Reading Teaches Children About the World

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Reading teaches children about the world. Reading encourages children to use their imaginations. Reading leads to meaningful conversations with children.

Reading is awesome.

November is Picture Book Month so I’ve been reading a ton of picture books with my children. November is also Picture Book Idea Month so I’ve been working hard to come up with some spectacular picture book ideas. I also discovered the We Need Diverse Books campaign, which I feel is extremely important.

Our family always reads a lot of books, but this month I have made an extra effort to discuss the books with my children. I have also tried to include a nice mix of fiction and nonfiction books because we definitely read more fiction than nonfiction. We have had some pretty inspiring and fascinating conversations after story time.

These are some of the children’s books my family has read this month:

A Gift for Abuelita: Celebrating the Day of the Dead by Nancy Luenn * illustrated by Robert Chapman

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Big Jabe by Jerdine Nolen * illustrated by Kadir Nelson   

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Bridget’s Beret by Tom Lichtenheld

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Busing Brewster by Richard Michelson * illustrated by R.G. Roth

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Courage by Bernard Waber

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Dinosaur Farm by Frann Preston-Gannon

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Food Trucks! by Mark Todd

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Frederick by Leo Lionni

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Frida by Jonah Winter * illustrated by Ana Juan

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Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell * illustrated by Steve Johnson

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Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine * illustrated by Kadir Nelson

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Hugs from Pearl by Paul Schmid

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I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont * illustrated by David Catrow

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Just the Two of Us by Will Smith * illustrated by Kadir Nelson

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King & King   by Linda De Haan * illustrated by Stern Nijland

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Little Cloud by Eric Carle

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My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann

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My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits * illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

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Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson

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Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

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The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

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The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

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The Boy Without a Name by Idries Shah * illustrated by Mona Caron

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The Heart and the Bottle  by Oliver Jeffers

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The Hula Hoopin’ Queen by Thelma Lynne Godin * illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

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The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

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The Lion and the Mouse by Jenny Broom * illustrated by Nahta Noj

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The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson * illustrated by E. B. Lewis

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The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy * illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

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The Recess Queen by Alexis O’neill * illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith

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Thomas and the Shooting Star by W. Awdry * illustrated by Tommy Stubbs

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Thumb Love by Elise Primavera

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Yoko Finds Her Way by Rosemary Wells

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Use your mighty imagination!

Mama's Purse Poster

  • What children’s books have you read this month?

 

  • Do you read fiction and nonfiction children’s books?

 

  • Which diverse titles do you recommend?

 

  • What techniques do you use to encourage children to discuss books?

 

We have a ninja, a kangaroo, and a Weimaraner puppy

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Thinking of a picture book idea every day during November for PiBoIdMo has been a piece of cake so far, but it’s only November 4th and I know the challenge will become more difficult.

My six-year old son is a purple belt in taekwondo and my two-year old daughter loves to hop around pretending she’s a kangaroo. After watching Mason show off his moves and Sophie hop around the house, my friend Robin told me, “Your kids are great. One’s a ninja and the other is a kangaroo. It doesn’t get any better than that!”

I laughed and said, “That’s a great idea for a picture book!”

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Mason with his medals at the City of Trees ATA tournament.

There’s never a dull moment at our house. We have a ninja, a kangaroo, and a Weimaraner puppy. I think many of my ideas during PiBoIdMo will come from the crazy stuff Charlie Blue does on a daily basis.

She howls when my son plays the harmonica. She brings back stuff to recycle almost every time we walk. She pulls the kiddos on their sled in the winter. She rolls in smelly stuff. She jumps in the back of the bike trailer when she gets tired. She swims in the river, but she’s afraid of sprinklers. She’s a furniture hog. And the queen of stealing hats . . .

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Ian and Charlie fighting over the chair.

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One of my favorite Charlie moments happened when my daughter was crying hysterically on my lap. Charlie (the biggest food thief in the world) gently carried a graham cracker in her mouth over to Sophie and pushed the cracker up to Sophie’s hand with her nose. My husband, Ian, and I sat dumbfounded for several seconds. Did that really just happen? Wow!

Charlie is my quiet companion on our daily walks. I often come up with my best writing ideas when I take her to the river near our house.

