Merry Fairy Birthday Book Review

September is always a big month in my world, with the start of a new school year and Molly’s birthday. I’m still kind of shocked that I’m going to have a three year old (eek), but not gonna lie I do like sharing all of my favorite things with her at this age. She has recently gotten into Disney princesses and has been requesting to be read to more often. Today’s book is the perfect combination of all things Molly.

Merry Fairy Birthday, by Melissa Spencer, is a delightful story about a birthday girl receiving colorful fairy presents.

First, I really love how girly this book is. The little girl in the story gets dressed up in a sparkly party gown and is surrounded by fairies. The illustrations are a combination of realistic pictures and hand drawn images, with fabulous colors that make the text engaging. I really wanted to run my fingers over the sequins on the party dress.

The teachermom in me got very excited with the writing style. It is fun and creative with a little bit of rhyming thrown in. I really liked the use of ‘hue’, which is a word not often seen in picture books. I think the vocabulary is a little challenging for a beginner reader to read on their own, but it’s a great read aloud book.

Now to my favorite part…the fairy gifts! It may be my Disney brain or the fact that Molly watched Sleeping Beauty for the first time two weeks ago, but I had an immediate text to media connection. The fairies present the birthday girl with gifts based on colors of the rainbow. Similar to Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, the gifts are qualities for a little girl to use her whole life. I LOVED that the gifts were not material objects, like a tea set or a baby doll, but were things like success and happiness. It leaves readers with a beautiful message and instills self-confidence in young readers. Especially when the birthday girl was given green, which is the gift of curiosity and ambition. It’s very girl power without the punch.

Personally, I think this would make an adorable birthday gift for a little girl. This book will definitely have a home on Molly’s bookshelf (see what else is on her shelf here). I plan on reading Merry Fairy Birthday with Miss Molly this month as we get ready to celebrate her special day.

To purchase the book click here

The Enchanted Hour Book Review

I have always believed in the power of read alouds at home and in the classroom, even if students can read on their own. I have butted heads with administrators because they felt my 10 minutes of reading at the beginning of each class was “a waste of learning time”.

Now, I can finally say, there’s a whole book about why it’s not :).

The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction by Meghan Cox Gurdon is an incredible text about the power of reading aloud.

What I liked most about this book was the mix of researched information and first hand experiences. I feel like nowadays society demands to see numbers and statistics with every piece of evidence, so when it comes to crafting a text like this one every i must dotted and every t crossed. Boy, does the author do just that. She explains research, studies and interviews with a friendly tone that doesn’t make the reader feel as though he or she is reading a college textbook.

One of the biggest pieces of research that stuck out at me was the MRI study done when children are read to. The study’s results support the idea that reading picture books aloud allows a child’s brain to interact with the text on multiple levels. Personally, I see this first hand when I read with Molly. I’ll read the text and she’ll point at the pictures and draw her own conclusions based on what she sees.

As a parent, I really liked reading about the author’s personal experiences reading with her family. I always think it’s interesting to see what books are loved and read over and over again (Treasure Island is one of the family’s faves). Cox Gurdon also throws in a little parent reflection about her daughter’s experience with Johnny Tremain. If she could go back, she would read the text aloud to her child because the text may have been a little too complex for her at the time. I LOVE that not only does the author acknowledge things could have been done a different way, but also realizes why the text may not have been a good fit for her daughter.

As parents, we all want our children to be super stars, but it’s important to realize when something, such as reading, is just a little too challenging. The author does not get defensive, but rather wishes she could go back and give her child the little extra support she needed. As the author explains, reading aloud is not cheating. It’s just simply a way to get children to appreciate good literature because they aren’t so worried about reading the words.

The teacher in me agrees with every single aspect of this book. I teach secondary reading (6-12) and I truly believe in reading aloud to kids even at this level. As I mention in previous blog posts (click here) I do this in brick and mortar and the virtual environment. Why? Because reading aloud turns kids into readers. As this text explains beautifully, it helps with vocabulary skills at all ages, helps transport children all over this world (and out) during all periods of history, and allows children to appreciate and engage with a text.

