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1. My Beef With School Book Fairs

school book fairsThe budget cuts are biting hard! School districts are being forced to fire teachers and increase class sizes. We parents are being asked to pitch in more. My son had a box of facial tissue on his back-to-school list! I remember a time when all you had to do was show up for school. You got the text books, the pencils, and the construction paper free. Times have changed.

Along with this change is the constant barrage of fundraisers. I am usually given the option of paying in time or cash – buy whatever junk that is being peddled. What is a working parent to do? I usually just pay up.

My son finds the school book fairs very exciting, I happen to share that excitement. His teacher takes the class to the book fair ahead of time so the kids could make out a list of books they would like their parents to get them. That’s where they get me. I would usually pick up every book on my son’s list. My husband never could wrap his head around this.  “Must you spend that much money? You own a kids’ bookstore yourself”.

Spending money on books my son picks out while supporting his school is something I can live with. Wait let me reword that; it’s something I am happy to do. Where I get the let down is the actual quality of the books he selects. What does a little kid know? If  poor quality books were not offered, kids will not be picking them up. What value does a sponge Bob or Dora the explorer book give a kid? We parents are already struggling to limit their screen time with TV shows. The same people trying to promote literacy are essentially taking a good chuck out of that lesson.

So what’s a parent who is passionate about literacy and owns an online children’s bookstore to do? Be a solution to the problem of commercializing our kids. The Slimy Bookworm School Book Fair is open for business and we are ready to take your orders. Here is how we can bring value to your next book fair:

Our book fair is entirely online essentially eliminating the need for volunteers. Each participant gets a 5% discount on their purchase.

The school or PTA gets 20% of the proceeds of the book fair in cash. Not in books or store credit like a lot of the bigger book fair companies so if the school wants to use the money on Kleenex, they have that option.  Ready to get started? Simply fill out our short form and we will be in touch with you in a jiffy.

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2. Children’s Book Author Interview with Kathryn Starke

Kathryn Starke is an elementary school literacy specialist and knows a thing or two about motivating kids to read. She is also an author of a children’s book called Amy Travels and share some thoughts about reading previously on this blog; Why Read.

Kathryn shares her insights on picture books for kids and the book publishing industry.

1.       When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was teaching second grade, I realized the school textbooks were difficult for my students to read and very mundane. I started writing stories on topics we had to teach, such as the seven continents six years ago and wrote my first children’s book, Amy’s Travels.

2.       How long does it take you to write a book?

I had told the story of Amy’s Travels for several years before I actually wrote it to submit to a publishing company. I spent 6 months writing, editing, and rewriting my first published book.

3.       Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

There are no children’s picture books about the seven continents; Amy’s Travels is the first. The story is based on the childhood memories of my dear friend Amy.

4.       When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote my very first book when I was five-years-old for the Young Author’s contest. I wrote my first published children’s book when I was twenty-four-years-old.

5.       What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m an elementary school literacy specialist and the founder/CEO of Creative Minds Publications and Consulting, so I’m usually visiting a school or working with students and teachers in all aspects of reading.

6.       How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Amy’s Travels is my first, and it will be released in its second edition this spring.

7.       What is your perspective on the present and the future of publishing industry from the view of a published author?

Children love books and can’t wait to learn to read! While we see more e-books in adult literature, children’s picture books will continued to be published, sold, and appreciated.

 8.       What advice do you have for aspiring children’s book authors?

Everyone has a story to tell, and it’s important to write your story that will engage and educate our young children.


Thanks Kathryn!

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3. Review of the Cobo & Coral Surfing Books Series

If you have a kid or grandkid that loves to surf, I just came across a children’s book series that is bound to spark their interest. The Cabo and Coral series make ideal gifts for the little die-hard surfer in your life.

Cabo and Coral are two friends that share a love for catching the big waves while keeping their beloved beach clean. Their surfing adventures spans four hard cover books; Cabo & Coral Dog Days of Summer, Cabo & Coral Go Surfing, Cabo & Coral Reef Explorers and Cabo & Coral’s Secret Surf Spot.

The books are filled with lessons for kids that range from conserving natural resources like limiting the use of fossil energy sources to the case for using sunscreen while at the beach to prevent sunburns. It even touched on healthy eating and promotes physical activity. All those things we know we should be doing but make excuses for not doing.

The illustrations in the books are unique. They have the look and a near feel of paintings on a canvas. I like how each page does not have more than 3 lines of text. When you are being made to read aloud by two very active boys, believe me that will matter to you.

The author of all four books, Dr. Udo Wahn drew his inspiration for the Cabo & Coral series from his wife and young son as well as his love for surfing. Again if your kid or grandkid loves chasing the waves or loves Hawaii, the Cabo & Coral series would make the perfect gift. The books are available for purchase at caboandcoral.com

Disclaimer: I received one copy of all  4 Cabo & Coral titles from the author, Dr. Udo Wahn to facilitate this review. I received no monetary compensation. All opinions expressed here are my mine alone.

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4. Review of the Cabo & Coral Surfing Books Series

If you have a kid or grandkid that loves to surf, I just came across a children’s book series that is bound to spark their interest. The Cabo and Coral series make ideal gifts for the little die-hard surfer in your life.

