Do you have a “book bag” with go-to titles for different topics? These are the books that pop into your head at the mere mention of a word. If someone says “silly books” the cover of Mr. Brown Can Moo appears in my mind’s eye.
And when someone says “sibling problems” or “jealousy” I instantly see Mama, Chester, and Ronny raccoon from the cover of A Pocket Full of Kisses by Aubrey Penn. Animal stories have a way of making life lessons easier to understand, and when they’re done well, kids can see themselves and reflect on the message.
It was Okay for a while, but now Chester doesn’t like having a little brother. Every time he thinks Mother Raccoon has given him just a little extra love, she goes and gives it to his brother Ronny, too. Finally, with a story about the stars, Chester begins to understand about a mother’s love. This story helps “big brothers” understand that parents can never run out of love for their children.
Raccoon protagonists make this a story that’s easy to swallow for “big brothers” who want to make sure that they are loved, too. It could also work in a classroom where “jealousy” is the issue at hand.
There is just enough humor that the human “big brother” can see his jealousy but not be embarrassed by it.
It offers parents a means to physically demonstrate their unconditional love in a way that is precious to a child. If you have two (or more) children who sometimes forget that they are loved equally, this is a nice reminder.
If you’re in a house with siblings (or soon-to-be siblings), this is a great story for talking about love, jealousy, and being the ‘bigger’ child.
In our house, there are no brothers or sisters, yet as a three-year-old our daughter couldn’t get enough of this book. Great books make an impression that can last a lifetime. What books fit that category for you?
My Fifth Grader has been working on a project where she has to read an historical fiction novel then transform it into a picture book that she will read with her third-grade Book Buddy. [Personally, I think this is a brilliant project, but that's a subject for another day!]
One of the grading points for the project is the book’s cover, which must be
“engaging … with colorful illustrations.”
For better or worse, a book’s cover is often the key determinant in whether or not someone (adults included) pick up a book. When covers and content come together, there is reason to cheer.
For this week’s set of book reviews, I’ve selected three irresistible books from Dawn Publications from our Reading Tub® book bag. As you’ll see in the comments, our reviewers enjoyed them from cover to cover! Click the covers and read them on BigUniverse.com
Read on Big Universe
written and illustrated by Robert Nutt
length: 48 pages
Amy is scared of the dark. When she sees small lights are flickering outside her window, she gets an idea. She retrieves an empty jar and goes outside to catch some fireflies to bring to her room. The light of the fireflies dims because they’re confined to the jar. Amy releases them into her room, the darkness has gone away, and she overcomes her fear of the shadows on the walls, falling asleep in peace. This is a story that brings together nature and a child’s fear of the dark.
Everyone can enjoy this unique story with its dream-like quality and wonderfully researched facts about fireflies. The illustrations are quite effective at telling the story, and are wonderfully created. There is so much info here, both entertaining and educational.
This is a bedtime story and can start conversations about being afraid of the dark, but it is also about fireflies. At the end of the book is also a page of factual info about fireflies and their decline in the environment, and how to preserve them.
My children (ages 2,4, and 6) enjoyed the book. However, not really having experienced fireflies, I’m not entirely certain this book hit home for them.
This is a book about how honey is made by honey bees. Follow the day of a honey bee, with exquisitely detailed illustrations that are biologically accurate and just gorgeous to look at! This is a story about honey bees that also includes science information.
This is a great book that will catch the eye of most kids.
Gorgeous pictures, will grow with the attention span of the child. The story text is written at 2 levels: 1) a 2-year-old level, with just 2-10 words per page (short and sweet for a short attention span), and 2) a 5-year old level, with several sentences explaining the bees’ behavior in more depth.
My sons (ages 3 and 5) both loved the book. They both love learning about animals, so this book really spoke to their interests. The pictures gave them lots to look at, and the text was very interesting to them. I picked the book the first time, but they came back and asked for it a lot.
This wonderfully illustrated counting book portrays a variety of colorful ocean life. On each spread there is an underwater mother fish and her young, from 1 to 10, each with a short rhyme. This picture book is an undersea counting book that also introduces readers to ocean life.
Bright illustrations, short text, bonus material about teaching kids how to count, and “behind the scenes” looks at how the book was created make this book stand out.
