Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hooked on Phonics Heart-Swelling Pride

Hooked on Phonics has launched a FREE online lesson for the award-winning Learn to Read program. It takes your child through the first lesson on the Learn to Read program. In this lesson, children will learn to read words ending in “at” like mat, sat, and rat; words ending in “an” like man, fan, and can; and words ending in “ap” like map, sap, and rap. At the end of the lesson, your child will read their first book, the Cat book!

To view the Learn to Read online lesson, please click the link below:


For information on the Learn to Read program and other Hooked on Phonics programs, please visit our web site at www.hookedonphonics.com.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Go back in time!

Our favorite children’s book reviewer Lisa L. Owens has done it again! Spreading the word about great books for children is her specialty and she's got news on five examples of historical fiction that are sure to entertain and educate. Each selection is guaranteed to fuel a child’s curiosity about its cultural and historical setting while fostering a lasting love of good stories.

Great for Prereaders

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
by Simms Taback
This adorable, interactive picture book based on a Yiddish folktale was first published in 1977. More than 20 years later, author-illustrator Simms Taback updated the book’s presentation to attract a wider audience. He not only accomplished that goal—the book became a hit and is now considered a modern classic—but also won the Caldecott Medal for his efforts. The story illustrates main character Joseph’s resourcefulness as his overcoat becomes old and worn. He decides to save what he can of the coat by cutting off the worn fabric and turning it into a shorter jacket. When that begins to wear, he turns it into a vest, which later turns into a tie, a handkerchief, and finally a button. Taback’s simple, repetitive text is brimming with humor, and toddlers love to peer (and poke little fingers) through the colorful die-cut pages that reveal hints about what happens next. This book will provide countless hours of fun.

Great for Ages 4 to 8
One Green Apple
by Eve Bunting
Eve Bunting’s 2006 picture book about an Arab immigrant girl is both timely and timeless in its story and theme. Young Farah, a Muslim, tries her best to deal with feeling different from (and being treated differently by) some of the kids at her new school. While on a field trip to an orchard, Farah wonders how she will ever be able to fit in. She knows there are tensions between her homeland and the United States and that some of her peers might hold that against her. She also realizes that making friends might be harder until she learns English and that her clothing, specifically the scarf around her head, makes her stand apart from everyone else. Illustrator Ted Lewin’s realistic watercolors enliven the story. The book, a 2006 Librarians’ Choice winner, is perfect as a read-aloud and makes a wonderful tie-in for elementary school social studies and character education units.

Great for Ages 8 and Up
Grandfather’s Dance
by Patricia MacLachlan
The final installment in the well-loved Sarah, Plain and Tall historical fiction series, Grandfather’s Dance brings the Witting family to the end of an era. Fourth-grader Cassie Witting narrates the action as her older sister, Anna, prepares to wed. She ponders her own future as a bride and observes all the goings-on associated with the big event. The endless stream of relatives and smaller celebrations is hectic at times but still fun. When Cassie focuses her attention on Grandfather and her little brother Jack, she notices their special bond. She is glad that Grandfather has someone to joke around with. His health is failing, and he’s been grouchy and otherwise out of sorts. When Grandfather asks Cassie to stage a make-believe wedding, she comes to understand that he won’t survive long enough to attend—much less dance at—Anna’s wedding. The author handles the topic with beauty and sensitivity. She also does a great job of weaving in enough background information from earlier titles that readers new to the series can easily pick up the story without feeling lost.

Special Pick: Early Reader
The Josefina Story Quilt
by Eleanor Coerr
This cute early reader tells the story of Faith and her pet chicken, Josefina. Young Faith begs to take Josefina along on the family journey out West in a covered wagon. Permission is granted on the condition that Josefina makes no trouble at all. She does make a little trouble, of course, but all is forgiven when she warns the family about robbers in the camp by making a big ruckus. Sadly, though, Josefina dies. Faith is devastated and adds a square to her story quilt. Each new patch symbolizes a memory or event from the family’s long, difficult journey, and Faith honors the memory of her faithful friend with a special square of her own. Coerr’s spare but meaningful language and very short chapters make this a terrific introduction to chapter books.

Reading Rainbow Pick for Ages 4 to 8
Boxes for Katje
by Candace Fleming
Author Candace Fleming opens her book about a pen-pal relationship between two young girls with a vivid description of life in small-town Holland after World War II. She writes: “The townspeople lived on cabbages and seed potatoes. They patched and repatched their worn-thin clothing, and they went without soap or milk, sugar or new shoes.” She then introduces main character Katje, who excitedly receives a surprise care package from Rosie. . . all the way from Mayfield, Indiana, in the United States. Katje, her mother, and the postman marvel at the luxuries in the box. There’s soap, wool socks, and even a bit of chocolate! Katje writes a heartfelt thank-you letter, and that triggers a series of boxes, each one bigger than the last, to Katje and her impoverished town from “the land of plenty.” As thanks, Katje sends Rosie her own box, filled with tulip bulbs meant to brighten Mayfield’s next spring. Stacey Dressen-McQueen’s gorgeous mixed-media illustrations bring the little Dutch town and Katje’s story to life. You can also watch Katje’s story come alive on the Reading Rainbow DVD also titled Boxes for Katje.