Cabo and Coral are two friends that share a love for catching the big waves while keeping their beloved beach clean. Their surfing adventures spans four hard cover books; Cabo & Coral Dog Days of Summer, Cabo & Coral Go Surfing, Cabo & Coral Reef Explorers and Cabo & Coral’s Secret Surf Spot.

The books are filled with lessons for kids that range from conserving natural resources like limiting the use of fossil energy sources to the case for using sunscreen while at the beach to prevent sunburns. It even touched on healthy eating and promotes physical activity. All those things we know we should be doing but make excuses for not doing.

The illustrations in the books are unique. They have the look and a near feel of paintings on a canvas. I like how each page does not have more than 3 lines of text. When you are being made to read aloud by two very active boys, believe me that will matter to you.

The author of all four books, Dr. Udo Wahn drew his inspiration for the Cabo & Coral series from his wife and young son as well as his love for surfing. Again if your kid or grandkid loves chasing the waves or loves Hawaii, the Cabo & Coral series would make the perfect gift. The books are available for purchase at caboandcoral.com

Disclaimer: I received one copy of all  4 Cabo & Coral titles from the author, Dr. Udo Wahn to facilitate this review. I received no monetary compensation. All opinions expressed here are my mine alone.

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5. Eric Carle: An Artist, a Writer, and a Lover of Nature

Eric Carle is perhaps best known to the world as the writer and illustrator of one of the most beloved children’s books of all time; The Very Hungry Caterpillar. For generations children and parents alike have loved and read the works of this great Renaissance man. Few writers can bridge the generational gap; even fewer can do that while working as both writer and illustrator. But Eric Carle has never let the uncommon slow him down.
 Eric Carle was born in Syracuse, New York and raised in Germany from the age of six. He finished all of his education in Germany where he even attended the Akademie der bildenden Künste the prestigious art school in Stuttgart. It was here that he developed a love of art and developed his well-known style of collage work that he has employed in his many different written works including The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

After returning to New York to try his hand at illustrating he began working at The New York Times. After working as a graphic designer for many years he was offered the chance to collaborate with a well known writer Bill Martin Jr. shortly after meeting the two worked together on Martin’s Brown Bear, Brown bear, What Do You See? While their collaboration was a huge hit, it was really only the beginning for Carle. Soon he was writing his own original stories bringing them to life with his unique use of collage images. He had begun a career that would change his life, and influence the lives of children for generations to come.
Over his very long and incredible career Carle has created such beloved original stories as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, 1,2,3, to the Zoo, Opposites, The Very Busy Spider, Mister Seahorse, and Do You Want To Be My Friend? Carle’s works are well-known for dealing with nature, a favorite of children’s inquisitive minds, and generally teach children about the world around them in fun ways. His unique collage style has been a favorite of children’s for years and has brought him great acclaim and even some incredible artwork from his young readers and fans.

His fans are not the only ones to recognize his great works, Carle has received several awards over his prestigious career among these awards are the Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Literature Award, The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and the Japan Picture Book Award. Carle’s career has brought learning, great art, and incredibly fun stories to children all over the world, and will continue

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6. How to Use Book Reviews to Sell Your Book

I was a guest on the radio show; Your Book as Your Business hosted by Charmaine Hammond. You might remember her as the author of Toby the Pet Therapy Dog and His Hospital Friends which I reviewed a while back. The focus of this interview is the role of book reviews in marketing your published book.

Click on the radio button to listen to the interview.


Listen to
internet radio with Your Book As a Business on Blog Talk Radio


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7. Children’s Book Author Interview with Gina Anaya

Most of my children’s book author sightings have been online, save the rare occurrence of attending a children’s book festival.  I met Gina Anaya online even though she was just about 40 miles from me at the time. The power of Google searches! She is the author of the children’s book; The Quiet Lion and was gracious enough to give robust answers to my interview questions. Read on.

1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

It wasn’t until I did a 12 week course in a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron that I discovered my interest in writing. That was about 8 years ago and I’ve done the process 3 times since. I always come out of it with an interest in a new creative adventure.

2. How long does it take you to write a book?

It depends on the type of story I am interested in sharing. Usually about a month just to get all the ideas down on paper. Then much longer for the editing, reorganizing and rewriting process. Truthfully, I don’t think I am ever completely satisfied with the final product. But at some point you have to accept the beauty of your creative efforts even with the flaws!

3. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

That is an interesting question. Mostly the stories form during my morning ritual of journaling. There were two requirements when I did The Artist’s Way process. One was to journal three pages every morning in a stream-of-consciousness manner and the other was to take yourself on a date, alone, for a minimum of two hours once per week. I have never stopped doing these things. It allows me to explore my interests and sow the creative seeds that may be forming while protecting them from any premature criticism. We all know that if the timing is wrong, well intentioned but critical feedback can stop our whole creative process! However, I will admit that The Quiet Lion was a story inspired by my nephew Jake. His insights and questions about language always amaze me so creating a story about a misunderstanding of word meanings was practically inevitable.

