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
 January 25, 2017  Book Reviews, Education 4 Responses »

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!)

Subscription Services

Booklandia Subscription Service

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
 November 3, 2016  Book Reviews 4 Responses »

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!

Oct 282016
 October 28, 2016  Book Reviews 3 Responses »

Creative Books for Curious Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

In our house we have books coming out of our ears. They are on every flat surface, including the couches. They are in every room, including the closets. And yet, whenever we go to the library, we feel like we need more! So you’d think by now we would have seen it all, but I’m always pleasantly surprised to find so many new, creative books for kids on the shelves. Here are some of our favorites. I especially love that these are ones that really feed their curiosity and exploration of the world and its possibilities. What are you reading with your kids lately?

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

Creative Books for Curious Kids

We love Cityblock, the latest in the Alphablock series! My little ones were thrilled to explore such a richly detailed cityscape, especially the shaped pages with the peek-a-book cutouts. There is so much to look at in this book that they can spend long periods peering at its pictures and figuring out the different ways the pages open and fit together. I love to find such creative books for the very young. Great for curious little readers!

All My Treasures: A Book of Joy is a really lovely book to teach kids about what is really important. A young girl wants to put all of her treasures in a special porcelain box, but she discovers that what she truly values – jumping in puddles, blowing bubbles, her friends’ giggles, cuddling with her family – cannot be contained in a box! My three year old loves this book because of all the lift-the-flaps on each page, especially because they are all unusual ones and you never know what will be under the flap! Even my six year old and I had fun hunting for them. Everything about this book is SPECIAL, from the huge sparkly cut-out star on the cover to the carefully shaped flaps and whimsical illustrations inside, all underscoring the book’s message about valuing the beautiful treasures of the heart.

Do you have a budding scientist at your house? A kid whose curiosity leads her to pull your house apart and generally wreak havoc, all in the pursuit of (ahem) science? Then Ada Twist, Scientist is the book for you! It’s a wonderfully funny celebration of curiosity and getting the bottom of a good mystery, like where in the world that stinky smell is coming from! (It’s the socks, Ada!!) Ada Twist is a junior scientist straight from the start, climbing all over the furniture as a baby and tearing apart the house as a toddler. She soon discovers a great mystery to be solved, and her parents learn as best they can how to support her relentless curiosity. A great book for any parent who has had to answer “Why? Why? Why?” all day long, or who wants to encourage their child (especially girls and kids of color) to be persistent and always follow their curiosity.

Another Ada also makes her appearance in this list, but this time it’s in the story of the real life Ada Lovelace, the world’ first computer programmer. Ada Lovelace was the daughter of a mathematician and the great poet Lord Byron. Her parents separated when Ada was young, however, and her mother was determined to stamp out Ada’s dreaminess, which reminded her mother of her estranged father. Yet Ada turned the math and logic of her education into its own kind of poetry, and, despite the obstacles facing her from the times in which she lived, became such an accomplished mathematician that she developed a partnership with the acclaimed Charles Babbage, eventually completing the complex programming for Babbage’s calculating machine, the precursor to today’s computers. Obviously I love Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World’s First Computer Programmer for the true story of determination and boundless curiosity, particularly as a woman, but I also adore the engaging way her story is told and in particular the incredibly inventive illustrations. I love, for example, the spread of young Ada climbing in a huge machine to show her fascination with the inventions of her time, or the poignant drawing of Ada peeking around a curtain to see a young girl in modern times reading Ada’s Ideas on her iPad. Beautiful book to share about this often overlooked figure in history.

Oct 172016

Diwali Books for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Diwali is coming, and I’m excited to share some great Diwali books with you! These are great ones to read with your kids whether they are already familiar with Diwali or not. For those who are just learning about it, it’s a wonderful way to discover this joyous time; while those who already celebrate with their families will enjoy seeing their holiday represented in books and learning the meaning behind the traditions!

I received a complimentary copy of Let’s Celebrate Diwali and Let’s Celebrate 5 Days of Diwali 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.

Diwali Books for Kids

We have just discovered the wonderful story for young children, Let’s Celebrate Diwali, published by Bharat Babies. The first thing that strikes you is how colorful it is! A young girl is nervous to share about Diwali with her classmates, but she is surprised to find out several of them are also celebrating Diwali! What is even more surprising is how differently they celebrate, as she learns that Diwali is recognized not only by Hindus but also by many Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. Includes brief, kid-level explanations behind each religion’s Diwali celebrations.

