Tag: Kid Lit

Apr 30

Kid Lit with my Kidlet: Sammy’s Current Faves

Children's Books, Kidlit with my Kidlet 1

Howdy Bookworms,

I can’t tell you how much it thrills me that Sammers enjoys reading stories with me. I mean, sure, I’ve been reading to him at least nightly since infancy, but he’s reached an age where he can actively choose the books we read and interacts with the stories. It’s so stinking cute. If you need book recs for the kiddos in your life, read on, friends!

Yes, that is a Llama Llama Red Pajama shirt. Of course my kid has book swag.

We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems: We have a decent collection of Mo Willems on our shelves, but so far We Are in a Book! is the hands down favorite. This book makes Sammy laugh SO HARD. It’s probably at least partially because I’m overly animated in recreating Elephant and Piggie’s laughter, but I shall never apologize for my over-the-top read aloud style. Like most (if not all) Mo Willems books, this book is heavy on audience recognition and participation. The self awareness is taken to a new level when Gerald (the Elephant) and Piggie (the, uh, Piggie) realize that they are, in fact, in a book. This is such a fun read! Now, Sam will occasionally shout “Banana” out of context and start cracking up. That’s the sort of thing everyone could use more of, no?

A Place for Pluto by Stef Wade, Illustrated by Melanie Demmer- This book was a gift from my husband’s “Fairy Godmothers.” They still live in the small town my husband hails from, and among its claims to fame is that it’s the birthplace of the dude who discovered Pluto. The Pluto love is big in this little town, and they were responsible for many a letter-writing campaign trying to keep Pluto’s status as a planet once it was declassified. So, naturally, this excellent children’s book about the demotion of Pluto to “dwarf planet” landed in one of Sammy’s many book packages. The book is fantastic- very scientific with cute and clever illustrations. Frankly, it’s kind of a tricky one to read aloud because of the vocab- when you’re used to simple rhymes at story time, trying to get your brain and mouth around “asteroid” and “meteoroid” and “Kuiper Belt” can be a challenge. But Sammers loves the book, so I put my astronomer voice and read the same story over and over and over again. No lie, he made me read this 6 times in a row the other night. The recommended age range on the cover is 4-8 years, so if you have older-than-toddler kiddos with an interest in space, this would make a great addition to your bookshelves.

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola- A classic for good reason! Strega Nona’s magic pasta pot has been delighting children since the 1970s, and shows no signs of slowing. I read it to Sam one bedtime, and at the following nap time, he specifically requested “Big Anthony” (he thinks the unfortunate fellow’s tummy full of pasta is high comedy.) He’s since started calling the book by its actual title, but it remains a staple of bedtime and nap time reading. I purchased our copy from Book Outlet which is a GREAT resource for inexpensive kids books. They usually have a mark on them or might be a little scratch-n-dent-y, but when you’re buying for a toddler, it hardly matters. The poor things will get banged up anyway.

On a side note: if you’re interested in seeing regular Sam Spam (IE, lots and lots of pictures) you’re welcome to check out my Instagram. Yes, it’s set to private, but only because I was creeped out by a few random dudes who started following my feed which is 99% toddler pics. I’m happy to approve anyone who looks like a real person, is bookish, and/or I recognize from other social media. I’m always cheered up by cute kiddo pics, so if you’re in need of that kind of joy, welcome to my Instagram!

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. The links above direct to Amazon, but if you’re in a position to do so, please consider purchasing through a local, independent book store. Websites like IndieBound and Bookshop.org make it easy to support your local book shop even when you can’t physically shop there. 


Apr 17

Kid Lit with my Kidlet: Penguin Problems and Reading with Voices

Kidlit with my Kidlet 0

Hiya Bookworms,

This pandemic is wild. It’s so awful on so many levels, and even though we’re faring better than I might have expected in our household, I still have the occasional breakdown. I mean, I’m human. I also have a strong-willed toddler. It’s all A LOT. But I’m trying really hard to document the good things, because there have been many good things, mostly surrounding all the extra time we’ve been spending as a family.

This year, Easter was different, seeing as we’re in quarantine and all. Luckily, thanks to my husband’s clearance shopping after Christmas, my own impulse purchases, and some souvenirs we picked up from our trip to Disney World, we had enough stuff in the “Sam Stash” that didn’t need to worry about what we’d be using to fill Sammy’s Easter basket.

