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THE BOOK LADY’S RECOMMENDED BOOKS FOR AGES 0-3

AwesomDad181
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My Dad Is Awesome (My Relative series)
Written and illustrated
by Nick Butterworth
Candlewick Press

 

Summary:
Dads do so many things that can seem ordinary to outsiders, but seen through the eyes of their children, they are truly awesome. Whether he’s carrying kids and pets on his back, cooking meals or acting as a one-man band, the dad in this book is strong, helpful and talented. The warm and humorous watercolor illustrations coupled with brief, descriptive phrases emphasize the distinctive talents of this father and will help your child identify and appreciate his own father’s unique abilities and gifts.

 

Potluck of Fun:
Ask your toddler to tell you why he loves his dad and what he thinks makes his dad special or particularly talented. Write down your child’s responses. Ask him to draw or paint pictures that show Dad doing the things your child loves. Look for photographs that capture special moments. Then together make a simple book, creating your own version of My Dad is Awesome. You can use the same title or come up with a new one based on your child’s response to “How would you finish the sentence, My dad is...?” This project can be done for other relatives, too, and the resulting books make wonderful Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthday or any day presents.

 

It’s important to take the time to recognize the value of family and the unique gifts each relative has to share. Celebrate more relatives by reading the other titles in this series by Nick Butterworth: My Mom Is Excellent, My Grandpa Is Amazing and My Grandma Is Wonderful (Candlewick Press). Then talk with your child about her own mom, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and so on and why they are special.

 

One of the many ways that you, Dad, can be “awesome” is by reading aloud to your children. Research tells us that children who grow up with affectionate, supportive and readily-involved fathers tend to do better academically and socially, have a higher sense of confidence and ultimately become more successful in adulthood. By reading aloud with your young children you’re not only supporting their early literacy development, but also creating vital bonding experiences. The Minnesota Humanities Commission sponsors programs and puts out information that focus on fathers. At the organization’s Web site (www.thinkmhc.org), click on Family Literacy Programs and then select the link for the Reading with Dad Initiative. The Reading with Dad Book List link takes you to a list of “father-themed books” that make for great read-aloud experiences with younger and older children. The Supporting Father Involvement in Family Literacy link leads to an informative list of ideas that individual teachers and organizations can use to help get dads more involved.
 

Fingerpaint181
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I Can Fingerpaint (Usborne Playtime series)
Written
by Ray Gibson
Illustrated by Amanda Barlow
Usborne/EDC Publishing

 

Summary:
This is a perfect selection for children who enjoy the feel of paint and who would rather use their hands than a paintbrush. There’s nothing fancy here, just straightforward, illustrated step-by-step instructions for creating fingerpaint innovations. With these simple designs, children don’t need to have advanced fine motor skills in terms of hand and finger control as you guide them through each creative process. You and your kids will discover how one finger dipped in paint can craft Spotty Spiders or Cats and how a whole hand can make Rainbow Fish or An Angel. You can even paint with your knuckles! This book will make your child gleefully declare, “I can fingerpaint!”

Potluck of Fun:
This book guides children to create specific, recognizable animals and other figures, but sometimes it can be challenging to figure out the subject matter of young children’s artwork. It’s important to realize that there is almost always a story behind kids’ creations. When your child engages in painting or drawing, sit or stand nearby, make observations and ask him about what he’s creating. You might even ask him to tell you a story about his artwork once he has finished. Have him dictate descriptive captions that you then add along the bottom of each picture and be sure to dignify his work by putting it up on the refrigerator, framing it or sharing it with family and friends. Over time, you’re likely to amass quite a collection. Preserve and honor these pictures by making books out of them – building actual sequential stories or simply archiving your child’s work from a certain period of time. These homemade art books will turn out to be treasured keepsakes in the years to come.

Other titles in the Usborne Playtime series that are appropriate for children ages 3 and up include I Can Crayon and I Can Cut and Stick.

