Perfect Picture Book Fridays: Julius…The Baby of the World

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of writers who contribute a picture book review and related resources.  Before I do the review, I have a few things I need to share with you.

My little poem, Fears of the Inner Child, took second place in Marylin Warner’s February Poetry Contest.  You can see all of the awesome entries on her blog: Things I Want to Tell My Mother.  

 It’s also the beginning of a new month…so we will be choosing the February winner of the Positive Parental Participation Reading Challenge and sending a picture book out in the next few days.  I know parents are so very busy…but I hope you are reading with your children every day, even if you are not able to post a comment.

 

Since February has come to an end, it’s also time to check-in with the 12 x 12 group…yes…my February picture book draft is completed.

Last, but not least, today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday!!!  For more information, resources and events, you can go to the official Dr. Seuss website

Oh…sorry…one more thing!  Don’t forget that March 7th is World Read Aloud Day…go to the LitWorld website to find out about planned events…or celebrate by reading aloud to kids.  I just got back from reading Spaghetti Eddie to 15 Pre-K children…they LOVED it!  Fifteen hands shot up when I asked “Who likes to eat spaghetti?”   Next week, to join in celebrating World Read Aloud Day, I’ll be reading Julius – The Baby of the World, to 20 Pre-K kids at Keller School. 

You can also visit Ella Johnson’s wonderful website to get more information about the NEA’s Read Across America program and to enter to win several books and hop from there to over 100 other blog sites that are hosting book giveaways.

And now…(drumroll please)…Perfect Picture Book Friday.

My picture book selection today is one of the hundred picture books I recommend in my book for parents and teachers, Show Me HowJulius: The Baby of the World is a veritable “baby” compared to some of the others I have picked…only twenty-two years old…but again, as relevant today as when it was published in 1990.

 

Julius: The Baby of the World

Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes

Publishers: Greenwillow Press

Ages: 3 – 8

Themes:

Sibling rivalry, bullying, celebrating an individual’s unique strengths and talents

Opening:

“Before Julius was born, Lilly was the best big sister in the world.  She gave him things.  She told him secrets.  And she sang lullabies to him every night.”

Synopsis:    

Lilly eagerly awaits the birth of her baby brother, but when Julius finally arrives, Lilly wishes that he would go away.  Her jealousy causes her to resent the attention her mother and father shower on Julius, even though they continue to treat her with love and affection as well.  She sings mean songs to him, tweaks his tail and draws a family portrait leaving Julius out of the picture.  Her parents call Julius, the baby of the world, but Lilly wishes he would go away so that things would go back to the way they were before he was born.  At a family party for the baby, her cousin begins insulting Julius.  What will Lilly do…join her cousin in making fun of Julius…or defend her baby brother? 

Why I like this book

Sibling rivalry is a common occurrence.  Many children resent the arrival of a new baby…and why shouldn’t they?  Now they have to share the time and attention of their parents…and sharing is a difficult skill to learn.  Reading this book to a young child who is in that situation would provide parents with a great opportunity to engage with their child and discuss how their child is feeling about the situation..allowing the child to express his or her feelings.  The author/illustrator, Kevin Henkes, uses his amazing talent for knowing just what little ones are thinking and feeling.  Lilly leans over and whispers to her baby brother, “If you were a number, you would be zero.”  The book is funny and heartwarming.  If I could change anything about the book, I would wish that Lilly was not such a bully as she insists that her cousin praise Julius.  Perhaps this is Lilly’s persona…but I would rather end with her learning a “kinder, gentler” way to encourage others to see things her way.

Related Activities:

When I read picture books to kindergarten and Pre-K classes, I always follow-up the story with a simple arts and crafts project.  Not only does this extend the learning experience, it also gives the kids a chance to talk about the story and how it relates to their own situation.

