picture books

10 Book-Based Movies Worth Watching

“The book was better” is a common mantra proudly proclaimed by bookworms everywhere. While this may be true, the movie version often has its merits. Not only that, a good story told is a good story told whether it comes to us via printed words or on a DVD.

If your young reader is a purist and the movie does not follow the book exactly, watching the movie version will probably end in disappointment. However, if you have a hard time convincing your young reader to pick up a book, watching the movie might be the motivator they need to get reading.

While I usually try to read the book first, most of the movies on this list I watched, loved, discovered they were based on a book and then read the book. When I watch a movie after I’ve read the book I try to keep an open mind. I don’t mind if the movie departs from the book or adds new plot twists, as long as it keeps the feel of the book. Every once in a while the book has been the disappointment. (Mary Poppins is one example that comes to mind. I love the movie so much, and the book just didn’t come close.)

Five Picture Books to Grab on Your Next Library Run

At the end of January, the Caldecott winners were announced. The Caldecott is an annual award given to the “most distinguished American picture book for children.” I’m always curious about the winners.

If you ever feel at a loss for what books to grab at the library, a Caldecott or Newbery award winner is usually a good place to start. This doesn’t always work (the books we like don’t always line up with the books the “experts” choose), but if you are looking for picture books to read with your kids, this year’s winner and honorees are good ones. Although Hello Lighthouse was the official winner for 2019, for kicks I decided to list this year’s picks with my favorites at the top.

Books that Quietly Change Culture

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a classic in children’s literature. Written in 1962, it was well-received from the get-go and even won the Caldecott Medal that year. Who can’t relate to the wonder of a fresh blanket of snow? The Snowy Day was also one of the first picture books to feature an African American child as the main character. Written in the midst of the Civil Rights movement this book quietly made a very important statement.

I read an article that ran on NPR on January 28, 2012 (the 50th anniversary of The Snowy Day) that shared one of the ways this book made an impact:

Author Focus: Grace Lin

Today marks the beginning of the Spring Festival in China, better known as Chinese New Year. I thought that made it the perfect day to talk about one of our family’s favorite authors, Grace Lin.

Grace Lin is an author-illustrator of numerous picture books, easy readers and novels for young readers. While her books are fiction, most of her stories are inspired by real life.

As a multi-racial family (two of our kids were born in China), I love the connection Grace’s books give them to their country of origin. We have used her picture books to help us learn about and celebrate different Chinese holidays, like Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Her Pacy-Lin novels give my kids a relatable character that looks like them. Her Chinese folklore novels (including one of my very favorites, Newbery Honor book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon) give my kids a glimpse into the world of Chinese fairy tales as well as takes them on an epic adventure.

A Book List of Mysteries for All Ages

Mysteries are the perfect type of book to read on a cold and blustery fall or winter night. If your child loves the thrill of following clues along with the danger and suspense that literary detectives always encounter. I’ve got a list for you.

So get a fire going in the fireplace, grab a cozy blanket and a mug of hot chocolate, and dive into one of the following books.

Exploring Castles and Dealing with Dragons - a book list

A little over a month ago I had the opportunity to travel to Scotland. Throughout our visit we hiked trails, rode trains, toured castles and (of course) looked for Nessie all amidst beautiful and varied landscapes. At times, it felt like we were in another world, a world where fairies and dragons most definitely exist.

Now that we are home, I will grudgingly admit that these fantastical creatures (probably) don’t exist. But, I will always be thankful they ARE meant to live in our imaginations and come alive through the telling of fairy tales and the reading of good books. Scotland was a place where their existence felt possible and that is one of many reasons why I hope to return.

Until then, I am thankful for books filled with castles and dragons that give us the opportunity to get lost in a good story and visit far-off lands.

Today’s list, inspired in part by Scotand, contains books and series where castles come alive, dragons live and peasant girls try to become princesses.

Guest Post: Picture Books to Laugh at and Learn From

I regularly tell my elementary school students, “You are never too old to enjoy a good picture book!”  Picture books are such a treasure! I love to read them on my own, read them to my students and recommend them to everyone!  Here are some of my favorites.

The Lovely World of Picture Book Biographies

These days it is easy to find beautiful picture book biographies. I feel like I see new ones on the shelves of libraries and bookstores or featured in pictures in my Bookstagram feed all the time. They are plentiful and abundant. It is lovely.

