Back to School!

It’s that time of year again: it’s cool in the mornings, but still warm mid-day. In my house, counters are covered with lunch containers, water bottles, new pink erasers, and sharpened pencils.

School is back in session!

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For me, this means getting back to a more “normal” schedule now that my kids are back in school. Hopefully this schedule means more time for writing. I have just begun writing a new middle grade novel, and I want to keep the momentum going. I haven’t decided if the pumpkin spice lattes at my local coffee shop will be a motivator or a distraction, but I’ll guess I’ll have to try and find out.

I’m not sure why, but I also find that back to school and the fall season are prime times to read. My son and I read quite a bit this summer, but there is something about fall that inspires me to dig into the long list (and pile) of books that I have been wanting to read.

My son did not meet his goal of reading 20 chapter books this summer, but it was a good kick-start to a new summer tradition. We enjoyed reading together, and discovering new characters and worlds. I think the biggest accomplishment for the summer was when my husband asked my son if he wanted to watch a particular family movie, and my son responded, “but I want to read the book first!” Yay for reading! Aidan and I will continue to work our way through the chapter books on our list, which will be a nice compliment to the non-fiction books his teacher has already begun sending home.

I hope you all had a lovely and relaxing summer, and will make time for reading (and writing?) as you ease into fall.

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Review: Rosie Revere, Engineer

Rosie Revere Engineer CoverRosie Revere, Engineer

Written by: Andrea Beaty

Illustrated By: David Roberts

Harry N. Abrams, 2013, Hardcover

Target Audience: Ages 3-8

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Creativity, Persistence, STEM

How We Discovered This Book: This book was in the new books bin at our library, and it caught my eye.

Summary:

Rosie loves to create and invent things. She takes what other people would discard (broken toys, gears, etc.) and makes things. She tries to create solutions for people she knows, but it does not go well. Then her Aunt Rose stops by to give the right kind of encouragement just when Rosie is ready to give up.

What I Liked:

Both of my children are very mechanically-oriented, and they are fascinated with how things work. As I consider their education, I seek opportunities for them to expand their talents through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs and activities. I also believe that girls need just as many opportunities to succeed in these fields as boys. This book showcases a girl who uses her creativity (and her apparent obsession with cheese) to make the world a better place with a few stumbles along the way. Additionally, there is an inference that Aunt Rose was a Rosie the Riveter-type trailblazer during WWII. The author includes a note at the end about this time in history.

What Did My Kids Think?

My kids liked Rosie’s persistence – she kept trying difference things until she figured out what worked. Elizabeth especially liked the silly parts – like when she made helium-inflated pants.

Resources:

Abrams Books has two whole pages of great activities related to this book. Check them out!

Book Recommendations: Our Favorite Picture Books

A few months ago, we shared our favorite books for children 1 year and under. Next, we are sharing our favorite picture books. It is a good mix of recently published and rediscovered classics. To choose our list, we considered several criteria. First, did we enjoy reading it as adults (quality of craft and/or a multilayered story)? Did our children ask to read it repeatedly? Did we feel compelled to buy it and add it to our permanent home library? Can we anticipate saving the book for future generations?

As before, each of our personal lists brought back many memories. We will have to read some of these again soon!

Here are our favorite picture books for children, in alphabetical order by author:

An Egg Is Quiet, Dianna Ashton

The Mine-o-saur, Sudiptha Bardhan-Quallen

The Curious Garden, Peter Brown

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, Peter Brown

One Cool Friend, Toni Buzzeo

If You Find A Rock, Peggy Christian

That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown, Cressida Cowell

Llama Llama Red Pajama, Anna Dewdney

Moonshot, Brian Floca

Whoever You Are, Mem Fox

Ox-cart Man, Donald Hall

Bread and Jam For Frances, Russell Hoban

The Horse in Harry’s Room, Syd Hoff

The Story of Ferdinand, Munro Leaf

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Bill Martin, Jr.

Me…Jane, Patrick McDonnell

Race You to Bed, Bob Shea

Born Yesterday: The Diary of a Young Journalist, James Solheim

The Stinky Cheeseman and other Fairly Stupid Tales, Jon Scieszka

Grandpa Green, Lane Smith

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Mo Willems

Owl Moon, Jane Yolen

You are a Lion, Taeeun Yoo

Do have other favorites not on this list? Please share!