What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'Parents')

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Parents, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 160
1. Interview: Monica Brown on Her New Book Maya’s Blanket

monica brown

Out this September from the Children’s Book Press imprint of LEE & LOW, Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya puts a child-focused Latino spin on the traditional Yiddish folk song “Hob Ikh Mir a Mantl” (“I Had a Little Coat”) about a piece of fabric that is made into smaller and smaller items. We interviewed author Monica Brown about how she’s been inspired by the book.

1.     What inspired you to write a children’s book based on the Yiddish folk song “Hob Ikh Mira Mantl”? 

I’ve always loved the idea song, which is as much about creativity as it is about recycling and creating something from nothing. The song has inspired several books, in fact, and still inspires me. I often draw on my cultural heritage for inspiration, and Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya is no exception, paying homage to different aspects of my Jewish and Latina identity. It celebrates the two languages I speak, side by side on the page, along with a history of multigenerational storytelling passed down from both sides of my family.

I love the message of the song–that an object can be transformed again and again, and ultimately into something intangible and lasting through effort, creativity, and imagination. I like the idea that we can extend the life of things we love—with our own two hands or our imagination.

2.     Did you have a favorite lullaby that your parents sang to you growing up? What about a lullaby that you sang to your daughters?

My mom sang me wonderful songs in Spanish. As a child I loved in particular Tengo una muñeca vestida de azul, which translates into I have a doll dressed in blue. When her granddaughter and namesake Isabella was born, my mother, Isabel Maria, made up a special song for her. It started with this line “Isabelita, Chiquita bonita de mi Corazon” and ended with “Corazon de melon!”  It was a silly sweet line, but I’ve forgotten the lines in between, and now my mother is gone.

As a child, my only babysitters I knew were my tías and my Nana, my paternal grandmother, who taught me to embroider and sew.  I stayed overnight at my Nana’s often and when I did, “the sandman” would visit us at night. For those who don’t know, the Sandman myth, which originates in Europe, is of a character who sprinkles sand on children’s eyes, bringing them happy dreams. My Scottish and Italian Nana would be sure the sandman visited each night. If I behaved just okay during the day the sandman would sprinkle regular sand on my forehead to help me fall asleep. If I was good, I would get silver sand, and if I was very, very good, I would get gold sand sprinkled on my forehead. I could feel the different types of sand as my Nana’s hands smoothed across my forehead, hair, and closed eyes.maya's blanket

3. Do you have an object today that’s your “Maya’s blanket,” i.e. that you are continually finding new uses for and don’t want to part with?

As an adult I have more of a subject than an object, and it is the subject of childhood memory. I think I became a children’s writer so I can go back and be in that moment of childhood innocence to remember what it feels like to be comforted by a beloved grandmother or my mother, to remember those minutes and hours, forever gone, of days spend with my Nana, who patiently taught me to embroider, and to sew and stitch or my mother, who shared story after story of her childhood in Northern Peru, and her dreams and her art.

I’ve never used an electric sewing machine, but thanks to my Nana I’ve still managed to stitch and mend and sew my daughter’s things—even a Halloween costume or two with those basic stitches my grandmother taught. I have my Nana’s sewing basket still, just as I am surrounded by my mother’s paintings each time I pick up a pen or open up my computer to write.

5. MAYA’S BLANKET provides an important message about recycling! Do you have any tips on how people can be more eco-friendly?

As a teacher, I always think the place to begin with is education and The Environmental Protection Agency has a website with lots of resources for children, parents, and especially teachers: http://www2.epa.gov/students. I also love that the Sierra Club has a student coalition for high school and college students that trains and connects young environmental activists: http://www.sierraclub.org/youth. Finally, well, I want to give a shout out to my fellow writers by highlighting Authors for Earth Day: http://www.authorsforearthday.org, a group that supports conservation through literacy.

It is my hope that children and the adults in their lives can become more aware and conscious of the challenges using our natural resources responsibly, and looking to for more creative solutions to persistent problems.

About the Book:

Maya's Blanket CoverMaya’s Blanket/ La Manta de Maya
by Monica Brown, illustrated by David Diaz
Out September 2015
Ages 5-9 ~ 32 pp. ~ bilingual
Learn more about the book here.

0 Comments on Interview: Monica Brown on Her New Book Maya’s Blanket as of 8/11/2015 4:19:00 PM
Add a Comment
2. Changing Table Initiative Come to Fruition

This year, I was delighted to be appointed to the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services (ECPS) Committee under the fabulous leadership of Matt McLain.  Because ALSC members typically serve two years on a committee and thenTalk1 rotate out, when I began attending meetings they had already decided to create posters for parents to be displayed above or around changing tables in libraries, businesses, and other public places, highlighting the five practices from Every Child Ready to Read (Talk, Sing, Read, Write, Play). These early literacy practices posters would be downloadable and printable, and hopefully customizable.

The posters would be beautiful but simple, combining each of the five practices with a rhyme and a developmental tip. Our goal was to inspire parents to talk, sing, read, write and play with their children, beginning with one poster per practice initially,

All parents of young children need to change diapers. If visually appealing, easy-to-read posters were posted above changing tables in public locations, parents would likely glance up and see them during the diaper change. If the rhyme was short and familiar, and the language was easy to understand, our committee hoped that parents would actually recite the rhyme on the spot to their children. Using a simple developmental tip to accompany the rhyme would help parents understand that reciting rhymes with their children is a valuable activity that can help build important skills for the future. By combining the tips with easy, practical suggestions, our committee hoped to encourage parents to begin incorporating the five practices into everyday life with their child.

Research has indicated that there is a link between the number of vocabulary words children know and their economic background. Published in 2003, “The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3” by researchers Hart and Risley demonstrated that during the first years of life, children from low-income families hear about 30 million words less than their peers who come from more affluent homes. Young children learn words by hearing them spoken by other human beings (not necessarily electronic media!); when parents speak with their babies, they are building neural connections in their children’s brains. In addition to building a larger vocabulary, the young brains are growing more synapses to enable easier learning later on in life.

The study by Hart & Risley determined that lower income parents were speaking less or using fewer words while in conversation with their children. Further studies made the connection between having larger vocabularies when entering kindergarten and higher rates of graduation from high school. Having a high school degree influences the type of job and salary a person can generally expect to get. It has also been shown to affect health outcomes, family stability, and lifetime earnings. Thus, the number of words a child knows when entering kindergarten can lead to disparities, increasing the economic divide in our country.

Yet this gap can be easily bridged; having a large vocabulary before entering kindergarten can make a difference!

With encouragement from the ALSC Board of Directors, the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services (ECPS) accepted the mission of addressing the 30 million word gap by creating posters to tell parents that babies need to hear words every day.

The ECPS committee held monthly online chats in addition to meeting at ALA Conferences and exchanging regular emails. At first, committee members submitted early literacy tips such as “Sing a rhyme (or do a fingerplay) while bathing or changing your baby,” for each of the five practices. Then we compiled a short list of rhymes to go along with each of the suggested tips. The rhymes had to be in the public domain; if there was any question about a rhyme’s copyright, the rhyme was excluded .The next step was to select an artist; Il Sung Na was chosen. Then, committee members looked through his books and videos in order to find images to match the tips or rhymes on each poster. Once this was done, ALSC secured rights with Random House to use those specific images.

Although the posters use simple language, it was not so simple to design them!  After the rhymes, tips, and illustrations were put together on posters, committee members weighed in on issues such as font size, placement of text, and spelling. Finally, the posters were ready and our excitement about increasing children’s exposure to language was growing.

Our “Babies Need Words Everyday” posters are now available for free download from the initiative’s webpage: http://www.ala.org/alsc/babiesneedwords . They are meant for EVERYONE: your library, community partners, businesses in your community, and families. At ALA Midwinter, the ECPS committee will be hosting a session called “Babies Need Words Everyday,” starting with keynote speaker Patti Miller from the Clinton Foundation’s Too Small to Fail initiative and followed by a panel discussion and a talk about the posters. Printed posters will be available at the session.

Our thanks go to the ALSC Board of Directors who were instrumental in this project’s success by funding the poster printing, ensuring their translation into Spanish,  and encouraging free distribution. Because of ALSC’s strong commitment to bridging the 30 million word gap, and the valuable work that can be done by a cohesive committee with strong leadership, the concept of creating posters for changing tables has become reality.

Please check out the posters at http://www.ala.org/alsc/babiesneedwords, join in the session at ALA, and volunteer to serve on an ALSC committee for the coming year. Together, we can make a difference.


