• 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!

  • 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.

Multicultural Children's Book Day, Jump Into a Book

Join Us for Multicultural Children’s Book Day January 27!

 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.

Read more…

ebay collections

New eBay Collections Make Holiday Shopping Easy!

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.

eBay golf collectables

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…

The Mountains of Tibet, Mordecai Gernstein

Circle of Life Picture Book of the Day

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.”

Read more…

National Center for Learning Disabilities Resources for Parents

National Center for Learning Disabilities Resources for Parents

I’m proud to be an ambassador for the National Center for Learning Disabilitites (NCLD) and even though my three children are typicals, I think that all kids benefit from a deeper understanding and empathy for their classmates with special needs. For my kids, diversity no longer means skin color or whether their classmates have two moms. These are non-issues for them (and what wonderful progress in terms of Civil Rights!).

Instead, they will benefit immensely from a deeper understanding their classmates with learning disabilities that may not be obvious to them. This is the new millennium diversity issue and helping everyone succeed will make us a stronger community.

I wanted to share the great resources they have in the hopes that it helps parents. Here are four examples of the information they provide.

National Center for Learning Disabilities Resources

What’s the difference between ADD and ADHD?

The biggest difference is that kids with ADHD are hyperactive—they can’t sit still and are so restless that teachers quickly notice their rambunctious behavior and begin to suspect there might be attention issues involved.

Kids with ADD might fly under the radar a bit longer because they aren’t bursting with energy and disrupting the classroom. Instead, they often appear shy, daydreamy, or off in their own world. More here.

ADD versus ADHD Read more…

Sponsored Video: What Kind of Future Will Our Children Have?

Why bring a child into this world?

Did you ever wonder that when contemplating parenthood? Or worry that the world is terrible place to bring a child into? Or a place with depleted resources presenting a grim future for our children?

Unilever’s Why Bring a Child Into This World? is a film created by Ogilvy London and David Latin America to invite us all to think about a more sustainable future. Why? It’s our children, research says, that motivates adults to make changes for a more sustainable future.

Unilever‘s film is part of an initiative called Project Sunshine that will create 2 million “acts of sunshine”, providing children with school meals; clean, safe drinking water and improved hygiene. To achieve these goals, Unilever is working with Save the Children, UNICEF and the World Food Programme.

Project Sunshine goes back to Unilever’s roots. Founder William Lever started the company (then called Lever Bros) with its first brand, Sunlight soap, in the 1890s. His revolutionary new product  helped popularize cleanliness and hygiene in Victorian England with a mission ‘to make cleanliness commonplace; to lessen work for women; to foster health and contribute to personal attractiveness, that life may be more enjoyable and rewarding for the people who use our products’.

This post is sponsored by Unilever:

Because there has never been a better time to create a brighter future, we are launching Unilever Project Sunlight . We believe in a world where no child goes to bed hungry, where every home has enough water to drink, wash and clean, where preventable diseases are prevented, and where every child lives past their fifth birthday. We don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we are inviting you to join us on the journey. Take action to make a difference at projectsunlight.us

Unilever reminds me to think about a more sustainable future as we head into the holiday season. How about you? I’d love your ideas on sustainability that you’d implemented. Thanks!

3rd grade chapter books from a 3rd grade boy

3rd Grade Chapter Books from My 3rd Grade Son

My son is just 9-years-old and in third grade and I’m trying to keep track of the books that he’s read as a third grader. This is his list so far, as of November 2013. I’ve included his rising 3rd grade summer reading as well.

During my parent teacher conference, his teacher told me that my son was reading well and had a good vocabulary. I had a confession for her. (This is a little embarrassing!.) Every night, my son insists on bedtime reading and it works like this: I read aloud to him while he plays on his DSi or a (non educational) video game on the iPad.

I do find this irritating, so periodically I ask him what a word means as I come across it in the story or ask him what has just happened in the chapter book. If he can’t give me a reasonable answer, I shut down his game. If he answers my question reasonably well, he keeps on playing. Perhaps this is giving him multi-tasking skills?  I’m not sure. We do take turns reading though I do the bulk of the reading at home. He gets reading time at school and takes his book back and forth each day which helps us move through the book.

We’ve made our way through every word that Rick Riordan has ever written in this manner. Now, we are working through Harry Potter and after that, we’ll finish the last four books of the Half Magic series. I hope we will read some Roald Dahl this year as well.

Here’s my son’s book list with his reviews. He highly recommends all of these books!

Graphic Novels and Graphic Novel Hybrids for 3rd Grade Boys

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis

I think it’s very funny and it’s a very good book because he kept failing at life and being a detective but he thought he was the greatest detective in the world.

Read more…

chapter books on moon for kid, picture books on moon for kids, moon books for kids

Top 10 Moon Themed Books for Kids

I just got the lastest Red Knit Cap Girl picture book, a sequel with an environmental message and this inpired me to create this list.  I had hoped the first one would win a Caldecott but alas no. It did win a New Times Best Illustrated Book award but here’s hoping that Red Knit Cap Girl To the Rescue gets a Caldecott nod this year!

What are your favorite chapter books, picture books, folk tales, graphic novels or non-fiction books about the moon? Please share!

 

5 Multicultral Moon Themed Books for Kids

5. Red Knit Cap Girl To the Rescue by Naoko Stoop

Red Knit Cap Girl is back and when she finds a young polar bear cup, she asks the moon how to get it home. She and White Bunny go on a charming adventure that speaks to our fragile eco-system. Stoop uses found materials to illustrate using both paint and collage work which supports the eco message in subtle and beautiful way. [picture book, ages 2 and up]

Read more…

Christmas Crafts for Kids

Christmas Crafts for Kids ebook GIVEAWAY

I am just not good at crafts. I wish I was but I’m not. This is why I am so excited for a Christmas Crafts for Kids book. I can really use it. I’m also excited that the author is a fellow blogger, 123 Homeschool 4 Me, Beth Gorden. Her eBook contains more than 100 activities, crafts and recipes based on children’s books (which makes me deliriously happy!). But more than that, it is a labor of love that took Beth more than one year to write.

Christmas Craft eBook for Kids Giveaway

She has wonderful books, crafts, activities, recipes and and ideas for celebrating 24 days of Christmas. If you wanted to use some of her ideas for Advent, she also has them organized by the day. Her book makes me want to move in with her for the holiday season!

If you are looking to start a holiday tradition (or two) for your kids, this is a wonderful place to get ideas.

Day 1: Elf on a Shelf

Day 2: J is for Jesus

Day 3: The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Higgs

The Pine Tree Parable tells the heartwarming tale of a farmer and his family who nurture tiny seedlings into fragrant Christmas trees.

When the trees are tall enough to offer to their neighbors, the farmer’s wife plans to keep the most beautiful pine tree for her family, until one snowy December night when a child teaches her the true meaning of Christmas.

Read more…

Remembering the Veterans in My Life

Remembering the Veterans in My Life on Veterans Day

At first I thought that we didn’t have any veterans in our family but then at lunch today with my son, his friend and my husband, we all thought about it.

There’s my uncle Arthur Takahashi who served in the 442nd Infantry Regiment during WWII. As a Japanese American, he enlisted despite his family — including my mother —  being forced to relocate from their home and losing most of their possessions as a result.

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the United States Army was a regimental size fighting unit composed almost entirely of American soldiers of Japanese descent who fought in World War II, despite the fact many of their families were subject to internment. The 442nd, beginning in 1944, fought primarily in Europe during World War II. The 442nd was a self-sufficient force, and fought with uncommon distinction in Italy, southern France, and Germany.

The 442nd is considered to be the most decorated infantry regiment in the history of the United States Army. The 442nd was awarded eight Presidential Unit Citations and twenty-one of its members were awarded the Medal of Honor for World War II. The 442nd’s high distinction in the war and its record-setting decoration count earned it the nickname “Purple Heart Battalion.”

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team motto was, “Go for Broke“.

442nd go for broke Japanese American

image from Battle Story

442nd japanese americans wwii

image from CaliSphere

Photographer: Mace, Charles E. — Camp Shelby, Mississippi.

I chose Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki in his honor. While my mother did not end up in an Internment Camp because she had relatives in a remote part of Utah, most of her neighbors in San Francisco’s Japantown did. Baseball Saved Us tells the story of a Japanese American boy and his family who build a baseball diamond in their internment camp.

Read more…