More Rhyming Books

“The Measured Mom”    blog shares five ways that rhyming stories and songs benefit children.

  1. Rhyming teaches children how language works. It helps them notice and work with the sounds within words.
  2. Rhymes help children experience the rhythm of language.
  3. When children are familiar with a nursery rhyme or rhyming book, they learn to anticipate the rhyming word.  This prepares them to make predictions when they read, another important rhyming skill.
  4. It can help children understand that words that share common sounds often share common sounds with common letters.
  5. When listening to rhyming songs and poems, children create a mental picture, expanding the imagination.
  6. Because rhyming is fun, it adds joy to the sometimes daunting task of learning to read.]

Here  are some books that combine rhymes with fun stories and encourage children to predict the outcomes of the story:


Baby Danced the Polka-Karen Beaumont, illustrated by Jennifer Plecas

This is such a perfect read aloud for the very young.  In this story of a baby who refuses to nap, Karen Beaumont skillfully uses rhyme to encourage children to guess the animals hiding under the flaps.


Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Gurarino, illustrated by Steven Kellogg

This book will conjure up memories of Dr. Seuss and P.D. Eastman, author of Are You My Mother?. as a young llama asked questions all the  animals nearby.  Children have the opportunity to use their rhyming skills to answer the questions.  This book will be quickly memorized.


Mrs. Brown went to Town by Wong Herbert Yee

Mrs. Brown lives in the barn out back

With a cow, two pig, three ducks and a yak.

These animals are nothing but trouble for Mrs. Brown, but it’s clear, she loves them anyway.  Children will be too busy laughing at the silly antics of the animals to take this story seriously.


Move Over Rover by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by Jane Dyer

Rover is sad and lonely until a thunderstorm arrives.  Suddenly all the animals are seeking shelter from the storm in his doghouse.  Children will enjoy chanting,  “Move Over Rover.”

Good Rhymes Make Good Readers

Children love poems.  Rhyming words help children develop pre-reading skills.  Research shows that children well versed in rhyme will have an easier time mastering reading.

Here are a few of my  favorite rhyming books:

The Nonsense Show by Eric Carle    41n1rZGSsYL._SX393_BO1,204,203,200_

Eric Carle created this colorful picture book  to teach young children about surrealism.  Youngsters may not care about that but they will love the silly rhymes and illustrations of birds swimming, fish flying and a boy in a kangaroo’s pouch.



Louella Mae, She’s Run Away by Karen Beaumont Alarcon, illustrated by Roseanne Litzinger

51BVlF6vc0L._SX424_BO1,204,203,200_Louella Mae,  She’s run away!

Look in the cornfields!

Look in the hay!

Where, oh where is Louella Mae?

When Louella May runs away, the family goes on a frantic search to find her.  Rhyming words provide clues to the action on the next page.  Predicting results is another key reading skill.  I love reading this aloud with a southern accent.



Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond

51BJiyVJ6zL._SX450_BO1,204,203,200_A tiny bug went for a walk.

He met a cat and stopped to talk.

They fell in step and strolled a while,

And bumped into a crocodile…

The bug, the cat and the crocodile continue to make new friends as they travel and revel in each other’s company.




Shoe Baby by Joyce Dunbar, illustrated by Polly Dunbar,

511TAPXP35L._SX454_BO1,204,203,200_There once was a baby who hid in a shoe,

and had learnt how to say ‘How do you do?’

In a shoe you might think there is not much to do,

but this very same baby went to sea in that shoe!

A baby goes for an adventure in a flying shoe.   He heads to the sea, stops by the zoo, and meets the King and Queen.













Getting Them Reading..

Some children take to books like ducks to water. Others need more encouragement.  Here are ways to encourage your child to read more…

Adult Reading

Be a role model.  Make time to read for your own enjoyment.  Last summer’s public library reading program included a program for adults.  Many people were eager to sign up their children but would cite excuses for themselves like “I don’t have time.” or “I am too busy reading to my children.”


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Limit screens.  I’m a lifelong bookworm and the Internet has impacted my reading time.  Time watching television or surfing the Internet is ultimately less satisfying than reading, playing  or creating.  Children need downtime.  It’s good for them to be bored sometimes.  If television and organized activities are always present, children lose the ability to create their own fun.  Unstructured play is crucial to healthy childhood development (but that’s another post.) Children are more likely to read when they have unscheduled time.


Use books to help children pursue their passions.  The DK readers feature many high interest topics with great pictures.  There are numerous Star Wars and Super Hero Books as well as books about natural disasters, sports and animals.

Boys often  prefer informational books to fiction.  Many of these boys are surrounded by females who tend to value fiction.. Be aware that the DK titles are more  difficult than the typical easy reader.  Visual appeal will attract reluctant readers.

.   Some children dislike reading because they are still struggling with decoding words. Being in touch with your child’s teacher is important.  But keep in mind that children do not all develop at the same rate.

