Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Raising Readers: They're never too young

My oldest child turns five next weekend, so I'm taking a few posts to look into the importance of early literacy.

My second-born, Ellie, will turn three this summer. She is surprisingly very different from her older sister (which I suppose is a good thing!) -- brown hair and brown eyes (Abby is blonde & blue), naturally goofy (Abby tends to be more serious), needs less sleep overall (they both dropped their naps this spring), and ever since Ellie was an infant we've said that while Abby never stops talking, Ellie never stops moving.

Playing "library". No I did not prompt them.

Yet even though their looks and personality are different, one thing between them is the same: they both love books. And I firmly believe it's because books have been part of their lives since they were both infants.

One year old. We've gone through 3 copies
of that book -- Goodnight Gorilla.

Yes it's difficult to read to a baby, they seem more interested in tearing pages and eating the books than what's actually happening in the story. But it's more about exposure -- teaching children that books are fun -- than anything. What do you think a child will grow up thinking about books if she is constantly yelled at and scolded for not handling them "right"?

Waiting for me to finish up at the library.

That's not to say we should let our babies rip pages out of every book on the shelf. We do need to teach them to be gentle. Just like we teach them how to eat. How many cute pictures do we take of our kids with mashed carrots spread across their face? And oh how quickly that stage passes...

Post-bath reading, 15 months old

Here are a few ways we can encourage a love of books with even our littlest readers:

Board books are amazing.
Whoever invented board books is a hero of early literacy. Made from thick, cardboard-like "paper", board books are the best kind of book for babies. It is nearly impossible to rip the pages out (unless it's a lift-the-flap board book). Many of our favorite stories are also available in board book form (Goodnight Moon, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Dr. Seuss, etc.). And check your local library -- they might already be a bit beat up, but who can turn down free books that you don't have to store forever?

2.5 years old, "reading" to her baby.
She actually has this book memorized.

Keep more important books out of reach.
Once baby is big enough to crawl and pull up and walk on her own, we know enough to baby-proof the cupboards and doors and staircases. But what about your bookshelf? Keep those board books within easy reach (so she can learn that those books are for her!) and keep your older kids' books higher up on the shelf.

Buy books at garage sales.
Yes I sell brand-new books through Usborne and yes I worked at a library for two years. But I shop at garage sales too. Two weeks before my first daughter was born I came away from a garage sale with a set of board books about animals for $1 that were already well-loved. And both of my kids have loved on them even more, scratching at the fake fur and pulling out the cat whiskers and ripping the binding. Sometimes you've just gotta have those kind of books that you can REALLY not worry about.

Share books with them. Every.single.day.
Reading aloud to children has been called the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for success in reading. I'll share more about this in my next post (when I talk about my oldest daughter), but I want to encourage you that no matter how boring it may be to read the same book over and over, or how long your day has been with the kids and you-just-want-them-to-go-to-bed-so-you-can-have-PEACE-and-QUIET... still snuggle and READ TO THEM. Even if it's only one book, make reading aloud part of the bedtime routine. Read a single board book when they're little. I was surprised how well my second-born would sit when she was really young, while I read a picture book that was really more for her older sister. Even now, at age almost-5 and almost-3, I'll sometimes limit them to choosing one book each (and pray that they're short books... :) ) when Rocky and I have had a long day.

Almost 2 years old

I mentioned earlier that both of my girls have pretty much given up their naps. But I still insist on rest time every afternoon. Most days I'll peak in on Ellie and find her sitting on a pile of books in the corner, paging through one, and even attempting to tell the story out loud for herself. Not bad for a 2 year old. That, my friends, is a sight that warms this bookworm's heart.




And yes I'm going to throw in a little pitch for some of Usborne's best-selling books for babies. :)



With over 30 books to choose from, ranging from animals to vehicles to angels and fairies, there is something here for everyone. These sturdy, touchy-feely board books feature bold colors and thick black lines for little eye development.


An I Spy sort of book that has thick board book pages, this one is very interactive as you ask your child to find things like the red car, the penguin with a hat, and the circle-shaped window.


These playbooks (others in the series too) are great for learning about textures and tracing lines - things that will develop even more as a child learns to hold a pen and write.



I am an Independent Consultant with Usborne Books & More. Purchasing these and other books through the links above will pay me a commission. Usborne Publishing Ltd. has no connection with this blog and does not sponsor or support its content.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Raising Readers: My own book-ish childhood

As I prepare for my oldest child to turn five next week, I'm going to be posting a few things related to children and reading. Let's start by looking back in time...

My first Christmas. 
I was that kid.

You know the one -- the introverted girl whose closest sibling is 6 years younger. The one who would prefer to spend her summer on a blanket in the yard reading Nancy Drew or The Babysitters Club or The Black Stallion instead of playing sports or going to the beach

My birthday stash of books. I think I was about 8.
Please ignore the glasses and clothes of the 90s... 

