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Bright Ideas Curricula and Books In The News

Children’s Books Now Available on Kindle!

Here’s some great news!

There are over 1,000 new titles available, with support for pop-up text and highlighting the artwork in individual panels.

Ana and I were just talking at lunch today about how to keep one kid occupied while another is having one-on-one school time, and one of our main options is to use a tablet and some apps for some self-directed educational endeavors. Now Kindle with children’s books is a great option!

I loved my Kindle Touch with e-ink (until it got misplaced), but never really cared much for the Kindle apps for mobile devices. The way e-ink is so easy on the eyes was the big seller for me personally. But for children’s books that are heavy on illustrations, iPads and Android tablets are absolutely perfect and intuitive for kids to use.

We may have to get another device now! The Kindle Fire is pretty reasonably priced, and there are some other options out there like the Archos Arnova Child Pad that are both cheap and kid friendly.

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Bright Ideas Curricula and Books Just For Fun Lesson Ideas

Activities With “Mouse’s First Snow”

We read “Mouse’s First Snow” yesterday in our co-op as an element of our winter theme, and afterwards we did a couple of activities that tied in with the book.

In the book, Mouse goes outside to play in the snow with his dad and follows his lead as the father does all kinds of outdoor winter activities. We don’t exactly have a winter here in Central Florida, so we had to be a little creative.

First, we let all of the kids have a turn “being” a snow mouse by wrapping them in tissue paper and adding a hat and scarf.

Next the kids built their own snow mice out of marshmallows, raisins, pretzels, and peanut butter. Perfect segue into snack time, where they got to eat their project!

Sometimes you have to use your imagination a little to find ways to tie activities into a book, but the kids don’t mind. They have very active imaginations themselves, and the activities are great for tactile learners and to help them make connections between books and life.

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Bright Ideas Curricula and Books

More Tips For Advanced Readers

Thanks to one of our readers for seeking advice for this great problem. Great problem, you ask? Yup…it’s a great problem to have a child that is an advanced reader! Here’s our reader’s question posted as a comment on our last post about advanced readers:

I have a second grade daughter reading at a 4-5 grade level. She devours chapter books at a rate of 1-2 per day. She is tested on these books and her comprehension is incredible. She’ll read 4 books, test on them and not confuse story lines or content. I am in awe. The problem is I want to challenge her-but many books in her level are not age appropriate. What can you suggest-titles or activities?

A child who loves to read so much that she/he devours books at record speeds is a wonderful thing indeed! Yet it can be quite challenging for parents to keep up! How far ahead should I let them read? Should I keep some books off limits? How do I keep him/her engaged and interested without exposing them to innapropriate content? The questions go on and on.

As I started to write a response with suggestions on things you can do as a parent, I remembered an article I read a while back that did a great job addressing this issue. So instead of reinventing the wheel, I strongly encourage you to check this article out because it has great ideas on choosing books for your advanced reader along with some suggested titles.

Along with Bochan’s great ideas, I’ll add my own suggestions for some series titles:

Series:

  • Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time trilogy is one of my favorites!
  • American Girl History Mysteries series are written by different authors and explore American histories from a fictionalized young girl’s perspective. While not necessarily humerous, they are mysteries which are a bit more complex in language than the Magic Tree House books.
  • Backyard Wonders series by Nancy MacCoon is great for kids curious about animals and natural history.
  • Five Ancestors books by Jeff Stone (Crane, Snake, Tiger, Monkey, and Dragon). It’s the same story set in China, told from 5 different character’s points of view. The author even has a cool site that shares history, activities, and news that relate to the books.
  • The Misadventures of Inspector Moustachio by Wayne Madsen. I havent’ read this one yet , but it is highly recommended for avid readers. Here’s B&N’s synopsis: A riveting tale that is full of adventure, suspense and humor. This book will hold particular appeal to children ages 8 to 12 who want something more engaging and compelling than what typical chapter books offer their age group. Already being endorsed by educational professionals, The Case Of Stolen Time will become a classic favorite of children and educators alike!

In addition to choosing great titles, you may also want to consider doing some pre, during, and post reading activities with your child to extend their experiences with the books they love. I’m currently working on more lengthy articles to share specific ideas with you, so stayed tuned!

Categories
Curricula and Books

Free Books!

