Recipe & Review: Birthday Shortbread for Bilbo & Frodo Baggins

Recipe and Review: Birthday Shortbread for Bilbo & Frodo Baggins from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit The Lord of the Rings

Fantasy: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien

September 22 is the shared birthday of Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggings, two of the most beloved book characters of all time. Bilbo’s story, The Hobbit was first published on September 21, 1937 and Frodo’s story from  The Lord of the Rings was first published in three volumes, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King from 1954 through 1955. These works by J.R.R. Tolkien, the father of modern fantasy, are the heart of an international fandom that is almost frightening in its intensity.

Tolkien was a scholar with a focus on the study of languages. It is no wonder that the high fantasy world he created has complete languages with distinct alphabets and runes that even evolved over the ages of his world of Middle Earth. The elves have a flowing script that wanders across the page like vines. In contrast to the straight lines and angular runes of the dwarves which would have been cut into stone.

Along with the languages for the peoples of Middle Earth, he created distinct geography and cartography. These lands helped shape the characters that grew in them — their priorities, skills, and loyalties. Hobbits in their green and agrarian lands adore the comforts of home and hearth. While the men that dwell in the land of Gondor favor the skills of warriors due to their proximity to the evil that lives in Mordor. Elves live in the woods because the sight of the sea would awaken their longing to return to the lands of the Valar.

Aside from the complex lands to explore, Tolkien populated his Middle Earth with equally complex people. With an epic quest plot, the journey through Middle Earth is filled with enough characters for everyone to find a favorite — wizards, warriors, mischief makers, heroes, and helpers. Characters mentioned in passing often had amazing backstories and/or futures found in the LOTR appendices or other poems or books by Tolkien. Not standing tall, but at the heart of all the characters found in Middle Earth are Bilbo and Frodo. Its their quests the drive the plot of the books.

Being major characters in such a big story, means that Bilbo and Frodo deserve some quiet time on their shared birthday to enjoy a quiet treat and tea. This shortbread recipe can be kept simple or can be dressed up in party fancy with a few adjustments. Lady Grey tea, a softer version of Earl Grey tea, with additional citrus notes make a soothing accompaniment to shortbread cookies. Whether you are re-discovering the books or enjoying the adventure for the first time, have the cookies below to snack on, because hobbits always have time for tea and treats.

Birthday Shortbread

1 cup salted butter, at room temperature (if using unsalted butter then add 1/4 teaspoon salt)

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)

 

1) Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly oil two round 9″ cake pans. If you worry about the shortbread  sticking in your particular pans, line them with parchment, and oil the parchment.
2) In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla; then beat in the flour. The mixture may seem a little dry at first; keep beating till it comes together. If it absolutely won’t come together, dribble in up to 1 tablespoon of water, until it does. This is a stiff dough.
3) Divide the dough in half, and press each half into one of the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with your fingers, or with a mini rolling pin. Use a knife to section off wedges, this scoring should help prevent breakage later.
4) Use a fork to prick the dough all over; this allows any steam to escape, and prevents the shortbread from bubbling as it bakes. You can prick the dough in a random pattern, but it looks nicer pricked with some kind of symmetry.
5) Bake the shortbread until it’s a light gold across the top surface, and a deeper gold  around the edges, about 15 minutes. 
6) Remove it from the oven, and immediately turn each shortbread round out onto a clean work surface.
7) Using a pizza wheel or knife, cut each round into 12 wedges. (Do this while the shortbread is still warm; if you wait until it’s cool, it won’t cut easily.) Transfer the shortbread wedges to a rack to cool.
8) Serve as is, or decorate. Here are a few suggestions:

     * Drizzle with melted caramel/dulce de leche or dip into chocolate
     * Sprinkle caramel cookies with large salt flakes or chocolate cookies with chopped pecans
     * Create sandwich cookies by spreading pairs with jam or lemon curd

Cookies baked on a sheet pan in the shape of rectangles, make for lovely shortbread fingers which are easier to dip into melted chocolate.

For thinner cookies to make sandwiches, shape the dough into logs and chilled in the fridge until hard. The cookies can then be sliced into thin rounds which make it easier to add a dollop of jam or lemon curd after cooling. Sandwiching the bottom halves of the cookies together tend to make a prettier plate.

 

The Hobbit The Lord of the Rings

Recipe and Review: Birthday Shortbread for Bilbo & Frodo Baggins from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien

Book Review: The Lost Words, Robert MacFarlane & Jackie Morris

Book Review: The Lost Words, Robert MacFarlane (author) and Jackie Morris (illustrator)

The Lost Words

Poetry: The Lost Words, Robert MacFarlane & Jackie Morris

A hank of rope in the late hot sun; a curl
of bark; a six, an eight:
For adder is as adder basks.

When a recent edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was released, someone noticed that about forty words from nature had been eliminated, replaced with words from technology. The justification was simple: children are no longer using those words because they are no longer spending time outside. So, words like “adder” and “heather” and “dandelion” no longer matter to children, but words like “blog” and “broadband” and “voicemail” are valuable.

