Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Literacy Toolbox Review: Pam Allyn’s Best Books for Boys

May 5, 2011

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Pam Allyn here on Literacy Toolbox.  In that Q&A session, she shared her professional insight into what has influenced her work with boys, any misconceptions society has about boy readers and her advice to parents of boys.  I’m delighted to have been able to read her new resource for educators, Pam Allyn’s Best Books for Boys: How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their Lives (Scholastic 2011) and review it here.

About the Book: In this resource, Allyn thoughtfully begins with the why.  Why the focus on boys?  It’s an age old question at this point.  How do we get boys to read as much as girls?  Why is there a disparity between boys and girls in reading?  In the second section, she provides the reader with 24 questions and answers related to reading and boys, such as: How can we make boys comfortable with reading?  Does online reading count? How can I celebrate and affirm boys’ achievements in reading?  Allyn ends with an extensive annotated list of books that boys may enjoy.  She explains a coding system – labeling books with E-for Emergent Readers, D – for Developing Readers, and M – for Maturing Readers – that has more to do with a boy’s emotional development rather than his chronological age.  Books are listed by genre – genres that boys typically like.

My Thoughts: This is a fantastic resource for any educator who is interested in motivating boys to read.  It’s an easy read and provides thoughtful, ready to implement ideas to motivate boys to read in the classroom.  And, while it’s technically a resource for educators, I think parents can certainly glean useful information from this resource as well, in terms of ways to encourage reading in boys.  The language is not written in “educator vocabulary,” but instead, is rather parent friendly.  If you have sons or are a teacher of boys, I highly recommend you read Pam Allyn’s Best Books for Boys: How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their Lives!

About the Author: Pam Allyn is the Executive Director of LitWorld. She is also the Executive Director of LitLife, a nationwide education professional development consultancy.  Pam has written several books for teachers including the curriculum development guide entitled “The Complete 4 for Literacy” (Scholastic 2007) and one for parents, caregivers and educators entitled “What to Read When” (Penguin 2009).  

Disclosure:  I received a copy of the book from the publisher. 

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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Shoes for Me! by Sue Fliess

March 29, 2011

Last week, we read about bouffants, and this week, shoes!  Shoes for Me! is another cute first picture book, this time by Sue Fliess (check out her website to see a trailer of the book!).  A rhyme filled story about a hippo and her search for the perfect shoes.  Her feet have grown and it’s time for new shoes, but too many choices can leave a hippo tired and overwhelmed!  Finally, she spots a pair, but are they the perfect pair?

My daughter and I had a great time reading aloud this story.  The rhyme made it easy for her to predict words and as I read it, I would stop and let her guess what word she thought made sense.  The pictures are bright and colorful and she enjoyed going through the book and picking out her favorite pair of shoes.

I would recommend this book for ages 3-5.

Disclosure:  We received a copy of this book from the publisher.

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Teach Your Child Individuality with Big Bouffant by Kate Hosford

March 24, 2011

Big Bouffant is a cute, first, picture book by Kate Hosford (check out her website for a great trailer of the book and a video showing how to make a bouffant using a water bottle).  A little girl decides that the normal ponytails and braids just won’t do for her hair.  “I don’t want to look like all the other girls!” she says.  Inspired by her grandmother’s picture, she decides that she will have a bouffant instead.  At first the other kids laugh, but then they decide they want bouffants, too.  After she helps them make their own bouffants, she decides they are boring and she wants something new.  What does she come up with?

I really like the message of this book, especially for my daughter.  After reading it, we discussed how the little girl “marched to the beat of her own drum.”  I really enjoyed how the little girl made decisions based on her own desires and did not allow the crowd to sway her in a different direction.  This is an important message for kids to learn, but is more important, I think for girls.  Girls tend to worry about their looks and this book allows little girls to recognize that individuality is more important than what the crowd thinks.

My daughter is almost 5 and really enjoyed this story.  The rhyme of the text and the plucky character kept her engaged.  I would recommend this book for your children ages 4-8.

Disclosure:  We received a copy of this book from the publisher.

If you are looking for a book with a similar message (i.e. individuality in young girls), consider My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? by Jennifer Fosberry .

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Use One by Kathryn Otoshi to Discuss Respect with Your Child

February 3, 2011

I don’t usually review books here on Literacy Toolbox.  Instead I tend to save book reviews for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books.  More often than not, as I read a picture book, I read it with an educator frame.  In other words, how can I use this book in the classroom?  And so, books I review tend to find themselves on my educator blog.

However, I have come across several books lately that I feel parents would find helpful as well.  So, this month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share books or apps that I have recently read and/or played with my kids.

I often look for books that help me help my children with big issues, such as diversity or bullying.  Recently, I had a discussion about diversity with my four year old.  I used Whoever You Are by Mem Fox as a discussion starter.  This is the same book I read with my son when he was around the same age.  It helped me to reiterate to my children that even though people may look different on the outside, we are all the same on the inside.

One by Kathryn Otoshi

My daughter’s preschool models virtues to their students and chooses one virture (such as cooperation, respect, etc.) a month on which to focus.  As part of their virtues program, they invite parents to come in and read a book demonstrating that month’s virtue to the class.  In January, students focused on respect and I was honored to be able to read to my daughter’s class.  I immediately reached out to my Personal Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter to locate a great picture book that would demonstrate respect.  Mary Kuehner (@daisycakes), a librarian in Colorado, immediately recommended One by Kathryn Otoshi.  It was a fantastic choice.

On Monday, I read aloud One to my daughter’s Pre-K class.  It’s the story of colors, Blue is quiet and Red is a hot head.  Red likes to pick on Blue.  Yellow, Green, Purple, and Orange don’t like what they see, but aren’t sure how to stop Red.  Eventually Red becomes so big that all the colors are afraid of him.  Then One comes along and with quiet strength teaches all of the colors how to stand up and count.  All it takes is One!

This book is a bit complex, but it was simple enough that the preschoolers understood that Red wasn’t nice to Blue or the other colors and that was disrespectful.

This book would be a great book to read with preschoolers through second or third grade.  Older children would have a greater understanding of standing up for themselves or their friends.

On a side note, my daughter obviously caught some of the details and complexities of the book because after school she told me that a little girl in her class was “hot” today.  Recognizing that she was connecting to the book, I asked what happened and she told me that she stood up for herself and a friend when the “hot” girl was mean to them.

And so, with one book, I was able to help my child to better understand that it’s not OK to treat others with disrespect and it is important that we stand up for ourselves and others.  Hopefully, a few of the other students walked away with the same message.

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.