„My friend robot“ by Sunny Scribens

Childhood and education today is different from our upbringing in the 70s, 80s and 90s. But is this a bad thing? Definitely not! Society changes, and so do the requirements for preparing children for today’s world. One example is the growing importance of STEM: Today, science, technology, engineering and mathematics are essential skills for everyone. But STEM doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, even seemingly complex machines like robots are based upon basic principles every preschooler can understand and practice…

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“My friend robot” by Sunny Scribens, published by Barefoot Books, is one of the few STEM books for toddlers and preschoolers. Scribens doesn’t start with complicated programming questions or even mentions computers. On the contrary, the story begins with a situation every child can relate to: Who can us help build a tree house? Luckily, a friendly robot joins the diverse group of friends and helps using simple tools like a wedge, a wagon, screws, a ladder, hammer and pulley. Together the team follows simple steps to make their dream of a house come true. Every child helps in their own way, from carrying wood blocks to pushing a wagon. The situation grows with complexity, until the tree house finally stands. There is just one thing to do: Comfort the shy dog on his way up into the tree house…

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Scribens shows that technology and empathy aren’t exclusive to one another. To finish a project you need skills, heart and passion! Easy to repeat rhymes and an accompanying CD make the book adequate for younger children.

The for us really fascinating part of the book was the appendix: Several pages of information about programming and robotics teach children about simple machines and ignite interest in STEM. Engines, printer and computer might be hard concepts for young readers to grasp – that’s why Sunny Scribens starts with “simple machines”, basic devices to make work easier. She then goes on to everyday robotics most children know and shares he fascination of programming robots. A simple play “Scientist says” teaches children the basic principles of programming code.

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We absolutely love the colorful illustrations by Hui Skipp, an illustrator born and raised in Taiwan. The bold colors will catch every toddler’s and preschooler’s eye and perfectly fit the STEM topic. Finja loved to “read” the book with help of the easily to understand pictures: “Who will help us use this nail? My friend robot, my friend robot!”

You see: “My friend robot” is a great book to ignite your toddlers or preschoolers interest in science and technology. Have fun reading, singing and learning!

More information
„My friend robot“
published by Barefoot Books
written by Sunny Scribens
illustrated by Hui Skipp
CD sung by Norma Jean Wright

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“Will you help Doug find his dog” by Jane Caston

I really must apologize for being offline for such a long time. Our move into a bigger home didn’t go as planned and we are still battling with a huge water damage. But: The books are safe and I can’t wait to get started on some new reviews!

The last three weeks were a little crazy for Finja. Reading helped her to keep her schedule and calm down after another exciting (and loud – think about fans, de-humidifier and air filter…) day. Look at this picture – do I need to tell more?

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One of the books she’s totally into is “Will you help Doug find his dog?” from one of my favorite publishers, Barefoot Books. “Will you help Doug find his dog” is a little different from the Barefoot books I selected so far. It’s not about diversity, it’s not about cultural literacy, but it’s about sharing the love of reading with your child and offering them a book they can discover by themselves.

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The story: Doug is devastated, he lost his dog… Luckily, Doug can count on the help of the young reader enjoying his story at this very moment. Together with Doug kids can sort through all the different dogs on the pages of the lovingly illustrated volume. Is Doug’s dog scruffy? Can you give all spotted dogs a pat? And tickle all small dogs? Finally, there is Doug’s dog!

“Will you help Doug find his dog” combines the idea of a search-and-find-book with interactive, sensory books like “Tickle my ears”. Lots of things are happening on the colorful pages, sorting and counting keeps children entertained and helps them to rediscover the story every time they pull “Will you help Doug find his dog” out of the bookshelf.

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The book from Jane Caston was illustrated by Carmen Saldana and is one of the books that keeps kids smiling and motivates them to “read” a book all by themselves. The publisher recommends “Will you help Doug find his dog?” for children between 1 and 5 years of age. Helping Doug find his dog is a fun way for preschoolers to practice early math skills, sort and spot similarities and differences! With lot of action on every page it’s a page turner for younger children as well.