My boys (2 and 4) liked this book. They both wanted to read it again, and my older son made associations between the illustrations here and other books. He also asked “what is that” about the other elements of the page. My 2-year-old is starting to learn to count, and the illustrations made counting fun.
The pages were colorful with lots to see, but they weren’t overwhelming.
There are lots of things to do with this book in addition to counting. You can explore the biology of sea life; and the rhyming lets you make it a musical story. The clay artwork may inspire kids to create their own works of art.
I’ve been away from blogging for BigUniverse.com for several months due to family tragedy, and I have missed taking my daily online stroll through the virtual bookshelves of this charming educational resource.
Reading, writing and the wonderful world of children’s books are near and dear to my heart. Picture books were an integral part of my formative years and were the launching pad to chapter books, the classics, a college education, and a journalism career.
In recent months, the gift of reading and writing has come full circle. While picture books offered entertainment and knowledge to me as a little child, reading and writing have been a source of comfort following the loss of my mother this summer. Like the warm lap of my mom during my childhood, reading Psalms has brought peace to my heart as an adult. Starting a journal provided therapeutic expression through written language. Reading notes of condolence underscored the fact that I was not alone in my loss, and booklets on grief reassured me that grieving is a process.
One of the things I have done as part of that process is to read the last two novels my mother read. (She was a voracious reader!) Reading those books brought me some of the same enjoyment that she experienced. It was a little something she could still share with me.
My mom, 84, did not start out as a mass consumer of books, magazines and Internet news. She told me dozens of times how she struggled with reading when she was younger. “Back in the day,” literacy intervention for at-risk readers was not as sophisticated as contemporary methods. My mother, however, was tenacious and bright. She figured out the reading thing on her own, so she never needed adult literacy services, but it’s nice to know that such help exists.
Wayne State University in Detroit just received $2.5 million to support the university’s community outreach adult literacy program, according to a recent Associated Press article. The funds were a gift from Mort and Brigitte Harris to endow an adult literacy office in the Irvin D. Reid Honors College. How cool is that?
Big Universe also is a resource for readers of all ages and levels. From wordless stories, audio books and illustrated graphic tales to humorous reads, Big Universe is an education website that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. In fact, Big U currently has 478,000 members in 171 countries. Its impact encircles the globe – like the arms of a loving mother who teaches and provides for her children.
NOTE: This blog was written before the Connecticut school tragedy. Although I touched upon my personal journey through grief in this blog, the sadness of the horrific event that took place a few days ago at Sandy Hook Elementary cannot be calibrated or compared. Human words – though powerful – will never adequately explain the catalyst for this heart-wrenching event or provide all the solace needed by those affected. God alone can provide this. For those left behind, please accept my deepest sympathy and my humble prayers for your comfort, peace and resolve to carry on.
As the world “shrinks” we are more and more likely to hear new languages spoken around us. Not just in the big cities, but in smaller communities, too. In this multilingual world, we need books that speak different languages.
Young readers love to hear stories, whether it is in their own language or a new one. Having multiple language editions in the classroom – or at home – can help with learning to read or learning a new language.
Over the years we’ve had the opportunity to read lots of books by Sylvan Dell Publishing. Some, like Burro’s Tortillas by Terri Fields, embeds Spanish in the story. There are many others that have English and Spanish editions. And since kids love animal stories, I pulled some of our favorites from the Reading Tub archives!
In this ABC book each letter has a 4-line poem about an animal that stars with the letter (e.g., alligator, beaver, cheetah, etc.). The poem offers facts about the animal to help with learning. This picture book offers factual information about nature as it teaches kids their ABCs.
Wonderful illustrations and scientific accuracy offer layered learning for visual learners and those learning to read.
Its strength is not the ABCs but the science. It is an excellent animal science book.
A good choice for mixed age readers. From our reviewer: “My 2-year-old liked the animals. The 4-year-old was better able to appreciate the added information about each animal, including the illustrated details on each animal’s environment. They BOTH wanted to read it again. They liked pointing out details about the animals and made connections to ‘like’ animals.”
