Flying with Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy

Creativity.

Imagination.

Confidence.

Being one’s self.

These are the rock solid underpinnings of the Ladybug Girl series by David Soman and Jacky Davis that, as a mom, make me love the books.

But both of my kids (Luke, age 4.5 and Brynn, age 23 months) love them as well, and here’s why:

Ladybug Girl, aka Lulu, dresses in a tutu and defeats playground monsters.

She wears red wings with black spots and braves sharks at the bottom of puddles.

She helps neighbors carry in their groceries and can count up to infinity.

She is kind, imaginative, and intrepid, but she is not infallible.

She makes mistakes when dealing with her friends, she gets frustrated when playing with Bumblebee Boy, and she’s not quite sure the ocean is safe when she first encounters it.

In the lives of my children, these traits and experiences are very real.  Luke and Brynn enjoy watching Lulu overcome her fears and work through problems, and she teaches them how to engage with the world of big scary things and friends who have their own minds.  Luke, in particular, is at the point where he needs more complex social stories that mirror the situations that he’s encountering at preschool, and these books are perfect for him.

At the moment, Luke is enjoying the following books in the series:

  Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy: About two friends negotiating what and how to play–very important budding skills for preschoolers and Kindergartners.

  The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy: About older brother Sam learning to play with his younger brother–Luke and Brynn are likewise discovering the pains and joys of playing with a sibling.

  Ladybug Girl at the Beach: About Lulu’s day at the beach and how she gradually works up the courage to play in the water–Luke is scared of the ocean right now, so he’s been reading this book often.

  Ladybug Girl and the Big Snow: About Lulu’s adventures in the snow.  She gets very frustrated because everything is much harder in the deep, soft snow, but she perseveres and turns her day into a great one.  Luke likes how Lulu plays with her brother and builds snow creatures.

Brynn enjoys these books:

Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy: Brynn loves the imaginative play that goes on in the book.  In the car the other day, she was yelling at the top of her lungs, “Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee can do ANYTHING!”  “Bumblebee Boy” is still a bit of a mouthful for her…

  The original Ladybug Girl: I don’t know how many times Brynn has used the phrase from the book, “I’m not too little!”  And she loves Lulu’s dog, Bingo.

Happy reading!

–Erin, Luke, and Brynn

Clicking on the book images will take you to Amazon.com.  I receive a portion of any purchases that you make through my site, and in turn, I donate the proceeds to children’s literacy projects.

A Series That Luke Loved: Emily Jenkins’ Toys Trilogy

Hi there.  Luke here.  I’m four and a half years old now.  I still enjoy reading picture books either with my parents or by myself, but I also really enjoy being read longer, more difficult books, too.  My mom has tried Magic Treehouse (not engaging enough for me), Magic Schoolbus (I like them but they are pretty complicated), and some Roald Dahl books (I’m definitely not ready to talk about child abuse and parents dying!), but the Toys trilogy by Emily Jenkins has been the first series to really stick.

The chapter books are about the adventures of three toy friends (and a few other supporting characters like a one-eared sheep, a rocking horse, and a bath towel): Plastic, a rubber ball; Stingray, a blue plush stingray; and Lumphy, a stuffed buffalo.  They belong to a little girl whose name (they are pretty sure) is Honey.

I enjoyed these books for a number of reasons:

1) SOUND EFFECTS!  I love sound effects!  They make me laugh and keep me engaged.  Seriously, who doesn’t think “Fwuuumpa! (baggle baggle)” is funny?  Ok, how about “Fwap! Gobble-a gobble-a”?  And “Grunk, gru-GRUNK!”  When Stingray gets scared, she makes this sound, “Frrrrrrrr.”  My mom does a great job with this sound–I laugh every time.

2) Songs!  Sprinkled throughout the stories are funny little songs.  My favorite is sung by Frank, the washing machine.  Did you know that washing machines get lonely and need dance parties, too?

3) Just the right level.  Some longer chapter books have too many words that I don’t know, and when there are too many of them, I have a hard time following the story.  But these books had only a few words that I didn’t know, and my mom would either define them for me or I could piece together what they meant from context.

4) The story.  As a kid who finds social interactions challenging, these books gave me many examples of how friends can interact.  From fights to making up to feeling empathy for others to having fun, the toys in the stories, with their distinct personalities and strengths and weaknesses, provided models of friendship for me.  The toys’ adventures are also laugh-out-loud funny, touching, and a bit philosophical. (The last two pages of the third book made my mom cry.  She said that the ideas about existence in them were beautiful.  They were ok, I thought, but she said that I’d better understand them when I got a little older…)

So if you’re looking for a series to read to an older preschooler, Kindergartner, or first grader, check out the Toys books!

           

Happy reading!

–Luke (age 4.5)

Clicking on a book will take you to Amazon.com, and if you decide to buy the book, a portion of your purchase comes back to me.  I, in turn, will use the profits to purchase books for our local library or for a children’s literacy project.

Mama’s Corner: What Makes a Book Stick?

Recently I noticed an interesting trend in the books that my children request me to read over and over again: bad.

Yes, my children enjoy bad books.

At first I thought that they had just inherited their father’s taste in literature, but then I realized that it had a little to do with me, too.  Whenever I happen to bring home a bad book from the library, I cringe the first time I read it.  With awkward rhyme, uninspiring illustrations, terrible (or no) story line, each page is worse than the last.  After I get over the initial urge to toss it into the return pile, I try to find something redeeming about it.  It was published after all, so someone must have found something worthwhile in it.

I think: Can I add voices?  Can I add sound effects?  Can I act it out?  Can I sing it?

I’ll try one or the other, occasionally all four, but somewhere along the way, something magical happens and my kids fall in love with the delivery.

The book sticks.

Our most recent example was originally a song by Ziggy Marley (Bob Marley’s son) that was then turned into a picture book: I Love You, Too.  It was pretty terrible at first read, but when I sang it to Luke and Brynn, they loved it.  I made up my own melody, but there’s no reason that one couldn’t listen to the song online or use an existing melody.

There is also something beautiful about singing a song with the refrain of “I love you, too.”  We all tell our children that we love them, but it has been amazing to have those words sung in bits and pieces all day long, week after week.  They became the soundtrack to our December, January, and February.

That “bad book” gave me an excellent excuse to cuddle with my kids and share my love for reading and music with them, and in my book, that’s pretty good.

 

 

Deck the Halls with Books, Books, Books: Books for Babies, Toddlers, Preschoolers, and New Readers

  Each Peach Pear Plum board book (Viking Kestrel Picture Books): I spy for the little guys (and gals). I (Brynn, age 17 months) really enjoy searching through these detailed pictures for not only the main images (“I spy Tom Thumb”), but other things like rabbits, birds, and tea kettles (!).  Yes, I now know what a tea kettle is!

  Baby’s Got the Blues: I (Brynn, 17 months) LOVE this book right now!  Mama sings it in a bluesy way (Dada tries his very best to sound like he’s singing), and I sway as we read it together.  I demand this book by saying, “Baby!” and if the book isn’t within easy reach, we have to go get it immediately.  Great for little ones who love music, but parents have to be willing to get in the spirit, too!  Illustrations are bright and expressive, while text is amusing.

  Got to Dance:  Same kind of book as the above.  If parents will sing it jazzy, with some cymbal sounds (“chh, chh.  chh, chh.”) and some finger snapping, then little ones will really enjoy it.  Illustrations are fresh, but not quite as sharp as Baby’s Got the Blues.

  Mary Engelbreit’s Mother Goose: One Hundred Best-Loved Verses:  I (Brynn, 17 months) am in love with all things nursery rhyme.  Reading experts know that hearing rhyme helps kids become aware of phonemes, the building blocks of language, which helps with future reading success.  But that’s not why I love nursery rhymes.  They just sound cool!  Mama sings most of them (Dada really does try), and I’ll sign or say “more!” over and over again if I want to hear the same rhyme.  My brother did the exact same thing when he was my age.  These illustrations are much better than the original Mother Goose that my mom grew up with, too.

  A Perfectly Messed-Up Story: This book is one that I (Luke, age 4) really like, and it’s for two of my friends who enjoy interactive, funny stories.  Peanut butter, jelly, orange juice?!  What else could possibly be dropped onto poor Little Louie’s story?  Despite his story seeming like a complete debacle, in the end, everything is just fine, just the way I like it.

  Mo’s Mustache:  It’s tough to explain why I (Luke, 4) enjoy this book so much, but I read it religiously for two months straight this fall.  Is it the hilarious, spare illustrations?  Is it the melodramatic exclamations of the monsters (“Murf!” “Huzzah!”)?  Is it the 1970’s reference at the end of the book that always makes my mom laugh but I just don’t quite understand (I like to hear her laugh, so it’s ok if I don’t get it)?  Whatever the reason, preschoolers will enjoy it.

