Thursday, April 8, 2010


Who's with me: Anyone else love the purple "Book-It" pins that you displayed on your jean jacket that were adorned with stars earned from reading books? And the prize: Pizza Hut personal pan pies with the hope of also getting a gift--like the Land Before Time plastic dinosaur toys that smelled like petroleum jelly. Bueller? Anyone?

I am not sure if I am dreading or looking forward to the obligatory reading assignments that will confront my children. Right now, I covet the nightly library time we have. I feel fortunate in that Miles devours books. You wouldn't know by his elaborate vocabulary (note sarcasm), but since he has been a wee baby, we have saturated him in literature. We've gone through phases of interest (mind you, we started reading to him when he was an infant--anyone recall my displeasure for Eric insisting on reading Ulysses while I was nursing each night?), and I have discussed in previous posts my favorite infant books, but I thought I would comment on our current state of reading.

We tend to have books sprinkled around our house for general perusal during the day, but Miles's room is where the real gold is. It is not an understatement that my favorite area of consignment sales is the book area. I'm obsessed. First, I am on a hunt to get the entire Dr Seuss collection of stories. I have a great start and have even found Suess books I had never heard of! Plus, I have full versions as well as diaper bag versions that have saved me from torrential tantrum episodes. We do "Suess Sundays" at our house and only read Dr Suess for bedtime. I also prefer to have hard back books, and they are expensive, so if I can get used ones, all the better. I know we'll be better about going to our local library in time, but I must admit I get a high off of owning the books. I think this is one area I am not totally "green" about. But I feel like I am doing my part by buying a lot of our books used. Just not sure I could ever get rid of them and re-sell.

My friend AS recently sent an e-mail out with Gwyneth Paltrow's favorite books...and another Mommy blog I follow had a post in the past few weeks about her readers' favorite toddler books...and I am collecting books for all the preggo showers upcoming in 2010. I'm on book overdose. I need an intervention.

Every night we spend about 30 minutes of concentrated reading with Miles. I truly pine for this time each day. True, it means Miles is going to bed (hopefully) for the whole night (read: I can shower), but it is just a delight sitting in the big comfy chair, reading stories as he cuddles his monkey, strokes his hair and points out every "car, choo choo, moon, guitar, tree, meow, woof, oink, etc." he can find.

Here's the rub. He knows his books now. When Nuncle and Ti Ti gave Felix an Eric Carle stroller toy, Miles identified the Very Hungry Caterpillar picture and he bolted into his room and brought out the entire book for us to read.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Sure, there's cute moments like that, but then there are moments that you strategically hide Pigs Aplenty, Pigs Galore! in the weekly book basket by nestling it deep in the triage of book options (read, you turn it backward and shove it in the back of the pile, hoping the weight of the huge lap version of Freight Train or Dr Seuss's best story book compilation will be too much for a 23 month old to negotiate) because you are over the pigs in tututs, pigs in kilts...pigs on skateboards, pigs on stilts.
Pigs Aplenty, Pigs Galore!
 And while you pull out the books you really want to read, Miles shakes his head "NO!" and shimmies off of your lap, only to use his little pinchers to somehow find the toddler strength to find that book--and then demand you read it. Over and over. And not only that--but you have to stop on page 12, where there is the trifecta: a train, a plane and a bus. And you know where that bus leads us? "ALL THROUGH THE TOWN!" Yup. next thing you know, the fun pentameter rhyming is broken up by "Ahh...Taaaah!" (Miles-ese for "all through the town") And once you start the chorus, you have to at least get through the verse about the horn on the bus. You acquiesce on all accounts. How can you not with those eyes?

Confession time. Anyone else skip book pages while babysitting, praying the kids hadn't memorized the story? While we haven't gotten to that point, I was thinking the other night that this kid is totally going to be the kind of child who says, "Oops! Mommy--you forgot five pages!" (Actually, it will more be like, "Ba-doo whumpy balmy chee son tunnel." Yeah, that's how my kid talks.) And then I'll be all, "I DID?!?!! So sorry!" And reluctantly re-read the last five pages.

