Taking a road trip this summer or simply looking for some great kid-friendly tunes to listen to at the pool or a backyard barbecue? We’ve got you covered! Read on to learn about fab new music children’s music, plus a summer music playlist for you! And don’t miss your chance to win a pack of four CD’s in our summer music giveaway!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the music 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.
Summer Music Playlist for Families
Get your summer started with some toe-tapping music by streaming this amazing summer family road trip playlist, put together by Sugar Mountain PR! Read on to find out more about the music featured on the playlist, plus don’t miss our big giveaway at the end of the post – you could win a package of ALL FOUR of the albums below!
Earworm is a fitting title for the latest album from Sean McCollough, because you’ll find yourself singing these songs all day long (though not in an annoying way!) McCollough is Parents’ Choice and NAPPA Award winner and host of the Kidstuff Radio show on WDVX in Knoxville, TN. As if that weren’t enough, I discovered that we have a personal connection! One of the guest artists on Earworm is Billy Jonas, a friend of my brother (and amazing musician) Chris Rosser! I have a lot of respect for Billy Jonas, so having him give his seal of approval for this album just confirmed my feelings that Sean McCollough is the real deal when it comes to great children’s music!
I love love the concept behind Canta Las Letras. I was already a big fan of 123 Andrés, so my expectations were high, and I wasn’t disappointed! If you have a preschooler, like me you are likely inundated with ABC songs and stories; yet, I struggled to find versions I liked in Spanish. Canta Las Letras has songs for every letter of the Spanish alphabet, teaching children the sounds for each letter. And far from being boring “educational” songs your kids will dread listening to, these 38 original tunes are so catchy you can’t help but hum along! A must to add to your collection if you are raising a bilingual preschooler or if you are just trying to learn a little Spanish yourself!
My kids love Can You Feel It from Jessa Campbell and the Saplings. In fact, now whenever we get in the car my three year old requests “The T Rex song”! I wasn’t surprised to learn that Campbell is based in Oregon, because the whole album has a PNW (Pacific Northwest) vibe, with its emphasis on ecology and nature, and folksy feel. Campbell has a beautiful voice, with a background in performance that includes opera, theatrical pop, and even touring with “Dragon Tales Live”!
Under the Big Umbrella from Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could is a feel-good album that is sure to lift spirits and encourage kids to be themselves. It is full of tunes that celebrate diversity, kindness and respect. Rymer is a three-time Grammy nominee, and his joyful music has a message of “hope for a future with ‘room for everyone.’ ”
Summer Music Playlist Giveaway
Enter for a chance to win all four of the CD’s reviewed above, a value of approximately $50! Just comment on this post to tell us your family’s summer plans! (You can also enter by commenting on our post on Instagram). US residents only. Contest ends Tuesday, June 11, 2019, at 11:59 pm PT. Winner chosen by random selection.
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is almost over, but it’s always a good time to highlight children’s books that focus on Asian and Asian American cultures! I’m so pleased with the collection of books below because not only are they quite varied in style, they also show just how rich and diverse these cultures are. I also love that they explore Asian Pacific American heritage in ways that celebrate the past but are also very relevant to today’s readers.
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 charge to you.
Asian Pacific American Heritage: New Children’s Books
Enjoy this collection of new children’s books that celebrate Asian Pacific American heritage!
Sumo Joe is her debut book, and it is a delightful look at martial arts from a child’s perspective. Sumo is one of those sports that most Americans love to joke about without really knowing much about it, so it’s wonderful to have a book that actually teaches kids about it in a fun way. We watch as Sumo Joe teaches his friends sumo moves and training, and for those that want to know more, there’s an illustrated glossary at the back of the book. But what will Sumo Joe do when his beloved younger sister wants to join in what has traditionally been a male sport? A charming book that is sure to win fans young and old.
