“Leo was a gentle knight in thought and word and deed.While other knights liked fighting, Leo liked to sit and read.”
Leo is a knight – but he doesn’t like to fight. Leo would rather spend his time reading. Unfortunately, his parents don’t share his passion. They would love him to become a famous knight and send him on a quest to fight a dragon.
On his way to defeat the dragon he meets a griffin – and can’t believe that the terrifying creature with a lion’s body and eagle wings loves a good story as much as he does. He reads a book out loud once, twice and once again and leaves it with the griffin: “It’s yours to keep.” Further into his travels Leo meets a hungry troll. The clever knight offers the troll a good story in exchange for sparing his life – and ends up leaving without another book (“it’s yours to keep”), but in one piece. Through the hot, hot afternoon Leo finally arrives in an empty, messy town, full of waste of an enormous dragon. But do dragons love books? Do they like stories? Yes – and they are even willing to clean up their own mess for it…
Leo is a knight that doesn’t need a sword to win a fight. The clever, book-loving mouse makes his parents proud by just doing what he loves – reading.
“The storybook knight” is not only about the power of books, but a book that teaches children to stand up for what they love. The funny and heartwarming illustrations full of details are the perfect addition to the meaningful story. Not surprisingly: Helen and Thomas Docherty are a husband-and-wife author and illustrator team and already published one award-winning children’s picture book, The Snatchabook (Sourcebooks 2013), together.
We loved the pre-publication ebook of “The storybook knight” and can’t wait to read the final hardcover edition in October 2016!
The storybook knight
Pub Date 01 Oct 2016
By Helen and Thomas Docherty
Leanne doesn’t want to take a bath. Taking a bath is way to boring for the active girl! Luckily Leanne’s father has an excellent idea: He runs all the way to the sea and brings back a turtle. A turtle is nice to look at, but not much of fun… Leanne’s dad has an even better idea: He runs back to the beach to return with two eels. And then does it again to bring three clownfish. And four seahorses… Soon Leanne’s bath is not boring at all anymore. Her tub is wiggling with shrimps, hermit crabs, sea urchins, anemones and starfish. When Leanne runs out of arms to organize her sea bath, her father has a “super-stupendous idea” – and adds eight octopus to the pool. But who can take a bath in a jiggling, jostling, overflowing mess? Soon father and daughter are ending up taking a sea bath – a real one…
The English translation of the French book by Andrée Poulin is almost everything you can hope for in a children’s book. It combines a hilarious father-daughter adventure and a funny counting game, learning about sea life with the colorful, lively illustrations by Anne-Claire Delisle. “Going for a sea bath” makes bathing and learning fun. Can you count the legs in the pool? Which animals have no legs at all? And which have eight? Why do hermit crabs live in empty seashells? “Going for a sea bath” is a book children want to talk about! The question is: What will YOU do to make bath time more interesting?
Definitely a great addition to every kid’s bookshelf!
“Going for a sea bath”
Text: Andrée Poulin
Illustrations: Anne-Claire Delisle
Publisher: Pajama Press
Thanks for attending my Facebook Online Workshop about supporting children’s literacy at home! We talked about lots of topics, from the right illustrations for newborns up to cultural literacy. This script is just a short summary, but can help if you couldn’t attend the whole workshop or just want some reading suggestions!
My husband and I grew up in Germany – Finja was born here in the US. German and American culture are not so different, but we use books to give Finja a basic understanding of German language. But it can go further than that! Sharing stories from around the world is a great way to start a conversation about diversity – even before children start thinking about other cultures actively! I first worked with “Barefoot Books”, the publisher of “Bear in a bike” for book reviews on by book blog and then decided to join their Ambassador program to have access to children literacy resources, support parents in finding the right books for their children and growing Finja’s bookshelf 🙂 Barefoot books offers a great variety of books about cultural diversity – I never saw that many books about different cultures! That’s why I decided to join the Barefoot Team as Ambassador to have access to more resources and help to bring parents, kids and the right books together.
