Showing posts with label books for children. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books for children. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Meet Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat: A Book Review

Why Is This Book So Popular with Children?

I first met Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat when I was about seven. I was already reading by then, but Mom still read it to me. It had been a gift from my Cousin Edna, who was the first to read it to me. I liked the book so much I kept it. When my brother came along about three years later, both Mom and I read it to him as soon as he was old enough to understand it -- about three. He loved it and couldn't get enough of it. We had to read it over and over. The author, Morrell Gipson, has a real feel for what appeals to children. The illustrator, Angela, evokes just the right emotions with her watercolor paintings.

Mr Bear Squash You All FlatMr Bear Squash You All Flat


Why do young children love this book so much when it might seem violent to an adult? Young children often feel small and helpless, just like the animals who watched Mr. Bear squash their houses. They can identify with those animals who run and hide when they see Mr. Bear coming toward their homes. Then they can rejoice when Mr. Bear gets what he deserves at the end of the book. 


Encourage Interaction As You Read Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat Aloud


This book is full of the repetition that children love.  Adults can help them build anticipation by asking them what they expect to happen next. Adults can make the book for fun by imitating Mr. Bear's voice as he issues his warnings. By the time the child has heard the book read several times, the adult can invite him to repeat the warning with Mr. Bear. The adult can also ask children toward the end of the book what they think will happen when Mr. Bear tries to squash the tire house. Those are just my ideas. You will think of many more ways to interact with the child you read to. 


Meet Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat: A Book Review
Check Price for Mr. Bear Squash-You-All Flat
I scanned this book cover from my own copy. 


Meet Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat

Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat got his name because he liked to squash things -- especially the houses of smaller animals. He was too lazy to build himself a house. 

Most of the time Mr. Bear lived peacefully and didn't bother the other animals. He would sleep quietly under the trees since he had no home of his own. When the moon was full, though, all that changed. That's when he would get really grumpy and go on a house-squashing rampage and squash every house he saw. You can see how he does it on the cover of this book. (See it above.)

The Illustrations

The edition I owned almost seventy years ago is out of print. I was happy to see this new edition bring it to new generations of readers. It has the same illustrations by Angela that I loved. Although they reveal Mr. Bear's grumpiness and anger, they aren't scary. Sometimes there is even a touch of humor. The artist does a great job on the facial expressions of all the animals. You can check out more of the book's illustrations on its Amazon page by clicking to Look Inside.

The Plot

Whenever Mr. Bear decides to squash a house, he gives fair warning by stating who he is and that he intends to squash the animal's house after he counts to three. That gives the animal inside time to run away and hide. Then the homeless animal goes in search of another house. On the day described in this book, he squashes three houses. After each house he squashes, he feels less grumpy, and on this day he felt cheerful enough after squashing the third house to go take a nap. 

Meanwhile, the homeless animals discovered a very large tire and moved into it together. They were quite happy there until after the next full moon when they saw Mr. Bear approaching their new house. The baby rabbit spotted him first and ran to warn the mouse and the chipmunk. They ran to hide behind a large oak tree, hoping Mr. Bear would leave their house alone. Not a chance! I'll leave it to your imagination what happens next.

Get Mr. Bear Squash-You-All Flat for a child you love now. 



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Friday, April 28, 2017

Stellaluna (Fruit Bat) Children's Book Reviewed

Stellaluna Children's Book Reviewed
If you ask my daughter what her favorite childhood book was, she would quickly answer, Stellaluna.  She loved that bat!  Actually, she still feels an affection toward the book and her Stellaluna plush bat. 

Based on a child's opinion, this is one of the best books in her library.  If I had to guess, I would say she felt genuine heartbreak for the little bat who was separated from her mother after an owl attack, and extreme joy when they were reunited. 

As an adult and parent, I rate the book as the best because of the writing style and real animal facts woven throughout the story.   Children are being entranced by the fiction story as well as educated about fruit bats.  Personally, I like all bats, but I think the choice of a fruit bat is perfect for a child's story.  After all, fruit bats eat fruit! 

The illustrations in this book are fabulous!  They are accurate depictions of a bats body features and give the bat a gentle, endearing face.  If you have ever looked at a fruit bats face, you would find they have rather cute furry faces in reality.  Bats are the only mammals that can fly.  Except for the wings, they look like other mammals.  As a matter of fact, they are called flying foxes because they facially resemble a fox.
 


Stellaluna - Recommended Children's Book

Stellaluna Children's Book Reviewed
Scanned photo of one of the Illustrations in the Book
Stellaluna is a baby bat who hasn't even learned to fly yet.  Her mother carries her with her when she is flying.  One night, Stellaluna and her mother are attacked by an owl.  Stellaluna is knocked from her mothers grasp.  As Stellaluna is falling to the ground, she snatches hold of a tree branch and cries out to her mother, but her mother doesn't answer.  When she can no longer hold on, she slips and falls further and lands in a bird's nest full of baby birds.  

