• What Do Muslims Really Want Anyway?! 17 Books on Muslim World for Kids

    Please welcome my guest poster today, author Elsa Marston who is my resident Middle Eastern Children’s literature go to! She has a list of recommended books for kids and teens at the bottom of the post. ———— Lately we’ve been reading about terrorist actions by Muslims in Europe and other places, events that have again […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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.

  • 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!).

  • Top 10: Best Beginning Chapter Book Series (ages 6-9)

    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.

  • Top 50: Best Multicultural Children’s Books

    Every summer I stress out about what books to get for my kids that they will like but are also exposing them — as only books can do — to the wide world all around them both past, present and future. This summer, we are going to take a trip around the world by reading these multi-cultural books. What is great about this list is that it covers all the ages of my kids: from preschool through elementary school. I will be sneaky and check out these books for them and leave them strewn about the house for them to examine when they are bored. I will keep you posted on what books my kids actually liked because that is a whole ‘nother list! See you at the library!

Booking Across America: Tennessee & Patricia McKissack

Booking Across the USA: Tennessee & Patricia McKissack

I am thrilled to be co-posting with Valarie Budayr of Jump Into A Book for the Book Across America blog tour.  I was late to the sign up so my birth state of California was already taken, as well as Massachusetts where I now reside. No matter. Tennessee was open where Valarie lives so I grabbed it for us.

We chose Patricia McKissack as our children’s author to represent Tennessee. Not only was she born there, but she’s very active doing school visits and book talks all over the state. You might not have heard of her … so we’ve included a list of her books as well as a book extension idea.

Patricia C. McKissack Read more…

importance of writing

Things You Can Do to Improve Your Child’s Writing Skills

Writing is an essential part of our everyday lives. However, it can be a challenging skill to learn and get good at. By starting early with some easy activities, you will be able to help your child start developing their writing skills early in life. This will help contribute to their future progress as a student and teach them to express themselves as they get older.

importance of writing Read more…

Picture Book of the Day for Kids Living in Alcoholic Home

Living in an Alcoholic Home Picture Book of the Day

Today’s Picture Book of the Day comes from the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party. We asked participants to tell us what inclusive, diversity and/or multicultural children’s books they having trouble finding. It’s a heartbreaking topic but kids who live in an alcoholic home was one such request. I researched and found these books at my local public library. Some of these books are still in print. I hope these books find their way into the hands of the kids who need this.

It’s interesting that there are so few books for kids about living in an alcoholic home as alcohol use disorders affect 16% of adults in the U.S., and more than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems, according to a 2012 study. I would imagine kids who live in an alcoholic home feel very alone with this kind of problem and would benefit for books that show them that there are others facing this problem and give them ideas to help them cope.

I think the most important thing for kids who live in an alcoholic home to realize is that they are not the cause of their parent’s problem and that their parent has a disease which is no one’s fault.

Am I missing any books you recommend? Please share! Thank you! Read more…

RESCUE Coupon and Prizes

RESCUE Coupon and Prizes #StressLess2BMyBest

I was a party at my English friend Lydia’s house where I met her Irish friend Aoife, who is a homeopath. I really believe in homeopathy; many miracle medications used today are derived from plants. Homeopathy has an ancient and respected history in Ireland.

When Rescue asked me to introduce Rescue to my readers, I agreed. I think alternate forms of healing are part of the arsenal we all should have in our medicine cabinets and my boxing Olympic Hopeful friend Amanda Pavone came to mind for a few reasons:

Amanda Pavone Read more…

take the focused driver pledge

It’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month! #CallsKill

I’m in the car a lot driving my kids around. It’s become my office. I have snacks and water at all times. I nap in my car. I sometimes even hang out in my garage by myself, checking my email via my phone in my car for a few minutes before going inside. It’s nice and quiet and no one knows I’m home yet so I don’t get interrupted.

I’m not Catholic but giving up my cell phone while driving would have been an easy Lent sacrifice. It’s not that I don’t want to answer my texts or calls; it’s just that I’m not that good of a driver to drive and use my phone at the same time.