The illustrations were fantastic and well thought out. For example, in most books, hippos are portrayed in a zoo on land, or just a nose above water, but this hippo was shown swimming from under water – his true natural state! There is a rich amount of information from text and illustrations about each animal.
This is very geared to classroom learning, but it can be used at home for fun, too. Additional resources for animal flashcards are provided in the back of the book and online. There are themes of learning the alphabet, science, animals, and habitat.
This is a picture book with gorgeous illustrations of a variety of animals sleeping in their natural habitats. You’ll learn about animals that sleep standing up, upside down, underwater, and more. This rhyming picture book shows all types of animals and where they sleep.
Gorgeous pictures and wonderful depictions of animals make this a sweet book to read just before bed.
In addition to being a bedtime story, kids learn about habitat and behavioral differences among animals.
From our reviewer: “My son (3) was stimulated by identifying familiar animals and new animals alike. He would often add additional details about the scene or environment.”
There is a fill-in-the-blank section at the end that provides both a review of the animals and supplemental biology facts. These are geared toward older kids, maybe 4 to 6.
There weren’t enough words. I had to explain or discuss the pictures to fill out the story.
Henry is a young heron. He’s also very fidgety, always stepping on his brother’s and sister’s head in the nest. For months now, his mother has brought food to the nest to feed him. Now, he must go out on his own. Every time he tries to grab something to eat from the water, his meal escapes. The harder he tries, the hungrier he gets. When Henry runs into The Great Blue Heron, he learns a valuable lesson. This picture book wraps life lessons around factual information about Great Blue Herons.
Children will see themselves in Henry and enjoy this story of discovery and growth.
Every parent and child can relate to Henry’s predicament: sometimes the harder we try, the less likely it seems that we’ll reach our goal.
The illustrations are beautiful and add a lot of context to the story.
The facts about Great Blue Herons are more subtle than other Sylvan Dell books, but the material at the back makes up for that.
Some of the themes discussed in the extra material are not raised in the story (e.g., wetlands conservation). The publisher has done an exceptional job linking them to the book and adding value for readers.
The zoo and all the animals prepare for a big day of visitors. Using the familiar Twas the Night Before Christmas rhyme, we meet the animals in the zoo.
This is colorful and fun, and the science/learning material at the end is great.
Kids will love that all the animals are smiling and nice, not scary looking.
There is lots to explore with this book, from animal identification to animal facts. It also encourages letter recognition and sound, such as “what letter does turtle start with?” It wouldn’t take much to draw out themes of manners, either (llamas and spitting, giraffes and burping, etc.).
The end of the story was a little anti-climatic, partially because they were trying to fit the pattern of Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore.
These are books that have a long shelf life. Pre-readers and developing readers will love the pages and the story; as they get older there is lots more they can enjoy and learn. For parents whose native language is Spanish it is an opportunity to share time reading with their child!
I am in a cinnamon-spice-peak-of-autumn kind of mood. When I get in one of those moods, I want a “just so” book to go along with it. In this case, something tasty … smooth like a warm custard pie right out of the oven. So glad I found Pumpkins by Jacqueline Farmer (Charlesbridge Publishing).
In a word: YUM!
Yum because Phyllis Limbacher Tildes’ illustrations are perfect.
Yum because this looks like a picture book but it is pure nonfiction.
And yum because there are great-sounding recipes in the back.
Farmer has packed this slim volume with SO much information. Now I knew that pumpkin is a fruit not a vegetable, but I had no idea that people have found pumpkin seeds that are more than 11,000 years old. Did you know that pumpkin family is one of the Three Sisters of Native American culture? There are lots of cool facts like that (dare I say) scattered throughout the book.
I read a lot of nonfiction and what stood out for me is that the text is informational, just like you’d expect, but the illustrations are more like a picture book. There are no insets to sidetrack distractable readers or listeners; the imagery tell pieces of the story not put into words. For example, the spread on pages 12 and 13 cite the fact that nine out of ten pumpkins are used to make jack o’lanterns. Now look at the illustration.
There are nine carved pumpkins on the right-hand page and one pumpkin pie on the left. Ten pumpkins. Your reader can explore their faces and shapes while you read, and when you’re done you can count them together to do the math. What a great way to help kids see what ‘nine out of ten’ pumpkins looks like.
