Jun 252021
 
 June 25, 2021  Book Reviews, Summer Comments Off on Ocean Books for Kids: Beach Reads

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy these ocean books for kids. They make great reads for the beach – or for when you’d like to be at the beach! These picture books are a great way to find children’s curiosity about the ocean. They include fiction and non-fiction books.

Ocean Books for Kids: Beach Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Ocean Books for Kids: Beach Reads

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.

Enjoy these fiction and non-fiction ocean books for kids!

Ocean Lullaby is a beautiful bedtime read, perfect after a long day at the beach. The illustrations are dream-like, with soft colors yet realistic details. The lilting text adds to sense of being soothed to sleep with the waves. Young readers will love seeing the ocean creatures like dolphins and whales also settling down for the night.

Sophie’s Seashell Scramble is an adorable board book for the youngest readers. As the adorable Sophie the otter collects seashells, children sharpen their matching skills by recognizing shapes and colors. Little hands will love exploring the shaped pages and all those wonderful flaps to lift. There’s even a Sophie’s Seashell Scramble Game to go with the book!

Ride the Wind is an emotional journey set off the coast of Chile, about a young boy who has recently lost his mother. One day he finds an injured albatross and, against his father’s wishes, he secretly nurses it back to health. His empathy for the bird parallels his grief for his mother, and he cares for the bird as he wishes he could have cared for his mother. It is a story of redemption and hope, of a father and son torn apart by grief then reminded of what is really important. The watercolor illustrations are so evocative of the small fishing village, and the stormy skies reflect the emotions of this moving tale.

For kiddos that want to dive deeper into the science of oceans, Out of the Blue: How Animals Evolved from Prehistoric Seas is a fascinating book they will want to read again and again. It gives an overview of the ancient history of the oceans and how the creatures there evolved. The illustrations are wonderful, and there is so much scientific detail, yet all presented in a very accessible way, such as the timeline running at the bottom of the pages. I love how it compares the ancient creatures to those that can be found today. To be honest, I’ve spent a lot of time poring over this book myself!

What are your favorite ocean books for kids?

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Jun 172021
 
 June 17, 2021  Book Reviews, parenting Comments Off on Teaching Values: Picture Books to Raise Good Humans

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 Comments Off on Bilingual Books for Kids to Learn Spanish

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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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 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!

 

Mar 222021
 
 March 22, 2021  Book Reviews 2 Responses »

Self-confidence comes from within, but for kids who are different from their peers, it can be especially challenging to develop. For many, learning to love themselves in the face of bullying or discrimination can be a hard lesson to learn. (Grownups have trouble with this, too!) Encourage your kids to have confidence in themselves with these new children’s books about loving the skin you are in.

Loving the Skin You Are In: New Children's Books | Alldonemonkey.com

Loving the Skin You Are In: New Children’s Books

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

Here are some of our favorite new picture books about loving the skin you are in. Share yours in the comments!

Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn is my daughter’s new favorite book. After all, it has so many of the things she loves: adorable animals, a unicorn, and lots of sparkles! (Seriously, get the book just for the sparkly contoured cover!) But as a mom, I love the book’s message of acceptance and friendship. Kitty is sure that she is a unicorn, but no one else believes her, even though she has made a horn to put on her furry little head. She tries many different ways to convince them, but when an actual unicorn appears, Kitty sadly accepts that she will never be seen as a real unicorn…until the unicorn confesses that he is a kitty-corn just like she is! Everyone needs a friend like this who really “sees” you for who you are – inside and out!

“Why am I different? Why is life so much harder for me than everyone else?” A young tiger born without stripes wonders what is wrong with her, why she isn’t like everyone else. A Tiger Without Stripes presents a beautiful metaphor for children to think about differences. For every child who has felt not good enough or who has worried about not being like other kids, this lovely tale with its gorgeous illustrations helps them see themselves in a new light. Sometimes differences can be a gift – though life might be harder, the rewards are greater as well. Highly recommended.

I love the Sparkling Me series, which are perfect for teaching kids about loving the skin you are in. Small or Tall, We Sparkle After All: A Body Positive Children’s Book about Confidence and Kindness is the story of a little girl who just wants to grow tall, something so many kids can relate to! Shreya is tired of being teased, but, using examples from Hindu mythology, her mother teaches her that there are advantages to every size. Even more surprising, her brother tells her that he sometimes wishes he was small like her! A great book for kids of all sizes to appreciate what makes them unique.

How Our Skin Sparkles: A Growth Mindset Children’s Book for Global Citizens About Acceptance is a beautiful explanation for children about race and why skin colors vary so much. I love that it goes into the scientific explanation about melanin but also addresses the emotional side, about how a young boy feels sad because he’s so much darker than his friends. I also appreciate that it talks about how skin color can vary even in one family. It’s also cool to read a non-American take on the issue: the family at the center of the story is Indian, and the mother tells a story about Krishna to explain that each person’s color is part of what makes them uniquely beautiful.

