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 […]
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 […]
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 books for beginning readers from my library. This list is perfect for 2nd grade and 3rd grade.
Some ideas on how to set up a book club for your child with examples of successful book club meetings.
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!
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.
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!).
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!
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.
African-American History Through Picture Books
February is African-American History Month and it pays tribute to the generations of African-Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society. One way kids can empathize with the obstacles that African-Americans faced and continue to face, is through books.
This year’s theme for African-American History Month is Black Women in American Culture and History. Please share any favorite picture books, chapter books or Young Adult books that you enjoy that teach us about the African-American Experience.
My daughter’s friend Devin told me about Chains and Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson. She just finished Forge and recommends them for ages 9 and up.
Family Multi-Generational Vacation in Boston
If you are thinking of traveling to Boston for a family vacation or a family reunion vacation, we just did a nice staycation. The Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge is a wonderfully child-friendly hotel that I’d recommend for being conveniently located and not astronomically expensive. There are lots of museums for kids: Boston Children’s Museum, Museum of Science, and New England Aquarium. Of these three, the Museum of Science is large enough to handle crowds so plan on that for the weekend when museums are the most crowded.
Bonus feature is that you can take Boston Duck Tour from the Museum of Science as well. For the other two museums, I’d recommend going later in the afternoon when the little ones leave for their nap. You only need a few hours anyway. Read more…
Mondrian Art and Music Project for Kids
I didn’t realize how much Piet Mondrian was influenced by the music of his day, jazzy blues called Boogie Woogie. I was more familiar with his simple geometrical shapes and primary colors (blue, red, yellow) that he used to express reality, nature and logic. This piece, the Boogie Woogie, takes the beat of jazz and turns it into a geometric design.
Let’s learn about Piet Mondrian:
Mondrian, who had escaped to New York from Europe after the outbreak of World War II, delighted in the city’s architecture. He was also fascinated by American jazz, particularly boogie-woogie, finding its syncopated beat, irreverent approach to melody, and improvisational aesthetic akin to what he called, in his own work, the “destruction of natural appearance; and construction through continuous opposition of pure means—dynamic rhythm.” In this painting, his penultimate, Mondrian replaced the black grid that had long governed his canvases with predominantly yellow lines that intersect at points marked by squares of blue and red. These atomized bands of stuttering chromatic pulses, interrupted by light gray, create paths across the canvas suggesting the city’s grid, the movement of traffic, and blinking electric lights, as well as the rhythms of jazz. from MOMA Read more…
Winter Books and Activities for Kids
We are in the midst of a blizzard so it made sense to pull out all our winter books as we are trapped inside for two days. I’m not a fan of winter themed books. You know, the books that are tagged as winter and are usually boring with a lot of hibernation going on.
I’d rather read a book that just happens to include winter but has a way of inveigling its way into my mind and heart. Books you remember long past when winter is over. These books do that for me. I remember some from my own childhood. Others have special associations. What are your favorite winter books? Please share!
Favorite Winter Books From Readers
Thank you so much to readers who offer up their very favorite winter books for kids!
Jen Fischer recommends Snow Sounds and Trouble with Trolls.
MaryAnne of Mama Smiles loves Red Sled. (Wouldn’t you know it? There are two Red Sled books. One is by Lita Judge, the other is by Patricia Thomas. I am guessing it’s the one by Patricia Thomas).
Susan Marx of Read Aloud Guide suggests Lois Elhert’s Snowballs. She says, “Engaging text and illustrations makes a snow family come alive in Lois Ehlert’s “Snowballs”. Young children learn how to make a snow family using many different objects. This book is sure to foster children’s creativity as well as encourage them to bundle up and spend fun time outside during the winter. See “Help Me Get Ready To Read” for other wintry books.www.readaloudguide.com Happy Reading Aloud!”
@granolasusan on Twitter recommends Cynthia Rylant’s Snow.
Bernadette from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas loves Snow by P. D. Eastman.
Erica of What Do We Do All Day recommends chapter books Icefall and Breadcrumbs.
Favorite Winter Books for Kids
1. Best Winter Inner City Picture Book
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Hands down, this is our favorite winter picture book. Never has the inner city seemed more appealing. Since two of my kids spent a few years in the city, this is especially fun for us to see Brownstones and snow piled high. Life was like this during the big storm when we lived in the South End of Boston.
Give a Book for International Book Giving Day
Did you know that today is both Valentine’s Day AND International Book Giving Day? It’s easy to celebrate both since both holidays are about giving! And if you really want to go crazy, February is both Heart Smart Month AND Black History Month. There’s a lot to celebrate in such a short month!
International Book Giving Day
International Book Giving Day is a 100% volunteer initiative aimed at increasing children’s access to and enthusiasm for books. We are inviting individuals to 1) give a book to a friend or family member, 2) leave a book in a waiting room for children to read, or 3) donate a gently used book to a local library, hospital or shelter or to an organization that distributes used books to children in need. You are also welcome to organize a book drive, fundraiser, volunteer event, book swap, story time session, etc. See bookgivingday.com! Read more…
The Parent HumbleBrag
How do you keep a clear head in a town that races to nowhere and the measure of success is how busy your kids are? I have two pieces of advice:
- No one can get sick or injured. Flu shots are mandatory. Products like Mucinex can help keep you going when you do succumb.
- Kids and Parents: Run your own race.
My mom friend Penny grew up in the town we live in. I think of our suburb as full of transplants from all over the place. I forget that there are a chunk of parents who actually grew up here, went away, and then came back to raise their families. At coffee today, she was bothered by the new parenting humblebrag that she encountered when bumping into a high school classmate who also returned to Newton.
“Do you remember,” Penny asked, “when everyone would brag about how many hours they worked?”
“You mean, post college?”
“Yeah, when we used to work 50 to 100 hour work weeks?”
The number of hours worked was a proxy for how important and/or successful you were apparently.
Heart Smart for Your Loved Ones
My husband’s cholesterol is a little high and he’s tried diet and exercise to bring it down. It helped a little but Lipitor is even more effective. Still, he likes to go off Lipitor for a while just to be off meds, so we’ll shop and cook with more vigilance to make sure we’re eating super healthy when he does that.
Some swaps are pretty simple.
We use extra virgin olive oil as our cooking oil of choice for pretty much everything except baking.
Instead of white rice, I’ll mix half the amount with brown rice. The trick to that is to soak the brown rice overnight so that it cooks at the same rate as the white rice. My Korean mother-in-law taught me that. And if you forget to do that the night before, add hot water to the brown rice for a few hours before cooking.
Oatmeal is also something I push. PickyKidPix and I both like oatmeal — steel-cut or quick oats — but no one else in the family does. It’s delicious with a little brown sugar and berries and is proven to bring down cholesterol levels. So, for my husband, his oats of choice is Cheerios. I also grind up oats in my blender to sneak it into baked goods like cookies. No one is the wiser for that!
Home made soup is another strategy for getting our kids to eat more cooked vegetables We also welcome the warmth during our cold New England winters! My husband uses the Cooks Illustrated‘s chicken noodle soup recipe and it’s a big hit with our kids.
The problem though, is that it’s very time-consuming. It’s a multi-step process including making stock and then making the actual soup. I personally don’t have the time or the patience to follow the recipe but I enjoy the end result when my husband is in the mood for an all day cooking project. Read more…