My read alouds are without a doubt my favorite part of my teaching day. As the author points out, the reader and listeners bond and have a shared experience during that time. I engage in such in depth conversations with my students during read alouds that I often find myself feeling warm and fuzzy when the time is over. Students have also expressed similar feelings during our read aloud time, and we have such a stronger bond and connection.

The biggest take away from this book is that we need to read to kids. Yes, they can play on an Ipad to learn letter sounds, but nothing can replace someone reading to a child.

And of course the fabulous Sarah Mackenzie from Read Aloud Revival had Meghan Cox Gurdaon on her podcast in June to discuss the book. It’s honestly one of the best podcast episodes from RAR. Feel free to listen to it here.

I strongly recommend this text for parents, teachers and school administrators.

 

Unicorn Growing Up Grateful Book Review

I currently work with a very special population of students who are all classified, and many deal with anxiety, depression etc. When I meet one-on-one with these students, they are usually very negative and have a hard time finding positivity in their lives. I try my best to provide them with positive reinforcement, but they often have a hard time accepting it.

Unicorn Growing Up Grateful is a journal that children can use to record positive aspects of their daily lives. There are a few different journal options to choose depending on the individual child that will be using it. The two themes are unicorns or dinosaurs. There are also two versions- one for students with disabilities or writing difficulties, and one for students who can write.

Here are the links to the four journals:
For the child who can write:
Unicorn
For the disabled child or young one not yet learned how to write:
Unicorn
Dinosaur

 

I work with students with disabilities and dysgraphia, so I chose the unicorn journal for that population of children. Visually, the journal looks like a coloring book with adorable images of a cuddly unicorn.

One of the best tools to offer students with writing disabilities is a graphic organizer. The organizer provides lots of space for a student to write or draw each day. There is a space to practice writing the date and a sentence starter for what a child is grateful for that day. My favorite aspect of the organizer is the happiness scale. Kids draw the mouth on the unicorn to indicate how happy they were that day. There is also a section for kids to reflect on the best part of their day.

I see this product being used more at home than in school. The book is a 66 page habit forming journal, so it can be used effectively during after school hours. Personally, I would have my child complete a page in the journal after dinner during reading time. Kids can use crayons,  markers, or colored pencils to color and fill in the graphic organizer while we talk about their day. I can see this as being a very powerful tool to help kids reflect on the day, their actions, etc., and to recognize the positive moments that happen every day.

For more information on this text, check out these social media pages:

website:
facebook
@ellaspearlpublishing
twitter
@wanda_roush
instagram
pinterest

Being So Small (Isn’t So Bad After All) Book Review

Fun fact: I am 4’10”. I’ve never minded being short. I enjoy having the option of shopping in the kids department (kid Uggs are much cheaper) and I like being able to swing my legs whenever I sit.

Being so Small (Isn’t So Bad After All)  by Lori Orlinsky and illustrated by Vanessa Alexandre, is a fabulous book about a mom and her daughter talking about the positives of being small.

The structure of the story is perfect. The writing structure includes rhyming, which makes the story engaging, along with some adorable illustrations! The plot flows really well and there is never a lull.

One of my favorite aspects of this text are how realistic it is. It discusses the struggles of meeting height requirements for rides and the challenges of playing basketball. My personal favorite example was that the little girl has to walk twice as fast as her friends. I have actually told people to slow down because my short legs can’t keep up with them, LOL.

My two and a half year old definitely takes after me in the height department. As a parent, I know that one day I will have a conversation with her about being small, and I can’t wait to read her this book to help illustrate a great life lesson.

Click here to check out the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Being-Small-Isnt-Bad-After/dp/1643071270/?fbclid=IwAR2kqYhnbS0reVbVA0J4u5iTMe3kcK0VLdyHmNQ6Lxv6ICz51zptOxDHlm0