This is some of the best advice for creative people that I’ve ever heard. If you’re an artist of any sort, take the time to listen to it–it’s short and it will help you keep going.
The other day we read the amazing picture book Grandpa Green by Lane Smith. My four-year-old is in a stage right now where she always wants to do stuff “with Mommy” so I had the idea that we could make our own green pictures. I thought we could draw animals and then glue leaves inside…but my daughter didn’t want any of that. She wanted to make her own book, like Grandpa Green, but filled with drawings of animals on green paper. She even brought Grandpa Green to the table and consulted it for her drawings, as you can see below! She was very proud of The Big Green Book of Animals. I love the idea of using picture books as jumping off points for creative projects for kids and plan to do more of this in the future.
Happy Children’s Book Week! For more info about local and national events and celebration ideas, check out the official website here. We’ll be going to a story time at our local bookstore today in honor of the week! And, um, reading…just this week, though, we don’t do that any other weeks around here…
(Children’s Book Week poster by the awesome Brian Selznick)
I feel kind of silly posting this kids’ writing activity because it is SO basic. But, I’ve had so much success with this one that I’m going to share it anyway. Besides, simple projects are the best!
I was in charge of a writing/craft activity at a community reading event for three years, and every year I did these mini blank books. We made a ton of the books in advance, and then spread them out on tables with stickers, markers, and twistable colored pencils. It was so fun to see a ton of kids making up their own little stories, with older kids writing and drawing and younger kids just drawing.
So all you do is take four sheets of 8 1/2 by 11 pieces of paper and cut them in half widthwise. Then take one of the two stacks you’ve made, fold it in half widthwise, and staple twice along the fold. Repeat with the other stack. Voila! (Yes, this is seriously so basic I feel kind of embarrassed to be explaining it.) You’ve got two mini blank books. If you want, you could use more paper, and have a thicker book, but I like this size; I think too many pages can become overwhelming for kids.
Here’s a mini book my four-year-old made, called “Winter Work.”
One of our illustrious commenters, Ariana, has requested some board book recommendations. There are so many great board books out there–so many! To narrow it down, I decided to list my kids’ twelve favorite board books when they were little. My girls are all past board book age now, but I remember these well! I have read every one of these so many times that I can quote almost all of them (some at length) and I have their illustrations permanently branded in my brain. I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but here are the twelve I could remember best:
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
Beep Beep by Peter Horacek
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? by Bill Martin Jr; illustrated by Eric Carle
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr & John Archambault; illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
Freight Train by Donald Crews
Goodnight, Gorilla by Peggy Rantham
More, More, More Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams
Peek-a-Who? by Nina Laden
Time for Bed by Mem Fox; illustrated by Jane Dyer
The Touch and Feel series by D.K. Publishing
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
I want to share one of my very favorite books from my childhood today: The Jolly Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg. It’s the story of a postman making his deliveries in a quaint land filled with the characters of fairy tales and nursery rhymes. And the letters (postcards, catalogs, birthday cards, etc.) are included in the book! I have such a strong memory of going through the book as a kid, finding it so satisfying to take out each letter and read it, then slide it back into its envelope. This book doesn’t seem that common in the U.S. (it’s British). Have any of you heard of it before?
P.S. I posted about one of my other favorite Ahlberg books here.
*waits for the applause to die down*
I’m kicking off something today that is going to be a regular feature: themed picture book roundups. Basically I’ll recommend a bunch of picture books based around a certain theme. I’m hoping this can be a resource for library story times and preschool and elementary school lesson plans (and for parents of children with very focused reading interests!).
So–dogs! My kids love dogs, and we don’t live in a space that allows them, so they have to live vicarious dog-owning lives through books. Here are some we have enjoyed:
[the McDuff series by Rosemary Wells and Susan Jeffers--the Carl series by Alexandra Day--Go, Dog, Go by P.D. Eastman--Bark, George by Jules Fieffer--Angus and the Ducks by Marjorie Flack--the Clifford series by Norman Bridwell--the Spot series by Eric Hill--Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham--"Let's Get a Pup!" Said Kate by Bob Graham--Arthur's New Puppy by Marc Brown--Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann--the Martha series by Susan Meddaugh--The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems--Lucky and Squash by Jeanne Birdsall and Jane Dyer]
I just can’t seem to keep up on this blog right now. (Bad blogger! Bad blogger!) I keep getting sick, I’ve been traveling and having guests in town, I’ve had a multitude of commitments with stuff going on in my kids’ lives, and I am working like mad on another revision of my work-in-progress.
So I’m putting this blog on hiatus, for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time. But let’s still be friends, okay? I’ll still be reading your blogs.
All the best,
I made these wings for one of my girls a little bit ago. She wanted them to be like a blackbird, but she picked out the purple fabric to mix things up a little.
They look like a lot of work, but they only took me an evening (and I watched a movie at the same time). I just cut out the black felt background, cut out the black and purple feathers (I folded the fabric so I could cut out a lot at once) and then, instead of sewing, I took the easy route and hot glued them on. So the only sewing involved was attaching the ribbons at the end.
I’m thrilled with how they turned out. I love projects that can be done in an hour or two–so very satisfying!
All The Things I Love About You by LeUyen Pham
This has been one of those library books that we have read over and over again. The perfect snuggly read-aloud.
The Wild Book by Margarita Engle
I really enjoyed this evocative free verse novel. It is based on the author’s Cuban grandmother’s childhood experiences with dyslexia…and bandits.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
In this heartbreaking and funny novel the pulls of community, family, and hope are all put to the test when high school freshman Junior decides to switch to a school off the reservation.
What have you been reading lately?
I have been in the throes of revision, but I did make time to sew these poodle skirts for an upcoming school event. I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. I used Simplicity 3836. They were a bit trickier than I expected–or maybe it was just that I was making three of them? I took on the project in a burst of sewing self-confidence after successfully making flannel pajama pants for my family. At some point in the sewing I did say something like “REMIND ME TO NEVER DO THIS AGAIN!” but now that they’re finished I’m already thinking up my next sewing project…I really want to make something for myself like a dress or skirt.
I finally finished this scarf I gave to my eight-year-old for Christmas. She was very kind about getting an unfinished present on Christmas day, and is thrilled that it is finally done. I’m happy with how Mrs. Weasley-ish it looks, even if I didn’t have magic to speed up my knitting needles. I used this pattern.
She also got the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook for Christmas, and the two recipes we have tried so far–treacle fudge and roasted potatoes–have been excellent. The recipe we’re most excited to try, inspired by the pure awesomeness of its name alone, is knickerbocker glory.
Harry Potter! *Sigh* Sometimes I’m still so sad that there aren’t more books to look forward to. Not that I want J.K. Rowling to write more, because the series is complete, but reading it over again just isn’t the same. And can I just say that I found the first book at the library and read it before I had ever heard of it (before it had picked up steam in the U.S.)? And I ordered the second and third books from the UK because at that point they came out earlier over there (they streamlined release dates starting with the fourth book). I feel like I can claim some kind of original fan status. You know, like, “I liked Harry Potter before it was popular.” Do I sound awesomely mature yet?