When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A bookworm's breakfast - 1

It's no secret that we love books in our family. Almost every room in our house has a bookshelf or two, lined with rows and rows of colourful, well-loved volumes, and you can almost always find someone with his or her nose buried in a book whenever we're at home. I spend hours, either alone or with the boys, browsing libraries and bookstores to discover intriguing reads that are new to us, and people who know this sometimes ask me for recommendations when they are looking for books for the children in their own lives.

I decided it would be exciting to start a regular feature here on my blog, where I share information about children's books that my family has loved over the years. Many of the books I'll write about will have a special appeal for boys, since that's the focus at our house, but girls will certainly find something to enjoy among the suggestions, too. With each edition of A bookworm's breakfast, I will feature three different titles, one for each of the 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 year old age groups. I'm proud to say that my own resident bookworm, Noah, will be writing the recommendations for 9-12 year olds, since he is a current expert on books from that category. Without further ado, here are this week's suggestions for some excellent reading for kids of all ages!

3-5 year olds: Owen by Kevin Henkes

Young children who have ever loved a special comfort object will relate wonderfully to the story of a little mouse who simply cannot part with his fuzzy yellow blanket. Owen's parents try many tactics, without success, to get him to give up his beloved Fuzzy before he starts school, but eventually his mom finds a solution that makes everyone happy. Henkes' mouse characters are sweet and endearing; children will recognize many feelings and experiences from their own daily life in the adventures of Owen and his parents. It is also well worth checking out Henkes' other mouse books, such as Lily's Purple Plastic Purse, Chester's Way, Julius, the Baby of the World, and Wemberly Worried for more touching portrayals of life and relationships that will be very real to young readers.

6-8 year olds: Adopt a Glurb! by Elise Gravel

This book is a fun combination of simpler text and engaging illustrations that appeals to recently independent readers, as well as to any children who like to beg their parents for new pets! Readers can follow the cartoon-format pages to learn the ups and downs of caring for "glurbs", cute little nonsensical creatures that hatch from hairy, smelly eggs. (They may even recognize parts of their own personalities as they read the humorous descriptions of glurbs' habits and preferences!) Adopt a Glurb! is one of several books in the "Balloon Toons" collection, which also includes titles such as The Super Crazy Cat Dance and Rick & Rack and the Great Outdoors; they are all visually interesting and highly entertaining books for kids who are gaining confidence in their own reading abilities.

9-12 year olds: Guys Read: Funny Business, edited by John Scieszka

From a turkey wanting to kill its owner, to a game involving chucking a stuffed lion around, this collection of short stories is probably the most hilarious book I've ever read! In this book you will also encounter a kid who rips the skin on his shoulder off, a normal kid defeating a giant robot, the inside story of the original Artemis Fowl, and much more. I liked how imaginative the authors could be to create something fabulously funny. A couple of the stories were probably based on real experiences and it was hilarious to read what the authors may have done with their siblings as kids. This book is an absolute work of art and will encourage even the most discouraged non-reader to read it and enjoy it tremendously. (Thanks for the review, Noah!)

I'd love it if you'd share your own experiences with these three books or give your suggestions for other great reads for children in the comments section below. Spreading the word is a wonderful way to entice kids to read more often, which can only be a good thing (unless your children are so absorbed in good books that you can hardly tear them away from the pages long enough to eat or get dressed or sleep or.... Well, never mind that part. That's a subject for a whole other post!) I hope your family makes some wonderful new reading discoveries this week.

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