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.