Soon after I received my review copy of When Spring Comes to the DMZ, our Global Reads for Grownups Book Club had coincidentally started to read The Girl with Seven Names, a memoir of a defector from North Korea. So it was incredibly poignant to look at When Spring Comes to the DMZ, a gorgeous new children’s book that contrasts the natural beauty of the demilitarized zone between the Koreas with the harsh reality of the razor wire fence and lines of marching soldiers that surround it. Because the DMZ is a no man’s land, it has become a wildlife refuge, though a precarious one that is still full of landmines, under careful watch of heavily armed guards.
This book shows clearly the absurdity of war and the need to make the DMZ an area of true peace with the potential to reconnect a divided peninsula.
Ming’s Adventure in the Mogao Caves is a real treasure for anyone who loves religious or art history. Young readers, of course, will just appreciate it as a young boy’s enchanted adventure! Ming is traveling through the Gobi Desert to visit the famous Mogao Caves – a holy site and a treasury of Buddhist art – when a sandstorm separates him from his parents. He is saved by a nine-colored deer, who leads him to the caves.
Once there, Ming finds himself inside one of the cave’s murals, where he discovers he can use his magic paintbrush to help restore the animals in the painting. A lovely adventure story as well as a beautiful introduction to this important historical site.
Gondra’s Treasure is a fun read for any child that loves dragons, but especially those that comes from a intercultural family. Gondra’s parents are both dragons, but one is from the East and the other from the West. Gondra teaches us about what it’s like to have parents from different places: while Mom (from the West) breathes fire, Dad (from the East) breathes mist. Gondra, of course, can do both! (Though no fire breathing unless Mom or Dad is around!) A cute look at mixing cultures, as well as a fun comparison of how differently dragons are imagined in the different parts of the world.
Mina vs. the Monsoon is another fun read that also has a more serious message. Mina, an avid soccer player, is not happy when the monsoon rains begin. Though most others in her village celebrate the arrival of the rains because of the bounty they bring to the land, Mina can only think about how the monsoon rains will keep her indoors and away from her beloved soccer. Is there anything she can do to stop the rains from coming?
I love that this book shows such a tender relationship between Mina and her mother – and Mina’s surprise when she finds out her mother used to be a soccer player! There is a guide at the back to the Urdu and Hindi words that are sprinkled throughout the book, as well as more about why the author chose to feature a soccer playing girl in her book. In several states in northern India, communities are trying to combat child marriages by teaching girls to play soccer! Learning a sport gives the girls a sense of accomplishment and helps them think they can do more with their lives.
Pashmina I discovered not because it was related to Asian Pacific American heritage but simply because I was looking for a great graphic novel for my son. Pashmina was highly recommended, so we ordered it from our local library. When it came, neither of us could put it down!
It is the story of a young girl intrigued about her past, especially about India, the country her mother is from but never wants to talk about. One day she discovers a magical pashmina (a type of scarf) in her mother’s old suitcase. When she puts it on, she is transported to an enchanted version of India, though one in which she is followed by a mysterious shadow. It is only when she dares to travel to the real India that she is able to confront the mystery of her birth and her mother’s past, as well as the reality of life for women in India.
A beautiful coming of age story that is also woven with growing awareness of the difficulties faced by women in many parts of the world.
May 17, 2019Education, STEMComments Off on Conservation for Kids: Endangered Animals
One way to really engage kids on the topic of environmentalism is to talk about endangered animals. As most children love animals, this is a subject that often speaks to their hearts. Here is a collection of learning resources on conservation for kids that focuses specifically on endangered animals, including a gorgeous new picture book that conveys the urgency of the problem as well as how we can help.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Don’t Let Them Disappear 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.
Conservation for Kids: Resources to Learn About Endangered Animals
A wonderful introduction to the topic of endangered animals is the beautiful new picture book by Chelsea Clinton, Don’t Let Them Disappear. After the success of her other children’s books, such as the New York Times bestseller, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, Clinton has now turned her attention to conservation for kids, connecting their hearts and minds to endangered animals around the world. Some of the animals included on the list may surprise the reader, such as giraffes and elephants. (When we read the book the first time, my son said, “Wait! They’re endangered, too?”)
