Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Books We Read This Week

Ok, so the week is not over yet, but I better post these books now so I don't forget to do it later. Since our old car was not driving all that well plus so many of our friends spent their winter break either travelling or being sick or both, we spent more time than normal at home in the past few days. So we read a lot.

I picked up the book of Bazhov's tales last time I was in New York mostly because I wanted it for myself. The language seemed quite difficult for a young child to understand. There are a lot of words that fell out of use long time ago. Kids in Russia might be exposed to some of these words through fairy tales and old cartoons. But my son is not one for fairy tales (he'll ask to read and re-read the Complete History of Star Wars instead) and the only Russian cartoons he is still interested in are Smeshariki, Fixiki and Pin Code. So I was very surprised when M liked the stories, kept asking for more, remembered the names of the characters and even talked about what if he was in those stories. I'm going to try to show him some of the old Soviet cartoons based on these stories.

This is another one of my favorite childhood books. I tried reading it with M months ago, but he wasn't too interested. The language is not difficult and the stories are funny and engaging. I think he was too much into his rockets and space exploration phase though. So by the time we picked up this book again, we've already read about Paddington Bear and Emil from Lonneberga, much longer and more involved stories. As M is getting older, he's becoming a lot more thrilled with mischievous characters yet he still wants them to be cute and cuddly. I think that's why this time around Kuzka stories are such a big hit.

Angelo is the first book that I insisted on not translating into Russian. M didn't like the idea of me reading a book in English. But he became too absorbed in the story after just the first couple of pages. To keep things consistent with our one parent one language approach, I plan on only reading in English during our English lessons. Our evening story time will remain in Russian for the foreseeable future. As for the book, M found the story more sad than happy. I saw him blinking away a tear or two as the story moved along. We talked a bit more about this story (in Russian) which gave me an opportunity to introduce a few new Russian words, such as штукатурка, штукатурщик, херувим, строительные леса, etc.

M liked this book, the Perfect Square, enough to pick up a square of origami paper and scissors and do his own little collage. I hoped for more, but what can I say - M just doesn't like cutting, tearing or gluing paper.

This week we also read two more math books. The first one was 1+1 = 5 and Other Unlikely Additions. I tried it some time ago, but without much success. This time, however, M was thrilled. He insisted we read the book a couple of times and then he retold me the entire story. We even tried coming up with our own unlikely additions. What I liked most was that both number recognition and addition were present, but not central. M used both without even really noticing it since he was so absorbed figuring out the attributes in each picture that really made each addition work.

The last book I want to share is Roman Numerals from I to MM. No, I'm not teaching M Roman numerals. But I wanted him to see how using different numerals affects how we write and read numbers. He liked the idea that numbers could be written as letters. He LOVED the fact that his letter, M, was used for the largest single-symbol value (M = 1000). It didn't hurt that the pictures of cute piggies were so darn... cute. He immediately recognized them from Hogwash and Pigaroons books. I like this book and will try going a bit more in-depth with it in a few months.


  1. Interesting books! I remember Bazhov stories from my own childhood as stories without a happy end (Malahitovaya Shkatulka comes to mind). Did you try to read Zero the Hero - it has a lovely take on Roman numerals.

  2. You're right, some of Bazhov's stories are without happy endings. But the ones I started with, Огневушка-поскакушка, Серебряное копытце, Голубая змейка, are lovely and end well (except that the girl's favorite cat disappears forever, but my son thinks the cat ran away with Серебряное копытце to play chase in the woods). I've not read Zero the Hero, but have heard about it. I'll try to get it at the library. Interestingly, M didn't even notice the absence of zero in Roman numerals and honestly, neither did I :)