“Will you help Doug find his dog?”
written by Jane Caston
illustrated by Carmen Saldana
Publisher: Barefoot Books
ISBN-13: 978-1782853206

„The Blue Bird’s Palace“ by Orianne Lallemand

Sometimes life just happens – and your blog is deserted for weeks… But no matter how stressful life is, grabbing a good book always is always like a short vacation. I really enjoy our evening story time. Transferring some if Finja’s books into their temporary home aka “moving boxes” almost hurt, although I know we’ll unpack them again in just a week. 🙂

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To make up for the smaller selection of books available outside of our countless book boxes we read some new ones. Finja now reached the age where she loves fairytales and especially everything about Disney. Because, let’s be honest: Which girl doesn’t? To achieve a balance, I try to incorporate some unusual fairytales from all over the world in our daily reading routine. Sometimes really good tales are hard to come by, especially when you are searching for strong female role models. Luckily, there are some stories with strong female protagonists – Finja was fascinated by the real-life-stories of “Goodnight stories for rebel girls” by Elena Favilly.

But heroines are not always born strong, brave and kind – sometimes they have to grow into their roles. During the last days, I fell in love with the modern version of a Russian fairytale. „The Blue Bird’s Palace“ by Orianne Lallemand was published by one of my favorite publishers, Barefoot Books.

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The magically illustrated volume tells the story of Natasha. Natasha has a wonderful childhood in the Blue Forest, spending her time picking apples, baking bread and making sweet jam with her mom. Life changes when Natasha’s mother dies during an especially cold winter. Natasha’s dad buries himself in work to forget about his wife’s death. To make up for it, he spoils Natasha with everything she wishes for. Only the tastiest food is good enough for her. She enjoys only the finest fabric and the best stories. At age sixteen, the blessed girl is beautiful, but moody. She wants more and more – and especially: A bigger, better house with more rooms. But her father refuses to leave the cottage he shared with his wife. Natasha gets consumed by her own fury. When an old woman with a blue bird offers her a wish in exchange for a tasty fruit in her basket, Natasha desires a palace. But “not just any old palace, though, a magical one. One where I can invent all kinds of different rooms whenever I like.” Natasha’s wish is granted, but it doesn’t turn out as she likes… Natasha will not be able to leave her magical palace. For some time, the girl entertains herself with inventing new rooms. She wanders the wonderful palace and is at easy with the life of a princess.

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But after some time, Natasha gets bored with inventing new rooms. She misses her dad, the orchard the grew up in – and finds back to a simpler life again. “There would be no more dressing-up sessions; no more walks through her splendid rooms; no more magnificent feasts.” The magical palace shrinks to the size of a cottage. When Natasha discovers she’s able to leave the palace as a blue bird at night, she spends her days baking bread, leaving the loaves on the doorsteps of the poorest cottages. Will Natasha’s kindness be repaid? Will she be able to return to her father?

What I loved about “The Blue Bird’s Palace” is Natasha’s development from a selfish, spoiled girl to a thoughtful and kind woman. The story can be a reminder for us parents not to spoil our kids too much – but it can also be a story of growing-up and achieve happiness with being at ease with ourselves. I didn’t expect Finja to follow the modern interpretation of a Russian folk tradition. The tale is longer than most fairytales, there are not fairy godmothers or sparkles involved. But Finja listened carefully, asked questions about Natasha, her moodiness and her development to a kind young woman. Actually, she just snatched the book away while I was reviewing it, quickly retiring into her room to browse through the pages!

Barefoot Books recommends “The Blue Bird’s Palace” for age 5 to 10, but the book offers a complex story and is a wonderful gift for adult readers, too.

There is just one word left for the illustrations by Carole Henaff: Beautiful! The acrylic artwork seems to be inspired by The Arabian Nights and other classics, uniting the classical fairytale illustration with a radiant, more modern approach.

