Sep 192017
 
 September 19, 2017  Book Reviews, parenting Comments Off on Books to Help Kids with Grief and Anxiety

A common struggle of childhood is learning to deal with big emotions, whether anxiety over starting at a new school or dealing with the death of a loved one. I’m happy to share with you some wonderful new children’s books that take a creative look at grief and anxiety, allowing young readers to use their imaginations to see their problems in a new way.

Books to Help Kids with Grief and Anxiety | Alldonemonkey.com

Books to Help Kids with Grief and Anxiety

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.

Do you have a child who is afraid to try something new? Who hesitates before jumping into a new endeavor, even if it’s something she really wants to do? Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow is a fresh look at this common problem, as Smoot, a shadow to a hesitant young boy, decides to rebel and go off to have the adventures his master is too scared to have. Soon other shadows join in the fun: a dragonfly’s shadow turns into a real dragon, the shadows of two nervous insect musicians finally take the stage, and a rock becomes a castle. In the end, Smoot convinces his boy to take a chance and become more like his shadow, until soon the two are laughing and leaping together.

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole is one of the cleverest books I have read in a long time. A young girl, still reeling from the death of her beloved father, discovers a black hole following her. It soon becomes a pet of sorts, though it has the disturbing tendency to swallow everything around it – even if really all it’s trying to do is cuddle. A black hole that swallows everything it touches is a brilliant metaphor for grief, perfectly suited for this very scientifically minded heroine. At first her new pet’s capacity to swallow objects around it is just funny and perhaps a bit inconvenient, but when it swallows her brother and her dog, she must finally face the problem (and her grief) head on.

This middle grade novel is a wonderful read for any child learning to manage their grief and anxiety, but it will be a special treat for those that love science, as it incorporates so many elements of science and especially astronomy.

Related Post: Children’s Books About Death

This post is part of a blog tour showcasing these two new children’s books – be sure to visit the blogs below for more features and even activities!

Week One:

September 12 – Welcome to Wonderland – Review & Activity (create your own pet Black Hole)

September 13 – Embers and Ashes – Review and Bookstagram

September 15 – Dazzled by Books – Review

Week Two:

September 18 – books4yourkids – Review (just Smoot)

September 19 – All Done Monkey – Review

September 20 – Four Violet Reviews – Creative piece

September 21 – DoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life – Review

September 22 – YABooksCentral – Author Guest Post – Top 5 listicle from author

Week Three:

September 25 – Teachers Who Read – Review

September 26 – Here’s to Happy Endings – Review

September 27 – Mama Smiles – Review & Creative Activities

September 28 – Cracking the Cover – Review

Sep 082017
 
 September 8, 2017  Book Reviews Comments Off on Fun Bathtime Books Your Child Will Love

Bathtime is one of those sweet moments of childhood, where little ones can laugh and play in the bubbles and enjoy splashing in the water. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be, right?? Each of my kids has loved and hated baths at different stages in their lives, though for the most part they are like many of the characters in the books below – they protest getting in and then protest getting out! Luckily there are great children’s authors out there that recognize bathtime as a fertile ground for humor and play. So whether your kids love their tub time or resist it, these fun bathtime books will have them looking at baths in a whole new way.

Fun Bathtime Books Your Child Will Love | Alldonemonkey.com

Fun Bathtime Books Your Child Will Love

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.

While most of the bathtime books in this list are simply about bathtime, I thought it appropriate to include one that is meant to be used in the tub! Bath Books: Bathtime is an example of a book that is actually safe to use in the bathtub. We had several like this when my oldest was little, and they came in so handy when he went through a phase of hating to get in the tub. These books were a lifesaver! They also went with us when we traveled and he had trouble adjusted to doing his bath in a new place. Bright, colorful photos will engage the littlest readers, plus what a thrill to be allowed to take a book in the water with you!

In The Pigeon Needs a Bath! the classic Mo Willem’s character returns to tell us the many reasons he should not have to take a bath. Kids will laugh themselves silly at all of his excuses, and parents will recognize some that their own kids may have used. (My favorite part is when he complains that the water is too hot, then too cold, then too hot again – who else has been through that cycle with their kiddo??) One of our absolute favorite bathtime books.

Related Post: Wacky, Fun Books for Kids

Another along these lines is 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, a hilarious book that we read over and over again. Here is a boy who has a seemingly endless list of excuses about why he really doesn’t need a bath, including “scientific facts” like a kid in Texas once turned into a prune after taking a bath. I love how the illustrations show him becoming progressively dirty as the story goes on, all the while he is protesting how clean he is.

Imagine that you are blissfully relaxing in the tub, when 9 of your friends show up and want to jump in, too! That is just what happens to a poor pig in Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure. One by one more pigs dive into his own tranquil bathtub, until it is far too crowded to be relaxing! When another uninvited guest (a wolf!) decides to join in the fun, the pigs flee – but what happened to the first pig? Wonderful twist ending!

Get Out of My Bath! is a recent discovery. The beginning reminds me of Press Here, as the readers are encouraged to tilt the book back and forth to see the water in the tub “splash” when you turn the page. This is another case of a peaceful bath interrupted by uninvited visitors. Ellie the Elephant comes up with a solution perfectly suited to her – sucking up all the water until the other animals leave!

What are your favorite bathtime books?

Aug 222017
 
 August 22, 2017  Book Reviews Comments Off on Children’s Books About Being a True Friend

We all wish to teach our children to create authentic relationships with others and spread kindness in the world. Literature is a wonderful way to convey this message because children can see themselves in the characters and identify with their journeys – the stumbles as well as the triumphs. Stories can make a lesson more memorable and often use humor to get a point across. Here are some wonderful new books about being a true friend to share with your children and students.

Children's Books About Being a True Friend | 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 charge to you.

Children’s Books About Being a True Friend

From picture books to a graphic novel and a magical middle grade novel, here are fantastic new children’s books about being a true friend.

