How did it get to be November already? It doesn’t matter, November is here, and the countdown to the holidays is on. (Quite literally; check out our 100 Days of Holidays for so very many cute ideas.) We’re showing this personalized book in our December issue, but I wanted to write about it here, too, while you’ve got plenty of time to order.
I’ve seen a lot of goofy personalized books, but the ones from I See Me are gorgeous. Truly! The illustrations, especially in this Very Merry Christmas book, are so sweet. The story incorporates your child’s name seamlessly, so the book really becomes about him or her. And at $30, it’s a great deal.
The most popular I See Me book for new babies is My Very Own Name, which shows animals building a new baby’s name letter by letter. It’s sold hundreds of thousands of copies, has celebrity fans such as Courteney Cox, and is now a $5 iPad app. But I still love the $33 book, which is keepsake-worthy.
Read more about their books by liking the I See Me Facebook page. (If that link doesn’t work, simply search for “I See Me” on Facebook and their page should pop up.) To kick off the gift-buying season, the owners of I See Me will give one lucky person 10 gift certificates, each certificate good for the cost of one book including shipping, for a prize worth $409! You could make some books for your own baby, and use the rest as gifts. To be eligible, leave a comment below. I’d love for you to tell me your baby’s name! (We’re a little name obsessed over here, we even have a baby-name blog.) You can comment up to once a day between now and the end of the day on Wednesday, November 7th. The official rules are here. Goody luck!
Candlewick Press, independent publishers of kids books like Guess How Much I Love You and the Where’s Waldo series, just kicked off a year-long video campaign called “We Believe in Picture Books” to honor the importance of these stories to children.
They’re posting a new video each day at readingstartshere.com and will continue to do so for a full year. Each clip shows an author or illustrator explaining their artistic process when creating the books–or young readers sharing just how much they love reading them. So far, the videos have included an interview with author and illustrator David Ezra Stein talking about his picture book Interrupting Chicken, and Megan McDonald, author of the popular Judy Moody series.
If you or your kids are passionate about picture books, get involved by submitting your own video through the program’s website. Click here for the submission guidelines, and don’t forget to check out the vid below.
What picture books did you read to your young children? Do they enjoy reading the books on their own? Tell us your stories below in the comments!
History is always in the making. Important events that your kids will read about one day are happening now. We offered some tips for raising a good citizen, and this election season is the perfect time to get your kids excited about civics.
We spoke with Michael J. Berson, Ph.D., professor of social science education at the University of South Florida, about ways to engage your children during this exciting time in history.
1. Hold a mock vote at home.
The Electoral College can be difficult even for adults to understand and kids may not be able to grasp the concept of the popular vote. A better way to familiarize kids with the notion of voting is by holding a mock election at home.
“Your family can vote on small things, like what to have for dinner that night,” says Dr. Berson. “The idea is to show them the power of choice, which they will carry with them later in life.”
But what happens when one sibling outvotes the other’s choice of mac ‘n’ cheese for dinner? Show your child how to “campaign” for her favorite meal the next night! This will not only teach her how to react when she don’t get her way, but will also help her understand how to enact positive change for an issue she cares about.
2. Read to your kids about elections
“One of the best ways to teach your children about the political process is by reading to them,” says Dr. Berson. “Read biographies of former presidents and don’t forget to read about first ladies as well.”
We often leave the TV commercials on in the background without thinking about them, but negative political ads could send the wrong message to kids. “It’s important for children to have visuals of the candidates,” says Dr. Berson. “Try muting the TV when negative ads come on and use the visuals to explain in positive terms who the candidate is and what issue the ad is talking about.”
4. Attend political events as a family
This is a great way to for kids to participate in an election, but not all political events are appropriate for children. “Younger children may be frightened by hecklers or negative protestors at speeches and rallies,” says Dr. Berson. “A more developmentally-appropriate option would be to attend a parade that a candidate is in.”
5. Show your patriotism
It may not be appropriate to dress your child in t-shirts or stickers that promote a candidate they are too young to fully understand. Dr. Berson says that a better option is to give your child a flag to wave if you are attending a political event.
6. Keep it positive
Dr. Berson says that it’s good to show children your sense of connection to a particular party or candidate. However, you should always speak respectfully of opposing parties. Teaching your child to respect both sides is a great lesson that will carry over into other relationships in his life.
7. Discuss platforms, not parties
Encourage your child to create his own opinions by talking to him about different sides of issues as opposed to talking about the different parties.
8. Relate the election to your home and community
The best way for kids to understand politics on a national scale is by showing them ways to actively get involved in their home or community. You can start by letting your kids think of ways to improve the area around them by working on community service projects that they are passionate about. Sites like Volunteer Match, Do Something and The Volunteer Family offer great ways to learn about kid-friendly service opportunities in your community.
We are happy to announce that our very own Todd Tarpley, general manager for Parents.com, released Ten Tiny Toes, his latest children’s book.
The book celebrates the most memorable moments parents can experience with their little ones, and it revolves around an appreciation for cute baby feet!
Reading to kids is a great way for parents to enrich their children’s minds and show how much they care; Ten Tiny Toes’ combination of an endearing storyline with cute illustrations makes this book fun to read.
Tarpley lives in New York City with his wife and two sons. His first children’s book, How About a Kiss For Me?, was released in 2010.
Marc Brown, illustrator of Ten Tiny Toes is also a children’s book author; he is the creator of the best-selling Arthur Adventure book series and creative producer of the PBS Kids television series, Arthur.
Are the days of lugging around textbook-filled backpacks becoming obsolete? Developers at Kno, an education-geared software company, hope so. Yesterday, Kno announced their plan to offer interactive K-12 textbooks for iPads, tablets, and the web for only $9.99. The app will allow parents and children to enhance learning experiences through various interactive features, including automatic flash cards, customized quizzes, and 3D models. Kno’s product comes just months after the federal government issued the Digital Textbook Playbook, a plan to get all students and teachers using e-textbooks within the next few years.
More and more companies are now scrambling to increase education rates after appalling reports from the Council on Foreign Relations stated that the U.S. education system has failed to prepare kids for competition at a global level. If that didn’t sting enough, schools endured another attack last week when a study done by Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance found the United States’ academic growth now ranks in the middle of the 49 countries involved. Somehow, schools in America just aren’t making the cut, leading companies like Kno to take education into their own hands.
So what can you do to help your child stay ahead of the pack? Learn a lesson from the top educational systems in the world and take home some pro tips to try yourself. Being proactive and aware of your kid’s education is the key to their future success.
It’s Children’s Book Week, which means this week is another special reason to encourage your kids to read! This celebration of books (sponsored by the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader) officially began in 1919, though the idea was originally formulated in 1913 by Franklin K. Matthiews, the librarian of the Boy Scouts of America. To date, this week is considered the longest-running literacy program in the U.S. (Read more about the history at bookweekonline.com)
Since spring and rain are on my mind (it’s been endless wet weather in New York), here are some new and old spring-related books that are perfect for the season:
Gem by Holly Hobbie – The author/illustrator of the “Toot and Puddle” series showcases her superb watercolors in this (mostly) wordless book about a frog and a young girl’s discovery of the world.
And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano – Spare and poetic as a haiku, this first-time author focuses on a boy waiting for his garden to bloom. Subdued illustrations by Erin E. Stead, who won the 2011 Caldecott Medal for “A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” are a perfect accompaniment.
Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger – A tribute to nature and the environment, Seeger shares the different shades of green that exist in the world, along with scenes of what a world would be like without green. Strategic cut-outs on each page also give a hint of what will come next.
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown – Inspired by the High Line in New York City, this story follows a little boy as he plants a rooftop garden with the hope of transforming a dark and dreary world into something bright and bold. (Brown’s signature drawings are detailed, lush, and vibrant.)