“The Blue Bird’s Palace” is a wonderful tale for children and adults every age – from “twonagers” to teenagers to adults 🙂

“The Blue Bird’s Palace”
written by Orianne Lallemand
illustrated by Carole Henaff
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Barefoot Books
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1846868856

„The Beeman“ by Laurie Krebs

Did you know that I was an official Barefoot Book Ambassador in 2016? As someone who constantly has her nose in a book, promoting literacy and working with the great Barefoot community was the perfect fit! Well, that being said – I quickly discovered that direct marketing isn’t for me. A year later I still love Barefoot books and miss the discounts I got as an Ambassador. That doesn’t change that I’m not a seller, so I keep on reading and reviewing.

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Imagine my delight when I was offered review copies of the newest Barefoot books by one of the literacy agencies I’m working with! Sure, I said yes – and quickly re-discovered my love for Barefoot Books. Is there something better than unconventional, diverse children’s literature? Finja chose the first two books to read and review. One of them: “The Beeman” by Laurie Krebs, illustrated by Valeria Cis. “The Beeman” is one of the wonderful non-fiction books that teaches children about the real world and score with delightful pictures, an attention-grabbing storyline and rhymes.

Do you know where our honey comes from? Bees not only provide us with honey, their work as pollinator is important for our environment – but bees are critically endangered. “The Beeman” teaches little ones about bees, a bee man’s everyday life and why bees are neither scary nor dangerous, but important for our environment.

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The story: Grandpa, the bee-man, teaches his young grandson the basics of beekeeping. His relationships to his bees is one of friendship and respect. They are family. We discover the boxes where bees live and sleep – the “beehive”. We learn about different kinds of bees and their duties: What are worker bees for, how do you recognize drone bees and why is the queen so important for a bee colony? Did you know that the house bees dry up the nectar brought by worker bees to make honey? How will the bees survive in winter and how does the honey get from the honey comb into the bottle? Author Laurie Krebs wrote her rhyming story easy to understand, several pages of endnotes full of essential facts about bees and beekeeping are perfect for children and parents that have more questions. The recipe for “Grandma’s Apple and Honey Muffins” is a tasty activity for hungry readers.

I re-discovered my love for non-fiction when Finja started to ask questions about our world. “The Beeman” is one of the books I love for my preschool-aged daughter: Easy to understand and awakening curiosity. She’s able to discover “The Beeman” by herself, even if she’s not able to read yet. The illustrations by Valeria Cis are colorful and grasp her attention, but they are also true to fact. The publisher recommends “The Beeman” for age 5 to 9, in my opinion the book is already perfect for preschool aged children.

A wonderful book for curious children (and parents)!

“The Beeman”
Written By: Laurie Krebs
Illustrated By: Valeria Cis
Publisher: Barefoot Books
ISBN-13: 978-1846862601

„The Barefoot Book of Children“ by Tessa Strickland, Kate DePalma, David Dean

It’s fall! That means: Pumpkin spice latte and new fall releases! It’s so exciting to stock up on books for the winter season. Today our poor UPS guy had to carry some heavy book boxes. I ordered a copy of “Raising a Hero” by Laura Numeroff, the author of “If you give a mouse a cookie”. A portion of the sales of this book support Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization providing assistance dogs to children, adults and veterans with disabilities. Finja’s preschool will attend a fun online author event in November, so I ordered advance to give the kids a chance to prepare and come up with some fun questions about service dogs and writing books for Laura. Plus, Finja loves dogs, so do the other kids in her play-based preschool, which also is the home of a sweet dog named Oakley!

