Jun 172021
 

Books are a wonderful tool to help children see the world in new ways. This collection of new picture books will help you in teaching values like kindness, inclusion, and compassion to raise good humans. It’s not easy to raise the next generation of world changers, but together we can!

Teaching Values: Picture Books to Raise Good Humans | Alldonemonkey.com

Teaching Values: Picture Books to Raise Good Humans

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 thorough and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Enjoy these new picture books that help with teaching values and raising good humans!

A key element to build a kinder, more just world is empowering kids to be world changers, through teaching them to be kind, loving, and confident. That is why I love this new collection by The Be Books, dedicated to raising a generation of self-confident, caring kids that are focused on BEing their best selves. These books, such as Be Who You Were Meant To Be, Love Grows LoveThe Light Within Me and Every So Often A Zebra Has Spots, inspire children to help create a better future by seeing the light in themselves and others.

Another must have in your toolkit to raise good humans is the beautiful new children’s book A New Alphabet for Humanity: A Children’s Book of Alphabet Words to Inspire Compassion, Kindness and Positivity. This ABC book focuses on heart-based values like kindness, self-love, empathy, compassion, and respect. We love its lovely illustrations (with diverse characters) and how it explains concepts like bravery, joy, and gratitude in simple ways that kids can understand. And for every book they sell, they plant a tree! Find out why a growing number of teachers, schools, and parents are using A New Alphabet for Humanity to bring out the best in children.

Another wonderful ABC book is The ABCs of Black History. It’s easy to get kids excited about history with a book like this! Learn about icons of Black history like Alvin Ailey and Toni Morrison, as well as holidays like Juneteenth and Kwanzaa. In this ABC book, letters of the alphabet stand for concepts important to Black history, like E for Education and V for Vote. This is a book that doesn’t shy away from difficult topics like enslavement and discrimination, but it also recognizes that Black history is so much more than that. More than anything, The ABCs of Black History is about empowerment: R is for Rise and B is for Beautiful, for example. A must read for every child.

One of the most common experiences among children of immigrants is the struggle between wanting to fit in and wanting to honor their heritage. For so many young children, this conflict comes to a head in the school cafeteria. In The Yuckiest Lunch Box: A Children’s Story about Food, Cultural Differences, and Inclusion, Nari is so excited for her first day of school, but when the other kids see her traditional Korean lunch, they laugh and turn up their noses. Nari is humiliated and asks her mother to pack her a “normal” American lunch instead. In this tender tale, we see as Nari not only grows in confidence but learns to stand up for another new student and his “weird” lunch. There is so much I love about this book, especially that in the end Nari herself becomes a force for change and shows the way to other students.

 

How to Apologize is a sweet book for young readers to learn that important skill, how to apologize. As the animal characters make plain, everyone makes mistakes, but what’s important is to say you’re sorry. I love that this book gives examples of how to apologize, which is so important when teaching values. What does an apology look like? What makes it a good apology, and not just something you say because you know you should? Kids will love these adorable characters as they learn this valuable lesson.

Making friends is also a skill, one that many of us need to brush up on after the pandemic! Let’s Play! A Book About Making Friends shows children how to do just that through the story of Sukie, who has just started at a new school. Soon she learns to pass on small acts of kindness and form genuine friendships. I love the emphasis on celebrating differences and standing up for one another. A wonderful book for children starting back to school.

FREE is a lovely book about loving and letting go. When a boy and his grandfather care for a sick bird, they make the difficult decision to let him go once he is better. But each time they try to set him free, the bird returns. The boy hopes this means the bird can stay forever, but his grandfather helps him understand that the bird will be happier out in the wild. And so they set off on an adventure to take the bird back into the mountains to its home. This magical journey helps the boy understand that even though it’s hard to let go, when we love someone we want what is best for them.

Thoughts Are Air is a beautiful picture book that teaches children the importance of turning their ideas into action. Thoughts are like air, but if they are put to work, they can power your plans. Young readers follow along as a group of children decides to help save a tree that needs some extra love. They turn their ideas into action and soon get the neighborhood involved. A lovely book to inspire children to transform their big ideas into reality.

Want to help your kids make better choices? Now there’s a fun way to do just that! The cool new book What Should Darla Do? Featuring the Power to Choose has 8 stories in 1! Young readers follow along as Darla, a self-proclaimed astronaut in training, faces everyday dilemmas that kids confront all the time, such as whether to ask before using someone else’s toys and how to handle jealousy among friends. In each situation, kids help Darla choose what she should do. Based on that, they turn to the corresponding page to see how that decision works out for Darla. It’s a great way to help children think through the consequences their own choices and learn to use the Power to Choose!