How to identify a good book
In my opinion one of the most important things you can do for your child is reading out loud regularly. One of Finja’s first books was “Bear on a bike” from the British publisher “Barefoot books”. She still loves it and I have to read it to her multiple times a week. I still believe that the books you show your children during their early childhood have a huge effect on their interest of literacy! “Bear on a bike” for example has colorful illustrations – Finja loved this even when she was just a few weeks old. When she was older, she was drawn to the rhythm of the text – and now she loves to use the illustrations in a “search and find” manner. We talk about what happens on each page. In my opinion “Bear on a bike” is still one of the best children books that I ever encountered. That’s how I got in contact with the publisher. I personally love their books with beautiful art and meaningful stories that let imagination and creativity spark.
Book recommendation: “Bear on a bike”: You can find my review about “Bear on a bike” here. Barefoot Books offers a preview on their homepage – here you can have a look into all the other Bear-books as well!
Let’s begin at the beginning of your child’s reading journey. Babies explore their world with chewing. Board books can withstand mouthing. Board books are also great for tummy time, which is important for building core muscle strength. You can prop them up, which gives babies a focal point. But did you ever think about what’s “within” the pages? The dye Barefoot Board books are vegetable-based and non-toxic, so you don’t have to worry when your little one “reads” with her mouth! Here are some suggestions especially for younger children.
Another thing babies love: High contrast. Babies’ developing brains are tasked with processing a lot of information! Focusing on simple, high-contrast images allows babies’ brains to rest and helps prevent overstimulation.
“Baby talk” This book has been specially created for parents and older children to share with new babies, helping to lay the foundations for secure attachment and early language skills.
“Baby basics“: A colorful introduction to letters, numbers and opposites! These cheery board books include interactive spreads for practicing new skills.
Not only does reading together help children’s cognitive development, but it also strengthens your parent-child bond. Plus, we sometimes forget about something else: As parents we are also concerned about our children’s character development. What kind of people will they grow up to be? We want them to be caring and socially conscious citizens of the world: self-confident, curious and compassionate. And what better way to grow your childrens’ confidence, empathy and knowledge about other cultures than books? One of the things I love most about Barefoot Books is that the company promotes cultural and emotional literacy. I don’t know about you, but before discovering Barefoot, it was hard for me to find books that exposed my daughter to diversity.
“We all went on safari”: Join Arusha, Mosi, Tumpe and their Maasai friends as they set out on a counting journey through the grasslands of Tanzania. Along the way, the children encounter all sorts of animals including elephants, lions and monkeys, while counting from one to ten in both English and Swahili. The lively, rhyming text is accompanied by an illustrated guide to counting in Swahili, a map, notes about each of the animals, and interesting facts about Tanzania and the Maasai people.
“Off we go to Mexiko”: Swim in turquoise seas, admire grey whales and monarch butterflies, trek to native villages and sing and dance to the music of Mariachi bands. Along the way, you can learn Spanish words and phrases and discover Mexican culture. Enjoy your journey!
“Lin Yi’s Lantern – A Moon Festival Tale”: Meet Lin Yi — a little boy with a big heart and a talent for bargaining. Tonight is the moon festival and he wants nothing more than a red rabbit lantern; but first he must buy the things his mother needs at the market. This heartwarming story shows the rewards of putting others first, and includes educational notes at the end about the Chinese moon festival, life in rural China, and the legend of the moon fairy.
“Tales from Ireland”: Celebrate the wonder of Ireland with the seven enchanting stories in this captivating collection. The rich traditions of Irish storytelling are honored with larger-than-life characters, myths and legends around every bend, and plenty of magic. Book with double CDs include stories read by Grammy-nominated singer Maura O’Connell.