Sparkles of Joy: A Children’s Book that Celebrates Diversity and Inclusion uses the celebration of Diwali to help kids appreciate their own and other cultures. When Riya invites her friends over for a Diwali playdate, it becomes an opportunity to share her traditions and learn about theirs. This is a such a beautiful book, because it helps children see the similarities between different festivals and how customs that at first might seem strange, are actually familiar – and fun!

Here is a lovely library find, perfect for biracial and/or bicultural kids. Pip is a normal pig, except that one parent is pink and the other is black. She doesn’t think much about it until a new kid starts pointing out all the ways that Pip is different. And Pip decides that all she wants is to be like everyone else. A Normal Pig encapsulates so much that mixed kids experience, from having other kids turn up their noses at your “weird” lunch, to the classic, “Is that your babysitter?” question when another kid sees your mom for the first time. But the best part of the book is the creative solution Pip’s parents come up with to show her that there are so many different -and wonderful- ways that families can be.

I want to raise my daughter to be fierce, kind, and thoughtful. Which is why when she’s older I’m excited to share with her these new books from the Smart Girl’s Guide series from American Girl. Recommended for ages 10+, Making a Difference: Using Your Talents and Passions to Change the World and Crushes: Dating, Rejection, and Other Stuff address issues important to tween girls: making a difference in the world and (gulp!) crushes. (I’m not ready for that last one yet!) I like that these books take girls’ emotions and concerns seriously, giving thoughtful, age-appropriate advice. Crushes is an update from a 2001 edition and now includes discussion of same-sex relationships and stereotypes. Making a Difference is perfect for this moment in history, when kids are exploring how to get involved in activism and helping others.

I post often about diversity in children’s literature, but one group of kiddos that is often overlooked are those with special needs. The folks at Leaps and Bounds PT saw this gap and decided to do something about it! Introducing the wonderful new picture book Petey Goes To PT. It is super cute and engaging for young readers, with bright, colorful illustrations. This sweet story of Petey and his first trip to physical therapy would go a long way towards helping a child get over their fears about attending PT. After reading the book, my own son said he thought physical therapy looked like a lot of fun! Plus, we can’t underestimate the power of a child seeing other kids with special needs in a book. Share this with a special kid in your life!

How do you teach kids about loving the skin that you are in?

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Mar 042021
 

Diversify your bookshelf or school library with children’s books that not only have diverse characters but that are written by diverse authors! But you won’t want to read these Own Voices books for kids just because it’s the “right” thing to do. They are simply wonderful in their own right! Each has a special story to tell, told in a unique voice that children (and adults) need to hear. What are your favorite Own Voices children’s books? Let me know in the comments!

Own Voices Books for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Own Voices Books for Kids

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 wonderful Own Voices books for kids!

Do you have a little cowgirl or cowboy in your life? Then you won’t want to miss C Is for Country, a fun new picture book from Lil Nas X. (Yes, that Lil Nas X! Now he writes picture books too!) Through this engaging ABC book, the international superstar gives children a glimpse of why he loves country life so much. After all, D is for Dirt, and V is for a Very Naughty Pony! But the pages are also inspire kids towards inclusion and self-love, such as E is for Everybody, since we “can all share the shine.”

I love having a cowboy book that focuses on a Black boy – especially one that loves to wear pink boots and lots of glitz! It also showcases the warmth of Black family life, with meals together around the table and bedtime cuddles. This is a book that shows that everyone belongs, no matter what the genre of story.

Many children have had the painful experience of hearing their names butchered by teachers and students. Frequently, this is connected to overall feelings of being “weird” or just not fitting in with their peers, a feeling amplified by differences of race and culture. The gorgeous new picture book Your Name Is a Song tackles this issue and teaches children to appreciate their unusual names. Because who wouldn’t love to have their names turned into a song?

While the main character is Black, the book includes names from many cultures. My daughter was delighted to see the name of her aunt in Costa Rica included! The mother in the story empowers her daughter, who in turn passes this new appreciation on to other children and even to her teacher. Most poignant of all for me was the inclusion of the name Trayvon, which the author notes was done in honor of Trayvon Martin. I highly recommend this beautiful book, which would be great to have in school libraries. Imagine how wonderful it would be for a teacher to read this on the first day of school!

One of my favorite things about blogging is that it has enabled me to meet so many incredible people from around the world (and some right around the corner!) I had the pleasure of meeting author Meera Sriram several years ago through Multicultural Kid Blogs. She is such a lovely person and does the most incredible work. Her latest accomplishment is A Gift for Amma: Market Day in India, a gorgeous children’s book based on her own childhood experiences going to the market in India.