One of my impulse purchases had been a book and a stuffed animal from the Kohl’s Cares for Kids collection. They publish nice editions of popular children’s books and coordinating stuffed toys for $5 a pop, the proceeds of which go to a charitable foundation. Over the years I’ve purchased oodles of the things. Sam’s got a whole slew of the books and stuffed characters, which is great, because unless your child’s favorite book ends up being made into a TV show or movie, it can be pretty hard to track down merchandise. My love of Salina Yoon’s Penguin books can be traced back to a purchase I made for my “niece” a few years ago- I loved the books so much that I bought myself copies waaaaay before Sammers was in the picture. Kohl’s isn’t giving me anything for saying nice things about these books and toys, I just happen to adore them. All of this is to say that on a trip to Kohl’s after the holidays to exchange something, I picked up a copy of Penguin Problems by Jory John (illustrated by Lane Smith) along with the corresponding plush because they were adorable.

Fast forward a few months and one pandemic later, and the book and penguin appeared in Sammy’s Easter basket. He LOVES them. It’s one of those books that once we finish it, he immediately demands that we read it again. And, in a fun twist, he’s actually named the stuffed penguin “Mortimer.” The name is mentioned in the book, but isn’t the main character or anything, but he now insists on taking Mortimer with him on our daily wagon rides. Mortimer wears a seat belt, like a responsible penguin.

What’s really funny about the book, though, is apparently the way I read it. The whole story is a penguin whining about their problems. Cold beaks, being chased by predators, you name it. Penguin life can be tough. (It’s got a Mo Willems pigeon vibe going on.) As I was reading it to Sam, my husband pointed out that I sounded “like the Lottery Dream Home guy.” He meant David Bromstad, of HGTV fame, and once it was mentioned, I couldn’t unhear it. For some reason, my complaining penguin voice shares uncanny similarities in cadence and tone with the upbeat TV host/designer. It’s weird. But it gets weirder. Further into the book, a walrus appears to drop some wisdom on our penguin friend. My walrus voice? It sounds just like Mr. Sheffield from The Nanny. Why do I sound like two completely different dudes on TV while reading children’s books to my son? I haven’t the slightest. But I can’t stop… And I wouldn’t want to, because it’s fun. And right now, we all need extra fun.

I’d make a video of my read aloud, but I’m pretty sure that would be copyright infringement. Plus, I wouldn’t be making the video in any sort of educational capacity, as I’m not a librarian or teacher or daycare provider or anything. I’m just an overly theatrical read aloud parent. You’ll have to take my word for it, though- it’s ridiculous.

That all for now, Bookworms. I hope you’re finding joy in unexpected places. And, if you do happen to have kiddos in your lives, I sincerely hope you read aloud to them… With voices, of course.

You can totally still purchase Penguin Problems and plush from Kohl’s! The book selection changes seasonally, but as of today, the penguins are still out there. I believe Kohl’s is doing curbside pickup in a lot of places, but you can always order it to be delivered. I won’t make a commission, but who cares? *Technically if you click on the photo above it’ll take you to Amazon which would get me a commission, but that would cost you more and donate nothing to charity. It was just the easiest way I had to get a nice picture of the book into the post.*



Feb 06

Penguin Books for Every Occasion: Kid Lit with my Kidlet

Bookish Baby, Children's Books, Children's Fiction, Kidlit with my Kidlet 2

Hiya Bookworms!

Y’all know by now that I’m an avid penguin enthusiast, and that I shamelessly roped my child into the obsession (check out his first Halloween and nursery if you require proof.) Sammy has a MASSIVE book collection, and a large swath of that is dedicated to our flightless feathered friends. I know what you’re thinking. “How many penguin books can there possibly be? And on how many subjects? There are only so many cutesy rhymes one can make with ‘waddle’!” But you, my bookish friend, would be incorrect. Lo, there is a penguin book for EVERY occasion and learning opportunity. Lest you doubt me, I’ve complied a list (which is by no means exhaustive) of some very excellent children’s books featuring penguins. Prepare yourselves: it’s unbearably cute.

Penguins Teach Science: I wish I could find my copy of If You Were a Penguin by Wendell and Florence Minor (review)! I misplaced it long before Sammers was born, sigh. It’s such an adorable book full of rhymes and penguin facts. I’m sure it’s packed away in a box somewhere that will turn up eventually, but for now, I am bereft. Luckily, we have another great option for fun penguin facts and science tidbits on hand: Penguins, Penguins, Everywhere! by Bob Barner. The illustrations are bright and fun, though I confess I prefer the illustrations in If You Were a PenguinCurse my absent-mindedness!

