• 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!

best new chapter books for kids, best books for kids, best summer reading books for kids, best new chapter books

Great New Chapter Books for Kids GIVEAWAY

I’ve been trying to read more children’s book lately to catch up on my pile so I’ve taken to carting around a small pile of books everywhere I go and reading a little here and a little there until the book draws me in such that I am forced to read to the end. Some books are like that. If they have that power for me, I’m hoping they will for your child too.

As the school year is nearing the close, things are heating up. Are they for you too? You might not be needing new chapter books for kids yet for summer reading but I hope some of these will work for you!

What are your kids reading and recommending? Please share! It doesn’t have to be a newly published book either!

 

If You Read One Book This Summer …

Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman

This is not a newly published book but it’s a perfect gem of a chapter book for spring. Told from the point of view of disparate neighbors in a rough part of town in Cleveland, a young Korean girl digs out a space in a rundown lot to plant lima bean seeds which starts of a chain of reaction towards positive change.

PickyKidPix did a school project on this book for 5th grade and recommended it to me. She wasn’t allowed to read two of the stories (one is about a pregnant teenager who hates her unborn baby and the other about a boy who wants to grow marijuana) so she had me check out the book at the library so she could read them.

This is a really beautiful multicultural chapter book that is also a fast read. The power of gardening is such that it creates a community that wasn’t there before. And this community ends up changing lives. Does life really work like this? I think it does. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

Read more…

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5th Grade Slavery Unit in Newton

My daughter is studying slavery and the first thing I thought of what that our town was a part of the Underground Railroad. Not our particular house (not old enough) but the Jackson Homestead in Newtonwhich is a museum and historic home on the National Underground Railroad Millennium Trail.

Slavery and The South End of Boston

Before we lived in Newton, we lived in an apartment and condominium in the South End. There was a large bronze statue of Harriet Tubman. I’d heard of her, of course, but I had no idea she lived in the South End of Boston.

Although Tubman never lived in Boston, she had links to the city through her network of abolitionist friends, one of whom opened the Harriet Tubman House as a settlement house for black women who had migrated from the South. The house has since relocated, but it still exists today as part of the United South End Settlements program. from Public Art Boston Read more…

100 Days of Play, Lemonade Stand entrepreneurs

Lemonade Stand Ideas for Young Entrepreneurs: 100 Days of Play

I’m thrilled to be joining Sun Scholars and 99 other bloggers for 100 Days of Play! Need play ideas? Please join us as we explore ideas for playful learning!

With nice weather finally arriving in New England, I’ve seen numerous lemonade stand ideas pop up in my neighborhood. It’s been fun to support the neighborhood kids and sample their wares. Some have been selling lemonade and brownies. Others have more traditional stands.

One thing that struck me is how much the pricing varies. I thought I would teach entrepreneurial finance for kids today for my 100 Days of Play contribution by looking at pricing your [successful] lemonade stand.

 

Pricing Lemonade for Your Stand Read more…

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38 Haunting Holocaust Books for Kids

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. ~ Edmund Burke

I will be the first to admit that I avoid children’s books about war. They depress me. I even get nightmares. So you can imagine that I don’t go seeking out books on the Holocaust. The very idea of man’s inhumanity turns my stomach. And yet … it’s such an important event in this lifetime to remember and seek out whatever lessons possible to prevent a reoccurrence. Right?

Some of these books beckoned and drew me in, reluctant reader that I was, on this subject. Jerry Spinelli’s Milkweed is a perfect example. I had checked out a pile of his books and brought this last unread one on a train ride. I didn’t want to read it, honestly. I wanted something lighter and uplifting. But as soon as I opened his book, I wasn’t able to put it down.

In creating this list, my question is simply, “Can a single ordinary person make a difference in the face of such abject horror?” There are unsung heroes in all these books, both real and imagined. I would suggest these books, even the picture books, for ages 10 and up. The Holocaust is a subject for an older child.

It goes without saying that any book for kids that gets published on the topic of the Holocaust is worthy of accolades and children’s literature awards. The bar is set high since this is a tough subject to sell. It’s no coincidence that many of these books have won prestigious awards.

What are the books you read with your child about the Holocaust that you recommend? Please share! Read more…

children's choice book awards 2013

Children’s Choice Book Awards 2013

The Children’s Choice Book Awards 2013! The children have spoken (and voted) and this is what they like!

 

Kindergarten to Second Grade Children’s Choice Book Award Winner

Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta, illustrated by Ed Young

Yay! My son and I loved this book and we think an award for illustrator Ed Young is long overdue!

Read more…

teaching kids perseverance

Teaching Perseverance to Children: Lesson from a Yo Yo Champion

This video from TED got me thinking as a parent about teaching perseverance to children. What if your child had this crazy idea that he or she wanted to play with a yo yo as a career ambition? Honestly, I wouldn’t feel optimistic about that kid’s future.

My husband would be moaning that our kid would be need to be financially supported for eternity, perhaps failing to launch and living at home forever.

It doesn’t have to be a yo yo dream. My middle daughter wants to go to hair school. There’s nothing wrong with being a hair stylist but it isn’t my dream for her and it doesn’t seem to jive with her other dreams (which I’m more behind) of going to Stanford — playing soccer for Stanford actually as an outside midfielder (she gets more specific with each passing year) and becoming a billionaire. Because I googled billionaires and no hair professionals came up. Not even Jennifer Aniston hawking Living Proof made that cut.

kids dreams, pickykidpixRead more…

Kid Lit Giveaway Blog Hop

Kid Lit Giveaway Hop!

Celebrate Children’s Book Week with a week of giveways hosted by Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews. 90 bloggers will be be doing giveaways all this week as part of Kid Lit Giveaway Hop!!

I am giving away a box of chapter books and other goodies. Enter using the Rafflecopter below.

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Happy Mother's Day, adopted children, adoption stories

Sponsored Video: Happy Mother’s Day To All Moms of All Kinds of Families!

Today is a busy Mother’s Day. Soccer games all over the planet. A kids’ birthday party and a lacrosse game too. My husband’s present to me today is doing all that driving and it’s not a trivial gift. The kids will make me a card and gift me the boxing gear that I wanted: a speed bag and a double ended bag that is set at my height. No more standing on stools to reach the speed bag at the boxing gym!

It’s easy to take Mother’s Day for granted and, for that matter, the kids and family. Now that our  children are in elementary school and middle school, it’s just go-go-go all the time on behalf on the kids’ over-scheduled lives.

But for Mother’s Day, it’s nice to take some time and reflect how very lucky I am to be a mother. That my gift is truly my kids and husband and together we have the privilege of raising them. For me, a mother who had children later in life — I’m 48 and my youngest is 8 — parenthood came after college, graduate school and career. It’s a more typical scenario where I live.

But families come in all shapes and sizes. Mothers become moms through love for their children whether or not they are biological or adopted. I’m reminded of this through a TV show called I’m Having Their Baby, now in Season 2, which premieres June 12 at 10/9c on Oxygen. It tells the untold stories of adoption and the myriad of ways to become a mom. Read more…

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Cartoonists Demand Gun Control (and so do I!)

“If eight children were dying every day from a mysterious virus, our country would mobilize to put a stop to it. Gun violence is an epidemic that is taking our children’s lives in our schools, on our streets, and in our neighborhoods. As with other epidemics, we must do everything we can to make a difference for people through prevention and treatment.”

- Elizabeth Warren

Some of my favorite children’s book illustrators have teamed up to create this video on gun control. How do you feel about it? I’m with Elizabeth Warren. Read more…