Thursday, February 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Barbara Joosse - February 18

Happy Birthday Barbara Joosse - February 18

If you were to ask my children to list their favorite things to do it would probably go a little like this:

1. Go to Grandma's House.
2. Have Grandma come to our house.
3. Go to a restaurant with Grandma.
4. Play with Grandma.
5. Mario Kart for Wii! (I am a big fan too!)

My children are lucky to have two Grandmas (plus a Great-Grandma, can't forget her) that are active in their lives.  One Grandma lives real close and the other two live somewhat close, so we get to see them quite often.  Each visit is full of activities, treats, and attention! My mom and mother-in-law would probably have a very similar list of favorite things. I think if you swap the word "Grandma" for the word "grandkids" in the list above and change number five to "Relaxing after the grandkids leave!" it would be about right :)

My mom reading to my daughter a few years ago.
Another proud Grandma is Barbara Joosse, author of over 30 books including the beloved Mama, Do You Love Me?Her website exudes her love of being a Grandma to her two granddaughters.  She says, "I'm in charge of FUN.  We love puppets and reading and singing and dancing and cooking. We also love each other."  I told my mom after she read my daughter Joosse's Please Is a Good Word to Say, "The author of that book loves being a grandmother."  She replied, "There is nothing better."

I was very interested in Joosse's thoughts on reading to her young granddaughters. It is natural for parents to read board books to their very young children.  My 8 month-old son's room has big bookshelf and every book on it is a board book. (He will only let us read a select few to him and the rest are just for chewing!)  Joosse was frustrated reading some board books early on because her granddaughter would get fussy during the reading.  She experimented by reading books with more text, not just 3 or 4 words per page.  She found that the books enjoyed by her granddaughter all had a common element. She calls the common element "musicality" or "playful rhymes and rhythms" that engaged her granddaughter best.  She further describes musicality as "upbeat, off beat, fun to improvise, read aloud, with repetition and refrain, and plenty of toe-tapping, lip-smacking sounds." She infused her idea of "musicality" into her book Sleepover at Gramma's House.  I especially like the beginning of the book as it reminded me of my daughter as she excitedly prepares for a visit to Grandma's:

Goodie, Goodie, Goodie
I'm packing up my little trunk
my little overnighty trunk
my nighty in my nighty trunk.
Goodbye little fish and the little fish flakes
and everything in the regular place.
Goodbye my mom
goodbye my dad
goodbye you baby in the bed.

I this idea interests you - I found another article from School Library Journal discussing this topic in more depth with Barbara Joosse.

I wanted to do something special for the Grandmas. My children love receiving cards in the mail from them. We just got Valentine cards full of stickers and sweet messages.  I thought it was our turn to reciprocate.  We made handmade cards for our Grandmas (and my son chose to send one to his great-grandpa, aka Grandpa #3 - he always has his own plan!). We pulled out the scissors, markers, and stickers to design our cards.

My son chose to send a note (typed gibberish on the computer) along with his card to his Great Grandpa.
My daughter wanted to type her notes to her Grandmas on the computer.
She pasted the typed message then added stickers and letters.
They addressed their own envelopes (my son placed a label), attached a stamp, and placed in the mailbox.
I was thinking about one other thing about Grandmas.  When my mom became a Grandma for the first time she couldn't wait to find out what she would be called.  She ended up being called "Grandma".  My kids call their other grandma, "Gammy".  Post a comment to share what you call your Grandma or what your kids call their Grandmas.  I think it would be cool to hear all the different names.


1. Barbara Joosse's Website
2. Video with Barbara Joosse from Teachingbooks
3. Article from Patricia Newman
4. About the illustrations for Higgedly-Piggedly Chicks - from illustrator Rick Chrustowski
5. Barbara Joosse's cool house - American Style Magazine
6. More about Roawr! - Penguin Group
7. Book Review of Higgledy-Piggledy Chicks - Brimful Curiosities
8. More about Razzle Dazzle/Razzmatazz/Musicality - Library Journal
9. Biography


  1. I love being a grandma to my four grandchildren. And I am proud of my two children,for how they are raising their children, in this difficult world. Praise to authors who write books on manners ,love, family. AVR

  2. That's one thing I unfortunately missed out on as a child...grandparents. My mother's passed away before I was born as did my father's so no extended family here. Still, I love resding books like these and sharing in the ever present joy and laughter that they inevitbly hold. Thanks for sharing!


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