• Bootstrap Marketing 101 for Authors

    I thought I would talk about branding, SEO and social media marketing for authors even though I am not an author, nor have ever marketed a book. So then, you might ask, why would I be qualified to talk about bootstrap marketing for anyone, let alone authors? Thanks for asking. When I was twenty years […]

  • 25 Diversity Authors & Illustrators Spotlighted!

    To kick off our Author and Illustrator interviews at the Multicultural Children’s Book Day blog, we interviewed Joseph Bruchac …  followed by Jacqueline Woodson! (and stay tuned for Margarita Engle, Lisa Yee, and Cynthia Kadohata!) Coming in January — Multicultural Children’s Book Day Spotlight: Shining the Light on Inclusive Authors & Illustrators! From January 1st through the […]

  • Predicting 2015 Caldecott & Newbery

    I have a selfish reason for compiling this list. It’s my Christmas book list for my kids. It’s also because my kids won’t read (probably like yours!) unless they have a really good book and so I search and search and present, like a game show hostess, blog posts of books that I think my […]

  • 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!

3rd grade book club for boys, 6th grade book club for girls, nerdy book club meet up in boston

3rd Grade Book Club for Boys and 6th Grade Book Club for Girls

We held our first book club meetings for my 3rd grade son and my 6th grade daughter now that fall soccer is over and the kids all have a little more free time. PickyKidPix‘s 6th grade book club met at her friend Caroline’s house and my son hosted his 3rd grade book club at our house a few days later. Both book clubs did the same activity — Book Tasting and Book Swap  — but with slightly different results!

 

6th Grade Book Club for Girls

The 6th grade girls brought two or three books that they read, liked and were willing to loan to their friends. Each talked for a few minutes about her books, trying to “sell” them. PickyKidPix brought Catch Rider which she really liked and knew no one else had read. Her friends take horseback riding lessons at sleepaway summer camp so she thought her horsey friends would enjoy it.

Her second book was a chapter book that I sent her as part of a summer camp care package. I had bought it at a overstock sale and chose it because 1) it was only $2, 2) it was light, 3) it takes place during the summer and 4) it’s set in a hair salon. (PickyKidPix is fascinated with hair styling!)  To my surprise, she read it. To her surprise, one of her friends chose it.

Her friends have ventured into young adult territory already I think because they are all strong readers. Still, at age 11 and 12, I would have liked to keep them in Middle Grade land but you just can’t hold kids back from reading what they want to, especially when their friends are devouring these books! Read more…

food stamp challenge

Food Stamps Challenge

Food stamps are far from an extravagant benefit. The average allocation is $1.40 per person per meal. (Try it some time.)

from Rolling Stone The Republicans’ War on the Poor

My mom friend Stella has convinced me to try the Food Stamp challenge. It’s not about losing weight. It’s about bringing attention to Food Stamps and how politicians want to cut this important social program back. The GOP, according to Rolling Stone Magazine, is waging a war on the poor, pushing to decimate the food-stamp program which benefits the most vulnerable out of sheer spite.

The way the program to provide the poor with the bare minimum of daily nutrition has been handled is a metaphor for how the far right in the House is systematically trying to take down the federal government. Breaking all manner of precedents on a series of highly partisan votes, with the Republicans barely prevailing, the House in September slashed the food-stamp program by a whopping $39 billion and imposed harsh new requirements for getting on, or staying on, the program. The point was to deny the benefit to millions. As recently as the mid-Sixties, actual hunger and starvation existed in this country on a significant scale, particularly in the Deep South and Appalachia.

Food stamps are far from an extravagant benefit. The average allocation is $1.40 per person per meal. So, to bring attention to this important social issue, I told Stella that I would try the Food Stamps Challenge. Read more…

4 Animal Picture Book Giveaway!

4 Animal Picture Book Giveaway!

To celebrate Todd Parr‘s  newest padded board books: Doggy Kisses 123 and Animals in Underwear ABC, I’m teaming up with Christina of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers to do a 4 animal picture book giveaway!! Yay!!

We love Todd Parr! Our first Todd Parr picture book was It’s Ok to be Different! and I read it to my oldest when she was in Kindergarten after her classmate’s mom recommended it to me, as a message that would help her son handle questions of why he had two moms. My daughter did wonder that, but out of curiosity, not in a judging kind of way.

We also loved his The Thankful Book which is another gentle message about gratitude. We also liked his TV show. And I checked out his website and found wonderful activities for kids. Read more…

Johnson & Johnson healthy essentials twitter party

Johnson and Johnson Twitter Party with Prizes

It’s January and the holiday season is behind us. Phew! I find that I appreciate coupons more than ever.  But the one thing I’ve learned about coupons over the years is that you only really save money when you are buying something you really need and will actually use!

Now that my two girls are in Middle School, teen acne is on the radar. I like to use teen acne products as well to keep my skin clear and it makes for less clutter in the bathroom that all five of us share!

My dermatologist, Dr. Madeleine Krauss, says that if acne is mild as it is for most teens, try over-the counter acne medication. She posted about her favorite drugstore acne products and included Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash.  She says that the least irritating treatment is a wash that contains salicylic acid.  You can also save $1 by using this coupon for it here.

