Bonus of audio books...

We went on a trip last weekend and we listened to this wonderfully told version of E.B. White's Stuart Little. Mid story, I discovered something that goes decisively on the "Pro" side of why one should use audio books here and there. We already know that they can be time savers, attention holders and time passers on the road, but they should also be praised for their consistency. Sometimes, when I'm reading aloud to the kids, I trail off during an exciting part and quickly read ahead to myself. I can't help it! The kids have to nudge me back to the present because I'd unconsciously forgotten about them and the stalled story! Terrible I know. Anyway, audio books are an excellent remedy to that situation. While we listened to the gentle tales (more about that topic later, by the way) of dear Stuart, we ALL got to experience the full suspense as he got dumped into the garbage truck; we ALL felt the tension heighten as Snowbell got ready to pounce on Margolo. It was fantastic... very bonding.

I've been waiting for the right time and money to buy this edition of the entire Narnia series on audio. It would be a good investment since these are stories that definitely merit more than one reading... and they are full of adventure which could really use a more attentive and less spacey storyteller than myself!

“All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.”
-E.B. White

A Place for Sentiment

I stumbled across this excellent, excellent post regarding the place of sentimentality in our culture. It helps to articulate why I find so much passion in finding and loving exemplary children's books.

Bee-autiful Books

I want bees. I also want chickens but those are taking a backseat to my interest in beekeeping lately. This has been fueled by a few things: a Texan friend who began exploring the idea, our greater consumption of honey as the primary source of sugar used in this house, my love of all things beeswax, and this fantastic children's book that made my beekeeping itch go rabid:

The Honeybee Man by Lela Nargi. This is an excellent example of a "living book". And these types of course, should live in abundance on your shelves. Published last year, this book caught me with the illustrations done in scrap collage style. It is the story of Fred, an apiarist in Brooklyn. That's right, Brooklyn. Fred loves his bees and shows you the ins and outs of tending them. Urban beekeeping truly can happen! I need to do some research and save some money and talk to the fine folks who offer beginner classes... but I hope to make this dream a reality soon. Maybe 2013 will be my year as it's already springtime and I'm behind the curve. At any rate, there are lots of books out there on the bee theme. Here I mention what I think are the very best:
The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco. Frolic the countryside with the pastoral imagery that Polacco captures so well.

The Life and Times of the Honeybee by Charles Micucci. A very fun, colorful, informative book on all things related to bees! Would make an excellent spine for a unit study.
The Honeybee and the Robber by Eric Carle. A sweet, moveable flap book that showcases Carle's signature style... especially good for young readers.
 The Bee-Man of Orn by Frank Stockton. Truth be told, I found the story here a little bit strange... just a little left of center on how I like my fantasy books. But the artwork, by the very talented P.J. Lynch is stunning. So thoughtful and detailed and otherworldly... it's worth the read for sure.

Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.

-James Russell Lowell

St. Patrick's Day, Irish Saints in General, and How to Be a Savvy Library Patron

A potpourri post that omits some of the best books based in Ireland only because there are many and I'm saving them for another upcoming theme:

Next week is the feast of St. Patrick. If you live in a particularly big city or a particularly literate area or a particularly homeschooler-thick area, it's probably too late for you to reserve your St. Patrick books at the library because bibliozealots like me snatched them up at least a week or two ago already. See you really have to be forward-thinking with seasonal literature. Some people walk into a library on December 23rd expecting to pick up some lovely Christmas stories for their kids to enjoy Christmas Day... ha! It ain't gonna happen my friend! Reserve your Christmas books a month out, then when they notify you that your holds are ready to pick up, you wait until the last possible day to pick them up. Usually you have a week's grace period to pick up your holds. So that puts you out three weeks to the holiday. Your library should let you borrow books for three weeks. But if you want them longer, try to renew your books a week after you get them or so. Some will already have reservations on them from other users, others will be available for renewals. You make the most of it.

This is the way to get seasonal or holiday books. I try not to hoard every single book on St. Patrick or Christmas or Thanksgiving or whatever... that's just gluttonous, but I do try and make sure we have a super great title or two that we can count on to be perfect holiday reading.

Furthermore, I am more and more interested in purchasing seasonal or liturgical books than the average run-of-the-mill book only because it's nice to rotate things in and out of your book basket as the rhythms of the year come and go. So I'll even borrow some Christmas books from the library in October or November for preview's sake... to see if it's something I want to purchase. Right now, I'm getting itchy to purchase some lovely Easter-themed books for the children on Easter morning and the time is already over-ripe to make those plans!

But I digress.

St. Patrick's Day. And a wee bit of Ireland in general just to get in the sprit of things shall we?

My favorites:

St. Patrick's Day in the Morning by Eve Bunting. Very sweet story with excellent Jan Brett illustrations about a young boy who is too big for his britches.

Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland by the incomparable Tomie dePaola. Everyone should have the basic story of Patrick in mind on this holiday that quickly gets overtaken with beer and leprechauns... this is a good a story as any! Also, I haven't personally read these, but here are some other books on the saint himself that look like they might be real gems too: Patrick, Saint of Ireland, and The Story of Saint Patrick and The Life of St. Patrick: Enlightener of the Irish.
St. Patrick's Day by Gail Gibbons. Gibbons does a great job at producing basic, light non-fiction children's books on a ton of topics. This book is a good overview of the holiday and current customs. My only beef with it is that it says the shamrock is a "symbol of St. Patrick"... well, uh, actually it's not. He made this symbol famous for representing the Holy Trinity... but I try not to be too pedantic with kid's books. Key word "try."
Mary McLean and the St. Patrick's Day Parade by Steven Kroll. Wishes really can come true for this little girl!
Saint Patrick and the Peddler by Margaret Hodges is out of print but your library may have it. This is a fantastic story that tells like a verbal story... try to read it with an accent! It may be scary for young readers as the ghost of St. Patrick is shown... the story actually has nothing to do with his feast day but all things Ireland relate to him somehow it seems!

***[Side Note]***

I was typing a title into Amazon to find the link and I stumbled on this book which looks like it could be a real winner... at least the cover art is appealing to me. So don't take my word for it, since I've not reviewed it myself yet, but I was surprised to find a book on St. Patrick that I'd never heard of that looked really promising! (boo, my library system doesn't have it in their system.)
St. Patrick and the Three Brave Mice by Joyce Stengel...
***[/Side Note]***
The Blackbird's Nest: Saint Kevin of Ireland by Jenny Schroedel. This is a good time of year to go through other Irish saints too... and this particular story is particularly Lenten so I consider it a must-read!
Ciaran: the Tale of a Saint of Ireland by Gary Schmidt. St. Ciaran was one of Ireland's first saints... he was encouraged by St. Patrick. This is a lovely, gentle book with excellent illustrations and evocative prose: "But still Ciaran's eyes looked to the east, and his heart longed for the name of God..."
Saint Brigid: Abbess of Kildaire by Jane Meyer. Geared toward slightly older children, this story of St. Brigid has stunning illuminations that make the whole thing come alive from the Emerald Isle... (see also Brigid's Cloak)
Acrosss a Dark and Wild Sea by Don Brown. This is an excellent story about the Irish monk St. Columba...
Brendan and the Voyage Before Columbus by Michael McGrew. Get your history straight on the "discovery" of the New World and add some faith in there too!


I added a couple new ideas onto the ever-popular Resistant Readers post. Seeing all the beautiful images all over Pinterest on great reading spaces reminded me that marketing is an important tool in marketing literacy to the disinterested!!!


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