phd mama

from diapers to deconstruction


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Wabi Sabi: A Japanese List

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My younger daughter says her favorite thing about our unit study of Japan was the rice, providing further confirmation that we’re in it for the food. We did go out for Japanese food during this study, practicing with chopsticks and sampling sushi. My older daughter says she loved learning about all the different festivals and holidays in Japan, and these books certainly cover those topics as well. They also fell in love with Totoro in their introduction to anime. As you can see, this list does what I strive to do with all of our place-based unit studies: get a sense of the culture through history, folklore, fairy tales, contemporary accounts, food, music, crafts, and geography. This list showed us loyal animals, origami, wise rulers, everyday families, and, yes, rice. It’s the next best thing to travel!

  1. All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and More by Willamarie Moore and Kazumi Wilds
  2. Chibi: A True Story from Japan by Barbara Brenner, Julia Takaya, and June Otani
  3. Cooking the Japanese Way by Reiko Weston
  4. Color Crayola’s Japanese Flag and Map
  5. The Culture and Crafts of Japan by Miriam Coleman
  6. Dodsworth in Tokyo by Tim Egan
  7. Dragon of the Red Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  8. The Emperor’s Plum Tree by Michelle Nikly and Elizabeth Shub
  9. Erika-San by Allen Say
  10. Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog by Pamela Turner and Yan Nascimbene
  11. I Live in Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi
  12. Watch Families of Japan
  13. The Funny Little Woman by Arlene Mosel and Blair Lent
  14. Japan by C.I.A.’s World Factbook
  15. Japan: Tradition, Culture, and Daily Life by Michael Centore
  16. Japanse Celebrations: Cherry Blossoms, Lanterns and Stars! by Betty Reynolds
  17. Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories by Florence Sakade and Yoshisuke Kurosaki
  18. Little Kunoichi: The Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida
  19. My First Book of Japanese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book by Michelle Haney Brown and Aya Padrón
  20. My Japan by Etsuko Watanabe
  21. Watch My Neighbor Totoro
  22. Night of the Ninjas by Mary Pope Osborne
  23. Ninjas and Samurai by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Bryce
  24. Make an Origami Crane
  25. Watch Ponyo
  26. The Real Princess Diaries by Grace Norwich
  27. Three Samurai Cats: A Story from Japan by Eric Kimmel and Mordicai Gerstein
  28. Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young
  29. The Way We Do It in Japan by Geneva Cobb IIjima and Paige Billin-Frye
  30. Tokyo Friends by Betty Reynolds


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Aloha, Hawaii!

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I started this list because of all the buzz about Moana; while I realize that film is not totally rooted in Hawaiian culture, I wanted my children to have a deeper understanding of the rich history of one of the Polynesian islands than a single film (however dominant in the marketplace) could provide. What follows is a list that delves into the historical, geological, and mythological stories of Hawaii. There are stories that focus on native peoples, colonialism, Pearl Harbor, and President Obama, as well as tales that tell of contemporary, everyday life on the islands. There are stories of the volcanoes and wildlife that make the islands unique. And there are, of course, stories from the mythological tradition (many about Maui that, my elder daughter noted, did not make it into the Disney movie). As always, I appreciate the interdisciplinary approach of this list and the way it illustrates a place with a rich history that is by no means confined to the past.