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Jun 102021
 
 June 10, 2021  Book Reviews, Spanish No Responses »

Summer is the perfect time to reignite your child’s love of reading! If you are hoping to boost your child’s second language or just starting to expose them to one, you won’t want to miss these fun bilingual books for kids! Some are fully bilingual, with the complete text in both languages, while others are primarily in English with Spanish mixed in throughout.

Fun Bilingual Books for Kids of All Ages | Alldonemonkey.com

Fun Bilingual Books for Kids to Learn Spanish

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.

Enjoy these fun bilingual books for kids, including picture books and early readers.

Nothing says summer like paletas (popsicles). Paletero Man is a tribute to these cool summer treats as well as to the generosity of the Paletero Man that sells them. This new picture book is filled the vibrant colors and flavors of paletas, including so many that we love (cherry, melon, and strawberry!) and some I didn’t know (corn??) We already love the music of Lucky Diaz, who has won multiple Latin Grammys and has been nominated for an Emmy six times. (See my review of his band’s last album, Buenos Diaz, and watch for their next one,
Crayon Kids, releasing soon!) The book is also a love letter to the diverse neighborhoods of Los Angeles, where Spanish words and phrases are sprinkled into conversations, just as they are throughout this book. Highly recommended.

Another beloved Spanish-language musician branching out into children’s books is 123 Andrés, the Latin Grammy-winning duo responsible for wonderful albums like Canta Las Letras (read my review). We were already big fans, so I was excited to see this new venture. Ten Little Birds / Diez Pajaritos is a board book based on a popular counting song from 123 Andrés. (We got to see them perform it live a few years ago!) This adorable book, told in both Spanish and English, helps children practice their numbers in Spanish, as they see birds fly away and then return to a city rooftop. Watch the music video, too!

Las vacas no pueden saltar (available in English as Cows Can’t Jump: Animal Actions) is part of a new series of bilingual books for young kids. These books – which come in English, Spanish/English, French/English, and Creole/English editions – are so fun and silly! They are great for very young children as well as beginning readers. They use animals to teach vocabulary and concepts like shapes and action verbs. The text and illustrations are humorous and engaging, especially for young animal lovers. They are a great way to keep language learning fun! Other books in the series include Las vacas no pueden graznar (Cows Can’t Quack: Animal Sounds), and Las vacas no pueden hacer burbujas (Cows Can’t Blow Bubbles: Animal Shapes).

 

Happiness Street – Calle Felicidad is a lovely picture book that celebrates summer and family. In it, a child looks back on her summer at grandmother’s house by the beach. That magical place truly is “happiness street,” as the children have named it. The paintings of the book are gorgeous. The bilingual version is a great opportunity to practice colors in Spanish! The story concludes when Mother comes to take the children back home, and they experience the bittersweet emotions that come with the end of vacation, though it is tempered by the promise of next summer on Happiness Street. A lovely way to celebrate the transition from vacation.

Meet the great luchador El Toro and his friends! This early reader series, including Training Day and Tag Team, is a fun way to get kids reading, all the while exposing them to Spanish. The graphic novel format makes it appealing even to reluctant readers. The mix of Spanish and English is great even for those with no Spanish knowledge. The book is primarily in English, with a heavy dose of added Spanish (though all these phrases are also given in English). I love that these books are a celebration of Mexican-American culture and particularly wrestler (luchador) culture. And of course, parents will love the themes of teamwork and working hard to achieve your goals. The illustrations are wonderful, with so many fun details to explore, including lots of captions in English and Spanish.

This new series is a spin-off series of the picture book ¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat by Raúl the Third, for which Raúl was awarded the Pura Belpré Youth Illustrator Award.

Un Cubano in New York is a fully bilingual book (text in both English and Spanish) about a boy caught between two worlds, feeling like he doesn’t quite fit into either. His Spanish isn’t good enough for his Cuban relatives, and even though he is “white passing,” he is self-conscious about being different from his American peers. It is organized by sections, such as food and language, with the author’s reflections on his childhood. A wonderful book to understand what it is like to grow up as a child of immigrants.

Un Cubano in New York is a part of a collection of similar works (the fifty/fifty collection), including Un hȃfu à Paris, a French-Japanese book about a child of mixed heritage living in Paris. It also includes Little Yabani in Beirut, a memoir from a Lebanese-Japanese author. They give wonderful insight into growing up with mixed cultural heritage.

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Jun 032021
 
 June 3, 2021  Education, parenting No Responses »

I’m so excited to have this guest post from my good friend Jen Fischer. We have worked together for many years through Multicultural Kid Blogs, and I’ve always been impressed with her thoughtfulness and dedication to making the world a better place. Here she tackles a topic on many of our minds, especially this past year: how to balance a home business and homeschooling.

Balancing a home business and homeschooling presents many challenges any time, but those challenges increase during a pandemic when many of us (myself included) are sheltering-in-place with our children. Some of the normal outings or programs that could aid us in our efforts to balance everyone’s needs suddenly are no longer available. For my family, creative problem solving came to the rescue.

