July 19, 2019Book ReviewsComments Off on Fun New Picture Books to Engage Your Kids
I love discovering new books with my kids. It makes story time so much fun! Here is a whole crop of fun new picture books to engage your kids and make reading together a blast!
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.
Fun New Picture Books to Engage Your Kids
Stop! Bot! is a great book that manages to convey a relatively complex story with only a few words. Yet while it’s simple enough for very young readers, older kids will enjoy the humor in the drawings and the twist ending. This is one of the fun new picture books that my three year old loves to read over and over. She not only requests it every night at bedtime, each time she wants to read it at least 5 times in a row! My favorite part is when the bot flies through a woman’s huge hairdo! A unique book sure to engage young readers.
I Am a Wolf is a funny tale with an important message. Sometimes even the most prickly personalities cover tender hearts. A tough little puppy does not want any friends. She is a wolf, she insists, because she isn’t cute or cuddly. But at the animal shelter, they can see past her tough exterior to the scared, lonely pup beneath, until one special little girl decides to take her home to show her the extra love and kindness she needs. A book that many children will be able to relate to!
I Am Not a Fish! is my seven year old’s current favorite. When I asked him why he loves it so much, he said because it’s so funny. Edgar the jellyfish is tired of being so misunderstood. He’s not jelly or a fish, after all. He joins a support group for “mislabeled” sea creatures, finally coming to understand that no matter what anyone calls him, he’s special just as he is.
A fun way to introduce kids to space is with a beautiful picture book like Birthday on Mars!. Its sweet, colorful pictures of the Curiosity rover really engage very young readers, who will love the idea of celebrating a robot’s birthday – on Mars! Even better is the fact that this is based on a true story! The Curiosity rover really did sing itself happy birthday in 2013, to mark one year of being on Mars. Older kids will enjoy the “fun facts” about Curiosity and Mars at the back of the book.
My oldest loves reading I’m Trying to Love Math. He adores math, so he enjoys this funny book about an alien trying to convince a professed math hater that math really is fun! This book manages to cover a great deal of math facts in a humorous way, showing how math is relevant to our everyday lives – from music, to cookies and pizza! Fun whether you already love math or still need some convincing.
Looking for more great summer reading for your kids? Here are some wonderful middle grade books we’ve discovered this summer. And big bonus! They are all by diverse authors! Some address race and culture directly, while for others it is more part of the background. Either way, I can promise that your child will not want to put these books down, plus you will enjoy reading them yourself!
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Awesome Middle Grade Books by Diverse Authors
My son read New Kid four times before I was able to wrestle it away from him to read it myself. This graphic novel from award-winning author and illustrator Jerry Craft centers on a seventh grader just starting at a new school. Jordan finds himself at a prestigious private school where suddenly he is one of only a few students of color in his entire grade. This book brilliantly captures the ways that Jordan must learn to navigate his new school, dealing with both the wealth of most of his peers, and the many small ways that racism seeps into school culture. For example, he is often mistaken for other students of color, even if they are otherwise nothing alike – and teachers are often some of the worst offenders. Beyond just highlighting these microaggressions, the book shows – often through use of Jordan’s own artwork – how hurtful they can be. Highly readable book that manages to tackle the big issues in a nuanced way and still end on a high note.
I was already a big fan of The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora (see my full review), so I was excited to find Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish, a new book from author Pablo Cartaya. Marcus Vega is often misunderstood. He’s big, he’s tall, and he already has the start of a mustache. So people assume that he is a bully, just like they assume because of his name that he speaks Spanish. But the truth is that Marcus barely remembers Spanish or his Puerto Rican father, who left years ago. The only time Marcus gets aggressive is when someone insults his younger brother, who has Down Syndrome. When just such an insult leads to a fight and a possible suspension from school, Marcus’s mother decides it’s time for a family vacation to Puerto Rico. To Marcus this means the chance to finally find his father, yet he ends up discovering much more, like the true meaning of family, and when it is time to let go of someone. He even learns a little bit of Spanish!
This book is incredibly funny and poignant, and its characters are wonderfully complex but very relatable at the same time. Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish is a beautiful tribute to Puerto Rico and its people. It is set before the Hurricane Maria, and Cartaya wrote that it is meant to honor the memory of the lives lost.
