Monday, April 30, 2012

Another Dozen ABC Books Plus One More

What fun these posts about ABC books have been! I have to admit that I couldn't stop at a dozen this week! I met Willow Bascom this weekend and loved her book, Paisley Pig, so much I had to sneak it in. 

Brian Wildsmith’s ABC by Brian Wildsmith
This is a very basic ABC book, but because it’s by Brian Wildsmith, it's filled with gorgeous illustrations. If I could be an illustrator, I’d like to be Brian Wildsmith.

What Pete Ate from A-Z by Maira Kalman
Pete has a wild appetite. He starts with Nico's accordion and works his way through the alphabet. The pictures are quite detailed, following Pete from letter to letter. Many dog owners will understand!

Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, illustrated by Paul Zelinsky
Zebra is putting together an ABC book but his friend Moose keeps butting in (love his appearance in Kangaroo’s pouch!). All goes reasonably well until Zebra features Mouse on the M page. This is a really funny book.

Many Nations: An Alphabet of Native America by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Robert F. Goetzl [Sorry, no link available.]
This is a beautiful book. Each letter shows either one of the nations of Native America (Iroquois, Navaho, Shinnecock…) or an important symbol or idea (eagle, visions…). The paintings are ones you want to spend time with.

The Turn-Around, Upside-Down Alphabet Book by Lisa Campbell Ernst
I love clever books and this is a very clever book. Each letter becomes three different objects as the book is turned different directions. A becomes a bird's beak, K is a picnic table, Q is a magnifying glass. Try as I might, I couldn’t see most of the images until I read the caption. And then… obvious!

Alphabet Mystery by Audrey Wood and Bruce Wood
Another clever book! All the letters discover that Little x is missing. They hop on a flying pencil and track him down to a castle. Oh no! Giant M plans to put them all in an alphabet soup! How will they escape?

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert
This is a classic. It tells the story of what happens when the whole alphabet tries to climb a coconut tree. It BEGS to be read aloud. If you can track down an audio version of Ray Charles reading it, get it – pure magic!

We’re All in the Same Boat by Zachary Shapiro, illustrated y Jack E. Davis
Ever wondered what happened aboard Noah’s Ark after floating around for a few months? Well… this author has some ideas. At first the ants were antsy, the dogs were demanding, the voles were vexed… Until, that is, Noah hollered, “We’re all in the same boat!” Things began to change after that. The giraffes made gifts, the orangutans organized their toys…

Z Goes Home by Jon Agee [Sorry no link available.]
Everybody has a job to do, and so does the letter Z. But when the workday's done, Z goes home. Not only does each page have a picture showing a letter, the picture is the letter: an E-shaped earthquake, an M-shaped mirror… And Z is checking out each one.

B is for Bulldozer by June Sobel, illustrated by Melissa Iwai
This is great book for construction and heavy machinery enthusiasts. Each picture gives wonderful opportunities to guess what is representing the letter. The final construction is pretty great, too.

The Hidden Alphabet by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Clever, clever, clever! First you see a box in the middle of the page, with a labeling word (arrowhead, balloons, cloud). Then lift the flap and the original picture becomes the space of the letter. It’s easier to see than explain!

Click, Clack, Quackity-Quack: An Alphabetical Adventure by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
If you are a fan of Click, Clack Moo: Cows That Type, (like me!) you'll like this book. The cows on Farmer Brown's farm are typing again. The animals are all heading somewhere. But where? You'll find out at the end of the book...

Paisley Pig & Friends: A Multicultural ABC by Willow Bascom
This is a very cool book. Besides being beautiful, it's perfect for guessing what's in the illustration to represent the letter. Fortunately, the author includes a list at the end of the book. Tricky!