That’s what we got today…a lot of free books. Our local used book store, Mckay’s, had three huge bins of free books sitting outside of their doors. So before we even entered the store, we had about 30 books in our arms ready to take to the car. Sure we had to dig to find some good stuff, but there was plenty hidden in there to find! We came away with a decent collection of fiction and nonfiction books that cover different genres…for all ages. I even found a copy of one of my favorite books ever, A Wrinkle In Time! Check out some of the titles we picked up.

Click on picture to get a closer view of the titles
Click on picture to get a closer view of the titles

If you’re lucky to have such a resource in your town, you should definitely take full advantage of it because you can never have too many books. After all, according to Russ Pulliam, having books around the house creates readers for life.

So get out there and stock up your shelves…hopefully for free!

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Curricula and Books What Others Are Doing

The Latin Baby Book Club Is Here!

Thanks to The Hen over at Bilingual in the Boonies for the heads up on the launching of the new site Latin Baby Book Club.

I’m really excited about this new resource because it allows parents to find new books and music in Spanish for their kids. This site will serve as a great place to learn about latin children’s literature and culture for anyone interested in sharing a new language with their kids. As a bilingual homeschooling mom that’s trying to raise a bilingual family, I can’t begin tell you how helpful this will be! Okay, maybe I’ll try.

I’m always looking for new Spanish books and songs to read and sing with Chick Pea, but I’m so limited on local selection that I have to focus most of my efforts online. Then there’s the problem of time…I just don’t have enough of it to sift through countless sites to find quality bilingual literature and information to use at home. Enter The Latin Baby Book Club!

These wonderful ladies do all of the work for me! They feature great book reviews, author interviews, songs, tips for early readers, bilingual mom tales, and more. Be sure to check them out!

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Curricula and Books Just For Fun What Others Are Doing

Back To School, Or Homeschool, Giveaway

Summer is flying by, and people are no doubt getting geared up for back to school. Whether your kids go to public school, private school, or homeschool, we want to help you get this year started on the right foot by giving away a $20 Abunga.com Gift Card to one of our new subscribers this August. To be eligible, all you have to do is subscribe to our site through email (it’s free) using the form below. That’s it!

Enter your email address:

Seriously, that’s it! Only email subscribers are eligible, but if you’ve already subscribed in a feed reader you can always subscribe by email too. As long as you subscribe before midnight on August 31, you will be included in the random drawing.

If you don’t know about Abunga, it’s a family friendly, online discount bookstore that gives 5% of its revenues to non-profits.

Thanks, and good luck!

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In The News My Humble Opinion

Age Guidance For Children’s Books…No Thanks!

That’s what Philip Pullman and over 80 other authors, illustrators, librarians, and booksellers are saying in their petition against the proposed age banding for children’s books by leading publishers. This proposal looks to add suggested age ranges on children’s books (such as ages 5+ or ages 7-9) in order to help parents, teachers, and kids tell which books are appropriate for children to read. This has sparked much debate amongst those involved with children’s books. The publishers claim that this will be very helpful to parents when choosing books for their kids at bookstores and for teachers selecting material for their students.

Is this really necessary? Has there been some sort of epidemic of concerned adults wandering the aisles at bookstores and libraries unsure of what material is appropriate for their children to read? I don’t think this age banding proposal is a good idea and here are a couple of problems I see with it:

  • Not all kids are the same: Every child reads at different levels at different ages! Parents who homeschool have much more control over letting their child read out of the “appropriate” range that will appear on a book’s cover, so I’m sure we will continue to make decisions that best suit our children rather than allow an unnecessary age range deter us from purchasing a certain book. Yet will kids who attend schools still have the freedom to choose the books they wish to read? Will the advanced 7 year old (like this one) who devours chapter books deemed for older kids be allowed to read them at school?
  • It may discourage readers or embarrass others: A child who is interested in dinosaurs may excitedly pick up a book about them only to put it down quickly once he realizes it’s a “baby book”. There’s no telling how much he could have learned or how much fun he could have had reading it because he never even gave it a chance. And trust me, kids don’t want to be caught reading books that are considered too young for them! So what about the kids who read below their current grade or age level? How would an 11 year old who reads at a 3rd grade level feel when they are given a book that says it’s for ages 8-10? My guess is that child would not want to read that book…or any other that reminds him how behind he is. Pullman says it best:

“…Everything about a book should seek to welcome readers in and not keep them out.”

I really hope that these publishers take to heart the wishes of the petitioners and decide against including these age ranges on their books. Parents, educators, and kids should enjoy choosing books based on interest and curiosity without such limits!