Rather than simply complain, writer Robert MacFarlane and illustrator Jackie Morris decided to try some magic. They wrote a “spell book.” MacFarlane wrote twenty poems using words that were “lost” to the dictionary. Morris then illustrated those poems with lovely paintings that bring the words to life. Their hope is to introduce some of the missing words to a new generation, and hopefully to inspire some of them to go out and enjoy those things for themselves.

The poems are anagrams of the words, so they vary in length. The shortest is “ivy,”
I am ivy, a real high flyer
Via bark and stone I scale tree and spire
You call me ground cover; I say sky-wire.

Kids and adults alike will love the beautiful illustrations, and MacFarlane’s poems do work a spell on the reader. He is a lover of words and the poems show his love and appreciation for language and for the outdoors. Whether the book of spells works its magic on the makers of dictionaries remains to be seen, but it definitely captured this reader’s heart.

This book could be a children’s book, though my library has cataloged it in the adult section. They are also not wrong. Both children and adults will enjoy the whimsical and lyrical poems as well as the lush paintings that accompany them. I am glad that I found The Lost Words.

Also see Book Review: Landmarks, Robert MacFarland

The Lost Words

Book Review: The Lost Words, Robert MacFarland & Jackie Morris

Book Review: Martin Rising: Requiem for a King, Andrea D. Pinkney

Book Review: Martin Rising: Requiem for a King, Words by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Illustrations by Brian Pinkney

Martin Rising: Requiem For a King, Andrea Davis Pinkney

Poetry:  Martin Rising: Requiem for a King, Andrea Davis Pinkney

Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Three days later, I turned two years old. I only say that to put my age into the context: Dr. King’s murder has essentially been historical fact for me my entire life. When I began reading Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney (illustrated by her husband, Brian Pinkney), I was 51 years removed from the fact of his death. I knew how the story ended.

 

And I wept. I wept for a man who died when I was a toddler. I wept for a people who lost their shining light half a century ago. I wept for a nation whose conscience was slaughtered on a motel balcony in Memphis. I wept for myself and the loss of a hero I never knew while he was alive.

 

Martin Rising is so many things. The standard words we use for poetic works all apply: powerful, elegant, majestic, etc. Pinkney’s poems capture the cadence of the best of African American preaching. They are rhythmic. They are memorable. They read like they are meant to be spoken aloud to a church.

 

I think the word I would use, though, is “unexpected.” I did not expect them to hit my heart so strongly that I cried for a man who died before I could understand death. I did not expect Henny Penny to take on the role of Greek chorus. I did not expect the metaphors of stormy weather and of chicks hatching to hit me so hard. I did not expect the illustrations of King’s children to become blurry through my tears. I did not expect to laugh at the thought of grown men having a pillow fight. From beginning to end, Martin Rising was unexpected.

 

The Pennsylvania Center for the Book 2019's Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award to Andrea Davis Pinkney for her work Martin Rising: Requiem for a King
The Pennsylvania Center for the Book 2019’s Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award to Andrea Davis Pinkney for her work Martin Rising: Requiem for a King

Martin Rising: Requiem for a King is the 2019 Lee Bennett Hopkins award winner for Children’s Poetry. I would not take away a well-deserved award, but I did not read this as a children’s book despite the exquisite illustrations. Martin Rising deserves a place on anyone’s shelf. Yes, children can appreciate the poetry and the cadence and the rhythms and the pictures. So will adults. Buy the book for your children or your grandchildren–but don’t be surprised if you end up shelving it with your more grown-up tomes.

 

Just, make sure you’ve got some tissues handy while you read.

 

Brian Pinkney and Andrea Davis Pinkney discuss Martin Rising: Requiem for a King: the Pennsylvania Center for the Book 2019's Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award winner
Brian Pinkney and Andrea Davis Pinkney discuss Martin Rising: Requiem for a King: the Pennsylvania Center for the Book 2019’s Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award winner

The Pinkneys will be at State College’s 2019 PA Bookfest on Saturday, July 13, 2019 to receive the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award. This week we are featuring authors who will be part of the bookfest, part of an annual tradition we started last year.

Martin Rising: Requiem For a King, Andrea Davis Pinkney

Book Review: Martin Rising: Requiem for a King, Words by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Illustrations by Brian Pinkney

Book Review: Egg, Kevin Henkes

Book Review: Egg, Kevin Henkes

Board Book: Egg, Kevin Henkes

Kevin Henkes, award winning Caldecott artist, created a book with a perfect story structure. The Egg has 15 words used in repetition to enhance story tension and warm watercolor panels in a graphic novel layout for toddlers and preschoolers. This book has it all: a surprise twist, building emotional drama, and a happy ending. Also, the book includes an epilogue with a one word cliffhanger ending worthy of a marching lemming.

Readers are immediately drawn into the story of a single egg before, during and after hatching a _____ (spoiler alert)!

Egg packs a lot of punch in a small space.  The words range from onomatopoeia “crack” to a vocabulary building 4 syllable “miserable.” Since repeat readings will be in demand by discerning audiences, vary the cadence and tone when reading the pages that use the same word over and over again. For example, try reading the “waiting” page by increasing volume and speed with each repetition. In the same way, read the “peck” page in a 3/4 or waltz rhythm.