Because Stellaluna is starving, she finally opts to open her mouth, close her eyes and accept the disgusting live lunch the mother bird is feeding her babies.  Stellaluna has to learn to live like a bird in order to survive, but she still sleeps hanging upside down.  Her adopted siblings are intrigued and want to hang upside down too.  The mother bird returns and reprimands the babies, saying they will fall and break their necks.  As the babies return to the safety of the nest, the momma bird refuses Stellaluna admittance unless she promises to behave and stop being a bad influence on her baby birds.

The birds and baby bat grow up together, eat together, and learn to fly together.  Landing gracefully like the birds proves to be impossible for poor Stellaluna.  Their differences are once again obvious and embarrassing for Stellaluna.

There is more to this fabulous story, including how Stellaluna is reunited with her mother, but I will let you discover the rest of the story for yourself.


My Opinion of Stellaluna

 StellalunaThere are several reasons why I would recommend this book for children.  I have already mentioned the educational value and the exceptionally entertaining writing style of the author.  But, I would also like to point out the real life lessons about how we can all learn to live and love others in spite of our differences.  How we can learn to survive even when we are out of our element.  Children won't recognize those lessons as they read the book, but they may well recall the lessons taught when they encounter challenges at school or later in life.

Not only are the differences between bird and bats evident when reading the fiction story, there are "Bat Notes" at the back of the book that share real facts about bats.  A wonderful addition to help children learn fact from fiction.

This book is loved by both girls and boys.  Our son also lists Stellaluna as one of his favorite childhood books.  How do I know?  He walked by while I was writing this review and said, "that is a great book!"


 Stellaluna Plush Bat

Stellaluna Plush Toy Animal

In 1994, the Stellaluna plush was available to purchase with the book.  Our daughter has the plush Stellaluna.  They are no longer produced and can only be purchased from secondary markets like Amazon.com or Ebay where they are pretty expensive.

However, a child will not recognize the difference in the original Stellaluna plush and a fruit bat plush.  I recommend choosing one that resembles Stellaluna and allow you child to enjoy having a little fruit bat of their own.  

 



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Stellaluna Children's Book Review Written by:
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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Reviews of Picture Books for Teaching Difficult Math and Science Concepts

Picture Books Clarify Science and Math Concepts 

Big, small, tall, fast, heavy, old -- what do these words mean? Maybe each person has a different idea about them. Author and artist Robert E. Wells wrote a series of books, The Wells of Knowledge Science Series, that illustrates these concepts. Although they seem to be about math, math is so tied to science that readers will learn a lot of science as they grapple with math concepts. Even though these are picture books designed for children, I confess I also learned a lot from them. 

Reviews of Picture Books for Teaching Difficult Math and Science Concepts

What's Smaller Than  Pygmy Shrew?

Reviews of Picture Books that Help Children Grasp Difficult Math and Science Concepts

What does the word "small" suggest to you? A marble? A bee? Robert Wells introduces his world of the small with a pygmy shrew, which is three inches long. He then challenges readers to think of what's smaller. He contrasts the shrew with an elephant, which in comparison makes the shrew look very small indeed. He then contrasts the shrew with the ladybug, which is smaller yet. 

Then he introduces the creatures that can only be seen under a microscope -- the ones you might find in a drop of water. He explains what cells are and then shows us the animals with only one cell -- the paramecia and amoebas which are both protozoa. Wells' imaginative drawings will bring them to life for you and younger readers. Before Wells is through, he has explained and drawn bacteria, molecules, atoms and their parts, and has challenged readers to guess how many atoms are in a pygmy shrew. There is a small glossary at the end to help children remember unfamiliar words. 


Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?

Reviews of Picture Books that Help Children Grasp Difficult Math and Science Concepts

In this book, Robert Wells explains to all ages the relative sizes of large from a blue whale all the way to the whole universe. The opening picture shows an elephant, horse, and lion standing on a pier watching the tail of a blue whale that is larger than all of them combined. Then he shows the same animals looking at a jar that contains 100 blue whales. He then puts two such jars on a platform with the animals between them. 

With the animals still standing on the bottom platform, Wells draws a stack of platforms ten high and then on the next page puts them on top of Mount Everest to show how small they are in comparison. By this time the animals are no longer visible. Wells goes on and on until he reaches the universe itself, having introduced numbers in the millions and billions along the way. Even adults will find this book, and others in this series fascinating.

What's Faster than a Speeding Cheetah? 

`Reviews of Picture Books that Help Children Grasp Difficult Math and Science Concepts
This book explores speed from that of the ostrich and cheetah to the speed of light. I love the illustrations which show the race between some children, an ostrich, a cheetah, a swooping peregrine falcon, and a propeller plane. Soon the children, ostrich, and cheetah are in the plane with a frustrated falcon trying to catch up. The falcon then lands on the tail of a jet and passes them. 