We are currently in the midst of reading The Last Last-Day-of-Summer. You couldn’t get more contemporary, as it is set in August 2019 – hopefully we’ll finish well before the story actually takes place! The legendary Alston cousins are just looking for one more adventure before school starts, when a mysterious stranger shows up to offer them a gift of a camera. Yet this gift has a sinister side, as it has the effect of freezing time! Now Otto and Sheed must find a way to save their town, before it’s too late! A great read for anyone who likes science fiction or adventure. I love having kids of color front and center in a genre where they are often overlooked. This isn’t a “gritty” urban drama about escaping poverty or gang life, it’s just a clever, funny story about some amazingly heroic kids – who are about to save their small town from extinction!
NewsPrints and its sequel EndGames follow the adventures of Blue, a newsboy with a big secret – he’s actually a newsgirl. Fearing rejection (and losing her job), Blue disguises herself as a boy, which also lets her have many more adventures than she would be allowed as a girl. Indeed, much of the plot of the book focuses on going deeper than the surface, as Blue discovers that many of those around her are hiding secrets, including her own government. In the midst of an ongoing war, Blue and her new friend Crow must learn to trust each other with their true identities in order to save themselves.
A great adventure story that challenges young readers not to judge by appearance but to find out the truth for themselves and trust their instincts, particularly when it comes to knowing whom to trust.
June 26, 2019Book Reviews, STEMComments Off on Moon Landing Books for Kids: Celebrate 50 Years!
Are you excited about the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, coming up next month? Celebrate with your kids with these wonderful moon landing books, including some that were just recently published! From picture books to middle grade works and graphic novels, you’ll find something for everyone and are guaranteed to learn something new yourself!
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.
Moon Landing Books for Kids
Teach your children about the first lunar mission with these wonderful moon landing books for kids!
I adore Margaret and the Moon. First of all, Margaret Hamilton, whose story is told here in a very readable, engaging format, is my new hero. She is completely fearless, despite being one of the only women in computer science back in its very earliest days. The field was so new, that Hamilton herself is credited with inventing the term “software engineer” to describe the work she and others were doing. Thanks to her early success and innovations, she was chosen to lead the team whose coding guided Apollo 11 (and other Apollo missions). Keep in mind, she was only 32 when the moon landing took place in 1969! (For even more on Hamilton, don’t miss this great article, which includes a photo of Hamilton posing with the stacks of coding for the lunar mission).
This book does a great job of explaining the technical side of Hamilton’s innovations (and how her team’s coding saved the moon landing). It also places it in the context of a lifetime of being curious about the world and courageous enough to do what others say cannot be done.
What could be more thrilling for a child than to take part in one of the most momentous events in history? Marty’s Mission: An Apollo 11 Story (Tales of Young Americans) tells the story – based on actual events! – of a young boy who helps Apollo 11 land safely back on Earth after its moon landing. Marty lives on Guam, where his father manages the NASA tracking station. This tracking station relays signals back and forth between the astronauts and Houston, so it is absolutely critical to the mission. When the equipment begins to malfunction during the Apollo 11’s return to Earth, Marty’s father and the other engineers must act quickly. And so they turn to Marty, who is small enough to reach inside and fix the antenna. This story is really eye-opening, making you think about all of the people that made the Apollo 11 mission possible, including a 10 year old boy on Guam!
Moonwalk: The Story of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing is a great non-fiction introduction to the moon landing. Each page spread consists primarily of a large photo, making it seem almost like a coffee table book. Tells the story of the moon landing in a very cohesive narrative appropriate for younger readers.
My 9 year old discovered Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon first, and for a while would lug it around everywhere, which is saying something because it is a large book! But it’s easy to see why he loved it so much. This award-winning book is full of glossy photos and presents a great deal of information, but in a narrative format that draws the reader in. It’s no wonder that the Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine included it on their “Best Children’s Books” list!
With so much attention on the astronauts who first landed on the moon, I really love the emphasis of Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon. It’s a great lesson for children to see that with the moon landing as in almost all endeavors, there are so many unsung heroes working behind the scenes. This book gives them their proper due, even including direct quotes from many of them! There are so many interesting stories in here, such as how the fear over germs from the moon meant that scientists had to work for 18 months to come up with a reliable method of decontaminating the film the astronauts brought home effectively – and quickly! – since everyone wanted to see the photos right away.