Balancing a Home Business and Homeschooling | Alldonemonkey.com

Tools and Tips for Balancing a Home Business and Homeschooling

COVID completely turned our family’s life inside out. My partner and I already worked from home, running our own business. Previously, though, our children were at school. All of the sudden all of us were at home, all of the time, and when the new school year began last Fall, we were in a new home, new city, new state and decided to homeschool our children ourselves. Our company is a media company with an arts education division. Thus, my partner and I have substantial teaching experience: filmmaking, digital arts, music, etc. We felt confident we could handle this transition.

My children thrive in the homeschool setting, so the shift benefited them immensely. Yet, covering their comprehensive schooling needs (Math, Science, Social Studies, English, Computer Science, P.E., the Arts, etc.) while also running our home business stretched my partner and I thin.

In the fall, we took too much upon ourselves and often felt like we were drowning. With the new year (and the Spring semester), we made some pivotal shifts. These adjustments made homeschooling and running a home business not only more manageable, but also more enjoyable for us all.

Outsource Homeschooling

We quickly realized that both our mental health and our business needs would benefit if we didn’t try to do it all ourselves. Additionally, our children needed connections (virtual) to other students and teachers. We outsourced in two ways: through our extended family and through virtual classes.

My mother was an English teacher for decades before she transitioned to a new career. English Language Arts (ELA) is my younger son’s least favorite subject and doing ELA with me was like pulling teeth. So, we set up zoom sessions with G’ma twice a week and saw his ELA interest soar. He looks forward to these sessions and is open to learning from her because of who she is. Additionally, my sister is a Buddhist translator so she does weekly meditation sessions with both the kids via zoom, and my brother (who lives 30 minutes away) often drops off woodworking projects for them. My kids have strengthened their relationships with their extended family through these schooling experiences.

We found online learning experiences that worked for our kids. Specifically, we’ve used Outschool for socialization opportunities for my younger son and found some fabulous Black Studies courses for my older son (Black History and Black Innovators). We also love WorldOver International School because of their project-based approach. Plus, they offer things we can’t teach, like Japanese. Our kids are taking Japanese and Coding classes and earlier this year my younger son enjoyed a Math Bake-Off class, which combined baking and math, bolstering his hands on understanding of fractions, measurements and fraction-to-decimal conversions.

Balancing a Home Business and Homeschooling | Alldonemonkey.com

Self-Directed Learning

My sons are in 4th and 5th grade this year. With middle school approaching soon for them both, we know that managing a project, seeing it through and organizing their own time as they work toward completing a project are important skills for them to master. Additionally, self-directed learning projects mean my partner and I can focus on work items for our home business. We check in with them on these projects on Monday and help them set a list of tasks and a schedule for the week based on the tasks they hope to accomplish that week.

Honor Play and Creativity

Children learn through play. This is an undisputed fact. Pediatrics (the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics) states: “Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development.” Being flexible with our school schedule and honoring play makes our day run more smoothly. Our general rule is to never interrupt outdoor play because of our learning schedule, unless the kids have a virtual class or friend meet up that was scheduled. Often, this means their recess after lunch becomes an extra hour of outdoor play for them and an extra hour of work time for me.

An essential aspect to honoring play and creativity includes setting the stage for this. Our backyard features many “loose parts” (wood, rocks, pebbles, tools, recycled materials, etc.) The benefit to loose parts play is that it is child-led and involves lots of tinkering, which means children are solving problems, thinking creatively and learning a lot in the process. Often, loose parts play is associated with early education, but I’ve seen the benefits of continuing to prioritize this type of play even as my children approach tween and teen-dom.

Engage Children With Your Home Business

Since my partner and I do work that is of interest to our children, we often include them in that work in ways that enhances our home business and that provide our kids with opportunities to connect with us around our work. For example, my partner is currently developing a virtual reality learning space for WorldOver International. Our children are able to experience this space, test it out and offer feedback. He even shares the coding with them to show them the “inner workings” of how such spaces are built.

Learning Through Film

Since my partner and I run a media company and one that emphasizes social impact film and gaming educational tools, we firmly understand and believe in the power of film as a tool for learning. While the kids are watching a film, my partner and I know we can schedule in valuable uninterrupted work time, but always with the understanding that the film will truly enrich their learning experience. Sometimes, it’s comparing a book they’ve read with the film version of that book. At other times, we select a nature documentary that compliments their science lessons.

Journeys In Film is a nonprofit that creates standards-based curricula and discussion guides for films. All of their materials are free. I love how comprehensive the materials are. Many of the materials are more appropriate for children older than mine, but I found that I could easily pull out parts of a curriculum or discussion guide to utilize with my sons. Our favorites from their library were The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind and Hidden Figures, which we used as part of our science and social studies curriculum this year. I highlighted my favorite films for global learning available through Journeys In Film on Multicultural Kid Blogs.

