By Patricia Wersinger
Books are the greatest source of inspiration and learning at all ages, but even more so for children. Pull your kids away from their electronic games, and get them reading!
Dear Baby, Let’s Dance by Carol Casey, Illustrated by Jason Oransky is a spirited book, full of joie de vivre and fun. We follow the day of Baby as she learns of different dancing styles such as Ballet, Tango, Hip Hop, Rock ‘n Roll from her grand parents, aunt, sister and uncles. When she gets to Uncle John who does not dance but watches football, she learns that this is OK too. The book shows that just as there are different ways to dance there are different ways to be. None is better than the other as long as you enjoy yourself and include every one in your fun. For babies and toddlers.
Sweet Dreams Lullaby by Betsy Snyder is a beautifully illustrated bedtime book set in rhymes about the magical moment when night falls. Your child is invited to dream of familiar animals she knows such as bees, fireflies, owls, squirrels, bears and of cosmic elements such as the sky, the stars and Mother Nature. You feel that the world is unified through the night and is a safe and comforting place. This is a soothing book that will make the transition into sleep a cherished lovely moment. For pre-K children.
The Grasshopper Hopped by Elizabeth Alexander, illustrated by Joung Un Kim
The book is about a Grasshopper who hopped and hopped “out of the pot” in search of “a cooler spot”. Easy to move tabs allow your child to move the Grasshopper and get her to hop along. This is a wonderfully off beat rhyming book with simple, strong graphics and subdued, warm vintage colors. Your child will have fun learning to repeat the tricky “tickity tock” and “hippity hop” beat that takes the grasshopper along a clock that struck three, a sea that is too wet, a log where he meets a hungry frog and shares the joy of finding at the end “the perfect spot”, neither too hot or cold where he can rest. For pre-K children.
The Bog Baby by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward
Is the quaint heart warming story about two little girls, the narrator and her friend Chrissy, who find a jelly like little blue bog in the forest and decide to adopt it and hide it in the shed. The girls play at parenting the bog. All goes well but one day the bog gets sick and the girls need to include their mom in their secret. The mother tells them the blue bog is a wild thing and it has to be brought back to where he belongs. Sadly the girls let go of him. A generation later, the narrator’s daughter encounters a family of hundreds of Bogs in the park. The beauty of the tale resides in the captivating voice of the narrator that rings like a 7 year old’s, and the dazzling illustrations of Gwen Millward. The author invites your daughter to share in the magic and write at the end of the book of her own experience of finding bogs in the park. For girls up to 8 years.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Set in 1979 on the upper west side of NYC, this is the story of Miranda a sixth grader with a life as typical of girls of that age as they come, observed with colorful details in the commonsense voice of Rebecca Stead. We discover the vulnerabilities and puzzles of a 6th grader’s mind through the changing patterns of her relationships with her peers, her parents and a sly deli owner. Rebecca Mead picks on all the ironies of the grown up world as it confronts the candid mind of a young observer. At the same time there is a deep sense of mystery at the heart of this novel involving Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, time travel and unexplainable disappearances that transcend Miranda’s small world and make it seem suddenly vast, limitless and full of darkness. Rebecca Mead is also good at lacing the narrative with small moral dilemmas to help a 10 year old still grappling with basic issues of right and wrong to think with the most open minded, inclusive, respectful manner. This is the second book by Rebecca Mead. Her first novel, First Light, won the Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year Outstanding Merit Award. For girls and boys 9 to 12 years.
Today I Will by Eileen and Jerry Spinelli
Modeled on adult motivational books, featuring quotes and inspirational messages for each day to help through life’s battles and challenges, Today I Will by Eileen and Jerry Spinelli is a delightful read for kids. There are 365 entries for the year each consisting of a favorite quote from a beloved children book and little lessons to take fear out of daily tasks like taking decisions, coping with feelings of insecurity, fighting prejudice, controlling one’s temper and making the decision which is better for all. Full of wisdom and pragmatic, direct advice on how to deal with the big issues in the life of a ten year old; this little book is a great comfort to read in bed with your child to unwind at the end of the day. For kids 8 years and older.
The Georges and the Jewels by Jane Smiley
Is a delightful story told in the humorous voice of the young narrator Abby Lovett. An accomplished rider, the shrewd 7th grader helps her father train horses on a small California ranch to allow even a little girl to ride them. One day a new horse named Ornery George is so difficult to train that for the first time she gives up on her task. A horse whisperer comes into the picture teaching Abby how to communicate in a new way to Ornery George. The narrative is vivacious, sprinkled with delightful anecdotes. The horses are personalized in order to show the complex psychological challenges involved in horse rearing and how they may be applied to communicate with humans. Unlike typical horse stories for girls, this book does not use horses as sentimental vehicles for a girl’s budding sexual awakening but as means to inspire endurance, resolve and true love. You also get a true sense of life ‘s small dysfunctions as you are informed of the dramas in Abby’s family such as conflicts with her born-again religious father, the expulsion of her brother from home, showing kids how life is a mix of different things that you have to deal with whilst moving forward with a positive attitude. This book is perfect for 10 year olds and older who are interested in horses, the wild, animal and human behavior and strong characters.
Top 100 Finger Foods by Annabel Karmel
This is an imaginative recipe book with delightful recipes that your daughter will enjoy reading aloud and creating herself (with your supervision). Simple, tasty, inexpensive these recipes will become a source of inspiration to keep your little one happy. Such items as Potato Pizzette Bites (my 10 year old daughter’s favorite), Grilled Vegetable Skewers, Baked Mozzarella Sticks or Pressed Sushi are so easy to make and so satisfying they will be your basic resources for painless, tasty meals in the future. Try them on your adult guests too. They will not begrudge the effort.
Who Says I Can’t by Jothy Rosenberg
For all the teen divas out there who fall apart at the least skirmish or life challenge, who don’t dare face the world on a bad hair day or at the merest sight of black head on their flawless face, Jothy Rosenberg, Who Says I Can’t is an inspiring remedy. This is a true story of a 16 year-old boy who faced the worst challenge you can imagine: bone cancer. He had a leg amputated, lost one lung, and was given no hope of survival. He underwent chemotherapy (with all it entails to a young, buoyant physique) and rebounded to score higher than everyone else in school. A wonderful lesson of what willpower, determination and character can achieve, this book will embolden girls and boys to fight all obstacles, imagined or real, between their fears and their dreams.