The Brave by James Bird

The Brave by James Bird

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Get ready to ugly cry.

“Great, I lost a fight, and now I’m going to have to inform my dad that I’m the kid who gets picked on every day. How much of a disappointment can one son be.”

That one line sums how Collin understands his relationship with his father. He’s the weird kid, the disappointment, the boy no one wants to fix. After another school kicks Collin out for fighting, his father sends him to live on the Ojibwa Reservation with the mother he has never met.

He doesn’t believe this time will be any different. His mother will grow tired of his constant counting of words, he will get picked on at school, and he won’t be able to hold back the fear that drives him to anger. This time is different. With a family and town who supports him, he learns what bravery means. Through the friendship of a girl who fights a battle worse than his, he learns how to accept himself and accept the love his mother offers him.

Perfect for fans of Rein Rain, Fish in a Tree, Out of My Mind, and Counting By 7’s. This book’s universal theme of accepting oneself in the face of adversity will touch the hearts of all readers.

Photo by Mateusz Dach on Pexels.com

This book is perfect for readers 10-14. While the book is not autobiographical, Bird had multiple learning disabilities that made school difficult for him. He also lived with his single, Native American mother and moved from apartment to apartment, and school to school. The author’s soul is in this book and it would be a great book discussion book about neuro-diverse people, poverty, and modern Native American life.

I received a Netgalley ebook for a review. I was not paid for the review. All opinions are my own. I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the link below it will take you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a percentage of the sale.





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Pete the Cat

If you have young kids you probably have read Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy buttons more times than you can count. The reason these books are so popular are:

  • The illustrations are simple and fun
  • The text is repetitive making it easy for kids to join in
  • The story is predictable…in a good way. The kids can anticipate what will happen next giving them confidence and sequencing skills
  • There are songs that go along with them!

In case you have been living under a rock, I present to you Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons… and I’m sorry, you’ll sing it the rest of the day.

Kids not only love hearing the same story over and over again, but they need to hear the same stories to build vocabulary, reading comprehension, and fluency. I know it can be hard to read the same book every night, finding read alongs on Youtube or audiobooks will help your kids get what they need, while you take a much needed break from your child’s most loved book.

Source: Kamboompics on Pexels.com

Don’t forget to connect the book with some fun games. Take all those spare buttons that have popped off clothes that you intend, but never end up sewing back on. Arrange them on a tray. Talk about them with your child. The color, shape and size. Then have them turn around and take one button away. See if they know which one is missing. This helps build working memory, an important reading skill!

Don’ Forget These Pete the Cat books (Like you could!)

I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the links it takes you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale. I am not paid to review products or books, the opinions are those of Building Future Readers.

Sing Together

Go out for a walk and pretend to be Pete the Cat stepping in puddles, mud, or whatever else you find. Talk about the sounds your boots make, or the sound of the water or mud. Use fun onomatopoeia words like squelch, squish, plop and more. See what fun words you can come up with together.

What is your family’s favorite Pete the Cat book?

Children’s books about gender nonconformity

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the link and make a purchase on Amazon, I receive a percentage of the sale. The opinions contained within are my own and I was not paid. I did receive a copy via Netgalley for a review)

Even though I am not that old, I still find times that I hold old school beliefs. My own children, their friends, and the children I work with have been incredible examples of acceptance of the complex and diverse world around us. And because of this, I have found my eyes opened to ways I unintentionally contribute to stereotypes and biases. I am still growing and learning, and grateful for the journey I am on. Books like Jacob’s room to choose by Sarah and Ian Hoffman, lead me even deeper into this journey.

I have found my eyes opened to ways I unintentionally contribute to stereotypes and biases.

Jacob’s room to choose tackles the ongoing cultural discussion of gendered bathrooms. The authors explore how gendered differences are established in cultural and how that impacts our young children. Even though the concept might be advanced for very young readers, the authors handle the material in an age appropriate and sensitive way.

I am glad to see more books about gender acceptance entering mainstream children’s literature, although I would like to see less message driven books surrounding this topic and more books about kids being kids no matter how or if they identify with any certain gender or stereotype.

The vulnerability of the authors’ own struggles will bring insights and encouragement to other parents facing the same issues as well as classroom teachers and communities. A worthwhile book to read and would be a great addition to a parenting section at the library or parent resources in a school setting.