The title and soft pastels of this book may lead a few into pigeon-holing this selection into spring only read-alouds, along with the obligatory bunnies and flowers.  However, the enduring theme of friendship in the book will make it a favorite for repeat re-readings. In addition, the sturdy board book edition makes the Egg accessible to the youngest page turners.

The Egg is sure to be a family favorite and seasonal children’s classic for spring and all year round.

Book Review: Egg, Kevin Henkes

Also see

Booklist: Spring Books for Shared Reading with Children

Booklist: Bunny Books for Shared Reading with Children

Book Review: Gmorning, Gnight: Little Pep Talks for Me & You, Lin-Manuel Miranda

Book Review: Gmorning, Gnight: Little Pep Talks for Me & YouLin-Manuel Miranda and Illustrations by Jonny Sun

Poetry: Gmorning, Gnight: Little Pep Talks for Me & YouLin-Manuel Miranda and Illustrations by Jonny Sun

If you are on Twitter and not following Lin-Manuel Miranda, you are missing out. He regularly tweets short poems/phrases/words of encouragement to start the day (Gmorning) and then follows them up by echoing the sentiments later in the day (Gnight). He has collected many of those tweets into a book, GMorning, Gnight: Little Pep Talks for Me & You, and frankly, you should buy a copy for yourself, your loved ones, your neighbors, random strangers you meet in the park, and anyone who has to keep working at this thing we call “life.”

 

Miranda is probably still best known for his musical Hamilton, but he is also starring in Mary Poppins Returns, wrote music and lyrics (and sang) for Disney’s Moana, and wrote and starred in the Tony winning musical In the Heights. He has won multiple Tonys, a Pulitzer Prize, Grammys, an Emmy, and has been nominated for an Oscar, among the many other prizes he has been nominated for or won. He also received a MacArthur “Genius” Award. This work probably will not get him his second Pulitzer, but it is pithy, heartfelt, and poignant.

 

Miranda encourages. His introduction (in rhyming couplets!) tells us:

Most often the greetings I wish you

Are the greetings I wish for myself.

 

So if I write “relax,” then I’m nervous,

Or if I write, “cheer up,” then I’m blue.

I’m writing what I wish somebody would say,

Then switching the pronoun to you.

 

This book is not meant to be a deep exploration of the human condition. It is meant to connect. And this is a good thing. We cannot always understand. We don’t always need to understand. Sometimes what we need to do is remember that we are not alone, that we are surrounded by people who have the same needs and feelings and desires and dreams and fears and disappointments that we do. Sometimes we just need to know that we are loved, that we are wanted, and that the world is survivable together. That’s why I say buy this book for everyone you love–even for everyone you just know. We all need this, and although Miranda wrote the words and Sun drew the pictures, if the book comes from you then the connection comes from you and that may be exactly what someone needs!

 

Good morning, stunner.

You’re just getting started.

Your age doesn’t matter.

The sun is up, the day is new.

You’re just getting started.

 

Good night, stunner.

You’re just getting started.

Your age doesn’t matter.

The stars are out, the night is warm.

You’re just getting started.

 

Jonny Sun’s illustrations are simple but profound. The basic line drawings put the words into images, sometimes whimsical, sometimes moving. In a powerful combination of word and drawing (written the day of the late Anthony Bourdain’s suicide), Miranda writes in all caps: “YOU ARE LOVED AND WE LIKE HAVING YOU AROUND.” Those words are rendered into a picture of multiple hands holding onto ropes, with the knots in the ropes forming the words.

 

It’s not Hamilton. But Hamilton is not for everyone. Gmorning, Gnight is a book for everyone (though parents be warned that sometimes Manuel has a “potty mouth”). Seriously, buy one for yourself. You could use the encouragement!

Book Review: Gmorning, Gnight: Little Pep Talks for Me & YouLin-Manuel Miranda and Illustrations by Jonny Sun

Booklist: Beach Reads for Kids, Shared Reading with Children

Booklist: Beach Reads for Kids, Shared Reading with Children

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Booklist: Beach Reads for Kids, Shared Reading with Children

Planning a trip to the beach with your family? Be sure to pack a few of these beach read books for the day.

Beach reads are typically those books from your to be read pile that you save for down time on vacations. Some favorite beach read genres are adventures, romances, and other light reading that takes you away from your daily routine. Beach reads to share with your children are beach and ocean themed books. Read these books together to build family traditions, enhance travel time, and/or create a knowledge base for young children. Most of all beach reads for shared reading are fun books for your family. Use these beach reads to start conversations with your child.

Before you leave on your trip be sure to share with your children Elise Parsley’s If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, Don’t!  This book is sure to ease the inevitable negotiations on what to pack and what not to pack for your family’s day at the beach. Just be sure to pack a few extra large zip top plastic bags for safely transporting your books!

Before Shared Reading with Children

For young children, reading a book about a trip to the beach can provide them an introduction to a new experience. Even if your family does not visit a beach, a book about playing on the beach can provide ideas for sandbox play, water play, and spark creative use for other sensory materials like sea shells or boat and float toys.

