Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Birthday Week in Books

DD had a birthday recently.  Well, at the end of October.  It's taken me awhile to get my act together.  He turned four years old, and I had been thinking, prior to his birthday, how he was really seeming to "get" a lot more of the details surrounding the big day.  While I still can't stop delighting over his birth in the best month ever, he's always felt at the end of a row of family birthdays that start in early July (Teep), proceed to me in mid-July, and wrap up with my husband's birthday in late September.  Previous years have been hard on him, but this year he really seemed to be grasping the concept of the passage of time and the changing months, and I decided to capitalize on that feeling of anticipation with a week of birthday books.

I wish I'd taken more pictures.  Like, one a day or something.  But I didn't, and such is life with three small children.  I really like the one I did take, though.  I also wish I could say that I put a lot of thought and care into the selection of these books, but I didn't.  The idea of the week of birthday books came to me the day I would need to start reading them, and I just scrambled to find ones that would work.  As it happened, DD got a gift from his grandparents that acted as the first day of birthday books!  Since there are so many, I'll review a little differently today with just highlights of what he liked about the books and what I liked about them.

1: Five Little Monkeys Storybook Treasury by Eillen Christelow
This treasury includes five Five Little Monkeys stories, but the one in question is Five Little Monkeys Bake a Cake.  My boys are really wild about the Five Little Monkeys books, and DD was excited to read through all of the collection before his grandparents had made it out of the driveway after giving it to him.  But I made a special big deal about the birthday one and how it was going to be the first in a week of birthday stories. 

What he liked about it: "About eating the cake!  That's silly!" (Of course.)
What I liked about it: It's fun and funny for children, but there's some humor in there for parents, too.

2. The Secret Birthday Message by Eric Carle 

What he liked about it: "The shapes!" (A little boy gets a secret birthday message {shocker!} with a map to get to his birthday present.  Shapes are used to preserve the cryptic nature of the note.)
What I liked about it: The idea of a map, the unique way shapes are used, and the way the book appealed to all of the children (4, 2, and 6 months).

3. A Birthday for Frances by Russell Hoban
I should say that DD adores Frances and we read all of our Frances books on a regular basis, so this one wasn't new to us or anything.

What he liked about it: "Eating the cake!" Hmm.  Sensing a theme, here.
What I liked about it: All Frances books include some good talking points, good fun, and good chuckles for parents and kids alike.  This one's no different, and since it hits on the difficulty of waiting, when it's someone else's birthday, it's always a good read around here.  (Oh, yes, I know they're very, very long.  I do.  Sometimes it's just worth it, though!)

4. Humphrey's Birthday by Sally Hunter

What he liked about it: "The superhero suit!"
What I liked about it: The whimsical illustrations are lovely, the message is good, and there are plenty of great, descriptive passages that really set the scene.  I'm sad this one's out of print.

5. Curious George and the Birthday Surprise by H.A. Rey
This is another book that we read frequently, so I just talked up the significance of the birthday story/birthday week.

What he liked about it: "When the dogs clean up the icing for the cake!"
What I liked about it: George's efforts to help the man with the yellow hat as he's preparing for the party, and the fun familiarity of a beloved character.

6. Whopper Cake by Karma Wilson

What he liked: "Making the cake in the truck!" (You're kidding me!  Something about the cake?!)
What I liked: It's really best quoted:
Grandma blows her candles out. "I've just one wish, I guess.  I'll enjoy this whopper cake...and YOU clean up the mess."
Can I get an amen, moms?  Also, there is lots of fun vocabulary. (DD frequently shouts, "Eureka, I have just the thing!")  And a cake recipe in the back!  Get thee to a book store and get it, really.
7.  Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow
What he liked: "All the fruit."
What I liked: Everything.  Every little bit.  Our copy of this is mine from my childhood and it brings back happy memories.  With Sendak's genius at illustrating and Zolotow's at storytelling, it's a slam dunk.  See if your children can start to guess, mid-book, what each next present will be. Published in 1977, it's still available today! 
8. On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman 
This was maybe a little bit of a stretch because it's not about a birthday, in the traditional sense.  But it is the sweetest little love "song" about the night a baby was born, and it seemed appropriate.  When I was afraid I'd never have children, I fell in love with this book and the companion baby book, The Wonder of You
What he liked: "All the animals."
What I liked: The illustrations, the text, the magic.  It's all so sweet and gentle and lovely.  I think this is such a nice new baby gift. 
I would call this a very successful experiment, and I think I'll try to do something similar leading up to Christmas, and up to birthdays here on out.  It was easy and fun to do and it built excitement and anticipation.
And since this post is a little light on photos, I'll throw this one in here.  It has nothing to do with birthdays.  I asked DD to pick up his books and put them on his bench, last week.  This is what I found.
Hope Elmo likes to read.

No comments:

Post a Comment