Penguins Whose Parents Take Business Trips: Love, Mama by Jeanette Bradley is a sweet little story featuring a young penguin whose mother goes away on a business trip. I love that the mama penguin appears to be a scientist- the illustrations suggest she’s on some sort of research expedition. I also love that this book portrays the mama penguin as the one on a work trip while the daddy penguin holds down the fort. And, while the baby penguin and mama penguin miss each other, they’re reunited at the end. This would be a great addition to the library of any toddler with parents who travel for work! (I do not have to travel for work, but Jim occasionally does. Sam and I like to read this one when he’s out of town. I think it would be helpful for kids who are anxious about being away from their parent/caregiver for any length of time.)

Penguins Teach Basic Skills: Sarah Aspinall has a charming series of books tackling basic toddler skills including Penguins Love ColorsPenguins Love Their ABC’s, and Penguins Love Counting: Let’s Make Snowmen (I can’t find a shopping link for this anywhere, sorry! I bought it at a Scholastic book fair- what a rush!) There are six penguins (one named Broccoli!) who get up to all sorts of shenanigans while learning. Sam’s particularly fond of Penguins Love Colors, and really digs that the book sort of breaks the fourth wall (is that a thing in books the way it is in TV?). It encourages audience participation- these would make AWESOME choices for library/daycare story times.

Penguins Have All the Feels: Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer follows a penguin who has had a particularly rough day. We don’t know why the penguin is so upset, but neither does the penguin. This is a great book to help teach toddlers about moods and feelings. It also encourages them to take baths to wash away the grumpiness, and that’s never a bad thing. A nice bubble bath has been known to lift my spirits too!

Penguins Offer Companionship: Your Personal Penguin by Sandra Boynton is adorable. I highly recommend looking up the song before reading it- if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up sing-reading. The premise of the story is that a penguin desperately wants to become BFF with a hippo. Because why not? The penguin spends the book trying to convince the hippo that they should be platonic life partners. As an added bonus, the song was performed by none other than everybody’s favorite Monkee Davy Jones (RIP) so it’s bouncy and cute.

Penguins Teach Manners: Penguin Says “Please” by Michael Dahl, Illustrated by Oriol Vidal teaches the little ones how to ask for things, rather than demanding. The Mama penguin in this book is very patient, but she’s not going to be ordered around. This little penguin needs to say “please!” And so does my toddler. He’ll say “please,” but it’s often in a heart wrenching and plaintive wail. Like “pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease don’t make me go to bed, you absolute monster of a mother.” Or, um, something like that.

Penguin Moms Who Just Need a Minute: Baby Penguins Everywhere!and Baby Penguins Love their Mama by Melissa Guion are super cute books and both of them feature an overwhelmed Mama penguin taking a time for herself. In one, she even takes a NAP! It’s wonderful! I think it’s great for kids to see that their caretakers are human too and might need a little rest from time to time.

Penguins Teach About Adoption and/or Same-Sex Parent Families: I couldn’t make a list of penguin books for all occasions without bringing up the one about the same-sex penguin couple who want to have a family (oh, my soft, squishy heart!) The two male penguins fall in penguin love and try to hatch a rock. When the zookeepers see this, they give the couple an egg that’s been rejected by its parents to raise and, voila! And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (review) is often banned and challenged which irks me for a number of reasons. I mean: It’s a true story, LOVE IS LOVE, and while parents can (and should) monitor and approve what their own children read, they have no business denying access to other people’s children. But I digress. I haven’t read this one with Sammy yet simply because it’s a lot more text-heavy than most of the others on this list. He’s got a pretty good attention span for 2 and a half, but this one’s geared toward more of a kindergarten crowd, I think. Still, it’s a wonderful and penguiny way for kids to learn about adoption and same-sex parent families.

Would it surprise you to know that this is not an exhaustive list of our penguin literature? I could write so many penguin kid book posts. And I reserve the right to do so. There is a zero percent chance of me parting with any of these books once Sammers outgrows them. I shall be the curator of my own private penguiny library and it will only be, like, medium weird.

One day, he may not want to wear penguin PJs, but today is not that day.

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links within the above text direct to Amazon, but if you prefer to shop through local, independent book stores, please see the links below*

If You Were a Penguin
Penguins, Penguins, Everywhere!
Love, Mama
Penguins Love Colors
Penguins Love Their ABCs
Grumpy Pants
Your Personal Penguin
Baby Penguins Love Their Mama!
Baby Penguins Everywhere!
And Tango Makes Three


Oct 19

Kid Lit with My Kidlet: Halloween 2018

Kidlit with my Kidlet 5

Greetings, Bookworms!