As your child develops fine motor skills through arts and crafts and other activities, she is actually on a path to writing. According to Help Your Children Learn to Write, an article at the Chateau Meddybemps Web site, “In order for a child to write meaningfully, he or she must first build up their fine motor skills. Art projects, working with play dough, measuring and pouring sand and water and practicing writing are excellent ways to improve fine motor skills.” For details about the skills leading to writing and activities that reinforce these skills, you can read the article by going to www.meddybemps.com, clicking on Parent’s Guide or Teacher’s Guide and then clicking on the Write link.
 

THE BOOK LADY’S RECOMMENDED BOOKS FOR AGES 3-6

DaddyMe181
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My Daddy and Me
Written by Jerry Spinelli
Illustrated by Seymour Chwast
Alfred A. Knopf

Summary:
In this charming and delightful portrait of a pup and his doggie dad, it’s easy to feel the excitement of Daddy’s arrival home from work every day. As the puppy tells us, “There are so many things to do!” Cheerful, childlike paintings bring to life a range of fun-filled activities like playing hide and seek, making cookies and planting tomatoes. This is one father and son team that clearly revels in the time they share, even when they’re doing ordinary, everyday tasks. The sweet little pup admits that sometimes Daddy comes home too tired to play or even “to stand up straight,” but that’s okay, too, because he always manages to deliver a bedtime lullaby. The book closes with this nightly ritual, and the final illustration reveals that this little pup’s dreams are filled with visions of Daddy.

Potluck of Fun:
For other books on the “Daddy” theme for this age group, check out I Love My Daddy Because... by Laurel Porter Gaylord (Dutton), What Daddies Do Best by Laura Numeroff (Little Simon) and I Love My Daddy by Sebastien Braun (HarperCollins).

Jerry Spinelli has written more than 25 books, most of them for older children. My Daddy and Me was his first picture book for younger kids. He received the Newbery Medal for Maniac Magee (Little, Brown), and Wringer (Joanna Cotler) was named a Newbery Honor Book. You can find out more about him at www.jerryspinelli.com.

Under the Activities heading at www.mommyandme.com, you’ll find a Daddy & Me link that suggests and outlines “fun and simple activities that can be done in relatively short periods of time.” Each activity is summarized along with information regarding what your child will learn, what materials you’ll need and step-by-step instructions. The activities change periodically, so be sure to bookmark the site and check back for updates.
 

Surprises181
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Surprises (An I Can Read Book)
Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
HarperTrophy

Summary:
It’s never too soon to introduce children to the powerful world of poetry, and this book is perfect for doing just that. In this volume you will find nearly 40 short poems on familiar topics written by well-known poets, including Lee Bennett Hopkins himself. Recognizable subject matter is tackled through rich language in both rhyming and non-rhyming verse. The poems are grouped under six headings: Who to Pet; Creep, Crawl, Fly; At the Top of My Voice; Boats, Trains and Planes; Rain, Sun and Snow; and Good Night and convey admiration, love, humor and more. Throughout the book, the colorful language is complemented by bouncy, energetic drawings.

Potluck of Fun:
Surprises, an ALA Notable Children’s Book, is just one of many collections compiled by acclaimed poetry anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins. Other titles include Got Geography! (Greenwillow), A Pet for Me (HarperTrophy) and Oh, No! Where Are My Pants? and Other Disasters (HarperCollins). He also wrote Pass the Poetry, Please! (HarperTrophy), an standard for educators, librarians and others who seek to bring the magic of poetry into children’s lives since it was first published more than 25 years ago.

Visit The Children’s Archive at www.poetryarchive.org. Here you can search for poems by theme, keyword or author; read and listen to poems (you’ll need the free version of RealPlayer to listen) and even read about the poets themselves. Have fun finding poetry and poets that you and your kids enjoy!

Once you’ve read the book and explored some other poetry with your children, try writing some poems together. As demonstrated by the variety of verse in Surprises, poems don’t have to be long or complicated or even rhyme: Be sure to remind your children of this. As far as topics for your poems, it might be easier to start with writing about people, places or pets you know well. Each of you can write on your own or you can write collaboratively. You can try writing in the style of particular poets you enjoy or create your own unique approach. The sky’s the limit!
 

