”When I was a little girl, my Mother took me to the city library. It was on a high hill and looked like a big magic castle to me. The children’s section was located in the basement. Instead of windows, books lined the walls. I thought of these books as word windows, because there were no windows against the wall, only books. A nice librarian was like a magician because she was always bringing down new books for me to take home and read.  Sometimes, I imagined that I could just jump inside a story and become a part of it myself. Imagination is a wonderful tool for learning.”

Jane Belk Moncure

THE MAGIC CASTLE SERIES (Out of Print)

Jane imagined a world where libraries were magic castles; librarians were magicians, and books were word windows to faraway lands. Such a world does exist-in Magic Castle Readers®. Written and designed for beginning readers, these curriculum-oriented titles are divided into six classroom subject areas - Language Arts, Science, Math, Social Science, Creative Arts, and Health and Safety. With over 10 million copies sold, they are one of the most successful beginning reading series on the market.

A Dragon In a Wagon is an imaginary travel adventure with Laura and a happy dragon. Their journey introduces a cluster of transportation words to young readers. Laura and the happy dragon ride in a wagon, a car, a bus, a boat, a sled, a truck, a train and airplane, a parachute, a big balloon and a circus wagon. Children recognize and count the many unusual passengers who ride along to a surprise ending.  Pages 30 and 31 contain a word bank of travel words. The book provides a good starting point for learning more about the many ways people travel from place to place.
 

A Color Clown Comes To Town introduces young readers to the wonderful world of color. Laura and her funny clown introduce children not only to many familiar colors, but also to new colors that they can make themselves.  The clown helps children name colors by playing a color game. As children read the story, they join Laura in playing it too. At the end of the story, Laura uses all of the colors to make something very special. She invites the readers do the same. Pages 30 and 31 reinforce the cluster of color words to young readers.  The story encourages children to keep experimenting with colors using paint, chalk, and crayons and other tools.

The Biggest Snowball of All is an adventure story about  Little Bear and  the many different sizes of things she encounters on her way down the mountain side of snow with her friends, Rabbit and Raccoon. The three friends find all kinds of ways to turn a tiny snow ball into the biggest snowball of all. They build a great snowball house only to watch it melt away when the warm sun shines again.  The book is fun to read when children are also playing in the snow and making snowballs themselves.  The size words include words such as; tiny, small, big, bigger, and biggest, shortest ,short, long, narrow, wide, small ,smaller and smallest.

Here We Go 'Round the Year introduces the twelve  months of the year with twelve little bears playing a game. Each bear carries a flag of one of the months, beginning with January and ending with December.  As the bears march around the year, each bear dramatizes something special about each month.  The bears play in  the snow, ice skate, fly kites, make mud pies , plant flowers, have picnics, jump in the leaves, play ball, and go for sleigh rides, learning the names of the months in sequence as they play together.

Away Went The Farmer’s Hat is an tale about a farmer’s hat that blows away on a windy day. Many familiar farm animals  wear the  hat as it blows from one place to another finally landing in a tree.  The tree hat makes  nest for  a bird and a squirrel before the farmer finds it .

Young children will have fun with an upside down hat pretending to be the different animals that wear the hat in the story. They will talk about other things that are blown by the wind and may create stories about kites, seeds,  sailboats, and butterflies.

Rabbits’ Habits is a book about good habits. Children participate in the story as they chose the rabbit with a good habit in each little adventure. The three  rabbits all play with toys on the floor,  but only one rabbit knows where the ball belongs after the game.  When the rabbits play with friends in the park, plant a garden, or get ready for school, children quickly pick the rabbit with the best habit. This tale ends with a picnic where all the rabbits have good habits. They eat lots of veggies and other healthy foods. Pages 30 and 31 have more helpful habits for rabbits and kids.  The book serves as a good introduction to a unit on good healthy habits. Children can dictate or write about their best habits.

Butterfly Express - For many of my teaching years, I ordered a butterfly kit from a biological supply company so that the children in my class could watch the stages of the life cycle of a butterfly. It was always an exciting experience.  It is during these early years that children not only label and classify things, but also sequence things.  The springtime is a good time to observe the sequence of the life cycle of a butterfly or a frog.  One year after our we had released our butterfly in a garden park, I read in the local paper about a class of first grade children who had to send their butterfly by air express all the way to California because of a late spring snow. So, when we wrote our story, we included the surprise snow storm in the story which became, Butterfly Express.

Hop-Skip-Jump-A-Roo Zoo - After an exciting trip to the zoo, we wrote this book about some of the special animals we watched and imitated. Five year old, Andy, used his two arms to imitate the way an elephant used it’s trunk. So, Andy became the child in the book. Trips to interesting places are a part of most early childhood programs. Parents are always encouraged to explore as many places as possible with their children. Every trip can be a learning experience for a young child. A trip to a very modern zoo not only helps children label and classify different kinds of animals, but helps them understand more about how these animals live in the wild.  Many zoos today also include a petting zoo, with baby animals that can be touched.  The book, Hop-Skip-Jump-A-Roo Zoo, is a good beginning for a real trip to your nearest zoo.

What Do You Do With a Grumpy Kangaroo? - This Magic Castle book is about our feelings and emotions.   Grumpy Kangaroo has all kinds of feelings as he and his friend, Tony, go on an adventure together. When the kangaroo feels sad, Tony finds a way to help him feel happy again.

When the kangaroo feels mad, Tony finds a way to help him deal with his feelings in a positive way. When the kangaroo is scared to go down the high slide, Tony shows him how to do it and the kangaroo becomes brave enough to do it himself.

The story is a good way to begin a conversation with children about their feelings and how they can deal with them in helpful positive ways.

"Smile," Says Little Crocodile - A happy smiling crocodile shows young readers many ways to keep healthy and happy. He demonstrates all kinds of good exercises from climbing and running to riding and sliding.  He gives tips on how dressing for the weather keeps wheezes and sneezes  away. He visits a friendly dentist and a doctor for a check up as well. He shows that by eating good healthy food we help our bodies grow strong inside.
As children participate in the discussion they will add other ways to stay healthy and keep those happy snappy smiles.

 

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