Today’s guest blogger is Betsy Diamant-Cohen, posting on behalf of the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee, of which she is a member. Betsy developed the Mother Goose on the Loose early literacy program; she enjoys consulting and presenting training workshops to fellow librarians.

The post Changing Table Initiative Come to Fruition appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on Changing Table Initiative Come to Fruition as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
3. Join the QUEST! Win the TREASURE!

URQ Poster3What do pirates, explorers and children have in common? They all love treasure hunts!
THE ULTIMATE READING QUEST will end on Monday, January 19th, at midnight. This is your last chance to explore new books and authors, and to take home free prizes and books. Plus, one lucky winner, will get a
To enter your name for this SPECIAL TREASURE you must prove yourself worthy by collecting the 49 letters of a secret message! Just by reading this post you already have two of the letters (A and B).
Find the rest within the Quest, writing them down as you go. When you have all 49, unscramble them to decode the secret message. Enter the exact words of the message in the Mystery Prize Rafflecopter right here: a Rafflecopter giveawayAs you're searching for the letters, be sure to leave a comment for each and every author. Not only will you get to chat with the amazing Quest authors, but each comment will earn you extra entries in the general Quest prize giveaway that includes an astonishing 124 free prizes and gifts! a Rafflecopter giveaway
What are you waiting for? Click this button to start collecting the rest of the letters. Then return here and enter to TAKE THE TREASURE!

0 Comments on Join the QUEST! Win the TREASURE! as of 1/16/2015 11:27:00 AM
Add a Comment
4. 7 tips to help make reading with your child this year achievable

7 tips to read more with your familyEvery time we visit the dentist, the hygienist asks how often we floss. We all know the correct and only answer is “everyday.” We squirm under the light as we try to come up with an answer that gets us as close to saying “everyday.”  We leave feeling guilty and promise this is the year to change only to find ourselves in the same spot six months later.

This uncomfortable, familiar exchange reminds me of a lot of the conversations with parents about home reading habits at parent-teacher conferences. After each assessment cycle throughout the year, I would ask parents how reading was going on at home (outside of daily homework).

They knew this conversation was coming. I knew it was coming. They knew the right answer is “everyday” and like a hygienist peering into a patient’s mouth, I had an educated guess on how often the child was actually reading at home based on progress in class.

Just 20 minutes a day! I would list the benefits and show the charts (here and here and here and here and here). I would point out that one cartoon episode is 30 minutes (24 minutes without commercials!). Parents know how important it is—no one disagrees—and we would all nod earnestly and vigorously with promises to start this very night.

Yet, it is hard. Schedules are tight and unforgiveable. Children (and parents!) are tired at the end of the day.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 8.19.41 PMLet’s face some facts:

  • Both parents and children agree strong reading skills are among the most important skills children should have.
  • Reading is one of the most popular resolutions for both parents and children.
  • Half of all New Year’s resolutions fail within six months.
  • Some parents need to expose their children to a new vegetable 10 or more times before they’ll consider trying it (point being: children aren’t always easy to work with).
  • Even adults take 66 days on average to start a new habit (and more to break an old one).

Mind-blowing insight alert: Creating new habits takes time and persistence.

How do we make daily reading with children engaging, manageable, and achievable?

1. Start with bite-size steps. You don’t have to raise your child’s literacy level, knowledge base, or vocabulary by next week. Remember the end game: To create curious, book-loving readers. Starting a reading routine at home is about creating a lifelong habit for your family and children. Aim to improve your family’s daily reading routine for just the next eight weeks (by the following parent-teacher conference in March or May), instead of this year’s resolution to be reading every day for the rest of your child’s K-12 education (a bit daunting, no?).Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 8.10.25 PM

2. Redefine what a reading routine looks like. Adjust what reading time is for your family based on your child’s age, reading level, energy level, and interest:

  • You read the story to your child
  • You alternate reading together by page, chapter, or day
  • Your child reads to you and a younger sibling
  • You download the audio book version and follow along in the book together
  • You both read with your own copy silently side by side for the 20 minutes and discuss afterward

As Tim Gunn says, “Make it work.”

554025_10152550256275332_1563208014_n3. Make reading “spill over.” Choose a book with an additional tie-in to other parts of the day and your family’s interests:

  • If there is a new movie or community theater’s play coming out based on a book, read the book first and then reward yourselves with the movie or play.
  • Pick a fairy tale to read and find additional versions in both book and movie form to compare. Hello, Cinderella!
  • Follow up with a readers’ theater script to pair with the story. I can’t get enough of the readers’ theater scripts from California Young Reader Medal.
  • If the book includes a craft, science experiment, or recipe at the end, read the story and then extend the learning into the garage or kitchen. This is great for whole family participation.
  • Pair a current event or news article with a book on the same topic, culture, or time period.

4. Only pick books and formats your child loves or is interested in. Reading at home should not be boring, a chore, a punishment, or part of homework. Don’t pick books assigned in class, books that peers all seem to be reading, or books you think your child should be reading. This is about enjoyment, building interest, and creating memories. With this in mind, books come in all types/reading comes in all forms:

  • Toy instruction manuals or activity/craft books
  • Cookbooks—recipes are great for re-reading!
  • Poetry collections
  • E-readers (Note: Just be sure to pick a program that presents the story to the child as a book, not just as a cartoon where the music and animation effects can distract from the words and vocabulary.)
  • Graphic novels and comic books—read about how Lee & Low publisher, Jason Low, became an avid reader after getting hooked on his first comics!

Better yet—let your child choose for maximum engagement.

5. Don’t cry over skipped reading. For whatever reason, reading time just didn’t happen one night. Whoops! Just read the next day and perhaps add a few minutes on extra. Any time is better than none at all. Remember you are trying to show that we read for enjoyment, not punishment. Every day you read with your child is a win—one skipped day doesn’t undo all the progress you have made together.

6. Do over think it—please! If you are finding it difficult to stick with reading 20 minutes a day with your child, think about where the obstacle is. Are nights too busy? Do transit or errands take time away from family downtime? Do you get home too late? Reading at breakfast or on the bus/subway, engaging grandparents and older siblings, trying 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night may help your family stick with the reading routine.Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 8.19.07 PM

7. Join a community. You are not the first or last parent to a) struggle to inspire your child to read b) find time to read or c) make reading time exciting. There are wonderful experts with research, reading tips, and inspiration available. Some of my favorite parent reading newsletters are National Center for Families Learning, ¡Colorín Colorado!, Reading Rockets, and Zoobean.

The Number One Most Important Thing:

Every time you read with your child is a win. Every time you skip is a lost opportunity, but it won’t doom your child. Remember the end goal: To support our children’s lifelong love of reading (increased knowledge/vocabulary will be a bonus). Keep at it.

Here’s to a great year of reading and growing! 

img_1587Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

0 Comments on 7 tips to help make reading with your child this year achievable as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
5. Code for Parents

Latinos in STEM

Photo by Sylvia Aguinaga

Why code

I’m Mexican-American and grew up with very traditional, hard-working parents who constantly reminded me of the importance of creating a stable future for my family and myself. As an ALSC Special Populations Committee member, my job is to make sure programming remains inclusive—reaching all children and informing all parents, including the Spanish-speaking.

In order for Spanish-speaking parents to support and encourage their child to learn to code, they must first understand the importance of code in today’s world. That is why it is critical to provide approachable Spanish-language resources and craft a clear message.

In the advertising world, they say a good ad communicates one benefit of the product. As copywriter Luke Sullivan puts it, Jeep = rugged, Porsche = fast, “and Volvos, they’re…what? If you said ‘safe,’ you’ve given the same answer I’ve received from literally every other person I’ve ever asked. Ever.”

What can we say about code?

It’s an intimidating question: code is so many things; in our daily lives, code is seemingly behind everything. That’s why it’s so important to teach kids – and it’s also why it’s so difficult to explain to their parents.

There’s one benefit of learning code that can stand out to our audience, parents who care deeply about their children’s future.

Code is money.

More than 1.7 million programmer-specific job opportunities will be available in 2022, with average salaries over $83,000. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) jobs are the fastest growing in the U.S. with 71% of these jobs involving computers.

Promising children an opportunity to learn code could be the most effective way to promise them a future. Once we communicate this clearly to parents, they will be interested. They’ve always wanted a future for their children.

As children’s librarians, this has been our goal all along too. Literacy = opportunity.

What you can do

If you slam a kid in a chair and make them stare at a wall of code – a black screen filled with ///{“symbols”;} and cryptic jargon – they’ll likely react like any of us: “what?”

Fortunately, there are tons of great resources for bringing digital literacy to children.

