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10 Valentine’s Day Books That Teach Kids How Wonderful It is to Love

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Because February 14 is so much more than red hearts and candy.

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and like every other holiday season, it’s the perfect time to captivate your kids through stories of delight. From tales about robotic romantic adventures, to a whimsical story about secret letters, these heartwarming books will teach your child about the many ways to express love, especially amongst family and friends.

I’ll Love You Till the Cows Come Home, by Kathryn Cristaldi and Kristyna Litten

Love knows no bounds in this delightful read aloud that sends cows to Mars and has sheep steering ships. Fun wordplay and a rhyming refrain will soon have little ones chiming in. Perfect for Valentine’s Day or saying I love you any time of year. Ages 4-8 ($15, amazon.com).

I Love You, Little Pookie, by Sandra Boynton


I Love You, Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton

With an affectionate tale and funny drawings, this book is ideal for little ones.

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Bestselling author Sandra Boynton is back with a new board book, just in time for the holiday of love. Little Pookie is one of Boynton’s most beloved characters and he is reassured over and over as mom tells him just how much she loves him on nearly every sturdy page. Ages 2-5 ($6, amazon.com).

Robot in Love, by T. L. McBeth


Robot in Love by T. L. McBeth

A robot love story with a splash of color that’ll surely catch your child’s eye.

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It’s love at first sight in this playful picture book about a robot who spots his soulmate, loses her and then finds her again. Love can look different for every one of us, and in this case the robot’s object of affection is a shiny toaster with whom he discovers various shared interests. Including toast. Very sweet! Ages 4-8 ($13, amazon.com).

The Littlest Things Give the Loveliest Hugs, by Mark Sperring and Maddie Frost


The Littlest Things Give the Loveliest Hugs, by Mark Sperring and Maddie Frost

Nothing is cuter than a snuggly tale from your favorite animals.

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Bright and colorful, this picture book celebrates hugs across the animal world. From snuggly seals to beetle bug hugs, these little critters are all happy to be with their families, sharing an embrace. Warm, rhyming text opens the door for telling our own little ones how much their hugs mean to us. Ages 3-6 ($13, amazon.com).

How Do I Love Thee? by Jennifer Adams and Christopher Silas Neal


How Do I Love Thee? by Jennifer Adams and Christopher Silas Neal

A sweet ode to beloved friends and family.

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A delightful reimagining of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Sonnet 43” with its famous opening lines, as a trio of children explore their world and the love of friends and family around them. Christopher Silas Neal’s illustrations carry the poetry of Browning’s words beautifully. A book to keep … Ages 4-8 ($16, amazon.com).

Love, Z, by Jessie Sima


Love, Z by Jessie Sima

Home is where the heart is in this adorable adventure.

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A mysterious message in a bottle and the young robot who finds it spark a remarkable exploration of what love means, and all the ways we can express love for one another. Charming and uplifting, this picture book is a joy to read and share all year round, and especially for Valentine’s Day. Ages 4-8 ($13, amazon.com).

Duck and Hippo The Secret Valentine, by Jonathan London and Andrew Joyner


Duck and Hippo The Secret Valentine, by Jonathan London and Andrew Joyner

This heartfelt story teaches kids about kindness and sharing.

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It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without valentines! A humorous story of secret valentines and speculation that culminates in a delightful heart-filled celebration where everyone is welcomed. An entertaining holiday read aloud. Ages 3-7 ($14, amazon.com).

Mirabel’s Missing Valentines, by Janet Lawler and Olivia Chin Mueller


Mirabel's Missing Valentines by Janet Lawler and Olivia Chin Mueller

A spark of unexpected kindness can bring the best of joy in this story.

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Giving Valentine’s Day cards to classmates can be scary, and Mirabel the mouse is so nervous that she accidentally drops some of her cards on the way to school. Her mistake brings some folks unexpected moments of joy thinking the cards were meant for them. A sweet story about how a small kindness can make a big difference for others and ourselves. Ages 3-7 ($12, amazon.com).

