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We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen


It’s usually challenging for me to write a monthly Kids’ Picks post, mainly because I’m the main book picker here at the House of Hope.  Oh, my girls have plenty of opportunity to choose books for our read-alouds times or for their own perusal, but ultimately, I control what comes into the house.  I do let them pick a couple of books each time we go to the library, but I limit it to two or three each because if I didn’t, we’d end checking out the entire Arthur or Franklin collection.  😉  Please don’t revoke my Kids’ Picks button!  🙂

This month, though, I have a genuine Kids’ Pick, and one that reaches back a couple of years, at that.  Louise requested We’re Going on a Bear Hunt last week.  This is one of those books that my girls loved, loved, loved when they were younger.  However, as they’ve gotten older (after all, they’re very mature 5 and 4 year olds now! 😉 ), I regret to say that I’ve let quite a few of these classics fall by the wayside.  In fact, we have one whole long shelf of boardbooks that were once beloved favorites but that we never look at now.  We own We’re Going on a Bearhunt in paperback, and after Louise repeatedly requested that we read it, it took a little searching on our full-to-overflowing shelves, but we found it.  There are several lessons in this for me:

  • Just because my children are capable of and willing to listen to long chapter books doesn’t mean we need to abandon picture books (even “babyish” ones). 
  • Children love repetition and familiar stories, even after we are sick of them.
  • I shouldn’t get so wrapped up in my latest library finds that I neglect my own home library.  I’m very guilty of this.
  • Louise is my little songbird:  she is forever making up songs and rhymes.  I really need to indulge and encourage this, especially through the books we read. 

I actually can’t believe I haven’t included this particular story on my Best Picture Books list before now.  (I’ll attribute it to the fact that I really have neglected our home library.)  This is such a great toddler and preschool picture book–it’s very repetitive and just begs to be acted out.  It is my go-to rhyme when we keep the nursery at church and the natives begin to get restless.  Helen Oxenbury‘s illustrations are very expressive; my girls have always been concerned about the rather dejected-looking bear at the end of the story.  In short, this is one that’s too good to be missed.  You can visit the author’s website here.  I even found a video of him performing We’re Going on a Bearhunt.  Enjoy!

As if all of this is not enough, I have photographic evidence that this book is indeed a genuine Kids’ Pick here at the House of Hope.  The photographs here were snapped back about two years ago, and they are of Louise with her favorite book.  Seeing these pictures makes me almost teary-eyed, but it also gives me another reason to look forward to the new addition to our family who will be here faster than we can get ready for him!

For more Kids’ Picks, visit 5 Minutes for Books!


Kids’ Picks:: All Things American Girl

I have a confession to make.  As soon as the American Girl catalog enters our house (and I peek at it first 😉 –How did they get our address?), I toss it into the trash.  Our girls have way too much stuff.  Way too much.  (In our defense, most of the stuff we don’t buy.  We don’t have to. Other people do it for us.)  I’ve tried to keep this particular overpriced obsession out of the realm of possibilities for our girls.  They did receive little miniature Rebeccas and accompanying Rebecca story collections for Christmas this past year, but other than that and a few kids’ meal “freebies” (yes, I know we’re paying for them), I’ve been successful at keeping our home American Girl-free.

Until now.

It all started with the Josefina story collection in audiobook.  They listened to it (and loved it) several months ago, and then I was able to capture their attention with other audiobook choices for quite a while.  Then Louise spied the Molly story collection  on the audiobook shelves at the library, so we brought it home and the girls listened to the whole collection several times.   Both of these audiobooks went with us on our recent trip, and Steady Eddie and I were ready to listen to anything but Josefina before the trip was over.  😉 Our last trip to the library yielded both Rebecca  and Kit  in audio. 

Honestly, I don’t enjoy listening to the stories.  I find neither the writing nor the narration of the audibooks terribly engaging (patronizing would be a better description, actually), but the girls love them.  They actually wake up in the morning and immediately turn on the CD player, sometimes picking up where they left off the night before (if they went to sleep before the story finished).  At rest time, they listen to another one; they take turns choosing whose story they will listen to this time.   Most nights, it’s another girl and another story.  While I would really prefer their obsession to run in a more literary direction, I remember one of my own many childhood and young adult obsessions, and I don’t think it ruined me as a reader.  The tide will turn, and it will be back to Little House or Charlotte’s Web or even Little Women, which Lulu listened to about a third of before I thought–What will she (and I!?!?) do when Beth dies?–and managed to take it back to the library unfinished.  Until then, they’re learning about the immigrant experience, life in New Mexico in the early 1800s, World War II, the Great Depression, as well as making lots of side jaunts into popular culture.  I think I can live with that.   

