• 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!

Alice in Wonderland tea party, Alicewinks

Alice in Wonderland ebook to Celebrate 150 Years

Thank goodness there are so many different ways to experience the magic of Alice in Wonderland. There is the original chapter book plus many, many variations at all different reading levels. There are several movies. And now there is an ebook app, Alicewinks.

Why is Alice in Wonderland so important compared to other classic children’s books? Just think about all the cultural references that are part of our vernacular that originate from this book.

Mad as a hatter.

Grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

Down the rabbit hole.

But not all kids, including mine, are ready to tackle the full length original chapter book. It’s a thick tome, after all.

Alice in Wonderland ebook to Celebrate Alice’s 150th Anniversary

Instead, we used Alicewinks to get a multimedia video ebook experience. Yes, that’s a mouthful. But what it is exactly is beautiful illustrations from the time when the book was published — early 20th century — with simple animation and professional voice talent narrating Lewis Carroll’s unabridged text.

Alicewinks, Alice in Wonderland ebookRead more…

animal non fiction for kids, best non fiction for kids, best non fiction picture books, best picture books on animals,

Nature is All Around Us! Best Non Fiction Picture Books for Kids

Please welcome my guest author Maria G. We met via social media and were conversing using the comments on my blog. I always find her comments to be thoughtful and helpful. She has a vast knowledge of children’s books and with the best recommendations so I asked her to please, please, please guest post on any children’s book topic!

Today, she is writing about nature — specifically best non fiction picture books for kids — and it just so happens that she is a non-fiction children’s book author-to-be with two books to look forward to in 2015!

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Summer’s around the corner, and it’s the perfect time to learn about nature. The good news—you don’t have to journey to one of our fine National Parks to do so (though I would highly recommend it!) The answers are right in your backyard. Literally. Whether you’re a city or suburban dweller, or even if you’re lucky enough to live in the countryside, there are so many ways to observe how birds, mammals and other invertebrates have been able to adapt to urban and residential surroundings. Urban ecology is a fascinating field of study, and we can all be urban ecologists in our own neighborhoods! Read more…

slik fruit and protein

Healthy Milk Alternatives for Kids

My daughter doesn’t like milk all that much but she, as an active teen, needs calcium and vitamin D. A friend, who is a nutritionist, suggested that we try soy milk and almond milk to mix it up a little. It would give her the protein she needs as well.

Milk Alternatives for Kids

We started with Silk Vanilla Soy Milk. It’s funny that my kids do not like vanilla flavored  cow’s milk but they liked the soy version. I’ll add this to the shopping list! It’s also nice that the carton is shelf stabilized so it only has to be refrigerated once it’s opened. I’m adding this to my Costco list!

Next, we tried the Silk Fruit and Protein Mixed Berry soy milk. It’s like a smoothie. I like it as a quick on-the-go breakfast which works beautifully because teenagers, at least mine, are not morning people! Read more…

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Summer Reading List for Kids (mine!) ages 8 through 13

Rising 3rd Grade Summer Reading List

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

My son’s close friend is a 4th grader, Connor, and he hates Percy Jackson (gasp!) but loves this book. That intrigued me, especially as the lead character is an 11-year-old girl during in 1899. I bought it a few years ago when it won a Newbery honor — frankly it was the cover that drew me in but it’s the gorgeous writing that has kept us reading. Me mostly to him.

Like a truffle, this book is to be savored in small quantities. We read about 1 or 2 chapters each night so it’s taken us quite some time to finish this chapter book. But it’s so worth it. The evolution is a young girl (perhaps author/attorney/doctor Jacqueline Kelly herself) reimagined at the turn of the 20th century, in a small town outside of Austin, Texas (where Kelly lives now) as she realized that she can be more than a housewife.

We finally finished this book and it was well worth the journey! [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

Read more…

Tinkertoys for boys, Tinkertoy giveaway

Tinkertoy GIVEAWAY to Celebrate 100 Years

Can you believe that Tinkertoys is turning 100 this year?! To celebrate this great milestone, I am doing a Tinkertoy Giveaway of a special 100 piece essential set before it hits the stores next month. K’NEX is also launching Tinkertoy’s very own Facebook page!

If you played with Tinkertoys as a child, you’ll notice that it has morphed from wood to plastic.

original tinkertoys, original wooden tinker toys

 

My son, a rising 2nd grader, saw the box and balked at first at playing with the toy. He saw the little girl on the box and the ages 3+ and thought it was for babies.