Organize and Prepare

Organization and careful preparation make everything more manageable. We have a school schedule that helps us keep track of their online classes, zoom learning with family members and zoom hangouts with friends that we also include in their schedule from time to time. We print this each week and make sure it is posted for everyone to see and reference.

We also pack lunch! Yes, the children are at home. Yes, I am at home with them too, but I don’t always want to stop to make them lunch. They can make some items themselves, but still sometimes need help. So, we often pack lunch the night before. I’ve also worked with them to think through healthy eating so they can make good snack choices without anyone else’s help.

Another essential component to successfully balancing a home business and homeschool is organizing my own time effectively. My partner and I alternate “teaching days” and “work days.” Even on our teaching days, we still manage time for our home business, but it’s helpful for the kids to know who the point person is for them if they have questions. I schedule “deep work” and meetings on my partner’s work days. If you don’t have a partner to alternate with, then try to use virtual classes, family member zoom lessons and movies as opportunities for you to do work that requires intense focus or utilize that time for meetings. On days when I am “on” or more likely to be interrupted, I schedule work that is more conducive to interruptions, like social media, responding to emails, scheduling upcoming meetings, etc.

The most beneficial thing I’ve learned in balancing a home business and homeschooling is the value of taking deep breaths and reminding myself that “it’s fine.” In the U.S., in particular, education is often discussed in terms of children being “ahead” or “behind,” but in my two decades of experience working with children in a variety of settings, I’ve learned that this just isn’t true. If my children are loved, are safe, are reading, exploring, growing, then they are fine. I’ve taken the pressure off myself and have decided that we should enjoy the process of life and learning.

Has COVID changed your homeschooling or home learning style?

What tools help you balance your life?

Jen Fischer is a writer, film producer and teaching artist whose work focuses on highlighting shared human experiences to cultivate empathy and understanding. Her films have screened across the United States and abroad and have been featured by NBCLatino, ABC, Univision, Fusion, NBCBLK, Vice News, etc. with her film “THE wHOLE” premiering at Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary Human Rights Conference. Her essay “Coffee Can Change” was published in It’s Not All About You: Young Adults Seeking Justice, edited by Julie Richardson Brown and Courtney Richards, published by Chalice Press. She has an essay forthcoming in What is a Criminal? to be published by Routledge press in 2022. Her essays have also been featured in Ms. Magazine, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project and others. She holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and enjoys playing the piano and creating unique educational experiences for her two children. You can find her on Twitter @IndieJenFischer.

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May 272021
 
 May 27, 2021  Education, Summer Comments Off on Summer Learning Resources: 50+ Ideas for Families

Summer is almost upon us! Affter the crazy school year we have had, many parents want to get in some extra educational activities – but still keep summer fun! Is that possible?? Yes! Below is a HUGE list of 50+ summer learning resources for families. It covers everything from literacy and fine motor skills to math and STEM, all with fun summer themes! (For ideas on how to incorporate learning activities into a laidback homeschool structure, see our summer homeschool plan).

Summer Learning Resources: 50+ Ideas for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary subscription to Literati Kids for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.

Summer Learning Resources: 50+ Ideas for Families

Below is a gigantic list of summer learning resources for you, covering all major school subjects! They include worksheets, science experiments, crafts, and activities, so there is something for everyone.

But first I want to sure my favorite learning resource for summer – and any time of year!

Literati Kids is a book subscription services that gets kids excited about reading. Each month a carefully chosen selection of age appropriate books is delivered to your doorstep. In other words, your life just got a whole lot easier! You have a week to pick your favorites then you can send any of them back at no charge. You can also skip months or cancel anytime.

Literati Kids Review | Alldonemonkey.com

You can customize your box by age group so the book selection is a good fit for your child’s reading ability. My kids love the original artwork and fun surprises, like bookmarks!

The boxes also have monthly themes. Last month’s box was all about kindness, so each box came with related books as well as a beautiful poster about kindness and a “caring coin” to pass on to others.

50+ Summer Learning Resources: Ideas for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

I also appreciate that each box contains a mix of genres. We’ve received fiction and non-fiction, graphic novels and picture books, early readers and activity books.

Summer Learning Resources: 50+ Ideas for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

And now you can get 25% off Literati Kids! We love this top rated book subscription service:

Click here for 25% off Literati Kids!