Neurtrogena-Coupons-Beauty-Skin-Hair-couponsRead more…

multiplication fact strategies for 3rd grade

Mastering Multiplication Math Facts

At the end of second grade my son started learning his multiplication facts along with a few division facts. He had been using a free math site his 2nd grade teacher recommended called Xtra Math and after finishing addition and subtraction facts, moved on to multiplication. Though the site was effective in teaching him math facts, it stressed him out to the point of tears.

Xtra Math has this feature that makes you “Race the Teacher.” If you don’t answer the problem correctly in about two seconds, you get dinged. He hated that portion of the questions but you had to complete it before the site said that you were done.

I like using math gaming apps to get my son to practice his math facts. He will only play each game twice so we need a lot of sites to keep him engaged. That really motivates me to find more fun math sites for him.

What is your favorite math site or game to learn multiplication facts?

 

Fun and FREE Multiplication Games

Here’s a few that he likes:

Grand Prix: Race other kids in a car racing game that is fueled by how quickly and accurately you can solve multiplication math fact problems. You can also race the computer, and adjust the questions to focus on a particular math fact set.

Meteor Multiplication: Shoot down meteors by correctly solving multiplication problems. You shoot from the product, and have to identify the two factors. Read more…

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Books for Kids To Celebrate MLK Day

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

image from Wikipedia

To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 20th, I thought I would compile my previous posts on MLK day and the Civil Rights Movement.  I hope these lists will be helpful if you are looking for a children’s book to celebrate MLK day or Black History Month in February.

 

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. with 3 Children’s Books

If you need just three books, I’ve chosen my favorite picture book, advanced picture book and chapter book to tell the story of the civil rights from three points of view. The great man himself in his own words. Ruby Bridge’s story as told by her child psychologist Dr. Robert Coles. And through the point of view of a Caucasian girl trying to figure out what was going on when her town pool closed to avoid desegregation.

Martin Luther King Day books for kids, MLK books for kidsRead more…

house finch, house finch eye disease

Saying Good-bye: A House Finch Story

Please welcome my guest blogger, Anna Olswanger. I “met” her when I read a review of Greenhorn and her picture book stopped me in my tracks. It’s powerful story about the Holocaust that really reverberated.  I literally could not stop thinking about that little boy and his tin box for days. I added it immediately to my 34 Haunting Holocaust Books for Kids list.

It doesn’t surprise me that Anna notices the little details in life around her. Her story today is about the little House Finch birds that come to her bird feeder that she notices from her window during writing breaks from her computer. She notes with concern that they are sick.

I looked it up:

House Finch Eye Disease

What does conjunctivitis look like?

Infected birds have red, swollen, watery, or crusty eyes; in extreme cases the eyes become swollen shut or crusted over, and the birds become essentially blind.  If the infected birds die, it is usually not directly from the conjunctivitis, but rather from starvation, exposure, or predation as a result of not being able to see. Some infected birds do recover.

It’s strange that conjuctivitis which kids commonly get is a very infection disease but really a nuisance more than anything, but for a House Finch, it can be lethal.

Here’s her story and my prayers that her House Finch friend is ok!

————————

The house finch sat on the feeder outside my window and coughed. She was brown, a female. I read about her red, swollen eyes on the Web and discovered she had a respiratory disease that had infected her eyes. In extreme cases, the eyes of these birds would become swollen shut and the birds would become blind. They would die from starvation or predation because they couldn’t see. Read more…

Multicultural children's book day, celebrating diversity in children's literature

Multicultural Children’s Book Day Coming Up!

Valarie Budayr of Jump Into a Book and I are getting excited for January 27th to roll around so we can celebrate multicultural children’s books along with all of you and many wonderful parenting and children’s book bloggers! So far, more than two dozen bloggers have signed up to help us celebrate diversity in children’s books and we will be matching them up with books from publishers!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Books

January 27, 2014

Multicultural Children's Book Day

Our wonderful sponsors include:

Platinum Sponsor: Wisdom Tales Press

Multicultural Children's Book Day Sponsors Wisdom Tales

Wisdom Tales publishes both children’s and teen titles and was created for the purpose of sharing the wisdom, beauty, and values of traditional cultures and peoples from around the world with young readers and their families.

World Wisdom has been publishing children’s books by Caldecott medal winner, Paul Goble, since 2005; since 2002 it has produced many acclaimed books that are well-suited for teens, especially those about the American Indians. Read more…

bilingual multicultural picture book

Bilingual Diversity Picture Book of the Day GIVEAWAY

It could be that because I am getting excited for Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Literature on January 27th 2014 , I really got excited about the Marisol McDonald picture book series.

I grew up in Southern California but have been living outside Boston for the past 15 years. When I went to a friend’s birthday party in Southern California a decade ago — I kid you not — EVERY single child at that party of two dozen was of mixed race. That’s California for you!

My own kids are multi-racial Asians that we refer to in Hawaiian slang as a “Mixed Plate” in that they are 1/4 Japanese, 1/4 Chinese and 1/2 Korean. And American too, of course, because they were all born in Boston.

In the first picture book, Marisol doesn’t match because she has red hair and nut-brown skin. She likes peanut butter and jelly but nestled in a burrito. I’m glad these multi-racial messages are finally making it in picture book land because this kind of mixed up culture is very normal to me.

My name is Marison McDonald, and I don’t match because … I don’t want to!

I like being unique, different, and one of a kind.

Read more…