On page 11, two young students are reading a report about the Pilgrims of Plimouth (sic). Yes, we all know it is “plymouth” but a young reader could probably use the help of the “i” in decoding the word. Massachusetts might LOOK harder, but it is easy to parse. Ply-mouth … not so much. Last but not least, the illustration in the back is a glossary with a translation of “pumpkin” in 12 languages. What a great way to show kids in one image that pumpkin is a universal / global product.
This is a book that covers lots of ground. It can be shared as a picture book, but there is a LOT more
Social Studies – use the material about Native American and European cultures to talk about traditions (turnip carving anyone?);
Language Arts / Social Studies – take the jack o’lantern story to talk about folklore and traditions;
Science / Health – grab a pumpkin and try one (or all) of the activities: carving, roasting seeds, baking and cooking.
This is a book you can get out in the spring when the planting season begins and then pull out in the fall when its time for harvesting.
Before I go though, I do have one lingering question. Why are so many pumpkin-related records in Ohio? The world’s heaviest pumpkin (1,725 pounds) grew in Jackson Township, OH; The world’s largest pumpkin pie (2,020 pounds) was made in New Bremen, OH; and Jerry Ayers of Baltimore, OH carved 2,000 pounds of pumpkins “with detailed designs” in seven hours and 11 minutes.
Hmmm. Think I’ll need a piece of pie to figure that one out. You?
Red Chair Press was founded in July 2009 by two people with passion for publishing fun, inspiring books for young readers.
We believe that all children can learn, no matter what challenges they face.
We believe that ALL children can be positive contributors to their family, their community, and to society.
It is with these beliefs in mind that we focus our efforts on publishing books for ages 4 to 9 that help children make good decisions and feel confident in their social-emotional development.
Keith Garton, President of Red Chair Press is one of those two passionate people. He is joining us today for the second in our Publisher Profile series celebrating companies who, like BigUniverse.com, are dedicated to literacy in all its forms.
Terry: How did you come to be involved in the children’s publishing industry? What is your role within the industry?
Keith: While I never envisioned myself in children’s publishing, I always knew from a very early age that I was going to be a publisher (even before I really knew what one did). I majored in advertising and journalism in college at Oklahoma State planning to work for a newspaper; but my first big job out of college was with an educational publishing company.
Terry: We would love to hear more about what you’re doing at Red Chair Press. What are some of the most popular items that you’ve published in the last three years?
Keith: Well, we’ve only been in business for three years – but we’ve been fortunate to have several of our series and titles recognized as among the best in children’s books. Awards just validate the hard work and we love them.
What I’m really proud of is seeing how children react to certain titles. SPACE CAT, for example, has been our biggest selling title. We’ve even had moms send us letters from their kids that are written to Space Cat and one mom posted a video on YouTube of her 3-year-old son shouting “Blast Off” when asked what Space Cat does. Now that warms your heart!
Terry: In looking at the current front list and the upcoming season, are there any specific themes that you’ve focused on in the catalog?
Keith: Our current list is all focused on character education and themes and making good decisions for younger readers. But we do have some exciting new books for ages 6 to 9 coming soon – and several new nonfiction series. We’re particularly excited about a new series that is an introduction to financial literacy: making wise decisions about earning, saving, spending and sharing.
Terry: Do you have a personal favorite from the current catalog that isn’t getting lots of ‘buzz’? What is it about that book that sets it apart for you?
Keith: I think my favorite books right now are BUN’S NEW HATS from the Problem Solved! Readers series and BEST IN SHOW from Funny Bone Readers. Both of these books are just so charming and they teach such enduring and important lessons about respecting others and celebrating differences.
I can hardly read through either one of these with kids without my voice cracking!
Terry: I just discovered Best in Show, myself. In fact, I’ll be reviewing it on Thursday! It is a wonderful read, and I really liked how it gave kids unique words for their word banks. Okay, going in a different direction … what is the book that has been the biggest surprise to you?
It has sold extremely well and I think probably because of Dental Health Month in schools. The book is quite popular.
Terry: When I visited your website I noticed that you have interactive eBooks and digital learning, so what’s next for Red Chair Press? Do you have any new series orproduct lines on the horizon?
