Sep 222017
 September 22, 2017  Education, multiculturalism No Responses »

Books are such an incredible way to open up the world to children, yet still today in 2017 the characters in children’s books remain overwhelmingly white. Studies show the importance of representation in literature, yet there is still an incredible diversity gap. The good news is that there is a groundswell of support for more multicultural children’s literature, and our sister website Multicultural Kid Blogs has just launched a campaign to encourage people to donate books – especially diverse books – so that more of these incredible stories find their way into the hands of the children that long to read them.

Donate books to help make diverse literature more widely available

Today you can find me over at Multicultural Kid Blogs sharing a list of where you can donate books to make diverse literature more widely available. Be sure to share your photos on social media using the hashtag #donateMKB!

Sep 192017
 September 19, 2017  Book Reviews, parenting No Responses »

A common struggle of childhood is learning to deal with big emotions, whether anxiety over starting at a new school or dealing with the death of a loved one. I’m happy to share with you some wonderful new children’s books that take a creative look at grief and anxiety, allowing young readers to use their imaginations to see their problems in a new way.

Books to Help Kids with Grief and Anxiety |

Books to Help Kids with Grief and Anxiety

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Do you have a child who is afraid to try something new? Who hesitates before jumping into a new endeavor, even if it’s something she really wants to do? Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow is a fresh look at this common problem, as Smoot, a shadow to a hesitant young boy, decides to rebel and go off to have the adventures his master is too scared to have. Soon other shadows join in the fun: a dragonfly’s shadow turns into a real dragon, the shadows of two nervous insect musicians finally take the stage, and a rock becomes a castle. In the end, Smoot convinces his boy to take a chance and become more like his shadow, until soon the two are laughing and leaping together.

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole is one of the cleverest books I have read in a long time. A young girl, still reeling from the death of her beloved father, discovers a black hole following her. It soon becomes a pet of sorts, though it has the disturbing tendency to swallow everything around it – even if really all it’s trying to do is cuddle. A black hole that swallows everything it touches is a brilliant metaphor for grief, perfectly suited for this very scientifically minded heroine. At first her new pet’s capacity to swallow objects around it is just funny and perhaps a bit inconvenient, but when it swallows her brother and her dog, she must finally face the problem (and her grief) head on.

This middle grade novel is a wonderful read for any child learning to manage their grief and anxiety, but it will be a special treat for those that love science, as it incorporates so many elements of science and especially astronomy.

Related Post: Children’s Books About Death

This post is part of a blog tour showcasing these two new children’s books – be sure to visit the blogs below for more features and even activities!

Week One:

September 12 – Welcome to Wonderland – Review & Activity (create your own pet Black Hole)

September 13 – Embers and Ashes – Review and Bookstagram

September 15 – Dazzled by Books – Review

Week Two:

September 18 – books4yourkids – Review (just Smoot)

September 19 – All Done Monkey – Review

September 20 – Four Violet Reviews – Creative piece

September 21 – DoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life – Review

September 22 – YABooksCentral – Author Guest Post – Top 5 listicle from author

Week Three:

September 25 – Teachers Who Read – Review

September 26 – Here’s to Happy Endings – Review

September 27 – Mama Smiles – Review & Creative Activities

September 28 – Cracking the Cover – Review

Sep 142017
 September 14, 2017  Education 6 Responses »

Homeschooling can be a challenge under any circumstances, but when you have more than one child at home it can really require all of your patience and creativity. Yet it can also be incredibly rewarding, as your children build closer sibling bonds and develop their budding abilities to mentor and nurture others. Plus, some of the funniest moments I have experienced have come from our group lessons! Homeschooling multiple kids is definitely an experience to remember! Here are my tips based on my own experiences, plus ideas from other experienced homeschooling moms. Plus, don’t miss out on our giveaway at the bottom of the post!

Homeschooling Multiple Kids Without Losing Your Mind |

Disclosure: I received complimentary samples of Safésha for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Homeschooling Multiple Kids Without Losing Your Mind

Here are my top tips for homeschooling multiple kids! I also really recommend these tips from Classically Homeschooling for enjoying homeschooling multiple ages and for homeschooling large families.

Build breaks into your schedule. Hopefully the breaks will mean you actually get a break, but it also is a recognition of the fact that when you multiple a plan by x number of people, you have that many more chances that something will go wrong. Breaks let you catch up and clean up, so that you don’t veer too far off course. Plus they give you some downtime with your kids, so you can just have some fun with them. A mental break is good for everybody, so play some tag or take a walk around the block!

