National Fairy Tale Day

February 26, 2011

-posted by Meghan

Ever heard of National Fairy Tale Day?  Well, we hadn’t either.  It’s probably a completely made up holiday, I saw it publicized by a couple of local bookstores who are holding events for kids, and it seems to me that it’s a fabulous holiday to celebrate – much more fun than tons of the religious or Hallmark-y holidays.  But today, February 26th is officially National Fairy Tale Day, and we think you should celebrate.

It’s a timely holiday at my house, as my 4-year-old twins are just getting into fairy tales.  They love the predictability of the beautiful heroine and handsome hero who meet some kind of evil, triumph and “live happily ever after.”   They are just starting to tell their own fairy tales, which are a jumbled mish-mosh of plots, but invariably end with both kids chorusing “and they lived happily ever after…”

If you’re not sure how to celebrate, here’s what we have planned at our house, to give you some ideas:

We’re making fairy wings! (Use wire hangers, instead of the aluminum wire they specify.  And you can use two old pair of girls tights, instead of the “panty hose” they suggest.  Who still wears panty hose???)

-We’re reading our favorite current fairy tale book, Rumplestiltskin. (This Paul O. Zelinsky edition is gorgeous.)

-We’re telling fairy tales.  Every time I tell one, someone else in the family has to tell one- one we’ve read before or one they make up (those are my favorites).  I’m getting myself prepared to tell Sleeping Beauty about 500 times, since that’s the one they always ask for…

-We’re making balloon swords and crowns.  We actually learned how to do this for their 4th birthday party, and it’s tons of fun.  (And we have loads of balloons left over…)  There are loads of how-to videos on YouTube.

And I personally will be curling up at night with my favorite of these Cinderella retellings

Happy Fairy Tale Day!  And may you all live happily ever after…


Scotland and England: National Tell a Story Day is October 27th

October 26, 2014

SelkieScots and Brits celebrate National Story Telling Day on October 27th.  Why not join in the fun?  Of course, we here in the United States have a day devoted to the wonders and power of telling stories, but that’s way off in April, on the 27th, too as it happens.  Since the two holidays are exactly 6 months apart, we’ve decided to honor both and delight in this celebration twice a year instead of once only.

Invite this tradition into your home as well.  Fall is the perfect time for spooky stories, and you can set the mood  by turning down the lights and holding flashlights under your chin.  What stories to tell?  There are plenty of mysterious and eerie fairy tales and myths and legends from the British Isles.

FinnYou might want to check out Scotland’s Storytelling Center.  We especially love the resources on Scotland’s Stories where you can find stories of the selkies, the Wee Bannock, and of course, Finn MacCool.

If you prefer your story telling to be a traditional readaloud, you might try out these Scottish stories in picture book form.  This is just a start.  Enjoy!

Seal-childrenThe Seal Children by Jackie Morris

Welsh artist and writer Jackie Morris is the perfect author to bring this legend to life in the pages of a picture book.  The selkie myth of a half-human/half seal race who interact on occasion with humans is one of hope and love, separation and loss.  Beautifully told in words and pictures, we see the Welsh village and sea through the eyes of the seal children Ffion and Morlo.  You’ll want to delve into Morris’ other tales once you’ve read this one!

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DragonThe Dragon Stoorworm by Theresa Breslin

Scottish writer Theresa Breslin weaves a brilliant and (I’m told) authentic tale about the “very first, very worst Dragon that ever lived.”  He was so enormous, he was almost as big as all of Scotland!  Who will save the Princess Gemdelovely frombeing eaten?  Only the bravest will attempt it; none who face him have ever returned.  But the Princess, together with Gentle Assipattle, can free all of Scotland.   The illustrations are simply magical, and the story told with wit and grace.  Brand new!  Don’t miss it!


Coming Soon: Hans Christian Anderson’s Birthday

March 23, 2013

Hans-ChristianApril 2nd is Hans Christian Anderson’s Birthday and–no coincidence–International Children’s Book Day.  This is truly one of our favorite celebrations of the year.  It’s right around the corner, so it’s time to prepare and have books on hand. We’ve blogged enthusiastically about this holiday before; for more information and book recommendations, check out our writings on International Children’s Book Day.  But we can’t resist  reminding everyone of a great reason to celebrate books, and the birthday of an important children’s book author.

This year, we want to highlight a couple of gorgeously illustrated Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales  that are true to the original story:

Snow-QueenThe Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson, illustrated by Vladyslav Yerko

The illustrations by award-winning Ukrainian artist Vladyslav Yerko make this book truly one of the most beautiful picture books you hold in your hands. The story of friendship, venturing out into the world, and the magical elements of the magic mirror, evil demons, how our memories shape us are timely today in this classic tale.  This is a wonderful coffee-table book; adults and children alike are drawn to it and can’t put it down.