  Mr. Tweed’s Good Deeds: I spy for preschoolers.  I (Luke, 4) read the story once with Mama, but the real appeal of this book is the elaborate search and finds.  The illustrations are vibrant and well done, and the hidden objects are actually quite challenging to find.  I still have trouble finding all of the socks…

  Chalk:  A wordless picture book that is absolutely top-notch.  Stunningly realistic drawings tell the story of three friends who happen upon a bag of magic chalk on a rainy day.  What they draw ends up coming to life, and one creation almost spells disaster.  I’m giving this book to a preschool friend who loves dinosaurs.

  Thank You, Octopus:  Quintessential preschooler humor: slightly gross, but oh so funny.  Octopus is putting his buddy to bed, but every time he tells his buddy something nice he’s going to do for him, Octopus switches the meaning and it ends of being not so nice.

Octopus: Let me give you a bath, Buddy.

Buddy: Thank you, Octopus!

Octopus: In EGG SALAD!

Buddy: Gross!  No thank you, Octopus!

Very clever plays on words that kept me rolling night after night.  My parents and I even started our own “thank you, no thank you” routine.

  The Munschworks Grand Treasury:  This past Fall has been “The Fall of the Robert Munsch Books.”  My parents and I (Luke, 4) have read just about every story Munsch has written.  They are generally clever stories that just beg to be read aloud and embellished with inflection and sound effects.  The stories are longer than typical picture books, and the characters are smart and funny with a modern kid humor, so they are a lot like me.  I love these stories!

  I Really Like Slop! (An Elephant and Piggie Book):  I’m (Luke, 4) giving three of the Elephant and Piggie books to my cousin who is just starting to read independently.  The text in these books is always simple, the illustrations are always expressive, and the stories are always hilarious, for preschoolers and parents alike.

  I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! (Beginner Books):  I’m (Luke, 4) also giving this classic Seuss book to my beginning-reader cousin.  I loved this book when I was starting to read, and I still return to it every now and again just because it’s so much fun.  And with simple sight word text, it really is a book that beginning readers will be able to feel good about reading by themselves.

Happy Reading!

–Luke (age 4) and Brynn (age 17 months), blog co-authors

Clicking on a book will take you to Amazon.com, and if you decide to buy the book, a portion of your purchase comes back to me.  I, in turn, will use the profits to purchase books for our local library or for a children’s literacy project.

For Veteran Parents with New Babies: 5 Books for Babies Off the Beaten Path

At the baby shower for my first child, I received a children’s book from each of the guests, most of them beloved classics that are near and dear to everyone’s hearts (think Goodnight Moon, I Love You Through and Through, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and I Love You, Stinky Face). I also had my own collection of classics neatly stacked in the baby’s room: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and Mary Engelbreit’s Mother Goose: One Hundred Best-Loved Verses.  Over time, other books were accepted into the more or less permanent reading rotation.  Below are a few of my children’s (and my) favorites:

 

   Caps for Sale Board Book: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business (Reading Rainbow Books) by Esphyr Slobodkina:  This book has been one of Brynn’s favorite books since she was about 6 months old.  Sound effects for the peddler’s caps piled on his head keep her engaged until we get to the middle of the story when the caps suddenly disappear, swiped by a band of monkeys who mock the peddler’s attempts to get them back.  When Brynn was about 9 months old, she began shaking her little finger, waving her chubby fist, and stomping her tiny feet back at the peddler, just like the monkeys.  Luke loved this book, too, and “The End” so boldly printed on the last page was the first phrase he ever read.  We read the board book version because it’s quite a bit shorter than the original hardcover.

  Baby Cakes by Karma Wilson and Sam Williams:  Super cute rhyming text that has parents nibbling toes, kissing noses, bouncing baby, and hugging oh so tight.  From now on, I will be buying Baby Cakes for any expecting parents that I know.  Brynn and I both love it!

   Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes padded board book by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury:  Brynn has been entranced with this book since she was teeny tiny.  The text rhymes and repeats throughout the book, so very quickly, babies learn what to expect while reading it.  Throughout the book, the reader is introduced to babies from all over the world, growing up in all kinds of circumstances, but “each of these babies, as everyone knows, has ten little fingers and ten little toes.”  Brynn loves examining the different baby faces, and we spend a lot of time talking about where each of the babies lives.  The illustrations are beautiful; the babies’ faces are full of expression and delightfully cute and cuddly.  We have the lap book version, and if you can find it, I’d highly recommend it because the pages, and thus the pictures, are huge.

   Lick! by Matthew Van Fleet:  Ok, so while the AUTHOR of this book isn’t “off the beaten path,” this particular book is one of his newer offerings.  Lots of creative touch and feel bits, pull tabs, and funny illustrations along with a rhyming text make Lick great fun for babies.  Brynn had a hard time with the tiny touch and feel elements when she was younger and less dextrous, but at 12 months old, she loves them.  She still can’t quite manage the pull tabs, but she’s happy watching me work them for her…for now.

