Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Goodnight Moon

Creating a bedtime ritual with Emmy has been one of the joys of motherhood. I've always enjoyed the quiet of evening and hoped that Emmy would too. So far she seems to relish the evening as much as I do. Currently our ritual for bedtime includes deep breathing, a few songs, some special blessings and of course books. Since Emmy was a tiny baby, I've read the classic children's book Goodnight Moon (published in 1947) to her. Somehow Margaret Wise Brown figured out a way to create books that children and adults absolutely adore. Most parents I know can recite this book word for word and always with a smile. Emmy enjoys finding the mouse on each colored page. Although this book is not chosen for bedtime as much anymore, it is still one of her most beloved bedtime stories.

I find it interesting how books for children can tell us about parenting styles over the years. For example, Goodnight Moon shows an adult figure (mother, grandmother, nanny?) across the room knitting and hushing the child to sleep, Bedtime for Frances (1960) shows a dad who, due to exhaustion, threatens the child with a spanking, and finally Olivia (2000) who shows a child as a unique individual and a mother who is accepting and connected to her child. I might also mention Goodnight Gorilla (1994) who shows a boy who is definitely in charge of his own bedtime!

We have quite a collection of "night-night books" that are kept in baskets by the bed. I've been wanting to write a list of the titles, which I thought might be helpful in future gift giving as well as a great reminder to Emmy of all of her favorites. What better place for such a list than in this blog so here it goes:

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
I Love You As Much by Laura Krauss Melmed
Time For Bed by Mem Fox
Goodnight Train by June Sobel
Ten in the Bed by Penny Dale
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
Olivia by Ian Falconer
Little Bunny's Bedtime by Jane Johnson
Counting Kisses by Karen Katz
Kiss Goodnight by Amy Hest
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
Papa, Please Get The Moon For Me by Eric Carle
Wake Up, Night! by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
I Love You, Goodnight by Jon Buller and Susan Schade
The Napping House by Audrey Wood (great read right before naptime)
Lullabies and Sweet Dreams by Julie Aigner-Clark
The Prince's Bedtime by Joanne Oppenheim
Goodnight, Goodnight by Eve Rice
Only You by Robin Cruise
Corduroy's Day by Don Freeman
Goodnight Goodnight Sleepyhead by Ruth Krauss
Goodnight, Country by Susan Verlander
Sleepy Places by Judy Hindley
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Rosemary Wells
Hush Little Baby by Sylvia Long
While You Were Sleeping by John Butler
Rock-A-Bye Baby by Jeanette Winter
Let's Play by Leo Lionni
I'll See You in the Morning by Mike Jolley
Can You Cuddle Like a Koala? by John Butler
Let's Go Visiting by Sue Williams
I Like Stars by Margaret Wise Brown
The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
Mommy's Best Kisses by Margaret Anastas
Good Night New York City by Adam Gamble

Sweet dreams and goodnight!

Friday, November 21, 2008


"Clip-clop, clippity-clop..." Be ready to gallop around the living room or provide horseback rides for your little one as you read the book Clip-Clop by Nicola Smee. This book elicits smiles from the beginning to the end. Mr. Horse happily offers rides to his barnyard friends and excitement builds when they ask him to go faster. Nicola Smee builds this excitement not only through the words, but with the choice of typeface which increases as the ride gains speed, and also with the delightful illustrations.

Emmy's favorite part is when Mr. Horse skids to a HALT! and his animal friends land in a haystack "Plop! Plop! Ploppity-plot!" I must say that my favorite part is at the end when Cat and Dog and Pig and Duck cry "AGAIN!" I love hearing Emmy say that word when she has been delighted and must have an action or saying performed again and again.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bumpety Bump!

I ADORE the book Bumpety Bump! by Pat Hutchins and Emmy does too. This is the endearing story of a grandson who spends the day gardening with his Grandpa. Emmy likes to imagine herself riding in the wheelbarrow by bouncing on my legs "Bumpety bump, bumpety bump, up and down." If you are ever looking for a book for a young child, consider one by Pat Hutchins. She is a fantastic writer for young children. She uses rhythm and repetition to engage her readers and her drawings are exquisite.

Another recommendation would be Hutchin's first book Rosie's Walk. Rosie, the hen, is blissfully unaware of a sly fox trailing her as she goes out for a walk. Children love to watch the antics of the fox as Rosie manages to lead him into one accident after another. Introducing a new author to Emmy is such a delight to me. I look forward to the day when we can actually converse about the author's writing style. Until then, I will continue to answer Emmy's number one question, "What's that?" as we turn the pages of a book together.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Three Little Pigs

I must admit that my daughter is obsessed with the fairy tale Three Little Pigs. It all began over a year ago when Emmy was having a difficult time riding in the car. To entertain her, I began to tell her stories especially fairy tales. Whenever I began the story of the Three Little Pigs, she would immediately calm down and begin to listen intently. She would ask me to tell her the story again and again.

Her "Fairy Godmother" sent her a version of the Three Little Pigs by Richard Johnson that included finger puppets. A big hit! On a trip to Ohio, my friend's son gave Emmy his Disney version of the Three Little Pigs. Another hit! We recently found a fun version of the Three Little Pigs that is a "Story in a Box" by Annabelle James. It includes stand up characters kept in a drawer to retell the story. Again - a hit!

