Monday, December 23, 2013

Recommended Picture Book: Lemonade in Winter: A book about two kids counting money

Title: Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money

Author: Emily Jenkins

Illustrator: G. Brian Karas

Publisher: Shwartz and Wade Books; Sept, 11, 2012

Topic: Math: Counting Money, Siblings, Entrepreneurship, Winter

Age: 3-7

Opening: An empty street. Outside, a mean wind blows. Icicles hand from the windowsills.

Summary: Pauline and her little brother set out to sell lemonade, limeade and lemon-limeade on a cold, snow-filled, winter day, then they try to attract customers to their stand as Pauline adds up the money they make from sales.

At the back of the book, the author includes a page that describes the different coins used in American currency and their values, pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.
Other activities include:
Learning about entrepreneurship.
Children can start their own lemonade stand.
Children will have fun learning about US coins with this online interactive activity.
Find fun Online Games that teaches young children how to count and use money.
Find money worksheet at Kids Learning Station.
Find more activities and worksheets at
Check out Club Kidpreneur for some hands on experience of creating a business.
For parents: a really great read about a mother's experience with her daughter creating different types of stands and step by step of each stage of the business. Math Activities: Lemonade Stand

Why I like the book:
This is a fun story with a lot of room for great curricular activities to enhance the reading and learning experience introduced in Lemonade in Winter. I love the idea that two children come up with a business plan and run with it despite all the well-wishing naysayers. With each challenge they face, the children come up with a solution to overcome it. But what I love most, is that at the end, the children do not make a profit, in fact they (Pauline) realize they actually lost money in their business venture, a real life lesson. Despite that, they enjoy their business and the eventual outcome by celebrating with popsicles (in the winter!)  :D  children are given the opportunity to learn about money and entrepreneurship without being bored 'cents-less' :D.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns

Title: Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns

Author: Hena Khan

Illustrator: Mehrdokht Amini

Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2012

Age: 4 - 6

Themes: Colors, Cultures and Religions (Islam)

Opening: Red is the rug dad kneels on to pray, facing towards Mecca five times a day.

Summary: A young girl guides very young readers on a colorful adventure as she shares simple and easy to understand facts about her culture and religious traditions.

Color hunting: Try singing this chant with your child(ren) as you go on a color hunt around the room.

We Are Going on a Color Hunt

We are going on a color hunt, we going to find the color red
We are going to look high and we are going to look low
until we find the color red.

Blue, Gold, White, Black, Brown, Orange, Purple, Yellow, Green and Silver.

The book explores a lot new and probably unfamiliar vocabulary, create word puzzles, and word finds to help learn the new words.

Talk about the architecture of the buildings, the domes and minarets, how do they differ from other houses of worship.

Henna Designs: Allow children to copy or draw their own designs using this hand template. Or find inspiration using these. Learn more about the history of henna here

Make a fanoos, a traditional lamp used during festivals.

What I like about the book:

I really enjoyed the illustrations. They were rich, vivid, and colorful. They brought to life the words on the pages. Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns is a wonderful addition to any classroom library as it beautifully reflects both Middle Eastern culture and the Muslim religion. Children are able to explore and learn about the traditions and celebrations of Muslims.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Recommended Picture Book: Care for Our World

Title: Care for Our World

Author: Karen Robbins

Illustrator: Alexandra Ball

Publisher: Compendium Inc,  July 15, 2012

Theme: Planet Earth, Environment, Care for the Planet

Age: 4 - 6

Opening: Care for our world, for you and me, for all living things from mountain to sea.

Summary: Children meet a wide range of animals from every continent as they learn just how important it is to take care of our planet. It is our home as well as the home of every living creature both animate and inanimate.

Great list of K-2 lesson plans and activities that promote Earth and environmental awareness.
Ideas and resources that are helpful when teaching about the environment and how to care for it.

What I like about the book:
The author does a great job conveying the importance of taking care of not just the earth but every living creature on it. The text is rhythmic and the illustrations draw you in with their warmth and joy. Visit every continent as you turn the page. Meet playful creatures from around the world in their natural habitat.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Duck & Goose Find a Pumpkin

Title: Duck & Goose Find A Pumpkin

Author: Tad Hills

Illustrator: Tad Hills

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books, July 28, 2009 (Oversized Board Book Edition)

Age: 1 - 4

Topic: Pumpkins, Animals, Nature, Seasons, Friendship, Directional Prepositions

Opening: Nice pumpkin, Thistle.

Book Summary: Duck and Goose see that Thistle has a really nice plump pumpkin. They want a pumpkin too. So they search together looking through fallen leaves, a downed log, a pond and a tree stump. But they can’t seem to find a pumpkin until Thistle suggests a great spot to find one.


Nature walks. For learning about preposition, send your child/ren on a hunt using the prepositions in the book: on, in, up, under. Learn about other fall foliage including those shown in the illustrations, apples, acorns, leaves and more. And then there is always Pinterest for great ideas.

Why I Like This Book:

Short and Sweet. Amazing illustrations rendered in oil paint. Aside from the fact that I just love Duck & Goose as much as my toddler class does, the author beautifully captures autumn in this book as the adorable friends search for their pumpkin. Children will see colorful fallen leaves, apples, and an acorn as well as pumpkins. This book is great to add to a fall themed lesson plan. It can also be used for introducing prepositions to young children. I also love the potential of interactivity with the book. As I read the book to my group of 15 – 20 month old toddlers, I didn’t really have to prompt them to answer along with duck & goose. When the time came, they would all say, “No,” shaking their heads as I read it. J It is an often requested book to read a circle time (yes, my one year old classroom has circle time that we actually can get through an entire book! J )

Saturday, November 2, 2013

National Picture Book Month: Why Are Picture Books Important?