(The girls just got up from rest time as I am finishing this post, and now they are under the art table in the school room because “we’re having a blackout.”  The girl of choice for today’s rest time was Molly, whose childhood is permeated by World War II.)

For more Kids’ Picks, check out 5 Minutes for Books!

Kids’ Picks–Audiobooks Galore!

It has been a long time since I’ve had enough foresight to participate in Kids’ Picks over at 5 Minutes for Books, but I’ve had this post percolating in my brain for a long time.  I’m glad to finally have the motivation to get it written and posted!

As I’ve said more times than I can count, audiobooks are a staple here at the House of Hope.  I honestly believe that Lulu, especially, would spend half of her day everyday listening to something (and it would be something related to Little House, usually).  I would estimate that the girls average 1 1/2 to 2 hours of listening time on most days:  one hour at rest time and the remainder at bedtime or other snatches of time during the day when they need occupying.  In fact, I hear Little Town on the Prairie even as I’m writing this. 

I often feel disconnected from what they’re listening to since I’m usually using that time to do other things, so I don’t always write about it here at Hope Is the Word.  However, there have been a few stories they’ve listened to over the past six months or so that I really want to record here, and due to various circumstances, I feel like I have at least a little bit to say about them, so here goes:
I’m not sure how I missed Eleanor Estes’ Newbery Medal-winning Ginger Pye as a child, but I’m really glad my girls have had the pleasure of enjoying this fun and suspenseful story (over and over and over again 😉 ).  They’ve listened to it enough times that I know the whole story, more or less, and I have been amused by the things they’ve picked up and used in their imaginative play as a result.  Louise, especially, has an affinity for names, and more than one of her imaginary playmates or dolls has been named Addie Eagan (spelling? Remember, when I haven’t read it, I’m not responsible  for spelling it correctly!).  Ginger Pye is a heartwarming dog story with some quirky characters, and it’s a mystery, to boot.  I think it would make a great choice for the Children’s Classics Mystery Challenge.  I think I might just read it aloud to my girls for the challenge!  (I really am always curious after I listen to some work to see just how all of those names, etc., are spelled.)  My girls like this one so much, they’ll be thrilled!

This next book is one I picked out for them at the library for purely sentimental reasons:  I loved it myself as a child.  Since my girls love pioneer stories, I figured they’d enjoy this one, too.   They listened to it several times, and we listened to part of the story on at least one short trip.  Carol Ryrie Brink’s Caddie Woodlawn is another Newbery Medal winner.  I’m sure that most people are familiar with the story, but I wanted to share it here because my girls did love it and I have my own particular memory of it:  I have never, ever forgotten the fact that one of the brothers (Warren, I think) messed up his recitation for school.  He was supposed to say, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  Instead, he said, “If at first you don’t fricassee, fry, fry a hen.”  I’ll leave it to you, dear readers, to determine why this has remained lodged in my brain.  😉

The next couple of audiobooks are ones I’m not as familiar with, but they definitely qualify as kids’ picks.  I picked up a couple of the Mercy Watson stories simply on name recognition:  I’ve read enough of Kate DiCamillo to know that she’s good.  My girls found the endearing stories about this beloved pet pig to be laugh-out-loud funny, and I’ll admit that I did, too. We listened to a couple of the stories over and over again when we went on vacation last fall, and we all got in on the fun.  Since then, we’ve checked out another one of the collections (there are two stories per each collection, I believe), and it was met with just as much enthusiasm and laughter all around.  Since I’ve never seen an actual copy of one of these books, I can’t say for sure, but Ms. DiCamillo’s website has them categorized as “Early Chapter Books,” so I’m thinking these might be a good series to keep in mind for my blossoming reader.

