Thursday, June 30, 2011

Library "Daze" - Once Upon a Time Books

Last week we took a trip to the library specifically to get books that actually begin with "Once Upon a Time".  You'd think we would have done this a long time ago considering these words are the inspiration for this blog's title, but I held off on "once upon a time" stories until baby bookworm had the attention span for them, and (more importantly) I held off on these books until we were just about ready to take a trip (what I now imagine will be an annual one) to Idlewild Park.

I've written about Idlewild Park before, which is a very kid-friendly amusement park located in Western, PA.  I think it even claims to have been voted the best kid amusement park in the world?! (not sure voted by whom, though, and while it's a very good park - this statement is quite the stretch!).  It has a "Ricky Raccoon" park with rides for toddlers and young children, "A Mister Rogers Neighborhood" that includes a trolley ride to meet all of the characters in the land of make believe, a "Soak Zone" with lots of water slides and an enormous swimming pool, and a "jumpin' jungle" that has things for young kids like a sack slide and giant net to climb.  Of course, there is stuff for older kids and grown ups too in the "Olde Idlewild" part of the park like a merry-go-round, tilt-a-whirl, and the ricketiest wooden roller coaster I've ever seen;  BUT, in my humble opinion (and mind you, I AM a bookworm) the best part of the park is its "Story Book Forest".  Here, tales such as The Three Little Bears, The Billy Goats Gruff, and Little Red Riding Hood come alive.  Here are some pictures to show you what I mean.

Grandmother's house from Little Red Riding Hood

The Big Bad Wolf dressed as Granny

The smart pig who built his house out of bricks

So to familiarize baby bookworm with these beloved stories and characters before going to Story Book Forest, I selected a few versions of these tales that appealed to toddlers.  There are lots and lots of versions of these stories (Book Aunt does a WONDERFUL job at highlighting a bunch of fairy-tale books), but I was really looking for renditions that had bright pictures, and that retold the tale in as few words as possible.  What we got:

1). Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales
by Lucy Cousins

If you are familiar with the Maisy book series, then you are familiar with Lucy Cousins' distinctive illustrations.  They are simple, but bright and vibrant.  In fact, they are so distinctive that when I picked this book off of the shelf, baby bookworm exclaimed, "Maisy"!  I love the clever name for this collection of fairy tales which includes: Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Enormous Turnip, Henny Penny, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Little Red Hen, The Three Little Pigs, and The Musicians of Bremen.  Some of the pictures are a tiny bit graphic (like the hunter chopping off the "big bad wolf's" head), so use your own discretion!  I do think it is a nice collection that lends itself well to a toddler audience.  Baby bookworm particularly likes The Three Billy Goats Gruff, for whatever reason! 

The Billy Goats Gruff at Idlewild

All that's left of the poor troll
2). The Three Bears
by Byron Barton

We actually got this book because it was coincidentally read during the family story time (the theme was houses, though, not fairy tales) and baby bookworm kept exclaiming, "Papa bear, papa bear!"  Was it his cute little shorts that got her attention?  I'm not sure, but even Miss Carla the story time leader noticed, so she suggested we take this one home with us.  Barton's retelling of this story is very well suited to babies and toddlers (although I'm sure older kids would like it too) because it is written simply with colorful illustrations.  By "simply" I mean that baby bookworm almost has this book memorized, which is great, really!  She has even tried to say "mama bear, medium-sized bowl".  The story of The Three Bears also has many great learning opportunities embedded in it (like the concept of small, medium, and large, just to name one) which is another reason this book gets a gold star in our eyes.  Barton has written many children's books, and I really think bookworm and I will check out a few of his others.

The Three Bear's "Real" House

Mama, Baby, and the Beloved Papa Bear

3). Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever

Ok, so not a fairy-tale book, but I came across this book while looking in the fairy-tale section, and I LOVE Richard Scarry's illustrations. Love, love.  His Animal Nursery Tales book was one of my all-time favorites growing up, and baby bookworm and I read it often.  So, when I saw this book on the shelf in the library, we had to get it for two reasons.  One, Story Book Forest also features many nursery rhymes in addition to fairy tales, and two, nursery rhymes are a HUGE learning opportunity for young children because they teach phonemic awareness, an important skill in learning how to read.  In fact, research has shown a strong link between knowledge of nursery rhymes and reading success.  If you want some tips on how to use nursery rhymes as a learning tool, check out this paper: Nursery Rhymes and Phonemic Awareness.  You better believe I will be using many of these suggestions! 

Rock-a-bye baby from Story Book Forest

Hickory Dickory Dock

Mary Mary Quite Contrary
I hope this post finds you and your baby bookworm not only reading fairy tales, but living in your own land of once upon a time with a happily-ever-after ending.


  1. Hi there! I've been following your blog for a couple months now and really enjoy it, specifically your practical ideas about incorporating literacy into a toddler's life. I was an English teacher before I started staying home with my twin boys who are now 2 years-old. I recently started reading Tomie dePaola's book of Mother Goose rhymes and tales. I love his illustrations and so do my boys. It introduces so many great characters to them as well as poetry. Check it out!

  2. Hi Dawn! Thanks for reading and enjoying what I have to say. Since you were an English teacher, I hope you can forgive me for all of my typos! I will definitey check that book out because Strega Nona is one of my personal favorites (it was one of the first books I bought when I was pregnant) but it's really too advanced for an 18 month old, so I bet we'd love his Mother Goose book too. James Marshall also has a cute Mother Goose book. Please keep the recommedations coming, as you have probably noticed we love books in this house! I am looking forward to reading more about you and your boys.

  3. Haha! People always suspect that I care about typos...I do usually notice them, but unless I gave you the assignment and/or it is absolutely riddled with them, I don't judge. :)I don't think I've noticed any on your blog, so you still have an A. :)
    As far as books, I recently checked one out of the library called Tuck In the Pool by Martha Weston because my boys are terrified of getting in the pool. I don't know why, other than we've only been able to try it a few times this season. Last year they loved it. Anyway, it's a sweet little story about a reluctant swimmer and his lucky toy spider. Very cute.

  4. I actually have two friends who can definitely benefit from that book! One child is afraid of the pool, the other of the bath tub. I'm going to email them now! Luckily, baby bookworm thinks she is a fish (for now anyway). Thanks!

  5. I picked up Yummy the other day at the library. Similar to your daughter, one of my boys picked it up and looked at it and said, "Not Maisy...Like Maisy." It is so great! Thanks for the recommendation. I hope your friends find that the pool book helps their kids.


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