Category Archives: Early Reader

S is for….

S if for…


What books are perfect for every age

With wonders to discover as you turn each page?

Will it be The Cat or the Lorax or an elephant named Horton?

Or Yertle, or Bartholmew?  What could be more fun?

For nearly 80 years Dr. Seuss has charmed and challenged young readers with his rhyming prose, whimsical illustrations and fantastical creative universes.   From the first publication of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street in 1937  you’d be hard-pressed to meet a child who hasn’t been won over by a Seuss story.  Although they are funny, magical and sometimes nonsensical, the true joy in a Seuss is discovering the real moral heart of each story – and realizing Theodore S. Geisel truly believed, “A person’s a person, no matter how small”.  His belief in children, and their ability to learn from and love literature, is evident on every page.    Here are just a few Paperback Pigeon favorites from the more than 40 Seuss titles to choose from. (PB/ER K-2)

mulberrystreetAnd to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street – The very first Dr. Seuss was rejected by 27 publishers!  This classic tale of a young boys’ journey home from school, and what he saw (or imagined) on the way home appreciates the creativity and ingenuity of make-believe and cherishes the storyteller in all of us!

yertletheturtleYertle the Turtle and Other Stories – Moral tales in engaging rhyme – what a perfect pairing.   Yertle, the greedy turtle king, forces all the other turtles to hold him up to view his kingdom – but when his desire for power and possession goes too far it only takes a tiny action (hilarious to kids of all ages) to bring him back to reality.

grinchHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!  – The enduring tale that reminds all of us that Christmas isn’t about toys and trees, and the joy of the season can impact everyone – even if your heart is two-sizes too small.


greenegsandhamGreen Eggs and Ham – “I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.”  The story of this infamous dish mimics the struggles of every parent to entice picky-eaters to try new foods.  Seuss keeps it funny and lighthearted, but in the end Sam-I-Am wins out and a delicious discovery is made.  PBP Challenge: Can you read the longest page in only one breath?

Do you have an ultimate Seuss fan at home?  Trip It:  with a visit to Universal Orlando Islands of Adventure to see Seuss Landing – and immerse your young reader in the world of Dr. Seuss firsthand!

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Filed under A to Z, classics, Early Reader, Picture Book

R is for…..

With a little spunk and confidence you are sure to make a name for yourself!

Ruby and the Booker Boys by Derrick Barnes

Eight year old Ruby is the youngest in her family, but that doesn’t mean she is a shrinking violet.  Full of spunk and confidence Ruby holds her own with her three older brothers.  Meet this strong, sassy heroine who is unforgettable just by being herself. (ER-2)

RubybravenewschoolBrand New School, Brave New Ruby – In the series debut Ruby is ready to start 3rd grade at her new school.  She’s finally going to school with her brothers, but soon discovers they’ve set quite a reputation for Ruby to live up to.  When she tries to distinguish herself from her family Ruby finds herself in big trouble.  Can Ruby live up to being a Booker while still letting her true self shine?

rubytriviaTrivia Queen, 3rd Grade Supreme – Ruby is ready to take the spotlight in the school-wide trivia contest!  Unfortunately it isn’t open to 3rd graders.  While working to convince the administration of this injustice, Ruby has to decide how to handle competing against her brothers.  Things heat up at school and at home in the race to determine who is going to be the best.

rubysleepoverSlumber Party Payback – Ruby is having a sleepover!  But with three older brothers, who love to pull pranks and cause mischief, you can be sure things won’t go as planned.  Will Ruby’s party live up to her expectations?


rubycheerleaderRuby Flips For Attention – After seeing her cousin cheerleading,  Ruby thinks this is her ticket to finally be the center of attention.  But all those tricks are harder than she thinks, and an accident while practicing sends Ruby to the hospital.  How will she ever get noticed now?

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Filed under A to Z, Early Reader, series


B-12!  Free Space!  4 Corners!  BINGO!   This past summer we discovered how fun it is to play Bingo. Our local VFW hall hosts the game every Wednesday night, and they pack ’em in!  For less than the cost of a movie, you get 2 hours of serious Bingo.  Snacks are available for purchase, but they encourage a bring-your-own policy for candy, popcorn and soda.  When play starts, it’s time to quiet down and concentrate, and it’s amazing how focused a group of kids can be when a win is on the line.   We’ve had some luck and won a couple games, but more than anything it is just good, old-fashioned fun – supporting the VFW, and hanging out with family and friends.  Since it is break week, and bedtimes are a little more lax, we headed to Bingo this past week, hoping for a win, but knowing we’ll have fun.