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In the last weeks I was super excited for one other release: “The Barefoot Book of Children” by (you can guess it) Barefoot books. I’m not active as a Barefoot ambassador anymore, but was informed about the new inclusive book with the hashtag #allchildren some months ago. To be honest, I couldn’t wait! Living in a multicultural environment I never had the feeling I had to “prepare” Finja and explain about inclusion, had to prevent racism and discrimination. But the worldwide happenings of the last few months and some really disturbing experiences of friends and colleagues showed that it’s never too late to make #worldcitizen out of your children… Because “despite our different clothes and homes and languages – we are more alike than different”, as Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the US fund for UNICEF, states on the cover of “The Barefoot Book of Children”.

"The Barefoot Book of Children"

Today the book finally arrived! Finja and I got right to work. She was fascinated by the colorful pages, asking questions, explaining and discovering nonstop. With 64 pages “The Barefoot Book of Children” was far more extensive than I thought, so I had to finish the book alone after bedtime – but I’m sure Finja will request to read the last pages first thing tomorrow!

"The Barefoot Book of Children"

What can I say? This book is everything I hoped for and more. Every child has a story and “The Barefoot Book of Children” gives kids the chance to tell their story while reading about other cultures and everyday life of other children around the globe. No matter if it’s living space, food, clothing, bodies, families, injuries, skin color, play or feeling – the author and editor did a good job describing the diversity of children’s’ lives in different parts of the world. The text isn’t artful or poetic, but it’s depth surprises again and again. “You are a part of the world. You are also a world of your own. This is were you belong”: An important part of the story comes from the reader: The colorful illustrations full of details will hold every reader’s attention and give the opportunity to explore and add one’s own story to the stories told.

"The Barefoot Book of Children"

Long story short: “The Barefoot Book of Children” is a book you have to experience yourself. Right now, this book is just one of the few inclusive, multicultural books I know of. I hope many more will follow and make the world a more diverse for our children! BTW, I’m sure you’ll love this interview of co-author Kate DePalma in the Barefoot-Blog: “How do you make a book for all children?

More information:
„The Barefoot Book of Children“
Written by Tessa Strickland, Kate Depalma
Illustrated by David Dean
Publisher: Barefoot Books

Diverse Books for #allchildren

Cultural literacy: Read the world this summer!

My husband and I grew up in Germany – Finja was born 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!

20160503_222633566_iOSWhen you love reading you want to share this love with your children. This is the most important part – in the end it doesn’t matter of you join one of the different summer reading programs available or share the books you love with your children. But I have another idea: Why not “read” the world this summer? Why not only share the love of reading with your children, but also learn something about world cultures?

Why summer reading is so important

Summer reading is important. Not only because reading is fun, but because it’s a fun way to work your kid’s brain and prevent learning loss during the summer break. What is learning loss? According to a newer study, average school aged children loose one to three months of learning through the summer. This not just applies to school aged children, but to preschoolers and Kindergardeners as well. Reading interactively is a fun way to keep these little minds sharp!

Reading over the summer is critical for maintaining and expanding the intellectual development of children of all ages. The good news is: With some simple steps you can take to keep your child’s mind sharp over the summer!

According to experts, reading 6 books or more over the summer is essential in keeping “summer brain drain” away. The summer is a great chance to build your library! Have a diverse selection of books on hand from which your children can choose. Not surprisingly children are more engaged when they have the opportunity to select books themselves!

And now to the fun part: Bring the books to life. Give your children more to look forward than “just” a book. Pair it with activities. Why not pair arts and crafts with the book your child loves? I love Pinterest to get some ideas – that makes it easy to tailor activities to the age and interest of your children.

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When talking about cultural literacy a fun way to encourage your children to “read around the world” and keep the engagement going is a “world passport”, which is a fun activity to do with your kids. From every country they read a book they can color or stamp it in. Barefoot also uses a world atlas as a map to organize summer reading. Africa, Europe, Asia, America – which continent seems to be most fascinating for your child? Every book about other cultures can give you and your children insight into other parts of the world and a welcome break from everyday school life! 

