‘Too Purpley!’ – Tuesday’s Look at this Book

* Every Tuesday we introduce you to a favorite book from our secret book room, and give you a unique “recipe for fun” this week over on our Book Cook page.

 Too Purpley

Today’s great book: Too Purpley by Jean Reidy with illustrations by Genevieve Leloup  (2011, Bloomsbury USA Childrens)

The Author’s Book Website:  http://www.jeanreidy.com/TOO_PURPLEY.html

Time to Read:  short and sweet; great for naptime or bedtime or anytime

Summary:  from the dustjacket…”You know exactly what clothes you want to wear, right? Well, you sure know which ones you don’t want…for little fashionistas everywhere.”

Best Quote:  “Too itchy, too scratchy, too stichy, too matchy!”

Our View:  This is the number one book that our 2-year old niece asked us to read with her nearly every day for two weeks while they were with us during the Christmas holiday.  By day three, she could read it to us – which is part of the magic of books like this that include just two or three or four words on each page that are directly related to the wonderful illustrations of the little girl that takes the starring role in this story.  Our little one was reading it for herself in no time and that makes for a great, early success in bringing children along as lifetime readers.  Regarding the topic of clothes in this book, I remember when our girls were little that one of the great opportunities we had as parents to help them learn to make decisions and choose wisely was in allowing them to choose what they wanted to wear.  Depending upon the activities of certain days (church, park, school, around the house, outside in the dirt and mud, etc.) , we had in mind what we would prefer they wear, so we would give them two different outfits to choose from, and that helped us all.  Other times, it was just a matter of their mood as to what they wanted to wear, and that is where Too Purpley shines!  We all feel this way at one time or another, whether we are young or old, and this book just gives words and ideas to that very topic.  The colorful pages are exceptionally bright and cheery and often funny, while the text is short and sweet and makes for an easy read that concludes with a decision and a smile.  Don’t miss this one!

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe – “Too Purpley Cows “ – created by the kids to accompany this particular book.

We’re Right Behind You Dad

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When I was a boy, we moved from the city to a farm near my grandparents.  Our little trailer house was nestled right between three things that often kept me awake and worried after dark at night.  They were a dilapidated hundred-year old two-story house to the west, an even older (and only a bit smaller) barn to the east, and an ancient cement cellar with a heavy metal door to the north.

By day, these three places were a boy’s adventurous dreamscapes and were replete with hidden closets under creaking staircases and musty smells and scratch marks from who knows what kinds of animals.  There were boxes of old newspapers and various pieces of archaic furniture in the old house’s nearly collapsed attic and large leather harnesses and ropes and pulleys hung from wooden slats of the dark stalls that lined each side of the old barn.  The dimly lit cellar was a great place to think of spooky stories to tell my younger sister and an even better (and brave) place to hide in a game of hide-and-seek.

By night, these three places were another thing altogether.  They represented every scary movie that I had ever heard of (and I only knew of a few at this point in my young life) and seemed to surely be the birthplaces of every monster and ghost and eerie sound that the world of a young boy’s mind could muster.

By day, they were my Mt. Everest.  By night, they were my Legend of Boggy Creek.

Today we visit the old house, the spot where the barn once stood, and the musty cellar with my children and I tell them of the feelings I had when I was their age.  I keenly remember the experiences, the sights and sounds of it all, as the memories come flooding back to me – the fun and the fear and the courage and the weakness and the dark and the light, the dreams and the nightmares.

While we were searching through the ruins of these familiar places, I noticed that when we would enter a particularly dark or cobweb-infested area my youngest daughter would say, “We’re right behind you dad.”  And then…they would only take a step after I took a step.  They would only move ahead after I moved ahead.  They would only laugh after I laughed.

And it all makes me think – I was only taking a step because I knew they needed to take a step.  I was only moving ahead because I knew they needed to move ahead. I was only laughing because I knew they needed to laugh.

Then as a boy, I remember how it felt to try to navigate my courage and my fear, my dreams and my nightmares, all at the same time…for myself.

Now as a father, I know how it feels to navigate my courage and my fear, my dreams and my nightmares all at the same time…for them.

