Tag Archives: library

Now on Our Shelf

While contemplating returning our often read set of books including Dem Bones, I Need My Monster, and Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher, I realized I’d have to replace them with something. I want to get a little more predictable outcome from visits to the library mixed in with the opportunity for my children to go select books. This time, I looked up books on Goodreads and on Amazon to find a few that seemed good.

One Love is by Cedella Marley who has adapted a few of her father’s songs into children’s books. One Love is beautiful. As the lyrics carry a beautiful message to my kids and dredge up good memories from high school, the art tells the story of a diverse neighborhood coming together to clean up a junked lot and turn it into a gardening and gathering place. Lots to love here with age, race, and other diversity well represented. Very engaging art by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.

I also picked up Every Little Thing also by Cedella Marley. In this book, the song Three Little Birds forms the backbone of the story also illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. This story follows a very up-beat kid through his day as three little birds form a friendship with a cat along the way. Also a very nice book.

The Rajah’s Rice spoke to me for many reasons. It features India–a country my daughter does not know much about, a country that has been important to me through friendships and playing cricket, and a country that is a major part of our world’s community. It also features a smart, caring, clever girl protagonist who uses the doubling rice on a chess board to outwit the rajah. This mathematics made me happy and was also chosen because my wife is a math teacher. The protagonist also cures the elephants when many wise doctors couldn’t. What my daughter won’t understand, at five, is that this represents the history of India and not its present. It is important to also show her modern India and when ready a deeper view of its history to counter the romanticized version presented here and in many other places.

Lastly, I dipped into an old favorite author. Linda Smith wrote The Inside Tree, and when we had it from the library my daughter had us read it incessantly. This time I chose Mrs. Biddlebox, a cute story of a witch who bakes a bad day into a pie and then goes to sleep happy.

My daughter has loved all of them, and we read them daily to her.

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Just Sitting and Reading

Saturday, I was still not feeling so well, and with my wife away at a concert, I had the kids for a few hours. One thing I could do, however, was read the books I got from the library a week ago. With my daughter nestled against me on the couch and my son banging things together as he seems to want to do in every waking hour, we shared the four books. I have copied my GoodReads reviews for each book below.

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

This is a wonderful story of how things change and stay the same. It follows the journey of a quilt made from a family’s clothing as it is passed down mother-to-daughter over the generations and finally is in the hands of the author, Patricia Polacco. The spare use of color in the illustrations highlights the quilt, and the subtle changes in the people around it as the time passes is reflected both in the pictures and the text. This story resonates on a few personal levels with Jewish Russian ancestry and with a quilt hanging in my bedroom made from the clothes of my wife’s mother and which served as the covering of our huppa (as the quilt in the book did several times). I hope our quilt can be a treasured link to past generations just as the one in the book did.

A Pocket for Corduroy by Don Freeman

For quite a while, Corduroy has been one of my daughter’s favorite characters, and we regularly read the first book in the series. It was a favorite of mine from childhood, and I have come to love it again as an adult. From the presence of a spunky, African-American girl for the main character opposite Corduroy to the bear’s constant wonder and joy in the world. I also love the depiction of life that includes apartments, laundromats, and other features that feel authentic to me. In this tale, Corduroy spends the night at a laundromat and eventually gets a pocket with his own name in it, and in the tale, all of the characters are genuinely nice and caring.

Mine, All Mine by Claire Hawcock and Chiara Pasqualotto

My daughter is four. Toooften, but developmentally appropriately, we often hear, “Mine,” coming from her lips. There are some nice books that deal with the idea of ownership, and this is one of them. The little squirrel wants to keep a glittery snowflake, represented on the pages by a textured and glittery snowflake, all to itself. Once it builds a nest to keep control of the flake, the squirrel misses out on life and finally decides to let go of the treasure in order to be with the other squirrels. It is a simple story, but the illustrations and text make it work without being too didactic.

