The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann

At Choreography by Rae, we read books to kids ages 4-6 five days a week during Storytime Adventures.

The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann  is another book I learned of courtesy of A Might Girl

Our kids love reading about animal adventures in the forests, but being a global class it came as no surprise that many of our kids had never been camping. Growing up my camping trips were few and far between: a Girl Scout trip that I was invited on even though I wasn’t a Girl Scout, 6th grade science sleepaway camp, and a camp counselor stint in High School. I think that equals 3 maybe 4 times that I’ve donned a sleeping bag and slept under the stars. My spouse on the other hand has less than fun memories of being the Boy Scouts, trying to start a fire and eating raw food. Pretty sure the food wasn’t supposed to be raw. It’s the lack of experience in camping which makes this books so awesome.

Jennifer K. Mann does a great job showing how the “idea” of camping can be different from the reality and that different is okay. Every kiddo in our class could relate to having a home made forte of some sort (blankets, connecting sticks, magna tiles) and the process of building a homemade forte is a breeze compared to setting up a real tent in the woods. Our main character Ernestine quickly learns that the many adventures that nature holds aren’t that different from things she would do living in the city. 

 

Lessons to Share

1) Try something new.

Kids can be resistant to trying new foods, a new teacher, and even being the first person to “go” in Simon Says. As Ernestine tries new things, she discovers that many of those new things aren’t as bad as she thought they might. She even discovers a few that she loves! Like eating S’mores.

2) It’s okay to be different.

As a vegan, I’m no stranger to the weird looks you get when someone dines with you and learns that you don’t eat meat. I always warn guests that I’m cooking for what’s on the menu, and I do wonder if Aunt Jackie gave Ernestine a heads up about mealtime, but honestly Ernestine is a kid and probably either forgot how Aunt Jackie cooks or never paid attention. Either way, I was tickled to see cousin Samantha announce that “tofu dogs” are her favorite. I remember giving Tofu dogs to my own niece when she was a kid.

The difference in eating is handled wonderfully in The Camping Trip. No long explanations or justifications, just a simple, this is dinner and this is different. 

Also bonus points for hearing one our kids shout, “I love tofu dogs!”

3) It’s okay to be afraid.

Let’s face it, when kids get afraid, most grown ups are quick to soothe those fears. As a teacher, I deal with navigating kid fears daily. I like that Aunt Jackie doesn’t go into a long conversation with Ernestine on how she’s feeling. Instead Aunt Jackie invites the kids to take a moment to look at the stars. This allows Ernestine to navigate her own emotions and find her own grounding. Aunt Jackie is a pretty smart cookie.

I also like that cousin Samantha offers to hold hands when jumping in the water together. Because let’s face it, somethings feel less scary when you know you have a partner.

4) It’s okay to miss our loved ones.

Ernestine quickly learns that just because she’s not with Daddy, doesn’t mean that she is loved any less.

Representation Shout Out!

  • This book features an African American family
  • Veganism/ Vegetarianism is mentioned without pushing an agenda
  • We never see 2 parents together. This can mean many things or nothing at all. It’s a wonderful way to show that every family is different.

This is an honest review from a book lover and educator. I do not make commission off of the sale of this book. Be sure to check your local bookstore or your local library for a copy. Libby is an amazing App that connects to many libraries throughout the U.S.A.

One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck

At Choreography by Rae, we read books to kids ages 4-6 five days a week during Storytime Adventures.

I learned of this book courtesy of A Might Girl while searching for a few extra books to round out Black History Month. Our kiddos loved this fun read, but warning it’s jam packed with lessons that can be overlooked. We’re actually eager to read this one a second time this semester.  The kids loved helping me identify an appropriate household pet. They also loved talking about what they saw in the pictures. In fact, when I tried to save time but not asking about a picture, one 4 year old said, “Ms. Rae you didn’t ask what we saw on the last page. I want to tell you about the picture I liked.” Surely, I couldn’t deny such a request.

If you’re thinking of adding this book to your collection, then go for it. Below are some tips on why you should read this book to your curious kiddos, and you’ll find information what this book is not about. Sometimes grown ups get wrapped up their own ideas and can miss some awesome messages.

Lessons to Share

1) Be curious about Big Words.

My first thought was… “Big words?! These kids won’t understand these words” and I did read a negative review stating that point. What the reviewer seemed to miss was that reading stories is how we introduce young readers to vocabulary. The big words in this book are all given a definition and our main character often asks “what does that mean?” This is a wonderful way to spark curiosity and conversation with your kids. The character Sophia is just like them, she has no idea what those fancy words mean, but she’s asking. Also the grown ups answer her question. They don’t tell her to be quite or anything dismissive. Emoji’s and texting abbreviations are great but I’m also watching first hand a generation that has poor spelling, communication, and vocabulary skills ( I work with older kids and teens as well). There’s also a misconception that people of color wouldn’t understand big words. So thanks Jim Averbeck for giving this smart character some big words to be curious about. 