For this story, I love to make Popsicle stick puppets.  The kids love this activity…and then can do role-playing with the puppets they have made…another opportunity for them to express their feelings.  Parents can encourage  their children to put on a puppet show with the family of puppets they have made and then join in, perhaps taking the role of the child while the child becomes the mother or father. 

Popsicle Stick Puppets

You will need: Several Popsicle sticks, construction paper, markers or crayons, scissors and glue.

1.      Let your child decide how many puppets to make and who they will be.

2.      Draw the people (you can also use people cut out from magazines).

3.      Cut out the people and paste them onto the top half of each Popsicle stick.

4.      Put on a play!

The above image is from the blog of Muffin Tin Mom.

Read/Write/Think has a lesson plan for Julius the Baby of the World.

You can find lots of quick and easy instructions for Popsicle stick puppets at ehow.com here

Education.com also has great puppet-making instructions here.

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?

Hugo Oehmichen Im Kindergarten

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They say you can’t go back.

What do you think?

I remember walking into P.S. 199 as a student teacher.  I had attended this elementary school as a ten-year old sixth grader…now I was 20 years old and a senior in college, pursuing my early childhood education degree.  How small the double wooden entrance doors looked now!  How tiny the seats in the classroom seemed!

It didn’t seem to be the same school that I had stored away in my memory banks.

Since January, I’ve been presenting the SHOW-ME-HOW Story-time Reading and Crafting Program to District 11 kindergartens and Pre-K’s.  It is really great to be back in the classroom, interacting with students and teachers and parents.

But today’s kindergartens don’t seem to be the same as those stored away in my memory banks.

Why do I say that?

  • When I was teaching kindergarten (back in the 60’s and 70’s), the children learned through play and there was very little “formal” instruction.  In today’s kindergartens, I see a lot of “formal” teaching of reading and writing…not just the ABC’s.
  • When I was teaching, kindergarten was a preparation for first grade.  In today’s kindergartens, there seems to be an expectation that the children will be reading and writing by the time they enter first grade.
  • When I was teaching kindergarten, we understood that children mature in their own unique ways…while it is true that some 4½ year olds are quite capable of learning to read and write (I had several who came to kindergarten already reading and writing and speaking several languages), it is also true that many children have not yet developed the fine motor skills necessary for holding the pencil and mapping out the letters.  With reading, we have the same situation…some children have the eye-brain coordination, but some need just a little more time to physically mature.
  • In my opinion, the only advantage to “pushing” these little ones to read and write is that, if there are problems such as visual impairment or learning disorders, they may be discovered at this earlier age and intervention can be arranged.  However, the down side is that we are already labeling these young children…and often these labels stick, even if it was just a maturity issue that was the cause.
  • Almost every kindergarten teacher I have visited with has mentioned the lack of time to READ picture books to the children.  Arts and crafts are also an area that is pushed to the back burner.  Now, all of you know how passionate I am about reading to young children…and how much I believe in the importance of encouraging children to express themselves in arts and crafts activities.  I realize that the curriculum and standards are mandated by the state…teachers don’t really have control over those things and are held accountable for the levels of learning their students achieve.
  • The almost frantic pace I observed in some of the kindergartens was even stressful for me…imagine how it must be for five-year olds!  They change activities (and rooms) as if someone is surfing channels on the TV with a remote control.  Perhaps they are used to it…having been exposed to the constant mini-bytes that are prevalent even on the educational TV channels.  Again, I undertand that most of kindergarten teachers would probably prefer to go back to a “kinder, gentler” type of classroom.  Don’t get me wrong…I do believe in routines and schedules for young children…I think they thrive when they know what the plan is…I just wish it was a less hectic plan.  I know it used to be in the kindergartens stored in my memory banks.

What do you think?  Do you have a child in kindergarten?  Are you a kindergarten teacher?  Do you agree that the kindergarten of today is the new first grade?  And, do you think this is a postive or negative change?