A picture book that gives us a glimpse into the life of someone else and the challenges they overcame is a good thing. Add in illustrations and a story that is relatable for readers of all ages (and I do mean all ages) and you have a good, GOOD thing. Today I am going to highlight some of my favorite discoveries to date.

The best thing is I am constantly discovering more of these treasures through Bookstagram, the library and other sources. Rest assured, this will not be the last picture book biography session we share together.

In light of that, I am limiting this list to ten books that would make an excellent addition to any library, including yours.

Guest Post: 9 Picture Books you Should Read with your Child this Summer

For our family, summer always means a wonderful slowing down from the frenetic pace of the school year.  We find ourselves so busy with sports schedules, dance recitals, and homework that our love of reading for fun seems to take a back seat. 

Maybe this is the case for your family as well?  So as longer days and warmer weather are on the horizon, you may find that trips to the library become a more regular destination.  And whether your children are 2 or 12 (or 16 for that matter), a good picture book can bring laughter, empathy, and rich timely discussion on a variety of topics.  But the best part of a picture book is that you can read them WITH your children.  Regardless of how old your tribe may be, I believe that no child is too old to listen to a story being read to them by someone who loves them.  So here is a list of my personal favorites-I guarantee you that they will bring joy as they are read!

First Grade Girl Seeking Funny Books

Natalie is a friendly, fun-loving seven year old. Currently in first grade, she enjoys reading (especially with her mommy). However, she does not like being stuck in a reading group at school when it’s not her turn to read. Boring! 

Some of Natalie’s favorite things to do outside of reading is drawing, playing with friends and her siblings, and playing with dolls, especially Barbies. Speaking of which, Barbie books are some of her favorites but if you hand her a Clifford book, she will most likely respond with a "no thank you." 

Natalie’s mom asked me for a few personalized picks. To help me help her, I asked Natalie to share three of her favorite books and one she was not so crazy about. Here are her favorites:

Boxed Sets (aka Series) of Books your Kids Should Read (and own)

I love it when a book captures my kids’ imagination and they don’t want to put it down. I love it even more, when that book is part of a series. It makes the answer to the inevitable question “What should I read next?” so much easier to answer. A great series of books is a wonderful thing. And, since it's the holiday season and I have gift-giving on the brain, if there is a set of books your child already loves, or one you want to introduce them to, a boxed set might be the perfect gift. 

Books are my love language and I will freely admit I purchase them too freely. In my defense, favorite books are like old friends; I want to keep them around. If, however, you need a better reason for investing in a boxed set of good stories, here are a few: 

My favorite Christmas Picture Books

Every year around Thanksgiving, I pull a basket filled with books out of my closet. The books are our collection of Christmas stories and picture books that are only made available to read once a year. Most of the books are classics; their titles wouldn’t surprise you, but each one is special and hints at its own kind of Christmas magic. It brings me joy to see my kids sit next to this box throughout the Christmas season reading one of it’s treasures. 

Out of our current Christmas picture book collection, below is a list of my five favorites (most classic, one new) along with the kind of magic they inspire. 

A Book List for the Newest of New Readers

One of the most exciting milestones is listening to your child read a book out loud to you for the first time. Finding the right books at this age (books that make them feel like they can do this reading thing) can be an important way to encourage a love of reading in your child. 

To put together such a list, I contacted a few experts...

Adventure-loving Girl Seeking Books

Faye is a curious, adventurous nine year old. She is always on the look out for new friends, but can sometimes be a little shy when it comes to saying the first hello. When it comes to her reading life, she likes to reserve the more challenging chapter books for summertime and save easier books for when school is in session. Reading calms her down. Small fonts, on the other hand, are annoying. If a book has too small of font, she will stop reading it. Period. 

 

Faye asked me for a few personalized picks. To help me help her, I asked her to share three of her favorite books and one she was not so crazy about. Here are her favorites...

Reading Inspires Imagination and Play

I don’t know if my parents bought our copy of A Baby Sister for Frances because I too was about to become a big sister, or if it’s path to our house was more random. I do remember reading it over and over. I also remember how it inspired me to make the momentous decision to run away, just like Frances.