Still, I am easily distracted and I need to be more careful:

  • Changing radio stations while driving
  • Programming my navigation system while driving
  • Stopping at yellow lights

Read more…

Top 10 Best Multicultural Easy Readers

Top 10 Best Multicultural Easy Readers

It wasn’t easy finding great multicultural easy readers! My town library has about 49 cubic feet of easy readers — an entire wall — but about half have animal characters and most of the remaining books do NOT have characters of color. From my search that day, I’d say that about 2% of the square footage were multicultural books. I culled through all of these plus ran through the Geisel award-winning books and came up with my ten favorites.

Some of favorite Easy Readers include Little Bear, Mr. Putter and Tabby, Henry and Mudge, anything by Arnold Lobel, Fly Guy, Elephant and Piggie, Biscuit, and Dr. Seuss, but sadly, none of these books have diversity characters. I can understand that the animal based Easy Readers can not, but Mr. Putty could have a friend who isn’t white, right?! And Henry with his big dog Mudge could too. It doesn’t have to be a big deal; the friend just happens to be of color (and sometimes I prefer it that way). So just a thought to plant out there…let’s hope in 2016, Henry and Mr. Putter make new friends of color. Read more…

Getting Kids Published with Erik of This Kid Reviews Books

Getting Kids Published with Erik of This Kid Reviews Books

I am so thrilled to be co-posting with Erik of This Kid Reviews Books today at the request of Erika of Urth Mama:

Do you have any interest in doing a blog post (or series) about career pathways for children/young adults to become children’s book authors?

I ask because my 8 year old daughter (aka Paprika) has wanted to be a children’s picture book author and illustrator since birth (practically).  She has read every children’s book – knows all the Caldecott and Newberry winners – and in general, is just obsessed with Children’s Literature.  She has taken a few classes on Craftsy about Children’s Book Authoring – and beyond that, I don’t really know how to guide her.  She is just set on this (and has been for years) – and overall, it’s her mission in life.

The first person I thought of to help Erika is Erik because:

Nancy Yi Fan is another published kid author. She wrote the series Swordbird which was accepted for publication by HarperCollins when she was 11-years-old.

My advice on how to get published as a kid is: write, write, write! Take art classes as well if you are so inclined. Being able to write and illustrate is a powerful combination. Do writing challenges like Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 picture book challenge which also gives away critiques by children’s book agents. Start a blog as both a writing experience and to build your audience. As a published author, you will be expected to market your book and social media will be your friend! Finally, be persistent. The road to being published is paved with miles of rejection letters.Without further ado, here’s Erik! …—————–
Read more…
Best Multicultural YA Books & Kid Lit Blog Hop

Best Multicultural YA Books & Kid Lit Blog Hop

These are the Young Adult books from the 2015 Notable Books for a Global Society. Part I from the list of picture books is here and Part II of middle grade books is here.

Best Multicultural Young Adult Books for Teens

Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle

Did you know that there was an Apartheid system in Panama during the construction of the canal? Whites were paid in gold and those of color, much lower wages —  in silver. Margarita Engle’s background as a botanist and agronomist is evident as she tells a story of the ecological impact of the Panama Canal as well as the Civil Rights story that is largely unknown.

I have an interview with Margarita Engle on Silver People at the Multicultural Children’s Book Day blog. [novel in verse, ages 12 and up]

Read more…

2014 Cybils Winners: Early Chapter Book and Easy Reader

2014 Cybils Winners: Early Chapter Book and Easy Reader

It was so much fun to judge the final round of the Cybils for Best Easy Reader and Early Chapter Book. I felt like our committee really pondered long and hard to come up with the winners in a multi-step process:

  • We procured the books, mostly from the library (copies were sent by publishers if your library didn’t have it)
  • We read all the books within about a 3 week period
  • We shared notes on each book via a shared Google Doc
  • We ranked the books within each category on the Google Doc
  • We meet via Google Chat to discuss and choose winners (about an hour)
  • The winners were written up with editing from the group

And the Cybils winners are …

Cybils 2014 Easy Reader Winner

Read more…