Picture Books bring words and pictures, readers and non-readers, children and parents together, in one place, one time sharing the joy and love of reading a good story.

November is National Picture Book Month

November is National Picture Book Month! Katie Davis asks a variety of well read and loved authors and illustrators, "What is a picture book?" Check out their answers in her video?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Recommended Board Book: Leaves by David Ezra Stein

Title: Leaves

Author: David Ezra Stein

Illustrator: David Ezra Stein

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, July 29, 2010 (board book edition)

Age: 2 - 4

Topic: Changing Seasons, Fall, Autumn, Leaves, Bear

Opening: It was his first year.

Book Summary: The story follows a very young bear who experiences his first autumn. All is going well until the first leaf falls. Then soon, all the leaves begin to fall on his quiet island. At first he is confused and tries to put them back but soon he gives up and sadly watches all the leaves drop. He gathers up all the leaves and uses them to make a soft bed for a very long winter nap. When he awakes, he finds a wonderful surprise waiting for him.


Autumn is a great time to be out and about in nature. Go for walks and allow your child/ren to explore and observe the changes happening all around them. Why do leaves turn colors? Find our here as well as find science projects for children to do. What makes them fall? A very simple answer can be found here: )
Some other activities can include: at the beginning of autumn when there are still a few ‘green’ leaves, have children create leaf collages. Collect the leaves of various trees. In some regions, there are trees that do not fall, learn about these trees. Got lots of energy, jump into a leaf pile.
Find lots of leafy activities and crafts here.

Why I Like This Book:

I love the author’s simple text, warm illustrations as he allows young bear, and young readers, to explore the beauty and changes of autumn. He shows the mix feelings that the young bear feels as he experiences autumn for the first time. But by the end of the book, children learn the nature of the seasons; that the leaves do come back in the spring. This is a great book to use to enhance a lesson plan on Fall/Autumn. Granted only three of the four seasons are shown in this book, it still opens up for a lot of discussions for the teacher to have with students.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Recommended Picture Book: Know the Parts of a Book

Title: Know the Parts of a Book

Author: Janet Piehl

Illustrator: Photographs

Publisher: Lerner Publication, October 1, 2013

Age: 5 - 8

Topic: Non-fiction, books, how-to, research

Summary: Will wants to learn about frogs. Readers follow Will as he learns how to find the different information he needs in the book he finds about them, from the table of contents to the index. From the spine, cover and glossary, Will and the reader learns about the different parts of the book and what role they play in helping the reader access the information they need.

Resources: Activity: Borrow the book, "Can You Tell A Frog From A Toad? Have your child/ren follow along with Will as they "research." Have them find the spine, the title page, table of contents, glossary, etc,.

Why I like the book: It is an excellent introductory book that describes the function of each part of a book. Whether reading for the fun of it or writing a report for school, this book gives children the know how skills to access and research a book on their own. Realistic photo illustrations and simple text, this is a must have book for EVERY classroom library because it is never too early to Know the Parts of a Book! I have to say, this would have been a fun book to have when I was a kid :)

*This book in e-format was given to me to review by NetGalley.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Happy Eid!

From all of us here at The Family-Ship Experience,

May you have a happy Eid Al Adha!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham

Title: Z is for Moose

Author: Kelly Bingham

Illustrator: Paul O. Zelinsky

Publisher: Greenwillow Books, February 28, 2012

Age: 4 - 8 years

Theme: Alphabets, Emotions, Friendship

Opening: A is for Apple.

Summary: Z is for Zebra. Zebra is absolutely certain he’ll be able to direct everyone to appear on the correct page, at the appropriate time, without any mishaps, unnecessary drama, or hurt feelings. It’s the ABCs, for goodness’ sake. How difficult can it be?

Oh, dear.

Zebra forgot about moose.

Resources: Reading Is Fundamental has resource links that include educator guides, extension activities and parent resources.

Follow Moose as he travels around the earth on his very own blog!

Why I Like This Book:  This is a really cute and different kind of alphabet book. The alphabets are coming together for a show and Moose is excited and anxious to be a part. So anxious that he manages to put himself on almost every page, ruining everyone else's part. Moose is crushed when another animal is chosen to represent the letter M. He is so  mad that, true to a toddler's nature when they don't get their way, has a tantrum all over the stage, stomping on letters, scratching out words, draw over pictures until he begins to cry. A sympathetic Zebra finds a way to calm Moose and give his time in the spot light.  Moose reminds me of the many different children I have had the fortune to teach and care for. He is enthusiastic, impatient, and oblivious of the ruckus he is causing the other letters on the different pages. Children will relate to Moose and find his antics funny.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Recommended Picture Book: Under the Ramadan Moon

Title: Under the Ramadan Moon

Author: Sylvia Whitman

Illustrator: Sue Williams

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company;  March 1, 2011

Age: 3-7 years

Themes: Ramadan, Fasts and Feasts, Islam, Moon

Opening: We wait for the moon. We watch for the moon. We watch for the Ramadan moon.

We wait for the moon. We watch for the moon. We watch for the Ramadan moon.
We give to the poor, and read Qur’an, under the moon.
We live our faith, until next year under the moon, under the moon, under the Ramadan moon.
Ramadan is one of the most special months of the Islamic year, when Muslims pray, fast, and help those in need. Sylvia Whitman’s lyrical story, with luminous illustrations by Sue Williams, serves as an introduction to Ramadan—a time for reflection and ritual with family and friends. 

A detailed not about Ramadan is included at the end of the books.
This blog has some really fun activities based off the story. Jannah Steps has a treasure trove of Ramadan activities for all ages.

Why I Like This Book:
This book is perfect in every way. It is perfect for introducing Muslim culture and the Muslim holiday, Ramadan, to young children. In a classroom setting, this book is great because the words are simple, rhythmic and has repetition that is helpful to get children engaged and interactive during story time. For non-Muslim children, it shows the different practices of Muslims during the month like spending time with family, visiting friends, speaking kind words, giving to the poor, praying, reading from the Muslim holy book, the Qur'an.  Muslim families will enjoy the ease of reading the story to their children and discuss all the things that make this month special and important to Muslims. The best thing about the Under the Ramadan Moon, are the illustrations. They are so warm and beautiful. During story time at the Islamic Kids Library, one of the kids noticed that on each page, the moon changed. That it went from a crescent, to full moon, back to a crescent again. :) The moon is important to Muslims as it marks the beginning and end of each of the lunar months. So it was really cool to see the children recognize this and that the illustrator took the time to include this into her illustrated story. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Recommended Picture Book: Soo's Boo-Boos by Tilda Balsley

Title: Soo's Boo-Boos

Author: Tilda Balsley

Illustrator: Shelagh McNicholas

Publisher: Tiger Tales,

Age: 3 - 7 years

Theme: Numbers: 1-10, Problem Solving

Opening: Soo counted boo-boos. "I've got 10!"

Summary: Uh-oh!  Soo has ten boo-boos.  But she’s in luck!  Her mom knows ten ways to soothe her her boo-boos.  Count from one to ten and back again as Soo shows her mom her boo-boos and her mom makes them all better again!

Resources: This story is all about counting and problem solving. Get children to find ten of something that is similar (ten bottle caps, cars, marbles, pennies, pebbles, etc,.) Practice counting up and back down again.
Discussion topics: How many boo-boos did Soo have? What were they? How did Soo's mother fix her boo-boos?
Role Play: Gather all the dolls, stuffed animals in the house. Come up with different kinds of boo-boos and have children help you fix them.
Teaching Ideas has many problem solving activities.
Math Maven Mysteries has a lot of fun math mysteries for children to solve

Why I Like This Book:
Children and parents alike will enjoy reading this counting book! Soo has ten boo-boos. She counted them. From a stiff elbow, scabby knees, chapped lips to scratches, bug bites and more. But Soo is in luck. She has a mom who is a specialist in fixing her boo-boos. Kids will definitely relate to this fun rhyming story. I particularly enjoyed Soo's play for sympathy and I loved how her mother showed her love and care by addressing each one with just the perfect cure for each of Soo's ailments.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Recommended Picture Book: The Perfect Gift

Title: The Perfect Gift

Author: J. Samia Mair

Illustrator: Craigh Howarth

Publisher: The Islamic Foundation

Age: 5 - 7 years

Grade Level: Kindergarten - 2

Themes: Eid/Eid al-Adha, Nature Appreciation, Family, Gift-giving

Opening: Sarah looked out the window. She was very sad.

Book Summary:
Sarah is sad because she cannot find an Eid gift for her mother, so she takes a walk along the secret path in the woods that always makes her feel better. There she finds the first flower of spring—God's perfect gift to the world. Leaving her gift in its place to share with her entire family, Sarah grows in her understanding and appreciation of nature and what it means to live in submission to God.

A glossary at the end of the book explains many of the Islamic terms used in the book.
Perfect for spelling games, word finds and crossword puzzles.

The story is set at the time of Eid ul Adha, though nothing pertaining to the religious aspects of the event is given.

It’s also set in early Spring. Depending on where you live, you can talk about the winter/spring seasons and what happens to animals and plants during this time. Take your children of students on a walk through a natural setting outdoors and talk about what kinds of “perfect gifts” you see. Let children draw pictures and even write stories about what they find.

Talk about Allah as Al Khaliq who created all the beautiful things around us. Ask children how they can enjoy nature without destroying it.

Find more activities here at Activity Village.

Why I Like This Book: 
Eid is to Muslims as Christmas is to Christians. It is a time for remembrance, family, friends and gift-giving. But what happens when one does not have the money to buy gifts to give. That is where the true story and spirit of Eid comes in The Perfect Gift. Sarah is a young girl who does not have a gift for her mother. She does not have money like her brother and is not talented in calligraphy like her sister who makes a beautiful picture using calligraphy and the frames it. When Sarah takes a walk through the snow-covered woods she observes just how beautiful nature really is and begins to appreciate it. She stumbles up the first flower of spring. It was beautiful and decides this is the "perfect gift." Her appreciation of the natural beauty of Allah's (God's) creation is shown when she decides to not pick the flower but instead builds a cute little picket fence around it made out of popsicle sticks and attaches a sign that says, "Eid Mubarak! Allah's perfect gift to the world." I love message this story gives. The best gift is not always the ones you buy or even make.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Recommended Picture Book: Be Positive! by Cheri J. Meiners

Title: Be Positive
Author: Cheri J Meiners

Illustrator: Elizabeth Allen
Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing, Sept 1, 2013 (not published yet)

Age: 4-8

Topic: Optimism, Being Positive

Opening: I love waking up!

