August Books: Summer’s End: School and Friends

By on July 29, 2013

by Meribeth C. Shank  

As families think about school supplies and schedules, children think about last chances without homework to play late, and sleep in. Everyone thinks about spending time with family and friends at the beach or grilling outdoors. Here are a few ideas for books to read and things to do together as summer draws to a close.

 

BOOKSbalancingBalancing Act by Ellen Stoll Walsh.

Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (hardcover)

Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten–Kindergarten (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Naranja, West Dade Regional. Also may be purchased from Books & Books online: www.booksandbooks.com)

In less than a hundred easy-to-read words the author-illustrator shares an almost simple story about friendship and more. Walsh uses her trademark bright cut-paper colors and designs on white paper to make the illustrations snap. Mice friends build a simple teeter-totter with a stick on a stone. A friendly salamander wants to play too. Readers see math and science at work when the balance changes. With the addition of another friend–balance again.

The action repeats with a pair of frogs. Then, a large bird joins the group. Animals explode across the page! The smaller animals discover they can balance the bird. But it doesn’t last. All find something else to do – except the original mice who find a new way to balance!

BOOKdirtythirdThe House on Dirty-Third Street by Jo S. Kittinger, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. Peachtree, $16.95 (hardcover)

Interest Level: Kindergarten–Grade 3 (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online: www.booksandbooks.com)

A mother and daughter buy an old run-down house in a crumbling neighborhood – gloomily the girl calls it “Dirty-third Street.” Despite their efforts, the work still needed to make a cozy home, as the mother dreamily describes, is crushing. They feel discouraged. Since they miss their former neighbors and church friends, they decide to go to church a few blocks away. When the Sunday school teacher asks if anyone has a prayer request, the girl asks, “Please pray that (we) can see the house with eyes of faith.”  Beginning with pastels and colored pencils in grays and browns, artist Gonzalez skillfully airbrushes in color tints. The darkness of despair changes to blushes of brighter hope. Text flashes with energy. Illustrations gleam with promise.  Words and pictures link as broken-down moves toward perfect.

BOOKSdontcheatI Repeat, Don’t Cheat! By Margery Cuyler, illustrated by Arthur Howard. Simon & Schuster, $15.99 (hardcover)

Interest Level: Grades 1-3 (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online: http://www.booksandbooks.com)

       Like Jessica, in this thoughtful school story, many kids worry; about falling off a bike, and sometimes about friendships and grades. When her best friend, Lizzie, copies words during the spelling test, Jessica doesn’t know what to do.  Lizzie keeps taking advantage of Jessica – being dishonest in a game of tag, asking Jessica to write a poem that Lizzie reads as her own. But when Lizzie blames Jessica during math time, Jessica speaks up.  Howard’s cheerful cartoon-like watercolors with pen and ink illustrations match the upbeat text. Bodies and faces join the language of the story to express the variety of feelings that test the friendship. Mr. Martin, the teacher, is there to help, but in the end, the girls themselves work to solve their issue.

BOOKSdreamfriendsDream Friends by You Byun. Penguin, $16.99

Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten–Grade 2 (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online: www.booksandbooks.com)

       Melody wishes the friend she plays with in her dreams at night would play with her in her daily real world. She’s new in the neighborhood and when she feels lonely on the playground she remembers and starts to do what she and her dream friend had fun doing the night before. Someone wants to join, and Melody teaches her the dance. Soon everyone on the playground is dancing. “There was no magic like in her dreams, but it was . . . magical.”   This delightful picture book, from first time author/artist Byun, features a comforting mix of fantasy and realism. The paint and ink artwork in warm colors is manipulated digitally giving the entire book a dream-like quality.

Here are a few more great choices:

One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by David Small. Dial, $17.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Kindergarten–Grade 3 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch, Miami Lakes, North Dade Regional.  Also may be purchased from Books & Books online: www.booksandbooks.com)

All Kinds of Friends by Norma Simon, illustrated by Cherie Zamazing. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3 (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online: www.booksandbooks.com)

Roasted Peanuts by Tim Egan. Houghton Mifflin, $16 (hardcover) Interest Level: Kindergarten–Grade 3 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch, Miami Lakes, North Dade Regional. Also may be purchased from Books & Books online: www.booksandbooks.com)

Saving Strawberry Farm by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Rachel Isadora. Greenwillow, $17.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Kindergarten–Grade 3 (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online: www.booksandbooks.com)

TIPS FOR READING TOGETHER

  • Make a list of some of your favorite books growing up and check them out of the library to read with your child (or have her/him read to you)! Wonder out loud what books are her/his favorites?
  • Choose books to read — for example Jumanji (by Chris Van Allsburg)  and then watch the movie together. Talk about how the book and movie are different.
  • Plan a book-related party – like foods from The Very Hungry Caterpillar (by Eric Carle). Or, after reading a chapter book, for example, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (by Roald Dahl), combine watching the movie and an ice cream sundae party with friends. Yum!
  • Read biographies of someone famous your child is already interested in – someone who is a great role model (singer, athlete, leader, etc.).
  • Together you could write them a letter – you don’t have to send it — and if they are no longer living – pretend!
  • Help your child keep a journal or a diary in a notebook, or online.  (Maybe include photos?)  Talk together about what happened during the day or week. Your child (or you) can write what they want to remember (or simply write captions for the photos). Not only is this a special keepsake of memories, but it also provides children with a sense of the importance of writing.
  • Visit your library and try any of these terrific titles.  And don’t forget the party!!

Meribeth Shank works in the Media Center at Miami Country Day School, an independent school in Miami Shores, Florida, teaches classes on Writing Books for Children, and earned her MFA in Writing for children from Vermont College. You can also find her on the web: www.meribeths.blogspot.com

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