Speaking of a blossoming reader (nice segway, huh?), I just have to share this last book, not just because it’s fun and my girls really liked it in audio, but also because I think it might mark a turning point in Lulu’s journey toward independent reading.  We ran errands on Saturday and went on a little roadtrip to a neighboring town for shopping, etc.–mainly just to get out of the house after a week of sickness and being mostly cooped up.  We usually do bring along a longer audiobook for any trip of an hour or more, but I failed to get one and put it in the van.  Louise had chosen How I Became a Pirate as her bring-along entertainment for the trip, and it just so happens that this particular book is one that came with a CD of the story.  Guess what we listened to five or six times before we even made it out of town?  You guessed it.  It is a fun story, and I think my girls were perplexed about the whole pirate thing (we haven’t read anything with pirates in it to my recollection up until now)–Green teeth?  “Aaargh?”  Sea chanteys?   “Shiver me timbers”?  I don’t think they looked at the pictures much in the van; they just enjoyed listening.  When we got home, Lulu brought me the book and proudly read to me from a page in the middle of the story.  Granted, she had listened to it multiple times that day, but she was obviously working hard to sound out the words.  Bingo!  While she is making great progress in her reading, she is a little bit reluctant to apply it outside of “school time.”  This has changed somewhat over the past few weeks, but I was thrilled when she voluntarily brought me this picture book and shared with me what she could do.  I definitely consider that a Kid’s Pick!

Reading aloud to my children is truly one of the highlights of my day, but I am so thankful to have access to so many great audiobooks to supplement what I do with them.  Right now for my girls a day without an audiobook is almost unthinkable.  While I suspect this will probably change as they both become independent readers, I’m glad that they have been able to meet so many wonderful characters through the stories they’ve heard in this way.

Would you like to see what others bloggers’ kids are picking these days?  Click over to Kids’ Picks at 5 Minutes for Books!

Kids’ Pick–The Froggy Books by Jonathan London

kidspicks For this month’s Kids’ Picks post, I thought I’d highlight a fun, fun series of books that is a staple here at the House of Hope.  In fact, I can’t believe I haven’t already mentioned them, they are so popular ’round these parts.  We own a few of the Froggy books ourselves, and one or two often sneaks its way into our book cart at the library. (We ditched the bag a few weeks ago in favor of a rolling cart and haven’t looked back!)  Jonathan London is a very prolific writer, and out of his eighty or so published pictured books, around twenty of them are books about this lovable, clumsy young frog.

My girls find Froggy and his escapades hilarious, and there really is a Froggy book for almost any situation a young child might face.  Ones that have been particularly appealing to us at this stage of life and development have been Froggy Learns to Swim, Froggy Goes to the Doctor, and Froggy Gets Dressed.  After reading Froggy Learns to Swim, I found myself using Froggy’s mom’s method of swimming instruction during our next trip to the swimming pool. (“Chicken, airplane, soldier!”)  Reading about Froggy’s trip to the doctor came in handy just before Lulu’s trip to the pediatrician for her five year old check up.  (We just wish Froggy had gotten a shot in the book since Lulu had to–that would’ve been even better preparation! 😉 ).  Froggy Gets Dressed is the first Froggy book we ever enjoyed, so it was this book that hooked us on Froggy’s inimitable voice.  These books are full of onomatopoeia which make them a fun read aloud.  Let me also warn any future Froggy readers, though, that Froggy has been known to use the word butt when referring to that posterior portion of his anatomy; also, Froggy always responds to his mother’s wail of “Frrooggyy!” with “Whaaat?”  While we prefer the euphemism bottom over butt at the House of Hope and I always correct my girls’ response of “What?” with “Ma’am?”  (we are southerners, you know 😉 ), neither of these issues pose enough of a conflict for me to give up these fun stories.  I figure that this just gives us more opportunity for discussion. 

Wait a minute–this is a Kids’ Pick post, isn’t it?  All I’ve done so far is go on and on about what I think about the books.  (I’m good at that–blathering on about kids’ books.)  Really, my girls “pick” these books of their own free will sometimes.  In fact, just today Louise listened to Froggy Rides a Bike and followed along in the book during rest time.  (That is, after she listened to part of Little House on the Prairie, grew tired of that, and rejected The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe after a few minutes because she “doesn’t like the part about the witch.”  I wouldn’t want anyone to think we actually rest during rest time.  😉  )  Good old Froggy, he’s our friend.  🙂

Do you want to know about what other bloggers’ kids are picking?  Click over to 5 Minutes for Books!