Have a stash of activities to keep your little ones occupied. One of the biggest difficulties in homeschooling multiple kids is dealing with interruptions from very young children. Brainstorm in advance activities or “special” toys that can keep them occupied while you work with older kids.

Homeschooling Multiple Kids Without Losing Your Mind |

Give yourself to say permission to say “no.” No, if someone asks you to volunteer for yet another activity or to take on another project. Realize that what you are doing is a physical but also emotional and mental challenge. To recuperate from homeschooling multiple kids requires that you have a mental break from being responsible for or planning anything else, so don’t feel guilty saying no when someone asks you to head a committee at church. But you can also give yourself permission to say no to your children if they want you to do something for them right at that moment, whether it’s help them with an assignment or get them a snack. Yes, you need to be responsive to your children, but you can’t keep your sanity if you are constantly reacting to them all day long. If something is urgent, attend to it, but otherwise prioritize it so that you make sure you don’t get to the end of the day feeling like you got nothing (or nothing important) accomplished.

Get them involved in housework. Remember that part of your job is to raise responsible, capable adults, so giving your kids opportunities to learn skills is actually part of the job description. Plus being of service to the family can help children feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. And don’t be discouraged if you have to spend some time training them at first – it will pay off in the long-term!

Related Post: Encouraging Independence in Children

Teach them together when it makes sense. While some subjects need to be taught individually, others like history can be taught together, with activities adjusted for different learning levels. Children might do reading on the subject according to their level but come together for art projects and field trips, for example. Unit studies are a great choice for homeschooling multiple kids because they lend themselves well to multi-level learning. If you have children close in age, you can also teach grades that are close as a combined grade (such as a combined 2nd and 3rd grade). Here are great tips for teaching children of varying abilities and specifically on teaching reading to multiple ages.

Homeschooling Multiple Kids Without Losing Your Mind |

Plan ahead. Don’t throw away those old lesson plans and supplies! Many of the resources you develop for your older children can be saved and used when your younger children are older.

Consider not doing it. This may seem like a strange thing to include on the list, but really, if nothing you’ve tried works, give yourself permission to take a break and try something else. Homeschooling is all about finding what works for your family at any given moment in time. After my youngest was born, I found trying to homeschool her two older brothers and care for a newborn was just too much, so my then 3 year old started going to a traditional preschool. It was a great decision for everyone – I got a bit of a breather, and he got more focused attention. Remember, you are not breaking some sacred homeschoolers’ oath if you send one or more of your kids to a traditional school! Give yourself permission to do what’s right for your family at that time.

Take time to take care of yourself. This is so important but so difficult to do when your kids are with you 24/7! If one is napping, at least one other is awake! If one is engaged in independent work, at least one other needs your attention. And don’t get me started on the laundry, the dishes, etc. So how do you fit in “me” time when it’s rarely just you? One solution is to take advantage of the time your partner is home to go for a run or take a soak in the tub. We are lucky enough that our gym has childcare, so at least once a week I take the kids there so I can get in a solo workout while they play. I also try to read or do lesson planning in the evenings when my toddler is asleep and the boys are having some screen time before bed.

Safesha Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer

I also recently discovered Safésha Hand Sanitizer, which is an easy way to keep your hands clean without drying them out! Why I am including hand sanitizer in my list? Because using Safésha feels like giving my hands a little treat – I love the spell and the feel (moisturizing without being greasy). And considering how many times a day I have to clean my hands, they really need the extra TLC!

Safésha uses only the best natural ingredients, including olive oil as a natural moisturizer and essential oils for scent. And I also feel good knowing that I’m supporting a woman-owned and person-of-color-owned business. Yay for women supporting women!

The lavender and sweet orange scents both help transport me from my paste-marker-construction-paper world, but I love that it is also available in unscented, since I have one kiddo who doesn’t like anything scented. And they are so easy to keep in your purse or diaper bag for when you are out and about!

Now you can win your own 3-pack of the Safésha moisturizing hand sanitizer! Comment below for a chance to win a pack of 3-oz bottles, one each of the sweet orange, lavender, and unscented! Just tell us in the comments how you take a little time for yourself during your busy day!

Comment below for a chance to win a 3-pack of 3 oz bottles of Safésha moisturizing hand sanitizer, one each of the sweet orange, lavender, and unscented! Just tell us in the comments how you take a little time for yourself during your busy day. US shipping only. Contest ends at midnight PT on Thursday, September 21, 2017. Winner chosen by random selection.

