When my friend Daria from Daria’s World Music approached me about sharing her Indian drum craft along with a related children’s book, I was so excited! Daria and I have been friends for a long time, and I’m a big admirer of her work. She does such an incredible job of getting kids excited about world music. You can see below how much fun we had recently making the dhol Indian drum and reading a folktale about it!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of some of the resources 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.
Indian Drum Craft and Book
The dholis a drum from North India and surrounding areas, especially the Punjab region. This double-sided drum is hung around the neck with a thick strap and played with wooden sticks.
It is easy to do with resources you probably have on hand right now.
The kids loved getting to decorate the drums with their own designs, but best of all was running outside once they were done to find sticks and get playing!
While the kids were working, I read them The Drum, a folktale from India about a boy who longs for his own drum. Being from a poor family, however, he knows they cannot afford it. But when his mother brings home a magical stick, given to her by a mysterious stranger, the boy’s luck changes. He immediately begins a series of adventures, where his compassion leads him to help people in need, who each repay him as best they can. In the end, he gets his drum! A really fun story of a good-hearted kid being rewarded for his kindness.
These wonderful books celebrate African-American heroines by having black girls not just as side characters but as protagonists, in settings as diverse as rural Jamaica, a modern city, and a space station. The list includes picture books as well as an early chapter book and a graphic novel, because black girl magic is for kids of all ages! Be sure to hop over to Multicultural Kid Blogs read the full list:
Welcome to one of my favorite annual events, Multicultural Children’s Book Day! This event helps promote multicultural books for children and advocates for more diverse children’s literature. You can join in by participating in today’s Twitter party (see below) and taking advantage of the linky party and free resources listed below! Read on for more details about Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.
Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.
MCBD 2020 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board:
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
Is a friend or family member welcoming a baby in the coming months? We have gift ideas for you! Here are adorable board books for babies, perfect to welcome a new little one. Several of them have a spring theme, so they are ideal books for a baby shower in the spring.
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.
Books for a Baby Shower in the Spring
A book is a gift that lasts for years to come! Of course, they are great for cuddling up and reading to very young children, but they last even beyond those first few years. My daughter is now four, and the simple text of the books below is perfect for her to start sounding out words.
Enjoy these sweet board books, the perfect books for a baby shower in the spring!
It is physically impossible to pick up Welcome, Baby: Hello, Bunny and not say, “Awww!” At least, that is what always happens with me! I’m pretty sure I have little heart emojis in my eyes as well, because this chunky board book is full of adorable baby animals, doing activities that little ones will recognize from their daily lives, like playing at the park and, of course, reading bedtime stories! The shaped pages are easier for little hands to turn, besides providing extra color and texture to explore.
Welcome, Baby: Love You, Baby is part of the same series as Welcome, Baby: Hello, Bunny, and features many of the same super cute baby animals. This book explores the many ways that a parent can show their love for baby, from dancing to splashing in the tub. Glittery cut-out hearts of graduated sizes immediately attract children’s attention and add to the colorful illustrations. A sweet book to snuggle up and share together.
Spring Is Here! is part of the phenomenal Changing Faces series (read my review of I Love You, Elephant!). Babies will be fascinated by how the animal faces change as you turn the pages! Explore the joys of the season as the animals celebrate everything that’s great about spring, such as running in the grass and swimming in a pond. With simple text and engaging illustrations, this is a book guaranteed to keep them engaged!
Baby Up, Baby Down: A First Book of Opposites is part of the same series as the phenomenal first book of feelings, Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions (read my review). Little ones love to look at pictures of other babies, and this book is full of bright photos of babies demostrating such fundamental opposites as up and down, and clean and messy. (My daughter loves that last one! “That baby’s so messy!”) I love the simple, uncluttered look of these books, so that little readers can really focus on the pictures without too much distraction. A great book for learning first concepts!
