Reading Roundup: New Children’s Books for Fall

UrbanSitter asked Susan Kundhart, children’s book buyer for Book Passage, an independent book store in Corte Madera and San Francisco, CA, to share with us some of her favorite new children’s books with us. Enjoy!

You Were the First
Book Passage

You Were the First, by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin, $17.00, ages 2-5.

Plenty of new-sibling books aim to persuade young children that they will learn to love the new baby, or to take comfort in being able to do things the baby cannot. This lovely new picture book from a beloved author affirms every child’s feeling about a new sibling: Hey, I was here first! “You were the first to cry. You were the first to smile. You were the first to lift your head, to look at the trees and flowers and sky.”



Book Passage
Book Passage

How to Train a Train, Jason Eaton, $16.99, ages 3-7.

Lots of kids are obsessed with trucks and trains, but these kids love trains so much they keep them as pets. Written like a manual for pet ownership, this helpful book gives advice on selecting, naming, training, and caring for your new friend. The illustrations showing full-size engines rolling over on command and snuggling in for a bedtime story contrast hilariously with the straightforward “instructions.”



Flora and Ulysses
Book Passage

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures$17.99 Kate DiCamillo, ages 7 up.

From a true genius storyteller comes the story of Flora, who resuscitates a squirrel that has been sucked into a powerful vacuum cleaner. The squirrel awakes with superhero powers: he can fly, he has super-strength, and he even writes poetry on a typewriter. Newbery-winning Kate DiCamillo’s own super-power is, in the squirrel’s words, to “make the letters on the keyboard speak the truth of the heart.” This human-animal friendship ranks with that of Charlotte and Wilbur.



Bugs in my Hair
Book Passage

Bugs in My Hair! by David Shannon, $17.99, ages 4-8.

If anyone can make a case of head lice fun, it’s David Shannon. He humorously captures and normalizes the panic, embarrassment, and tedium of this common school affliction. Even the mom’s reactions—first panic, then phantom head-itch, then mountains of laundry—are perfect.



You can visit Book Passage any time online to purchase the above books or just browse their fantastic array of staff picks, new book analysis, and other juicy tidbits most avid readers can’t get enough of. Happy reading!

Find and book babysitters and nannies at

Celebrate Dr. Seuss’s Birthday (and Read Across America Day), March 2

Photo Credit: alternatePhotography via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: alternatePhotography via Compfight cc

The beloved children’s author and illustrator, Dr. Seuss, was born March 2, 1904. Children around the world celebrate his birthday by reading his treasured books and spending time in school and at home doing fun activities that reflect his brilliant work. Don’t miss out on the chance to have some fun with your kids!

Here are some fun, fan-seussical activities to do with your kids:


  • The National Education Association has chosen Dr. Seuss’s birthday for its Read Across America Day, a nationwide reading celebration that shines a spotlight on the importance of reading to children. The obvious activity of choice for the day – read to your kids! There are 46 Dr. Seuss children’s books to choose from!
  • Dr. Seuss books are ideal for reading aloud to children, even infants who will be mesmerized by the rhymes and preschoolers who will get big kicks out of the nonsensical nature of the stories. Early readers get a boost of confidence from tackling “Hop on Pop,” or other beginner favorites.
  • The official Dr. Seuss website by Random House is chock full of activities for kids to do on their own and a Parents section to provide tips on maximizing both the quality and the quantity of reading time in your home. The website’s Books section provides a search tool to help you select Seuss books by your child’s age, a favorite character or series, and other criteria.


  • Create a Reading Chart to track reading time and progress. The blogger of Mom Endeavors crafted a simple DIY chart centered on a favorite Seuss quote:

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

  • Use these free printables to have kids color and create bookmarks that encourage them to read well beyond today’s festivities.
  • Make and play with Oobleck. This ooey, gooey not-quite-liquid-not-quite-solid play gunk is inspired from the strange stuff that falls from the sky in “Bartholomew and the Oobleck.” The non-edible recipe: Mix together 2 cups cornstarch, 3 drops of food coloring and up to 1 cup of water in a medium sized bowl. Add water slowly as you may not need entire cup. 
Dr. Seuss - "Bartholomew and the Oobleck" via Amazon
Dr. Seuss – “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” via Amazon


  • One Fish, Two Fish Matching Game and Magnets. Before you can play this simple matching game with your kids, you’ll need to bust out a bit of DIY. You’ll need foam board, magnets, a Sharpie, and images from either printables or those you’ve traced or sketched yourself. Detailed instructions are here.
  • Record your early reader reading “Green Eggs and Ham.” This handy app makes it fun and easy to record and the accompanying games and activities will hold your child’s attention long enough for you to create the matching game listed above.
  • Host a playdate or a movie night (or afternoon) by popping some popcorn and showing a Seuss classic. “Horton Hears a Who” is entertaining for little kids and “The Lorax” is tops with older kids who can appreciate the environmental message, as much as the characters and cool animation.
One Fish Two Fish Matching Game via Just Paint It
One Fish Two Fish Matching Game via Just Paint It