Sep 082017
 September 8, 2017  Book Reviews No Responses »

Bathtime is one of those sweet moments of childhood, where little ones can laugh and play in the bubbles and enjoy splashing in the water. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be, right?? Each of my kids has loved and hated baths at different stages in their lives, though for the most part they are like many of the characters in the books below – they protest getting in and then protest getting out! Luckily there are great children’s authors out there that recognize bathtime as a fertile ground for humor and play. So whether your kids love their tub time or resist it, these fun bathtime books will have them looking at baths in a whole new way.

Fun Bathtime Books Your Child Will Love |

Fun Bathtime Books Your Child Will Love

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

While most of the bathtime books in this list are simply about bathtime, I thought it appropriate to include one that is meant to be used in the tub! Bath Books: Bathtime is an example of a book that is actually safe to use in the bathtub. We had several like this when my oldest was little, and they came in so handy when he went through a phase of hating to get in the tub. These books were a lifesaver! They also went with us when we traveled and he had trouble adjusted to doing his bath in a new place. Bright, colorful photos will engage the littlest readers, plus what a thrill to be allowed to take a book in the water with you!

In The Pigeon Needs a Bath! the classic Mo Willem’s character returns to tell us the many reasons he should not have to take a bath. Kids will laugh themselves silly at all of his excuses, and parents will recognize some that their own kids may have used. (My favorite part is when he complains that the water is too hot, then too cold, then too hot again – who else has been through that cycle with their kiddo??) One of our absolute favorite bathtime books.

Related Post: Wacky, Fun Books for Kids

Another along these lines is 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, a hilarious book that we read over and over again. Here is a boy who has a seemingly endless list of excuses about why he really doesn’t need a bath, including “scientific facts” like a kid in Texas once turned into a prune after taking a bath. I love how the illustrations show him becoming progressively dirty as the story goes on, all the while he is protesting how clean he is.

Imagine that you are blissfully relaxing in the tub, when 9 of your friends show up and want to jump in, too! That is just what happens to a poor pig in Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure. One by one more pigs dive into his own tranquil bathtub, until it is far too crowded to be relaxing! When another uninvited guest (a wolf!) decides to join in the fun, the pigs flee – but what happened to the first pig? Wonderful twist ending!

Get Out of My Bath! is a recent discovery. The beginning reminds me of Press Here, as the readers are encouraged to tilt the book back and forth to see the water in the tub “splash” when you turn the page. This is another case of a peaceful bath interrupted by uninvited visitors. Ellie the Elephant comes up with a solution perfectly suited to her – sucking up all the water until the other animals leave!

What are your favorite bathtime books?

Sep 062017
 September 6, 2017  Spanish No Responses »

Here is a fun, active game you can play to help kids learn their numbers in Spanish. It uses a traditional children’s song that teaches the numbers 1-10 and lends itself easily to acting out. While this Spanish counting game is aimed at preschoolers, my 2nd grader had a lot of fun with it as well. It is requires very little prep and is easily adjusted to different set ups, so feel free to get creative with it!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Spanish Counting Game: Diez Perritos |

Spanish Counting Game: Diez Perritos

Diez Perritos (Ten Puppies) is a traditional children’s song most well-known in Mexico. It is easy to find it on YouTube. Here is a version my kids enjoyed:

You can also read the full lyrics, including several variations.

We used the book Ten Little Puppies/Diez perritos, which has lovely illustrations and an English translation. If you are a piano player, you can also find the written music for the song at the back! If you have a small group, kids can read along as you play, or you can use it to reinforce the vocabulary later.

To play this Spanish counting game, you just need some sort of props to act as the ten puppies. We used stuffed animals like these cute assorted dogs. For a large group, you could also give each child their own set of little dog toys like these Adopt a Puppy Figures, or how cute are these Japanese dog erasers??

Before you start, you may want to go over any new vocabulary they will encounter, especially those that are critical to understanding what each dog is doing.

Related Post: 3 Easy Ways to Use Music to Teach Preschool Spanish

Then you simply go through the song and have the children use the props to act out the story, in which one by one the puppies leave, each in a different way. If you are using large stuffed animals like we did, just have the children take turns. If you are using the small toy dogs, each child could have their own set to use. Encourage them to be as dramatic as they want! They can jump when one dog escapes with un brinco (a jump) and shiver when one goes away to the nieve (snow), for example.

Also, encourage them to hold up their fingers each time you sing a number. I like the version in the Ten Little Puppies/Diez perritos book because it uses extra repetition of the numbers in each verse. More advanced learners could learn more of the lyrics, while beginners will probably just learn the numbers and the general idea of each verse.

This Spanish counting game is a great “circle time” activity or fun way to cap off a lesson on numbers.