Keith: We’re introducing two new nonfiction series in the next 12 months as well as a beautifully illustrated and retold series of folk tales and myths from around the world. We also plan to continue the trend of high-quality illustrations as we publish concept books for the very young.
Terry: Given your interest in journalism and publishing as a child, I’m betting that there is someone who lit that spark and a love of books? Am I right?
Keith. The short answer is yes, you’re right. I think I’ve always been a reader. I can’t remember NOT wanting to go to the library and check out as many books as I could carry, but it was my 3rd grade teacher in Oklahoma who turned me into a publisher!
She encouraged me to write as much as I could – and in any format that was comfortable for me. That year I began writing and publishing my very own typewritten, map-pencil drawn newspaper. It taught me to really appreciate writing and telling a good story.
I thank Miss Little every single day when I sit down at my computer … I’ve given up the typewriter!
Terry: I think we’ve all given up the typewriter! Thanks so much for stopping by Keith, and sharing the Red Chair Press story. Red Chair Press
PO Box 333
South Egremont, MA 01258-0333
Keith Garton, President/Publisher
One of the wonderful things about seasonal events is that they provide a backdrop to engage emerging and developing readers in something that is already part of their lives.
MaryRuth Books‘ trademark series of easy readers features Danny the dog. As founder and author Mia Coulton explains, the books center around “Danny’s escapades.”
What sets these (and other) MaryRuth easy readers apart for me is not just Danny (lots of children’s books do that), but that they have the look and feel of a “real book.”
Traditionally early easy readers are 6-inches by 9-inches and scream some form of “I can read” on the cover. These books are sized for small hands, but have a picture book shape. You’ll find all the important information about word count in the cover … but not in a spot the kids are likely to read.
Photographs (rather than illustrations) make the events more “real” for young readers and the photography makes the scenery more vivid for exploring and decoding.
The text encourages readers to explore the photos, not just use them for coding. For example, in Danny’s Five Little Pumpkins, there are no references to Danny in the story, but he is hiding in the corner of several pictures.
Other books in the Danny series are shaped more like chapter books, but these early readers have a comfortable square that remind kids of picture books and add to the confidence that I am reading a book just like the kind Mom reads to me. Here are three titles that will carry you from now well into winter! Click the title to read them on BigUniverse.com.
In a series of images, Danny shows readers what the season is. At the end, readers have the opportunity to name each of the seasons themselves.
This is an any-time book that you can pick up in any season. It is great not just for emerging readers, but also toddlers and preschool-aged kids still listening to books. The scenery offers the reader (adult) a chance to ask listeners to identify objects from the text (leaves, pool, flowers, snow) or from the photos (trees, chair, house, and colors).
On this fence there are five little pumpkins. One by one they disappear. Who is taking them away?
You won’t see Danny (or more specifically parts of Danny) on every page, but you see him frequently enough that kids will look for him as they explore the pictures. This easy reader blends math (subtraction) with reading practice that ends with Danny and five jack-o-lanterns.
written and photographed by Mia Coulton
page count: 16
word count: 57
There are lots of things you can do in the snow: walk, dive, look at your shadow, even play in an igloo.
The text is simple but each sentence centers around action verbs. With several two-syllable words, this is a book where you’ll want to have young readers follow under the word with a finger so they can truly parse the digraphs and sounds. Kids will especially love the picture of Danny and Bee at the end.
MaryRuth Books has 30 of its titles that you can read on BigUniverse.com. These engaging books will help young dog, cat, fish, elephant, or horse lovers build their word banks AND a love of reading.
For my money, there is nothing more magical than the moment someone realizes they are reading “all by myself.” Their face lights up as though they just got the best gift ever.
Truth be told, they did … just ask any of us who are passionate about literacy and who love to read. Finding those just-right books to engage and encourage new readers is so important. It is also why the Aggie and Ben series by Lori Ries is one of my favorites. For perspective: these are the books you turn to after you’re child has mastered Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems.
Ben, our narrator, and his adorable dog Aggie grab the interest – and hearts – of his listeners right away. A boy-and-his-dog story is timeless, yet each one is fresh, with humor and that surprise ending. They are similar to Elephant and Piggie, but for the reader with a little more vocabulary who is ready for a more complex story.