South is a beautiful, sparsely told story about the friendship between a fisherman and the injured bird he nurses back to health. Since the bird cannot fly south for the winter, the fisherman makes the long journey to take him there himself. Over time, they form a close friendship, yet when the time comes, the fisherman knows he must say goodbye to his new friend and return home. This is a lovely story about the sacrifices we make for others, and the intangible rewards we receive in return. This is bound to become one of your child’s favorite books about being a true friend.

Prince and Pirate are as opposite as any two fish can be. Prince is used to the royal treatment, while Pirate is accustomed to a livelier sort of life. But what they have in common is a desire to be in charge, so when they are forced to share the same tank, sparks are sure to fly! The extremes these clashing tank-mates will go to in order to outdo the other will have your little ones laughing with every page. But the twist comes when a newcomer joins their tank, and Prince and Pirate unexpectedly find themselves banding together to help a little fish feel at home.

I’m so pleased to be working for the first time with Bryson’s Books, who shared with me The Mouse Who Lost His House, a little gem about animals coming together to help someone in need. When Mouse loses his house to a tornado, the other animals join forces to help him build a new home. This is a sweet story that children will love about generosity and lending a helping hand. It would be perfect to share with children to teach them to always “look for the helpers” after a disaster.

The only bit that threw me off is that many of the animals are quite out of their natural habitat – such as the elephant, who is definitely not a woodland creature. However, that is something a grownup book reviewer would notice, not a child, who would just be happy to see the animals they love in a story!

I actually had quite a bit of trouble reviewing Cosmic Commandos because as soon as it arrived in the mail, my 7 year old snatched it out of my hands, and it was a very long time before I managed to wrestle it back from him. (Okay, okay, I sneaked it out of his room while he was sleeping!) And it’s easy to see why he loves it so much – it is a fun, fast paced graphic novel all about a boy who finds his favorite video game coming to life around him.

On one hand, this is a rollicking adventure, as Jeremy must learn to defeat the obstacles that appear as he advances through the levels of the game each day. But at its heart, it is an exploration of the bond between siblings, as Jeremy confronts his troubled relationship with his twin Justin and learns to ask for help from this annoyingly perfect brother. (And Justin tries to understand why the brother he loves always rejectsWith time, Jeremy and Justin learn to see their differences as strengths and begin to work together as a team, deepening their relationship and choosing to become friends. From the illustrator of the amazing series Ordinary People Change the World Series (see, for example, I am Rosa Parks (Ordinary People Change the World)).

I also have a wonderful middle grade novel to share: Tumble & Blue is due out next week in hard cover, and it’s a book your older kids won’t want to miss. Everyone has felt from time to time that there is just someone wrong with them, but Blue really is cursed and who knows exactly who is to blame – his own ancestor. Greed caused him to break the blessing he received from the golden alligator deep in the bayou that fateful night so long ago, as he and another tried to split the fate the alligator offered. As a result, their descendants received mixed fates: some had golden lives, while others, like Blue, were cursed. Each is cursed or blessed in his own unique way – one girl has a magic touch with animals, while her twin sister is afflicted with the opposite curse of being constantly attacked by animals. Blue’s father, a race car driver, wins every race, yet Blue is cursed with losing everything he attempts – from simple card games to fights with a bully.

When Blue’s father unceremoniously dumps him at his grandmother’s house one night then disappears, Blue comes face to face with his quirky extended family – and the possibility that one of them can change their fate forever. Blue soon becomes friends with another cursed child, Tumble, and they decide to travel deep into the bayou to confront at last the golden gator and demand an end to the cycle once and for all. But can two bad luck kids succeed where others have failed? Or is Blue fated to disappoint his winning father forever?

This is a wonderful adventure story with just the right touch of magic to make this otherworldly story believable. The characters are richly painted, with all of their hangups, missteps, and strokes of heroism. Readers will root on this unlikely pair as they search out a different fate for themselves and come to understand the family ties woven into the fabric of their story.

Do you have favorite children’s books about being a true friend? Share in the comments!

Aug 022017
 
 August 2, 2017  Book Reviews, character building for kids Comments Off on Children’s Books About Being Brave

We all want our children to go off and have adventures, to live life to the fullest. An essential component of this is, of course, teach them to be brave, so they are not daunted when faced with a difficult situation or a new experience. As the beginning of the school year approaches, it can be an especially important time to remind children of the courage they have inside them. Here are some wonderful books for all ages that teach by example how to be brave when faced with challenges large and small.

Children's Books About Being Brave | Alldonemonkey.com

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.

Children’s Books About Being Brave

Poor little baby bird can think of all kinds of reasons why attempting to fly out of the nest is a bad idea. Each time he peers over the edge of his safe, warm nest, the shadows twist into the menacing shapes of his fears. NOPE! is his response whenever his mother tries to prod him to try to fly. Then just when it looks like he might never leave, his mother gives him some gentle, um, encouragement but pushing him out of the nest. A very funny story with extremely simple text but incredibly expressive illustrations. 

Jabari Jumps is actually one that several of us that review books have been chatting about because we all love it so much! (You can read another review from one of them). So many kids (and adults) can relate to wanting to jump off the high dive at the pool but then chickening out when the time comes and we see how far down it is to the water. I love the character of Jabari but also his dad, who is there to offer him encouragement. He recognizes when Jabari needs a little more time but also knows just what to say when the moment is right. I am going to remember his advice myself, that instead of being scared about something we can think of it like a little surprise – because who doesn’t like surprises?

My 4 year old requests Jabari Jumps every night at bedtime, and after he was brave enough to jump into the pool recently, he told me that he was just like Jabari!

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Hello Kitty Storybook) is part of a gentle series of fairy tale adventures for very young readers. It also includes Thumbelina (Hello Kitty Storybook). If you have a Hello Kitty fan in your house, you won’t want to miss these – and if you don’t, you might after you read these books! While they present somewhat scary situations (falling through a rabbit hole, being kidnapped by a toad), here the scary factor is toned down and the emphasis is on the adventure and the happy ending.