THE BOOK LADY’S RECOMMENDED BOOKS FOR AGES 6-9

MiniBook181
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Making Mini-Books
Written by Sherri Haab
Klutz/Scholastic

Summary:
What better way to engage your child with reading and books than by reading about making books together? Opening pages address the basics of books and bookmaking tools in addition to offering pointers for common procedures in the bookmaking process. Laid out in a combination of text, photographs and illustrations, each project contains a list of needed materials and numbered steps that guide you to completion. Towards the back of the book, you will find the patterns and photographs referred to within the different projects as well as pages of assorted colored and textured papers you and your children can use. Unique packaging also accommodates some of the necessary tools, such as glue, paper fasteners, a burnisher and wiggle eyes. You and your children will learn how to create Accordion Books, Scroll Books, Necklace Books and more. Top Secret Books can be made from chocolate boxes, matchboxes, flashlights and candy or gum wrappers. Once you get started, there is no end to the types of wonderfully artistic mini-books you and your kids can make.

Potluck of Fun:
Use Making Mini-Books as inspiration for throwing your own writing party. Keep in mind that your “party” can include multiple pairings of children and adults or just one adult-child pair. Choose a bookmaking project to create. During the process of making your selected book, talk about what content the child would like to put in it. Maybe the type of book itself inspires certain content. You can also do another collaborative hands-on project that will become a natural springboard to writing. Some activity ideas are: creating characters out of modeling clay or making sock puppets; drawing or painting a particular scene, setting or environment or making a collage of words and pictures from magazine cuttings. Talk about the projects as they take shape. Discuss the characters, scenes or collages in ways that will generate story ideas: Who could this character be? Does he have special talents or powers? What kinds of animals or people could live in this environment? What types of activities would they do there? What is the theme of this collage? The child can write down, or you can transcribe, his answers and other comments and use these as the basis for a story you can write together in the book you made.

For more bookmaking ideas that can inspire exciting collaborative writing, visit www.makingbooks.com. Go to the Teachers’ Page or the Parents’ Page and select Free Projects. You’ll find instructions for making eight different types of books. These projects suggest just book formats; the content is up to you and your children.

You’ll find more tips for creative writing with your child at www.meddybemps.com. Under the Fun & Games heading, click on the Preschool & Primary link and then select the Young Writers Workshop link. Here you will find guidance for how you can help children create stories including numerous printable Story Starter Workshop Pages that will get kids off and running with their own writing. You can even submit your child’s completed stories for possible publishing on the site.

At the Discovery School Web site (http://school.discovery.com), there are some terrific tools for enlivening language with wordplay with children of all ages. Under the Favorites menu, click on the link for Brain Boosters and then click on the link for the Word and Letter Play category. There are more than 65 wordplay games to explore with children at home or in the classroom. Also under the Favorites menu, click on the link for Puzzlemaker. The resulting page lets you create puzzles
online – from cryptograms to crosswords to word searches – using the words and clues you supply. Try creating puzzles using new vocabulary from the books you share and clues that connect to story content.
 

DrawPeople181
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I Can Draw People (Usborne Playtime series)
Written by Ray Gibson
Illustrated by Amanda Barlow
Usborne/EDC Publishing

Summary:
Do you have a budding artist in your family or a child who thinks he can’t draw well? In either case, this book is for you! Clear, step-by-step directions guide your children through the process for drawing a variety of characters; including A Pirate, A Queen, An Astronaut and An Ice Skater; with felt-tip pens and crayons. The instructions break down each figure into manageable parts. For example, to draw an astronaut, you start with the helmet, continue to the collar, the face, the body of the spacesuit and so on. For each person, additional drawing is suggested to place the figure in a setting with appropriate surroundings. A double-page spread on Faces provides steps for drawing a basic face and offers examples for adding such elements as wrinkles, freckles and glasses as well as for expressing emotions like anger and surprise. This book will not only bolster an emerging artist, but will also enable every child to feel more confident.

Potluck of Fun:
You can support your child’s literacy development by connecting arts and crafts activities with reading. Brainstorm simple story ideas with your child that include characters you can illustrate using I Can Draw People. Once you and your child have chosen a storyline, try starting with the pictures – drawing characters and scenes first. Then add the text to the illustrations, using your child’s own words, and enjoy creating your own family picture books.

