I’ve just signed up to bring treats to my daughter’s class for Valentine’s Day, and am mulling over the depressing instructions in BOLD on the top of the page: “no nuts, everything store-bought and in its original packaging.” No homemade rice-krispie treats with red sugar and heart sprinkles, no beautiful cupcakes with a fluffy dollop of from-scratch buttercream frosting? I realize, however, that the treats are not the point of Valentine’s Day, and as we head toward the car, I think this may be a good teaching moment.
“Did you know Valentine’s Day is in February? Do you remember what Valentine’s Day is?” I ask my five-year old. “Sure,” she shrugs. “It’s about hearts. Can we make some hearts?” I am familiar with her stream-of-consciousness responses, so I steer back to the topic at hand. “Well, yes. It’s about hearts. But do you know why we celebrate Valentine’s?” “LOVE!” she shouts enthusiastically. “We celebrate our love.” “That’s right!” I say proudly. “We celebrate the love we have for others, like our family. Like the way Daddy and I love you.”
“How do you know someone loves you?” she asks.
“Well, one of the ways Daddy shows his love for you is by getting up really early every morning–even when he doesn’t want to–to go to work so he can take care of you.”
My daughter is silent for a moment, thinking about this. “Or like the way Adam loves me. You know, because he shares his dinosaurs with me, and we play dinosaurs together a lot. He’s really fun.”
It’s true. It’s much easier for a younger child to see love in concrete, tangible ways, like when a friend shares a favorite toy, or when I let my two-year old lick the beaters (“You’re my best friend, Mama,” she told me last week, after one such occasion). But it’s those intangible, seemingly mundane, daily tasks that slowly, but indelibly, etch our love on the hearts of those we care for. I don’t expect my five-year old to notice these things–and there are some things she simply can’t understand until she becomes a caretaker. Last week, after she had contracted a stomach bug in the middle of the night, I looked up from scrubbing the carpet to see my husband carefully washing her sheets out in the tub. We looked at each other and laughed out loud, “Wow, this is love.”
We don’t want or expect thanks for this, but simply want our little girl to feel–and expect–that invisible safety net of love.
February’s featured title, Bunny, My Honey, by Anita Jeram, is the tender, simply told tale of a mother’s unconditional love for her little one. Mother Rabbit teaches Bunny all those important rabbity things, like running and hopping, digging and twitching, and the right way to thump his great, big feet. Bunny plays with his two best friends, Miss Mouse and Little Duckling, and if a game ends in tears, “as games sometimes do,” Mommy Rabbit is there to comfort and cuddle.
But when Bunny becomes lost deep in the woods one day, he suddenly realizes just how much he needs his mommy. Mommy Rabbit isn’t long in finding Bunny, and they are joyfully reunited: she presses her nose to his and reminds him of her love.
You or your reader may recognize Ms. Jeram’s adorable watercolor illustrations from the popular Guess How Much I Love You? or All Together Now. When you BookChat, ask little ones if they can spot the concerned-looking owl or the tiny snail that is hidden among the leaves on some of the pages. Use the story’s comforting message–”I’ll always be there for you”–to reassure a toddler who fears the dark, or discuss with an older reader the ever-important subject of what to do if he is ever lost.
Special thanks to Candlewick Press for making Bunny, My Honey available to you and your honey bunny to read for free during the month of February.
Happy Valentine’s Day and happy reading,
Dear Readeo Friends,
One of my favorite children”s book additions this month is a sweet and heartwarming story, Puppy is Lost, by one of Readeo’s most popular authors, Harriet Ziefert. When Max discovers that Puppy is missing, readers immediately empathize with him as he calls Puppy home for dinner, searches high and low, and finally walks home, dejected and worried. We’re also treated to the apprehensive thought bubbles of little Puppy, lost and confused, as she wanders about the city. The vivid, high-octane collage-style illustrations from Noah Woods reinforce the feelings and textures of the busy city. Read what happens when Max and Puppy get the same great idea to go back to where they last saw one another.
Another new addition, Oops! by Leo Timmers, is full of mishaps (this time self-inflicted) when Piggy decides to brave the sledding hill alone despite Mommy and Daddy’s warnings. Readers of all ages will enjoy the funny illustrations of Piggy narrowly missing penguins in goofy hats, alligators in ski sweaters, and vultures on an expedition, all the while learning about the concepts of “around,” over,” “under,” and “between.” Who will Piggy meet when he reaches the bottom with a crash?
