Looking to buy your kids some new books for Christmas? You may want to check out the publishing company’s environmental policies before you purchase.
Last week, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) accused HarperCollins publishing company of using fiber from Indonesia’s endangered rainforests for some of their children’s books, including one of their bestsellers, Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas. RAN is calling on HarperCollins to boycott the Indonesian paper firms that supply them with these materials. But HarperCollins is firing back, saying that they stopped using the fiber last February. RAN however, doesn’t believe the publisher: “This is the second time that HarperCollins has claimed it has stopped using controversial Indonesian fiber,” says Robin Averbeck, a Forest Campaigner with RAN. “While RAN is encouraged by HarperCollins’ latest public statement, we see it as a statement of intention without the teeth of verification and transparency that a truly robust policy requires to credibly ensure controversial fiber is no longer entering its supply chains.” While RAN’s campaign just focused on the top ten U.S. children’s book publishers, it is also possible that other smaller publishers printing overseas may be using the fiber as well.
So what should you do if your daughter loves Fancy Nancy? RAN recommends contacting HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray to tell him you don’t want books linked to rainforest destruction. In addition, kids and parents can write to their favorite authors and urge them to advocate directly with HarperCollins. “I am sure that no author wants paper from rainforest destruction in their book, and authors, encouraged by their readers, can help by becoming internal advocates with HarperCollins,” Averbeck says. And if you aren’t sure what materials went into making a book by a smaller publishing company, you can ask publishers if they have an environmentally-friendly paper policy in place (and if they don’t, encourage them to adopt one!).
Looking for a last-minute gift for your adult friends and family? Check out Livrada! These e-book gift cards fit perfectly in holiday cards or even make great stocking stuffers. The best part is you don’t have to know which tablet your friend uses. The included code works for the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and devices that can use their reading apps (such as the iPad). The gift cards are $10 and up. Click here for more information.
The benefits of reading aloud to children are numerous, but for bilingual families, cuddling up with a bedtime story isn’t always a simple task.
Infinity Car Insurance seeks to help bilingual families read together through its Read Comingo program. Read Comingo is a literacy program that promotes bilingualism by providing parents with free bilingual children’s books bimonthly.
Children and parents can learn from each other with these books that are written in both English and Spanish.
“Read Conmigo is important for Hispanic families because many parents who don’t read English fluently hesitate to read to their children at home in Spanish. Studies show, however, that bilingual reading is equally effective at maintaining and improving reading skills and educational levels,” said Greg Fasking, Infinity Auto Insurance’s vice president of consumer marketing. “This is why our books are in both English and Spanish, so that parents and children can read aloud together at home.”
Since Read Comingo’s launch in March of 2011, it has provided schools and families with over 350,000 free books.
Read Comingo gave us some tips for making the most of your story time:
Point to the words in the book, as you read aloud together with your child
Create a regular schedule every week to read together as a family at home
Asking your children to recall parts of the story in the books, and use the illustrations to help identify words
Back in April, I blogged about the deliciously funny and clever “Book People Unite” video from Reading Is Fundamental (RIF). The video showcased various literary characters (Pinocchio, Curious George, Humpty Dumpty) along with media and music celebrities (Jack Black, Regina Spektor, LeVar Burton).
Reading Is Fundamental sent me the follow-up video below, an equally fun behind-the-scenes look at the making of the original. Several cast members are interviewed, including Raggedy Andrew and a very funny Big Bad Wolf, and there are snapshots of how the magical elements came together.
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.