During Shared Reading with Children

Talk with your child during the shared reading. When talking with young children use Child Directed Language (CDL). Child Directed Language includes raising the pitch of your voice and having a rhythmic cadence for your speech while maintaining eye contact with your child. It also substitutes simpler vocabulary or even recognizable sounds for more difficult or longer words. Examples include onomatopoeia — “tick tock” for the word “clock” or “time” and using fewer syllables or more descriptive phrases — “train” or “choo choo” instead of “locomotive engine.” Most of all, Child Directed Language builds in expectation and time for responses from the child. There is a give and take. Make it a two-way exchange of communication with your child, like a volleyball passing from team to team instead of a batter hitting a ball to a fielder. This way a foundation for shared communication is built instead of merely a quiz situation between the adult and child.

Child Directed Language by Age Groups

For babies, when reading use the “point — label — pause” technique. This will provide a pattern, so when your child is able to vocalize and/or repeat single words they will have a structure for learning new vocabulary from the pictures.

For toddlers, point out the sequence of events for the story. This will build the awareness that stories have steps that they follow that are logical and time-ordered. You can do this by reviewing what just happened on the previous page(s) — predicting what might happen next — then discussing if the prediction was correct.

For preschoolers, point out cause and effect in stories.  Preschoolers are learning how to understand plot. They can work on identifying how the character’s actions affect the story — bringing a piano to the beach creates problems that are not fun.

Older children can bring in prior knowledge and experience to conversations about the books by adding facts or background experiences to the story (“remember when we …”). Older children can also compare and contrast observations of characters’ actions, intentions, and actual outcomes in the story.

After Shared Reading with Children

For children with experience visiting a beach, books can be a way of remembering activities. Their prior knowledge with a real beach can enhance discussions on pictures and activities in the books. Use your child’s experience on a beach to compare what is the same and what is different between what they remember and what is shown in the book.

Keep the concepts about beaches and oceans at the forefront of your child’s memories. Reread your child’s favorite book. Then add on other books or experiences to keep the theme going — create crafts/art projects with sand, sea shells, or photos. Create a small scrapbook with mementos to help your child remember their trip to the beach.

Booklist: Beach Reads for Kids, Shared Reading with Children

Nostalgic Beach Reads

The first few books on the list are old fashioned picture books with a beach theme. Parents and grandparents may remember these books from their childhoods. Establish a tradition — now’s the time for the next generation to share in the reading experience.

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Just Grandma & Me, words and pictures by Mercer Mayer is a picture book for preschoolers,  ages 2-5. Little Critter, goes to the beach with his grandma – a happy day, a few small adventures, and a delightful relationship. Young parents may remember having this book read to them when they were preschoolers.

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Margaret Wise Brown’s The Little Island, Leo Lionni’s On My Beach There are Many Pebbles, and Kathy Jackson’s A Day at the Seashore are nostalgic picture books. Some grandparents of young children may have had these titles read to them the first time they went to the beach. These books are great before a short nap under a beach umbrella or after a day in the sun. The retro colors of the pictures are soothing and calming after bright sunlight and exuberant colors found at a day at the beach.

 

Baby & Toddler Board Book Beach Reads

Sturdy board books to share with your baby or toddler at the beach.

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Neil Gaiman & Adam Rex’s Chu’s Day at the Beach.  Follow Chu’s fun and frolic at the beach.

Karen Katz’s Where’s Baby’s Beach Ball has lift the flaps for babies to explore.

Adam Gamble’s & Cooper Kelly’s Good Night Beach. A great way to end your day at the beach is to transition to your night time routine. Read a about a family watching sunset on the beach.

 

Favorite Characters for Preschooler Beach Reads

Preschoolers enjoy sharing books with favorite characters.  It provides them with a sense of familiarity and stability. Preschoolers will also enjoy that the characters in the book do the same things at the beach that they do, such as play in the sand and play in the water.

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In Daniel’s Day at the Beach, Daniel Tiger goes to the beach with his family and friends from PBS’ Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Toddlers who enjoy learning social skills from this show will recognize the play and learn format from the videos.

Biscuit’s First Beach Day— words by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, pictures by Pat Schories, will be familiar to preschoolers and early readers who have shared reading experience with any of the other Biscuit adventure book.

In Amy Slansky’s These Little Piggies Go to the Beach the piggies from the childhood finger play “This Little Piggie ____” star in this picture book.  With naked toes at the beach this book will be a happy break from playing in the sand.

 

Beautiful Books for Beach Reads

The following books have gorgeous pictures. Children of all ages will appreciate the artwork when they need a bit of break or  quiet time on the beach.

 

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David Wiesner’s Floatsam is a Caldecott medal, wordless picture book. The pictures tell a complicated story of a boy finding a camera on a beach and discovers the camera has recorded its travels around the world and deep under the ocean.

Suzy Lee’s Waveis another wordless picture book. The pictures show the story of a little girl be friending and playing with an ocean wave at the beach. Similar to the opening scene of Disney’s Moana.

Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach is also a Caldecott winner. This picture book shares the story of a city family spending time together on the roof top of their apartment building, pretending that it is their tar beach.

 

Science Beach Reads for Learning and Doing

For elementary aged children, here’s a pair of science themed books for the beach.

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The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor, the words are by Joanna Cole and the pictures by Bruce Degan. Teacher extraordinaire, Ms Frizzle takes her class on a field trip to the beach which of course turns into an exploration on the Ocean floor.