2) There are many ways to say the same thing. Everyone tells Sophia the same thing in a different way. A nice reminder to kids that there can be more than one word for the same thing and you can ask for the same thing in many different ways.

3) Understanding what is reasonable and realistic.

Sophia asked for something ridiculous. Our kids had a great time identifying what makes a good household pet and what doesn’t. 

Sophia uses very well thought out arguments to support her requests for something that is absolutely ridiculous. This invites our kids to think about what they want and why they want it. Kids see toys all the time that they want, but they can’t really say why it is that they want it. Sophia is showing our kids that if you really want something think about why you want it. Even if it’s a completely ridiculous request you might get it.

4) Positive role models. This book features a family of color. Everyone has an important job and everyone deals with important decision-making daily. Grand-mama doesn’t have a job but she’s no pushover. The fact that Sophia has adjusted her argument to her audience also introduces for young readers the concept of knowing your audience. Recognizing that we don’t always asks people for the same thing in the same way.

5) Don’t over do it.

The story wraps up with “short and sweet” can get you what you want, and this is true. We point out that Sophia gets her requests not because she threw a tantrum, not because she cried, not because she wanted it, but because she thought carefully about why she wanted something and asked in a nice way. Sometimes kids can go on and on, just excited to have a listener or even feeling like they have to provide an explanation to justify what they want. I work with adults in their teens who often give long explanations for simple yes or no questions. This is a very important lesson for young women. Women historically have had to work harder to get what they want. Sophia does a lot of work to address any argument that might not be in favor of saying yes to her request. Ask for what you want, be prepared to say why once you know if more information is needed.

Misconceptions About The Book

1 ) This books send the message that “Sophia should talk less.”

Nope. This character is smart and each person she presents her argument to recognizes this. They even compliment Sophia on her presentation. The also speak to her in an intelligent way. No one belittles Sophia. A friend of mine used to say think say there’s being smart, and there’s thinking smart. Sophia is smart and shows it. She’s thinking smart by changing her argument for her audience. She finally realizes that her family loves her and didn’t need her to provide a long argument on why she wanted what she wanted.

2) This book shows adults shutting down a young girl.

Shutting down is a pretty strong term, but it’s exactly what one reviewer claimed. Kids ask for things all the time and adults say yes or no. What Sophia is asking for is completely ridiculous. For our storytime we went over what is an acceptable household pet. The kids do not expect Sophia to get what she wants. This is what makes the ending fun. Our kids know that they aren’t going to be able to get a unicorn or anything else by crying and saying please. That’s not the point of the story. Kids understand that asking for something ridiculous is going to get an answer of “No” from adults. Sophia is praised in the book for her thought out arguments. Like Grand-mama says, “get to the point.” That’s a life lesson for adults too. I have team members giving long explanations why they want a day off or can’t pick up a shift. Get to the point, because sometime short and sweet will get you what you want.

3) That’s a bad word!

I did have a kid get upset by the word “poop.” I appreciate any book that aims to normalize bowel movements. This was an opportunity for me to remind our kids that everyone poops and for our story we are talking about giraffe poop. We are not using “bathroom talk” to be naughty or silly

Our kids loved this book and the number of lessons learned are plenty.

This is an honest review from a book lover and educator. I do not make commission off of the sale of this book. Be sure to check your local bookstore or your local library for a copy. Libby is an amazing App that connects to many libraries throughout the U.S.A.

Hair Love: a short film that’s big on heart

Growing up a curly haired girl in a straight hair town, I’d spent most of my life at war with my hair. When you’re a kid, the grown ups in your life set the hair rules. The same way grown ups set the rules for whether their kid has rhythm. At some point in my 20’s I let my hair do it’s own thing and my curls thank me for it. I also had to find my own way through dance and it has been my life’s mission to help others create their own rules through the arts.

Whether you have curly hair, straight hair, two left feet, or unicorn wings this movie is for you. I hope you enjoy this Oscar winning film about love, acceptance, family, and patience.

Lucia the Luchadora

Choreography by Rae

Lucia the Luchadora

Read Aloud with Rae 5/15: Lucia the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza

By Rae Wilson

Can girls be super heroes?  Can super heros wear pink? What makes a super hero a super hero? Lucia learns the power of being herself and empowering others as this Friday’s Read Aloud with Rae invites your young detective to explore Cynthia Leonor Garza’s Lucia the Luchadora.

The reading starts at 2pm EST/ 11am PST on Friday 5/15 and runs approximately 25 minutes.

RSVP online to save your kiddos spot. Space is limited. Be sure to try logging on a few minutes early. It is hard to admit friends once the session has started.

All reading sessions are free. Donations are welcome as they help with Book Club cost (books, staff, marketing, tech software).

Does your child enjoy reading? Add this book to your home library.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Preparing for our Read Aloud:

– Play pirates! Anyone can be a pirate and there are a ton of dress up options.

– Print out the free coloring sheet and let your book detective do some coloring before the reading session. Kids will have a chance to show their pictures at the beginning of class.

– Print out the free crossword puzzle. 3rd and 4th graders will get a kick out trying to find the words from today’s story. 