   Where Is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox (Mar 16 2009) by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek:  “Here is the red sheep.  Here is the blue sheep.  Here is the bath sheep.  And here is the bed sheep.  But where is the green sheep?”  And so begins the toddler-length quest for the feisty green sheep.  And what a fantastic quest it is!  I didn’t come across this book until Luke was too old for it, so the first time I took Brynn to the library, I snagged a copy to see if she’d like it.  She did.  A lot.  Great for teaching opposites and colors, the funny, rhyming text and expressive illustrations are very engaging for the baby set.  And in the end, the mystery is solved peacefully and satisfactorily.  Brynn and I both love this one!

Happy Reading!

-Erin and Brynn (13 months old), blog co-authors

Clicking on a book will take you to Amazon.com, and if you decide to buy the book, a portion of your purchase comes back to me.  I, in turn, will use the profits to purchase books for our local library or for a children’s literacy project.

Reading Tip: Engaging Children in Books Through Beautiful (or, in my case, awful) Song

Aaaaand now for the newest song by morebooksmama co-author, LUKE!  WOOOOO! YEAH!  ROCK OUT, LUKE!

Sung to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star:

Mama cannot sing a lick.

She sounds like a duck that’s sick.

Dada’s voice is even worse.

He can’t sing a single verse.

I still like it when they try.

‘Cause singing makes words dance and fly.

Thank you, thank you very much!

I love music, and I know that I’m not alone.  Most kids love singing songs and dancing to music.  My Mama knows this, too, so one of the things that she enjoys doing is using music to make books more interesting.  She goes about integrating music in a few different ways:

1) She uses familiar songs to sing books that aren’t musical: My favorite example of this one is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle.  We sing the words to Twinkle, Twinkle.  Setting the words to music helps to emphasize their rhythmic nature and makes them more appealing.

2) She finds books that have songs built into the text: Many of my favorite books have music written into the stories.  Mama enjoys making up her own tunes, but there are also recordings of many of the books online.  Sometimes music plays a big role, as in Perfect Piggies!by Sandra Boynton, where the book is a song, and Goodnight Songs: Illustrated by Twelve Award-Winning Picture Book Artists by Margaret Wise Brown, which is a compilation of lullabies.  Other times music complements the words, as in Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin and Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas.  Still other times, as in Red Ted and the Lost Things by Michael Rosen and Joel Stewart and Belly Button Book (Boynton on Board)by Sandra Boynton, music plays a minor role but helps me hook into the book.

3) She makes up tunes for books that don’t have any music in them: These books are always rhythmic to begin with, and then inspiration hits Mama and she just starts making up melodies.  Books that I might otherwise lose interest in become more engaging and I’m hooked.  My two favorite examples of this type are The Man from the Land of Fandango by Margaret Mahy and Polly Dunbar and Where, Oh Where Is Huggle Buggle Bear? (Picture Books Large) by Katherine Sully and Janet Samuel.

My parents truly cannot sing, so do not feel shy about belting out a melody–your kids will love the books you read all the more!

Happy reading!

–Luke, blog co-author (age 3.5)

 

Books suitable for babies: Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?, Perfect Piggies!, Goodnight Songs

Books suitable for toddlers: Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, Belly Button Book, Where, Oh Where is Huggle Buggle Bear?

Books suitable for preschoolers: Red Ted and the Lost Things, Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy, The Man from the Land of Fandango

Luke’s 11 Favorite Books for New Readers

Hi there!  It’s Luke (blog co-author, age 3.5).

New readers are a special breed: we are older than babies yet younger than school kids.  We’re in the middle, and our books need to be the same way.  We can read baby books, but the subject matter is too infantile.  We want to read chapter books for school kids, but our reading level isn’t quite there.  Here are a few books that I’ve found that do a good job of meeting us half way.  They are listed from simplest to most complex.  Also, even if your child isn’t quite ready to read independently, these books still make great read alouds with a parent–it’s how they started for me!  Enjoy!

   The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain: With only a few words on each page, a generous dose of repetition, and a spoooooky storyline, this book is really fun to read.  My favorite parts are when the bears get the shivers–Mama likes to hug me and make me shake along with them!

   Come Back, Ben (I Like to Read®) by Ann Hassett and John Hassett: Another book with very simple text, lots of repetition to help new readers feel successful, and a delightful storyline.  Ben’s balloon takes him for a ride, and as he travels up and up and up, objects like a window, a tree, and a mountain plead, “Come back, Ben!”  Illustrations are simple, yet full of expression.  The ending is a nice surprise, too.  Cute book!

