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Epossumondas

Possums are not cute!

 

Epossumondas

Unless you’re reading Epossumondas by Colleen Salley and illustrated by Janet Stevens

When I was very young my mother used to read me  a story called Epaminondas by Sara Cone Bryant (copyright 1938).  I remember loving the story about this boy “who didn’t have the sense he was born with.” I didn’t remember that the boy was black  I only remembered that he did foolish things that make me laugh..

Actually, this tale had a long oral tradition often known as the noodlehead tale. A noodlehead is a person who brain is filled with noodles instead of brains.

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Epossumondas is a dutiful obedient possum with no common sense.  When his mother tells him to be careful how he steps in her pies, he slowly and deliberately steps right in the middle of every single one.

 

I love how Colleen Salley and Janet Stevens redeemed this tale by portraying the character as a possum.  The second graders at Sara Collins Elementary School howled with laughter at this picture of  a possum wearing a diaper.   They wanted to know how about the safety pins.

Epossumondas’s human mother and aunt are modelled on author Colleen Salley, a resident of the French Quarter in New Orleans  also known as Queen Colleen, a popular Mardi Gras figure.  She has written three other books about Epossumondas, all based on Southern folktales.

 

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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.]

http://www.themeasuredmom.com/why-is-rhyming-important/

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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Novelist: A Cure for the Reading Funk

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I have been in a reading funk lately. Even as a librarian, I find myself having a hard time connecting with that just right book.  Usually my motto is “So Many Books-so little time.”

Life feels stressful at present and I want pure escapism.  Perhaps I’ve worked so hard reading children’s books for this blog that I haven’t found time to read for  me.  Usually when I walk into a library, I feel like a kid in a candy store.  But sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by the choices.  My reading life has never fit in to simple categories.

One great cure for the reading funk is the Novelist Online Database.  It’s available on most public library’s webpages.  Library employees will be happy to share this resource with you.  Novelist recommends books for adults, teens and children. It links back to the library catalog so you can reserve the book

Novelist can…

  • help you locate all the books by your favorite author.
  • provide read-alikes for popular authors and titles
  • provide genre lists for countless interests.  (There are 8 themed lists for teen graphic novels and 13 themed lists for adult mysteries.)
  • locate a book with a particular setting.
  • find books in series
  • find informational as well as fiction books.

Once you locate a book, there are book reviews, age range, lexile levels and subject headings.  I have been using Novelist and Novelist K-8 for years. I have yet to tap into to all the resources available.

Novelist is a great tool for teachers and homeschoolers.  It’s easy to find books that supplement the curriculum.  Historical fiction can be a great way to help students grasp history.  Parents can also use Novelist to help children explore their interests. This database has evolved over time to meet the changing needs of its users.

Novelist is as its best recommending books to upper elementary, teens and adults. The upper elementary years  can be a golden age of reading. .  During this time, children begin getting more specific in their reading choices. If we want children to enjoy reading, we need to offer them lots of choices. There will be more competition for entertainment as children reach their teens.   Finding the right books for children and teens is a key ingredient in creating lifelong readers.  Novelist is a great tool in this process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Good Rhymes Make Good Readers

Rhyming words are a key ingredient in helping children develop the skills they need for reading.  There is significant research that children well versed in rhyme have an easier time mastering reading.   http://www.bookstart.org.uk/professionals/about-bookstart-and-the-packs/research/reviews-and-resources/the-benefit-of-rhymes/

Here are a few of my  favorite rhyming books:

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

A new book by Eric Carle is always a treat.  Carle wanted to expose young children to surrealism.  The children 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.  Fan of Carle will notice that he recycles some of his illustrations from other books.

 

 

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.  Making predictions is also a key reading skill.  This is great to read aloud with a southern accent.

 

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Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond

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 along and enjoy each other’s company.