THREE IMPORTANT REMINDERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TODAY, APRIL 9th, is the LAST day you can purchase SHOW ME HOW! at 50% off the cover price on my website: http://www.positiveparentalparticipation.com.  Parents, grandparents, teachers and daycare providers of preschoolers…please don’t delay…this unique resource is a shortcut to providing educational fun-filled self-esteem building acitivities for your children.  MOTHER’S DAY is just around the corner…what a wonderful gift this would make, even for an expectant mom!  And this is also the last day to enter to win the collection of craft supplies for your preschooler…purchase a book or fill out the contact form on my website or leave a comment on my blog about why you would like to win the prize. 

TOMORROW: Sunday, April 10th…I will be at the Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument, CO from 2-3:30pm, talking about reading, crafting and cooking with young children and signing copies of my book.  For more details, please go to www.coveredtreasures.com or call 719-481-2665.  The Book Fair (from 12:30-4pm) is for the benefit of the Tri-Lakes Community Preschool Tuition Assistance Program.  If you are local to Monument, Colorado Springs or Denver, please head on over to say hello and do your part to support early childhood education!

Tuesday, April 12th…I will be hosting Max the Dog as he continues his 36 day book blog tour.  For more details about the on-going contest and to see where he has been and where he is going, please visit: http://readwithmax.com/blogbooktour.html

Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian?

Illustration from A Picture Book for Little Ch...

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One of the stories I read to the kindergarten children is ANGUS LOST by Marjorie Flack.

Well, I could have written a story yesterday called MISS VIVIAN IS LOST!!!!

I usually print out the school’s directions from MapQuest and then several days before my scheduled visit, I take a ride over to make sure I know how to get there.  So far, I have been to 5 different elementary schools in District 11.  For some reason, my printer refused to print out the directions, so I wrote them down by hand.  And, because life just got in the way, I wasn’t able to take the dry run to Bates Elementary.

BIG MISTAKE!!!!

Misreading my directions, I took a right on Austin Bluffs instead of a left.  After going several miles, looking for the next street to turn on, I realized that something was wrong.  I called the school and was given the bad news…I had gone in completely the opposite direction.  I turned around and headed back and was able to find the general vicinity of the school…but this particular building is set back in a maze of winding streets, some of which are one way.  After calling the school office again and receiving additional instructions, I finally made it there…half an hour late. 😦

I felt really badly as I hate to be late for things…especially when others are waiting on me.  However, we were able to arrange it so that I could read the story…KATY AND THE BIG SNOW by Virginia Lee Burton.  I then took a break in the teachers’ lounge for 45 minutes while the children went to their next scheduled activity.  And, as my daughter says, “Everything happens for a reason.”  In the lounge, I met the school librarian and we began to talk about the SHOW ME HOW Story-time Program.  She wondered whether an evening presentation might be of value to the parents of the Pre-K students and told me she would speak to the Pre-K teachers about it.

At 10:20am, I made my way back to the kindergarten classroom and was able to help the children do the craft project…a snow-covered road way picture.  Again I was impressed with the creativity of the children…each made the picture from their own perspective.

 

Leaving the children finishing up their pictures, I headed over to the other kindergarten class to again read the story and work with them on the craft project.  I know both classes had a wonderful time…as I put on my coat to leave, one little girl came up and hugged me…and another said, “I love your hair, and your eyes, and your glasses.  🙂

This program is so very valuable, especially because these days, kindergarteners are the “new 1st graders”…they have set curriculums and are expected to reach various goals in reading and writing…so there is less time for listening to picture book stories and doing arts and crafts.

To me this is quite sad…so much learning takes place when young children listen to and discuss a picture book story….so many skills are acquired when they participate in arts and crafts activities.  I hope parents and teachers will head over to my website to check out my book that makes reading, crafting and cooking with young children a snap!

And please don’t forget…TWO VERY IMPORTANT UP-COMING EVENTS!!!