Other drawing-related titles by Ray Gibson for this age group include I Can Draw Animals and What Shall I Draw? (Usborne/ EDC Publishing).

After you and your children have read the book and drawn faces depicting different emotions, extend the experience with a conversation about feelings. The key to keeping the lines of communication open as your children grow is for them to understand that they can talk honestly with you about their experiences and emotions.
 

MarthaDog181
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Martha Walks the Dog
Written and illustrated
by Susan Meddaugh
Walter Lorraine Books/Houghton Mifflin

Summary:
In this fourth book in the Martha series, we find the protagonist pooch impressing people with her ability to speak (gained after eating alphabet soup) and happily frolicking with her canine buddies during her walks. She loves to scratch, sniff and play chase every day as she trots about, but on this day, something has changed. A new neighbor has moved in with his big, snarling, mean dog, Bob. Bob is always barking, and his gruff owner is always yelling at him, “Bad dog!” When Bob breaks free of his chain and chases down Martha, she scolds him with insults, which only seem to fuel his pursuit. They run into the yard where Martha’s talking parrot friend lives, and the parrot shares a phrase of praise that quickly calms Bob and teaches Martha about the transforming power of words and kindness. The light and airy watercolor illustrations reveal a wide range of human and animal emotions, as well as personalities and humor. The use of voice balloons to carry much of the dialogue lends a comic book feel to this and all of the delightful Martha books.

Potluck of Fun:
If your child enjoys this book, check out others in the series, like Martha Speaks, Martha Calling and Perfectly Martha (Walter Lorraine). You can also find out more about the author by going to www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com and entering “Susan Meddaugh” in the Search box. Click on the Susan Meddaugh link to connect to an Author Biography, Author Interview and list of All Books by Author.

Talk with your children about Susan Meddaugh’s technique for revealing Martha’s dialogue in hand-lettered voice balloons. What effect does this have? What does it remind you of? Do you have story or character ideas for which you’d use this approach? If children share ideas for using voice balloons, encourage them to go for it – even suggest you could work as writing partners – and have a blast creating stories or scenes together!

Praising children and providing appropriate positive reinforcement on a regular basis helps to build self-confidence and communication, as well as to impact behavior in a constructive way. For information on the Principles of Good Parent/Child Communication and suggested Words of Encouragement, visit www.childdevelopmentinfo.com. Click on Parenting and then on the link for Communication with Children.
 

THE BOOK LADY’S RECOMMENDED BOOKS FOR AGES 9-12

AmeliaEasy181
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Amelia's Easy-as-Pie Drawing Guide
Written and illustrated by Marissa Moss
American Girl

Summary:
In her signature black and white composition notebook, Amelia once again shares her journal in a way that will inspire children to create their own. This unique how-to/sketch pad journal focuses on drawing in an approachable, user-friendly way – revealing how Amelia’s abilities have progressed over time and pointing out strategies like identifying basic shapes in subjects to use as starting points. The format inherently encourages interactivity: margins contain examples of drawings, and the middle of the pages is left blank for your child to fill. Amelia shares how she uses shapes, grids and even squiggles to create her art. She also demonstrates how to tackle more complex drawings with a step-by-step line of attack. Amelia’s drawings vary in subject matter and execution, but all of them are teeming with whimsy and originality and will surely motivate your children to explore their artistic side.

Potluck of Fun:
Visual journals can be just as powerful as verbal or written journals (in fact, they often incorporate both visual and written elements) and can be particularly rewarding for children who already enjoy drawing, painting, collage and the like. This type of journaling can also bring out the hidden artist in children and adults and can lead to other creative projects. For a brief article about visual journaling, including the rationale behind it and suggestions, visit www.northampton.edu and enter the phrase “visual journals” in the Search box. Under the category Community Education, select the Using Visual Journals link.