In two new additions for older readers, Grin and Bear It and Bear in Pink Underwear, we meet two little bears who are faced with big problems. The bear in Grin and Bear It by Leo Landry has a bad case of stage fright when he attempts to perform onstage, and believes his dreams of stand-up comedy are over. And the star of Bear in Pink Underwear, by Todd H. Doodler, finds that his lucky underwear have been dyed pink in an unfortunate laundry mishap! But online pokies with determination, and with a little help from their friends, both bears find a way to fulfill their goals (in soccer and elsewhere…) If your reader enjoys Bear in Pink Underwear, check out Bear’s other silly undergarment adventures in Bear in Long Underwear, as well as the original Bear in Underwear, also found in the Readeo library.
In our final new book, mistakes and mishaps do happen, even if you’re the best-behaved, most polite fairy at Fairy School. In My Little Troublemaker by Thierry Robberecht and Philippe Goosens, a little fairy finds herself doing all sorts of naughty things in response to an unkind classmate. As the story unfolds, readers learn that even perfect fairies can have bad days, and children and adults alike must choose to curb their rash impulses.
We have lots of great new books to share with you, so please check back soon for a post about even more additions to enjoy with your loved ones this month.
Please share your thoughts about our new additions–and especially the reactions of your little readers!–on our Facebook page. I’d love to hear from you!
We’re sitting down to a delivery pizza dinner–a meal about which I feel an inordinate amount of guilt. Not, as you might assume, because of the calories represented by the pepperoni swimming in greasy cheese, but because we very rarely had pizza when I was a child. And I mean rarely as in, my mother was suffering from the stomach flu, and literally couldn’t get out of bed to prepare her usual fare, such as 10-vegetable whole wheat pasta. Or zucchini pie. This kind of diet also ruled out such childhood delicacies as Mac n’ Cheese, Lucky Charms, and Twinkies. As a kid, I fantasized about eating Jiffy peanut butter on white bread while I struggled to re-integrate the layer of oil that separates from 100% natural peanut butter. And like most kids my age, pizza was number one on my favorite foods list.
So, needless to say, I was nonplussed by my 5-year old daughter moodily picking at her pizza. “Is something wrong?” her dad asks. “I just want some icecream,” she says. “There will be no icecream until you eat your pizza, young lady!” I declare. Wow. Did that just come out of my mouth? Almost as good as my earlier doozie, “Stop cleaning up right now and put your shoes on!”
Though my statements sound wrongheaded, it’s the underlying principles that I’m trying to teach (i.e., “dinner before dessert”, and “listen to your mother the first time”); it’s that universal struggle to get the kids you love to do what you think is best for them.
This universal struggle extends even to the animal kingdom in this month’s featured book, Little Hoot, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and illustrated by Jen Corace. You and your reader will laugh your way through this unexpected tale about Little Hoot, a happy little owl who enjoys school, playing with his friends, and even minds his mother when it’s time for “pondering practice.” Yet, like all little ones, he does not like bedtime–but for a very different reason than most: “All my other friends get to go to bed so much earlier than me! Why do I always have to stay up and play? It’s not fair!”
Children will enjoy the lovely, yet simple, line drawings and the comic-book-style bubbles revealing Little Hoot’s thoughts. As you BookChat, ask younger readers if they can find four forest friends playing hide-n-seek with Little Hoot, or to point out Little Hoot’s favorite nighttime blankie throughout the book. Older readers will enjoy the ironic reversal of roles as Mama and Papa Owl pull out the familiar stall tactics like “One more story!” and “One more glass of water!” Talk about the stall tactics you used when you were a kid, or ask your readers what they’ll let their kids do when they’re grown-up.
As an extra bonus, you might find that the reverse psychology actually works! Little Hoot’s constant pleas for a little shut-eye and the final relief of his cozy bed may tempt your little night owl into dreamland.
Special thanks to Chronicle Books for making Little Hoot available to lull your loved ones to sleep during the month of January.
If you love Little Hoot, don’t miss Rosenthal and Corace’s other endearing books, Little Pea and Little Oink, also available in the Readeo library!
Days after Thanksgiving, as I drove through our neighborhood with my two little girls, ages 5 and 2, they pointed out the cheerful houses decorated with white twinkly lights, the red and green wreaths and candy cane lawn ornaments, the animatronic deer bending their heads to nibble at the ground, the blow-up penguins, snowmen, and Santas. My two-year old sighed heavily as she looked out the window. “Mom? See the Christmas? Our house is NOT Christmas.”