Here's the idea I told you about last week:
My friend Patricia Newman is an author of kid's books [check out her guest post]. She also has a blog and on her blog she has a special contest for kids. It's called Kids on KidLitIf you go to her site you can read all the details but basically you just:
  • Read a Book
  • Write a book review
  • Send it to her
Do this and she will:
  • Publish your book review on her blog (very cool!)
  • Enter your name to win a book - she gives away one book every month. (also cool!)
So why am I telling you about this today? I think reviewing a bunch of ABC books would be great. Patricia doesn't care how many reviews you write, so read and review!

Don't forget to add your ABC favorites to the Comments Box for the next time I post about them. Thanks!

Friday, April 27, 2012

ABC Crafts to Boost Creativity

Here is a collection of crafts using letters and your creativity.

Find some rocks. Paint them. Paint letters on them. Make your name! Create a message!

This looks like it would be hard but fun!

Every refrigerator needs letters for writing secret messages!

There are no real directions here but the basic idea is to use leaves and parts of leaves to create ABC (or any other kind) pictures. Looks like fun.

Try fishing for the letters in your name. Or you can fish for letters until you can spell a word.


I hope you had fun with these. Did you think up any new ABC activities? Write them in the Comments Box!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Promoting Literacy with ABC Books

I love alphabet books. I love them as literary works, engaging introductions to the alphabet, sources of great humor and writing sparks. There is no age limit to ABC books. As a teacher, I used them kindergarten through fifth grade – you just have to look around to see which books appeal to you.

Monday’s post offered a dozen books to explore. Next Monday will have a dozen more. But today I’m telling you about 3 more that missed my attention when I was compiling the other lists. I’ll use them as models for how to get the most fun out of whatever ABC book you’re reading.

Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss
My favorite thing to do with ABC books is to guess what is on the page that represents the featured letter. I do this whether or not I have a young reader with me! For the youngest kids, this gives essential opportunities to experience beginning sounds. As kids get older, they get to be detectives, searching the page for possibilities.
Dr. Seuss’s ABC is a perfect book for younger kids and older readers. It has the delightful prose of Dr. Seuss, plus lots of pictures on each letter page to discover beginning letter sounds. One other benefit of this book – the words are relatively easy to cover up so you can search for the letter pictures in the illustrations. Be aware: this book has some challenging pictures! For example, on the letter D page, who can find all these d-words? Doughnuts, dream, dozen, duck-dog. For family fun, take turns being the one-in-the-know.

Creature abc by Andrew Zuckerman
This is a beautiful and fun book. Although each letter is usually represented by only one animal, the photographs are gorgeous and sometimes you only see a part of the animal (chameleon tail, elephant leg, vulture wing…) before you turn the page.

 Q is for Duck: An Alphabet Guessing game by Mary Elting and Michael Folsom, illustrated by Jack Kent
Oh, how I wish I’d seen this book when I was teaching! It is so clever, all my students would have loved it. The title tells it all – it is definitely a guessing book. After picking it up at the library, I didn’t even start the car until I’d read the whole thing. Not that I guessed everything. The book starts with A is for ZOO. Why? [next page] Because… Animals live in the Zoo. Some of the letters are fairly easy to guess, but some draw on your knowledge of animals.

These books are excellent models for creating your own ABC books. This is how I go about creating ABC books with kids:
  • Read lots of ABC books.
  • Brainstorm ideas for pictures that represent each letter. If your child is older, don't go too crazy with this. You want him to be clever with his own ideas and not give all of them away.
  • Decide if this will be one family book or individual books.
  • Decide what kind of book you want to create.
    • A basic one-picture-for-each-letter book.
    • A basic one-picture-for-each-letter book, all of the same category (animals, vehicles, dinosaurs...) This is a great opportunity to indulge in a passion.
    • A many-pictures-for-each-letter book, either any category or a single one. This a chance to be quite clever, hiding pictures to be discovered.
    • Q is for Duck type book in which a characteristic of an animal (vehicle, food...) represents the letter. I've never tried this, but I can think of kids who would've loved this project.
  • Decide on the format.
    • A simple picture with letter and label, one per page.
    • A picture and letter on one page, with the label on the next page (makes guessing easier).
    • Several pictures on a page with the letter, with labels on the next page.
    • Letter and part of a picture on one page, the rest on the next page.
    • Q is for Duck type book.
  • Decide on illustrations.
    • Hand drawn - stick figures are fine!
    • Pictures cut from magazines.
    • Pictures downloaded from computer.
    • Pictures cut from coloring books.

