Lincoln’s Birthday and Books!

I was born in Illinois the Land of Lincoln, so naturally this president has a special place in my heart. We ended January discussing the Civil Rights movement in America and the life of Martin Luther King Jr., Penelope is 7 and it was interesting how much she could not fathom the idea of segregation. We live in Chicago, a large metropolitan city full of many ethnicities. Our friends are  people of all shades of skin color and ethnic backgrounds. “How did segregation come to be so?” she would ask, so naturally we went back into our country’s history, to the topic of slavery, the divided North and South, and Abraham Lincoln. Here are two books that told these stories in a simple, easy to understand way for a child of this age. We read many books, but these two were our favorite.

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“Abe’s Honest Word’s” is a story of the life of Abraham Lincoln, from his time as a young man, to presidency. Full of powerful illustrations and prose, this book truly captures Lincoln’s passion for the abolishment of slavery, using very accessible language for young children. Abe’s Honest Words is a follow up to Martin’s Big Words a favorite book of ours, on the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

Underground Finding the Light to Freedom By Shane W. Evans. A captivating book about the journey to freedom on the Underground Railroad. A wonderful story for my early reading child to read herself, as the words were minimal, yet so well chosen that alongside the sketch like illustrations, the absorbing story captured the fear and the risk, these brave slaves experienced, on their difficult journey to freedom.

To lighten things up, today we have been telling jokes all day, in honor of Lincoln’s humor and in honor of laughter in general, which gets every single one of us through the darkest of times.

Here’s a political themed one for the road folks! (from our joke book “More Laugh out Loud Jokes for Kids By Rob Elliott) : Q: Where do polar bears go to vote? A: The North Poll! Get it?! Poll, Pole haaaa! So funny. I feel better already!

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Our Summer Reading List 7/15-8/07

Hello! How is your summer reading going? We have been enjoying our trips to libraries and bookstores this summer, finding new and interesting books to explore and also revisiting our own home library for our favorites to read again and again. I can not believe it is August! Our summer is quickly coming to a close, making way for a new school year in just a few weeks! So without further adieu, onward to the list:

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Part Three of our summer reading list continues with #29. Ramona the Pest
which we renamed Ramona the Wonderful and Spirited. My daughter thought it wasn’t very nice to call Ramona a Pest, which is a dated word anyway, so we did away with the word throughout the book and instead said things like “Ramona’s behavior made Beezus feel frustrated.”
Penelope kept asking “Why are people so annoyed with her? She’s just acting like a regular kid!” Which I think, is a testament to Beverly Cleary’s brilliant ability to write from a child’s perspective. Once again, Beverly Cleary really gets to the raw feelings of a 5 year old, like no other author can. We enjoyed the book but we’re left hanging at the end wanting more! Wait, what?! Is that really the ending? Does Howie stay for lunch? How is Ramona’s return to school? What was the rest of the year like? How was the end of Kindergarten? We had so many unanswered questions! Sigh. We began the series with Ramona the Brave which is book number Three and we are now almost through “Beezus and Ramona”  which is book One of the series. Yes, I know we read the first 3 backwards, but honestly it doesn’t change a thing, we have enjoyed them all the same.

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Following Ramona the Pest we read
30. Breathe By Scott Magoon, which was lovely for my early reader to get through herself. She and I were wowed by the beautiful illustrations of the sea. They are indeed remarkable. We highly recommend it! The link is to Amazon, where there are examples of some of the illustrated pages.

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31. The Moon Seems to Change By Franklyn M. Branley. Penelope loves the Moon and follows the Moon cycles on her calendar. We enjoyed reading it and performing the experiment at the end.

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32. Mr. Poppers Penguins By Richard and Florence Atwater. Hilarious! We were laughing out loud at this wonderful old story!

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33. Time to Sleep SHEEP the SHEEP! By MO Willems. There really isn’t a MO Willems’ book we don’t love, and the CAT the CAT series is so fun. This one is particularly hilarious because it deals with bedtime. Great for early readers.

4 books by Penguin Young Readers. I love Penguin Young Reader books! Their Level 1 books truly are beginner books that encourage independent reading and build confidence. Most Level 1 books we have read, are far more advanced reading and require assistance on my part.

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34. Level 1 Book: A New Friend By Wiley Blevins. A sweet story about the unexpected friendship between a cat and dog.