I adore The Diwali Gift, and not just because the main characters are monkeys! This is a super cute book that  kids will really enjoy. The story is a fun little mystery for very young kids that incorporates elements of Diwali in a very natural way. (Read my full review).

I love activity books, so My Diwali Coloring Book sounds wonderful! Recommended for ages 4-8, its illustrations range in difficulty to match different abilities. Includes a simple version of the story behind Diwali as well as conversation starters about Diwali and Indian culture.

You really can’t go wrong with National Geographic! In addition to picture books, I love showing kids beautiful photography from books like Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Diwali: With Sweets, Lights, and Fireworks so they can really get a sense of what the holiday actually looks like. I love that this book includes Sikh and Jain traditions as well as the more familiar Hindu ones.

Let’s Celebrate 5 Days of Diwali! is a gorgeous book that presents the story of Diwali in a very engaging, easy to understand way. I love how the characters Maya and Neel lead children through the activities of each of the 5 days of Diwali, with a colorful overview at the back. Younger kids will love the illustrations and overall story, while older kids will also enjoy learning more details about this festival.


Where to Buy Diwali Books

Two of my favorite places to find Diwali books are the same ones where I found such wonderful books for Eid! Read on to find out why you don’t want to miss these online shops:

Bharat Babies

Bharat Babies’ mission is to design and produce developmentally appropriate books that tell children’s stories about India’s Heritage. Their books are appropriate for infants through elementary school. They are the publisher’s of Let’s Celebrate Diwali (you can even buy a print based on the book’s artwork!) as well as other books about Indian culture, from board books to toddler tales and early readers. Don’t miss their #MyDiwaliStory giveaway!

Kitaab World

Kitaab World carries books, toys, and games from all over South Asia. They have a great selection of Diwali books, plus they are doing giveaways throughout the month of October as part of their Count Down to Diwali. (There is even a giveaway for Let’s Celebrate Diwali!)

I love that they are so committed to getting diverse books into schools. In their Diwali giveaways, they are asking people to tag teachers and librarians, since they will be sending two books to schools and libraries to increase their diverse books as part of their Donate for Diversity campaign.

And they are running a special just for All Done Monkey readers!

Use the code ADM10 to get 10% off your order at Kitaab World this Diwali!

Diwali for Kids | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of the annual Diwali for Kids blog hop from Multicultural Kid Blogs! See the posts below for great ideas on celebrating Diwali with children. You can find even more ideas from last year’s series and on our Diwali Pinterest board:

Maple and Marigold on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Celebrating Diwali in Canada
Weaving Ideas: Paper Plate Rangoli Idea for Kids
ArtsyCraftsyMom: Accordion Fold Paper Diya Craft
Maple and Marigold: Rustic Indian Peda with Roasted Pistachios
Creative World of Varya: Diwali Inspired Ideas for Kids
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Rangoli with Glass Marbles
My Little Moppet: 20 Tips to Organize a Diwali Party for Kids
All Done Monkey: Diwali Books for Kids
Growing Up Gupta: 7 Amazing Multicultural Diwali Gift Ideas
Kidzlens: DIY Bandanwar
The Educators’ Spin On It: Making Flower Rangoli with Kids

Oct 132016
 October 13, 2016  Book Reviews, Education No Responses »

Books about Elections | Alldonemonkey.com

With the presidential election fast approaching, we’ve been doing a lot of reading and learning activities in our house to help answer questions my son has about how the whole process works. Here are some great books we’ve discovered to teach kids of different ages about elections, plus a couple bonus ones we love about the presidents and their spouses!

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission. I received a complimentary copy of The Secrets to Ruling School: Class Election for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.

Books about Elections

If you haven’t been reading the Bad Kitty books, you have really been missing out! I love to read these with my son because they are just so funny. In Bad Kitty for President, Bad Kitty decides to run for president of the Neighborhood Cat Club because Old Kitty is now, well, too old. Along the way Bad Kitty learns all about what elections, how to run a campaign (you can’t bribe other cats by offering them fish!), and how to, erm, gracefully accept the results. Sprinkled along the way are “fun facts” from bumbling Uncle Murphy plus a glossary at the back which my son quickly memorized. Blame this book if he starts talking to you about PACs! He seems to know more about them than I do…

Smart About the Presidents isn’t strictly about elections, but most children start to be more curious about past presidents when they start studying the current election. Here you can find a chronological listing of the presidents, with one page for each, plus bonus topics like how elections work. Each page is very engaging, with hand drawn pictures and fun facts about each president. Did you know that George Washington was the only president who never lived in the White House, or that the “S” in Harry S. Truman doesn’t stand for anything? (If you have seen my son in the past few weeks, you already know these facts because he has told you several times!) I also love Smart About the First Ladies. You’ll even find information in there about a current presidential candidate! These books are such a great way to get kids interested in American history, and great reference guides for adults as well!