“Mama Panya’s Pancake”: On market day, Mama Panya’s son Adika invites everyone he sees to a pancake dinner. How will Mama Panya ever feed them all? This clever and heartwarming story about Kenyan village life teaches the importance of sharing, even when you have little to give. Notable Books for a Global Society, Winner of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award
Let’s talk about feelings. Through reading and discussions, we can help children feel confident in their unique identities, identify and express their feelings, and develop empathy towards others. Like reading, math or science, emotional literacy can be taught, but it requires dedicated time and attention. Reading books that address social and emotional issues opens the door for conversation and helps children understand their own experiences. This personally helped my daughter a lot when she started preschool about a year ago and couldn’t hold her excitement and her separation anxiety…
“Emily’s tiger“: When you are parent of a strong willed toddler or preschool kid (or teenager) you know, that harmful situations like putting on shoes or serving healthy food can turn serious within seconds. Emily is a strong willed girl that knows what she wants – and what she doesn’t. She’s full of temperament and can turn into a roaaaaaaaaring tiger when something doesn’t go her way… Read my review about “Emily’s tiger” here. Barefoot Books offers a preview of the book here.
Selecting the right books for your child AND yourself
So, we talked about WHY reading is so important. But how do you read to your child? How do you select the right books?
When you attended my workshop and are reding this article you are probably already a great role model and show your child how much you enjoy reading. Show your child books that you enjoy – but be adventurous as well and let them choose books that they enjoy, too! Here we are back to the cultural part as well. The book you read doesn’t always need to be something that’s exactly designed for their age. For example: One of my favorite children books right now is “The Tear Thief”. “The Tear Thief” is appropriate for preschool age children, but it’s a fairytale that probably just adults get in it’s full meaning. But what does it matter? Finja loves that the book is about emotions, we talk about each page and she loves the rhythm of the story.
Wanting to hear the same book over and over again is normal for preschoolers and it’s okay to indulge them in that! At this age it’s also important to expose them to a variety of types of books so that they can develop a well rounded set of literacy and language skills.
I was surprised to learn that singalongs are actually one of the best kinds of books for developing Kindergarten readiness. They help develop children’s attention span and develop their ability to follow directions!
What also helps is a reading routine. It doesn’t need to be a bedtime story – you can read at Breakfast or Lunch as well of in the afternoon. Whatever works for you and your family’s schedule! My daughter is pretty active and our bedtime routine takes ages – so I always read in the evening so she calms down a bit. But I can remember the time when she dropped her nap and we read after lunch! When do you usually read? I found that a good goodnight story helps our three-year-old to calm down after an exciting day!
“Starlight sailor”: Sail away to dreamland! Follow a small boy and his dog as they navigate the land of dreams in a paper boat. As you journey through the night, you will meet all kinds of curious and magical creatures
Does your child love animals or motorcycles? Perfect! Don’t shy away from nonfiction picture books and literature. They grab your child’s attention – this not only goes for preschool aged children, but for the little ones as well! So why not connecting season and adventures with the books you are reading? It’s becoming summer. Do you visit the farmers market? Why not show your child where food comes from, which teaches the importance of teamwork and how to choose healthy foods, the plant life cycle and how to treat animals and plants responsibly?
Book recommendations: “Millie’s chicken”: Tend Millie’s backyard chickens from day to night in this rhyming picture book, which is right on trend and packed with STEM-friendly science info.
“Grandpa’s garden”: A beautifully told story that follows Billy from early spring to late summer as he helps his grandpa on his vegetable patch. Children will be drawn in by the poetry of the language and the warm illustrations, while also catching the excitement of watching things grow!
“Who’s in the garden?”: A delightful peek-a-boo book that Smithsonian Magazine called one of the “Notable Books for Children”. Children are invited to look through the holes on every other page to answer the repeating refrain, “Who’s coming to see how my garden grows?” The energetic, rhyming text introduces all sorts of creatures that are busy in the garden.
Let your child create a story!
Another interesting idea: Let your children tell a story. Take a picture walk: Especially with books that you’ve read a thousand times use a “picture walk” as a chance to notice details from the illustrations and to let your kiddo retell the story in their words. Don’t forget to ask questions along the way!