A Caboodle of Cuddles, by Roger Priddy


A Caboodle of Cuddles by Roger Priddy

A visually captivating book with raised pictures for your child to check out on every page.

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Perfect for tiny hands to explore, this board book about cuddles and families has bright, raised illustrations that fit together for lots of interactive fun. A Valentine’s Day treat for little ones. Ages 1-3 ($8, amazon.com).

A Hug is for Holding Me, by Lisa Wheeler and Lisk Feng


A Hug Is for Holding Me by Lisa Wheeler and Lisk Feng

Your child’s curiosity will surge as they explore the meaning of hugs in this lyrical tale.

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A unique way of looking at nature, where hugs can be found nearly everywhere if we know how to look. A nest can be a hug in a tree, a seashell is a hug in the sea; each page is thoughtful and will help little ones see their world in a whole new way. Interspersed between the pages about nature are all the things a hug between this father and daughter mean to them: safety, home, love. A tender tribute to the humble hug. Ages 3-5 ($11, amazon.com).

 

This article was written by Seira Wilson of Amazon.com from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

10 Best Children’s Books That Make Great Gifts

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Excellent stories ideal for reading together.

Still looking for a present for your little one? We’ve rounded up some of the best children’s books of 2018 that’ll get them excited for story time and make amazing gifts. From new tales about mermaids and dinosaurs to library staples like Harry Potter and Mary Poppins, there’s something for every type of reader on this list.

Baby Loves Science Board Box Set by Ruth Spiro and Irene Chan

Four books from the popular Baby Loves Science series are now available in an adorable boxed set. Aerospace engineering, coding, gravity and thermodynamics are all presented in a baby’s-world context with bright illustrations. Ages Baby on up ($22, amazon.com).

Pearl by Molly Idle


Pearl by Molly Idle

A lovely tale about the importance of patience and determination.

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Mermaids are growing in popularity again, and Pearl, a gorgeous picture book about a little mermaid, is a delight for little ones. Radiant, expressive illustrations help tell a story of persistence, and the impact of even small actions, that will resonate with children. Ages 3-6 ($13, amazon.com).

Mary Poppins (Illustrated Gift Edition) by P.L. Travers and Júlia Sardà


Mary Poppins (Illustrated Gift Edition) by P.L. Travers and Júlia Sardà

Relive this timeless classic complete with illustrations.

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With a new blockbuster movie coming to the big screen, it’s the perfect year to give the gift of Mary Poppins. This edition is beautifully illustrated in full color and the story can be enjoyed by multiple children or as a family read. Ages 10-12 ($19, amazon.com).

The Bad Guys Box Set: Books 1-5 by Aaron Blabey


The Bad Guys Box Set: Books 1-5 by Aaron Blabey

Read about The Bad Guys trying to be heroes in this hilarious collection.

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A chapter book series that turns traditional villainy on its head, The Bad Guys’ new box set will keep eager readers—and reluctant ones too—burning through the pages. Ages 7-10 ($20, amazon.com).

Made for Me by Zach Bush and Gregorio De Lauretis


Made for Me by Zach Bush and Gregorio De Lauretis

A tender story about the joy of fatherhood.

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The perfect gift for a baby’s first holiday, this remarkably sweet and reassuring picture book about a child and their dad, the unconditional love of parent for child, and all the milestones ahead, is a gift parents will adore sharing with their little one. Ages 1-3 ($13, amazon.com).

Harry Potter: The Illustrated Collection (Books 1-3 Boxed Set) by J. K. Rowling and Jim Kay


Harry Potter: The Illustrated Collection (Books 1-3 Boxed Set) by J. K. Rowling and Jim Kay

Relive the magic of Hogwarts with these beautifully illustrated editions of the first three books.