My favorite is Scratch. Scratch is a free programming language for kids (ages 8 and up) that lets you create games, music, and animations. It is visual-based. Kids drag and drop different elements, and link them together like Legos.

Essentially, introductory languages like Scratch get children thinking in a code mindset. Not only working logically, but playfully – learning to tinker, examine, explore.

The past few months I’ve partnered with Joanna Fabicon, a Children’s Librarian at Los Angeles Public Library, to help develop Coder Time (see resources linked below!). Coder Time is a weekly coding club launching this month at the Central Library and in after-school programs at elementary schools across L.A. Our goal is to inspire kids to do meaningful things with computers.

Each “chapter” of the Coder Time curriculum is paired with books that will encourage kids to explore their library and discover content that will in turn inspire them to make something they will love.

Another big goal of Coder Time is to empower librarians to facilitate their own coding workshops by using librarian-gathered and curated content. Coder Time materials are licensed under a Creative Commons license that lets you tweak and adapt content to your own community.

To truly bring digital literacy to children, we need library-created content and programs. Often, librarians outsource coding workshops to experts. Though well-intentioned and certainly helpful, these workshops don’t do enough to serve our public. Like reading, coding is a practice, a way of being in the world. Coding programs need to be a regular, fully integrated part of the library – not something tacked on just to cover the bases.

For this to happen, librarians need to be comfortable with and familiar with code. But as programs like Scratch show, this is no obstacle. You don’t have to be an expert. You just have to—as you ask of your young patrons—be willing to learn.

Beyond $

Like reading, the benefits of coding are deeper than money. Coding gives children a creative way of looking at the world. It empowers them to make, rather than passively consume. It encourages them to work together.

With a clear message, our voice can be heard by parents. In turn, all children can make their voices heard with technology.


Code for Parents (Spanish)

Code for Parents (English)

Coder Time Zine (English)

Sylvia Aguiñaga, LSSPCC Committee Member

The post Code for Parents appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on Code for Parents as of 1/6/2015 11:39:00 PM
Add a Comment
6. A comic for you writing mothers out there

0 Comments on A comic for you writing mothers out there as of 12/4/2014 11:21:00 AM
Add a Comment
7. 10 Best Strategies for Reading to Kids in Spanish

Jennifer Brunk

Jennifer Brunk has been teaching Spanish and English learners from preschool to university level for over 20 years. She reGuest Blogger Iconsides in Wisconsin where she raised her three children speaking Spanish and English. Jennifer blogs about resources for teaching Spanish to children on Spanish Playground. The following post is reprinted with permission from her original post at Spanish Playground. 

Research has shown that reading to children helps them learn vocabulary and improves listening comprehension skills. As a parent or teacher, you are probably convinced of the value of reading to your child in Spanish, but how should you do it to promote language development?

First, it is important to keep in mind that above all reading should be enjoyable. We want to create positive associations with reading in any language. So, use these strategies and add plenty of silliness, snuggling, or whatever makes your child smile.Nana's Big Surprise/ Nana, ¡Qué Sorpresa!

1. Identify core vocabulary in the story. If there are words that are central to the story that your child does not know, teach them first or make them clear as you read by pointing to the illustrations or using objects.

2. Use illustrations, objects, gestures and facial expressions to help kids understand new words. Choose stories with a limited number of new vocabulary words and a close text-to-picture correspondence.

3. Simplify the story if necessary. It is fine to reword or skip words or sentences. As your child becomes familiar with the story and acquires more vocabulary, you can include new language.

4. Read slowly. Children need time to process the sounds, connect them with the illustrations and form their own mental images.

5. Pronounce words as correctly as possible. To develop listening comprehension skills and learn new vocabulary, children need to hear correct pronunciation and natural rhythm. If your Spanish pronunciation is a work in progress, take advantage of technology. Look for books with audio CDs and ask a native speaker to record stories. At first, listen to the story with your child and take over reading when you are confident of the pronunciation.Dónde está mi perrito?

6. Engage your child with the story by providing different ways for her to participate.Ask questions that can be answered by pointing or say a repeated phrase together.  You can also give your child a toy or object that she can hold up each time she hears a key word.

7. Read the same story over and over. Repetition is essential to language learning.

8. Relate the story to your child’s life by drawing parallels as you read: Tiene un perro. Nosotros también tenemos un perro. As you go about your daily routines, refer to stories you have read.

9. Use puppets or figures to act out stories when you are playing with your child. Dramatizing the story adds movement to enhance learning and provides essential repetition of the language in context.

10. Do activities that expand on the language in the book. Look for songs, crafts or games with related vocabulary and structures.

Día de los niños/ Día de los librosVisit Spanish Playground for more great resources for teaching Spanish to children, and don’t forget that Dia de los niños/ Día de los libros is in just a few weeks! What are you doing to celebrate? What are your favorite books in Spanish to read aloud?

Filed under: Curriculum Corner, guest blogger Tagged: bilingual, bilingual books, bilingual education, Día de los niños/Día de los libros, ell, English-Spanish, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican, libros en Español, parents, Read Aloud, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, teaching resources

2 Comments on 10 Best Strategies for Reading to Kids in Spanish, last added: 4/14/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
8. #539 – Two Hands to Love You by Diane Adams & Paige Keiser


Two Hands to Love You

by Diane Adams & Paige Keiser, illustrator

Chronicle Books      2014


Age 4 to 8     36 pages


“With two loving hands, an adoring mother cradles her baby after bath time and a devoted father introduces his toddler to the wonders of he world. Sister, brother, grandma, and grandpa all can’t wait to share what they love best about the world with their newest family member. And when it is time to step ot into the world, this caring family is right there alongside. In simple, heartfelt language, this soothing picture book for the very young will tug at the heartstrings and remind us all of the caring hands that helped us along our way.”


“When the world is a strange place, unfamiliar and new,

my two hands will hold you, will carry you through.”

The Story

In a nutshell, the story is about a couple who begin a family and the paths they take with their children as they grow and become a family of five—plus two involved grandparents. The first baby is gently cared for, everything new for everyone, not just the baby. As he grows, mom plays outside with her toddler, pulling him in a wagon after an afternoon bath in the sun.

Dad takes over, playing airplane with his son, then cradles the new baby and pledges his love. The first-born cares for the second-born, a girl as curious as her brother. Then the third arrives and the three kids guide and love each other.

Grandparents read to their grandson and blow bubbles for this newest child. The joys of childhood and a mother who races to her crying child. This all is part of this family of five, who love each other.


My loyal readers know what I will write in this space and it will not be that I hated this book. The story is composed of fragments of time, caught like photographs. A mother holds her first-born close, never wanting to let go, but she does. With dad, the toddler continues to grow and this happy family of three thrives. Then enters child number two, a girl. It is daddy’s turn to hold the baby close, his little girl. The images that accompany each frame of time softly plays the scene out for us.


Using watercolors and ink, the artist catches these tender moments, making them precious and tenderer, if that is even possible. Her images could tell this story without the text, which is what a good illustrated picture book should do—words for adults and kids, images for little ones, not yet a reader. I tended to pick up this book and turn its pages carefully, feeling the fragility of family, and the joys of one so close.

Children have real childhoods, playing with each other, guiding each other. Along the way, various hands help the children to grow: mom, dad, grandma and grandpa, and many more not shown.The sweetness is palatable. Two Hands to Love You may well have you thinking about your own little ones, whether they are still little or grown and on their own, maybe starting families. Alternatively, of your own childhood and what that meant to you.


I love the rhyming text. The words fit together perfectly, meaning I did not immediately recognize the rhyme, just the smooth flow of words that belonged together in that precise order. I think this story can help others remember what a family needs to be—a shelter in the storm and a place to learn and grow without ridicule and maybe a little rhyme.

I love the inherent gentleness the illustrations give us. I love the extended family all involved in raising a child. I guess I simply love Two Hands to Love You, which is an ideal baby shower gift. This is also an, “Oh, my, gosh, you’re pregnant” gift. New parents will cherish Two Hands to Love You. It would be the couple’s first, How to Raise Baby book.

For children Two Hands to Love You reinforces that parents will always be there for them, no matter the distance. That home is a shelter from the storm. A place to recharge before heading back into the world. Children want to know their parents will also be there for them. That message rings loudly through the tender pages of Two Hands to Love You.


TWO HANDS TO LOVE YOU. Text copyright © 2014 by Diane Adams. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Paige Keiser. Reproduce by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

To learn more about Two Hands to Love You, click HERE.

Make Two Hands to Love You yours by going to AmazonB&NChronicle Books—or your local bookstore.