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The-Little-MermaidThe Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson, illustrated by Charles Santore

This is definitely not the  Disney-fied version so many expect.  Instead, this is the original tale–one of love, hope, sacrifice–and not a happy ending, though one that keeps working on readers and sparks rich discussions.  The illustrations by award-winning modern artist Charles Santore are gorgeous–kids we know don’t want to hurry to turn the page. There’s simply too much captivating art to tempt the eye to wander and linger.   We’re often asked what age this book and story are most appropriate for.  You know the children in your lives best to make that decision, but in our experience, around 8 years old and older are particularly intrigued and ready to dig into the tale as told  by master storyteller Hans Christian Anderson.


April 27th – Tell A Story Day

April 26, 2012

Since it’s National Tell A Story Day, I’m going to tell you a little story:

Once upon a time, there was a mom.  She was driving her two 4-year-old twins in the car.  They were being very good, but were very tired of being in the car, and were often resorting to kicking the seat, shrieking loudly and fighting over the books and toys that were in the backseat.  Quite tired of playing 20 questions (where the object being guessed was often changed mid-game without warning, rendering all previous guesses moot and all answers contradictory) or listening to the Muppet Movie soundtrack for the hundredth time, she racked her brains for how to keep the peace.  As she often did, she thought of her own favorite books.  The first thing that entered her head was (as it often was) one of her favorites, Little Women.  She thought of the game that they all played at Camp Laurance that they called Rig-marole.  It’s played like this:

“One person begins a story, any nonsense you like, and tells as long as he pleases, only taking care to stop short at some exciting point, when the next takes it up and does the same. It’s very funny when well done, and makes a perfect jumble of tragical comical stuff to laugh over. ”

So they began to play, the mom starting with any old nonsense, and throwing it to her daughter at an exciting point.  The daughter got off to a slow start, with a plot borrowed from the Smurfs, and fairly quickly threw it to the son, who followed up with some key plot points from Rapunzel.  And they were off and running, telling a story so wild and funny and fun that they all forgot to fight or kick, and the mom sort of forgot where she was going and they laughed and giggled and ended up staying in the car for almost 20 minutes after reaching their destination to finish their story.

And so the family found a new car game, and car trips were in general much happier from then on.  And they all lived happily ever after and went to college.  (That is how the mom’s friend always ended fairy tales: “And so the princess lived happily ever after and went to college.”  The mom loved that, and borrowed it, and always ends her stories that way now too.)


Early Readers

May 29, 2007

From 5 to 9 years old

Early-Readers-Banner

As children become more comfortable with reading familiar books over and over again, alone and with the adults around them, they naturally start “cracking the code” and using their knowledge of the world to understand the words and pictures in books—and read on their own! No need to stop reading aloud books they can’t read by themselves: we have several “kid-tested” books on the lists below that are wonderful read-alouds to share together. We also include “easy reader” books that children can explore and read without adult help—books that have predictable structures and patterns without sacrificing quality of language and illustrations. Enjoy!

Book Lists

Mo Willems: LunchDoodles

RETHINKING THANKSGIVING THROUGH PICTURE BOOKS

November 13th is World Kindness Day:  Picture Books to Read and Share

A Trio of New Early Reader Chapter Books

Classics: Read-to-Me Books

Celebrating Literacy:  Three New Picture Books

Comics and Graphic Novels for Early Readers

Feisty Girls in Early Reader Chapter Books

New Spring Picture Books for Young Readers

What We’re Reading:  Some Terrific Bilingual Picture Books

Resistance! Part I:  Learning From Our Moral Ancestors:  Recommended Picture Books for Young Readers

Mischievous Boys

Early Reader Chapter Books for Boys

Great Role Models for Boys

Classics: Read by Myself

Other Great Read by Myself Books

The Sounds of Language: Multicultural Picture Books for Young Children

Chapter Books for Beginning Readers

Math Picture Books

More Math Picture Books

The Math Adventure Continues

Picture Books:  Understanding the Middle East

Introducing Jazz for Young “Hip Cats”

Cowgirls, Cowboys, and Cowcookies. . .

Series Recommendations for Early Readers

Invitation to Imagination:  Fairy Gardens

New to School

Author! Author! Great Picture Books About Being a Writer

Picture Books for Writers

Halloween Fun

Aliens!  New Children’s Literature for UFO Lovers

My First Hanukkah Books

Celebrating the New Year with a Trio of Books for Young Readers

Twins in School-Online Resources

Musicians When They Were Children

Mischievous Boys

Celebrating the Silent Movies in Children’s Literature

More New Fall Picture Books

Celebrating a Love of Words

New Picture Books That Celebrate Snow

Related Posts

Let the Children March 

The Long March by Mary-Louise Fitzpatrick

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper, illustrated by Carson Ellis

THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL by Mo Willems

THE EVIL PRINCESS AND THE BRAVE KNIGHT by Jennifer Holm vs Matthew Holm

HOW TO READ A BOOK by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

THE CRAYONS’ CHRISTMAS by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

CIRCLE by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen:  Completing the Shapes Trilogy