Coloring sheet.

Let’s Play Pretend

After the Reading Session:

– Keep the conversation going! Invite your child to imagine you are both on an adventure.

– Invite your stuffed animals to join you for a healthy snack.

– Draw your family tree. Challenge your child to remember as many families members or friends that they can and draw a tree around all the names.

– Play dress up. Pretend to be the hero in your own story.

Sign Up for more fun online events

Jabari Jumps

Choreography by Rae

Jabari Jumps

Read Aloud with Rae 5/1: Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cromwell

By Rae Wilson

Trying something new can be super exciting, especially when you’ve practiced and prepared. But can accomplishing your goals be exciting and scary at the same time? Jabari faces his fears as this Friday’s Read Aloud with Rae invites your young detective to explore Gaia Cromwell’s Jabari Jumps.

The reading starts at 2pm EST/ 11am PST on Friday 5/1 and runs approximately 25 minutes.

RSVP online to save your kiddos spot. Space is limited. Be sure to try logging on a few minutes early. It is hard to admit friends once the session has started.

All reading sessions are free. Donations are welcome as they help with Book Club cost (books, staff, marketing, tech software).

Does your child enjoy reading? Add this book to your home library.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Preparing for our Read Aloud:

– Play pirates! Anyone can be a pirate and there are a ton of dress up options.

– Print out the free coloring sheet and let your book detective do some coloring before the reading session. Kids will have a chance to show their pictures at the beginning of class.

– Print out the free crossword puzzle. 3rd and 4th graders will get a kick out trying to find the words from today’s story. 

Coloring sheet.

Let’s Play Pretend

After the Reading Session:

– Keep the conversation going! Invite your child to imagine you are both on an adventure.

– Invite your stuffed animals to join you for a healthy snack.

– Draw your family tree. Challenge your child to remember as many families members or friends that they can and draw a tree around all the names.

– Play dress up. Pretend to be the hero in your own story.

Sign Up for more fun online events

Big Bob, Little Bob by James Howe

Choreography by Rae

Big Bob, Little Bob

Read Aloud with Rae 4/24: Big Bob, Little Bob by James Howe

By Rae Wilson

Can boys play with dolls? Can girls play with trucks? Should you be friends with someone who is different than you are. We’ll be defining self identity and defining friendships. This Friday’s Read Aloud with Rae invites your young detective to explore James Howe’s Big Bob, Little Bob.

The reading starts at 2pm on Friday 4/24 and runs approximately 25 minutes.

RSVP online to save your kiddos spot. Space is limited. Be sure to try logging on a few minutes early. It is hard to admit friends once the session has started.

All reading sessions are free, but tips are always appreciated.Tips may be sent via Venmo.

Does your child enjoy sharing? Add this book to your home library.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Preparing for our Read Aloud:

– Play pirates! Anyone can be a pirate and there are a ton of dress up options.

– Print out the free coloring sheet and let your book detective do some coloring before the reading session. Kids will have a chance to show their pictures at the beginning of class.

– Print out the free crossword puzzle. 3rd and 4th graders will get a kick out trying to find the words from today’s story. 

Coloring sheet.

Let’s Play Pretend

After the Reading Session:

– Keep the conversation going! Invite your child to imagine you are both on an adventure.

– Invite your stuffed animals to join you for a healthy snack.

– Draw your family tree. Challenge your child to remember as many families members or friends that they can and draw a tree around all the names.

– Play dress up. Pretend to be the hero in your own story.

Sign Up for more fun online events

Real Sisters Pretend by Meagan Dowd Lambert

Choreography by Rae

Real Sisters Pretend

Read Aloud with Rae 4/17: Real Sisters Pretend by Meagan Dowd Lambert

By Rae Wilson

Families come in different shapes and sizes. Even our friends can be our family. This Friday’s Read Aloud with Rae invites your young detective to explore Meagan Dowd Lambert’s Real Sisters Pretend.

The reading starts at 2pm on Friday 4/17 and runs approximately 25 minutes.

RSVP online to save your kiddos spot. Space is limited. Be sure to try logging on a few minutes early. It is hard to admit friends once the session has started.

All reading sessions are free, but tips are always appreciated.Tips may be sent via Venmo.

Does your child enjoy sharing? Add this book to your home library.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Preparing for our Read Aloud:

– Dress the part. Find a fun “rain hat”, a t-shirt with an umbrella on it, or pop on some rain boots. Looking for an excuse to use that secret stash of lighting bolt tattoos? You’re in luck. 

– Print out the free coloring sheet and let your book detective do some coloring before the reading session. Kids will have a chance to show their pictures at the beginning of class.

Coloring sheet.

Let’s Play Pretend

After the Reading Session:

– Keep the conversation going! Invite your child to imagine you are both on an adventure.

– Invite your stuffed animals to join you for a healthy snack.

– Draw your family tree. Challenge your child to remember as many families members or friends that they can and draw a tree around all the names.

– Play dress up. Pretend to be the hero in your own story.

Sign Up for more fun online events