Meet the author, Diane Adams at her website:   http://www.dianeadams.net/

Meet the illustrator, Paige Keiser at her website:   http://www.paigekeiser.com/

Find other incredible books at the Chronicle Books website:   http://www.chroniclebooks.com/


Also by Paige Keiser

The Little Green Pea

The Little Green Pea

One Night In Bethlehem

One Night In Bethlehem




. I Love My Hat (October 2014)


NEW from Chronicle Books

I Didn't Do My Homework Because . . .

I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . .

 Peek-a Zoo

Peek-a Zoo








2 hands to love you


Today is National Library Workers Day

Be extras nice to those who staff your library!

Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: children, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, Diane Adams, family, family relationships, grandparents, growing up, Paige Keiser, parents, raising children

Add a Comment
9. Oh, the Places You’ll Go

bookCoverShannon Bowers’ son Alex loves Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go.

Shannon gets teary-eyed when they read it together. Someday Alex will grow up, go to college and live out his dreams. Alex gets teary-eyed when Shannon reads too many of the pages. He’s five now. That’s his job.

Recently, Alex and his classmates, students from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, all picked out brand-new books from First Book to take home. They chose stories about history, princesses and sharks. Their excitement was overflowing; many of them had no books at home.

Shannon Bowers family 2014Books have always been an important part of Shannon’s life. Her parents read to her as a child, and she and her husband Paul entered parenthood sharing the belief that education creates opportunities. They have always made an effort to fill their home with books.

Since Alex was born, Shannon and Paul have made reading as a family part of their nightly routine. Alex picks out a book; they all pile into his bed and share the story together. These days, Alex really likes to read to one-year-old Michael. He gets frustrated if mom or dad interrupts.

Shannon hopes reading will help take Alex and Michael all the places they want to go – in their imaginations and in life. She hopes financial issues won’t stand in their way. She hopes the same can be true for all kids.

“Our kids, they’re five years old,” she said. “None of them are thinking about [the future] right now. But we are. We think about that kind of thing… I want all of these kids to know if they make good enough grades, and they do what they need to do, then it’s there. They can do whatever they want.”

Together we can prepare kids for brighter future. Please consider making a gift to First Book today.

The post Oh, the Places You’ll Go appeared first on First Book Blog.

0 Comments on Oh, the Places You’ll Go as of 4/16/2014 8:07:00 PM
Add a Comment
10. Press Release: Screen Free Week is May 5-11

SFW-logo-with-2014-dateScreen-Free Week is May 5 – 11, 2014! 

Kids, families, schools, and communities pledge to spend 7 days unplugged.

BOSTON -- April 28 -- Children are spending way too much time with screens -- and it’s not good for them.

  • School-age children spend more time with screen media -- television, video games, computers, and hand-held devices -- than in any other activity but sleeping.
  • Screen media use is at an all-time high among preschoolers -- according to Nielsen, young children spend, on average, more than 32 hours a week watching just television.
  • A recent survey found that the amount of time children ages 0-8 spend using mobile devices tripled in two years.
  • Screen time is habit forming and linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, poor sleep habits, and attention problems.
  • 64% of children ages 12 to 24 months watch TV and videos for an average of just over two hours a day -- even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends discouraging screen time for children under two.

For these reasons and more, so many leading health, education, and childcare organizations actively support this year’s Screen-Free Week (May 5 – 11, 2014), the annual celebration where children, families, schools, and communities turn on life by turning off screens for entertainment. Endorsers include the National Head Start Association, the National WIC Association, KaBOOM!, the US Play Coalition, the Association of Children’s Museums, the National Black Child Development Institute, and the American Public Health Association.

“Such wide-ranging support for Screen-Free Week reflects the growing national consensus that kids spend too much time with television, video games, apps, and computers,” said Dr. Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the official home of Screen-Free Week. “More screen time means less time for hands-on play, reading, exploring nature, and dreaming -- activities crucial to a healthy, happy childhood."

Since 1996, millions of children and their families have participated in Screen-Free Week (formerly TV Turnoff). Each year, thousands of parents, teachers, PTA members, librarians, scoutmasters, and clergy organize Screen-Free Weeks in their communities. Here are just a few of the upcoming festivities:

  • The Irving (TX) Public Library is hosting events all week long including sidewalk chalk art, a bubble bonanza, a science experiment, and opportunities to create books and build with construction materials.
  • In NYC, The Uni Project will take up residency all week on a wide stretch of sidewalk in the Lower East Side with their pop-up, open-air reading rooms.
  • The Wooden Horse toy store in Los Gatos, CA has a week of activities planned, starting with a pajama party and story time and ending with a play day that will be filled with arts & crafts, games, and races. A game night and nature-themed activities will also be offered during the week.
  • Spring Garden Recreation in York, PA will be joining with local businesses and Recreation departments to offer an activity for each day of the week free of charge. They’re starting the week off with a kids’ biathlon.
  • In Cambridge, MA families will celebrate Screen-Free (Screen-Wise) Week with cooking from the garden, building and playing with cardboard tubes, a kids’ walk and picnic at Fresh Pond, exploring materials with magical properties, and sketching plants and trees. They’ll end the week with a Mother’s Day bike ride.

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (www.commercialfreechildhood.org) is a national coalition that counters the harmful effects of marketing to children. CCFC is a project of Third Sector New England (www.tsne.org).


See also my post about my family's experience with Screen Free Week last year. I'm going to try for "Less Screen Week" this year (see a post by Marge Loch-Wouters on this topic), but I think that's all I'll be able to manage right now. 

Add a Comment
11. Words for Flora’s Mother (and Other Imperfect Parents)

Often, when I mention that I have five children, people ask, “How do you do it all?” I sometimes quote a response I’ve heard from Donna Jo Napoli, fellow writer, professor, and mother of five:

“How do I do it all? Badly. You could eat off my kitchen floor…for weeks.”

How I do it all is that I don’t do it all at once. As I sit down to write, my kitchen is a mess, and my kids are at their other house with their other mom (my ex-wife). I miss my children, but I’m also grateful to be able to work like hell on the days they’re gone and really focus on them when they’re here. Or at least that’s what I try to do.

diCamillo Flora Words for Floras Mother (and Other Imperfect Parents)Shared reading enables us to slow down and enjoy one another’s company in the midst of our busy, transition-laden routines. I’m currently reading Kate DiCamillo’s 2014 Newbery Medal winner Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures with my four youngest children. I read the ARC by myself and knew my kids would be pulled in by the exact elements that made me initially skeptical. A superhero squirrel? Quasi-comic-book art? Not my cup of tea. But I also felt myself yearning to deliver the message of unconditional love that’s at the heart of the book: “Nothing / would be / easier without / you.”

Sometimes I worry my kids might think I feel differently. There are days when I am snappish or grouchy or just plain overwhelmed by balancing work and motherhood. DiCamillo’s novel has me thinking about depictions in children’s literature of less-than-ideal parents and what they communicate about family life to child and adult readers alike. I don’t mean Roald Dahl-ian parents like poor Matilda Wormwood’s dreadful mother and father, but more like Flora’s divorced parents or her friend William Spiver’s mother and “her new husband.” These secondary, or even offstage, adult characters are believable in all their flawed humanity. Their failings help define Flora’s story as she grapples with the shortcomings of the adults in her life, but DiCamillo paints her characters with such subtlety that the lesson doesn’t overwhelm the text.

On the flip side, many books have the mommy or daddy endlessly reassuring their little Stinky Faces and Nutbrown Hares about their love-you-forever love. Such constructions of adulthood don’t reflect the times we parents fail, as Flora’s mother does. They instead present us with visions of what we might be on our best days.

willems knuffle bunny too Words for Floras Mother (and Other Imperfect Parents)It’s the rare person who rises to the level of idealized parenting achieved, for example, by the father in Mo Willems’s picture book Knuffle Bunny Too. When daughter Trixie realizes, in the middle of the night, that she mistakenly took home the wrong Knuffle, Daddy agrees to an on-the-spot stuffed-bunny exchange. Would I do such a thing? Not a chance. Faced with such a scenario, I’d tell my kid that we’d sort things out in the morning. If I were feeling very generous, I’d tuck her back in with another stuffed animal. And I wouldn’t go back and forth in some reverie about “and if the moon could talk” or whatever. Good. Night.

