Category Archives: Booklists

How Reading Can Help Raise a Strong Woman

I was inspired by this post to write a bit about how my blog fits in to the one cause to which I am deeply committed:  the education of young women.

My blog doesn’t look like much now (and hardly anyone is looking anyway).  But I have a clear vision for this project.  Someday it will be a resource for parents and educators who are seeking resources and reading material for the young women in their lives, and hopefully even a resource for those young women themselves.  Just give me time.  Eventually I’ll write amazing posts about Greg Mortenson, Shannon Hale, and Katniss Everdeen.  I’ll write about strong heroines and where to find them.  In the meantime, here’s some of the work I’ve done so far.

Parents with daughters even younger than mine (4 yrs) need to be thinking right now and every day about the woman they are raising.  What kind of character do I want her to have?  What skills will she need in the world she’ll live in?  By my words and actions, what messages am I sending about womanhood?

Reading can help.  Reading books, articles, blogs.  Reading aloud.  Reading, and then talking about what you read.  And just so you know:  throughout my life, I’ve been surrounded by strong women, all of them readers.

Here’s a quick booklist of titles I recommend for parents with daughters.  Thorough reviews someday, but if you’ve read them before I post, we could have a better discussion 😉

Queen Bees and Wannabees by Rosalind Wiseman
Totally Wired by Anastasia Goodstien
The Primal Teen by Barbara Strauch
The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (a book I also recommend for tweens)

This is the article mentioned in Mitali’s blog about the pressures facing today’s teen girls, and this one discusses the advantages of single-sex education.

Educating young women does not just involve parents and teachers.  Being both means I am not a great many things.  Please share your ideas and resources.



Filed under Booklists, Reflections

Young Cat Lover’s Booklist (Part 2)

Booklist:  Cats

Ages 4-8, unless otherwise noted

Don’t miss Part 1!

Ballet Kitty:  Ballet Class
Written by Bernette Ford
Illustrated by Sam Williams

Ballet Kitty and her two friends, Princess Pussycat and Ginger Tom, are off to their first ballet lesson with Mademoiselle Felicity.  Ballet Kitty has a new leotard, tutu and tights and—of course—ballet slippers that she is excited to wear.  Ginger Tom has new ballet slippers too, but he’s not sure about wearing them for class.  But the three kitties work hard, prancing and plié-ing and pointing their toes.  More about ballet than cats, this is nonetheless a cute story.  A great primer for little dancers about to take class for the first time, and I especially love the inclusion of a boy dancer.  Age 3+
Little Lit Lover says:  I like how they do all the things I do in ballet class:  the positions and plié and tendu! 
4 Flags

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake
Written by Laura Numeroff
Illustrated by Felicia Bond

For some, snack time isn’t a simple matter of giving a cat a cupcake, especially if the cat wants sprinkles with his cupcake.  Before you know it, you’ll have been to the beach, the gym and the museum!  A fun companion book to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and observant readers will be able to spot Mouse in this book.  A favorite in our household.
Little Lit Lover says:  I like when the cat rides on a whale and when he tries to carry a lot of stuff.
5 Flags

I Love Cats
Written and Illustrated by Barry Saltzberg

I Love Cats is narrated by a girl in purple pajamas who loves cats of all colors, as well as all standard kitty antics (pouncing, purring, prowling, pawing, etc),  and hopes you do too.  There is no plot to this book, and the pictures are also simple.  An okay book for a beginning reader, but not worth much beyond that.  I’d say this book would delight a young cat lover if discovered in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.  Age 3+
Little Lit Lover says: I like the cat who’s trying to get his shadow.
3 Flags

The Shy Little Kitten
Written by Cathleen Schurr
Illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren

The shy little kitten is born on a farm in a litter of six.  All the kittens live comfortably in the hay barn with their mother until the day they are old enough to line up and venture out.  The shy little kitten hangs back and finds herself at the end of the line.  She is distracted from following her family by a mole who pops up in her path, and quickly falls behind.  Since she can’t see where her family went, the kitten tags along with the mole and they meet a frog, a puppy and a squirrel before the kitten decides she ought to find her mother.  When she does come upon her family, the kitten finds a surprise waiting for her.  Not sure why the kitten is described as “shy” since she’s actually quite curious and adventurous.  This is a decent story, nothing special, with predictable baby animal adventures.
Little Lit Lover says:  I like the part when she meets the mole.
3 Flags

Splat the Cat
Written and Illustrated by Rob Scotton

Splat is nervous about starting school.  In fact he is so nervous he’ll think up any excuse not to go:  no clean socks, bad hair day, lamppost in the way.  When he finally arrives at school, one of Splat’s first lessons teaches that cats chase mice, and Splat’s anxiety grows.  He has his pet mouse, Seymour, in his lunchbox!  What will happen at lunchtime when Splat reveals his friend?  And will Splat ever want to return to school again?  Great harmony between text and illustrations makes this a very entertaining read.  Splat is another great character from the creator of Russell the Sheep.
Little Lit Lover says:  Splat makes funny faces!
5 Flags

Wabi Sabi
Written by Mark Reibstein
Illustrated by Ed Young

Wabi Sabi is a cat from Kyoto, Japan.  When she overhears her master say that her name is hard to understand, Wabi Sabi sets off to consult with some wise animals who might be able to explain the concept to her.  (“Wabi sabi” refers to the notion of finding beauty in the ordinary.)  This book opens vertically, giving each spread the feel of an unfurled Asian scroll. A haiku and Japanese verse appear on each spread, and the collage-style artwork give the illusion of texture and dimension.  Because of the abstract concept behind wabi sabi, this story may not appeal to young readers (hence 4 flags), but it is a gorgeous book that would be enjoyed by anyone with a love of cats and Asian culture.
Little Lit Lover says:  I like to say “wabi sabi!”
4 Flags

Part 3 coming soon!

