these books are geared more towards pre-readers up to second or third grade unless otherwise noted.
Cover pic from Goodreads.com
I love this book! I was just recommending it to yet another soon-to-be mom, and it dawned on me I should put it on this blog. It is a great read for probably no higher than 1st grade. My littlest guy loves it (he is not quite 2), and I have read it to my other two boys (my 2nd grader reads it to his youngest brother sometimes). It is fun to read because of the rhythm and rhyme and the animal and car noises. Also, it teaches a little lesson on friendship. Coming from a mom who often has to read the same book over and over (how in the world does Roen find the books I stuff waaaaaay down in the book bin?!), this book is one you will not mind repeating (unlike the Paw Patrol board book we read twice before nap and twice before bed in the same day Ugh!). We also own Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (not as fun but still cute) and the Christmas title, which is cute with numbers and a tree that lights up at the end. These are not just for boys; I bought this book for several baby girls because we love it so much.
Today's blog post is brought to you by my son Asa, a second grader at South Side Elementary. It is his first blog experience!
The book is about a school that has weird teachers that teach weird things. Some of the things are how to yell and smell and how to tell a cactus from a cow. Their principal's name is Mr. Lowe. Also, they have to take a special test to see which school is the best. Dr. Seuss started the book, but he did not finish it before he died. The editor asked two people to finish the book for him. The book has in the back some of his pictures but not all of them. I liked it because it was funny and silly.
I had never read any of the Crankenstein books before, but I wanted a fun read to do with my 2nd graders in small group. This one fit the bill. I first did a read-aloud with the original Crankstein book, and discussed clues in the pictures and the text. That gave them a feel for the character. I do think you could do this book without any knowledge of the first one, though. We read this Valentine book together out loud in guided reading. There are not a ton of things you can discuss with it, but we focused on the main story, pictures, clues in the text, and humor. They LOVED his heart undies, and they could all relate to what makes him feel cranky in both books. It is a level J, which was just right for them. I also read it to my own boys that night at home, and they got a kick out of it, and we shared some laughs along with them choral shouting the unhappy noises the main character (and the female Crankenstein) makes. It is an easy read with humor and fun illustrations. A nice little treat for Valentine's Day that is not mushy and lovey-dovey!
*Book cover picture from Goodreads.com
We are big fans of this series in my house. I am actually sad it took me so long to learn about it because I did not read any of these until last year. It is so nice to find a lower level early reader chapter book that has good illustrations and a good story line (not goofy but still funny). In this book, Mr. Putter wants to make soup, but his stove is not working, so he heads to his neighbor's (Mrs. Teaberry) house. Unfortunately, anything with Mrs. Teaberry comes along with Zeke, who is not the perfect pup she thinks he is. Meanwhile, I (and my boys) love Zeke. He is so funny because he is what you might call a precocious dog. This book is a nice touch of funny and good lesson (all the books show the importance of love and friendship really), and Rylant does a good job of making the pets have personalities and intelligence without making the books unrealistic. I highly recommend this series and this book in particular; they are fun reads and good introductions to the chapter book world!
I read this book to the 2nd graders for their Christmas read-aloud day they do. I wanted something they probably had not heard and something that would keep their attention. This one fit the bill. It has nice illustrations (the kids enjoyed finding the faces on the trees), and we had several things we could discuss as we read: the kids were able to make predictions, talk about the change in the way the tree stands from beginning to end, and the message was very easy for them to talk about because it is spelled out clearly in the text. I recommend it for those readers who can sit for a small paragraph (or more) per page on about 14 pages and who enjoy a rhyming book with a good message.
Our second grade here at the school does Christmas book read-alouds, and while I was searching for a book to read (one that was not super popular and that the kids had probably not heard), I checked this one out of the library. I read it to my boys (my true test subjects for many things!), and we all enjoyed it. The illustrations are great, and the story is funny. Pa decides to get a turkey and keep it in their small apartment, fattening it up until they can have it for Christmas dinner. Of course it does not go well, and my kindergartner was particularly pleased with the amount of turkey poop that gets on everything. I think I, as an adult, appreciated some of the humor more, and that is why I decided to choose another book as my read-aloud. However, this one is still a fun read with illustrations the kids will enjoy. In the end, love and being together is what the family cherishes more than a large meal and lots of "things."
*Book picture from Goodreads.com
I am almost afraid to make these words public as a teacher in an elementary school, but here goes nothing: "I am not a big fan of Mo Willems." Gasp! I just think some of the humor is goofy, and I do not care for the illustrations or where the story ends up most of the time. I can give a giggle now and then, but I think they fall short of what they could be. I know they are supposed to be simple. I get that. I just do not care for his books. I can appreciate a good picture book, but it has to hook me. This title did. It is so silly and has such a funny twist, I enjoyed reading it with my kids a lot, and it may be the only Willems book I really liked. Now everyone can hate me.
Cover picture from Goodreads.com
This book was my final choice for Kids' Night Out (our story walk here at the school that was last night), but it did not go over as well as I had hoped. It made me a little sad because I love this book. It makes me laugh, and my 8 and 5 year-old find it funny as well. I could tell as I read, though, that some kids just were not getting it. I think there are a few reasons. First, kids need to understand what the word "dull" means. I did discuss it before I started to read, but the names of the kids even go with that theme (Blanda, Borely, and Dud), and we did not address that. Next, they need to pay attention to the illustrations. I do not love the illustrator's style, but the pictures are funny! While the parents are busy picking out bland paint for the house, the baby is skillfully scaling the shelves in the paint store. Finally (and I think this one was the kicker), kids need to get the sarcasm. I think I take for granted that my kids are fluent in sarcasm at a young age because they are being raised by the master of sarcasm! I am afraid not all kids will get it or enjoy it like mine do, and a big part of it is how sarcastic and goofy it is. I had to discuss the book as I read it, and I think that was too much for kids just coming in their pjs to hear a book (some of the kids being pretty young). I will keep it in mind for next year to pick an "easier" read, but I would not discount this title if your kids enjoy some snark and sarcasm like mine do because I had to get my boys to NOT come see me read and see other readers instead because we loved this book, and they want to hear it again and again!
I suppose it is safe to say I pick a lot of funny books to read to my boys. Here is another one I was looking at as a possibility to read for our Kids' Night Out (story walk) event here at our school. It was my runner-up only because I found one my own kids liked better. I did have to explain the twist at the end. However, that, to me, does not take away from the book because good books spark dialogue! This one would need conversation throughout, I think. I liked the book overall because it seems like the father could not possibly be paying attention to the son and his request for a penguin, and it is funny to see everything that goes on along with some great illustrations. Who doesn't enjoy a penguin with a bike helmet? Check it out. Kids will love it!
I heard a lot about this book last year at a book conference I attended and just got the chance to read it now. (I read a lot, but sometimes I run out of time with my ever-growing "to read" list!). I am glad I finally got to read it with my boys. I feel like a lot of the fun in the book is in the illustrations, and it definitely showed some observation skills and deeper thinking in my 8 year-old, who picked up on the ending before my younger son did. Sam and Dave decide to keep digging in their yard until they find something awesome. The trouble is, you can see from the illustrations that they just keep missing the awesome things. The ending is strange but funny, and my boys were laughing and pointing at the things the boys kept missing. A quick, fun read!