Sunday, February 10, 2013

Top 5 fun books to read to kids

 By Lauren Zachary, contributor

Whether you are a elementary school teacher in need of a new book to read to you class, a stay-at-home parent searching for that perfect bedtime story, or a children's librarian conducting story time next week, finding the right book that not only captures the short-attention span of little kids, but also yours as well can become daunting.
As a librarian, I am always on the search for fantastic books to read, whether they be novels or short picture books. Here are five books that not only I have enjoyed, but have been recommended to me multiple times by various parents and elementary teachers as they check them out for their kids and/or students.
1. "Chrysanthemum" written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
When Chrysanthemum was born, her parents decided to name her the perfect name that describes all her wonderful qualities. Over the years she grew and bloomed just like her name sake, believing her name to be the perfect name. That is, until she went to the first day of kindergarten.

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When her name is read out loud by the teacher, all the kids in her class laughed at her long unusual name and Chrysanthemum begins to wonder if her name is not as perfect like her parents have said.
Days pass and Chrysanthemum self confidence begins to wilt, despite the daily hugs and kisses given to her by her parents. Will Chrysanthemum ever bloom to her name sake? Or will she let herself be trampled by the other children's teasings?
This picture book contains charming illustrations of Chrysanthemum accompanied by Henkes' cleverly penned story of a young mouse and her ability to overcome teasing by her peers due to the love expressed by her music teacher and her loving parents.
2. "Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble" by Judy Schachner
Skippyjon Jones is a little Siamese cat with over-sized ears and an intense imagination. In this picture book, he gets caught by his mama looking at a mummy magazine which she swears will give him nightmares. Skippyjon Jones goes to his room pouting and imagines himself in Egypt with his old friends, the Chimichangos on a journey "to the Under Mundo where mummitos rest in peas."
This fun-loving story filled with easy Spanish phrases and silly rhymes will have your kids giggling and laughing as Skippyjon Jones goes on wild adventure throughout Egypt and back into the loving arms of his own Mummito.
3. "My Friend is Sad" by Mo Willems
Mo Willems has written many books telling the story of a special friendship between two people, Elephant and Piggie. In "My Friend is Sad," Piggie notices her friend, Elephant, is sad and does what she can to cheer him up. She disguises herself as many different characters, and even though Elephant becomes excited with each one, he is depressed that he cannot share the experience with his best friend, Piggie.
Every page contains simple illustrations that resemble that of a comic book and the words, though they may be simple and easy to read, are still able to capture the hearts of little children as they begin to read.

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"Dealing with Dragons"

4. "Gregor the Overlander" by Suzanne Collins
Eleven-year-old Gregor and his little sister, Boots, have fallen through an old grate in the laundry room into a dark world located deep underground called the Underland. Here he meets pale-skinned humans with violet eyes, plus rats, cockroaches, spiders, and bats that are bigger than he is and that can talk.
All Gregor wants to do is get him and his sister back to New York City safely, but he soon finds himself becoming wrapped up in a prophecy where he becomes a warrior and his role will decide the fate of the Underland’s future.
This fantasy novel is well-written, fast-paced and action-packed with a story that will capture the imagination of everyone. Join Gregor on his journey as he becomes the enduring elder brother and a warrior that rises to every challenge.
5. "Dealing with Dragons" by Patricia C Wrede
Cimorene is princess of Linderwall, but she is too independent and tomboyish for everyone around her. Tired of lessons on etiquette and other feminine skills, she runs away from home and willingly becomes kidnapped by a dragon, Kazul, then to be returned back to the boring lifestyle of royalty. She turns away every determined rescuer and instead becomes the savior of dragons against all evil wizards and other abominable characters.
Wrede captures the hearts of readers everywhere with her unique voice and humor, creating a world where fairy tales happen, allusions abound in plenty and the imaginations of children can soar onto their own adventures.

Lauren is a recent college graduate from Southern Utah University with an English degree. Currently, she works as a librarian at a local city library.
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