  • A celebration isn’t a celebration without food! If you aren’t up to tackling The Lorax cake pictured below, there are many other simple treats to make the day even more memorable and fun.
  • Truffula Trees – Adorable mini cupcakes you can create with a cake mix, pretzel sticks and cotton candy, along with a few extras to make them look like the trees from The Lorax movie.
  • Do You Like Green Eggs and Ham? Here’s a Green Eggs and Ham recipe that will be just as appealing to adults as kids (and it doesn’t involved icky food coloring!). Try it, try it, you will see!
Lorax Cake via Diamonds For Dessert
Lorax Cake via Diamonds For Dessert

And, for those with wee-little ones who shouldn’t miss out on the fun, how about this photo opt for the baby book?!

Dr. Seuss Inspired Hat and Tie from Sweet Pea Toad Tots via Etsy
Dr. Seuss Inspired Hat and Tie from Sweet Pea Toad Tots via Etsy

Need a few more ideas to help you celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday with your kids? Check out the ultimate Dr. Seuss Links Collection. If you run out of time (or steam!), find a babysitter to lead the charge.

Five Fun Back-to-School Books

You might be the kind of lucky parent who has a child who jumps in the car or rushes off the school bus anxious to tell you all about her day, and doesn’t let you leave her room at night until she unleashes even her tiniest worries. If not, you’re likely frustrated with asking your child about her day and getting little more than a shrug or a mumbled, “fine.”

Want a great tool for getting your child to share details about her day and open up about any anxieties and feelings she may have about school? Start a dialogue by reading a book together. Hearing a story about a subject she can relate to is an easy way to start talking about what happens in her own day. It’ll give you the perfect opportunity to dig a little deeper and calm any worries before they build.

Check out these fun, conversation starters that are ideal for little ones starting school for the first time:

First Day Jitters
Julie Danneberg (Author), Judith Dufour Love (Illustrator)

A fun, surprising story about the classic anxieties of going to school for the first time, and the realization that children aren’t the only ones to have butterflies in their bellies (the teacher does, too!).

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten
Joseph Slate (Author), Ashley Wolff (Illustrator)

A colorful, well-illustrated introduction to Kindergarten with the added bonus of ABC practice.


David Goes To School
By David Shannon

David breaks all the rules at school, keeping his teacher on her toes with his eyebrow-raising shenanigans. In the end, he makes it all right and goes home with a satisfying gold star.

By Kevin Henkes

A sweet story about a sensitive little girl who feels left out and is teased because of her long, funny name. An eccentric, loved-by-all teacher shows her the value in being different and makes her the star.

Splat the Cat: Back to School, Splat!
By Ron Scotton

Especially fun for dedicated Splat the Cat fans. Even parents think Splat is pretty darn funny.

Books are also great to stock up on for a night with the babysitter. Find your next babysitter on UrbanSitter.

New Crop of Children’s Books Makes it Easy and Fun to Read to Kids, Everyday

Reading aloud to our children is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. When we snuggle up with our kids and a good book, not only are we giving them our time and attention, we’re also giving them the skills that build the foundation for reading ability and school readiness.

We all learn about language and the world around us every time we read or are read to, even babies. Reading to little ones teaches them about the printed word, the concept of reading from left to right and turning pages to continue a story. Research shows that books, even children’s books, contain up to 50 percent more words than kids hear in spoken conversations, including on TV. Exposure to more words stimulates our kids’ language skills and builds vocabulary, while helping to grow their curiosity and memory.

Summertime gives us a bit of a reprieve from the tight schedules of the school year and often provides a wonderful opportunity to read to our kids throughout the day, instead of just at the usual before-bed story time. When the kids are acting up, whether out of boredom, fatigue, or just plain Pesky Kid Syndrome, reading aloud to them always ends the battle. A great story can entertain them, take the edge off whatever argument was ensuing, and keep them calm for at least ten minutes.

If you’re less than thrilled by the thought of reading your kids’ tattered standbys,  yet again, check out a few of these newly-released books for kids:

Duckling Gets a Cookie
by Mo Willems
Duckling gets a cookie, and guess who’s jealous? Kids will love this new tale starring familiar characters.

Hugs from Pearl
by Paul Schmid
Pearl is a porcupine, which makes giving hugs a challenge. But she finds a way. Get to know Pearl in this sweet story.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
by Eric Litwin
Oh no, Pete lost one of his four groovy buttons! Count down with Pete in this new book featuring a beloved character.

Me Want Pet
by Tammi Sauer
Cave Boy desperately wants a pet. He tries many, including a wooly mammoth and a saber tooth tiger, but only one is just right.

Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit
by Chris van Dusen
Randy’s not a baseball genius, but his science smarts allow him to save his entire town from a giant fireball!  Older toddlers will enjoy this one.

Reading to the kids is also a great activity to suggest to your sitter. Find & book babysitters at