And yet, even if I can’t pretend to aspire to Trixie’s daddy’s selflessness, I absolutely see a reflection of myself in how plain exhausted he looks when Trixie rouses him from a deep sleep. Indeed, some of the most rounded portraits of parents in picture books come in stories about them trying to get their little ones to “go the f*ck to sleep.” Amy Schwartz’s Some Babies, David Ezra Stein’s Interrupting Chicken, and Janet S. Wong’s Grump (illustrated by John Wallace) are just a few that conclude with beleaguered, fatigued parents nodding off while trying (and failing) to put their little ones to bed.

And why are they so tired? Well, because the days leading up to those fraught bedtimes can be…long. I have a soft spot in my heart for Marla Frazee’s not-so-flattering but oh-so-familiar depictions of parents at the mercy of their Boss Baby; a mother driven nuts by her little girl (Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild! by Mem Fox); and an exasperated Mrs. Peters who can’t satisfy everyone’s tastes (The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman). And high on my list of picture book illustrations that capture not the drama of difficult moments but the tedium of daily routines is a vignette from Amy Schwartz’s slice-of-life picture book A Glorious Day. The droll text reads: “At home Henry and his mother play trains. Henry is the big train and his mother is the small train. All morning long.” I can practically hear Henry’s mother meditating on a refrain from another train book — “I think I can, I think I can” — as she puts in quality floor time with her kid.

floras very windy day Words for Floras Mother (and Other Imperfect Parents)And yet, she’s hanging in there. The same cannot be said of Flora’s mother. Until book’s end, she’s so wrapped up in herself and her career as a romance novelist that she is blind to her daughter’s needs. She might find kinship with the mother of another Flora, the star of Jeanne Birdsall and Matt Phelan’s picture book Flora’s Very Windy Day. I’ve read it with my children and have recognized myself in its depiction of a mother driven not wild but to weary despair as, instead of helping her quarreling kids solve their dispute, she shoos them outside while trying to get some work done. Is she writing a romance novel on that laptop? I don’t know. But I do know that she, like the other Flora’s mother, and like me sometimes, is not having a terribly glorious day of attentive mothering.

Phelan’s art deftly and powerfully conveys the emotions underlying the conflict. In the first double-page spread Flora, on the verso, is Eloise-like in her rage, with red emanata surrounding her. Little brother Crispin sits, posture alert, at a safe distance by a messy art table (as we saw on the dedication page, he spilled his sister’s paints — again!), his sidelong gaze directed at Flora. He’s clearly seen her blow her top before. Their mother is far to the right of the composition, turning away from her computer screen with a wan, defeated expression. While Flora is unquestionably the focus—the other characters’ eyes are on her, and her erect, outraged depiction demands attention—I can’t help but home in on this mother. I know her. I’ve been her. I want to give her a hug.

Do my children notice this mom? Not really. And who can blame them? Flora is a force to be reckoned with, and my kids are much more interested in the sibling conflict. When they once did shift their attention to the mother, it was to remark, “It’s not fair!” when she insists Flora take Crispin outside with her. “Give her a break!” I said in a mothers-of-the-world-unite sort of way.

The wind carries Crispin away, and Flora resolves to retrieve him: “My mother wouldn’t like it if I lost him.” My then-nine-year-old daughter Emilia empathetically piped up, “And Flora would miss him, too, even if he spills her paints.” On the penultimate spread, Flora and Crispin return home, and their mother, channeling Max’s mom and his “still hot” dinner, has chocolate chip cookies waiting. The story could end there — the text does — but Phelan delivers a heartwarming visual coda on the final page-turn that shifts attention away from the mother’s act of apology and back, where it belongs, to the sibling dynamic. The couplet of pictures first shows Flora and Crispin sitting apart and eating their cookies, then leaning into each other, not making eye contact or smiling, but with the closeness between their little bodies communicating forgiveness. The scene is familiar to me as both an older sister and as a mother of children who bicker and make up, who love one another through and despite times when they fail or hurt or disappoint one another. “Nothing would be easier without you” these pictures seem to say. “Even if you spill my paints.”

brave irene Words for Floras Mother (and Other Imperfect Parents)I appreciate how this wordless closing eschews a mama’s mea culpa as resolution to the story. After all, children’s book readers aren’t terribly interested in a mother’s emotional story arc. I recall with chagrin one time when I was sick with the flu — and also sick and tired of kids bickering before bedtime — that instead of letting my children choose our shared reading material, I dramatically pulled William Steig’s Brave Irene off the shelf, self-indulgently recalling how its intrepid child protagonist lavishes her ill mother with affection and support. “Oh Mom-Mom,” Emilia said, after I’d read a few pages. “We have not been so nice as Irene.”

And did that make me feel any better? Of course not. I felt like a jerk. Guilt-tripping one’s children into compliance or sympathy through passive-aggressive bedtime reading selections isn’t a terrific parenting strategy. I can report, however, that my other kids weren’t so moved. “You’re not really that sick,” Stevie said. “Can I choose the next book?” Caroline asked. And on we went.

I know my kids won’t recall their childhoods — even filled as they are with books, and play, and each other, and parents in two houses who adore them — as devoid of parenting failures, lacking in conflict or hurt, and overflowing only with wonder and whimsy. And I know that my own faults contribute to some of the less-than-ideal moments they’ll recall. That’s a hard pill to swallow, and as I (re)read DiCamillo’s book and anticipate Flora’s reconciliation with her mother, I’ve come to think that although this resolution may be a comfort to child readers who see the child protagonist’s wish fulfilled in confirming her mother’s love, it also gently guides them toward acceptance of flawed adults. Forgive us, children, books with such parents say; we know precisely what we do, and we feel like crap about it. DiCamillo’s novel avoids having the final words be delivered in a parental voice begging filial pardon. Instead, the closing poem is a superhero squirrel’s affirmation of his devotion to the girl who saved him.

Adoptive parents like me frequently encounter well-intentioned but misguided comments implying that we saved our kids. “They’re so lucky to have you” is the refrain. The truism that their other mom and I often resort to is that we are the lucky ones. To stretch and invert Ulysses’s line to Flora, nothing would be harder to imagine than life without them. Paraphrasing DiCamillo: “It’s a miracle. Or something.”

And if I lose sight of the miracle of this modern family of mine, there’s nothing like settling in with a book to redirect our attention away from the tumult of our own foibles and failings toward the common ground of others’ stories. Book bonding, you might call it. We put aside quarrels over who had more time on the Xbox, why it’s so hard to just bring the freaking laundry downstairs, and whatever is “not fair!” at any given moment, to read about everything from very windy days, to bunny-exchanging daddies, to mothers driven wild, to superhero squirrels. And, holy bagumba, as Flora might say, I’ll love those times forever — to the moon and back! The kitchen floor can wait.

From the May/June 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

share save 171 16 Words for Floras Mother (and Other Imperfect Parents)

The post Words for Flora’s Mother (and Other Imperfect Parents) appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Words for Flora’s Mother (and Other Imperfect Parents) as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
12. Thanks a lot, Trixie’s Dad

willems knuffle bunny too Thanks a lot, Trixies Dad…and the great Mo Willems, on Fathers’ Day, for creating dad characters who take care of their kids in a non-bumbling, matter-of-fact (if realistically exhausted and strung-out) sort of way.

But, hey, also? As Megan Dowd Lambert points out: Cut it out with the nighttime bunny exchanges. You’re making the rest of us look bad.

Here are some more recommended father-son books from The Horn Book staff.

share save 171 16 Thanks a lot, Trixies Dad

The post Thanks a lot, Trixie’s Dad appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Thanks a lot, Trixie’s Dad as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. 5 Tips to Engage Latino Families and Students

Peggy McLeod, Ed. D. is Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).

Peggy McLeod, Ed. D. is Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).

Today we are featuring one of First Book’s celebrity blog series. Each month First Book connects with influential voices who share a belief in the power of literacy, and who have worked with First Book to curate a unique collection that inspires a love of reading and learning. All recommended books are available at deeply discounted prices on the First Book Marketplace to educators and programs serving children in need. Peggy McLeod, Ed. D. the Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), writes on engaging Latino families and children in reading and learning.

Any student who has parents that understand the journey from preschool to college is better equipped to navigate the road to long-term student success. While parent engagement is critical to increasing educational attainment for all children, engaging Latino parents in their children’s schooling has typically been challenging – often for linguistic and cultural reasons.

The National Council of La Raza’s (NCLR) parent engagement program is designed to eliminate these challenges and create strong connections between schools, parents, and their children. A bilingual curriculum designed to be administered by school staff, the Padres Comprometidos program empowers Latino parents who haven’t typically been connected to their children’s school. Many of the parents the program reaches are low-income, Spanish-speaking, first and second generation immigrants. Through Padres Comprometidos, these parents gain a deeper understanding of what the journey to academic success will be like, and how they can play a role in preparing their children for higher education. Prior to participating in the program, not all parents expected their children to attend college. After the program, 100% of parents indicated that they expected their children to attend college.

