• 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!

best books for kids set in Boston

Top 10: Books for Kids Set in Boston

If you have ever been to Boston (and everyone should go there at least once), you will  know that as a city it is a bewildering mixture of modern improvements and the relics of antiquity, and it is interesting, for example, to come out from buying plastic clothespins and chocolate-strawberry-marshmallow-banana splits in a department store glittering with neon, and find yourself face to face with the Old South Church. And the streets have wonderful old names like Milk and Pump. The Time Garden by Edward Eager (from the Half Magic series)

The wonderful thing about living in a historical city is sharing it with friends. I thought I’d round-up ten of our favorite picture books, early chapter books and chapter books for kids set in Boston and environs. And we hope you will come visit one day as well!

What are your favorite books for kids set in Boston? Please share and I’ll add to the list! Thank you!


Top 10 Books for Children Set in Boston

10. Vanished by Sheela Chari is set in Arlington and Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts (and also India).

Chari’s contemporary chapter book is both multicultural and award-winning. I love that it’s set in an area that we frequent for soccer games and shopping: Arlington and Harvard Square in Cambridge (they are adjacent cities). When 11-year-old Neela’s veena goes missing, she suspects there is more afoot than just a musical instrument. Could the rumors of a curse be true? [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Read more…

Karen Day, author

Writing Revision Tips for Kids: Why Writing is All About Revising

Please welcome my guest blogger today, middle grade author Karen Day. She happens to live in my town and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her at the dog park as well as on the soccer field when Grasshopper and Sensei was in 3rd grade — her youngest daughter was on the same team.

She’s been twice to our book clubs for kids. She taught my daughter, then in sixth grade, to write a Show Don’t Tell.

We also learned about the origins of her second book, No Cream Puffs. Indeed, it WAS Karen who was a star baseball player!

Her first book, Tall Tales, won a Texas BlueBonnet award.

Today, she’ll be covering Writing Revision Tips for Kids. Read more…

Tinkertoy Win in a Snap game

This Looks Fun! Tinkertoy Game to Win $1000!

In the TINKERTOY Win-in-a-Snap Game, parents and kids can play every day for 6 weeks to guess what TINKERTOY creation is being built. Solve the puzzle faster and get more entries to win one of 100 instant win TINKERTOY prizes or the $1,000 Grand Prize! Game play is exclusive to Facebook, so be sure to “like” TINKERTOY on Facebook to be notified about the Win-In-A-Snap game. Sweepstakes runs September 9th-October 20th. Access the Facebook game here starting Monday.

Tinkertoy Win in a Snap game

This is not a compensated post. We love K’NEX because it helps to keep my son off screens. I met Kate Loffio at BlogHer12 and she sends me K’NEX toys from time to time to review. We’ll be playing this Tinkertoy game on Facebook just for fun. My son would love guessing the structure and that might cause him to break out his Tinkertoys to build something!

best books for kids set on a farm, farm chapter books for kids, farm picture books for kids

Top 10: Old Fashioned Children’s Books Set On a Farm

We are lucky to have farms in our suburban town as well as nearby but these local farms have morphed into U Pick or teaching centers. I guess I’ve always fantasized about life on a farm. Self-sufficiency and all that. I only know one person who grew up on a farm. His friends say that he’s the go to for any kind of fix it jobs. If you live on farm, you learn to do everything and anything!

My own garden plot in my tiny backyard is too shady and small to grow anything except hardy herbs like mint and oregano. I have to farm vicariously these days though books so I’ve rounded up my favorite old fashioned children’s books set on a farm. I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane!

What are your favorite picture books and chapter books set on a old-fashioned back in time farm? Thanks so much for sharing!


Best Old Fashioned Children’s Books Set on a Farm

10. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Set in 1899 in Fentress, Texas near Austin, 11-year-old Calpurnia Tate lives on a bustling farming enterprise set up by her forward thinking and scientific minded grandfather along with her 6 brothers and parents. While this Newbery Honor chapter book focuses on Calpurnia’s evolution into a scientist — one hopes that she will be the first female to attend the University in Austin — I also loved the vivid descriptions of growing up on a Southern gentleman’s farm. Her grandfather owns the cotton gin mill as well as vast acres of pecans and cotton and the relationships between servants, locals and her family are also colorfully depicted in this strict social ladder of etiquette and status. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

Read more…

30 day fighter's diet, boxing diet, expert boxing

The 30 Day Fighter’s Diet eBook Giveaway

It’s funny when you go off topic on your blog what a different direction your conversation takes! I typically blog endlessly about children’s books but my post on My Path to Pugilism is Strew with Skeptics connected me with boxers of all stripes including one boxing expert I’ve been watching on YouTube — Johnny of ExpertBoxing. What fun for me since I have been obsessively watching his boxing training videos!

