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best books for kids by teachers

Top 100: Best Books for Kids by Teachers (for ages 2-18)

Teachers Pick Best Books for Kids

This list, created in 1999 by The National Education Association, is the “All Time Greatest Hits” of children’s literature created by teachers.  There is also a Top 100  list created by children and strangely, many of the books are the same!  The original list is 1-100 with all the books in numerical order by votes but I have broken out the list by category types:  Picture Books, All Ages, Chapter Books (grades 3-6) and Young Adult.  Read more…

Our Family’s Favorite Movie: The Sound of Music

Favorite Family Movies

I wanted to get more active on BlogFrog so when they asked me if I wanted to participate in a conversation with RedBox, I said yes. The topic of the conversation is what is your family’s favorite movie and how many times have you watched it?! Read more…

best Chinese American books for kids

Top 10: Chinese American Children’s Books (ages 2-14)

The Chinese immigrant experience is one with a long history in America resulting in becoming the largest Asian population in America today.  There is a great one-page overview on Chinese immigration that details this history.  Interestingly, this article says that the earliest Chinese immigrants during the 1700’s were well received and became wealthy but attitudes changes negatively during the mid-1800’s when less skilled Chinese “Coolies” came during the gold rush.

As I think about the Chinese immigrant experience — my father immigrated from China to pursue a Ph.D program at U.C.L.A. a few years before the Communist Revolution — my own experience is probably similar to most second generation immigrants in the quest to balance American culture while honoring an Asian past.  Of course, my background is dissimilar to most Chinese immigrant stories as my mother is of Japanese descent and 2nd generation at that.  And did I mention that I married a Korean?

And so each of us carries an immigrant story that is unique.  I chose these books because there was something special about each of them that helps me to connect to my Chinese roots and I hope that you enjoy them to, even if your ancestry isn’t Asian.

For my own children, a “mixed-plate” to quote a Hawaiian term,  they are 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation Asian.  And at 1/4 Chinese, 1/4 Japanese and 1/2 Korean, they are an unusual mix in that these three countries have traditionally hated each other for centuries.  And so in reading these stories, they may or may not relate to any of these stories, but I hope that it will help them to honor and take pride in their ancestry even if it’s as varied as a patchwork quilt.

Chinese American Books for Kids Honorable Mention

Making Friends with Billy Wong by Augusta Scattergood

Augusta Scattergood tackles a little known subject: that Asian Americans were also subject to Jim Crow laws in the South. In this chapter book, she gently weaves together a story of Azalea, a rising fifth grader sent to live her grandmother in Arkansas that she’s never met before. Grandma Clark is a woman with a towering presence; she encourages Azalea to make friends with Billy Wong who is also new to their small town. He’s living with his Great Uncle and Aunt so that he can attend a previously all white school and works in their small grocery store. There’s also the bully, Willis, and Scattergood shows us that things are not black and white; behind his prejudice are family responsibilities heavy for a young boy to bear. Grandma Clark’s plan for a more tolerant community is simple; she utilizes Garden Helpers to help out while she’s recuperating, thus forcing everyone to work together. Azalea discovers that she’s more similar to her grandmother than she realized, and their relationship, like hers with Billy Wong, strengthens from the adversity of facing racism around them. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Mama and Papa Have a Store by Amelia Lau Carling

I love this story about a Chinese family that immigrated to Guatemala City and owns a store. Depicting a typical day in the life of family as described by the youngest, it’s an fun way to learn about the people and culture of Guatemala and the gentle rhythm of their lives. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Read more…

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Math Anxiety: Causes and What To Do

Math Anxiety Causes and Strategies for Coping

I think that math anxiety can be both a learned behavior and/or a genetic tendency. My father was a math professor. In my world, this means that anytime can be pop quiz time. He used to create these math problem worksheets particularly during the summer and if I wasn’t able to solve the problem in, like, two seconds, he would get very agitated. It wasn’t my fault because the math problems would different from what I was learning at school but the net result, I noticed later in life, was that I’d get anxiety during science or math tests particularly in college. If I didn’t have an idea of how to solve the problem immediately, I would spin into a panic mode. Read more…

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Sri Lanka with Kids Books, Recipe and Design

Exploring Sri Lanka for Kids through Children’s Books, Food and More

I love this local cafe, L’Aroma Cafe, which seems to be a vortex attracting all kinds of nice people and frequently people who I know both one and two degrees of separation apart.  It was no different the other day when I was hanging out, waiting for a friend to arrive.  The owner came up and started talking to me.  They had offered their space to my friend,  Sharon Schindler,  a talented photographer of quintessential Boston, and it was wildly popular so all parties involved were thrilled, myself included because I got to eat yummy desserts surrounded by her gorgeous photos.   Read more…

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Best Personalized Baby Gifts for Under $50r

Special Personalized Baby Gifts for Baby Showers

It must be that time of year again, but babies are on my mind. There have been a slew of teachers with new babies at my kids’ elementary school and I really like the idea of a personalized baby gift. It’s a special day when a baby enters the world, after all! Read more…

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Making the Most of Your Child’s College Visits

What to Find Out During When Visiting Colleges

Please welcome Erika Coplon of InsideTrack (private college counselors) who offers these tried and true suggestions when visiting college campuses. I remember doing her suggestions when I looked at colleges and would add a few of my own: Read more…

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Kids Caught in the Act … of READING!

Getting Kids Reading

Yikes, I am almost out of pics of kids caught in the act of reading!!! Please, please, please take pity on me and send more to pragmaticmom.com@gmail.com. Thank you! Read more…

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What Not To Say In an Interview

How to Blow a Job Interview

This gem is from the Wall Street Journal. I have to say that as someone who has been in the staffing business for a billion years (and I actually have interviewed more than 1000 people!) that an interview should be a conversation! Let me say that again: AN INTERVIEW SHOULD BE A CONVERSATION. Granted that the interviewer needs to be skillful at making this an interview versus checking off a list of routine questions, but it’s your job, too, as the interviewee, to make this an interesting conversation for both of you. Read more…