Bedtime Books

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Today’s blog comes from a “Daily Writing Prompt”. The prompt reads: “Do you remember your favorite book from your childhood?” This prompt comes after I stumbled on a set of books that I had as a kid in a used book store.

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The Charlie Brown Dictionary was a set of 8 books that had definitions of words. I remember my parents ordered these from somewhere and every month a new volume would arrive. I loved when a new volume would arrive. They had the entire set at this book store for the bargain price of $2! How can I pass that up?!

The writing prompt also comes a week or so after the baby shower. One of the things we want for our baby is a good library of books to read. We did receive some books at the shower, some of which I recognized, and some that I didn’t. Some of the books we received were books that I had read to my boys, and I am excited to share them with our daughter, too!

As I thought about the prompt, I don’t know that I can actually recall my “favorite” book as a kid. There are, however, many that I do remember vividly. I thought it might be fun to sit and off the top of my head, write about some of the ones I remember. I am sitting down to write this blog knowing that it will be incomplete. It will be incomplete, because I know I am going to probably miss a lot of them. Here goes:

The Poky Little Puppy

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When I was growing up I think I had every one of the “Little Golden Books”. Of all of them, this is the one that immediately comes to mind when I think about my childhood. I remember buying it when my oldest was a baby and reading it to him. I really didn’t remember the story up until that point, but for me to remember it for so long, I am just guessing it was a favorite. I remember there being many Disney stories that were in the Little Golden Book collection.

Another Little Golden Book that I had, and eventually shared with my sons was a Sesame Street book.

The Monster at the End of This Book

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As a child of the 70’s, I watched a lot of PBS. Sesame Street was a show I watched faithfully. Mr. Hooper was still alive when I was watching Sesame Street! The adventures of Ernie and Bert, The Count, Big Bird, Grover, and Kermit helped me learn letters and numbers. I mentioned in a previous blog that I had an Ernie hand puppet. I also had a stuffed Grover. I liked him cause he was always so silly. Grover is the star of this book. It is such a fun book to read and I am sure that it made me laugh as a kid, as much as it made my boys laugh! I can’t wait to share this one with Ella.

Dr. Seuss Books

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I probably had every single Dr. Seuss book ever written! They were very popular with my generation. I have found that people either love or hate his books. I had a friend who just loathed when her son would pick Green Eggs and Ham to read. I could never figure out why.

I remember I was doing mornings on B95 and it was Dr. Seuss’ birthday. We had one of the contestants from American Idol (Phil Stacey) in town to do a show for us. We were talking about Dr. Seuss books with our newsman, Hal Maas earlier in the show, and he couldn’t remember half of them (which we razzed him about often). We actually had Phil Stacey read “Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?” on the air! The book has all kinds of silly noises, and Phil played it up on the air! It was so silly to hear him reading this, but he told us how much fun it was!

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I am sure I will be reading Ella many of his books.

Three Little Kittens

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This was one of Dante’s favorite books. I think he loved it because of the cat noises I used to make while reading it to him. I am almost positive that this was another book my mom read to me. This is a must for me to read to Ella, especially since we have two cats at home.

Like I said, I KNOW I am forgetting others that were probably read to me as a child. I am hoping that those of you who are close to my age will offer us some of YOUR favorites. By doing that, maybe you’ll refresh my memory about other books from my childhood.

Books I Read to the Boys

The books above were books I loved growing up, and read to my boys. The following books are some of my favorites that I remember reading to them at bedtime. These will all be in Ella’s library, because I love them all!

Goodnight Moon

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This book is so simple. I loved saying goodnight to all of the objects and having the kids point to them. Dante’ would always make a “Squeak” noise when we said good night to the mouse.

Rainbow-Fish

This book came in very handy when trying to teach about sharing and being selfish. The moral of the story and showing how sharing with others can make everyone happy is a great lesson that even adults need to remember.

The Kissing Hand

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This one was voted one of the Teacher’s Top 100 Picture Books for Children. I read this to both boys especially as it got closer to when they were going to preschool. It’s really a great book to help children deal with the “separation” issue of going to school. Our book came with all these little red heart stickers and I think Dante’ used to put them on his backpack or pencil box.

The Going To Bed Book

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Sandra Boynton has so many great books for kids! I loved reading this one every night. It was so fun and her characters are just so cute! This is just one of MANY of her books that I loved.

I’m Thankful Each Day

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Probably one of my top 5 books to read! One of my favorite bible verses is I Thessalonians 5:18 which reads: “In every thing give thanks”. Raising children, we want them to be thankful! We tell them to say “please” and “thank you”. What I love about this book is that you see this little boy who is full of gratitude. He is thankful for big things in his life, as well as the small things. He is so grateful – and happy! It is a must for Ella’s bookshelf!

Snowmen At Night

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I love this book for so many reasons. Remember when you were a kid and you’d make your snowman? Then the next day you’d come out and he’d look a little different? It always made me wonder what he’s been up to! That’s exactly what this book is about. What do snowmen do at night?! This book is just so much fun to read and the illustrations are a hoot, too!

This book was a favorite of both my sons! Caralyn Buehner wrote a few sequels to this too (Snowmen At Christmas, Snowmen At Play, Snowmen At Work, Snowmen All Year)! My goal is to have all of these in Ella’s library.

Reading Dads Rock!

Reading is SO important! The great stories that are found in books will fuel a child’s imagination for years and years! A parent reading to their child is one of the greatest things in the world. It is quality time together. It is bonding time. It is something that I cannot wait to do with our daughter. Bring on the bedtime stories!!