4. When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I published my first book in 2009 at age 36. But that story had been written a couple years before and hidden until I gained enough confidence to share it!
 5. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love dancing, snowboarding and paddle boarding. I’ve developed an interest in cooking recently too. And reading and watching a good movie never get old for me.
 6. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have 12 stories in my documents file on my computer. Do they count as a books?!! My favorite is The Quiet Lion because it’s the only one so far that is a finished product I can hold in my hands. It’s like a first born baby to me! But I am in the editing process for a second story we want to publish as an e-book. It’s called The Magic Rose and is more for readers ages 11-13.
 7. What is your perspective on the present and the future of publishing industry from the view

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8. Don & Audrey Wood: A Collaboration in Children’s Books and Marriage

Don and Audrey Wood are a husband and wife children’s book writing and illustrating team. The dynamic duo are well known for great masterpieces such as Quick as a Cricket; The Napping House; The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear. Their books are full of wonder, magic, nature, and spectacular imagery and once you understand their magical and amazing childhoods you will understand how their lives have heavily influenced their works.

Audrey (Brewer) began her life surrounded by wonder and creativity. The fourth generation of artists, she follows in the footsteps of her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Audrey was raised in a world full of creativity beginning with her early years when her family toured with the Ringling Brothers’ Circus. Both her parents worked as set designers and painters and the family toured the country with the Greatest Show On Earth.

Audrey later lived in Mexico where she learned Spanish and was influenced by the vibrant Mexican culture while her parents studied art. It was no surprise when Audrey began to show a great love of art. In their downtime her mother would read great tales and stories to Audrey, who soon discovered she loved the written word nearly as much as the beautiful images her family created.

Don was born and raised in the Central Valley in California, a rich and abundant agricultural epicenter. There his family farmed the land, working hard in the long summer months, but in the winter Don found his happiness drawing beautiful pictures heavily influenced by the beauty he witnessed in his hometown. His mother encouraged his creativity by covering the dining room table with the brown paper that the laundry came wrapped in. Soon laundry day became Don’s favorite day as he colored and drew on the longest paper ever on his family’s dining room table.

It wasn’t until the two met at the University of Berkeley that a romance stirred and a great partnership was formed. Don was working as a magazine illustrator when their son Bruce was born and Audrey’s love for children’s books began to blossom. While reading with her son she discovered a talent for creating her own fantastic stories. With her background in art she began creating incredible illustrations to go along with her words, and it just seemed natural for Don to collaborate with her.

Soon the two were creating great masterpieces like Moonflute. Soon a new career lay ahead of them both and now children of all ages have fallen in love with their books and will continue to as long as the dynamic duo continue their creative collaborations!

In my humble opinion, their book: The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear is worthy of an induction into the children’s literature Hall of fame, if such e

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9. What is SlimyBookworm.com up to?

I have dreaded this event for months. Moving day! Yes lots of changes around here. SlimyBookworm.com’s home base is changing from sunny Southern California to the lone star state in the city of the Alamo –San Antonio,Texas. I hear it is rather hot and humid there; sure enough the move could not come at the worst possible time – in the summer!

No doubt operations would be slowed some as inventory will be in transit for a little while but I expect everything smoothing out pretty soon.

Moving on to more exciting news, our customer reward programs are in full swing. Our loyalty program is fully operational. Almost every order on SlimyBookworm.com gets you loyalty points which you can apply to future orders of delightful children’s books.

We have also launched a referral program where you can let family and friends know about this “cute” online kid’s bookstore and you all get 15% off your purchases. Some of our best customers were referred by other happy customers. Happy customers will likely tell family and friends about you regardless but it certainly does not hurt to give them a win-win incentive for doing so. You don’t have to be bashful, go ahead and let your family and friends know about us and you both get something out of it.

We also welcome your honest book reviews. Your comments about the different titles will help another person make their choice of what children’s books to buy. “Helping your neighbor” is nice but I am like you and ask “what is in it for me?” You get $1 slimy Bookworm bucks for every review you leave good towards future orders. Simply click on the comment tab on the product page to leave a review.

Our birthday club is catching on. We have been getting a lot of sign ups lately. The birthday club involves signing up the kids in your life and a few weeks to the birthday, you get special offers – think savings and a selection of children’s books and educational toys the birthday boy or girl would love. Save time and money by signing the kids up here.

All so we can indeed be your destination for books. If you have any questions or suggestions, drop me a line by clicking on the contact us tab on the blog or email me at [email protected]


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10. Summer Safety: Keeping Kids Safe in the Pool

Summer time for kids is about staying up late, sleeping in and daily (almost daily) dips in the pool. The kid with a backyard pool is the bound to be the popular kid on the block. Kids and water can be a precarious combination as highlighted in what does water and candy have in common? The simple answer is that kids love them both!

Here are some poolside pointers to keep kids safe this summer.

1. Learn to swim yourself or at least having an adult that can swim close by when taking kids to the pool.

2. Don’t let them off your sight (the kids). I had a near drowning incident myself as a six-year-old when I slipped back into the pool without my floats. My six-year-old brain told me I was an excellent swimmer who had no need for those annoying floats my dad insisted I kept on.

3. If you lose sight of your child, before running off to far long places, check the water first!

4. Learn CPR, your child’s life could depend on it.

5. Absolutely no diving at the shallow end of the pool. There have been countless spinal cord injuries from doing just that.’

6. Have your cell phone close by. Don’t use the phone except absolutely necessary and keep those conversations ultra short. We all get distracted while chatting on the phone. Drowning can happen in a split second.

7. If you have a backyard pool, have it fenced and make sure the gate is latched. Install an alarm to alert you when the pool door is opened.

8. If you own a backyard pool and you host other kids in your pool, insist of having an adult with the kids at all time. Preferably a CPR certified swimmer.