Book recommendation: I reviewed “Journey”, a picture book without words, on my blog a few weeks ago. I liked the book, but had the feeling it was a little complex for preschool aged children. “Out of the blue”, a wordless book about the mysteries of the sea, is a little more kid friendly and will let them tell the story in their own words! I think it’s perfect for our trip to the coast in summer! 🙂
Puzzles and games
…or maybe today’s reading routine doesn’t come with a book… Did you ever think about making a puzzle or use cards? My daughter loves the “Children around the world” memory game – although she likes to change the rules sometimes…
Well, it all looks good on paper. But you know that every age has its challenges… Right now Finja sometimes is a little distracted. She shows me which book she wants to read – and then she fishes out the next one before I can finish book number one… That used to annoy me. But, honestly – is it so bad? Sometimes it can help to let your child lead. The same goes for the books you are reading together. It’a all a combination of leading your child and let them lead. Be adventurous and have fun!
I hope I could give you some ideas about sharing literacy with your children! Ask any questions below or send me a message. You can contact me at Facebook or directly on my Barefoot-Book-Ambassador-Page.
If you are interested in any of these books/puzzles/games/CDs let me know and I can help you place any orders. Also, keep in mind that I just showed you a very small sample of Barefoot products. If you’re looking for other gift ideas for a special occasion or for a specific child, I can also help you find age-appropriate presents.
When you are parent of a strong willed toddler or preschool kid (or teenager) you know, that harmful situations like putting on shoes or serving healthy food can turn serious within seconds. Emily is a strong willed girl that knows what she wants – and what she doesn’t. She’s full of temperament and can turn into a roaaaaaaaaring tiger when something doesn’t go her way… And like most toddler parents, Emily’s mom and dad don’t know what to do. After a disastrous dinner with flying carrots and damaged plates Emily’s grandma shows up and surprises Emily with a revalation: She’s a tiger, too! But unlike Emily, grandma can control her anger. She shows Emily, that a relaxed and happy tiger is much more fun than a mad wildcat…
Emily is a lot like our little girl. Finja loves tigers, so I was hoping that “Emily’s tiger” could teach Finja one thing or two about how to control her temper. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if Finja could eat all her veggies and voluntarily get ready for bed just like Emily? It seems that our three year old was a little too young to understand the humorous message of this book though. She kept telling us about Emily “being a tiger on Halloween” and “grandma dressing as a tiger, too” and loved that her “hero” Emily was crashing her friend’s birthday party. No learning effect here, but a fun read anyway! Finja took the book to bed as she loved the illustrations and re-told Emily’s adventures again and again.
“Emily’s tiger” was published by “Barefoot Books”, one of my favorite publishers. Like most Barefoot books, “Emily’s tiger” is a high quality read, that combines colorful illustrations with a meaningful story. Definitely a book that’s fun to read and can teach children about controlling anger without being overbearing! Because, don’t we all have a temper at the end of the day?
One of Finja’s first board books, „Bear on a bike“, was the beginning of her love for books. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, as “Bear on a bike” and the other parts of the bear-series convince even newborns with colorful high-contrast illustrations. When she was older, she was drawn to the rhythm of the text – and now she loves to use the illustrations in a “search and find” manner. We talk about what happens on each page.
“Bear in Sunshine” is another part of the “Bear”-series and a long time favorite in our library. The story is simple, yet educational and funny. The big, friendly bear discovers the seasons: He plays in the sunshine, sings in the rain, flies his kite when the wind blows, paints when it’s misty and builds snow-bears when snow falls. I never expected the concept of seasons to be hard to grasp for a child – but whenever Finja is confused about spring, summer, fall and winter we take five minute to read this well loved board book again.
Simple rhymes and the captivating colorful illustrations captivate newborns, toddlers and preschool kids and are funny and interesting enough for parents. I personally love Stella Blackstone’s artwork!
“Bear in Sunshine” is another great read by Barefoot Books and one of the reasons I decided to join the Barefoot Team as Ambassador. This book has everything a board book needs. That’s why we reward it with five crowns for story and illustrations!