Tinker Toy 100 piece setRead more…

kids and self esteem, children and self esteem, developing self esteem in kids

Developing Kids’ Self Esteem: 4 Surefire Ways

Please welcome my guest blogger Faigie Kobre with a topic that I had started a few months ago — 50 Ways to Develop Your Child’s Self Esteem — but with no ideas in it. I don’t think I even had a single way written yet. Her post is on developing kids self esteem, a gift that gives back that we, as parents, can bestow upon our children.

Four ways to help your child develop amazing self esteem

Everyone wants their children to have good self esteem. Most parents however, seem clueless as to how to help their children acquire this most precious commodity. There are reams of information written about this topic. I can’t claim to be an expert or to have even read a fraction of what is available. A number of years ago though, I did read an amazing book called Your Child’s Self-Esteem by Dorothy Briggs. She goes through many, many points about self esteem in her wonderful treatise and I am going to share some salient steps to helping your child develop good self esteem.

What is good self esteem

Before we begin, we first need to understand what is good self esteem.

Most people seem to think that it is supreme confidence. Some think it’s when kids think they are great. Often cocky, braggarts come across as having good self esteem.The problem is that kids that seem to think they are great, don’t really think so and inside probably don’t think very well of themselves at all.

Someone with good self esteem doesn’t think they are great. They don’t need to.

When you have self esteem there is no need to impress others, you just feel glad that you are you. Self esteem means that you know that you are lovable no matter what, just because you exist. It’s a feeling of knowing that you have something to offer to others without having to prove yourself.

While self confidence can be broken up into different areas, self esteem is the overall self judgement. It comes across as quiet confidence and the willingness to try anything because if you fail, who cares? … you’re still OK. Read more…

Rising Kindergarten summer reading list, going into first grade reading list, 1st grade reading list,

Rising Kindergarten Summer Reading List

This is the last installment of my school’s Summer Reading 2013 list: A Collaboration of the Newton Public School Library Teachers & the Newton Free Children’s Librarians. I wanted to share my list with you since it’s likely on your library shelves. And I’ll use your list for the same reason.

The rest of the lists are here:

Rising First Grade Summer Reading List

Rising Second Grade Summer Reading List

Rising Third Grade Summer Reading List

Rising Fourth Grade Summer Reading List

Rising Fifth Grade Summer Reading List

 

Rising Kindergarten Summer Reading List

Out on the Prairie by Donna Bateman
A 1 through 10 counting book featuring prairie animals of the Badlands National Park.

Building Our House by Jonathan Bean
A young girl narrates her family’s move from the city to the country, where they have bought a piece of land and live in a new trailer while they build a house from the ground up.

Sophie’s Fish by A. E. Cannon
Jake starts to worry about everything that could go wrong when he agrees to take care of his friend Sophie’s fish for the weekend.

Read more…

Butlins, Bognor Regis seaside resort

Seaside Resorts in UK Are Very Tempting!

My husband just got back from a trip to the U.K. It was golfing trip with buddies to celebrate his friend’s 60th birthday. When he got back, I asked him if we should go as a family. I had spent time in London and Cambridge, before kids, and I wanted take the kids on more international trips. Bonus points for England, too, since we wouldn’t have the language barrier.

From Boston, where we live in a suburb, it’s the exact same flying time (actually a half hour less) and approximate flight costs to go to California where our relatives are as to go to England. That’s tempting.

My biggest concern is what will the kids do all day? They are ages 8, 11 and 13 and finding activities that they all agree upon is practically impossible. I was thrilled to learn about Butlins because here is a change to get out and about with the family this summer at English seaside resorts!

They have three locations, all beach front: Bogner Regis, Minehead and Skegness. These seaside resorts in UK (United Kingdom) all look amazing for kids and adults! Read more…

diversity picture books for children, picture books with diversity, diversity and picture books,

Diversity Picture Books for Children GIVEAWAY

The lack of diversity in children’s literature is a problem that affects all children, especially children from low-income families, who rarely see themselves, their families or their communities in the stories they read. First Book

diversity in children's books

The lack of diversity in children’s books is alarming and I am pledging to promote more multicultural books for kids. So today for Picture Book of the Day, I am giving away three diversity picture books for children to three winners! Read more…