‘Tis the season for pumpkins and candy, so I thought I’d share a few of the seasonally appropriate books I’ve been reading with Sammy lately. My son has a very impressive library, and, like his very impressive wardrobe, it has little to do with my own shopping. We’ve got some very astute children’s literature aficionados in our orbit who like to spoil the young sir. As a result, Sammers literally has entire stacks of books dedicated to different holidays, and Halloween is one of the best represented.

I LOVE Halloween. Always have. Of course, my love for it never evolved past a child-like infatuation with costumes and trick-or-treating. I abhor haunted houses (jump scares are the actual worst), and don’t much care for horror movies or literature (though there are some exceptions). I just want to hand out lots of candy while wearing a giant pajama onesie that doubles as a costume while I watch Hocus Pocus for the fafillionth time. Thus, books aimed toward young children hit the sweet spot of everything I love about Halloween. It makes for magical bedtime reading. Here are some of my (and Sam’s!) current favorites:

ONE: 10 Trick-or-Treaters by Janet Schulman, illustrated by Linda Davick. This one is Sammy’s favorite. It’s an adorable rhyming countdown book in which Trick-or-Treaters are frightened off one by one (that sounds like it might be scary, but it isn’t at all. It’s just cute. It’s very clear to the reader that all the things startling the children are either benign or just people in costumes.) When they get down to 2 Trick-or-Treaters, there’s a scene with a person in a mummy costume coming out of an elevator that makes Sammy giggle. Why that particular illustration appeals to him, I do not know. But who can argue with a delighted 1 year old? And why would you want to?

TWO: Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. This one is MY favorite. It isn’t strictly Halloween related, which is good because I’ll be reading it year-round. A witch on her broom keeps adopting animals to adorable effect. The rhymes are such fun, and the illustrations are so cute. I actually saw a cartoon version of this before we got the book- it must have been on PBS Kids because where else would that sort of thing happen? Anyway, it’s delightful for parents and kids. Fabulous to read aloud!

THREE: Little Vampire’s Big Smile by Rose Von Feder: In this super cute little book, a young vampire looses his tooth while bobbing for apples at a Halloween party (let’s just ignore how unhygienic that activity is. I’m not even super skeeved by germs and ew.) It all ends well of course, when the Tooth Fairy (who is a bat, duh) delivers a gold coin and a new tooth to our dear Bertie. This book is exceptionally appropriate at the moment for my child whose canine teeth have just erupted. (It’s a bit ridiculous, really. Of all the things my child could have developed early, it’s teeth. He’s got 16 teeth at not quite 14 months. Probably why he’s not walking yet. Teething is distracting, yo.)

FOUR: Penguin and Pumpkin by Salina Yoon: OK, this isn’t strictly a Halloween book, it’s more fall, but I absolutely ADORE Salina Yoon’s Penguin books. They’re so sweet, and, obviously, PENGUINS. We actually do have a Halloween specific Salina Yoon title, Where’s Boo?, and while it’s adorable, it doesn’t have much of a story. That’s a thing with baby books. It’s important for babies to have access to simple books full of pictures and just a few words that they can get handsy with- bonus if there are sensory aspects, like in Where’s Boo? It’s just that they’re not as much fun for ME to read at bedtime, whereas Penguin has the most delightful adventures. I’d recommend ANYTHING by Salina Yoon for your little one, but Penguin will always hold a special place in my heart.

This list doesn’t even scratch the surface of our Halloween book stack, but since a lot of them fall into the sensory/flap lifting/not so much story category, I’ll keep it short. I may tackle those another day. I’m going to leave you with this pic of Sammers (and me) that was taken just after his first hair cut (cue Mom sobbing.) His hair was growing into a weird rat tail situation, and since it’s not 1991, I thought we should nip that in the bud. He’s wearing some sweet Halloween duds, though!

Photo credit goes to my husband, who, while he hates having his own photo taken, is an excellent documentarian of important moments. Also, I’m really not that blonde. There was some weird lighting or filter action going on here. And yes, that is Sam’s middle finger. That’s how he points at things. And pushes buttons. Social graces may not be his strong suit.

What are some of your favorite kid friendly Halloween reads, Bookworms?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I may receive a commission.*