Readers then learn about the speed of sound and space travel as all the characters get into a rocket ship. Just as we see a meteoroid whizzing by, we learn that all of us have something that's even faster – something we can hold in our hands. The book concludes with is a chart comparing how long it would take at all the speeds from runner's feet to light to get from the earth to the moon.

These Books Are Great for Unit Studies in Home Schools


The Wells Knowledge of Science Series is Ideal for Unit Studies


When I was homeschooling, I was always on the lookout for engaging books that targeted visual learners. These books fit into that category. Jason understood what he could see better than what he only read or heard. He was a hands-on kind of child. He also loved animals, and all three of these books have some animal characters.

 One of more of these books could fit into a unit study about light, sound, astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics or transportation. Instead of just reading a definition for a word like protozoa, a child will see a large illustration showing its relationship to other objects it is part of, as well as things that are part of it.

See all the books in The Wells of Knowledge Science Series, which are recommended for ages 7-10. I believe they are good also for those over ten who want to understand these science concepts. The pictures are imaginative and fun and keep science from being dull. I suggest you get a physical edition rather than a Kindle edition because your children will want to pour over these books. I wish I'd had these for my own children, but they weren't written yet back then.

Find more of my reviews for picture books at Books to Remember.

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Reviews of Picture Books for Teaching Difficult Math and Science Concepts







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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Review of The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is an Easter Classic

This classic Easter picture book has been with us since 1939 and has stood the test of time. I still have the hardcover edition of The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes I received when I was just learning to print. It no longer has the dustjacket because little girls don't always know how important the dust jacket is if they grow up to become booksellers. They also don't realize that proudly printing one's name in big letters on the front pastedown to show possession decreases the value of the book. 

Review of The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by DuBose Heyward


As I look now at that proud possession about 68 years later, I see that the cloth binding is frayed at the edges and almost completely worn off the bumped corners. It is evident that this book, like the famous Velveteen Rabbit, has been loved very much. 

I Loved The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes

In this book, children learn that there are really five Easter Bunnies -- not just one. They must be the five kindest, swiftest, and wisest bunnies in the world. All the bunnies know this. They also know that when an Easter bunny becomes too old to run fast anymore, The Grandfather Bunny, who is old, wise and kind and lives at the Palace of the Easter Eggs, will pick a new Easter Bunny from all the bunnies in the world. 

So every bunny tries to become fast, wise, and kind with the hope of getting picked someday. One of these young bunnies was a country girl Cottontail bunny. She told the other bunnies she would grow up to be an Easter Bunny someday, but they all laughed at her. 

She grew up, got married, and had twenty-one baby Cottontail bunnies. She put her childhood dream at the back of her mind.  It no longer seemed possible that it could come true. The elegant white rabbits and the jackrabbits continued to laugh at her, telling her, 'What did we tell you! Only a country rabbit would go and have all those babies. Now take care of them and leave Easter eggs to great big men bunnies like us.'

Cottontail did take care of her babies, and she trained them well to help her with everything that needed doing to take care of the house. They worked in teams of two, usually a brother and sister together, doing household chores, garden tasks, and even singing and dancing to entertain their other siblings as they worked.



When the little rabbits were half grown, Cottontail got word that one of the Easter bunnies had gotten too slow and everyone was gathering at the Palace of Easter Eggs to see whom Grandfather Bunny would pick as the next Easter Bunny. Naturally, Cottontail took her little Cottontails to watch the fun, but she was sad, knowing that she was only going to be able to watch some other rabbit get the job she'd always wanted. 

As the larger rabbits showed how fast they were, the Grandfather Rabbit wasn't happy. He could see they were neither wise nor kind. Then he saw Little Cottontail Mother with her children and started asking her questions. 

Did having all those children take all her time? No. She had trained them so well that they did most of the household work. Grandfather Bunny determined she must be very wise to train them so well. 

Did her children always look so happy? Yes. Her household never had tears or cross words. Grandfather Bunny decided she must be very kind to have such happy children. 

Surely, though, having all those children must not leave her time to practice running to be swift. Little Cottontail Mother whispered to her bunnies and they all raced away in different directions.  She quickly rounded them up and they stood again in front of Grandfather Bunny. He appointed her as his fifth Easter Bunny. 

But what about the little gold shoes? Little Cottontail was awarded those after quite an adventure. You'll have to read the book to see how she got them. 

I felt quite insignificant as a child. I did not yet have any big dreams. But Little Cottontail demonstrated that even an ordinary person like me could accomplish great things if she learned to be wise and kind. 

The illustrations by Majorie Flack have stayed with me for a lifetime. The introductory image shows the Cottontail family standing in front of the Grandfather Bunny at the Palace of the Easter Eggs. My favorite pictures were of the bunny sibling pairs doing their chores, Mother Cottontail rounding up her children to demonstrate how fast she could be, and most of the illustrations that show her earning her little gold shoes. I would pour over those pictures often as I relived the story, and not just at Easter time.