Playing off our new found love of BINGO I made “Reading Bingo” boards for my girls.  There are many options available online, but I personalized them to support each child at their reading level while making sure its still fun.  This is a great way to motivate summer reading, but would work as a year-long goal, too.  I haven’t decided yet what the prizes will be, some will be reading oriented – a new bookmark or a giftcard to the bookstore.  Others might be purely fun -an ice cream cone or a trip to the zoo.   Check out the BINGO boards for each reading level below and feel free to print and use them – or amend and alter them to fit your ultimate BINGO reading challenge!

PBP Picture Book Bingo – Perfect for any age, but especially geared for pre-readers to complete along with adult help

PBP Early Reader Bingo – Modified for newly independent readers

PBP Middle Reader Bingo – A little more challenge and diversity

PBP Young Adult Reader Bingo – Allows for independent reading choices & encourages reading diversity

BP Mom’s Bookshelf Bingo – Even grown-up readers can play!


Filed under Bingo, Early Reader, Middle Reader, Mom's Bookshelf, Picture Book, Summer, Young Adult

Year of the Sheep*

Honestly, I’m not exactly sure how it began.  I chalk it up to being a slightly bored, housebound, stay-at-home mom who, when trapped by the freezing temperatures and mounds of snow outside, latched onto an idea to bring some festivity to the otherwise drab early February.  This is how my family adopted the celebration of Chinese New Year.

Chinese_New_YearWhat started as an attempt to pull us from our winter doldrums (and I admit an excuse to order in rather than cook) has become a cherished tradition in our household.  Along the way the Museum Educator in me came out and we have developed a deep appreciation for the history and tradition of the holiday.  We embrace many of the activities of the New Year as well – everyone gets a haircut (the only time of year they don’t fight me), we clean our house (again, much less of a fight when they know it is for the New Year), we make fortune cookies and Nian Gao, cut-paper lantern decorations hang about the house, and we listen to Chinese music.   Perhaps my favorite part is when we remember our ancestors – Chinese New Year reminds us to talk to the girls about the great-grandparents they never met, or can’t remember well.

Something about Chinese New Year is simply appealing to kids. First, why wouldn’t you want another opportunity to have a celebration?  Second, it is fascinating that Chinese zodiac names each year for an animal.  Finally, lion dancers and dragons are really cool.

In major part because of our celebration we always visit Chinatown when we are in NYC.  This hectic, busy, loud section of the city is endlessly fascinating to my girls.  They want to shop for red envelopes and lanterns, get an ice-cream cone at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (where the “exotic” flavors include vanilla, and the “regular” flavors range from green tea to banana durian), and try delicacies like dried cuttlefish.   These visits also lead to great discussions, and further reading, about immigration and settlement of cultural enclaves in major cities.

This year Chinese New Year falls on Thursday, February 19, and many cities have celebrations you can attend.  Check out how New York, San Francisco and Seattle are planning to welcome in the Year of the Sheep.  If you can’t make it, consider having  your own celebration. has a nice overview of the holiday and a trip to your local Asian market will provide the rest.  Over the years we have established a large collection of Chinese New Year books to help us with our celebration.  Our favorites are below to help you get started.

myfirstchinesenewyearMy First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz.  A perfect beginning book for young readers to explore all the preparation and festivity of Chinese New Year.  (PB)


bringinginthenewyearBringing In the New Year by Grace Lin.  Follow a Chinese-American family as they prepare for the holiday. (PB)

PBP Note:  I simply ADORE Grace Lin and there isn’t a thing she has written that I don’t LOVE.  Other great PB titles include Dim Sum for Everyone! and Fortune Cookie Fortunes.   Also check out her Ling & Ting  ER Series and Pacy Lin Series for Advanced ER.  Look below for MR titles that are amazing!


disfordragondanceD Is For Dragon Dance by Ying Chang Compestine.  There is an aspect of Chinese New Year for every letter of the alphabet.  Celebrate from Acrobats to Zodiac. (PB)


runawayricecakeThe Runaway Rice Cake by Ying Chang Compestine.  The Chang family only has one rice cake for the New Year – and when it runs away the three brothers chase it across town.  What could end in disaster results in a special lesson – when you give to others it comes back to you ten-fold.  This is where our family found our Nian-Gao recipe, which we make every year.  Other folk-tales by Compestine in her “story of” series such as The Story of Noodles, The Story of Chopsticks, and The Story of Paper  are additional delightful reads for the holiday. (PB)

storiesofchinesezodiacsheepTales from the Chinese Zodiac by Oliver Chin.  There are 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac and author Oliver Chin has a story for each.  Discover which year your child is born in and read their story, or read them all!  (PB)

