• 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!

Stock Market Basics for Kids

Stock Market Basics for Kids

PickyKidPix is now 13-years-old and has shown interest in the stock market for quite some time. Recently, she asked me if she owned any Disney stock. I had purchased a handful of shares when she was born with the money her grandmother (my mother) had gifted to her. My mother had also set up a custodial stock trading account for each of my kids as well. It was her way of helping them with college tuition.

Disney Stock Price

PickyKidPix tells me that she’s been tracking Disney stock (DIS) and that it’s at an all time high. “Can I sell some?” she asks. I spent last summer transferring the kids’ stock accounts into my brokerage account to put all the accounts under one roof, so to speak. I figured that now is a good time to let my daughter trade. I closed her savings account and moved the money to her brokerage account, and figured out the user name and password so she would be good to go. Read more…

Host Gator

HostGator Eliminates Malware Problems!

Thank you HostGator for sponsoring this post. HostGator now offers HostGator Optimized WordPress, a new hosting platform that is specifically built for an optimized and managed WordPress environment.

Have you ever accidentally downloaded malware onto your computer accidentally infecting your blog? I did it to myself while trying to figure out a way to get a YouTube video that I made to upload into my Instagram. My husband was away and I wanted to show him highlights of our kids’ games from that weekend.

My kids were asleep when I searched the web to find a tool to get my YouTube video into Instragram. They were horrified that I downloaded from a site because they told me, “Duh, you can’t do that. Instagram doesn’t let you upload from YouTube.” And, of course, they were right. I wasn’t able to get my video onto Instragram but I did give my blog a nasty virus that put pop-up ads on very page. It was so upsetting that I couldn’t bear to look at my homepage!

hostgator optimized wordpress Read more…

Life by the Sea Books for Kids

Children’s Books About Life by the Sea

Today, I have guest author team of writer and illustrator Muon Van and April Chu. Their picture book,  In a Village by the Sea, has been described by The New York Times as “Breathtaking” and Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review) said, it’s a “lovely, resonant portrait of family life that hums with quiet magic.”

In a Village by the Sea by Muon

They have created a book list of their favorite children’s books about life by the sea. How about you? Will you make it to the seashore this summer? If so where? And what books do you like about life by the sea? Please share! Thank you! Read more…

Fight for Your Write

Fight for Your Write #BICFightForYourWrite

…Cursive writing may train self-control ability in a way that other modes of writing do not, and some researchers argue that it may even be a path to treating dyslexia. from NY Times

calligraphy by felix doolittle

Grasshopper and Sensei interned at this fine stationery company. Felix’s penmanship is beautiful!

My kids recently argued over which of them had the best handwriting. I was to judge. It’s interesting how my oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, who used to have illegible handwriting in elementary school has turned it around. Her penmanship in high school now is text-book perfect.


grasshopper and sensei

Grasshopper and Sensei uses her cursive handwriting as part of her art. Here’s a condolence card she sold to me.
Read more…

Top 10 Diversity Dance Picture Books

Top 10 Multicultural Dance Picture Books

First you have to believe that it’s possible. Can a person of color become a professional dancer? These diversity dance picture books plant the seed … but not for my kids.

I could never coax my girls into dancing. My oldest did one year at the Boston Ballet School when she was four. I was thrilled. She seemed really great at it. I envisioned her gliding gracefully into years of ballet culminating in a small part in the Nutcracker. Instead, her ballet shoes got a tad small with just two classes to go before the summer break. I let her just dance in them. She promptly quit after that, saying that ballet hurt her feet.

Boston Ballet SchoolGrasshopper and Sensei’s first ballet class at Boston Ballet School.

I tried again when we moved to the suburbs. The ballet class included tutus, stuffed bears, sunglasses and a juice box break. “Open like a birdie,” they’d tell the kids before popping the straw into their mouths so the juice box wouldn’t spill. Neither the tutus nor the stuffed animals tempted my girls away from the wall where they stood and watched for over an hour each week. They would only participate for the juice box.

