Red: A Crayon's Story
by Michael Hall
In this book, Red is a crayon who doesn't do a very good job at being red because despite having a "red" label, Red is actually blue. Red's family and those around him worry and try to help him be red ("he needs more practice," "he needs to mix with other colors," "he's not very bright"). But although Red works so hard to be red, practicing drawing strawberries and cherries and hearts, what he draws just doesn't turn out red. One day, another crayon asks Red to draw an ocean. Red doesn't think he can do that because he's Red, but when he tries, he discovers he can easily draw an ocean. That is when he realizes he is actually blue and is quite good at drawing all things blue (skies, blueberries, blue jeans, etc.).
We first listened to the story at library story time, and I really liked it. There are several great lessons that this book can teach, such as the concepts of discovering who you really are beyond any labels, looking at and appreciating others beyond their labels, and finding your hidden strengths.
Hopper 2's review: A billion hundred thumbs up. Likes it because "he's really, really blue."
Hopper 1's review: 56 thumbs up. Likes it because "someone saw he was blue" and likes "the blue strawberries."
Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand
by Liz and Jay Scott with help from Alex Scott, illustrated by Pam Howard
This book tells the story of real-life Alex Scott, who started Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds to help find a cure for childhood cancers. Alex spent much of her short life battling cancer, but wanted to help sick kids like herself. So she made a plan to have a lemonade stand to raise money. People heard about her lemonade stand and came out in a big way to support it and to express how inspiring she was. Alex started her Lemonade Fund and then made a plan to have kids across the United States hold lemonade stands and raise more money for the cause. From there the movement grew and has been very successful.
This is a cute rhyming book that holds a good lesson about doing something simple to help others. Although I started to tear up telling the kids the after-story about how Alex did pass away from cancer, this is a fun, lighthearted story, and I want to use it as a jumping off point for my kids to have their own lemonade stand and raise money to help others. Alex's Lemonade Days (annual weekend of lemonade stands to fight childhood cancer) is coming up June 12-14, and if I can get things organized by then (ha!), we'll have a lemonade stand to raise money for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF). Otherwise, we'll shoot for another time, and still send the money to ALSF. The foundation suggests several ways to get involved in raising money to help find a cure for childhood cancers and awareness of those cancers - information is at their website. (Charity Navigator gave the foundation a full 4 stars, indicating it is a reputable charity.)
Hopper 1's review: A million hundred billion thumbs up (was trying to out-do Hopper 2's review). Likes because "she helped kids get better."
Hopper 2's review: A billion thumbs up. Likes because "she helped kids get better."
Peace, Bugs, and Understanding: An Adventure in Sibling Harmony
by Gail Silver, illustrated by Youme Nguyen Ly
I don't recall where I heard of this book, but I know that when I heard about it, I'd just had a day of my two older kids fighting a lot. I thought I'd give the book a try, found it in our library system, and quickly requested it. To quote the book description from Amazon: "Lily and her little sister Ruby are having a picnic when Ruby spoils their game of checkers. Lily lashes out but soon gets absorbed in a wonderful book, the story of her great grandfather’s encounter with a strange looking frog-like creature called Anger. The precious old journal teaches Lily about Metta, a technique that has helped people transform anger into loving kindness for thousands of years." I think the book is a good way to introduce the concept of mindfulness about the emotion of anger and how to use breath work and peaceful mantras/prayers to transform that anger into compassion ("May [they/I/all] be happy, may [they/I/all] be safe, may [they/I/all] be strong, may [they/I/all] live with peace.") My older son, near kindergarten age, enjoys the book more than my younger son and is better able to understand some of the symbolism.
Hopper 1's review: 13 thumbs up. Likes "that he tried to stop Anger from hurting the bug."
No review from Hopper 2
Anne of Green Gables
by L.M. Montgomery
The Anne of Green Gables series is one of my favorites from when I was young, and I recently decided to start reading the books to my boys. The classic childhood novels recount the adventures of Anne Shirley, an talkative, imaginative and mischief-prone orphan who, via a miscommunication, ends up being taken in by an unmarried, middle-aged sister and brother who become the unlikely guardians for the child. I wanted to see how the boys would do with being read to from a long chapter book without pictures, to see if they were at a point where they could visualize a story sans pictures guiding them and still maintain interest...and I knew this would be a story I would enjoy reading too. So far, so good. Though my younger son, at 3 years old, gets a little restless during the readings, he still will usually sit and listen. And my older son, at 5 years old, seems pretty interested, and continues to want me to read to him. I realize that some of the content goes over their heads (probably less than I realize) and that many of the words are unfamiliar to them, so I'll stop on occasion to provide explanation. Fingers crossed that they continue to maintain interest, as I'm really enjoying this trip down memory lane as I re-read the adventures of one of my favorite childhood characters and share the stories with them.
More books to come....