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Other Books to Read:

Julien is a mermaid by Jessica Love. Julien has always wanted to dress up like the three beautiful women he meets on the train. With the support of his abuela, Julien sparkles inside and out when he is free to be himself.

My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis. Dyson loves the color pink and the more glitter the better. A great book for parents and kids learning to live together with differences.

Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman. A easy to read book about how there is no girl colors or boy colors. A freeing book for children and parents alike.

Red: A crayon’s story By Michael Hall. A story about a crayon who is mistakenly labeled and the hurt suffered when friends, family and strangers try to force him to be who they see on the outside. The crayon finds help from friends who encourage him to be true to who he is on the inside.

Books for Grown-ups:

Becoming Nicole: the extraordinary transformation of an ordinary family. By Amy Ellis Nutt. How a family pulls together to support their transitioning child and the ups and downs that come with the changes.

The Transgender Teen: a handbook for parents and professionals supporting transgender and nonbinary teens. Stephanie A. Brill and Lisa Kenney. A resource for parents, teachers and others who support a teen transitioning or living a nonbinary life.

Beyond Magenta: transgender teens speak out. Susan Kuklin. What is life like for a transgender teen? Read 6 stories of triumphs, struggles, and more.

 

What books have you found most helpful in initiating discussions with your family about gender stereotypes and labels?

 

Happy Reading

Book Review: Ida and the Whale by Rebecca Gugger

blur-boat-paper-416904 (1)When I was a kid, I lived in a valley with a creek to the east of our property and a small stream that ran between us and our neighbor’s yard. After a storm, that little stream swelled to the tops of the banks with water and my sisters and I would put together boats with whatever materials we had on hand. Paper, mayo jar lids, sticks. Whatever would float and then we would see if we could race it to where the small culvert dumped into the larger creek.

The illustrations in Ida and the Whale, by Rebecca Gugger, from page one took me right back to that stream and those afternoons we spent in the creek. Making boats, making-believe we were stranded on an island and only had the woods and water to sustain us.

Ida is a girl who questions the world. She wants to see all the big things in the universe. The sun, the moon, the stars, and through her imagination she calls a whale to swim her through the forest of birch trees to touch the sky.

Fantastical? Yes. Whimsical? For sure. Ida is the child that still is inside each one of us, if we could put away our grown up logic and systems and worries. After reading this book, I wanted to take off my shoes and go stomp in a puddle or find a field to lay in and

Just. Hear. Silence.

Ida and the Whale, won’t make sense to most adults, but I know when you read this book to your child she will dream big and isn’t that the magic of stories?

Literacy skill highlighted

Print Motivation. Kids love fantastical books as they get older. This might be a tough read for a young preschooler, but older preschoolers or kindergarteners will enjoy the questions she has.

Activity beyond the book

Get outside. Find a field to lay in, a stream to explore, or just sit and watch a sunset. This book screams to be re-enacted in the real world.

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Pre-order

(I am an amazon affiliate, which means if you click the picture and make a purchase from Amazon, I receive a portion of the sale.)

  • Will be published on April 2, 2019
  • Written by Rebecca Gugger and illustrated by  Simon Röthlisberger

Other books to enjoy:

Mini Book Reviews

Books, books and more books! I love receiving advanced reader copies of upcoming titles. Through NetGalley, I am able to request books that look interesting and if approved I receive an electronic copy for feedback and reviews. Not only do I get to see what is coming out, I get to let my readers know what books to look out for.

Introducing the Spring 2019 line-up. Stay tuned for more reviews.

I am an amazon affiliate, if you click on a picture it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.

Read the reviews and help out the authors by pre-ordering if you plan to make a purchase.

Spring 2019

Backpack Explorer Beach Walk. Edited by Storey Publishing. Published on April 16, 2019. I enjoyed the photographs and the child led exploration. This would be a great book to accompany a beach vacation to enrich the time. Or, if it is still cold outside, curl up next to the fire and read this book and dream of warmer days. There are stickers in this book, so best for older children.

Love you Head to Toe. Ashley Barron. Owlkids. Published on March 15, 2019. Lyrical text, simple and gorgeous illustrations, and actions that fit perfectly with the words. A great book for babies and toddlers. Parents of infants can use the rhyming text during diaper changes, on a walk, at the pool or any daily routine. For toddlers this is a great way to connect them to the greater world by acting out the different animals.


