Feb 242017

We all know how important it is to read to our children, yet sometimes even die-hard literacy advocates like myself get, well, bored reading the same stories every night! So if you need to shake up your story time, here are some awesome new books for preschoolers that you and your tot are sure to love!

New Books for Preschoolers | Alldonemonkey.com

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 cost to you.

New Books for Preschoolers

Who could resist ABC Pasta: An Entertaining Alphabet, an incredibly creative ABC book, with all of your favorite types of pasta (plus some you haven’t heard of before!) turned into circus acts? There are angel hair acrobats and Macaroni the Magician, campanelle clowns and fettuccine fire eaters. This is a book sure to spark your child’s creativity! I asked my preschooler which pasta letter was his favorite, and he said very firmly, “This one….No, wait, this one, too. No, wait…”

Related Post: Creating a Letter of the Week Preschool Curriculum

Steppin’ Out: Jaunty Rhymes for Playful Times is a wonderful way to introduce your little one to poetry, with gentle, fun poems about topics relevant to them, like going to the beach and learning to share. The poems capture beautifully the wonder a young child experiences when exploring the world, with vivid sensory descriptions and playful use of language. And of course, kids will love the always fabulous illustrations by Tomie dePaola. A fun book to read one-on-one or in a classroom!

Life on Mars has become part of our regular rotation ever since we received it. Even my older son can’t resist looking on as the intrepid astronaut lands on Mars to search for signs of life. He has even brought a gift of chocolate cupcakes! This is a really cute, funny story whose humor is just right for this age group. And we love the twist ending! Just be aware that if your science-loving 7 year old does read with you, he may point out that, for example, Mars really should be red, not tan or gray, and that the Earth wouldn’t be quite so big in the sky from Mars, and would the astronaut really not notice that huge alien walking right behind him? Luckily, preschoolers will just enjoy the story for what it is, a light-hearted look at space exploration and the importance of persistence.

Related Post: 3 Must-Have Resources for Spanish-Speaking Preschoolers

Stuck was another instant favorite. We love Oliver Jeffers (illustrator of the wildly popular The Day the Crayons Quit), so it was wonderful to read another book with his unique sense of humor and distinctive artistic style. When Floyd’s kite is stuck in a tree, he tries everything (except what is most logical) to get it down. Will Floyd ever be reunited with his kite? (And will the tree survive having so many objects thrown into its branches?)

Alphabet books are always popular with this age group, and Oliver Jeffers has written another great ABC book. An Alphabet showcases Jeffers’ spare text and oddball sense of humor, but in an abridged version that would also be appropriate for toddlers. Many of the letters are not what you’d expect (G is for Guard, and U is for Underground), so kids will have fun trying to interpret the drawings to go with the letter of the alphabet. Fun read for kids just learning their letters!

What are your favorite books for preschoolers?

Feb 172017

We all want our children to be creative thinkers and to let their imaginations soar. That’s why I’m so happy to share some wonderful books that encourage creativity! They help children think outside the box (literally, in some cases!) to become innovators. Be prepared for some great imaginative play and art after reading!

Our favorite books that encourage creativity

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of several 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 cost to you.

Books that Encourage Creativity

Very young readers will enjoy Clive and His Art, a gentle story about a boy who loves all kinds of art. It is so refreshing to see a boy expresses himself so creatively, and I love his diverse group of friends. This book and its companion Clive and His Hats do a wonderful job of challenging gender stereotypes through how Clive and his friends are portrayed, for example, boys having fun with glitter or dancing around in bright costumes. Sweet board books that encourage creativity and imaginative play.

Not a Box is one of our all-time favorite books. I even love the dedication (“To children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes”). This book celebrates that classic toy that all children love, no matter how many expensive presents we give them: the humble cardboard box. But don’t you dare call it a box to a child, because it is so much more than that to them! It is a race car, a burning building, or a robot, but certainly not a box! Really fun book and one that will inspire lots of imaginative play!

Related Post: Creative Books for Curious Kids

Take that cardboard box to a whole new level with DIY Box Creations: Fun and creative projects to make out of REALLY BIG BOXES!. Turn those leftover boxes into a fun project the whole family can enjoy! There are classics here, like a lemonade stand and a sailboat, but often with a twist, like a Minecraft fort! I love that each project is laid out so clearly, with a supply list and step-by-step instructions with pictures. Please note, these projects require adult assistance, but that is really part of the fun, as the whole family can get involved to create some wonderful memories together.