I hope this gives you some ideas. Please share them in the Comments Box!
As you can see, ABC books offer some excellent literacy opportunities. Next Wednesday I’ll suggest more ideas.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Dozen ABC Books

Like all picture books, ABC books are NOT just for little kids! ABC books have such variety, with such opportunities for cleverness and humor, my adult self absolutely loves them. And my students did too – from kindergarten to fifth grade!

One of my favorite ways to read ABC books is to cover up the words on the page and try to guess what’s on the page that represents the letter. This is not always easy!

Superhero ABC by Bob McLeod
When I discovered this book, I knew I had to do an ABC book post. It is just so great. Written comic book style, each page is fun to read (especially aloud!) and to look at. Say this: Multiplying Mike becomes many more men in moments.

The Racecar Alphabet by Brian Floca
This book begs to be read aloud – either by you or someone else. It has such a wonderful sound, like, Drivers daring dodge the danger.

The Disappearing Alphabet by Richard Wilbur, illustrated by David Diaz
This is a collection of twenty-six short poems wondering about what the world would be like if any letters of the alphabet should disappear. A short example: At breakfast time, the useful letter T preserves us all from eating Shredded Whea.

Z is for Zookeeper by Marie and Roland Smith, illustrated by Henry Cole
This book is all about zookeepers and their role at the zoo. Letter topics include animals, brooms, disinfectant, veterinarian, keys, and locks. It is a 2-level book; each letter has a short poem about the letter, plus a side section with more information. The authors have also written several other ABC books.

K is for Kick by Brad Herzog, illustrated by Melanie Rose-Popp
Each letter has a simple rhyme: J is for the jerseys that soccer players wear. For older readers, there are specific details about the game: goaltending, referees, the World Cup and many other aspects. Check out the author’s other ABC books about sports.

The Beetle Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by David Biedrzycki
If you are a bug lover, you’ll be a big fan of this book. Besides showing a beetle for each letter, it also explains what makes a beetle a beetle. The bug pictures are huge – perfect for bug lovers!

Pignic by Anne Miranda, illustrations by Rosekrans Hoffman
The annual family pignic came only once a year. Each pig family member (there are 26 of them, of course) brings something from the alphabet. I tried to guess the food on each page – not always successfully!

A is for Abraham: A Jewish Family Alphabet by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Ron Mazellan
This book covers the history of Jewish traditions and customs and how they are practiced today. It is a 2-level book, with a poem about each letter and also more in-depth information on the side. It is a truly beautiful book.

Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book by Jeanette Winter
Every year, Don Pedro and his family make Calaveras (papier-mâché skeletons), for Mexico's Day of the Dead fiesta. This book has one for every letter, using Spanish words. Some were easy for me to figure out, many I had to look up in the glossary at the end. This is a fun book.

My first Bob books: Alphabet by Lynn Maslen Kertell
This is a set of 12 books, with 2-3 letters in each book. Each book presents words starting with the letters (octopus, ostrich, pigs, puppy). Then the words are put in sentences. Octopus and ostrich join the pigs for pie! The pictures are clear line drawings and would be perfect for copying and coloring.

M is for Mischief An A to Z of Naughty Children by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
Angry Abby, Fiendish Frankie, Lazy Lenore… These are NOT nice kids. Each of the 26 kids has a rhyme that tells all their bad habits. The kids, the rhymes, the illustrations – hilarious!

Alphab’art Find the Letters Hidden in the Paintings by Anne Guéry and Oliver Dussutour
There are 26 famous paintings and each has a letter hidden in it. Some of the letters are easy to find but some are definitely not easy. Fortunately, the answers are at the back.