THE BAD GUYS:  INTERGALACTIC GAS (THE BAD GUYS #5) by Aaron Blabey

THE DAY YOU BEGIN by Jacqueline Woodson

OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW by Kate Messner

THE WALL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BOOK by Jon Agee

THE SOLSTICE BADGER

CINDERELLA OF THE NILE

THE WOLF, THE DUCK , AND THE MOUSE by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

MALALA’S MAGIC PENCIL

African American Children’s Illustrated Literature:  A Recommendation by Guest Blogger Tom Romano

Baby Monkey:  Private Eye by Brian Selznick and David Serlin

LA LA LA:  A STORY OF HOPE by Kate DiCamillo

SNOW AND ROSE: A FAIRYTALE REIMAGINED

Recipes from THE BLISS FAMILY Cookbook

Dory Fantasmagory:  Head in the Clouds by Abby Hanlon

LITTLE RED:  by Bethan Woolvin:  A New Retelling for Early Readers

THE WORLD IS NOT A RECTANGLE

LEXIE THE WORD WRANGLER

RUDAS: NINO’S HORRENDOUS HERMANITAS

TALES OF BUNJITSU BUNNY by John Himmelman

TRIANGLE by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

A TOWER OF GIRAFFES

Get Ready to Celebrate Chocolate Cake Day, January 27th

THE BAD GUYS

COYOTE MOON by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Bagram Ibatouline

Perfect Book to Celebrate Penguin Awareness Day:  PENGUIN PROBLEMS

THUNDER BOY JR.  by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales

THE LATKE WHO COULDN’T STOP SCREAMING:  A CHRISTMAS STORY by Lemony Snicket

Celebrating the New Year with a Trio of Book for Young Readers

British Children’s Literature for Children: Two Treats to Share

WE FOUND A HAT  by Jon Klassen:  Book 3 in the hat series

FIREBIRD by Misty Copeland: A Review and Recommendation

THE STORY OF DIVA AND FLEA: Mo Willems’ Latest

Beverly Cleary’s Birthday is April 12th-Happy 100th!

Appreciate a Dragon Day: January 16th

February is Grapefruit Month

Max the Brave

Appreciate a Dragon Day

October 29th is National Hermit Day!

Recommendations for Young Musicians

New Classics for Young Readers

New Books Celebrating the Moon for Young Readers

Pirate Update!

Sloths: A Trio of Books to Delight Young Readers

CLEOPATRA IN SPACE: THE THIEF AND THE SWORD: A Review

Ninjas Revisted: Three More for Young Readers

July! Time for More Ice Cream and Hot Dogs

And the Winner is. . .VIVA FRIDA!

EL DEAFO:  An Enthusaistic Review!

Downton Abbey for Children’s Literature Fans

April Fool’s Surprise

CLEOPATRA IN SPACE: Recommended Graphic Novel for Young Readers

Mustache Fever–in Picture Books

The Princess in Black

February is Library Lovers Month

Winter is Coming

Enzo Races in the Rain!

More Young People Who Make a Difference:  Malala and Iqbal

For Your Growing Alphabet Bookshelf:  Once Upon an Alphabet

Wings and Co.:  Perfect Readalouds for Young Readers

The Latest Nate the Great:  NATE THE GREAT WHERE ARE YOU?

Have a Party With Your Bear Day is November 16th

October is National Pizza Month

Super Ninjas!

Revisiting Fairy Gardens

The Pigeon Needs a Bath

Fresh Veggie Day, June 16th

National Museum Day:  May 18th

Artists’ Lives Through Picture Books

What Happened to PETE THE CAT books?

More Mo!:  Behind the Scenes with MO Willems (Plus I’M A FROG!)

Early reader Series:  New Additions for Your Book shelf

New Books Make Great Holiday Gifts:  Picture Book Edition

CARNIVORES:  A Review

Fairy Gardens II:  Backyard Adventures

Invitations to Write Your Own Version

Pete the Cat at the Beach

Little Red Riding Hood Around the World

Back to School Books

May 19th is Circus Day!

Hans Christian Anderson’s Birthday

Frogs:  Great Early Reader Non-fiction Recommendations

Celebrating Creativity in New Picture Books

Library Mouse:  A Museum Adventure

The Perfect Flower Girl:  A Review

The Sky of Afghanistan:  A Review

This is Not My Hat!:  Review

A Trio of New Picture Books Celebrating Winter

New Winter Holiday Books! We Recommend. . .

My Hands Sing the Blues

I Wonder Why Zippers Have Teeth

Beautiful Yetta, the Yiddish Chicken:  A Passover Picture Book

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes:  An Easter Picture Book

April 1st-April Fools Day!

