Archive of ‘KidLit’ category

Review: Ivy and Bean

From Goodreads: The moment they saw each other, Bean and Ivy knew they wouldn’t be friends. But when Bean plays a joke on her sister, Nancy, and has to hide quickly, Ivy comes to the rescue, proving that sometimes the best of friends are people never meant to like each other. Vibrant characters and lots of humor make this a charming and addictive introduction to Ivy and Bean.

Erin’s (and Charlotte’s and Evelyn’s) Thoughts: Charlotte and Evelyn got a boxed set of the first three books in this series for Christmas. At five years old, these are beyond their current reading level, but we have been having a blast reading them out loud over the past few weeks.  In fact, we’ve loved them so much that we’ve read each of the first three books twice AND books four through six once.

Evelyn says, “I love Ivy and Bean because they’re silly. My favorite part is the squid costumes. Those are so crazy!”

Charlotte says, “I love Ivy and Bean because they are friends. I love when they are squids in book 6!”

Since the girls pulled Ivy and Bean off of the shelf a couple of weeks ago, we haven’t read anything else. I love their imaginations, adventures, and friendship. I have seen a lot of criticism about the level of name calling and naughtiness in the books, but honestly it hasn’t bothered me. There is definitely a fair amount of name-calling, but Ivy and Bean are in second grade. Second graders love to call each other names, and I use the name-calling as an opportunity to talk about why we shouldn’t call people “potato heads.” Bean and Ivy get into some shenanigans for sure, and Bean is often the instigator, but again I find this to be pretty true to second-grade behavior.  With all read alouds, you may want to preview the the text first to make sure it’s a good fit for your family.  I can safely say, though, that Ivy and Bean will be part of our family reading time for quite some time!

Andrea’s first quarter 2015 wrap up

Recap: my list of reading goals included

Reading more physical books, non-fiction, the Dark Tower and Narnia series… etc etc. for a total of 52 books (including the 26 book challenge for Bringing Up Burns)


How did I do through March 31?

So far I’ve read 14 books in 2015, so I’m 2 ahead of schedule per Goodreads.! This does include a re-read of The Sea of Tranquility, but I don’t even care. If you’ve never read that, stop what you’re doing and READ.IT.NOW. If you HAVE read it, you know what I’m talking about and you’ve already abandoned this post in favor of rereading it.

Five of the 14 have been ebooks, and four have been “real” books.  That means I’ve only listened to 5 audio books so far this year.

I’m currently listening to Wolves of the Calla, so I’m on book 5 of 7 of the Dark Tower series. The narrator on the audio is different beginning with book 5, but it’s still enjoyable. Basically it’s like going from Brad Pitt to…Leo? vice versa? Equally good but no reason to change in the first place.

Narnia has been on hold for some time, so maybe I’ll pick it back up with Megan; maybe I won’t this year. We’ve read Book 1 in the past, and she is only 5 and missing some of the context, so I’m not holding myself to this particular goal. (even though I’d *like* to meet it)

As far as the 26 book challenge goes…I’m obviously on track with it but haven’t really assigned any titles to specific categories since January. I’d like to do that soon, but it takes more energy than this momma has at the eleventh hour.

How are your reading goals progressing? Any titles I just have to read?

Erin’s February Favorites

I’ve been missing in action around here for all of February.  Don’t worry, I’m still reading my little heart out, but work has been crazy and writing papers for class has led me to neglect posting!  I couldn’t decide on one title to share with you today, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites from February so far.


Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi — So far 2015 has been a year of reading strange books, and this gem is certainly no exception.  I’m honestly not even sure how to describe the plot to you.  It’s one of those books you get swept up in, but also aren’t really sure which end is up.  The writing is gorgeous and the characters are fascinating.  It’s dark, lovely, gruesome at times, and completely strange.


Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel — You might think you are getting tired of the post-apocalyptic craze, but this is one you don’t want to miss.  This book is just stunning, and the stories weave together beautifully.  I was in a happy book fog for days after reading it and didn’t want to pick up anything else.


El Deafo by Cece Bell — This is a middle-grade graphic novel that I devoured in one sitting.  If you’ve never dipped into the graphic novel genre, this would be an awesome place to start.  It’s a genre that really taking off for kidlit. This is a sweet, funny, touching story about Cece’s real-life childhood experiences with hearing loss.  It does an amazing job of showing what it’s like to be a kid with hearing loss.  Loved this one.


Always Emily by Michaela MacColl — While this fictional tale of Charlotte and Emily Bronte didn’t blow me away, it was quite charming and I enjoyed reading it.  MacColl did a nice job of weaving historical facts about the Bronte family in with her mysterious tale.  Lots of fun to read.

What have been some of your favorite reads this month?


Imagination, adventure, magic & friends


Goodreads isn’t just good for your own personal book records and recommendations, but it’s also one of my favorite ways to find new books to read with ETC. It’s hard for me to browse in the library with kids in tow, and with our library having so many branches, it’s easiest to find and request books before I ever step foot in the door.

Beekle is a great book about imaginary friends, which I never had as a kid, but I’ve always found the idea charming. I may have gotten this with the hopes that we’d find an imaginary friend lurking about our lives. It hasn’t happened. Yet.

Sam & Dave not only go on a great adventure that’s great for getting kids to think and imagine while inspires getting their hands dirty, but the illustrations are hilarious with suspension. You can see what they’re digging near/around, and ETC were eager for them to finally find the diamonds buried deep in the ground.

Foxy in Love was a book I cold-grabbed off the Valentine’s Day shelf, and I’m so glad I did! It’s a cute discussion about what things we love, but Foxy and Emily are an adorable duo also that have another book about them. I’m currently on the hold list for the other book.

