• 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 […]

  • Today I am on the Front Page of The Boston Globe

    Today I am on the front page of The Boston Globe for the past week of posts that I wrote on my microblog, I Love Newton, about the anti-Asian racism in the local high school musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie. School play’s stereotypes bring outcry and apology. “Millie” touches nerve in Newton by Ellen Ishkanian, Globe […]

  • 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.

  • Top 10: Best Dragon Children’s Books (ages 2-16)

    The Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors blog has a great post on dragons that preempted this post but I actually had been working on this for several weeks. There is something magical about dragons and I’m glad that some kids can keep the magic alive. I’ve gathered my favorite dragon books that range in age from picture books to young adult. What is your favorite dragon book? Please share!

  • 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!).

  • Best Picture Books That Teach Math Concepts

    Picture books can be a visual and fun way to introduce math concepts. I think it makes math less intimidating when it’s part of a story. For those kids who love math, it’s another way to eat it up!

Kids Caught in the Act ... of READING!

Kids Caught in the Act … of READING!

Yay! The books from parents who sent me photos are arriving. This Google + message is from blogger Ashley dM at ChiTown and All Around.

“Happy mail for JAM from +PragmaticMom! He’s so excited! Check out her site to find out how your child can earn a free book”#ReadingRewards #ThankYou #CaughtHimReading Read more…

internet safety advice from Dr. Michelle Borba, web safety app,

Web Safety Advice from Dr. Michelle Borba

I am thrilled to interview one of my favorite rockstar parenting experts, Dr. Michelle Borba, whom I met online — is that irony given that I am talking to her today about internet safety. I’ve turned to her before for advice and support on the importance of play and how to pay for college.

Dr. Michelle Borba

Dr. Michelle Borba

What I love about Dr. Michelle Borba is how practical and do-able her advice is. It’s clear that she is a mom who understands parenting from someone in the trenches.

Internet safety is a scary thing with kids (mine) consumed in communicating in ways I never did as a kid … email, Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat, Twitter and probably more that I don’t even know about. Bullying, though, is something I do have personal experience with, both as a child and as an adult. The combination — cyberbullying — can lethal. Dr. Michelle Borba has practical, sane and pragmatic advice for parents on what to do to keep your children safe. Read more…

How To: Make Authentic But Easy Paella

How To: Make Authentic But Easy Paella

I made some new mom friends from PickyKidPix’s trip to Italy to play soccer! My friend Nathalie is originally from Spain and she taught me how to make authentic paella. In this version, she was clear that this is authentic Valencia paella which features seafood since it’s a coastal town.

There are many versions that utilize the bounty of their particular area which can include rabbit, chicken, and chorizo sausage. But this version does not; strictly seafood — squid, small shrimp, and scallops but those tiny octopi would be good too. She also made her own seafood stock by boiling cod in water with onions, bay leaf, and salt but she said an easy substitute is canned chicken stock. That works even if you are not adding chicken.

As for quantity, paella is meant to feed a crowd. She made enough for 10-12 (in her mind) but it really was enough to feed at least 15. Paella is great like that for stretching; you simply add more rice. Read more…

Rick Riordan's Keynote at Boston Book Festival

Rick Riordan’s Keynote at Boston Book Festival

There were wonderful H. H. Richardson buildings near the last U.Fund Dreams Tour that I went to at the Children’s Museum of Easton.

Boston Book Fair 2014

Was it a lucky coincidence that the last stop of the U.Fund Dreams Tour at the Boston Book Festival included Rick Riordan speaking at H. H. Richardson’s finest work, Trinity Church? Read more…

26 perfect read aloud picture books for kindergarten

26 Perfect Read Alouds for Kindergarten

I was extremely fortunate to have the most amazing kindergarten teacher three times for each of my children. It’s a hat trick that other moms would oooh in admiration.

“How did you pull that off?” they would ask.

I will only divulge that it does pay dividends to help out in the classroom.

Our kindergarten teacher’s bookshelves were busting at the seams with piles and piles of every great picture book one could imagine. She started the year off with starting kindergarten picture books that included diversity picks. She also included a weekly picture book that had SAT type of vocabulary words embedded in the story. She would read the story and the kids would guess the meaning of the words based on text. There was a special chart with the highlighted words for each book that she kept up in the classroom. Read more…

Dawn Beyond the Sink

#DawnBeyondtheSink GIVEAWAY

You might already know Dawn dish soap as the best grease cutting soap, hands down, but did you know that Dawn dish soap cleans greasy messes throughout your home from kitchen surfaces, to laundry pre-treating, to greasy tools, car wheels and bike tires? It’s amazing what one drop can do!

Dawn dish soap versus greasy pan Read more…

Sports Injuries, Insurance and Meeting Desmond Howard

Sports Injuries, Insurance and Meeting Desmond Howard

This year, my oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, switched from years and years of soccer to volleyball. She set her sights on making her high school Junior Varsity Team. She trained last year at a local volleyball skills program and with a private coach and she made the JVb team which is all freshman. Her volleyball experience so far has made her transition to high school very smooth and so far she’s hasn’t suffered from any sports related injuries which as not the case with soccer.

high school volleyball Read more…

the secret life of jenny liu giveaway jean ramsden

Author Jean Ramsden Being True to Yourself and GIVEAWAY!

Please welcome author Jean Ramsden who is writing today on the importance of being true to yourself. She is also giving away 3 signed copies of her book! Please see the Rafflecopter at the end of the post to win.

 

The Secret Life of Jenny Liu by Jean Ramsden, cover illustration by Elyse Whittaker-Paek

Jenny Liu is on the move again. Except this time, she hasn’t landed at yet another Chinese-American School in California but at a public school in South Carolina. Shy, artistic Jenny wonders if she will ever figure out how to fit in amongst rowdy fifth graders and eccentric teachers with hard-to-understand southern accents. To make matters worse, the class thinks she is super smart and her piano teacher thinks she is a musical genius. With school activities that test her intelligence and an upcoming piano recital, it’s getting harder for Jenny to do what’s right—to tell the truth—especially since she knows that The Real Jenny Liu would be even more of an outsider. Or would she? [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

I sit on the board of a youth at risk organization and we’re always looking for age appropriate books to stock our community center. What I love about this book is that the main character comes from a diverse background. It’s so rare to find that, particularly in stories for youth. The Secret Life of Jenny Liu transported me back to my elementary school days. I essentially blew through the last 200 or so pages because I couldn’t wait to see what Jenny had up her sleeves with her classmates. This book begs for a series. I highly recommend for your older elementary school aged children. They will love it! Review from Germonique Ulmer

Jean Ramsden Read more…

F T Bradley Double Vision giveaway

7 Ways to Get Your Kid to Read

Please welcome my guest blogger today, the author F.T. Bradley who has great advice on how to get kids reading. At the end of the post, she is also hosting a GIVEAWAY with signed copies of her three spy chapter books!

F. T. Bradley Double Vision series giveawayRead more…