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It’s a beautiful gift for kids clamoring to read Harry Potter. These fully illustrated editions are sure to live on a child’s bookshelf for years to come, and they work well for children who want to start Rowling’s books but might benefit from the addition of illustrations and larger format. Ages 8 and up ($72, amazon.com).

The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids


The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America's Test Kitchen Kids

Have a budding cook in your home? Encourage their passion with this cookbook.

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One of the most trusted culinary resources, America’s Test Kitchen, created their first cookbook for kids and it’s a winner. The 100+ recipes are a good mix of difficulty levels, and the text doesn’t talk down to the audience. Ages 8-12 ($13, amazon.com).

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins


We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

Prepare for a lot of laughs with the latest picture book by Ryan T. Higgins.

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A picture book that works on multiple levels, the story of a little dinosaur who keeps eating her classmates is a book that will have kids laughing out loud and asking to read it again. Ages 5-6 ($15, amazon.com).

Strong Girls Gift Set (Ordinary People Change the World) by Brad Meltzer and Christopher Eliopoulos


Strong Girls Gift Set (Ordinary People Change the World) by Brad Meltzer and Christopher Eliopoulos

It’s never too early to teach your kids about these amazing women.

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Inspire young women this holiday season with the true stories of four female pioneers: Jane Goodall, Harriet Tubman, Sacagawea and Amelia Earhart. Ages 5-8 ($22, amazon.com).

Hello Hello by Brendan Wetzel


Hello Hello by Brendan Wetzel

Read about connections in nature—some expected, some not—in this story about diversity.

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This stunning picture book introduces little ones to a great variety of the world’s creatures while showing the connection between them, and the diversity of our world. The illustrations are bright and rich with detail, perfect for repeated viewing. Ages 3-6 ($11, amazon.com).

 

This article was written by Seira Wilson of Amazon.com from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The 10 Best Children’s Books of 2018

When it comes to excellent reads for kids of all ages, these books truly stand out.

Every year, there’s a new crop of amazing books for children that truly leave an impact on young readers. Though 2018 was filled with many of those types of reads, we’ve narrowed down the 10 best, for children ages 1 to 12, that you’ll surely want to add to your kid’s library. These stories are fun, beautiful and full of valuable messages about empathy, diversity and respect for others.

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon

Our top pick for the year is a middle grade novel that reads like a modern classic. The Season of Styx Malone follows two brothers in a small Indiana town who become friends with the new kid—a very worldly young man named Styx Malone. What follows is a heartwarming story of friendship, trust and possibility. Ages 8-12 ($12, amazon.com).

8 Little Planets by Chris Ferrie and Lizzy Doyle


8 Little Planets by Chris Ferrie

Teach youngsters all about the solar system with this fun and fact-filled story.

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Illustrations of bright, happy planets paired with fun verse and facts made 8 Little Planets stand out from the crowd in 2018. A great way to start the youngest readers on a discovery of how fun nonfiction can be. Ages Baby-3 ($9, amazon.com).

Ocean Meets Sky by Terry Fan and Eric Fan


Ocean Meets Sky by Terry Fan and Eric Fan

Join Finn on his journey to honor his grandfather in this story of love and loss.

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The picture book we couldn’t stop looking at this year is Ocean Meets Sky. The rich colors and detail on every page make this a book you can experience in a new way every time you read it. The message of family and connection are also timeless and important. Ages 4-8 ($15, amazon.com).

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafaél Lopez


The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafaél Lopez

A wonderful tale about being yourself even when you feel like an outsider.

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Perfect for young elementary-school readers who can easily see themselves in her characters, award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson’s story of bravery and acceptance is beautifully rendered in Rafael López’s imaginative illustrations. Ages 5-8 ($15, amazon.com).

National Parks of the USA by Kate Siber and Chris Turnham


National Parks of the USA by Kate Siber

Learn all about the wonders of America’s fascinating wildlife.

