Book of the Week: Baby’s First Book

Hi there! Katje here.

Today I’m going to talk about Baby’s First Book by Clare Beaton. (Currently discounted as part of our Winter Sale!)

A photo posted by Katje (@katgoesbarefoot) on

A bit about the book: Baby’s First Book is a large book full of pages that go over basic concepts, grouping them appropriately. For example, there’s a page called “My Toybox” and it has pictures of the various toys one might find in a child’s toy chest. There are also lots of traditional nursery rhymes with illustrations and, down at the bottom of the page, instructions on the physical actions that go with the rhymes. The book covers concepts like different types of animals, weather, clothing, and much more.

What I think kids will get out of it, and why it’s special: The illustrations are bright and colorful, which is pleasing to young eyes. Very young children are attracted to bright, bold colors, and this book delivers in that aspect. I also really like that the traditional rhymes have instructions for the actions that go with them — I sort of vaguely remember rhymes that my parents did with me when I was a kid, but not well enough to effectively do them with my own future children. Having instructions nearby will help immensely.

This is a book to be read from parent or caregiver to child. It is not a book that’s intended for a child to read on their own. So a big thing kids will get out of this book is together reading time with adults in their lives. Being illustration-heavy, there are lots of opportunities for picture walks to happen on different pages, even if there’s no overarching story. You can spend a lot of time pointing out the pictures, associating words with them, and just having fun with the book.

This is the most important thing. The words in this book are very simple. The concepts are simple: weather, animals, clothing, vegetables. The point is, they’re bundled up into one package so it’s easy to spend a good chunk of time with this book going over these concepts with a child. The happy memories you’ll make reading this book to your child will help encourage early reading readiness and literacy. Reading this book with a child and talking about the content of the book are great ways to encourage literacy.

On that note, it’s Family Literacy Week right now, and it’s wrapping up tomorrow. To read more about Family Literacy Week and the different ways you can help build literacy in your own home, check out the website here.

See you next month with another Barefoot Book!

-Katje

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

A photo posted by Katje (@katgoesbarefoot) on

Hi there! Katje here. It’s Christmas Eve and I want to wish you and yours a very merry and bright holiday season, filled with magic, love, and — of course — lots of reading!

I’m using my downtime to catch up on my reading, and I’m using the holiday as an excuse to hook the young ones in my life on books! Several of the gifts under the tree are Barefoot Books, destined for my niece and my close friend’s daughter. I can’t wait to see the reactions of both kids and parents when they open their gifts!

In my somewhat-biased opinion, books are the best gift for any occasion. They never go out of style and they can be enjoyed again and again for years, and then passed on to others who will enjoy them. They foster a sense of wonder, bright imaginations, and — of course — literacy. When in doubt — give a book. My only wish this year is that I could have given more.

Well, there will be plenty of chances in the new year!

Bright blessings this holiday season, and I’ll see you all again very soon.

-Katje

Banned Books Week 2014: Part of Literacy is Critical Thinking

Hello! Katje here. 🙂

A banned classic.

Today I want to talk about Banned Books Week. It runs from September 21st to 27th and is sponsored by a lot of organizations including the American Library Association. Hundreds of books have been challenged or banned in schools and libraries across the world, and very often they’re books aimed at kids or teens. The purpose of Banned Books Week is to bring attention to books that have been challenged or banned and to celebrate the freedom to read. Banning books may seem like an easy solution to objectionable material, but what it actually does is make the banned books more enticing and creates an environment where people are going to read them anyway, but without the proper context.

A better approach is to teach kids of appropriate age about the books and cover why they’re considered objectionable. This gives a proper context for the books without making them more enticing. It also gives kids the power to decide whether they agree with whoever found the book objectionable.

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Guest Post: Reading Readiness in the Fifties

Hello everyone! Eva here. When Katje sent me her story of how she came to be a reader, I responded with this. She asked if I wanted it to be my inaugural guest post here on Barefoot in Langley, and of course I said yes!

Book cover for Je Taimerai Toujours.Isn’t it funny, what we forget and remember? I had forgotten about Danny and the Dinosaur until Katje reminded me. I do remember how much she loved bedtime stories, especially Je t’Aimerais Toujours, which I sang to her.

I wasn’t so lucky. My father was an ex-teacher with quirky ideas. My mother was an obedient wife. I did not know this for about four decades, but he forbade my mother to teach me to read, so that I would not feel out of place with my fellow students when finally, at age six, I would be allowed to go to school. Like Katje, I was a child with early reading readiness. For some kids, that doesn’t happen until age seven but for us it came early. Unhappily for me, the doors to reading remained shut for three or four interminable years.

There weren’t many children’s books in the Fifties. My mother did not read to me before bed. Mornings, I would ask for a pencil and scribbler and invent writing for myself, wondering what the key to reading looked like. On weekends, when the color funnies came, I would sit with arms fixed wide, fingers clutching the edges of the storied pages, trying to break the code until my head ached. Surely there was a story attached to those pictures which would give me a clue!

When I was five, my mother was asked to translate for a Dutch immigrant family whose children needed to be enrolled in Donald Ross School, Edmonton. My best friend, Jean-Charles, was entering school too and I was green with jealousy. As my mother put my little sister into the stroller, I begged her, “Please, Mam, ask if I can go to school, too!” I want to believe she promised, but probably not. Off we trudged, the immigrant lot of us, the “Dirty DPs” (Displaced Persons). The principal’s desk came up to my nose and he looked enormous, hulking on its far side. As I heard the conversation drawing to a close, I jiggled my mother’s arm and whispered, “Ask him! Please!” Shame-faced, my mother related my outrageous request.

“How old is she?” he barked.

“She was five in June,” my mother quavered.

“No!” It was the first rejection of my life.

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Raise-a-Reader Day 2014: “How I Learned to Read”

Hello everyone!

Today is Raise-a-Reader day here in Canada, and I thought I would share with you all the story of how I learned to read. (Plus, later on today we have a guest post from my mom on the subject!)

A long long time ago, right here in this very galaxy and on this very planet, in a little village called Belcarra, my mom and my nanny Liza were trying to get me to read on my own and they were feeling rather disheartened.

Perhaps some background is needed.

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