Lessons from the Sand: Family-Friendly Science Activities You Can Do on a Carolina Beach (Southern Gateways Guides) — combines science and science activities for families to enjoy together while visiting a beach.

 

Beach Read Explorations

Sand, rocks, surf, and tidal pools – beaches are great places to explore. Discover a little more territory with the following adventures.

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In Frane Lessac’s My Little Island, a boy explores a Caribbean island with his friend.

Scott O’Dell won the Newbery award for Island of the Blue Dolphins. In the novel, Karana, a native American girl, survives and thrives on an island all by herself for 18 years. An exciting read for children ages 7 – 10 or grades 2 – 5.

 

Also see for grown-ups and young adults: Booklist: Fun Summer Reads

 

Booklist: Beach Reads for Kids, Shared Reading with Children

Book List: Astronaut Books for Shared Reading with Children

Book List: Astronaut Books for Shared Reading with Children

Growing-up to be an actual astronaut is a daunting and competitive career path considering how many astronauts there really are in the world.  So why is it that so many children have dreams of working or living in space? Perhaps it is the adventure that challenges the imagination and compels the dreams — equating the vastness of space with the unlimited opportunities it could provide. The following shared reading book list features both nonfiction/biography books as well as fictional works to inspire your child’s interest in adventures in space.

Before Shared Reading

Ask your child questions about the book cover – encourage your child to make predictions about the story or book information based on the cover elements: title, author, illustrator, picture, book blurb/summary. Share any background information you have about the book, for example: our library newsletter said this said this book won an award for _____.

During Shared Reading

Asking questions is a great way to make shared reading more interactive. Remember to balance the number of questions asked with the flow of the story, so your child maintains interest in both reading and talking about the book.

Also maintain a balance in the kinds of questions asked. Alternate quiz type questions with question prompts for your child’s input about the story or topic.  For instance, if it looks like your child is getting distracted, then point to a picture and ask a simple fact finding question (What color is ___? How many ____ are there?  Where is ___?) to draw your child’s attention back to the page and story.  In order to deepen understanding or clarify concepts, ask open-ended questions it connect your child to the text and encourage critical thinking (Why do you think the character did ___? How would you feel if ___ happened to you? What do you think will happen if  ___?)

After Shared Reading

You can encourage your child to ask questions about a story or book topic by: wondering aloud about ___, pretending to ask the author about ____, or taking turns asking each other questions during a re-read session. Ask your child to share a simple book review: What was their favorite part of the book? Why? Does this book remind them of any other books?

Provide your child with the opportunity to ask their own questions about a story or book topic. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer to a question. Use that as an opportunity to work together find answers. Model for them a simple research process: writing questions down, looking for answers in credible resources, discussing if you’ve gathered enough information to satisfy your child’s question and curiosity, and then writing down the answer as well as any new questions.

Nonfiction Astronaut Books for Shared Reading with Children

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Chasing Space

Leland Melvin

Nonfiction Memoir Ages 8 – 12

LeLand Melvin narrates his journey from NFL draftee, through injuries and accidents, to serving as an astronaut on the International Space Station.  There is also a grown-up version of the book.

 

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The Darkest Dark

Words by Chris Hadfield

Pictures by the Fan Brothers

Picture Book Memoir Ages 4- 8

Before Chris Hadfield grew-up to be an astronaut, he was a little boy who was afraid of the dark.

 

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Mae Among the Stars

Words by Roda Ahmed

Pictures by  Burrington

Picture Book Ages 4 – 8

Celebrates Mae Jemison’s persistance to become the first African-American woman to travel in space.

 

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Sally Ride: A Photobiography of America’s Pioneering Woman in Space

Tam O’Shaughnessy

Nonfiction Biography Ages 10 – 14

Traces the journey of Sally Ride as America’s first woman in space with vivid details that share her personality behind the headlines.

 

Fiction Astronaut Books for Shared Reading with Children

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Max Goes to the Space Station

Words by Jeffrey Bennett

Pictures by Michael Carroll

Picture Book, Ages 7 – 9

In this book, Max the dog not only goes to a space station, he also saves it! Note the side text boxes with scientific information which can be shared during or after follow-up re-readings of the story. Part of the 2014 Storytime from Space Project when this book was actually read on the international space station. Also, part of an award winning series of books.

 

 

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Space Boy

Words and Pictures by Leo Landry

Picture Book, Ages 4 – 7

Nicholas takes a picnic adventure to the moon to enjoy the quiet solitude of space before bedtime. Great for children who need a little quiet time in their routine to re-charge and re-group.

 

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Green Wilma, Frog in Space

Words and Pictures by Tedd Arnold

Picture Book, Ages 4 – 8

Green Wilma, a frog, and Blooger, a baby space alien, accidentally get their places switched between earth and a space ship. Oops! Can they get home again before supper? Children who enjoy the Hi! Fly Guy series will adore this quirky book. This book was also an IRA-CBC Children’s Choice book and a PBS Storytime featured selection.

 

 

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CatStronauts Mission Moon

Drew Brockington

Graphic Novel, Ages 8 – 12, First of Series

In a universe populated by cats, a brave team of CatStronauts are on a mission to establish a solar energy power plant on the moon.

