In Lewis Carroll’s “Through a Looking Glass,” a gnat asks a little girl named Alice, “What sort of insects do you rejoice in where you come from?” “I don’t REJOICE in insects at all,” Alice explained, “because I’m rather afraid of them — at least the large kinds.”
For the most part, like Alice, we do not “rejoice” in insects in the United States, much to the dismay of entomologists like Dr. Dino Martins, author of “You Can Be An Entomologist!” In this colorful overview, Dr. Martins speaks directly to kids, explaining why entomologists study bugs and how bugs are helpful.
Dr. Martins says that all we need to be an “insect watcher” is curiosity and patience. But what if the thought of watching bugs is scary?
Today is Chips & Dip Day! What are your favorite chip and dip combos? I can’t turn down a bowl of guacamole and tortilla chips or garlicky hummus and pretzels. The other day a friend of mine mentioned gooey, baked brie cheese served with jam on crackers and my mouth is still watering. And what about sweeter variations like Nutella and graham crackers or peanut butter and apples?
So, you may be thinking I’m stretching the boundaries of what are often considered chips and dips. But why not? After all, according to some sources, the potato chip was invented (or at least popularized) by an irritated chef playing a trick on a demanding customer. So, in that spirit of play, I offer you some dip recipes to try. Of course, you can always make or buy your family’s favorite dip! Get your family members involved and celebrate Chips & Dip Day together!
Daylight saving time is upon us, and brighter evening skies can certainly boost our moods and signal warmer days ahead. But if you’re a parent or caregiver, daylight saving time can also make bedtime MUCH more challenging! Any changes in sleep routine can be super disruptive for kids, and “springing forward” can result in grumpiness and sleep deprivation that lingers for days.
Pediatricians and sleep experts stress that creating and sticking to a nightly routine is crucial as the days stretch longer. For many families, this routine is capped off with a bedtime story. On those bleak nights when sleep seems so far away, a blissful bedtime read may just be the perfect remedy for rambunctious little ones and stressed-out caregivers alike. For this list, I went in search of books with gentle rhymes, dreamy illustrations and sweet sentiments for saying “good night.” Continue reading “Dreamy Bedtime Books”
I’ve got some treats for you this month! Tasty picture books, a new fantasy series opener and a historical fiction for horse lovers. I can’t think of a better way to finish out the last few days of winter than spending time with some new books.
Do illustrations of food tickle your tastebuds? They sure do for me! This book is full of delicious pictures of ramen that had me searching for the nearest ramen restaurant. Hiro is a little boy who loves ramen, especially when his dad makes it every Sunday. His dad follows a recipe passed down from his father, and Hiro carefully observes and takes notes every time. When he turns seven, Hiro decides it’s time to make his own perfect bowl of ramen! But things are a lot more difficult than anticipated, and it takes some encouragement from Dad to prevent Hiro from giving up. The illustrations are reminiscent of manga, and the text is filled with action words that capture the excitement and joy in the kitchen. The lesson about perseverance and being okay with something that’s less than perfect would be a great conversation topic as you enjoy a bowl of ramen with your kiddo! (Full disclosure: as of the writing of this blog, I have not actually ever eaten real ramen. I hope that by the time you’re reading this, I will have remedied that.) Continue reading “Brianna’s Books: March Favorites 2023”
Each month, or more precisely every 29.5 days, here on earth we are treated to the most extraordinary of ordinary sights, a constant and recurrent phenomenon that occurs no matter the weather or season; no matter where we are located or who we are with; no matter, indeed, whether or not we can actually see or perceive this sky-high dazzling with our eyes or an enhanced lens. Can you guess what I’m referencing? Perhaps a small poem by contemporary children’s book author Amy Sklansky would help:
Books are often the first exposure children have to the broader world outside of their homes. I have spent much of the past few weeks thinking about these early reading experiences, especially as it relates to Black History Month, and I focused on two questions:
How important are these early book choices, whether we are making them with our children or for our children?
When should parents and caregivers start intentionally choosing books for children that directly address topics like race and racism? Especially white parents and caregivers, like me?
I turned, as I often do in these crucial parenting moments, to the experts for some support. Luckily, I only had to turn as far as the list of people and places I follow on Instagram. One of my favorite follows — and one of the country’s leading voices on the importance of Black history for early education — started her career right here in Columbia. Dawnavyn James is a Stephens College graduate and former kindergarten teacher at Parkade Elementary, where she gained national recognition for her TikTok videos and Black History Club toolkit. Continue reading “It’s Always a Good Time to Celebrate Black History”
I tend to read a lot of fantasy, so I think that’s often what my eye is drawn to when writing these blogs. This time, I’ve kept it all contemporary realism! Well, mostly. There is an anthropomorphized bird, but that’s kind of standard for a picture book. I hope you enjoy these new books, and that they help you to walk a mile (or two!) in someone else’s shoes.
“Finding Papa” written by Angela Pham Krans and illustrated by Thi Bui
Mai lives with her mama and papa in a small village in Vietnam and loves playing with Papa. Her favorite game is “crocodile chomp” when Papa chomps his hands together like a hungry crocodile. One morning, Papa says an extra-long goodbye and doesn’t come back. He’s gone to find them a new home, and Mai consoles herself by playing crocodile chomp alone. Finally, Mama gets a letter and they pack a bag and leave to find Papa. Through rivers and boats and unfamiliar cities, Mama and Mai make their perilous journey together. Crocodile chomp paves the way for their eventual reunion with Papa. Love and hope shine from these pages, and the author’s notes at the back provide touching context from their personal immigration stories. Continue reading “Brianna’s Books: February Favorites 2023”
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, which means you’ve probably already encountered plenty of heart-shaped items in stores across town, from pillows to candles to cookware and, of course, candy, candy, candy. Growing up as a future poet and all-around word nerd, I was always drawn to the snippets of love language stamped on Brach’s tiny conversation hearts, even though the actual taste and texture of these chalky candies left MUCH to be desired. (Sidebar: wintergreen and banana flavoring in the same package??? XOXO, no.) This year, instead of falling into the same old nostalgic trap of thinking “hmmm, maybe this time these hearts will be both adorable and delicious” (which they just never are), I decided to get my fill in a different way: by making my own long-lasting conversation hearts out of bakeable clay!
To make your own conversation hearts, you will need the following:
Oven-bake polymer clay, in Valentine’s and/or Brach’s colors like red, pink, yellow, orange or pastel purples and greens (or whatever colors you like!)
A cutting board or clean work surface
A paring knife or craft knife
Small metal alphabet stamps and/or toothpicks to draw your own letters in the clay