January 15, 2020Book ReviewsComments Off on Being True to Yourself: New Children’s Books
Childhood is a special time when children discover their own voice and what makes them unique. Yet often they may falter to hold onto this sense of self in the face of conflicting views and pressures. Stories are a wonderful way to start conversations and help children think through real-life scenarios they face. Here is a collection of beautiful new children’s books being true to yourself.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copis 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.
Being True to Yourself: New Children’s Books
Elsie is a gorgeous new picture book about a little bunny who just wants to go on her own path – literally! Elsie is one of many brothers and sisters, and despite the pressure they put on her to just do what everyone else is doing, Elsie is determined to do what she wants, whether it’s taking a different route to the fishing pond, or using a buttercup as bait. As the story progresses, the siblings begin to see the wisdom of Elsie’s choices, and even decide to try things her way for a change! A sweet book about being true to yourself, even when others doubt you.
I Love Masala Me is a lovely new picture book in English and Hindi, about kids celebrating their mixed heritage. They are Indian and American, so rather than just one over the other, they decide to embrace both cultures. They share this with the reader using food – a subject any child can relate to! They show their love of both of their cultures by explaining that they love chicken nuggets and chicken pakora, and so on. One of the things I love about the book is that it shows points of unity as well as points of difference. A great book to teach inclusion and diversity.
Lulu Bakes: A lovely discovery is for any child struggling to discover what makes them special. If you are a middle child, you will especially relate to this book! It is also perfect for tweens, who are beginning to define their own unique voice. Lulu is a tween bunny who feels like she can’t do anything as well as her sisters – until a chance encounter at a local bakery leads her to discover her own sweet talents! Includes a recipe for Lulu’s special cupcakes. What makes this story really special, though, is that it is a collaboration between the author and her twelve year old daughter, a talented young artist who illustrated the book. Talk about finding your talent!
Preschool is such a special age, when kids are excited to learn, and there is so much to be discovered! Here are some wonderful new resources that focus on topics dear to preschoolers’ hearts at the same time as they stimulate their receptive little brains. Have fun with your little ones with these new preschool books and music!
Disclosure: I receive 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.
New Preschool Books and Music
Enjoy exploring with your little ones using these new preschool books and music!
My children adore Acrobat Family! New from gestalten, it is so intricately made, with pop-out, cut illustrations that are so cleverly done that your child will be delighted each time she turns the page. We love watching the acrobats stack themselves up, up and up! It is not only thrilling to watch but helps little ones practice their counting, as more and more acrobats are added to the show. It also shows the value of working together as a team, and how important each person’s contribution is, even the cat!
My daughter always asks to read When Pencil Met Eraser at bedtime. It is an hilarious take on one of the most fundamental relationships in a child’s schooling – that between a pencil and its eraser. In all likelihood you have never though to question this seemingly peaceful bond, but this book calls us back to its origins. What was it like when Pencil first met Eraser? Was he angry at someone always undoing his work? And what helped him change his mind? A clever story of an unlikely friendship.
I have to be honest: Waiting For The Elevator, the latest album from the legendary Laurie Berkner Band, has caused a bit of conflict in our house. My four year old daughter insists that no one can sing along the album, which she loves, so that she can hear Ms. Berkner sing. But as any fan knows, it’s impossible not to sing along to The Laurie Berkner Band! Their songs are just too catchy! *Sigh* I just try to do it as quietly as I can and hope she doesn’t notice.
Their is so much to love about this album. While it is fun for the whole family, it seems specially designed for preschoolers. It has all those elements that they enjoy so much, like tons of animals and silliness. It also focuses on topics they find fascinating. My daughter’s favorite is the title track, all about riding in an elevator! And parents will appreciate that the songs are also educational, teaching the alphabet, names of states, telling time, and more.
Most amazing to me is that The Laurie Berkner Band manages to incorporate that repetition so important to preschoolers – while making it still enjoyable for parents! To be honest, when I saw there was a song about counting the number of times a bell chimes (every hour, through all 12 hours!) I cringed. This was sure to be a long, boring, repetitive song! And yet somehow it isn’t. In fact, it is such a lovely song I often find myself singing it around the house.