After reading Amelia’s Easy-as-Pie Drawing Guide, encourage your child to keep her own visual journal. Remind her that there are no rules – it’s an unrestricted medium – and that throughout history inventors, artists and scientists like Thomas Edison, Leonardo DaVinci and Stephen Hawking, have kept visual journals to record their ideas, feelings, impressions and observations. Journals, whether they are largely written or visual in nature, tend to be very personal. It’s essential that your child understand you respect his privacy, so let him choose what, if any, parts of his journal he’d like to share with you. And when he does share, try to avoid making comments that could be perceived as negative or judgmental.

Marissa Moss has written more than 20 books for children and young adults including more than 10 titles in the Amelia series. At http://marissamoss.com, you can read About The Author, her books (click on the cover images) and awards she has received. If you click on Teacher Info, you’ll find plans for Teaching Journaling Skills with Amelia and Activity and Discussion Guides for the Historical Journals, as well as the two-page Write On! Tips for Your Own Terrific Notebook to share with children. You can also Preview pages from 10 different books.
 

Frogthroat181
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There's a Frog in My Throat!
Written by Loreen Leedy and Pat Street
Illustrated by Loreen Leedy
Holiday House

Summary:
Have you ever noticed how many animal sayings there are in the English language? These two authors certainly have, and they’ve pulled together more than 400 in this book to explore one particularly fun aspect of our colorful language. An introductory note defines the types of expressions found in the book: simile, metaphor, idiom and proverb. The sayings are grouped into such categories as Around the House (sayings involving pets), On the Wing (sayings involving birds and flying insects) and Under the Waves (sayings involving aquatic creatures). Most of the expressions will be familiar to native English speakers, but some are less recognizable, and there are even a couple that are quite contemporary. Thankfully, meanings are provided for all of them. Ingenious illustrations combine color, action and humor to great effect and cleverly tie together larger images with smaller ones. The index will help you and your children find sayings about specific animals. This book offers terrific opportunities for enjoyment and laughter as your child learns more about the ins and outs of idiomatic English.

Potluck of Fun:
At Pat Street’s Web site (www.patstreet.com), click on the link for There’s a Frog in My Throat. Then check out More Animal Sayings, Classroom Ideas for Teachers and Link to Loreen Leedy’s Web Site. You’ll also find a link – Did we miss any? Send us your sayings! – through which you can E-mail Pat Street and let her know about animal sayings that aren’t in the book or on the Web site.

To acquaint children and older non-native English speakers with idioms and other expressions, check out The Idiom Connection (www.idiomconnection.com). This site answers some basic questions and provides an index of English Idioms & Quizzes. The expressions are categorized alphabetically and by themes such as animal, color and money. Alongside each saying, you will find its meaning and a sentence incorporating the expression. Quizzes appear at the end of each category with prompts to replace certain words in a sentence with the appropriate idiom.

Idioms and other non-literal expressions can be confusing, especially to people who are learning English as a second language, but they can also be great fun for everyone. Here’s an activity to try with children ages nine and up. Either in adult-child pairs or in a group of children led by one or more adults, brainstorm as many idioms and expressions as you can think of and write them down. Once you have a good amount written down, let each child and adult choose an expression to illustrate literally. Think of the laughter and delight that will be generated by illustrating such expressions as “monkey business,” “the pot calling the kettle black,” “two heads are better than one” or “time flies.”
 

MaxLogbook181
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Max's Logbook
Written and illustrated by Marissa Moss

Scholastic

Summary:
Max’s parents are scientists and since he wants to become one, too, he decides to create a scientific journal. Max tells us he got the idea for his logbook from a girl in his class, whom readers familiar with Marisa Moss will immediately recognize as Amelia. Max fills his graph-paper logbok with drawings and words that depict experiments, inventions and comics. Exciting experiments include microwaving marshmallows (a particularly messy, mom-angering stunt) and testing how hot and cold water react to each other, while bold comics present the adventures of Alien Eraser. Amid all of his ideas, creations and funny drawings is the recurring theme of Max’s troubled home life. His parents seem to be fighting all the time, so Max dreams up problem-solving inventions like a “prevent-a-divorce machine” and an “electric promise prod.” Unfortunately, these ideas aren’t practical and Max will have to face the reality of his parents separating. What will happen to the family? Will Max have to choose between his parents or will he find a way to choose both of them?