Have I mentioned before how much I LOVE the Ordinary People Change the World series? (Oh wait, I did! Ahem, twice…) They are the perfect blend of cute picture book, inspirational read, and informational biography. Come for the adorable graphics, stay for the message and story. They are a great way to introduce your children to biographies and teach them important life lessons. The new installation, I am Jim Henson, is no exception. Who doesn’t love the Muppets and Sesame Street? Learn more about their creator, who was encouraged from an early age to use his imagination. I was blown away as I read this book, realizing just how much my own childhood was influenced by Henson’s innovative programs – their silliness, creativity, and positive message. What a great example to share with our children!

Feb 152017

Do you have a child who is interested in science and medicine? Or one that you want to encourage to pursue their dreams no matter what the obstacles? Black History Month is the perfect time to introduce them to the inspiring story of medical pioneer Vivien Thomas, who persisted despite incredible difficulties to study medicine and develop a surgical technique that has saved thousands of children’s lives. Inspire your kids with a wonderful children’s book on his life as well as suggested activities to teach your kids mor about this important figure in the history of STEM.

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

History of STEM: Black Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas | Alldonemonkey.com

History of STEM: Black Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas

There is a reason that most of us have never heard of the incredible Vivien Thomas, despite the fact that he invented a surgical technique that allowed for the first successful open heart surgeries on children. Even though he is now credited with saving thousands of children’s lives, his is not a household name.

After the first operations were performed using Thomas’ technique in 1944, the procedure made national news, yet Thomas was never mentioned. The technique itself was named after the two doctors Thomas worked for, both of whom were nominated for the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine because of “their” technique.

Why? Because Vivien Thomas was black, at a time when blacks and whites used separate drinking fountains, when blacks had trouble finding housing in “nice” neighborhoods, when blacks were barred from entering all-white medical schools, and when blacks could not operate on white babies, even to save their lives.

Related Post:Biographies for Kids About Following Your Dreams

When Thomas’ life-saving technique was first used in 1944, Thomas was not allowed to perform the surgery himself, but the surgeon could not do it without Thomas’ help. Thomas had to stand on a chair behind the surgeon, giving instructions (and at one point stopping the surgeon from making a suture in the wrong direction).

Thomas’ contributions were not recognized until 1971, when his portrait was displayed at John Hopkins University. The university awarded him an honorary doctorate degree 5 years later and appointed him to the faculty. Many of the country’s top surgeons trained under Thomas and credit him with their success.

A wonderful book to introduce children to Thomas’ life, his incredible perseverance, and pioneering work is Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas. It tells of his life from his childhood, when he worked under his father, a master carpenter, to carefully save money so he could go to a nearby medical school for African Americans. It follows his crushing disappointment at losing his savings in the market crash of 1929 and his persistence in pursuing work in medicine, even if his official job title was simply “janitor.” How did someone with only a high school education develop a life-saving surgical technique that is still used today? How did Thomas overcome the racism and resistance he faced from his co-workers?


One activity we did after reading the book is based on the first operation that was performed using Thomas’ technique, when Thomas stood on a chair behind the surgeon, giving instructions.

The boys took turns standing on a chair behind the other, giving instructions on how to draw a picture. The one drawing had to follow what the other was saying, and the one giving directions was not allowed to actually touch the drawing.

Warning: They hated it! It was too frustrating to just give out instructions and not be able to draw, especially because the one drawing usually had his own ideas about what to do! The one drawing wasn’t having any fun either, since he just wanted to do his own picture.

Hopefully this activity gave them a taste of how incredibly frustrating it must have been for Thomas to watch another surgeon performing his technique, while all he could do was stand behind him and give instructions (which the surgeon would hopefully want and be able to follow).


Follow up with this amazing FREE teacher’s guide from Lee and Low!

Read more in this bio from PBS or this one from Science Heroes.

Read this article from the Baltimore Sun.

Watch this video on Thomas and the “blue babies” his technique saved:

Learn more about the heart with these online kids’ games from the Texas Heart Institute’s Project Heart.

