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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

After writing the post on “Raising a Reader,” I started to think about all the books my mom read to us when I was a kid. I, like any kid, definitely had my favorites. Instead of listing them all, I thought I would share some of my very favorites. It has been over 25 years since I read a lot of my childhood favorite books, and I now find myself browsing the local book store for them (once again) to share with my son. Some have been easier than others to find, as the children’s literature department has grown leaps and bounds. While seeking out for the ‘classics,’ I get excited to learn what the new children’s best-seller books are. Please let us know what your favorite books were as a child and what great new books you have found for your kids and grandkids!

Kristin’s Top 5 Children’s Books:

  1. “The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Very Hungry Bear” by Audrey and Don Wood
  2. “The Pokey Little Puppy” by Janette Sebring Lowery
  3. “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown
  4. “Thingumajig Book of Manners” by Irene Keller
  5. I love to help Mommy (really I don’t remember what name of the book is but that is what it was about. 😉

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My mom has always been an avid reader. Ever since I can remember, there has been a book on her nightstand from Jane Austen to Tom Clancy. It is a wonder to me, how I could be such the total opposite, but then I remembered my dad has never been a reader. In all truth, I think the only book he has read in the past 20 years has been a 1965 Plymouth Valiant Car Manual – a true man at heart! 

Growing up it was always a fight to get my reading hours in. My log was full of fibs on how long and what I had read – thank god for my loving grandmother helping me out with these schemes (helping…may be not). I struggled through middle and high school reading requirements as I could never read fast enough and was never disciplined enough to do all of the actual reading. I relied heavily on cliff notes and synopses from my friends. It wasn’t until I read The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, that I started to understand the love of reading. I think I have now read that book cover to cover about ten times. After college I joined the workforce, and somehow immediately caught on to the “reading frenzy” that I saw my mom experience since I was a child. I learned that, even though I am an extremely slow reader, I do truly enjoy reading. I think it was a combination of finding the right book and not having the pressure of completing it in a certain time frame. 

Reflecting upon this in the past few weeks, I have started to wonder how I can help my future son be an early reader. His dad is definitely a good reader, I actually think he should have been an English teacher, with his love of literature and grammar. One thought is to read to him often, and as he grows, encourage him to be the reader/narrator for me. I also think that once he is old enough, I want to set a nightly reading time, where he can just read by himself. My only problem with that is, I know I would be totally antsy being in one spot reading…maybe the remedy would be for him to read in a quiet communal place in the house! 🙂

What have been some ways you have encouraged your kids to read or that have made them avid readers at a young age?

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Paulo is wearing “Take Flight” from Le Top’s 2010 Fall/Winter collection.

When you schedule playdates in advanced, you hope the weather will be warm enough so you can meet up with your child’s friends at the park. I like meeting at a playground because it gives Paulo a chance to run around and burn off energy so that he naps well in the afternoon. Since we can’t always rely on the weatherman’s forecast, my Mommy friends and I always have a back-up place to meet in case it’s raining or if it’s too cold. That place is our local Barnes & Noble. Unfortunately, this is the back-up plan for everyone else, too. But that’s okay. It works out somehow.

Our bookstore has a train table in the children’s book section. They have a few trains for the kids to play with, and it’s cute (and sometimes not-so-cute) to see them learn how to share. Parents are also allowed to pick up a book from the shelves and read to their children. They have a little table and a few chairs, or you can even sit on the floor with your child on your lap and spend a quiet moment entertaining them with a story or two. Once a week, our bookstore has Story Time. The kids sit around the stage area while one of the staff members reads to the children. At the end of Story Time, they provide a small snack. Best part of Barnes & Noble? They have a Starbucks so I can order a grande soy caramel macchiato with whipped cream and enjoy drinking it while Paulo plays at the train table. Bliss!

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Today, March 2nd, is the birthday of writer Theodor Geisel, known to generations of young readers as Dr. Seuss. In his honor, it has been declared Read Across America Day by the National Education Assn. This is the 14th year that thousands of participating schools, libraries and community centers will celebrate the day by reading together.

I found out that Washington, D.C., will celebrate Read Across America Day with First Lady Michelle Obama reading “Green Eggs and Ham” at the Library of Congress at 11 a.m. She’ll be joined by actress Jessica Alba, Super Bowl champ Donald Driver, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and others.

