Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thursday Book Rec- Anything Mo Willems!

Thursday Book Rec

I am an admitted book worm. If I could swim in books or sleep in them, truly I would. I am constantly on the lookout for new ones, both for the kids and myself. There's no better love you can inspire in children than the desire to read, but again, I am thousand-percent biased. This is one in a series of posts spotlighting books we picked up and absolutely loved! Most of these can be appreciated by just about any age, and I say this because I love them just as much as the kids do. I hope you do, too!

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Title & Author: 
Pigeon Series, Knuffle Bunny series, Elephant and Piggie Series by Mo Willems

What It's About:
First you must know that Mo Willems has many more books than what I'm mentioning here, all of which I also recommend without even cracking the spines. Those I'm spotlighting here are his more popular titles. His characters share an interesting take on life and the things we do to make it fun, or in his case, funny. I can honestly say I identify with each one of them and Willems does a great job of making his characters relatable. 

There's Pigeon, who's very witty and just won't take no for an answer but you gotta love him anyway. Then there's Trixie, her beloved Knuffle Bunny, her doting mother, and comically clueless but quick study of a father; you have the pleasure of watching her grow up over the course of the three-book series *sniffle*. Last, we have Elephant (Gerald) and Piggie who are the best of friends, don't take themselves too seriously, and are totally adorable all on their own.

My Thoughts:
These books generally make great early reader books (due to the large, simple text and shorter sentence structure) and are extremely entertaining. Pigeon has become a household favorite and although it's been awhile since we've read a Pigeon book, we find ourselves goofily quoting the adorably persistent bird in normal conversation quite often and cracking up every time as though it's the first time ever hearing it. We also look out for cameos of Willems' characters across some of his books, 'Where's Waldo'-style, it's so much fun to see and keep watch for, and I feel like it's a shout-out to the true fans every time we find the hidden character.

My kids so obviously love these books and bless Mr. Willems for cranking them out like there's no tomorrow and sparing us all the unnecessary wait. I find myself scouring the "New" shelf at the library to see if he's slipped any more new titles by us, then I snatch up the first one I see like it's stolen goods and run to the check-out. Usually I sneak it in with our other books so the kids don't see, then later look like the hero when I present it as a bedtime surprise. Then, we happily devour it together.

Note: I've just discovered that this talented author has a website with games and fun. When you have a chance, check it out, as well! I also now follow Pigeon on Twitter & like him on Facebook.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Poetry 101

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Introducing your child to poetry at an early age can be very beneficial for them. The casual reading and study of poetry gets them used to rhythmic patterns in sound, deciphering the art and the meaning behind the author's words (helpful later on when poets like Shakespeare and Dante are introduced), and the beauty and the flow of artistic language (helps with creative and/or essay writing).

If you have little ones, you can start with something as simple as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and build from there. One of my favorites as a child is The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson and I absolutely LOVE anything by Shel Silverstein. I still have very fond memories of my first grade teacher reading to us from Silverstein's books. When she retired and moved away at the end of a subsequent school year, she generously gave me a copy of two of his books, and now I read to my girls from the very same well-used copies.
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For Muslims and non-Muslims alike: A great study of poetry can also be made of the Qur'an. The language is beautiful, thought-provoking and deep, yet easy to understand; I'm not at all biased, see for yourself. 

A note: there are some historical and purely contextual elements that you should familiarize yourself with before teaching certain parts of the Qur'an so that they make sense and can be taught accurately and with understanding. A great website to help you, as the teacher and parent with this is under Qur'an translation and tafseer you'll click on Taleem Al Qur'an (English)/Amina Elahi. This tafseer is very clear and moving. Hers only goes up to the first five Parts of the Qur'an but there's a brief tafseer of all 30 parts that's great for Ramadan and other times, as well as a continuation by Hijab Iqbal.
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Teaching Moments*:
Be sure to read the author's name along with anything you read to your child, especially poetry. This familiarizes them with well-known authors and poets and after awhile they may come to recognize and compare different styles of writing.

Some links to check out:

*Life with kids is full of teaching opportunities and they are easily recognizable the more you practice looking for them. After awhile, they'll emerge on their own and you'll teach on the fly without even batting an eyelash, I promise. I will try my best to spotlight them in future posts.