And now for even more learning fun! Here are 50+ summer learning resources, sorted by subject:

 

Summer Learning Fun

All Done Monkey: Summer Homeschool Plan

Coffee & Carpool: Summer Slide Prevention Tips

3 Dinosaurs: Blank Summer Bucket List

3 Dinosaurs: Summer Bucket List – Top 10

Rock Your Homeschool: Summer Fun Planner Pack

3 Dinosaurs: Free Summer Tot Pack

OurFamilyCode/: Summer Fruit Worksheets

And Next Comes L: Popsicle I-Spy Printable

Rock Your Homeschool: Ice Cream Coloring Pages

Active Littles: Summer Foam Window Art

Rock Your Homeschool: Shark Week Printable Pack

OurFamilyCode/: Shark Week Worksheets

Taming Little Monsters: Shark Sensory Bin

Taming Little Monsters: Frozen Sand Sensory Bin

ABC’s of Literacy: Summer Sensory Bin

Taming Little Monsters: No Prep Ice Cream Store Dramatic Play

 

DIY Summer Camps

All Done Monkey: Lego Summer Camp Ideas

All Done Monkey: World Explorers Camp

 

Literacy

Multicultural Kid Blogs: Read Around the World Summer Reading

Growing Book by Book: Book-Based Summer Activity Calendars

ABC’s of Literacy: Sun Alphabet Playdough Mats

Living Life and Learning: Ice Cream Letter Puzzles

And Next Comes L: Alphabet Tracing with Chalk and Rocks

A Dab of Glue Will Do: Pool Noodle Alphabet Matching

Books and Giggles: O Is for Ocean Letter Craft

Apple Green Cottage: Make Letters with Rainbow Pebbles

3 Dinosaurs: Summer Spelling Puzzles

Mess for Less: Water Balloon Phonics

And Next Comes L: Sight Word Parking Lot (Outdoors)

Books and Giggles: Summer Name Activity for Preschoolers

Active Littles: Summer Word Search Activity Cards

3 Dinosaurs: Summer Reading Charts

Only Passionate Curiosity: Printable Summer Reading Passport

3 Dinosaurs: Summer Themed Bookmarks

Rock Your Homeschool: Summer Poetry Activity Pack

Simple Fun for Kids: Beach Writing Prompts for Kindergarteners

Coffee & Carpool: Encourage Reluctant Readers with a Book Movie Club

 

Math

Homeschool Preschool: Summer Color By Number

3 Dinosaurs: Summer Counting Easy Reader Book

Simple Fun for Kids: Beach Gear Counting Cards

Living Life and Learning: Beach I Spy Graphing

Homeschool Preschool: Summer Count and Graph Worksheets

Simple Fun for Kids: Beach Life Tally Marks Puzzles

 

STEM & Nature

Mama Smiles: Weather Unit

Hands on Teaching Ideas: Simple Summer Science

Team Cartwright: Swim Science Activities

The Soccer Mom Blog: Summer Color Science

Red Ted Art: Color Theory Paper Spinners

And Next Comes L: Rocket Hopscotch Planet Activity

The Analytical Mommy: Starting a Kids Vegetable Garden

Crafts by Amanda: Printable Summer Scavenger Hunts

Organized 31: Summer Nature Scavenger Hunt

Red Ted Art: Bug Hunt Fortune Tellers

Team Cartwright: Sunscreen Painting

Hip Homeschool Moms: Educational Outdoor Boredom Busters

 

Fine Motor

In the Playroom: Fine Motor Sun Craft

Taming Little Monsters: Octopus Fine Motor Activity

Taming Little Monsters: Colorful Rainbow Fish Fine Motor Activity

May 212021
 
 May 21, 2021  bilingualism, Book Reviews, multiculturalism Comments Off on Learn Chinese with Mandarin Picture Books

Mandarin Chinese is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world and a gateway to learning about China’s rich culture heritage! And it has never been easier to expose your child to Mandarin. The Mandarin picture books featured below are a wonderful way for children to begin to learn Chinese, whether as heritage learners or with no background at all.

Learn Chinese with Mandarin Picture Books | Alldonemonkey.com

Learn Chinese with Mandarin Picture 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.

Help your child learn Chinese with these engaging Mandarin picture books!

If your child is just starting to learn Chinese, the new picture book First Mandarin Sounds: an Awesome Chinese Word Book is a great place to start! The author is the respected educator behind the popular website Miss Panda Chinese. Her enthusiasm for the language is infectious, and her years of experience teaching Chinese to children is obvious in this new book. First Mandarin Sounds teaches children 37 essential sounds of Mandarin Chinese. All sounds are shown in Chinese characters as well as Pinyin, which utilizes the Roman alphabet, making it easy for non-native speakers to jump right in.

My children loved the adorable illustrations and playing “seek and find” with them. The author has cleverly hidden both the Pinyin and Chinese characters inside each simple illustration. This way children have a fun activity to do on each page, plus it helps them remember the sounds and characters. Great for beginning learners!

Are you looking for a fun way to teach your child Mandarin or just to expose them to other languages? Are you looking for a great story about friendship across cultures? Then you will love Travel, Learn and See Your Friends : Adventures in Mandarin Immersion, a new bilingual book from Edna Ma!