If your child needs to practice reading, keep the sessions short.  In an earlier blog post, I recommended the You Read to Me, I Read to You books. These are set up as short poems for parents and child to read together.  Or just read some silly poetry together.    If your child is enjoying reading, they will make greater progress.   Reading aloud to children even after they become readers can reinforce their skills and show them the possibilities that reading can offer.

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Read Alouds for Early Grades


Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard, illustrations by James Marshall

The children love their teacher, Miss Nelson. When they start behaving badly, throwing spitballs in class and tossing paper airplanes, Miss Nelson fails to show up for school. She is replaced by the vile substitute teacher, Viola Swamp. Ms.Swamp wears an ugly black dress and makes the children’s life miserable.  Will they ever see Miss Nelson again?. Sequels include Miss Nelson is Back and Miss Nelson has a Field Day

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 Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss

A turtle named Yertle is the ultimate bully:

“I’m Yertle the Turtle!

Oh Marvelous me!

For I am the ruler of all I can see.”

Yertle climbs to the top literally on the backs of all the turtles in the pond. But justice prevails.  Many people think Seuss based Yertle on Adolf Hitler.



The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss

“Now the Star-Belly Sneetches  Had bellies with stars.

The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none up thars”

The Star Belly Sneetches consider themselves highly superior to the plain belly Sneetches .Then along comes Sylvester McMonkey McBean and his star creation machine.

Soon the Sneetches are adding and removing stars from their bellies until they are all totally confused.  Will the Sneetches learn their lesson?


Random Readalouds for Preschoolers

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 This Book Just Ate My Dog by Richard Bryne

When Bella takes her dog for a walk, strange and unusual things happen. This is one of the best read aloud books ever.

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Duck on a Bike by David Shannon

When a duck decides to ride a bike, the barnyard animals have various reactions until they all have a chance to ride for themselves. Children love the silly illustrations.. The large pictures make this a good choice for a large group of children.


The Super Hungry Dinosaur by Martin Waddell

Hal and his dog Billy save his family from the super hungry dinosaur. The dinosaur apologizes for his rude behavior and then stays for dinner.


Lola at the Library-Anna McQuinn

Lola looks forward to Tuesday when she and her mom visit the library, attend story time, choose books and have a snack. The special day ends with a bedtime story.

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Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobbie.   Toot and Puddle live together in Woonsock Pocket.  Toot loves to travel but Puddle is a homebody.  Toot travels around the word sending postcards back to his best buddy.   They reunite in December when Toot return. This is the same Holly Hobbie of the bigheaded dolls but her pigs are infinitely cuter.  Don’t be surprised if you like this better than your children.  Try to avoid the cheaper knockoffs by National Geographic Press based on the TV show.  These are usually done by other authors.  National Geographic Press does an amazing job with nonfiction but these books are a poor imitation of Hobbie’s books.


The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort, illustrated by Brian Karas

In this great sing along to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus,   Noisy animals board the bus.  All goes well until the skunks arrive.

















Ruth Hunley: A Tribute

rebelI am taking a break from my usual children’s book reviews to write about my mom, Ruth Hunley.  Today’s blog post is dedicated to Monroe High School Graduates.

Senior year at Monroe High School mean football games, pep rallies and Senior English with Mrs. Hunley.  In our small town, we had  heard about her class for years.  She was known to be the toughest teacher in the school.  She was both praised and feared.

It was especially a unique year for me because Ruth Hunley was not only my English teacher but my mother.

It was a different experience walking into her classroom on that September afternoon. I had done a lot of the obligatory moaning and groaning about having my mother for a teacher. Mom taught all college preparatory English classes and not taking college English was never an option. And ultimately I knew I would have felt left out if I wasn’t hanging out at the public library and doing my assignment sheets like everyone else. :

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked my mother as a teacher. She was so passionate about teaching English.   Like many adolescents, I hadn’t thought much about my mom’s life except in relation to me. Somehow in the classroom, she didn’t seem like my  mother.  I used to joke that we got along better at school than at home.

I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed her class, the hardest academic class taken to date. She treated us like college students, handing us a syllabus on the first day of class.  Expectations were high and communicated clearly. We did lots of research at the public library, learning to use all kinds of reference books and being exposed to all kinds of literature. She began stirring in me the desire to be a writer.

Almost every graduate of Monroe High School from 1962 to 1992 can recite The Prologue  to The Canterbury Tales in Middle English.  The words look like gibberish but once memorized take up permanent memory in the brain.

She was always big on memory work. It was a common sight to have students lined up utside her classroom or dropping by the house to recite their lines.   Some of my classmates claimed that she had memorized MacBeth, the whole play, because she had taught it for so many years. (“Is this a dagger that I see before me? The handle toward my hand, come let me clutch thee.”)