This book drives home the point that each animal is unique and a part of the tapestry of life on the planet. For each one included in the book, we are given some facts about what makes it special, as well as why it is endangered. In our house, this has sparked a lot of discussion about what habitat destruction is, and how war can harm animals, too.
Below are even more resources to teach kids about endangered animals. How do you teach conservation for kids?
Are you getting ready for a unit on the stars, or do your kids love looking at the night sky? Maybe you are thinking ahead to holidays like the 4th of July, or the Bahá’í holiday the Declaration of the Báb. Or maybe your kids just love those stars! Either way, here is a collection of great star crafts, activities, and recipes that kids will love!
As Father’s Day approaches, it is the perfect time to celebrate the fathers in our lives through pictures books. Yet many children do not see their own fathers reflected in the stories they read, and getting diverse books published – especially by diverse authors – is still an uphill battle. So it’s important to share those books that are available. Here are some of our favorite multicultural children’s books about fathers that we have found. Do you have a favorite?
Disclosure: I received copies of My Papi Has a Motorcycle (English and Spanish versions) 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.
Multicultural Children’s Books About Fathers
Find below some of our favorite multicultural children’s books about fathers, from those for very early readers to those for older children.
Baby Dance is for very young readers who love to move with their caregivers. This is a sweet board book about a baby and her daddy dancing around the room while her mother sleeps. I adore the illustrations, which seems to be motion themselves, gently swaying across the pages.
My Papi Has a Motorcycle (also available in Spanish as Mi papi tiene una moto) is a vibrant story about a girl and her father. No matter how tired he is, he always has time to take his daughter out for a spin when he gets home from work. Their motorcycle ride zooms through marvelous illustrations of a city that hums with life. Everywhere they go on their motorcycle ride, they see people and sights beloved to them, like the taquería or a friend’s house, the librarian that nods to them as he leaves the market. But there are also signs of change, as a favorite store has closed, and new homes replace the last of the citrus groves.
Award-winning author Isabel Quintero is herself the child of Mexican immigrants and has sweet memories of riding on the back of her own papi’s motorcycle as a child. So it is fitting that this book is available in both English and Spanish, and that even in the English version, the dialogue is given in English and Spanish, and many of the signs throughout the city are in Spanish. This book is intended as a love letter not only to hard working fathers but also to the communities that nurture us and what endures through all the changes that may come.
It’s Great Being a Dad is a really fun tribute to dads who are always there to “fix” things for their children. Although not specifically multicultural, I love that a book that is not about diversity features an African-American daughter and her father. This is one girl with a big imagination! She thinks through what would be great about being different mythical creatures – from a unicorn to the Loch Ness Monster – but always seems to find the fatal flaw (like how sad it would feel to have everyone call you a “monster”). I love that the girl (a self-described fairy queen ballerina doctor) is able to fix all these creatures’ problems, by doing a happy dance for the Loch Ness Monster, for instance. Yet when she has a problem of her own, it is her father that is able to set things right and restore peace to the kingdom/backyard.
I loved finding Father’s Chinese Opera because it is one of those books that really gives you a window into something most of us would normally never have the chance to experience – behind the scenes of a Chinese opera. A young boy, whose father is the band leader and composer of the opera, watches from the wings, desperate to join in the opera himself. Through his eyes we see the rehearsals and hard work that go into these spectacular performances, and the magic they create onstage. The boy is impatient to become an acrobat in the opera, and humiliated when he is laughed at for such an idea. Just a few quiet words from his father help the boy see that he must have patience and be willing to work hard to fulfill his dream.