9. When done swimming, clear the pool of pool toys to prevent a child from going back in to retrieve the toys.

A friend of mine said “a teaspoon of water is all it takes to drown a little kid”. Keep that in mind as you and the kids spend refreshing times at the pool.


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11. Children’s Book Author Interview with Renee Hand

I meet most children’s book authors online these days; on blogs, face book and twitter. I met Renée Hand online through another online friend who probably met her online too. She has authored a series of adventure chapter books for kids that have done well on SlimyBookworm.com and has been in the children’s book writing business for a while and has a lot to share about being an author and making a living from your work.

1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing for over 25 years, for me it started when I was a child. It was a way for me to express myself and my feelings. After that, my writing began to evolve and change into the way I wanted to read books. I wanted my stories to be full of heart and soul, to be mysterious and to have good relatable characters. But I also wanted to educate, involve and satisfy the reader, having them get everything out of my stories that I am putting into it. My stories are never vacant, but full of life and meaning.

2. How long does it take you to write a book?

It takes me about 6 months or less to write a book.

3. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I will do lots of research and/or travel to where my characters are going. I love history and learning about fascinating places and things.

4. When did you write your first book?

I wrote my first book in 2006.

5. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I enjoy spending time with my children and playing tennis.

6. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have been an author for 8 years. My first book was a romance novel; from there I have progressed into writing children’s books. Now I have 10 books published with 3 more on the way this year alone. I have also won 5 awards for my books. I love them all.

7. What is your perspective on the present and the future of publishing industry from the view of a published author?

I think the author has to adapt and change with the industry. The author carries many roles they have to get used to doing. We are not just writers anymore but salesman, self promoters, and marketers.

8. What advice do you have for aspiring children’s book authors?

If writing is your dream, then follow it and don’t give up on it. I love being an author and all that it entails. Just keep in mind that there are no easy ways to do something and writing a book is an investment in time and money. Know what you are getting into before deciding to write a book because you feel that it would make a good story. Realize that books don’t sell themselves.

This is a tough business and there are many new books coming out everyday. Understand who you are trying to connect with and start building a platform for yourself, getting people already interested in you and your product, building credibility. Depending on your needs and desires there are many publishers out there who can fulfill your dreams, both big and small. Be open to everything that’s out there and look at the bigger picture.

Thanks for sharing your insights, Renée.

Renee’s crypto-carper titles on 

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12. Grandpa Kicked Out of Children’s Bookstore

A 73 year old Arizona man was kicked out of the children’s book section in a Scottsdale, Arizona Barnes and Noble bookstore recently. The poor guy was there to buy children’s books for his grandkids. I can imagine how embarrassing the incident must have been for this grandpa who actually is also a well respected physician.

Another customer had complained about a male in the children’s book section by himself so an employee escorted him out citing a rule that men were not allowed in the children’s book section by themselves.

Being a mom of 2 little ones, I can understand the reasoning of this Barnes and Noble store employee. A famed robber was asked why he robbed the bank to which his response was “that’s where the money is”. A pedophile will go to where he can find little kids. I used “he” because most pedophiles happen to be men. Keeping Kids Save went over the likely profile of child molesters and steps to take to keep kids safe.

On one hand is a respectable member of the society doing what any dotting grandpa would do; treat their beloved grandkids to gifts while on the other hand is a bookseller looking out for little kids. Being a mom, physician and a children’s bookseller, I could not but route for both parties. Here is an instance where protecting little kids brought about trampling on the rights of another person. If it comes to having to choose I think most people who rather have it this way. Barnes and Noble issued an apology to Dr. Omar Amin which he accepted. Looks like there will be no civil suits here.

To all dotting grandpas looking to enrich the lives of their grandkids with delightful children’s books and educational toys and feel like you have a target on your back when you head into a bookstore, come on over to SlimyBookworm.com. You spend as long as you like over here and no, we will not show you the door and your purchase will come to your doorstep speedily.

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13. June 2012 Highlights

If schools are not out in your neck of the woods, they will be out for sure this month. Yea it’s June, the first month of the summer recess. The kids relish going to bed late and sleeping in late. Most business particularly in the retail and business to business industry have it really slow during the summer months. So working parents make the maximum use of the slow period at work by relaxing, taking trips with the kids and enjoying the summer season.

Summer is also when families relocate for work. No one likes dragging a child out of school in the middle of the school year. My family will be moving to the Alamo city in the lone star state this summer. How I dread the move! Everyone is telling me to take the move as an adventure but all I see in my near future is packing up boxes and unpacking up boxes. Change is really hard! One is most often willing to accept a known and comfortable nightmare than face the possibilities of what could be if that process involves making a change.

So what are the observances in June and what do we have lined up here? Not completely sure yet but Conversations with Slimy Bookworm posting schedule might be going down to once a week on Wednesday through the summer season. We will see.


June 14 is Flag Day – Does anyone observe this holiday?

June 17 is Father’s Day

June 18 is National Splurge day – How nice is that?


June is Candy Month

June is Dairy Month

June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month – is it just me or do I see a food theme going on for June?


Blog Articles for June:

Enjoying the outdoors

Travelling with kids; children’s books about travel

Summer reading for the kids


Enjoy the sunshine once the June gloom fades. Create life long memories with your kids. Enjoy the summer recess.


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14. Looking for the Best Baby Books?