Written in English, Simplified Chinese, and Pinyin, it follows the friendship of two boys that meet in a Chinese language immersion school. I love the fact that one boy is learning Mandarin because it’s his heritage language, while the other (based on a real little boy!) is doing it to learn about a new culture! When one boy finds out he’s moving to another city, can the friends come up with a plan to see each other again?

I love this sweet story of friendship, plus my son (not a Mandarin speaker!) enjoyed looking at the Chinese characters and trying to figure out how to pronounce the Mandarin words (thanks to the Pinyin, which renders Chinese into English characters). Wonderful book to motivate children to learn Chinese.

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Apr 292021
 
 April 29, 2021  Book Reviews, music Comments Off on Unique Books for Kids: Musical Picture Books

I love finding unique books for kids to enjoy! Sometimes it’s as simple as adding music to stories, making a magical combination kids will love! These musical picture books make for a unique experience that kids of all ages can enjoy.

Unique Books for Kids: Musical Picture Books | Alldonemonkey.com

Unique Books for Kids: Musical Picture 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.

Enjoy these unique books for kids from The Secret Mountain: musical picture books! Both of the books below include a CD with the narrated story plus music. If you’d rather go digital, simply use the code at the back to download the music plus a printable file of the illustrated story!

We’ve all experienced it: the frustration of a power outage just when we’re in the middle of homework or cleaning up after dinner. But when the lights go off in Xiaomi’s apartment building, her parents turn it into a joyful evening for the whole neighborhood! They head outside to put on an impromptu concert. Her father plays the erhuwhile her mother plays the accordion. Xiaomi dances and calls their neighbors outside to join in the fun. Summer Moonlight Concert celebrates family and community but above all music and its powerful ability to lift spirits and bring people together. Originally published in China, this book is also a wonderful way to introduce children to Chinese music.

Music All Around also celebrates music, but this time the music made by nature. On her trip to visit her grandparents, Sofia discovers that the forest has its own unique music, filled with the chatter of mice, the percussion of the foxes, and even the howl of the wolf. All of the animals join in their own way, creating a symphony that surrounds Sofia and all her forest friends. Originally published in Spain, this gorgeously illustrated book, with its accompanying music, reminds children to observe the world closely, as they discover music all around them.

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Apr 222021
 
 April 22, 2021  Literacy, parenting Comments Off on Get Kids Interested in Reading: 5 Easy Ways

Do you struggle getting your children to enjoy reading? Reading is the gateway to knowledge, but not all kids take to it easily. Here are five easy ways to get kids interested in reading. Share your tips in the comments!

Getting Kids Excited About Reading | Alldonemonkey.com

Get Kids Interested in Reading: 5 Easy Ways

Disclosure: We received complimentary Literati Kids boxes for review purposes; however, our love for this service is totally genuine.

Click here for 25% off Literati Kids!

5. Follow Their Interests

Do they love animals? There are so many animal and pet books to choose from! Do they love to laugh? There are plenty of funny books out there for them to enjoy! You could even tie books into an upcoming trip or their favorite sport.

4. Let Them Browse

Sometimes we create barriers to reading without realizing it, by choosing books for our kids. After all, we know better what books are good for them, right? But children have their own ideas about what is interesting. So hold your tongue and let them pick, even if they choose comics or books based on their favorite TV characters instead of what you consider great literature. They will feel proud of their choice and much more likely to dive into the book right away.

3. Read Together

Even when children can read independently, there are still many benefits to reading together. It is wonderful bonding time, and can be a cherished part of the day for both of you. One of my favorite parts of homeschooling is getting to read aloud together over lunch. It’s a great way to get kids excited about reading and to see reading as a normal part of the day that everyone in the family enjoys.

2. Be a Reader

I know firsthand how difficult it can be to find time to read when you have young children, but it is so worth the effort, for yourself and you children. Even if you only find time to read when they are asleep, they can still see the book by your bedside table, and you can talk to them later about what you are reading. I personally have found motivation in joining a book club. I had trouble going to in-person meetings when my kids were very small, so instead I started an online book club! It is a great way to form friendships and discover great new books.

Literati Kids

1. Subscribe to Literati Kids

A book subscription service like Literati Kids is a convenient and easy way to get kids excited about reading: Let experts choose high quality books, and just wait for the books come to you!

Literati Kids

We love Literati Kids, which delivers a personalized package each month of 5 age appropriate books, plus fun extras like original artwork and bookmarks. Each box has a mix of fiction and non-fiction as well as different literary genres. Book prices are the same or less than what you’ll find on Amazon.

Get Kids Excited About Reading | Alldonemonkey.com

Don’t love what you receive? (Hard to believe, but I suppose it’s possible!) Return books free of charge using the the pre-paid return shipping label.

