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Book Reviews

  • The Preschool Parent Book Review: Busy-Eyed Day, by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon

    A fun fresh look at a day outside. As a preschool teacher I found this book was especially good to read outside with the children. Then we used our busy eyes to find interesting things all around us.

    The illustrations kept the children's attention and provided nuanced detail without being overly busy, so children could clearly follow the characters - not true for many preschool books. As much as I love the current trend of multi-level books (which please children and adults), this book is right on target for the preschool audience and an excellent way to start exploring the great outdoors including your local park.



  • Preschool Parent Book Review: How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk 
    by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

    Reviewer: Preschool parent, Ellie Thomas


    This parenting book is packed full of wisdom that helps parents engage their children in a positive process of behavior change. Among the many skills discussed, parents are given specific strategies and language for teaching their children about their own feelings and needs as well as communicating the  parents' expectations.  Increasing children's awareness in these concrete ways can minimize strife and the need for punishment. Children gain autonomy and empowerment so that parents can have a more positive and trusting relationship with their children.

    I highly recommend this book and think that the key to its lasting results is practicing the skills in a chapter before you move on to the next.

  • Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

    The Mother Bruce series books are witty, and just plain fun to read. The books are written with humor for children of any age and adults. I’m always careful about children’s books that spend too much time on making the parents laugh, but I think Ryan Higgins does a nice job of providing humor for everyone without taking away from the stories. To be honest these books are really about the wonderful art, which is whimsical and detailed. They are also about family. 

    In the series a crabby old bear named Bruce becomes the unexpected caretaker of four goslings. He learns the messy, wonderful truths of caring for others. Bruce stays true to his grumpy character through the series: Mother Bruce, Hotel Bruce, and Bruce’s Big Move.  If you’re a lover of Calvin and Hobbs' “Calvin Ball” you are sure to enjoy “Frying Pan Ball” You can find detailed (?) directions for the game at the end of Bruce’s Big Move. Read and enjoy!

  • Today’s Preschool Parent Book Review is on The Parent’s Survival Guide to Daycare Infections, edited by local UVa pediatrician, Leigh B. Grossman, MD

    I often recommend concerned parents go to the CDC or Mayo Clinic website for the most up to date information, that said, this is an extremely helpful resource book for parents. It covers the ins and outs of childhood diseases so you can know when to relax and when to take action.

    It can be frustrating to deal with infections as your child goes off to daycare or preschool, but most of these are viruses that build up your child’s immune system and are relatively benign (although no one feels that way when the whole family is sick for the 3rd time this year). It’s important to know what’s normal and what infections or symptoms could be a serious problem.

    There is a particularly helpful table on communicable diseases as well as full chapters on many diseases so you can have a full understanding of how a disease is caught, the incubation period, symptoms, what to do, and when should your child return to preschool or daycare.

    The Parent’s Survival Guide to Daycare Infections is a handy resource book for any parent to have at home.

  • Today's Book Review for The Preschool Parent Primer is by Carolyn Schuyler, LCSW, and Executive Director of Wildrock, a  nature playscape in Crozet, VA.

    As the director of Wildrock, a nature playscape and discovery center that has many preschool visitors, I am delighted to have Pam Evans’ book, The Preschool Parent Primer as an essential resource to share with parents. Full of stories and practical skills to implement, I can think of no better resource to support parents in effectively caring for preschoolers. Pam is a master teacher beloved in our community for her wise, compassionate care of children and her ability to support and nurture parents. Her knowledge and expertise is distilled in The Preschool Parent Primer, making it a go-to resource for parents wanting to better understand and care for their children. She understands the challenges parents face and frames mistakes as opportunities. Throughout the pages of this book is Pam’s clear respect for the young child’s emerging competence and strategies for supporting children in making good decisions to meet their needs. Each chapter focuses on core concepts of concern for parents, from how to choose a preschool and how to pick activities that promote healthy child development. As an added bonus, the book is full of useful recommended resources and activities. The Preschool Parent Primer is a true gift to parents and children, and will no doubt be passed from one family to the next as an essential parenting guide.


  • Today we review Elsa Beskow's classic, "Peter's Old House." While story comes out of the twentieth century, it not only still holds up, but in typical Elsa Beskow style, the children in this book show independence, wisdom, and capability.

    Our story starts with Peter, an old sailor who knows many languages and knows how to fix everything. He  lives in a small town and gladly comes to the aid of anyone who needs help, whether it's fixing a clock or a child's hurt leg. He also makes beautiful toy sail boats for the children of the town. Peter helps everyone, but no one ever thinks to pay him.

    An official comes to town and declares that Peter's house (which is in a bad way) must be fixed or it will be torn down. The children come together with a plan to aid Peter. There is a lot to talk about in this book, from travel and languages, building and home repair, and helping those around us. We love a story where the children take the lead in solving problems.

  • Preschool Parent Book Review:  
    Heaven on Earth, A Handbook for Parents of Young Children, by Sharifa Oppenheimer

    Reviewer: Dianne Bearinger

    In my work, I have plenty of opportunities to recommend parenting books. By far my favorite is: Heaven on Earth, A handbook for Parents of Young Children, by Sharifa Oppenheimer. This book is beautifully laid out specifically with the busy parent in mind.

    It begins with a clear description of child development in the first seven years of life, along with many good ideas for ways to enhance a young child’s growth and development. It is filled with all of the practical advice parents need to help them structure their family lives in a way that supports their young children and enhances the quality of life for the whole family.

    It covers beautiful ideas for ways to celebrate special times, like holidays and birthdays, as well as the every-day world of mealtimes and bed time. There are recipes included, and clear descriptions of projects, and age-appropriate play areas, both inside and out. The importance of movement, play, and story-telling are described in vivid detail.

    One of my favorite features are the notes in the margins, throughout the book. It makes it very easy to just pick the book up and look up on recipe, poem, or project without having to read through a lot of text.

    If you have time for one parenting book, this one would be my recommendation. It really does have everything you need. I think you’ll find that it helps you begin this amazing and challenging journey into parenthood and establishing your own family culture.

    Dianne Bearinger is a Waldorf early childhood educator, postpartum doula, and reading and math tutor. She has been working with young children and their parents for decades here in Charlottesville Virginia.Motherworkscville.com

    Dianne is an amazing tutor, if you live in the Charlottesville area, you can contact Dianne at TutoringatDiannes@gmail.com or https://www.facebook.com/Dianne-Bearinger-Tutoring-1102276076501778/