I get requests all the time asking for the best baby books. Those requests often come from new moms who are conscientious and want to do everything right. New grandparents also make those requests. It’s been some time since they had to pick out books for little kids. Those kids are now parents and grandparents cannot help themselves with wanting only the best for their adorable new grandkids.

In Bring a Book Baby Shower, I spoke of a new, well maybe not-so-new trend of requests for children’s books as baby shower gifts. People clearly see the value of exposing little ones to wholesome books.

My response to the “what are the best baby books” is that each child is different and unique. The best book for your baby is that book that causes your baby to light up when you read it to him or her. A book that he or she loves to have read to a million times. That been said, there are some children’s books that really stand out and worthy of being included in the dossier of best books for babies. Here they are:

 1. Where is Baby’s Belly Button?: A children’s book classic by the amazing Karen Katz. Little kids love the peek-a-boo nature of this book as they learn to identify body parts.

 2. Baby Beluga: Is another time less children’s book classic by Raffi. Soothing song and rhyme for little ones.

3. Goodnight Moon: My kids could not get enough of the little bunny saying “goodnight noises everywhere”. This book by Margaret Wise Brown has been around for sixty some years and still a bestseller!

4. Pat the Bunny: A pioneer touch and feel book for babies and toddlers. A perennial favorite.

5. Peek-a-Baby: by Karen Katz is lovely lift a flap companion to Where is Baby’s Belly Button?

Babies and toddlers also enjoy interacting with cloth books. I love them because they can survive the drools and spit ups. Toss a fabric book in the washer and you have a clean book ready for use again.

Bath books<

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15. Reading can be a Splash with Bath Books

As a parent, one of the most important lessons you can teach your children is a love for reading. Neurological tests have revealed that a healthy baby is born with approximately 200 billion active brain cells, which each live longer when they are stimulated through practices like reading and talking to your child. Research has shown that teaching a child to read has a strong influence over the function and development of the child’s brain. Starting as early as possible ensures that you will pass onto your child a lifelong appreciation for learning.

Start Reading Sooner with Children’s Bath Books

Surrounding children with books throughout their lives is a great way to spark curiosity and familiarize them with these tools for both learning and entertainment. A relatively new invention called bath books allows parents to merge reading with bath time to encourage children to derive enjoyment out of this activity. Because bath books spend a lot of time in water, you will want to properly maintain them by tossing them in the washing machine about as often as you would wash clothes or towels. This is to prevent mold and mildew growth, which can often compromise the quality and life of the books.

Fun Activities to Plan with Bath Books

Like most young children, your own child probably dislikes bath time. Bath books give kids an extra incentive to comply with this daily hygiene routine by turning it into a period of storytelling and interacting with lovable characters from exciting children’s books. One way you can make bath time reading more fun is by purchasing bath toys that resemble the characters in each bath book and act the story out in the tub.

Another fun and educational idea is to purchase foam bath letters and ask your child to spell simple words from the book by placing them on the wall of the tub, or simply asking him or her to hold up the first letter of different words you come across. Practicing these activities will familiarize your child with the shapes and sounds of letters, which fosters quicker learning. Whatever activity you can do to keep your child engaged and excited about the story will help them understand the joys of reading and learning.

Which Bath Books Are Best?

Many bath books feature stories surrounding themes such as washing, water, and other elements related to bath time. This is because children are often more interested in stories that draw upon the experiences they’re having at the moment. Some excellent, parent-approved titles to consider for your child’s next bath include the following.

  • “Baby Einstein’s What Floats?” by Julier Aigner-Clark                                                              
  • Bath Time” by Sandra Boynton
  • Tilly Turtle” by Pam Adams
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16. Margaret Wise Brown: The Back Story of a Children’s Literature Icon

“In the great green room,” begins one of the most memorable books ever written for children. During a time when children’s books centered upon the unrealistic fairy tales that were meant to distract and teach a lesson, Margaret Wise Brown sought to create stories about things important to children, things they could relate to.

 Margaret was one of the first writers to go out into the world and ask the readers of children’s literature, children, what they wanted to read about. Margaret had children write her notes on what they wanted to read, she formed professional partnerships with children to help create better books for them. She even stayed close friends with one of these children and after her death he received royalties from her works, including the infamous Goodnight Moon.

 Margaret wrote during a time when writers and artists were paid very little, and usually not equally. Margaret was one of very few writers to argue for her artists to receive the same pay rate that she was getting. She was a very beloved and very eccentric individual. She would often sell a book to get something she really wanted like a fur coat, plane ticket, or house. A perfect example of this was her favorite house and writing retreat, The Only House.

 This house was as eccentric as its owner, and was eccentrically decorated. One room allowed you to see the ocean from any angle since it was covered in mirrors, and since there was no electricity or refrigeration she was known to keep her gardens and ponds filled with hidden pockets of food and drink. The pond would keep the drinks cold and at hand when a guest walked by.

  Although Margaret’s books were well-known her name was very rarely recognized. She did not take offense at this but actually reveled in it. It was her opinion the book should speak for itself and standout, not the author. 

 Unfortunately Margaret’s life was cut short when she suddenly died from appendicitis at the age of 42 in 1952. While she may have passed on, her amazing stories have become ever more popular and have stayed the test of time. She was the author of other children’s books classics like The Runaway Bunny, My World and Big Red Barn.

