Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Little Books for Little Readers

I like to dedicate one-third of my blog posts to books for children. Usually, these books are geared towards children, which are a bit older and can read on their own, but today I would like to focus on the littlest of readers, those who still chew books and get a thrill just from turning pages. Today, I have three series to introduce you to or update you on if you already own some of the books.

The first series of books I would like to tell you about is called BabyLitBabyLit are brightly colored board books, which takes classics from literature and reduce them down to about ten to twelve words which teach your children a specific concept. For example, The Jungle Book teaches your children about animals using the animals from the original story, i.e., Kaa the snake and Baloo the bear. Two of the latest titles include Don Quixote and All Aboard! New YorkDon Quixote is a Spanish language primer, which contains words in English and Spanish. The pages are opposite of each other in color, orientation, and language. For example, friend is el amigo and there is a picture of Sancho Panza and windmills are los molinos de viento. It's a clever book, but not a very useful one as most of the terms are too specific and advanced. All Aboard! New York is part of a new subset of BabyLit that takes you through different landmarks of major places including New York, California, and Paris. All Aboard! New York contains words and images for Central Park, Broadway, the Empire State Building, etc. Again, the book itself is too clever for its own good and more a show book than a useful book. Those in New York might find it useful. Here in Alabama, I can't really see the point. Once your children have outgrown the board books, there is an ongoing series of Edgar books, based on tales of Edgar Allan Poe. The third and latest in this series is titled Edgar and the Tree House of Usher. This book is based on "The Fall of the House of Usher" and in this book it is not figurative but a literal house that falls out of a tree. Edgar refuses to let his sister Lenore come into Roderick's tree house, because she is a girl, but the two boys eventually relent after the tree house falls, and they build a nest for all three to play in. It was a cute tale and one that teaches a not too subtle lesson of being nice to younger siblings.

Abrams Books has their own brightly colored book series titled Mini Myths. There are currently six in the series with two more coming out very soon. The current six include Aphrodite, Hercules, Icarus, Medusa, Midas, and Pandora. Each book takes an actual Greek myth, adapts it by having a little child play the title role, and teaches your children a lesson. For example, Be Careful, Icarus! is about a boy flying a kite with his dad, but is stubborn in thinking he can do it on his own, so he gets it stuck in a tree. His dad reassures him that he can fix the kite, and the boy learns a lesson to listen to his dad and not fly his kite so high next time. At the end of each book is a summary of the actual Greek myth. Make a Wish, Midas! was my favorite of the six as it involved little Midas wishing everything that he owned was the color yellow, that is until he paints his favorite stuffed dinosaur yellow. He, then decides that he didn't like his dinosaur being yellow. Luckily, his mom was able to throw it in the washing machine and restore it to its original green. He learned a valuable lesson that not everything has to be the same to be good or beautiful, but that everything is good the way it is. Mini Myths contain more words than BabyLit books are a step above them as well, as they not only give you classic literature for your kids, but life lessons as well. Highly recommended!

Lastly, I am going to tell you about a series of readers from author Olivier Dunrea and published by Houghton Mifflin. The series is called Gossie and Friends and features baby geese, also known as goslings, as the main characters of the series of books. The characters include Gossie, Gertie, Ollie, BooBoo, Gideon, Jasper, Joop, Gus, and Gemma. These are Level One readers and perfect for children just learning to read as they are cute stories and easy enough to keep your children engaged and encouraged at reading on their own. In addition to most of the characters having their own books, there are books that feature two of the goslings and seasonal books too, including one for Christmas, Easter, and an upcoming one for Halloween. The stories are also easy to relate to. In Gideon and Otto, we see Gideon going everywhere with his favorite toy Otto, until he loses him one day and has to find him. This is a horror that child and grown up alike can relate to. Jasper and Joop is an odd couple book with one clean gosling and one dirty gosling. Gemma and Gus is a book about siblings. However, my son's favorite of the series (at the moment, because I'm sure it will change more than once) is BooBooBooBoo is a lot like my son. He is blue. My son loves the color blue. BooBoo eats all the time. My son is eating me out of house and home. BooBoo ate bubbles. My son loves bubbles. BooBoo burped after eating the bubbles. My son thinks burping is hilarious and tries to imitate the sound, but thankfully hasn't mastered it yet. All the stories are charming and the watercolor illustrations are simple enough that they captivate the young eyes without overpowering them. This is a great beginner's series to read to your child and then have them read to you when they are able to.

These books were provided to me by Gibbs SmithAbrams Books, and Houghton Mifflin in exchange for honest reviews.