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Filed under Booklists, Picture Books

Young Cat Lover’s Booklist (Part 1)

When I started jotting down titles I wanted to include, my list was much longer than I anticipated, so I decided to spread it out over three posts.  Here are the first five titles, with comments from the Little Lit Lover, age 4.

Booklist: Cats
Ages 4-8, unless otherwise noted

Dewey: There’s a Cat in the Library!
Written by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter
Illustrated by Steve James

A picture book based on the adult book Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by the same authors, this is not so much a story as a lesson on how not to treat a cat.  As a tiny kitten, Dewey is dropped into a book bin at a small town library.  The librarian who finds him takes him in and he becomes the library cat.  For the most part, Dewey enjoys being a library cat.  He loves playing with interesting the things he finds in his new home, like pens, bookcarts, rubberbands, and newspapers.  The things Dewey does not enjoy include being squeezed or pulled or chased by the youngest library patrons.   Nice illustrations that make me (and my daughter) wish that our local library had a cat!
Little Lit Lover says: The best part is when Dewey goes in the small paper bag and looks like a muffin.
4 Flags

How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Cats?
Written by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Mark Teague

The latest in the How Do Dinosaurs…series, this book addresses proper pet care in a charming way.  “How does a dinosaur play with her cat?  Does she throw pillows at it and act like a brat?  Is the litter box left while she watches a show?  If the kitty complains, does she give it a throw?”  These questions are posed in the opening pages and answered as the story progresses.  A worthy addition to an excellent series that teaches good behavior and manners.  Age 3+
Little Lit Lover says:  I love the silly dinosaur!
5 Flags

The Little Kitten
Written by Judy Dunn
Photographed by Phoebe Dunn

Part of the Phoebe Dunn collection, this book’s charm is found in the photography.  Jenny’s cat has a litter, and the most curious kitten quickly becomes Jenny’s favorite.  Because he is always getting into a “pickle,” that becomes his new name.  Pickle explores indoors and out, encountering other animals and discovering good hiding places.  The text is hardly as engaging as the photographs, giving the book a dated feel.  My daughter enjoys looking at the pictures more than listening to the story.
Little Lit Lover says: I like when Pickles gets into the flour can.
3 Flags

Oscar and the Mooncats
Written by Lynda Gene Rymond
Illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli

Oscar has a great life.  He has his boy who always takes care of him, his favorite smelly cat food and his favorite crunchy cat food, his toy mouse, and his spot by the window.  On one especially happy night, Oscar is feeling frisky and leaps up on the table, up on top of the bookcase, up out the window, and up onto the roof of his house  Oscar just wants to keep jumping, and he does—all the way to the moon!  There, Oscar meets the sleek, silvery mooncats who would love for Oscar to join them.  But what about Oscar’s home and his boy?  Now that he’s jumped up, will he ever be able to jump back down?  A delightful tale of  adventure and returning home.
Little Lit Lover says:  My favorite part is when Oscar jumps up on the bookcase.
5 Flags

Sammy Salami
Written and Illustrated by Jerry Smath

Pete Popolis is a hard-working diner owner who could use a hand running things.  One night, Pete discovers a scrawny stray cat in a trash can outside the diner.  Pete takes the cat in and quickly discovers the cat loves salami, so Pete gives him the name “Sammy Salami.”  Pete loves Sammy Salami, but he needs a vacation.  When Pete takes a train to the mountains for a weekend getaway, Sammy is lonely and afraid Pete will never come back.  What will happen when Sammy goes off in search of Pete?  A charming story about the bond between people and their pets.
Little Lit Lover says:  The pictures are good and I like Sammy’s salami dance.
5 Flags

Parts 2 & 3 coming soon!

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Filed under Booklists, Picture Books

Books My Daughter Loves

Here are my 4yo’s favorite books about love:

If You Love Me (DK Publishing)

A seasonal twist on the old kids’ song “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”  The flashing lights and happy animals draw in the preschool set.

Love, Splat by Rob Scotton

My daughter first met Splat and Seymour in Splat the Cat, which is one of her all-time favorite stories.  Here, Splat and his classmates are preparing for Valentine’s Day, and Splat makes a special Valentine for Kitten.  But Spike’s Valentine for Kitten seems bigger and better than Splat’s.  Which will Kitten prefer?

No Matter What by Debi Gliori

Small worries that Large’s love will fade or change, but Large comforts Small and promises to love Small “no matter what.”  I gave this book to my daughter the first time that I had to be away from her overnight, and it is still one of her favorites even though it is a very short read.  A good board book for 2’s and up.

Brava, Strega Nona! by Tomie dePaola

This is a gorgeous pop-up book, and a fun addition to the Strega Nona series.  Strega Nona describes the six essentials for a good life—family, food, friends, celebration, patience, and—of course—love.  We were fortunate enough to meet author Tomie dePaola at a book signing at Jabberwocky.

Final thoughts on reading love tomorrow.

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Filed under Booklists, Picture Books