Stella-Bucca is now 18 months old and has developed some definite favorites in terms of books, even desiring to “read” some to me as she flips through the pages and recites the lines she remembers from our reading experiences. Here’s a quick rundown of some of Bucca’s recent favorites. I’ve found that all of these have really captured her attention and delighted her to the point of desired multiple readings in one sitting. All except Carle’s book feature a set rhythm that provides a sense of order in the text, which may be a contributing factor in my Bucca’s interest…she LOVES music and dancing, and many of these books can be sung as they’re read.
Our list includes:
Be sure to check them out!
Lindsay (and Bucca)
I haven’t posted in quite some time because I’ve been focusing on completing my M.Ed. and its major component: the master’s paper. Play through Literary Transcendence (my title, which basically means, how children play with books) looks at three unconventional titles for young children to discern how these books invite playful opportunities through the reading experience. I will speak more on my research in a future post, but something really cool happened at home that directly correlated with my non-stop train of thought on this topic.
One of the books I explore in my paper is Eric Carle’s famous The Very Hungry Caterpillar. In my paper, I assert that the cut-outs in the book not only facilitate engagement with the story of the caterpillar’s journey, but also contribute to opportunities for play for the young reader.
My Bucca has been thumbing through this book lately, and her 18-month-old brain has been soaking in the concept of caterpillar-into-butterfly. While she was looking through the book, without my direct oversight, I noticed her carefully touching each cut-out hole on the famous spread of the caterpillar eating through an entire picnic spread. As I saw her point to each hole, I started counting each time she moved her finger: 1…2…3…4…
As I counted and she touched, we created a new game within the book (making her repeat “AGAIN!” after she reached the end of the spread). She was able to touch and count and play for several minutes before she brought me the book to re-read to her. But her play really helped to solidify the ideas that I have been researching for months. There are so many ways to play with books!
I’m so glad that Stella loves books. I mean, she LOVES books. Even if she’s surrounded by her train set, blocks, singing tea pot (yes…she has a singing tea pot) and puzzles, she will still reach for the stack on her bookshelf.
I don’t only contribute this to my academic and professional interest in children’s books, but more so to those around me that have fostered a book-friendly environment since before Stella was born.
One of my best friends threw me a book-themed baby shower a month before my Bucca was born. Each guest was tasked with bringing their favorite children’s book to build the baby’s library in lieu of a card. The guests also attached bookplates to their choices with a little message to the baby. I still love reading the bookplates as Stella chooses a book each day.
I know that book showers are no longer a new or original concept…just look at Pinterest. But I can’t overstate the significance that this shower had on Stella’s love of books. She was gifted books that I probably never would have exposed her to otherwise and some of those are her all-time favorites.
Stella has also been the recipient of some unique book-related gifts. For her first birthday, some great friends got my Bucca a subscription to Babybug Magazine for a year. These little magazines are more like board books. Each issue contains songs, stories, poems and colorful illustrations. Stella loves getting a new issue in the mail and goes back to previous issues again and again. This was certainly one of the most meaningful and lasting first birthday gifts she received. Click here for subscription information.
The Imagination Library program has also proven to be invaluable to Stella’s growing library. This program, initiated by Dolly Parton, provides children birth-age 5 with age-appropriate and free books each month in the mail. I’m thankful that my mom has connected Stella with these books, which she is always excited to receive. This program is not available in all areas, but those interested are able to replicate the program in their own community. Check out the website to see if your community has an Imagination Library program in place AND, if not, get information to start one.
All of these things have been used in Stella’s life to establish a strong foundation with books and have allowed us to focus on literature as a significant component of our daily and collective family life. I’m so thankful that those around me have contributed to building this structure. As Gladys Hunt states in Honey for a Child’s Heart, “Don’t let your children live in spiritual poverty when abundance is available! Fill your children up with words, with imaginative worlds, with adventures beyond your ken” (27).
Lindsay (and Bucca)
Hello, again! I’m finally on break, with only one semester of classes left before I graduate with my M.Ed. in Children’s Literature. School got real last semester and became even more demanding, explaining my blogging absence. I know you were waiting breathlessly for my return (she said with complete and total sarcasm). Well, I’m hoping that this break will allow for more reading and writing to share!
I’ve posted before about how children benefit greatly from books that reflect their current experiences. Well, since this is my Bucca’s first REAL Christmas season (she was only six weeks old last Christmas), I want to expose her to books that showcase the images of the season, including the recent snow that fell in our area.
One of the first books I grabbed was Eric Carle’s Dream Snow. I love unconventional and uniquely formatted picture books (in fact, my Master’s thesis will focus on these types of books), so the transparent overlays add interest and dimension to the story and the illustrations. I also love how the farmer is a representation of Santa and not Santa himself. In my mind, this allows the reader to adopt the notion that the spirit of St. Nicholas resides in all that love enough to give.
This book always makes me want to curl up with a blanket, a cup of peppermint tea and a good book. In fact, this is my plan after Stella goes to sleep tonight.
As we read more Christmas and seasonal books, I’ll post our thoughts and favorites. In the meantime, what are your go-to holiday books?