A Remarkable Book When It Was Published


This story by DuBose Heyward, who is more famous for his novel  Porgy, which inspired the musical Porgy and Bess, was written long before most people were thinking about women's issues. Yet many many women today believe The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes proves that women are just as capable as men, even as Easter bunnies.





Although DuBose Heyward was an aristocrat himself, he pokes fun at aristocrats in this book. I see that as an adult reader. Adults will see deeper meaning in this book than very young readers will. 

Heyward was a Southerner who lived from 1885 to 1940. He was one of the first writers from the South to portray blacks without condescension in a novel. He was able to see beyond race and class to show people as they were without prejudice. Find out more about DuBose Heyward in DuBose Heyward: A Charleston Gentleman and the World of Porgy and BessFind all the books mentioned on this page and others by Heyward on eBay.

Review of The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by DuBose Heyward




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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

5 Valentine's Books for the Youngsters in your Heart!

As a Grandmother, Grammie, Nannie or whatever your little ones call you, I know how special it is when they receive a gift that was picked especially for them.  I like to send books, so I will share with you my Reviews of 5 of my favorites.  I know that sometimes with distances between families being bigger than just a block away, it is difficult to be there for all those special occasions.   But, I have good news for you!

The world is truly becoming a smaller place.  It is easy to send a gift from one end of the country to the other and have it arrive in time to put a huge smile on the recipient's face!  What child doesn't like to be remembered by a Grandparent or Favorite Aunt or Uncle?  Just like we enjoy getting mail our children also like to receive something special too!


Here we go with my Review of 5 Favorite Books for Little Ones.


https://pixabay.com/en/
boys-reading-children-book-kids-932821/
Books are one of my favorite gifts for young children and they are great to send across the miles too!  There are endless titles for young minds and stories that will take them to all corners of their world or the larger world too.  Toddlers love picture books or books that teach little life lessons and there are so many lovely titles available for little minds.  One of my favorites is written by a friend of mine and I purchased it for my Grandchildren.  It's a great story about co-operation, helpfulness, and friendship.  Just like the story, the book is a wonderful show of support for Ronald McDonald charities that helps sick children and their families.  So I feel really good about supporting such endeavors.  Susan Zutautas has a way with words and my Grandchildren love the story.

The Day Mr. Beaver meets a Moose is a great story, with lively illustrations and a cute story too!

I love to send books to my favorite little people that are fun to read, teach lessons and support a great cause. Boy, oh boy, does this book ever cover all those bases.  It also helps my friend become better known as a Children's Author!  So for me,  this is a winner!

Books that support a great cause make me want to purchase that book even more.  


Susan has another book available too, I think this one will be the next one I purchase for my Grandchildren. Called Mr. Beaver Plans a Party, it looks like it too would be enjoyed by my Grandchildren.  Who doesn't like the idea of planning a party?


Children's books are easy to send or order on-line to be delivered.  You can add a little note inside to let those children know how special they are to you.  As the years go by, hopefully,  the children will have realized how special those books that Grandma and Grandpa sent means to them.  I know I have some books that were my favorites from when I was a child.  These books are the ones that come out when the Grandchildren come to visit.  So I know that more than two generations have enjoyed the same stories and that they make the same impression on little lives.

These Last Three Books are all time Favorites of Mine!  Some are in the top 50 List of Books for Children.  

I promised you 5 books at the start of this Review This article and I'll give you the titles of the next three Because a promise is a promise.  Sticking to 5 books though is really tough.

The next book is one of my son's favorites! Herbert the Timid Dragon. by Mercer Mayer is a great story that everyone enjoys.  My daughter in law resorted to buying one used, my son's copy had disappeared over the years, and he really missed it.  It has become his daughter's favorite book too!

There are a whole bunch of Mercer Mayer books and all of them are really fun and easy to read to your children or for them to read by themselves.  You may find a lot of them are out of print, so when you go to flea markets or Bazaars keep your eyes open for these treasures.

Another book I love to give as a gift to children is a Dr. Suess classic!  Oh the Places You'll Go!  This book has such a nice story and it's written by one of the best children's authors ever.  Who hasn't indulged their inner child with the writings of Dr. Suess?  I know I have and will continue so long as I have more grandchildren coming.  This is a winner in every sense of the word.  Engaging and entertaining for young minds everywhere.

If you have a child that needs some encouragement, this last book is a great find. 


Last but not least on this Review is another favorite of mine.  I love animals and they are always a hit with kids too.  This book makes you giggle as Gerald the Giraffe finds out that he can do things that giraffes aren't supposed to be able to do.  It's a story of encouragement.  It will touch those young ones who are having a hard time or don't quite fit in. Gerald the giraffe gives them a dose of, "I can do it", in the nicest way possible. Giraffes Can't Dance will have your children and grandchildren smiling from ear to ear.

Conclusion:  If you need a good book for a little one, any of these 5 will be a hit!

