My First Alphabet

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My First Alphabet is a delightful board book that is both fun and educational for children,  as it introduces two of the five senses –  sight and touch, as well as introducing providing a fun introduction to the American alphabet.

The book features colorful and quirky illustrations  of animals and other things found in nature like trees and rainbows, that allow a child to discover what these animals and objects feel like to the touch. For example, the “B is for Ball” page doesn’t just feature a simple illustration of a ball, but rather a piece of plastic material, shaped like a ball.

The “E is for Elephant” page displays a tough, somewhat scratchy surface in the shape of an elephant ear. Then there is the “Z for Zebra” page, that features an illustration of a zebra with fuzzy material in the place a zebra mane.

With its illustrations of smiling animals and colorful pastels My First Alphabet is one of the cutest board books you’ll read. And while meant for very young children, its touch and feel feature  makes it  especially useful for special needs children of any age, especially those with sensory issues.

My First Alphabet
Author: Emma Jennings, Robyn Newton, Amy  Oliver
Illustrator: Jenny Bradley

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Ocean Animals

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Ocean Animals is a picture book for children filled with vivid photographs of animals in their natural habitats. Some of the ocean animals featured in the book are the humpback whale, the great white shark,  and puffer fish. Reptiles like the green sea turtle and mammals including dolphins are also featured.

In addition to great photos of ocean animals, this Animal Planet book also explains how ocean animals live, and what ocean animals eat. For example, there can be up to 12 dolphins in a family of dolphins that work and play together. The size of a great white shark can grow as large as 20 feet. These ocean animals feed on squid and various fish and do not survive well in captivity, so you won’t see them in aquariums.

The green sea turtle is a reptile that can grow up to 700 pounds. They are fast swimmers, and only come on land to nest and lay their eggs. These facts and more are just some of the  interesting tidbits that children learn in Ocean Animals, which is a great read for any child, but especially those that love ocean animals and other underwater creatures.

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My Visit to the Aquarium

117508Summer is here! And there is no doubt that many children will be taking many exciting summer trips to the beach, the pool and even the aquarium! My Visit to the Aquarium. picture book tells the story of one child’s exciting aquarium trip where he explores all sorts of coastal and sea life.

With its bright and colorful illustrations, and extensive description of more than 25 types of aquatic animals and fish, My Visit to the Aquarium does not disappoint!

Some of the fish and sea life highlighted in the book are plant-like animals including sponges and sea fans, as well as colorful parrot and blue-ringed fish. Featured also are seahorse and octopus and details about how they survive. Familiar animals including penguins – which are considered sea birds that do not fly but swim really fast are also highlighted.

My Visit to the Aquarium also teaches children about the kelp forest where fish of all sizes swim, graze and lay their eggs. Different types of sharks and bat rays are also featured, both of which have no bones in their bodies; instead they have soft cartilage skeletons. These, as well as swamp, coastal stream and tropical forest animals are all featured in the book, that goes beyond descriptions of fish and animals. It also discusses how the animals featured in the book are all endangered, and offers ways to help animals survive extinction and pollution. It’s a wonderful book to introduce children to ocean and sea life – as well as give them an appreciation of the environment we live in.

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Harlem Hellfighters

51t2mz830yl-_sx375_bo1204203200_It’s a week away from Memorial Day, and in honor of the holiday, this month’s second blog post is on the book Harlem Hellfighters. It is a great introduction for kids aged 8 and up, who may want to learn about war heroes.

A little known fact: 375,00 African-American soldiers fought in World War I. The 15th New York National Guard was federalized as the 369th Infantry Regiment and later became known as the Harlem Hellfighters.

They called themselves Men of Bronze, and were also musicians that played a mix of jazz, blues and ragtime, led by James “Big Jim” Reese. Even thought they were dismissed by white Americans as “darkies playing soldiers,” 2000 volunteered for the cause. They were butlers, porters, doormen and elevator operators. Many in big Jim’s band signed up in the name of patriotism.

At first, the soldiers were only given grunt work like shoveling dams and building hospitals. They even had to lay bloodied rail lines, and they went three months doing only this type of work until they received a mission for the band to play for French troops on Christmas Eve.

In the Spring of 1918, the men finally received a battle mission.  Harlem Hellfighters  details some of the stories of the soldiers, including Henry Johnson, a reporter from Albany, New York who received France’s highest military honor – the Croix de Guerre.

The Harlem Hellfighters were known as the regiment that “never lost a man captured, a trench, or a foot of ground.” Fifteen-hundred of the Hellfighters were killed or wounded, and 171 received France’s Croix de Guerre.  In 1919, they came home to America as heroes and marched up Fifth Avenue in New York City to patriotic songs, followed by a flood of wives, and mothers hugging and kissing their men returning home.