I like that he is articulate and breaks things down step by step. He is also encouraging and realistic. And that he is a Tango dancer as well confirmed my suspicion that boxing and dancing are very similar with their emphasis on rhythm and footwork!

Johnny offered me his Boxing Diet Book — giveaway below — and I was struck by his emphasis on nutrition and healthy eating habits. His advice is very similar to visiting a nutrutionist and I like that it breaks it down step by step in an easy to understand manner. Just like his boxing videos!


Is a Boxers Diet for you?

Let’s find out. I’ve asked Johnny 5 questions.

1) How is a boxing fighter’s diet to “make weight” different from other diets geared towards weight loss?

The fighter’s diet is the healthiest, most natural, and most proven diet.

Fighter’s lose weight more often than any other type of people I know. We are separated into different weight classes in competition (e.g. lightweight – 136 lbs, middleweight – 160 lbs, heavyweight – 200 lbs, etc). So it’s our advantage to lose weight to fit into the smallest weight class possible. It’s better for fighters to lose weight and fit into a smaller weight class than to face a bigger, taller, stronger opponent.

Now the catch is we can’t just starve ourselves on a fad diet. We have to eat all the right nutrients in order to train 100% and give our best performance during the fight. Fighters may eat more during the training periods but trim down right before the fight. The average amateur boxer may be losing weight up to 10-20 times  a year. So we learn very quickly what works and doesn’t work. The result is an absolutely proven diet guaranteed to tear off fat in the shortest time possible! Read more…

class pet, class pets, perfect class pet, what not to get as class pet

The Perfect Class Pet and What Not to Get

Does your child have a class pet at school? Do you ever wonder about sponsoring a class pet for a teacher? I’ve had the most wonderful  Kindergarten teacher for all three of my kids. When we visited her classroom earlier in the year, I noticed that one of class pet aquariums was empty so I asked if I could be a sponsor.

What Not to Get for a Class Pet

She said yes to being a class pet sponsor, but asked for a pet without fur (allergies). She already had a baby turtle swimming around so a non-water pet was preferred. Her biggest worry was temperature. During the winter, our school’s thermometer is turned down to the 50′s to save electricity on the weekends. Even with a heating pad and lamp, the aquarium gets very, very cold. Too cold for snakes or lizards. Too cold for hermit crabs too.

My kids have had other class pets and offered up their advice (a.k.a. criticism).

  • African Giant Millipedes (too boring)
  • Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches (too noisy)
  • Salamanders (too delicate)

Read more…


Great Expectations from PickyKidPix and Funny Things Kids Say

Our middle child wants to become a billionare when she grows up. She must have overheard her dad talking about his golf trip to Ireland to celebrate his friend’s 60th birthday/Father’s Day. They plan to walk several courses and take caddys the first round. My husband sent me this transcript of their conversation under the heading of Funny Things Kids Say.

I have no idea how she has ascertained her hourly rate either but I was pleased to see that she is able to divide!

PickyKidPix: How much does a caddy make?

Her Dad: Around $50.
PickyKidPix: For how many hours?
Her Dad: About 5 hours.
PickyKidPix: 10 bucks an hour??  I need at least $100 because I charge $20 per hour. Read more…
making your own bow and arrow, bow and arrow from sticks, DIY bow and arrow

Stick Toys: A Stick is a Excellent Thing

I lured my son out to the dog park which is a wooded path around a reservoir with the promise of finding sticks for making bows and arrows. Left to his own devices, he will stay in front of screens for hours upon hours.

We made several trips in search of sticks, which are excellent, we found, for bows, arrows, wind chime paths, ninja weapons, balance beams, and climbing (when attached to a tree). A stick is, indeed, an excellent thing!


A Stick is an Excellent Thing

A Stick is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play by Marilyn Singer

Poetry about outdoor play may entice kids to both play outside and read poetry. What a wonderful combination! [poetry, ages 4 and up]

Read more…

Kid LIt Giveway Hop

Back to School Kid Lit Giveaway Hop

I’m excited to be participating in the Kid Lit Giveaway Hop again!  Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews are again the hosts — the last one was in May — and we think it’s a great way to start the school year off with each of us giving away children’s books! We hope it will get kids excited to read this year!

Back to School Kid Lit Giveaway Hop

To win my short stack of books, please enter my Rafflecopter.

Kid Lit Giveaway Hop Read more…