A great middle grade book is Secrets to Ruling School: Class Election, the sequel to Secrets to Ruling School (Without Even Trying). It is so hilarious! And I love that even though it’s aimed at middle schoolers, everything is perfectly fine for my much younger advanced reader. (He just misses some of the cultural references like who Taylor Swift and Scarlet Johannson are). In this new book, Max has signed on to be YOUR campaign manager, and with his help you can be the next class president! Learn how to make a viral video, the best political swag (chewing gum!) and how to handle a debate after a scandal. (Hmm, current presidential candidates should read this book!) It’s very witty and engaging book that mixes cartoons and traditional narrative and so is great for reluctant readers.

RELATED POST: US Presidential Debate Printable Worksheet

Sep 232016

The Aztec were one of the greatest (and best known) civilizations of pre-Colombian America. They actually referred to themselves as the Mexica (pronounced “Meh-shee-kah”), which is where we get the name “Mexico” from. The term “Aztec” didn’t become popular until the 18th century, although there is evidence that the Mexica originally called themselves this because they had migrated central Mexico from a homeland they called Aztlán in what is today northern Mexico.

The Aztec: Top Books for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

The Aztec are a great topic to explore especially with older kids who will be fascinated by their rituals, warriors, and (of course) human sacrifice. Here are the best books I have found for learning about the Aztec with kids.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.

Top Books for Kids about the Aztec


A great book to start with, especially for young children, is Blue Frog: The Legend of Chocolate. After all, who wouldn’t want to learn a legend about how humans came to have chocolate? Long ago, Sun God is the only one who has chocolate, which he keeps guarded inside the pods of the cacao plant. Wind God thinks he should share this treasure with humans, but Sun God greedily refuses. Wind God then transforms himself into a blue frog, who spies on the Sun God and helps humans discover where the chocolate is hidden. The colorful illustrations are inspired by Aztec and Mayan art. Includes a recipe for hot chocolate.

In Musicians of the Sun famed author/illustrator Gerald McDermott brings to life the legend of how the Lord of the Night brought joy to the human world through music. The Lord of the Night, seeing that his people were sad and the world a colorless place, helps Wind fly to the house of the Sun (yes, here is that mean Sun God again!), where Sun is holding captive the Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green musicians. With the Lord of the Night’s help, Wind is able to battle the great Sun God and free the musicians, who bring color and laughter to the world with their music.

I love Ballplayers and Bonesetters: One Hundred Ancient Aztec and Maya Jobs You Might Have Adored or Abhorred. It shows the real diversity of this ancient society, and what everyday life would have been like for those holding various jobs. Examples of some of the types of jobs included are state jobs, palace jobs, everyday crafts jobs, luxury crafts jobs, and military jobs. Kids will love the latrine boatmen (who basically collected and sold human waste) as well as the voladores, who would perform at festivals, swinging by their feet like birds high above the crowds. Includes a general introduction to Mesoamerica, with a timeline, fun facts, and quick overview of the language.

Hail! Aztecs is an incredibly fun book. This faux tourist guide is a hilarious, engaging look at the Aztecs, put in terms of modern day society. So for example, there is a shopping guide (all about the markets) and a careers guide. I laughed out loud at the Celebrity Big Brother, where different gods and goddesses “compete” for your vote by telling why they are the best of the bunch. You also don’t want to miss Monty’s blog, posts from Montezuma himself (who was also named Hunk of the Month) as the Spanish first arrive. This is soon interrupted and an “Under New Management” sign appears, followed by a few “blog posts” from Cortés.

I love the concept of What Did the Aztecs Do for Me?, which breaks down why kids should care about the Aztecs. (Like the fact that they invented chocolate and tortillas!) It covers worship, games, and food, with “then and now” comparisons, such as where the Day of the Dead originated and how it is celebrated today.