So there you have it, the 5 books that are my favorites right now.
It's just a small installment of books that I would love to see sent to all children and grandchildren all over the country.  They have great lessons imparted in a way that doesn't seem like a lesson at all. Children of all ages love these books, and they are fun too!

Reading to children and having them read to you is one of the nicest gifts anyone can give a child.  Their imaginations will soar when written words are read and become part of their lives.  A child who reads and loves to read will become an engaged adult with a deep love for the written word.

What a great Valentine's Day gift that is indeed!

Olivia Morris is an affiliate member of Amazon.com, if you purchase a book through her links, a small commission is paid.




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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews

What's the Truth about the Pilgrims?

When I was in school, I learned that the Pilgrims had come to the New World from England to flee persecution for practicing their Separatist religion. After a hard journey on a small ship called the Mayflower, they founded a colony at Plymouth (Plimoth) under the leadership of William Bradford and William Brewster.

The Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower on December 21, 1620, and made Plymouth Rock famous. No one who landed on that day, though,  wrote anything about it's being the place where they stepped into the New World.

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews

What I Learned about The First Thanksgiving in School

By the time the Pilgrims celebrated what we now call the First Thanksgiving, about half their number had died of sickness. Those who had survived had a great feast to thank God for all He had done to preserve them.  Native Americans gave them some corn and taught them how to plant it for an abundant crop. When they harvested their crops, they invited their Native American friends to share their feast as they thanked God for the food they had been able to grow. Both in school and in the Pilgrim journals, the Native Americans were called Indians. A friend of mine who knows a lot of Native Americans say they still don't mind being called Indians.


5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews
Replica of Mayflower at Plimoth Plantation, photo edited from Pixabay


What Some Children Learn in School Now about the First Thanksgiving 

Unfortunately, my curriculum materials that are used in schools today aren't accessible as I write this, so I did some research online to see how the teaching about that first Thanksgiving has changed. The first thing we learn is that we shouldn't call it aThanksgiving feast at all since there was no such holiday back then. The purpose of the feast was to celebrate the harvest. Only in retrospect do we call this the First Thanksgiving.   

I did some of my research on the Plimoth Plantation website where children can research the holiday for themselves with interactive activities. Here are a couple of telling remarks from the Teacher's Guide, which has all the text from the activity pages. 

Fact or Myth?
Many people think that "history" and "the past" are the same thing. But they aren’t! The past is what actually happened. The past can never change. You would’ve have to have lived at the time to truly know about the past. History is how we think and write about the past. History is always changing. So events that occurred in 1621 (the past) will never change. But how we think about these events (history) has already changed a lot!

Culminating Activity
A few years ago, historians at Plimoth Plantation decided to look at the 1621 harvest celebration in a whole new way. They knew there was more to the story than the "Pilgrims" and "Indians" having dinner together. They decided to set aside what they thought they knew and look at the event with fresh eyes. They also realized that it was important to look at the events of 1621 from both the English and Wampanoag sides of the story. A lot of their research and new ideas about 1621 have gone into the creation of this web site.
5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews
 Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA. Photo courtesy of Pixabay


The gist of this is that historians can't change history -- what actually happened, but they can change the way it's interpreted and taught to match whatever political view prevails in the education establishment. What I learned in school may not have been completely accurate, but neither is the current curriculum in many schools. We now live in a more secular and multicultural society that cares much more about the Native American culture than the culture and beliefs of the Pilgrims who lived at Plimoth Plantation.

The Truth about The Pilgrims


The truth is somewhere in the middle. We need to recognize how God brought Squanto to the Pilgrims, along with Massasoit, Chief of the Wampanoag tribe. Squanto taught the colonists how to produce food in their new land and gave them some corn to plant.  Massasoit signed a treaty to live in peace with the Pilgrims, and that peace lasted for fifty years.

So, yes. The Native Americans did play a big role in the survival of the colony. But so did the faith the Pilgrims had in their God, whom they trusted daily to provide their needs. They saw the friendship of Squanto and Massasoit as part of God's providence, a way He was meeting their needs. A reading of the primary sources, such as Of Plimoth Plantation by William Bradford will make it clear what the Pilgrims believed. It is this faith element and God's providence that contemporary teaching often leaves out.



Children's Books about the Pilgrims that Strike the Right Balance

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews

I have chosen these five books as the best for teaching children about this period because most draw heavily from the primary sources. Some almost paraphrase parts of them in language children can understand.  Those sources are Of Plimoth Plantation, linked to above, and Mourt's Relation, a journal usually attributed to Gordon Winslow and William Bradford. Both were eyewitnesses to the beginnings of the Plimoth colony.

The First Thanksgiving Feast by Joan Anderson

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews
This book brings the Pilgrims and Native Americans to life through the black and white photos taken by George Ancona at Plimoth Plantation. It has a comfortable print size for its intended audience in grades 5-7. I believe many in lower grades would also be able to read this independently. 

