Friday, September 30, 2016

Review Round-Up: Books for Beginning Readers, September 2016

Easy Readers

Three of the reviews I found this month focused on titles from the Toon books imprint. Benny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye and Ape and Armadillo Take Over the World were both reviewed at and Jean Little Library reviewed Stinky. (Jean Little Library also had reviews of The Toad and Jack and the Box, plus a review of My Dog Bob at Flying Off My Bookshelf.)

Other reviewers were very excited about Elephant and Piggie Like Reading, the new series from Mo Willems. Posts appeared at Mom's Radius and No Time for Flashcards.

Finally, Becky's Book Reviews posted about Wagon Wheels and The Long Way Westward Kids Book a Day reviewed Rabbit & Robot and Ribbit, and The Children's Book Review reviewed Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret.

Chapter Books

Two bilingual chapter book heroines gained popularity this month. Sal's Fiction Addiction, Waking Brain Cells, and Librarian's Quest all had reviews of Juana and Lucas, and Jen Robinson's Book Page and Geo Librarian reviewed Sofia Martinez: My Family Adventures.

There were also two reviews of Mango & Bambang: The Not-a-Pig: one from Jean Little Library, and one from Provo City Library Children's Book Review.

Other chapter book reviews included:

Friday, September 16, 2016

25 Ways to Play With Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Bad days happen to everyone - even kids! Published in 1972, this favorite picture book based on the author's own family is a great way to come to terms with those terrible, horrible days that make us want to move to Australia - and it's also a fun book to use for learning through play. Here are 25 ways to play with the content and themes of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

  1. Create a homemade toy from a cereal box.  
  2. Draw what might be seen from the window of Alexander's carpool. 
  3. Practice singing loudly and softly. 
  4. Count to sixteen without leaving out any numbers. For an added challenge for older readers, count by sixteens! 
  5. Draw invisible pictures, like Alexander's invisible castle, using ink made of water and lemon juice.
  6. Use play food to pack a pretend lunch with all your favorite foods. 
  7. Spend some time in the kitchen making a dessert for your own lunch box - and don't forget to put it in before you leave for school! 
  8. Set up a make-believe dental practice. 
  9.  Pretend to be a shoe salesperson. 
  10. Color a pair of sneakers to suit your style. 
  11. Set up a pretend office like the one Alexander's dad works in. Act out the scene where Alexander visits the office.
  12. Find Australia on a map.
  13. Create an itinerary for traveling to Australia from your house.
  14. Sing Cuddly Koalas, about Australian animals.
  15. Plant a lima bean.
  16. Design a pair of ugly pajamas like the railroad train ones Alexander hates to wear.
  17. Write a sequel where Alexander has a good day. 
  18. Write a story about your own real or imagined bad day. 
  19. Hear Judith Viorst read the book in this video from Barnes and Noble's online story time feature. 
  20. Read Judith Viorst's other books about Alexander: Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday (1978), Alexander, Who's Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move (1995), and Alexander, Who's Trying His Best to Be the Best Boy Ever (2014).
  21. Discover some of Judith Viorst's other books
  22. Watch the 2014 film adaptation of the book starring Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner.
  23. Watch the 1990 cartoon musical based on the book on YouTube. (Alexander is played by Danny Tamberelli!)
  24. Act out a skit based on the book using this script
  25. Retell the story using a flannel board set like this one

Friday, September 2, 2016

October Story Time Themes

To assist you in planning your story times for next month, here are some themes I like to use in October.


Suggested Books:

  • Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills
  • Pumpkin Heads! by Wendell Minor
  • It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff
  • Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell
  • Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman (Audio version with song available here.)
  • This is Not a Pumpkin by Bob Staake
  • The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda D. Williams

Extension Activities: 


Suggested Books:

  • I Want to be an Astronaut by Byron Barton 
  • Moonlight by Helen V. Griffith
  • Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
  • The Mouse Who Ate the Moon by Petr Horacek
  • Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli
  • The Moon by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Tracey Pearson Campbell
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

Extension Activities:


Suggested Books:

  • The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger
  • Kitten's Autumn by Eugenie Fernandes 
  • Fall Leaves Fall by Zoe Hall
  • Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley
  • When Autumn Falls by Kelli Nidey
  • Leaves by David Ezra Stein
  • Ol' Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein
  • The Very Busy Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri 

Extension Activities:


Suggested Books: 

  • The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
  • The Eensy Weensy Spider Freaks Out Big Time by Troy Cummings
  • Be Nice to Spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham
  • The Eensy Weensy Spider by Mary Ann Hoberman
  • Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti by Gerald McDermott
  • The Itsy Bitsy Spider by Iza Trapani 

Extension Activities: 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Announcement: Changes for Story Time Secrets and Introducing my New Website!

The past three years since leaving the library have been a period of transition for me, and this past year, especially, I have felt much more overwhelmed by obligations than I have in the past. Writing books and raising kids requires a lot of time and attention, as does blogging, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all. In order to restore some order to my increasingly chaotic life, I have decided to make some changes to how I blog. Here's what's happening:

  1. Over the next few weeks, Story Time Secrets will return to its original roots as a story time and library-focused blog. With the exception of those published in 2016, the book reviews that originally appeared on this site have been removed. (More on where they went in a moment.) By the end of 2016, the only content on this blog will be directly related to library service to children, with a specific focus on story time. Though I won’t be posting daily anymore, I do plan to update several times a month with new content (book lists, story time starters, reflections on library service, etc.) and to continue on with my monthly round-ups of reviews of books for beginning readers.
  2. I have started a new site for book reviews: Read-at-Home Mom. Posted there right now are some 350 of my favorite book reviews from Story Time Secrets (including most Old School Sunday posts, and all of the award winning titles), along with my Reading with Little Miss Muffet and Little Bo Peep posts, and a collection of various articles I have posted over the years. Read-at-Home Mom will be my new internet home, and I will be focusing primarily on older children’s books, award winners, and classics, as well as the picture books my girls are enjoying.  I also plan to post more personal articles related to parenting and homeschooling as time goes on. Unfortunately, I have decided to stop reviewing so many new releases and I will no longer be accepting review copies.
  3. Finally, the reviews which were not moved to Read-at-Home Mom are currently sitting in a private blog waiting to be posted to Goodreads. It’s going to take a while to get them all moved, but eventually any review which is not available on the new site will appear on my Goodreads account.

I have new posts scheduled here at Story Time Secrets during the next few weeks, some of which are reviews of new releases. I will allow those to publish as scheduled and keep them up on the blog until the end of December. After that, some will go to the new blog, and the others will be copied over to Goodreads, and ultimately there will no longer be any book reviews housed here.

If you’d like to continue reading my book reviews, please click over to and subscribe! My first post is coming soon. Thanks for reading!
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