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How Kids Can Impact the World

How Kids Can Impact the World

I was bringing two bags of groceries to our local food bank when a couple with their young daughter stepped into the elevator with me. They were loaded with bags including paper towels and food. They also had piles of toiletries to donate, so much so, that they needed to bring their car around and get some help. Where did all this bounty come from? Their little girl who looked around ten or eleven had asked for donations to this food bank instead of birthday gifts.

donating birthday gifts to charity

My son and his best friend did this for their 10th birthday. Instead of gifts, they asked for dog toys and collars for a local dog shelter. They delivered it themselves and were allowed to play with the dogs. It was the best birthday ever!
kids donate birthday gifts to charity

Here are five ideas for kids to change the world by donating to these charities. I picked organizations whose missions would resonate with kids. And even a very small donation can change someone’s life. These are gifts that give back more: they teach children gratitude. And it turns out that gratitude is the fastest path to happiness.

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Picture Books for Finding Courage

Picture Books for Finding Courage & 3 Book GIVEAWAY

I’m so happy to welcome my guest author today, Laura Gehl, who has a Top 10: Picture Books for Finding Courage. Her list is not limited to Scared of the Dark picture books, but also includes both nonfiction and hilarious fiction books of overcoming fear. She’s also giving away 3 copies of her latest Peep and Egg book, Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick or Treating, just in time for Halloween. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.

How about you? What books about childhood fears are you enjoying with your kids? I just read a remarkable one by Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, about his fear of the dark and how he overcame that in order to explore the darkness of space: The Darkest Dark.


I was a pretty fearful kid, with many of the typical childhood worries.  I was scared of robbers breaking into my house.  I was scared of something terrible happening to my parents.  I was scared of not fitting in at school.

And then I became a mom, and between my four kids, we had pretty much EVERY fear covered: fear of the dark, fear of needles, fear of heights, fear of worms (not proboscis worms, which can grow to more than 150 feet and are legitimately creepy…just regular earthworms).

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14 Autumn Picture Books with STEM and Diversity

14 Autumn Picture Books with STEM and Diversity

I have a book list for spring, winter, summer but not fall, I discovered upon organizing my lists into one gigantic List of Lists. So this here is my fall book list of children’s books. It was inspired by gigantic pumpkins. My kids’ second grade teacher’s husband grows these kinds of large pumpkins. They are like a pet, given the care that they need!

Do you ever wonder what it takes to grow a prize winning gigantic pumpkin? Is it mother nature or nurture? This video shows what it takes to win with a behind-the-scenes look at competitive pumpkin grower Don Young of Des Moines, Iowa. His pumpkin weighed in at 1,662 pounds (754 kg) in 2007!

I’ve also included diversity and STEM books that celebrate fall. What books are you enjoying this glorious autumn? Please share! Thank you!

14 Autumn Picture Books with STEM and Diversity

In the Leaves by Huy Voun Lee

Pair this book with Linda Glaser’s It’s Fall. Both have beautiful cut paper illustrations with suggestions for activities to celebrate fall. In this picture book, Xiao Ming is visiting a farm and can’t wait to show his friends new Chinese characters that he’s learned relating to their field trip. The author makes interesting connections between the six Chinese characters (pig, family, mouth, haromony, fire). [picture book, ages 4 and up]

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#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

My son started middle school this year and this is my year to evaluate his study spaces now that he will be getting more homework. What’s interesting is that good study spaces are not what I thought: it’s better to mix it up rather than study in the same place all the time. This New York Times Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits article by Benedict Carey upends that idea that a specific place, a study room or a quiet corner of the library is good for retention. The research finds just the opposite.

Instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternating the room where a person studies improves retention. So does studying distinct but related skills or concepts in one sitting, rather than focusing intensely on a single thing.

My son likes to study in different spots around the house. The perfect study space for my tween is actually many locations: his room, my office, and the kitchen.

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

He likes to read, draw, or do homework in his bedroom lying down.

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

The reading nook in my office is a sunny spot to work on homework, and I’m near by if he has a question or wants me to quiz him on something like Spanish words.


He likes to do project work here, especially anything messy or arty. It’s really sunny and bright so it’s a nice creative work space.

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Diverse Children's Books

Favorite Diverse Author or Illustrator #DiverseKidLit

I wanted to share Everyone Says Goodnight by Hiroyuki Arai for favorite diverse author or illustrator for our #DiverseKidLit linky today. Hiroyuki Arai is both author and illustrator of this delightful Lift the Flap bedtime picture book for ages 2 and up.

Everyone Says Goodnight by Hiroyuki Arai

Our theme for today’s Diverse Children’s Books linkup is Favorite Diverse Author or Illustrator. Who is your must-read author or must-see illustrator? (The theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.


