• 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.

rising 5th grade reading list, going into 6th grade reading list, summer reading list 5th grade, summer reading list 6th grade

Rising 5th Grade Summer Reading List

This great summer reading list is the result of a fruitful collaboration between the Newton Public School Library Teachers & the Newton Free Children’s Librarians. I’ve discovered a secret: don’t use your school’s summer reading list, use MINE instead. Why? Your list of books will never be on your library bookshelves because your entire town is trying to check them out. Ditto for my list in my town.

I’ll be posting the rest of the summer reading lists during the next two weeks: Rising Kindergarten, Rising First Grade, Rising Second Grade, Rising Third Grade and Rising Fourth Grade.

Let’s swap lists instead! My rising 5th Grader, PickyKidPix, has her own list of 5th grade chapter books. Many of the books she recommends are on this list below.

See you at the library! Please share what you are reading this summer with your kids!

Other lists here:

Rising Kindergarten Summer Reading List

Rising First Grade Summer Reading List

Rising Second Grade Summer Reading List

Rising Third Grade Summer Reading List

Rising Fourth Grade Summer Reading List

 

Rising 5th grade Summer Reading List

Eva of the Farm by Dia Calhoun
Twelve-year-old Eva writes beautiful poems on the farm in Washington State that her family has owned for generations, but when money runs out and then her baby brother gets sick, the family faces foreclosure and the way of life she loves is threatened.

Poison Most Vial by Benedict Carey

When a famous forensic scientist turns up dead and Ruby’s father becomes the prime suspect, Ruby must marshal everyone she can to help solve the mystery and prove her father didn’t poison his boss.

A Black Hole Is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cinai DeCristofano
Introduces black holes, describing their physical features, how they were discovered, what causes them, and where they exist in space.

Read more…

Top 5 Mom Indulgences, Top 5 Mom Indulgence, time out for moms

What is Your Favorite Mom Indulgence? I have 5!

It took me years before I decided I was worth it. Carving out time for myself felt selfish and decadent. I started slowly when my youngest started preschool with resuming exercise after nearly a decade of doing nothing. At first I had to justify exercise. It was for my health. It made me a better mom because I was more calm afterwards.

And, I had to start slowly. I was in no shape to tackle anything too aerobic. Climbing two sets of stairs was strenous for me. I started with beginning yoga. Then kickboxing. Finally boxing. Boxers really are the fittest athletes on the planet!

My Top 5 Mom Indulgences (to carve out time for myself)

1. Private Boxing Lesson 30 minutes is enough for a good sweat and learning some sparring technique in the ring. And nothing feels better than hitting the sweet spot of the pad with boxing gloves!

Nonantum Boxing Club, Newton MA boxing, boxing for moms, middle age mom boxing classes, mom boxing classes, moms and boxing, 40 something moms box 2.Lunch Dates with My Husband  Spending time with my husband sans kids was my next indulgence. Our easy fix since we now both work from home is to eat lunch out. We sometimes say we are “screening” restaurants to bring our kids to. See? It’s not easy to indulge without guilt!

Po Boy, Newton MA

Who knew that a New Orleans style Po Boy sandwich shop would open in our New England suburb? I feel so lucky. The Po Boys here are amazing! I think my kids would like it too!

3. Dark Chocolate My latest discovery is this particular chocolate bar. Strangely, the dark chocolate versions are better than the milk chocolate even though I am usually a milk chocolate type.

I love the bits of crystallized ginger embedded throughout. The best part? My kids do not like dark chocolate so it’s all for me, me, me!! Read more…

photo

I Appreciate You Gift Ideas

My oldest is in 7th grade now, Grasshopper and Sensei, and this was a gift each 5th grade kid received. Each child wrote one sentence to each of their classmates on why they appreciate that person. Their teacher typed it up and printed it on beautiful paper.

It reminds me of what she was like in 5th grade and who she is now. It’s a special keepsake that she keeps pinned to her bulletin board in her room.

I was also thinking that this would make a lovely gift for anyone:

  • colleague departing at work
  • birthday gift (for my mom who is about to turn 90!). Must think of way to do this will all party guests!
  • for any grade as a graduation gift from preschool to high school
  • a classroom gift to a teacher
  • a gift to a coach Read more…
read aloud books for kids, read aloud book lists

Read Aloud Books for Kids and Other Ideas For Summer Fun

It all started with a few tweets:

Bonnie of @MrsStraitsClass mentioned that she read aloud to her kids every day.

Mrs. Straits class, 2nd grade teacher

I teach elementary actually but even if I didn’t, I’d still read aloud every day. I love using accents and fun voices. :)

Accents and fun voices?!!  I had to know more! I begged her to record it and upload to YouTube. And here she is reading Don’t Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus by Mo Willems.