Author Steve Kortenkamp has written a number of books about space for young readers, one of which is The First Moon Landing, part of a series by Capstone Press of books for young readers about the solar system. This non-fiction work for younger readers is a great introduction to the topic, with lots of color photographs, larger text, and “fun fact” inset boxes. Includes a glossary and internet resources to learn more.
Neil Armstrong and Traveling to the Moon is a more detailed look at the first moon landing, interweaving the history of the space race with the story of the man who would ultimately be the first to walk on the moon. This is not a biography, strictly speaking, but it does give a personal dimension to the wealth of scientific information. For example, we learn details about the spacecraft as well as the tests and training the astronauts had to go through. Personally, I was interested in the section at the end on life after Apollo 11, and how Armstrong was careful not to profit from his celebrity.
The Space Race (Blast Back!) is an early chapter book that gives an overview of the space race, including a chapter on the first moon landing. It is a good way to help children see the moon landing from the perspective of the politics of the time as well as learn about the history of the science behind it. Very engaging format, with black and white illustrations.
Older children will enjoy Moon Mission: The Epic 400-Year Journey to Apollo 11 for an in-depth look at the history leading up to the moon landing. But it doesn’t read like an ordinary history lesson. Instead, it is organized by the timeline of lunar mission itself, taking each stage and explaining the science (and the scientists) behind the principles and discoveries at work, such as learning about gravity during the “lift-off” stage.
I always love learning about the lesser known stories of historic events, so I really enjoyed the graphic novel Far Side of the Moon: The Story of Apollo 11’s Third Man, which focuses on Michael Collins. While Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon, Collins had the less flashy but essential job of commanding the lunar orbiter so they could all safely return to Earth. We learn about his background, and the twists and turns of fate that resulted in his selection for the lunar mission. What would it have been like to be totally out of contact with the other astronauts and mission control as he orbited the far side of the moon? He later became the director of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and, though he may not be as famous as his fellow astronauts on that first lunar mission, his role was just as critical.
Another graphic novel about the moon landing is Rocket to the Moon!: Big Ideas that Changed the World 1, a brand new book that covers everything from the history of rockets to the politics of the space race. It is “narrated” by Rodman Law, who in 1913 became the first person to attempt to travel by rocket. Incorporates direct quotations from many historical figures into a highly readable story that I found difficult to put down.
Inspire your children to follow their dreams, whether in science or the arts, with these wonderful new STEAM biographies! These beautifully done picture books teach children (and adults!) about pioneers in painting, dance, astronomy, and marine biology. But more importantly, they encourage children to be brave enough to pursue their interests, no matter what obstacles they may face.
Disclosure: I receive a complimentary copy of Dancing Through Fields of Color 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.
STEAM Biographies for Kids
Great collection of STEAM biographies for kids, perfect for summer reading!
If you have a child who loves to color outside the lines, you must read Dancing Through Fields of Color: The Story of Helen Frankenthaler together! At a time when girls especially were meant to follow the rules, Helen Frankenthaler persisted in following her own path, letting her colors run free. She was in love with color and movement, from the swirl of blue waves around her in the ocean to the sunset rays streaming in their apartment windows.
Yet her whole life she had to fight against those that wanted her to do things as they always had been done, and who relegated women artists to small, less experimental exhibits. But she followed her instincts and went on to become a leader in the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1950s. She pioneered the revolutionary “soak-stain” method of letting paints actually soak into the canvas, thus ushering in the Color Field movement in painting.
A wonderful book to encourage children to follow their hearts and be courageous enough to color outside the lines. Outstanding illustrations capture the lush, vibrant colors of Frankenthaler’s work, plus a reproduction and photos of the artist at work can be seen at the back.
Mexican folkloric dance is ubiquitous these days, but it was not always so celebrated. Danza!: Amalia Hernández and Mexico’s Folkloric Ballet by the award-winning Duncan Tonatiuh, celebrates the achievements of dancer and choreographer Amalia Hernández. Accomplished in both ballet and modern dance, Hernández was moved to study traditional dances of her native Mexico, and she soon began to incorporate them into her pieces.