I have an idea for you. My friend Patricia Newman is an author of kid's books [check out her guest post]. She also has a blog and on her blog she has a special contest for kids. It's called Kids on KidLitIf you go to her site you can read all the details but basically you just:
  • Read a Book
  • Write a book review
  • Send it to her
Do this and she will:
  • Publish your book review on her blog (very cool!)
  • Enter your name to win a book - she gives away one book every month. (also cool!)
So why am I telling you about this today? I think reviewing a bunch of ABC books would be great. Patricia doesn't care how many reviews you write, so read and review!

Check back next week for another dozen ABC books. But… if you add your favorites to the Comments Box, I can have more than a dozen!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Amazing Music Sites for Kids

Some say music makes the world go 'round. I don’t know if it makes it go 'round but it does make it more fun! Thanks again to Dylan Glanzer for her Marvelous Music Books for Kids (Monday's post) and Music and Literacy in Early Childhood (Wednesday's post). Today I have some music sites for you. Enjoy!

You can create your own tunes with the Littlest Pet Shop characters.

Mighty Book
The songs on this site (Bingo, Found a Peanut…) are animated with the words to sing along with.
If you like classical music (or are just curious), check this one out.
These songs tell a story.

To start, click on the play button on the left. Find the piano keyboard picture at the bottom of the page. Use the keyboard to make a song. Try some of the other pictures on the page, too – they look like fun!

The following sites are ones I recommended last September.

Fun Music Games

Sphinx Kids
This site is all about classical music. You can listen, create, and play matching games. If you like classical music or you just want to learn a little more about it, try this site!
Note: You may need to download a free Shockwave Player

PBS Kids
You can learn about jazz and become a band leader. I thought I made some pretty good music!

I hope you enjoyed these sites. Do you have others you like? Add them to the Comments Box!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Music and Literacy in Early Childhood: Guest Post by Dylan Glanzer

Music is a wonderful way to build literacy skills. I’ve asked Dylan Glanzer to talk to us today about how she uses music to promote literacy. Dylan’s website and blog is Great Kids Parties in NJ and she knows music! Her other site is Free Song by Miss Dylan.
Dylan is a NJ Certified Teacher with Masters in Early Childhood Education. She has 20 years experience in the children’s party business and as a preschool music teacher. She has lots more information on her website about music, literacy, parties and fun.
I hope you’ve had a chance to see Dylan’s book recommendations in Monday’s post, Marvelous Music Books for Kids. If not, check it out!

Music and Literacy in Early Childhood

Music is the universal language of mankind.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The first song many children learn is the “ABCs”. It is not a coincidence that we use music to help children memorize the basic letters of our language. Children seem to naturally respond to the melody and rhythm in their environment at a very early age. There have been many studies of the effect of music on babies even in utero.

So, can music help your child learn language and later, learn to read? Absolutely! Music and language both require the use of symbols matched with sound and pitch to reproduce:  language uses letters and music uses notes.

Music and the spoken language also have many similarities in how they are processed in the brain. Music is used in the earliest classrooms to build body awareness (Head, Shoulder’s Knees and Toes), facilitate gross motor development (If You’re Happy and You Know It), teach fine motor skills (The Itsy Bitsy Spider), and to help children learn basic concepts (Wheels on the Bus).

Since most children enjoy these musical experiences and remember these songs well, it stands to reason that using music in the classroom will naturally increase vocabulary, improve listening skills, and build their understanding of a wide range of topics. All of these skills lead to a strong foundation for reading.

 Oral language is an interactive and social process,
and music is a natural way for children
to experience rich language in a pleasurable way.
Woodall and Ziembroski

Could you imagine a world without music? Just like language, music is a way in which we communicate our feelings, elaborate on experiences, and share our emotions. Music sets the tone, changes mood, inspires action, fuels imagination, and activates memory. Music can also help a child build a strong foundation for reading.

When we share music with children, we give them a gift. So next time they want you to tell them a story, try singing one!
Dylan Glanzer

Thank you Dylan!