Much of Padres Comprometidos success rests on the program’s ability to address language and culture as assets, rather than as obstacles to be overcome. This asset building strategy extends to NCLR’s partnership with First Book. Together, we’re working to ensure Latino children of all ages have access to books that are culturally and linguistically relevant, books they need to become enthusiastic readers inside and outside of the classroom. Click here to access the three parent engagement curricula developed by NCLR—tailored to parents of preschool, elementary and secondary school students.

Below you will find a few tips and titles that can help you engage families and get children – and their parents and caregivers – reading and learning.

La Llorona

La Llorona

1. Find ways to connect stories that parents know about to help them engage in reading and conversation with their children. This Mexican folktale can open that door: La Llorona .


Spanish-English Dictionary

Spanish-English Dictionary

2. Keep an English/Spanish dictionary handy to use when you have a parent visiting or to give away to a parent or caregiver who needs it. It will show them that you’re making an effort to engage in their language of comfort, such as Webster’s Everyday Spanish-English Dictionary.

The Storyteller's Candle

The Storyteller’s Candle


3. Learn about the children you serve and their heritage, and identify books that will affirm them. This Pura Belpré award winner is actually about Pura Belpré, the first Latina (Puerto Rican) to head a public library system: The Storyteller’s Candle.

Grandma and Me at the Flea

Grandma and Me at the Flea


4. Share books that include some of the everyday experiences of the children and neighborhoods you serve, like this story highlighting the value of community and family: Grandma and Me at the Flea.

My Colors, My World

My Colors, My World


5. Bilingual books provide family members and caregivers the opportunity to read the same books their children are reading, but in their language of comfort. Families will love reading about all the colors of the rainbow in English and Spanish: My Colors My World.

Sign up with First Book to access these and other great titles on the First Book Marketplace.

Filed under: Educator Resources, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books Tagged: bilingual education, dual language, Educators, ELA common core standards, hispanic heritage, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican, parents, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

0 Comments on 5 Tips to Engage Latino Families and Students as of 7/1/2014 8:45:00 AM
Add a Comment
14. Books Strengthen Family Bonds

DSC00616Lydia sat with her two children in the waiting room. Her eldest read aloud from his new book, pausing every now and again to teach his mother and younger sister how to say the words in English. His little sister beamed with pride when he let her turn the page.

Andrea Gatewood of the Nassau County (NY) Department of Health knows that providing new books to families like Lydia’s leads to priceless interactions. For the past ten years, she and her colleagues at the Nassau County Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program have been giving books from First Book to the local low-income women and children they serve.

Traditionally, WIC programs supply women who are pregnant or recently gave birth and children up to age five found to be at nutritional risk with supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education. But at five WIC sites in Nassau County, families also receive colorful new books.

teen parenting program 3“The books from First Book teach children how to count, the alphabet, the importance of family, other languages, colors, different foods and incentives to promote physical activity,” said Andrea. “They strengthen family bonds, promote diversity and improve literacy.”

Andrea takes great care in selecting books that are both engaging and culturally relevant as nearly 100 percent of the children she serves come from minority households.

“We have distributed books at Christmas, Halloween and to kick off the school year. Our goal is to reach as many children as possible,” Andrea shared. “The partnership between First Book and WIC has allowed thousands of children to receive brand new books and will have a lasting impact on an individual and community level.”

Over the past ten years, the Nassau WIC Program has received approximately 20,000 books from First Book, thanks to grant funding made possible by members of the First Book – Long Island volunteer chapter and the Guru Krupa Foundation. The Foundation, based in Jericho, New York, funds initiatives related to education, health and basic sustenance of underprivileged children in India and the United States, and has helped First Book provide more than 51,000 books to children in need in the greater New York and Los Angeles areas in the past two years.

DSC00612“We at Guru Krupa Foundation believe that education is a cornerstone for future success in life,” said Mukund Padmanabhan, president of the Guru Krupa Foundation. “Supporting initiatives that bring the benefits of education to underprivileged children can lead to enormous future dividends, not only for the children but to society.”

Join the Guru Krupa Foundation in supporting program leaders like Andrea by making a gift to First Book. Just $2.50 provides a brand-new book to a child in need.

The post Books Strengthen Family Bonds appeared first on First Book Blog.

0 Comments on Books Strengthen Family Bonds as of 8/14/2014 2:26:00 PM
Add a Comment
15. Finding Time To Write and Draw: Tips For Busy Parents

I continue to be in awe of you parents out there who manage to carve out time for your writing in the midst of taking care of children, household chores and (in some cases) a day job as well.

At a recent conference, several working parents told me how they were still struggling to find the time to write and illustrate.

Having no children myself, I can't offer practical advice, but here are some online resources which might help. If you can offer tips from your own experience or know of other other helpful resources, please do post them in the comments below. Thanks!

Finding Time To Write - Parents' Version - by Julie Duffy on StoryADay.org. Main tips: coordinate your work sessions with your kids' energy levels, work to an outline, stretch sessions when you can, sit where you can hear your kids, be willing to stop after 2-3 sessions.

Finding Time To Draw - On Step, Skip, Pause. Main tips: Work in the early morning before everyone else is up. Sketch while watching tv, while waiting, on the public transport, at friends' houses, in short snatched moments, at concerts and plays.

Writing and mother: how I (sort of) do both - Shannon Hale explains how she does it. Main tips: Enlist help, constantly reevaluate your balance, set priorities, take a day of rest, commit fully, separate writing from publishing.

Busy Moms Write - A blog by Marcia Fowler, who is a mom of two boys, a freelance writer, and a certified elementary school teacher and reading specialist. "Busy Moms Write is a blog to inspire other moms to finally sit down and write, even if it’s only for five minutes a day."

11 Ways Stay-At-Home Moms (and Other Busy Folks) Can Find Time To Write - by K.M. Weiland. Be stubborn and endure, find your focus, connect with family every day, remember there are others in your boat, take your work seriously, it's never too late to start, be realistic in your goals, give up on the idea of trying to please everyone, enjoy your blossing career guilt-free, being a mom and writer are not mutually exclusive.

How Busy Writers Can Stay Productive & Keep Their Sanity - by Jeff Goins. Give up the ideal workspace, don't sacrifice your family, use the "write, edit, write" method (longer pieces) and self-edit method (shorter pieces), know your limits, stay positive and grateful.

A Parent's Time To Write - by Liz Boltz Ranfeld

How To Find Time When You're A Busy Mom - on WikiHow

0 Comments on Finding Time To Write and Draw: Tips For Busy Parents as of 8/28/2014 9:29:00 AM
Add a Comment
16. Comic: Why You Should Always Proofread Your Email Before Hitting 'SEND'

0 Comments on Comic: Why You Should Always Proofread Your Email Before Hitting 'SEND' as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. Ten Thankful Turkeys Book Blast and $50 GC Giveaway

Ten Thankful Turkeys by Angela Muse

About the Book

Title: Ten Thankful Turkeys | Author: Angela Muse | Illustrator: Ewa Podleś | Publication Date: October 4, 2014 | Publisher: 4EYESBOOKS | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 2 to 8 Summary: This colorful autumn tale follows ten turkeys as they get ready for an important celebration. This story teaches about gratitude. There are also fun turkey facts in the back of the book.

Kindle version available for only 99 cents from Amazon on October 24 & 25, 2014. Grab your copy now!!

Amazon (Kindle) * Amazon (Paperback)


About the Author: Angela Muse

Angela Muse, Author

Angela Muse

 Angela Muse was born in California to a military family. This meant that she got used to   being the “new kid” in school every couple of years. It was hard trying to make new friends,   but Angela discovered she had a knack for writing. In high school Angela began writing poetry and song lyrics. Expressing herself through writing seemed very natural. After becoming a Mom in 2003, Angela continued her storytelling to her own children. In 2009 she wrote and published her first rhyming children’s book aimed at toddlers. Since then she has released several more children’s picture books and released books in her first young adult romance series, The Alpha Girls, in 2013/2014. Her husband, Ben Muse writes suspense/thriller books that can also be found on Amazon.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter


* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift Card Prize: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest closes: November 23, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open to: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the Angela Muse and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway

MDBR Book Promotion Servicesthe

Copyright © 2014 Mother Daughter Book Reviews, All rights reserved.

Add a Comment
18. Opportunity to Win a New Touch Screen Kindle Preloaded with 50 Tween Lit Books...