The first part of the story is told through quotes from actual colonists.  The last part of the book is narration by the author drawn from the source material. The last page discusses the development of the tradition of the American Thanksgiving and is not actually part of the story.  This book is out of print. You can get it at Amazon or at eBay.  



Pilgrim Music for Thanksgiving

It is likely that when the Pilgrims gave thanks they sang a hymn. The one churches still sing today that the Pilgrims probably sang is from the Genevan Psalter that dates from 1562 and was used by the Separatists. We know that hymn today as "Old Hundredth," and the Doxology sung in many churches has the same tune.  This version is probably close to what the Pilgrims sang.



You can find this version at Amazon in digital form.
You can find the CD form at eBay. 

I think it ironic that I found the same hymn being sung (different arrangement) at Westminster Abbey in a service commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth. It shows much of the ceremony that the Separatists despised and separated themselves from. As the processional of the choirs and the Queen and other dignitaries came down the aisle, I was temporarily taken aback, wondering who that bewildered looking younger person in the black and white clip with the crown was. It took me a minute to realize it was a clip of  the Queen on her actual Coronation Day superimposed on the processional.



Pilgrim Voices: Our First Year in the New World  Edited by Connie and Peter Roop

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews
The clear, easy-to-read, double-spaced type tells the story of the Pilgrims’ first year in the New World as a series of diary entries written in the first person. The primary sources the authors drew from were Mourt’s Relation and Of Plymouth Plantation, sources authored by Edward Winslow and William Bradford. The editors modernized the language and changed Bradford’s journal from the third to the first person for unity of voice. About half of the 45 pages in this God-honoring history are gorgeous color paintings by Shelley Prichett, making this volume a feast for the eyes. The book, suitable for all ages past preschool, also contains a forward full of historical background, the text of the Mayflower Compact, a glossary, a bibliography, and an index.

This, too, is out of print. It is available in a Kindle edition or used at Amazon or used at eBay. Many of the used eBay copies have free shipping, and many of the Amazon cheap copies don't.


Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews
This paperback book for children 5-10 is my personal favorite because of its visual appeal. It is also based on Bradford’s writings. The author and illustrator, Cheryl Harness, has created a panorama of paintings that captures the Pilgrim story.  It focuses on three young children, Mary, Remember, and Bartholomew Allerton.  Their mother, Mary, along with her new baby, died in 1621.

We first meet the children in the middle of the ocean on the Mayflower and follow their life in the colony. Young Mary Allerton grew up and died of old age in 1699.  She grew older than anyone else who came over on the Mayflower.  

If your children are visual learners, you’ve got to get this book. The first major painting is a map of the Atlantic Ocean showing the sailing Mayflower with geographical notes tracing the adventures of the Pilgrims from the time they fled England for Holland until they settled in Plymouth. The next double-page spread is a cross-section of the Mayflower showing the people and supplies crowded onto the various parts of the ship. 

The main story is illustrated by spectacular paintings showing life on the Mayflower and in Plymouth. Then there is a labeled picture-map of Plymouth Plantation with a timeline of earlier New World explorations along the bottom and an illustrated chart on the far right showing what else was going on in other parts of the world while the Pilgrims were having their adventures. The last pages in the book contain labeled pictures of all the Mayflower passengers, with one double-page spread allotted to the Saints, and another to the Strangers, and the difference between them is explained. The Indians get their own double-page spread which is bordered with small drawings of native plants, animals, and sea-life. The last page is a bibliography. This book is, fortunately still in print and available new and used at Amazon. You can also find it on eBay if you prefer to look there. 


The Pilgrims at Plymouth, a Landmark Book by Lucile Recht Penner

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews
The illustrations by S.D. Schindler are as appealing as those in Three Young Pilgrims.  These illustrations are on the edges of the pages, accompanied by small bold text to differentiate it from the larger text in the story.

The author tells the story of the Pilgrims' struggle to create a new home in the wilderness of a new land and how both the settlement they founded and the principles they established helped to shape the new American nation. Each double-page spread deals with one aspect of the Pilgrims' adventure, beginning on the Mayflower and ending with the Thanksgiving feast. This book states that Mary Allerton Cushman died in 1704, which contradicts most other sources I've seen. The text of this book was copyrighted in 1996 before the term "Indians" was deemed politically incorrect. 

The Pilgrims at Plymouth offers more details about daily life in the Plymouth colony than the previously mentioned books, including an accurate portrayal of the Pilgrims' faith. It also goes into more detail on the life of Squanto. Both this book and Three Young Pilgrims are good supplements to the more journal-like books first reviewed. They answer more of the questions about details left out of the other books.  44 pages. For grades 2 and up. This book is out of print but is available from both Amazon and eBay.


