Hooray for May! May Book Bears news

may-color

It’s been a good May so far! We’ve received our very first review from Deanna over at Chi City Mom. The review calls out our Share the love of stories card, saying it “includes some great conversation starters” for kids and also noted that the books we sent were “big, bright, colorful and beautiful” and really captured the attention of her four-year-old. We love this great pull-quote:

“If you want to instill a love of reading and keep the children engaged in reading, Book Bears is a way to go.”

Here’s the full link to the review. Thanks for the love, Deanna—and we’re so glad your little one enjoyed the books!

And we also received this super-cute video from Lucee at Mom Junky of her young son trying to open the Book Bears package.

Yep, the struggle is real! Thanks again for sharing the adorable video, Lucee!

Keep an eye for a new post coming soon in which we break down some of the recent Book Bears selections and why we chose them!

Book Bears read!

Book Bears Selections

Today we’re talking about a couple of our picture book selections, to give you a little taste of what Book Bears has to offer! This is the first in a series of posts in which we share the “why” behind our picks. Let us know what you think!

Our background editing children’s books definitely comes in handy when we’re evaluating books to include in the Book Bears program. The holy grail for us is to find titles that are chockful of kid appeal and have strong literary merit, and that’s what we seek to do each month. Because our service centers around the joy of story, we place a special focus on engaging storytelling and strong characters that kids will connect with. With our first selections, we think we have done just that. Read on to learn a bit more about our selections and why we chose them.

BB-selection2-5

NIGHTTIME NINJA by Barbara DaCosta, illustrated by Ed Young 

From the publisher: Late at night, when all is quiet and everyone is asleep, a ninja creeps silently through the house in search of treasure. Soon he reaches his ultimate goal…and gets a big surprise! Will the nighttime ninja complete his mission? With spare text and lush illustrations, Nighttime Ninja is a fun, adventure-filled story about the power of play and imagination.

Our take: There’s a strong build-up of tension in the story, and we love how the reader isn’t quite sure what’s going to happen next. Plus, there are fun perspectives, including an opening that encourages little bears to physically turn the book.

IMG_0221

We also love that during the whole beginning of the book, the nighttime ninja appears as a silhouette, allowing any kid to picture him or herself in the story.

IMG_0222

Even better, when the nighttime ninja is finally revealed, his skin is brown. (There’s a post in here for another day, but let’s just say #WeNeedDiverseBooks.) Kudos to the publisher for pairing a Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator with a debut author—we think the story feels fresh because of it. That collage-style artwork is just the perfect inspiration for the book activity we’ve included in the monthly Book Bears package! And of course, many little bears will relate to the nighttime ninja’s goal—a nighttime snack!

The text is (c) Barbara DaCosta, and the illustrations are (c) Ed Young.

BB-selection5-8

SUBSTITUTE CREACHER by Chris Gall 

From the publisher: The troublemaking students of Ms. Jenkins’ class arrive at school one day to discover a substitute creacher has come to put a stop to their monkey business! He regales them with mind-boggling stories about his former students who didn’t follow the rules: Keith the glue-eater, Zach the daydreamer, and Hank the prankster, to name a few. But even this multi-tentacled, yellow-spotted, one-eyed monster’s cautionary tales about the consequences of mischief-making can’t seem to change the students’ wicked ways until he reveals the spookiest and most surprising story of all: his own. Chris Gall’s vibrant artwork leaps off the page with a dynamic comic book aesthetic that will grab both parents and monster-loving kids!

Our take: We think kids will be blown away by this book’s design. There’s so much to feast over! Let’s start with the cover: metallic green ink makes the substitute’s skin shimmery green. We don’t know a kid on the planet who won’t spend some time running their fingers over that and moving the book around in the light.

IMG_0224

The interior spreads are even more engaging with the substitute’s speech in green slime and lots of interesting comic panels.

IMG_0225

Since the dawn of time, kids have taken advantage of their substitute teachers (sorry to our teaching friends!), and kids will relish in the story’s fun setup. We think kids will enjoy hearing each “case” about the various kids who have misbehaved in the past— these stories also inspired the book activity in the monthly Book Bears package. There’s a nice twist at the end, too, which definitely humanizes the sub!

The sub’s speech throughout the book is written in rhyme, which is fun for reading aloud with little bears. There’s plenty of text, too, which is a great challenge for developing readers—and we love how it’s packaged in a way that kids won’t even notice. We’re not surprised this book received a couple starred reviews when it first published. Bonus: this book can also work for Halloween. What’s not to love?

The art and text are (c) Chris Gall

We’ve got more books on the way and can’t wait to tell you all about them. Happy reading, bears!

The Great Reading Divide – 4 Scary Stats to Know

We’re all aware of the large gap between rich and poor in the US and beyond. Sadly, the statistics show this gap has only gotten wider over the last several decades. Which made us wonder (as most things do): what does this mean for literacy?

Consider these troubling stats:

  • 61% of low-income families have no (that’s zero!) age-appropriate books in their homes.
  • There is just 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children in low-income neighborhoods.
  • Only 36% of young children in low-income families are read to on a daily basis.
  • The average child growing up in a low-income family has been exposed to 25 hours of one-on-one reading at home, compared to 1,000–1,700 hours for middle income families.

And with 45 percent of children in the United States living in low-income households, these are some pretty grim findings. It’s because of statistics like these that we at Book Bears made the decision before launching our business that we wanted to give back in some way. So for every new subscriber to our service, we’re donating one picture book to benefit children in need. It’s a small thing, but as believers in the transformative power of reading we know that even one book can make an impact if it reaches the right child.

We are humbled by the work that some important charities are doing to help close the reading gap. First Book is one great example. They have distributed more than 135 million free and low-cost books through schools to thousands of children. Reach Out and Read distributes 6.5 million books per year through pediatric care facilities. Check out this article in Huffpost Parents, which rounds up 10 great organizations. Consider a donation to help fund this great work.

 

3 (more) reasons to read picture books

You probably already know that reading aloud to a child can help improve his or her language development and affect future success in school. Well, these benefits of reading are now starting to get some serious research chops behind them, and the results are fascinating. We’ve compiled some of the most up-to-date research on the benefits of picture books and reading to small children. We hope you’ll be inspired to start reading more with your own little bears!

  • Stories literally light up a child’s brain.

Until now, we haven’t had a good understanding of what’s happening in a child’s brain when he or she hears a story. A recent study in the journal Pediatrics looked at just that. They monitored the brain activity in 3-to 5-year-old children as they were being read to. And for the children whose parents reported more reading at home and more books in the home, their brains showed significantly greater activation of areas in the left hemisphere, where multisensory integration, integrating sound, and visual stimulation occur. And even though the children in the study were just listening to the story and did not see any pictures, they also showed more brain activity in the areas that process visual association—which suggests that they were seeing the images in their imaginations. Who doesn’t want their little bear to have a more active brain and a healthy imagination?

  • Picture books may use a bigger vocabulary than you do.

From our work editing picture books, we know that picture book creators spend countless hours choosing just the right words and images to complement and enhance their storytelling. But in case there are any doubters out there, it’s great to know that research has proven just how special picture books really are. A study from the journal Psychological Science looked at the language content of picture books. Choosing from a selection of teacher recommendations, Amazon bestsellers, and popular bedtime books, the researchers compared the language in the books to the language used by the parents when speaking to their children. It turns out that the picture books contained more “unique word types.” That means reading picture books to your little bears could expose them to a wider vocabulary.

  • Picture books are not just for little bears.

Many educators are now using picture books to teach higher-level skills to older students. These teachers have noticed less resistance to new vocabulary when it’s presented in picture books (which ties in with our point #2 above). And of course, kids of all ages like to hear a good story. Picture books can also serve as a great introduction or a supplement to the larger topics that older kids are learning about (for example, reading a picture book biography about a black civil rights activist to tie in with Black History month). So just because your child progresses in reading skills doesn’t mean he or she should stop reading picture books altogether. That’s also why we at Book Bears advocate for reading time to be a family event. It’s our belief that family members of all ages can benefit from reading picture books together.

Looking to add more books to your home bookshelf but don’t have time to do the research? Consider a subscription to Book Bears. Book Bears read! Visit us at www.bookbears.com.

Want to hear more about the studies mentioned above? Check out this New York Times article. To learn more about how teachers are using picture books with older kids, check out this article from School Library Journal. We also love this list from the Nerdy Book Club.