Try your hand at performing the ground-breaking surgery in this simulation from PBS.

Black History Month Blog Hop on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to our fourth annual Black History Month series and giveaway! Follow along all month long as we explore the rich history and cultures of Africa and African-Americans. Be sure to enter our giveaway below and link up your own posts at the bottom of the page.

You can also follow our Black History board on Pinterest:

February 3
Embracing Diversity on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Afro-Latino Arturo Schomburg – The African Diaspora’s History Keeper

February 6
Embracing Diversity: Afro-Latinos and Baseball’s Color Line – 5 Pioneers in the Post-Segregation Era

February 7
Hispanic Mama: 5 Latino Dishes that Feature Our African Heritage

February 8
Mama Smiles: How to Use Stories to Teach Children Black History

February 10
Colours of Us: 21 Award-Winning Children’s Books for Black History Month

February 13
Crafty Moms Share: The Real Women Mathematicians of Hidden Figures

February 15
All Done Monkey

February 17
A Crafty Arab

February 22
Kitchen Counter Chronicles

February 24

Share Your Posts!

Black History Month Giveaway

Coming soon! Our annual Black History Month giveaway runs from February 3 through February 28, 2017. Winners will be drawn and notified within 48 hours. Note that some prizes have shipping restrictions. If the winner lives outside of that shipping area, that part of the prize package will go to the next prize winner. Read our full giveaway rules.

Black History Month giveaway on Multicultural Kid Blogs - Grand Prize

Grand Prize

From World of EPI: Winner’s choice of 18″ doll US Shipping Only
From Penguin Kids: I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.; I Am Rosa Parks; and I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer
From Quarto Knows: A Stork in a Baobab Tree by Catherine House: Who is King? by Beverley Naidoo; The Fire Children retold by Eric Maddern; Thank you, Jackson by Niki Daly US Shipping Only
From Bino & Fino: DVD set US Shipping Only
From RiverFrog Publishing: Bella’s Adventures in Africa by Rebecca Darko and Rutendo Muzambi

Black History Month giveaway from Multicultural Kid Blogs - 1st Prize

1st Prize

From Queens of Africa: Azeezah doll with natural hair, and clothing from SLICEbyCAKE US Shipping Only
From Penguin Kids: I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.; I Am Rosa Parks; and I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer
From Abrams: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters; Pathfinders: The Journeys of 16 Extraordinary Black Souls by Tonya Bolden; George Washington Carver by Tonya Bolden; My Uncle Martin’s Words for America by Angela Farris Watkins US Shipping Only

Black History Month giveaway on Multicultural Kid Blogs - 2nd Prize

2nd Prize

From Penguin Kids: I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.; I Am Rosa Parks; and I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer
From Candlewick Press: Jazz Day by Roxane Orgill; X: A Novel by Kekla Magoon and Ilyasah Shabazz; Voice of Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford US Shipping Only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Feb 102017

Are you a globally minded parent looking for a great book to read? I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to review several top books for global families recently, and I’m so pleased to share my reviews today over on Multicultural Kid Blogs. It is a diverse collection of books, with topics ranging from intercultural relationships and raising bilingual children to how to make globally inspired baby food. You’ll also find tips for traveling with kids in Europe and the memoir of a globe-trotting mom of two as well as a collection of essays by women who have given birth abroad.

So whether you are drawn to travel, cooking, memoirs, education, or relationship how-to’s, you will find something for you! Find my full reviews over on Multicultural Kid Blogs, and let me know in the comments what books you’ve been reading lately!

Top Books for Global Families | Alldonemonkey on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Top Books for Global Families: Guest Post on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Feb 082017

Whether you are celebrating Valentine’s Day or just looking for an excuse to snuggle one with your little ones, you will enjoy these wonderful picture books about love! These are some of our favorite stories to read together. They not only give everyone the warm fuzzies, they all have important lessons for kids about the depths of love and its ceaseless ability to grow and include others.

Picture Books About Love | Alldonemonkey.com

Related Post: Teaching Kids to Choose Love

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Plenty of Love to Go Around 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.

Picture Books About Love

I’m so happy to feature this brand new picture book from Emma Chichester Clark, who is also the author of one of our favorite books about sibling love, No More Kissing. Her new book, Plenty of Love To Go Around, is based on her real life dog, Plum, and the affection she has for her main character is obvious. Children will easily identify with Plum as she deals with jealousy over a new cat next door. Plum is used to be the only special animal in her family’s life, and she’s not sure she likes all the attention Binky the cat is getting. On top of that, Binky actually wants to be friends with her! I love the gentle message of this book, but especially how Plum’s owner reacts with such understanding when Plum acts out. Great lesson for kids about the limitless quality of love.

Hug Machine is a book I have recommended to so many of my friends, because my preschooler and I just love it! It is a sweet, sometimes silly book about the power of hugs and the lengths that one determined boy will go to in order to make sure that no one misses out on a good hug.

Related Post: Creative Ways to Show Kids Love

And how could I not mention Snuggle Puppy, the book that’s meant to be sung to your own little snuggle puppy? It is one of my favorite picture books about love. I have such fond memories of singing this one to each of my kids when they were small. My oldest even used it to practice his letters when he first started to read! A true classic.

When I was still a very new mother, just adjusting to the incredible emotions that my tiny newborn evoked in me, a friend gave us the beautiful book I Love You As Much…. It perfectly captures the infinite love a parent feels for her child by drawing on the boundless quality one feels in nature: “Said the mother bear to her child, ‘I love you as much as the forest has trees.'” The gorgeous paintings and gentle rhymes and rhythms of the text make this a perfect book to read together at bedtime.

A wonderful book to share with elementary aged children is The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. It is a wonderful introduction to the couple whose case made interracial marriage legal throughout the US. It is a lovely treatment of a difficult subject, underscoring at every turn the power of love and its ability to change hearts. A great way to teach children that love does conquer all, with some help from courage and determination.

Jan 252017

Art appreciation is an essential for any child’s education, but often taking kids to art museums can prove to be a challenge! Here are some great ideas for visiting art museums with kids, including information on wonderful art museums all around the world.

Art Appreciation for Kids: Museums Alldonemonkey.com

This post is a proud part of the upcoming Multicultural Children’s Book Day. For more details, read my interview with its founders and watch for the big event on January 27!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Adventures in Asian Art 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.

Art Appreciation for Kids: Museums

We are lucky enough to live near the renowned Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, so I was excited to receive the wonderful children’s book Adventures in Asian Art: An Afternoon at the Museum from Tuttle Publishing.

This beautiful volume is a fun way to introduce children to Asian art and to get them excited about visiting an art museum! The Asian Art Museum contains more than 18,000 artifacts, including many historical pieces from all over Asia. Adventures in Asian Art: An Afternoon at the Museum showcases 53 of these, giving kids a taste of the variety of regions, time periods, and types of art that can be found at the museum. (Find even more in the museum’s online collection).

I love the adorable characters featured in the book – three young children at the museum for an afternoon adventure: “Around the world and back again / Let’s go and look and see!”

The text includes gentle rhymes about exploring the museum, in addition to separate boxes (with different font) that give more information and ask the children questions to get them thinking about the exhibits and how they might relate to their own lives. For example, one page spread features a print from Japan that shows children catching fireflies: “The two young people trying to capture fireflies in their nets are wearing the latest summertime fashions of their day. What would you wear to catch fireflies?”

I highly recommend this lovely work for parents and teachers as a way to teach art appreciation by getting kids excited about art and visiting a museum. If you are using this in the classroom or homeschool, you can find more detailed information about the included pieces in the opening and ending pages.

Below are activities to do with kids while visiting an art museum, plus reccomended art museums to visit around the world!

Art Museum Activities

From Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Museum Scavenger Hunt Printable in Spanish
From Mosswood Connections: Art Museum Activities for Kids
From Fantastic Fun and Learning: Books about Artists, Art, and Museums
From 3 Dinosaurs: Museum Shape Search with Free Printable
From 3 Dinosaurs: Things to Do When Visiting an Art Museum
From Wise Owl Factory: Art Museum Question to Ask Children
From Buggy and Buddy: Using a Journal at the Art Museum
From Edventures with Kids: Kids and Musems – 5 Tips for Your Next Visit
From Mother Natured: 10 Wildlife Art Gallery Activities
From Trilingual Mama: Museums and Bilingual Kids
From Bright Ideas Press: Visting Art Galleries and Unit Studies

Art Museums to Visit

From the piri-piri lexicon: Le Louvre
From MarocMama: The Vatican
From Raising a Trilingual Child: The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
From Bambini Travel: Mississippi Museum of Art
From Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: I.P. Stanback Museum, Orangeburg, South Carolina
From Open Wide the World: Chicago’s 5 Best Museums You’ve Never Heard of
From Bambini Travel: Milwaukee Art Museum
From Little Hiccups: The Broad Art Museum, Los Angeles
From Little Hiccups: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
From Fantastic Fun and Learning: Favorite Children’s Museums and Online Resources


Dec 282016

We all want our children to soar, to go on brave adventures to help others and achieve their dreams. From stunning picture books to a magical middle grade novel, here is a collection of wonderful tales that encourage children to do just that: to have courage and embark on their own heroic journeys.

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 cost to you.

Tales of Heroic Journeys | Alldonemonkey.com

Tales of Heroic Journeys

Introduce children to a classic Japanese fairy tale with the beautiful The Last Kappa of Old Japan: A Magical Journey of Two Friends. The story begins, as many do, with an unexpected friendship of two children and their subsequent adventures. But while one of the children is a typical boy from the Japanese countryside in the days before the encroachment of the modern world, the other is not human at all. Rather, he is a kappa, a mythical water creature known to be playful – and to love cucumbers! Despite their differences, the boys become close friends; yet, as modernization begins to pollute the nearby waters, the kappa and his family are forced to leave. The boys only come into contact again years later, when the kappa returns to help his old friend – now a man – avoid a tragedy. They are delighted to be together again, but now, thanks to increasing pollution, the kappa is old and weak. A cautionary tale about protecting the environment, and having the courage to help our friends despite the danger to ourselves. (As a side note, the myth of the kappa is actually the origin of our modern story of mutant ninja turtles!)

I love the endearing illustrations of the two boys and the changing landscape of the countryside. And even though I don’t know any Japanese, I love having this bilingual Japanese-English edition because it is such a wonderful way to expose children to another language and way of writing!

Related Post: Global Adventure Books for Kids

Bessie, Queen of the Sky

Image courtesy of Queen Girls

I am so delighted to introduce the soon to be released Bessie, Queen of the Sky from Queen Girls. This remarkable new publishing company speaks to the hearts of so many parents who want inspiring stories for their daughters (and sons!) of remarkable women. The creators have taken stories from real life and turned them into fairy tales that will attract young readers. (Note: the heroines of these stories are queens, not princesses!) The poetic writing and and whimsical illustrations do have that magical quality of fairy tales, drawing the reader into a story about a character – the first African American female pilot – who is both larger than life and infinitely relatable.

I have a personal connection to the story of Bessie Coleman. She was from the same small town in Texas as my grandparents, though she had already left by the time they were born. When I think of how hard it was for my grandfather, a white male, to escape the poverty and depression of a sharecropper’s life there, the story of a young black woman making an even more incredible journey outward and upward is simply astonishing. I am so pleased to see this story given the attention it is due and happy to support the mission of Queen Girls to bring more such stories to light. Visit the Kickstarter page to order Bessie, Queen of the Sky and learn more about this remarkable company! (One copy of the book is donated to at risk girls for every copy that is purchased!)

Related Post: Biographies for Kids about Following Your Dreams

Imagine that the tragedies of history could somehow be redeemed, that not all of the slaves lost in the cataclysmic Atlantic crossings actually died, that not all of the “boat people” supposedly drowned while escaping the chaos of post-war Vietnam were really dead, but that they had somehow slipped through a portal into another world. In the wonderful new middle grade novel A Crack in the Sea readers can imagine a Second World where some of the First World’s victims find refuge and rebuild an ideal society on a string of islands and a man-made floating “Raft World.” Yet always among some there is a yearning to return “home” and a selfish desire to do whatever it takes to get there.

The young protagonists of the story must discover how to stop the plot and save the people of Raft World while at the same time understanding how to make use of their supernatural gifts – or their lack of them. As they journey to find safety for their families, they must contend with the ruthlessness of slavers, disease, pirates, storms, hunger, thirst, and exhaustion. But the real journey is an emotional one, as they all struggle to find their place in this world (or another) and discover the depths of their own courage and what they are willing to fight – and die – for.

For more book recommendations, be sure to visit my Books for Kids board on Pinterest!

Dec 202016

I love books that beckon children to travel and to imagine themselves as the heroes in great adventures. The travel books for kids highlighted below do this by focusing on particular cities – Kyoto, Paris, Mumbai, and London – and introducing young readers to the sights and culture of these noteworthy locales.

Travel Books for Kids: Top Cities

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.

Travel Books for Kids

Learn about Kyoto along with a young girl traveling there with her grandfather in Megumi’s First Trip to Kyoto. This is a really lovely book. The illustrations are wonderful, and I love that through the story we learn language and culture as Megumi and her grandfather count the things they will see in Kyoto: 10 bonsai trees, 9 orange koi, and so on. Japanese words are sprinkled in throughout the story, with footnotes giving the meaning and pronunciation. At the end there are also fun facts, a map, and Japanese numbers 1-10. But beyond this, what really makes the book come to life is the close relationship between Megumi and her grandfather. The affection between them lends a warmth to this story and will attract young readers even as they learn more about this beautiful city.

Related Post: Global Adventure Books for Kids

Take your kids on a gentle adventure through Paris with Beep Beep In Paris. Beep Beep is an adorable little red car who has adventures throughout Paris with his friend Chocolat the Cat (who has a habit of disappearing to eat desserts!) Poor Beep Beep does have some minor mishaps, but he is always helped by Chocolat, who helps Beep Beep feel at home in this new city. I have read this book many times with my preschooler, who loves the curious little car and his feline friend. (I actually won this book a few years ago from a friend’s blog: read her review of the book!) This sweet bilingual French and English book is a great way to practice vocabulary and take a virtual tour of the major landmarks of the city of lights. Read it with a cup of hot chocolat!

I was excited that our friends that wrote a wonderful Diwali book are now back with a new Maya and Neel adventure! Let’s Visit Mumbai! (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 2) is a fun, beautifully done story about two siblings from the US who are exploring Mumbai with their pet squirrel Chintu. Kids aren’t the only ones who will learn from this book – I never knew that Mumbai was originally a group of 7 islands! And did you know that Bollywood comes from Mumbai? There is even an “info zoom” spread about Bollywood as well as another on the famous dabbawallas who deliver food throughout Mumbai. The graphics are so colorful and engaging, and the story packs in a lot of information in a natural way. And I love that just as in Let’s Celebrate 5 Days of Diwali! there is a visual recap of the adventure at the end of the story. My only complaint about this (and the other books on this list) is that they don’t come with samples of the mouthwatering foods they feature!

Travel Books for Kids: Click the Book - London

If you are looking for innovative travel books for kids and/or want one that is customizable in two languages, you need to check out Click! London. This fun-filled adventure is not only a fast-paced story for children about London, it is also fully bilingual, in the languages of your choice! (Right now Spanish, English, and Italian are available, with more to come). Come along as two children take a wild, somewhat surreal ride through the sights of London!

Nov 182016

Do your kids love to read? Here are some of our favorite gifts for little bookworms, from stocking stuffers to collectible books!

Gifts for Little Bookworms | Alldonemonkey.com

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 cost to you.

Gifts for Little Bookworms

Stocking Stuffers

If your child loves to read, then a book light like LuminoLite Rechargable Clip On Light is a must! This is great for reading at bedtime, as you can still dim the lights to get them ready to sleep even as they can cozy up with a book. We first got this for my older son because he shares a room with his younger brother, who falls asleep earlier than he does. This lets him reap the privilege of his extra years by getting to stay up a bit longer to read in peace. The boys even love using their books lights during the day to hide under the covers to read together! (Do they really think I don’t know who is under that big pile of blankets??)

I received a book weight as a gift when I was younger, and I LOVED it! If your child likes to read while eating, then they will really appreciate having a book weight like this weighted leather one. It holds a book open for you so you can keep your hands free to eat, drink, or just relax. (This also is perfect for cookbooks!)

Of course, they need a stylish way to store their books. This hand painted animal themed set is adorable and also practical, since it’s non-skid.

Older kids, however, will enjoy organizing their books in these functional bookends. I love that they won’t fall down easily, which is handy when you have little hands constantly pulling books out and putting them back in.

My son loves the book plates he received several years ago. Here is a company that makes a wide variety of cute personalized book plates with designs that kids will love, like this pirate set. Perfect for little bookworms!

New & Collectible Books

The holidays are a great time to gift those really special books: new releases hot off the presses as well as beautiful editions of classics. Here are some of our favorites:

If you have an older child in your house, then you likely have already been caught up in the phenomenon that is Diary of a Wimpy Kid. If by some chance you have missed this series so far, now is your chance to get started! Greg is a hapless middle schooler with a quirky family whose misadventures are laugh out loud funny and totally relatable. (I love how his mom is always doing crazy things around the house because of articles she just read!) These books are great for reluctant readers, too, as the comic strip style illustrations and offbeat stories will quickly draw them in. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down is the latest book in this wildly popular series. When I showed it to my son, he ripped it out of my hands and disappeared into his room (under the covers, with the booklight on). I had to sneak it out when he wasn’t looking so I could read it myself! It is just as funny and endearing as the other books in this series, so be sure to get your copy today!

This gorgeous Make Way for Ducklings 75th Anniversary Edition is a wonderful way to introduce your children to this childhood classic. This special anniversary edition comes in its own slipcase and includes an audio CD and a poster of the landmarks from the book.

The New Adventures of Curious George is one book that I have practically memorized from all the times we have read this together. It is a wonderful collection of Curious George tales, including the one about the chocolate factory, which was a particular favorite at our house!

For older kids, character encyclopedias like this Star Wars guide are big favorites. We have several, including the Star Wars Lego Character Encyclopedia. My kids can sit and flip through them for hours!

Book Collections

I just love little book sets like this Thomas the Train Railway Book Box Set. Little ones will love toting it around, and it’s easy to grab for a car trip. Even the baby now loves to pull the books out, flip through the pages, and then put them back into the box.

A fun set for early readers is the Busload of Pigeon Books from Mo Willems. (It looks like a bus!) It has three favorite picture books from the Pigeon series, including the classic Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!.

For older kids, you can’t go wrong with the Minecraft Complete Handbook Collection. My kids refer to these all the time and frequently sit and pore over them. (I draw the line at reading these at night. Bedtime is for stories, people!)

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I was so delighted to get in touch with the people behind the new Booklandia monthly subscription service for Spanish and bilingual children’s books. Your little bookworms will love to receive a book box in the mail each month! You can customize your box according to age of the child, whether you’d like Spanish and/or bilingual books, and how often you’d like to receive your books. Then sit back and enjoy!

I love the mission behind Booklandia, which is to provide Spanish speaking families and Spanish learners access to high quality Spanish books – that means “authentic stories, very few translations, and always beautiful books.” Each box is put together with care to provide only the best books to their customers.

I chose to receive bilingual picture books, and we were excited to open our box to see the wonderful Waiting for the Biblioburro and a fun bilingual version of the classic “Wheels on the Bus” song, ¡Vámonos! Let’s Go!.

A Booklandia subscription is a perfect gift for the Spanish-speaking or Spanish learning bookworms on your list!

What are your favorite book gifts for the children on your list?

Nov 032016

It is hard to overestimate the importance of bedtime stories in our culture and the nightly ritual of reading with our children. As a child it was a special time I looked forward to, and as a parent it is a snuggly, calming way to end our busy days. The promise of story time motivates my preschooler to get into his pajamas and brush his teeth, and even my 1st grader, who is already reading on his own, still asks to read together at night.

Our favorite bedtime stories and the importance of reading together at night | Alldonemonkey.com

In addition to this wonderful parent-child bonding, there are also crucial educational benefits to bedtime stories. Reading aloud together helps children learn the mechanics of how books work (there are words on a page, you read the words to make the story, the words tell you what is happening in the pictures, when your parent pauses it’s time to turn the page and read more, and so on). Children also learn new vocabulary and a more formal type of language than they might hear in everyday speech, as well as more poetic and beautiful (or silly and funny) ways of expressing themselves.

For my wiggly little guy, reading together at night is one of the only times he will sit still for stories! During the day it is go go go, but at night, he is winding down and so is ready to sit and really pay attention to a story. The act of reading together also helps him relax and get ready to go to sleep.

Even older children benefit from reading aloud together: My older son’s teacher was just telling me recently that many early readers can develop bad habits when they read to themselves, like skipping over words they don’t understand. Reading aloud with an adult or being read to helps them attend to every word on the page and can also help with pronunciation of words they may have only seen written. For us it also prompts a lot of discussions and questions about what we’re reading (of course, I’m sure part of this is my son trying to delay bedtime!)

Here are some of our favorite bedtime stories. What books does your family read together at night? Share in the comments!

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 additional cost to you.

Favorite Bedtime Stories

Monsters Go Night-Night is a silly book that is required reading in our household! I’ve read it so many times that my son and I both have it memorized. Readers are asked to guess how monsters get ready for bed – for example, do they take a bath with soap, shampoo, a rubber ducky, or chocolate pudding? The parent, of course, picks one of the reasonable choices, like soap, while the child picks the silly answer (especially if they have already read the book) – and of course, the silly answer is always the correct one! My son always laughs out loud at each question, saying, “I was right, and you were wrong!” (Because monsters take baths with chocolate pudding, didn’t you know?) Really cute, fun book that stands up to being read over and over and over again!

Another cute, not scary monster book to read at night is Go to Sleep, Monster!. This book plays off the classic scenario of a child being scared of a monster under the bed. When a boy’s older sister orders the monster to leave her brother alone and go to sleep, they discover that even monsters are afraid of other monsters. They set off on an odyssey to get to the root of the problem, first with the monster under the bed, then the one under the floor, then the one in the downstairs living room, until finally reaching the monster in the centermost center of the center of the Earth. And when they find out the surprising reason that he can’t sleep, they come up with a solution that makes everyone happy – and sleepy! One of our favorite bedtime stories.

The Hello Kitty Storybook Collection – which includes Hello Kitty Little Red Riding Hood and Hello Kitty The Little Mermaid – is just adorable. These are kid-friendly versions of the classic tales, sticking to the original stories as much as possible while making changes to make them more palatable for young children. For example, in Hello Kitty Little Red Riding Hood the grandmother doesn’t get tied up in the closet but instead decides to hide there when the Wolf sneaks in. Very cute series of fairy tales to share with your little ones.

For quite a long time The Goodnight Book was the must-read book at night for my three year old. It is a sweet, simple book about how imaginary creatures say good night to each other, like “gloobit” and “took a boo.” A gentle, sleepy book to read together at night. One of our all time favorite bedtime stories.

We can talk all we want about how sweet and snuggly it is to read bedtime stories together, but the truth is that often even after reading together some kids are just not ready to fall asleep. Some just have a harder time winding down or are naturally night owls, and all have those times where they just can’t seem to close their eyes. Enter The Little Elephant Who Wants to Fall Asleep: A New Way of Getting Children to Sleep, a true gift to tired parents (and kids!) everywhere. I was curious about the book, which purports to help children fall asleep and sleep more deeply, so I tested it out on my kids that same evening! My three year old fell asleep before I had reached the third page, and my very stubbornly awake 6 year old didn’t last much longer than that. Was it a fluke? I’ve used in many times since, always with positive results. We haven’t made it to the end of the book yet, even one night when they were both particularly wound up after a party. In fact, my 6 year old now asks for me to read him the book because he knows it will help him fall asleep.

What is the secret? It is a well-tested method (first seen in The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep) of reading a very gentle story with lots of repetition and sleepy images, with certain phrases (like “go to sleep now” and “Relax”) marked to be read with emphasis and other passages to be said in a slow, sing-song voice. There are even cues of when to yawn! I felt awkward the first time I started reading it (surely this won’t work on my kids), but now I’m a believer! It is really most like a guided meditation for kids, as the Little Elephant and her sleepy friends teach kids how to relax their bodies and minds and fall gently to sleep.

MomsReading, a campaign to encourage reading with your children

Join the MomsReading campaign from MomsRising, celebrating reading with children! Share your photos and find inspiration all month with the #MomsReading hash tag!

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