  1. A is for Aloha: A Hawai’i Alphabet by U’ilani Goldsberry and Tammy Yee
  2. The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Let’s Visit Maui! by Lisa Manzione and Kristine Lucco
  3. Aloha Is… by Tammy Paikai and Rosalie Prussing
  4. Children of Hawaii by Frank Staub
  5. Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan and Lillian Hsu-Flanders
  6. Goodnight Hawaiian Moon by Dr. Carolan and Joanna F. Carolan
  7. Grandma Calls Me Beautiful by Barbara Joosse and Barbara Lavallee
  8. Listen to Hawaiian Playground by Putumayo Kids Presents
  9. Hawai’i: The Aloha State by Jill Foran
  10. Hawaii: The Aloha State by Emily Oachs
  11. The Hawai’i Snowman by Christine Lê and Michel Lê
  12. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park by M.C. Hall
  13. How Māui Slowed the Sun by Suelyn Ching Tune and Robert Yoko Burningham
  14. Hula Lullaby by Erin Eitter Kono
  15. The Last Princess: The Story of Princess Ka’iulani of Hawai’i by Fay Stanley and Diane Stanley
  16. The Legend of the Kukui Nut by Robert Brandon Henderson and Mark McKenna
  17. Legends of Landforms: Native American Lore and the Geology of the Land by Carole G. Vogel
  18. Little Princess Ka’iulani in Her Garden in the Sea by Ellie Crowe and Mary Koski
  19. Māui and the Secret of Fire by Suelyn Ching Tune and Robert Yoko Burningham
  20. The Menehune of Naupaka Village: A Hawaiian Fairy Tale by Christopher Sur and Gary Kato
  21. The Musubi Man: Hawai’i’s Gingerbread Man by Sandi Takayama and Pat Hall
  22. Pearl Harbor by Stephen Krensky and Larry Day
  23. Pele and Poli’ahu: A Tale of Fire and Ice by Malia Collins and Kathleen Peterson
  24. Pele and the Rivers of Fire by Michael Nordenstrom
  25. Pig-Boy: A Trickster Tale from Hawai’i by Gerald McDermott
  26. A President from Hawai’i by Dr. Terry Carolan, Joanna Carolan, and Elizabeth Zunon
  27. Punia and the King of Sharks: A Hawaiian Folktale by Lee Wardlaw and Felipe Davalos
  28. South Pacific Mythology by Jim Ollhoff
  29. The Story of Hula by Carla Golembe
  30. The Surprising Things Maui Did by Jay Williams and Charles Mikolaycak
  31. Tales of Tutu Nene and Nele by Gale Bates and Carole Hinds McCarty
  32. Tsunami: The True Story of an April Fools’ Day Disaster by Gail Langer Karwoski and John MacDonald
  33. The Woman in the Moon: A Story from Hawai’i by Jama Kim Rattigan and Carla Golembe
  34. Young Princesses around the World: A Story Based on the Real Life of Princess Liliuokalani of Hawaii by Joan Holub and Nonna Aleshina
  35. Who Is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards and John O’Brien


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Here Be Dragons

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Both of my children adore stories about mythical creatures; it’s part of their inheritance, right along with their dimples. Few such beasts are as impressive and breathtaking as dragons, and the list here showcases those creatures’ cunning as well as their sillier sides. These stories cross cultures to show different perspectives on dragons, who don’t always breathe fire and sometimes intertwine with saints’ tales. I will note that, despite my four-year-old’s love of dragons, I put few films on this list because of the intense images that so many of those movies contain. We stuck mostly to text, instead, where we relied on our imaginations, aided by timeless tales and exquisite illustrations, to bring these beasts to life.

  1. Day of the Dragon King by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  2. Dragon of the Red Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  3. The Dragons Are Singing Tonight by Jack Prelutsky and Peter Sis
  4. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri
  5. The Dragon Snatcher by M. P. Robertson
  6. The Egg by M. P. Robertson
  7. Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light
  8. How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head by Bill Peet
  9. Watch How to Train Your Dragon
  10. Hush, Little Dragon by Boni Ashburn and Kelly Murphy
  11. Jin Jin the Dragon by Grace Chang and Chong Chang
  12. King Jack and the Dragon by Peter Bentley and Helen Oxenbury
  13. The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie dePaola
  14. Me and My Dragon by David Biedrzycki
  15. Merlin and the Dragons by Jane Yolen and Li Ming
  16. No Dragons for Tea: Fire Safety for Kids (and Dragons) by Jean Pendziwol and Martine Gourbault
  17. Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-el and Tim Bowers
  18. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko
  19. The Popcorn Dragon by Jane Thayer and Lisa McGue
  20. Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges and Trina Schart Hyman
  21. The Tale of Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash and Lynn Munsinger
  22. There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon by Jack Kent
  23. Waking Dragons by Jane Yolen and Derek Anderson
  24. Where’s the Dragon? by Richard Hook and Jason Hook