How Groundhog’s Garden Grew by Lynne Cherry

A friend recently commented on my makeshift garden fence that its floppiness was a good groundhog deterrent. So far it seems to have kept out the rabbit that was eating my pea plants, and I suppose it has kept out groundhogs as well. In this lushly illustrated book, all of the regular garden assaulting animals instead grown their own gardens that are overflowing with produce. Squirrel teaches Groundhog how to save seeds, sow them in the spring, care for the plants, and harvest the results. Of course they share the food with friends at the end. I really like the messages and amazingly detailed illustrations and can even get past the fact that the characters in this book are more likely to devastate my garden that can’t hold a candle to the one in the book. There is lots here for my daughter and me to come back and read again.


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What Am I Doing– and Some Books

It seems that some people are reading this blog. I have a few have posted on Facebook, and even a few have posted on the blog itself. Some people have told me that they are reading, so the purpose has shifted a little. I really didn’t know if  anyone would end up reading these blog posts, so initially, I was just trying to create a body of text that added to the total volume of fathering voices out there. Now that there are actual readers, I probably should explain the process I go through to make these posts.

First of all, they are not well thought out, revised, pondered pieces of wisdom. That probably isn’t my forte, anyway. I start a post by writing about something in the day or recent past that caught my attention. As I plow through the process of getting text down on the screen, I hope, sometimes vainly, for some coherent thought to emerge. These usually end up near or at the end of the post. They were not the original purpose of the writing, but they do come from within me. It is through this action of writing that I uncover something that makes sense in the moment. I realize that much of the entry before that might be rambling, might be trivial to others, and it might not even seem to lead up to the thought. For me, however, these things are a great way to reflect on my practice as a father and husband. I hope some of them have struck chords in you, too. Feel free to comment whenever you read something that makes sense to you. It will help me identify pieces and topics that resonate with those of you who are reading these entries.

Now, on to the real purpose of this entry–More Books! It is like having a candy store across the road. The branch library that juts out from the school across the street has a massive picture book section. This makes sense since it serves an elementary school population. I haven’t even had to request kid’s books yet, though there are some favorites that I will probably get around to requesting.

In selecting their house, my parents saw as a plus the close proximity to the city library. At a very young age, my siblings and I could walk up the street and immerse ourselves in books. There was even a bathtub in the kids section, and I spent many hours lying in that tub on the padding someone had hand-made to fit and reading book after book.

The librarians at our library are similarly creative and motivated to make the space inviting for kids. My daughter loves going there, and now my son toddles around the carpeted area and rocks the rockers.

As much as books move to electronic devices, there will always be a place in my household for physical, paper, printed books. This runs so deep, as deep as religious conviction or faith. I am sure there are reams of data to support and attack my position on the importance of books over electronic text, but that is not the point. Books are a part of my soul; no one particular book, though some come close, but books–the idea of books, the experience of books, the endless stories to discover–they are a large part of me. I won’t let them go.

O.K., that was the big revelation, not surprising to many including myself, but not where I was when I started writing this entry. I had intended to share what my daughter has been reading. After she was entranced with Neil Armstrong in Obama’s Of Thee I Sing, I got several space books. She has gravitated to If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Faith McNulty. This along with Bartholomew and theOobleck my daughter is delving into books with significantly more text. Her attention span is growing. She still wants us to read them over and over again, and this entails a significantly greater investment of time and voice. I am glad she is hearing these stories with my wife and my voices. (Ah, two new thoughts today. What a bonus)

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I’ll Call ‘Em As I Read ‘Em

I have started using Goodreads to organize my book lists. Initially, I consolidated all of my want-to-read lists from different computers and apps to this one location. Lately I have started adding the books we get weekly or every other week from the branch public library located a hop, skip, and a jump from our front door. I have created a shelf in my Goodreads account for children’s books.

In this last batch of books, my daughter really took to The Inside Tree, a fanciful story of a man who brings a lonely tree into his house and the chaos that ensues. She and I liked the book, Daddy Will Be There, which portrayed a daddy as a care giver and source of comfort.

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