Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Four simple, pleasing read-aloud storybooks

Yesterday was a lovely day. Thanks to all of you who sent, commented, and tweeted your happy birthday wishes. My hubby and kids had a few sweet treats that surprised and delighted me, and I'm all together grateful for the chance to celebrate.

Staying on theme here at Pars Caeli, I'm excited to honor Children's Book Week, the national celebration of books and reading for youth. This worthwhile spotlight started nearly a century ago and remains the longest-running literacy initiative in this country.

For my part, I really want to share with you four of our favorite family read-alouds.

Reading to my children is such a daily gift. Taking on the voices and speech patterns of animals and inventions, I've been gifted with the opportunity to open up the world to them.

During a week-long summer vacation two years ago, we stumbled into a charming children's bookstore, and each child selected a book as their trip souvenir. We leave TV watching behind on vacation, and I have such vivid memories of all five of us huddled up in the big bed, listening and gawking at story and art, as we read and reread these wondrous books.

1. A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker

Bear keeps to himself, always has, always will - until he hears a tap, tap, tapping on his door.  Enter Mouse. The story unfolds to reveal the ways that Mouse ingratiates himself to the stubborn Bear, with persistence and attention. With its enjoyable repetition of refrain, your children (and you) will find yourself joining in the first sparks of friendships, and the sweet illustrations will stay with you long after the book close.
Bear has a series of other stories, and we happily read those, too, but I think this is by far, the best of the bunch.

2. Manana Iguana by Ann Whitford Paul

My super smart sis, who is also a rocking Kindergarten teacher, recommended this one to me. Manana Iguana is a modern take on the Little Red Hen. Poor Iguana is raring to throw a grand fiesta,  and she looks to her three companions to help with preparations. My fave animal in this one is Culebra (the snake) with his quick wit, "I'll help you, Iguana. I'll help you Manana, Iguana, when I grow arms."
The integration of Spanish and English dialogue is seamless and natural to the story. The drawings endear. And I do one amazing, annoyed iguana imitation if I do say so.

3. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

What list of children's stories would be complete without a Seuss? This one is my favorite. The ridiculousness matched with the sing song patterning makes it such a great read-aloud.
I've been influenced by Seuss artwork for a very long time, and I see my kids trying to identify what real creature might have inspired the crazy critters that Dr. Seuss brings to life in these pages. Mr. Gump's little ditty is my fave, as I have a melody that goes along with it, too (a book turned into a musical, I'm all about that!).

4. Little Miss Spider by David Kirk

The interior of this book feels and looks like a shiny, polished new car. The dramatic colors are like a rainbow on your lap and each vignette draws you in. C has always loved this story, so much so that she memorized the whole thing at age 3 and "read" it to her teachers.
Miss Spider hatches into the world, alongside many siblings, but without the presence of her mother. We follow her through the story as she searches and inquires, "Where could my mother be?", only to find that she has discovered the most amazing mother right by her side.
It's a sweet, simple story, again using rhyme, that reminds us of the most important connection between mother and child.
If you're looking for a sentimental something for a momma in your life, try wrapping up this charmed storybook. The book concludes with the verse below - one so fitting for Mother's Day (just 4 days away). Cut and paste it into your next email or tweet to a favorite momma in your life.

Thanks for hanging out, friend. Can't wait to show you a little of my birthday inspiration tomorrow.


P.S. You may have heard that the unbelievable Maurice Sendak passed away yesterday. His books and illustrations will be loved and adored for decades to come. In his honor, let's read some incredible books, OK?

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