May 13, 2015

Fresh from the Bookshelf: S is for Smiling Sunrise~A New Take on ABC's {Book Review}

We are book loving family. We love to fill our bookshelves with meaningful worthwhile books, so we are picky about what ones get to earn their spot. One of the areas we are the most particular is when it comes to ABC books. Not just any book makes its way on our shelves! When I learned about S is for Smiling Sunrise from WordsBright, a book described to be a new take on ABCs, I was interested in reviewing it and seeing if it would be something we would enjoy.
S is for Smiling Sunrise~ a new ABC book

S is for Smiling Sunrise is a new book from WordsBright that takes the ABC's to a new level. The book introduces new vocabulary to match each letter to get the child thinking beyond the normal A is for Apple, B is for Ball. The book was created to guide the child toward recognizing goodness, beauty and wonder in the world around them. The book is geared towards ages 3 and up.

The book can be purchased at many online sites like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. The publisher provides a free MP3 song version of the text and free teaching guides at WordsBright

The book is a laminated hardcover, made in the USA and typically retails for $16.95.

We were given a copy of the book, the teachers guide, and MP3 song to review and I chose to limit our review to my 4 year old, since he is the prime age the book is geared for. I began by flipping through the book with him and read him the text. It was interesting because he's so used to other ABC books, that I would say "A is for..." and he wouldn't wait--he'd jump in with "APPLE!" And then pause and look puzzled when I would not say that. Once he tried that a few times with other letters, he stopped and started listening more carefully.

He really liked the colorful illustrations and the whimsical characters.  One of his favorite rhymes was for "H is for Heart" because it has the line "H is for your Heart, Lub-a-dub-a-dub Touch your chest, feel it chug And give your heart a hug!" He thought it was funny. 

There were a lot of new to him vocabulary words--specifically Kaleidoscope, Virtues and Yacht. So we had to go over those pages a few times--but using the teachers guide on these ones helped explain it to him.

The K-3 teachers guide is a collection of ideas for each page/letter of the book. There are four areas covered in each section: Concepts, Questions, Vocabulary, and Activities.

For M is for Moon for example, the Concepts to be taught is the relationship between moon and night versus sun and day. They suggest teaching the relationship between daytime activities and nighttime sleep. The final concept is the different shapes of the moon.

For Questions, they are all guided directing the child to look at the moon. Asking things like if they like looking at it, if they think it's beautiful--and asking why. 

Vocabulary reinforces the words from the books rhyme (moon, merry, glowing, love, night, bedtime, "Sweet Dreams," and "Sleep tight"

Finally, the Activities are ways to take the subject of the rhyme--in this case the moon--and do things related to it. Locating the moon in the day and night. Looking at it in binoculars. Creating artwork featuring the moon.

You can see that the teachers guide turns each letter of the ABC book into a mini unit study!

The preschool guide suggests playing the MP3 and letting them listen to it regularly. To start showing them the headline words (B is for Butterflies) and showing the related images. The key to this guide is to let them experience the books words over and over and to incorporate the mini lessons (like for S is for Smiling Sunrise it encourages to get up and out of bed quickly) in their daily routine.

I used a mix of both teachers guides with Baby Britches and it worked well. He greatly preferred listening to the music while following along to me reading it to him. As we listened to it more and more he started humming, but never really sang along except on a few things he liked--like the H is for Heart like I mentioned above.

What Are My Thoughts On This Product?

Pros
*Beautiful color illustrations
This book is so bright and colorful and just fun to look at!

*High quality pages and cover
The cover is thicker than most children's books--nearly a board book. And the pages are thicker than most children's books as well. They are shiny and "pretty". I also like that the books are made in the USA!

*Font 
The font of the book is very easy to read and a great size for reading aloud and following along.

*Written in Lyrical Form
The text of the book is written like poetry, making it more fun to read.

*Not your Normal ABC 
I like that this book chooses things other than the standard "A is for Apple, B is for Ball, C is for Cat". I like that it explores OTHER words that being with those letters which bring a more vibrant vocabulary.

*Recognizable tune
I liked that the tune for the coordinating song was the ABC melody, so that Baby Britches could recognize it. 

*Teaching Suggestions
I think it's pretty cool that they provide teaching suggestions for K-3 AND a pre-K guide! It's very helpful and would be a great way to incorporate unit studies with the reading of the book. I think having access to these free downloads makes it even more worthwhile.

*Promotes Character Development
The text encourages manners, family, care, concern, beauty, kindness and much more. Does your regular ABC book do that?

*Audio and Teaching Guides Free of Cost
With every purchase of the book, they get a free download of the music and the teaching guide! This is very cool and a great bonus.

Cons
*Song is a Mouthful
In all honesty, the song is a mouthful to sing. Trying to work the lyrics into the same melody was a major challenge and it didn't flow well. Baby Britches, even after many times of listening, could only ever get in a few words here and there. 

*Not all the rhymes...work
This is supposed to be a rhyming text, but many of the rhymes don't gel. Because of this, it makes it harder to flow during reading aloud AND then also ties in to the con I mentioned above about singing it.

*Words Are Very Advanced
Because this is an ABC book, it really is geared for more of the preK/Kindergarten age group. But there are words that they probably just won't have any concept of...like virtues, yacht, excellence...these are great vocabulary words but Baby Britches didn't understand the concept of virtues and excellence for example. While this is something a 1st-3rd grader might be able to get, my 4 year old doesn't have the comprehension of the abstract yet. But it's a very good introduction to the ideas! And as for yacht, I'd like to see you try to convince a 4 year old that the photo of the Y page is a yacht, not a boat! Not happening. LOL. 

In summary, this is a beautiful book and one that would be a good addition to any bookshelf! The song is a fun addition, and if you wanted to incorporate the book a little bit beyond just reading it, you have the teachers guide to help you. I will continue to let Baby Britches listen and follow along in his book because it is good practice at word identification and reminds him that there are many other words that make up the ABC's.

We very much enjoyed the book, but Baby Britches wasn't in love with it. He really got lost on the wordiness of it.

Want to Know More?

We reviewed S is for Smiling Sunrise by WordsBright. You have read my review, but what did the other families who received the book think about it?
Wordsbright Review
For more information, you can stay in touch with WordsBright via Facebook!

*****
While he didn't love it, Baby Britches does enjoy looking at it while I play the song, so I will pull it out now and then for him. We decided to keep this book and continue to use it, though I suspect we will be listening to the MP3 more than reading it!
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