If you have songs and activities you enjoy doing with your child, please add then to the Comments Box!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Marvelous Music Books for Kids

Today’s book suggestions come from Dylan Glanzer. Miss Dylan runs Great Kids Parties in NJ  and she knows music! Her other site is Free Song by Miss DylanOn Wednesday, she’ll  talk to us about how she uses music to promote literacy.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider by Iza Trapani
Sing the story that continues even after the spout!

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Iza Trapani
The beautiful song takes a little girl on an adventure!

If You’re Happy and You Know It! by Jane Cabrera
A sing-along action book.

On Top of Spaghetti by Tom Glazer [sorry, no link available]

Ten in the Bed by Jane Cabrera

Whosh Around the Mulberry Bush by Jane Ormerod and Lindsey Gardiner

The Story of My Feelings  by Laurie Berkner

The Farmyard Jamboree  by Margaret Read MacDonald

The Wheels on the Racecar  by Alex Zane

Meet the Orchestra  by Ann Hayes

Thanks, Miss Dylan for these musical book suggestions. They'll have us singing and reading for days!

Go to for this week's free story by Bob Brooks, Vanishing Strawberries.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Top Dolphin Sites for Kids

While researching dolphins, I came across some sites you may like.

information, video, e-card, printable photo

facts, drawing lesson, coloring, puzzles


information, quiz

facts, games, coloring

games, activities, coloring

I think dolphins are quite amazing. How about you?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Guest Post by Lynn Kertell: Nourish Your Child’s Love of Reading

Today’s post is from Lynn Kertell, the author of the many Bob Books I featured in Monday’s Books post.  I asked Lynn to share her many ideas for how to strengthen a child’s love of reading. Thank you Lynn for sharing your ideas with us.

Nourish Your Child’s Love of Reading
Lynn Kertell, Bob Books
The creative process is an interesting thing. People may not realize that most creative efforts do not spring forth fully formed – but rather are influenced by environment, current events, personality, background, temperament, belief system and knowledge.
We at Bob Books believe that reading and books are one of the best lifelong gifts you can bestow upon a child. Toward this end, we have a few tips to you can use towards nourishing your child’s love of learning and books.

1.  Read to your child every day. Who doesn’t love a great story? From babies to older kids, any time spent reading to a child is quality time. Research shows that even just 20 minutes per day can build early literacy skills, promote bonding, and increase listening and attention spans – all necessary skills for school and for life.

2.  Share your love of books by taking your children on a trip to a public library or bookstore, keeping books in your home and providing opportunities for your kids to see you enjoying reading – whether a daily newspaper, a magazine, the latest sci-fi thriller or an e-book download. Lead by example.

3. Make it a game. Reading and books are fun! Play around with language by coming up with on-the-spot games like “tell me everything you can think of that starts with the letter P…” sending the kids on a word treasure hunt around your house, tell a story using flash cards, have them stir up some alphabet soupor sort shapes – all of these activities are easy (and basically free). The best part is that you’ll be helping them develop important pre-reading skills without your child even being aware of it.

4. Exercise patience. Refresh yourself on how to identify the signs of when your child is ready for reading , and introduce new concepts gently at your child’s pace. When your child first begins to take steps into reading, allow them the time to figure out concepts on their own and ask you for help. If your child is interested, pays attention, interacts with the book, and seems to have an idea of what you mean, then you are on your way to reading. If your child is wiggly, disruptive or gets frustrated easily, they may not be ready. Put the books away for a few months and try again later. Children learn at different rates. It is important to find your child’s rate, rather than your own, if you want your child to have a happy reading experience.

5. Praise often. There’s nothing more exciting than witnessing a child grasp reading concepts – when the words come alive on the page and the child makes the connection between letters and the sounds they make and then how letters form words that tell a story that they can read all by themselves! Offer plenty of praise for every milestone (big or small) and keep encouraging (not pushing) your child to gently progress to the next level. Here is a great video example showing some techniques you can use at home.