What really brings this book to life is the fact that author Rich Lo is himself the child of a famous musician of the Chinese opera and sat in on many rehearsals and performances as a little boy. His father was forced to abandon this career when the family immigrated to the United States, so in many ways this book is a tribute to him and what he sacrificed to provide a better life for his children.
My Daddy Rules the World: Poems about Dads is a lovely collection of poems about dads and what makes them so special. Each celebrates a special time spent together, such as dancing, playing catch, or learning to ride a bike. But it also explores the difficult moments, like writing a letter to a dad serving overseas or being punished. This book quietly explores diversity in its many facets – not just through the varying skin tones but also the dads that stay at home rather than go to an office, or the dads that live far away. But what shines through in each instance is the love and security that each child feels with their father.
My Father’s Shop is often recommended as a book about learning about other cultures. A young boy in Morocco loves spending time in his father’s carpet shop, but he gets bored when his father tries to teach him phrases in other languages, which is useful in their business. Instead, the boy runs out to play in the market, but as it turns out, he meets plenty of tourists there, who teach him how to make animal noises in other languages – and they give his father’s shop extra business!
Visiting Day, from multi-award winning Jacqueline Woodson, tackles a subject rarely covered in picture books: a little girl visiting her father in prison. Based on her own experiences with a favorite uncle who was incarcerated, this heartfelt book captures the conflicting emotions a girl feels as she and her grandmother get up in the wee hours of the morning to prepare food and make the long trip to visit her father. It is a beautiful way to explore a situation many children find themselves in, and to emphasize that parents aren’t perfect, but we can still have loving relationships with them.
Papa and Me is another bilingual book about a loving relationship between father and child. In this instance, the text is primarily in English, with Spanish phrases sprinkled in, easily understood from context. I love the illustrations, which glow with joy. The author and illustrator both wanted to convey their own experiences as fathers and sons, and it definitely comes through in the loving relationship portrayed here.
What are your favorite multicultural children’s books about fathers?
May 6, 2019Book ReviewsComments Off on Favorite New Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers
There are so many benefits to reading with young children! And now there are even more great choice of what you can read together. Here are our favorite new books for toddlers and Preschoolers. Share yours in the comments!
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.
Favorite New Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Little hands love interactive books like Is That Your Dad? (A Changing Faces Book)! In this gentle animal adventure book, a little frog searches for his father. As the pages turn, the faces of the other animals change, making it obvious that the roaring lion and squawking parrot are not the frog’s dad! Don’t worry, it all turns out well in the end! My daughter loves moving the pages back and forth, and I can see that she’s also trying to work out exactly how the facing are changing. Wonderful book for little ones!
Young children love all kinds of trucks, making Vroom Vroom Garbage Truck one of my favorite new books for toddlers and preschoolers! This colorful board book is full of all those fun truck noises that toddlers love to imitate, making the text simple enough for even the youngest readers to enjoy. My favorite part is when the truck squeals to a stop to allow a family of ducks to cross the road! Even with all the bangs and clunks, it is actually a great bedtime story as it winds down gently to a sleepy end.
Another great vehicle book is Sunny’s Tow Truck Saves the Day! A (multiracial!) family is stranded on the side of the road when their car gets a flat tire on the way to have a picnic, so they must wait for a tow truck to come and save them. While they wait, we are treated to loads of other vehicles and learn how they help people as well – construction vehicles, firetrucks, and more! When Sunny finally arrives, she and her crew not only fix the car but help the family keep their picnic day special. Besides teaching about vehicles, this is also a great book to introduce the concept of time.
My Magical Unicorn (My Magical Friends) and its companion below are books that I pack with me in my purse when we’re somewhere my preschooler has to sit for a long time. These books keep her little hands busy for a long time! There are so many tabs to push, pull, spin, and slide – all sturdy enough to withstand a little one’s explorations!