Emmy has befriended the wolf and likes to invite him over to play all the time. She knows that the brick house is the sturdiest and laughs and laughs when the wolf huffs and puffs, but cannot blow down that house. Fairy tales always have an important lesson hidden within the plot and this one has taught Emmy the importance of patience and hard work.

Emmy also enjoys watching the wolf's antics on the video Silly Symphony - Three Little Pigs.

Also a favorite is this poem by Charles Ghigna.


Pigs are playful
Pigs are pink
Pigs are smarter
than you think.
Pigs are slippery
Pigs are stout
Pigs have noses
Called a snout.
Pigs are pudgy
Pigs are plump
Pigs can run.
But never jump.
Pigs are loyal
Pigs are true
Pigs don't care for

Telling stories orally is as important as sharing them in book form. Children love to listen to their loved one's voice as he or she portrays the characters and gives tempo to the plot. Next time you're in the car with your little one, continue the tradition of oral storytelling by telling your favorite fairy tale to your child!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ollie the Stomper

It is a gloomy day here in Austin and with it brings a need to cuddle under a blanket with a hot cup of tea and read, read, read. Well, there was definitely reading minus the blanket and drink, but still an enjoyable experience especially with a warm and cuddly Emmy nestled on my lap. The book that was read again and again today was one in a series of books about some adorable goslings. It is titled Ollie the Stomper and is written by Olivier Dunrea. This book showcases the big emotions that are inside toddlers as Ollie stomps after his siblings and with frustration insists on a pair of boots for himself. Emmy loves to stomp along with Ollie and really wants a pair of her own boots. Boot shopping here we come!

A bit of information: Ollie the Stomper was created in 2003 by Olivier Dunrae. As explained by the author "As a child my major fascination was with farm animals and rocks. Most of my time was spent either taking care of livestock on our homestead or drawing them and making up stories about them. Chickens, geese and pigs are my favorites." Dunrea's gosling series is a wonderful look into the world of childhood through his endearing feathered characters.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Harry the Dirty Dog

When Emmy woke up this morning, she promptly told me that she wanted to be left alone to read. This was a first! Who am I to say no to that so off I went to have a cup of coffee. As I poured my first cup of the day, I wondered what my little reader was up to so I crept into the hallway and peeked through her door. Amazingly, my daughter was immersed in a book. Sitting beside her was a basket of books that we usually leave in the bathroom (most private place to read). She was so immersed in talking about the books to her dolls and stuffed animals that she didn't even notice me standing there. Later, at breakfast, I commented on her reading. I told her how books always fill me up with happiness and wondered if it did the same for her. She replied, yes. When asked which of the books she read today was her favorite, she quickly answered Harry the Dirty Dog. Ah, yes, the perils of a dog who did not want to take a bath. We've enjoyed reading and talking about this book over and over again for the past few months. This most recent discussion about Harry sparked the idea of starting a blog that records Emmy's journey as a reader and states our favorite book of the day. I love to talk about books, especially children's books, and welcome the opportunity to chit-chat with others who feel the same.

A bit of information: Harry the Dirty Dog was written by Gene Zion in the year 1956. It has been rereleased with splashes of color added to the illustrations by Margaret Bloy Graham. It is the first in a series of Harry books that are just as enjoyable to read. There is just something so endearing about this mischievous puppy and who can't relate to spending the day messing around getting dirty rather than bathing and becoming squeaky clean. I love the old fashioned images and the conversations that can be started related to the dog's adventures.

From birth to 2 1/2 years old

Before I start with Emmy's Book of the Day, I wanted to take a moment to record some of her reading adventures up to this point. When Emmy was a baby, many of our outings were to local bookstores where she and I would scour the bookshelves looking at all of the wonderful books to read. I remember a time early on when Emmy sat on her knees and methodically pulled every book off of one of the shelves. I did not stop her. I only watched and as I did I witnessed a gleam in her eye that some may have mistaken for mischievousness, but I saw the beginnings of an avid reader (we did put the books back on the shelf). We progressed from pulling books down to finding corners in the children's book section to sit in where we could quietly read together and in so doing we could imagine what the characters were thinking and feeling. At times, we had to get up and move the way the book character(s) might have moved - like when we read Going On A Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury. This book was made to move! With gorgeous illustrations switching from black and white to color and wonderful sound effects (Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy!) we just couldn't resist. Nowadays, I watch as my daughter chooses books and reads on her own. An absolutely amazing sight!

Some of our favorite books through the years (well two and a half years - so far):
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
Go Dog Go! by P.D. Eastman
Hands Can by Cheryl Willis Hudson
Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora
I Went Walking by Sue Williams
Chicka, Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Trains by Byron Barton
Mrs. Wishy Washy by Joy Cowley
Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins
Gossie by Olivier Dunrea
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
Olivia by Ian Falconer

And so many more!

Isn't Reading Amazing!

As I've watched my 2 1/2 year old daughter, Emmy, embark on the journey of literacy, I have been utterly and truly amazed. Among my amazements are: the way she holds a book, the way she handles the pages, the way she points to objects in a book, the way she acknowledges the characters and understands their plight, the way her voice raises and lowers in tempo as she reads, the way her face lights up with each new book adventure. I have always loved books and am absolutely delighted to be sharing this love with my daughter. As a teacher of young children, I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by wonderful authors and illustrators of children's literature. Now I get to experience these books again only this time with my precious baby girl. I can still remember when Emmy first used her hands to turn the pages in a book that we were reading. She was just two months old - it brought tears to my eyes. My hope with this blog is to create a place where I can store these memories and share them with others.