Today’s Favorite: How Many Jelly Beans? A Giant Book of Giant Numbers
by Andrea Menotti – Illustrated by Yancey Labat
This book is just so cool. The illustrations are modern and fun. The little dog is hilarious. And it’s a sneaky way to introduce little ones to the visual reality of really big numbers. The story starts with a brother and sister challenging each other to who can eat more jelly beans. Each one tries to outdo the other and the illustrations reflect their increasing challenges. 25…100…1000…100,000 jelly beans! It tries to answer the great philosophical question: Is there such a thing as too many jelly beans? (The dog doesn’t think so.) The fold-out page at the end of the book has 1 million jelly beans on it! I can’t think of any other place my 4 year old has actually seen a million of anything. It was a pretty cool realization for him to see…1 million is a lot! Totally awesome!
(Note: This is a repost from 2015) A few weeks ago, my 5 year old was having trouble falling asleep. I was resting next to him on his bed, waiting for the wiggling to stop, for his eyes to close. It didn’t and his eyes stayed open for 10, 15, 20 minutes. I had him place his hand over his belly to feel his breath and mentioned that when I was a kid, I used to have thoughts flying through my mind at night. He turned to me and said, “That happens to me all the time.” (After weeping silently in my mind that a 5 year old has racing thoughts that keep him up, I gathered my composure.) We talked about how paying attention to your body and breath can help shift you into a lower gear, settle those thoughts, and allow sleep to come.
On a mission the next day, not wanting him to have to go through the same anxieties I did as a kid with an overactive worried mind that never seemed to settle down, I went in search of a book that could help me help him start early with mindfulness and self-calming techniques. I hoped for simple exercises, short meditations, fun imagery, effective strategies, and a cd that could guide us through. And….
Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents)
– by Eline Snell
Every single one of my hopes was answered in this book. It’s beautifully simple with tips and info for parents about mindfulness and soothing cd tracks that guide you through short (4 min+) mindfulness exercises. These tracks are stand-alone- they’re perfect. Simple enough for my 5 year old to listen to by himself, interesting enough that it keeps his attention.
After listening to a few tracks over the course of several days, he suggested we do a mindfulness exercise every day. (Joy!) Ten minutes later I was buying this book online. You can’t buy happiness but you can buy this book. Being present in our bodies and teaching our kids to do the same is the happiest of happies.
Today’s Favorite: Old Turtle by Douglas Wood
Old Turtle. Spiritual without being religious. Poignant without being sappy. Ecologically aware without being preachy. Wood expresses truths (in my world) without being cliche. I’m so grateful to have found a story that I can read to my little ones that touches on the bigger questions and interconnectedness of all things. When I read it, I skip over the part about people doing harm to each other because I”m not ready to introduce my 4 year old ot the concept yet. The story works beautifully without it. Warning for those seeking out non-religious spiritual books- it does contain the concept of God. Not a judgy, power-hungry God, though. God that is in you, me and everything. The paintings are really beautiful too.
Today’s Favorite: Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton
This is a newish book that I believe is the author’s first. We checked it out from the library a few months back. It’s one of those books that you keep renewing and renewing and then eventually just break down and buy. I like it because I found it hilarious, and loved the illustrations. It’s about a little owl that falls out of her nest and gets some help from a funnily unhelpful squirrel to find her. It’s sweet with cool, modern looking illustrations that are different enough to catch your attention and familiar enough to warm up to the characters immediately. I hope he writes more.
Today’s Favorite: Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler and R. Gregory Christie
This book is the coolest, grooviest rhythmic book that I have found. I absolutely love reading it, in part because it’s a little like performing music (which I have missed dearly since becoming a SAHM.) It can be read like a rap and you can even have your little one do a call and response with the end-phrases if they’re old enough.
“Grandpa toot-toots. Granny sings scat. Bitty-boppin’ baby goes, Rat-Tat-Tat! Mama sings high. Daddy sings low. Snazzy, jazzy baby says, Go, Man, Go!” C’mon. That family is cool. That baby is cool. I want to hang out with that baby he’s so cool. This jazzy family and their hip baby might be too cool for me. Good thing I get to read about them. Because they are so fun to spend time with.
Today’s Favorite: Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
My favorite line of this book is the sound of the blueberries hitting the bottom of Sal’s pail “Kaplink, kaplank, kuplunk!” It’s really fun to say. And really, this book is fun to read because it’s so simple and sweet. Sal and her mother go out to pick blueberries to can for the winter. A bear and his mother go out to eat blueberries to fill up their bellies for the winter. There’s so many things right about this book. How similar we are in some ways to animals. How awesome it is to follow your mother around. How normal it is to get lost when you’re having a good time. How easy it is to eat a whole pail of blueberries. The illustrations are, to use an overused term- timeless. I especially love the wordless pages where Sal is standing on a chair “helping” her mother can the blueberries they’ve picked. It seems like a snapshot of my own life, really capturing the aching beauty of having little ones to hang out with- walking, working, playing. It’s all here in this classic.
Today’s Favorite: Red Sled by Lita Judge
My son loves sledding. We checked this book out from the library because it was about sledding and I have to say, it is simple, sweet and fun. There are hardly any words – mostly just sounds one would hear or make when sledding (Whoa! Whooosh!) which makes it really fun to read. Forest animals all take the sled out for a joyride and have a ball. And the little girl/boy is onto them. Super cute winter book.