Read more…

monster picture book, The Monstore

Monster Picture Book for Kids With Keep Out Signs

Sibling relationships, specifically big brother and little sister, are at the center of one of the funniest picture books on monsters that I’ve read in a while. As I think about siblings getting along (or not!), I only need to look to the bedroom doors of my three kids for an illustration of this dynamic in my house:

Grasshopper and Sensei, girl, age 13 … now that she’s a teen, she likes to keep her door locked.

siblings and keep out of rooms, sibling relationships

photo-1 Read more…

Dear Teen Me, advice to teenagers, advice to teens, parenting advice for teens

Critical Advice For Teens … What’s Yours?

I feel fortunate to have kept in touch with one of my Freshman dorm mates, Lisa Rosowsky, who is a professor at the Mass College of Arts, an artist, and mother of  two teenage daughters. As a very nurturing Prof — she is SO nice — she councils teens and twenty-somethings all day, every day. I pay special attention to her advice for teens.

Lisa Rosowsky, angel of Auchwitz

Lisa Rosowsky’s Angel of Auschwitz

She sent me this email below. Her advice is on etiquette, something that is very important to my husband. He feels that it the single most important thing to teach kids. It can open doors and, conversely,  lack of proper etiquette can also slam them shut!

I thought it would be fun to help her out by Crowdsourcing advice for teens! Read more…

Ronald Reagan books for kids, Ronald Reagan children's books, books for kids and Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan book for kids

Ronald Reagan Picture Book: I Like It Despite Myself

I should preface this by saying that I grew up with Ronald Regan as my governor of California and my parents were not big fans. You see, my father worked as a math professor at a state university and Regan reduced or froze the salaries of the teachers and professors. Everytime, Regan’s name came up, my parents would invariably complain about him.

I joined blog tour for this picture book of Ronald Regan because Jen at TLC Blog Tours explicitly said, “TLC does not require positive reviews, only honest ones. We, of course, hope you enjoy the reading experience, but we want you to feel free to express your honest thoughts on the book and not feel any obligations to anyone but yourself.”

I was convinced and was willing to have an open mind about Ronald Reagan. He seems to be the poster child for the Republicans, lost as they are in this new economy and multicultural voting population.

Ronald Reagan Picture Book

The Remarkable Ronald Reagan: Cowboy and Commander in Chief by Susan Allen, illustrated by Leslie Harrington Read more…

books like Percy Jackson series, Percy Jackson Riordan, mythology books for kids, mythology adventure books,

More Books Like Percy Jackson

We might be in the same shoes. My son just finished all the Rick Riordan books which kept us happily reading for the better part of the school year. But now we are adrift, desperately seeking more books like Percy Jackson.  Riordan’s books are so exciting, we often stay up past my son’s bedtime for “just one more page.” We more of those type of books.

We also like the special powers conferred by lineage to gods. Deep down, my son and I both feel that we are Half Bloods and/or godlings just waiting to discover our latent powers. It hasn’t happened yet but we’re not discouraged.

Learning about ancient Mythology from any civilization is a welcome bonus. I like it because we feel smarter for knowing about gods and heroes and the learning is so pleasant that it doesn’t feel like work.

I think any age is the perfect age to read about mythology. I’ve gathered up our favorite Riordan-like Percy Jackson books as well as mythology picture books and easy chapter books. I also have a collection of Mythology Books for Kids on Pinterest.

 

Mythology Picture Books for Kids

Young Zeus by G. Brian Karas

Karas has carefully researched mythology on Zeus’ youth to create this wonderful picture book that stays true to its classic origins. Young kids will love the story and older kids will still get something out of it. It’s a picture book that manages to bridge a wide span of ages. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Read more…

funny daddy book,

Celebrating Dads with Happy Father’s Day Humor GIVEAWAY

I’m celebrating dads with humor today! My husband is on a once-in-a-lifetime golf trip in Ireland and will be landing back in Boston shortly. He is doing a double celebration — for a friend’s 60th birthday and for Father’s Day  returning just in time for a Father’s Day dinner. It will be low key, perhaps even take out. A week without him is a long week indeed.

And so, to celebrate Father’s Day, I have rounded up a few funny tidbits that will make my husband laugh. Here’s hoping that your Father’s Day is wonderful too, filled with laughter and fun! Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, step dads, and grandfathers out there!! I hope you have a wonderful day. How are you celebrating Father’s Day today?

Father’s Day ePicture Book to Read with Kids

Every Dung Beetle Rolls Poop by Craig Fischer

This kindle book is what every dad should be reading to his child today. It has poop and a fatherly message. What’s not to love about that?

Read more…