Daily Life in the Pilgrim Colony 1636 by Paul Erickson

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews
The author and photographers who created this book paint a captivating portrait of an early Pilgrim settlement. Many of the photos come from Plimoth Plantation, where history is still alive. I have been there and watched as my rebellious daughter was called out by one of the adult male enacters who heard her talking back to my husband. The "Pilgrim" told her she'd never get a husband with that rebellious attitude. She was in total shock. No one she knew would have dared tell her such a thing.
In the book, Paul Erickson describes the duties of each family member -- even the children -- and their roles in the community as a whole. We watch people at work through the seasons as the women tend to the home, animals, and garden. The men do the heavy work in the fields and handle trading and defense. Children help their parents with their daily chores. We watch the activities of the family as they start their day, get dressed, work, and get ready for bed at night. 

Education was also handled at home. Parents taught their children to read so they would be able to read the Bible, which was considered the most important book. Children also learned practical skills as they helped their parents cook, farm, garden, and make clothing from the wool to the finished garments. 

The book explains how the government worked and how the colony was founded and organized. The author also describes a typical worship service in the meeting house. That couple of paragraphs is about all we learn about the religion of the colonists, except the importance of the Bible in their lives. We also learn a bit about health and how illnesses were treated. 

The author describes celebrations and special occasions. He gives three paragraphs total to what we now call the first Thanksgiving. Part of that is a recipe for the traditional Plymouth Succotash.  

Unlike the books I reviewed above, this one doesn't  tell us a story or let the characters themselves say much. It has a more academic tone, showing and telling us about life in the colony. The last page analyzes the Pilgrims' place in history. Readers will learn what happened but probably won't relate to it as much as they will by identifying with the characters in the other books.  Vivid full-color photos and drawings along with smaller black and white drawings show us a family and the items they would have used in their home and in the fields in Plymouth. 

The book also features a timeline of the colony from 1455, when Guttenberg finished printing the Bible to 1863, when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday. There is a reproduction of a 1635 map of the world so students can compare it to maps depicting today's world. We also see a color diagram map of Plymouth Colony. A glossary and index are also included. This book is the most secular in tone of all the ones I review here. Like most of the others, it is out of print. It is available at Amazon or eBay. For ages nine and up. 48 pages. 

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews
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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Book Reviews: Buy a Book for a Child to Celebrate National Buy a Book Day

National Buy a Book Day?


September 7 is National Buy a Book Day. Did you know that? I've always wondered how these little known holidays came into being, and I now know how this one started. Philip Athans, a bestselling author of fantasy and horror novels, admits he made it up.

Book Reviews: Buy a Book for a Child to Celebrate National Buy a Book Day
Photo in Public Domain Courtesy of Grafeek at Pixabay


His heart was in the right place. He saw independent bookstores closing and disappearing from neighborhoods. He wanted to help keep booksellers and publishers in business. He thought if he could encourage millions to buy a book on a certain day, it would bring in new business and help some bookstores stay open. Of course for that to have much of a continuing effect, buying books would have to become a habit. For me it's always been a habit, and my house will testify to that. Truly it now overflows with books. 

Support Independent Used Booksellers 


I still like to support independent booksellers, but most have left my area. One can still support independent used booksellers on line at Chrislands.com and the Independent Online Booksellers Associaton. When I was still selling books I was a member of both organizations.

 Although many of those sellers also sell at Amazon, they can provide better service and consolidated shipping if you purchase the same books from them at through the websites listed above. I usually look there first for used and rare books. 

If you have questions, you can even ask the booksellers for more information about the books they have listed. You can usually call them or email them with questions. They can even tell you if they have unlisted books on similar topics.

 Amazon often makes mistakes in transferring information from bookseller databases. They may list paperback books as hardcover editions, and vice versa. Independent sites leave bookseller descriptions intact so that they are more accurate. If you are in doubt about something in a description, you can always call the bookseller and ask. You may even be able to negotiate on prices. Help keep independent booksellers in business.

Tomfolio.com, used to be an amazing online book search and selling cooperative, but it no longer lists books for sale. It has retained much of the book reference content written by the members. Book lovers may want to check it out.

Why Buying Books Encourages Children to Read


As my biographical sketch here reveals, I've always had my nose in a book. I have disclosed some of my personal reading history from childhood to college graduation in National Read a Book Day Should Be Every Day. In that post, I not only share my favorite picture books but also some video clips of television shows that were competing for my reading time. The books usually won. I was fortunate because I had a relative who bought books for me on every gift-giving occasion. It helped me acquire my reading habit. 

Every child should have the opportunity that I had. First I had many adults in my family who loved to read to me and I learned to love books that way. The people who gave me books read them to me over and over as I requested them. Those books became part of me. Because I owned them, they were always there for me to look at and read, once I learned how to read at the age of three. If I got stuck on a word, an adult helped me. Having an assortment of books to choose from makes it easy for a child to learn to read and enjoy reading. But a committed adult needs to keep reading aloud those books beyond a child's reading vocabulary. 