 

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George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt

Words by Lucy and Stephen Hawking

Illustrated by Garry Parsons

Chapter Book, Ages 8 – 12, First in a Series

Professor Stephen Hawking and his daughter Lucy co-wrote this series. Best friends George and Annie team-up for an across the universe scavenger hunt discovering the wonders of space and space travel. Includes reference information, essays, and photographs from the latest space research.

 

 

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Mousetronaut

Words by Mark Kelly

Pictures by C. P. Payne

The story of Meteor, the mouse,  was inspired by an actual mouse that flew with astronaut Mark Kelly on the space shuttle Endeavor.

 

Book List: Astronaut Books for Shared Reading with Children

 

 

 

Booklist: Books with Poems & Rhymes for Shared Reading with Children

Booklist: Books with Poems & Rhymes for Shared Reading with Children

 

Use poetry and song lyrics to introduce your child to the interesting sounds in language. Explore poetry pieces and nursery rhymes with alliteration, rhyming couplets, and onomatopoeia.

For older children who enjoy structure, patterns, and math try sonnets with iambic pentameter and haikus.

Some children find poems where the printed text falls into artistic shapes that reflect the content of the poem interesting. Children who enjoy graphic novels where the text is part of the artwork find this type of poem appealing.

With so many variations and styles across so many topics, there is a form of poetry that will interest your child. Poetry is the sound bite of language. Snippets of poetry can convey intense emotions and is a fantastic platform for exploring feelings, words, and how to express one’s self.

Before Shared Reading

Children understand more words that they hear than they express or speak. Sharing poems with your child will help them develop their listening-comprehension skills as well as their vocabulary.

Try and read the poem out loud to yourself, in order to find the words you want to emphasize and to adjust to the flow of the words. Before reading, talk to your child about any special words. Point out that word(s) and clarify the meaning in a way that your child can understand if it is a new word. For older children, spend a few moments looking up the new word(s) in a children’s dictionary.

 

During Shared Reading

During the reading, ask your child to let you know when they hear the word or have them touch the word on the page if they recognize it. Provide positive feedback, when your child recognizes the new word(s) and remind them of the definition of the new word within the context of the poem.

 

After Shared Reading

Celebrate a Poem in Your Pocket day by creating a no -sew fabric poem book: Using fabric markers and light colored bandannas or handkerchiefs or pre-cut quilting squares (hemmed with iron-on interfacing), decorate the cloth with the words of your child’s favorite nursery rhymes, song lyrics or poems. Do one cloth a day for a week, letting your child keep the poem “page”in their pocket to “read” throughout the day. At the end of the week turn the poem cloth squares into a book with a simple binding of safety pins hot glued shut to prevent any accidents.

 

Write a poem together using poem pebbles. Brainstorm a list of favorite words – nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs. Using a permanent marker write a single word on a pebble. Pile all of the pebbles together, then create a poem using your word pebbles to build starter phrases. You can do a variation of this activity using sticky notes or index cards for even more words. For older children, use a rhyming dictionary to create a list of interesting words, for example, see Merriam-Webster’s Rhyming Dictionary.

 

Booklist: Books with Poems & Rhymes for Shared Reading with Children

Goodnight Songs

Lullabies by Margaret Wise Brown

Illustrated by 12 Award Winning Picture Book Artists

Picture Book, Ages 3 – 6

A treasure literally uncovered in a barn, these lullabies by the author of Good Night Moon and other classic children’s books are presented with the artwork unique to each piece by different illustrators. Read one lullaby before bedtime as a part of your night time routine.

The Random House Book of Poetry for Children

Selected by Jack Prelutsky

Pictures by Arnold Lobel

Illustrated Book, All Ages

With 575 poems to choose from there will be a poem, that appeals to your child’s taste in this selection. In addition, there are plenty of poems to experiment with in terms of style and topics.

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Little Poems for Tiny Ears

Poems by Lin Oliver

Pictures by Tomie dePaola

Board Book, Babies and Toddlers

Specifically for babies and toddlers, these poems are simple explorations into the sounds of language on topics familiar to tiny people.

 

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Poetry for Kids: Robert Frost

Poems by Robert Frost

Edited by Jay Parini

Pictures by Michael Paraskevas

Illustrated Book, Ages 9 – 12

Each poem is featured on its own colored spread. Also see in the Poetry for Kids series, Emily Dickinson and William Shakespeare

 

 

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Where the Sidewalk Ends

Poems and Pictures by Shel Silverstein

Illustrated Book, All Ages

One of the classics of modern childhood, this book was the first exploration in to poetry in elementary schools for several generations. This anniversary edition, includes an update with 12 extra poems. Also see by the same author,  A Light in the Attic

 

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Science Verse

Poems by Jon Scieszka

Pictures by Lane Smith

Picture Book, Ages 7 – 11

Science and poetry find a happy mix in this delightful collection of science themed works. Also see Math Curse and Grapes of Math

 

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I’m Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-ups

Words by Chris Harris

Pictures by Lane Smith

Illustrated Book, Ages 7 – 11

Laugh out loud poems filled with exuberance and zany wit. This collection is on numerous award and best of lists. You are sure to find something to tickle the funny bone. These are great to read out loud if you can keep from laughing while reading at the same time.

