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September 2018

    family fun

    Your Guide to Literary Road Trips Across America

    Literary lions like Jack Kerouac and Tom Wolfe have long been known for their tales about the open road, specifically the American highway. In fact, their adventures represent far more than just taking to the pavement. The road is a wondrous place — a car being the visible expression of freedom, a drivers license the ticket and the cross-country route the destination.

    Simply put, travel by car is at the heart of American culture — and beyond. From pioneers who chased the Gold Rush out west, to college students who long for summer road trips to young adults that drive home for the holidays, the idea of a road trip is ingrained in our culture. So, to celebrate this symbolism of freedom and the authors who’ve inspired us all, CarRentals mapped out their guide to literary road trips across America.

    From short, in-state drives to daring cross-country adventures, this guide will inspire you to pick up these literary classics and possibly recreate each author’s experience.

    Your turn: How fun would it be to recreate trips like these or create your own?  Have you ever done your own version of a literary road trip on your own or with others?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    New Bilingual Series Inspired by the Life of Latina Sensation Sarai Gonzalez

    Viral video sensation and social activist, Sarai Gonzalez has teamed up with award-winning author Monica Brown to create a new illustrated chapter book series influenced by Gonzalez’s life.  Sarai initially became popular back in 2016 when she “broke the internet” with a music video for Colombian band Bomba Estéreo for the song “Soy Yo” (“I’m Me”).  The video has a contagious Latin rhythm and strong lyrics emphasizing self-love and diversity.  The video garnered over 30 million views and the New York Times called Sarai a Latina icon.

    Sarai Gonzalez is AWESOME. Fourth grader Sarai Gonzalez can do anything. She can bake, dance, and run her own cupcake business, Sarai’s Sweets.  Sarai is a spunky little girl with a kind heart and big dreams.

    My kids and I truly enjoyed reading both of these chapter books over the course of a few weeks as read aloud stories.  We liked how much Sarai loves her family, her Peruvian and Costa Rican culture and her willingness to help her family and friends when needed.  We found this chapter book series to be very fun and upbeat to read!

    I also appreciated having a few Spanish words sprinkled throughout both books as well as a few Peruvian references like the word “Tata”, which means grandfather.  Emerging readers would have no problem reading the text on their own, with some help needed from a grown-up every now and again.  Overall, we adore little Sarai, her friends and tight knit Latinx family.  A great series for emerging readers ages 7 and up.

    Launching simultaneously in Spanish and English, the series kicks off with two books: Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome (9781338236682; 9/11/18; $5.99; Paperback) and Sarai in the Spotlight (9781338236699; 9/11/18; $5.99; Paperback).  Recommended for ages 7-10, Grades 2-5.

    About Sarai Gonzalez
    Eleven-year-old Sarai Gonzalez became an overnight sensation after appearing in Bomba Estero’s, “Soy Yo,” a music video about embracing yourself and loving your flaws. Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome is the first book in her new chapter book series inspired by her life. Sarai lives in New Jersey with her family.

    About Monica Brown
    Monica Brown is the award-winning author of super-awesome books for children, including The Lola Levine chapter book series, Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/no combina, Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos, and Waiting for the Biblioburro. She is Professor of English at Northern Arizona University, specializing in Latinx and African American Literature. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her husband and her dogs, Lola and Finn. Visit her at www.monicabrown.net.

    Your turn: Have you checked out this series yet?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's books, giveaways, holiday books

    Christmas in September with Santa Bruce + A Giveaway!

    Disclaimer: We’re thrilled to partner with Disney Book Group for this festive giveaway in time for the holiday season!  Enter for your chance to win a copy of ALL FOUR Bruce books, Santa Bruce ornament & hat, and a box of Santa Bruce holiday candies.Santa Bruce
    By Ryan T. Higgins
    In Stores September 4th, 2018
    Published by Disney Book Group
    Recommended for ages 3+

    ABOUT THE BOOK
    Bruce is a lot of things. He is a bear. He is a grump. He is a pretty decent cook. And he is a mother. One thing Bruce is not? Santa Claus. But that doesn’t stop the whole forest from lining up to give him their Christmas wishes when he becomes the victim of mistaken identity—again. Kids will howl with laughter as award-winning author-illustrator Ryan T. Higgins delivers another hilarious story about this bear who just can’t catch a break.