 To this day children all over the world still end their days in the great green room.

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17. Say No to Summer Slide: Summer Activities for Kids

School will be out for the summer recess in days or weeks depending on your school district. The kids and even their teachers are looking forward to this long stretch of time to relax. The alarm clocks take a long well deserved vacation too.

If left to their own devices, kids can have too much of a good thing. We have all heard the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. The other half is hardly recited so I will give it to you here; “All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy”.

A happy balance would be fun activities with the kids that also double as learning opportunities so you get less of “Mom, I’m Bored” while they learn a few new things to prevent the summer slide. Here are a few to plug into your summer plans.

1. Visits to the Library

In spite of the budget cuts in a lot of municipalities, library services are still fairly robust in a lot of places. Visits to the library give kids a chance to explore books and nurture a love for reading. They are bound to find books related to their interests. Some libraries also have summer programs like read aloud story times and music lessons for little kids.

2. Visits to the Bookstore

With the downturn in the economy, small businesses in our neighborhood could use our support. Treat the kids to books they can own. Research has it that books in the home is the singular indicator of future academic achievement. Let the kids pick out their own books; they are bound to treasure them more.

Neighborhood bookstores typically have other free community programs like story time and recitals that could be good learning environment for kids.

3. Visit Museums

Visiting a museum might require some travel depending on where you live.  Make the trip part of the experience. Let me warn you that your kids might find visits to the museums boring but do it all the same. They will thank you for it years later as they reminisce on the rich learning experiences you provided them.

4. Visit Local Festivals and Carnivals

How many times do we completely ignore the gems in our backyard for expensive yet inferior far away destinations? The AAA magazine is filled with lovely outdoor festivals and activities in your own backyard.

5. Summer School

Did I hear a yawn from the kids? Most school districts have summer schools to help struggling kids catch up. Yes they have to still get up, get dressed and go to school but it’s usually for a few weeks and only for a few hours.

Tutoring services like Kumon will cost some money but can really help a child who is struggling by providing a more intimate learning experience.

6. Day Camps

Day care facilities like KinderCare and such like usually offer day camps in the summer for school age kids up to age twelve. Kids visit museums, water parks and even factories. These services are very desirable for working parent. There are also child care credits and pretax flexible spending accounts that can help offset the cost of day camp for kids younger than thirteen.

What are your summer plans for your kids? Would love to read your comments.

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18. Gyo Fujikawa: Author,Illustrator & Trailblazer

May is Asian Pacific Heritage month here in the United States.  I thought it a good time to feature an outstanding American Children’s book author and illustrator of Asian descent. Gyo Fujikawa was a trailblazer in many regards; she broke down the barriers of what I refer to as the “double majors”, she was female and also a minority yet made it to the top of her career as a prolific children’s book author and illustrator.

 Gyo Fujikawa was born in 1908 in Berkeley, California to Japanese parents. She was named after a male Chinese emperor her dad idolized.  She was among the first illustrators to be paid royalties from published work rather than a flat fee that was the custom then. Margaret Wise Brown, the late bestselling author of Goodnight Moon fought for this cause.

 She studied art in the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and was creatively involved in the Disney animated movie; Fantasia and went on to illustrate children’s books for Disney. Gyo later worked for the big advertising firms in New York City before being recruited to write and illustrate more children’s books by a big publishing house in New York City.

 Gyo was briefly engaged at age nineteen but never married and had no children. She nonetheless had the special gift of knowing how kids thought and felt and knew how to convey little kids thought process and feelings in her writings and illustrations. Gyo and Jack Ezra Keats were one of the first children’s book authors to feature multiracial characters in their books. Her books were one of the first mainstream multicultural books for children.

 She was a very private person so much so that there are hardly any pictures of her in print. Gyo Fujikawa died in Manhattan, New York in 1998 at the age of 90.

 Notable books written by Gyo include: Baby Animal Families and Sleepy Time which are still in print today and are available on SlimyBookworm.com


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19. Books for Toddler Boys Who Love Trains, Trucks & Dinosaurs

The toddler stage is such a beautiful stage in child development. Yes there are those notorious temper tantrums and the love for the word “No” but a tremendous amount of learning happens at this critical stage.

Toddler girls are getting into dolls and pretend friends while toddler boys are developing a fascination for anything that moves; cars, trucks, trains and dinosaurs. Boys tend to hold on to their fascination with moving things as grownups.

So if you are looking for a book for a toddler boy, getting them something in line with their interest will lure them to the book and go a long way into making them lifelong readers.

Here is a list of toddler books for the little impetuous boy who loves moving objects:

1. Little Engine that Could: Is one book that I have had countless adults reference as still being of influence in their lives today. When faced with fresh challenges, they find themselves saying “I think I can, I think I can” and then go for it. Who knew that a toddler book could double as a motivational tool!

2. Freight Train: Toddler boys love lining up their toy trains and racing them. Freight Train will certainly engage them. Freight Train is an all time bestseller on SlimyBookworm.com

3. The Potty Train: The toddler stage is also the potty training stage. I shared my “potty training expertise” (tongue in cheek) in How to Potty Train. The Potty Train capitalizes on a toddler boy’s love for trains to induce him into seeing using the potty as fun.

4. Sheep in a Jeep: Rhyming book with simple texts and beautiful illustrations that will find you laughing at the end. A couple of sheep driving a jeep is hilarious to say the least.

