phd mama

from diapers to deconstruction


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Unicorns: The Loveliest List of All

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I’ll be honest, this list is short in spite of reading rather a lot of unicorn books. There are a lot of sappy, sentimental literary tributes to these mythical creatures out there, and that’s not really our family reading style. Still, both my girls stake their place in what is no doubt a rather long line of little girls who long for pet unicorns. So here are some silly and whimsical stories that play with our fascination with a beast who’s eluded our capture, but never our imaginations.

  1. Claire and the Unicorn: Happy Ever After by B.G. Hennessy and Susan Mitchell
  2. Day Dreamer: A Journey of Imagination by Emily Winfield Martin
  3. Goldilicious by Victoria Kann
  4. “Help!” by Shel Silverstein (from Falling Up)
  5. Lily the Unicorn by Dallas Clayton
  6. Nobody Rides the Unicorn by Adrian Mitchell and Stephen Lambert
  7. Stories of Unicorns by Rosie Dickins and Maria Cristina Lo Cascio
  8. The Tale of the Unicorn by Otfried Preussler and Gennady Spirin
  9. Uni the Unicorn: A Story about Believing by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Brigette Barrager
  10. “The Unicorn” by Shel Silverstein
  11. Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea


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For the Love of Elephants

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When my younger daughter initiated a study of elephants (her favorite animal), I didn’t anticipate the emotional reading we had in store. Along with silly stories and scientific facts, we read stories of animal cruelty and elephants’ bravery. My daughter loves elephants even more now (and understands why we shouldn’t ride on them!), and her affection is tempered by a burgeoning respect for the dignity of all creatures, great and small. By looking at elephants across different cultures, throughout history, and from different disciplinary perspectives, we all came away with new-found appreciation for these impressive animals.

  1. Ballet of the Elephants by Leda Schubert and Robert Andrew Parker
  2. Big Beasts: Elephant by Stephanie Turnbull
  3. Watch Elephant by DK
  4. Elephants by Sydnie Meltzer Kleinhenz
  5. Elephants: An Affectionate Portrait by Jean Brody
  6. Elephants Can Paint, Too! by Katya Arnold
  7. Elephants of Africa by Gail Gibbons
  8. Elephants of the Tsunami by Jana Laiz and Tara Cafiero
  9. Elephants: From Trunk to Tail by Lucy Sackett Smith
  10. Endangered Elephants by Bobbie Kalman
  11. Elephant Prince: The Story of Ganesh by Amy Novesky and Belgin Wedman
  12. Support The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee
  13. Mission: Elephant Rescue by Ashlee Brown Blewett and Daniel Raven-Ellison
  14. “Stand Back,” Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze!” by Patricia Thomas and Wallace Tripp
  15. Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends by Carol Buckley


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Dragons and Dynasties

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Our literary travels to China introduced us to fairy tales, folk tales, poetry, everyday images, immigrant stories, and so much more. The variety of sources helps us see the diverse perspectives even within a single nation, because there are so many stories and so much history that make up China. My children especially loved the stories about dragons, and we learned how much of our own cultural values and perspectives are invested in our ideas about dragons, whom Chinese stories regard as signs of good luck! And we felt lucky indeed to journey through time and space for a reading adventures in China.

  1. Beautiful Warrior: The Legend of the Nun’s Kung Fu by Emily Arnold McCully
  2. Beyond the Great Mountains: A Visual Poem about China by Eo Young
  3. Watch Sesame Street’s Big Bird in China
  4. C is for China by Sungwan So
  5. China: The CIA World Factbook
  6. Color the Chinese Flag and Map by Crayola
  7. The Chinese Siamese Cat by Amy Tan and Gretchen Schields
  8. Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin
  9. Watch Families of China
  10. Jin Jin the Dragon by Grace Chang and Chong Chang
  11. Liang and the Magic Paintbrush by Demi
  12. Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year by Katie Waters, Madeline Slovenz-Low, and Martha Cooper
  13. Listen to Little Dragon Tales: Chinese Children’s Songs
  14. Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young
  15. The Long-Haired Girl by Doreen Rappaport and Yang Ming-Yi
  16. The Magic Horse of Han Gan by Chen Jiang Hong
  17. Picture a Country: China by Henry Pluckrose
  18. Mouse Match by Ed Young
  19. My Chinatown: One Year in Poems by Kam Mak
  20. Oranges on Golden Mountain by Elizabeth Partridge and Aki Sogabe
  21. The Paper Dragon by Marguerite Davol and Robert Sabuda
  22. The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang and Sally Rippin
  23. The Real Story of Stone Soup by Ying Chang Compestine and Stephane Forish
  24. Red Butterfly: How a Princess Smuggled the Secret of Silk Out of China by Deborah Noyes and Sophie Blackall
  25. The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
  26. Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China by Ai-Ling Louie and Ed Young

 


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Our Place in Space

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One of the coolest things about our unit on space was seeing how the content is always being revised. We read older books that still counted Pluto as a planet and newer books that explained its new status; the changing discoveries displayed in the texts reminded us how much more there is to explore! In this list, I’ve tried to only include the most updated texts, though there may be some exceptions where the rest of the content is strong. And I’m sure in a few years, the content in even the best of these will require updating. That’s part of the pleasure of learning and recognizing that our place in space is always open to new knowledge.

  1. Watch The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot about that: Space is the Place!
  2. Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian
  3. Watch Eyewitness: Planets
  4. If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Faith McNulty and Steven Kellogg
  5. The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons
  6. Mousetronaut by Astronaut Mark Kelly, illustrated by C. F. Payne
  7. Planets by Elizabeth Carney
  8. Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin, paintings by Wendell Minor
  9. Watch The Magic School Bus Space Adventures
  10. The Magic School Bus Super Star Power
  11. Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca
  12. National Geographic Little Kids’ First Big Book of Space by Catherine Hughes and David Aguilar
  13. Our Solar System by Seymour Simon
  14. There’s No Place like Space! All about Our Solar System by Tish Rabe and Aristides Ruiz