Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Review: Early Birdy Gets the Worm

Early Birdy Gets the Worm – A PictureReading Book for Young Children by Bruce Lansky
*2014 Gold Winner in Children’s Picture Books from the Mom’s Choice Awards*
*2014 Silver Award Winner in Education from the National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Parenting Resources competition*

About the Book:
Waking up early one morning, Early Birdy watches Mother Birdy catch a worm. Inspired, Early Birdy wants to catch one too. But catching a worm isn’t as easy as it looks. Join Early Birdy on an exciting and funny adventure set in a beautiful springtime forest created by illustrator Bill Bolton.

Author Bruce Lansky’s engaging PictureReading books are meant to be read to, with, and by children. How can preschoolers and children who are still learning to read possibly read these stories with and to adults? Simple: The stories contain no words, so children can “read” the pictures and use that visual information to tell the stories.

Our Thoughts:
This is a very different type of picture book from typical books parents, grandparents and teachers are used to seeing for young readers. You won't find any words, just beautiful illustrations. What we loved about this concept is it allows the reader (adult or child) to tell the story as they see it in their mind's eye.

By using picture clues, the author helps teach children the basics of critical thinking, sequencing and using their imaginations. We also feel these types of books can be used for older children who are reluctant readers to help they learn in a simple way reading can be fun.

There is a user guide for parents and teachers, not to mention the following websites below.
To see PictureReading in action, check out the trailer for Early Birdy Gets the Worm:

For more information please visit for learning resources that include:
  • Lesson plans
  • Story summaries
  • Vocabulary words
  • Background knowledge questions
  • Reading prompts
Early Birdy Gets the Worm (Hardcover, $15.99, On-Sale May 6, 2014) is available for review as a PDF, galley, or finished hardcover edition.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cover Reveal: THE SWEETNESS: A Novel by Sande Boritz Berger

As Berger's novel moves back and forth from Vilna to Brooklyn, the focus is on Rosha and Mira as well as on Charlie's sister Jeanette. All three attempt to make sense of a life that often makes no sense at all. VERDICT: In this engaging debut, a semifinalist for Amazon's annual Breakthrough Novel Award, readers gain three different views of the effects of World War II on ordinary people.
Andrea Kempf, formerly with Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS,
Library Journal
Despite the title, bitterness is the dark driving force in this stirring debut novel of Holocaust survivor guilt-guilt about being safe. Told with candor and tenderness, there are two parallel stories of Jewish girls-one a teen, one an eight year old- from the same family but worlds apart during WWII.
Hazel Rochman,
A Jewish girl in Eastern Europe and her teenage American cousin experience the Holocaust years in vastly different ways in this bittersweet novel.... A tender look at immigrants in America and Nazi victims in Europe succeeds in educating and engaging readers.
Kirkus Reviews
Further information:

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Are You Over-Scheduled and Do You Over-Schedule Your Teens?

Do you feel over-scheduled? Overwhelmed? Too busy? Exhausted? We all feel that way from time to time. And we can be really bad examples for our kids by over-scheduling our lives to the hilt.

     We hear the above statements all the time.  But when kids and teens complain of being over-scheduled and overwhelmed, we should definitely pause to take a new look at our lives and re-prioritize them. Our kids are way too young to feel over-scheduled. And if we, as parents, teach them that it is okay, or worse, meritorious to be busy all the time, we can be setting them up for a life time of exhaustion and lack of success. Not only that but they will feel dissatisfied and stressed out all the time.

     That is not the way to bring up kids and teens who are happy and enjoying themselves. Instead, we should bring up healthy, fulfilled and happy kids and teens. But how can we stop our kids from being chronically over-scheduled? Here are a few tips to do so:

·         Don’t always compare your kids and teens to your friends kids and teens. Instead, treat your kids as unique individuals who can decide for themselves what they will and will not participate in.

·         Sit down and decide (with your teens and kids) what kinds of activities they would like to participate in.  A few ways to determine which activities they would really like to participate in is to list their likes and dislikes.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself and your teens or kids:

1.      What does your child enjoy? Does she enjoy playing sports? If so, what kind of sport?
2.      Does your child enjoy music or dancing? Again, be specific. What type of dancing or musical instruments does she enjoy?
3.      Does your child want to do extracurricular activities?  Or, are you pushing them to overdo it all the time.
4.      Does your child feel overwhelmed at school anyways? If so, make sure you don’t tack on even more stuff on for her.

·         Decide on trying ONE activity for a few months. Don’t commit your child or teen to years or months of activities. Just choose one for a limited time. Then talk to your teen again and discuss how things are going. Be honest—in fact, encourage your child or teen to be brutally honest. And if the activity isn’t something that she is truly enjoying, perhaps allow your child or teen to either try some other activity or not do anything.

·         Encourage your teen to have time for him/herself.

It is important for parents to remember that it isn’t always important for kids and teens to be part of many extracurricular activities. Sometimes, they should be encouraged to experiment with what they like and dislike, and let their intuition be their guide. How else will they develop their intuitions?

So, as parents, we have a responsibility not to push our kids or teens and over-schedule them. We should show them by example that it is okay to take some time out to rest and relax. We don’t want to overwhelm our kids from an early age and develop the wrong habits that can last a lifetime. We want to teach our kids to be their best, and if that means being at home and doing things that they really enjoy, than that’s okay too.

Irene S. Roth


*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.