She founded the world famous dance company, El Ballet Folklórico de México, renowned for integrating elements of these regional dances into ballet and modern dance. It is largely thanks to Hernández’s efforts that Mexican dances are so well known around the world today. Hernández and her dance company (which still performs and tours internationally) helped celebrate the diversity of Mexican heritage and win recognition of Mexican traditions as art.
I adore Tonatiuh’s illustrations, which themselves are known to integrate elements of pre-Columbian art. Gorgeous book published on the 100th anniversary of Hernández’s birth.
Caroline’s Comets: A True Story is one of those stories that I read and think, “Why did I never learn about this in history class?” before answering my own question, “Oh wait! Because she was a woman…” Caroline Hershel was the first woman to discover a comet and the first woman to be paid for scientific research. Along with her brother William, she helped make astronomy into a modern science. Between them they found 2,500 nebulae, along with a number of comets discovered by Caroline. Yet as a child no one expected much from her. As a girl, she was taught “practical skills” rather than the arts and sciences taught to her brothers. She was often no better than a scullery maid for her family and was only allowed to go live with her older brother William – to whom she was devoted – when he paid for a maid to replace her.
When William began to focus on astronomy, Caroline joined him in his pursuits, becoming an assistant inventor and helping him build what was at the time the best telescope in the world. All of this, of course, while serving as a maid and accountant for her brother. It reminded me of the old saying about how Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did but backwards and in high heels! While William is best known for discovering the planet Uranus, Caroline is famed as the Hunter of Comets. Fascinating book about the early history of modern astronomy, as well as the practical problems faced by female scientists.
Today we take for granted deep sea diving and all of the discoveries that have come from it, but Otis and Will Discover the Deep: The Record-Setting Dive of the Bathysphere reminds us that it is really a very new field of exploration, one still full of danger and mystery. Otis Barton and Will Beebe were an unlikely pair. Beebe was a renowned explorer who saw the sea as another adventure. Barton was a young engineer who came up with a plan to make a deep sea dive a reality. Barton’s contraption, the Bathysphere, was a hollow metal ball just big enough for the two explorers – only four and a half feet! So many things could go wrong, and in fact, when they first went down in 1930 something several things did go wrong. First it was a small leak, but more serious was when sparks from a searchlight cord showered over them, threatening to reach the oxygen tanks. Luckily Barton was able to stop the sparks and save the dive…and their lives.
This was the first of 19 deep sea dives the men would do together in the Bathysphere. They were the first humans to see deep sea creatures alive, swimming in their own environment. Thanks to their courage, people began to see the ocean as a complete habitat, one that deserved study and protection. One of the great mysteries is that Beebe named four new species on his dives that have never been seen since. Did he imagine them, mistake existing species, or, since 95% of the oceans remain unexplored, have we just not come across them again?
Includes actual photos of the Bathysphere at the back of the book. And also I loved the note at the back from Beebe’s former assistant (and later Head of Science Reference at the Library of Congress, Constance Carter). She states that Beebe would often ignore letters from well-known scientists, instead focusing on answering letters from children, saying that it was more important to inspire a child.
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is almost over, but it’s always a good time to highlight children’s books that focus on Asian and Asian American cultures! I’m so pleased with the collection of books below because not only are they quite varied in style, they also show just how rich and diverse these cultures are. I also love that they explore Asian Pacific American heritage in ways that celebrate the past but are also very relevant to today’s readers.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of several 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.
Asian Pacific American Heritage: New Children’s Books
Enjoy this collection of new children’s books that celebrate Asian Pacific American heritage!
Sumo Joe is her debut book, and it is a delightful look at martial arts from a child’s perspective. Sumo is one of those sports that most Americans love to joke about without really knowing much about it, so it’s wonderful to have a book that actually teaches kids about it in a fun way. We watch as Sumo Joe teaches his friends sumo moves and training, and for those that want to know more, there’s an illustrated glossary at the back of the book. But what will Sumo Joe do when his beloved younger sister wants to join in what has traditionally been a male sport? A charming book that is sure to win fans young and old.