More information: Bear in sunshine
Written by: Stella Blackstone
Illustrated by: Debbie Harter
Publisher: Barefoot Books
A book without words? What sounds kind of contra intuitive, works extraordinary well – at least, when it comes to Aaron Becker’s books. “Journey” was the first review copy I got in the mail and was immediately taken by our three-year-old, so it took some hours until I got to read the newest acquisition…
Aaron Becker’s “Journey” is a 2014 Caldecott honor book. Not surprising, when you take a look at Becker’s illustrations… His book manages without words. And it does it well.
The story reminds of “Harold and the purple crayon”: A bored girl takes a red crayons and escapes her sepia-colored world to a magical land. With imagination alone she travels through the dreamlike land: With painting a boat she is able to travel to a renaissance-like city, continuing the voyage by hot air balloon, rescuing a purple bird, an expression of another child’s fantasy, and being rescued. The end of this journey is a new beginning: Friendship…
“Journey” is a wonderful visual fairytale, which tells a story without using a single word.
I didn’t expect this book to be loved by toddlers, but Finja was captivated and even took “Journey” to bed. We talked about the storyline for hours. Not surprisingly, as Becker knows how to use the elements of a classical adventure without words. He uses the reader’s imagination and shapes it into something completely new and individual. “Journey” was Aaron Becker’s first book. Until now, he published “Quest“, the next chapter in his wordless fantasy. “Return”, the third part of the series, will be released in August 2016.
More information: Journey
by Aaron Becker
Publisher: Candlewick; 1st edition (August 6, 2013)
„The flying books of Mr. Morris Lessmore“ is one of these books I put on my wishlist weeks ago and thought about purchasing it every day… The oscar-winning short film by author William Joyce and the book being a tribute to librarian pioneer Bill Morris, the pioneer of children’s book publishing, finally convinced me.
I got the book in the mail today and started reading immediately. And what can I say? „The flying books of Mr. Morris Lessmore“ is as wonderful and magical as I expected. But what else is to be expected with so many personal connections author William Joyce has with this story… But let’s come to that later.
Mr. Lessmore is a person of order – his life “was a book of his own writing, one orderly page after another.” The world how he knew it comes to an end when he loses his whole library in a terrible storm… As a book lover Mr. Morris Lessmore is devasted. Could he guess that this is just the beginning of his story – and the beginning of Bill Morris’ literary references? The almost magical appearance of a women, carried by flying books, who lends her a Humpty-Dumpty-themed book, leads him to a library, where Mr. Morris Lessmore rediscovers the purpose of his life: Caring for books, “gently fixing those with fragile bindings and unfolding the dog-eared pages of others.” He shares the story of his books with others. He brings them to life.
This picture book is more than a children’s book. It might bring the love of reading to every child, but every book lover can identify himself with the slightly melancholy men, whose best friend is a book.
„The flying books of Mr. Morris Lessmore“ is a truly magical book, from the meaningful story full of references and memorable quotes to the captivating illustrations. It’s not surprising that it’s based on real characters and on William Joyce’s own experiences when losing his home during hurricane Katrina. The author saw firsthand the power of stories as he visited children, who lost everything in the storm. “And so our story ends as it began – with a book.”
We give „The flying books of Mr. Morris Lessmore“ five crowns for illustrations and story. Definitely a book that belongs in the bookshelf of every book lover!
„The flying books of Mr. Morris Lessmore“ by Willian Joyce
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; First Edition/First Printing edition
Our daughter has not only one, but three favorite books. Anyway, I know that it’s not always easy to find the right book for children. That’s why I want to help bringing children and their favorite books together. Because kids who learn to LOVE reading are more compassionate and adaptable, risk-taking and goal-setting, open-minded and open-hearted. Reading is fun. Do you remember these magic moments of your childhood, curled up with a book, escaping to an alternative reality, learning about foreign cultures?
Barefoot Books is one of my favorite children book publishers. As a bilingual family we love Barefoot books’ multicultural background in combination with meaningful stories and fantastic illustrations. That’s why decided to work further with the great people from Barefoot an become a Barefoot Ambassador. I will be able to offer you videos and training about children literacy – from choosing the right book to reading to your child. My mind is already swirling with ideas and I’m preparing my first Children’s Literacy Workshop on Facebook on March 28 2016!