The one who the librarians knew by name, AND knew where I was in a book series and always had the next book ready for me when I came in on Fridays. Oh and the one who would be dropped off by mom at the library on said Fridays while mom went to the grocery store.

My home library used to be housed in this end of the township hall.
The space you see is literally all the bigger it is. A new building was
built after I'd left for college, and I've never been inside. 

It was a glorious childhood.

Yes I spent time playing. Granted, my pretending often revolved around books -- the neighbor-girl and I riding our bikes around, playing Nancy Drew (me) and George (her - though she insisted on being called Georgie). My favorite animals were wolves (Julie of the Wolves) and dolphins (Island of the Blue Dolphins) and horses (Misty of Chincoteague, The Black Stallion). I even went through a phase of spying on my little brother because of Harriet the Spy (I recently found an old journal of mine from probably 3rd grade where I detailed the [boring] things I saw).


Yes we had a tv with an antenna, and a VHS player. I had a childhood that included the weekly Sunday Night Family Night movie on ABC, classic Disney movies, and Saturday morning cartoons. One thing that set us apart though was we had no phone. Our house was almost a half mile off the road and it was too expensive to run a landline. So we did without until my junior year of high school, when cell phones started becoming more available.


A lot of posts have been floating around Facebook recently about the freedom we had as children of the 80s and early 90s, and how sad it is that our kids don't have much of that same freedom today. I do miss the days of reading the day away outside without direct supervision. I do miss the days of trusting the people in our small town with a Mayberry-ish atmosphere.

But wishing for the past won't change our present. I can still raise readers who love where they are in life, within the constraints of today's world. Over the next week or two I'll post a few things that have worked so far in our family.

What was your book-ish childhood like?




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Quick Lit: May 2015


My goal for this year is to read 36 books - 3 a month - after only finishing 24 last year. I'm slightly ahead of schedule, with 15 books completed so far in mid-May. Here's what I've finished in the last month.

Return to Me by Lynn Austin
Lynn Austin is one of my absolute favorite historical fiction authors. Her "Chronicles of the Kings" series helped me wrap my mind around which biblical prophets appear with which kings of Israel. Her "Refiner's Fire" series fed my love of the Civil War era. And now this new "Restoration Chronicles" series will shed light on the exiled Israelites' return to Jerusalem. I'm working my way through reading my Bible in a year - chronologically, so the writings of the prophets will appear alongside the historical books - and I love how this book put images in my head of what things must have been like for the Israelites. I already have book #2 requested at the library!


I'm reading a few of the books for older readers that I sell with Usborne, so I can better offer recommendations for or against them. This is a series of 13 books in a sort of Divergent-meets-Harry-Potter. "Sam wakes from his nightmare to discover the terrifying reality: it will come true. Kidnapped from school and finding out his parents aren't who he thinks they are, Sam is suddenly running from danger at every turn. Nothing will ever be the same again. With his life and identity shattered, Sam's salvation is tied to an ancient prophecy. He is in the final battle to save the world, up against an enemy plotting to destroy us all. He alone can find the last 13." I enjoyed it, though not enough to make me want to immediately get the next book. But I can definitely see it appealing to the age group it was created for.


Minna's Quest by K.M. Peyton
Another book from Usborne. I'm always a sucker for a good horse story... "Minna is just a blacksmith's daughter, yet she succeeds in raising a sickly abandoned foal, turning him into the pride of the Roman cavalry. Her stubborn determination and fiery nature burn brightly in the quiet fort of Othona and soon attract the secret admiration of the proud commander, Theo."  I think I will look into the other two books in this trilogy. I do wish it could have been longer, I could see there being more character development and small interactions between the characters that would have added to the story. For a book that's considered Young Adult, this was fairly short at 186 pages.



Linking up today with Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy!


This post does contain Amazon Affiliate links. Purchases you make help support The Lion is a Bookworm a little bit without changing the cost to you. I am also an Independent Consultant with Usborne Books & More. Purchasing these and other books through the links above will pay me a commission. Usborne Publishing Ltd. has no connection with this blog and does not sponsor or support its content.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Usborne Review: Pocket Books Mammals & Reptiles

128 pages. Paperback

From Usborne: "Pocket Books feature more than 100 amazing animals. Each entry has a factfile with bite-sized facts, measurements, statistics, and a clear color photograph. The Pocket Book series helps young naturalists to identify and understand members of the animal kingdom."

My thoughts: These little $5 books are PACKED with information! I could see any animal-lover enjoying paging through these, learning new things about some of their favorite animals and discovering even more cool animals. A great resource for any classroom for sure, but for a home library too!






