• What Do Muslims Really Want Anyway?! 17 Books on Muslim World for Kids

    Please welcome my guest poster today, author Elsa Marston who is my resident Middle Eastern Children’s literature go to! She has a list of recommended books for kids and teens at the bottom of the post. ———— Lately we’ve been reading about terrorist actions by Muslims in Europe and other places, events that have again […]

  • Top 10 Life Skills Kids Need Before College

    My book list of Top 10 Books to Teach Kids to Be More Responsible made me start to think about life skills that kids need before going off to college. That and the fact that my oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, will be starting high school next fall so we have only 4 years to tackle this […]

  • Get Kids Reading Strategies: 12 Surefire Ways

    I searched five years of digital photographs looking for photos of my kids reading and I only came up with the handful here. Why? It’s not easy getting kids reading, especially to love reading enough that they choose it over more exciting things like screens, playdates or sports! I started my blog after my oldest […]

  • 10 Perfect Read Aloud Books for 3rd Grade

    I had the great fortune to meet The Nerdy Book Club founders at a dinner for Anne Ursu hosted by Walden Pond Press to celebrate her latest chapter book, The Real Boy. (It’s wonderful. I put it on my  Newbery 2014 Contenders list! And it just won a Middle Grade Fiction Nerdie). Colby Sharp, one of […]

  • Best Beginning Chapter Books for 2nd and 3rd Grade

    Best books for beginning readers from my library. This list is perfect for 2nd grade and 3rd grade.

  • How To: Create a Great Kids’ Book Club (Activity and Book Suggestions)

    Some ideas on how to set up a book club for your child with examples of successful book club meetings.

  • Best Science Apps for Kids (ages 4-21)

    I am starting to buy into this idea of teaching and really connecting material through games and apps. I was sort of on board with this concept, but since playing around with The Elements (a Harry Potter version of the Periodic Table) that my brother-in-law turned me on to, I am now a believer as I saw, with my own eyes, how captivated my kids were with the Periodic Table, an otherwise dull chart.

  • Newbery Winners by Grade Appropriateness!

    Thank you to Hubpages for this information. There are additional book suggestions by grade if click here to see their post. I have added an asterisk to the books that I’ve read and loved (and two astericks for must reads!).

  • Top 10: Best Beginning Chapter Book Series (ages 6-9)

    Dragons and aliens and dinosaurs, oh my! And for girls, there are interesting slightly mischieveous girls to meet as well as cousins who are really sweet. Short chapter book series can often have repetitive plot lines about nothing or language that is neither rich nor interesting. There is something special about each of these book series for the child AND the adult reading along.

  • Top 50: Best Multicultural Children’s Books

    Every summer I stress out about what books to get for my kids that they will like but are also exposing them — as only books can do — to the wide world all around them both past, present and future. This summer, we are going to take a trip around the world by reading these multi-cultural books. What is great about this list is that it covers all the ages of my kids: from preschool through elementary school. I will be sneaky and check out these books for them and leave them strewn about the house for them to examine when they are bored. I will keep you posted on what books my kids actually liked because that is a whole ‘nother list! See you at the library!

Read Remotely with Relatives: HomeTeam App

Read Remotely with Relatives: HomeTeam App

My husband’s and my immediate family are all on the other coast in California. While we all do fly back and forth to visit, it is a challenge to stay connected. We tried different things over the years, all with disastrous results:

Christmas fire

Read more…

Recycle Clothes and Help Schools #passthebag

#PasstheBag: Recycle Clothes and Help Schools

April is a time of new beginnings for us. Spring is finally in the air and Earth Day helps us to remember to take care of our environment. It does create more work; I get an itch to clean the house and this is the first year I’ll have a real vegetable garden. But one idea reverberates inside me:
all you need Read more…

Top 10 Earth Day Picture Books

Top 10 Earth Day Picture Books

Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement that began in 1970. Today is a good reminder to celebrate Earth Day every day and pass lessons on environmental stewardship to our children. To this end, I wanted to share resources for teaching kids about the environment.

Scholastic and OPEI (Outdoor Power Equipment Institute) have partnered to create lesson plans and activities that empower students in grades K through 5 and their families to champion best practices in taking care of the green space in their communities. The program sets out to inspire an interest in backyard science, environmental activism, and encourage spending time in the outdoors.

Resources include a teachers section, a parents section, and a free e-Book – a digital storybook about superhero TurfMutt and the Outdoor Powers.

I also have a book list of our favorite earth day picture books. What books that you enjoy am I missing? Please share! Read more…

Top 10 Multicultural Picture Books on Bullying

Top 10 Multicultural Picture Books on Bullying

My boxing friend Mark has an idea for a reality tv show that is both of our fantasies-come-true. The show would set up you and your bully in a boxing ring. It would be a real fight with a set date so that you could train, a pre-determined number of rounds and a referee. Of course, your bully opponent might not have been training for a fight for years … and that’s what makes this a fantasy! In reality, it would probably be depressing to fight those middle school bullies thirty plus years later (though putting up a good fight would earn my respect of my bully tormentor).

My kids have each had a few incidences of bullying over their short life. It was nothing too momentous, especially by my childhood standards. It’s no longer politically correct to solve conflict through physical fights (my boxing trainer laments; he’s pretty old school) and anti-bullying training in school with greater awareness by teachers has made bullying less blatant. It still exists though … and the rise of cyberbullying probably is one result of not letting kids solve conflicts through physical fighting. I suspect there is an innate primal drive for humans, much like wolf packs or chickens, to assert pecking order in order to establish an alpha leader and perhaps bullying is one negative outcome of that impulse. Read more…

Swiffer Wet Jet Swiffer Dads

A Dad Who Likes to Clean? #SwifferDad

Am I lucky or what? My husband reminds me frequently that I am. A husband and father that likes to clean. And iron. And cook. Yes, I am a lucky girl!

We moved recently to a house from the 1880’s that my husband spent a year lovingly restoring. Most of the flooring is wood, including the kitchen, and my husband is fanatical about making sure the floor around the sink stays dry. Now, we’ve off-loaded the dish washing duty to our two girls as part of their chores that they earn allowance for. Do you know that it’s impossible to keep the floor dry while unloading and reloading the dishwasher? Try it. It’s true!

Swiffer dad Read more…

Create a Protective Device for an Egg Experiment for Kids

Create a Protective Device for an Egg Experiment for Kids

Here’s an easy and fun experiment to do using simply hard-boiled eggs. Regular chicken eggs will do nicely, but I found these really cool Ostrich and Emu eggs from the Saveur Instragram that are sold at Whole Foods somewhere!

Ostrich and Emu Eggs sold at Whole Foods Market

Ostrich and Emu Eggs Sold at Whole Foods Market (not mine though!)

You can give your child cardboard, paper, clear tape, scissors but my son just ransacked the kitchen drawer and that worked fine too! Read more…

5 Amazing Multicultural Novels in Verse and the Kid Lit Blog Hop

5 Amazing Multicultural Novels in Verse and the Kid Lit Blog Hop

It’s been such a great year for those who love both multicultural/diversity/inclusive books for kids AND novels in verse! I picked five amazing favorites that I’ve loved from this past year and hope that the popularity of these books will encourage more diversity books to be published!

What are your favorite novels in verse? Please share! Thanks!

Read more…

Teaching Kids About Money TWITTER PARTY

Teaching Kids About Money TWITTER PARTY

What do we need to teach our kids about personal finance NOW when they are still too little to credit card or handle a checking account? And what about do as I say, not as I do? What if WE don’t have great personal finance skills ourselves? Does this mean our kids are doomed to a life of poor financial management?

I remember when I graduated from college and was trying to be responsible. I paid my credit card bill monthly — I didn’t pay it off but I made a payment. But once I stupidly paid my bill a few days late but with a higher amount that normal thinking that it’s better to pay more off and that a day or two late won’t matter. Boy was I wrong!

Teaching Kids About Money

I also applied and received too many credit cards. I didn’t know carrying a multitude of credit cards actually lowers your credit score! Read more…

Booking Across America: Tennessee & Patricia McKissack

Booking Across the USA: Tennessee & Patricia McKissack

I am thrilled to be co-posting with Valarie Budayr of Jump Into A Book for the Book Across America blog tour.  I was late to the sign up so my birth state of California was already taken, as well as Massachusetts where I now reside. No matter. Tennessee was open where Valarie lives so I grabbed it for us.

We chose Patricia McKissack as our children’s author to represent Tennessee. Not only was she born there, but she’s very active doing school visits and book talks all over the state. You might not have heard of her … so we’ve included a list of her books as well as a book extension idea.

Patricia C. McKissack Read more…