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.
I’m not a scientist and have no real expertise in the how of conservation, but what I can teach my sons is the why. Having a global worldview is a passion of mine and was the driving force behind the creation of Multicultural Kid Blogs. What has always fascinated me about conservation is what it teaches us about the interconnectedness of our small planet, so I came up with this simple STEM activity that is perfect for an Earth Day science experiment or for use with a unit on waterways.
I was a child when acid rain became a threat, and I remember clearly the point that the experts kept repeating: The environment knows no national boundaries. The pollution in one country creates the acid rain in a neighboring country. What we do to our environment matters, not just to us but to everyone else on the planet.
I wanted a way to drive this point home to my then preschooler, so I created this simple science experiment using materials we already had around the house. He had a blast and (hopefully) got something of the message behind the activity.
Earth Day Science Experiment: Our Interconnected Waterways
You will need:
Egg carton (cardboard is best)
Flax seed meal or other powdery material
Tray or cookie sheet
Lots of water!
First off, I recommend setting your egg carton on a napkin, laid inside a tray, for reasons that we become clear later. You’ll notice that I did not start this way, but soon learned my lesson!
To start we poured water into the egg carton. We had to fill it enough that the water poured from one cup to another. I talked to my son about how the waterways were all connected to each other – creeks run into rivers, which run into lakes and oceans.
Next we talked about how if we throw trash into a creek, it doesn’t just get that creek dirty. The water carries the trash to other places, like lakes and rivers. To demonstrate this principle, we took the flax seed meal and poured it into one of the egg cups. You actually have to dump quite a bit before you see an effect, but my son didn’t mind helping with this 🙂
Then we added drops of food coloring to another cup and watched as the color slowly spread throughout the egg carton.
And then the experiment jumped out of the neat boundaries I had set up, which, of course, was really the whole point. It turns out that if you let water sit in a cardboard egg carton for a long time, it will leak! And not just water, of course, but the food coloring that was just added to it.
Luckily I was able to roll this potential mishap into our Earth Day science experiment, talking to my son about how even when the connections aren’t obvious, they are still there. Water in a lake doesn’t just stay in the lake, of course, and neither do the chemicals and dyes we dump into it. All that junk seeps into the ground and spreads, just like the dye from our egg carton, which quickly stained the napkin I had hurriedly put under it.
My little mess-maker really enjoyed this Earth Day science experiment, and it was a great visual to talk about how interconnected our environment is. My son’s response? That we need to get a trash boat so we can go clean up all that trash out there! Alright, kid, I’ll put it on my list! Right along with the submarine he wants to get to scout out underwater volcanoes 😉
A common experience of childhood (and beyond) is feeling that you don’t belong. Maybe you don’t have the right clothes, know the right jokes, or just aren’t “cool” enough (or at least you feel this way). On a more insidious level, children who look or act different (because of, for example, race, class, religion, or gender norms) grow to feel that there is something fundamentally wrong with them. Following is a collection of books for children about not fitting in. These lovely and often funny books are a great way to start a conversation with young children about how differences can be beautiful and sources of pride.
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.
Books for Children About Not Fitting In
Unstinky is one of my son’s favorite books because it’s all about wanting to be gross and stinky! Bud is a bug that just can’t find his stink. Whenever he’s in a stink contest, he puts out smells like fresh baked bread or flowers instead of gym socks or armpit! Bud is embarrassed, until a new friend helps him discover his real talent. A really funny look about not fitting in
Twig is a beautifully illustrated book about a stick insect on her first day of bug school. She is excited to make friends, but bug school is so busy that no one notices her – especially because she is tall and thin just like a twig! Heidi becomes more and more isolated, until a near mishap with another student finally pushes her to cry out. Once she has everyone’s attention, the others realize that her camouflage was working a little too well! The teacher comes up with a clever way everyone can help Heidi stand out more, by weaving her a beautiful scarf. I love the detailed illustrations of the insects, which are so realistic yet filled with emotions.
Piggy: Let’s Be Friends! is a very sweet story that will help young readers feel more at ease in situations when they feel they are not fitting in. Poor Miles the mole wants to make friends, but he’s just too nervous, especially when he has to venture above ground. Big-hearted Piggy persists in searching for a way to help Miles feel at home – and even take part in an underground tea party with his new friends! One thing I love about this book is that even though some of the characters make fun of Miles at first because he is so different, but they soon come to see that he was just looking for friends. Together, they all work together to make things right with Miles.
How many children’s books have an endorsement from a famous comedian? Thanks to author Elliott Kalan’s time as a writer on The Daily Show, Horse Meets Dog has just that – an enthusiastic endorsement from Jon Stewart! And it’s not just empty praise. This wildly funny book describes an encounter between a horse and a dog, both of whom see the other as a bad version of himself. For example, Horse sees Dog as a very odd looking horse, while Dog sees Horse as an awkward, overgrown dog. An absurd lesson for kids about appreciating others for who they are, rather than who we think they should be.
Stellaluna is a well-loved classic about a baby bat who ends up in a bird’s nest. In a way, it is a re-telling of the ugly duckling tale, as Stellaluna feels there is something wrong with her, that she can’t be like her adopted siblings. She is forced to sleep in the nest at night instead of hanging upside-down by her feet during the day and even (gulp!) eats insects instead of the fruit she craves. Then, one fateful night, she discovers a group of bats and learns that she has talents that her bird brothers and sisters don’t, like the ability to see at night. When he is finally reunited with his bat mother, the story comes full circle.
One aspect I love about this book is that when Stellaluna first lands in the best, the baby birds are fascinated by her habits. They even try hanging by their feet, until their mother discovers them and forbids them – and Stellaluna – from doing it again.