RELATED POST: Adventure Books for Kids

The Road Home is a beautiful book about finding safety and comfort in a big world. “This road is hard, this road is long, this road that leads us home” is the echoing refrain as woodland creatures and their children begin to prepare for the coming winter. What I love about this book, in addition to the gorgeous illustrations, is the idea that whenever we are with our loved ones, we are already home. A great book to snuggle up and read with your little ones, to remind them that they are never alone.

Black Belt Bunny is a cute, funny book your children will love! Black Belt Bunny has all kinds of super cool moves to face any challenge – but he wasn’t expecting to have to face salad! What will Black Belt Bunny do when he is asked to prepare his own salad? Mind you, Black Belt Bunny actually loves his vegetables (as all bunnies do), but he’s never had to make one before, and he’s not sure he can! Luckily this fierce little bunny summons his skills to invent his own creative way to make a salad! My favorite part, though, is the end, where the grown up, who has been encouraging him all the while, has the tables turned on him – he has to be brave enough to try something new, too!

We love Harriet the Hamster Princess! In fact, I just finished re-reading the first book in the series (Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible) with my boys. So we were all excited to learn that there was a new adventure out: as with all of the Harriet books, Hamster Princess: Giant Trouble is a re-telling of a classic fairy tale (this time Jack and the Beanstalk), but with a spunky heroine who loves to battle with the bad guys. Harriet and her friends are back in another hilarious book that blends the graphic novel and storybook formats. Great for reluctant and early readers. These books also make great read-louds!

RELATED POST: Hybrid Graphic Novels for Kids

I’m also happy to share the latest installment from another beloved series: Mystery of the Min Min Lights is the ninth book from Pack-n-Go Girls, the chapter books that take girls around the world on incredible adventures! (I should add that my son adores these books, so they aren’t just for girls!) Wendy Lee isn’t sure about having to spend a year in the Australian outback when her mom is on assignment for work, but at least she makes friends with Chloe, who invites her to stay at her family’s sheep station. Yet soon she discovers that someone is stealing the sheep – and what does this have to do with the spooky lights that can be seen at night? To solve the mystery and help her new friend, Wendy must dig deep to be brave and do what it takes to catch the thief.

As always, readers will learn about a new part of the world, as facts are woven naturally into the story. I love that the main character (the non-Australian character who is having an adventure in Australia) is Chinese American. Usually the “normal” character is a white Westerner, so this is a great change and adds another layer of complexity and richness to this wonderful tale.

In a time when immigration is constantly in the news, Evangelina Takes Flight gives middle grade readers a fresh look at the challenges faced by Mexican immigrants to the US over a century ago. At the time, most fled their homes because of war, rather than economic hardship. Evangelina is a young girl on the cusp of womanhood when rumors of wars and marauding soldiers reach their small ranch in the Mexican countryside. Though they are not wealthy, her family knows they will still be targets because they own their own land. Evangelina is forced to leave the only home she has ever known and travel with her family to the United States, where she struggles to find her voice in a new language and confront the many Americans who are hostile to the new arrivals.

As a history buff, I loved the detail about life in revolutionary Mexico, as well as what the long journey to the US would have been like. But young readers will identify with Evangelina’s painful transition to her new school and admire her being brave enough to finally confront those who would fight against immigrants rather than giving them a chance. Would be a great book to pair with Esperanza Rising, about another young woman who immigrants from Mexico several decades later.

Jul 202017
 

Cooking with kids always seems like such a great idea – until you actually do it. If you can see past the messes and inefficiency, however, you will be rewarded with a sweet experience that neither of you will ever forget! Cooking together builds confidence, teaches life skills, and encourages healthy eating habits. In addition, it can bring some of your most treasured bonding moments – that is, if you can manage to relax and enjoy yourself instead of worrying about the state of your kitchen. Here are my top tips for enjoying cooking with kids. Share yours in the comments!

Cooking with Kids: How to Relax and Have Fun | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book 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.

Cooking with Kids: How to Relax and Have Fun

If You Invite Them to Help, Make Sure Your Mean It

If you are going to cook with your child, make sure you are really in the mood for it. If you are already feeling anxious or irritable to begin with, take a rain check and do it another time. Cooking with kids requires all of your patience and attention, so don’t start off at a deficit.

Organize Your Space

Before beginning, make sure their work space is clear, accessible, and safe. You don’t want to have them get started only to notice that the kitchen knives are within reach of your toddler or that there isn’t really enough room for them to roll out their dough. Take a few extra minutes to clear off the counter space and bring all of the ingredients into easy reach, so you aren’t leaving a small child unattended while you go to pull items out of the pantry.

Know What You’re Doing

If it is a new or less familiar recipe, be sure to read it over carefully ahead of time. Remember that once you begin you will be distracted by your kids.

Safety First

Make sure that anything dangerous is out of reach before you even begin and keep a sharp eye on what your child is doing. They seem to have a knack for discovering dangers you never would have dreamed of! Remember that you will be distracted, so as you cook, triple check that turn off the burners and put away equipment.

Allow Extra Time – But Know Your Limits

Be sure to allow plenty of extra time, not just because you’ll be cleaning up spills or teaching them how to crack eggs. Children are also much more process oriented than adults, so they will likely enjoy stirring together the ingredients or cutting out the shapes longer than is strictly necessary. Bite your tongue and let it go on for as long as you can, because often this is the part they most enjoy. Mine tend to linger at the mixing stage then lose interest and wander out of the kitchen. But do know your limits. If you feel your frustration building, gently move them along after a reasonable period.

And reliably, your child will have a messy diaper or need to go potty at a key point in the recipe, so try to make dishes that can sit on the counter while you take necessary breaks!

Cooking with Kids: How to Relax and Have Fun | Alldonemonkey.com

Embrace the Mess

Cooking with kids is messy and slow – and fun!  But you have to accept the first two in order to really enjoy the latter.