Read the world!
elephant-dance_fc_wNot 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? That’s why I love the Barefoot books summer reading program. Barefoot books cares about global citizenship. Their reading program encourages families to “travel the world” with a world atlas and use this as a map to organize summer reading. Barefoot books are about cultural diversity – but you sure can use every book to “travel the world” with your children! But: What books will you read? Maybe you already have a selection of cultural books from your home country or out of your own bookshelf. Perfect! Other than that I have some recommendations for you. All these recommendations are from Barefoot books, as I love their cultural books and they fit perfectly into a summer reading program “around the world”. However, please understand these recommendations just as this: Recommendations. Every book about other cultures can give you and your children insight into other parts of the world, so please choose the books you like!

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For children (and parents 🙂 ) who are fascinated by the African continent I can recommend two books:

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. You could create masks from paper plate as an activity to go with this book!

Another great book is “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.  The book comes with Mama Panya’s pancake recipe.

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Southern Asia
Elephant Dance” lets you listen along with Ravi to Grandfather’s captivating stories about India, where the sun is like a ferocious tiger and monsoon rains cascade like waterfalls. Notes after the story include facts about India’s animals, food, culture and religion, and a simple elephant dance music score. “Elephant Dance” is a NAPRA Nautilus Award Finalist.

Mexico
Or maybe sunny Mexico is your favorite? Then you’ll love “Off we go to Mexico“. 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. Why not pair this book about Mexican culture with a visit in an original Mexican restaurant?

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You love fairytales from different cultures and want to “travel” to Asia with your children? Then “Lin Yi’s Lantern – A Moon Festival Tale” is a fantastic book for you and your children. 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.

chandras-magic-light_w_1One of the newer books, that will captivate elementary school aged children as well as adults, is “Chandra’s Magic Light”. Join sisters Chandra and Deena at the market in Nepal. A man is selling lamps that are powered by the sun instead of kerosene, and Chandra knows the magic solar lamp would help her baby brother’s cough. But how will they afford one? This lyrical tale is brought to life with luminous acrylic artwork, and comes complete with seven pages of endnotes, including an illustrated map of Nepal, notes on Nepali daily life and instructions for making a pizza box solar oven, which is a great activity to go with your summer reading. This book was developed with the help and advice of SolarAid UK and ECCA (Nepal).

Which books are you choosing?
You don’t need to buy the recommended books for this summer reading program – every book about other cultures can give you and your children insight into other parts of the world and a welcome break from everyday school life! Which books are you choosing?

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“The Princess & the White Bear King” by Tanya Robyn Batt

Somehow sunny spring days let me yearn for Northern folk tales… “The princess & the white bear king” was sitting on my shelf for quite some time and I never found the peace and quiet to enjoy it. So what better day to finally read a story set in ice and snow than a warm May day?

"The Princess & the White Bear King"

According to the author, “The princess & the white bear king” is a combines three classic tales: “East of the sun, west of the moon”, “The black bull of Norraway” and “The white bear king”. I knew the often retold tale of Eros and Psyche, which is the origin of “East of the sun, west of the moon”, so I knew to expect a classic love story. And as our four-year-old daughter was fascinated by the title cover of the white bear king – why not read it aloud?

“The princess & the white bear king” is set in a winterly fantasy world, brought to life by illustrator Nicoletta Ceccoli, who also illustrated “The tear thief” by Carol Ann Duffy. In “The princess & the white bear king”, the King’s youngest and most beloved daughter dreams of a golden crown, more beautiful than everything her father can give her. Following her dream, the princess has an encounter with a strange white bear, who offers her the desired crown in exchange for her freedom. The girl agrees. Living in the bear’s castle she not only finds his presents acceptable, she even falls in love with the bear king.

The Princess & the White Bear King

But as we know, fairytales never end here… When the homesick girl is allowed to visit her family, she disregards the bear’s suggestion to “not listen to your mother’s advice, for if you do, bad luck befalls us both.” Back in the castle she lights a candle when feeling something sharing her room – and spills hot wax on a handsome prince’s shirt… Doomed to now marry the Troll Queen, who bewitched him, the prince has to travel “to a land east of the sun and west of the moon” without a chance to break the enchantment.