The series continues with My Magical Mermaid (My Magical Friends). I love the holographic foil used in the illustrations, which give a magical quality to these mythical creatures. And the way they are done is so clever, making the colors of the mermaid’s tail shimmer and the sea creatures dance. There is one spread in particular that my daughter has spent a lot of time investigating, as musical notes rotate through and seem to turn into fish! These are beautiful books for little ones to enjoy again and again.
What are your favorite books for toddlers and preschoolers?
April 24, 2019Book ReviewsComments Off on Hilarious Books for Kids About Pets
Laugh out loud books for kids about pets, from picture books to chapter books!
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.
Hilarious Books for Kids About Pets
I wasn’t familiar with the Molly Mischief series, which also includes Saves the World! (Molly Mischief), but after reading Molly Mischief: My Perfect Pet we will definitely be keeping an eye out for more books about this – you guessed it! – mischievous tyke. But as is often the case with “mischievous” kids, at heart Molly is just curious. In Molly Mischief: My Perfect Pet, a zoo visit makes her wonder what it would be like to have some of the zoo animals as pets – something my kids often wonder as well – so she decides to bring them home! Kids will love her silly adventures and live vicariously through her as she brings home an elephant, a penguin, a giraffe, and many more zoo friends! Will she finally find her perfect pet?
If you have ever had a cat, then you will laugh yourself silly over Flubby, an adorable, permanently uninterested cat. In Flubby Is Not a Good Pet! we learn all the reasons why Flubby is simply not as good as other pets. He can’t sing Kim’s parrot or jump like Jill’s. So why is Flubby the perfect pet for Kami? A scary incident makes it clear how much the two care for each other.
We encounter Flubby again in Flubby Will Not Play with That, a story with which any cat owner will instantly identify. We see all the fun, clever toys Flubby’s owner has bought for Flubby and experience his disappointment as Flubby ignores each one in turn. But just when it seems like Flubby will reject everything, we discover that the owner has unwittingly brought home the best toy of all.
I cannot say enough good things about the chapter book Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat. My 9 year old usually looks down his nose at anything that’s not a graphic novel, but he ate this book up in two days before quickly moving on to the second installment (see below). I had to see for myself what all the fuss was about, and I couldn’t believe how funny and clever the books were!
Klawde is indeed an evil warlord cat from an alien planet, exiled to Earth for his crimes and ends up as the pet of a young boy named Raj. I’m not sure which is funnier – Klawde’s take on strange Earth customs (he’s sure that humans wear clothing because they’re so ashamed they have no fur) or hapless Raj’s misadventures at survival summer camp.
The series continues with Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat: Enemies 2, as Klawde and Raj’s adventures together take on a new twist when they both receive unwanted visits from those who had betrayed them. Trust me, these books will have your child laughing out loud and begging for “just a few more pages!” before turning out the lights at night.
The Bahá’í Festival of Ridvan just began yesterday, and this year I thought it would be a lovely opportunity to focus on acts of kindness. Here is a simple activity that families can do together, by focusing on spreading joy during this most holy festival. I hope you enjoy this Ridvan coloring page with your loved ones!
Ridvan Coloring Page: Acts of Kindness
Here is a simple activity that families can do for Ridvan to celebrate doing acts of kindness. Just download your Ridvan coloring page by clicking on the image below, then they can color in a rose each time they do an act of kindness during Ridvan.
You can find tons of ideas for acts of kindness on my Pinterest board, and I’d love to see yours! Share in the comments below or on my Facebook page, and have a wonderful Ridvan!
Want to raise children with healthy self-esteem? Of course, we all do! Below some wonderful children’s books and music that will help reinforce a positive self-image in children and remind them that they are surrounded by unconditional love. These beautiful resources reinforce your own efforts, inspiring your child to love themselves and their own unique ways.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books and music 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.