Spanish Counting Game: Diez Perritos |

Here are more Spanish counting games you don’t want to miss:

Our E es de Elefante / Elephant Gross Motor Counting Game

From Sra Casado Teaches Bilinguals: 3 Awesome Dice Games for Kids

From Hispanic Mama: Fun Activities and Resources to Teach Numbers in Spanish

From Ladydeelg: Free Printables: Numbers in Spanish 1-10

Aug 252017
 August 25, 2017  Education, multiculturalism, raising world citizens, spiritual education Comments Off on Sikhism: Learning Resources for Kids

Learning about other religions is an important of a world cultures curriculum, but one religion I did not know much about growing up was Sikhism. That is why I was so pleased to receive some beautiful books on Sikhism for kids, which prompted me to deepen my own understanding of this egalitarian, inclusive religion.

When my oldest son was very young, some friends and I had a chance to visit a local Sikh temple with our little ones. It is was an experience I’ll never forget! We were shown such kindness from everyone we met, and I was impressed with their dedication to serving others, as exemplified in the meal that was provided to everyone who attended. Since I was there with a three year old, I didn’t have a chance to really ask questions, and so was left wondering exactly what Sikhs believed and where their traditions had come from. Why do the men wear turbans, and why do they keep their hair so long? Do they believe in one god or many? Why do they all seem to have the same last names?

If you or your children have similar questions, here are great resources on Sikhism for kids that you can share.

Sikhism: Learning Resources for Kids |

Sikhism: Learning Resources for Kids

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. 

Related Post: India for Kids: Favorite Resources

A great place to start is this overview which outlines 10 things everyone should know about Sikhism, including the fact that it is an inclusive, pluralistic religion whose members have a long history of fighting for social justice. You can also get a good overview from the Sikhism Guide online or from the BBC website.

I really love the Khalsa Kids website. (Khalsa is the word for the Sikh community). This site is geared towards Sikh kids, but has one section devoted to explaining Sikhism and another just for teachers. These even include lesson plans and aids for classroom discussions. You really get the sense that Sikhs spend a lot of their time having to answer questions about themselves!

Your kids will enjoy this brief video introduction to Sikhism from Little Sikhs (be sure to check out their other resources as well!)

And now for those beautiful books I mentioned! I am grateful to the lovely Saffron Press for sharing them with me. All three are from author Navjot Kaur but with different illustrators, all of whose paintings compliment the text of each book in wonderfully distinct ways. (Side note: the author’s last name of Kaur is the female equivalent of the last name Singh. All Sikhs have one of these two last names – Singh for males, Kaur for females – to demonstrate their belief in total equality, a revolutionary idea when it was founded in 15th century India, steeped in the hierarchical caste system. Traditionally, last names were an easy way to find out what caste a person belonged to).

Related Post: Zoroastrianism for Kids

As of this writing none of the books below is readily available from Amazon; however, you can find them all on the Saffron Press website.

The Garden of Peace by Navjot Kaur | Sikhism Learning Resources for Kids

The Garden of Peace is a lushly illustrated book about the origins of Sikhism, using the allegory of planting a garden from seeds that no one thought would sprout. Each seed represents a central tenet of the Sikh faith, such as kindness or determination. Despite the opposition of the evil emperor and his warriors, the little seeds grow into a beautiful garden of peace, tended by a growing number of faithful followers who come from all walks of life. At the back of the book are instructions to grow your own garden of peace by, for example, planting kindness and believing in yourself. I also appreciated the extended author’s note, which gives a detailed history of the origins of Sikhism and how Sikhs today carry on this tradition of peace and service to all.

A Lion's Mane by Navjot Kaur | Sikhism Learning Resources for Kids

The award-winning book A Lion’s Mane focuses on the most visible marker of a follower of the Sikh faith – the turban. It explores the meanings of this “lion’s mane” by traveling around the world to connect this Sikh tradition to beliefs about lions in different cultures. For example, Richard the Lionheart of England had many brave knights, and being a Sikh also means having courage. The underlying theme of the book is that although the boy in the book may look different, the turban that looks so “strange” is precisely what connects him to others around the world, and, more to the point, each of us has something that makes us special: “I have a lion’s mane and I am different, just like you!” Don’t miss the curriculum guide that the author has created to accompany this conversation-sparking book.