I never realized how uptight I was about messes until I had kids.  Now I really try to relax and enjoy the moment.  After all, there is often little you can do to contain the mess! Your child, covered in flour from head to foot, is bound to take off for the living room, bouncing off all the furniture, just as you have your hands full with hot cookie sheets from the oven and can’t possibly chase him down. Or he will decide to “help” you crack the eggs on the counter when you have your back turned for just a second. No matter what, there will be a mess to clean up, so you might as well make it worth it!

Set Your Priorities And Lower Your Expectations Accordingly

If you expect to bake perfect dishes in no time flat with little mess, than you have no business bringing your child into the action.  You will only become frustrated with your little one, who has very different ideas about what is going to happen.

But if you have asked your child to join you, it is probably because you want to have a special, fun experience with him, rather than a perfect product.  Just keep reminding yourself of this, when you start to switch back into a default mode of “I must get these in the oven right now!” and “Don’t pull apart the cookies!  They were so pretty!”

Cooking with Kids: How to Relax and Have Fun | Alldonemonkey.com

Try to Work with “Child Efficiency” Rather Than “Adult Efficiency”

If you are working alone, you will probably complete the steps a certain way in order to be efficient, but that may not be the most efficient way to do things when you have a little helper.  For example, when making cookies, normally I would roll out all the dough, then cut out all the shapes, then move them all to the cookie sheet.  When I did that with my toddler helping me, however, dough disappeared into his sweet little mouth before I could cut out all the shapes, and what shapes I could do were often broken or “transformed” into something entirely different by the time I could put them onto the cookie sheet.

So instead, I rolled out a bit of dough, cut a few stars, and moved those to the cookie sheet before rolling out a bit more dough.  Much more “child efficient.”

A Final Note

Some cookies will burn.  Some cakes will be lumpy.  And key ingredients will probably be forgotten.  But chances are everyone will love it anyway, especially if they know your little one helped!

And just remember: When you are cooking with kids, you always have a great excuse if your dishes don’t turn out perfectly!

Marigold Bakes a Cake

A really fun book you and your child will both enjoy is Marigold Bakes a Cake. Poor Marigold is a perfectionist, especially when it comes to baking. That is why he does it alone – until the birds show up. First one, then more fly into his kitchen and mess up the perfect cake he is baking, until Marigold finally loses his temper. After Marigold calms down a bit, he leaves to go on a walk and regain his composure. Meanwhile, the birds decide they will fix the situation by making Marigold the perfect cake he had dreamed of – except they end up making even more of a mess! Yet Marigold recognizes their love of cooking (and affection for him) and decides to teach them how to cook.

For me, this book is about learning to live with imperfection in our cooking and in ourselves. Marigold tries to be patient but fails, yet he realizes he needs to take a break to calm down. And the birds never do learn how to cook, but they have so much fun the reader can’t help but be swept up in their enthusiasm. Marigold Bakes a Cake is a fun way to remind kids (and parents!) to enjoy the process rather than getting caught up in having perfect results.

Jul 062017
 

I’m always so excited when I come across books that encourage my children to read in Spanish. Bilingual books are great choices for children learning a language, because it can help increase the reader’s vocabulary by including text in their primary language. Even though they are still learning, they are able to read more complex story lines because they can check their comprehension as they go. This is perfect for my kids, who sometimes get frustrated at having to read “easy” books in Spanish because of their more limited vocabulary. Here is a group of wonderful new bilingual books your kids will enjoy, from picture books to early chapter books! Be sure to enter our giveaway of one of these books below – details at the end of this post!

New Bilingual Books for Kids of All Ages | 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 charge to you.

New Bilingual Books for Kids of All Ages

Bosley Goes on Safari (Bosley Se Va de Safari) is the sixth book in the picture book series the Adventures of Bosley Bear. In this book, Bosley travels to the African plains to go on safari. There he meets many friendly animals and learns that despite their differences, they all are alike on the inside – a really fun way to teach young children about embracing diversity! This is a very engaging story, especially since what child doesn’t love learning about animals like lions and monkeys? We had fun acting it out as part of our Spanish lesson for the day! I love having the highlighted vocabulary words in the side-by-side Spanish and English texts. And the grammar is simple enough that my kids were able to follow along and enjoy the story without getting tripped up with Spanish beyond their level.

I’m so happy to share that we are giving away a copy of this wonderful book to one lucky winner – open worldwide! See the end of this post for details!

The Little Doctor /El Doctorcito is a wonderful book to encourage kids to dream big! But this is more than just a book about a boy who decides he wants to be a doctor when he grows up. Salvador also gains motivation when he learns first hand what non-English speakers like his beloved abuelita have to deal with when they go to the doctor. When he accompanies his grandmother to the local clinic, Salvador sees how crowded it is and how difficult it is for her to understand the paperwork. But the worst is the physician himself, who is so rushed that he barely even looks at Salvador or his grandmother before running back out the door to see the next patient! Salvador decides to become a doctor so he can be the kind of patient, caring doctor he wishes his grandmother had. A beautiful story about compassion and becoming the change we want to see in the world! I also love that it uses a situation that many bilingual children find themselves in, of being the translators for family members with limited English.

To raise compassionate boys, it is important to start early. Esteban De Luna, Baby Rescuer! /Esteban De Luna, Rescatador De Bebés! is a sweet book that shows a boy who learns that caring for others is a perfect way to be a real superhero. Esteban is disappointed that his superhero cape doesn’t give him any real powers – he can’t fly or leap over tall buildings – yet when he finds an abandoned doll at the park, he soon discovers that his cape can help him do something amazing. When refashioned as a baby carrier, it helps him rescue the doll from the rainstorm! The symbolism in this book is fantastic, as the cape itself is reimagined to help Esteban learn to take care of others, not by swooping in like a traditional superhero but by gently holding his “baby” close and keeping it safe.