Booklist: Books about Books for Shared Reading with Children

Books about Books for Shared Reading with Children

 

Books were an everyday part of my boys’ life from the time that they were very little. Instead of wanting to sleep with a plush toy, they all opted to sleep with their current favorite book at night. And of course, they all tried the flashlight under the covers to read past bedtime trick. When Son #2 was in elementary school, he was devastated to learn that books were for the serious purpose of homework and learning because until he reached 3rd grade, he thought that books were only for fun like toys. Harsh reality of life for the poor little guy in 3rd grade. To encourage a love of books and reading try a few of these books about books, where books and stories are central to the overall plot.

 

Before Shared Reading

Review and label the parts of a book including the little noticed sections like the gutter, end pages, and dedications.  Books also include information about their publishing including the country where the book was actually printed and the fonts or type used for the lettering. If you have a library book edition, you may notice that the brightness of the inks maybe vary depending on the age of the book – recently published books tend to have more vibrant colors while older books have more muted colors due to advances in printing. Exam some of these usually overlooked details to find out something new about the book and how it was made.

 

During Shared Reading

Periodically talk about the importance of stories or books and the role it plays in the overall plot. Also, ask your child how they would feel, if they were in the main character’s place. Would they feel the same way about stories and books?

 

After Shared Reading

Look at the back of the book and see if there are any author notes. Some authors write letters to their readers to help the reader connect and understand the book better or the writer’s thought process. Sometimes there are also questions in the back of the book that can be used to encourage discussion on the book.

Make a point to ask your child to share a simple story with the family — about their day, favorite events, challenges they faced. Share a story yourself. All books start out as a story in the imagination of the author before it is written down — your child can be a storyteller or writer as well.

 

Picture Books about Books for Shared Reading with Children

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How This Book Was Made

Words by Mac Barnett

Pictures by Adam Rex

Picture Book Ages 4 – 8

Go behind the scenes or rather inside the scene, to see how this book was made — with a big dose of humor in the form of a tiger and pirate. Also see other “meta-books” with a sense of humor: My Worst Book Ever, words by Allan Ahlberg and pictures by Bruce Ingman; Once Upon a Zzz, words and pictures by Maddie Frost; Whose Story is this Anyway? words by Mike Flaherty and pictures by Oriol Vidal; as well as, Help We Need a Title, words and pictures by Herve Tollet.

 

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This Book Just Ate My Dog!

Words and Pictures by Richard Byrne

Picture Book, Part of a Trilogy Ages 4 – 8

Bells dog disappears into the gutter of the book, the fold in the middle of the book when it is spread apart. Follow her adventure to rescue her dog as well as those who try to help her. Also see by the same author, This book is Out of Control! and We’re in the Wrong Book! For another carnivorous book tale see — Open Carefully: A Book with Bite, words by Nick Bromley and pictures by Nicola O’Bryne. Also enjoy the classic although not carnivorous, from Sesame Street, The Monster at the End of this Book.

 

 

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I am a Story

Words and Pictures by Dan Yaccarino

Picture Book Concept Ages 4 – 8

Reminds readers about the power of storytelling to bring people together — past, present, future — no matter what format or shape the story takes.

 

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A Child of Books

Words by Oliver Jeffers

Pictures by Sam Winston

Picture Book Ages 5 – 12

The guide, A Child of Books, takes a young boy and the reader through a  delightful adventure of the wonder of words, storytelling, and books. Includes snippets from classic children’s literature. Will be an encouragement to new readers and an inspiration to capable readers.

 

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How Rocket Learned to Read

Words and Pictures by Tad Hill

Picture Book Ages 3 – 7

Parents’ Choice Silver Honor

A little yellow bird teaches Rocket the puppy how to read. Also see by the same author, Rocket Writes a Story and Rocket’s Mighty Words. Great choice for new readers and those just starting to learn.

 

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Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books

Words by Kay Winters

Pictures by Nancy Carpenter

Picture Books Memoir Ages 5 – 9

Shares the story of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood love of books and how reading helped him grow into the man who became the 16th President of the United States. See also Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora.

 

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How to Read a Story

Words by Kate Messner

Pictures by Mark Siegel

Picture Books Concept Ages 5 – 8

Reminds readers of the perfect process for reading a story.

 

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A Squiggly Story

Words by Andrew Larsen

Pictures by Mike Lowery

Picture Books Ages 4 – 8

Reminds readers, that they too can be writers and authors and it all starts with one letter.

 

Chapter Books about Books

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Matilda

Roald Dahl

Chapter Book Ages 8 – 12

Matilda loves books. She also has a secret superpower that she uses to save herself from the dreaded head of the school. Also enjoy the 1996 PG movie adaptation of Matilda which was a family favorite through the elementary and yearly middle school years, for more on the movie see https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/matilda 

 

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The Librarian

Eric Hobbs

Chapter Book, Part 1 of a Series, Ages 8 – 12

A fantasy adventure, where the characters from classic children’s literature come alive in Astoria’s library.

 

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The Story Thieves

James Riley

Chapter Book Part 1 or a Series Ages 8 – 12

Owen teams up with classmate, Bethany, who is really a fictional character, to rescue her father by jumping into his favorite book for an amazing fantasy adventure.

