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Sharing the Beauty of Books

There’s beauty in books. You can find a best friend, take off on an adventure, or explore a part of the world you’ve never heard of before. Reading is a pleasure, but because there’s so much your kids have to read for school, they may have come to view reading as a difficult, tedious chore.

Instilling the love of reading in a child is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Showing Junior how reading is relaxing, exciting, and something you yourself look forward to is the best way to get your child hooked on books. It’s not that hard to do – just pick up a magazine while you’re sitting in the family room or read a novel while the kids are watching a cartoon (it’s a great way to tune out Bugs Bunny or Sponge Bob!). Consider scheduling 20 or 30 minutes a day of family reading time after dinner, letting everyone read something just for fun, not necessarily for school.

If you need a few ideas for fun books your kids will enjoy, check out these recent releases:

AGES 3-6

Chuckling Ducklings and Baby Animal Friends, by Aaron Zenz, (Walker Press, 2011), $15.99. A cute, fun way to introduce the names of baby animals to your own little ones. Darling illustrations will make your young readers cackle with joy as they learn the special baby names of the adult animals they’ve seen at home or in a zoo.

AGES 4-8

I Want My Hat Back, by Jon Klassen, (Candlewick Press, 2011), $15.99. The bear has lost his hat. He wants it back. He asks all the animals he sees if they have seen his beloved hat. The fox says no. The frog says no. Every animal says no. Then, the bear remembers something about one of the animals and back tracks his steps with a renewed purpose. A hilariously repetitive tale with simple, wry illustrations bring kids in on the joke early in the story.

Scapegoat: The Story of a Goat Named Oat and a Chewed-up Coat,

by Dean Hale, (Bloomsbury, 2011), $16.99. A hole in the boat? It must be the goat! That’s what Jimmy Choat would have his mom believe. In fact, Jimmy blames the family goat poor Patsy Petunia Oat, for just about everything that goes wrong. But Patsy knows who the real culprit is, and soon the Choat family will not blame Patsy Petunia Oat for every missing coat! A rhyme-happy book with uproarious illustrations.

Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond, by Mary Quattlebaum, (Dawn Publications, 2011), $8.95 paperback; $16.95 hardback. We’ve all heard the story of Old MacDonald and his farm. This book tells the story of his granddaughter, little Jo MacDonald, and the things she observes in and around a pond. Readers of all ages can sing the familiar tune as they learn about fish and animals that make “a swish-swish here and a blurp-blurp there” during a busy day at the pond. Vibrant watercolors bring the lively creatures of the pond to life while activities and additional information give young readers extra incentive to learn about the world around them.

The Great Race, by Kevin O’Malley, (Walker Press, 2011), $16.99. Nate Tortoise has had enough of Lever Lapin and his fascination with himself. “I am so beautiful that when I look at myself I scream with joy,” Nate hears the haughty hare say over lunch one day. Nate accidentally challenges Lever to a race and, well, you know the ending of this Tortoise and the Hare tale. Read this one to your kids, though, and you’ll get a kick out of the pun at the end.


Americapedia: Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom, by Jodi Lynn Anderson, Daniel Ehrenhaft, and Andisheh Nouraee, (Walker Press, 2011), $16.99. In this blend of wit and information, tweens and teens will learn about the day-to-day workings of the U.S. government. Using well-written, edgy humor (reminiscent of the Daily Show), the authors discuss significant historical and current topics (“The Issues American Like to Yell about Most”), explain how they unfolded, and why they are important in the political and governmental arenas. The last chapter urges readers to get involved, that “democracy isn’t a spectator sport,” and gives web site information that allows readers to log on and get involved.


Burnt Mountain, by Anne Rivers Siddons, (Grand Central Publishing, 2011), $25.99. Thayer Wentworth had to face a lot of tragedy in her life: her father’s death; a controlling mother who was never quite satisfied with Thayer’s appearance or life choices; bitter heartbreak over her first true love, Nick Abrams; and the death of her beloved grandmother. When she met the spirited Aengus O’Neill, she pushed the tragedies away and began living again. But, things began to change when Aengus began traveling up Burnt Mountain (the very mountain that took her father’s life) to tell Irish stories to the young campers. Thayer is forced to face the feelings she had pushed to the back of her mind, especially when she crosses paths with Nick Abrams.

Suggested Ideas to Honor Hispanic Heritage Month

Dora The Explorer: Dora‘S Halloween Parade

Preschoolers will join Dora and her friends on exciting Halloween adventures in the new four-episode DVD, Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Halloween Parade. In every episode, Dora and Boots invite the audience to participate in an exciting adventure, where each step of their journey consists of a problem or puzzle that Dora and the audience must think their way through in order to solve the next problem. Dora is proudly bilingual and uses her knowledge of English and Spanish to communicate with her friends, overcome obstacles and reach her goals. In each episode, Dora teaches Spanish words or phrases to the viewers and then asks them to use it to solve a problem and forge ahead. Created by Nickelodeon Home Entertainment and distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment for the suggested retail price of $16.99.

Un Pato en Nueva York

Un Pato en Nueva York is a Spanish translation of Connie Kaldor’s original 2005 story, A Duck in New York City, about a little duck from the heartland that has a big dream - making it to New York City and doing his ducky dance on Broadway. lt turns out to be an adventurous journey that appears bound for failure until Duck meets up with a truck driver named Big Betty She tells him, “Yes, you can,” and points him in the right direction and gives him the nudge he needs to tackle the Big Apple. Un Pato en Nueva York will be released as a colorfully illustrated hardbound book and CD set. The original release of Duck won a Parents’ Choice Gold award and a Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy) for “Children’s Album of the Year’”. Ages 5-7; $16.95; Independent Publishers Group.

Spanish for Kids: Las Estaciones (The Seasons)

Winter, spring, summer or fall, there’s no better time for children to learn Spanish. And, it’s never been easier thanks to the Spanish for Kids DVD series and its latest release, Las Estaciones (The Seasons). Produced by Wistlefritz, Spanish for Kids is an award-winning Spanish immersion DVD series featuring the adorable Fritzi, a lovable, animated mouse who interacts with live-action adults and children to help teach Spanish. Un Las Estaciones (The Seasons), Fritzi wants to celebrate his birthday, which comes in the Fall. With the help of his friend Maria, young viewers learn about the many joys associated with all four seasons, from sledding and snowball fights in winter {el invierno), to trick-or-treating in autumn (el otono). It’s a year-round celebration for young viewers to enjoy with Fritzi and all his Whistlefritz friends! Ages 2-7, $19.99.

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Tags: Education, Enrichment, Featured Story

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