Attention teachers, librarians, tweens, and parents of tweens! Announcing a contest just for you... The Emblazon authors are giving away a brand new touch screen Kindle loaded with over 50 of their books. That’s a $300 value and hours of reading entertainment! Emblazon is a collection of authors who seek to create lifelong readers by creating top-notch literature for kids. They have a particular focus on ages 11 to 14. They’re hosting this fabulous giveaway to celebrate their first year and to treat you, the readers. The Rafflecopter contest runs November 3 through November 17 and is open to anyone who loves tween literature. a Rafflecopter giveaway Note: Signing up for the catalog is required for entry. Current subscribers are also eligible for entry. Winners must reside in the United States or Canada. 

List of Stops on the Blog Tour:

November 3rd:

November 11th:

November 12th:

November 15th:

You can help even more by sharing this post with your friends and family. If you know teachers or librarians let them know about how awesome the Emblazoners are by sharing the link to their website: http://emblazoners.com/

0 Comments on Opportunity to Win a New Touch Screen Kindle Preloaded with 50 Tween Lit Books... as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
19. Actions I'm Taking After Reading the New Read-Aloud Handbook

I've included some general responses to my recent reading of the 7th edition of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook in a separate post. Here, I'm sharing the bits that motivated me to want to take a specific action, and/or change something that I'm doing, in terms of my daughter's reading experience.

Mind you, I'm already reading to my daughter (now 3 1/2) regularly. She visits the library, and chooses her own books. We have books in the car, and we take books with us when we go on trips. We read mostly picture books, but are dabbling in early readers, and even dipping our toes into chapter books. I've read at least two earlier editions of The Read-Aloud Handbook, as well as various other titles on this subject, and I'm confident that we're doing a reasonable job already. 

Still, I found some useful take home messages, places where I think we can do a little bit better. Like these:

Perform Repeat Reads of the Same Book

"Research shows that even when children reach primary grades, repeated picture book reading of the same book (at least three times) increases vocabulary acquisition by 15 to 40 percent, and the learning is relatively permanent." (Page 10, Chapter 1)

The immediate take-home message for me on this is to make sure that we do read new picture books at least three times (unless we dislike them, of course). This isn't much of a problem with books that we own, but sometimes the big stack of library books goes back with books that were only read once or twice. I guess mostly this is a reminder of being patient about re-reads. 

Fill More Book Baskets

Another thing that Trelease advocates is the placement of book baskets in strategic locations throughout the house. I did this when my daughter was younger, but I haven't updated the baskets and locations recently. I need to stock a basket for the bathroom, and figure out a way to keep books closer to the kitchen table. This is going to tie in with another project that we're just starting - putting aside some of the board books (sob!), which currently fill the baskets. 

Get A Bedside Lamp

A related idea, Trelease also suggests buying your child a bed lamp, and letting them stay up 15 minutes later if they are reading in bed. We're not quite ready for this idea in my house yet (we tend to read to her until she falls asleep), but a bed lamp is clearly something that we're going to need soon.  

Read More Poetry

Trelease also talks about the need to read aloud stories that rhyme (Chapter Two). I haven't been as good about reading my daughter poetry as I would like. She's now starting to play with rhyming herself (and has just discovered tongue-twisters), and I think it's time for us to add more poetry to our repertoire. 

Always Say the Title and Name of the Author

In Chapter 4: The Dos and Don'ts of Read-Aloud, Trelease says:

"Before you begin to read, always say the name of the book, the author, and the illustrator--no matter how many times you have read the book." (Page 74)

I used to be very good about this, and had been letting it go a bit lately. This reminder has already gotten me back on track with attribution. I also like to say where the book came from, if it was a gift. 

Read More Slowly

Another reminder from Chapter 4, always good to hear again:

"The most common mistake in reading aloud--whether the reader is a seven-year-old or a forty-year-old--is reading too fast. Read slowly enough for the child to build mental pictures of what he just heard you read. Slow down enough for the children to see the pictures in the book without feeling hurried. Reading quickly allows no time for the reader to use vocal expression." (Page 75)

I think it's always tempting for adults to read quickly, and get through more books. There's a feeling of accomplishment if we read five books tonight before bed. But reading them better, more slowly, with more expression and discussion, is clearly better in the long run. I'm going to work on this.

Chart Reading Progress

My daughter loves to look at her growth chart, and see how much she's grown. Trelease advocates creating a home or school wall chart so that kids can see how much they've read. He says that:

"images of caterpillars, snakes, worms, and trains work well for this purpose, with each section representing a book. Similarly, post a world or U.S. wall map, on which small stickers can be attached to locations where your books have been set." (Page 76)

I especially like the map idea, because we LOVE maps in my house. I'll have to think about the best way to do this. US map? World map? Both? 

Initiate Home Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.) Time

Trelease suggests setting aside time each day for the child to read by herself (even if she is just flipping through books that she can't yet read). He adds: "All your read-aloud motivation goes for naught if time is not available to put that motivation into practice." (Page 77)

We've done this informally, especially in the car. But I like the idea of having a designated quiet self-reading time. I'm happy to also use the time to model reading, by reading my own book. I'll have to think about how this could be integrated into our schedule. 

Spend Less Time Pecking Away on My Phone

I don't have one quote for this, but a number of references in The Read-Aloud Handbook have affirmed something that I've been concerned about for a while. I spend too much time looking at things on my phone, in my daughter's presence. I'd rather either be present with her, or have her see me reading books (or newspapers or magazines). If I am going to read electronically, I prefer to do it on the Kindle Paperwhite, which is only for reading books. I always call this my "Kindle Book", to reinforce the idea that when she sees me with it, I am reading.  

Continue Limiting TV Time, and Turn On the Closed Captioning

Trelease has a whole chapter on the impact of television and audio on kids and reading. I've been determined since before she was born that my daughter will not have a television set in her bedroom (and I won't have one in mine, either). We currently only allow her to watch television on weekends (though she does sneak in a bit of extra time on the iPad during the week sometimes). But she's like an addict, constantly asking if it's the weekend, and then binging on movies when it is. 

I'm particularly struck by the results of a study that found looked at children's schooling level by age twenty-six vs. the amount of television watched in childhood. "Children who viewed less than one hour a day were the most likely to achieve a college degree." (Page 147) Another study suggested "no detrimental effects on learning (and some positive effects) from TV viewing up to ten hours per week; however, after that, the scores begin to decline. The average student today watches three times the recommended dosage." (Page 148)

I'm not going to make any changes right now, besides turning on the closed captioning (something that Trelease has recommended for years, so that kids SEE the words). But I'm going to keep an eye on how many hours of TV watching creep in over the weekends. Just as soon as the baseball playoffs are over, anyway. 

Limit iPad Time When Traveling

We don't have a portable DVD player, or a DVD player in the car, and I don't see much need for one. But we have downloaded a few select movies onto the iPad. We've found this useful for long car trips, or other times when we need a break. (Most recently, when we brought our daughter along on a wine tasting trip to Napa.) I'm not prepared to give this up - it's been awfully handy on long flights. But I do take this point by Trelease into account:

"The recent addition of the DVD player to family transportation does nothing but deprive the child of yet another classroom: conversation with parents or the shared intellectual experience of listening to an audiobook communally." (Page 154)

I don't think that  my daughter is quite ready to follow along with an audiobook, but I do plan to use them for car trips when I think that she's ready. In the meantime, I'm going to work on talking more, and resorting to the iPad less, especially in the car (though I won't give it up entirely). 


A pretty fine list of actions to take, considering that this is at least the third edition I've read of The Read-Aloud Handbook (out of 7 published editions). Trelease has said that this will be the last edition that he writes, which makes me sad. But I'm very happy to have this one. 

How about you all? Have you read The Read-Aloud Handbook? Has it affected your efforts to grow bookworms in your own household? I'd love it if you would share. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

Add a Comment
20. Idea for Increasing Your Child's Literacy: A Rear-Facing Stroller

I'm sharing some ideas that I picked up from a recent read of the 7th edition of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook (more details here). In Chapter One, Trelease proposes "one inexpensive, commonsense move that parents could make that would impact their children's language skills". The simple idea is to purchase a rear-facing stroller. Turns out that:

"Researchers (of parents using rear-facing strollers) found it makes a huge difference in how much conversation takes place between parent and child--twice as much when the child faces the parent." (Page 17)

The larger idea is that talking with your child is one of the ways that you help to build your child's vocabulary (on which much of the success of their future education rests). So, if you are regularly taking your infant out for walks in a stroller, using a rear-facing stroller increases your opportunity to engage with the child. Such a simple idea, but one that could make a big difference. (Obviously, this is less practical with a curious 2 year old who wants to see the world, even if you could find a rear-facing stroller). 