It’s true. Though I actually remembered to replace my Halloween wreath with a harvest-themed one, I can hardly believe it’s time to replace it with an evergreen. I’ve gone from raising my eyebrow at our ambitious neighbor hanging lights in August to fearing I’ll be dangling from the side of the house on December 21st, stringing lights in 20 degree weather.
No, our house is not Christmas. Yet. But I remembered the sage advice from Buddy, the lovable character from the movie, “Elf”: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” Thanks to the local radio station that begins playing Christmas music the day after Halloween, I cranked up the stereo and we all felt a little more Christmas.
So, to get us all in the spirit of the season, we are featuring a book that takes its title from the well-known, much-loved Christmas song, “Jingle Bells.” In Iza Trapani’s version, Jingle Bells begins traditionally with laughing happily through snow-covered fields, but then takes us on a magic ride around the world for a peek at the celebrations in other cultures. Your little reader will enjoy Trapani’s warm, colorful illustrations of the Polish family dining by candlelight and the smiling faces of the children in Kenya, the Phillippines, and Italy. Older readers will enjoy reading Trapani’s postscript, which explains more fully the traditions highlighted throughout the book. As you BookChat, discuss how your family traditions compare with those in the book or favorite customs you remember from your childhood.
And don’t be surprised if you and your readers spontaneously burst into song between verses (who can resist singing the chorus of “Jingle Bells”?). Whether your lights are hung or you’re still waiting to deck the halls, reading (and singing!) together is the perfect way to be Christmas with those you love.
Special thanks to Charlesbridge for making Jingle Bells available to read with your loved ones throughout the holiday season.
Don’t miss three NEW holiday additions to the Readeo library:
Log in today or sign up for a free guest account to read our other holiday books, including:
- Angela and the Baby Jesus, by Frank McCourt
- Auntie Claus: Home for the Holidays, by Elise Primavera
- Bear’s First Christmas, by Robert Kinerk, illustrated by Jim LaMarche
- The Child in the Manger, by Liesbet Slegers
- The Christmas Baby, by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey
- Christmas Delicious, by Lyn Loates, illustrated by Mark Jones
- Great Joy, by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
- Hanukkah Haiku, by Harriet Ziefert
- Ho, Ho, Ho Tucker, by Leslie McGuirk
- The Little Matchstick Girl, by Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Debbie Lavreys
- The Little Red Elf, by Barbara Barbieri McGrath, illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet
- Looking for Christmas, by Peggy van Gurp
- Maisy’s Snowy Christmas Eve, by Lucy Cousins
- Olivia Helps with Christmas, by Ian Falconer
- Snow! Snow! Snow!, by Lee Harper
- Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star, by Petr Horacek
- Winter Trees, by Carole Gerber, illustrated by Leslie Evans
Happy reading–and happy holidays to you and yours,
Dear Readeo Friends,
This month, we add four new books: three that star furry and finned creatures, and one book about an imaginative little girl named Lola.
In Lola Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw, Lola goes to the library with her father each Saturday to check out books. Each new story inspires her to use her imagination to become a fairy princess, a pilot who travels to far-off places, or a farmer taking care of her animals. See if your little reader notices the homage to a very famous children’s book on the last page.
In Bunny’s Lessons by Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Barroux, we learn alongside Bunny, the stuffed companion of a boy named Charlie. Bunny learns not only about concepts like the “loud” sound of the tuba, but also about emotions (like feeling lonely when Charlie goes to school). Perhaps you’ll notice Harriet Ziefert’s signature humor from her books There Was a Little Girl, She Had a Little Curl and the Posey books, just to name a few.
Another fun creature book, Wiggle Like an Octopus! by Caldecott Medalist Simms Taback, introduces a group of creatures as they swim, slither and otherwise make their way to the beach. You may recognize Simms Taback’s artwork from his other books in our Readeo Library, Mommies and Babies, as well as 1 2 3 and 4 5 6.
A perfect pairing with Mommies and Babies is another new addition, Daddies and Their Babies from best-selling Belgian author Guido Van Genechten. The stimulating, high-contrast illustrations teach babies and toddlers about the names of various baby animals, from the tiny “fish daddy” and his “baby fry” to the huge “daddy rhinoceros” and his “baby calf.” Check out his other books in our Readeo library, including the Ricky series, The Big Sleep Book and The Big Baby Book, as well as Look at That! Farm Animals and Look at That! Wild Animals.
Log in to share these fantastic new books with the children you love, and please let me know what you think of our new additions on our Facebook page. I love hearing from you!
With all my best,
Follow us on
In The News
Book of the Month