Category Archives: Preschool

Just Suppose: A Review of ‘Is a Worry Worrying You’

“Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

Reading/Interest Level

Picture book – Ages 4-7

Review and Comments

Sometimes a child’s small worry can quickly become an upsetting situation. This book addresses these concerns by defining exactly what a worry is and then continues to describe it in different ways as the story progresses – it’s real, it can cause sadness, it can be scary sometimes, and it can stay as long as you let it.

Examples of worrisome problems are illustrated with each fanciful image beginning with ”Suppose….”.  The event escalates from something silly like “Suppose, just suppose, one hundred elephants come to tea….” to a quick solution that is meant to acknowledge the worry and calm the situation.  These instructions will help a child realize that big worries can be handled with patience and practical ideas.  At the end of the book, helpful approaches are suggested so the worries don’t escalate into those 100 elephants coming for tea!

Continue reading Just Suppose: A Review of ‘Is a Worry Worrying You’

Learning to Be Generous: A Review of ‘If you Plant a Seed’

“For it is in giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi

“Acts of generosity are a source of blessing to the giver as well as the receiver.” – St. John Chrysostom

Reading level

Pre-K – Grade 2

Review and Comments

If You Plant a Seed is a wonderful book that will inspire young children. The story expresses how deliberate selfishness and then small acts of kindness can transform into either negative or positive events. The absolutely beautiful illustrations visually capture the imagination and perfectly enhance this story of few words.

It all begins when a rabbit and mouse plant a variety of vegetable seeds in a garden.  While they wait for the seeds to grow, the reader can inspect and enjoy the illustrations of time passing. Finally, the plants are perfectly delicious looking, and the pleasure of the two friends is obvious.  In the midst of the mouse and rabbit enjoying their garden meal, a few bird friends are watching…. hungrily staring actually. It is very obvious they want some of the garden bounty also. 

Continue reading Learning to Be Generous: A Review of ‘If you Plant a Seed’

Fun at the Beach: A Review of ‘Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea’

“Come to the beach, where the sea is blue, and little white waves come running at you. A wave comes splashing, over your toes. You just stand still, and away it goes. We’ll build a castle down by the sea, and look for shells if you’ll come with me.”  – Anonymous

Reading Level

Grades 2-3

AR 2.5 (0.5 points)

Interest Level

Pre-K-2

Possible Concerns

There are no concerns with this book.

Review and Comments

Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea is the sixth book in a series of twenty-eight beginning chapter books for emerging readers.   In this particular episode, Henry, his dad, and his pet dog, Mudge, spend a fun filled day the beach. 

“The ocean was waiting.  It was blue and white and forever.”

When they finally arrive they immediately run for the water.  Henry and Dad are very brave playing in the big waves, but Mudge isn’t quite so sure about the surf.  He prefers the beach and a nice snooze in the sand.   Besides the water fun, Dad and Henry build a sand castle and eat hot dogs and snow cones. There is a bit of excitement when a large, unexpected wave covers the castle and loyal Mudge bravely rescues Dad’s favorite red lobster. Their day ends with a pleasant walk on the beach.  It is definitely a father-son-dog day to remember.

Continue reading Fun at the Beach: A Review of ‘Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea’

A PROACTIVE PLAN: A REVIEW OF ‘GOOD PICTURES BAD PICTURES JR.’

“God desires from you the least degree of purity of conscience more than all the works you can perform.”
–St. John of the Cross

Interest Level

3-6 years

Review and Comments

Reviewing Good Pictures Bad Pictures was challenging because of the subject matter.  The message is meant to introduce children to a “safe and healthy media experience.”  I feel the book handles this very serious topic with simple honesty and an effective, valuable plan. We want our children to be safe especially in today’s world, but this grandma’s heart is ever so sad and troubled that very young children must be armed against such an evil reality.

Continue reading A PROACTIVE PLAN: A REVIEW OF ‘GOOD PICTURES BAD PICTURES JR.’

TREASURED MEMORIES: A REVIEW OF ‘NANA UPSTAIRS AND NANA DOWNSTAIRS’

“You have taught me, O God, from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds. And now that I am old and grey, O God, forsake me not, till I proclaim your strength to every generation that is to come.” – Psalm 71:17-18

Reading Level

3.4 AR [0.5 points]

Grade 3

Interest Level

Pre-K – Grade 2

Review and Comments

Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs is a true story based on Tomie dePaola’s early life.  His close relationship with his grandmothers is very touching.  Besides the obvious love Tommy has for his grandmothers, he also experiences the sad reality of grief from their deaths, which may be difficult for sensitive children.  During his healing however, he begins to understand that the love of his grandmothers is never lost or forgotten.  It will always be a cherished memory in his heart. 

Continue reading TREASURED MEMORIES: A REVIEW OF ‘NANA UPSTAIRS AND NANA DOWNSTAIRS’

40 Books for the Forty Days of Lent

Lent is not my favorite season. There. I said it out loud. It’s a rough one for me, but I’m making a serious effort NOT to pass my ‘bad attitude’ towards this holy time down to my children.