 

Young Adult Novel about Books

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The Book Thief

Marus Zusak

Young Adult Fiction Ages 12 and Up

In 1939 in Nazi Germany, Liesel steals books to read to her foster family and the Jewish man seeking refuge in their basement. Also see the 2014 PG-13 movie adaptation for a review see https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/the-book-thief; for more on the Holocaust read The Diary of Anne Frank.

Read more books about books and libraries:

Booklist: Books about Books for Shared Reading with Children

Booklist: Books about Libraries for Shared Reading with Children

Book Review: Summer Hours at the Robbers Library, Sue Halpern

Book Series Review: The Invisible Library, Genevieve Cogman 

Book Review: The Mortal Word, Book 5 of The Invisible Library Series, Genevieve Cogman

Book Review: The Library Book, Susan Orlean

Quote: The only thing you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library. Albert Einstein

Quote: Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation. Walter Cronkite

Quote: Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future. Ray Bradbury

Quote: At the moment that we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold, that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better. It’s an enormous force for good. Barack Obama

 

Share your favorite book about books here

 

Booklist: Books about Libraries for Shared Reading with Children

Booklist: Books about Libraries for Shared Reading with Children

 

Our boys grew up loving libraries. On son #2’s 10th birthday, by his choice, we did the two things he loved most in the world  – eat at the local Chinese restaurant and then visit the library. He had a special seat by the window in the children’s section where he would curl up and read a stack of books. Later when he was in 5th grade, he wrote a poem about the library that he gave to his favorite children’s librarian. Libraries are a safe haven that children of all ages can enjoy. Celebrate National Library Week! Visit your local library and check out some books about libraries.

 

Before Shared Reading

Depending on your child’s attention span, try reading two books in one shared reading time. Pair a story book with a concept or nonfiction book. Talk about what is the same and different between pretend stories and realistic stories.

During library story times, in addition to introducing the book’s title, author, and illustrator, librarians also include a short teaser lead-in to focus reader attention.  This teaser blurb is known as a “Book Talk”. Your local library may have a reference book of Book Talks for popular story time books or you can see examples of Book Talk in action by viewing episodes of PBS’ Reading Rainbow. Storyline Online also has great examples of Book Talks in action.

 

During Shared Reading

To build comprehension, point out what is the same and what is different between the story libraries in the books and your local library.

 

After Shared Reading

To celebrate libraries in the best way possible, plan a trip together to your local library or book mobile. Based on the book you read together discuss what to expect at the library.

During the trip talk about your local library’s policies, discuss what is age appropriate and necessary (for example, how old your child is or being able to write their own name) for your child to have their own library card. Celebrate with your child if they are ready for their own library card by checking out a book about libraries or books.

After the trip, set up a home library and role play visiting and checking out books.

 

Picture Books about Libraries for Shared Reading with Children

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The Library Lion

Words by Michelle Knudsen

Pictures by Kevin Hawkes

One day a lion drops in for the library story time; Hmmm, let’s see what happens next.

 

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The Library Dragon

Words by Carmen Agra Deedy

Pictures by Michael P. White

Sunrise Elementary has a new librarian and she’s a REAL dragon. Who’s going to be brave enough to read a book? If you love dragons, also see Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library, words by Julie Gassmanand and pictures by Andy Elkerton which has library etiquette 101 delivered with humor and rhymes. 

 

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If You Want to Bring a Circus to the Library 

Words and Pictures by Elise Parsley

Part of the Magnolia Says Don’t series

Magnolia takes the “You Can Do Anything at the Library” sign literally and sets up her own big top. Loud and proud, Magnolia learns what not to do in this cautionary tale about library etiquette.

 

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Lola at the Library

Words by Anna McQuinn

Pictures by Rosalind Beardshaw

Picture Book Ages 2 – 5

Great for introducing toddlers and preschoolers to the local library. Also see Lola Loves Stories

 

Tomas and the Library Lady

Words by Pat Mora

Pictures by Raul Colon

Picture Book Memoir Ages 4 – 8

The true story of Tomas, from a family of migrant farm workers, who learns to love reading and books from his mentor a local librarian. Tomas grew up to be the first minority Chancellor in the University of California. See also, Abe Lincoln:The Boy Who Loved Books by Kate Winters.

 

Chapter Book about Books

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Chapter Book Ages 8 – 12
Part 1 of a Series
A library that’s a locked room puzzle. Mr. Lemoncello is a game maker extraordinaire and he designed the new library! To celebrate the opening of the library, there’s going to be an overnight lock-in at the library. Kyle and friends are on a quest to escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s library.

Read more books about books and libraries:

Booklist: Books about Books for Shared Reading with Children

Booklist: Books about Libraries for Shared Reading with Children

Book Review: Summer Hours at the Robbers Library, Sue Halpern

Book Series Review: The Invisible Library, Genevieve Cogman 

Book Review: The Mortal Word, Book 5 of The Invisible Library Series, Genevieve Cogman

Book Review: The Library Book, Susan Orlean

Quote: The only thing you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library. Albert Einstein

Quote: Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation. Walter Cronkite

Quote: Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future. Ray Bradbury

Quote: At the moment that we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold, that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better. It’s an enormous force for good. Barack Obama

 

Share your favorite library story or book about libraries here