When You’re Scared. Andree Poulin. Illustrated by Veronique Joffre. Owlkids Books, Published March 15, 2019. A great book to help explore emotions. A boy and his mother go camping and he is afraid to jump into the water. At the same time, a bear cub is scared to go dive in the dumpster for food. The boy puts aside his fears to help out a friend in need. Beautiful illustrations and scarce text make for enriched narrative skills and vocabulary with each retelling.


Red Light, Green Lion. Candace Ryan. Kids Can Press. Published on May 07, 2019. The illustrations in this book are simple yet bold. They follow the text well and enhance the reading. The text is lyrical and rhythmic. There are pages that young listeners will understand and more abstract pages that might be confusing. The sentiments of the story are lovely and for the most impact I would share this with older preschoolers who are ready to tackle abstract thoughts.

Book Review: Anna at the Museum by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert

Read

I have to admit, the last place I wanted to take my kids when they were small was the art museum. The rooms were big, they echoed loud and there was so many ways they could get themselves (and me!) in trouble.

Thankfully the Cleveland Art Museum, in our city, has a lot of opportunities for family to enjoy art together, with outdoor installations, rooms for kids to explore.

In Anna at the Art Museum, Anna can’t help but attract the attention of the attendant. The art begs to be touched! The rooms insist she run, and when Anna gets hungry she doesn’t understand why she isn’t allowed to have her snack. When she finds a door marked NO ENTRY, Anna tries very hard not to walk through the door and to find out what happens you will have to read the book.

 

(I am an Amazon Affiliate, which means if you click on a picture it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale. I was not paid for my review, I received a NetGalley copy for an honest review)

Talk

This book has a lot of great conversation starters with your child. Who hasn’t taken their child to a doctor’s office, or the grocery store or a special event and found yourself saying:

It’s no surprise our kids run when they say to get their shoes on! This book is a great way to introduce the expectations we have for our family when we are in different public places. Try to use positive language like: Ask before you touch something that isn’t yours. Use walking feet when we are indoors. Use an indoor voice when we are at the store. Not only will it help your child prepare for “field trips,” it will also help you think about what you want to see happen before you reprimand. I know for me, I often give consequence without ever having any clear discussion with my kids about the behavior I expect when we are out of the house. These types of positive conversations don’t only make for pleasant days out, but it also helps your child build vocabulary.

MDW Anna

Another great way to take this book out in the world is to talk about the different signs in buildings, while driving, and even at school. Point them out as you see them and talk about what the mean, why it is posted, and what you should do when you encounter them.

Sing

There are a lot of great ideas on Incredible @rt Department, but one I liked in particular was to put on different types of music and have your child, “follow the line”. You can use finger paint, colored pencils, whatever you have on hand. There are no rules for this, just have your child draw what the music feels like, and make sure you point out the lines in the book when Anna is moving around and when she is in the hidden room and the color’s she experiences. Listening to the music will also strengthen your child’s phonological awareness which will help them when they are learning to read and sounding out words.

Play

This book begs for a field trip to a local art museum or art gallery. Many art museums are free or ask for a donation. Plan out the trip beforehand and keep the time short. Modern art would be a great place to start and make sure you talk about and describe what you see and have your child do the same.

Another option is to find a child/parent paint session at the library or a local paint and sip store. Spending time together allows for many opportunities to talk without the pressure of home and schedule AND it is play which is what all kids need to grow.

What to read next

Funny stories about an outing with your child? Share in the comments below or share with us your favorite art museum.

Happy Reading

Book Review: Am I Yours? by Alex Latimer

All children get lost at some point in early childhood. It is a frightening event and with all the talk of stranger danger, kids are even more afraid than ever. This is a rhythmical story about an unlucky egg that gets blown out of its nest and tries to find its way home. Reminiscent of PD Eastman’s Are You My Mother? It is a perfect story to read to help allay your child’s fears of getting lost and a good conversation starter about what to do when you can’t find a familiar face.