Charlie retrieving the Ninkasi frisbee.

Charlie retrieving the Ninkasi frisbee.

We find cool stuff together like Idaho rock art.

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And for being a big spazzy puppy, she sure is sweet and gentle with Sophie.

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I can’t wait to see what kind of mischief Charlie gets into this month. She might come home smelly with a dirty diaper or a dead squirrel in her mouth (yes, this has happened), but who knows  . . . she might do something that leads to another PiBoIdMo idea in my notebook!

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Juke Box Hero

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This is my first year participating in Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). PiBoIdMo is a writing challenge that encourages picture book writers to develop 30 picture book ideas in 30 days.

My son, Mason, and my daughter, Sophie Ann, inspire me every day. What they say and do keep my writing flame burning bright.

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  • PiBoIdMo Day 1: I completed my first PiBoIdMo idea with ease and worked side-by-side with my six-year old son on some art projects.

This is what I created.

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Mason made this.

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I think it’s pretty clear he is the artist in our family! My favorite part about this project was his explanation of his color choices. “Brown is boring, Mom. Red is my favorite color.” He also let his little sister design the roof :).

Tiny moments in our days have triggered some pretty surprising and fun picture book ideas. Sometimes all it takes is a car ride with music playing on the radio to spark a new idea. I never would have imagined a song by Foreigner would lead to a manuscript idea.

  • PiBoIdMo Day 2: Mason sang “Juke Box Hero” with such gusto, but the best part was his version of the lyrics. Boom. PiBoIdMo idea #2 was born.

My friend keeps a journal of all the funny things his daughters say. I think I am going to start doing this as well. Mason and Sophie have certainly said some hilarious things that I wish I would have written down. Oh! I just thought of one! Mason passed gas at the dinner table one night. “Excuse me,” he said, “my butt is making music.” I don’t think I will turn that one into a picture book, but it still makes me chuckle.

On a sweeter note, he put his head to my chest one time and said, “I can hear your heart, Mom. It’s pumping love.”

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Painted trees. Scarves. Hot tea.

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My grandmother recently passed away. I wrote this farewell letter a few days before she passed. I read it at her service.

Dear Grandma Jeanne,

I’m walking on a path beneath a tree tunnel of yellow, orange, and red. It’s your favorite season and your story is nearing the end. Tears slide under my sunglasses and skip off my chin. You loved fall the most. Painted trees. Scarves. Hot tea.

I don’t get much time by myself these days, but this is my third walk today. I had to stop and sit on this bench by this golden tree under this blue sky and write . . .

Thank you for teaching me it’s okay to be silly. Thank you for showing me the beauty of books. Thank you for inspiring me to write. Thank you for your life-long example of compassion and joy for life.

I will always remember our trip to Victoria, BC. I will always treasure our bedtime stories. I will always cherish the memories we made each summer in Montana.

This fall I will drink hot tea. This fall I will write and write and write. This fall I will dance under falling leaves. This fall I will act as silly as can be with your two great-grandchildren.

This fall, and every fall for the rest of my days, I will celebrate you—your light, your love, your life.

Love always,

Amanda Jean

 

Being silly with Grandma Jeanne and Aunt Georgie.

Being silly with Grandma Jeanne and Aunt Georgie.

One of my favorite books that Grandma Jeanne and I read together.

One of my favorite books that Grandma Jeanne and I read together.

The service truly was a celebration of her life. When it was over, we went outside and released balloons into the big blue Montana sky. I couldn’t take my eyes off them.

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One of my grandma’s life-long goals was to be a published writer. She accomplished this goal. Grandma Jeanne wrote two books, and was working on her third when she passed. I developed my love for writing because of her passion for the written word. I will keep my promise to drink hot tea and write, write, write.

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November is the perfect month for me to start blogging and journaling again. November is Picture Book Month and Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). This will be my first year participating in PiBoIdMo. I look forward to challenging myself to come up with 30 picture book ideas in 3o days.

I am going to let go and have fun with my writing. I will think of Grandma Jeanne—her silliness, her compassion, her joy. I already have many ideas inspired by her brewing inside of me. Sometimes I think we create the most beautiful word strings when we experience intense emotions such as grief. I will transform my grief into something special. I will celebrate her and honor her each and every time I write.

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