I purchased Reading Focus Cards to help support my daughter’s ability to track words. In the past, I’ve made homemade versions of the same idea for free (see how here), but I felt we were ready for an upgrade. The benefit of reading focus cards is that they come with different colored … Continue reading
Here are the benchmark sight words my daughter’s Kindergarten class is expected to master by first grade: is a the has and of with see for no cannot have are said I you me come here to my look he go put want this she saw now like do home they went good was be … Continue reading
Here’s a great idea from my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher: a lesson on informational writing. First she read the kids several “how-to” books and discussed the difference between fiction and nonfiction. Then she launched writer’s workshop. Directions: Give the kids three choices to write about. How to brush your teeth. How to plant a seed. How to make … Continue reading
How Many Days Until Tomorrow? by Caroline Janover tells the story of two brothers who spend a rough summer living with their grandparents on an isolated island near Maine. Their grandmother is nice, but their grandfather is a real grump.
Simon is able to find escape in books, but Josh has dyslexia, and finds solace in nature instead. Luckily, Seal Island offers a myriad of creatures to examine. There’s everything from bald eagles, to a dead Minke whale that must be destroyed.
I really enjoyed reading How Many Days Until Tomorrow? a lot. The pace, plot, and character development were excellent. I also appreciated that it featured a main character with dyslexia. I would definitely read more from Janover in the future.