Thursday, 22 August 2013

Three top titles to round out the summer

We've been carting around three top books with us on our travels and they've now taken up permanent residence in E's bedside reading basket. They make up the equivalent of a 'book soundtrack' for summer 2013 and I can highly recommend all three:

The Toucan Brothers is a new release by Tor Freeman.  E now name drops Tor Freeman if that's any indication of how much we all love this book.  I discovered this one through one of my favorite book blogs, Playing By the Book. It's a fantastic story with mesmorizing Richard Scarry like illustrations. 

The town of Tapton is rife with plumbing disasters after a cowboy plumber, Flash Rover, comes to town and swindles all the residents.  Sammy and Paul save the day to the tune of a lovely, funny and clever ryhming narrative.  It sings along when read aloud and reminds me of the 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' it's so effective.  We love this book and will be giving away lots of copies for 4 year old birthday presents this year.

My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza was a holiday loaner from a dear friend in the US. It's the story of a pig who outfoxes a fox. The pig saves himself from the fox and manages to get bathed, massaged and well fed in the process. The pig's refrain throughout, 'just a thought Mr Fox' lasts long after the story has finished. This is E's summer mantra at present (and I've now let the cat out of the bag that this one came back to London rather than returning to its home in Myrtle Beach!).

My Granny Is a Pirate is by Val McDermid and Arthur Robins. Another dear friend, Brixton based this time, gave me the tip off on this book.  This is a rhyming tale about a little boy who has a secret ... his Granny is a pirate.  She's worked her way up the pirate ranks and is a good pirate who captures naughty ones and orders them to return gold to the pirate bank.  At the end of the day she returns to her hiding place, trades her pirate uniform for her granny clothes, fights some ghost pirates and rounds out the day with her dog (Jolly Roger of course), and a big slug of pirate grog. Grannies, pirates, dogs and handbags at dusk - all the makings for a great read!

Happy last days of summer everyone!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Reading, relationships and words of wisdom from Anna Dewdney

newest title from Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama series

Hi all! E and I are officially back in London town.  The cat seems to have fared ok in our absence and though we're missing friends, family and the beach ... it's nice to be home. We've returned with books stuffed in every available air pocket of the suitcases and I'm eager to share our current reading list with you.  However, before I launch into these new (and some old) finds, I want to stop and take note of an editorial that I've been making a bit of noise about this week. 

Children's author Anna Dewdney published a piece in the Wall Street Journal last week entitled, How Books Can Teach Your Child to Care or Why Reading is Crucial Not Just for Literacy. I was so struck by this piece, and how she distills the precious act of reading aloud with a child, that I thought it warranted its own post. 

Dewdney deftly articulates what I often refer to as the magic of reading in saying, 'When we open a book, and share our voice and imagination with a child, that child learns to see the world through someone else’s eyes.' She goes on to write, ' that that child then learns to feel the world more deeply, becoming more aware of himself and others in a way that he simply cannot experience except in our laps, or in our classrooms, or in our reading circles.'

This got me thinking about the act of reading as much as what we're reading. She talks about the intimate human connection that is made when we read with a child and how this helps them to understand what it is to be human, and therefore teaches them empathy. Think about it.  These moments when we read aloud with a child are not just forming memories or teaching vocabulary, but they are providing a small yet highly powerful human interaction. 

It reminded me of our last night in the US reading bedtime stories with E.  He was a bit prickly this trip to say the least and would only let his parents read stories to him. However, on this night he permitted my Mom to linger in his room and listen to storytime.  It was interesting to me that though she didn't get to read to him as she dearly want to do, it served another purpose to share in that moment with him, to see how we all interacted and to be a part of that human connection.

If you get a chance then I urge you to click on the link above and read the full piece from Anna Dewdney. Her latest book appears to be out in the US already and it looks to be another hit, Llama, Llama and the Bully Goat.