I’ve looked for ways to teach my young kids about their relationship with God and helping others and making sacrifices during the Lenten season. Each year I work to try new things and see what works and what doesn’t. (Let’s be real, there’s been a lot that hasn’t worked!) Last year we did the Jesus Tree from Nancy over at Catholic Sprouts. My kids LOVED it! (You can buy it here.) So we are planning to do it again this year. And I have a few new ideas up my sleeve. (Backyard stations of the cross? We shall see!)

But as you all know, I love books. There’s no better way to teach kids than by curling up with them to read a book. Most holidays and seasons are FULL of book lists, but Lent is one that doesn’t have quite so many options.

This is why I’ve put this list together! Consider it my Lenten offering to you. I’ve tried to give as many options as possible. One for each day of Lent if necessary! This list is full of prayer books, reflection books, beautiful picture books, religious stories retold, Catholic fiction stories, stories of sacrifice, and stories of giving to others.

So, this Lent, find some books that might work for you and your family and have blessed, beautiful, and holy Lent!

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Books of Prayer/Reflection for Children

Continue reading 40 Books for the Forty Days of Lent

Only the Truth: A Review of ‘The Empty Pot’

 “To be honest as this world goes is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.” —William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Reading Level

AR 3.8 [0.5 points]

3.0-3.9 ATOS Book Level [ATOS readability formula represents the difficulty of the text]

Interest Level

Pre-K – Grade 5

Review and Comments

The Empty Pot is an inspirational Chinese folk tale about honesty and honor, bravely demonstrated by a little boy named Ping.

The Emperor is getting older and realizes he must find someone to take his place – someone who will be an honorable leader.  Since he has no children, he looks to all the children in his kingdom to find that one exceptional child.  His plan will surely reveal someone who is worthy.  He invites all the children of his kingdom to his palace and gives each child flower seeds to plant and nurture for the next year.  Then, they are to return and present their best flowers to the Emperor, and he will make his decision. Continue reading Only the Truth: A Review of ‘The Empty Pot’

The Earth Provides: A Review of ‘How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World’

“God created the universe in such a manner that all in common might derive their food from it, and that the Earth should also be a property common to all.” – St. Ambrose

Reading Level

AR 3.1 [0.5 points]

Interest Level

Pre-K – Grade 2

Review and Comments

A plan to make an apple pie seems rather straightforward.   After all, it’s only a matter of following a few important steps beginning with a trip to the grocery store. If the store is closed, however, how does one get all the necessary ingredients?  Well, you just travel around the world and gather the best and freshest items on your list. And a bonus to the trip is the experience of traveling on different modes of transportation from a steamer to a parachute.  The shopping list takes the reader to Italy for semolina, France for the best possible eggs, Sri Lanka for the amazing spice of cinnamon, England for the freshest milk, Jamaica for sweet sugar cane, and crisp apples from Vermont. Continue reading The Earth Provides: A Review of ‘How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World’

Fill Us With Joy: A Review of ‘The Most Beautiful Christmas Story’

 “And in the end, everything else will turn out to be unimportant and inessential; except for this: Father, Child, and Love.” – Pope Saint John Paul II

Interest Level

3 years+

Review and Comments

The Most Beautiful Christmas Story is a wonderful book for young children about Jesus’ birth beginning with the Annunciation and ending with the Holy Family in Nazareth after their time in Egypt.  I was struck by two things while reading this book.  First, the large illustrations, each covering two pages, are filled with wonderful details that truly enhance the story. The second thing that stands out for me is the words and phrases interwoven throughout the story that express the miracle of Christmas.   The first sentence proclaims beautifully that “God sent the Angel Gabriel…”  What a wonderful way to introduce the story of God’s amazing plan.  Then, Mary waits for the Savior with hope,  St. Joseph tenderly whispers to Jesus that their hearts are full of love, the shepherds are filled with peace and joy, the Wise Men feel the light of the star as a sign, and when the Holy Family travels to Egypt, Mary declares that God is with us.  All of these expressions of God’s beautiful love truly convey the Christmas message. Continue reading Fill Us With Joy: A Review of ‘The Most Beautiful Christmas Story’

A Possibility for Something Good: A Review of ‘What Do You Do With a Problem?’

“It is not that they cannot see the solution.  It is they cannot see the problem.”  – G. K. Chesterton

Reading Level   

P – Grade 3

Review and Comments

What to do with a problem?  Now that is a dilemma we have all encountered.  The little boy in this story faces a problem he absolutely does not want.  His problem is not specifically defined, but it is extremely unsettling to him.  As the story unfolds his questions and emotional responses together with the expressive illustrations show how small he feels while confronting his ever-expanding problem.

When the boy first becomes aware of the problem, he immediately wants nothing to do with it.  He does everything he can to make it go away.  He even tries to ignore it but that does not help at all.  It first appears as a small cloud above his head and then begins to expand until “it looked as if it would swallow him up.”  And at the peak of his distress, the cloud is swirling around him. Continue reading A Possibility for Something Good: A Review of ‘What Do You Do With a Problem?’