5. Mini Wheels: Mini Fire Engine: is a book and a toy all in one. It is shaped as a fire engine that opens as a book.

6. I Dreamt I was a Dinosaur: Little boys have vivid imaginations and love dinosaurs! For more children’s books about dinosaurs, be sure to check out Children’s Books about Dinosaurs

7. Little Blue Truck:<

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20. Children’s Books Celebrating Mothers

My preschooler is rehearsing really hard. His school is organizing a recital and brunch for their Mother’s Day celebration and the kids have all sworn an oath of silence not to reveal the specifics for the event. For one, I know that my son is working on my gift. I get daily updates on how he is painting the gift.

Don’t know what it is because he refuses to tell, more like I beg him not to kill the surprise and urge him to keep the details to himself. I have a feeling my husband has a surprise up his sleeves too for Mother’s Day. My toddler is not old enough to understand what the fuss is all about. Nonetheless, I am enjoying all the attention. There are certainly some upsides to being the only female in the household!

Beyond the yearly exuberance of affection on Mother’s Day, I find those random little acts of affection and affirmation from my little men very touching. One’s role as a mother or a parent evolves as kids grow. They will always need you but the needs change with time.

Below is a slide show of selected children’s books on SlimyBookworm.com celebrating moms for Mother’s Day and always.



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21. Review of the children’s book:”The Little Gnome” by Sheri Fink

I had interviewed Sheri Fink the bestselling author of The Little Rose a little while back. She had a lot of wisdom to share on writing and marketing children’s books.  The interview can be accessed here: children’s book author interview with Sheri Fink.

Her new book, The Little Gnome has been published and I am delighted to be offered a chance to review it. Her début book; The Little Rose made it to bestseller status so I could not help being curious to see her work and it’s presentation.

 April Sayre in her interview: Conversations with April Sayre said that children’s book authors should see themselves as small business owners and approach their literary work in such fashion. I could not agree more. Sheri Fink sent me a beautiful postcard after her interview was published and she promoted it through her own network. She has truly mastered the role of writer and marketer.

Now to The Little Gnome book. Right off the bat, this book stood out. The dimensions were a little different from what I have been accustomed to as a children’s bookseller. This will make it stand out in the array of picture books if encountered in a brick and mortar bookstore. The paper quality was also of a higher quality.

The story is that of a little garden gnome who enjoyed his time in an enchanting garden in the warm weather but had difficulty adjusting to the seasonal changes in the weather. We humans abhor change, particularly if those changes are not for the better. Like it or not, change is one of the guaranteed constants in life. The book ends with a moral lesson in embracing change and making the best of the changes that come our way.

 The Little Gnome has been our bedtime book for the past two weeks. My boys love it. My toddler is seen most morning flipping through the pages completely enraptured in the book. I have to say that it is not your typical picture book in the sense that it is a wordy book. The adjectives and detailed descriptions make it a good read-aloud book for elementary age kids who have advanced on to chapter books.

The Little Gnome receives thumbs up from me and the boys.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Little Gnome in order to provide this review. I was not in any way influenced by the author or publisher.




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22. May 2012 Highlights

Yes it’s May every one! May is  an eventful month for a lot of us. The outdoors are just beautiful with longer days and relatively low humidity. Last full month of school for the kids, graduation season, barbecue season. Lots of folks are mapping out their summer vacation itineraries.

So what observances do we have in May?

May 1st is May Day – Labor Day equivalent in a lot of countries.

 May 3rd is Teacher’s Day

 May 4th is National Day of Prayer

 May 5th is Cinco De Mayo Day

 May 7th is Child Care Provider Day

 May 8th is Mother’s Day –whoo!

 May 15th is International Day of Families

 May 25th is World Multiple Sclerosis Day

 May 28th is Memorial Day – unofficial start of summer


 Children’s Books Author Birthdays:

 Don Wood – author of The Napping House on May 4th

 Leo Lionni – author of Let’s Play on May 5th

 Margaret Wise Brown – author of Goodnight Moon on May 23.


May 7 – 13 is Children’s Book Week

 May 13 – 19 is Reading is Fun Week


May is Asian Pacific Heritage Month

 May is National Physical Fitness Month

May is the “Get Caught Reading” Month

 May is the Latino Book Month


 What do we have in stock for May?

 Children’s Book author interview with Renée Hand of the Crypto-Carper chapter book series

Author spotlights.

 Children’s books author spotlights

 Children’s book reviews

 Parenting perspectives and hopefully some guest posts.

 Enjoy the last full month of school guys!



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23. BusyMomBoutique: Your Online Destination for Mom and Baby

I recently found an online store serving mom and baby by the name BusyMomBoutique.com. Whoever came up with the name had to be a mom!

 While online stores serving moms and babies are plentiful, this store is a unique concept in that it stocks only mom-invented products. BusyMomBoutique.com features products designed by moms who have put in their time, money and passion into creative solutions for the problems we encounter every day as moms.

 Take the Maternity Hospital Gowns for instance. I remember being in the hospital for my first kid’s delivery. He had a short stint in the neonatal intensive care unit and I made several trips there to see him and nurse him. Street clothes are not allowed when you are on admission in the hospital. I had to put on two hospital gowns for my trip across the hall to the NICU. I wore one facing backwards and wore the second one facing forward to cover my backside. Had I known of the Maternity Hospital Gowns then my NICU trips would have been more stylish.