 

(I received a free advance reader copy of this book from the publisher. I was not paid for my review. The opinions expressed are mine. I am an Amazon Affiliate and if you click on a picture it will take you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)

 

Build Comprehension

Book Talk Cover Story

Build Vocabulary

I have to admit Dinosaur books always worried me a little. Kids love the books, but I can’t always pronounce their names on the first try! We know that fluidity matters, but this is a great opportunity for you to show your child how to approach new words. Sounding them out, will not only help them hear each of the individual sounds that make up the word, it will also demonstrate how to work through new words.

Am I yoursmillionwords

Build Conversation

It will happen. Even the most attentive parents and kids will get separated at some point. At the park, the store, the pool it is an inevitable part of life. Talking about what to do when your child is lost is important, and it needs to be done in a way that won’t scare them. There are a lot of resources out there and every family, parent and child is different, so find what works for you and your child and then talk about it. This isn’t only for their own safety, but talking about life skills is a good way to have a positive and meaningful discussion with even the youngest of children.

5 Things your kids need to know about getting lost

What should your child do if she gets lost

Help, I’m lost! How to teach your child what to do if he’s lost

In addition, it helps our kids to think about situations and how to respond before it happens. You can discuss the feelings he might have or the questions she might experience. All of this not only gives them information they need, but talking with our children helps build future readers!

Build Word Sounds

Songs are a great way to help your child learn word sounds. Singing builds phonological awareness which he will need as he learns to sound out words for reading.

My Address

Have Fun!

Reading shouldn’t stop when the book closes! Find ways to continue the story outside or around the house. Play isn’t only for fun, it is a time for learning as well!

Find different objects that are round. Apples, oranges, balls, eggs and see how each one rolls (or doesn’t roll so well) Have your child predict which when she thinks will roll the best. You can use a small hill or go to the park.

At craft stores like Jo-ann Fabrics or Michaels you are often able to find inexpensive plastic dinosaurs. Buy some for your child and as you are waiting at the doctors office or for school pick up for older siblings let your child’s imagination soar.

Feel like a kid again! Find a big hill and roll down with your child. Not only will the physical experience enrich your child’s play, play helps parents and children bond!

What to read next

Other books by Alex Latimer:

How do you talk about getting lost with your children?

Happy Reading

Book Review: Sir Simon, Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson

(I received a free copy from the publisher for review. I was not paid to write the review. All the opinions expressed in the post are mine and mine alone. In addition, I am an Amazon Affiliate, if you click on an image it will take you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a percentage of the sale.)

This book was published on September 4, 2018

In my fourteen years of parenting, I have checked a lot of closets, I have turned on a lot of nightlights, I have checked under beds and snuggled with my kids (and dogs!) during storms.

Fear of the unknown, make-believe or real, happens to all kids. A safe and reassuring way to help our kids work through normal fears is through reading. Children are able to visit the dark and look at the monsters and scary things all within the comfort and reassuring arms of their grown-ups.

Sir Simon, Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson is the perfect book to read with your child to help begin conversations about what scares them. Simon is a ghost, who wants to not work so hard and he is excited to learn the woman moving into the house he haunts is a “grandma.” Grandparents don’t take a lot of work and Simon can’t wait to get to work on all the hobbies he hasn’t had time form. It all goes awry when a little boy moves in as well and won’t leave Chester alone. Chester devises a plan that keeps the boy happy and Chester free until he realizes what he really needed was a friend.

Million Dollar Words Sir Simon

I was drawn to this book, not only for the unique language and the emotional intelligence it builds, but also the way it uses the illustrations to highlight the text. The text doesn’t only go from left to right, top to bottom. It will be on the stairs, or in the tree or in text bubbles. This allows for the reader to use their finger to point to the sentences which builds an awareness of the words that make up the story on the page.

The illustrations are simple but rich in color and do not overwhelm the reader. It would be a great book to tell by only using the pictures which helps the child learn to “read” through the story on their own.

Another reason this is a must read, is because your child has a lot of opportunities to participate in the storytelling. They can make the animal ghost sounds or find pots and pans or other household items to recreate the clomping, creaking and stomping sounds. Engaged listeners are engaged learners.

Sir Simon tackles a subject all kids deal with throughout their childhood: FEAR Simon is a relatable and unscary ghost who will provide an opportunity for our children to explore their feelings in a caring and controlled environment.