What child can’t relate to the delicious anticipation of waking up on their birthday to wonder about the wonderful surprises to come? In A Surprise for Teresita / Una Sorpresa Para Teresita, young Teresita learns just how difficult it can be to wait for a birthday gift. On the morning that Tío Ramón is to bring her a birthday surprise, he seems to take much longer than usual to arrive on Teresita’s block as he does the rounds through her New York neighborhood selling piraguas (snow cones). As she waits for her surprise, we witness the sights and sounds of a Puerto Rican neighborhood from a child’s point of view. A wonderful celebration of a vibrant community and the joy of a birthday gift from a loved one.

A super fun book to read with kids is El Torneo De Trabalenguas / the Tongue Twister Tournament. There is a tongue twister contest, and you get to play along! Which of the quirky contestants do you think should win? And how many of these tongue twisters can you say – in English or Spanish? Fun to read together with your kids or to use in the classroom! These tongue twisters are so much fun and will challenge even grownups! Includes many bonus tongue twisters at the end of the story.

For children ready for a chapter book, we love A Mystery Bigger Than Big / Un misterio mas grande que grandisimo. It is the fourth installment in the Mickey Rangel mystery series, based on a boy with a certificate on his wall from a real online detective course. When a new girl moves into Mickey’s Texas middle school, the young detective is on the case to figure out what her story is. Why is she so quiet and where did she come from? Despite rumors flying around school that she is the child of a drug lord or perhaps of Russian spies, Mickey discovers that she’s really an immigrant from Guatemala. But this discovery only leads to more questions – why would she leave her home, and how could she leave her family behind? A great book to explore the topic of immigration in an honest but heartfelt way.

Rooster Joe and the Bully / El Gallo Joe Y El Abusón is another great bilingual read for older kids. It focuses on the all important topic of bullying, and the importance of standing up for what’s right. I love that middle schooler Joe’s grandfather draws on their cultural heritage to teach him these lessons, by drawing on the stories of courageous people like César Chávez who fought for the rights of those that others looked down on. With his grandfather’s guidance and his own identification with the brave roosters he loves to draw, Joe comes up with a plan to end the bullying not just for him but for all of the students in his class.

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Bosley Goes on Safari (Bosley Se Va de Safari) a wonderful new bilingual picture book! (see review above). All you have to do is comment below with your child’s current favorite book to read! Contest is open worldwide, ends Wednesday, July 12 at midnight PT. Winner will be chosen randomly from the eligible entries.

Jun 232017
 
 June 23, 2017  Book Reviews, STEM Comments Off on How To Be A STEM Superhero – Even If You Don’t Like Science

We all know how important STEM education is – but that doesn’t mean we all feel confident teaching STEM to our children. I enjoyed my science classes as a kid, but, to be honest, it really wasn’t my thing. I did well, but I was really more of an arts and literature kind of a gal. So when it came time for college, I cheerfully tested out of my science requirements and filled my schedule with history, languages, and anthropology classes instead. Fast forward several decades, and now I am doing my best to encourage my STEM-loving kids, even without a strong background in science. The good news? You don’t have to be a scientist to be a STEM superhero!

That’s why I am so excited for this guest post from my friend Lisa at Knocked Up Abroad. Read on as she shares ideas on how you can be a STEM superhero – even if you don’t like science!

How to Be a STEM Superhero - Even If You Don't Like Science | Alldonemonkey.com

 

Our kids have a natural curiosity to question their environment, and most of their questions are usually biologic in nature. Do worms have eyes? What do ladybugs eat? etc. When our kids ask us questions, we, as parents, feel that we need to have all of the answers. However, we don’t always have these answers handy without first consulting Wikipedia. The best solution, when confronted with a question to which you do not have an answer, is to admit it.

“That’s a really good question. I don’t know the answer but let’s look it up when we get home.”

Boom. You didn’t look incompetent; you just taught your kid how to conduct research. It is important that parents foster their children’s natural curiosity in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) even if that parent has absolutely zero training, interest, or mild expertise in STEM.

Related Post: How to Get Kids Excited About STEM

STEM jobs are our the future, and fortunately, there are a ton of children’s books that are focused on making STEM not only easy to understand but interesting to learn for young kids. STEM doesn’t have to be intimidating if you’re not a science loving parent. Many parents don’t even know where to start when it comes to answering their kids’ questions about science.

How To Be A STEM Superhero - Marie Curie and the Power of Persistencce

One book, in particular, is emphasizing the non-scientific personality traits that are inherent to all scientists—persistence (perseverance is a mouthful). Every kid needs to learn how to persist—how to overcome challenges—and it is a character trait that will serve everyone later in life regardless of what career they pursue.

In Marie Curie and the Power of Persistence, Marie is confronted time and time again by the villain, Mr. Opposition (Mr. O). Time and time again, Marie persists and overcomes Mr. O to reach both personal and professional success.

How To Be A STEM Superhero - Marie Curie and the Power of Persistencce

By focusing on Marie’s personality traits that lead to her success instead of a level of genius that may be too confusing and intimidating for young children, every child and parent can identify new ways in which they persisted over a challenge.

One great way to read this book with kids is to have a follow-up discussion about a time when each person faced a challenge. Who or what was their Mr. Opposition? How did they use persistence to reach their goals?

How To Be A STEM Superhero - Marie Curie and the Power of Persistence

Marie Curie represents a positive female role model for both girls and boys as the first person to ever win two Nobel Prizes and the only person to win Nobel Prizes in two different sciences. This book illustrates her complex discoveries using language that early readers can understand. The book is excellent for readers between the ages of 5-9 years and parents, even those who aren’t STEM-inclined, will enjoy reading the super science hero story.

With Marie Curie and the Power of Persistence, everyone can be a STEM superhero, all you need is persistence.

The book is available to pre-order now through IndieGogo until July 4. There are exclusive hands-on experiments to give kids a jump start on their own scientific discoveries. Who knows? Maybe your kid will be the next Marie Curie!