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A glorious homage to the natural wonders around us, National Parks of the U.S.A. takes readers on a journey across the country to visit some of America’s most iconic locations. Great fun to read and even more fun to share with the whole family. Ages 5 and up ($19, amazon.com).

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes


Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman

Learn to spot all the spirals in your world with this storybook, which perfectly blends poetry with beautiful illustrations.

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Gorgeous scratchboard illustrations and charming verse show little ones all the places spirals can be found in our world and even our universe. The board book edition is the perfect companion or inspiration for spotting spirals in our own neighborhoods. Ages 2-5 ($8, amazon.com).

Drawn Together by Minh Lê and Dan Santat


Drawn Together by Minh Lê and Dan Santat

Share this story about how art overcomes all barriers and connects us.

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A grandfather and his grandson speak different languages and struggle to communicate, until they discover a shared love of art and stories. From there the two express themselves with great creativity and joy. A wonderful look at multigenerational relationships and an unexpected bond. Ages 4-7 ($11, amazon.com).

Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas by Dav Pilkey


Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas by Dav Pilkey

If your child isn’t a Dav Pilkey fan, they will be once they read this graphic novel.

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Even the most reluctant readers cannot resist the siren song of author Dav Pilkey. Pilkey’s Dog Man series is wildly popular with early and established chapter book readers, and his fifth book, Lord of the Fleas, is not only funny but also has great messages about kindness and reading. Ages 7 and up ($7, amazon.com).

Willa of the Wood by Robert Beatty


Willa of the Wood by Robert Beatty

This fantasy story about identity, nature and finding the strength to speak up for what’s right is so good you’ll want to read it yourself.

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This is the first book in a new series by the author of the bestselling Serafina and the Black Cloak books. Set in 1900 in the Great Smoky Mountains, Beatty blends history and fantasy in a story about an orphaned girl born of the forest, ancient ways and a changing world. Ages 8 and up ($8, amazon.com).

Big Kid Bed by Leslie Patricelli


Big Kid Bed by Leslie Patricelli

Another lovely tale by Leslie Patricelli that makes the change in your child’s life exciting and fun.

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Patricelli’s familiar smiling baby is now a toddler celebrating an important milestone. The board book Big Kid Bed reassures toddlers about giving up the crib, and they can see for themselves how much fun a big bed can be. A milestone that can present unique challenges, Patricelli comes to the rescue with this one. Ages 1-3 ($8, amazon.com).

 

This article was written by Seira Wilson of Amazon.com from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to Raise a Reader, According to Experts and Parents

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Want your child to fall in love with reading? We asked parents, teachers, and librarians for their tips for inspiring kids to read.

Everyone wants his or her kid to grow up to be a great reader. After all, childhood reading skills have even been shown to predict success not just in school, but also later in life. It isn’t too hard to get a child to read. But fostering a love of reading? That’s the hard part.

You can tip the scales in your little reader’s favor though. Learn how to raise a reader by following these expert tips.

Stock Up on Books

Having a home library—even a small one—is a big deal, especially when it comes to raising readers. Studies have shown there is a strong correlation between the number of books in a household and kids’ overall educational outcomes. In other words, kids whose parents keep books in the house have a big advantage. This is because when kids are constantly exposed to books, they become a normal part of everyday life.

“I have always had books in the house,” says Jaime Herndon, a writer and parent. “I read to Micah when he was in utero, read to him as an infant, and he’s always reached for books. They’ve become part of the everyday for him, and he ‘reads’ at least 2-3 books a day, plus our nightly reading.”

Lead by Example

The best way to raise a reader is to read yourself. Don’t do it secretly. Read where your kids can see you. If your kids think that reading is something adults don’t do, they might be less inclined to do it as they get older.

“Modeling” what to do is one of the best ways to teach any behavior, because kids love to copy adults—especially their parents.