Get Kids Excited About Reading | Alldonemonkey.com

Give the gift of reading with the Literati Kids book subscription! Kids will look forward to receiving their box every month, filled with fun books and goodies! And just click the link below to get a huge discount:

Click here for 25% off Literati Kids!

 

 

Apr 152021
 

This Earth Day, dive into these beautiful nature books for kids! These gorgeous fiction and non-fiction books are sure to get children interested in the natural world.

Nature Books for Children for Earth Day | Alldonemonkey.com

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

Nature Books for Children for Earth Day

Enjoy these nature books for kids, perfect for Earth Day or any time of year!

Zonia’s Rain Forest is the latest picture book from the Caldecott Honor Winner Juana Martínez-Neal. It is the story of a child of the Amazon, who is friends with all the creatures in the rain forest, from the sloth to the jaguar. This lovely book with its dreamy artwork is a loving tribute to the animals and to their fast disappearing jungle home. It also shows the ability of children to connect to the natural world and become its protectors, when, like Zonia, they discover evidence that it needs our help. I love that it also teaches children about the indigenous people that live in the rainforest. Zonia represents the Asháninka people of the Peruvian Amazon, and the back of the book even includes a translation of the text into the Asháninka language.

The layered board book Into the Ocean is a perfect way to introduce young readers to ocean creatures and their habitats. Kids will enjoy the simple rhyming story of a little turtle playing hide and seek, as they discover various ocean animals. The shaped pages are perfect for little hands, and kids will love the foil detail of the illustrations. This tactile experience will draw little readers into the ocean world and spark their curiosity about its inhabitants.

Anyone else obsessed with polar bears? The gorgeous new book Penguins and Polar Bears: A pretty cool introduction to the Arctic and Antarctic is a great way to spark kids’ interest in the animals of the Arctic and Antarctic by helping them imagine themselves as explorers to the Poles. This book is filled with lavish illustrations and fun facts about the popular animals found in these regions as well as some of the lesser known, like ice worms (!) I also love that the book doesn’t pretend that there are no humans in these extreme environments. It covers explorers, indigenous groups (*not* as static relics of the past but as modern inhabitants), and research stations. It also discusses negative effects of human contact, such as pollution and shrinking habitats, while helping kids see themselves as part of the solution. A beautiful addition to any home or school collection.

The other day my son wanted to read more about bees, but he was rolling his eyes because our animal encyclopedia didn’t teach him anything new. “I know all this already!” he complained. So I was thrilled to receive Bruno the Beekeeper: A Honey Primer, a beautiful book for kids that want to learn more about any aspect of bees and beekeeping – from how to care for beehives to what to feed the bees. The book follows Grandma and Bruno the bear through their year, as we see how they care for their bees in each season. The book is full of charming illustrations, so it’s appealing even for younger readers, yet there is so much detail shown that older readers will love it as well. A wonderful way to show appreciation for hard working bees!

Do your kids love gross stuff as much as mine do? Here is an awesome book that uses that love of yuckiness to teach them cool science facts about fungi! Fungus is Among Us! is a hilarious book that reads more like a spooky Halloween story about the fungi that surround us everyday. There are so many things I love about it, starting with the fact that the main character is a brown girl! Also, that it makes science so fun. Trust me, you will never look at your compost pile – or your pizza – the same way again! And as a parent of multiple kiddos, I love that the book can be enjoyed on different levels. There is the main story that suits the attention span of younger readers (while still packing in a lot of learning), plus additional information boxes throughout the book for older kids that want a deeper dive into the subject. There’s even an interview with a mycologist (a woman!) at the back. Highly recommended!

Fungarium: Welcome to the Museum offers another look a fungi, in this oversized, coffee table quality book. It is set up like a museum exhibit, so instead of chapters, it has “galleries,” with displays about, for example, fungal biology and fungal diversity. This incredibly detailed reference book contains a wealth of information for older children, as well as incredible full page illustrations. A wonderful addition to any home or school library.

Did you know that animals use tools, too? And not just primates! In Orangutan Hats and Other Tools Animals Use, children can discover all the ways that animals around the world use tools to keep clean, stay healthy, protect themselves, and have fun! (This last section is my favorite! Who knew that ravens like to go sledding and play games??) This beautiful book is a great way for older elementary school kids to learn more about their favorite animals. From long-tailed macaques that floss their teeth to boxer crabs that use anemones as shields, kids will never look at animals the same way again!

What list of nature books would be complete without a look at the life of one of its most famous champions? The Story of Jane Goodall: A Biography Book for New Readers is perfect for kids that are ready for early chapter books. It tells the story of Goodall’s life in an engaging format that helps kids transition into longer format biographies. There are plenty of illustrations and call out boxes to break up the longer text, keeping kids attention and teaching them about the fascinating life of this hero. I especially loved the “myth vs. fact” boxes sprinkled throughout the book, dispelling common misconceptions about Goodall and her beloved animals. Wonderful book to inspire any budding scientists!

