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Culture Children's Books
Mighty, Mighty Construction Site
Sherri Duskey Rinker
Fans of the best-selling picture book Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site will be delighted with the return of Excavator and his crew as they take on an even bigger job with the help of some new friends. Like its predecessor, Mighty, Mighty Construction Site features Rinker’s playful, rhyming text paired with Tom Lichtenheld’s vibrant illustrations. Unlike its predecessor, the flow of text on some pages is awkward and lacks the precise cadence found throughout the inaugural book. Still, parents will appreciate Mighty’s emphasis on hard work and cooperation, in a fun read-aloud for adults and children alike. (Ages 2-6)
Billy and Blaze
First published in the 1930s, Billy and Blaze launched a series of 11 related books about a little boy, his horse, and their many adventures together. In this first selection, Billy receives a horse for his birthday, and from the beginning they share a special relationship that leads them to try new things. Like the rest of the books in the series, the opening book features charming black-and-white sketches and simple text that makes it appealing either for family story hour or for young independent readers. (Ages 4-7)
Welcome to the Bed & Biscuit
This delightful early chapter book features a cast of talking animals who help Grampa Bender run an animal boardinghouse. Life is fairly predictable until Grampa brings home a mysterious bundle and begins spending all of his time caring for it. Ernest the pig, Gabby the mynah bird, and Milly the cat feel left out—and that’s when the trouble starts. A bit of mystery surrounds the plot in this series opener and provides a launching point to discuss jealousy and the unique value of each person in a family. Note: some minor name-calling parents may want to “edit” out when reading aloud. (Ages 5-9)
When fifth-grader August Pullman enrolls in mainstream school for the first time, all eyes are on his severe facial deformity. As “Auggie” navigates friends, enemies, and the struggle to be “normal,” the book tells his story from several characters’ perspectives and chronicles the transformation of an entire school. Although Wonder lacks a Biblical worldview, it portrays a strong family unit and opens the door to family discussions about courage, kindness, and how we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Cautions: misuses of God’s name, crass language and humor, and challenging subject matter, including conversations about death. (Ages 12 and up)
Family time spent reading together builds strong bonds and literacy skills, but picking selections that will captivate everyone’s interest and mesh with family values can be a daunting and time-consuming task. That’s where homeschooling mother of six Sarah Mackenzie, author of Teaching from Rest, and her Read-Aloud Revival podcast can help.
Since the podcast’s launch in 2014, Mackenzie has recorded approximately 70 episodes featuring author interviews and commentary related to building a culture of reading in the home. In addition to her monthly picture book selections, her reviews of longer chapter books (both Christian and secular, classics and new releases) give parents of older children the tools they need to make wise read-aloud selections.
“As parents who long to make meaningful and lasting connections with our kids, we are competing with the noise of the entire world,” Mackenzie writes on her blog. “Reading aloud is indeed the single best and most impactful thing we can do with our kids today.” To learn more, visit www.amongstlovelythings.com. —K.C.