Now you can be a STEM superhero for all children! Help us bring science to life for our youngest readers by supporting the book or by sharing this project on Facebook.

Jun 082017
 
 June 8, 2017  Book Reviews, family Comments Off on New Picture Books About Grandparents

One of the most special relationships a child has is with his grandparents, whether they live nearby or far away. They can help ground children and teach them patience, but the influence is not just one way. Children also have a special ability to touch the hearts of the grandparents that love them. Here are some wonderful new picture books about grandparents you need to see!

New Picture Books About Grandparents | 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.

New Picture Books About Grandparents

Skyfishing: (A Grand Tale with Grandpa) is an wildly imaginative book about a young girl trying to help her grandfather overcome homesickness. When her grandfather moves from his cottage by the lake to live with her family in the city, the girl notices immediately how much her grandfather misses fishing. She tries to interest him in new hobbies, but when that doesn’t work, she comes up with a creative answer – sky fishing! As they “fish” out of their apartment window for creatures like Waste-Munchers (garbage trucks) and Signfish, they discover the power of imagination and companionship to overcome homesickness. Through patience and love, the girl helps her grandfather see the city with new eyes and begin to enjoy his new home. This is such a sweet story and addresses a common situation of when a grandparent moves into a family’s home (similar to Mango, Abuela, and Me) and also the special way that children can touch the hearts of their grandparents.

Ladybug Girl is back, and she’s off on an adventure with her grandpa! In Ladybug Girl’s Day Out with Grandpa, Lulu and her grandpa explore the museum. There is so much to see, that Lulu simply can’t make up her mind, flitting from one exhibit to the next. Ignoring her grandpa’s warning that they won’t be able to see everything in one day, Lulu does her best to prove him wrong – after all, she is Ladybug Girl! She can do anything! But soon she begins to despair. There is just too much to see! Gently, Grandpa explains that if she will learn more if she slows down to appreciate one thing at a time. I love how this book showcases the patience and wisdom with which grandparents guide children and how they can help focus that boundless energy and center them in stillness.

And don’t miss these Filipino books about grandfathers!

Jun 062017
 
 June 6, 2017  Book Reviews, parenting Comments Off on Encouraging Independence in Children

I was always focused on encouraging independence in my children – or so I thought.  When my oldest was a preschooler we created a morning routine chart that helped getting ready for school go more smoothly, and the kids know to bring their dishes to the kitchen after meals and so on. But somewhere along the way I lost sight of this goal and didn’t really develop the idea more. In the whirlwind of life after adding a third child, we switched into survival mode and never evolved our roles any further.

Now that my youngest is a toddler and we have finally come up for air, I have implemented some long overdue upgrades to our routines, so that my boys can gain confidence in their ability to take care of themselves and contribute to the family. Oh yes, and give me a little break as well! It is amazing how much extra time those minutes a day add up to! After an initial “training” period, you’ll be amazed at how much easier things are for you once your kids are taking care of more of those daily tasks, developing important life skills along the way.

Encouraging Independence in Children | 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.

Encouraging Independence in Children

Why is it important for us to worry about encouraging independence? Yes, there is an American obsession with raising independent children, but it’s more than just that. Teaching children to take care of their own needs can paradoxically help them feeling more a part of the family or classroom unit, as they feel they are making a valuable contribution to the group. They also become more confident in their own abilities, giving them a solid boost to their self-esteem without the need to resort to empty platitudes. Plus – let’s be honest – raising kids who can do more for themselves gives parents and teachers a break from taking care of basic needs so they can concentrate on higher level needs, whether it be algebra or family movie night.

So here our my top tips for encouraging independence in children, plus favorite picture books about getting dressed. I’d love to hear your tips and experiences in the comments!

Brainstorm a List of Tasks Together

Step one is to develop a list of tasks with your kids that they can start doing around the house or the classroom, such as making their own breakfasts, cleaning their rooms, and so on. Of course you will have some ideas in mind and can help guide the conversation, but it is essential that the children participate and help shape the outcome. Right off the bat you are helping them develop critical thinking and team building skills, plus by getting them involved in the process you are helping take ownership of the project. Make it a fun project that you are working on together, rather than work you are imposing on them.

Be Specific

Try to keep from having vague assignments like “clean your room.” This can be confusing to a child, who may interpret this very differently from you! Instead, try “put your toys into the toy baskets” or “put dirty clothes in the hamper.”

Invest Time in Training

We can’t ask our children to do tasks without actually teaching them how to do them. At first this may feel odd because it is self-evident to you how to make yourself a bowl of cereal, but this may not be the case for your four year old! Go through the steps with them (probably over the course of a few days, depending on the age of the child), and be prepared to spend 4 times as long as you would as if you had just done it yourself. For this reason, it may be easier for everyone to introduce only one new task a week.

Think Long-Term

Don’t give into temptation and therefore just do it yourself! Even though it will take longer in the beginning (and probably be messier), remember that you are helping train competent kids and, therefore, competent adults. It is worth the investment at the beginning when you are encouraging independence, because they will eventually get the hang of it!

Be Flexible

A woman I know used to always complain that her husband never shared in the family grocery shopping. After much coaxing on her part, he eventually took over some of this chore. It was a big help to her – until he started bringing home items that she hadn’t put on the list! What she hadn’t foreseen is that he would start to become interested and make decisions on his own about what to buy, rather than just follow her list.  By involving him in the tasks, she had unwittingly invited him into the process and lost some of her control over it, which she hadn’t even realized she had enjoyed.

In a similar way, when children take over tasks around the house or classroom, we need to loosen up the reins a bit and let them into the decision-making process. Obviously a parent-child relationship is different than a marital one, but the same principle of control applies. If we really want our children to take ownership of the task, we have to let them do just that. That doesn’t mean you have no say in what they pack for lunch, for example, just that you can be flexible and give them more room to make choices within set boundaries. For example, you might give them guidelines for what to pack (a protein, a fruit, a treat) and let them maneuver within those.