April 6th-Discovery of the North Pole

Wow!  Ocean! Recommended

Who are we reading now? Roald Dahl

Book Review:  Isabella:  Girl on the Go

How Many Donkeys:  A New Arabic Counting Book

Cool Cats Head to School

Children Around the World

Books:  Eat or Be Eaten

National Fairy Tale Day

Free Comic Book Day!

ABC Update

Countdown to Halloween

National Train Day

A Non-traditional Passover

Here Comes Horrid Henry

Little House Memories

On Flamingos and Other Obsessions

Book Review:  The 13 Days of Halloween

Ministry of Funny Voices

Book Pairings: One for You and One for Me

Holiday Shopping for Book Lovers

Eat, Read, and Be Merry!

Family Traditions:  Don’t Forget the Books

A Few of Our Favorite Things: Kids Books 2009

Celebrating Spoken Soul in Picture Books

New Poetry Book Review!  The Tighty Whitey Spider

August 21st is Poet’s Day

A Taste of Home


Nursery & Preschoolers

May 29, 2007

From 3 to 6 years old

preschool-banner

Children who are still toddlers often begin being active readers. When a 3-year-old picks up a familiar book and retells a story in an expressive voice, she is reading. When a 4-year old talks through a brand-new book creating a new story, complete with literary terms like, “Once upon a time,” or “The end,” he is reading. They are both accomplishing what more experienced readers and writers do: they are living into the story, and using some of the general mechanics that go along with reading, such as turning pages, holding the book right side up, and using the terms that go along with a book experience. You’ll see quite a bit of overlap in the lists in this category, so feel free to keep browsing the book recommendations for older –or younger—readers.

Book Lists

Building Your Classic Library

Alphabet Books

Many Languages, Many Alphabets

Counting Books

More Math Picture Books

Going to Kindergarten

Picture Books about Museums

Comics and Graphic Novels for Early Readers

My First Hanukkah Books

Ballet Books for Tiny Dancers

Sweet Monsters

Library Love

Trucks, Trucks, Trucks

Introducing Map Books

Books for Caped Crusaders

Precocious Princesses

Pirate Books for Little Mateys

Baby Love

Hello!

Multicultural Picture Books

Introducing Jazz for Young “Hip Cats”

Cowgirls, Cowboys, and Cowcookies. . .

Series Recommendations for Early Readers

New to School

Author! Author! Great Picture Books About Being a Writer

Halloween Fun

Twice as Nice or Double the Trouble?  Early Childhood Books for Twins

Musicians When They Were Children

Feisty Girls in Early Reader Chapter Books

Mischievous Boys

Invitation to Imagination:  Fairy Gardens

Celebrating the Silent Movies in Children’s Literature

More New Fall Picture Books

New Winners for the Preschool Set

A Children’s Literature Love Song for Knitting Nerds

New Spring Picture Books for Young Readers

A Trio of Summer Board Books

A Trio of Books to Celebrate Sloths

New Books Celebrating the Moon for Young Children

New Classics for Young Readers

New Picture Books That Celebrate Snow

RETHINKING THANKSGIVING THROUGH PICTURE BOOKS

November 13th is World Kindness Day:  Picture Books to Read and Share

Get Interactive

Mo Willems: LunchDoodles

THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL by Mo Willems

THE CRAYONS’ CHRISTMAS by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Get Ready to Celebrate Chocolate Cake Day, January 27th

THIS MOOSE BELONGS TO ME by Oliver Jeffers

GROOVY JOE:  ICE CREAM AND DINOSAURS  by Eric Litwin, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

And the Winner is. . .VIVA FRIDA!

Have a Party With Your Bear Day is November 16th

Downton Abbey for Children’s Literature Fans

Fairy Gardens II:  Backyard Adventures

Put Me in the Story:  My Name is Not. . .

Picture Books for Writers

Back to School Books

May 19th is Circus Day

Everyday Math

Otto the Book Bear:  A Review

What We’re Reading:  Some Terrific Bilingual Picture Books

April 4th-Tater Day

Beautiful Yetta, The Yiddish Chicken:  A Passover Picture Book

Creativity in Action

National Fairy Tale Day

I Spy. . .Literacy!

Creative Fun – Images and Designs, Cookie Cutters and Coloring Pages

A New Love and Lens for the Zoo

Being in the Book:  THE SNOWY DAY

Countdown to Halloween

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The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper, illustrated by Carson Ellis

HOW TO READ A BOOK by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

GOODNIGHT EVERYONE by Chris Haughton

HOW TO PUT YOUR PARENTS TO BED by Mylisa Larsen, illustrated by Babette Cole

APPLE by Nikki McClure:  Wonderful New Board Book for Toddlers

IMAGINE A CITY by Elise Hurst

CIRCLE by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen:  Completing the Shapes Trilogy