The reader goes along with a little girl through the marketplace, as she tries to decide on a present for her Amma (mother). I love how the book highlights in text and pictures all the rich colors to be found there, from the yellow of tumeric to the white of the jasmine blooms. A Gift for Amma: Market Day in India (available in Spanish as Un regalo para Amma: Día de mercado en India) is a feast for all of the senses, as we smell the flowers, see the peacock feathers waving in the breeze, listen to the drum beats, jump to avoid the rickshaws, and drool over the stacks of sweets. Not only do you get to enjoy the beautiful illustrations from Mariona Cabassa, you can also see the author’s photos of the actual marketplace at the back of the book.

How do we raise kind kids? This is one of the big questions I wrestle with as a parent, so I’m always glad to find helpful resources! Peacebe is an adorable character that helps kids learn virtues like kindness and honesty. One of the latest in this series is The Adventures of Peacebe and the Heartwatch- Kids Can Make A Difference Too!, which teaches kids about being a good citizen! Author Leneen Faith is a mom and teacher with a Master’s in Elementary Education, so she knows how to create books and activities that really capture children’s imaginations and hearts. Peacebekids is not only a book series but also a website with fun activities for kids.

Stories are such a great way to connect children to their heritage and give them a sense of belonging in the world – one reason why it’s so wonderful for them to spend time with grandparents and community elders. So I was thrilled to learn of the beautiful new book Chasing Butterflies in the Sunlight, inspired by the author’s own childhood and her desire to share it with her children.

Chasing Butterflies in the Sunlight is set in the 1970s and describes the main character’s many childhood adventures in her home on a university campus in Nigeria as well as her travels to Niger, England, and Scotland. I love that the book emphasizes the importance of family plus how it breaks down stereotypes about Africa through its portrayal of a cosmopolitan, well-educated, and well-traveled Nigerian family.

What happens when a mother far from home wants to share the beauty of her homeland with her children? In the case of author Emily Joof, it means beautiful children’s books that we can all enjoy! Joof’s picture books share the beauty of The Gambia, as seen through the eyes of her Swedish-born children. In Mangoes & MonkeyBread: Fruity Fun with Ella & Louis, two children are visiting The Gambia. When the boy becomes homesick for the strawberries of Sweden, his older sister patiently shows him all the wonderful fruit to be found in The Gambia. This is so similar to what happens when my children visit their relatives in Costa Rica!

In Our Favourite Things.: The Story of Home in The Gambia and Sweden, the children and their parents each share their favorite foods, places, and so on, showcasing the beautiful mix of cultures in their family. These books are must reads, especially for families like ours that blend traditions!

Exquisite is the perfect name for this gorgeous picture book biography of Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize, which she did with her second book of poetry. What makes this win even more remarkable was not just who Brooks was but what she wrote about – that is, the people that lived in her working class African American neighborhood in Chicago. Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks is a great way to explore poetry with kids and encourage them to try writing it themselves. After all, Brooks started writing when she was very young, writing about dolls and sunsets!

Another new picture book is Spirit of the Cheetah: A Somali Tale, a coming of age story set in this eastern African country. Inspired by the stories she heard from her own father, co-author Khadra Mohammed has joined with Karen Lynn Williams to weave a powerful story about developing inner strength. Roblay thinks that winning a race will make him a man, but his grandfather teaches him to listen to the wisdom of nature to cultivate patience and call on the spirit of the river and the cheetah for which it was named. A beautiful story to help children think about what qualities they would like to develop, and to spark their interest in the cheetah, which is now an endangered species. Includes a section of fun facts about the cheetah.

Silverworld is a wonderful middle grade fantasy that draws on Arabic culture and legends. At the same time, the main character Sami is dealing with issues that any child can relate to – feeling out of place in a new home, worry over a sick family member, and frustration that no one takes you seriously because you’re “just” a kid. This is an amazing adventure story into a fantastical parallel world as well as an emotional journey as Sami learns to trust her own strength and abilities. I also love that it is such a loving portrait of a close knit Lebanese American family, drawn from the author’s own experiences.

Do you have an older kid that enjoys reading mysteries? Fantasy? Adventure stories? How about all three rolled into one?? Nujran and the Corpse in the Quadrangle is the second in the @prince_of_typgar series. The main character, Nujran, has just started at the prestigious University of Foalinaarc when a body is found in campus. This is only the first strange event that captures the reader’s interest in this fast-paced book, which also includes a prison break, romance, and a kidnapping. This YA thriller is a real page turner, plus fantasy fans will appreciate the incredible amount of detail that went into making this world come to life.

Prince of Typgar: Nujran and the Corpse in the Quadrangle

Prince of Typgar: Nujran and the Monks of Meirar

What are your favorite Own Voices children’s books?

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