Book Summary: This friendly, encouraging book introduces preschool and primary-age children to ways of thinking and acting that will help them feel good about themselves and their lives, stay on course when things don’t go their way, and contribute to other people’s happiness, too.
Resources: The author includes a few pages of games, activities and discussion topics that are great for classroom and home use.
More positive attitude activities and a comprehensive lesson plan with activities (mostly for school age children but many of the activities can be made suitable for younger children.)

Why I Like This Book:
LOL! I loved the opening for the book :) I'm not a morning person but once I'm up, I usually enjoy the peace and quiet of it and look forward to a productive day. Be Positive is a thoughtful book that offers a guiding approach to positivity. Be Positive shows children the importance of being positive while still valuing their feelings and emotions. A wonderful book to share with children during circle time as it allows for great discussions opportunities. As a teacher, I particularly like the resourceful information page at the back of the book and I think parents will too.

*Reviewed from a digital galley provided by NetGalley and Free Spirit Publishing.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Recommended Picture Book: Mixed Me by Tiffany Catledge

Title: Mixed Me
Author: Tiffany Catledge

Illustrator: Anissa Riviere

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, April 11, 2013

Age: 4-6
Topic: children of biracial heritage,

Opening: Someone called me an oreo cookie. Chocolate on the outside, vanilla on the inside. I don't feel like a cookie.
Book Summary: Little Mixie wonders why everyone wants to know "what she is." Isn't it obvious? She is clearly a human being. Coming from a family with a black dad and a white mom makes her extra special, and maybe a little different too. But different is good. Mixie embraces her uniqueness and determines to be the best "Me" she can be.

Resources: Book includes activity page.

Why I Like This Book: Mixed Me is a tale of pride and courage as Mixie shares her black and white heritage with young readers. Children will learn from Mixie to embrace their uniqueness whether they are mixed or not. Mixed Me is a great effort and introduction in helping children learn to cope and go beyond the barriers and challenges that they face due to being of mixed races/heritages/cultures. After all, it is not important WHAT you are but WHO you are.                  
* Reviewed from paperback copy provided by author.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Recommended Picture Book: Feel Confident! by Cheri J. Meiners

Title: Feel Confident!

Author: Cheri J. Meiners

Illustrator: Elizabeth Allen

Publisher: Free Spirit, Sept 1, 2013 (not published yet) 

Age: 4-8

Topic: Self-Confidence

Opening: I like being me - a very important person.

Book Summary: Feel Confident empowers children to recognize their individual worth and develop confidence in themselves, their abilities, and the choices they make. Children learn that they can speak up, expect and show respect, try new things, and believe in themselves

Resources: The book includes an excellent selection of discussion topics and activities that can be used in a home or school setting.
Confidence building games, activities, and more.

Why I Like This Book: Feel Confident does a great job of explaining what confidence is and gives children the skills to become confident young members of society. The illustrations are soft yet full of vibrance as the young character explores her abilities and her place in her family and community. Feel Confident is an excellent resource book as well for parents and teacher. There is an information page at the back of the book that for parents and teachers with activities and discussion topics to reinforce the ideas of the book.

*Reviewed from digital galley received from Netgalley and Free Spirit Publishing

Monday, July 8, 2013

Recommended Picture Book: When I Was Eight

Title:  When I Was Eight

Author: Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton

Illustrator: Gabrielle Grimard

Publisher: Annick Press, Feb 7, 2013

Subject: Cultures & People: Inuit, School, Reading, Courage, Artic Regions, Self-Esteem, Growing up,

Age: 6 - 9

Opening: I knew many things when I was eight.

Book Summary:

"Nothing will stop a strong-minded young Inuit girl from learning how to read."

Olemaun is eight and knows a lot of things. But she does not know how to read. She must travel to the outsiders' school to learn, ignoring her father's warning of what will happen there.

The nuns at the school take her Inuit name and call her Margaret. They cut off her long hair and force her to do chores. She has only one thing left -- a book about a girl named Alice, who falls down a rabbit hole.

Margaret's tenacious character draws the attention of a black-cloaked nun who tries to break her spirit at every turn. But she is more determined than ever to read.

By the end, Margaret knows that, like Alice, she has traveled to a faraway land and stood against a tyrant, proving herself to be brave and clever.
Discuss the importance of being able to read. Why did Olemaun want to read so bad? What did she do to practice? How was she treated at the school? What did the nuns take away from Olemaun? Was if fair? Why do you think they changed her name, cut her hair, take away her parka?
Research and learn more about the Inuit people and their culture: Here is an easy to follow fact-filled page about the Inuit people
This site has a resourceful page with many links about the Inuit Culture.
Inuit Coloring Pages and Art can be found here. :

Why I Like This Book:

I was deeply moved by this wonderful story about a young girl’s strong determination and dedication to learn how to read despite the odds against her. I love “When I Was Eight” and I love the young girl telling the story. Olemaun, an eight year old Inuit, is the young heroine in this re-telling of "Fatty Legs" a story written for older children.
Olemaun knows many things at the age of eight but she does not know how to read. Olemaun knows that it is important to not only know how to understand the outsiders but to also know how to read in their language as well. She also wants to read the book her sister always reads to her. The book called, “Alice.” So she decides to ask her father to let her go to their school. He first resists as he knows what it is really like at the school for young Inuit children who attend the catholic school. But for some reason he does not tell her. Despite his objections, Olemaun continues to push the matter until he allows her to go to school to learn how to read. Only things don’t go as she plans.
The nuns are very cruel and hard-hearted, they do their best to break her spirit. Even the other girls are not very nice to her. But Olemaun is strong, she does not let them make her quit or feel defeated. She uses every opportunity she can to practice until one day, she is able to read her most prized possession of all, the book her sister gave her.
I could not get enough of this remarkable young girl. She made me laugh, she made me cry and she made me shake my finger at the mean characters. But most of all, she made me proud of her strength and accomplishments despite her ill-wishers. This is a MUST have book in all home and classroom libraries.
When I Was Eight sheds a quiet yet powerful look at residential schools and the treatment of native children in the Americas.
*Reviewed from digital galley received from Netgalley and Annick Press

Friday, July 5, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Goliath's Secret by Bonnie Feuer

Title: Goliath's Secret

Author: Bonnie Feuer

Illustrator: Sharai Platt

Publisher: The Connecticut Press, May 15, 2013

Age: 4-7 years

Theme: Forms of Communication, West African Animals, Forest Animals

Opening: Deep within the West African forest, flows a beautiful waterfall.

Book Summary: Near a waterfall in the lush West African forest, seven animals come across the wonderful, but silent, Goliath Frog. They all feel sorry for this giant, believing that he is unable to communicate. In rhyme and prose the West African animals describe the unique ways in which they communicate with one another. Using objects found in nature, they also try to help Goliath find his own voice. The caring animals are disappointed when the frog does not respond.... until he reveals his own surprising secret.

Resources:A glossary is included at the end of the book. It can be used to make word searches and crossword puzzles.
Suggested Discussion Topics: How do animals communicate? How do humans communicate? What are some ways different cultures communicate?
The subject of the book is communication. It would be fun to find new ways to communicate with each other. Let children make up a new way to communicate.

Why I Like This Book: A gentle story that introduces the concept of speech and communication as well as the different ways animals communicate with each other. Goliath the frog is mute. All the other animals feel awful he can't speak and do their best to teach him their form of communication. But they learn the biggest lesson of all. "All creatures communicate in their own way" even a mute frog. I thought it was quite interesting to note that Goliath would become interested in the different ways each animal presented their form of communication, like the dancing cranes, flashing fireflies and more, but the minute they tried to teach him to ‘speak’, Goliath would become dis-interested and return to his rock. The author did a wonderful job weaving facts about each animal Goliath meets and their unique form of communication as well as the importance of respect and being open-minded when meeting other with different abilities. Goliath’s Secret makes an excellent addition to Pre-K and Kindergarten classroom libraries. It can also be a wonderful resource when studying African animals. A glossary is at the end of the story to explain new words.

Monday, June 17, 2013

New Weekly Post: The Family-Ship Word of the Day

Welcome to the Family-Ship Word of the Day Meme where every Wednesday we will learn the meaning and usage of a word.

Our word finders will search high and low for words that will entertain, educate and help you express yourself like a pro! Most of the words will be from dictionaries, books, magazines, posters, online websites like Merriam Webster's Word Central and Super Kids: Education for the Future.

Join the Family-Ship space kids, Laila, Malcolm, and Na'ima on their weekly word adventures!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Book Review: Dog Comes Too

Dog Comes TooDog Comes Too by Hazel Hutchins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dog Comes Too is a lovely story with simple text and the whimsical illustrations that will capture children's attention. Perfect for older toddlers.

A tale about a dog that goes everywhere his companion goes. This adventure takes them to the top of a hill. Dog has t overcome quite a few obstacles but finds the view is well worth the hardships since he made the journey with his friend.

View all my reviews

Monday, June 3, 2013

Book Review: Lulu and the Duck in the Park

Lulu and the Duck in the ParkLulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lulu is an animal lover. She has a variety of pets, mostly ones she has rescued or pet sits for her classroom. One day, a tragic accident at the park regarding runaway dogs, lands a lost duck egg in Lulu's custody. Lulu hides the duck egg in her pocket and takes it back to school despite the fear of losing the class pet if she is caught bringing another pet into the classroom. Lulu and her friend, Mellie, keep the duck egg hidden for as long as possible until it finally hatches under Lulu's shirt. Instead of keeping the duckling, Lulu and Mellie return the duckling to the park with the help of their teacher.

A nice story about taking care of animals and keeping them safe. This story was a short, easy to read story for children ages 9-12 who love animals.

View all my reviews

Friday, May 31, 2013

Recommended Picture Book: Lola Reads to Leo

Title: Lola Reads to Leo

Author: Anna McQuinn

Illustrator: Rosalind Beardshaw

Publisher: Charlesbridge, Feb 1, 2012

Suitable For: 3 and up

Theme/Topics: New sibling, books and reading, brother - sister relationships,

Opening: Lola's day always ends with a story. Tonight's story is about a little girl and her new baby brother.

Book Summary: Lola reads storybooks to her new baby brother, Leo, and even though Mommy and Daddy are busy, they still have time to read to Lola.

Links to resources:
Activity ideas: Word finds using words from the story, children can brainstorm kinds of stories Lola can read to Leo when he is at the park, eating lunch, crying for his mama, etc. Children can talk about their favorite book to read.