Little Elliot is an ADORABLE little elephant who really illustrates what it’s like to be a little guy in a big world. The lesson at the end is sweet, and the illustrations in the book are so fun to look through.

Dojo Daycare feeds Toby’s “minja” fascination. The book’s rhyming and recurring “Kaboom! Kapow!” exclamations are really fun to read through with kids, and the ninja focus on rules and respect is just awesome for wild, rule-testing 4-year-olds.


Raising Readers: The Ask Me Series and other kid stuff!

In honor of my darling girl’s FIFTH birthday today, I decided to share a few of Megan’s new favorite books. She’s been reading for about 6 months now, and she’s really devouring everything she can get her hands on. Her aunt found a (sadly, seemingly untouched) series at a kids’ stuff sale and snagged it for Christmas: The Ask Me series. It’s a collection of 12  books, covering topics from science to ancient history.Here’s the best pic of 10 of the titles I could find on the internet:


Sooo. I was so excited to tell you all about them, but a quick Google search reveals that these books are extremely hard to find. They are like the unicorns of awesome books for kids. They are available from Southwestern Advantage and they are basically kid-friendly encyclopedias. These books are awesome. Most recently, we have read the one titled “Do I have bendy bones?” because Megan is fairly obsessed with anything anatomy after getting this book:

(Side note- this book is extra awesome because each part of the body (beginning with a clear shell for the skin) lifts up to reveal the next one. Even I learned some things from this one)

I’m very excited that she is showing such an interest in science, (I wasn’t keen on it in school, but hey- maybe she’ll grow up to be a doctor!) I also like how the Ask Me book addressed the whole how-babies-grow-in-utero deal without getting into the actual conception of the cells. I’m really excited to keep reading this series with her- I have a feeling the space book is up next!

What books have your kids discovered lately? Any good recs for a curious kid?



Review: BEEKLE

From GoodreadsThis magical story begins on an island far away where an imaginary friend is born. He patiently waits his turn to be chosen by a real child, but when he is overlooked time and again, he sets off on an incredible journey to the bustling city, where he finally meets his perfect match and-at long last-is given his special name: Beekle.

Erin’s Thoughts: First, just watch this book trailer:

That trailer conveys exactly the feelings I have while reading this stunning, magical, charming picture book.  Dan Santat has created the most lovely story about an imaginary friend waiting to be imaged.  This story is full of hope, adventure, and friendship — everything you want in a story for children (and adults) with breathtaking illustrations.  This is a book you want on your bookshelves to sit alongside Where the Wild Things Are.  To be pulled out and read again and again.  Pure picture book magic!

Story Time or Screen Time: Why Not Both?

If you know me at all, it’s no secret that I’m something of a technoholic.  I love my devices and gadgets and the world they open up for me.  As a teacher and a parent, I also love the world that technology can open up for children.  Of course, there is always the great screen time debate.  How much is too much?  Should children use screens at all?  Are screens especially dangerous for our youngest learners?

I’ve seen this article pop up in my social media feeds over and over this past week: Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time?  Since books and technology are two of my favorite things, I was curious.  Truthfully, I was a little disappointed in the article, but not at all surprised by the content.  We tend to throw around the term “screen time” and consider it damaging to young children.  The problem is, screen time can mean anything from vegging out in front of the TV to skyping with your grandma who lives across the country.  It can be playing Candy Crush, or it can be building your own digital game.  If we are going to recognize the dangers of screen time, I think we need to also recognize the benefits.  Being digital doesn’t make something inherently bad.  When it comes to ebooks, it’s not about paper vs. device, but about how you engage with each.

The question shouldn’t be if ebooks and digital content are bad for kids, but rather how we use them and when they are developmentally appropriate.  Just like there is a best practices way and a not-as-best-practices way to read paper books with your child, the same holds true for reading digital content with your child.  For example, leave a non-reader alone with a pile of books and offer no interaction or guidance, he might enjoy looking at the books, but not much else will happen.  It’s highly unlikely that he would learn to read.  The same is true for digital books.  If you leave your child alone with an ebook or an app, he will probably enjoy it, but he probably won’t develop literacy skills.  The magic happens in the interaction.

Several of the concerns that the article highlights are not about the ebooks, but about the interaction.  Yes, when using an app parents often say, “Stop!  Wait!  Don’t touch that yet.”  However, while reading paper books, parents also say, “Stop!  Wait!  Don’t turn the page.”  Again, it’s not the format of the content that is the concern.  It’s the interaction.  Early literacy is meant to be a dialogue between the parent and child.  If your child is sitting in your lap, it you are turning the page (or swiping) together, if you are pointing out pictures, words, and letters, if you are asking and answering questions…that’s literacy.  Paper or digital shouldn’t matter.  Now, if your child can’t focus on any of those things because of sounds or fun things to push, than this probably isn’t the best approach to literacy for your child.  In that case, it would not be developmentally appropriate.  If your child can focus and engage with you and digital content, though…then why not?  You know your child best!

As much as I love ebooks, apps, and digital content of all kinds, I’m not suggesting that readings ebooks would be the only way you would read with your child.  I also wouldn’t suggest that playing on your iPad should be the only way you play with your child.  You need to consider the content, the possible interaction level, and what works for your child.  I do think, though, that we need to recognize that ebooks are another way for us to interact with books.  Our world is changing rapidly, and reading is going to change with it.  In fact, it already has.  There are new literacy skills that children (and adults) will need to learn and embrace in our increasingly digital world.  We cannot simply condemn digital media as bad for young children and isolate them from it.  It’s simply not possible, nor is it appropriate.  Instead, we need to find the ways to use digital content in a way that is developmentally appropriate to meet the needs of our young learners.  To that end, there are some amazing resources on the use of digital media with young children:

No matter how you are reading with your child, remember It’s about the content,  the interaction, and the individual child.

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