Shall we say today is “Seuss-er-ific”?

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No, I did not say that!

Mommy: What did you do at school today?

We read an Eric Carle book and then we wrote about our favorite part in our diarrhea.”

–Miranda, age 6

Editor’s Note:
Please spread the giggles by sharing your funny quotes with us!

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The first week that I realized I was pregnant, it wasn’t a big shock.  My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for several months, and finally KABOOM! The test read positive….twice!  The first test we took, I knew something was different.  This faint vertical line was starting to appear. I rocked the stick back and forth, looked up at my husband (Aaron) and said, “I think we are pregnant! This doesn’t look like it normally does…” Sure enough, as the seconds ticked away, the vertical line was now making a “plus” sign that was getting darker and darker.  Aaron wasn’t convinced.  He thought it was too light and too indecisive.  Luckily a few weeks back I had bought a digital test for this exact reason. One of my good friends in Florida had called to tell me she was pregnant! Hooray! She said that her husband didn’t believe the faint lines and made her go get the digital test, then he was convinced.

When our digital test read out “P-R-E-G-N-A-N-T” we both got a big smile on our faces and embraced.  Finally! What we have been waiting for!  

The best part of this story is this: The whole reason we decided to take the test that night was because Aaron’s dad’s birthday was that day. He has wanted grandkids from the day we got married, and has never stopped asking. His mom even promised to handle day care for me if I had a baby by the time she was 53 (she turns 53 this October- do you think I could convince her to still do day care even if it’s a few months late? She’d still be in her 53rd year…!). So I thought, ‘Well wouldn’t that be a great birthday present?’ And sure enough it was!

We had a family birthday party a few days later, and managed to keep it a secret until then, which wasn’t an easy task! We had to wait until the end of the night for the big reveal. Aaron and I had gone out to a local bookstore and picked up four books for his dad’s birthday present: 

The Grandparents Handbook by Elizabeth LaBan

Books by Mercer Mayer

Just, Grandpa and Me, Just Grandma and Me and Bye-Bye, Mom and Dad all by Mercer Mayer .

When Aaron’s dad opened them the first thing he said was “Is this supposed to be a hint? Is there congratulations due?!” “Yes there is!” we said. And the whole family erupted in shouts of joy – all 7 siblings, two parents, a girlfriend of one of the brothers and three close friends.

Then it began….the art of telling, and NOT telling people that we were pregnant!

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The other night I was thinking about how my boyfriend’s niece loves bedtime stories (especially with voices) and how I used to love bedtime and how my mom would read to me. From Dr. Seuss to Russell Hoban’ s Bread and Jam with Frances the badger to Shel Silverstein poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends. Everyone knows there are benefits to reading to your child at bedtime, but what are those benefits exactly?

A parent who reads to his or her children provides

  • A foundation of intellectual development
  • A calming routine for healthy sleeping habits
  • Encouragement of creative and imaginative thinking
  • Strengthening the bond between a mother or father and child 

Foundation of Intellectual Development
According to Kids Health Organization, “Studies show that kids with active exposure to language have social and educational advantages over their peers — and reading is one of the best exposures to language.”

Storytelling that engages children in an imaginative way or helps them to identify everyday objects will help inspire their curiosity which will in turn enhance their listening skills and language development. Try to speak to your child about the story and provide an open dialogue.  For example, ask questions about the story or replace a character’s name with their name and point and ask about pictures in the book to make them relatable.

Calming Routine for Healthy ZZZZs
Oye veh – trying to calm down a hyper toddler before bedtime can always be a challenge, but reading in a relaxed child’s bedroom can be a good recipe to help wind down his or her energy. Continuously having story time before bedtime each night becomes a healthy routine for the child and parent alike.

Along with special mommy and daddy time to bond, the routine will encourage healthy sleep patterns and will help the child to understand that reading means quality time with his or her parents.

Creative and Imaginative Thinking
A love for books often begins in childhood. When children are encouraged to read, it stimulates their imagination and provides other forms of entertainment that are healthier and more interactive than the tube (aka the television). A parents’ role in literary development should begin early, because aiding their child in the discovery of fun and educational books pave the path for a future full of curiosity and knowledge.

To conclude – “leaders are readers” and developing your child’s reading habit begins at home – you are giving your child one of the best advantages for life for years to come.

shop Le Top’s fall 2010 collection here

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