Why I Like this Book: A sweet and endearing tale of a little girl who welcomes her little baby brother by share her love of storybooks with him. Lola gets ready to welcome her brother by reading books to him, before he is born, she sorts through her books to give to her brother while Daddy makes new shelves for the baby. When he is born, Lola loves to read to her baby brother as he goes about his day being taken cared of by his parents. But even though he keeps them busy, Lola's parents make sure they have time for Lola as well. Children will see that Lola takes part in the care of her baby brother, parents will see just how important and satisfying it is for younger children to help and be included in the care-taking of their new siblings. In the story, it shows Lola spending quality time with mommy and daddy alone as well as the family all together. The end is so sweet and reassuring for children, no matter how busy parents can get when a new baby arrives, they are not too busy to end the day with a story.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Recommended Picture Book: Keisha Ann Can!

Title: Keisha Ann Can!

Author: Daniel Kirk

Illustrator: Daniel Kirk

Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons, June 19, 2008

Suitable For: 3 - 5 years

Theme/Topics: Confidence, Ability, School, Stories in Rhyme

Opening: Who can catch the school bus for the early-morning ride?

Book Summary: Keisha Ann is proud of all the things she can do during her day at school.

Links to Resources:
Here are a few discussion topics and activity ideas on the author's website

Why I Like This Book:
An adorable story in rhyme that highlights things Keisha Ann CAN do as oppose to things she is not able to do or has a hard time doing. The story gives a positive look at school, all the fun things children can learn and do at school. School is fun. For a child who may not be very fond of school because they may not be good at things other children are good at, Keisha Ann Can! is great for building confidence and show that they CAN do many things too. I love the diversity of races represented in the book.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Children's Book Week Giveaway 5/13-5/19

Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop
May 13th – 19th
Hosted by
& I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
What is Children’s Book Week?
Established in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the longest-running literacy initiative in the country. Each year, books for young people and the joy of reading are feted for a full week with author and illustrator appearances, storytelling, parties, and other book-related events at schools, libraries, bookstores, museums, and homes from coast to coast!
For more information please visit:
The Prize
The Rules
* Must be 18 or over
*Must be in the US
* Must fill out the form below

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Recommended Picture Book: The Wonderful Book by Leonid Gore

Title: The Wonderful Book

Author: Leonid Gore


Publisher: Scholastic Press; Nov 1, 2010

Suitable for: 3-5

Themes/Topics: Forest Animals, Books and Reading, 

Opening: One sunny day, a rabbit saw something wonderful while hopping about in the forest. "What is this?" he asked. "It will make a cozy little house for me!"

Book Summary: When various forest animals discover a mysterious object in the woods, they each use it for a different purpose, until a boy reads aloud from it, much to the animals' delight.

Links to resources:

A few enrichment activities (poems, songs, finger plays and more) can be found here
Drama time. Have your child(ren) act out the the story as you read it. For older kids they can write a screen play for the story then act it out.

Why I like this book:
What is better than a book about a book? Really?!? This was an absolutely wonderful tale. Made me wonder just what would happen if you left a book for a forest creature to find it. Well, in this tale, curiosity and imagination gets the best out of these forest animals who discover a mysterious object, a book, in the woods. Children will be delighted to see all the creative and imaginative ways the animals use the book until a little boy discovers the book and begins to read it aloud. And you will never guess what the story is about. I was tickled pink at the end of the story. This is definitely a wonderful book! Even the name is just too cute! 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Love Twelve Miles Long

Title: Love Twelve Miles Long

Author: Glenda Armand

Illustrator: Colin Bootman

Publisher: Lee& Low Books, Nov 1, 2011

Theme: Biography, African/African American Interest, Childhood Experiences/Memories, Dreams & Aspirations, Family Traditions, Heroism, Historical Interest, Mothers, Overcoming Obstacles, Religion/Spiritual, Self Esteem/Identity, Slavery, United States History

Age: 6 and up

Opening: This was a special night. Mama had come to visit, and Fredrick's stomach was full of the sweet ginger cake she had brought him.

It's late at night, and Frederick's mother has traveled twelve miles to visit him. When Frederick asks Mama how she can walk so far, Mama recounts her journey mile by mile. Every step of the way is special, as it brings them closer together; and Mama passes the time by remembering, listening, praying, singing, and more. Set on a plantation in 1820s Maryland, this story based on the life of young Frederick Douglass shows the power of his mother's love.

Social Studies for Kids: Fredrick Douglass
A printable instant book about Fredrick Douglass
Discussion topics: Fredrick Douglass' mother thought about something special for each mile she walked. Discuss with children what each mile represented. Then ask your child(ren) to discuss what they'd think about during a twelve mile walk.

Why I like the Book:

I remember when I was a child, my mom told me the story of Fredrick Douglass and the story of his mother, of how she traveled 12 miles late at night just to see her son. I remember being in awe of his mother. Twelve miles seemed like forever walking to me. But she did it despite working hard all day, being tired, aching back and feet. The way Glenda Armand tells this story is simply beautiful and enchanting. Each mile represents how Fredrick Douglass' mother spends her time to get to him. Starting from the first mile which is for forgetting, forgetting how tired she is, forgetting her aches and pains, forgetting that she has worked all day and has to return to work at sunrise. Slowly she goes from forgetting to remembering, listening, looking up, wondering about God, praying, singing, smiling, giving thanks, hoping, dreaming, and the final mile being, love. Her short and sweet moments with Fredrick Douglass was a great lesson for him then and still a great lesson for us today. Love is a very powerful emotion. History proved it. Fredrick Douglass took his mother's love, hope, dreams and lessons and became a great man in both US and African American history.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday: My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood

 Title: My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood

Author: Tameka Fryer Brown

Illustrator: Shane W Evans

Publisher: Viking, March 7, 2013

Theme: Stories in Rhyme, Colors, Exploring Moods/Feelings, African-Americans

Age: 4 and up

Opening: I'm in a mood
                  A feeling kind of mood
                  A being kind of mood
                  Is what I'm in

Summary: Jamie describes his mood throughout the day, using colors and rhyming text, as he changes from an "easy green" while drawing a picture for his sister to a "brooding black" when he is teased for doing so.

The author has a great selection of activities including an activity guide that is aligned with the Common Core State Standards, coloring pages, math activities and more.

Why I like the Book:
I thought this book was a very creative and unique way to help children explore their feelings and moods through the use of colors. Lyrical and fun, children will enjoy watching Jamie's mood change through out the day. They will no doubt be able to relate to many of his colorful moods. It is a great book for parents or teacher to help children talk about what makes their moods change and how to express themselves. I really enjoyed the illustrations, I absolutely love Shane W Evans' work. I was thrilled when I saw that he was the illustrator for Tameka Brown's book. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Baby Bear Sees Blue

Title: Baby Bear Sees Blue

Author: Ashley Wolff

Illustrator: Ashley Wolff

Publisher:  Beach Lane Books, February 7, 2012

Age: 2 and up

Topics: Colors, Bears, Nature, Exploring

Opening: In the den's dark wall, an opening slowly fills with light. A glow creeps in. "Who is warming, Mama?" asks Baby Bear. "That is the sun," Mama says. Baby Bear sees yellow. 

Book Summary: Baby Bear has so much to learn about the world! From the moment he wakes until it’s time to curl up and go to sleep, he explores outside with his mama. They see green leaves, blue jays, brown trout, and—best of all—a patch of yummy red strawberries.

There are many activities that can done to enhance this book. Take your child on a color walk. Try to find everything Baby Bear finds on his color adventure. Take a journal with you and help your children log everything s/he finds that is red, yellow, blue and etc.

More color activities:
Toddlers: coloring activity
                coloring activity
Preschoolers:  coloring activity
                       coloring activity
                       lesson plan   

Why I Like This Book:
A leaf is green. A trout is brown. A stormy sky is gray. This is a wonderful concept book. As Baby Bear explores the world outside his den, he discovers colors of every kind. Children will identify with his curiosity and motivation to explore his natural environment.  When I read this book to my young toddler class, they loved it! They sat through the whole book so that says a lot since toddlers are known to have shorter attention spans! The rich and vibrant illustrations kept them engaged.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday: It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw

Title: It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw

Author: Don Tate

Illustrator: R. Gregory Christie

Publisher: Lee and Low Books, April 1, 2012

Age: 6 and up

Topics: African American Artists, Folk Art, People: Biography: Bill Traylor (1854-1949), Places: Alabama

Book Summary: At the age of 81, Bill Traylor begins to draw as a way to keep his memories of his life alive. He draws about his life as a slave, as a free man, of his family and friends who are long gone, and of the people and buildings he sees as he sits homeless on the streets of Montgomery.
Find an activity guide on the author's website:

Memory collage or drawings: Have your child(ren) draw pictures of a memory (ex: day at the beach, vacation at grandparents, day at school, etc.,) For the memory collage give your child(ren) pictures, magazine cut outs to tell a story they remember
Explore American Folk Art:
Folklife and Folk Art Education and Resource Guide
The folks of folk art: history and lesson plans
Information about Bill Traylor

Why I Like This Book:
It is so nice to read about people like Bill Traylor. Here was an old man who went through so much and yet he proved that one is never too old to learn a new skill. Bill Traylor was a self-taught artist and it is through his art that we learn about the era he lived, his life, the people he loved and lost, the people he met along his journey. In his own way, Bill Traylor helps us celebrate freedom and creative pursuits. His story inspires and motivates. A wonderful addition and resource for the classroom.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Tea Cakes for Tosh

Title: Tea Cakes for Tosh
Author: Kelly Starling Lyons
Illustrator: E. B. Lewis
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile, December 6, 2012
Age: 5 and up

Topics: History: African American, Slavery, Relationship: family, Grandmother-grandson, Heritage: tea cake tradition-recipe

Opening: Tosh loved when his grandma Honey baked her golden tea cakes. The cookies smelled like vanilla mixed with sunshine. The taste warmed his heart, just like Honey's stories of courage did.

Book Summary:
Tosh loves his grandmother's tea cakes and the story that goes with it. But when his grandmother begins to forget things, including how to make the family's time treasured tea cakes and their family story, he helps by making the cakes and telling her the story.

The author's website is filled with great activities including a discussion and genealogy guide.
The book includes a recipe for Tea Cakes used in the book.

Why I like this book:
Tea Cakes for Tosh is about a boy who helps his grandmother remember a long and cherished family tradition. It is a warming and heartfelt story that emphasis's the relationship of family, time honored traditions, treasuring family history and love and compassion. It is so important to remember and pass along our history to the next generation. A tradition as simple as tea cakes carries great significance to African American heritage. Unfortunately, it is one of many African American traditions that are being forgotten. Tea Cakes for Tosh is a must have in every home and school.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book Review: Flap! by Alison Hertz

FLAP!FLAP! by Alison Hertz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Twins Katie and Max decide to teach their little sister how to fly. Only, it is a lot harder than they expected.

This is such a cute story. I laughed at how creative and enthusiastic the kids were while trying to get their little sister, Lily, airborne. I was just tickled watching Lily be such a good sport. Crash after crash, Lily stays optimistic about her siblings approach to teaching her how to fly.I love the end. Kids will learn that when you try and put lots of effort in what you want, succeed or fail, you will have lots of fun!

Flap! will have you laughing with each crash, bump and thud all the while anticipating their next move. Flap! makes a fun read-aloud book.

View all my reviews

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Recommended Picture Book: Redwoods by Jason Chin

Title: Redwoods

Author: Jason Chin

Illustrator: Jason Chin

Publisher: Flash Point; March 17, 2009

Suitable for: 4 and up

Topics: Nature, Forest, Redwoods

Opening: The coast redwoods are among the oldest trees in the world. Their ancestors lived about 165 million years ago, during the Jurassic period.

Book Summary: When a boy riding the subway finds an abandoned book about redwoods, strange things happen. An ordinary train ride becomes an extraordinary trip to the great and ancient redwood forest.  

Links to resources:
Lesson Plan and Activities (suitable for 4th graders and up) 
Redwoods Coloring Pages here and here
Redwood National Park coloring page.
Redwood EdVenture has many websites that teachers and parents can use ranging from kindergarten - high school
Into the Redwood Forest (lesson plans suitable for 3rd-5th grade levels):

Why I like this book:
I was really impressed with this book. Non-fiction at its best! It is filled with amazing facts about redwoods. But what makes this truly a fun book to read, are its illustrations. The illustrations show a boy who goes on a fantastic journey, his world transforming in front of him as he reads about the redwoods. For example when he reads that some redwoods started from seeds during the roman times, he finds two Roman citizens are sitting next to him. When he reads that the trunk of some redwoods are wide enough to let a car through it, he jumps out of the way of a car passing by. When he learns that redwoods can make their own rain, he stands in the middle of an artificial rainfall. This book is the next best thing to being in the redwood forest in person! 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Book Buzz: Which Prophet Am I? by Tanya Andrious

Which Prophet Am I? by Tanya Andrious.
This book is about knowing the prophets in an innovative way.
Children need to read and then guess who was that prophet they read about.

Which prophet Am I

About the Author:
Tanya loves to create alchemy between creativity and originality when her nose isn't in a book and she's not traipsing around the soccer field. "Instigating Creativity" AKA Tanya Andrious is a non-fiction children’s writer and freelance editor. Her first non-fiction children’s book is set to be published January 2013. Her additional published work includes 2 articles for Azizah Magazine (w/ a 3rd to be published late 2013), a short-short story, children’s short story and an academic essay.

Which prophet Am I About the Book:

Tanya developed a different, original format rather than the usual detailed story about the Prophets (peace be upon them), focusing instead on short, important key elements of each Prophet while keeping the child's attention at the same time. Which Prophet Am I? Pt.1 and 2 is geared towards children ages 4-10, where both parents and children can enjoy reading together or for the child to enjoy independently.

Would you like to support a great project?

Well here is your chance. Tanya is in the process of creating part 2 of her series "Which Prophet Am I?" Her goal is to re-ignite the creative mindset of Muslims and enhance the Muslim children’s writing genre’ through her project, Instigating Creativity. In order to do so, Tanya is looking for donations to help pay for illustrations on Pt. 2 of Which Prophet Am I? Please consider showing support for this wonderful project.

You may buy the book here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop 1/18/13-1/24/13

Welcome to the third annual Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop. This hop will run from the 18th to the 24th and it is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Martha's Bookshelf.

I love books and right now, I am dreaming of getting my hands on Prodigy by Marie Lu once I read my tall TBR pile sitting on my desk! For this hop I am giving away a $10 Amazon giftcard so that you can buy the book of your dreams! :)

Must be 18+
Must be a follower of this blog
Must fill out the rafflecopter below
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Recommended Picture Book:

Title: Lucky Beans

Author: Becky Birtha

Illustrator: Nicole Tadgell

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company; 2010

Suitable for: 8 and up

Topics: African Americans, US History, Depression Era, Family Life, Arithmetic,

Cold wind ripped through Marshal Loman’s old wool Jacket. The snow froze his toes right through his hand-me-down boots.

Book Summary: 
During the Great Depression, Marshall, an African American boy, uses lessons learned in arithmetic class and guidance from his mother to figure out how many beans are in a jar in order to win her a new sewing machine in a contest.

Links to resources:
Math possibilities. This book was about estimation. Math 4 Children have estimation activities and work sheets.
Find fun online estimation games at PBS Kids. 
Lucky Beans coloring pages 
Lesson plans and activities can be found here.
More information about the African American experience during the Great Depression can be found here and here
The Great Depression: An African American Perspective  

Why I like this book:
Anyone who has been hit with hard times will appreciate this story. Lucky Beans is about a young African American boy, Marshall, and how he uses lessons from his math class to help his family, especially his mother, who has had her eyes on a new sewing machine. But times are hard. No work, means no money. No money means little food and definitely no sewing machine for mama. Children are introduced to the Great Depression era and how it affected everyone, especially the African American community. There is a wonderful math lesson included in the story as well. Estimation. Children learn how this important skill helps Marshall and his family through tough economic times.