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Durga Puja and the Festivals of India

Durga Puja and the Festivals of India

Shoumi Sen Diwali

Please welcome Shoumi Sen who is guest posting for me today. She’s the author of Celebrate Durga Puja With Me! Her book celebrates an important festival of India, Durga Puja, which is about the Mother Goddess, and the victory of the revered warrior Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. Like Chinese New Year, families buy new clothes, prepare special food, and spend the day with friends and loved ones. Durga Puja begins today, September 30th!

Celebrate Durga Puja With Me! by Shoumi Sen

Learn about a festival of India, Durga Puja, in this colorful rhyming picture book. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Priya’s Lit Blog also has a great review of Celebrate Durga Puja With Me!

Shoumi will tell us more about Durga Puja and the other Festivals of India.


The Festivals of India

Indian society celebrates many festivals and an internet search for ‘Festivals of India’ will invariably result in a long list! India is a diverse nation – her people speak many different languages and practice different religions. People here are spiritual and fun loving and the myriad of festivals fill up the months from January to December. There are religious festivals like Diwali, Holi, Christmas and Eid, seasonal festivals like Onam, Baisakhi, Makar Sankranti and Lohri and national festivals like Republic Day and Independence Day. Here are four popular festivals; this list is but a fraction of the many that are celebrated throughout the year!

Holi – The Festival of Colors

 Holi celebrationsRead more…

How to Get the Most Out of Parent & Teacher Conferences

How to Get the Most Out of Parent & Teacher Conferences

Now that my kids are in high school and middle school, the Parent/Teacher conferences are much different than in elementary school when we met with one teacher for about fifteen or twenty minutes. That time period felt short, especially when the conferences were running late. The elementary school conferences focused on assessments the teacher gave as opposed to standardized testing, and how my child was doing. Next steps included ideas for books to read or additional ways to practice writing or math facts.

How to Get the Most Out of Parent & Teacher Conferences

Some of my son’s amazing teachers in elementary school on the last day of school!

Middle School Parent/Teacher conferences at my school are even shorter and we choose a combination of just two teachers: Math/History OR English/Science. The information was usually around completion of work, attitude in school, and quiz grades. Sometimes these conferences feel like confirming that the teachers know exactly who your child is.

How to Get the Most Out of Parent & Teacher Conferences

Our High School Parent/Teacher conferences are like a kind of sprint: 6 minutes per teacher and I think we can only meet with two. If the rooms are far apart — our high school has four floors — it is literally a sprint. This brief time period seems to focus on how my child is doing in that class from grades to attitude. It’s amazing but I found in high school that these teachers really have a good grasp of who my child is from early on.

How to Get the Most Out of Parent & Teacher Conferences

Given that there’s limited access to teachers (assuming that you don’t request or require more), my strategy is to:

  • Meet with teachers my child seems to complain about the most.
  • Meet with teachers that my child seems to have the hardest time academically.
  • Ask the teacher if they need things donated to their classroom. You’d be amazed how many teachers need basic items like hand sanitizer, and paper towels.
  • Convey positive feedback from my child about that teacher.
  • Thank them for their time. Parent/Teacher conferences make a long school day even longer for teacher!
  • How to Get the Most Out of Parent & Teacher Conferences

Today my guest author is Rocketship Education — a nonprofit network of public charter schools in the Bay Area, Nashville, Milwaukee, Tennessee and Washington, DC on Parent & Teacher Conferences. Since they are coming up in a few weeks, I hope this is helpful!

How about you? Please share your tips for getting the most out of Parent/Teacher conferences. Thanks!

My son’s 5th grade Parent/Teacher Conference focused on self assessment that he did of his own work and how he thinks he’s doing.

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Beautiful Barefoot Books

Beautiful Barefoot Books

I love the message Barefoot Books newest title, The Barefoot Book of Children. It’s about opening the hearts and minds of children to spark their curiosity to learn about people around the world. It’s about examining differences to find connections and similarities, thus discovering the humanity in each and every person.

Author Kate DePalma and senior editor at Barefoot Books would like to thank you personally for learning more about The Barefoot Book of Children.

The Barefoot Book of Children by Tessa Strickland and Kate DePalma, illustrated by David Dean

What can you see or hear or smell from where you are?

Which [languages] do you recognize?

Does [your name] have a meaning?

With gentle questions, this beautifully illustrated book helps kids see their place in the world as well as make connections to others who are different from them. It’s a book to encourage children to ask questions about how children live around the world. Each illustration vignette shows a child from a different culture but doing similar things: taking a bath, in their special getaway place, at a place of worship, and in their own home. Pair this book with the World Atlas. [large format picture book, ages 2 and up]

bfb-of_children_hc_3d_web_400px Read more…