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The Bees’ Reads

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While a severe bee allergy in our family prevented us from visiting a hive, we wanted to learn more about these amazing pollinators. From the sources below, we learned about their jobs and habits, as well as how their roles change throughout their lives. We studied bees dancing and took more notice of these essential creatures as they fly across our yard and garden. With National Pollinator Week approaching, I’m grateful for the knowledge we’ve gained about bees, the important role they play in our ecosystem, and the chance to spread the word!

  1. Are You a Bee? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries
  2. Bee Dance by Rick Churstowski
  3. Bee & Me by Elle J. McGuiness and Heather Brown
  4. Bees! By Elizabeth Winchester
  5. The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco
  6. Watch The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot about That: Things with Wings
  7. Watch Insect by DK Eyewitness
  8. Flight of the Honey Bee by Raymond Huber and Brian Velock
  9. The Honey Makers by Gail Gibbons
  10. In the Trees, Honey Bees by Lori Mortensen and Cris Arbo
  11. The Life and Times of the Honeybee by Charles Micucci
  12. The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
  13. National Geographic’s Little Kids First Big Book of Bugs by Catherine D. Hughes
  14. Investigate Pollinator Partnership
  15. Investigate Pollinators from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  16. Show Me the Honey By Tish Rabe and Christopher Moroney
  17. These Bees Count! by Alison Formento and Sarah Snow
  18. What If There Were No Bees? A Book About the Grassland Ecosystem by Suzanne Slade and Carol Schwartz

 


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Water, Water Everywhere!

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This list combines our study of water, the water cycle, and oceans. After all, it’s all connected! A family vacation to the ocean (and our second trip to The Mystic Aquarium, which inspired this list on whales two years ago) prompted further study of the enchanting Atlantic. As much as I consider this a science unit, the art of the ocean is inescapable. The photographs, illustrations, and films showed us a world of wonder that is both essential to our survival and astoundingly beautiful.

  1. All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon and Katherine Tillatson
  2. Watch The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot about That: Ocean Commotion
  3. Watch The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot about That: Told from the Cold
  4. Watch Disneynature’s Oceans
  5. Down Comes the Rain by Franklyn Branley and James Graham Hale
  6. A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder by Walter Wick
  7. Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart
  8. Watch DK Eyewitness’s Ocean
  9. Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean by Arthur Dorros
  10. Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola
  11. Oh Say Can You Say What’s the Weather Today? All about Weather by Tish Rabe and Aristides Ruiz
  12. Magic School Bus Wet All Over: A Book about the Water Cycle by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
  13. Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre
  14. Watch DK Eyewitness Seashore
  15. The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
  16. The Snowflake: A Water Cycle Story by Neil Waldman
  17. Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems by Joyce Sidman and Beckie Prange
  18. Water by John Woodward
  19. Water Dance by Thomas Locker
  20. What Makes an Ocean Wave? Questions and Answers about Oceans and Ocean Life by Melvin Berger, Gilda Berger, and John Rice
  21. Wish for Fish: All about Sea Creatures by Bonnie Worth and Aristides Ruiz
  22. Why Is the Sea Salty? And Other Questions about…Oceans by Benjamin Richmond

 

 


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Keep Calm and Read On

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For our latest literary adventure, we traveled to London—home to some of the greatest children’s literature of all time. From Paddington to Queen Victoria, from The Globe to Big Ben, from The Beatles to Mary Poppins, we canvased England’s capital city. Our selections span time periods and genres, and includes well-known characters as well as lovable new friends. As always in our travels, we immersed ourselves in the history and culture of our subject, taking on new characters to add to our repertoires, and finding our worldviews transformed in the process.