   I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! (Beginner Books) by Dr. Seuss: This book was my Mama’s favorite book when she was a kid (Jake the Snake and Foo Foo the Snoo were her favorite characters).  This is a classic that uses a wide variety of words, but they are everyday words that new readers will quickly learn to recognize.  My favorite page is the one with all of the signs at the end of the book–I love to play “can you find” with the signs (click on the “can you find” link to see a description of the game)!

   You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Stories to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman and Michael Emberley:  This book is one in a series of books that directly facilitates partner reading.  Different colored text makes it easy to alternate readers, and the stories are very short yet high interest.  “I Like” is my favorite story!

   I’m a Frog! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems: As I wrote in my Mo Willems post, he is a children’s book genius.  All of the Elephant and Piggie books are hilarious, but they are also absolutely perfect for beginning readers: very few words on the page; simple, kid-friendly story lines; and exaggerated text that helps new readers get a feel for inflection.  And they are hilarious–oh, I already said that.  It bears repeating!

   The Big Honey Hunt, 50th Anniversary Edition (The Berenstain Bears) by Stan and Jan Berenstain: Brynn and I both like this book (although she can’t read quite yet).  The reason?  A bee.  A buzzing bee.  That Papa Bear and Baby Bear follow throughout the entire story as Papa Bear  attempts to show Baby Bear how to collect honey (and fails…over and over and over again in most hilarious fashion).  Nice repetition, fun rhyme and rhythm, and easy sight words make this book a good one for beginners.  Buzzzzzzzzz!

   The Big Wet Balloon: TOON Level 2 by Liniers: I’ve recently become interested in these TOON books–basically comic books for little kids.  Not all of them are very good, but I really liked this one (we borrowed it from the library for about twelve weeks!).  Two sisters, about five and two and a half years old, find all kinds of fun things to do on a rainy day.  The big sister is clearly in charge, and she does a great job teaching her sister Clemmy all about puddles and umbrellas and rainbows.  The relationship between the characters is fantastic, and the illustrations are very expressive.

   Hi! Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold: The Fly Guy books are technically chapter books, but the chapters are very short, more divided in order to be called “chapter books” than for any structural or story telling reason.  Fly Guy is a pet fly, and he can say his owner’s name, Buzz.  Buzz and Fly Guy go on all kinds of adventures, usually smelly, gross, and involving garbage or road kill, but they’re also funny.  Really!  These books are great!  Simple words, short sentences, and quick-moving, big-kid action are all appealing for the slightly older beginning reader (kindergarten).

  Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman and Betsy Lewin: The books in this series are also chapter books, and they ARE divided into chapters for a reason.  The chapters are all linked (but not necessarily chronological) in order to tell a longer story, thus making the stories more involved with more character development.  Words and sentences are more advanced than the Fly Guy series, too.  Cowgirl Kate is a spunky girl whose horse is her best friend.  Cocoa is a character who gets into all kinds of mischief and plays tricks on Kate.  Their interactions are quite amusing!

   Buster & Phoebe: The Great Bone Game by Lisze Bechtold: There is a book before this one, Buster, and although I liked Buster, I really really really like Buster & Phoebe (Mama actually bought this book for me since we checked it out of the library so many times).  This book is also a chapter book, and while the chapters are linked by a common theme (bones!), they are actually mini stories.  Phoebe is the older dog, and she is selfish, greedy, and all about tricking Buster into giving up his bones.  She’s hilarious.  And Buster, well, he’s the younger dog, and while he’s trusting and gullible, he’s also smart and gives Phoebe a run for her money.  Their interactions are laugh-out-loud funny, and the illustrations perfectly capture Phoebe’s slyness and Buster’s innocence.  Great book!

   Pinky Dinky Doo: Where Are My Shoes? (Pinky Dinky Doo Series) by Jim Jinkins: Pinky Dinky Doo is a storyteller.  She makes up crazy stories for her little brother. In this book, everyone shows up to school with a different kind of food on their feet because they can’t find their shoes.  Within the stories you will find zany multiple choice questions, a few big words (Mr. G., Pinky’s pet guinea pig, looks up the definitions), a longer story with longer sentences, and a kid-friendly plot.  Probably best for slightly older readers (kindergarten or first grade).

Happy reading!

-Luke, blog co-author (age 3.5)

Clicking on the book will take you to Amazon.com, and if you decide to buy the book, a portion of your purchase comes back to me.  I, in turn, will use the profits to purchase books for our local library or for a children’s literacy project.