Dreams of Hope | Sikhism Learning Resources for Kids

Dreams of Hope is a gentle bedtime story told by a father to his young daughter. “Where will our dream journey begin tonight, Little One?” His words travel with her as she flies through dreams to visit the nighttime creatures settling down to sleep in the meadow, on the mountaintop, and in the ocean. The text is sprinkled throughout with Panjabi words, explained in a glossary at the back, including the mantra Vaa hey guroo, which is used by Sikhs as “an expression of awe or wonder.” This gorgeous book is clearly meant to be a keepsake, as it contains space for you to write down your dreams and wishes for your child. It also includes a Dreams of Hope Travel Guide with drawings of peace monuments around the world.

Aug 222017
 August 22, 2017  Book Reviews Comments Off on Children’s Books About Being a True Friend

We all wish to teach our children to create authentic relationships with others and spread kindness in the world. Literature is a wonderful way to convey this message because children can see themselves in the characters and identify with their journeys – the stumbles as well as the triumphs. Stories can make a lesson more memorable and often use humor to get a point across. Here are some wonderful new books about being a true friend to share with your children and students.

Children's Books About Being a True Friend |

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Children’s Books About Being a True Friend

From picture books to a graphic novel and a magical middle grade novel, here are fantastic new children’s books about being a true friend.

South is a beautiful, sparsely told story about the friendship between a fisherman and the injured bird he nurses back to health. Since the bird cannot fly south for the winter, the fisherman makes the long journey to take him there himself. Over time, they form a close friendship, yet when the time comes, the fisherman knows he must say goodbye to his new friend and return home. This is a lovely story about the sacrifices we make for others, and the intangible rewards we receive in return. This is bound to become one of your child’s favorite books about being a true friend.

Prince and Pirate are as opposite as any two fish can be. Prince is used to the royal treatment, while Pirate is accustomed to a livelier sort of life. But what they have in common is a desire to be in charge, so when they are forced to share the same tank, sparks are sure to fly! The extremes these clashing tank-mates will go to in order to outdo the other will have your little ones laughing with every page. But the twist comes when a newcomer joins their tank, and Prince and Pirate unexpectedly find themselves banding together to help a little fish feel at home.

I’m so pleased to be working for the first time with Bryson’s Books, who shared with me The Mouse Who Lost His House, a little gem about animals coming together to help someone in need. When Mouse loses his house to a tornado, the other animals join forces to help him build a new home. This is a sweet story that children will love about generosity and lending a helping hand. It would be perfect to share with children to teach them to always “look for the helpers” after a disaster.

The only bit that threw me off is that many of the animals are quite out of their natural habitat – such as the elephant, who is definitely not a woodland creature. However, that is something a grownup book reviewer would notice, not a child, who would just be happy to see the animals they love in a story!

I actually had quite a bit of trouble reviewing Cosmic Commandos because as soon as it arrived in the mail, my 7 year old snatched it out of my hands, and it was a very long time before I managed to wrestle it back from him. (Okay, okay, I sneaked it out of his room while he was sleeping!) And it’s easy to see why he loves it so much – it is a fun, fast paced graphic novel all about a boy who finds his favorite video game coming to life around him.

On one hand, this is a rollicking adventure, as Jeremy must learn to defeat the obstacles that appear as he advances through the levels of the game each day. But at its heart, it is an exploration of the bond between siblings, as Jeremy confronts his troubled relationship with his twin Justin and learns to ask for help from this annoyingly perfect brother. (And Justin tries to understand why the brother he loves always rejectsWith time, Jeremy and Justin learn to see their differences as strengths and begin to work together as a team, deepening their relationship and choosing to become friends. From the illustrator of the amazing series Ordinary People Change the World Series (see, for example, I am Rosa Parks (Ordinary People Change the World)).

I also have a wonderful middle grade novel to share: Tumble & Blue is due out next week in hard cover, and it’s a book your older kids won’t want to miss. Everyone has felt from time to time that there is just someone wrong with them, but Blue really is cursed and who knows exactly who is to blame – his own ancestor. Greed caused him to break the blessing he received from the golden alligator deep in the bayou that fateful night so long ago, as he and another tried to split the fate the alligator offered. As a result, their descendants received mixed fates: some had golden lives, while others, like Blue, were cursed. Each is cursed or blessed in his own unique way – one girl has a magic touch with animals, while her twin sister is afflicted with the opposite curse of being constantly attacked by animals. Blue’s father, a race car driver, wins every race, yet Blue is cursed with losing everything he attempts – from simple card games to fights with a bully.

When Blue’s father unceremoniously dumps him at his grandmother’s house one night then disappears, Blue comes face to face with his quirky extended family – and the possibility that one of them can change their fate forever. Blue soon becomes friends with another cursed child, Tumble, and they decide to travel deep into the bayou to confront at last the golden gator and demand an end to the cycle once and for all. But can two bad luck kids succeed where others have failed? Or is Blue fated to disappoint his winning father forever?

