children’s books

February Friendship #4: Kids Can Be Friends with Books

Kids can be friends with books, and that’s another very important one to have. This is friendship month and we can share some great books with kids.

kids can be friends with books

Eric Carle is one of my favorite children’s authors. A fairly recent one is Friends. This is the story of a two friends. To get together one of them swims a wide river, climbs tall mountains, hikes across a grassy field, and makes it through other places. Not all friends will connect at the end like the two do in this book, but the story shares the message that friends will go to great lengths for each other.

kids can be friends with books

Another fun book is Ollie’s Valentine, by Olivier Dunrea. There are several books in the series about the friends Ollie, Gossie, and others. These little animals turn even the ordinary into adventures. The stories give clues about how to be friends, like sharing and waiting. The surprise ending in this book includes children hearing and reading the story in the circle of friends.

a day of-play - reading

Being friends with books has amazing advantages for kids. Hearing stories over and over not only adds hundreds of words to vocabulary but millions of words to the brain’s language files. This increases the brain’s processing speed for language. Do you remember someone when you went to school who always had a hand up to answer questions faster than anyone else? This student may not have been any smarter than the rest, but could process the question faster.

importance of reading to children

One of the biggest tasks kids have at school is learning to read. By reading and sharing books and stories with your child, you make this much easier. Kids not only know how books work, they also know how print works. They understand the black lines and squiggles are the words we say marked down on a page. Reading is connecting these marks to what they mean. For a play-of-the-day, share any stories and books. What are some books that help so kids can be friends with books?

Time to Read: Favorite Christmas Stories for Kids

Time for us to start to read favorite Christmas stories for kids. What are your family favorites?

Each year, we dig out the pile of these special stories and add a few more. Some of these come from the library and some from garage sales when we discover them. We may read them once or twice and then we put them away until the calendar says December. We have an assortment of new ones and very old, as well as interesting and not so much.

christmas-greta-gracieChristmas for Greta and Gracie, is a story for siblings. The author Yasmeen Ismail, from Dublin, must have a brother or sister, an older one. It’s not so easy being the younger one, especially when the older one always seems to know more and fills the moments with her words. In this story though, the younger one has quite a Christmas adventure and gets to tell Big Sister about it. (Being a middle child, I found my Big Sister always knew more. My Little Sister had another advantage. I remember I always had to let her go first or have something because she was younger. She, of course, remembers it quite differently.) Family dynamics are so interesting, but it isn’t necessarily the older one who has an advantage over the younger.


Poles Apart by Jeanne Willis and Jarvis is another new release and likely to be included on a list of favorite Christmas stories for kids. Many holiday scenes have snow, ice, polar bears, and penguins. However, penguins do not live at the North Pole. They are South Pole creatures. Technically, they are in the wrong place. Or are they? In this story, a lost family of penguins takes a wrong turn and need to be guided home by a polar bear. On the way, they stop at a few other countries and enjoy the sites. After helping them reach home, the polar bear returns to his. There is a lovely surprise at the end.

This story of imaginary animals seems to mirror what real families do at this time of the year. Not the going on a picnic, but journeying home and welcoming visitors. The polar bear and penguin discover they have similarities despite being poles apart. Aren’t we reaching out to others too to help and understand?grinch stole christmas

Choosing a favorite story at our house would be an impossible task. We have one very unique one that must come out every year. It keeps kids in one spot while adults can rush around and get something done. A scratchy LP record of How The Grinch Stole Christmas is old enough to be vintage. So is the children’s record player. In a couple of places we have to carefully lift the needle over the groove where it gets stuck and the sound quality is terrible but the kids listen attentively and shush the grownups if we make too much noise. That alone is worth suffering through the record.

What are your family’s favorite Christmas stories for kids?

Build a Dragon Castle Construction Play – Maybe a dragon will move in?

