Monthly Archives: January 2011

What Do Monarch Butterflies & My January/February Read Alouds Have In Common?

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

— Jacqueline Kennedy


The Illinois Monarch Award was established in 2002 by the Illinois School Library Media Association. Since it’s inception I’ve always featured the twenty nominee books in the library and set aside the months of January and February to read as many of the books as I can to students in grades Kindergarten through Third Grades during their designated library times.  During the last week in February, students throughout the state of Illinois may vote for their favorite Monarch Nominee book that they’ve read themselves or if it was read to them.  We use my office as the polling booth for the students to cast their vote marking an “X” next to the picture/title of their much-loved Monarch nominee book.  After the students have voted they anxiously await to hear the news and discover which book was chosen to receive the yearly Monarch Award.  Over the years our students have agreed several times with other students throughout the state of Illinois to come up with the winning title.  As always the list of twenty nominee books is phenomenal!  Discover these titles available to you and your children at your public library or add them to your home library collection!  Enjoy!

Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A...Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale by Deborah Hopkinson

What Illinois reading list wouldn’t be complete without a tale about our 16th president Abraham Lincoln! The year is 1816 when Abe was a mere boy of seven years old living in Kentucky.  His real life friend, Austin Gollaher, is just as adventuresome as Abe and they both are warned not to venture anywhere near Knob Creek – but boys will be boys!  They try crossing the creek using a log because some partridges on the other side have caught their attention, but their plans go awry! Without giving too much away, read to find out how Austin Gollaher played an important role in the life of Abraham Lincoln.

A Couple of Boys Have the Best... Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever  by Marla Frazee

What could be more fun than a summer vacation at Nature Camp??!! James and Eamon spend a week at Eamon’s grandparents’ home for a fun filled time but neither of the boys is too keen about nature. Both would rather watch tv, play video games and eat Eamon’s grandmother’s famous waffles.  Grandpa Bill does his best to entice the boys to visit his favorite place à the exceptional penguin exhibit at the nature museum but again they aren’t interested.  As I read this to the kids, their favorite event was of the boys jumping up and down on the inflatable mattress! By the end of the book there is a very touching scene. Delightful book!

Cowboy and Octopus Cowboy and Octopus by Jon Scieszka

These very short stories about two friends, Cowboy and Octopus, are just too dang funny – if I may steal a word from Cowboy! My favorite one is, Who’s There?!  Octopus thinks it would be amusing to tell knock knock jokes but trying to pull Cowboy’s leg with them is just too confusing for him to understand. Scieszka again has a comical look at friendship with Cowboy and Octopus – hope there is more to follow!

Dog and Bear Dog and Bear: Two Friends – Three Stories by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Within this book are cute and precious short stories about Dog and Bear.  Each story conveys the important idea of friendship to young children in a humorous fashion! They are somewhat reminiscent of Frog and Toad. My favorite story is “Play With Me! Play With Me!”

Fred Stays With Me! Fred Stays with Me! by Nancy Coffelt

This will particularly strike a cord with those children affected by divorce.  Even though the young girl in the story goes between both of her parents homes, her one constant companion in her life is her dog Fred. He is her perpetual buddy. He is a friend who she can always count on to always by her side.  That’s just how dogs are with their masters. But when Fred starts to get into trouble at both of her parents’ homes and they both don’t want Fred there, she insists that: “Fred stays with me!” Eventually cooperation wins out!

Keena Ford and the Second Grad...Keena Ford and the Second Grade Mix-Up

 by Melissa Thomson

Read my review.

Leonardo, the Terrible MonsterLeonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Poor Leonardo just wants to be a terrible scary monster but instead he’s just terrible at being a scary monster. Leonardo, after much studying goes off in pursuit for just the perfect unsuspecting boy to finally scare.  The target is no other than Sam who Leonardo discovers is “the most scaredy-cat kid around!”  Leonardo creeps up on him to “scare the tuna-salad out of him” (kids love this line!) What Leonardo learns about Sam changes his mind about being a terribly scary monster to a terribly good friend!

Rhyming Dust BunniesRhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas

There are four rhyming vibrant colored dust bunnies named Ed, Ted, Ned, & Bob. Each time they try to rhyme words, Bob fails to join in the fun of the rhyming game and is corrected – or is he really trying to tell his rhyming buddies something is about to happen???  Discover this hilarious and amusing tale of the rhyming dust bunnies that will have children giggling!

Splat the Cat Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton

Ever hear of a cat with a mouse for a pet? Well this is exactly what Splat the Cat has for a pet! Splat is quite nervous starting his first day of kitten school so he decides to bring his pet mouse Seymour with him, hidden in his lunchbox. His teacher, Mrs. Wimpydimple, teaches the class the most important rule for cat – “cats chase mice!” When Seymour gets lose during lunchtime there is total chaos until Splat comes to the rescue. A very funny read aloud!

The Squeaky Door The Squeaky Door by Margaret Read MacDonald

Love this book! What a brilliant and exceptional read-aloud!! The kids loved participating as I read this cumulative tale!  Grandma tucks the little boy into bed asking if he’s afraid but of course he says he’s not. She turns out the light, “Click” – closes the door, “Squeeaak” – and the next thing you hear is, “Waah” from a very frightened little boy.  Grandma then proceeds to bring in a slew of animals to help calm her grandson down.  As each animal is tucked into bed with him Grandma asks if he’s afraid, we hear the click of the light going off, the squeak of the door being closed, and finally the repercussions of being afraid of the dark!

When Dinosaurs Came with Every... When Dinosaurs Came With Everything by Elise Broach

Very cute premise of this story – what if instead of getting a sucker, balloon, or some other little treat when visiting various places – a child received a DINOSAUR instead?!!  One day a young boy sets off with his mother to do some errands.  They stop at the donut shop, the barber shop, and the doctor’s office & at each place the little boy receives a different type of dinosaur. “Today dinosaurs come with everything!” What an ingenious idea to put forth to children! You just never know….


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