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A few great reads for kids

Published on: December 30, 2013

With bookstores closing all around us, e-books available on "smart" phones, and screens, screens, screens everywhere, it's time to make a concerted effort to Bring Back Books.

Do we really want our kids reading Good Night Moon on an iPad? OK, maybe you do, but I'm just not ready to eliminate the printed page.

That's why I'm zeroing in on some great reads for kids.

The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred, by Samantha R. Vamos (from Kirkland) is for ages 4-8. It tells how a farm maiden and all the farm animals worked together to make the rice pudding they serve at the fiesta. Gorgeously and vibrantly illustrated, the story incorporates Spanish in the text, and at the end, includes a recipe for rice pudding and a glossary of Spanish words.

How Artists See, by Colleen Carroll,  is a series of books meant to teach children about art and about the world. In the book, How Artists See Animals (ages 9-12), kids learn what kinds of elements artists might have considered when creating a work of art - and what we might imagine when looking at it.

For example, one chapter examines the piece, "The Goldfish Bowl" by Henri Matisse. "Some of the patterns are made of shapes that look like fish," it says. "Point to all the fish-shaped objects you can find. Now look at the blurry patches or orange floating at the top of the bowl. What do you think they are?"

The book, along with others in the series (and a set for younger kids called How Artists See Jr.) is a wonderful way to expose children to art and artists while offering them an imaginative, creative way of looking at life.

Viewfinder: Reptiles (ages 4-8) by Barbara Taylor is the kind of book kids love. With fabulous illustrations and very moveable parts (panels, tabs and mini-booklets), kids can explore the world of snakes, alligators, turtles and lizards.

The same publisher, Silver Dolphin, also published Oceans & Rain Forests (ages 9-12) by Frances Dipper and Jane Parker. Also filled with flaps, pull tabs and wheels, the book gives kids an interactive way to explore coral reefs, life under the ice, mini ecosystems and much more.

All these books encourage reading and learning - while offering young readers a glimpse into new, fascinating worlds. What could be better?

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