35. Level 1 Book: Clara and Clem Under the Sea

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36. Level 1 Book: Clara and Clem in Outer Space

Both By Ethan Long. Clara is adventurous! Clem, not so much. See how these two explore the Sea and Space together in these 2 stories.

37. Level 2 Book: Love is in the Air By Jonathan Fenske

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An enchanting tale about a kite and balloon playing in the sky.

38. Little Bear

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39. Little Bear’s Friend

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Both written by Else Homeland Minarik. The Little Bear series is so delightful and sweet. We love them all. Also as a sidenote, the television series is lovely as well. I was a big “no screens” mom and this was a series I approved of. I was and still am very particular about what my daughter watches.

40. Toys Go Out By Emily Jenkins

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Another book that was not my cup of tea. This is a Chapter book for the older set to read. My daughter found the toys to be very negative and kept asking throughout the story “why is this so negative? ” “Why do the toys have so many bad thoughts?” I wholeheartedly agree with this. This book was recommended by a librarian and was on several summer reading lists, but it made me yearn for the sweet “Lulu” series, full of kindness and positivity.  Feel free to check the book out yourselves. It definitely was not for us at this time. We may revisit the series in a few years when Penelope is older and can read them on her own.

41. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole Written By Mac Barnett

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Mac Barnett is the founder of the Echo Park “Time Travel Mart”, a convenience store with a time traveler theme, he also serves on the board of 826LA, a not-for-profit writing and tutoring center in Los Angeles. When we lived in Echo Park we frequented the Time Travel Mart often and we are big supporters of 826LA. I guess you can say I have a soft spot for his books. This one is one of our all time favorites. It makes us Crack up and scream nooooo! Keep digging! And the ending, always brings forth a slew of theories. Love it!

42. Juna’s Jar By Jane Bahk Illustrated by Felicia Hoshino

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A young Korean American girl’s adventures with her empty Kimchi Jar. Also deals with friends moving away, which we could relate to. Beautiful, dreamlike illustrations.

43. Bedtime at Bessie and Lil’s By Julie Sternberg Illustrated By Adam Gudeon

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A book about a mother rabbit trying to get her 2 young rabbits to sleep, a pretty accurate account lol.

44. Knit Together By Angela Dominguez

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I love books by this author! My mother was a knitter, crocheter and weaver and passed those crafts onto me. Now, I share them with my daughter. It is a sweet story that resonated with me, as the subject of creating with my own late mother and now my 6 year old daughter is one that is near and dear to my heart.

45. Click, Clack, Peep By Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin

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Another fun book on getting little ones to sleep, It reminded me of days when I would drive Penelope around to lull her to sleep. It takes a village, but in this book it takes a farm of barnyard animals to help a little chick go to sleep.

46. Hana Hashimoto Sixth Violin By Chieri  Uegaki and Qin Leng

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Penelope loves the Violin, so naturally we gravitated to this book about a Japanese American girl who will play her Violin at a talent show, finding a courage within, despite the naysayers. A lovely story about connecting with ones ancestors and finding your own voice.

47. Richard Scarry’s Great Big Schoolhouse Readers Level 1- Get That Hat!

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Lowly has lost his hat to a gust of wind! An early reader book about their chase around town.

48. Peter’s Chair By Ezra Jack Keats

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We are big fans of Peter in “The Snowy Day” so Naturally we are full of empathy as Peter struggles with the arrival of his baby sister.

49. Level 2 Book: Princess Buttercup a Flower Princess Story.

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A book about six Garden Fairy Princesses named after flowers. Princess Lily, Princess Tulip, Princess Rose, Princess Hyacinth, Princess Iris, and Princess Buttercup are preparing for a party, to celebrate the first day of Spring. This urban gardener was sold! A sweet early reader book. I wish there was a series of these flower fairies. Penelope really enjoyed the book as did I and we were left wanting more!

50. Bob’s Books Level 1: My School Trip Written By Lynn Maslen Kertell.

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We have been reading this book fairly often. It is about a class trip to the zoo.

Our current read is Beezus and Ramona By Beverly Cleary.

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51. Book one of the Ramona series is written from Beezus’ perspective, which I am really appreciating having already read the two books that follow this story. We are loving it so far! We have one more chapter to go, and have been laughing hysterically at Ramona’s antics.

I hope you have enjoyed this book list. I certainly enjoy sharing our reading list with you all! I will post again in a few weeks with our upcoming books. Happy reading!

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