    We’ve read all four of the Bruce books and they never fail to make me and the kids laugh out loud!  This time, Mother Bruce is a victim of mistaken identity, yet again!  One day while outside shoveling snow in his red “Santa like” gear, he is mistaken to be Santa Claus.  Santa Bruce is a cheerful and delightful story that is so fun to read aloud with kids during story time.

    The illustrations capture the story so well too which makes it even funnier.  The facial expressions that Bruce and the other animals make are so spot on and really help to bring the story to life.

    Ready to find out how you can enter to win the giveaway?  Read on.  Good Luck!

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Ryan T. Higgins (ryanthiggins.com) is an author and illustrator who likes the outdoors and cheese sandwiches. He is NOT a grumpy old black bear, but he DOES like making books about one—starting with the best-selling Mother Bruce, which received the E. B. White Read-Aloud Award and the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Honor. He lives in Maine with his wife and kids… and too many pets.

    LEARN MORE
    Visit Books.Disney.com

    Follow Disney Book Group on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram

    THE GIVEAWAY!

    One (1) US-based winner will receive:

    • Full set of all four Bruce books
    • Branded ornament and Santa hat
    • Plus a Santa Bruce box of holiday candies!

     

    Christmas in September with Santa Bruce Giveaway

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    children's literacy, children's magazines, storytelling

    A Quality Advertisement-Free Magazine for Children? Yes, Please! (Storytime Magazine Review + Discount)

    Disclaimer:  We were sent copies of Storytime Magazine for the purpose of this review, however as always, all opinions expressed are my own.

    Two years ago, I was introduced to Storytime Magazine and wrote a review here on the blog.  I’m pleased to share Storytime Magazine has managed to stick to their strict rule of not including any advertisements or plastic toys.  It’s still the same quality, thought-provoking and entertaining content they had since their initial publication!

    Storytime Magazine is one of the UK’s biggest subscription magazines for kids of all ages which is also available to subscribers worldwide. It’s packed with fairy tales, new stories, funny poems, myths & legends, gorgeous illustrations, puzzles, games and much more!

    Every issue of Storytime features classic, new and much-loved stories with beautiful original illustrations, plus storytelling tips and activities to help you bring our stories to life. You can read our stories out loud to your children or, as they get older or grow more confident, you can encourage them to read to you, depending on their reading level.

    I’m pleased with the amount of diversity featured in many of their magazines.  Although you will find some classic stories and fairy tales like Mother Goose, they also offer tales from around the world like Zuleika’s Gift featuring a little girl from Saudia Arabia.  Issue 46 also has a mythical story called The Eight-Headed Dragon which takes place in Japan.  Issue 42 has a beautiful African (Zulu) story about a woman named Manzandaba ho was married to a man named Zenzele.  There are even sidenotes that explain some vocabulary words and provide additional background information.  For example, it tells you how to say the phrase ‘Once upon a time’ the Zulu way which is ‘Kwasuka sukela’.

    Just like reading books, magazines play an important role in improving childhood literacy.  Experts now agree that including them in the reading mix, alongside books, is crucial – especially for those children who feel overwhelmed when facing a whole book.  Each issue of Storytime Magazine is like getting seven brilliant books in one! Every month you get six magical stories for kids plus one or two poems, all beautifully illustrated on high quality, glossy paper.

    Storytime Magazine also offers FREE printable downloads – masks, fingers puppets, recipes and games – to use in conjunction with the magazine and in school lessons.  Simply go to their website and download the printable templates to use with your little readers.  We enjoyed designing and decorating our own sandcastles using the Sandcastle Challenge Sheet (issue 48) and playing the Help a Hen game (issue 47).

    It’s also worth mentioning that although this magazine is made for children of all ages, I think it’s best suited to be read aloud with children during story time.  That’s especially true for younger readers between ages birth to 6 years.  Although the stories are great, each one takes up at least 3-6 pages in the magazine, depending on the story.  As children get older and learn to read, they will be able to read the magazine on their own without much assistance.  We like to read this magazine a little at a time over the course of a few days.  Some days we’ll read some of the stories or poems and other days we’ll do one of the activities.  I find it’s a nice way to mix it up and enjoy it without trying to read the whole thing in one or two sittings.

    Is there a discount?
    Storytime Magazine is currently offering Here Wee Read readers and subscribers worldwide a 10 % discount off their annual price for 12 issues.  There is also an option to just order 4 of their most recent issues.  Click here for the discount and to see their different pricing options based on your region.

    Connect with Storytime Magazine!
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    Your turn: Have you read this magazine with your little readers yet?  If not, are you excited to check it out?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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