This Memorial Day, let us salute the Harlem Hellfighters, and their courage to fight for an America that did not always accept them.

Harlem Hellfighters 
Written by: J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by: Gary Kelley

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I Want to be a Reader!

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I Want to Be A Reader is a colorful and fun board book with a short and simple message: learning to read is a right of passage to be celebrated!

Sure to please both children and parents with it’s wonderful message and adorable illustrations that include a cat reading to its kittens, and hiding within a book itself, I Want to Be A Reader encourages children to aspire to be a reader and the importance of celebrating the accomplishment.

What also makes  I Want to Be a Reader a great book is that it goes through the steps of what it takes to finish reading a book: understanding the letters, pronouncing the words, and reading page by page, helping children to understand that learning to read is a process.

I Want to Be A Reader is a must read for toddlers who have shown a desire to read as well as a great introduction to children beginning to talk. Celebrate one of the most important developments in childhood with this wonderful book today!

I Want to be a Reader!
Author: Mark Powers Illustrator: Maria Montag

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Since We’re Friends: An Autism Picture Book

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Since We’re Friends: An Autism Picture Book
addresses autism spectrum disorder in children, giving a truthful yet tender view of what it’s like to have a friend with autism. The book also demonstrates the struggles with acceptance that kids with autism frequently face.

Matt suffers from  autism spectrum disorder or ASD, and because of this, he acts different than most normal functioning kids. But Matt is a friend to his neighbor across the street, who is the narrator of Since I We’re Friends, who tells how he and Matt play basketball, go swimming and play on the jungle gym like other kids. But how Matt responds to situations is different from other children and seen as strange to many. Children with autism can be in a constant state of anxiety because they are overwhelmed or overstimulated by things like loud noises at a basketball game – things that don’t normally adversely affect normal functioning children.

The narrator explains that since he is Matt’s friend, he helps him in these situations, by being supportive and helping to distract Matt so he doesn’t get too upset. The book also discusses the importance of routine is to those with ASD, and when an autistic child’s routine is change, his or her behavior can be misinterpreted as bad behavior or a tantrum.

Since We’re Friends also addresses behaviors such as getting overly excited which can lead to hand flapping, or other characteristics that others classify as odd.  It addresses bullying and being treated like an outcast by children that don’t understand the way autism children speak differently, or why they may not speak at all.

Since We’re Friends  is an excellent book for teaching both children and adults to understand how and why autistic children are different, and why those differences should be respected and not labeled as “weird” or bad behavior. School Library Journal describes the book’s message as  “not to be ignored” and the Autism Science Foundation lauds the book as a “major step in building a more compassionate community for all our children.”

Autism Awareness Month is coming to an end. As kids with autism can have a tough time making friends due to behaviors and characteristics normal functioning children categorize as odd or weird, this book is an excellent choice for educating the children in your life that autism is something to be understood, rather than feared. For activities to help in explaining autism to children, take an Autism 101 course online or check out these Books for Kids, Parents, and Teachers.

Since We’re Friends: An Autism Picture Book 
Author: Celeste Shelly; Illustrator: David Harrington

About BookBuzz4Kids.com
BookBuzz4Kids.com reviews books that celebrate diversity and culturally educate young children ages 1-10. Its mission is to celebrate children’s books that promote education, diversity and fun, and to give educators, librarians, and parents access to books that promote cultural, religious, racial diversity as well as those with special needs. Our vision is that one day we will live in a world of acceptance of all, to bring peace and love between all cultures and religions.

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I See Things Differently: A First Look at Autism

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I see Things Differently: A First Look at Autism is a beautifully written book that helps young children and adults alike understand what autism is, and why children with autism display behaviors that may not make sense to a child without special needs.

For example, many autistic children find it difficult to play with others, or engage in activities that most find fun, such as attending a baseball game. This is because their minds, which develop differently, can get overwhelmed by excessive noise such as clapping or cheering.  The book also explains that autistic children deal with nervousness and anxiety regularly because  of the different ways their minds process information.

I see Things Differently: A First Look at Autism further explains how all differences of autistic children aren’t odd, as they can also possess exceptional gifts, such as advanced computer skills or great artistic ability, which is shown through watercolor illustrations. The author does a great job of explaining in plain language the need for sensitivity to these differences. Even better, the book provides additional reading resources for both children and adults in the back of the book.

1 in 45 children, ages 3 through 17, have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and currently more than 3.5 million Americans live with ASD.  For this reason,  it is important that we educate our children and ourselves to become empathetic to those with autism and other special needs. April is Autism Awareness Month;  it is the perfect time to educate children about this disorder that affects so many. Do your part and read I see Things Differently: A First Look at Autism to a child in your life.

 

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