Archive for July, 2013

starting school diversity picture books for kids, starting kindergarten multicultural books

Multicultural Starting School Books for Kids

It’s almost time to go back to school and starting a new school can be fraught with anxiety. I thought I would do a round up of starting Kindergarten and/or Preschool books with a multicultural slant. These are 10 Multicultural Starting School Books for Kids that I found. I choose them because either the story is multicultural, the author is a person of color, or the illustrations showed racial diversity. 

Do you have a favorite that I missed? Please help me build this list and add it as a comment. Thank you!

Top 10 Back to School Diversity Picture Books

10. This Is the Way We Go to School: A Book About Children Around the World by
Edith Baer

All around the world, children go to school by different means including walking, skating, school bus, ferry, trolley car and helicopter. This rhyming picture book explores both the United States and the world beyond including Italy, Egypt, Norway, China, Israel, Switzerland, Kenya, Australia, India, Mexico and Siberia.

9. Mama Don’t Go by Rosemary Wells

The characters in Yoko and Friends are all animals and Rosemary Wells makes it clear that Yoko is both Japanese and a cat! Yoko has separation anxiety on her first day of school and doesn’t want her mother to leave. Luckily, Yoko’s new friend helps her understand that moms will always return!

Read more…

pirate books and project for kids, non fiction for kids, GenZ, GenZ online

Summer Reading Fun and Giveaway from GenZ!

Note: I think GenZ Read Together is out of business!

My son and I started reading very short non-fiction stories from GenZ Read Together, a website that makes reading together an entertaining educational experience. We get a wide assortment of non-fiction stories which include:

  • vocabulary building exercises
  • a hangman reveal-the-hidden-picture puzzle
  • an educational video

As part of their Summer Reading program, some of my favorite educational, arts, and children’s book bloggers are hosting a Blog Tour where we come up with activities you can do at home with your kids for one of GenZ’s non-fiction stories.

GenZ Online, GenZ, GenZ Read Together

We are also each hosting a giveaway so YOU can win 20 stories from GenZ Read Together. Finally, if you don’t win but want to try it out, GenZ is offering a special discount to my readers:

20 stories for $3.99!!  Use promo code:  SUM20

Today, my son and I read about the largest pirate treasure ever discovered, The Atocha! After 16 years searching with his family, Mel Fisher finally located $400 million dollars of gold, silver and emeralds — lost treasure from the Spanish Galleon, The Atocha, near Key West, Florida.  Read more…

Undocumented Immigrants in Children’s Literature

Undocumented Immigrants in Children’s Literature

Please welcome my guest blogger, Natalie Dias Lorenzi.

Natalie Dias Lorenzi is a librarian in Fairfax County, Virginia. Her debut middle grade novel, Flying the Dragon, was published last year by Charlesbridge. Follow her on Twitter (@NatalieLorenzi) or visit her website at

As a school librarian, I often see kids get excited when they connect with characters and settings and problems in stories. “She’s just like me!” they’ll say, or, “I know exactly how he felt.” A major part of my job as a librarian is to help kids find books they can connect with, books that speak to them. If a student has lost a pet, I’ve got several books for that. Problems with bullies? I could recommend a slew of titles. Ditto for the new kid at school, the one moving away, the new big brother or sister, or the kid who worships soccer.

But there are some topics that are largely ignored in children’s literature. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there were an estimated 11.1 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in 2011, one million of whom are children, and 4.5 million born in the U.S. to undocumented parents. Like other kids, these children also read books on pets, bullies, new baby siblings, and soccer. But the life of an undocumented child brings special challenges not found in books on their library shelves: feelings of isolation from neighbors, the burden of secrecy, and a constant fear of deportation. Read more…

Pragmatic Mom, path to pugilism, mom boxing, Nonantum Boxing Club, Marc Gargaro,

My Path to Pugilism is Strewn With Skeptics

Now that it’s summer, my kids have certain weeks where they are completely unscheduled. I have masterminded their summer plans so that they each have at least one week off while the other two siblings are in camp. During this week, my husband takes the “only child” out to play golf with him and I take that same kid to box with me. Even kicking and screaming.

In the case of 11-year-old PickyKidPix, she was game to box. We had a lot of fun and she turned out to be a natural. Here she is learning how to wrap her hands.

Grasshopper and Sensei, my 13-year-old, had to be bribed to box. Her reasoning is that she’s learning martial arts for self defense so she would obviously use her legs to kick if attacked. There are no rules for self defense against a bad guy, she reasons correctly. She did end up liking boxing though, as I hoped she would. We did the second lesson together with no bribery needed.

My son is desperate to box with me. He’s been watching reruns of Power Rangers and all that martial art action has him doing flying sidekicks and spinning roundhouse kicks all over the house. Usually, I bear the brunt of his attacks as he entreats me to hold a pillow for him to use as a punching bag. Better the pillow than me!

My kids, however, don’t think I’m any good at boxing. The Path to Pugilism, it seems,  is strewn with skeptics, most of whom I live with. Read more…

LifeProof nuud iphone 5 case

LifeProof Case Giveaway: The new nüüd case!

My girls really want the LifeProof case so badly that they are willing to complete their summer math workbooks to earn one. I had actually ordered two of them for prizes when Natalie from LifeProof, whom I met at BlogHer last year, offered me one to try out.

My daughters want to use the LifeProf case to take underwater photos during our upcoming trip to California to celebrate their grandmother’s 90th birthday. They very much want to try out the new LifeProof nüüd iPhone Case but it’s for an iPhone 5 and they have the iPhone 4.

The new LifeProof case is waterproof, drop proof, dirt proof and snow proof. It’s for the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy SIII. I’m not sure how they did it, but the LifeProof nüüd cases leave the screen completely naked, yet are still waterproof. They are the only waterproof and drop proof cases that let you touch the actual screen.

iPhone 5 Lifeproof nuud caseRead more…

books for a prince, prince books, picture books for a prince

Top 10 Books for a Prince GIVEAWAY

I had the pleasure of meeting Leah Lesser from Barefoot Books today. We had fun talking about children’s books and, somehow, ended up chatting about the birth of the new baby prince.

We thought it would be fun to conjure up a book list for young princes, every where, both of royal birth or just beloved. Here are 10 books for a prince that we think belong on every young prince’s bookshelf.

What would you add to the list? Please share!

The Prince's Bedtime

Top 10 Books Every Young Prince Should Read

10.  The Prince’s Bedtime by Joanne Oppenheim

Meet a young prince who refuses to go to sleep! The entire kingdom comes out to lend a hand in this rhyming bedtime adventure. There is a hullabaloo of activity—jugglers juggling, magicians hypnotizing, dancers dancing—but it is the wonder of a good story that finally does the trick. Book with CD editions include story read by actor Jim Broadbent. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Prince's BedtimeRead more…

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!


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…