Embrace Imperfection

Milk will be spilled. Toothpaste will be splattered. Orange plaid shorts will be paired with pink tops. It is not the end of the world. In fact, it is part of the process of children learning to be more careful, to clean up their messes, and to (hopefully) be presentable in public. Decide what your limits are, but then know when to bite your tongue, take a deep breath, and go do something in another room.

Give Them a Break

Don’t overwhelm children by adding too many tasks at once, especially if this is a significant change from how your family or class has been functioning. Give them time to adjust, and then periodically give them a break from their tasks. For example, I’ve recently been training my sons to make their own breakfasts, but I let them choose one day that I’ll make it for them. It is a simple thing, but they love it, and it helps on those mornings when they really can’t get themselves going. Even though your ultimate goal is encouraging independence, everyone deserves a break now and then.

Picture Books About Getting Dressed

Help them celebrate their independence with these fun picture books about getting dressed! Learning to dress yourself is a milestone for many children, and these wonderful books play on that fascination and teach skills at the same time.

My toddler and preschooler both love A Good Day for a Hat. Thankfully it is one that I enjoy reading as well, even multiple times a day! It is a cute book about a bear who has a hat for every occasion, from facing a fire-breathing dragon to joining a marching band! This is lucky, because it seems that every time he opens his door the situation has completely changed and he has to go back inside and change his hat. This goes on for some time, until finally he has to forgo the perfect hat in order to make it to his friend’s house on time – so instead he piles all of his hats on his head, so he’ll be ready for anything! A silly book children will enjoy, especially if they feel like they are made to change their outfits one too many times!

If ever there was a mismatched pair, it is Fox and Ox in I Lost My Sock!: A Matching Mystery. Fox has lost his sock, and his friend Ox just can’t seem to get it right when it comes to finding the matching sock! Young children will enjoy pointing out why the sock Ox has found doesn’t match this time (“It doesn’t have dots!” “Wrong color!”) and laugh themselves silly when Ox finally does find the sock – but thinks it is a hat for him instead! Great for developing early math concepts such as pattern, shape, and color recognition.

My Kicks: A Sneaker Story! is a fun book for slightly older children. When a boy’s mother forces him to give up his beloved, well-worn sneakers for a new pair, he reminisces about the memories behind each stain and tear. Yet when he actually tries on a great pair of shiny new kicks, he discovers that a new pair of sneakers may be just what he needs! A great story for any child forced to give up a favorite shirt or pair of shoes, and a wonderful metaphor for learning to let go of the past as children grow up and move on to new things. Even includes a step by step tutorial on tying your shoes!

How are you encouraging independence with your own children or students?

May 312017
 

Books are such a wonderful way to travel the world with kids and to introduce them to new cultures. Thanks to mostly to Pokemon, my oldest son is fascinated with Japan, so we’ve been reading about its folktales, daily life, the language, and Japan’s unique blend of tradition and cutting-edge technology. Here are our top picks for children’s books about Japan!

Japan Children's Books | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copies of several 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.

Japan Children’s Books

Related Post: Children’s Books about Ninjas, Samurai, and Karate

All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids is our go-to book for anything about Japan! There are many craft books for kids about Japan and many story books, but All About Japan blends stories, songs, history, crafts, and activities into a unique, engaging book that children will love! The two main characters that present the information are a boy and a girl, one from the countryside and one from the city. This is a great way to draw in young readers as well as introduce them to diversity within Japan. You also learn about fascinating aspects of the culture that might not read about elsewhere – did you know that Japanese children learn that Japan is shaped like a seahorse? Once you see it, you won’t believe you hadn’t noticed it before!

My younger son and I love doing the crafts (like samurai helmets and origami frogs), while my older son loves the language lessons. There are kid-friendly recipes for foods like mochi and Japanese pancakes and a primer on how to use chopsticks. And I must admit that they staged a sumo wrestling tournament one day, thanks to the section on martial arts! I love how everything is arranged thematically, so each topic (such as holidays and celebrations, or everyday life) blends all of these elements together into a fun mix that keeps you turning the pages. And my son immediately noticed how the illustrations are very similar to those in Japanese cartoons.

I highly recommend All About Japan to introduce children to Japanese culture and get them excited to learn all about Japan.

The Way We Do It in Japan is the story of an American-born boy with an American mom and a Japanese dad. When the family moves from the US to Japan, we go with him as he adjusts to his new home and learns about Japanese culture, such as eating with chopsticks and wearing slippers inside the house. This book is chock full of information, all introduced in a very engaging, kid-friendly manner. But what I really love is how the boy’s parents help him frame his experiences. Rather than slipping into better/worse, right/wrong comparisons between the two countries, they always say, “That’s just the way we do it in Japan!” They really nurture his sense of adventure, but the book also acknowledges the difficulty of moving to a totally new culture. When he becomes sad because he misses home, his new friends at school surprise him with a classroom feast of his lunchtime favorite from America – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!

 

Japan ABCs is a great overview of Japan for kids, giving fun facts about the culture and geography. For example, H is for Hanami (the Cherry Blossom Festival) and T is for Tokyo. Pronunciation is provided for Japanese words. There is even more information includes at the back, such as a craft for Children’s Day, a glossary, and resources for further exploration.

My Japan is another great overview for kids. It reminded me of Richard Scarry books, with simple illustrations of everyday life (such as a bedroom or the first day of school), accompanied by detailed, labeled drawings of objects in the pictures. It also includes information about festivals and holidays and instructions for different origami projects.

Older children will enjoy Art of Japan: Wood-Block Color Prints. It gives detailed information about how the prints are made and typical subjects, such as landscape prints and Kabuki theater. But even younger children can appreciate the beauty of this art form and the many examples included in the book.