 

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Shoe Baby by Joyce Dunbar, illustrated by Polly Dunbar,

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Books by Beverly Cleary

April 12, 2016  was Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday.  Here are a few of the books that she has written:

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Otis loves to stir up excitement at school.  He especially loves to pick on Ellen Tebbits, perhaps because she is so neat, clean and well behaved.

When Otis goes too far, Ellen and her best friend, Augustine, seek revenge.  Will Otis get what he deserves?

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When Keith’s  family stays at an old hotel, Keith meets a talking mouse who rides his toy motorcycle.  Ralph S. Mouse becomes a hero for Keith and his family.

Other books about Ralph’s adventures are Runaway Ralph and Ralph S. Mouse.

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Henry Huggins wants to do something important, like Scooter, the seventh grader on his street, who delivers papers.  Getting a paper route isn’t as easy as it looks, especially when you show up for the interview, hiding four kittens in your sweatshirt.

Henry is quite enterprising and works hard to achieve his ambitions, even when that pesky Ramona gets in his way.

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This is the first book where Ramona emerges as the main character.  Although this book is written from a kindergartner’s perspective, the audience for this book will be older children who will find Ramona’s antics amusing .  Other Ramona books are Ramona and Her Mother, Ramona and Her Father, Ramona the Brave, and Ramona Quimby, Age 8.

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Leigh Botts is the new kid in town.  His parents have recently separated and someone keeps stealing his lunch. Leigh shares his daily troubles with his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw.

This is a very different book for Beverly Cleary.  It received high critical acclaim including the 1984 Newbery Medal.

 

 

 

 


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Happy 100th Birthday Beverly Cleary!

(April 12)  Today is Beverly Cleary’s 100th Birthday!

In case you haven’t heard, Beverly Cleary is the author of over 40 children’s books. including the popular Ramona and Ralph S. Mouse books. These books are still popular in 2016.  Cleary seemed quite spunky when she was interviewed by Jenna Bush Hager on the Today Show last month. http://www.today.com/parents/99-author-beverly-cleary-beloved-generations-readers-t82256

I was first introduced to Beverly Cleary’s books by my childhood buddy, Nancy Clements. Nancy was a year and a half older than me and  introduced me to many things.  She first told me about Otis Spofford, a modern day Tom Sawyer who was always picking on Ellen Tebbits because she was so neat and clean and well behaved.  We were horrified when Otis cut Ellen’s hair.  We played games where we alternated being the “evil” Otis and his favorite target, sweet well-behaved Ellen.

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After Otis and Ellen, I read all the Henry Huggins books.  Henry was a little nicer than Otis, but he always found himself in trouble.  Ramona Quimby began as a fairly minor character in the Henry Huggins series.  She’s barely mentioned in Henry Huggins.  When my fifth grade teacher at Walter Bickett, Mrs. Cason, read  Henry and the Paper Route, we all howled at Ramona’s antics as she created havoc in Henry’s life.  So it isn’t surprising that she got her own series.

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Ramona seems to be Cleary’s most endearing character.  She’s always a little baffled by the world around her.  Why won’t her kindergarten teacher tell her how Mike Mulligan used the bathroom?    Why  can’t she be a paper boy like Henry Huggins?

CCF24032012_00011  Cleary’s books are timeless.   In the later Ramona books, she deals with some heavy issues when her father loses his job and her favorite Aunt Beatrice gets married.  Ramona’s struggles are seen from a childhood perspective. They don’t go out to eat anymore and the adults are grumpier than usual.

Just as Otis Spofford hated the goody two shoes children in his basil reader,  Beverly Cleary had no use for moralistic literature:

 I was so annoyed with the books in my childhood, because children always learned to be ‘better’ children and, in my experience, they didn’t. They just grew, and so I started Ramona… and she has never reformed. [She’s] really not a naughty child, in spite of the title Ramona the Pest. Her intentions are good, but she has a lot of imagination, and things sometimes don’t turn out the  way she expected.