As the time of winter holidays and gifts approaches, and with Thanksgiving just behind us, now is a perfect time for kids and parents to reflect on gratitude. Who and what are you grateful for? And what are some ways that you can demonstrate your gratitude to others? One timeless way to say “thank you” is by sending someone a handwritten note, and, appropriately enough, December 26th, the day after most Christmas gifts have been received, is National Thank You Note Day. In honor of this, here are a handful of books about gratitude and thank you notes that kids and families can share during this holiday season:
First up, we have three books featuring some of my favorite animal protagonists. In “Splat Says Thank You!” by Rob Scotton, Splat the Cat’s mouse friend Seymour needs some cheering up, so Splat decides to write not just a thank you card, but a thank you book that lists all the reasons why their friendship means so much to him. In “Curious George Says Thank You” by Emily Flaschner Meyer, George tries to remember all the people who have been nice to him so he can send them handmade thank you cards. And “Thanks from the Very Hungry Caterpillar,” by Eric Carle, takes the form of a thank you note itself, with a dedication page at the beginning. Continue reading “Giving Thanks: National Thank You Note Day”
Are you in the throes of cooking up a feast? Would you like a break? Bundle up and take a walk outside with any little ones in the house. If you find interesting nature items along the way — pine needles, twigs, rocks or really anything that catches the eye — bring them back home for a fun DIY craft. Surely you have some flour, salt and warm water lying around? Use these ingredients to make homemade, air-dry clay and create beautiful textures with the nature items you just gathered. Later in the day when the clay has hardened (or the day after), you can paint your imprints to reveal the beauty of these natural textures even more. Scroll down to get started!
Continue reading “Homemade Clay Nature Imprints”
If you’ve been following my blogs, you know I love “Anne of Green Gables,” and I’ve written a couple of blogs on this topic over the years (this one and this one). So when I saw there was another graphic novel adaptation, I just had to read it! “Anne of West Philly: A Modern Graphic Retelling of Anne of Green Gables” by Ivy Noelle Weir and illustrated by Myisha Haynes did not disappoint.
In this modern retelling, Anne is a Black foster kid living in West Philly and gets placed with a brother and sister. Like in the original novel, Anne is bright, full of energy and sometimes has difficulty fitting in. But soon she makes friends with Diana and joins the school’s STEM club where she meets Gilbert. Though the book has the same beats as the original there are a few welcome additions, but I won’t spoil them here. You’ll just have to read the book for yourself!
We have all been called the wrong name at some point. It may have been a substitute teacher calling attendance. It could have been a family member who shortened our name for their convenience. Friends may have given us nicknames they thought were funny. Some of us have experienced all of the above and more. Regardless, it’s important to be called by the right name, which includes the proper pronunciation. Continue reading “Musical Names: The Importance of Name Pronunciation”
The holiday season is quickly approaching, and this time of year is all about spreading warm, fuzzy feelings like kindness, gratefulness and generosity. There’s no better time to emphasize these year-round virtues, as the holidays offer a multitude of tangible ways to point out and practice kindness with our children. As Dr. Patty O’Grady, an expert in positive psychology and childhood development, puts it: “kindness changes the brain by the experience of kindness. Children and adolescents do not learn kindness by only thinking about it and talking about it. Kindness is best learned by feeling it so that they can reproduce it.” Research shows that kids who regularly practice and experience kindness have higher self-esteem, better physical and mental health and stronger relationships with their peers. Furthermore, they are much less likely to engage in bullying behaviors.
It’s clear that kindness is a crucial factor in growing happy, healthy kids. This virtual activity bundle is full of eBooks, songs and videos for creating an ongoing conversation about kindness, as well as some fun activities to put these skills into action! Continue reading “Virtual Activity Bundle: Kindness Counts”
Fall and early winter usually means reading a lot of holiday books. If you’re ready for a break from pumpkins and turkeys and trees, try a few of these new books we just got in!
“I Don’t Care” written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Molly Idle and Juana Martinez-Neal
This is a book about friendship, illustrated by two real life besties. Two friends, standing back-to-back, state all the things they don’t care about, as the book opens with “I really don’t care what you think of my hair / or my eyes or my toes or my nose.” They continue to list superficial things they don’t care about, like a preference for polka dots or florals, or what each has for lunch. Slowly the text shifts to the things the friends do care about like sharing, honesty and loyalty. “I really do care about all of that stuff / I really do care a lot.” The text is expertly written, with a solid rhyme scheme and a rhythm that never falters. The illustrations by the two artists are perfect, as the two friends play separately then together on the page. More friendship books are always a good thing, and this one stands out from the crowd. Continue reading “Brianna’s Books: November Favorites 2022”
Six thousand years ago, in pre-agricultural Europe (northern Scandinavia, to be exact) the people of the Forest live in clans, each represented by a particular animal or life form. This is the setting for Michelle Paver’s “Wolf Brother,” the first novel in her Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series. The story kicks off with a jolt, as twelve-year-old Torak, of the Wolf Clan, is bolted awake by a giant bear attacking his father and smashing their shelter to splinters. By the time Torak realizes what has happened, the bear has vanished and his father has suffered fatal wounds. Before his father dies, he tells Torak that the bear was possessed by a demon from the Otherworld, and that “with each kill — its power will grow.” He makes Torak promise to travel north to the Mountain of the World Spirit and tells him that his ‘guide’ will find him and help him on his quest. Quickly packing up some of his belongings, Torak reluctantly leaves his father as he hears the bear return and sets off on his quest.
Torak soon finds an orphaned wolf cub, whom he discovers he can communicate with, and he eventually realizes that the cub is likely the guide his father spoke of. Along the way, he also encounters Renn, a girl from the Raven Clan, who, though adversarial at first, becomes his friend and accompanies him on his journey to try to kill the bear and face down the Soul Eaters, a group of rogue mages, or magicians, who turned to evil and imbued the bear with a malevolent spirit in order to kill Torak’s father.
Fast-moving and filled with thrilling chases and scary moments, this is a great novel for older grade-school readers that conjures up a prehistoric world in a clear and accessible way. It’s also a rousing beginning to Paver’s nine-book series, which continues with “Spirit Walker.”
It’s almost that most magical time of make-believe. (I may be biased!) If you celebrate Halloween, chances are, you will come across all sorts of ghostly and ghoulishly costumed creatures — as well as many adorable ones. As leaves crunch underfoot and the crescent moon glows overhead, I invite you and your kids to think of the original creatures of the night — bats, owls, raccoons and other nocturnal animals. The books highlighted below include a mix of naturalistic and whimsical stories to share with your little ones any time of year!
“Night Animals” by Gianna Marino
This suspenseful yet comedic read-aloud really lets you ham it up for your kids. Possum is hiding from other nocturnal animals’ strange and spooky sounds (oh, the irony!) when along comes raccoon and they decide to hide together. The spooky sounds continue, and bigger and bigger animals join the group until the spookiest creatures of all — humans — send everyone running.
Continue reading “Creatures of the Night”
Have you ever seen a snack too cute to eat? What about a snack that entices little ones to try a nibble? Recently I saw a few ways to make spider snacks and fell in love with how adorable they are for the spooky season and how you can change how they look and taste so quickly.
Continue reading “Spooky Spider Snacks”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I have been patiently waiting for fall to come around again since the end of last November. Now that it’s finally here, I can share one of my new favorite graphic novels. I read this book way back in the dog days of summer and have been biding my time until I could share it with you! “The Accursed Vampire” by Madeline McGrane is utterly enchanting.
Our main character, Dragoslavia, is a vampire child, and as if that isn’t bad enough, they have been cursed by a witch! Dragoslavia must do the witch’s bidding, or she will turn their flesh into worms! The witch’s latest task takes Dragoslavia and their friends Quintus (a Black vampire) and Eztli (a vampire with bird feet) on a journey, and along the way, the party meets some kind (and not-so-kind) strangers! Quintus and Eztli also help Dragoslavia realize that their relationship with the witch is not healthy. This sweet graphic novel deals with a host of topics: chosen family, how to break off an abusive relationship, queer representation and vampires! What’s not to love? Happy haunting …. Errr, I mean reading!