These are illustrated, short chapter books that could also double as short stories. Although it can be helpful to read the chapters in order, you don’t have to. More importantly, each book in the series stands on its own, so they don’t have to be read sequentially. Although this is billed as a book series for kids in Kindergarten through Second Grade, the stories are perfect for reading with young listeners not yet ready to read, as well as mixed-age audiences. They also offer a nice way to introduce the chapter concept to that audience.
On The Reading Tub you can read the reviews our families wrote for Aggie and Ben; Three Stories (2009 review), Good Dog, Aggie (2009 review), and Aggie the Brave (2010 review). Rather than republish those reviews here, I wanted to draw out the key thoughts about each book from the parents and kids who read them. Although we didn’t review Aggie Gets Lost, I’m guessing the sentiment would be consistent with what we HAVE read.
Aggie and Ben; Three Stories Charlesbridge, 2007
When Dad takes Ben to the pet store, he must decide what kind of pet he wants: a A bird? a mouse? a cat? No, a dog. Aggie. Once Aggie is home, she and Ben are inseparable. Ben follows her every move and Aggie follows Ben everywhere. Aggie has a lot to learn, and Ben is happy to teach her … even when he hears a growl in the dark.
Our daughter immediately saw herself and HER dog in the stories. Since that first time when we read the book together, she has picked it up herself to read.
The author effectively not only speaks with a child’s logic, but has their sense of humor, too. The illustrations fill most of the pages, helping to keep the text to a minimum.
The image-to-text balance makes it enticing to read the whole thing in one sitting.
Parents who want to talk about the responsibility of owning a pet could (with a little stretch) find the stories helpful.
Good Dog, Aggie
Charlesbridge, 2009 Ben is trying to train Aggie, who just flunked out of obedience school. When he says sits, she runs; when he says run, she runs. Aggie doesn’t want to sit or stay, and she is causing trouble. Finally, Ben decides Aggie is just not a good dog. He takes Aggie and his little red ball to the park only to learn that she has her own way of deciding when she wants to sit.
Ben is a boy who is easy to relate to. Aggie is adorable … and made even more so by Ben’s attempts to train her. Anyone who has tried to train a dog will empathize with Ben’s frustration.
This is a text-heavy easy reader, but there is plenty of white space and the chapters give natural stopping points to talk about prediction and review what has already happened.
This is a good transition book for kids who need a paragraph or two of text but aren’t ready to move away from illustrations.
Aggie the Brave
Ben and his mom are taking Aggie to the vet to be spayed. Aggie is scared; Ben is brave … until he learns that he’ll be going home without Aggie. Ben hopes that by going to bed in the afternoon tomorrow will get here faster and they can pick up Aggie sooner. Ben is happy, but sad. Now Aggie has to be a “quiet” dog for two weeks. No running around. How can Ben help Aggie be brave now?
This story, in particular, will resonate with any family who has a pet going to the vet for surgery and/or overnight. Ben is an “all kids” character who is brave (but then not), happy (but then sad), and always compassionate.
Aggie is a dog, but the experiences are equally apropos for cats or other animals who go to the vet. This is great for sharing with young kids, kids learning to read, or older siblings reading for you.
The main theme of the book is what happens at the vet, but there are lots of things to explore: Ben’s feelings (and Aggie’s too), how Ben finds ways to help Aggie feel better, and friendship. This would be a good book for helping kids understand empathy and compassion.
As you might guess, the families who read and reviewed these books have one recommendation: Aggie and Ben is a must-have for book series for building reader confidence.
Can you believe it? Waldo, the children’s book character, has been blending into his surroundings for a quarter of a century!
Yup, our friend Waldo – “Wally” to many – was globe-trotting more than a decade before Matt Lauer of The Today Show parlayed his “Yoo-hoo, where am I?” shtick to the bleary-eyed masses. (Waldo even conquered “flat” before “Flat Matt” photo ops became all the rage.)
Yup, Waldo was a young man ahead of his time! He had the hipster look locked up 20 years ago – with black-rimmed glasses, skinny pants, and his I-don’t-care-enough-to-care-that-I’m-wearing-a-LOUD-red-and-white-stripey shirt and matching beanie. He did Bieber bangs before Justin was a twinkle in his parents’ eyes, and I suspect he invented coffee, too.
