• 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!

Gifts from the Heart Patricia Polacco Holiday Christmas picture book

Christmas Magical Realism Picture Book of the Day

Because the wonderful picture books by Patricia Polacco have an autobiographical quality, I wondered if Gifts from the Heart was also a true story?

Realism that seems magical isn’t new for Polacco. A real meteor landed in her yard which resulted in the picture book Meteor! and a meteor festival which she hosts as a result.

In My Ol’ Man, a unique black boulder changed their lives much like the black obelisk in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

 

Patricia Polacco Christmas Picture Book of the Day

Gifts From the Heart by Patricia Polacco

Grandpa is selling the family farm in the spring; the memories of Gramma are too strong for him since she passed away. Because Tricia and Ritchie’s mom gets home late from her teach job in Battle Creek, they need a housekeeper to help out.

“The name’s Kay Lamity. I’m your new housekeeper!” she said, and she spun on her heels and trundled through the side door into the kitchen.

Ritchie doesn’t want “any ol’ lady we don’t know in Gramma’s house.”

“Ca-lamity means ‘disaster’!” Richie said defiantly. “Disaster.”

But Kay Lamity has a way of connecting with everyone and when it comes to Christmas and presents, she has advice for them during this very difficult holiday season without their beloved Gramma.

“A gift of the heart ain’t opened by pullin’ on a fancy bow or rippn’ pretty paper off a box. It’s about openin’ your heart … and givin’ what’s inside. That’s the greatest gift of all.”

Keeping the Christmas spirit alive by opening the heart is the central message of this very special picture book perfect for the holidays! [advanced picture book, ages 5 and up]

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

GiftsFromTheHeart2

I am an Amazon affiliate which means if you buy anything through my blog, I get a very small kickback at no cost to you. I use this money to pay for postage and handling for my giveaways.

wonder Twitter Party

Twitter Party Tonight to Win Signed Copies of Wonder by R. J. Palacio

I am excited to be co-hosting a Twitter party of behalf of Wonder by R. J. Palacio! This is one of my favorite books of all time. I met author R. J. Palacio at an Understanding Our Differences event last year and truly think this is wonderful book to give any child, ages 9 and up. You can win a signed copy tonight too!

There is a special guest attending tonight … and mum’s the word who it is. I hope it is author R. J. Palacio! She is such a nice person that I’d love for you to meet her too!

R J Palacio and Mia Wenjen PragmaticMom Wonder

To win signed copies of Wonder and twenty $20 gift card prizes, please go here to Social Moms to RSVP for the Twitter party. You must RSVP to win!

Date: Dec 12, 2013
Time: 4-5pm PST (7-8 EST)
Hashtag: #TheWonderOfWonder
Hosts: @socialmoms
Co-Host: @pragmaticmom
Sponsor: @randomhousekids
Questions: parmeet@socialmoms.com

We are giving away signed copies of Wonder as the grand prizes and twenty additional $20 gift card prizes!

  • Five $20 gift cards will be randomly awarded to participants tweeting an invitation to their followers before the party using the  #TheWonderOfWonder hashtag.

Tweet this: RSVP to #thewonderofwonder party, 12/12, 4-5pm PST! bit.ly/1be9GfB! Don’t miss this profile of the author: http://on.wsj.com/1eTUqWc

  • Fifteen $20 gift cards will be randomly awarded to participants tweeting with the  #TheWonderOfWonder hashtag during the party.
  • Two grand prize winners will receive a signed copy of  Wonder. They will be randomly awarded to a party participant tweeting with the #TheWonderOfWonder hashtag during the party.

(Please see pre-party official rules & Twitter party official rules)

Random drawing winners will be notified within 24 hours of the event on the @socialmoms Twitter page and via DM or @ reply on Twitter. Please make sure you are following @socialmoms so SocialMoms can contact you!

We hope you can join us as we talk about the importance of being kind to others! You’ll be entered for a chance to win prizes just by participating during the party. Also, we will have a special guest attending, so you don’t want to miss out on the fun!

Please make sure you follow @socialmoms, @pragmaticmom and @randomhousekids on Twitter before the party!

 

wonder Twitter Party

Ralph Masiello school visit

Rockstar Ralph Masiello’s School Visit

Our 2nd grade teacher said that Ralph Masiello was, hands down, the best author illustrator school visit she had ever seen. I think the kids in her classroom would agree. Ralph kept the kids in her classroom riveted, clinging to his every word, and he had some wonderful advice to impart.

He started off by talking about his childhood and how his Kindergarten teacher predicted that he would be an artist one day.

“No way,” said Ralph. “I want to be a scientist!”

When he got older and took science classes, his notes revealed the artist inside. Instead of notes composed of words, Ralph’s notes were doodles and drawings. One of teachers took note and introduced him to the art department. The rest, is history.

Read more…

R J Palacio and Mia Wenjen PragmaticMom Wonder

Wonder is Wonderful for Teaching Kids Compassion

I’m thrilled to be posting on behalf of Social Mom’s Choose Kind campaign featuring one of my favorite chapter books on the planet! I met R. J. Palacio at a Understanding Our Differences event in Newton and found her to be, not surprisingly, a wonderfully compassionate and kind person.

R J Palacio and Mia Wenjen PragmaticMom Wonder

Author R. J. Palacio’s life changed forever from a trip to an ice cream shop. She was with her two sons; one a toddler in a stroller and the other old enough to go inside to buy chocolate milk shakes for them. It was outside waiting for her son to return that she saw a little girl with her mother who has Treacher-Collins syndrome, a rare craniofacial deformity.

Because her son in the stroller was waking up and nervous that he would say something loud and embarrassing, she rushed to leave. Unfortunately, her son with the milk shakes was jostled in the process and the three milk shakes ended up splattered all over the ground. Not exactly a quiet exit.

That night, R. J. started writing on post it notes. It was the beginning of Wonder!

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

After being home schooled all his life, 10-year-old August Pullman is starting 5th grade at a private middle school in his Upper East Side neighborhood. He wonders if anyone will realize that he’s just a normal kid underneath his disfigured face, an affliction he was born with. His middle school classmates are challenged to “be kinder than is necessary” but can they? Will they? In this uplifting story, it turns out that everyone carries some kind of disfigurement that feels isolating, even though most can’t be seen. We cheer for Auggie, as we are moved to tears, that kindness can indeed change the world. Warning: this chapter book teaches compassion. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]


Read more…

The Night Before Christmas picture book giveaway Holly Hobbie

Kid Lit Giveaway Hop Holiday Extravaganza

Youth Literature Reviews and Mother Daughter Books Reviews are back with another Kid Lit Giveaway Hop! This time around is our Holiday Extravaganza. I’m excited to be participating!

Kid Lit Giveaway Hop Holiday Extravaganza

My giveaway is picture book The Night Before Christmas by Holly Hobby, poem by Clement C. Moore. I love the watercolor illustrations of this wonderful holiday classic.

The Night Before Christmas picture book giveaway Holly Hobbie

Read more…

12 Days of Shopping

Gift Guides If You Need Ideas

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.

12 Days of Shopping

The 12 Days of Shopping

Saturday, December 1:  Make Your Own Gifts with granola two ways. Hers and Mine.

Sunday, December 2:  Kids Make Gifts Craft, Clove Fruit and Crafts.

Monday, December 3: Personalized Gifts, Hers and Mine.

Tuesday, December 4:  Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom Read more…

best zoo themed books for kids, zoo chapter books, zoo picture books

Top 10 Zoo Books for Kids

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]

Read more…

Angry Birds Space Hogs on Mars K'NEX giveaway

Angry Birds Space Hogs on Mars K’NEX GIVEAWAY

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:

roller coaster K'NEX building toyRead more…

driving an toy car, epic parent. power wheels

Sponsored Video: Be The Most Epic Parent Ever

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:

  • expensive
  • 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…