celebratechinesenewyearCelebrate Chinese New Year: With Fireworks, Dragons, and Lanterns by Carolyn Otto.  This non-fiction National Geographic book  takes a look at Chinese New Year celebrations around the globe, highlighting the tradition and pagentry of this world-wide cultural event.  Beautiful photography accompanies clear, informative text.  (PB)

azchinesenewyearThe New Year Dragon Dilemma: A to Z Mysteries Super Edition #5 by Ron Roy.  The kids are in San Francisco and their new friend Holden is going to take them to the Chinese New Year parade.  But when Miss Chinatown, and her priceless crown, go missing the kids need to solve the mystery quickly, before Holden gets blamed.  (ER-2/3)

nancydrewchinesenewyearmysteryThe Chinese New Year Mystery : Nancy Drew Notebooks #39 by Carolyn Keene. Nancy’s class is celebrating Chinese New Year and she and her friends get to make the dragon!  All their hard work is for nothing when the dragon goes missing.  The parade will be cancelled if Nancy can’t solve the mystery quickly.


happynewyearjulieHappy New Year, Julie: American Girl by Megan McDonald.  Julie’s first Christmas since her parents divorce is a difficult one, and she finds solace in helping Ivy prepare for her families’ Chinese New Year celebration.  When she discovers that Ivy’s family is inviting her mom and dad to the party Julie worries that they won’t be able to get along and will ruin everything.

wherethemountainmeetsthemoonWhere the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.  Minli has grown up hearing her father’s tales of the Old Man on the Moon and as her families fortunes are bleak she sets off one day to find him, and have him change her fortune.  Throughout her journey Minli meets many characters who help her to learn the most important lesson of all – by appreciating what you already have you are the richest of all. (MR-4th & Up)  *PBP All-Time Top-Ten Favorite*

starryriveroftheskyStarry River of the Sky by Grace Lin.  When a mysterious woman arrives in the village where Rendi is working as an errand boy she brings with her stories to share.  Her wisdom opens Rendi to the possibilities of those around him,and helps him to see that to write the ending to his own story he needs to rethink his present. (MR – 4th & Up)

*2015 is the Year of the Sheep/Ram.  Because the Chinese New Year is based on the Lunar calendar it fluctuates each year – occurring sometime between mid-January and mid-February.  When determining what “year” you were born, check when the New Year fell during your birth year.  For dates all the way back to 1930 click  HERE.

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Filed under Asia, Chinese New Year, Early Reader, History, Holiday, Middle Reader, Picture Book

All you need is LOVE….

I love holidays, but for some reason I have never had particularly warm feelings about Valentine’s Day.  Perhaps it is the commercial focus on romantic love, that at once celebrates coupledom and highlights the lack thereof, which rubs me the wrong way.   However, my perspective has altered in recent years.   I’ve come to the conclusion that there is so much sorrow, hurt, and hate in the world that what we need is more love.  And all kinds of love should be celebrated – for when we care about each other, in all capacities, the world we live in will be a much better place.    So love each other – parents & children, siblings, friends & teachers, gay, straight, young & old.  This holiday isn’t just about romantic love, although that is nice, it’s about caring for each other.  It celebrates that acting with love everyday makes our world better.

heartBelow are some books that celebrate LOVE in all forms.  Pick one up to broaden your perspective on Valentine’s Day as more than just roses and chocolate.

tangomakesthreeAnd Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell – The true story of a pair of  male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who wanted a family of their own.  When an observant zookeeper gives them a egg to care for they “know just what to do”.   In a world where families come in all kinds of configurations, penguins Roy and Silo create a unique family and prove the most important ingredient in creating a family is love.  (PB) *ALA Notable Children’s Book Nominee,  Note:ALA #1 most challenged book of 2010

henrymudgegreatgrandpasHenry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas by Cynthia Rylant – Henry and Mudge love to visit Great-Grandpa Bill.  He lives in a home with lots of other grandpas, all of whom love to play with a boy and his dog.  When Henry discovers a swimming hole he knows he’ll need a grown up to swim with him, but little did he know that all the grandpas would want to join in the fun!  A hilarious look at love of life across generations. (ER-K/1)

katiewoonervousnightA Nervous Night by Fran Manushkin -In this addition to the Katie Woo series Katie is going to spend the night at her grandparents house.  She loves her grandparents, and enjoys doing fun things like gardening and cooking with her grandmother.  But the unfamiliar bedroom is a little scary, until Katie discovers that it was her mother’s bed…and learns that a grandmothers love is the perfect substitute when mom isn’t there. (ER-2/3)