This cute and catchy music video came across my inbox yesterday and I’ve watched it at least three times. If you love books and reading as much as I do, you will also love this video from Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the largest non-profit children’s literacy organization. RIF just launched the national ”Book People Unite” campaign to encourage book lovers to band together, and this Public Service Announcement features an original song produced by The Roots.
A montage of assorted puppets (by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop) and animations (by Curious Pictures) of beloved book characters (Pinocchio, Curious George, Babar, Humpty Dumpty, Clifford, Raggedy Ann and Andy, and Madeline) are all seen or heard singing ”Book People Unite.” Famous musicians and celebrities such as Chris Martin from “Coldplay,” John Legend, Regina Spektor, and Jack Black also contribute vocals for the characters or make appearances alongside them. LeVar Burton, who hosted “Reading Rainbow,” also makes a cameo. (NYTimes.com also has a feature-length piece about the video.)
Last year, RIF provided 14 million books to 4 million children, and the non-profit hopes to give more books to the 16 million children living in poverty in our country. To show your support for literacy, sign the “Book People Unite” reading pledge and receive a free download of the song.
Can you spot all the book characters or match them to the celeb voices?
The popular mom blogger Jenny Lawson, self-dubbed “The Bloggess” (more on that later), released her first book yesterday, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. The novel shares hilarious, “mostly true” anecdotes from her, er, unusual upbringing. We talked to Jenny about being a mother, a blogger, and surviving her weird childhood.
Let’s start at the beginning. What was your childhood like?
My childhood was “violently unorthodox,” as I like to call it. My dad was a taxidermist, so I had some interesting childhood “pets” growing up. From the outside looking in, people might think it was a struggle. We were quite poor, and my family was odd, but overall I’d say it was great. Despite the quirks, I was loved and accepted for who I was.
How does that lesson translate in your book?
I’ve embraced my weirdness, and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened shares stories about my life in an informal, fun, and irreverent manner. After all, diversity is what makes the world go around and that includes the need for a lot of bafflingly strange people in the world. I’m happy to be one of those people.
When using your own life as the fodder for your first novel, did you worry what family or friends might think?
My friends and family aren’t easily thrown. My parents enjoyed the book, and all my close relatives and in-laws have either read it or have vowed not to read it to preserve their idea of me. I have a strong family who supports one another no matter what. That’s sort of the main theme of the book, and it’s one that stands true in my life, as well.
Did you always hope to be a published author?
Growing up, I wanted to be a cowgirl ballerina. Or a writer. But I wasn’t thin enough to be a cowgirl ballerina, so I started writing instead.
Your blog, The Bloggess, is wildly popular. How did you come up with that name?
“Blogess” is just the feminine of “blogger.” Think about it: Actor/actress, mister/mistress, blogger/bloggess, jogger/joggess. Although, those last two never quite caught on…
What does your daughter, Hailey, think about your blog?
Hailey is not allowed to read my blog because it’s a bit too cursey for a seven-year-old, but she desperately wants a blog of her own–she even makes these long video blogs that she wants to post on the Internet.
So then is Hailey the next “Bloggess” to be?
I’ve told her that she needs to wait until she’s at least sixteen before posting her video blogs to make sure that’s what she really wants. Kids today live in a tech-savvy world we could never imagine, and I’d hate for those to haunt her when she’s a teenager. Kids can be cruel, and stuff on the Internet never goes away.
Has your own childhood influenced the choices you’ve made in raising your daughter?
My family chose their own road with no regard to what others thought, and I think that made my life incredibly special. I’m trying to do the same thing for my daughter. Hopefully, she’ll appreciate it one day the way I appreciate it now. Or we’ll spend a lot of time together in therapy. Either way, the key here is that it’ll be time spent together.
What do you two do to spend time together now?
We play a lot of Monster High–it’s like Barbies, except with zombies. We also have a lot of “girl talk.” That was Hailey’s idea when she was little, and it’s now one of the best parts of my day.