When Annick Press, an independent publisher based in Toronto, approached us with their new fall catalogue we were pretty excited. My kids meticulously scrolled through the list of new books and argued about which ones to pick. We've reviewed our choices below but please head over to their website to see the whole selection (a few others new releases are pictured above). Many thanks to Annick Press for the books!
Written by Robert Munsch and Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Release date: September 3, 2019
My kids were immediately drawn to this book since they are so familiar with the work of Munsch (aren't all Canadians?). This is quite a different book though, as it isn't a story in the traditional sense. In 'Moods', each page has a picture from one of Munsch's classic stories and a single word to match it. An emotion or mood (see photo below). It was perfectly timed for us leading up to the start of school. My youngest just started kindergarten last week and he was a little unsure of his feelings about it. We spent time during the summer reading through this slowly and thinking about what the characters were doing in each picture and where the feelings might have come from.
We do a lot of talking about our feelings in this house and I'm always happy to find a new tool to spark discussion. Using characters and stories that we are all so familiar with really helps my kids relate to what they are going through. I also love using his books in class because he represents our beautifully diverse population and kids can see themselves represented in the pages. This book would be an asset to any early elementary classroom or family working on emotional intelligence.
Why Don't Cars Run on Apple Juice?
Real Science Questions from Real Kids
Written by Kira Vermond and Illustrated by Suharu Ogawa
Release date: September 10, 2019
This book was my 7 year old's top choice. He loves asking questions and finding out new facts. He could have easily written the title. It was the first book he picked up when they arrived and he is still working his way through it daily. It is absolutely packed full of information. Each topic/question has a long page or two of details including beautiful illustrations that help illuminate the given answers.
It is recommended for ages 7-11 (grades 2-6). I would definitely have this in my classroom library and can see kids returning to it again and again to discover fun new information. Some of the questions/answers covered are "How do people think without language?" or "Why do we have different faces and ants do not?". Adults will enjoy reading this just as much as children (I certainly have!).
This book is an excellent tool for anyone looking to increase or enhance an interest in STEM (science, technology and maths) themes.
Our Big Little Place
Written by James A. Conan and Illustrated by Nicolle Lalonde
Release date: September 10, 2019
This is a sweet story told from a child's perspective, about life in an apartment building. It opens with our little narrator explaining that he hears his parents talking sometimes about their space being too small. He can't understand this because it feels so big to him! He talks about the feeling of being part of a community, part of the city and enjoying the view. He explains what he likes to play both inside (his apartment and the hallways) and outside at the park with his friends.
The story uses the simple idea of how children often see so much more beauty around them then adults do. More importantly though, the story normalises life in an apartment building. As a teacher in an urban environment, it is extremely important to me that my students can relate to and see themselves in the texts we read together. More often than not, characters in children's stories live in detached houses. Not many (if any at all!) of my kids can relate to that.
The book is recommended for ages 4-7 (grades Pre-K-2).
A Visual Exploration of Energy
Written by Shaker Paleja and Illustrated by Glenda Tse
We already own and love Eat Up! (see our previous review of it by clicking here), so were more than happy to explore a book with a similar format but focusing on energy. These books are great transition books for kids who enjoy reading on their own but can sometimes be overwhelmed by chapter books. There is a ton of writing in here, but the layout and info-graphic style makes it much less intimidating.
I happen to have a son who loves all things science related and seemed to be born an eco-warrior, so this book has fascinated him. It helps me as a parents when I can't answer all the questions that come at me and also gives us a lot to talk about and expand on. The text explains what energy is and where is comes from. It breaks it down into renewable and non-renewable. It reviews emissions and climate effects as well as discussing future possibilities for energy.
Whether or not this topic would be your child's first choice, I think it is a wonderful book to have as a socially responsible parent. I have always reminded my kids to turn lights off when leaving their room or not to stand with the fridge door open. After reading this, they seem to remember on their own and are more motivated to do so. As with most non-fiction books, I also think it would benefit any classroom.
50 Underwear Questions
A Bare-All History
Written by Tanya Lloyd Kyi and Illustrated by Ross Kinnaird
My 4 year old chose this book for obvious reasons. I wouldn't normally say a book of this length (105 pages) would be suitable for his age, but with a topic like underwear it is perfect. Adults and kids will all learn something new from this detailed history of undies. While my 4 year old will only listen to a page or two at a time, the funny illustrations keep him flipping through the pages even when his attention span is waning.
The chapters, which are surprisingly detailed, cover everything from what underwear was like in ancient times (Egypt and Rome) to how they did laundry in Medieval times. They review fashion trends like corsets, codpieces and petticoats. An exploration of different fabrics used will make you feel itchy all over (imagine sweating into burlap all day?).
This book is a fun way to sneak in a bit of historical learning without it feeling like some heavier history topics. Anyone with a reluctant history learner (or a lover of unusual historical facts!) should pick up a copy.
Mindfulness is a hot topic in educational circles and in schools around the world at the minute. For good reason too. The demands on children's performance academically are only getting tougher (and at earlier ages too!). 73% of teachers agreed that "anxiety disorders were a pressing concern (statistic from Children's Mental Health Ontario). The amount of curriculum to cover is nearly impossible and it leaves little space for non-academic issues. However mindfulness practise is starting to find space inside the classroom. It's a great alternative to disciplinary actions and working with children who display challenging behaviour. So what exactly is it?
A quick google search will provide you with this definition: a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.
In other words, it teaches children how to handle their emotions and actions or reactions. A lot of adults are probably thinking they could still use this training themselves (hands up here - we are learning right along with our little ones!).
It is one thing to be aware of a need and a whole other thing to be able to approach that need practically. As a teacher, I know how useful it is to have great tools on hand. So far, the best thing we have found is this kit from Generation Mindful. They began with a Kickstarter campaign and have been spreading their respectful and peaceful message around the world ever since. You can read more about the wonderful lady who started the company and the products in general, on their website HERE.
You can buy all different tools, but we went for the whole package. To start with, there are the Peacemakers playing cards (pictured above) which are beautifully designed with 7 themed animals, each holding a message that can be used to generate conversation. They can be used in conjunction with the poster and stickers, as you work through each theme. There is another poster explaining the themes (forgiveness, intuition, peace, love, balance, joy and power) and linking them to various emotions. There are also emotion posters, which are adorably illustrated to show these emotions to kids (fabulous for younger learners or any aged visual learner). There is a poster which offers strategies for calming down - again with great visuals. I think this poster has been the most used in our house. It is on the bedroom wall next to the 'Calming Corner' poster - another one in the pack. Our 5 year old will go here when he is upset to remind himself of what tools he can use. Being a book lover, he is a huge fan of the 'read a book' calming suggestion.
Now I can't say that his explosive behaviour has disappeared because of this kit. It is very hard to get him to remember the calming steps when he is full blown angry or upset. And that is okay. Now I have learned how I should react in those situations and just let those moments pass. When he is calmer we talk about it and end up having very sweet conversations. We will keep working on it. Every day. Because life isn't going to get any easier for this kid!
Get your hands on this book here:
Part of our work on recognising our emotions and learning to calm down has led us to doing yoga as a family. Well...trying to at least! I did yoga through both pregnancies (the second pregnancy was fun - doing yoga with a toddler on your back really helps balance that big belly) and unfortunately haven't found time to continue doing it. Until recently.
My son came home from kindergarten one day telling me that they had done yoga and he loved it. They followed a YouTube series called Cosmic Kids, which I admit is pretty cute. They tell stories and the yoga moves are the actions to go along with the stories. Buuuuut...it is still TV or screen time in my mind. Which sort of goes against what yoga is about. I let them do it for fun sometimes but I really prefer to work through the moves together with out them zoning out on the screen.
Get your hands on this book here:
So off we went to the library in search of some books! Would you believe there are a fabulous bunch of books out there, all about yoga for kids?! Of course there are, you're thinking. There are books about everything! Well they're new to me and I am loving them.
Our favourite time to use the books are before bed as part of our bedtime routine and on weekends when things are starting to get a bit crazy and we need something to help us wind down. We've been doing it for a number of months now and we've gotten to the point that my 2 year old will randomly bust out a downward dog in the grocery aisle.
Want to give it a try in your house? These are our favourite books (so far):
By Laurie Jordan and Diana Mayo
This book is really perfect before bedtime. It is written in rhyme and describes how to do the moves with easy to follow descriptions. The illustrations also show step by step moves for each pose. Every page is a bit like being in a dream with kids drawn inside seashells and floating in space with butterfly wings.
By Brian Russo
This is more of an actual story book, with a little bunny who wants his animal friends to stay and do a bit of yoga with him. Each friend refuses, using excuses that probably sound familiar (I have no time! I'm in a hurry! etc). By the end, they join in and connect with each other properly. This is a great book to use to introduce the idea of stopping and being still together.
I Am Yoga
by Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds
Both I Am Yoga and I Am Peace are visually stunning books, drawn in bright watercolour swirls. I Am Yoga obviously focuses on yoga poses and uses short descriptions of each move. It is really easy to follow and kids can use it on their own.
With I Am Peace, I like to work through it as a talking point with my kids. With statements like, "I can watch my worries gently pop and disappear. I let things go" you are likely to really challenge kids to think about how they handle situations. A great tool for homes and classrooms too.
Hello! I'm Deb,
a book-toting mother of two and an elementary (primary) school teacher. I love making stories engaging and interactive for kids.
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