What we are thankful for on Thanksgiving and 21 days of gratitude! Also Thanksgiving books for kids that transport kids back to the time when the Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and landed in the New World.
Best blocks and play structures for open ended creative play.
Gift guide for artistic kids (and adults). I’ve steered away from arty kits towards more open ended high quality materials and interesting toys with an artistic twist.
Best educational math, science, STEM toy gift guide.
Toys to keep kids active this winter and all during the year. This gift guide includes tricycles, pogos, sleds, luge sleds and more.
These toys, books, games and devices help make reading fun. They make great birthday gifts too!
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.
My brother-in-law turned me on to the Golden Apple Toy Awards, from GreatSchools, which are really great educational but fun toys vetted by kids, parents and teachers. I added a few more time-tested toys that we’ve used over and over for the last decade at my house.
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.
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!
If you are in the thick of holiday shopping and need ideas, I’m pulling up my gift guides from my archives in hopes they will be helpful to you.
Capability:Mom and I did two years of The 12 Days of Shopping which covered all our gift categories from kids making gifts to tutor gifts.
The 12 Days of Shopping
A trip to the zoo is such a joyous occasion, isn’t it? Our urban zoo in Boston is a little sad, so we typically go to the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island, about an hour away. It reminds me, on a smaller scale, of the great San Diego Zoo which is about 2 1/2 hours from where I grew up and is the zoo by which I measure all zoos against.
This zoo children’s book list — zoo picture book and chapter books — is inspired by the Newbery award winner, The One and Only Ivan. Is there a favorite zoo children’s book you’d like to add to the list? Please help me out and I’ll add it to the list. Thank you!
10. A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead
In a perfect world, zoo animals and zoo keepers would be best friends, just like zoo keeper Amos McGee. When he gets sick and misses a day at work, the animals come by to his house to check on him and help him get better. The artwork by Erin Stead, the author’s wife, is stunning. She uses carefully rendered pencil drawings with what I think is monotype prints. The results are visually arresting. [Caldecott picture book, ages 2 and up]
K’NEX toys have worked wonderfully to keep my son off screens, if only for a short time. I found this in the living room, after hearing my son and his middle sister, PickyKidPix, playing together for a few hours. They don’t get along that well, so this K’NEX roller coaster is a miracle of collaborative play! This is what they built:
This post is sponsored by Power Wheels.
My kids have never had those large electic vehicles and they would agree emphatically that I am not an epic parent. More of a nagging, annoying kind of parent. We just don’t have the space either in our back yard to ride it nor in our garage which strongly is packed to the gills with bicycles, sleds, snow shovels and other gardening junk.
A few of their friends have these ride on epic toys. PickyKidPix spent a happy afternoon a few years ago riding her friend Caroline’s large electric jeep toy. Caroline’s parents said that the toy car actually got a lot of use though mostly from playdates.
There are downsides to large electric vehicle toys:
- takes up space to store
- not used frequently
… but here’s an unexpected upside. I think these large car toys help teach kids driving skills. A life skill that kids will need. Read more…
I wanted to do a boy version of the 20 Gentle Books for a Young Girl at the request of a reader. I tried not to duplicate books but there are many on the girls’ list of 20 Gentle Books that would also be great for boys.
In making this list, I tend towards more old fashioned books but gentle books for boys can also be modern. What are your favorite gentle chapter books for a young boy? Please share! Thank you!
20 Gentle Chapter Books for a Young Boy
10. Frindle by Andrew Clements
A delightful early chapter book that every boy in 3rd grade seems to love at my elementary school. Nicholas Allen invents the word “frindle” to replace the word “pen.” For him, it not really an act of rebellion, it’s more an outlet to explore the power of ideas. Frindle catches on much to the consternation of his Language Arts teacher, but is she really upset? [ages 7-10]
Multicultural Children’s Book Day
January 27, 2014
Our mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.
Children’s reading and play advocates Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom have teamed up to create an ambitious (and much needed) national event. On January 27th, Jump into a Book and Pragmatic Mom will be presenting the first ever Multicultural Children’s Book Day as a way of celebrating diversity in children’s books.
Do you have people in your life that are difficult to shop for? My husband fits that category. He’s a minimalist but luckily he collects a few items relating to golf. He’s particular but he collects certain golf books (I have to run them by him to make sure they make the cut) and Scotty Cameron head covers and putters.
The Life Magazine featuring Ben Hogan is highly collectable. I found one in a used bookshop years ago for a Father’s Day gift. He’d love a few more to gift to his golf friends. Read more…
My mother is Buddhist and I grew up going to mostly weddings, funerals, and remembrance ceremonies at Buddhist temples in the Los Angeles area. Years later, when I attended UCLA for business school, I ended up in West Los Angeles’ Little Japantown a half block down the street from the Buddhist temple that my grandparents went to.
Most the Buddhist services that I attended were in Japanese which I did not speak so it was a blur of strange sounds and an occasional joke while I squirmed in my seat, bored. I’d nudge my mom for a translation but it was often too complicated to be whispered to me right then and there. So you might say that I got very little by way of Buddhist philosophy despite my mother having taught at her Buddhist temple before she had us.
My parents let me attend any place of worship I was inclined towards. I went to Mormon church class with my best friend in 2nd grade and Catholic masses with my friend Natalie in college. I went to Baptist church camp and took communion with best friend from Junior High.
But the local Presbyterian church was my favorite. I went to Sunday School there because of the neighbor kids but stayed because of the Old Testament comic books that were handed out after class. Those stories always ended on a cliffhanger!
Yet, as I get older, Buddhism resonates the most for me. The idea of karma just seems logical. The circle of life makes a lot of sense too. For my pick of The Picture Book of the Week, I chose one with a circle of life theme by Caldecott author Mordecai Gerstein. I hope you enjoy it.
What picture books that explore religious or philosophical questions do you read with your kids? Please share!
Circle of Life Picture Books for Kids
The Mountains of Tibet by Mordecai Gerstein, with a commentary by Sogyal Rinpoche
Gerstein says of The Mountains of Tibet, “I’ve come to believe that during the course of our lives, we can live many lives. … At one particularly momentous new beginning, I looked back at all the choices I’d made that had brought me to that point. That was when this book began.”