Soon after I received my review copy of When Spring Comes to the DMZ, our Global Reads for Grownups Book Club had coincidentally started to read The Girl with Seven Names, a memoir of a defector from North Korea. So it was incredibly poignant to look at When Spring Comes to the DMZ, a gorgeous new children’s book that contrasts the natural beauty of the demilitarized zone between the Koreas with the harsh reality of the razor wire fence and lines of marching soldiers that surround it. Because the DMZ is a no man’s land, it has become a wildlife refuge, though a precarious one that is still full of landmines, under careful watch of heavily armed guards.
This book shows clearly the absurdity of war and the need to make the DMZ an area of true peace with the potential to reconnect a divided peninsula.
Ming’s Adventure in the Mogao Caves is a real treasure for anyone who loves religious or art history. Young readers, of course, will just appreciate it as a young boy’s enchanted adventure! Ming is traveling through the Gobi Desert to visit the famous Mogao Caves – a holy site and a treasury of Buddhist art – when a sandstorm separates him from his parents. He is saved by a nine-colored deer, who leads him to the caves.
Once there, Ming finds himself inside one of the cave’s murals, where he discovers he can use his magic paintbrush to help restore the animals in the painting. A lovely adventure story as well as a beautiful introduction to this important historical site.
Gondra’s Treasure is a fun read for any child that loves dragons, but especially those that comes from a intercultural family. Gondra’s parents are both dragons, but one is from the East and the other from the West. Gondra teaches us about what it’s like to have parents from different places: while Mom (from the West) breathes fire, Dad (from the East) breathes mist. Gondra, of course, can do both! (Though no fire breathing unless Mom or Dad is around!) A cute look at mixing cultures, as well as a fun comparison of how differently dragons are imagined in the different parts of the world.
Mina vs. the Monsoon is another fun read that also has a more serious message. Mina, an avid soccer player, is not happy when the monsoon rains begin. Though most others in her village celebrate the arrival of the rains because of the bounty they bring to the land, Mina can only think about how the monsoon rains will keep her indoors and away from her beloved soccer. Is there anything she can do to stop the rains from coming?
I love that this book shows such a tender relationship between Mina and her mother – and Mina’s surprise when she finds out her mother used to be a soccer player! There is a guide at the back to the Urdu and Hindi words that are sprinkled throughout the book, as well as more about why the author chose to feature a soccer playing girl in her book. In several states in northern India, communities are trying to combat child marriages by teaching girls to play soccer! Learning a sport gives the girls a sense of accomplishment and helps them think they can do more with their lives.
Pashmina I discovered not because it was related to Asian Pacific American heritage but simply because I was looking for a great graphic novel for my son. Pashmina was highly recommended, so we ordered it from our local library. When it came, neither of us could put it down!
It is the story of a young girl intrigued about her past, especially about India, the country her mother is from but never wants to talk about. One day she discovers a magical pashmina (a type of scarf) in her mother’s old suitcase. When she puts it on, she is transported to an enchanted version of India, though one in which she is followed by a mysterious shadow. It is only when she dares to travel to the real India that she is able to confront the mystery of her birth and her mother’s past, as well as the reality of life for women in India.
A beautiful coming of age story that is also woven with growing awareness of the difficulties faced by women in many parts of the world.
May 17, 2019Education, STEMComments Off on Conservation for Kids: Endangered Animals
One way to really engage kids on the topic of environmentalism is to talk about endangered animals. As most children love animals, this is a subject that often speaks to their hearts. Here is a collection of learning resources on conservation for kids that focuses specifically on endangered animals, including a gorgeous new picture book that conveys the urgency of the problem as well as how we can help.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Don’t Let Them Disappear for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Conservation for Kids: Resources to Learn About Endangered Animals
A wonderful introduction to the topic of endangered animals is the beautiful new picture book by Chelsea Clinton, Don’t Let Them Disappear. After the success of her other children’s books, such as the New York Times bestseller, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, Clinton has now turned her attention to conservation for kids, connecting their hearts and minds to endangered animals around the world. Some of the animals included on the list may surprise the reader, such as giraffes and elephants. (When we read the book the first time, my son said, “Wait! They’re endangered, too?”)
This book drives home the point that each animal is unique and a part of the tapestry of life on the planet. For each one included in the book, we are given some facts about what makes it special, as well as why it is endangered. In our house, this has sparked a lot of discussion about what habitat destruction is, and how war can harm animals, too.
Below are even more resources to teach kids about endangered animals. How do you teach conservation for kids?
