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Read Aloud Thursday

read-aloud21This week we have enjoyed several animal books that most certainly should be added to our “best picture books” category (if such a category existed) at Hope Is the Word.  My girls would listen to any one of these books over and over again.  Since my girls have fairly long attention spans when it comes to listening to stories, that may not be the best indication of a quality story; however, the fact that I would gladly read any of these over and over again is an indication that these are enjoyable to read aloud, as well.  Enjoy!

Good Thing You’re Not an Octopus! is a fun and simply-worded story that is perfect for older toddlers and preschoolers.  Written by Julie Markes and illustrated by Maggie Smith,this story is based on the premise that many animals have to do things that young children often do not like to do.  For example, the first sentence in this story is, “You don’t like to get dressed in the morning?”  The facing page answers, “It’s a good thing you’re not an octopus.  If you were an octopus, you would have eight legs to put in your pants!”  As we parents know, responding to young children’s grumpiness and cantankerousness (?!?) with humor will often disarm the worst of humors, and this book capitalizes beautifully on that idea.  Highly recommended!

The next two books are useful and enjoyable on many levels.  For my preschoolers, leaving out much of the extra information included in the backs of the books or in smaller typeface throughout the story reduces each of these to a fun introduction to many different kinds of animals.  However, each book contains enough information to be beneficial and enjoyable for even upper-elementary aged students.

What Do You Do with a  Tail Like This? by Steven Jenkins and Robin Page is a visual delight, evidenced by its Caldecott honor in 2004.  Similar body parts and appendages of vastly different animals appear on a two-page spread (i.e. the eyes of an eagle, chameleon, four-eyed fish, bush baby, and horned lizard are compared).  On the next page, the animals are identified and fascinating information about those particular animals’ body parts is related.  (Did you know a horned lizard squirts blood out of its eyes?  We didn’t, and Lulu and Louise were quite intrigued by this.  Quite intrigued.)  For little ones, this is a great book to play match with by having the children match the body part on one page with the animal on the next.  For older children, there is plenty of additional information about the animals in an appendix in the back of the book.  Don’t miss this one!

The Emperor’s Egg by Martin Jenkins was probably Lulu’s most requested book this week.  I don’t know if it is the novelty of a male penguin incubating an egg,  just her natural curiosity about the reproductive process (which is explained in a very gentle way, with no specific details),  the gentle and conversational tone of the book, or a combination of all of these, but this book was a hit at the House of Hope.  This is not a story, per se; it is more of a very well written informational book.  I don’t know about your family, but that’s the way we like our information served.  Jane Chapman’s sweet illustrations (who could resist the Emperor penguin chick on the cover?) make this a special book indeed.  This is a book I’d love to own for our own collection, and as an avid-library-user-in-an-overcrowded-house, that’s saying a lot.  Highly, highly recommended.

What’s in your book bag this week?  Share your family’s read-alouds in the comment section or by a link to your blog! Oh, and be sure to use the NEW Read Aloud Thursday blog button!  You can get the html code for the button here, or simply save the image from this post.

Next week I’m hoping to share some of our Easter read alouds for Read Aloud Thursday.  Feel free to do the same thing next week in YOUR Read Aloud Thursday post, or just share whatever you’ve been reading together.

Happy reading!


Read Aloud Thursday

We have quite an eclectic mix of books in our library basket this week, and really, most of them are just so-so.  We did thankfully end up with a few winners, though.

My favorite of the week is Dahlia, written and illustrated by Barbara McClintock. This is the story of a little girl named Charlotte who has no use for the fancy doll give to her by her Aunt Edme.  However, after a day of outdoors, rough-and-tumble play, Charlotte realizes that Dahlia (christened such because she looks like Charlotte’s mother’s huge dahlias in the garden) might be a worthy companion after all.  Aunt Edme arrives at the end of the day, and the story ends with a sweet surprise.  The story is completely charming, especially for little girls who prefer messiness and rowdiness over being prim and proper.  The illustrations are delightful in an old-timey storybook kind of way.  This one is really a keeper!

My second favorite book of the week is a surprise to me, really.  I associate Kevin Henkes with Lilly, Wemberly, Owen, Chrysanthemum, and I love them all.  I really do.  However, I have not read Henkes’ books to my girls because I was waiting until the girls are a little older.  I picked up A Good Day because of the illustrations, which are really what make this book so great.  This is a simple story about how a day that starts out to be not-so-good turns into a good day.  The bold-but-simple watercolor illustrations are gorgeous.   Highly recommended!
I was a little hesitant to pick up Cindy Ellen:  A Wild Western Cinderella because I didn’t know if adoration of the Disney princess Cinderella and familiarity with her story (only through books; we’ve yet to make it through the movie due to an intense cat-and-dog scene early on) would be enough to bridge the gap for my girls.  I shouldn’t have worried, though.  I actually read Cindy Ellen aloud to third or fourth graders when I was an elementary librarian, and I can’t say that they were as delighted with the story as my four-and-a-half year old was.  Lulu loves this book!  This is a great book on many levels in terms of teaching, too.  The author, Susan Lowell, uses lots of “wild west” slang that would be interesting  to discuss with older children, and of course, the concept of fractured fairy tales is one that is good for lots of mileage.  This book can definitely stand alone as a fun read-aloud, with or without the more in-depth treatment , and the illustrations by Jane Manning are perfect.
This last book really surprised me.  I picked it up because I thought it would be interesting to learn something about chameleons, and I am always looking for nonfiction titles to grab my girls’ attention.  Martin Jenkins does a great job at making this book interesting and accessible, more like a story than a science lesson.  For example, did you know that chameleons don’t just look grumpy, they really are grumpy?  Or that their eyes can look in different directions at the same time?  Wow!  This book is particularly fun to look at, well, because chameleons are fun to look at!  Sue Shields captures their odd but entertaining physiques in a bold and colorful way in this great science read-aloud.

That’s it for this week, folks!  What have you and your family enjoyed together this week?  Tell us about it in the comments or leave a link to your blog post.  I’d love to hear about it!