We actually did have a rear-facing stroller when my daughter was an infant (it was like the one shown above, where the car seat snaps into a base). But I must admit that was luck (and generous friends). Have any of you deliberately tried using a rear-facing stroller, so that you'll talk more with your baby?

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

Add a Comment
21. Reading Aloud to Kids Builds Background Knowledge

I recently read the 7th edition of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook (more details here). The section (in Chapter 1) on Background Knowledge stood out for me. Trelease says: 

"Background knowledge is one reason children who read the most bring the largest amount of information to the learning table and thus understand more of what the teacher of the textbook is teaching... For the impoverished child lacking the travel portfolio of affluence, the best way to accumulate background knowledge is by either reading or being read to." (Page 13-14)

There is no question that my daughter has acquired background knowledge from books. Recently we were in the parking lot at the grocery store, and a taxi cab passed by. My daughter said: "Look! A taxi cab! I've never seen one in real life before." (Forgetting various airport trips, I guess.) She had, however, seen a taxi cab in Night Light by Nicholas Blechman. And despite the one in the book having been somewhat stylized, the rendition was accurate enough for my Baby Bookworm to know one when she saw it. 

Do you have examples of ways that your child has used books to build background knowledge? Or is this so pervasive that you don't even notice? 

See also my related post about making connections between books and day-to-day life, from this year's Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

Add a Comment
22. Back to Bed, Ed!: Sebastien Braun

Book: Back to Bed, Ed!
Author: Sebastien Braun
Pages: 32
Age Range: 2-5

I must confess that when I first received Back to Bed, Ed! by Sebastien Braun, I didn't fully appreciate it (and didn't review it). This was back in early 2010, when I was pregnant with my daughter (my first and only child). A picture book about a boy (well, a mouse) who keeps getting into his parents' bed, and the solution that his family finds for the problem, well, it seemed a bit ... slight to that pre-parent me. But NOW, 3 1/2 years later, I have come to consider Back to Bed, Ed! necessary and relevant. Now that I have a child who climbs into my bed multiple times a night, I can appreciate how spot-on Braun's work is. (Or at least I would be able to appreciate it if I wasn't so tired all the time.)

ClosedSignIn fact, my plan for tonight is to copy Ed's parents' solution. Since this is a picture book, I'm not going to worry too much about spoilers, so I'll tell you. After many nights of being woken up (and kept awake) by Ed, his parents hang a "Closed" sign on the door. When he gets out of bed, he is stopped by the sign from entering their room. His dad walks him back to his room, where he gathers up all his stuffed animals into his bed and tells them "There's no need to be scared. I'm here now." (Image created by me, though similar to the one in the book.)

My daughter loves Back to Bed, Ed!, and she was actually the one to suggest the "Closed" sign (she's much braver by daylight than she is at night). We're going to bring all of her stuffed animals up from the playroom, and put them nearby, so that she can gather them into her bed, just like Ed does. I can only hope that life will imitate art. 

For those of you facing a similar problem (or anticipating the possibility of facing a similar problem), Back to Bed, Ed! is an essential book for any preschooler's home library. The reactions of Ed's (tired) parents are spot-on. Braun's illustrations are a mix of realistic (groggy parents spilling cereal on the table) and fanciful (the monsters that Ed imagines following him into the bedroom).

Nothing in Back to Bed, Ed! is actually scary. The monsters look like friendly dinosaurs, and the night-time background colors are blues and purples, rather than the inky blacks of Lemony Snicket & Jon Klassen's The Dark. Jammie-clad Ed, clutching his stuffed bunny, is determined, then sad, and then, ultimately, pleased with himself. 

I kept Back to Bed, Ed! around, even when I didn't really anticipate needing it, because I found Ed a likeable character. Now, he's practically a member of my family, and I highly recommend this book for anyone struggling to keep a preschooler in bed. It is still in print, with a paperback coming out in February, which suggests that I am not alone in my assessment.  

Wish me luck!

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (@PeachtreePub)
Publication Date: February 1, 2010
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Add a Comment
23. Kid Lit Giveaway Hop Holiday Extravaganza

Holiday Hop Button

Welcome to our holiday hop!

We are so excited about our latest book, The Christmas Owl, that we are giving away two prizes to one lucky winner.  Our prize is a 5-inch stuffed owl and a signed hardcover version of The Christmas Owl.  This story follows a Barred owl becomes injured and must ask others for help. He promises to give back to those who have a generous heart and he is true to his word.  This colorful holiday tale is perfect for children aged eight and under.

Swoops Owl from Ty                  OwlCover_Kindle_optimized

This giveaway ends on December 13th at midnight so ENTER today.

Click to see the other blogs participating in our holiday hop hosted by Youth Literature Reviews and Mother Daughter Book Reviews.

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to view this Linky Tools list…

Add a Comment
24. A Tip for Growing Bookworms: Avoid Bookshaming

A post at the Nerdy Book Club this week really made me think. Priscilla Thomas, an 11th grade teacher, wrote about the repercussions of what she called "bookshaming". Thomas says:

"To be clear, opinion and disagreement are important elements of literary discourse. Bookshaming, however, is the dismissive response to another’s opinion. Although it is sometimes justified as expressing an opinion that differs from the norm, or challenging a popular interpretation, bookshaming occurs when “opinions” take the form of demeaning comments meant to shut down discourse and declare opposing viewpoints invalid."

She goes on to enumerate five ways that bookshaming (particularly by teachers) can thwart the process of nurturing "lifelong readers." I wish that all teachers could read this post. 

But of course I personally read this as a parent. Thomas forced me to consider an incident that had taken place in my household a couple of weeks ago. We were rushing around to get out of the house to go somewhere, but my daughter asked me to read her a book first. The book she wanted was Barbie: My Fabulous Friends! (which she had picked out from the Scholastic Book Fair last fall). 

I did read this book about Barbie and her beautiful, multicultural friends. But at the end I made some remark about it being a terrible book. And even as I said it, I KNEW that it was the wrong thing to say. Certainly, it is not to my taste. It's just little profiles of Barbie's friends - no story to speak of. But my daughter had picked out this book from the Book Fair, and she had liked it enough to ask me to read it to her. She seemed to be enjoying it. And I squashed all of that by criticizing her taste.

Two weeks later, I am still annoyed with myself. Priscilla Thomas' article helped me to better understand why. She said: "When we make reading about satisfying others instead of our own enjoyment and education, we replace the joy of reading with anxiety." What I WANT is for my daughter to love books. And if I have to grit my teeth occasionally over a book that irritates me, so what? 

Rather than continue to beat myself up over this, I have resolved to be better. The other night I read without a murmur The Berenstain Bears Come Clean for School by Jan and Mike Berenstain, which is basically a lesson on how and why to avoid spreading germs at school. As I discussed here, that same book has helped my daughter to hone her skills in recommending books. It is not a book I would have ever selected on my own. But I'm going to hold on to the image of my daughter flipping to the last page of the book, face shining, to tell me how funny the ending was. 

Growing bookworms is about teaching our children to love reading (see a nice post by Carrie Gelson about this at Kirby Larson's blog). They're not going to love reading if we criticize their tastes, and make them feel anxious or defensive. I'm sorry that I did that to my daughter over the Barbie book, and I intend to do my best not to do that again. If this means reading 100 more Barbie books over the next couple of years, so be it. Of course I can and will introduce her to other authors that are more to my own taste, to see which ones she likes. But I will respect her taste, too. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate.

Add a Comment

Cropped Pic 2

Today I had the privilege of being a reader at a local elementary school.  I got to read one of my favorite books, The Bee Bully, and talk to the kids about being an author.  The energetic kindergartners made me feel very welcome and I really enjoyed spending some time with them.  We talked a little bit about what it means to be a bully and how important reading is.

Three reasons why reading is important to young children:

1).  Reading exercises our brains.  That’s right, our brains need a workout too.  Reading strengthens brain connections and can even create new ones so pick up a book and help your brain exercise.

2).  Reading improves concentration.  Kids have to focus when they read which can sometimes be a difficult task.  The more you read the longer you can extend that concentration time which will continue to improve.

3).  Reading helps develop imagination.  When you read your brain translates what is read to pictures.  Did you know you can create a movie in your head while you read?  We become engrossed in the story and we can connect with the characters.  We can sympathize with how a character feels and reflect on how we would feel in that same situation.

Now go grab a book and BEE A READER!


Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts