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The Angle, January 2019 – Book Review

We kick-off 2019 with book choices that provide children, parents and teachers with age-appropriate tools for embracing fun and healthy new habits in the New Year. Believe it or not, those admirable motivations behind our grown-up resolutions – setting attainable goals, self-improvement, courting new experiences – can also resonate with even our youngest children.

For Infants and Toddlers

I Do Not Like Books Anymore!

by Daisy Hirst (Candlewick $15.99) Age 2-6

Here’s a charming book about how frustrating it can be when you’re just learning to read. Natalie and Alphonse – a lovable pair of Muppet-like, monster siblings – think they really like books a lot; at least they love the picture books their parents read to them and the accompanying stories they memorize or simply make up.

But, when Natalie’s teacher gives her a reading primer, she discovers a confusing world of meaningless squiggles, “like scuttling insects, with too many legs and eyes,” and declares she does not like books anymore! With sympathy and gentle humor, Hirst does a wonderful job of expressing the familiar struggle of trying to learn something new, along with the empowerment that comes as you master a new skill. Read this to your own toddlers, and life will imitate art as they first memorize the story, and eventually develop their own reading ability.

For Preschool and Beyond

Hey, Declutter Train!

by Amanda Clark (Independent/Amazon $10.99) Age 4-8

Many of us resolve to be more organized in the New Year, and we’d like our kids to improve in that department as well. Organization guru Marie Kondo has said that “learning to clean up is part of growing up,” and believes as soon as children can walk, they can begin to experience the calm satisfaction of tidying their own toys and clothes.

Self-published author Clark has crafted a children’s book designed to help: in this recent release, bright and lively pictures help tell the story of Jonny, who’d rather leave his toys strewn across his bedroom floor (sound familiar?)

When Jonny tries pushing all his playthings underneath the bed, his toy train magically comes to life, telling him that each toy really wants to be stored in its own special place. As the train chugs around the room, all the other toys hop on board; once they’re properly stowed away, Jonny shows the satisfaction of learning to respect his belongings. Note: an adult reader should be on hand to help with scattered mature vocabulary words such as “disembark” and “disgruntled.”

Just Breathe

by Mallika Chopra, illustrated by Brenna Vaughan (Running Press $12.99) All ages

“My parents gifted me mediation when I was young,” says the author of this new book, “and it became an anchor for my whole life.” One of those parents is wellness guru and physician Deepak Chopra, whose daughter Mallika (herself a parent) aims to share the gift of meditation with today’s children—who face an unprecedented number of stressors in their everyday lives.

Chopra’s path to meditation involves mindfulness and movement, a boon for active children. She says to never force, (beg or bribe) kids to meditate but instead lead them by modeling small steps such as expressing gratitude, or taking a family walk to observe the details of outside. Readers report using this book to introduce young children, (as early as five), to basic mindfulness ideas, aided by kid-friendly watercolors that illustrate skills such as exhaling the “butterflies in your stomach.”

Note: Age recommendations are based upon publisher guidelines and parent feedback. Prices are publisher’s list; discounts are usually available.

Return to The Angle, January 2019