Monthly Archives: July 2014

Inspiration Strikes at the Strangest Times

There are days I wish I would’ve carved out some exceptions to the “rules” that Bubba and I are playing by when “reading the library.” I told myself we would read every picture book, but there are some books I would much rather skip.


First on the “skip-able” list would have been all the princess (and other “girly”) books. I almost always struggle to get through these types of books (with one of the few exceptions being Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious).


For example Bitty Baby: Loves the Snow. It’s an American Girl book, and it’s about a girl playing with her doll in the snow – all things that REALLY don’t interest me! I push through, though… and in this case, I’m actually glad I did!

Bitty Baby

That’s right! As strange as it sounds, I’m actually glad I read an American Girl book! It’s not because it was a great book, though. I’m glad I read it because (while reading it), I came up with a cool idea for a winter activity with Bubba!


In the story, the little girl wants to build a snowman but doesn’t get any help from her brother, so she ends up building a “snow caterpillar” with her American Girl doll. This got me thinking… Bubba loves The Very Hungry Caterpillar, so why not make a Very Hungry Caterpillar snow sculpture! We could find a way to color the snow, and we could use some math/science to build the arch portion of the caterpillar. Who knows, our snow sculpture might even inspire others to build snow sculptures based on their favorite books!


I guess that’s why Bubba and I read EVERY book (even though it would be much easer to skip the “girly” books)… you just never know when inspiration will hit you! It could be on a hot summer day while reading and American Girl book that you come up with a great idea for a winter activity!


If you could build a snow sculpture based on your favorite book/character, what would it be? Leave a comment below, and give us some more inspiration!


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Children’s Picture Books Use More Sophisticated Words Than You

Clutching. Whimpered. Famished. Escargot. Lavish. Indulged. These are just a few of the words Bubba and I came across today while reading picture books from our library. Obviously, these are words that Bubba would only be exposed to through picture books (my wife and I definitely don’t use words like these around the house), but that’s one of the main reasons I think it’s so important to read aloud to him.


I’ve known for years that reading aloud to children is one of the best ways to build their vocabulary, but I’ve been reading a book for teachers, The Fluent Reader by Timothy Rasinski, that has me really focused on the subject lately.


In his book, Rasinski dedicates an entire chapter to the benefits of reading aloud to children. He argues that one of the ways children benefit from a read aloud is they get to “explore sophisticated words and text structures.” Needless to say, since reading that section of his book, I’ve been noticing all the rich vocabulary and sophisticated sentence structures in the picture books that I’m reading to Bubba.


I’m seeing words like precisely, residence, uncomplimentary, amends, and meddle in just one short book… so it makes sense when Rasinski mentions an article that argues, “Most printed material, even a children’s book, has more sophisticated words than nearly every form of oral language.” (Cunningham and Stanovich, 1998)


It’s kind of crazy to think that picture books (written for children) use more sophisticated vocabulary than I use, but it’s true… and it’s one of the best reasons for reading aloud to kids!


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