• 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!

martial arts for kids, martial arts books for kids

10 Martial Arts To Consider for Your Kids

When PickyKidPix did martial arts with her siblings a few years, Chun Kuk Do, it did not come naturally to her. That’s weird because she’s very athletic. Now, after doing kickboxing and boxing with her, I realize it was the martial art style that didn’t quite suit her. She’s not good at memorizing sequences of physical movements for “forms.”

I haven’t tried that many different styles of martial arts, so I am by no means an expert but I thought it would be fun to match up different martial arts with who it might be best suited for. In a perfect world, you would have all these different karate studios within a reasonable commute. (I laugh as I type this since Boston is not a hotbed of martial arts compared to Los Angeles where I had lived previously.) Ah well, let’s go with my fantasy.

Personally, I think martial arts is great for both kids and adults for fitness, self-confidence and self-defense. Just like finding the  right genre or book to get kids reading, I think there is a martial art out there for everyone and you just need to find the right one. Like Cinderella and her glass slipper. I hope this helps!

What martial art are you doing or thinking of trying? I’d love your input on what martial art is good for what type of person or child! Thanks!

Martial Arts for Kids: Books and Matching Up

Kung Fu

I wanted to start with the Chinese martial art Kung Fu since most kids are familiar with Kung Fu Panda movies. You might have heard of Shaolin Kung Fu or the Shaolin Kung Fu monastery where it comes from. I’ve never done Kung Fu personally so I had to watch a lot of videos to get the gist of it.

Here is also a wonderful picture book about Kung Fu by one of my favorite picture book authors.

Beautiful Warrior: The Legend of the Nun’s Kung Fu by Emily Arnold McCully Read more…

jump rope for women, jump rope for moms, jump rope challenge for fitness

My Jump Rope Challenge

It all started with one small change: I booked a boxing class for a small group of mom friends and me. That one small change motivated our group to get in shape and soon we were boxing or doing cardio boxing classes two or three times a week. It still wasn’t enough for me. I was so easily winded. The 2 minute jump rope warm up that we occasionally did felt like an eternity. But there was one obstacle …

It started a few years ago when I was doing Zumba once a week. Zumba, for the uninitiated, is dance aerobics based on Latin, Hip Hop and Pop rhythms. One of the moves was a kind of jumping jack. And this is the dilemma. If you’ve delivered kids the old-fashioned way (i.e. NOT Cesarean), then jumping up and down can cause embarrassing incontinence. In the presence of other mom friends, we could all laugh, but still, not a very fun revelation!

So you can see how jump rope for a 40-something mom can be particularly challenging! Gone are those days of elementary school recess when skipping rope with friends was a song and a dance. Remember how we used to jump rope … for fun?! And so effortlessly! Youth is wasted on the young.

My Jump Rope Challenge

The challenge of jumping rope for me is how others might view scaling mountains. 15 minutes four times a week was my goal. My boxing trainer said that 5 minutes of jump rope is the equivalent of running 1 mile. Read more…

nacho bites, Jose Ole Nacho Bites

After School Snacks for Teenagers to Make

This is a sponsored post and my teen actualy did make José Olé Nacho Bites on her own!

It was a hectic Columbus Day Weekend. My two younger kids played in soccer tournaments and my oldest, now 13-years-old, only had one early soccer game. She opted to miss her siblings’ seven games. I can’t say that I blame her. The Sunday games required a 6:30 am wake up time.

So we left her. In bed. She’s in 8th grade after all, so she was fine. And she slept until 11:50 am. But we didn’t leave her with any kind of meal, either for breakfast or lunch. We barely ate ourselves and had to rush out the door, barely coherent. (I am not a morning person!)

After School Snacks for Teenagers to Make

Her week of cooking camp came in handy, though. While we were gone, she found the José Olé  Nacho Bites in the freezer and made them herself for breakfast — I guess you could call it brunch —  eating them with plain since we had no salsa or guacamole in the house. I’d add those myself if I were eating the Nacho Bites for a snack!

Nacho Bites, food that teens can make themselves Read more…

Columbus Day controvery, Columbus Day songs, Columbus Day books for kids

Columbus Day Controversy

Columbus Day is a school holiday but my kids only learned about why they [really] get the day off when they were in preschool. Why don’t they learn more in elementary school? Perhaps it’s because of the controversy over his “feat.”

There are three main sources of controversy involving Columbus’s interactions with the indigenous people he labeled “Indians”: the use of violence and slavery, the forced conversion of native peoples to Christianity, and the introduction of a host of new diseases that would have dramatic long-term effects on native people in the Americas.

Historians have uncovered extensive evidence of the damage wreaked by Columbus and his teams, leading to an outcry over emphasis placed upon studying and celebrating him in schools and public celebrations.

from History.com

Still, it’s an official holiday. The landing, which occurred on October 12, 1492, is celebrated as Columbus Day. Do you think Columbus Day should be a national holiday in the United States?

He missed the mark but hit it just the same.

This video from The History Channel explains Christopher Columbus’ accomplishments.