The truth is--I love story time. Sure, I get so tired of going back to the copyright page of To Market To Market to point out the "car" and the "oink," but I know the 30 minutes every night that we cuddle and read is burning memories in my soul that I will cherish for years.

To Market, To Market
In the spirit of this post, I had to sing the praises of three books that the adults still love, and Miles is obsessed with. What interests me is that three books are so different from one another. One is pregnant with cartoons, detail, vignettes where animals act like humans, vocabulary, lists, minutia. And the second is simple, absent of plot...pure lyrical momentum. The final one is completely illustrated with paper creations and rife with onomatopoeia.

#1. Richard Scarry's Best Story Book Ever
Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever! (Giant Little Golden Book)
I am not sure what we would do without this book. Most of the time, we flip through the pages and just look at the pictures. Eric prefers to read many of the stories, whereas I thumb through pages and play the "show Mommy the (fill in the blank with some fun illustration)." Every night is a new adventure with Richard's classic images. But we always start with the "sun" in the front cover and then wave and say "bye bye moon" in the back cover. It's amazing how 3 months ago this book would have not interested Miles much at all.

#2. Charlie Parker Played Be Bop
Charlie Parker Played Be Bop (Live Oak Music Makers)
We got this as a gift from Grunkle Seth and Aunt Shirley for Christmas. Miles just loves it. Eric and I each "sing" the text, but have our own version (read: he's off key for a book that has no dedicated key, and I fare slightly better). I cannot describe the text because it is essentially like a jazz or blues song. "Zzznnn Zzznn...Overshoes, O....Ree-ti foo-ti Ree-ti foo-ti...Lollipop Boom-BA...Barbaque that last leg bone...Never leave your cat a-lone." That is the abridged version. the drawings are simple, inexact. And yet, it captures Miles's interest every time.

3. Paper Parade

Paper Parade
I cannot find this book anywhere! We got it when Miles was still called Linus (i.e. in utero) from Aunt Heather and Uncle Ryan. (I kind of get weepy when I see their inscription written to Little Linus in 2008.) The illustrations are all made of paper creations, and the story is imaginative and cute. I love looking at how talented someone can be with paper, and like most of the books, we have a blast pointing out all of the items. The best is that we can make all sorts of fun noises with the book--"Pop Pop Pop!" Tickity Zing!" "Jumble, Whirl!"

For those of you who are parents of toddlers, I hope you can relate to this. And also hope you can recite every single book on your children's shelves. I can. No, seriously--try me. I can. And for those of you who have babies coming on the horizon, start practicing your best animal noises and singing voices. And even your foreign accents. I have this thing about using a British accent in stories. Could it be genetic, or maybe the beginnings of multiple personality disorder? The nice thing is kids don't care if you're off tune, sound like an idiot or a B list celebrity feigning their best brogue. The sillier the better.

Hi. My Name is Alison...and I am a children's book addict.

Truth is, I never want to get sober.


  1. Did you read The Tipping Point? The part of that book that was such an "ah ha" moment was about Blue's Clues...and how they show the same episode five days in a row and then a new episode every day of the next week and so on. And kids want to watch the same show five times! Gladwell explains why kids want to do this and why it's so good for their learning. I wish I had known that when I was a babysitter...I think I would have been more patient with 50th viewing of The Little Mermaid.

  2. ok, first of all I LOVED book it. I got those book reports done the first of the month so that I could get my pizza after my piano lesson. I think children's books are one of the things I am most excited about with having a baby - they are just so great. Am I an addict if I started buying them used at book stores before I even got preggo?!? happy friday!

  3. book it!!! of course!!! wow... thanks for bringing me back!
    and as far as used books, we get a lot of our books from a great little consignment shop in midtown called crib-it. be careful though... we've come home and found pages torn out, scribbled on or mustard (dear god, please be mustard and not poop) stained.
    happy reading!!!!

  4. You sound like an elementary school teacher!

    Quick as a Cricket

    Edward the Emu

    Anything by Janel Cannon - Cricket, Stella Luna, pinduli, etc

    When Miles gets older, anything by Kate DiCamillo... AH! I get goosebumps just thinking about Because of Winn Dixie, Edward Tulane...