This is a wonderful adventure story with just the right touch of magic to make this otherworldly story believable. The characters are richly painted, with all of their hangups, missteps, and strokes of heroism. Readers will root on this unlikely pair as they search out a different fate for themselves and come to understand the family ties woven into the fabric of their story.

Do you have favorite children’s books about being a true friend? Share in the comments!

Aug 172017
 August 17, 2017  Geography Comments Off on MENA Countries Worksheets {Printable}

This month is Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) Heritage Month, so I put together some worksheets to help students learn more about these fascinating countries. I am a geography nut, and luckily my kids are as well, so this is a fun way to learn together. I am especially passionate about the geography of the MENA countries because this is a region often in the news but still little understood. The first step is a knowledge of the basic facts, which, for a region so rich in history and cultural heritage, is sure to spark wonder and a desire to learn more.

MENA Countries Worksheets {Printable} |

The first page of the worksheets is matching countries to capitals, and the second is for testing knowledge of some fun facts about the region. All of the answers can be found in these two websites: Middle East Countries at a Glance and Scholastic’s Middle East overview for teachers.

Related Post: Lebanon Unit Study

To download your free copy, click on the link below:

MENA Countries Worksheets


Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to the third annual Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month series from Multicultural Kid Blogs! Follow along all month long for great resources on teaching children about the heritage of this region, and link up your own posts below. Don’t miss our series from last year and from 2015!

You can also find even more resources on our North Africa and the Middle East Pinterest board:

August 4
Sand In My Toes on Multicultural Kid Blogs: 10 Fun Facts About the United Arab Emirates

August 8
A Crafty Arab: Jordan Craft Stick Flag Tutorial

August 15
Sand In My Toes: Wind Tower Craft (UAE)

August 17
All Done Monkey

August 18
Tiny Tapping Toes

August 21
Biracial Bookworms on Multicultural Kid Blogs

August 23
Jeddah Mom

August 28
Crafty Moms Share

August 30
Creative World of Varya

Link Up Your Posts!


Aug 092017
 August 9, 2017  Literacy 4 Responses »

Many thanks to my friend Bethany of Biracial Bookworms for this great post on everything you need to know about reading with children 0-5! Read her full bio below, and be sure to stop by her website for great tips on reading with kids!

If you are like most parents in the world, you may ask yourself and others, “I love to read and believe in reading with my child, but HOW do I get them to sit down and actually listen??” Parents and children everywhere in the world are overstimulated and busy, and at times, reading becomes near impossible with the many distractions and chaos that a normal day brings. If you are a parent of multiple children, I know you are nodding your head emphatically. Here I have compiled a list of everything you need to know for reading with children 0-5 so you can take the guesswork out of reading and cultivate a love of books in a child right from birth. Let’s bring the reading magic into your read aloud sessions!

Everything You Need to Know About Reading with Children 0-5 |

Reading with Children 0-5: Everything You Need to Know

Book Handling Skills

Starting from birth, you should be pointing out the features of the book every time you read. This is done in only a few seconds to 1 minute depending on the age of your child, but is critical for a child to see how a book “works” in order to connect the written language later on. Try not to labor these points unless your child shows further interest or asks questions. The goal is to introduce these book features in a natural way.

Reading with Children: Babies (0-1)

As a very broad rule, babies enjoy books that have good rhymes, rhythm and repetition. This repetition and rhyming helps children learn.

What to look for when buying/borrowing books for babies:

  • books with bright colors
  • simple, large and high-contrast pictures (these are interesting and easy for babies to focus on)
  • books with different textures (so your baby can hear, see and feel the book)
  • books with pictures of babies and faces (they love looking in mirrors)
  • soft, waterproof plastic and cloth books that can go in your baby’s mouth, in the bath, etc. (yes, you will ruin a few books at this age)
  • use sign language to build vocabulary as well as signal that it is “time to read”
  • read aloud in multiple languages to build upon their natural language skills (especially if you have more than one native tongue represented in your family)

Reading with Children: Toddlers (12-18 months)

Just like children less than a year old, this age still enjoys books that have rhyme, rhythm and repetition. However, at this age, your child will start to show interest on various topics. When your child shows excitement when they see a particular topic/genre, allow your child to guide you when you’re choosing new books. Your child will learn a great deal more if they are interested in the topic.