  • Sunday, April 10th…I will be at the Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument, CO from 2-3:30pm…talking about reading, crafting and cooking with young children and signing copies of my book.  For more details go to www.coveredtreasures.com.  The Book Fair benefits the Tri-Lakes Community Preschool Tuition Assistance Program.  If you are local to Monument, Colorado Springs or Denver, please head on over to say hello and do your part to support early childhood education!
  • Tuesday, April 12th…I will be hosting Max the Dog as he continues his 36 day book blog tour.  For more details about the on-going contest and to see where he has been and where he is going, please visit: http://readwithmax.com/blogbooktour.html

Birthdays: Special Days On Which To Reflect

Frederick Daniel Hardy - The First Birthday Pa...

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Today is my birthday!

I know that many people, especially as they get older, would rather not celebrate their birthdays.  Perhaps they think that if they don’t let people wish them “Happy Birthday” it will keep time from slipping away.  Maybe they believe that birthdays are just for young children.

For me, each birthday is an opportunity to rejoice and reflect.

I look back at the year gone by and think about everything that has happened, all that I have accomplished and all of the wonderful people whose lives have connected with mine.  This past year has been especially fruitful…my new book for parents of preschoolers was published in September.  My talented daughter and daughter-in-law set up my website and were instrumental in getting the book to look so amazing before it went to print.  I’ve met dozens of amazing moms and dads through their blogs…many have read the book and have done terrific reviews on their sites…you can read the latest one that was posted today:

http://bookdads.com/book-review/book-review-show-me-how/

And then I give thanks for today…as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift…that’s why they call it the present.”

I love my life…yes, sometimes it is incredibly busy…but I’m happy that I have the strength and energy to do what needs to be done (most of the time).

I love my family…supportive encouraging loving husband whom I’ve been married to for forty-three years, three awesome grown children who are happy in their own lives, three gorgeous (of course) smart (of course) and wonderful (of course) grandchildren and a dear sweet sister.

I love my friends…one I’ve known for over half a century and her prayers and good wishes raise me up on a daily basis; some whom I’ve just met through this amazing blog/internet/social networking phenomenon. but I feel close to them already.

And then I look forward to the future…with eager anticipation.  Another gem from Eleanor Roosevelt sums ups how I feel: “You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give.” 

I’m excited about the opportunities that I have to share my passions: for picture books and for uplifting young children.  The new SHOW ME HOW! story-time program for our local schools here in Colorado Springs has enabled me to be back in the Pre-K and kindergarten classrooms, surrounded by the eager smiling faces of young children.   And parents and teachers who use the book will be building self-esteem, developing pre-literacy skills and creating a life-long parent-child bond.

May I share one more quote from Eleanor Roosevelt? “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” 

Helping children believe in the beauty of THEIR dreams is exactly what the book does!  I realize that parents are often overwhelmed these days with juggling jobs, home, family and other responsibilities.  It is hard to find the time to plan quality activities.  That’s why the book is such a valuable tool…it is a genuine shortcut for today’s busy parents and teachers.  Everything is laid out in a simple easy-to-use format…story suggestion and summary, gentle parenting tip, eco-friendly craft project and child-friendly healthful cooking activity. 

After doing some market research, we’ve decided to try to make the book more affordable for parents and others (preschool teachers, nannies, daycare providers, grandparents) who want to purchase a copy.  From today (my birthday) until March 9th (World Read-Aloud Day…very appropriate, I think, because the book is all about the importance of reading to young children), the book will be on sale on my website for $22.50 per copy with FREE shipping.  I am taking away the BOGO event, as that required people to purchase two copies at the same time.  I hope that everyone who has been thinking about getting a copy, but were hesitant because of the price, will hop over and grab one…or more…I’ve been told they make great gifts for baby showers. 🙂

So now I will post this to my blog and close the computer and enjoy the rest of my special day!  There is definitely an ice-cream sundae, a bowl of popcorn and a good movie in my plans for today!