  1. The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Let’s Visit London by Lisa Manzione and Kristine Lucco
  2. Listen to The Beatles
  3. The Beatles by Mick Manning and Brita Granström
  4. The Beatles by Mike Venezia
  5. The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny) by Kathleen Krull, Paul Brewer, and Stacy Innerst
  6. Bed-knob and Broomstick by Mary Norton
  7. Watch Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks
  8. A Boy Called Dickens by Deborah Hopkinson and John Hendrix
  9. Charles Dickens: The Man Who Had Great Expectations by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema
  10. Charlotte in London by Joan MacPhail Knight and Melissa Sweet
  11. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Brett Helquist
  12. Read the CIA’s World Factbook about the United Kingdom
  13. Color Crayola’s flag and map of England
  14. Fur, Fins, and Feathers: Abraham Dee Bartlett and the Invention of the Modern Zoo by Cassandre Maxwell
  15. A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time by Mary Pope Osborne
  16. Good Queen Bess: The Story of Elizabeth I of England by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema
  17. Katie in London by James Mayhew
  18. The Knight at Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  19. Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers
  20. Watch Disney’s Mary Poppins
  21. Watch Disney’s Mickey’s Christmas Carol
  22. Paddington by Michael Bond
  23. Watch Paddington
  24. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
  25. Watch Disney’s Peter Pan
  26. Popcorn at the Palace by Emily Arnold McCully
  27. A Possum’s Tail by Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow
  28. Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine by Gloria Whelan and Nancy Carpenter
  29. The Queen’s Progress: An Elizabethan Alphabet by Celeste Davidson Mannis and Bagram Ibatoulline
  30. Shakespeare’s Seasons by Miriam Weiner and Shannon Whitt
  31. Stage Fright on a Summer Night by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  32. Watch The Sword in the Stone
  33. This is London by M. Sasek
  34. Color Crayola’s flag and map of the United Kingdom
  35. A Walk in London by Salvatore Rubbino
  36. William Shakespeare & the Globe by Aliki
  37. Who Was Charles Dickens? by Pamela Pollock and Meg Belviso
  38. Who Was Queen Elizabeth? by June Eding and Nancy Harrison
  39. Who Was Queen Victoria? by Jim Gigliotti and Max Hergenrother
  40. Who Was William Shakespeare? by Celeste Davidson Mannis and John O’Brien
  41. Who Were the Beatles? by Geoff Edgers and Jeremey Tugeau


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Big Cats, Little Cats

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Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the lazy cats who lounge around our house all day are related to majestic beasts like lions and tigers. But big or little, these cat cousins have lots in common, as we learned from this list. Using fiction and non-fiction, we explored cats’ role in nature, history, and mythology, and learned just how much humans have always been intrigued by felines—no matter their size.

  1. Watch African Cats by Disney Nature
  2. Watch The Aristocats
  3. Amazing Cats by Eyewitness Junior
  4. Big Cats by Seymour Simon
  5. Big Cats by Jonathan Sheikih-Miller and Stephanie Turnbull
  6. Watch Cat by DK Eyewitness
  7. The Cat at Night by Dahlov Ipcar
  8. Cats by Jane Resnick
  9. Catwings by Ursula Le Guin
  10. City Cat by Kate Banks and Lauren Castillo
  11. Everything Big Cats by Elizabeth Carney
  12. Millions of Cats by Wanda Ga’g
  13. Outside and Inside Big Cats by Sandra Markle
  14. Puss in Boots by Paul Galdone
  15. Watch Puss in Boots by Dreamworks
  16. Six-Dinner Sid by Inga Moore
  17. Small Cats by Markus Kappeler
  18. The Tenth Good Thing about Barney by Judith Viorst and Erik Blegvad
  19. There Are Cats in This Book by Viviane Schwarz
  20. The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
  21. Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander
  22. Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurrican Katrnia, Friendship, and Survival by Kirby Larson, Mary Nethery, and Jean Cassels
  23. Your Cat’s Wild Cousins by Hope Ryden
  24. Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young
  25. The Wild Side of Pet Cats by Jo Waters