During my childhood, I sometimes grew tired of hearing about my mother. I knew that she was kind to many people, baking cakes, writing encouraging notes and devoting free time to helping students with their work. It became tiresome because I lived with her and I knew she didn’t walk on water.

Every May as long as I can remember, the phone would start ringing at our house. There was always one and usually several students who were failing senior English. Failure to pass senior English meant not graduating with the class, a major humiliation.

My mother was determined that I would be a reader. And early on, I became a serious bookworm. I frequently got in trouble at school for reading books when I was supposed to be listening to the teacher or doing my math problems. I was not much of a student until after high school. I am sure it would surprise no one that my mom read to me constantly. Even at 11 or 12, she would insist on reading me a chapter of the classics like Anne of Green Gables and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

I eventually became a children’s librarian and a writer. All that research in the library helped provide the groundwork for my future career. The desire to be a writer actually began from writing all those themes in Senior English.

I think she and I were both surprised by our classroom experience. She was a much better teacher than I ever expected. I was a better student for her than I had been for most of my earlier teachers.  She was surprised that her underachieving daughter could write well and enjoy working so hard.

My mom died on Feb 10, 1995. For many years, February was a bleak month. but the last two years have been different. I posted a few pictures of her on Facebook and got an overwhelming response from Monroe High School Graduates, many of them people I didn’t know. How I treasured all those likes and comments! Remembering my mom became something to rejoice about. None of my friends in Greenville, S.C. ever met my mom but I suddenly felt a kinship with all these people from Monroe, North Carolina

It’s nice to know there are other people out there who can recite:

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote                         

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,     

And bathed every veyne in swich licour

Of which vertu engendred is the flour,

Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,

That slepen al the nyght with open ye

(so priketh hem Nature in hir corages),

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,

And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,

To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;

And specially from every shires ende

Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,

The hooly blisful martir for to seke,

That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

Note:  I started this blog to write about children and young  adult books.  I publish posts on Tuesdays and Fridays.



Winnie the Pooh and the Caldecott Too


I am in love with the newest Caldecott Winner Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

This book is best shared with older children in a classroom or individual setting, where an adult can share background information about the first world war and A.A. Milne, the author of Winnie the Pooh.

Finding Winnie is a story about a man leaving Canada to fight in a war in Europe and adopting a bear cub along the way. Winnie, short for Winnipeg, becomes the mascot and morale booster of the regiment.

It’s also the story of young Christopher Robin Milne visiting the London Zoo and making friends with a bear.  He then names his stuffed bear, Winnie.  His father, A. A. Milne, wrote poems and stories about Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh,  creating one of the most lovable duos of all time.

The illustrations in Finding Winnie are extraordinary!   The front cover shows a bear cub curled up on a soldier’s boot. The back cover shows the bottom portion of a pajama clad child holding a teddy bear.

Inside the book is a visual feast. Blackall captures the war era with uniforms, period clothing, trains and scenery. At the train station, there is an emotional scene where loved ones are saying goodbye to soldiers. Another moving illustration has the soldiers marching head down in the pouring rain.

(Courtsey Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)


Pictures of Winnie lighten the mood of the war story. The men are crazy about the cub. One light hearted picture shows Henry driving a jeep with Winnie enjoying the view from the front seat as the wind blows her hair back. Stonehenge and a primitive plane are in the background.

The last few pages are an album of World War One pictures. This section adds credibility to some of the less believable aspects, proving once again that truth can be stranger than fiction. For example, there is a picture of Winnie and Christopher Robin alone inside the enclosure at the London Zoo in 1925.

I was intrigued enough by this book to visit Sophie Blackall’s website. It was well worth the visit. She took great pains to make the pictures historically accurate, using archival pictures to create her own original illustrations.   She shows the sources of  most of her work.

Lyndsay Mattick, the author of this book, is the great granddaughter of Henry Coleburn, the soldier who adopted Winnie. In the book, she is sharing his story with her son, Cole. Personally, I didn’t think this was the strongest part of the story. Cole appears to be about three, much too young to comprehend the historic details, the length of the text and the highly detailed drawings.

// reading Finding Winnie,  I became nostalgic for some A.A. Milne poetry. I hadn’t thought about this gem in years…



Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.
God bless Mummy. I know that’s right.
Wasn’t it fun in the bath to-night?
The cold’s so cold, and the hot’s so hot.
Oh! God bless Daddy – I quite forgot.If I open my fingers a little bit more,
I can see Nanny’s dressing-gown on the door.
It’s a beautiful blue, but it hasn’t a hood.
Oh! God bless Nanny and make her good.Mine has a hood, and I lie in bed,
And pull the hood right over my head,
And I shut my eyes, and I curl up small,
And nobody knows that I’m there at all.Oh! Thank you, God, for a lovely day.
And what was the other I had to say?
I said “Bless Daddy,” so what can it be?
Oh! Now I remember it. God bless Me.Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers

A.A. Milne