 With a new baby come additional expenses like diapers. I used disposable diapers for my kids but I hear that cloth diapers are usually cost-effective especially if you pick up their One Size Cloth Diapers that can take your baby through the toddler stage and potty training.

 BusyMomBoutique.com also stocks Dining Chair Seat Covers to preserve your dining chairs from many-a-spill. These dining chair seat covers are actually a bestselling item in the store. I shared my perspective on this product in Got Messy Kids.

 When buying online, you lose the tactile experience of running your hands through the product. This store provides detailed product descriptions and a lot of video demonstrations of the products in use. I also love how the back story of the mom-inventor is included.

 BusyMomBoutique.com is the place for top-notch and practical products for mom and baby. You can even register your gift registry for upcoming baby showers.

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24. Finding Child Care Online

Your children are the pride of your life, and there’s no way you are going to leave them to the care of just any daycare or sitter who advertises a low rate or special deals. It is vitally important that you can fully trust the individuals who watch over your children while you are working or having a romantic evening out with your spouse. So how can you be sure that you are giving your children the very best care you possibly can?

It’s simple. Take advantage of the opinions and reputations that providers have online from previous and existing customers. Finding childcare does not have to be about bargain shopping, asking friends and family members for referrals or interviewing every care provider in your area. You also should never have to move your child from daycare to daycare in order to find the best fit for your family. Instead, by using the information readily available online, you should be able to find reliable childcare that you can stick with long term.


Care.com is devoted to connecting consumers with care for children, seniors and pets. Featured on multiple national media networks and parenting magazines, care.com gives customers access to background checks, as well as reviews from other moms who have used caregivers in your area. Furthermore, care.com separates care providers by their services, including babysitters, au pairs, summer camps, nannies, tutors and special needs care.

Parents also like care.com because it provides recommendations for how to pay care providers in your zip code based on factors like experience and the type of child care being provided. Care.com also provides helpful tips on how to properly interview and select a new sitter or day care provider. Once you are ready to hire a care provider, you can post a job, contact the babysitters you are interested in and confidently hire the one you prefer.


DayCareMatch.com is not designed to help you decide the best or most reliable day care facility in your area, but it is a great way to find the day cares closest to you. DayCareMatch.com encourages day care businesses to complete a profile, which is to be frequently updated based on available openings by age, costs and facility hours. Profiles give a list of information, including each facility’s discipline plans, food menus, the number of children in the day care, the number of staff members available and whether one or more staff members is certified in first aid or CPR.

Angie’s List

Angie’s List is a consumer review website in which businesses and daycare facilities cannot pay to be listed as a top provider in your community. Instead, Angie’s List members complete thorough, unbiased reviews about their experiences with a particular day care or babysitter. This can help you narrow down your selection of day cares to only those with good reputations. Furthermore, only the top ranked providers in your area can advertise on Angie’s List – often providing online discounts, deals and coupons for childcare in your area.

Danielle is always on the hunt for a good online deal. Read her work at cooksandtravelbooks.com.

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25. Earth Day for Parents: Practical Ways to Recycle, Refurbish, Resell and Regift

Earth day falls on April 22 every year and for me a time to ponder on how to better recycle, reuse, refurbish, resell and hey even regift stuff lying around that could have gone to waste. Switching from incandescent light bulbs to LED light bulbs: done. Low flow shower heads and aerators: done. Low flow toilets: done. Programmable thermostat: done. You can check out Every Day is Earth Day for more ideas of the little things you can do to conserve energy while increasing your bottom line.

Other than the low flow toilets, these energy-efficient changes are simple and relatively inexpensive to carry out. You also get immediate gratification of seeing a lower energy bill.

If you have never consumed much or produced a lot of waste, having kids changes all that. We can’t help getting these little reflections of us everything we think is necessary for their growth and development. What’s more, these little reflections of us grow and grow fast too. They outgrow those cute cloths we get them after just a few wears. They have a short attention span and get bored with the toys we just got them just yesterday. Before we know it, we are a collector of children’s clothes, toys and children’s books!

This cycle goes with the territory of parenting. My older son has been able to hand down toys and children’s books to his younger brother. Clothes were a little more difficult. They are both under the age of five and were born in polar opposite seasons; winter and summer

So what can you do with your clutter of children’s clothing and such besides buying less?

There are a lot of trendy avenues to still indulge in consumption and retail therapy that will not burn a whole in your pocket.

Rent your kids toys. You can have your child try out different toys and then buy the one he or she enjoys the most. Toyconomy; an online toy rental company makes this pretty easy and hassle free. Renting toys is a lovely concept for travel too. These days the airlines charge you to check in your bags. You can get by with an overstuffed carry-on bag if travelling alone. If travelling with kids, travelling light is close to impossible. Toyconomy will ship the toys to your destination and will have them picked up when you leave.

Consignment sales are big right now. There are brick and mortar consignment stores; there are events consignment sales that typically happen in the spring and fall. Two that come to mind are Wiggles and Giggles and Moo La La. There is probably a variation of these in your locale. There are even online consignment or resell stores for children’s clothing online.

Make donations. Domestic abuse shelters will be happy to take some of your kids’ clothes, their toys and books. Goodwill and Salvation Army are well known organizations that put your donated items up for sale to support various programs for people rebuilding the

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