It may seem incredible that The Laurie Berkner Band has managed to put out another fabulous album, but it’s true! We love Waiting For The Elevator and are sure you and your littles will too!
It’s a great time to be a Mister Rogers fan! With two new films that honor his memory, Mister Rogers’ legacy is being celebrated everywhere you turn. And now here is a new album of all of the beloved songs from the show. Thank You, Mister Rogers: Music & Memories has all the classic songs you loved, such as Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (performed by the Cowsills) and It’s Such a Good Feeling (performed by Kellie Pickler). I love the retro feel of the album, and you won’t believe how many award-winning artists are featured, including Sandi Patty, Vanessa Williams, and Lee Greenwood. My favorite song is Podemos Ser Amigos? (Can We Be Friends?) by Jon Secada. If you are a fan of Mister Rogers, you won’t want to miss this album!
Trying to raise a child who is a world citizen? Want to expose your child to different cultures but can’t afford to travel? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Read on for ideas of how to explore the world with your child in 6 easy steps – without ever leaving home!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the items below for review purposes. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Explore the World with Your Child in 6 Easy Steps
1. Play Games
An incredibly fun way to explore the world with your child is through games! Children learn through play, so next time you’re looking for a fun activity, remember that it can be an easy way to learn about other cultures!
That’s all well and good, you may be thinking, but what if you don’t know any games from another country? Then you definitely don’t want to miss Global Kids: 50+ Games, Crafts, Recipes & More from Around the World! This is global learning made easy and super fun! This carefully researched resource comes in the form of a pack of large cards, each with an activity from a different part of the globe, or that emphasizes a particular aspect of global learning, like map reading. There are five categories: create, play, eat, celebrate, and help out. (I love the inclusion of helping others!) For example, you might learn to make a shekere (a musical instrument from Nigeria), play luta de galo (a form of tag from Brazil), make a Vietnamese fruit smoothie, grow bean sprouts to celebrate Nowruz (Persian new year), or go plogging (a Swedish activity that combines jogging and picking up litter).
The Global Kids activity pack is so easy for busy parents and teachers to use. The activities involve little to no prep, and most can be done with materials you already have in your home or classroom. Just pick a card and you will be off exploring!
2. Read Books
We all know how effective books can be in helping kids to learn about the world. And here is another stunning addition for your home library or classroom! Precious Planet: A User’s Manual for Curious Earthlings from gestalten envisions the planet as a house, where all of the elements and rooms are interconnected. First, we look back at the construction site (the planet’s creation), before moving on to the house’s foundation (the center of the earth, tectonic plates, etc.) and the different rooms (continents). Finally, we turn our gaze to our neighborhood, including possible vacation homes.
I love the book’s setup! It is such a great way of getting kids to think of the Earth in a new way, especially in terms of how closely connected we all are. For example, the Bathroom pages discuss the effect of dirty bathwater (trash in the oceans) and how the jacuzzi works (the ocean currents). The overall message of this innovative book is how all systems of our earthly home work together and our critical role as its caretakers.
3. Enjoy Food
Food is one of my favorite ways to explore the world with my kids! We love trying new recipes together, like Saudi Arabian Magic Cake or Costa Rican empanadas. Cooking together is wonderful hands on learning (science, math, language…), plus it’s easy to tie in other aspects of culture, such as celebrations.
A Taste of the World: What People Eat and How They Celebrate Around the Globe does just this, by looking at cuisine around the world, and how it relates to more than 20 different global festivities. Organized by continent, A Taste of the World, also from gestalten, looks at general aspects of global cuisine – such as spices – as well as the foods of specific countries. For each highlighted country, we explore some typical dishes and flavors as well as a local celebration, such as Three Kings’ Day in Spain, the Almond Blossom Festival in Morocco, and Thanksgiving in the US.
I love the diversity of the countries and festivals covered in the book. Many are ones you will have heard of, such as Diwali, while others, such as Jamaica’s Independence Day and Nigeria’s Fish and Cultural Festival, will likely be new to most readers.
As mentioned right at the start of the book, food brings people together because it’s all about sharing. So be sure to share this book with your little world citizen!
4. Learn a Language
Whether you speak another language or just want to learn a few phrases, exposing a child to another language not only has well documented benefits for their brain, it can also introduce them to new ways of seeing the world. And it makes a wonderful ice breaker if they meet someone from another country! Nothing makes a person feel welcome like having someone make the effort to speak to them in their own language.
As a non-native speaker, I often worry about my accent when teaching my kids Spanish. I love the new Little Polyglot Animals/Animales book from Linguacious, because it utilizes QR codes and a specially designed app to let kids hear vocabulary spoken by native speakers! (Read my review of their innovative flashcards). Each page features a large photo of an animal, along with codes that kids can scan to hear how to say the name of the animal in both English and Spanish.
It’s so easy, my four year old daughter can do it herself! And my older kids love it too, since they are drawn to anything involving technology. It is a simple yet incredibly effective way to teach children Spanish vocabulary!
Everyone loves a good party! The most popular event in our World Explorers Club is our annual Around the World Holiday Party. Learning about another culture’s celebrations can be a fun way to learn about their values and beliefs. And celebrations easily incorporate games, activities, food, music, dress-up, stories, and more!
For example, I love the gorgeous new book Korean Celebrations: Festivals, Holidays and Traditions from Tuttle Publishing. It covers all the major holidays and festivals of Korea, such as Seollal and Chuseok, as well as special events like bithdays and weddings. Kids not only learn the significance of the celebrations, there are tons of hands-on activities, too! They can make origami carnations as a gift for Parent’s Day in May, or cook Half-Moon Rice Cake for Chuseok. Kids will also be delighted to learn about local festivals like the Mud Festival at Daecheon Beach!
There are many other fun bits of information highlighted in the book, such as the national anthem, a look at the Korean flag, and how to write in Korean. I love the whimsical watercolor illustrations that bring the celebrations to life for young readers.
6. Try Unit Studies
One way to explore the world with your child that I’ve found to be particularly effective is making use of unit studies. Focus on one country or region at a time – maybe somewhere you’ve traveled, or someplace you’ve read about in a book. You can easily pull in all of the aspects discussed above, that is, games, books, food, language, and celebrations, creating a well-rounded experience your child is sure to remember.
Let’s Go to Italy! from gestalten is the perfect book to use for a study of Italy. It covers many aspects of this rich culture, including the language, food, history, and famous landmarks. Kids will love learning that the term nutella was coined by an Italian chef or reading about how gelato was developed! They will also discover the gondolas of Venice and the love story of Romeo and Juliet in Verona, as well as learn the many different types of pasta. They will study the work of Galileo and DaVinci, and learn why a violinist in 2007 was so distraught after breaking his Stradivarius violin. This jam packed book is rounded out by a dictionary, glossary of terms, and kid-friendly recipes.
My one quibble is that I would have liked to have seen more overarching organization to the book, rather than so many small chapters. Nevertheless, it is a glorious book to get lost in, with so many fun facts about one of the world’s most fascinating countries!
So many families enjoy reading Christmas books and listening to holiday music together. It’s a wonderful way to mark the season and create those special memories! Here is a batch of fabulous new Christmas books and music for families to enjoy together. They are guaranteed to get everyone in the holiday spirit!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the items 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.
New Christmas Books & Music for Kids
A new favorite at our house is the adorable When the Clock Strikes on Christmas Eve. Author Ferland wrote an equally adorable book When the Clock Strikes on Halloween (see my full review). As with her previous book, this new Christmas picture book also reinforces telling time skills, with a clock on every page spread. As the clock strikes each hour, we see families getting ready for the holidays with special traditions, such as ice skating, sitting by the fire, and decorating the tree. My son loves seeing how other families celebrate Christmas, plus he of course laughs at the mild potty humor (a farting elf!) I love the sweet illustrations and the rhyming text. This makes a great book to read by firelight just before bed on Christmas Eve!
Christmas Is Awesome! is a fun romp through all the reasons that Christmas really is awesome! There are twinkling lights, ugly sweaters, and, of course, being nice! I love the action-packed illustrations, which kids will be poring over to see every last hilarious detail. My favorite character is a grumpy little lump of coal. Even he gets a present, although he was all set to ring bells on the “silent nights” page! Dog lovers like my daughter will adore the “mistletoe” page, which has a dog giving a very big doggy lick to a cat. And of course, I have to mention that Santa’s elves are diverse, one of those little details that makes a difference! A really fun new Christmas book that everyone will enjoy.
I confess it is rather misleading to include Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Holidays: Songs and Stories That Celebrate Global Light in a Christmas list, because it encompasses so much more than just Christmas! Of course, there are quite a few Christmas songs here, but there is also music to celebrate Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, and Chinese New Year! So many winter holidays from different religions celebrate light, so this point of unity can be a wonderful avenue to teach children about other beliefs. Tracks on Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Holidays often begin with a brief explanation of the featured holiday and how it is celebrated. We love to put it on in the car when the kids are focused and ready to listen, and it would also be wonderful to use in a classroom. This album is a wonderful way to teach children about the many special days that are celebrated around the world (and in your own neighborhood!)
December 3, 2019Book ReviewsComments Off on Great Reads for 2020: Our Global Reads Book List
Have you joined our ADM Global Reads for Grownups online book club? If not, now is a perfect time, as we gear up for 2020! We had a wonderful time this past year reading and discussing an amazing collection of books that took us to Morocco, Singapore, Nigeria, New Zealand, North Korea, Mississippi, Japan, Italy, India, and Ethiopia. We can’t wait for our literary journeys next year! Below is our book list for 2020, comprised of great reads from around the globe. Join us on our adventures!
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.
November 21, 2019Book Reviews, LiteracyComments Off on Encouraging Kids to Write: 3 Ideas to Unleash Creativity
Although most children have incredibly active imaginations, many struggle when it comes to putting their ideas on paper. Help unleash your child’s creativity with these three tips for encouraging kids to write!
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.
Encouraging Kids to Write: 3 Ideas to Unleash Creativity
1. Expose Them to Different Forms of Writing
Often children have a very set idea of what writing is – sometimes, because we have taught them this, whether intentionally or not. (Does anyone else remember the scene from Anastasia Krupnik when Anastasia fails a writing assignment because her poem doesn’t rhyme?) Part of our job is to expose them to different forms of writing so that they can experiment and expand the ways they can express themselves.
My First Book of Haiku Poems: a Picture, a Poem and a Dream; Classic Poems by Japanese Haiku Masters is a gorgeous bilingual Japanese and English picture book designed to expose children to this beautiful (non-rhyming!) form of poetry. I love that the explanatory text prompts children with questions to get them to think about why certain imagery was chosen, and how it helps the writer express his ideas. This book is a much needed antidote to today’s fast-paced world, as it helps children to slow down and observe small details and nuances in the natural world.
2. Let Them Get Silly
I am a big advocate of being silly just for its own sake, but it also has a role in encouraging kids to write. Silliness removes mental blocks and timidity, so that children feel more free to express themselves. My Book with No Pictures is a companion volume to the mega-best seller The Book with No Pictures (see my full review). I love that this book explicitly asks children to see themselves as authors, including right on the cover, where they write their name in next to BJ Novak’s.
3. Put Away Your Red Pen
If you really want to unleash creativity, you have to take off your grammar hat and just let them write. There is a time and place for correcting spelling and punctuation, but creative writing is not one of them. Children should feel free to just write, without worrying about if they are “doing it right.” Brave Writer is a great inspiration for me in this regard. It is a wonderful language arts program that really encourages teachers and parents to give their children room to create without worry about correction. I was lucky enough to sit in on a webinar with the founder that incredibly helpful in shifting my mindset about creative writing. Be sure to visit their website for more ideas and resources on encouraging kids to write! (I’m not affiliate with Brave Writer, I just really love its philosophy!)