Ben Loves Bear (Board Book)

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IMG_20160424_145951The story in this book follows Ben and Bear as they go through a typical day together.  Ben appears to be a two or three-year-old, big enough to sleep in a big-kid bed, and Bear is his teddy that never leaves this side.  The illustrations are uncomplicated and focused on only those two characters, showing snapshots of the fun they experience throughout the day.

The language is succinct, with an almost calming cadence as you read through the three to five-word sentences. For me, the reader, it is challenging to embellish.  For my toddlers, Continue reading


Beach Babies (Board Book)

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Beach Babies, Author Puck

This book is a lively bunch of illustrations of babies and their families having fun at the beach.  There is  a snippet of text to start the dialog as you turn the page, but the main appeal of the book is pointing out all of the different babies and the fun they are having.  The children and adults are diverse and dressed in lots of bright colors.

There are two pages at the end with tips for the reader with questions to ask and things to point out on each page. This is a great idea for a board book.  The first few times I read this with my toddlers I skipped over those pages and they were indifferent to the book.  Once I took the time to read and use the tips, it turned this book into a favorite that needs to be read before bed each night.

The most exciting page for my daughters is the one that has some mischievous babies who have taken off their swimsuits.  They point and laugh and say “butt! butt!”  I guess that kind of humor starts earlier than I realized.

Once I took advantage of the reader tips, this book became a lot more enjoyable for me.  We interact, point and ask questions, and it is great reading time for both parent and kids.

Sprout Score: ★★★★★ 

Reader Score: ★★★★

Author: Puck

Illustrator: Violet Lemay

For Ages: Toddlers and Preschoolers

ISBN: 9781938093234

For more about the authors and Beach Babies, go here.

Sprout Score Book Reviews

As a book-loving parent, I spend a lot of time reading, reading, and re-reading children’s books to my family.  Since I have three kids, including twins, there is an ever-present array of books scattered throughout my house. They might have a permanent home on a bookshelf, but spend most of their days in use or scattered across the floor, waiting for the next time.  We make regular trips to the library too, so there is also a library heap that stays stacked in the living room to reduce the chances of getting lost. It may change in content and height, but the library heap is a regular part of our decor.

Though I have three kids, my focus for Sprout Score reviews will be the books my twin daughters are reading.  There are a lot more books rotating through this house for them than my school-age son, simply because his days are filled with other activities and his books take more time to read.  So this blog series will be devoted to books for toddlers and pre-schoolers.

These reviews will not only be a simple synopsis of the story. As a parent, I find it very helpful to hear what other parents, and especially other kids, think about the products/books/activities they see and do every day.  So, each review will contain a Sprout Score and a Reader Rating:

Sprout Score

  1. ★ I won’t sit still to read this book
  2. ★★ I’ll sit but I will be bored
  3. ★★★ I’ll sit and be interested
  4. ★★★★ I really like this.  I’ll point and interact.
  5. ★★★★★ I love this!  Again!  Again!

Reader Rating

  1. ★ I’m bored while I read this out loud.
  2. ★★ I’m indifferent while I read out loud, just another book.
  3. ★★★ Good book, I enjoy reading out loud.
  4. ★★★★ I have fun and feel good about reading this out loud.
  5. ★★★★★ A favorite that I love to read to my kids and will remember.

Since this series is all about sharing, I welcome and encourage you to give your rankings in the comments if you have read the book being reviewed with your kids, too.

Let’s Read!




Five elements of board books that make toddlers say “Again!?!”

IMG_20160302_210237Board books for toddlers are an interesting type.  I have to admit, as a parent, when it comes to stages of children’s literature, this is not my favorite.  The next stage, from approximately 3-5 years old, is what I enjoy most.  The animation, the simple lessons, the beauty in stories from the eyes of a child; I can’t get enough. What we are reading now is not that stage.

When we go to the library, I let Goose and Bear tear through the board book bins, pulling out a random selection of whatever was closest when they stuck in their hands.  When we sit down at home and read them, there is an occasional stand-out, but the majority seem so very….pointless.  I can already hear your questions, wondering how much of a point there can really be in stories for little people who simultaneously love and hate every choice put before them. My answer isn’t that I expect there to be some grand moral to every story, just that there is an element of the book that makes a two-year-old want to see it again.

For my daughters, what inspires them to keep bringing me a book again and again are those with at least one of these things:

  • Animation that is one to two steps above a stick figure.  They don’t appreciate anything complex, tiny, or extremely detailed.  A good example of this is the Leslie Patricelli Board Books series.  “Potty” and “Tubby” are very popular in my house, and the images are adorable and simple.
  • Characters that are mostly, if not all, animals or babies.  That’s pretty universal, I think we all gravitate towards those characters.  If you scroll through any of your social media feeds right now, chances are good you’ll find them both.
  • Pages where you can lift a flap, or a story-line involving hide and seek.  The girls are still in love with peek-a-boo games, and covering and uncovering objects, etc.  They fight over who gets to lift the flap in Rod Campbell’s “Dear Zoo“, even though they know exactly who is hiding underneath.  “Mommy! Mommy!” by Taro Gomi features two little chicks tracking down their mother, and my daughters point and yell when they find her too.
  • Changes in texture.  When there are little cut-outs made of shiny foil, or animal fur, or a bumpy strawberry, it engages them to interact with every page.  Those are the books they like to look at on their own, too, without anyone reading to them.  Carry-Me Diggers and Dumpers by Sarah Creese has patches on each page mimicking the texture of tires and tracks on the machinery, a handle to carry the book around, and very popular in our house.
  • Stories that are relatable to what they do every day. If they describe the simple routines like dressing, going to the store, eating with silverware, I see the recognition in their eyes, the excitement when they can point something out that they have already learned.

What other features did I miss?  What does your toddler love?  Please share any recommendations you have for other books with these attributes, too.  Anything to make the reading more exciting until we graduate to paper pages is a win for everyone.