Buy Books That Will Hold the Interest of Your Children 


When I was young, excellent picture books were very few. Nonfiction picture books to satisfy children's curiosity about the world around them were as yet not published. Gail Gibbons, a prominent author and illustrator, a pioneer in this new genre, is a year younger than me. When I was young her books weren't even ideas in her head yet. Today you can buy one of her marvelous books for your young child who wants to learn more about sharks, whales, libraries, art, and a number of other subjects.

Each Gibbons book presents a series of pictures that tell a story or explain a process or the way something works. Many pages are divided into several frames, like comic strip frames, but the pictures in each frame are in the style you see in the image below. Children will return to these books repeatedly because of their bold colorful illustrations and the information they impart. 

Book Reviews: Buy a Book for a Child to Celebrate National Buy a Book Day


Some of my favorite books for today's lucky children are about animals. I'm a great fan of cat stories. Click to get more information on books you see below and some of my other favorite animal story picture books. Why not make one of these the book you buy for a child today?



Board Books Your Child Will Love


Are your children too young for books with paper pages? Even babies can discover books without destroying them if the books have board pages.

Be sure to pick the best board books from the hundreds now available. The babies and youngest toddlers need large bold colorful illustrations with distinct shapes. They don't need many words. Some of the books also have textures for children to feel. These can be searched for as Touch and Feel Books. The classic book of this type is Pat the Bunny. 

Young children have loved  Pat the Bunny for decades, but it gets mixed reviews. Some feel the comb binding is too easy to destroy. After looking at my own copy, I can see why this might be true. It appears that some adult supervision may be needed with the youngest children. The pages themselves are not as sturdy as those of a board book. I would recommend this for toddlers, but not babies.

This book is has been in print since 1940 and is still a best seller. It is popular because children can pat what feels like bunny fur, play peek-a-boo with a character in the book, smell flowers, (yes they do have a scent), look in a mirror, feel a daddy's scratchy face, read a book within a book, and put a finger through a ring hole. It is best if parents read this book to children a few times before letting them read it on their own. That will help children better understand the activities. Since the book and its illustrations are so old, all characters are Caucasian, and that may be a drawback for some people.

The Bright Baby board books you see below are perfect for the youngest children. The large uncomplicated pictures are easy for toddler eyes to take in. The colors are bright. The pages I saw had three or less words in large dark print. As with other books for this age, adults should read the book with the child several times and talk about the pictures and words. This helps children develop basic vocabulary as they learn to talk. It also helps them look at the books in a more knowledgeable way independently.




The board books below are examples of the kinds of books to choose for a toddler beginning to be interested in words. I love all of Sandra Boynton's board books. Her pictures invite conversations between the children and the adults reading to them. She is not afraid to use the big words with interesting sounds that children love to learn and speak -- like hippopotamus. But she also uses short rhyming words that are easy to pronounce and read such as cat, rat, frog, and bog. Children adore seeing Boynton's animals do silly things they would never really do. These books are wonderful vocabulary builders that hold children's attention.

Guess How Much I Love You reveals the truth that words can't really explain the limits of love because it has no limits. Parent do love their children more than words can describe.

Diggers and Dumpers is an example of the best type of special interest nonfiction books for young children. My Jason had an avid interest in trucks and construction vehicles. At five years he knew more about big rigs than I did. This is a book that would have been just right for him between one and three, and he would have continued to look at it even longer. The illustrations are large and clear. The words are in large type. They tell children the names of the vehicles they like to watch, and they explain what these vehicles do. That's what children this age want from nonfiction -- a way to talk about what interests them, whether vehicles, flowers, animals, or everyday objects and activities.

Lois Ehlert is a children's author and illustrator known for labeling the objects in her bold colorful pictures that emphasize the shape of things. Click that author link and you will see all her books I discuss here. Planting a Rainbow, shown below, explores the steps in planting a flower garden in very simple terms, with few words, in giant print. Unlike ordinary word books, Ehlert's books tell a story or explain something in a child's world in a way that makes sense to them. She continues the gardening theme in Growing Vegetable Soup and then exhibits the fruits and vegetables that a garden produces in the alphabet book Eating the Alphabet. Most of her subjects are related to art and nature, so it's easy to find one of her books that is just right for your child. 

When choosing a board book or any picture book, try to choose books with originality and style. There are many books with mediocre art or based on popular media and Disney characters that children already see enough of. Give them new fresh characters and art. As your children get to be school age,  give them picture books that will develop an appreciation of many art styles. I personally love the picture books of Thomas Locker that display his magnificent landscape paintings as he tells his stories or explains science concepts. Help your children develop a taste for fine art by choosing the picture books that use it.

Wouldn't you like to celebrate National Buy a Book Day now by buying a book for your favorite child? Publishers, authors, and booksellers will thank you. And don't limit book buying to one day of the year. Let's keep authors and publishers motivated to continue giving us more quality books for our children by helping them earn money through our purchases.



Which book will you buy? What is your favorite picture book? Did your children have a favorite?






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