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children's books

I Have a Dream for My Children

The life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be celebrated this weekend throughout the United States.  Even if you do nothing to celebrate or acknowledge Dr. King, I think the holiday is a great opportunity to talk to children about diversity, fairness, equality, kindness, friendship and peace.

Every year since my kids were born, I’ve been reading Kadir Nelson’s book I Have a Dream with the kids. The book contains snippets from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech as well as the speech in its entirety in the back of the book.  There is also an accompanying CD to go along with it.

Reading this book makes me think about my own dreams for my children.  As parents, we all want the best for our children, right?  In essence, we want them to be smart, successful and to achieve all of their life goals.

Here are some of my hope and dreams for my children:

  • To be be happy, loving, respectful, and productive citizens of the world
  • To be confident
  • To think for themselves and form their own opinions
  • To be successful in anything they put their minds to
  • To always know their parents love and support them no matter what they do
  • To dare to be different despite what others may think or say
  • To be doers and not dreamers (from Shonda Rhimes book Year of Yes)
  • To work hard and play harder
  • To be loving and respectful of nature and the environment
  • To be willing to experience new and different things
  • To be curious, life-long learners and readers
  • To respect other people no matter what their differences may be
  • To love life with zest and vigor
  • To share their love with others and to be loved by others
  • To give back to those in need and to help make this world a better place no matter how small it may be
  • To be a good friend to others
  • To choose the right way even when the right way is much harder
  • To make mistakes and learn from them
  • To take risks and not be afraid of failure
  • To be healthy
  • To follow their passions and to live fully
  • To dance like no one is watching
  • To take amazing adventures (and sometimes take mommy and daddy along for the ride too!)

Ultimately, I hope my kids’ lives are filled with happiness, giggles, safety, and good health.  I want their lives to be filled with gratitude, joy, and giving.

Cheers to you, Dr. King on your birthday in heaven!  Thank you for the opportunity to meditate on your message and your legacy.

Your turn:  What are your hopes and dreams for your children? Do they mirror your own?  Feel free to share in the comments.

children's books

What the Kids are Reading (for Thanksgiving)

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday of the year.  Yes, I am a true foodie at heart, but that’s not the only reason why I love Thanksgiving.  (Really, it’s not!)  To me, everything about the day provides a sense of comfort.  Stuffing your face and eating until you’re comatose…well, that’s just an added bonus.

16 Board & Picture Books for Thanksgiving (1)

This will be my third time enjoying Thanksgiving as a parent with the kids.  I’m looking forward to enjoying family, good food, and of course reading some great books with the kids before the holiday arrives.  There are so many Thanksgiving-themed books available you may end up having a hard time deciding which ones to read.  To make it a little easier I’ve rounded up a collection of board and picture books that will teach your kids the importance of gratitude, thankfulness, and kindness mixed in with a little fun and food…yum!  Enjoy!

Board Books
Who’s Coming for Dinner, Little Hoo? by Brenda Ponnay
Whooo’s Ready for Thanksgiving? Little Hoo is hosting all of his friends for a Thanksgiving feast, but first they have to arrive. Toddlers will love guessing who will be at the door in this “Knock, Knock” book featuring a little owl and his friends and family.

My Thanksgiving Prayer by Crystal Bowman
This oversized board book features a child thanking and praising God for the big and small joys of life. Children will delight in the colorful illustrations and the catchy rhyming text.

Thanksgiving Parade by Kelly Asbury
Through rhyming text, this shaped board book captures some of the best features of the parade, as seen through the eyes of a child.

Turkey Time! by Price Stern Sloan
Through rhyming text, this adorable book walks through Thanksgiving Day in the lead-up to the big meal.

Five Silly Turkeys by Salina Yoon
Toddlers will love the silly Thanksgiving turkeys in this fun counting book full of silly turkeys doing very silly things!  From twirling on a dance floor to being chased by a bee to tanning in the sun, these are no ordinary Thanksgiving turkeys. This shiny fabric–tabbed book is a holiday treat that is sure to be gobbled up quickly.

10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston
Little readers will gobble up this silly story about ten goofy turkeys and their antics: swinging from a vine, strutting on a boar, doing a noodle dance, and more.

Picture Books
Turkey and Mr. Bear by Jessika Daly
When Turkey shares his enthusiasm for Thanksgiving with Mr. Bear, he learns that he has no idea what that holiday really means. With wild ideas about birthday cake, fireworks and stockings hung by Santa, he soon finds out what Thanksgiving is all about. What does that mean for Turkey?

The Very Stuffed Turkey by Katharine Kenah and Binny Talib

A Thanksgiving story featuring a large turkey with a big problem.  He’s been invited to EVERYONE’S home for dinner!  With five homes to visit — Horse’s, Pig’s, Sheep and Goat’s, Cow’s, and Mouse’s –Turkey knows there’ll be a ton of food to eat. But there will also be friends and their families who can’t wait to celebrate the holiday with Turkey! Can this very plump bird make it through every meal without bursting?

The Great Thanksgiving Escape by Mark Fearing
It’s another Thanksgiving at Grandma’s. Gavin expects a long day of boredom and being pestered by distantly related toddlers, but his cousin Rhonda has a different idea: make a break for it – out of the kids’ room to the swing set in the backyard! Gavin isn’t so sure, especially when they encounter vicious guard dogs (in homemade sweaters), a hallway full of overly affectionate aunts, and worse yet, the great wall of butts! Will they manage to avoid the obstacles and find some fun before turkey time? Or will they be captured before they’ve had a taste of freedom?

Turk and Runt: A Thanksgiving Comedy by Lisa Wheeler
A Thanksgiving comedy story about two brother turkeys and how they save each other from being someone’s Thanksgiving dinner.  I’d recommend this one for kids ages 5 – 8.

Thanksgiving for Emily Ann by Teresa Johnston

Celebrate Thanksgiving in this sweet, rhyming story all about family and togetherness!
Emily Ann doesn’t like Thanksgiving, not one bit. With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday, she feels a little ignored…and just a little bit sad. But just as Emily Ann prepares to do her worst, her family comes together to show her what matters most about Thanksgiving: family.

Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes

From the turkey on the table to warm, cozy cuddles, life is full of small things and bigger pleasures. But what is most important is being able to share them with family.  This book reminds kids and adults alike about the little details that make each day enjoyable and the illustrations bring the thoughtful words to life.

Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano and Lee Harper
Turkey is in trouble. Bad trouble. The kind of trouble where it’s almost Thanksgiving . . . and you’re the main
course. But Turkey has an idea–what if he doesn’t look like a turkey? What if he looks like another animal instead?
After many hilarious attempts, Turkey comes up with the perfect disguise to make this Thanksgiving the best ever that puts a nice twist on the story’s ending. Vegetarians rejoice! (No, I’m not a vegetarian, but I think they will enjoy the alternative ending.) This is a fun read aloud book to read with the kids.

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
Bear has come up with the perfect way to say thanks—a nice big dinner! When Bear decides to throw a feast, his friends show up one by one with different platters of delicious food to share. There’s just one problem: Bear’s cupboards are bare! What is he to do?

T is for Turkey: A True Thanksgiving Story by Tanya Lee Stone
An ABC Thanksgiving book.  A group of children puts on a play using rhyming couplets, featuring each letter of the alphabet, to provide the facts about Thanksgiving Day.

The Little Kids’ Table by Mary Ann McCabe

Everyone knows that the little kids table is the place to be for any holiday or family gathering. They just know how to have fun! This silly, rhyming story follows a group of rambunctious cousins from table setting to dessert.

But wait…there’s more!  I also included these three bonus books.

Don’t Let Auntie Mabel Bless the Table by Vanessa Newton

Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller

Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell

Your turn:  What books will you and your little ones be reading for Thanksgiving?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Book Reviews

Monster Trouble: A Book Review

Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson

Nothing frightens Winifred Schnitzel—but she DOES need her sleep, and the neighborhood monsters WON’T let her be! Every night they sneak in, growling and belching and making a ruckus. Winifred constructs clever traps, but nothing stops these crafty creatures. What’s a girl to do?

Both of my kids really enjoyed this book – it was a big hit last month and this month.  Little Winifred Schnitzel is too cute with her two afro puff ponytails!  Oh, and she’s very brave too.

In this book, she tries several different tactics to keep monsters at bay so she can get some much needed beauty sleep.  Winifred sets traps using string, she uses some stinky Limburger cheese, and even a pokey chair.  Unfortunaley, she is unsuccessful at trying to trap or trick the monsters and she eventually falls into a deep sleep.  When she is awakened by one of the monsters, she kisses him.  Well, the monster is totally disgusted by the kiss and he starts freaking out.  Wise little Winifred takes notice of how grossed out the monster is, so she starts kissing all of them and they finally leave her alone at night to sleep.  So if you’ve ever wondered how to get monsters to leave you alone now you know the secret…kiss them!

I think this is a great book for children who are afraid of the dark when the lights go out at night.  It can also be used to teach kids how to deal with their fears and being strong and brave.  I would recommend this book for children ages 3 – 8 (even though I read it with my little guy who’s almost two years old).

Parents, caregivers, and teachers don’t have to worry about scary or spooky looking monster illustrations in this book. The pictures are colorful and entertaining. The story is written in a fun rhyming way that’s perfect for story telling and keeping little readers and listeners captivated.  A great Halloween read aloud book for both girls and boys!

Looking for more Halloween-themed books for kids?  Check out one of my previous posts here.

Your Turn:  Did you enjoy this book review?  Have you read this book yet?  If so, feel free to let me know if you and your little ones enjoyed it.

children's books

What the Kids are Reading (for Halloween)

Since becoming a parent I’ve come to realize that having kids makes all of the holidays more fun, especially Halloween!

All month long the kids and I will be reading several Halloween-themed books.  I want the kids to be familiar with some of the scarier aspects of Halloween including ghosts, witches, vampires, and goblins before the holiday rolls around.  Granted, they still might be frightened if they see some of the older kids dressed up in scary costumes, but I’m hoping over time they’ll learn to understand it’s just for fun.

Below is a list of all the “not-too-scary” Halloween books we’re reading this month.  I think they’re all infant and toddler friendly for young trick-or-treaters.  Enjoy!

Board Books

Ghost in the House (A Lift the Flap Book) by Ammi-Joan Paquette

Slip-sliding his way through a haunted house, a little ghost is joined by a shuffling mummy, a happy little monster, and other ghoulish friends before discovering the scariest creature in the house. (There is also a picture book version of this book available without the flaps.)

Where is Baby’s Pumpkin? (A Lift the Flap Book) by Karen Katz

Little readers can help baby find her pumpkin by lifting the flaps on each page. Look under the bed, behind the leaves, behind the curtain, and more! Will baby find her pumpkin in time to go trick-or-treating?

Hush, Little Monster by Denis Markell
A monster father softly sings his own version of a favorite lullaby, Hush Little Baby to his son. A screeching owl, a vampire, an ogre, and zombies are just a few of the creatures who will come to soothe Little Monster through the night.

Jack and Jill: A Halloween Nursery Rhyme by Salina Yoon
jackandjillhalloweenThe nursery rhyme may be familiar—but everything changes when “Jack” and “Jill” are jack-o’-lanterns! Salina Yoon takes a classic tale and gives it a fresh spin, brightly and boldly adorning the pages of this chunky board book with cheerfully grinning pumpkins.

The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin by Sonali Fry

In a variation of the nursery rhyme “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” a jack-o-lantern encounters a goblin and a witch while trying to roll back to his family on Halloween.

Popcorn by Frank Asch
Sam’s Halloween party is popping — with a massive amount of popcorn! Find out how he and his friends handle the delicious surplus in this reissue of a classic picture book originally written in 1979.

10 Trick-or-Treaters: A Halloween Counting Book by Janet Schulman

Ten trick-or-treaters start out on Halloween night, but they disappear one-by-one as they encounter a spider, a vampire, a ghost, and other scary creatures.

Picture Books

Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson
In this adorable book, little Winifred used to be afraid of monsters until she found out their secret.  The delightfully sweet ending will have every kid—and little monster—begging for an encore.

Little Boo by Stephen Wunderli
The leaves fall, the wind blows, and one little pumpkin seed tries and tries to be scary. But he doesn’t scare anyone…not the snowflakes in winter, not the bees in spring, not even the watering can!

The wind tells him to be patient—he’ll be scary soon enough. But waiting is hard. Will the little seed ever be really, truly scary? This simple story is more than a fun Halloween read—it is a heartwarming tale perfect for any child who can’t wait to grow up.

Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett
This isn’t actually a Halloween story, but since it’s a ghost story I included it anyway.  Plus, it’s such a great book!
Meet Leo, a ghost who lives in a house all alone reading books and drawing pictures in the dust. One day a new family moves into Leo’s house. Leo tries to welcome his new family by being a gracious host, but ends up scaring them in the process. Leo decides to move out and go roam the city in search of a new home.

The Bake Shop Ghost by Jacqueline K. Ogburn

Miss Cora Lee Merriweather haunts her bake shop after her death, until the new shop owner makes a deal with her. A delightful story about friendship with a great message.

Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler
This is a goofy story about a skeleton who has the hiccups! He tries many remedies to get rid of them and at the end when he looks in the mirror and scares himself, it is only then that his hiccups are gone!  Great for kids ages 2 – 7.

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
This is one of my favorite Halloween books! A witch finds room on her broom for all the animals that ask for a ride, and they repay her kindness by rescuing her from a dragon.

AlphaOops! H is for Halloween by Alethea Kontis
We read the original AlphaOops! book so I was thrilled to come across this Halloween-themed one! While putting on a Halloween pageant, the alphabet mixes things up with some spooky, and funny, results.

Halloween Hustle by Charlotte Gunnufson
Skeleton is dancing his way to a Halloween party, but as he grooves across town, he keeps stumbling, tumbling, and falling apart. But somehow he always manages to put himself back together – even using tape and rubber bands when necessary!

Shivery Shades of Halloween: A Spooky Book of Colors by Mary McKenna Siddals
Children will learn their colors as they follow a cute little creature on his adventure through haunted halls, moonlit forests . . . perhaps even a Halloween party!

The Night Before Halloween by Natasha Wing
A story in the style of the familiar poem, “The Night Before Christmas,” tells how a housefull of monsters, goblins, witches and the like prepare for Halloween. The monsters in this story are illustrated as friendly and cheerful creatures rather than as scary or spooky monsters, making this book appropriate for even very young children who might otherwise be easily frightened.

Your turn:  What Halloween-themed books are in your stack?  Feel free to share in the comments.

children's literacy

Five Children’s Books to Read for the 4th of July

The Fourth of July is a day to reflect on the history of our country, and to celebrate the things that make it unique. It is also a time in which many of us celebrate with our family and friends, have cookouts, watch parades, and end the day with fireworks bursting in the sky.

I hope you’ll take a moment to read a book about the holiday with your children in spite of the racial tensions going on in the world today.  We still have so much to be thankful for and celebrate.

There are so many good books available that explore the history of our great country and many are geared to children.  Below are a few to choose from.  Happy 4th!

ABC USA by Martin Jarrie
Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet S. Wong
Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems by Paul B. Janeczko and Melissa Sweet
Your turn:  What’s on your reading stack for the 4th of July holiday weekend?  Feel free to let me know in the comments.