Why not creating an event every parent can access from home. No need to pack the kids up and drive to the library! And nobody will know if you are in your PJs or your toddler is running around with a princess dress… I’m excited about this new opportunity and will keep you posted!
Please note: My opinions are my own and my reviews aren’t sponsored by Barefoot or any other publisher.
Marta Altés book “The king cat” is a picture book for children and adult cat lovers: “The king cat” convinces with humorous illustrations and tells a story of an extraordinary friendship and courage. Because sometimes first impressions lie and unlikely friendships grow into something special…
Every cat owner knows, that the cat is the monarch of the house. The tomcat in Marta Altés picture book “The king cat” is a textbook example for a royal ruler: He sleeps during the day, likes to lounge on freshly pressed sheets – or hides in a paper box. He insists on lots of time for cuddling and playing. And he is sooooo sweet! The life of the king cat is just great. Until a new member joins the family… And it’s a dog – dribbly and disgusting! He follows the king cat everywhere, including his litter box. He sniffs where he shouldn’t sniff. And he is dumb.
But the unlikely friends become just that: Friends. Because even with a dog in the house the cat is still king…
“The king cat” tells a story out of the life of every child and every cat owner. For children, real friendships rarely come with the first playdate. Friendships need to grown. And when a new family member suddently shows up, change takes place – and not for the worse! It’s important to keep an open mind. Adult cat owners love, that the protagonist shows every characteristic of a typical cat – and every spleen of the true ruler of the house…
For Finja, this books has it all. We got the German edition for our review in the Pfotenhieb-magazine first and she dragged it into her reading nook right away: “This is a cat book, this is for children, this is mine!”
“The king cat” is an enchanting book about cats and dogs, new family members, jealousy and being open for change. We loved the colorful, humorous illustrations and the message of this book and will give it five crowns for illustration and storyline.
“Which might have scared some little girls. But not this little girl.”
“Little Red” doesn’t look like your average fairytale book. And where “Little Red Riding Hood” is bloody like most of Grimm’s fairytales, “Little Red” is not as obvious – but a great deal sarcastic.
Little Red is a clever girl. She’s street-smart and doesn’t need a knight in shining armor to safe her – or a woodsman. Like in the classic “Little Red Riding Hood”, Little Red meets a wolf on the way to her grandmother’s house, “which might have scared some little girls. But not this little girl.” Little Red isn’t fooled – and she’s not your average girl… When finding the wolf in her grandmother’s bed she doesn’t wait to be saved. She saves herself: On the last page you see Little Red on her way back through the woods – wearing a wolfskin. Now the axe in front of grandma’s window get’s a whole new importance…
Everybody knows “Little Red Riding Hood”. Bethan Woollvin, a recent graduate of the Cambridge School of Art, published with “Little Red” another interpretation of the classic, full of dark humor and sarcasm. Her illustrations are made with black, grey and red only, what only underlines Woollvin’s message: Smart girls aren’t fooled – and smart girls can safe themselves! Just look at the book cover – don’t you get the impression “Little Red” is a strong, confident and clever little girl? It’s no surprise that her version of “Little Red Riding Hood” won the Macmillan Children’s Book Competition.
I personally loved this slightly dark picture book with a great amount of humor. But I love dark and sarcastic books and movies, that sometimes are open to interpretation. Although Bethan Woollvin never shows the actual killing of the wolf and therefore “Little Red” is absolutely child-safe, most preschool children might not understand the underlying humor and message of this book.
Bethan Woollvin’s illustrations clearly deserve five crowns. Minimalistic and meaningful. These are the pictures I even would like hanging in my living room – and I love them in a picture book! I had a hard time with the content of this book though. As I said most kids under the age of six might not understand “Little Red” at all and will not be able to value the comedy, sarcasm and meaning of this great book. That being said, Grimm’s fairytales might be a little brutal for most kids as well… That’s why I still give “Little Red” five crowns. You just might have to thing about a convincing story about Little Red’s “costume” on the last page…
More information: Little Red
by Bethan Woolvin
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, Ltd. (April 1, 2016)