I am an Independent Consultant with Usborne Books & More. Purchasing this and other books through the link above will pay me a commission. Usborne Publishing Ltd. has no connection with this blog and does not sponsor or support its content.


I would love to help you earn free books through a Home or Facebook Party, or even have you join my team and share these books with others! Contact me via email if you are interested at thelionisabookworm at gmail dot com. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Usborne Review: Wipe-Clean books

Wipe Clean Collection by Stacey Lamb
20-40 pages. Paperback (like laminated paper) 

My thoughts: As of this writing, there are 18 books in the Wipe-Clean series. In my house we only have Dot-to-Dot and Alphabet, but my 4-year-old LOVES them and I'll probably soon get more. Each book comes with a wipe-clean pen (dry erase marker) and has activities and pictures to trace on the heavy, laminate-like pages. I started with the dot-to-dot book for Abby because she was going through a stage where she loved doing dot-to-dots in coloring books, but once she did them all, that was it... With these books, all it takes is a swipe of a tissue or paper towel (a little elbow grease is needed if you wait weeks before wiping like I did a couple times...) and she can do them all over again.

I got the Alphabet book for Abby at the beginning of the school year so she could practice writing her letters. She traces her name every week at school with a sheet and marker her teacher provides. Today she had show-and-tell and needed to bring something that started with either a W, X, Y, or Z, and she was so excited to show this "Wipe-Clean" book to her teachers and friends.






I am an Independent Consultant with Usborne Books & More. Purchasing this and other books through the link above will pay me a commission. Usborne Publishing Ltd. has no connection with this blog and does not sponsor or support its content.


I would love to help you earn free books through a Home or Facebook Party, or even have you join my team and share these books with others! Contact me via email if you are interested at thelionisabookworm at gmail dot com. 


Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Lion's Tales: April 19-25

This weekly recap is where I blog about anything and everything from the past week. Could be about books, my kids, my garden... Random things in my life that don't fill enough space for their own post!


1. I didn't get to write a recap post last weekend because I was away at a training for GEMS Girls' Clubs. My church has a club, but I am also involved in higher-up leadership training. About 50 women from all across the U.S. and Canada get together once a year to learn about things for the next season and prepare to bring those trainings back to our own area in late summer/early fall. If you're interested in having a club in your area for girls in 1st-8th grades, let me know and I can hook you up. :)


2. I got to go on my first field trip with Abby this week! This was one of the things I was looking forward to the most about leaving my library job, being able to do trips with my kids. We went with her preschool class to the zoo and it was COLD! It had rained most of the day and night before, and sprinkled a bit while we were there. There was one other class there from a different school, and about 4 other adults visiting, but other than that we had the whole place to ourselves. We alternated between outdoor exhibits and indoors to warm up. :-P It was quite memorable.


3. I had my first Usborne parties this week! On Thursday night I showed off my stash of books to a small group of friends. Both of my girls were with me, and they were natural saleswomen! I asked everyone who was there to choose a book from the display and we went around and talked about why it caught their eye. Abby started, and she grabbed a shine-a-light book and flashlight all on her own and showed off to the group how it worked. I might have to take her with me to more shows!


4. Getting things started with Usborne has really eaten into my reading time. Mornings and naptime and evenings when I would normally pick up my book and read have been instead spent writing party scripts and offering book recommendations and reading up on product knowledge. I'm hoping that in the next week or two I'll be off to a good enough start and have my materials already created so that I can get back on track with my reading goal! (I did start reading one of the chapter books that came in my kit, so I can give better advice to people who want to know more about it. I'll probably count those kind of books toward my goal since I've counted other YA & juvenile books! :) )





Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Usborne Review: On the Moon

On the Moon by Anna Milbourne & Benji Davies
24 pages. Hardcover. 

From Usborne: "Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go to the Moon? This beautifully illustrated picture book will take you on a journey to find out. You can fly into outer space, walk on the Moon and take a look at our world from a very, very long way away."

My thoughts: My family loves astronomy. One of the first apps my husband and I got on our new smartphones was GoSkyWatch. Our deck of playing cards has the constellations on them. We've been known to pull an old mattress outside and sleep in the backyard to watch a meteor shower, or sit on the curb in our subdivision to see the northern lights. And from the time both of our kids started talking, they would look in the sky at night and point and say "mooooooon!"

This book does a beautiful job of telling facts about the moon along with great pictures -- some of them look to me like they're real photos that have been edited to add the cartoonish characters, but the transition is so subtle maybe they really are just completely drawings. And it's a fairly large book for being short, 10 inches square. The text is simple so an early reader could read it with only a little help, yet it appeals to all ages. My entire family loves this book!



I am an Independent Consultant with Usborne Books & More. Purchasing this and other books through the link above will pay me a commission. Usborne Publishing Ltd. has no connection with this blog and does not sponsor or support its content.


