Dusting Off Some Old Friends

by Elizabeth Zahorchak-Chambers
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As we search for reading material for our family our goal this time is to look at our own book shelves and dust off some of our favourites that we have come to love, but may tend to forget every once and a while.

For the Toddler: Where is Baby’s Belly Button? A lift-the-flap book by Karen Katz

Truth of the matter is my daughter has been having this book read to her since the week she was born, but recently I found her at 14 months sitting on the couch curled up like Mommy does giggling as she lifted each flap on her own. This is such a cute little book that engages children’s imaginations and can lead into real life interaction – “I found the baby’s feet in the book – where are your feet?” Be prepared for this to become a well loved and well worn book!


For the Early Learners: Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

Though Robert Munsch thoroughly disgusted me when I saw him talk to High School students a few years ago, I can not deny my on-going love for his book Love You Forever. The themes in this book are timeless and can be related to by everyone. Our children love the lyrics that are repeated throughout the book, they don’t even care if you read the story word for word as long as you always sing “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”


For Beginning Readers: The Monster at the end of this Book by Jon Stone

All my kids LOVE this book – it does not hurt when you try to imitate Grover’s voice – the star of the story – even if your imitations are awful! This story is Grover freaking out because of the title – he is scared of the “monster”. The kids love how Grover is talking to the reader, begging you not to turn the page – and reacts when you do. No matter how many times you read this story, they ask for it repeatedly – and love when Grover realizes HE is the loveable monster at the end!


A Book for All Ages: The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

In my decade of teaching, there has been one book that I found invaluable at getting kids of any age to get creative. The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is about storytelling here – not story reading. Let me explain the concept of the book first. The introduction explains that a children’s book publisher once had a man named Harris Burdick come in to see him with fourteen drawings, story titles and caption. He left them for the publisher to look at but never returned. So the mystery remains, as does fourteen story starters. The pictures are captivating and the titles inspire you to think what they may be about. Some can get a bit dark but even the young ones seem to have fun with it. My particular favourite is a picture of two children on the water’s edge skipping stones. The title of the story is “A Strange Day in July”, the caption goes ‘he threw with all his might, but the third stone came skipping back’. So now, take it from there…..


For the Pre-Teen and Teen: Percy Jackson & The Olympians Book One: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Truth first, we broke the cardinal rule here and watched the movie first. Hey it was on YTV and the PVR was set to record, what can a Mom do?! After a decent movie (with the nice surprise appearance of Pierce Brosnan) we were intrigued enough to get a copy of the book. There are a variety of changes from the book to the movie, so reading the book is an experience on its’ own. The book is captivating and a decent read for this age group. I admit in this day in age I like the idea that dyslexia might be caused by having your demi-god brain hardwired for Ancient Greek and your ADHD part of your survival tools as a natural born hero. These are not obstacles but strengths. How many children out there would like to see it as such?! An underrated movie and underrated book in our opinion. We are looking forward to reading the next book and watching the next movie due out in Summer of 2013.


For the Adults: Book One – Mom’s Book: Old-Fashioned Fun for the Family put out by Parragon Publishing.

This book contains a little bit of everything. There are Fairy Tales (“Cinderella” to “The Princess and the Pea” to “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”), Poetry (by Lewis Carroll, Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to name a few), Nursery Rhymes (from Hush-a-Bye, Baby to Sing a Song of Sixpence), Songs, Finger Games, Activities (Bubble solution and blowers, indoor gardening, play-dough farm and more) and of course recipes (from Baked Potatoes with Broccoli & Cheese to Turkey Meatloaf Muffins). This is a beautiful hard-covered book that can find a place in any home.

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