2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has 296 steps to reach the top. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2010. If those were steps, it would have climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa 4 times


In 2010, there were 106 new posts, not bad for the first year!

The busiest day of the year was July 27th with 50 views. The most popular post that day was Fantastic New Addition to the Blogroll!.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, healthfitnesstherapy.com, childrensbookreviews.pbworks.com, welltrainedmind.com, and storysnoops.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for 1000 books before kindergarten, read me a story, rain gutter bookshelves, storysnoops, and read me a book.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Fantastic New Addition to the Blogroll! July 2010
1 comment


Used Any Numbers Lately? by Susan Allen and Jane Lindaman April 2010


Borders Summer Reading Program May 2010


No Place Like Earth (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) by Susan Amerikaner April 2010
1 comment


While Angels Watch by Marni McGee May 2010


“My Book Buddy Bags” from Links to Literacy

Here’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” ideas.

My Book Buddy Bags are reusable bags made from 50% recyclable polyester filled with a fiction and informational paired book (book buddies!), an age appropriate hands-on literacy activity and/or craft, and a resource booklet of literacy activities that can be completed at home.

To begin with, the idea of a matched set — a fiction book, a nonfiction book, a craft idea, and a literacy booklet — is nice.

I also uncovered a blog post from the creator, Dawn Little, describing the Book Buddy Bags a little more in detail, and providing a couple of examples of the activity included.

Book Buddies: Pairing Fiction and Informational Texts to Motivate Readers

Overall, interesting enough, but so far I’m not compelled to pull out Ye Olde Visa. Take a moment and look a little deeper, though.

These bags can be completely customized. You can select the age-range of the child, and you can choose the subject matter as well (you’re not limited to the two shown). Better yet, once you’ve purchased a bag, you can request a “refill” (at, one presumes, a reduced price).

Now I’m beginning to think there’s some value here. I’m thinking of those phases when a child fixates on a particular topic — baseball, horses, trains. I’m also thinking of the well-meaning but not-really-in-touch gift-givers — the friends and family who want to give “a little something” but don’t really know what the child might like or already have. A Book Buddy Bag could neatly fill the juncture between the two. A lovely extension of the gift idea would be for the giving adult to offer to read the books with the child and do the activities (quality time!).

Do you see another use for the Book Buddy Bags? When else might they be useful?

Teaching Comprehension With Nonfiction Read Alouds

Just discovered this forthcoming book from Dawn Little. The full title is Teaching Comprehension with Nonfiction Read Alouds: 12 Lessons for Using Newspapers, Magazines, and Other Nonfiction Texts to Build Key Comprehension Skills. Dawn writes the Literary Toolbox blog, which always has worthwhile things to say. I’m looking forward to trying out her book.

Available (for preorder) on Amazon

Chapter Two: In Which I Learn Something

You may have noticed that the book reviews have been rather scarce around here lately. Somehow, the books we’ve been getting from the library just haven’t been sparking the gotta-share-this-one feeling in me.

On another note, we’ve been mad busy lately, and since my book-crazy kid has learned to read and doesn’t demand 17 books a day any more… well, I just haven’t been reading much to them lately.

However, this week we really sank our teeth into the library’s summer reading program, and last night my husband and I sat down to actually read to the kids.

(Side note: that’s a fun tip for you. We read different books simultaneously, and the kids move back and forth between us as they are interested. Helps them manage the wiggles, and offers them more than one “channel” so they don’t get bored so fast.)

So today, I’ve got this great big stack of can’t-wait-to-blog-about-this-one books on my table. Now, do you think we just got super lucky with our choice of books this week? No! Children’s books are meant to be shared – to be read aloud! They’re SO much more entertaining to me when I have a kid to read them to. I can only imagine how much more interesting a read-aloud book is to even my reader-kid.

How exactly did I not realize this before? Anyway, there will be lots more reviews coming soon!

Free Bookplates for Home Libraries

I love it! What a great way to help kids feel “ownership” of their books! (Not to mention encouraging borrowers to *eventually* return a borrowed book.)

Free for you to print out, many different designs. All the site author asks is that you use them for “non-commercial” purposes.

One example:


My Home Library

The Mother’s Day Mice by Eve Bunting

Three little mice creep out early Mother’s Day morning to pick their gifts for their Mother. Along the way, they brave many dangers from animals that would like to eat little mice. Biggest Mouse and Middle Mouse find their gifts with no trouble, but the gift that Little Mouse has chosen is guarded by a big, black cat who just won’t go away! He’ll have to think of another plan…

The Mother’s Day Mice is a lovely tale that illustrates for kids that gifts don’t always need to be something wrapped up with a bow. I’ve read many books on the holiday recently, and many of them *try* to get that message across, but this book is one of the most tastefully done.

The artwork is done by the prolific Jan Brett, and is prettily done. It is somewhat sophisticated art, or at least more adult than many children’s books. A preschooler may enjoy lingering on a page to absorb it, but I found it was a little too advanced for my toddler. Still, it was pleasant to *my* eyes.

My favorite part? Middle Mouse picks a dandelion fluff ball, calling it a “Wish Flower”. A bit of whimsy that I enjoyed, and I think it’ll linger with my kids, as well.

Well worth reading.

Available on Amazon

The Mother’s Day Mice by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Jan Brett. Clarion Books, 1986.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the Mexican Hat Dance by F. Isabel Campoy and Alma Flor Ada

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the Mexican Hat Dance is really two books in one, which may account for the fact it has two authors and two illustrators (and two translators!).

The first half is a simple story of a class of schoolkids learning the Mexican Hat Dance and preparing for a big party and show for their parents. It’s a fun read, with some repeated lines for your child to shout along with, always a hit at our house. The illustrations are colorful and cheerful; for some reason the color scheme was particularly appealing to me, bt I don’t think my kids noticed anything special about it.

The second half of the book is a non-fiction sort of book about the holiday. It primarily uses photographs, but the children from the earlier story do show up as accents. I found this portion nicely accessible to my kids; many of the strictly nonfiction books I tried did not catch their interest at all.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the Mexican Hat Dance is one of a series of books called “Stories to Celebrate”, which includes holidays from many ethnic traditions, including Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Chinese New Year, and the Fourth of July.

Available on Amazon

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the Mexican Hat Dance by F. Isabel Campoy and Alma Flor Ada, illustrated by Marcela Gomez and David Silva. Alfaguara, 2006.