If you have a child who is interested in fashion or crafts, a great choice is Clothes & Crafts in Aztec Times. It goes over what crafts were done by the Aztecs (such as making pottery or building stone pyramids), as well as the different kinds of clothing and jewelry used. My favorite part is at the end, where you can learn to make some Aztec hairpieces and clothing. (Note: this DIY part is only a small section of the book).

Interestingly, when I searched for books on the Aztec, there were quite a few about Aztec warriors. I found How to Be an Aztec Warrior to be one of the best. No surprise, since it’s from National Geographic! The premise is that you are a living in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán and wish to become a great warrior. Do you have what it takes? The book goes through the various qualifications of being a warrior, from being loyal to your clan to handling the various weapons. I love the use of very engaging but realistic illustrations as well as photos of actual artifacts. If you run across How Would You Survive as an Aztec?, it is by the same author and illustrator and appears to be an early version of this book. Though it doesn’t focus just on warriors, it has almost identical information and many of the same illustrations.

I adore this series, which is a tongue in cheek look at everything from the Assyrian army to Titanic. They are totally fun to read, with silly illustrations and irreverent looks at history that will leave everyone laughing – and I guarantee they will remember the information! Keep in mind that they do make light of serious situations (like human sacrifice, in this case), but if you don’t mind that then you will love them. I do wish they would focus on something other than human sacrifice, since that’s such a sensationalist aspect of the Aztec civilization, but I also understand it because it does get kids’ attention!

In You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Aztec Sacrifice kids imagine themselves as the next person to be sacrificed and learn the ins and outs of what might be in store for them.

Another very irreverent book is The Angry Aztecs. Before you get too upset about the title, you should know that other books in this series include The Vicious Vikings and The Rotten Romans. These are very funny books that older kids will love, using humor to convey well researched information. My son has been reading these books and laughing out loud, but at the same time he really is learning a lot from them!

One middle grade book I have not had a chance to read but that looks really good is Neil Flambé and the Aztec Abduction, part of a series of adventure books. I was worried at first that it might be an Indiana Jones style adventure that relies on popular rather than accurate information about the Aztecs, but this looks to be well researched as well as fun.

Hispanic Heritage Month Series 2016 | Multicultural Kid BlogsWe are so excited for our FIFTH annual Hispanic Heritage Month series and giveaway! Through the month (September 15 – October 15), you’ll find great resources to share Hispanic Heritage with kids, plus you can enter to win in our great giveaway and link up your own posts on Hispanic Heritage!

This post is also part of the series Global Learning for Kids. Each month we will feature a country and host a link party to collect posts about teaching kids about that country–crafts, books, lessons, recipes, etc. It will create a one-stop place full of information about the country.

This month we are learning all about Mexico, so visit Multicultural Kid Blogs to link up any old or new posts designed to teach kids about Mexico – crafts, books, lessons, recipes, music and more!


September 14
Hanna Cheda on Multicultural Kid Blogs: How to Pass on Hispanic Heritage as an Expat

September 15
Spanish Mama: Los Pollitos Dicen Printable Puppets

September 16
Hispanic Mama: Children’s Shows that Kids in Latin America Grew Up With

September 19
Spanish Playground: Authentic Hispanic Heritage Month Games Everyone Can Play

September 20
Tiny Tapping Toes: Exploring Instruments for Hispanic Heritage Month

September 21
Kid World Citizen on Multicultural Kid Blogs: 10 Fascinating Facts about Peru!

September 22
Spanish Mama: Printable Spanish-Speaking Countries and Capitals Game Cards

September 23
All Done Monkey

September 26
Crafty Moms Share

September 27
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

September 28
La Clase de Sra. DuFault

September 29
Embracing Diversity

September 30
Mama Tortuga

October 3
Hispanic Mama on Multicultural Kid Blogs

October 4
La Clase de Sra. DuFault

October 5
Pura Vida Moms

October 7
Spanglish House

October 10
Mundo Lanugo

October 11
Kid World Citizen

October 12

October 13
inspired by familia

October 14
El Mundo de Pepita on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Don’t miss all of the great posts from previous years as well: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway!

Giveaway begins September 14 and goes through October 14, 2016.

Enter below for a chance to win one of these amazing prize packages! Some prizes have shipping restrictions. In the event that a winner lives outside the designated shipping area, that prize will then become part of the following prize package. For more information, read our full giveaway rules.