GIRAFFE PROBLEMS by Jory John and Lane Smith

WINDOWS by Julia Denos

A BIG MOONCAKE FOR LITTLE STAR by Grace Lin

CINDERELLA OF THE NILE

THE DAY YOU BEGIN by Jacqueline Woodson

HOW TO BE AN ELEPHANT by Katherine Roy

LA LA LA:  A STORY OF HOPE by Kate DiCamillo

Bear and Wolf by Daniel Salmieri

THEY SAY BLUE by Jillian Tamake

LEXIE THE WORD WRANGLER

THE WOLF, THE DUCK , AND THE MOUSE by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

SNOW AND ROSE: A FAIRYTALE REIMAGINED

FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY by Ntozake Change

I Am a Cat by Galia Bernstein

TALES OF BUNJITSU BUNNY by John Himmelman

Dory Fantasmagory:  Head in the Clouds by Abby Hanlon

RUDAS: NINO’S HORRENDOUS HERMANITA’S

TRIANGLE by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

SQUARE by Mac Barnett and John Klassen

Love by Matt de la Peña, Illustrated by Loren Long

Baby Monkey:  Private Eye by Brian Selznick and David Serlin

After the Fall:  How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat

A TOWER OF GIRAFFES

BABY LOVES QUARKS! New Board Book for the Littlest Scientist

THE BAD GUYS

COYOTE MOON by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Bagram Ibatouline

Perfect Book to Celebrate Penguin Awareness Day:  PENGUIN PROBLEMS

British Children’s Literature for Children: Two Treats to Share

SHHH! WE HAVE A PLAN

WE FOUND A HAT  by Jon Klassen:  Book 3 in the hat series

Poetry for the Whole Family:  SAIL AWAY by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Ashley Bryan

FIREBIRD by Misty Copeland:  A Review and Recommendation

IF YOU EVER WANT TO BRING A PIANO TO THE BEACH, DON’T!

This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers

April 30th is Save the Frogs Day

Max the Brave

Who Done it?

Sloths:  A Trio of Books to Delight Young Readers

July! Time for More Ice Cream and Hot Dogs

New Interactive Books for Young Readers

Mustache Fever–in Picture Books

The Princess in Black

Winter is Coming

Enzo Races in the Rain!

For Your Growing Alphabet Bookshelf:  Once Upon an Alphabet

National Hat Day

The Pigeon Needs a Bath

Nino Wrestles the World:  A Review

What Happened to PETE THE CAT books?

Edgar Gets Ready for Bed

Aliens!  New Children’s Literature for UFO Lovers

New Books Make Great Holiday Gifts:  Picture Book Edition

More Mo!:  Behind the Scenes with Mo Willems (Plus:  I’m a Frog!)

Aliens! New Children’s Literature for UFO Lovers

CARNIVORES:  A Review

Pete the Cat at the Beach

Library Mouse:  A Museum Adventure

Celebrating Creativity in New Picture Books

The Perfect Flower Girl:  A Review

The Sky of Afghanistan:  A Review

This is Not My Hat!:  Review

A Trio of New Picture Books Celebrating Winter

New Winter Holiday Nooks! We Recommend. . .

My Hands Sing the Blues

Mo Willems:  My Hero!

Revisiting the Night Sky:  Featuring Picture Books!

One Good Book About Golf

Internaltional Children’s Book Day, April 2nd

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes:  An Easter Book!

Twins in School-Online Resources

Who are we reading now?  Roald Dahl

Book Review:  Isabella:  Girl on the Go

How Many Donkeys:  A New Arabic Counting Tale

Cool Cats Head to School

Children Around the World

The Return of Favorite Characters

Speaking Some Dead Languages

My Name is Not Alexander

Books:  Eat or Be Eaten

Book Review:  ASTRO THE STELLAR SEA LION

What’s in a Name?

My Name is Not Isabella:  Book Review

More Ken Nesbitt with MORE BEARS

A Taste of Home

National Train Day!

For the Easter Basket. . .

A Non-traditional Passover

Dump and Stir

Two New Books for Spring

Inscribe It

Supercapes for Superheroes

Counting on Kids

Two New Books by Rachel Isadora

I Hate TV. . .But YouTube is Another Story

A Special Reading Place

First the Egg

On Flamingos and Other Obsessions

Ministry of Funny Voices

Book Pairings:  One for You and One for Me

Holiday Shopping for Book Lovers

Eat, Read, and Be Merry!

Family Traditions:  Don’t Forget the Books!

A Few of Our Favorite Things: Kids Books 2009

Celebrating The Snowy Day

Celebrating Spoken Soul in Picture Books

A Pipkin of Pepper (What We’re Reading Right Now)

ABC Update


Rapunzel, and Other Maidens in Towers: A Flight

April 12, 2014

rapunzelThe story of Rapunzel is another well-known fairy tale popularized by the Brothers Grimm.  But what are its roots?  Lots of speculation:  perhaps “Petrosinella,” an Italian fairy tale written in 1634 by Giambattista Basile; maybe the tale of Saint Barbara, who was locked in a tower by her father; or even the 10th century AD Persian story of Rudaba, who lets down her hair to let her lover climb up the tower walls to her.  Whatever her beginnings, Rapunzel is definitely a part of the Fairy Tale Hall of Fame, and well-known in today’s popular culture.  She is a worthy and fascinating topic for a family flight of books.  You’ll definitely want to start with Paul O. Zelinksy’s Caldecott Award- winning traditional retelling, based on the Brothers Grimm tale.  Then, dig into the other versions for an intriguing adventure in reading for the whole family!

Family Read-aloud:

RapunzelRapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky and Brothers Grimm

The classic retelling is enhanced by the Renaissance-style illustrations that Zelinsky paints, drawing the reader(s) in with the magic of the words and images.  The story is familiar to most in its simple form:  Rapunzel is trapped in a tower with no door, visited only by the sorceress who imprisoned her.  When Rapunzel is visited by her captor, she lets down her rich luxurious (and strong!) hair so that the witch can climb up.  So goes her life until one day, a Prince hears her singing as he listens to the forest birds.  The perfect read-aloud to introduce the family to the wonders of Rapunzel.

Young Children:

Rapunzel-RIRapunzel by Rachel Isadora

How about a Rapunzel with beautiful long dreadlocks?  And a setting in Africa, with the Prince’s steed a Zebra? When your see Rachel Isadora’s signature (and always stunning) collage and oil illustrations, you know you and your young readers and listeners are in for a treat.  The retelling is simple, but though in a different culture than the original, very true to the well-known tale. We are long-time fans of Rachel Isadora, so if you are intrigued by her work, check out:  Two New Books by Rachel Isadora and International Children’s Book Day which includes a review of The Ugly Duckling.

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Rapunzel,-bilingualRapunzel/Rapunzel:  A Bilingual Book (Bilingual Fairy Tales) by Francesc Bofill, illustrated by Joma Joma

Some bilingual texts suffer in the translation.  But this whole series does a fine job of capturing the traditional story in both English and Spanish.  The illustrations are quite wonderful, too, adding to the subtle charm with some modern twists.  The colloquial language in both languages is a treat:  for example,  in English, Rapunzel and the prince “lived happily ever after”; in Spanish, “Y vivieron felices y comieron perdices el resto de sus dias” (“And they lived happily and ate partridges for the rest of their days”).  Yum!

Early Readers:

FallingFalling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox, illustrated by Lydia Monks

Perfect for young readers who enjoy Amelia Bedelia-like puns and plays on words.  In this fractured fairy tale version, the Prince comes along to try to visit Rapunzel, but she is too far away to hear his words.  When he asks her to “throw down her hair,” she tosses down her underwear.  When the Prince tries to clarify by explaining, “No, Rapunzel, your curly locks,” she throws down her dirty socks.   It gets worse and worse from here, with a satisfying and surprising conclusion.  The rhyming is fun and playful, and so are the bright and bold illustrations.

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Sugar-CaneSugar Cane:  A Caribbean Rapunzel by Patricia Storace, illustrated by Raul Colon

In this Caribbean version, Madame Fate steals away little Sugar Cane on her first birthday.  Her only company in the high tower where she is imprisoned is a pet green monkey named Callaloo.  She is sustained by her love of music and sings by her window, waiting for the echoes to come back to her.  Her voice draws a handsome young man to her tower, and the traditional tale unfolds from here, with some added magic and mystery.  Beautiful and lyrical language from the author, who is an award-winning poet.

Tweens and Teens:

Rapunzel's-RevengeRapunzel’s Revenge  by Dean Hale, and Shannon Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale

Another retelling, this one set in the Wild Wast, where cowgirl Rapunzel teams up with Jack (of  beanstalk fame).  I love this version, with a suitably spunky heroine who rescues herself from the tower (using her amazing hair, of course) and ignores the Prince to join the outlaw Jack in righting wrongs and freeing the kingdom from the evil witch.  Humorous (and downright witty) dialogue  and magical illustrations that combine the fairy tale setting with a rugged desert countryside make this a sure winner with the tweens on your life.

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Rapunzel-UntangledRapunzel Untangled by Cindy C. Bennett

Welcome to the 21st century, Rapunzel!  In this retelling, Rapunzel lives a lonely and isolated life in her mother’s mansion, never allowed to venture beyond its walls, believing she has a severe immune disease and that exposure to any outside germs will be fatal.  When she needs a computer to complete her on-line high school studies,  her isolation ends with her exposure to the world through the Internet.  With the aid of Facebook, Rapunzel befriends a young man (Fab Fane) who vows to help her escape her isolation.  Along the way, he introduces her to contemporary pop culture and modern food.  Witchcraft and prophecies fulfilled remain at the heart of this retelling despite its modern trappings.  A fun read for fans of fairy tale retellings.