I would love to help you earn free books through a Home or Facebook Party, or even have you join my team and share these books with others! Contact me via email if you are interested at thelionisabookworm at gmail dot com. 



Monday, April 20, 2015

What the Cubs are Reading: April 20

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila of Book Journey.  Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers have adapted it to focus on Picture Books to Young Adult Books. Since I recap what I'm personally reading each month with Modern Mrs. Darcy, for this linkup I post what Abby (almost 5) and Ellie (2.5) have been enjoying.

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The Usborne Book of Fairy Tales  
by Stephen Cartwright & Heather Amery. January 2005
Read my full review here. Do you ever wonder why some kids pick certain books and just love them so much that they ask you to read them every. single. day. for weeks?? This is one of those books in our house. At least it's a collection of stories, so we can get by with only reading one or two different ones each day. :)


Little Loon and Papa by Toni Buzzeo. May 2004
Ellie affectionately calls this one the "peep peep where's Papa??" book. Little Loon can't figure out how to dive the way Papa does, and he eventually gets sick of diving lessons and swims away when Papa isn't looking. But the world can be a scary place without the comfort of a parent close by.


The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. 
Originally published in 1902. This edition 2013.
Abby received this one last week from DPIL (I'm so sad! She only has one more month until she's 5 and stops getting monthly books!). It's been fun to introduce a "classic" to my kids. 



Just a Mess by Mercer Mayer. 1987.
The Little Critter books were some of my absolute favorites as a kid. Anytime I see them at garage sales or used book sales I grab them up. Little Critter can't find his baseball mitt, so his mom tells him he should clean his room... 


Check out what others are reading in today's linkup!



I am an Independent Consultant with Usborne Books & More. Purchasing books through the link(s) above will pay me a commission. Usborne Publishing Ltd. has no connection with this blog and does not sponsor or support its content.

This post also contains Amazon Affiliate links. Purchases you make help support The Lion is a Bookworm a little bit without changing the cost to you!


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Usborne Review: The Usborne Book of Fairy Tales

The Usborne Book of Fairy Tales 
by Stephen Cartwright & Heather Amery
96 pages. Hardcover. 

From Usborne: "Enjoy these traditional fairy stories and charming stories about princesses with your beginning reader. These delightful picture-book editions have padded covers, two levels of text and charming Stephen Cartwright illustrations throughout. Share them today! This combined volume contains the following titles: Cinderella, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, Sleeping Beauty, and Three Little Pigs."

My thoughts: Often our kids know the stories of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty only because of Disney. But long before they were made into movies, fairy tales were passed down through generations. This book tells 6 famous stories in a non-commercialized way. Beware, they are the real stories -- the big bad wolf in the Three Little Pigs gets cooked in a pot of water, and Red and Granny get gobbled up by another wolf. My girls and I read through all the stories in one setting the first time, and they both told me their favorite story was Goldilocks.






I am an Independent Consultant with Usborne Books & More. Purchasing this and other books through the link above will pay me a commission. Usborne Publishing Ltd. has no connection with this blog and does not sponsor or support its content.

I would love to help you earn free books through a Home or Facebook Party, or even have you join my team and share these books with others! Contact me via email if you are interested at thelionisabookworm at gmail dot com. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Usborne Review: 1001 Animals to Spot

1001 Animals to Spot
by G. Doherty
32 pages. Hardcover. 

From Usborne: "Teeming with animals to find, count and talk about, this bright picture book provides hours of puzzle-solving fun. It also helps develop basic word and number skills. The busy scenes bring to life different habitats from around the world. Children will delight in finding all kinds of familiar and exotic animals -- from lambs on the farm to armadillos in the rainforest."

My thoughts: There are a whole bunch of 1001 things to spot books by Usborne, and this is one I chose for Ellie's Christmas gift last year. We've taken it on car trips for something to keep the girls occupied, and Abby has lately wanted to have it with her to look at when she lays down for rest time.

One of the things I love about looking at this with my girls is that it's teaching Ellie one-to-one correlation. I can help her touch with a single finger each animal as she counts it. My sister-in-law who works in a kindergarten classroom has said there are kids who come into her class in the beginning of the year who still don't grasp this important concept.

There are 13 scenes of animals, plus a few other seek-and-find activities. Ellie's favorite page is "In the ocean" and Abby's is the "Children's farm".






I am an Independent Consultant with Usborne Books & More. Purchasing this and other books through the link above will pay me a commission. Usborne Publishing Ltd. has no connection with this blog and does not sponsor or support its content.

I would love to help you earn free books through a Home or Facebook Party, or even have you join my team and share these books with others! Contact me via email if you are interested at thelionisabookworm at gmail dot com.