This is when the spoiled and passive princess turns into a heroine. She follows the trail of the bear king for over three years, until finally arriving at the Troll Queen’s castle – and fights for her love…

To be honest, I absolutely disliked the princess in the first part of this new told fairytale. Honestly, which girl goes the way of possible enslavement, just to win a wonderful new crown? Losing her love is a turning point for the spoiled girl though. She turns into a keen and strong willed women, who is not only willing to fight for her love, but also compassionate enough to help those in need during her journey.

The tale itself is kind of long, so more for adult readers or children age 6 and up. Our preschool age daughter seemed to seriously enjoy the story though, although more interested in the emotions of the protagonists and the blacksmith’s children then the meaning of the love story. 🙂

All in all, “The princess & the white bear king” is a wonderful modern fairytale with a not-so-strong beginning, but an even stronger progress. Sure,  it has the classic setting: a heroic male, a wicked antagonist – and we know that in real life no one lives “happily ever after”. But that’s how fairytales end, isn’t it? Our heroine is more than a damsel in distress. I absolutely adore Nicoletta Ceccoli’s illustrations, which add great character and atmosphere to the storyline!

The book comes with a story CD narrated by Miranda Richardson.

More information:
The princess & the white bear king
Written By: Tanya Robyn Batt
Illustrated By: Nicoletta Ceccoli
Publisher: Barefoot Books
ISBN-10: 1846862280
ISBN-13: 978-1846862281

Read your way around the world!

Some of you know that I started my journey as a Barefoot Ambassador a few weeks ago. I don’t work exclusively for Barefoot, but I absolutely love the company’s multicultural orientation and the chance to promote children’s literacy together with the engaged people from Barefoot Books.

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Their new summer reading program is all about creating world citizen and connecting summer reading with tons of fun and learning about different cultures.

When I was a child, our German school breaks were just six weeks long, summer literacy workshops weren’t known back then – and I spent the summer reading anyway… 😉 That’s why I was so astonished to learn that children have one to three months of learning loss over the summer break. Summer reading workshops are more important than we think – but shouldn’t the summer be fun and full of new adventures as well? Who wants to commit to not only read a certain number of books, but to certain books as well?

I have a better idea for you: Why not travel the world this summer – with reading books? Let your child choose which books to read, pair the books with optional activities, learn about world cultures – and more important: Have fun!

My 30 minute workshop on May 12 2016 gives you some ideas on how to travel the world from your living room or reading nook, how to choose the right books (or let your child choose) and how to find fun activities to go with it. And the best: You can access this event from your home PC! 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.

Join me on Facebook? 🙂

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Online Workshop: Reading with your child

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!

"Bear on a bike" by Barefoot books - Finja's favorite!
“Bear on a bike” by Barefoot books – Finja’s favorite!

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!

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Baby’s literature
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.BabyTalk

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.

Book recommendation:
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.

 

Cultural literacy
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.

SafariBook recommendations:
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!
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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

Feelings
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…

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Book recommendation:
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?

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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.

Book recommendation:
The Tear Thief

Singalongs
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.

AnimalBoogieI 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!

Book recommendations:
Portside pirates

Animal Boogie
Both books come with a CD!

Routine
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!

Book recommendation:
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

Learning
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:
Grandpas GardenMillie’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:
outoftheblue_wI 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…

Challenges
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!

Contact
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.

Thanks a lot for joining me!

„Emily’s Tiger“ by Miriam Latimer

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's tiger" is a book for strong-willed girls!
“Emily’s tiger” is a book for strong-willed girls!

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?

“Emily’s Tiger”
by Miriam Latimer
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Barefoot Books
ISBN-10: 1846865948
ISBN-13: 978-1846865947

From the same author: “Shrinking Sam”

"Shrinking Sam" by Miriam Latimer
“Shrinking Sam” by Miriam Latimer