Category: Book Recommendations & Reviews

Best Books About Kindness and Friendship

Best Books About Kindness and Friendship

Valentine’s Day is around the corner! While February is typically known as a time to show romantic love, it’s also an excellent time to teach children about the power of friendship and and kindness. There are many great ways to teach kids to be kind to others, but our favorite is through books, of course!

Books about kindness and friendship give children the opportunity to learn about empathy in a safe environment. Taking time to talk about the characters and their choices is the most important part of the family read-aloud experience. Read on for our five favorite kindness books for kids!

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Best Books About Kindness & Friendship

(Rolling Prairie Readers does use affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission if you purchase any items we recommend. For the full disclosure policy, you can click here.) 

Chrysanthemum
by Kevin Henkes

I’ve talked about our love for Chrysanthemum in our favorite books for new readers post, but I really do recommend this book to everyone! It’s a great story for back to school or when a child is feeling anxious about a new experience. It’s also the perfect introduction to what bullying can look like in a classroom. Why don’t Chrysanthemum’s classmates stand up for her? Are they afraid they’ll be bullied next? Use this book to talk about what YOU would have done if you were in the book.

Bonus: You can also watch this one on DVD (narrated by Meryl Streep)!

Corduroy
by Don Freeman

Corduroy is one of those “classic” books that really has endured through many generations. It’s a sweet and simple story that any toddler will love, especially if there is a special lovey in the family. Use this book to talk about taking care of others. What does it look like to be a friend?

Officer Buckle & Gloria
by Peggy Rathmann

This is one of my favorite picture books because it’s just ridiculous from begining to end. Children will love looking at all the details in the illustrations! But the best part of this Caldecott-winning book is the true friendship between Gloria the dog and her human, Officer Buckle. It’s a great invitation to discuss how our friends can (and should!) bring out the best in us.

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother
by Patricia Polacco

Growing up, I always wanted an older brother. My husband tells me of his many adventures and mischief-filled days with his older brother, much like Patricia and Richie in this autobiographical book by my very favorite author. Don’t be turned off by the title; this relatable book ends with a very sweet moment between two siblings, showing our kids that family can be friends, too.

Chicken Sunday
by Patricia Polacco

As I mentioned, Ms. Polacco is my favorite children’s author, and I probably could list every book she’s ever written in this kindness category. But I am choosing Chicken Sunday as our family’s “book of the month” because it has so many rich characters and moments of kindness. Set a few years after the story above, Tricia is now living in California with her mom and brother. She has added new family members, neighbor Miss Eula and her grandsons Winston and Stewart, and builds a true friendship with hat shop owner Mr. Kodinski. This book features so many rich cultural and religious moments, showing our children what a life of diversity and respect can look like.

We’ll be taking the lessons found in Chicken Sunday and using them as a jumping off point for our “theme of the month” discussions in The Intentional Book Club.

Throughout the month of February, Club Founder Samantha Munoz is leading the conversation about using books to teach our kids about cultural awareness. She has family activity ideas, book recommendations, and even an interview with children’s author Medeia Cohan! I am so excited for this new, amazing resource for our family.

You can learn more about The Intentional Book Club here, or click on the image below to join us!

Join other intentional families in The Intentional Book Club!

Before you go, I would love to hear YOUR favorite kindness books for kids!

Best Books for New Readers

Best Books for New Readers

Not too long ago, a friend reached out to me for some new book recommendations. Her oldest daughter is getting ready for Kindergarten, and she wants to be sure that their family library has a variety of books for new readers. As parents, we often hear a lot about books for babies and great books for reading aloud, but finding “just right” readers for our five and six year olds that aren’t boring or dry can be tricky.

Note: I strongly believe we should continue reading to our children long after they become readers themselves. There are lots of beautiful picture books for older children, so don’t be too quick to rush into chapter books exclusively!

Best Books for New Readers | best books for kids, reading lists, recommended books, early readers, learning to read, printable list, free download

Children who are learning to read have lots of internal motivation…at first. As parents, our goal is to make sure that our children have access to humorous, high-interest books. You know, books that our children actually want to read. Keep in mind that some children will LOVE stories, while others will be drawn to non-fiction or how-to books. (One of my students, a reluctant reader, fell in love with joke books during third grade. He read every humor book the library had on the shelf before moving on to higher-quality literature in his fourth grade year.)

As the mom of a new reader myself, I try to keep a healthy balance between “easy reader” books and higher quality literature for my 1st grader. Honestly, I see it as being similar to checking out a Nicholas Sparks book and a classic by one of the Bronte sisters for myself. Sometimes, it’s nice to kick back with an easy “beach read.” Good readers read a lot, so new readers need lots of books to choose from.

Organizing Books for New Readers

Our home library used to be organized by author’s last name, similar to the public library. Once my youngest became an independent reader, I reorganized the shelves by reading level. It was a lot of work at first, but I’ve seen her confidence grow. It’s nice that she can quickly find a book that she wants to read from a tub of books she knows she can read. Scholastic has a Book Wizard tool that makes leveling most books a cinch!

Best Books for New Readers | best books for kids, reading lists, recommended books, early readers, learning to read, printable list, free download

Best Books for New Readers

This is not an exhaustive list, and your children might find other books they prefer! Hopefully it will give you a good starting place when you go into the library or book store. If you would like a printable copy of the list (with even more book ideas!), just fill out the form below. It will arrive in your inbox immediately.

