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Books Make Me Happy: My First Reading Log, created by Judy Pelikan

Books Make Me Happy: My First Reading Log by Judy Pelikan, published (THANK YOU!!) by Workman is so much more than just a reading log. Not only is it a great way to encourage reading and inspire a love of books, but it just might be your child's first introduction to critical thinking and writing. 

In her note to parents a the start of the book creator Pelikan explains that a visit to The Village Bookstore in Littleton, New Hampshire introduced her to their annual bookmark competition for children and a very special drawing of a child saying, "Books Make Me Happy." Pelikan was inspired to enlarge the image and embroider it onto white linen for her own pleasure. After sharing her work with another book lover, she was inspired to create more. She contacted the parents of the children who had made bookmarks for the contest, paid them artist fees and began interviewing children about their thoughts on reading, books, likes and dislikes. This led to a book that is not only a fun place to record information, but a superb way to really get kids thinking about what they read beyond the page.

The text that accompanies each bookmark art serves as a jumping off point for Pelikan an the inquiries she poses in her log entries. Each illustration is accompanied by a basic information format that will remind parents of the format of many of the book report pages that have been sent home from school. However, Pelikan moves beyond this format and asks pointed questions that are intriguing and fun to think about.

Besides the typical questions like, "What was your favorite part of the book," "I would recommend this book to a friend because," and "What is this book about?" she asks readers to think about "How does reading make people smarter?" and "What books have made you smarter?" She asks, "If a chicken could read (like the one in this picture), what book do you think it should check out of the library?" She asks kids if they dream about books and gives them space to record the craziest dream they have ever had. She also asks readers to notice the reading habits of those around them and record Mom's favorite book, their teacher's favorite book. She asks if you have ever read a book because a friend recommended it and vice versa. She asks about library visits, favorite places to read and what kind of book you might take on an airplane trip.

In my sixteen years as a children's bookseller, I have never seen a book like Books Make Me Happy: My First Reading Log and I wonder why? As a parent raising kids in a house full of books, I have to admit that I have often taken my childrens' reading lives for granted. However, one thing I have not overlooked is the role that writing plays in their educational and intellectual lives. Yes, there is a certain amount of knowledge that osmoses when one reads, but the ability to think critically and clearly is a muscle that needs a workout that is more active than reading and that is where writing comes in. Books Make Me Happy: My First Reading Log is ideal in that it gets kids thinking about reading just when their skills are really taking off while simultaneously getting them writing! I can't think of a more perfect way to spark their little minds. Thank you to the kids of Littleton, NH, thank you to Judy Pelikan, and thank you (again) to Workman for this book (that costs a mere $9.95!!!)


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