Apr 082021
 
 April 8, 2021  Book Reviews, Spring Comments Off on Spring Books for Kids of All Ages

Flowers are blooming, and the days are getting longer! Celebrate this joyous season with these wonderful new spring books for kids. The list below includes board books, picture books, and early chapter books.

Spring Books for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Spring Books for Kids of All Ages

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

Five Little Ducks: Sing Along With Me! was an instant hit in our house. My daughter asked me to read (or sing!) it to her over and over, and she also enjoys playing with all flaps and sliders herself. These sturdy interactive features are nice and chunky, so they are easy for little fingers to manipulate. This would be a great book to keep in your bag if you have a long wait somewhere and need to keep a child occupied!

It is also a fun way to teach your child this classic song. Can’t quite remember the tune yourself? No problem! You can scan the QR code on the back cover to hear the song!

How Big Is Love? is the perfect book to remind children just how much they are loved. This lovely book, with its sparkly illustrations, follows a mother duck and her little ducklings as they swim in the stream and encounter storms and rough waters together. The text teaches them about the abstract concept of love in concrete terms that are easy for young children to understand.

Mail Duck: A Book of Shapes and Surprises is another fun lift-the-flap book for little hands. Toddlers will love following along with duck as he makes his deliveries and lifting the flaps to discover what’s in all of the packages. It’s also a fun way to explore shapes, as each animal along the route has a favorite shape. Perfect for toddlers that love all different kinds of trucks!

Two Dogs on a Trike is another great early concept book that celebrates things that go! Young readers will enjoy seeing dogs (and a cat!) riding a trike, a bike, a scooter, a plane, and more. They will also count up to ten and back again as they follow along with the playful action of the story.

Bips and Roses is the eighth book in the wonderful STEM early chapter book series, Zoey and Sassafras, which follows a young scientist and her cat as they help magical creatures. In this latest installment, there is a problem with magical roses in the forest – the same roses that baby hippogriffs rely on for food! As in all of the books in this fab series, Zoey and her friends must use science to solve this difficult problem, such as performing experiments related to photosynthesis. And of course, Zoey keeps track of it all in her science journal. Wonderful book for any child loves science, magical creatures, or a good mystery!

The Jasmine Green Rescues series is a new discovery for us, and we are loving it! A Lamb Called Lucky is the fifth in this sweet early chapter book series about a girl who rescues animals on Oak Tree Farm. Each book focuses on a different animal rescue (including the sixth book, A Goat Called Willow). These adventure stories are perfect for little animal lovers, as they learn more about different farm animals and what it takes to care for them. They will also learn along with Jasmine about bigger issues like juggling responsibilities, finding courage to help others, and learning to let go.

What are your favorite spring books for kids?

Be sure to check out my collection of spring crafts, activities, and books!

Apr 012021
 
 April 1, 2021  Book Reviews, Literacy, parenting Comments Off on Kids Book Subscription Review: Literati Kids

Have you considered getting a kids book subscription but weren’t sure which one to purchase? Read on for my honest review of Literati Kids, a premier book subscription service for kids – plus get a discount so you can try it for yourself!

Kids Book Subscription Review: Literati | Alldonemonkey.com

Kids Book Subscription Review: Literati Kids

Disclosure: We received complimentary Literati Kids boxes for review purposes; however, our love for this service is totally genuine.

Click here for 25% off Literati Kids!

Subscription services are all the rage these days, and no wonder! Busy parents love the convenience of home delivery and knowing that experts have curated a quality experience for their kids.

Book subscription services get kids excited about reading by delivering carefully chosen books to your door – but which service to choose?

We recently had the opportunity to try out Literati Kids, one of the most well known monthly kids book boxes, and we were definitely impressed!

Kids Book Subscription Review: Literati | Alldonemonkey.com

First of all, the presentation was beautiful. My kids loved receiving personalized packages! The original artwork from their boxes was immediately hung up in their rooms, and bookplates put in their new books. My son received a cool magnetic bookmark, while my daughter got a pen with invisible ink!

Kids Book Subscription Review: Literati | Alldonemonkey.com

And then, of course, there were the books themselves! Each Literati Kids box contains 5 age appropriate books curated by experts and delivered straight to your door. I was impressed with the variety of books we received. Each box had a mix of fiction and non-fiction as well as different literary genres. Book prices are the same or less than what you’ll find on Amazon.

Kids Book Subscription Review: Literati | Alldonemonkey.com

We loved every one of the books we received! But if for some reason you don’t, you can return them free of charge using the the pre-paid return shipping label.

Kids Book Subscription Review: Literati | Alldonemonkey.com

Give the gift of reading with the Literati Kids book subscription! Kids will look forward to receiving their box every month, filled with fun books and goodies! And just click the link below to get a huge discount:

Click here for 25% off Literati Kids!

 

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