(Just a reminder that Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links, at no additional cost to you. You can read our full disclosure policy here.)

Maisy books by Lucy Cousins

We read a LOT of Maisy when our girls were younger. There are lots of titles available, and the text is usually simple and silly.

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (and sequels) by Doreen Cronin

 

I believe strongly in the power of humor to keep new readers motivated. If your child doesn’t know the Click Clack series, add these to your library list!

Fairmount Avenue series by Tomie dePaola

Tomie dePaola is incredible. I adore all of his books (and there are LOTS), but this sweet autobiographical series is a must-have for new readers. Tomie’s childhood is laugh-out-loud funny and sweet.

mouse books by Kevin Henkes

Chrysanthemum and Owen are our two favorites, but Lilly’s adventures are fun, too! Kevin Henkes knows how to write for children, so you can’t really go wrong with any of his books.

Pete the Cat books by Eric Litwin

When Pete the Cat first arrived in bookstores and libraries, children and adults alike were smitten. For some reason, James Dean (the creator of Pete) and Eric Litwin (the original author) have split ways and the newer books aren’t as memorable or fun to read. I Love My White Shoes and Four Groovy Buttons are great!

Everything written by Leo Lionni

Lionni is a gifted artist, and most of his books feature animals, a sure kid-pleaser. Little Blue and LIttle Yellow is different from most of his books, which oddly makes it my favorite. A Color of His Own and Swimmy are other beloved books in our house.

Frog and Toad collection by Arnold Lobel

I remember reading these books as a child, and I love sharing them with my own girls.

Anne Rockwell

As I mentioned above, my second daughter much prefers non-fiction books. Anne Rockwell’s stories are a good balance–lots of facts and simple illustrations! These two were big hits in our family.

Henry and Mudge books by Cynthia Rylant

Cynthia Rylant is a fantastic author for new readers. Henry and Mudge is one of two series she’s written that I often recommend for young children. What’s better than a series of early reader books featuring a boy and his dog? (P.S. When I Was Young in the Mountains is one of my favorite picture books of all time!)

Mr. Putter and Tabby books by Cynthia Rylant

This is another sweet series of books for new readers. Try the first two books from the library and see if your family enjoys the characters.

Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems

Mo Willems has been a favorite author of mine since Knuffle Bunny came out. The Elephant & Piggie series is laugh out loud funny, while still talking about some of the BIG feelings that our new readers struggle with. Best of all, there are lots of choices to keep your kiddo giggling.

What are your favorite books for new readers?


Best Books for New Readers | best books for kids, reading lists, recommended books, early readers, learning to read, printable list, free download

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Book Subscription Boxes for Kids: Bookroo

Book Subscription Boxes for Kids: Bookroo

Nearly two years ago, we moved from the seventh largest city in the United States to a small Midwestern town. We went from having a bookstore within walking distance of our home to (mostly) ordering our books online. We absolutely love our local library, but I also believe in the power of book ownership for children. For that reason, I’ve been interested in book subscription boxes for our family.

Book Subscription Boxes for Kids: Bookroo | read aloud, children's books, early literacy, activities for kids, family activities, raising readers

Last month, Bookroo reached out to our family and asked if we would be interested in reviewing one of their book boxes. I headed over to their website and immediately fell in love with their story and purpose:

“Our mission is to enable and empower parents to build their children’s book collections in an affordable and exciting way through curated monthly book deliveries. We believe in the power and impact of the written word in the life of a child, and believe it’s never too early to start reading to children!”

Bookroo was founded by three sisters-in-law who want to “make it convenient for parents and magical for kids to fall in love with reading and grow their book collections!”

Book Subscription Boxes for Kids: Bookroo | read aloud, children's books, early literacy, activities for kids, family activities, raising readers

Within a week, our box from Bookroo arrived on our front doorstep. The girls helped me open the package and were so excited to find TWO wrapped presents inside. After tearing off the (beautiful!) wrapping paper, they both settled in to read their stories…and then switched and read the other book, too.

Here are four things we LOVE about Bookroo:

  1. The books are fun and unique! I could immediately tell that the selection process for Bookroo is vigorous and thoughtful. Both picture books fit the monthly theme (“imagination”) in a different way, giving us lots of opportunities to compare and contrast the plots, settings, and characters.
  2. The entire experience was magical, from start to finish! From the packaging to the wrapping to the extra recommended activities, our kids loved the entire process. In a time where attention spans can be short, we have gotten hours of fun and snuggles from our box.
  3. The company is passionate about literacy! From the blog to their Facebook page, Bookroo is always there to share the best tips and author interviews with their community.  
  4. The subscription is affordable and valuable. We love books in our house, and I’m happy to invest in quality products for our family library. After working as an independent consultant for an online book company for a year, I can vouch that Bookroo’s prices are competitive!

Right now, you can get 25% off any multi-month subscription (3,6, or 12 months) using the code BF2017 through midnight PST on Monday, November 27th.* If you are looking to get your children the gift of reading this holiday season, we can’t recommend Bookroo highly enough.

Have you tried book subscription boxes for your family? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Book Subscription Boxes for Kids: Bookroo | read aloud, children's books, early literacy, activities for kids, family activities, raising readers

* Bookroo reached out to our family with a free box of books. This is not a paid review and no affiliate links have been used. Here are the details of the Black Friday-Cyber Monday sale: One redemption per family. Valid for new customers only. Existing customers may use for the purchase of one gift subscription. Valid 11/24 – midnight PST 11/27