Lindsay and Bucca
Corduroy by Don Freeman
This book makes me tear up every single time. If you can get through the final page without tears streaming down your face, then…in the words of Monica Geller on Friends, “You’re dead inside.”
Mama Cat Has Three Kittens by Denise Fleming
The repetition in this story is wonderful to engage young readers, but the reprieve from established expectations is what makes this story so fun and playful.
A Good Day by Kevin Henkes
I love how this simple story presents an attitude of optimism that illustrates how a bad day can easily become a good day. This story is a great reminder that individuals have the power to see positive aspects of a given situation and discover the goodness around them.
Some dear friends gave my husband and I a copy of Honey for a Child’s Heart for our co-ed baby shower when we were expecting our Bucca. This book by Gladys Hunt offers helpful advice on how parents can encourage reading and, more importantly, cultivate rich experiences for children through books. As someone interested in experiential children’s literature, this book was a welcome addition to our library.
The title of the book implies the basics that parents offer to their children: milk represents a child’s physical needs and honey represents the richness of life. While many parents are primarily concerned with providing the milk, the honey is just as important. Hunt states:
To give honey, one must love honey and have it to give. Good books are rich in honey, and hence the title of this book. (25)
While the first part of the book is interested in providing guidance to parents on how to create growth through books, the second part contains reading lists based on a child’s age. While I’m not one to segment books to children based on only their age (I believe that books – and toys for that matter – should be chosen based on the uniqueness and individual nature of the child), I am thankful for Hunt’s suggestions. The first book list is for children ages 0-3, and I hope to expose Bucca to all of the books in her first three years through frequent visits to the library. I thought I had curated quite a beginning book collection for Stella, but to my surprise, we only have three books recommended on Hunt’s 0-3 list:
- Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
I’m excited to take Bucca through this list and record her reactions and responses to the books recommended in Honey for a Child’s Heart. Hey…I’ll take any opportunity to read more books to her! More to come!
Lindsay (and Bucca)
Helen Oxenbury (of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt fame) is an expert on babies and books. In an interview about the importance of stories for young children, Oxenbury states, “It would be silly to do a board book with atmosphere and landscapes for a very, very tiny child who has no experience of that. All babies know what happens in their home with their mom and dad.”
I’ve been quite overzealous to expose Stella to stories that are way too complex for her developing mind. Honestly, these reading times have probably been more for me than for her. So, in remembering Oxenbury’s words, I’ve tried to be much more deliberate recently about sharing stories with my Bucca that correlate with her everyday sights and experiences.
We are a cat family, with two furry pals at home. Stella and the cats have become fast friends and she is now trying to say “cat” here and there. So…as I looked through the children’s section at the library last week, I discovered How To Be A Cat by Nikki McClure. The illustrations are in black and white (with occasional pops of blue) which really grabs my Bucca’s attention. Each page features a single word and illustrates the cats performing the corresponding feat; they explore, stretch, hunt and scratch (among other things).
This is not a board book, but Stella has not yet tried to grab at the pages. She is becoming more and more content looking at the illustrations and listening to my voice as I repeat the text. Most of the time, at least one of our cats will join us in the chair to read. This provides a great opportunity to show Stella one of her life experiences on the pages of a beautiful book.
There are so many more connections we can make, and I’m excited to explore more books that will highlight the things she sees each day. Have you made these everyday connections in children’s books? Please share below!
Lindsay (and Bucca)
Oxenbury Quote From:Ways of Telling: Conversations on the Art of the Picture Book, by Leonard S. Marcus.
So, you may be wondering why I began graduate study in children’s literature and decided to dedicate an entire blog to it. Back when I began my studies, I couldn’t really put my finger on what it was that drew me into the study of books for children. At the time I was working at an early childhood development center and was the proud aunt of a toddler boy. (I still am a proud aunt, although my nephew is certainly not a toddler anymore!) Being around young children at this time and hearing their interactions each day inspired me to try my hand at writing stories for kids. I then enrolled in a non-credit writing course. This not only enhanced my interest in writing, but it really ignited my passion for children’s literature. I re-visited so many stories I loved growing up and was introduced to more modern, complex, and fascinating tales and characters. Soon my bookshelves were bursting with more and more children’s books…and I didn’t even have a child of my own!
At the suggestion of a writing advisor, I decided to apply for a program to receive my Master’s degree in children’s literature. After an entrance exam and a lengthy application process I was accepted and began what would become one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. I became drawn to picture books as a writer and reader, so the first text of the first course I took in the program eloquently put into words my feelings about becoming deeply involved in children’s literature. In their book , The Picture Book Comes of Age, Joseph and Chava Schwarcz state that picture book components work together to impact a reader through, “…their playfulness – visual communication, optical illusions, and message in configurations of shapes and colors surround us, beckon to us, and often practically enwrap us” (3).
This is what I love about children’s literature: the experiential nature that invites readers to laugh out loud, stare at a lovely image, communicate their feelings, or just play. I have learned to appreciate children’s literature for this potential and I hope that your experience of children’s books will change or become enhanced through this blog.