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RapunzelTwice Upon a Time:  Rapunzel:  The One With All the Hair by Wendy Mass

Another modern spin on the fairy tale, this time with Rapunzel trapped in  her tower, and Prince Benjamin by his family’s expectations.  Both teenagers’ stories are told separately, with lots of humor and Wendy Mass’s signature fine writing.  And the good news is, if you enjoy this book, you’ll like the others in the Twice Upon a Time series.

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Cress by Marissa Meyer

Adult:

Rapunzel-towerRapunzel and Other Maiden in the Tower Tales from Around the World by Heidi Ann Heiner

Heiner is a librarian researcher and collector of fairy tales from around the world.  This anthology of “maidens in towers” (some with long hair, though not all) contains over 50 stories of imprisoned princesses, maids, daughters, wives, and even political prisoners.  If you are intrigued by fairy tales and folk tales, Heidi Ann Heiner is a name to remember.  Check out her fabulous website:  SurLaLuneFairyTales.com


Some Stocking Stuffer Suggestions

December 17, 2011

-posted by Meghan

Christmas is my favorite holiday.  I’m not religious, and we stopped getting presents for anyone in the family but the kids, so it’s neither God nor gifts that makes this holiday special for me.  It’s the family time and the traditions.  And for me, traditions don’t really change too much (we make new ones, but we don’t do too much to altering the existing ones), so the books that I wrote about a couple of years ago as being our favorite Christmas reads are still the same, and I anticipate (perhaps foolishly or at least overly optimistically) reading them as a family for the next few decades.  So this year I thought I’d make a list of the top 5 books that I’m giving as gifts this year for each age group…

Picture Books

1. Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr Seuss – This is actual Dr. Seuss stories (not posthumo imitations) that were previously only published in magazines.  Fun for adults and kids alike, as the editor traces the history of these stories and expounds a bit on the origins of the style the themes we think of as Seussical.

2. Bumble-ardy by Maurice Sendak – The first book Sendak has both written and illustrated in 30 years.  Enough said.

3. A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead – This year’s Caldecott winner is a perfect gift for anyone who doesn’t yet own this beautiful new classic.

4. The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle – This charming book encourages artists everywhere to look beyond the ordinary.  And also reminds us to follow our dreams.  (And if you think the artist is Carle – I did – you’re wrong.  It’s Franz Marc, whose work was banned by the NAzi’s in Carle’s youth and inspired his own career. Another books that is as perfect for adults as for children.)

5.  The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy by Jacky Davis, illustrated by David Soman – Knowing that Bumblebee Boy got to star in his own book was enough to make this a must have in our house.  We LOVE Bumblebee Boy.

Early Readers & Tweens

1. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznik – I loved Hugo Cabret (the book) and can’t wait to see the movie.  So I’m definitely giving and reading his new book…

2. Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George – If you hadn’t noticed, everyone in our family is a big fairy tale fan (like Cinderella).  So anything new by a like-minded author makes our reading and gifting list.

3. Treasury of Greek Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli – If anyone on your holiday list has already devoured the latest Percy Jackson and has a dog-eared copy of the D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, this stunning and informative new collection is a must have.

4. Neville by Norton Juster – This Christmas seems to have a plethora of fabulous new books from favorite authors.  This new and beautiful read aloud from the author of The Phantom Tollbooth makes for a great family gift!

5. Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein – I mentioned that old favorites have new books right?  Like this new instant classic from Shel Silverstein?

Teens

1.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – I was lucky enough to have a friend in the publishing industry sneak me an advance copy of this book last year.  I have been waiting for this book to come out so I could browbeat all my friends into reading it to have someone to talk to about it… and now it’s finally here and I can just buy it for everyone for the holidays!

2.  The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan – PERCY.  JACKSON.  IS. BACK.  I could only be more excited if this were a new Harry Potter or Katniss book.  (Or actually, now, Karou, but more about her later…)  If they don’t have the first book, the two together makes a lovely gift bundle!

3. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – This is the series that introduces the world to the wild, beautiful and mysterious Karou.  I don’t want to say any more than read it.  And feel confident that if you give it to someone who loves to read, they will thank you.  Repeatedly.  This might be my new favorite series since The Hunger Games.

4. Wildwood by Colin Meloy – This debut by the lead singer of the Decemberists reminds me the most of The Wizard of Oz, and is a great family read aloud.

5.  Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool – While I find that Pulitzer and National Book Award winners are very hit and miss, I usually love Newbery and Caldecott award winners.   This years winner of the Newbery Award is no exception.

Adults

1. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – So, the diehard geek in your life probably already has this, but just in case they don’t, they will appreciate it.  And for the rest of us, it’s a well-written examination of a fascinating life.

2. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes – I have yet to read this, but it’s on my list for me, and I have heard over and over that this is a short book that makes you think, making it perfect for those on your list who don’t have a lot of time to read.

3. A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor – This book is a great gift for pretty much everyone on your list!  Examining the history of the world through a selection of objects appeals to non-fiction fans, short story buffs, and those who just love a great story.  It’s beautiful to boot!

4. V is for Vengence by Sue Grafton – If you have a mystery lover on your gift list, they will love V, the 22nd book in the series.  If you have someone who just loves great books, but isn’t necessarily a mystery fan, introduce them to Kinsey Milhone with the first book in the series, A is for Alibi.

5. IQ84 by Haruki Murakami – I think I know more people who would list Murakami as their favorite author than any other writer, living or dead.  Isn’t that amazing?  And this new book weighs in at almost 1000 pages, so it should keep the recipient busy for a long time!


Teachers, an inside perspective

August 20, 2011

Parents and teachers who want up-to-date insider perspectives on the life of the classroom have the advantage of the internet. We happen to be big fans of blogs (ahem)–and often turn to the unique pleasure that eavesdropping on someone’s [public] thinking can provide.  What we don’t care for is those snarky, sarcastic, or caustic blogs, so we chose a few that are our favorites: they are all passionate about literacy, respectful of kids, and have been around long enough that we feel comfortable in recommending them for your blog-reading pleasure…

Mrs. Cassidy’s Classroom Blog
Canadian first-grade teacher Kathy Cassidy invites readers into the classroom to interact with students and her dynamic lessons.
Besides sharing fun ideas like making fairy-tale characters out of clay, Cassidy lets us witness her students’ learning firsthand by posting lots of videos and photographs. And another bonus: We get to learn from Cassidy’s many guest speakers, too!
Why She Loves Blogging: “My favorite thing about blogging,” says Cassidy, “is that the students literally have a worldwide audience. They see themselves as writers because people can and do read and comment on their work.”

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A Year of Reading

“Two teacher who read. A lot.” Franki Sibberson and Mary Lee Hahn are the awesome teachers and bloggers who created and post regularly on this amazing  blog.  Yes, we already recommend it as a great resource for literature for children and adolescents, but we can’t tout its greatness often enough. They are up-to-date on all the latest books, share their knowledge and their teaching expertise nationally, and are completely addictive.  Not only will you get terrific and timely tips for you and your kids’ reading pleasure, but hot-off-the presses professional books, reading apps, classroom suggestions, and more.

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science fix
Middle school science teacher Darren Fix entertains with science lessons and experiments. Watch his Mr. Wizard––style experiments—like using a jellyfish to learn genetic engineering.  I love his recent blog ( with helpful video) of how to combine your love for chocolate and science and make your own chocolate pop rocks!   Says Fix, “Posting stimulates my creativity and leads to new ideas. It’s a positive experience in a profession that unfortunately dwells on the negative too much.”

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It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages
“This is a blog for TEACHERS WHO ROCK and are frustrated by the day to day drama that gets in the way of our interactions with children. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but sometimes a girl has gotta vent…”  So says “Mrs. Mimi,” elementary teacher and blogger who works with kids in Harlem, NYC.  Suffice it to say, this blog is hilarious–and she does a brilliant job bringing humor to our day-to-day realities while also shedding light and wisdom on the need for some changes in the teaching profession.   Her love of the children is clear in her entries–and in her recent book of the same title.  Parents who want a taste of a teacher’s real life, with comical commentary, this is the blog for you.


Early Adolescents

June 8, 2007

From 10 to 14 years old; grades 5-9

The middle school years are a great age for readers.  Many young teens are at a point where they are thinking more critically, but still have a bright-eyed outlook on the world.  People who work with this age group are often inspired  by their creativity and inquisitiveness. These kids often appreciate chapter books that speak to the awkwardness of early adolescence—seeing themselves and their friends in these books and experiencing their trials and successes from a safe distance can be gratifying.   But it is also important to recommend reads that have intriguing plots, interesting writing styles, and don’t necessarily use the themes of growing pains and social awkwardness.  No need to give up the family read alouds, either.  We have recommendations by author, theme, general interest, and of course, those wonderful books to continue to enjoy as read-alouds with family members or friends.

Book Lists

New Magazines for Girls

RESISTANCE! Part II:  Learning from Our Moral Ancestors, Recommended for Teens and Tweens

Resistance! Part I:  Learning From Our Moral Ancestors:  Recommended Picture Books for Young Readers

A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE and Other Sherlock Holmes Spin-Offs for Tweens and Teens

FAIRY TALE REFORM SCHOOL

BLISS BAKERY TRILOGY

Two More Recommended Graphic Novels for Tweens

New Series for Tweens and Teens

Tweens and Teens Series Updates

Classic Books for Early Adolescents

Read-alouds for Early Adolescents

Books for Middle-School Feminist Readers

Spanish-English Novels for Tween and Teens

Young Adult Books for Feminist Readers

Picture Books:  Understanding the Middle East

Exploring the World Through Historical Fiction

Adventure Series, Starring Girls

Tellings and Retellings

Diaries, Journals, and Notebooks

Beyond Nancy Drew

Living a Writing Life

Mystery Series

Books with Siblings

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