• 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!

Ninja family reading with flashlights, free book from scholastic and eveready batteries

Ninja Pajama Family Reading Time: FREE Book From Scholastic

My kids are one-quarter Japanese and my mother’s side is from the Daimyo class, which is to say that they were feudal landowners located one hour from Hiroshima but this system changed starting in 1868 with Meiji restoration. I personally like reading about this ancient time in Japan but Grasshopper and Sensei and PickyKidPix have never shown any interest in that or anything ninja. My Japanese side has no real connection to ninja, a mercenary, than perhaps to have used them but my son loves all things ninja and we’ve progressed from ninja picture books, to ninja early chapter books, to now this action adventure chapter book:

 

Moonshadow: Rise of the Ninja by Simon Higgins

Set in Japan during the time of the Shogun rule, Moonshadow is an orphan adopted into the Grey Light Order, a secret ninja group loyal to the Shogun. He must stop a hungry Daimyo (warlord) from developing a powerful new weapon from the west that would threaten the fragile peace finally established in Japan. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Read more…

Visiting San Marino: Oldest Sovereign State in the World!

Visiting San Marino: Oldest Sovereign State in the World!

PickyKidPix desperately wanted to join her indoor soccer team on  “trip of a lifetime” playing soccer in Italy with USA Premier Soccer so I used my hoarded stash of money from blogging to take her and Grasshopper and Sensei on a 10 day tour that covered:

  • Como (Lake Como where George Clooney has a house. We didn’t see his house)
  • Milan
  • San Marino (oldest surviving sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world)
  • Rimini (beach town near San Marino)
  • Florence
  • Venice
  • Pisa
  • Portovenere (Unesco Site on the Ligurian coast)
  • Montecantini (Tuscany)

Visiting San Marino Near Italy with Kids!

Read more…

10 Perfect Read Alouds for 4th Grade

10 Perfect Read Alouds for 4th Grade

Fourth grade at my elementary school marks a really interesting immigration unit that introduced my kids to their first group project experience. They learned, the hard way, about freeloaders but the end result was a “Wax Museum” where each child played a wax statue that, when prompted by dropping in a fake coin in a bucket, recited a speech about life as a new immigrant. Each group chose a different country to emigrate from that included Poland, Ireland, Italy, China, Japan and more.  They also created a Wax Museum display bulletin board that talked about the immigrant experience from their country. What was most noticeable was how every, single group talked about the racism and prejudice they faced upon coming to America.

It seems that in fourth grade, kids are starting to really develop empathy skills so historical fiction about immigration or the mistreatment of dogs moves them deeply. I’ve included the books that my kids remember reading as part of a classroom assignment or as a read aloud in 4th grade and added a few of my favorites. My son just started 4th grade this year, so I will keep track of his classroom read alouds and will add them to this list all year.

Please share your ideas for 4th grade read alouds. Thank you! Read more…

FREE Fun Factoid App: Parent and Child KidQ

FREE Fun Factoid App: Parent and Child KidQ

My 9-year-old son likes factoids and we are often waiting at pick ups for his older sisters or before his soccer game. My son would usually kill the time playing a game on the iPad but I like the FREE Parent&Child KidQ app more. It’s quick. It’s fun. It’s educational!

Scholastic Parent and Child KidQ App

The app is meant as a way to converse with your child by providing questions like:

  • Why do feet smell (my son likes potty humor so this makes him giggle)
  • Why is California named The Golden State (hint: gold rush)
  • Why do you think they freeze hockey pucks before games (hint: friction. fun fact: the first hockey pucks were actually frozen cow poop!)
  • What is the most popular team sport in the United States? (hint: hoop)
  • Why do you think Johnny Appleseed is famous? (hint: apple trees. fun fact: only one tree that he planted remains — it’s more than 180 years old and sits on a farm in Nova, Ohio)

Read more…

Hispanic American Books for Kids: Link Round Up

Hispanic American Books for Kids: Link Round Up

I’m part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs Hispanic Heritage celebration where the MKB bloggers are sharing different ideas to celebrate Hispanic Heritage with kids.

There are now 52 million Hispanic families in the U.S. – making Hispanics the nation’s largest ethnic minority at 16.7% of the entire population.

Almost 50% of Hispanic households have children in the home, which is more than any other racial or ethnic group in the U.S.

Hispanics also make up 20% of U.S. families with children under the age of 6. from MediaPost

That’s a great reason to celebrate Hispanic Heritage no matter what your ethnicity, don’t you think?! Read more…

kids caught doing summer reading

Caught in the Act … of READING and Kid Lit Blog Hop

Thank you to everyone who has sent in a photo! Kids caught in the acting reading makes me very, very happy! How is summer reading going for you?

If you send me a photo to pragmaticmomblog (at) gmail (dot) com, I’ll send you a book! (I’m sorry but I can only send books to the United States due to the high cost of shipping.) I hope it keeps your kids happily reading this summer! Read more…

Jessica Darling #2 giveaway

Jessica Darling’s It List #2 GIVEAWAY

PickyKidPix just started 7th grade this year and this book seems right up her alley. Now that she is assigned to read 40 books this school year from her English teacher, we will be seeking out high interest books like this one! Jessica Darling #2 hits shelves TODAY and I have author Megan McCafferty stopping by with advice for middle school kids.

How is your school year going? I hope you are off to a good start!

Jessica Darling, Middle School Advice from author Megan McCafferty

Read more…

4th grade summer reading homework

Rising 4th Grade Summer Reading Book List

I’m not gonna lie. I’ve had three kids do this going-into-fourth-grade summer reading assignment and the book report portion is painful. My kids simply are not in homework mode at the end of the summer, so it takes a ridiculous amount of effort (accompanied by equal amount of whining) to get it done. My son did his book project over a week with three failed attempts before eventual success.

Rising 4th Grade Summer Reading Homework

The reading portion of the homework, however, was a different story. My son and I cranked through three books the first week of summer vacation. The five books need to be different genres and I may have taken some liberties in naming genres … but I tacked on a few more outside-the-box books at the end including poetry and an easy chapter book.

How about you? Did you kids get summer reading assignments? Please share! Read more…

A Call for Diverse Children’s Literature

A Call for Diverse Children’s Literature #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Please welcome teacher and author Garrett Carter who is my guest blogger today. He writes about the need for more diversity in chidren’s books.

A Call for Diverse Children’s Literature

we need diverse books

Planting the Seed Now: A Call for Diverse Children’s Literature from a Teacher and Author

Along with spring and summer flowers, numerous articles concerning the lack of diversity in children’s literature have sprung up as the year has progressed. Not a new phenomenon, there has always been a lack of cultural diversity for children to experience through reading. As the melting pot in America simmers to a boil, so does the demand for an inclusion of diversity in children’s literature. Simply put; stakeholders are asking and demanding change — now! Here, I’ll explain why I feel this is an important message in my eyes as both a teacher and author. Read more…