Best of all, Waldo and his creator got millions of kids interested in reading books. British illustrator Martin Handford first drew “Wally” into crowd scenes back in 1986 at the bidding of his art director at Walker Books. The next year, the first book in the “Where’s Wally?” series was launched in the United Kingdom. The books were published in the United States under the title “Where’s Waldo?” by Little, Brown and Company and later by Candlewick Press. Since then, an estimated 55 million Waldo books have been printed worldwide.
In the following 25 years, Waldo has inspired video games, a TV show and a comic strip, as well as a bazillion Waldo-themed social events. In New Brunswick, N.J., in 2009, 1,052 Rutgers University students, alumni and community members set a Guinness World Record during a fund-raiser after dressing like the elusive character. The following year, Dubliners rallied in Ireland to smash that record with 3,872 red and white look-alikes in Dublin’s Merrion Square.
If you are in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula this month, you can look for Waldo in one of 20 businesses in the Houghton/Hancock area by participating in the “I Found Waldo” contest. The businesses will give out token cards, buttons, books and other prizes. Participants who collect at least 80 percent of the contest cards (16) will be eligible to win a six-volume set of Waldo books.
Proprietors in Naperville, Ill.; Hudson, Ohio; and even my city, Greenville, S.C., are among the those across the nation taking part in the “Where’s Waldo? on Main Street, USA, campaign sponsored by Candlewick Press and the American Booksellers Association. Some of my favorite local shops are taking part: The Elephant’s Trunk, Palmetto Olive Oil Company, Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery, and Fiction Addiction book store (which is moving off Woodruff Road to Woods Crossing Road this month).
Where will Waldo show up next? I can’t say, but I do know that the co-hosting spot next to Matt Lauer is a revolving door: Katie, Meredith, Ann, Savannah, TBA. Perhaps Waldo would stick. He and Matt could duke out dibs on NBC’s travel budget!
Where’s Big Universe Learning? Right at your fingertips, 24/7. A vast source of online children’s picture books, Big Universe has 24 publisher partners and 4,504 books available covering all academic subjects. The award-winning learning community’s science, social studies, language arts and math books have been read 4,387,980 times by 333,682 members from 169 countries. Teachers, students, parents, homeschoolers and other members have created 58,518 books online using the site’s authoring tool.
Going to the beach? That’s where I am! A little in-state “vaca” is doing me a world of good…and I’ve only been in earshot of the Atlantic for 24 hours. The sun is setting, so the water is turning battleship gray with slivers of pink glinting off the swells. The lights along the shoreline will be doused soon too – a nod of respect to the sea turtles coming ashore here on Hilton Head Island.
On any given night from now until fall, Loggerheads will lumber ashore to scoop out sand hollows in the dunes to lay their eggs. In about two months, hatchlings will make their way into the surf – as long as manmade lights don’t beckon them to their demise. Loggerhead babies are drawn to the ocean by the reflection of starlight on the water, but they can easily be fooled by porch lights and lamps along walkways. “Kill the Lights. Don’t Kill the Turtles” is a well-known slogan in these parts.
Only about one in 10,000 hatchlings will make it to adulthood. And thus, their endangered status makes “Do Not Disturb” postings necessary at the high tide line. Nesting spots are taped off, and dogs have to be leashed
Hilton Head is full of islanders and vacationing families with young children relishing their newfound freedom. But just because school is out, learning doesn’t have to stop. The spontaneity of summer allows time to nurture imaginative play, encourage physical activity, and explore interests in more depth.
Vacation offers a wide range of learning opportunities. Local history, culture and geography are great jumping off points for playful learning. Parks and local wildlife reserves provide nature pamphlets and children’s programs. (Check out the Coastal Discovery Museum website.) Pair that with companion reading, crafts and games and children can avoid the mental regression and summer reading slide so often associated with this annual break from the classroom.
We have 24/7 Internet access here at the resort, so it would be a cinch for parents to access the wide variety of children’s books on Big Universe Learning. I took a quick survey of its online shelves and found tons of picture books about ocean habitats, salt marsh life and our topic du jour: TURTLES.