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Missing Muppets – Do You Remember Them?

November 10, 1969 – a wonderful little show debuted on PBS for kids called Sesame Street.  It helped children learn letters, numbers, and over the years has tackled subjects like death, divorce, hurricanes, and autism.  With human and Muppet residents, and many guest stars, the show has been an incredible educational program.

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I grew up with Sesame Street.  I remember the songs “The Ladybug Picnic”, “The Alligator King”, “The Pinball Number Count”, “Sing (Sing a Song)”, “The People in Your Neighborhood”, “Rubber Duckie”, “C is for Cookie”, and, of course, “Ma Nah Ma Nah”.  I remember when Hooper’s Store was still run by Mr. Hooper!

When my boys were growing up, I sat down with them and watched the show of my youth.  Elmo had pretty much become the face of the show, as the last 20 minutes of it was dedicated to Elmo’s World.  Some of my favorites were still around, though.  Ernie and Bert were still talking about pigeons, bottle caps, and Rubber Duckie.  Oscar was still grouchy.  Big Bird and Snuffy were still best friends (I remember when nobody but Big Bird could see Snuffy!).  Cookie Monster was still crazy for cookies.  Count Von Count still told you the number of the day, and Grover was still Super Grover (and still occasionally drove that one blue Muppet guy crazy in the restaurant).

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Some new Muppets have surfaced over the years and some have gone away.  I read an article about Sesame Street that estimates that there were over 1000 characters on the show in 50 years.  Here are some characters that were on when I watched, but are no longer.  Some you may remember, some you may not.

Kermit the Frog

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Kermit, of course, went on to great success as the host of The Muppet Show, but he was your on the street reporter on Sesame Street.  He often drew numbers and letters and taught us about them.  He also would often be found interviewing another “missing” Muppet….

Don Music

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Don Music was voiced by the late Richard Hunt. Don was a musician, lyricist, and pianist who would write songs.  These songs were often close to real songs, and Kermit would often steer Don to the real lyric.  Up until Kermit, Mary didn’t have a little lamb, she had a bicycle!

Don would struggle to write his songs and would often get frustrated and band his head on the piano (or wall, or whatever) and yell, “I’ll never get it!”  The word is that kids at home laughed at this and would often imitate Don’s actions.  I’m guessing banging your head on a piano in real life probably hurts more than it hurt Don.  Sadly, his character was retired.

Roosevelt Franklin

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I guess Roosevelt Franklin is probably the most famous of the “retired” Muppets.  Matt Robinson, who also was the first Gordon on Sesame Street, provided the voice for him.  He has his own school – Roosevelt Franklin Elementary School.  Why was he retired?  One article I read said this:

“Parents wrote to the Children’s Television Workshop to complain that Roosevelt was a negative stereotype of African-American children, citing his rowdy nature and the fact that his classes closely resembled after-school detention. Roosevelt only lasted from 1970-1975, but he has appeared in many Sesame Street books.”

It’s been a long time since I have seen a clip of him, so it’s hard for me to remember just how “stereotypical” he was.

Professor Hastings

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This guy was a professor.  In high school (and in college), there is nothing worse than a teacher or professor who is just plain boring.  What was funny about him was that he was SO boring, he’d put himself to sleep while lecturing on letters or numbers.  He wasn’t on the show too long.  Guess he was REALLY boring!

Herbert Birdsfoot

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Seen here with Grover (who was often his assistant), Herbert stepped in when Kermit the Frog was phased out.  He began to teach numbers and letters with Grover’s help.  Kermit, however, did return to Sesame Street on occasion over the years, and Herbert was eventually retired by the sixth season of the show.

Bruno, the Trashman

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Bruno was created by Caroll Spinney (the voice of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch).  During the first few years of the show, Oscar couldn’t really move around.  If he wanted to move, a cast member had to carry his trash can somewhere, or they showed the can moving with two feet under it.  Spinney saw a puppeteer on the Gong Show and it inspired Bruno.  With Bruno, he could walk with Oscar’s trash can, and operate him while doing so thanks to a hole in the stomach.  Bruno never spoke.   He appeared in the Sesame Street movie Follow That Bird and then spent many years in storage. While in storage, Bruno deteriorated and the decision was made to not rebuild him.

Sherlock Hemlock

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I always loved this guy!  He was voiced by the great Jerry Nelson.  He was “the world’s greatest detective”, and obviously a rip off of Sherlock Holmes. I remember him yelling, “Egads!” anytime he “discovered something.  He was a very prominent character in the 70’s and 80’s, but was phased out as newer characters were introduced.  He is still a very popular character in the German version of Sesame Street.

The Amazing Mumford

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Mumford is another Muppet voiced by Jerry Nelson.  Remember his magic words?  “Ala Peanut Butter sandwiches!”  I believe the picture above is from a show where he cannot make the cookie (with the letter of the day) disappear.  Cookie Monster, of course, finds a way to make it disappear – he eats it.

Guy Smiley

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Guy Smiley was the “perfect host”.  He hosted quiz shows, contests, and other things that needed “a host”.  I always loved his name!  When I was a kid, Guy was on almost every show, but you’re lucky if he shows up today.  That’s a shame.  His name alone should make you smile!

Happy 50th Birthday!

It is just amazing that this show continues to be a wonderful source of learning for children.  Television is not such a friendly place for kids today.  Even some of the cartoons made for kids, tend to cross a line.  The songs and characters of Sesame Street will continue to help kids learn the alphabet and numbers for years to come, as well as tackle some tough life issues.

Thanks for the memories!  Happy Birthday, Sesame Street!

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