As Father’s Day approaches, it is the perfect time to celebrate the fathers in our lives through pictures books. Yet many children do not see their own fathers reflected in the stories they read, and getting diverse books published – especially by diverse authors – is still an uphill battle. So it’s important to share those books that are available. Here are some of our favorite multicultural children’s books about fathers that we have found. Do you have a favorite?
Disclosure: I received copies of My Papi Has a Motorcycle (English and Spanish versions) for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Multicultural Children’s Books About Fathers
Find below some of our favorite multicultural children’s books about fathers, from those for very early readers to those for older children.
Baby Dance is for very young readers who love to move with their caregivers. This is a sweet board book about a baby and her daddy dancing around the room while her mother sleeps. I adore the illustrations, which seems to be motion themselves, gently swaying across the pages.
My Papi Has a Motorcycle (also available in Spanish as Mi papi tiene una moto) is a vibrant story about a girl and her father. No matter how tired he is, he always has time to take his daughter out for a spin when he gets home from work. Their motorcycle ride zooms through marvelous illustrations of a city that hums with life. Everywhere they go on their motorcycle ride, they see people and sights beloved to them, like the taquería or a friend’s house, the librarian that nods to them as he leaves the market. But there are also signs of change, as a favorite store has closed, and new homes replace the last of the citrus groves.
Award-winning author Isabel Quintero is herself the child of Mexican immigrants and has sweet memories of riding on the back of her own papi’s motorcycle as a child. So it is fitting that this book is available in both English and Spanish, and that even in the English version, the dialogue is given in English and Spanish, and many of the signs throughout the city are in Spanish. This book is intended as a love letter not only to hard working fathers but also to the communities that nurture us and what endures through all the changes that may come.
It’s Great Being a Dad is a really fun tribute to dads who are always there to “fix” things for their children. Although not specifically multicultural, I love that a book that is not about diversity features an African-American daughter and her father. This is one girl with a big imagination! She thinks through what would be great about being different mythical creatures – from a unicorn to the Loch Ness Monster – but always seems to find the fatal flaw (like how sad it would feel to have everyone call you a “monster”). I love that the girl (a self-described fairy queen ballerina doctor) is able to fix all these creatures’ problems, by doing a happy dance for the Loch Ness Monster, for instance. Yet when she has a problem of her own, it is her father that is able to set things right and restore peace to the kingdom/backyard.
I loved finding Father’s Chinese Opera because it is one of those books that really gives you a window into something most of us would normally never have the chance to experience – behind the scenes of a Chinese opera. A young boy, whose father is the band leader and composer of the opera, watches from the wings, desperate to join in the opera himself. Through his eyes we see the rehearsals and hard work that go into these spectacular performances, and the magic they create onstage. The boy is impatient to become an acrobat in the opera, and humiliated when he is laughed at for such an idea. Just a few quiet words from his father help the boy see that he must have patience and be willing to work hard to fulfill his dream.
What really brings this book to life is the fact that author Rich Lo is himself the child of a famous musician of the Chinese opera and sat in on many rehearsals and performances as a little boy. His father was forced to abandon this career when the family immigrated to the United States, so in many ways this book is a tribute to him and what he sacrificed to provide a better life for his children.
My Daddy Rules the World: Poems about Dads is a lovely collection of poems about dads and what makes them so special. Each celebrates a special time spent together, such as dancing, playing catch, or learning to ride a bike. But it also explores the difficult moments, like writing a letter to a dad serving overseas or being punished. This book quietly explores diversity in its many facets – not just through the varying skin tones but also the dads that stay at home rather than go to an office, or the dads that live far away. But what shines through in each instance is the love and security that each child feels with their father.
My Father’s Shop is often recommended as a book about learning about other cultures. A young boy in Morocco loves spending time in his father’s carpet shop, but he gets bored when his father tries to teach him phrases in other languages, which is useful in their business. Instead, the boy runs out to play in the market, but as it turns out, he meets plenty of tourists there, who teach him how to make animal noises in other languages – and they give his father’s shop extra business!
Visiting Day, from multi-award winning Jacqueline Woodson, tackles a subject rarely covered in picture books: a little girl visiting her father in prison. Based on her own experiences with a favorite uncle who was incarcerated, this heartfelt book captures the conflicting emotions a girl feels as she and her grandmother get up in the wee hours of the morning to prepare food and make the long trip to visit her father. It is a beautiful way to explore a situation many children find themselves in, and to emphasize that parents aren’t perfect, but we can still have loving relationships with them.
Papa and Me is another bilingual book about a loving relationship between father and child. In this instance, the text is primarily in English, with Spanish phrases sprinkled in, easily understood from context. I love the illustrations, which glow with joy. The author and illustrator both wanted to convey their own experiences as fathers and sons, and it definitely comes through in the loving relationship portrayed here.
What are your favorite multicultural children’s books about fathers?
May 6, 2019Book ReviewsComments Off on Favorite New Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers
There are so many benefits to reading with young children! And now there are even more great choice of what you can read together. Here are our favorite new books for toddlers and Preschoolers. Share yours in the comments!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Favorite New Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Little hands love interactive books like Is That Your Dad? (A Changing Faces Book)! In this gentle animal adventure book, a little frog searches for his father. As the pages turn, the faces of the other animals change, making it obvious that the roaring lion and squawking parrot are not the frog’s dad! Don’t worry, it all turns out well in the end! My daughter loves moving the pages back and forth, and I can see that she’s also trying to work out exactly how the facing are changing. Wonderful book for little ones!
Young children love all kinds of trucks, making Vroom Vroom Garbage Truck one of my favorite new books for toddlers and preschoolers! This colorful board book is full of all those fun truck noises that toddlers love to imitate, making the text simple enough for even the youngest readers to enjoy. My favorite part is when the truck squeals to a stop to allow a family of ducks to cross the road! Even with all the bangs and clunks, it is actually a great bedtime story as it winds down gently to a sleepy end.
Another great vehicle book is Sunny’s Tow Truck Saves the Day! A (multiracial!) family is stranded on the side of the road when their car gets a flat tire on the way to have a picnic, so they must wait for a tow truck to come and save them. While they wait, we are treated to loads of other vehicles and learn how they help people as well – construction vehicles, firetrucks, and more! When Sunny finally arrives, she and her crew not only fix the car but help the family keep their picnic day special. Besides teaching about vehicles, this is also a great book to introduce the concept of time.
My Magical Unicorn (My Magical Friends) and its companion below are books that I pack with me in my purse when we’re somewhere my preschooler has to sit for a long time. These books keep her little hands busy for a long time! There are so many tabs to push, pull, spin, and slide – all sturdy enough to withstand a little one’s explorations!
The series continues with My Magical Mermaid (My Magical Friends). I love the holographic foil used in the illustrations, which give a magical quality to these mythical creatures. And the way they are done is so clever, making the colors of the mermaid’s tail shimmer and the sea creatures dance. There is one spread in particular that my daughter has spent a lot of time investigating, as musical notes rotate through and seem to turn into fish! These are beautiful books for little ones to enjoy again and again.
What are your favorite books for toddlers and preschoolers?
April 24, 2019Book ReviewsComments Off on Hilarious Books for Kids About Pets
Laugh out loud books for kids about pets, from picture books to chapter books!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Hilarious Books for Kids About Pets
I wasn’t familiar with the Molly Mischief series, which also includes Saves the World! (Molly Mischief), but after reading Molly Mischief: My Perfect Pet we will definitely be keeping an eye out for more books about this – you guessed it! – mischievous tyke. But as is often the case with “mischievous” kids, at heart Molly is just curious. In Molly Mischief: My Perfect Pet, a zoo visit makes her wonder what it would be like to have some of the zoo animals as pets – something my kids often wonder as well – so she decides to bring them home! Kids will love her silly adventures and live vicariously through her as she brings home an elephant, a penguin, a giraffe, and many more zoo friends! Will she finally find her perfect pet?
If you have ever had a cat, then you will laugh yourself silly over Flubby, an adorable, permanently uninterested cat. In Flubby Is Not a Good Pet! we learn all the reasons why Flubby is simply not as good as other pets. He can’t sing Kim’s parrot or jump like Jill’s. So why is Flubby the perfect pet for Kami? A scary incident makes it clear how much the two care for each other.