Yoko’s Paper Cranes is a very sweet story about how to stay in touch with relatives who live far away. When Yoko and her parents move from California to Japan, Yoko misses her grandparents, with whom she had always been close. But then she remembers how her grandfather taught her to fold paper cranes, so she realizes sending these beautiful paper birds across the ocean is the perfect way to reconnect with her beloved grandparents. Wonderful story for young children, includes illustrations for making origami cranes.

Another book in this series is Yoko’s Show-and-Tell. When Yoko receives a special doll from her grandparents in Japan to celebrate Girls’ Day (a traditional Japanese holiday), she can’t resist taking it to school to show her friends, despite her mother’s admonishment against it. When rough-housing friends leave the doll in a terrible state, Yoko must admit the truth to her mother. Luckily there is a doll hospital where they can help the doll feel better, just in time for Yoko’s grandparents’ visit from Japan!

The Boy from the Dragon Palace is a fun story that kids will enjoy (especially because the main character is a snot-nosed kid!) The dragon king sends a gift to a poor flower vendor who has shown him respect. At first the vendor is confused because the gift is just a messy little boy who is very particular about how his food is prepared. But when it becomes clear that the boy really can bring him good luck – including wealth and comfort beyond the man’s imagination – the vendor quickly changes his tune. With time, however, he forgets his humble beginnings and starts to grumble about having to still prepare the boy’s food in a special way. When he turns the boy out of his palace, suddenly all of the riches disappear, leaving the dragon king to sigh and the little snot-nosed boy to observe that you just can’t help some people! They always want more.

Learn all about Kyoto in Megumi’s First Trip to Kyoto, a gentle story about a girl traveling with her grandfather. It is a beautiful book to learn about Japanese culture and Kyoto in particular. (Read my full review).

The Last Kappa of Old Japan is a wonderful bilingual fairy tale about the mythical kappa, a playful water creature. It is about friendship and courage as well as the importance of protecting our environment. (Read my full review).

Three Samurai Cats: A Story from Japan is a quirky tale about the attempts to get rid of a rat that has taken over a castle. The lord of the castle asks for help from the local temple, but the first two samurai cats it sends are quickly defeated. When the lord begs the senior monk for help again, he says he will send in his top samurai. Imagine the lord’s surprise when an old, decrepit cat shows up! A great story about patience and learning to look beyond the appearances. There is Japanese vocabulary sprinkled throughout the story, which is based on the principles of Zen Buddhism.

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Hop 2017 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to our fourth annual Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Series and Giveaway! Follow along all month for ideas about sharing with kids the rich cultures of this vast and varied region. Also, be sure to enter the giveaway below and link up your posts at the bottom of the page.

For even more ideas, visit our blog hops from last year, 2015 and 2014. You can also follow our Asia and Australia & Oceania boards on Pinterest.

May 1
Miss Panda Chinese on Multicultural Kid Blogs: 10 Fun Facts About Taiwan for Kids

May 5
Chinese American Family: Visiting Locke and Connecting with California’s Rural Chinese History

May 11
The Art Curator for Kids: Chinese Bronze Vessels with Abstract Zoomorphic Designs

May 15
Crafty Moms Share: Our Japanese Tea Party

May 17
Bicultural Mama: The Limitations of DNA Testing for Asian Americans

May 19
Wise Owl Factory: Cherry Blossom Books and Craft Idea

May 22
Ketchup Moms on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Fun Facts About India Including a Floating Post Office

May 24
All Done Monkey: Terracotta Army – Learning About Ancient China

May 25
Miss Panda Chinese: Chinese Culture for Children – Dragon Boat Festival

May 31
All Done Monkey

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Giveaway

Enter below for a chance to win one of our great prize packages in our annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month giveaway! The giveaway goes from May 1 to May 31, 2017, at midnight PT. If the winner falls outside the shipping area of a prize, that prize will revert to the next lower prize package. Read our full giveaway rules.

And for all of our readers, here is a special offer from our sponsor Tingomo! Use the code TENOFFTINGOMO to get 10% off any pre-order! (first kits to ship in July)

APAHM Series and Giveaway: Grand Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Grand Prize

From One Dear World: Set of 4 plush multicultural dolls, each with its own passport, plus the story book The Adventure of Hat Hunting in London, starring the dolls as the main characters
From Tuttle Publishing: Adventures in Asian Art, Indonesian Children’s Favorite Stories, Malaysian Children’s Favorite Stories, and Filipino Children’s Favorite Stories
From Wisdom Tales: Rock Maiden – US Shipping Only
From Bollywood Groove: Go on a fun adventure with Maya & Neel and learn about famous festivals and places in India! In this very colorful, three-picture-book series, kids will learn about festival of lights – Diwali (Amazon best-seller), festival of colors – Holi and the home of Bollywood – city of Mumbai. US Shipping Only
From Miss Panda Chinese: Winner’s choice of an “Everyday” learning unit with audio links
From Tingomo: Passport Craft™ Kit: Make Your Own NEPAL Paper Lanterns US Shipping Only, will ship in July

APAHM Series and Giveaway: 1st Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs

1st Prize

From World Music with Daria: set of tingsha (handbells) US Shipping Only
From Quarto Knows: Summer Under the Tamarind Tree, I is for Iran, and 50 Things You Should Know About the Vietnam War – US Shipping Only
From Monika Schröder: Saraswati’s Way – US Shipping Only
From Miss Panda Chinese: Winner’s choice of an “Everyday” learning unit with audio links
From Tingomo: Passport Craft™ Kit: Make Your Own NEPAL Paper Prayer Flags US Shipping Only, will ship in July

APAHM Series and Giveaway: 2nd Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs

2nd Prize

From The Dumpling Mama: Pack of 20 good luck envelopes: Give good luck wishes with money in a red envelope. Perfect for Lunar New Year, birthdays, graduations, and holidays US/Canada Shipping Only
From Kathleen Burkinshaw: The Last Cherry Blossom – US Shipping Only
From Candlewick Press: A Piece of Home and Bronze and Sunflower – US Shipping Only
From Miss Panda Chinese: Winner’s choice of an “Everyday” learning unit with audio links

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