Monday, July 6, 2009

Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy – History, Jewish History, ages 10-16

I just read this story. I found it on the shelves as I hunted for books for my son to read. I am fascinated with this time and a proponent that all the Holocaust stories should be heard and remembered. This story is set down in free-verse prose by the author and it is the author’s Aunt’s story. The little girl in this story was one of only 12 children to survive the Lodz ghetto in Poland. It portrays the suffering, the injustice and the humanity of the Jews. A family’s love for their daughter holds them together and gives them courage to hide and work to Sylvia. The father’s quick thinking and bravery keep not only his child safe but 11 others. Eventually it takes 800 adults to save the remaining 12 children in the Lodz ghetto. Holocaust survivors are reluctant to share their stories because of the guilt of surviving or the terrible loss and pain suffered but every story is a treasure. This story keeps the horrors to a minimum, focusing on the love of family.

Are we there yet, Daddy? By Virginia Walters

This question becomes the bane of all parents driving down the freeway. Often this question is asked minutes after leaving the driveway and repeated for the many hundreds of miles that must be covered. The father in this book gives his son a map which he can read and mark as they travel to Grandma’s house. Every child can relate to the tedium of a long drive and each parent knows the reality of this situation all too well. It’s also a fun way to introduce maps and math to children.

Please Do Not Open This Book! by Jon Stone

If you are looking for a way to keep a small child engaged and giggling, pick up this book. Grover, from Sesame Street, entertains us with his antics as he tries to get us to stop turning pages. He is afraid of the monster that is at the end of the book. He uses all sorts of tactics, from pleading, to rope, to bricks and just old fashioned begging. The end of the book comes and the children giggle as the monster at the end of the book is none else than loveable, furry old Grover himself. No matter if they’ve read it before, it never stops the little ones from giggling as you keep turning pages and Grover’s anxiety increases. I often stop reading and close the book in the middle because I’m too scared to go on and don’t want to stress Grover. This elicits the children’s pleas for the book to continue to be read. My mom read this to us over and over as children and we recently discovered it at the library and in a pop-up format.

Anno's Counting Book by Mitsumasa Anno

This wordless book allows you and your child to explore numbers. Each page adds one of something, whether it is a bird, a house or a person. Children love to explore each page to find the new additions and you can take time to count something on each page, so as you sit together you learn to not only count but to figure out amounts. It’s a brilliant book for beginning the journey of mathematics with your child.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

This is not just a book about a boy and his dogs but a way to bolster the faith of your children that there is a God. Billy early on in the story prays fervently that he might find a way to get the dogs he so desperately wants. With some hard work on Billy's part he saves $50 over two years during a time when $50 was a fortune. He traverses miles to pick his pups up from the train station and takes them home to carefully train them. The dogs and Billy develop a relationship of such deep friendship that in the end the dogs give their lives for the pups. I read this as a child more than once but it was as an adult that the teachings of faith, hard work and reliance on God surfaced. The story delicately but purposefully teaches the message that God is watching over all of us, even when suffering occurs and that He will help us. I read this to my 3, 5 and 8 year old children and my two oldest hung on every word of every hunt. They even endured their mother's tears as she struggled to read about the death of Billy's dogs. This treasure will be read over and over by your children.

If You're Happy and You Know It by David A. Carter

If you struggle reading to a young child and really want to hook them on reading, pick up this book. It is a pop-up book that you sing. The book features a variety of animals who not only clap their hands, but wag their tails and even flap their wings. My daughter became enraptured with this book to the point that I could not find it to return to the library. She had hidden it in her bed so that she could have it at all times. Even my older children wanted their chance to read this book. This is a sure fire way to hook a child on reading and one you would want for your collection.