Read more…

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, Peter Brown, Picture Book of the Day

I’m Wild for Mr. Tiger Goes Wild!

Kids of all ages probably feel that rules and social norms are confining. Think of all the rules preschoolers have to learn! Adults feel that same way too. I feel that way a lot and I’m in good company.  Author and illustrator Peter Brown says this is his most autobiographical picture book to date!

I’m wild for Mr. Tiger Goes Wild! There’s nothing trite about this picture book. The illustrations are gorgeous too! I love how there’s a spot of orange on each page spread that is really striking against the browns and greens on the rest of the page.

I tried to nominate Mr. Tiger Goes Wild for a Cybil but, alas, I was too late. Someone else had beaten me to it. I’m hoping it will get recognition in the Caldecott picture books category. What picture books are you rooting for to win a children’s book award?

 

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Mr. Tiger lives in a very proper urban setting. It’s all “Good day to you” and “Indeed it is”, pinky finger crooked and all. He didn’t like it at all so he had a better idea. He went wild. Native wild. Birthday suit wild! His friends were SHOCKED! So he went to live in the jungle. There was just one thing. He missed his friends. So he returned. And he found that they had all gone a little wild in his absence. Perhaps it was his influence? And now, Mr. Tiger felt that life was just right! [picture book, ages 3 and up]

Read more…

Friday Fun Blog Hop

Friday Fun Blog Hop!

I’m excited to be co-hosting the Friday Fun Blog Hop along with my four other lovely cohosts:

Emily of Love, Pasta and Tool Belt
Rebecca of Caravan Sonnet
Shannon of Smile and Write
Jess of Sleepless in DIY Bride Country

Our hosts are:

Rebecca Stead Guys Read Other Worlds, Liar and Spy, how Rebecca Stead writes boy characters

Rebecca Stead on Grokking and Other Matters

I’m thrilled to welcome Newbery winning author Rebecca Stead today as my guest blogger courtesy of Walden Pond Press since Guys Read: Other Worlds, edited by Jon Scieszka, is out today and includes a wonderful short story by Rebecca Stead.

Rebecca Stead, Liar and Spy, Guys Read Other Worlds, Leslie College

I met Rebecca though the Random House Read and Play Community along with Newbery winner Clare Vanderpool on a webchat a few years ago. Rebecca came to Boston as a visiting scholar at Leslie College and I was thrilled to meet her in person. She’s very nice!!

Rebecca Stead, Leslie College, Liar and Spy

Jacqueline Davies introduced Rebecca and after she read a few chapters of Liar and Spy, she took Q and A. One student asked her if it was more difficult for her to write boy characters. This is her answer:

Her latest book is Liar and Spy. I think the only reason why she didn’t win a Newbery for that is because she won the Newbery for When You Reach Me three years ago. Her debut novel is First Light.

It is a honor and priviledge to have her today writing about grokking, science fiction and what inspires her. Read more…

chapter book for young girl

20 Gentle Chapter Books for a Young Girl

My reader Natalie has a young daughter who has been reading enthusiastically at a young age:

My daughter  read first books of Penderwicks and Half Magic, but I should look into their sequels to return her to a more gentle universe :)

My daughter is probably a little unusual since she is reading since she was 3, and it’s truly her favorite thing to do. We still read theme-based picture books (we really loved several of the kite books you recommended, by the way), but she is reading a lot of long books on her own.

She is a big fan of myths and legends as long as they don’t involve mummies and zombies – these are two things she is terrified of. She went crazy this summer about Percy Jackson and the Olympians – each book took her about 3 days to read, and then she reread all of them several times. Now she is reading through Famous Five by Enid Blyton. Last summer she read through Secrets of Droon, and, of course, she read all Magic Tree House and Magic School Bus chapter books.

I’ve arranged this list in the order of easier to more difficult books. So the 10th book is where I’d start your daughter and then I’d work down to the first book.

Readers, what other gentle chapter books for a young girl would you recommend? Thanks for sharing!

 

Old Fashioned Chapter Books for a Young Reader

10. My Father’s Dragon series by Ruth Stiles

My kids usually get this as a read aloud in first or second grade. Teachers love this  old fashioned fantasy easy chapter book series. [easy chapter book, ages 6 and up]

Read more…

Domestic Violence books for kids

Domestic Violence Books for Kids

My mom friend Sarah Perry heads up The Second Step, a non-profit in Newton that provides comprehensive support services to survivors of domestic violence. She reminded me that October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.

I don’t think about Domestic Violence much but when I researched books for kids on this topic, the titles alone broke my heart. And when I went looking for them at the library, my entire list was not on the shelves. Strange, huh?

I’m glad that there is a month every year that raises awareness about domestic violence because it’s under my radar in my day to day life. Luckily, there are brave souls out there who fight on behalf of victims of domestic violence.

One such stand out is actor Patrick Steward. I knew him from my obsession years ago with Star Trek: The Next Generation where he played Captain Jean Luc Picard. Watch this video below in which he answers a question from a brave soul about violence against women and what matters most to Patrick Steward.

 

Patrick Steward and Domestic Violence

Read more…