PickyKIdPix in soccer uniform and tutu

PickyKidPix messing around with a tutu that came in the mail with a picture book. She pairs it with her soccer uniform.

Even though my kids don’t dance, I’ve tried to include a picture book about dancing with reference to their Korean, Chinese and Japanese heritage. Who knew that this would prove to be so challenging? Did you know that modern gymnastics that you see in the Olympics has its roots in classical Chinese dance?!

It’s interesting that there are a plethora of ninja themed picture books but nary a ballet one with an Asian American character. Not even a minor one. It’s as if Asian American children don’t dance at all.

How about you? Do your kids like to dance or just read about dancing? My kids like watching kids dance as well via reality TV shows. Is there a better dance picture book about Asian culture that you like? Please share! Thanks! Read more…

Write Now Read Later: Summer Writing Prompts for Kids

Write Now Read Later: Summer Writing Prompts for Kids

Are you sliding into your summer routine? Have you hit the point of boredom yet or are you still enjoying the lazy days of summer? Let’s talk, write and read about your summer.

I’d love to post what you’ve written! If you want to share, please email me an image of your wonderful story and I’ll post it right on this post at the bottom. My email is pragmaticmomblog (at) gmail (dot) com.

Summer Writing Prompts for Kids

Are you have the best summer ever? Why or why not? Write about a perfect summer day for you, real or imagined.

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee

My son and I think this is the funniest picture book ever! Marla Frazee’s dry wit will be appreciated by parents reading this book over and over. James and Eamon visit Eamon’s grandparents’ house to attend a week of Nature Camp which doesn’t enthrall them. They learn new vocabulary words from his grandfather’s driving. In their free time, they resist going outside and stay in instead eating waffles and playing video games. They finally make it outside to the delight of the grandparents but even though their week wasn’t according to plan, it’s still the best week ever! [picture book, ages 4 and up]

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Finding More Great Graphic Novels for Kids GIVEAWAY

Finding More Great Graphic Novels for Kids GIVEAWAY

Graphic novels are my secret weapon for reluctant readers, both boys and girls, but they are also the slippery slope for newly independent readers to develop a love of reading. I became a huge fan of graphic novels when my son learned to read in first grade. Not only did graphic novels get him asking to go to the library in search of books, but it also helped him with reading comprehension. YES, graphic novels support reading comprehension strategy development in children!

It’s the magic of pictures and words. Words + Pictures = A Game Changer for Reading Comprehension. Not only do kids love graphic novels and notebook novels and will eagerly devour them, but having to figure out the story from the words and the images helps kids develop critical reading comprehension strategies that they will need to employ for school, for life and certainly, for Common Core standardized testing. This kind of reading comprehension strategies transfers to chapter books, non-fiction and all other genres.

To celebrate the educational value + sheer pleasure of graphic novels/notebook novels = reading nirvana, I have a book list below to help you find more graphic novels for your kids based on other books that you might know.

 

Read more…

Happy 50th to the Love of My Life

Happy 50th to the Love of My Life

Some of my readers noticed that my husband is rarely shown on my blog or social media. In fact, it was years before he first appeared on my Instagram. That’s because he doesn’t like to be in any photos. Today’s his 50th birthday and I’m out-of-town at my college roommate’s 50th birthday (he said it was fine with him).

Tai LeeRead more…

Gorilla Tough: Boxing, Books and a Tablet

Gorilla Tough: Boxing, Books, and a Tablet

What do you associate with a gorilla? For me, it’s my boxing gym. I once took a boxing class with Nate, the other co-founder of Nonantum Boxing Club. When I saw my trainer — his cousin — I asked, “For a big guy, isn’t Nate surprisingly light on his feet?” Because if you saw Nate hopping over low hurdles in a delicate way like a gazelle, it’s a little incongruent with his beefy frame. My trainer replied, “Nate is a gorilla.”

Nonantum Boxing Club, Newton MA

Nate is on the left. My trainer is on the right. Read more…