Posts Tagged ‘summer reading’

Heading to the Beach: Guest Post on NTFFC

School’s out, vacation has begun and what better place to spend the hot summer days than at the beach. My July book review post on Allie‘s site No Time for Flashcards shares a few book about visiting the beach and exploring the water to help get your little ones ready for your next seaside visit. Pop over for a read. And if you have a beach book your kids enjoy I’d love to hear about it.

You can find my book reviews every first Saturday of the month over on No Time for Flash Cards. I hope you’ll pop by and check out some great books to share with your kids.

Summer is about…Reading

There are many signs that summer is upon us, like starting summer camp or enjoying that lazy afternoon ice cream, but in our house summer is also greeted with books. My kids, all 3 of them, enjoy participating in the Toronto Public Library‘s Summer Reading Club program. They participated last year and had a great time (including an end of season party).

Today was the first day of sign-up though you can sign-up at any time during the summer. My kids wanted to get a jump on collecting their stickers to we signed-up today. The kids each received their poster (where to place their stickers) and an activity book full of puzzles and colouring and even recipes based on this year’s jungle theme. The activity guide also recommends some great jungle themed books the kids can read but you don’t have to stick to the jungle. The whole point is getting the kids reading. And with each book they read, and report on to the librarian, they get a sticker for their poster.

It can be hard to find something to occupy the kids during the summer, but the Toronto Summer Reading Club program keeps them entertained and reading and it’s FREE.

Write a Review Wednesday: I am too absolutely small for School

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. My two oldest kids head back to school next Tuesday. Last week I reviewed Grumpy Bird written by Jeremy Tankard, my son’s favourite Scholastic school book. This week we’re still thinking about school.


lolacoverThis isn’t the first year of school for my two oldest (starting grade 2 and senior kindergarten) and they’re both really excited about heading back. But starting school for the first time or transitioning into a new grade can be scary for some kids. And Charlie and Lola deal with that issues, starting school, in Lauren Child’s book I am too absolutely small for School.

Lola is about to start school for the first time, but she doesn’t think she’s ready. She comes up with all sorts of reasons why she shouldn’t go to school: she’s not big enough, she has all her books memories and doesn’t need to learn to read, she doesn’t want to wear a schooliform or quite simply she’s far too busy doing other things at home.

That’s where big brother Charlie, who already goes to school, comes in to help address Lola’s fears. He explains in terms his little sister can understand how important and fun school can be, Like how Santa Clause doesn’t own a phone so if Lola wants him to get her wish list, she’ll have to write him a letter. And to write him a letter means she needs to learn how to write.

My kids love the Charlie and Lola books (there are a few). My son thinks Lola is very, very funny. He loves all the crazy things she does and says, something I’m sure he can relate too.

My older daughter’s thoughts:

I like that the words zig zag around the page. And the pictures use bright colours and patterns. I’m not sure if Charlie and Lola are real but I’d like to think they are. Their stories are just like real kid stories.


The Charlie and Lola stories are written from Charlie’s point of view. The language used creates a beautiful distinction between Charlie’s older, wiser big brother voice and Lola’s young, carefree child-like voice. Lauren Child’s books are a delight to read and look at. She treats the copy as an extension of the illustrations, using different fonts and sizes as well as weaving it around the page and other images. I love the mix of photography and illustration.

I am too absolutely small for Schoolis a great story that addresses a number of issues a child might have floating around in their pre-school thoughts. And Charlie and Lola are a delightful in helping relieve those concerns.

Published by Candlewick Press, you can add a  copy of I am too absoluetly small for School from

You can also read other Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Summer reading club finale

You know summer is coming to a close when the libraries Summer Reading Club program comes to an end. All three of my kids have been participating in this year’s Secret Agent 009 reading program. We’ve participated in the past, but this is the first year we’ve actually completed it. So to celebrate we attended the finale party.

Only my two oldest finished their books but all three kids received participation awards. Anyone who read at least one book as part of the program was given an award, which was great for my youngest.

An award for all

An award for all

After the awards the real fun began. And no party is complete without a magician. The great thing about this magic show was that it was based around the secret agenct theme. He also had lots of participation from the kids. Some kids were called upon to be secret agents to help the magician detective. Others were called into bad guy roles to try and capture the magician detective. The show was enjoyed by adults and kids alike.

We're watching the detective (magician)

We're watching the detective (magician)

Enjoying the show

Enjoying the show

My oldest daughter trying to figure out the tricks

My oldest daughter trying to figure out the tricks

Near the end of the show, the magician had magnifying glasses to give to all the kids for their own secret missions. My oldest daughter was selected to help hand these out, but first she needed a secret agent name. Secret Agent White Meatball (colour + food) enjoyed her important role.

Secret Agency White Meatball at work

Secret Agency White Meatball at work

Then came the ice-cream and random name draw for prizes. My son was thrilled to have his name picked and walked away with a secret agency pen (it has a light that flashes at the end). And all three of my kids were on the winning trivia team so they all received a free book.

When my daughter found out the person who read the most books received a bag of books as a prize, she vowed to read the most next summer (ah, a girl after my own free book giveaway heart). It was a great way to end the summer reading program.

A Muggle of a Challenge

I’ll admit it, I’ve seen all the Harry Potter movies and enjoyed them immensely (some more than others). My kids have seen them too. We actually own them on DVD and re-watched them recently in preparation for the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

I remember when the books first came out and all the press around how kids were devouring them. I even knew adults who were into them. But me, no I just couldn’t bring myself to read them. I don’t know why actually. But I held strong.

Then the first movie came out. Since I hadn’t read the book before the movie, it was unlikely I was going to read it now. I have a problem reading books after I’ve seen the movie (though watching a movie after reading the book doesn’t seem to be an issue, even if I’m usually disappointed with film). When the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was planned for a film release, I made sure to finish reading all the books before seeing the movies. I think I get distracted and find difficulty maintaining my interest in the book because I know what the outcome is (oh, I’m also not one to reread books either).

But then something happened. After watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (which I really enjoyed), my kids started asking a bunch of questions; questions not addressed in the movie. Like all movie versions of books, they cut and condense. I thought all would probably be revealed in the printed pages so it was then that I decided to start reading the books. We could read a few pages everyday, out loud. The kids might maintain their interest since they know the characters.

Then I saw a tweet from Belle at MsBookish (@msbookish) about a Harry Potter Reading Challenge over at Galley Smith (@galleysmith). What were the odds! So of course I jumped over and signed up that night. Now my problem is getting a copy of the first book. When I checked the bookstores near, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone was no where to be found  (others must be jumping on the Harry Potter book bandwagon too). I’m on the waiting list at my library for one of their 174 copies and I’ve asked my local bookstore to order the first book from Raincoast Books (@RaincoastBooks) too. Hey, maybe I’ll be lucky enough to win one of the two box sets of books Galley Smith is giving away as part of the reading challenge launch.

What are you waiting for? Why don’t you jump over and sign-up too.

Foto Friday: Tow Truck Drivers and Licorice

Happy Foto Friday

I’m participating again with Candid Carrie and her Friday Foto Finish Fiesta (you can see who else is participating by jumping over to her blog). This summer my kids have been doing some extra reading as part of the city library’s Summer Reading Club and that is the focus of this weeks photo:

Nothing like a pulling apart licorice

Nothing like a pulling apart licorice

Tow Truck Drivers and Licorice: My son is a big fan of Matthew and the Midnight series by Allen Morgan and Michael Martchenko. This week we borrowed Matthew and the Midnight Tow Truck. My son’s favourite part was the tow truck driver’s snack, red licorice. After reading the story my son asked if we could buy licorice. This morning at breakfast my son asked if we could buy licorice. As we entered the grocery store my son asked if we could buy licorice. Standing in the candy isle, licorice in hand, my son asked if we could buy licorice. So we bought licorice. I don’t feel so bad, it’s literature licorice.

Your mission, should you take it…

The Toronto Public Library (@torontolibrary) recently launched it’s annual Summer Reading Club. We’ve been participating for a few years now, even before my oldest could read. Our local library is great at involving all kids, readers and non-readers alike. And it’s one local program not affected by the city strike.

Secret Agent 009

This year’s theme is Agent 009, focusing on books about detectives and mystery, codes and secret agents. Kids don’t have to read books within this theme, heck, they don’t even have to read library books, they can be books from their own home library. The whole idea behind the Summer Reading Club is to encourage reading and the love of it among kids during the summer months.

When the kids register to participate in the program (it’s FREE), they are given a poster to hang up at home and a spy kit (a booklet containing recommended reads as well as a variety of secret code games, puzzles, word searches and more). Each book a child reads earns them a sticker for their Summer Reading Club poster. All they need to do is report on the completed book at their local library. I’m not talking a book report. It’s more a casual conversation with the librarian asking the kids some questions about the book: What was their favourite part? What happened to {the main character}? Would you have made the same decision as {the main character}?  With my kids, the hardest part is getting them to stop telling the librarian about their books (accept for my shy two year old, she takes after mommy). There are a total of nine stickers, so the kids can report up to nine books to complete the program.

Time to talk about books with the librarian

Time to talk about books with the librarian

For Readers and Non-Readers alike

This isn’t just for readers. My five year old son doesn’t read yet, but books I read to him count. He just needs to demonstrate he understood the story by answering the librarian’s question. And even my two year old is participating this year. The librarian just asks her questions like: Did your mom read you a story last night? Was there a bunny in your story? And other questions easy enough for her to answer and claim her own sticker.

Mom, Where’s My Library Card?

Of course it helps if mom brings the kid’s library cards. Having kids who aren’t able to take books out of the library because of your mistake, doesn’t make you that popular, at least in my family. So they settled to reading a few books in the library.

Hanging out in the library

Hanging out in the library

Author Visits and More

Along with reading books, the libraries also host other weekly events based on the years Summer Reading Club theme (events can vary by library). There are author visits (we’re excited to see Veronika Charles as she reads from her Easy-To-Read Spooky Tales by Tundra Books / @tundrabooks). Our local library plans on hosting mystery hunts and other fun activities for kids.

Website For Added Fun

Kids can also visit the Summer Reading Club website for added fun. Here they can include their own book reviews, solve weekly mysteries, create their own online mystery story and more.

The Summer Reading Club runs from July 6 until August 18 and at the end of the program there’s a party with awards, prizes, treats, entertainment and loads of fun. We’ve never made it to the party or actually finished enough books to earn all the stickers. Hopefully this year we will make it all the way to the end. But the best part is my children’s enthusiasm around reading that hopefully I’ll be able to maintain when the school season starts up again.

Have a great Summer full of wonderful books with your kids. And if you’re looking for some books to read with your kids this summer (not related to the secret agent theme), be sure to checkout my Write a Review Wednesday reads.

A sunny spot to enjoy those reading club books

A sunny spot to enjoy those reading club books