Once your baby is about 12 months old, look for the following types of books:

  • books about food, transport, animals and other babies and toddlers
  • board books (easier to handle and sturdy enough to handle biting, food, spit up)
  • waterproof books
  • books that have pictures or illustrations of simple objects (vocabulary is key at this age)
  • lift-the-flap books that have hidden items in each picture for her to find (this is the peek-a-boo stage where a child is fascinated to see you appear and reappear so suddenly)
  • books that include textures such as fabric or collage in the illustrations (exploring with their hands is key)
  • continue adding more sign language, bilingual books, and reading aloud in multiple languages
  • follow up the reading sessions with teaching beginning writing skills for babies

Reading with Children: Toddlers (18 months – age 3)

Toddlers will begin to communicate more clearly what kind of books they especially enjoy. Listening to their interests is important, but do not forget to diversify your book collection at this age. I apply the 50/50 rule at this age: Half of the books they get to choose, half are the parent’s choice. You still keep their interests in mind, but ensure a broad range of titles, genres, etc. You also want to use their natural curiosity at this age. Pairing reading and tactile learning about the topics you are reading about is key at this age.

Books to read toddlers enjoy include:

  • books with animals and animal noises
  • Non- fiction books such as space, musical instruments, how things are made, etc.
  • books about playtime that relate to their experiences (building blocks, playing at the playground, having to share, etc.)
  • lift-the-flap and pop-up books – (movable pieces in books are a clear winner at this age)
  • books that are culturally responsive (don’t miss this guide to books/resources for creating a multicultural and diverse library)
  • have a child read his/her favorite books to you
  • continue sign language as you point out vocabulary
  • read books in multiple languages/bilingual books (use audio books at this point as well)
  • follow up the reading session with encouraging art and writing skills

Reading with Children: Preschoolers (Ages 3-5)

The tendency is to continue reading fiction to your kids at this age, but it is key to branch out to non-fiction topics such as space, geology, ocean life, archaeology, food, etc. I have seen many Kindergarten students come to my class, and the ones who wanted to be dentists, archaeologists, chefs, astronauts, etc. were always the children who were reading books often on these topics at home. There is nothing wrong with a 3-year-old wanting to be a superhero or a princess, but if that is all they are reading about in books, they are missing magical opportunities to explore reality.

Books to read to preschool age children:

  • alphabet, shape, size and counting books (this doesn’t mean you must start teaching, but it is a non-threatening introduction to these important skills)
  • books that tell simple stories, especially ones with rhythm and repetition
  • books about families and friends (grandparents, friends that speak a different language, etc.)
  • milestone books (losing the first tooth, learning to go to the potty, going to school, etc.)
  • books with child characters who are about the same age as your child and characters who are quirky and lovable
  • culturally responsive books (engage kids in follow up activities to connect with other geographic regions or cultures)
  • books that use humor and have a sense of fun – for example, a character who uses a funny word, or who is silly or even ‘naughty’
  • books relating to their particular interests
  • bilingual books/books in multiple languages that can be read by the child as well as adults (utilize audio books)
  • books that children can read independently (the answer is yes, “memorizing” books IS reading)
  • books that teach children reading skills through cooking
  • follow up your reading session with teaching children how to reflect on the books they read (as well as cultural experiences) in a journal

You can also use this free PDF chock full of tips for reading aloud with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers to put on your fridge or in your book nook. Enjoy reading with your little ones!

What are your favorite tips for reading with children 0-5? Share in the comments below!

Biracial BookwormsBethany is an elementary educator and reading specialist. She has taught in the U.S. as well as international schools in 5 different countries. Her goal is to encourage family literacy that is multicultural and culturally responsive. Her blog Biracial Bookworms is full of resources to empower and arm families/ teachers with tools to teach global citizenship through reading, traveling, and learning languages! Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Aug 022017
 August 2, 2017  Book Reviews, character building for kids Comments Off on Children’s Books About Being Brave

We all want our children to go off and have adventures, to live life to the fullest. An essential component of this is, of course, teach them to be brave, so they are not daunted when faced with a difficult situation or a new experience. As the beginning of the school year approaches, it can be an especially important time to remind children of the courage they have inside them. Here are some wonderful books for all ages that teach by example how to be brave when faced with challenges large and small.

Children's Books About Being Brave |

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of some of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Children’s Books About Being Brave

Poor little baby bird can think of all kinds of reasons why attempting to fly out of the nest is a bad idea. Each time he peers over the edge of his safe, warm nest, the shadows twist into the menacing shapes of his fears. NOPE! is his response whenever his mother tries to prod him to try to fly. Then just when it looks like he might never leave, his mother gives him some gentle, um, encouragement but pushing him out of the nest. A very funny story with extremely simple text but incredibly expressive illustrations. 