Dragons don’t live in regular houses so for a play-of-the-day, kids can get out the blocks or Lego and build a dragon castle for some construction play.

build a dragon castle

This activity has been inspired by the children’s book, When A Dragon Moves In, written by Jodi Moore and illustrated by Howard McWilliam. According to the little boy telling the story, “If you build a perfect sand castle, a dragon will move in.” The boy builds a marvelous castle and the dragon does come. Unfortunately, the dragon is invisible to everyone else in the family. When a number of not-so-good things happen, the boy gets in trouble. He finally has to ask the dragon to move out and learn some manners. But the next day…

Of course, this isn’t exactly the season for going to a beach and building a sand castle. Instead of sand, how about building a castle with blocks of some sort? The blocks could be wooden, cardboard ones, foam, plastic, or even sponge. Duplo and Lego are great for making castles too. Maybe a dragon will still move in.

construction imaginative play

When we watch kids, construction play is already pretty active on the outside. Kids are stacking blocks on top of each other, setting them in rows, and arranging them in just the right way. Usually this happens on the floor and kids are moving up, down, and around. They are reaching, balancing, carrying, stretching and more as they play. With small blocks like Lego, the muscles in the fingers, hands, and wrists are making countless small movements.

On the inside, kids are very busy too. Brains are active with many different thinking skills. One of these is obviously problem-solving. Sometimes a block won’t balance on another one. Kids have to figure out not just why but how to fix the problem. Some won’t fit in a space. The block might be too big, too small, or the wrong shape. Kids are also linking cause and effect. Often kids build a tower of blocks only to push it over. They need to test if it will always happen and if it happens in the same way each time. Decision-making and planning are other brain strategies happening.

construction play

Of course, kids are also imagining and creating. This might be a castle for a dragon or for a different creature. Inside the castle there might be a treasure. Is the dragon guarding it or trying to steal it? During play, kids will be creating a castle as well as imagining the story that goes with it. Build a dragon castle construction play also builds brain skills.

Sometimes, when children build with blocks, they are no sooner done than they knock it over. To them, deconstruction is part of the process. The product hasn’t been as important as the building. Other times, families may have to walk around whatever it is for days or risk dragon-sized tears if we happen to topple what they’ve made.

Whatever happens to the castle after play, the best part of it is the blocks can be used to build a dragon castle again another day. And it doesn’t have to be perfect!

Dragon Playground Activities Inspired by The Paper Bag Princess

The children’s book, The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch inspires some dragon playground activities for kids and dragons for today’s play-of-the-day. Dragons can sleep for years and years but they also travel great distances. In this story, a dragon burns all of Princess Elizabeth’s clothes and captures her Prince Ronald. All she has left … Continue reading Dragon Playground Activities Inspired by The Paper Bag Princess

Kids Dragon Songs with “Old MacDonald Had a Dragon” Children’s Book

There are not a lot of kids dragon songs but this children’s dragon book turned an old favorite about farm animals into a very funny, silly one to sing. Old MacDonald Had a Dragon is written by Ken Baker and illustrated by Christopher Santoro. In the story, the farmer likes having a dragon on the … Continue reading Kids Dragon Songs with “Old MacDonald Had a Dragon” Children’s Book

Dragon Categorizing Activities with “Dragons Love Tacos”

The books Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin and Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-el helped us with some dragon categorizing activities and food fun. These stories both really appealed to the kids and sparked some play ideas. (pun intended) In Dragons Love Tacos, the dragons gobble up tacos but they hate salsa. All … Continue reading Dragon Categorizing Activities with “Dragons Love Tacos”

Children’s Dragon Books: Same and Different with “Not Your Typical Dragon”

Welcome to Dinovember and some dragon fun activities—after all dragons are like dinosaurs and we’ll start with some children’s dragon books and stories. Since we’ve done some dinosaur activities before we thought we’d try something a little bit different. Dragons. Dragons can be pretty scary, although Mike the Knight’s dragon Sparkie, is quite friendly. Toothless … Continue reading Children’s Dragon Books: Same and Different with “Not Your Typical Dragon”

Reading Books Halloween Treat for Kids – Quite A Trick

Treats, Tricks and Magic with Halloween Books for Kids Treats are for eating but this reading books Halloween treat is wonderful for sharing, snuggling, listening, singing, and enjoying, even the scary parts. There are so many wonderful Halloween books for kids it’s hard to decide. We mix some new ones with some old favorites. It’s … Continue reading Reading Books Halloween Treat for Kids – Quite A Trick

Fall Book Magic: Fall Books and Stories for Young Children

Magic You Can Do Right At Home! Reading and sharing books and stories to kids is so powerful for brain development it’s almost magic and what could be better than some fall book magic? Here are some wonderful ones to share with your child. Before reading Anne O’Brien and Susan Gal’s awesome book, see how … Continue reading Fall Book Magic: Fall Books and Stories for Young Children