Inspiring Your Child to Love Themselves
My children adore You Can Be. I can’t even count the number of times we’ve read it together. It has just the right blend of silliness and inspiration, teaching children that there are many ways to be a kid – funny, sensitive, smelly, grumpy – and that they can be anything they want to be – except mean or rude, of course! I love the diverse children depicted in this simple picture book, as well as how it works very hard to not reinforce gender stereotypes. For example, it is a boy that is shown to be sensitive, crying over an emotional book, and another boy shown to be caring, by watching out for a younger child. And “dirty” is exemplified by a girl playing on the ground with a truck, and “smelly” is demonstrated by a girl tooting (my kids always crack up at that one!) A lovely book inspiring your child to love themselves however they feel like being that day!
Reading That’s Me Loving You to your child is the verbal equivalent of wrapping them in a big, warm hug. It is a wonderful way to remind little ones that even when you are apart, your love always surrounds them. Best-selling author Amy Krouse Rosenthal uses beautiful imagery from nature to emphasize this point, “That shimmering star?/That’s me winking at you./That drifting cloud?/That’s me thinking of you.” A sweet book to share with younger children, especially if they are just starting school or daycare.
Do you have a child that’s fallen behind on the growth curve, or who feels like they can never catch up to older siblings? Being Small (Isn’t So Bad After All) is a great book to show children that while being small may have its challenges – like not being able to reach high shelves or being chosen last in sports games – it also has many advantages – like having more leg room on a plane or being able to squeeze into small spaces you want to explore.
I love the obvious love the mother shows to her daughter as she comforts and encourages her, as well as the little touches that demonstrate how loved she is, like the girl’s self-portrait hanging on the wall that show her as a princess surrounded by hearts. It is a wonderful way of inspiring your child to love themselves in whatever kind of body they are in, big or small!
Love Is Te Quiero, now available for pre-order, is a lovely album of bilingual English and Spanish music from award-winning artist Alina Celeste. Love Is Te Quiero is a celebration of hyphenated heritage (Celeste herself is Cuban-American) and love in two languages, inspired by her hometown of Miami. This is reflected in the language mixing in the title itself, which many Spanglish households like ours will immediately recognize! (As my son once put it, “I te amo you, too, Mommy! I te amo everyone in the whole world!”) The music is also a joyous blend of influences, interweaving bluegrass, Caribbean, Latina American, and contemporary styles. For this collection Celeste draws inspiration from sources as diverse as a Civil War-era ditty, an old Caribbean nursery rhyme, and a 20th century Spanish children’s song. One of my favorites is Chito and Abu, a melodic celebration of childhood friendship.
Celeste is also a champion of a cause close to my heart, bilingualism. In fact, she co-founded the Being Bilingual Rocks Foundation, which advocates not only for learning multiple languages but also for engaging with other cultures.
What is your favorite way of inspiring your child to love themselves?
Even in today’s digital world, learning to tell time on an analog clock is an important skill, as it helps children learn about the passage of time as well as important math facts. Yet it is increasingly difficult for children to learn as fewer homes today have analog clocks. Here are great resources for parents and educators to teach children telling time, including an amazing new book launching today and tons of activities!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
Telling Time: Resources for Parents and Educators
Hands down, my younger son’s favorite holiday is Halloween, so I was thrilled to learn that author Lisa Ferland and illustrator Pei Jen have just created an amazingly fun Halloween book – that actually teaches kids how to tell time! (I reviewed one of Ferland’s books for grownups over on Multicultural Kid Blogs).
When the Clock Strikes on Halloweenis a spooky – but not too scary – rhyming book for kids ages 4-8. It takes young readers through every hour of Halloween, including a large analog clock and a spooky (and sometimes silly) rhyme about what happens at that hour. What a fun way to teach children how to tell time!
I have to say this beautifully illustrated story was an instant hit with my son! I mean, how could he resist a book that talks about goblins having to pee?? This book definitely keeps the attention of older kids, but the text is simple enough that younger kids can enjoy it, too.
And of course I love that at the book are questions for discussion that take the learning beyond just basic clock reading skills to discuss more in depth concepts about the passage of time as well as building literacy skills.