Jabari Jumps is actually one that several of us that review books have been chatting about because we all love it so much! (You can read another review from one of them). So many kids (and adults) can relate to wanting to jump off the high dive at the pool but then chickening out when the time comes and we see how far down it is to the water. I love the character of Jabari but also his dad, who is there to offer him encouragement. He recognizes when Jabari needs a little more time but also knows just what to say when the moment is right. I am going to remember his advice myself, that instead of being scared about something we can think of it like a little surprise – because who doesn’t like surprises?

My 4 year old requests Jabari Jumps every night at bedtime, and after he was brave enough to jump into the pool recently, he told me that he was just like Jabari!

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Hello Kitty Storybook) is part of a gentle series of fairy tale adventures for very young readers. It also includes Thumbelina (Hello Kitty Storybook). If you have a Hello Kitty fan in your house, you won’t want to miss these – and if you don’t, you might after you read these books! While they present somewhat scary situations (falling through a rabbit hole, being kidnapped by a toad), here the scary factor is toned down and the emphasis is on the adventure and the happy ending.

RELATED POST: Adventure Books for Kids

The Road Home is a beautiful book about finding safety and comfort in a big world. “This road is hard, this road is long, this road that leads us home” is the echoing refrain as woodland creatures and their children begin to prepare for the coming winter. What I love about this book, in addition to the gorgeous illustrations, is the idea that whenever we are with our loved ones, we are already home. A great book to snuggle up and read with your little ones, to remind them that they are never alone.

Black Belt Bunny is a cute, funny book your children will love! Black Belt Bunny has all kinds of super cool moves to face any challenge – but he wasn’t expecting to have to face salad! What will Black Belt Bunny do when he is asked to prepare his own salad? Mind you, Black Belt Bunny actually loves his vegetables (as all bunnies do), but he’s never had to make one before, and he’s not sure he can! Luckily this fierce little bunny summons his skills to invent his own creative way to make a salad! My favorite part, though, is the end, where the grown up, who has been encouraging him all the while, has the tables turned on him – he has to be brave enough to try something new, too!

We love Harriet the Hamster Princess! In fact, I just finished re-reading the first book in the series (Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible) with my boys. So we were all excited to learn that there was a new adventure out: as with all of the Harriet books, Hamster Princess: Giant Trouble is a re-telling of a classic fairy tale (this time Jack and the Beanstalk), but with a spunky heroine who loves to battle with the bad guys. Harriet and her friends are back in another hilarious book that blends the graphic novel and storybook formats. Great for reluctant and early readers. These books also make great read-louds!

RELATED POST: Hybrid Graphic Novels for Kids

I’m also happy to share the latest installment from another beloved series: Mystery of the Min Min Lights is the ninth book from Pack-n-Go Girls, the chapter books that take girls around the world on incredible adventures! (I should add that my son adores these books, so they aren’t just for girls!) Wendy Lee isn’t sure about having to spend a year in the Australian outback when her mom is on assignment for work, but at least she makes friends with Chloe, who invites her to stay at her family’s sheep station. Yet soon she discovers that someone is stealing the sheep – and what does this have to do with the spooky lights that can be seen at night? To solve the mystery and help her new friend, Wendy must dig deep to be brave and do what it takes to catch the thief.

As always, readers will learn about a new part of the world, as facts are woven naturally into the story. I love that the main character (the non-Australian character who is having an adventure in Australia) is Chinese American. Usually the “normal” character is a white Westerner, so this is a great change and adds another layer of complexity and richness to this wonderful tale.

In a time when immigration is constantly in the news, Evangelina Takes Flight gives middle grade readers a fresh look at the challenges faced by Mexican immigrants to the US over a century ago. At the time, most fled their homes because of war, rather than economic hardship. Evangelina is a young girl on the cusp of womanhood when rumors of wars and marauding soldiers reach their small ranch in the Mexican countryside. Though they are not wealthy, her family knows they will still be targets because they own their own land. Evangelina is forced to leave the only home she has ever known and travel with her family to the United States, where she struggles to find her voice in a new language and confront the many Americans who are hostile to the new arrivals.

As a history buff, I loved the detail about life in revolutionary Mexico, as well as what the long journey to the US would have been like. But young readers will identify with Evangelina’s painful transition to her new school and admire her being brave enough to finally confront those who would fight against immigrants rather than giving them a chance. Would be a great book to pair with Esperanza Rising, about another young woman who immigrants from Mexico several decades later.

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