Grand Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway

Grand Prize

-Month of free access to online Spanish home learning program from Calico Spanish
-If You Were Me and Lived in… series, Peru, Mexico, Brazil, and Portugal books from Carole P. Roman US Shipping Only
-Spark important conversations about diversity, inclusivity and acceptance with award-winning Barefoot Books! Collection includes Barefoot Books World Atlas, The Barefoot Book of Children, Children of the World Memory Game, The Great Race, Mama Panya’s Pancakes, Off We Go to Mexico, Up and Down the Andes, We all Went on Safari, We’re Sailing Down the Nile, We’re Sailing to Galapagos US & Canada Shipping Only
Aquí Allá CD from Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band US Shipping Only
-Animales CD from 123 Andrés US Shipping Only
-Best of the Bowl CD from Hot Peas ‘N Butter US Shipping Only
Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina (hard cover), El fútbol me hace feliz by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Lauren Castillo (paperback), Blankie/Mantita by Leslie Patricelli (board book) from Candlewick Press US & Canada Shipping Only
A Child’s Life in the Andes e-book plus music CD from Daria Music
-Hola Hello CD with lyrics in digital format from Mariana Iranzi
-T-shirt of choice (or equal value $18) from Ellie Elote US Shipping Only
-Scarves, coin purse and painted wood bracelets from Nicaragua, and a map puzzle of Central America from Spanish Playground US Shipping Only
Latin GRAMMY-winning album Los Animales from Mister G US Shipping Only

1st Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway

First Prize

-If You Were Me and Lived in… series, Peru, Mexico, Brazil, and Portugal books from Carole P. Roman US Shipping Only
Aquí Allá CD from Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band US Shipping Only
-Animales CD from 123 Andrés US Shipping Only
-Best of the Bowl CD from Hot Peas ‘N Butter US Shipping Only
Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina (hard cover), El fútbol me hace feliz by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Lauren Castillo (paperback), Blankie/Mantita by Leslie Patricelli (board book) from Candlewick Press US & Canada Shipping Only
-Hola Hello CD with lyrics in digital format from Mariana Iranzi
-T-shirt of choice (or equal value $18) from Ellie Elote US Shipping Only
-Scarves, coin purse and painted wood bracelets from Nicaragua, and a map puzzle of Central America from Spanish Playground US Shipping Only
Olinguito, from A to Z! (bilingual) by Lulu Delacre, Rafi and Rosi by Lulu Delacre, Mamá the Alien (bilingual) y René Colato Laínez and illustrated by Laura Lacámara, Marisol MacDonald and the Monster (bilingual) by Monica Brown from Lee & Low Books US Shipping Only
-Ecuador Themed International Cooking Box from Global Gastronauts US Shipping Only
Ora de Despertar Ladino Children’s Music CD from Sarah Aroeste Hard copy if US winner; digital if international winner
T-shirt of choice from Mundo Lanugo US Shipping Only
Latin GRAMMY-winning album Los Animales from Mister G US Shipping Only

2nd Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway

Second Prize

-If You Were Me and Lived in… series, Peru, Mexico, Brazil, and Portugal books from Carole P. Roman US Shipping Only
Aquí Allá CD from Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band US Shipping Only
-Animales CD from 123 Andrés US Shipping Only
-Best of the Bowl CD from Hot Peas ‘N Butter US Shipping Only
Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina (hard cover), El fútbol me hace feliz by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Lauren Castillo (paperback), Blankie/Mantita by Leslie Patricelli (board book) from Candlewick Press US & Canada Shipping Only
-Hola Hello CD with lyrics in digital format from Mariana Iranzi
-T-shirt of choice (or equal value $18) from Ellie Elote US Shipping Only
-Scarves, coin purse and painted wood bracelets from Nicaragua, and a map puzzle of Central America from Spanish Playground US Shipping Only
Culture Chest with the theme “Dancing in September” for Hispanic Heritage Month. Includes bilingual books Tito Puente, Mambo King and Me llamo Celia Cruz, both by Monica Brown and Rafael Lopez US Shipping Only
Spanish Alphabet Print (US Shipping Only) and single-use promo code for Spanish for kids language app from Gus on the Go
Latin GRAMMY-winning album Los Animales from Mister G US Shipping Only

Bonus Prize

Piñata de Laly | Multicultural Kid Blogs Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway

Piñata from Piñatas de Laly Europe Shipping Only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial