Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Childrens Books’ Category

A Little Book About Safety: Book Review

“Nothing is more important than keeping our children safe – but how can we talk to our kids about personal safety without scaring them? How can we be sure they know what to do to keep themselves safe when we’re not around?” The Mother Company has found a way to do just so… by following the lovable Hugo the Hippo as he navigates his way through a fun day at the pool with his family.

Safety_Cover_Shopify_large

The Mother Company is an excellent resource for parents, especially those with preschool-aged children. Their expertise in social emotional learning makes them a trusted source when it comes to communicating with kids.

I love their Ruby’s Studio series so naturally I was thrilled when they sent me A Little Book About Safety. The book is meant to be a companion to their applauded Ruby’s Studio: The Safety Show. Both are fantastic tools for parents and caregivers to explain the importance of safety. Your child will be empowered and feel like they have the skills to be the boss of their own safety.

The storyline is adorable, as are the characters. The Mother Company touches on topics that are important but in a fun way. The points are still getting across to your child without them getting overwhelmed.

The best thing about the Mother Company is they know kids, so they use language that your child can understand and relate to. They’re able to explain safety in a non-scary way. Safety is an important topic that shouldn’t scare our children, but it is something we need to discuss with them. A Little Book About Safety makes touching on important topics easy to talk about and creates an open dialogue with your child.

One thing I always ask myself when choosing a children’s book is, is it interactive? This is the best way to keep kids engaged. The Mother Company does a great job with this. They insert “Safety Tips” throughout the book that work as breaks in the storyline where you can stop and discuss. It has the key element in a good children’s book – making it all about your child! Even from the inside cover, “This book belongs to                   ”, your child will feel like it’s a special book just for them. I also like how they use the term “Safe Adult” because you can go over who is and who isn’t a “Safe Adult” in their life. Every child’s situation is different and this book allows you to tailor it to your little one.

There is honestly nothing I would add or remove from this book. It covers a wide-range of safety topics, like: Knowing a safe adult’s name and phone number, it’s ok to be scared and it’s ok to say NO, and what to do if they get lost. I especially like Safety Tip No. 2, “the parts of your body covered by your bathing suit are private” and Safety Tip No. 5, “YOU are the boss of your own body, and it’s ok to say “Stop!” to anyone… No one should touch you in any way you don’t like.” This isn’t any easy topic to cover but they touch on it perfectly.

Excerpt11

My favorite part? “All his smart choices will keep him strong, happy and SAFE.” Kids understand this. It gives them the right tools to take control of things that will keep them safe. As I say in Keep Calm and Parent On, give your child some power. They need to feel in control and feel ownership of their choices.

You can purchase A Little Book About Safety here!

Twigtale Books: Mama Always Comes Back.

Twigtale offers parents an innovative way to work through common early childhood transitions smoothly. Twigtale books are personalized stories, scripted by experts, which help your child know what to expect. This covers a variety of issues and topics, such as: starting school, using the potty, moving, a new sibling and many others. They also have an option to create your own book from scratch, so you can cover literally any topic. It’s quite brilliant!

logoFULLSIZEadj

Storytelling is one of my favorite activities to do with children, and it is a helpful way for them to understand bigger situations and life events, but Twigtale makes storytelling that much more effective. Why? Because it’s all about them; your little one.

My favorite Twigtale book is, “Mama Always Comes Back!”

Tt image 1

In all my years working with children, separation anxiety is something every child faces at some point. I’ve personally used this Twigtale book and recommend it to every family I work with. I fell in love with “Mama Always Comes Back!” instantly because this is something ALL children need to be reassured of.

Twigtale books are truly customizable in every sense of the word – right away, you can pick to title the book with the name your child calls you (mum, mama, mommy). You can also customize this to be daddy, papa, etc., so don’t worry dads, you’re included too. Then add a photo to match and voila, your child is the star!

Let your child help you make suggestions for what you’re putting in the book. Ask them, what does mummy like to do? Exercise, read, go out to dinner, spend time with Auntie Jenny – things that you need to and like to do for yourself – that they need to learn are “adult” times.

One of my favorite pages is, “When Mummy says “goodbye”, sometimes I feel sad. Sometimes I cry. This is okay.” – Because it IS okay. They will cry and be upset but as long as they know you will always be back, it will help them cope with the fact that sometimes you have to leave them.

rsz_screenshot_7

Twigtale is also an excellent tool for your nanny or teacher. Keep it in their cubby or backpack so they can look at it whenever they get scared or are just simply missing mum! It isn’t a security item like a blanket or lovie that they may not be comfortable taking to school. It’s a cool book that all their friends will want to see and make one of their own.

Believe me when I tell you, your child will want to read their book over and over again because it’s all about them. I’ve seen this with the kids I nanny for. They always go to the shelf and pick out one of their Twigtale books. They love the fact that they can look at pictures of their grandparents who live all the way in New York and relive their special moments with mum or dad, brother or sister, and other special family members.

If you’re leaving for a night out remind them, “I always come back! Have fun and I’ll see you soon”, and leave the book out for a special nighttime reading. They will love showing their sitter or nanny the fun book all about them.

Be sure to check out their website!

Todd Parr Giveaway!

Storypanda Books and I are thrilled to announce a giveaway in honor of back-to-school! Starting this Friday, September 6th, you can enter to win a FREE COPY of Todd Parr’s It’s Okay to be Different!

We’ll be giving away 2 print copies of It’s Okay to be Different …but don’t forget you can also buy Storypanda’s in-app purchase and take Todd’s book with you wherever you go!

I’m making this giveaway SUPER simple! All I’m asking is for you to:

  1. Comment on this blog post with why you and your child love Todd Parr
  2. Tweet using handles @Emmaschildren & @Storypanda saying you’ve entered and follow us 🙂

GOOD LUCK,

Emma xx

ItsOk_Poster

App Review: Storypanda Books!

Storypanda Books In-App Purchase

It’s Okay to be Different  by Todd Parr

mzl.rifehhpk.480x480-75

The first thing that drew me to Todd Parr is his use of vibrant colors, which I have to say look even better on an iPad! His illustrations are simple and smart. The message is that it’s okay to need help sometimes, be from a non-traditional family, have a different appearance, or to have a disability. This is a truly important message to teach our children.

This app will not disappoint when your child is laughing over “it’s okay to have a pet worm,” or “it’s okay to help a squirrel collect nuts.” It’s a perfect app for a child who is just starting to read because the sentences come up in pieces. They won’t get overwhelmed because they can click when they’re ready, so it lets them read at their own pace. It’s also a sweet story to share with your toddler and read together while letting them use their finger.

The app is easy to use and will actually keep your child’s interest. Why? In Todd Parr’s It’s Okay to Be Different they have to tap the screen to enhance the graphics. One of my favorites is “it’s okay to be a different color.” Two black and white zebras are on the page and when you click one suddenly becomes rainbow colored! They provide such fun visuals and sensory images for your child.

935911_561106193934923_1313828897_n

The best part of this app? At the end of reading, you and your child can create your own version of the story. You can change the characters, backgrounds, props, etc. You can change almost anything! Storypanda also lets your child share their creation with their friends.

SP_IO_frame9_Createv2

My favorite thing about the Storypanda app as a whole is the homepage. When you open the app you arrive at your child’s virtual bookshelf. Stories for them to read on one shelf, stories they made on another, and stories from their friends on the last. It’s just as if they walked up to their bookshelf at home, but they are able to see all their stories in one organized place (without pulling them out and making a mess!)

Todd Parr’s in-app purchase is definitely worth it because it’s something your child will read time and time again, make their own stories, and save them to share! You can click here if you want to buy It’s Okay to be Different via iTunes!

Les Enfants Fantastiques!

This week, I got the chance to read Bébé Day by Day, the follow-up to Pamela Druckerman’s bestselling Bringing Up Bébé. My verdict: Vive la French parenting!

660efd566853759645f244d83eee4340

They say that those who fight the hardest are those who are the most alike, so perhaps it shouldn’t have surprised me that when it comes to parenting, the English and the French have quite a bit in common.

It took Pamela Druckerman, an American journalist and mother, to show me as much. Druckerman’s keen observations about the differences between European and American parenting styles were spot-on, and her writing style in Bringing Up Bébé was fun, flirty and accessible, rather than preachy or judgmental.

For parents interested in the ideas behind Bringing Up Bébé who couldn’t find time to read it all the way through, Day by Day is perfect. It’s divided into short chapters based on bite-sized parenting “keys” — a less laissez-faire author would have called them “rules” — designed to be picked up and read in spare moments.

8470299491_5949c6412e_z-2

I’ll admit: Not all of Druckerman’s keys appealed to my English sensibilities, but the majority of them did. Here’s my English take on some of her most interesting arguments:

#11: Observe Your Baby
This one is fantastic, and so important. New parents often assume that when a baby moves around, makes noise or fusses, he needs something. But a lot of the time, babies are just experimenting, not asking for help. The only way to know what a baby is trying to convey — and be sure you’re not projecting a need onto him — is to actively watch him and learn which cry means “wet diaper” and which means “I like making this interesting noise!”

One of my favorite things to do with a baby this time of year is take him outside with a blanket and a book. I can watch him spend a half hour or so rolling around, and catch up on weekend reading while he’s engrossed in playing with grass or looking at rocks. Everyone gets some calm downtime, and you get the chance to watch and listen to your baby away from the toys and TV.

In fact, I would pair #11 with #20, Do the Pause, which advises parents to wait and listen when a sleeping baby starts to fuss or cry. Just like adults, children cycle through sleep phases, and scooping her up between cycles or during a light phase can interrupt her cycle and teach her to expect you to come in rather than learn to soothe herself.

Chapter 4: Bébé Gourmet
I nearly laughed aloud at the entire food chapter, because I associate so many of these “French” recommendations with my very, very English mother and her compatriots. In fact, Druckerman arrived at many of the same conclusions I covered in my last article: serving vegetables as a first course, establishing a dinner table culture that embraces new foods, involving kids in cooking and rejecting separate “kid food.” Food and table manners may be where Americans have veered furthest from old-fashioned common sense, and where English and French parents find themselves most emphatically aligned.

Bebe_Day_by_Day_Event_Bottles_Wine_Drinks_Cocktails_Signage_4_636_0

To read my full review, follow this link to the original post on the Huff Post Parents blog.

Via Huffingtonpost.com

As Earth Month Comes to a Close…

April is Earth Month and as it comes to a close, I wanted to share some final thoughts.

Did you know Earth Day, April 22nd, began in 1970? It began as a “teach-in,” modeled after the civil rights and anti-war movements. As parents, we are our children’s first teachers. The world we live in is what we are leaving to them, so it is our responsibility to teach them how to care for, preserve, and love our earth.

wfem

While today’s children are more more “eco-friendly” and educated on the importance of being “green” and environmentally sound, Earth Month is yet another opportunity to reinforce why we take steps like recycling, turning out lights, and not letting the tap run, etc.

The Nature Conservancy is an excellent resource and a leading conservation organization that works around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. If ever you want to donate your time or money, join them. You can adopt an acre, adopt a coral reef, plant a tree – and they have so many other ways to sustain our environment.

The Nature Conservancy’s theme for the month of April is ‘sustainability and food sources.’ They offer interactive activities, such as pinning your picnic on a virtual map and uploading photos of your family enjoying the time outdoors.

Not everyone will have a chance to participate in the event, but it’s the time of year where planting a garden – whether you have a large yard space or a small window pot – will help teach your children where food comes from. A child of any age will benefit from getting their hands dirty in the garden!

Screen-shot-2011-03-29-at-3.58.34-PM_0

Great things to plant this time of year include: string beans, tomatoes, a variety of squash & many others depending on your region. As you plant, talk to your kids about the Earth and what your garden needs to grow – soil, sun, water, and love.

You can even turn it into a science activity for the older ones. Have them measure the growth of your plants, keep a progress chart and observation log. As younger gardeners may be a little more impatient, they can draw pictures of what their plants may look like or read a book about gardening. This may satisfy their minds before they’re able to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

earthday_facebookpinnedad

I absolutely adore Stacy Torino’s book ‘Project Garden.’ Her Web site, Stacy Grows, also has tons of family activities and projects for garden time fun! I actually found this book at Whole Foods.

Some other excellent gardening books for kids:

Nanny Emma’s Picks: The Best Books for Kids, Part II (ages 6-10)

There’s something magical about going into a bookshop or library with a child who’s just learning to read by herself. The sense of wonder is infectious, and you can almost see new ideas popping up as children excitedly survey the shelves and reach out to the books that call to them.

Group_1_Library_097

Children this age have moved on from books on colors and numbers and are ready for books that tackle more abstract topics like friendship, loss and inner strength. When I buy or borrow a book for children this age, I look for work that properly examines or explains mature concepts in age-appropriate language. No one likes to be preached at, including children, and the best books include positive or thought-provoking messages that grow organically with the story, not ones that feel squished in.

That being said, I also look for books that are just plain fun. The enduring power of books by authors like E. Nesbit, Edward Eager and Roald Dahl are proof that sophisticated topics can happily coexist alongside fantasy and pure silliness.

A dad reads Bucket full of Dynasaurs see attached story from Booktime

The last post, on books for children ages 1-6, focused solely on new books. This time, I’ve added two older books that are popular in the UK, but aren’t household names in the U.S.. Some of the best children’s books are by British authors, and these really ought to have a place on American shelves, too.

Ages 6-8
Mr. Putter and Tabby Pour the Tea (Sandpiper, 1994) by Cynthia Rylant and Arthur Howard. In the warm, well-paced first book of this wonderful series, the elderly Mr. Putter finds a companion in Tabby, a cat at the animal shelter. The carefully chosen, simple language is easy for children to understand, but the story is rich and full, and complemented perfectly by Howard’s delightful illustrations. I recommend the entire series to early readers.

Each Kindness, by Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulson, 2012). With its detailed watercolors and message of inclusion, Each Kindness reminds me of the 1944 classic The Hundred Dresses. Wendy Lukehart, Youth Collections Coordinator for the DC Public Library, admires Woodson’s deft handling of the subtle bullying and exclusion all too common in elementary school. When Maya, a gregarious new girl with “old and ragged” clothes comes to school, Chloe and her friends all ignore her. After the new girl drops out and their teacher gives a hands-on lesson about the ripple effect of kindness, Chloe regrets missing an opportunity to befriend Maya.

Wendy also recommends Sarah Stewart and David Small’s The Quiet Place (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012). Set in the 1950s, the book stars Isabel, a Mexican girl whose family moves to the Midwestern U.S.. Isabel practices her English by writing letters to her Aunt Lupita, and readers see her grow more comfortable in her new life. Her father and brother help her make and decorate a “quiet place” made from cardboard boxes, which gets less quiet — in the best possible ways — when she invites new friends inside. Wendy especially likes the way the book explores “the role that creativity and a supportive family play in helping” Isabel feel at home.

Sally Young, staff manager of Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, CA, likes Rabbityness (Child’s Play, 2012). “It’s a beautiful book — the illustrations are stunning,” says Sally, and the visual style is “really different” than other books on the shelf. Rabbityness tells the story of a colorful, creative rabbit who suddenly disappears, leaving the woods sad and grey. But when Rabbit’s friends discover the paints and instruments he left behind, they celebrate Rabbit by using his gifts to make their own joyful art. The book celebrates creativity and approaches loss with sensitivity and grace.

Ages 8-10

Ballet Shoes (Yearling, 1993) by Noel Streatfeild. The first in the classic Shoes series, the story of adopted sisters Pauline, Petrova and Posy Fossil has been an inspiration to generations of aspiring dancers and actors (and for Petrova fans, engineers) since it was first published in 1937. It’s more popular in the UK than it is in the U.S., and it’s high time American readers rediscovered it.

Elizabeth Bennhoff, Early Childhood Librarian Fellow at the University of Denver, recommends John Grisham’s series for middle grade readers. In the latest,Theodore Boone: The Accused (Penguin, 2012), the precocious protagonist (and justice-minded child of two lawyer parents), has to defend himself after being framed for robbery. In a preteen market saturated by supernatural romance for girls and gross-out humor for boys, Elizabeth likes that the series “features a boy with some ambition and in a real-world setting. Theodore Boone isn’t slaying dragons or making fart jokes — he wants to be a trial lawyer.”

Diane Garrett of Diane’s Books in Greenwich, CT, recommends Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart, by Children’s Poet Laureate emerita Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Michael Emberley (Little, Brown, 2012). Hoberman carefully selected over 100 poems that are both “easy to remember” and “worth remembering.” At the end, she includes tips for learning poetry gathered over a lifetime as a poet for children. The book is a wonderful way to introduce children to the fading practice of poetry memorization, for as UK Education Secretary Michael Gove put it, “to know a poem by heart is to own a great work of art forever.”

Lauren from The Reading Bug bookstore in San Carlos, CA, says: “One of the most important books written this year for ages 8-12 is Wonder by RJ Pallacio. There is an entire campaign surrounding this book called ‘choose kind’ that I hope will circulate through schools to teach our children to be kind to one another no matter what we look like.” Lauren is not alone —Wonder (Knopf, 2012) was a #1 New York Times bestseller last year.

Gallery Bookshop’s Sally Young also likes Newberry Award-winning author Rebecca Stead’s Liar & Spy. “This book is just different. It’s almost like a puzzle — and you would not guess what the ending is!” After his father loses his job, funny, self-aware 11-year-old Georges moves into a new apartment building and joins a new neighbor boy’s top-secret spy club. Together, they investigate the mysterious Mr. X upstairs, and like Georges’ namesake, impressionist Georges Seurat, the boys discover unexpected relationships between the dots they observe and the whole, complete picture of Mr. X. “It’s very mysterious,” says Sally, “and you get hooked!”

Donating Books:
In my post on books for younger children, I included links to a few charities that are looking for children’s books to continue with the great work they do. All those U.S.-based organizations still need books, but I’d also like to suggest giving to three international charities:

Darien BookAid sends books to Peace Corps volunteer teachers, and KKOOM, a charity founded by a Fulbright fellow and Korean adoptee, sends English and Korean picture books to volunteers in orphanages across South Korea. The International Book Project, founded by Nobel Peace Prize nominee Harriet Van Meter, stocks the shelves of village libraries and classrooms in developing nations in developing nations as well as underfunded schools in the U.S.. Donations to all three are tax-deductible for Americans.

Thank Yous:
My thanks to all the passionate and fantastically knowledgeable children’s librarians and independent bookstore staff who contributed suggestions. Buying books is especially lovely with help from enthusiastic experts, and talking with these people was a delight. Thanks again to Lauren from The Reading Bug, Diane of Diane’s Books, Lizzie Preston of Hatchards, Ronna of Good Reads with Ronna, Elizabeth Bennhoff of the University of Denver, Wendy Lukehart of the DC Public Library, and Sally Young of Gallery Bookshop.

Nanny Emma’s Picks: The Best Books for Kids, Part I (ages 1-6)

This article was originally published via Huff Post Parents. Enjoy! ..and get reading!

2013 marks the 50th anniversary of some truly fantastic children’s books. The first entry in two beloved children’s series, Amelia Bedelia and Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective were published in 1963, as was Where the Wild Things Are, Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop and the lesser-known but brilliant, dreamy Swimmy.

hoppop

For several generations now, these beloved classics have awakened children’s curiosity and shaped their imaginations for a lifetime to come. If I were to say, “Let the wild rumpus start,” I bet that more than one of you would instantly think of Max in his white pajamas and crown.

“Books that we read to children become part of them emotionally. They offer them scripts for how to handle things later in life, and just — beauty! Joy!” says Wendy Lukehart, Youth Collections Coordinator at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library in Washington, D.C. I couldn’t agree more.

With the children I’ve looked after, I’ve always made sure that reading together is a daily activity as integrated into the routine as breakfast or bathtime. There is an art to reading children’s books, and the secret is simple: You must be willing to be silly! Show excitement about the book, give the characters voices and engage children by asking what’s happening or what will happen next.

A bedtime story

It’s hard to tell which recently published books will stand the test of time, but there have been some truly brilliant ones published in the last year or two. In my decades of experience as a nanny, I’ve learned what to look for: Books that are designed to be read with children, rather than to them.

What follows is a list of the best books for children ages 1-6 published since 2010. It includes my personal favorites along with wonderful recommendations from librarians, veteran booksellers, and researchers. This is a post overflowing with the best new books, hand-picked by people who love reading with children.
Baby and Toddler:
Diane Garrett of Diane’s Books in Greenwich, CT recommends Tuck Me In by Dean Hacohen and Sherry Scharschmidt (Candlewick, 2010). Toddlers can participate by helping lift flaps to “tuck in” a sleepy baby animal on each page. With few words, bold print and its repetitive refrain, it’s a great bedtime book for the younger set.

Elizabeth Bennhoff, Early Childhood Librarian Fellow at the University of Denver, likes Backseat A-B-See by Maria van Lieshout (Chronicle, 2012). A is for Airport, B is for Bike Route: “It’s a fun book about all the different things you can see on a road trip.” After you’ve read it together a few times, this is a great book to tuck into the car seat.

“My all-time favorite for board books is Boynton — I just love her humor!” says Wendy Lukehart. Sandra Boynton’s fun, rhyme-filled books (the latest is 2011’s Happy Hippo, Angry Duck: A Book of Moods), are not your typical animal books; they’re “funny for the adults and surprising for the children, too… because the characters do unexpected things.” Boynton is both author and illustrator, and her cartoon artwork adds to the zany fun.

Preschool & Kindergarten:
No-Bot, the Robot with No Bottom, by Sue Hendra (Simon and Schuster, 2013). One of my absolute favorites, No-Bot tells the story of a robot who loses his bottom while playing on the swing and recruits his animal friends to help him find it again. I read this book in the UK and loved it so much I bought it for the children I nanny in the States. It’s fantastic fun on either side of the Atlantic!

Elizabeth Bennhoff recommends the latest by Eric Litwin and James Dean: “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons is so cool!” (HarperCollins, 2012). All the books in the series, says Bennhoff, “do an excellent job of incorporating pre-reading skills in fun ways. They have a predictive pattern that allows kids to predict what’s going to happen next, which helps their language and narrative skills. The illustrations are great and they make reading fun.” Each book also has a YouTube video with fun songs and extra animation.

Lizzie Preston, a bookseller at Hatchards, London’s oldest bookshop, recommends the lively illustrations and fun rhymes of books by Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson, the team behind the immensely popular 1999 book The Gruffalo. Their most recent collaboration, Superworm (Alison Green Books, 2012), “is a really big favourite at Hatchards and is one of our bestsellers at the moment.”

Ronna Mandel, the mastermind behind the terrific site Good Reads with Ronna, raves about 2013 Caldecott Medal winner This is Not My Hat by author/illustrator Jon Klassen (Candlewick, 2012). “Prepare to be lured into the brilliance of a book that marries subtle yet sophisticated artwork with short, simple sentences that say so very much,” says Ronna. “Readers old and young will love finding out the fate of one small, overly confident crook of a fish who thinks he can outsmart a bigger fish whose hat he has just stolen.” Ronna, who is also the book reviewer for  L.A. Parent, says the book is ideal for children 4-7.

Wendy Lukehart loves 2013 Caldecott Honor Book Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Roaring Brook Press, 2012). How many kinds of green are there? Forest green, sea green, lime green, pea green… Because “it deals subtly with the multiple meanings of green,” including a gentle message about caring for the environment, “it rewards repeated readings … and works with a lot of different ages.” Cutouts on each page transform into something new on the next, and even grown-ups will enjoy Seeger’s intricate, textured die cut illustrations.

Sleep Like a Tiger, by Mary Logue and Pamela Zagarenski (Houghton Mifflin, 2012), is another of Wendy’s favorites, and rightly so. “It’s a bedtime story, but it goes so far beyond the typical story, and offers a script to parents” for how to calmly put to bed a child who declares she’s not sleepy. In the book, the parents encourage a low-pressure bedtime routine, and patiently list the routines of various animals until she drifts off. Wendy “can’t say enough good things about the art,” which is original and fresh, but dreamy enough for bedtime.

Last, one of my favorite new discoveries: Twigtale, a brilliant new website that personalizes books with customized stories and your child’s name and photo. These books are fantastic — they’re unique and high-quality, and with titles like Crib to BedSoon-to-Be New Sibling and Starting School, they really help prepare children for transitions by walking them through what to expect, step by step.

Donating Outgrown Books:
As caretakers, part of our job is to cultivate gratitude and compassion in children. Donating outgrown books is a great way to teach your children about giving back, and to see your family’s books make a difference in other children’s lives.

Contact your local library, Goodwill, children’s hospital or women’s shelter to see if they need books. Larger regional charities like Books for America, which helps underfunded DC schools and shelters provide books and reading programs for children; Bookends in LA, which sends kids’ books to youth centers, shelters, literacy programs, and underfunded schools; and ROAR (“Reach Out and Read”), a student-run organization at USC’s Keck School of Medicine that reads to children at pediatric clinics while they wait to be seen by physicians, are all looking for gently used children’s books.

Many thanks for great suggestions to Diane, Elizabeth, Wendy, Lizzie and Ronna, and I look forward to seeing readers’ suggestions for great books in the comments!

Book Review: Tale of A Baseball Dream

Jerry Pearlman’s young adult book, “Tale of a Baseball Dream,” is an American story of a baseball legend and an adolescent boy, who dreams that one day he will follow in his hero’s footsteps and become a major league star.

165130_131748416884711_2158240_n

It’s difficult to find a book that drags your sports-loving “tween” away from video games and Sports Center to read. Every boy has dreamt about becoming a world-class athlete at some point, and this book will let them live that dream.

We learn the story of two parallel lives: Bubba “The Brute” Brugosee and eight-year-old Dusty Hunter. Watching Dusty grow up is an inspirational story. Dusty and his father’s relationship is one-of-a-kind. The encouragement and love that one man alone gave to his child is inspirational to say the least. The two spent night and day practicing because his dad honestly believed in his son.

10198282-happy-father-and-his-son-playing-baseball

We watch Dusty lose his biggest fan and support system, his father. It is gut wrenching to watch such a young boy live through such loss. Even through Dusty’s struggles, he manages to overcome his loss and continue following his dream.

The book also proves an excellent point that all children must learn: even a great player has weaknesses and that’s OK. Major league star “The Brute” even faces adversity from his fans when he is traded and has to leave his beloved New Jersey team.

“Tale of a Baseball Dream” is a story filled with big dreams. I would recommend it particularly to boys in middle school and up. There is the element of death so they need to be mentally ready for this. There are many life lessons to be learned from this book, especially when it comes to the importance of family.

Life is not always easy and when things aren’t going your way, Pearlman says to keep trying! If your child takes anything away from his book it will be to believe in oneself. This is just as important as having someone else believe in you!

Find “Tale of a Baseball Dream” on Facebook.

Book Review: The Bug Barians

Marty Byk’s children’s book, “The Bug Barians,” is a witty, action-packed story that follows the adventures of five brave Viking bugs. Dressed in full medieval garb, these bugs work together as superheroes… of a different sort.

Byk’s characters are well developed and each has something distinct about them. Do not let the title fool you. Although it is about bugs, your daughter will even take an interest when she sees the strong and beautiful female characters. Pig-tailed and stylish, the girl bugs prove that they can be both feminine and strong. These girls can definitely keep up with the male bugs.

There really is a character for every child to relate to, and to pick a favorite. Even a Jamaican, dreadlocked bug. I love that the bugs show flaws but make up for lacking in something with other good qualities. It’s brilliant, and sends a great message to children.

The illustrations are excellent. Their vibrancy really makes them pop and helps to truly define each bug character. Not to mention, the clever names are sure to make your child giggle.

“The Bug Barians” adventures lie in escaping from different, larger animals that they seem to always cause trouble with. Their arch nemesis, the squirrel, makes for a hilarious encounter as you follow them through a chase scene. It’s just another “totally Bug Barian day” for the rowdy crew.

I would recommend this book to children 7 years and up because the writing is pretty detailed and has some longer paragraphs. The descriptive writing encourages your child to really imagine the setting and the surroundings of the bug characters. It’s the perfect choice for a child that loves adventure!

Stay tuned for our social media giveaway to win your very own copy of The Bug Barians!

Speaking of Marriage

Winifred M. Reilly, M.A., MFT