• 12 Gift Guides for Your Holiday Shopping

       Related posts: Gender Bending Gifts for Kids: Day 3 of 12 Days of Shopping Gifts for Kids Who Hate Art and Reading: Day 5 of 12 Days of Shopping

  • Gifts for Kids Who Hate Art and Reading: Day 5 of 12 Days of Shopping

    Jeanette and I thought we’d search for gifts today that open young minds; gifts for kids who hate art, and books for kids who don’t like to read. What gifts have you had success in introducing your kids to something mind-expanding that they have resisted?   Wreck This Journal, $9, to bring out the inner […]

  • Gender Bending Gifts for Kids: Day 3 of 12 Days of Shopping

    For Day 3 of the 12 Days of Shopping, Jeanette and I wanted to break down gender stereotypes with gender bending gifts for kids. We want to celebrate mighty girls AND sensitive boys; crafts for boys and science kits for girls; and imaginary play can go beyond tiaras and tutus! How about you? What are your […]

  • 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!

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…

Asian furniture designers, Asian designers, Asian artisans, interior design, modern Asian furniture

Asian Furniture Design and Asian Furniture Designers

I’m been researching Asian American and Asian furniture designers and artisans. Grasshopper and Sensei is enjoying the finds I am discovering and now she’s even talking about being an architect or furniture designer someday when she grows up. It’s not just the beautiful forms I’m searching for; it’s also the stories behind the designs.

Take George Nakashima who is a recent discovery for me. A Japanese American, he was forced into concentration camps when his youngest was just 6 weeks old. He and his family ended up settling in Pennsylvania where he started building his compound, one stone at a time. Today, he is considered the father of the American Craft movement.

His pieces tell a story of time, the uniqueness of each tree, and the artisan who brings that story to life. They have a timeless quality that really appeals to me. You can really fall in love with his work.

George Nakashima

George Katsutoshi Nakashima (Japanese: 中島勝寿 Nakashima Katsutoshi, May 24, 1905 – June 15, 1990) was a Japanese-American woodworker,architect, and furniture maker who was one of the leading innovators of 20th century furniture design and a father of the American Craft movement.

I love this dining room table and the chairs as well. George talks about bringing the soul of a tree to life. What a wonderful way to think about furniture making! Read more…