Find more about the Author/Illustrator Cale Atkinson here

 

Activities/Enrichment

Make your own silly ghost noises. Onomatopoeia is a great way to build the phonological awareness our kids need to build their reading skills. You can also build in some narrative skills by classifying sounds like Animal sounds, motor sounds, or letter sounds (like words that start with the k sound: creeping, clomping, crawling)

 

Ghost Sounds

 

What do you remember?Story Questions

Recall not only helps reading comprehension, but it also aids in a child’s understanding of how stories are built, what makes a good story and what they need to make their own story. After you have read the book a few times, ask your child what happens. Put it on different pieces of paper with enough space for them to draw/illustrate and then they can retell the story using the pieces of paper. They won’t remember ever single page, but by helping them remember how the story started, what the problem was and how the problem was solved, your child will be miles ahead when it comes time for them to do book reports and reviews in elementary school.

 

What to read next

Other Books about Monsters, Make-believe and Fear

Other Books by Cale Atkinson

Books for Grown-ups to Read

Understanding how to talk about feelings and emotions with our kids not only builds literacy it builds EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE. Emotional Intelligence benefits our kids not only during childhood but throughout life. Below are a list of suggestions of books that will be helpful in learning how to help your child discuss feelings and describe emotions.

 

What scary books do you share with your children?

 

 

Book Review: Flashlight Night by Matt Forrest Esenwine

What is it about the dark that scares and intrigues children at the same time? How many times has your child come downstairs after you’ve tucked him in and said, “I’m afraid of the dark.” To be honest, aren’t we all still a little afraid? Shadows loom larger, sounds are louder, problems bigger.

Books that help kids explore their fear in a safe and encouraging way are great from preschool ages. They acknowledge the scariness of night but also open a world of possibilities.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate which means if you click on a picture or link and make a purchase from Amazon, I receive a portion of the sale.)

Flashlight Night is a perfect book to read around a firepit in the summer or before a walk in the winter night sky before bedtime. Esenwine creates a magical world of stories that starts with a flashlight, a boy and the night sky.

The rhyming text builds phonological awareness and the sophisticated vocabulary will help your child learn new words. Afterall, when was the last time you used the words mizzenmast or craggy?

Reading comprehension and narrative skills are highlighted through the detailed illustrations that accompany the words. There are many things to explore on the page that aren’t in the text. The pictures can lead to further conversation about pirates and pyramids and castles. Have your child tell their own story either using the book as a jumping off point or create their own using a flashlight and shadow puppets.

flashlight

Flashlight Night is a great example of how simple books can introduce complex ideas and topics while answering questions all children have about what happens in the dark.

More books to help with fear of dark

What other books have helped your child process fear of the dark? Share in comments.Happy Reading

Book Review: Belinda the Unbeatable by Lee Nordling and Scott Roberts

Graphic novels and comics often get a bad rap from teachers and parents. They are seen as not as legitimate as “real books.” But they have been a game changer in our family. My son is an avid reader, but not in the traditional sense. Give him Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Garfield or any graphic novel and he will read for hours. Graphic novels have deep narratives, help kids derive context from the pictures which builds reading comprehension, teach how to follow a story through the panels, and are just plain old fun.

Graphic Novels are becoming more prevalent for young ages which is a great thing. Reluctant readers will pick up a book that is more picture drive, boys and girls alike will find something they like with the diversity of what is published now. I was even excited to see that there was a wordless graphic novel which isn’t only perfect for school age kids, but a great way to introduce the genre to preschoolers. It will give them a way to “read books” on their own. And it will strengthen reading comprehension and narrative skills through the story they create where they can practice their growing vocabulary and understanding of the printed word.

I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the images it takes you to Amazon, where if you make any purchases I receive a portion of the sale.

Belinda the Unbeatable is a great first graphic novel. It is about Belinda and her best friend Barbara. Belinda is outgoing and Barbara is shy. They join a musical chair game at the school and it becomes more than just the run-of-the-mill game. Will they work together to stay in the game?

This is a book you have to see for yourself. The pages will take you and your child on a journey of imagination.

Graphic Novels for Kids

Common Sense Media has a great article with suggestions on why graphic novels for kids. Read it here.

I Love Libraries has suggestions by age/grade here.

Three Reasons Graphic Novels Can Be Great for Young Readers by Scholastic.

Other Graphic Novels to Enjoy

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Have you and your family enjoyed graphic novels? Share what you’ve read in the comments.

 

Happy Reading