Potluck of Fun:
Once you and your children have read the book, go to www.scholastic.com, click on Kids and select Book Central. Under Super Reads, click on Max’s Logbook. Here you and your children can access Printables, Meet the Author, play Max’s Match Mayhem and more.

Like Max, many children enjoy the inherent adventure and surprise of science experiments. There are many Internet resources for experiments to do at home or in the classroom. Here are some of the best sites we found:

At http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/science/activities/ you will be able to choose guided scientific inquiries and related experiments that are age-appropriate from the many programs in the ZOOM Science series.

In the Kids section of www.nationalgeographic.com, click on Activities and then Fun Science. Here you’ll find links to about ten different experiments and projects from Create a Motion Ocean to Star Attraction to Rock On – Fizzy Fun.

For more scientific fun, check out www.spartechsoftware.com, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Visit Reeko’s Mad Scientist Lab. Click on the Experiments heading in the menu on the left side of the screen. Scroll through the page to find unique experiments in Chemical Reactions, Cohesion, Flotation, Pressure/Compression and more. All of the experiments are also rated by level of difficulty (easy, intermediate and advanced).
 

THE BOOK LADY'S RECOMMENDED BOOKS FOR PARENTS

drawPaint181
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Drawing, Painting and Lettering (Usborne First Skills series)
Written by Anna Claybourne, Fiona Watt and Patricia Lovett
Illustrated by Terry Burton, Lindy Dark and Sue Stitt
Usborne/EDC Publishing

Summary:
This book combines three individual First Skills series titles into one. Through projects, you and your children will learn how to use a variety of pencils, pens, paints, brushes, drawing equipment and other materials to create your own works of art. Instructions for the vibrant and innovative projects are arranged sequentially and enhanced by helpful pictures that enable beginners to grasp essential skills and to enjoy honing their artistic technique over time. The wide range of topics include: what the numbers on pencils mean, understanding perspective, mixing new colors, making letters you can eat, designing your own alphabet and much more. This book will help you make art an enjoyable, collaborative family venture.
 

WayWriteKids181
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Ways of Writing with Young Kids
Written by Dr. Robert Maloy, Dr. Sharon Edwards and
Ruth-Ellen Verock O’Loughlin
Allyn & Bacon

Summary:
This approachable and practical guidebook is intended to help adults, both professionals and parents, to nurture the writing efforts of children in Kindergarten through third grade. Ideas and strategies for teaching children how to write creatively, conventionally and confidently are communicated through straightforward language, original activities and exercises, new perspectives on old conventions, examples of children’s work and stories of adults and children writing together. A wide-ranging Preface addresses the book’s features and major concepts and provides guidance for usage. Suggestions for creative ways of writing with kids, or “WOWs,” are gathered under seven chapter umbrellas: Language, Communications, Poems, Stories, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. You don’t have to follow and implement everything in this book in a linear manner: you can pick and choose what connects with children’s interests or current schooling and run with it!
 

MORE SHOW 3 RELATED BOOKS

Foxinsocks
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Starrynight
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CityLights
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valentine
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Snowshapes
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Bugs
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Snakes
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Bats
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Matt Broman uses humorous books to engage his active daughter, like:

 

Fox in Socks

Written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss

Random House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judith Moffatt shared a number of books she has written and/or illustrated, including:

 

Night Glow Board Books written and illustrated by Judith Moffatt:

 

Starry Nights

Little Simon

 

and

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

City Lights

Little Simon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read-and-Do Books written and illustrated by Judith Moffatt:

 

Valentines

Cartwheel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow Shapes

Cartwheel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and

 

Bugs

Cartwheel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Aboard Reading books:

 

Snakes

Written by Patricia Demuth

Illustrated by Judith Moffatt

Scholastic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and

 

Bats: Creatures of the Night

Written by Joyce Milton

Illustrated by Judith Moffatt

Grosset & Dunlap

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2006 Words That Cook   All rights reserved  Box 411, Natick, MA  01760  USA

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