    It's totally an obsession. You should see my literacy professor's office.

    Oh, and I have vivid memories of the little Book It! table on the bottom floor of Fales and eating my personal pan pizzas in the back seat of my mom's car.

  5. You sound like an elementary school teacher!

    Quick as a Cricket

    Edward the Emu

    Anything by Janel Cannon - Cricket, Stella Luna, pinduli, etc

    When Miles gets older, anything by Kate DiCamillo... AH! I get goosebumps just thinking about Because of Winn Dixie, Edward Tulane...

    It's totally an obsession. You should see my literacy professor's office.

    Oh, and I have vivid memories of the little Book It! table on the bottom floor of Fales and eating my personal pan pizzas in the back seat of my mom's car.

  6. I am totally with you on loving BookIt. Not that I spend enough time reading adult books anymore, but it's a fond memory.

    I am also totally with you on "hiding" certain books. Ella went through a phase recently of wanting to read our two Corduroy books over and over, to the exclusion of all others. She's gotten past that, but now we must read Animalia, Water Hole, and Hungry Catterpillar each night, with occasional Corduroy. As soon as we finish a book, the response is "again?". I could recite these books, and Ella can "read" parts because she's heard them so very many times. I actually highly recommend any book by Graeme Base (e.g., Animalia), because his illustrations are amazing and his books could take 1/2 hour or 10 minutes to read, depending how much you want to explore the pictures.

    I am going to have to pick up some of the books on Miles' favorites list. I am steadily working on filling the bookshelf for the girls. Maybe this is futile, since Ella only prefers a small number of books, but I figure if I keep lots around, she'll eventually switch things up.

    Reading with your little one is pretty awesome, isn't it? I still have great memories of reading with my father every night and am looking forward to reading chapter books with actual plots with Ella and her soon-to-be-sister someday.

    It sounds like things are going well around the Heintz house! I'm glad to hear (read) it.

  7. Reading to your children is the most important piece of advice we impart to our parents who are wondering how to help their children's academics. Create a reader and you've created an avid learner for life. I loved reading to Miles when I was with you. As Maura points out, the repetition is important for children to gain mastery. I recommend John Lithgow's books when Miles is older because he writes engaging books that do not "talk down" to kids. "Thanksgiving at the Tappletons" and other books by Eileen Spinelli and "The Great Fuzz Frenzy" and other books by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel. There are so many many more.
    There will be the fun of realizing each child's favorite books as they grow, too.
    I still remember my busy doctor Dad reading a chapter or two of books to us at dinner each night. He read us the original Wizard of Oz books and "The Phantom Tollbooth". It was a real bonding experience and a time when we knew that our Dad was devoting to us 100%

  8. I LOVED Book It.....and just as an FYI, it is still around, which I am sure you teachers must know!!!!

    Yeah book-it!!!

  9. I totally had the full set of Land Before Time puppets...this of course means that we went back enough to get them all. I'm 99% sure that they are all somewhere in my parents basement! Petree was my favorite and I can't believe I remember that:) I love children's books and can't wait to have a reason to buy them all!

  10. Alison,

    I, too, loved reading to my kiddos. We would read all the time when they were young, head to story hour way before they were ready to sit still and listen to a librarian read a book, and listened to books on tape (we still do that one). However, now all three of my kids are able to read by themselves, a feat I am so proud of (even Isaac - 1st grade can read chapter books), but so sad that we don't have that snuggle time anymore. Don't get me wrong, I certainly could still find the time, but they would rather play than snuggle w/ their mom - boohoo!

    Enjoy every moment of the bonding, there are few things better than reading to your kids, quietly, peacefully, and w/o distraction.

    Some of our favorites - any Skippy John Jones book, Mike Mulligan and the Steam Engine, Curious George books, Stella Luna, and Love You Forever, to name a few.

    PS We have many hard cover, and soft cover Dr. Suess books...let me know what you have and if I have one you don't, I'll gladly send it your way.


  11. hi! just revisiting this post b/c we have a bunch of barnes and noble giftcards for maggie and i'm trying to stockpile :) great list! love richard scarry.