nodogsallowedNo Dogs Allowed!by Bill Wallace- Kristine is heartbroken at the loss of her beloved horse and vows to never love another pet, ever again!  When her father gives her a puppy for her birthday she stands firm in her refusal to welcome him into the family.  How can she find room in her heart to love again?  And will she see that sharing her love with a pet brings her more love in return?  (MR-4/5)

sistersSisters by Raina Telgemeier – A middle reader memoir told in graphic novel format that highlights the ups and down of sibling relationships.  Over time the realization of shared history and common experience helps these sisters learn to stick together! (ER-5/6)

faultinourstarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green – When 16 year old Hazel Grace, a terminal cancer patient, meets Augustus at a support group their common experience battling cancer leads to a deep friendship and eventual romantic entanglement.  Together they navigate the world of loss and love, learning that sometimes the joy of loving someone is worth the painful cost of losing them in the end. (YA)

fireflylaneFirefly Lane by Kristen Hannah – Kate and Tully are an unlikely pair of best friends, but their experiences together form a lifelong bond that spans decades.  Through trials, traumas, self-discovery, and self-imploding they learn that having a friend who loves you for exactly who you are, faults and all, is a gift to cherish.  (Mom’s Bookshelf)

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Filed under Banned Books, dogs, Early Reader, Love, Middle Reader, pets, Picture Book, Valentine's Day, Young Adult, zoo

Easy as A, B, C…..

This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer.  As my husband and I are both educators, this upcoming week means that all five people in our house head back to school within days of each other.  The lazy, hazy days of summer (which alternated with crazy, busy days) are behind us and we are returning to the welcome routine and rhythm of the fall.

This return to school also means a return to homework.  My girls in elementary school are asked to read 15 minutes per night, any material of their choosing, as part of their ELA homework.  That means making sure that reading material is readily available.   We start with trips to the library to get a variety of choices, or visit Barnes & Noble to get the latest “must-have” in a series, and check Amazon for ideas to help us prepare.

As we embark on another school year I thought it would be great for the Paperback Pigeon to get back to basics…so, for the foreseeable future, each week I will be posting a suggestion for a book or series to excite your reader about travel – and their independent reading requirements for school – from A to Z.

A is for Agatha: Girl of Mystery by Sir Steve Stevenson

Twelve year-old Agatha Mistery is called on by her cousin Dash to help him solve mysteries and complete assignments from his prestigious academy – the Eye International Spy School.  Jet-setting around the world, Agatha uses her remarkable photographic memory, Dash’s cool spy school gadgets, and the help of her intrepid former-boxer butler, Watson to gather clues and solve crimes.  Exploring locations across the globe – from Egypt to Scotland to Niagara Falls – Agatha tackles curses, heists, treasures and murder.  This exciting series keeps readers turning the pages while introducing diverse and exciting locales around the world. ER/3-RA

agathamystery1The Curse of the Pharaoh #1   In this debut story Agatha is off to Egypt to recover a missing artifact from an archaeological dig in the Valley of the Kings.

agathamystery2The Pearl of Bengal #2  Agatha heads to India to discover the truth behind the theft of the Pearl of Bengal.  With the help of Dash, Watson and her Uncle Raymond, a wildlife photographer, Agatha is sure to solve the crime.

agathamystery3The King of Scotland’s Sword #3  A missing sword leads Agatha to Scotland where she tackles mysterious curses and frightening ghosts to solve the mystery.

agathamystery4The Heist at Niagara Falls #4  A jewel heist takes Agatha to Niagara Falls where she and Dash encounter Canada’s most notorious thief.  Can they take on this mastermind criminal and return the jewels to their rightful owner?

agathamystery5The Eiffel Tower Incident #5 The stakes are higher in the city of lights….this time it’s murder.  Agatha and Dash rush to Paris to solve the mysterious murder of a Russian Diplomat.  As they travel the streets they only have the clue “Red Rose” to guide them in catching the culprit.

agathamystery6The Treasure of the Bermuda Triangle #6  A missing gold Mayan calendar leads Agatha on another adventure, but this time solving the mystery isn’t the only challenge- the Bermuda Triangle has it’s own mysteries and dangers that Agatha and Dash must contend with.

agathamystery7The Crown of Venice #7  Publication date Nov 13, 2014 – The Crown of Venice is missing!  This famous ancient artifact was stolen during carnival and everyone is a suspect!

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Filed under A to Z, Africa, Asia, Early Reader, Early Readers, europe, Multi-Cultural, mystery, North America, series, travel