We encounter Flubby again in Flubby Will Not Play with That, a story with which any cat owner will instantly identify. We see all the fun, clever toys Flubby’s owner has bought for Flubby and experience his disappointment as Flubby ignores each one in turn. But just when it seems like Flubby will reject everything, we discover that the owner has unwittingly brought home the best toy of all.
I cannot say enough good things about the chapter book Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat. My 9 year old usually looks down his nose at anything that’s not a graphic novel, but he ate this book up in two days before quickly moving on to the second installment (see below). I had to see for myself what all the fuss was about, and I couldn’t believe how funny and clever the books were!
Klawde is indeed an evil warlord cat from an alien planet, exiled to Earth for his crimes and ends up as the pet of a young boy named Raj. I’m not sure which is funnier – Klawde’s take on strange Earth customs (he’s sure that humans wear clothing because they’re so ashamed they have no fur) or hapless Raj’s misadventures at survival summer camp.
The series continues with Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat: Enemies 2, as Klawde and Raj’s adventures together take on a new twist when they both receive unwanted visits from those who had betrayed them. Trust me, these books will have your child laughing out loud and begging for “just a few more pages!” before turning out the lights at night.
Want to raise children with healthy self-esteem? Of course, we all do! Below some wonderful children’s books and music that will help reinforce a positive self-image in children and remind them that they are surrounded by unconditional love. These beautiful resources reinforce your own efforts, inspiring your child to love themselves and their own unique ways.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books and music below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Inspiring Your Child to Love Themselves
My children adore You Can Be. I can’t even count the number of times we’ve read it together. It has just the right blend of silliness and inspiration, teaching children that there are many ways to be a kid – funny, sensitive, smelly, grumpy – and that they can be anything they want to be – except mean or rude, of course! I love the diverse children depicted in this simple picture book, as well as how it works very hard to not reinforce gender stereotypes. For example, it is a boy that is shown to be sensitive, crying over an emotional book, and another boy shown to be caring, by watching out for a younger child. And “dirty” is exemplified by a girl playing on the ground with a truck, and “smelly” is demonstrated by a girl tooting (my kids always crack up at that one!) A lovely book inspiring your child to love themselves however they feel like being that day!
Reading That’s Me Loving You to your child is the verbal equivalent of wrapping them in a big, warm hug. It is a wonderful way to remind little ones that even when you are apart, your love always surrounds them. Best-selling author Amy Krouse Rosenthal uses beautiful imagery from nature to emphasize this point, “That shimmering star?/That’s me winking at you./That drifting cloud?/That’s me thinking of you.” A sweet book to share with younger children, especially if they are just starting school or daycare.
Do you have a child that’s fallen behind on the growth curve, or who feels like they can never catch up to older siblings? Being Small (Isn’t So Bad After All) is a great book to show children that while being small may have its challenges – like not being able to reach high shelves or being chosen last in sports games – it also has many advantages – like having more leg room on a plane or being able to squeeze into small spaces you want to explore.
I love the obvious love the mother shows to her daughter as she comforts and encourages her, as well as the little touches that demonstrate how loved she is, like the girl’s self-portrait hanging on the wall that show her as a princess surrounded by hearts. It is a wonderful way of inspiring your child to love themselves in whatever kind of body they are in, big or small!
Love Is Te Quiero, now available for pre-order, is a lovely album of bilingual English and Spanish music from award-winning artist Alina Celeste. Love Is Te Quiero is a celebration of hyphenated heritage (Celeste herself is Cuban-American) and love in two languages, inspired by her hometown of Miami. This is reflected in the language mixing in the title itself, which many Spanglish households like ours will immediately recognize! (As my son once put it, “I te amo you, too, Mommy! I te amo everyone in the whole world!”) The music is also a joyous blend of influences, interweaving bluegrass, Caribbean, Latina American, and contemporary styles. For this collection Celeste draws inspiration from sources as diverse as a Civil War-era ditty, an old Caribbean nursery rhyme, and a 20th century Spanish children’s song. One of my favorites is Chito and Abu, a melodic celebration of childhood friendship.
Celeste is also a champion of a cause close to my heart, bilingualism. In fact, she co-founded the Being Bilingual Rocks Foundation, which advocates not only for learning multiple languages but also for engaging with other cultures.
What is your favorite way of inspiring your child to love themselves?