children’s books

Africa Day: Children’s Books About Africa – We Can Visit in Books

Today, a colleague posted it’s Africa Day. How much does your child know about Africa? And you? Here are some ideas for children’s books about Africa. (Thank you Patrick Makokoro and the Nhaka Foundation for the inspiration for this post.)
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The book A Is for Africa by Ifeoma Onyefulu is a combination of show and tell. The author is also a parent and photographer. While the text is geared for older kids, the pictures can be enjoyed by anyone of any age. The images remind us Africa is a huge continent of many countries with great diversity. We can visit in books.


A fun story with a rhyming text is We All Went On Safari by Laurie Krebs and illustrated by Julie Cairns. This is a counting story with not only the numbers in English but also in Swahili. Read more about the animals, the country of Tanzania, the Maasai people, and check the map included. A YouTube video of the book gives an example of how to say the numbers.

What happens if you lose a tooth in Africa? Is there a Tooth Fairy in Mali, West Africa? The answer to the question is in the delightful book by Penda Diakité and illustrated by Baba Wagué Diakité. I Lost My Tooth in Africa tells the story in both words and colorful pictures. Losing a tooth happens to children everywhere in the world and is an exciting time. We don’t stop to think about how cultures can be different for such small details. How else are things different in countries of Africa? How are they the same? lost-tooth-africa

Baba shares two African proverbs with us, “Raising a child is like planting a tree. When it is tended well, you will enjoy its shade.” Families and communities are critical in supporting children’s development. One of the resources we use for raising children is story-telling. Words must go from old mouths to new ears. Our brains are hard-wired for stories, perhaps because we hear stories with our ears, see them on the page and in our mind, and treasure them in our hearts.storyteller-statue

Children’s books about Africa share information about countries many of us can only dream of visiting. Do you know some other stories and books for kids about Africa?


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. 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 … Continue reading Build a Dragon Castle Construction Play – Maybe a dragon will move in?

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