6. Keep going! We have some book recommendations for children who have “graduated” past Bob Books Set 5 and we are also proud to announce our new series of Bob Books Level 1 Early Readers. For school-age children whose reading level has exceeded early readers and short chapter books, now is a great opportunity to talk to a teacher, librarian or bookstore owner and get even more recommendations. If your child is “stuck on a genre,” encourage them to go outside the genre and read in other topic areas that interest them. See if you can join a Mother-Daughter Book Club (or a Father-Son Book Club or any variation thereof) as this is yet another great way to share the joys of reading as a family. If you don’t have one in your area, think about starting one!

I hope you will check out the Bob Books website and Monday's post. Be sure to leave a comment on either today's post or Monday's to enter the Early Readers giveaway. Two books will be sent to a lucky winner!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Start Reading with Bob Books

I first discovered Bob Books when I taught Kindergarten. Bob Books is a series of books that gets kids reading in tiny steps, with each book building on the one before it. The first books are 12 pages long and the later books are 16 pages. The Early Readers, their newest books, have 28 pages. All the books are written by Lynn Maslen Kertell and illustrated by Sue Hendra.
When Bob Books asked me if they could send me a couple of their new readers I accepted the offer happily. I’ll tell you about them first and follow with the earlier sets.

But that's not all! :) Bob Books Has graciously given me the opportunity to give away a set of their new Early Readers, The New Puppy and Cupcake Surprise. Just add your comment in the Comments Box and one lucky winner will receive a set! [Sorry, the book giveaway is over.]

The New Puppy
Jack and Anna want a new puppy. They talk their parents into getting them one but soon find out that the puppy is a handful. As with all the Bob Books, the illustrator shows great facial expressions with just a few lines. The last pages of the book have a set of word cards with helpful illustrations on the flip side.

Cupcake Surprise!
Jack and Anna decide to bake cupcakes for their dad’s birthday. All goes well until some surprises fall in the batter. Will the cupcakes be okay? This book also has word cards at the end.

Bob Books Set 1 Beginning Readers
Book 1 has only 4 letters – MAT and S. Then each book after it adds a few more letters. By book 12, all the letters are used (except Q). In my classroom, these are books I used the most. Reading them again make me smile all over again!

Bob Books Set 2 Advancing Beginners
The stories are a little longer and build on the Set 1 books.

Bob Books Set 3 Word Families
Building on the Set 2 books, there are 8 story books, plus 2 Activity Books.

Bob Books Set 4 Complex Words
These stories have a little harder vocabulary than in Set 3.

Bob Books Set 5 Long Vowels
This set introduces long vowels.

My First Bob Books ALPHABET
These books introduce the letters of the alphabet. A Parent Guide offers tips and activities.

My First Bob Books Pre-Reading Skills
This set covers pre-reading skills such as identifying basic shapes and recognizing simple patterns.

Bob Books Listen and Read Series
The 12 books of Set 1 are combined with audio CDs.

Don't forget to add your comment to the Comments Box for a chance at the new Early Readers from Bob Books[Sorry, the book giveaway is over.]

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Fun Online and Off

This week’s sites have online and offline games and puzzles.

Free Easter Games Games and puzzles

The Holiday Zone Scroll down for kids’ links

Family Fun  Off-line games – look like fun!

Check out last week's links here.

Have a wonderful Easter!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Promoting Literacy with Easter Crafts

Following directions is a get way to practice reading while having fun. And you have something to show for it when you’re done! I hope these sites give you lots of good ideas.

Pop-up Eggs   These are so clever and colorful!

Cross Crafts This site has several ideas for cross crafts.

Easter Baskets A bunch of ideas for making Easter baskets.

Easter Wreaths Gives several ideas.

Chocolate Easter Nest I love this site for crafts and this one is a yummy idea!

Easter Finger Puppets Very cute and fun.

Origami Bunny I need one of these!

Easter Bible Printables and Crafts This site has lots offerings.

Click here for last week’s Easter fun, here and here for Easter books and here for online Easter fun.
Have a joyous week!