 

Reading for One

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I am so glad we were invited to a family birthday party for Greyson Moore. He’s a little boy who just turned one year old. Full of energy and curiosity and happy with the kind of smile that makes you somehow feel better about life in general, we really enjoyed this party.

As his mom and dad set the many presents around him at the center of the living room floor, we all gathered to watch him enjoy this “toy extravaganza” rite of passage. What happened next though really surprised me.  His mother could barely get him to unwrap the gifts because he was so intrigued with each of the birthday cards!

What surprises me is that I was actually one of the adults who had suggested that buying a birthday card for a one-year old is surely nothing more than a Hallmark scheme.  I was wrong and I was intrigued to see this little boy so entranced with holding these cards in his hands just like he was holding a book, and acting as though he was reading them.

Here’s what I’m thinking – Greyson has a family who not only reads to him but reads to themselves.  He is watching and learning how to hold a book, how to look at a book, and eventually he will find that reading a book is as natural as walking and talking.

So here’s to books and birthdays and big families and (I can’t believe I am about to type this) Hallmark cards for toddlers!

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P.S. As I was finishing up this post late last week, my wife’s good friend sent us a photo of her little girl, Alleeah (a little more than a year old) who had been “reading to herself” in her crib that morning.  I love people who read before they can read!!!

Alleeah reading

 

Dad Ears

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When in doubt, listen!  That is the lesson I have been learning over these nearly 19 years as I try to figure out how to be a good dad.  The listening comes in many ways, but there were two just this week (in the course of only four days) that need telling, so here we go:

1.  My brother-in-law, Chris, has three children and it was his middle child’s birthday.  Two little boys were at the house celebrating with him in a big Minecraft-themed party and it was time to unwrap all of the cool boy presents in the living room.  As he began to tear through each one, his younger sister became visibly brokenhearted that there were no presents for her to unwrap.  Her father quietly slipped away from the party and into her bedroom, where he grabbed several stuffed animals and a small toy from under her bed, found a box, and wrapped it all up with some extra paper.  As he entered the room and presented his little girl with this surprise gift, her eyes grew wide.  Her father held his breath as she opened the present and peered inside.  Instead of thinking these were just some old toys from her bedroom, she was jumping for joy and couldn’t believe that her father had given her such wonderful gifts!  Great work, dad!

And a good idea – I’m listening…

2.   Laura, a friend of ours whose daughter is in the same grade and school as our youngest, told us about helping her daughter with a school assignment.  The 3rd grade teacher had asked the children to read a biography and write a short essay about it.  Though her daughter is sometimes a reluctant reader and homework fan (as most 3rd graders tend to be at different times of the year), this mom was determined to help her enjoy this particular assignment.  They found a book about Amelia Earhart in the adult section of the library and read it there before heading to Starbucks to write the first draft of the essay.  What surprised this great mom was how, just by taking her daughter out of the daily routine of doing these types of assignments at home and letting her work at the library and then at a place like Starbucks, her daughter was not a bit reluctant to read or write and finished it in record time and with pride.  Great work, mom!

And another good idea – I’m listening…

When my wife and I were young parents, my aunt told us to always remember that we are, every day, raising our kids to leave home.  “Don’t EVER forget that,” she said.  She was reminding us that we are teaching our children what it will be like to live on their own someday, to have friends and family and finances and houses and yards and stress and arguments and love, etc.  We haven’t forget her priceless advice and it has made a world of difference in how we are parenting all three of our children.  An education professor once told me the best advice she ever received about working with young children when they are especially energetic and need some reigning in, “Keep all your wits about you and sit on the floor!”  I have never forgotten that wisdom and it indeed works very well.

These are just a few of the little things families out there are doing as they work hard to encourage and care for their children, things that do pay great dividends in helping them grow up and become thinkers and givers and maybe even parents themselves one day.  In a way, they are very simple things that take no more than a little extra time (if any at all in some cases) but they seem to have truly far-reaching consequences.

And that sounds to me like something worth listening for…

P.S. Below is a picture of Charlie Joe Jackson, an intriguing character by author Tommy Greenwald who could be really helpful at your house too, not in just coping with but celebrating reluctant readers.  The “Tips for Reading (if You Must)” list alone is priceless.  Click on Charlie’s picture to go straight to the website:

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