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Books to help develop kids critical thinking skills – Book Suggestions – 03/21/13

Posted on: Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Our blog this week was about helping your kids develop their critical thinking skills by asking questions that lead to conversations about the story they have just read.  The book suggestions below will definitely lead to some interesting conversations.  Two of them are different approaches to classic fairy tales and the third one asks the reader to view the world from a different perspective.  Each on of them will get the kids thinking.

Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter by Diane Stanley is for kids 5 and up.  “0nce upon a time a miller’s daughter was given an impossible task by a cruel and greedy king.  She had to spin straw into gold.  And who should show up to help her but an odd little man named Rumpelstiltskin.  According to tradition, the gold-bedazzled king and the miller’s daughter are wed.  But wait just a minute! This king is definitely not husband material, and there’s someone else who is — a hardworking guy who’s supportive and nice looking, and who really comes through in a pinch.
Why not marry Rumpelstiltskin?
In Diane Stanley’s merry rethinking of the traditional tale, Rumpelstiltskin and the miller’s daughter are wed…and then sixteen years later their only daughter is stuck in the same dilemma: She’s been locked in a room full of straw to spin for a greedy king!  She could call for help from her father, but this fairy-tale heroine has some canny plans of her own.  How Rumpelstiltskin’s daughter sets things to rights in the troubled kingdom, while achieving a unique place for herself, makes for a wise and witty tale of kindness and cleverness rewarded.  Diane Stanley’s wickedly funny text and zesty illustrations put a delightful new spin on a classic fairy tale.”  Review from Amazon.

Turtle’s Race With Beaver by Joseph and James Bruchac is for kids age 5 and up.  “This delightful folktale closely resembles Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare.”  A sweet-looking turtle lives contentedly in a beautiful pond until one spring she emerges from hibernation and discovers that another creature has overrun her domain.  Beaver’s dam and lodge have changed the pond’s ambience very much indeed, but Turtle benevolently offers to share her home with the newcomer.  However, impudent Beaver scoffs at the invitation and challenges her to a race.  Word spreads throughout the forest and all the animals gather to witness the improbable spectacle. At the outset of the competition, Turtle sinks her teeth into Beaver’s broad tail, and the pain eventually causes him to flip it in such a way that she is hurled across the finish line in first place.  Humiliated, he leaves for another pond, and when his new home’s terrapin resident agrees to share, he gratefully acquiesces.  This appealing variant of the time-honored, cross-cultural tale conveys the need for cooperation, perseverance, and humility within group settings. Children will be so involved in the storytelling that they’ll absorb these lessons effortlessly.  Done in pen and ink, gouache, and pastel, the cheerful artwork is a wonderful match for this well-told tale.

Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.”

Review from Amazon.

Hey, Little Ant by Phillip M. Hoose is for kids from preschool-grade 2.  Based on a song, this occasionally stilted narrative has a message: respect all creatures and their right to live.  A bespectacled ant, loaded down with two shopping bags, is confronted by a human youngster intent on stepping on him.  Before the boy can carry out his threat, the ant begs him to reconsider.  Each double-page spread is devoted to one character expressing his opinion in the life vs. death debate.  The brightly colored, full-page cartoon illustrations, rendered in pen, ink, and watercolor, capably convey the obvious differences and the surprising similarities of the two main characters.  The boy is urged to look at things from the ant’s point of view before deciding on his course of action.  The tale’s conclusion is open-ended as readers are asked, “What do you think that kid should do?”  The accompanying picture shows a huge sneaker posed above the tiny ant.  The music and verses appear on the last page of this tepid tale that could lead to discussions concerning bullies and/or the protection of other species.

Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review from Amazon

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This entry was posted in Book recommendations, Conversation with kids, Conversations with kids, Critical Thinking Skills, Fairy Tales, Family Activities, Kid's imagination, parent involvement. Bookmark the permalink.

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