“Adults need to model reading for children,” advises Carol Ann Moon, reference and instructional outreach librarian at St. Leo University in Florida. “I read because I had many models in my family.”

Read to Your Kids

You can also model by reading aloud to your kids. Making reading a group activity has several benefits. Kids not only learn to love reading because it’s something they do with the people they love, but they also learn how to pronounce the words they see on the page and pick up reading fluency skills, too.

When they’re old enough, ask your kids to read books aloud to you. If they’re nervous, get them to read to the family pet instead. Dogs are fantastic listeners.

“I read to [my son] Prose and now he wants to read me the books,” says author and mom Fabienne Josaphat. “It’s amazing how he can’t read yet—he’s only 3—but he memorizes the lines, and he recites them. … I try to put down my phone more and show him that I am either paying attention to him or reading.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting to read out loud to your child at birth.

Engage Kids’ Natural Curiosity

If you’ve been raising a reader, they may already think of books as sources of fun. Still, they may not know the variety of books out there. So when you’re out and about and your child starts asking questions about the world around her, make note.

“When [my children and I] are doing other things and become curious, we make an effort to learn more by finding a book on the topic on our next trip to the library,” says Kelli Casey, a secondary reading and English language arts resource teacher. By doing this, Casey shows her kids that nonfiction books are great resources for learning new things.

Make Reading a Habit

Just like with many other healthy things, reading becomes second nature to kids when they make it a habit. As a parent, you can foster a reading habit early by setting out a time each day to share a book with your child. Habits are made and kept by repetition, so try your best not to skip a day, even when you’re busy.

“Some nights I’m just so tired, but I remember that I don’t want [my son] to lose interest in reading,” says Donna Ho, a mom and former language arts teacher. “So I suck it up and read to him. When he asks to read a second book, I do.”

 

This article was written by Rebecca Renner from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

17 Children’s Books To Read To Your Kids In Honor Of Women’s History Month

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Celebrate Women’s History Month during family reading time with the books below.

Penguin Random House/Little Brown Young Readers

March marks Women’s History Month, and if you’re looking for a way to celebrate the many accomplishments of women with your family (little ones included), children’s books can offer a fun and informative history lesson.

Of course, a month isn’t nearly enough time to celebrate all that women have done in science, sports, and other fields, so you’ll want to keep these titles handy all year. Here are 17 kids’ books inspired by trailblazing women. 

“Rad American Women A-Z”

City Lights

The title sums this book up. Following the alphabet, kids can learn about the many women, including Billie Jean King and Angela Davis, who made great contributions to American history. (By Kate Schatz, illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl)

“Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?”


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Square Fish Books/Macmillan

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? tells the story of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S. Author Tanya Lee Stone is also the mind behind Who Says Women Can’t Be Computer Programmers? (Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman)

“Are You An Echo?”


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Chin Music Press

Are You An Echo? weaves the work of Japanese poet Misuzu Kaneko with her life story in a bilingual book. (Illustrated by Toshikado Hajiri, text and translation by David Jacobson, Sally Ito, and Michiko Tsuboi) 

“Women In Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed The World”


Penguin Random House

Kids interested in STEM (and even those who aren’t) will love reading about the many women, including primatologist Jane Goodall and mathematician Katherine Johnson, who made their mark on several different scientific fields. (Written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky)

“Buffalo Bird Girl: A Hidatsa Story”


Abrams Books for Young Readers

In this picture book, author and illustrator S.D. Nelson, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the Dakotas, shares with kids the story of Buffalo Bird Girl, a Hidatsa Indian who lived during the 1800s.

“Here Come the Girl Scouts!”


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Scholastic

Shana Corey shares the history of the Girl Scouts and the organization’s founder, Juliette Gordon Low. (Illustrated by Hadley Hooper)

“Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed The World”


HarperCollins

This book includes the stories of women who made their mark on the world early on. It features Ruby Bridges, the inspiring 6-year-old who helped desegregate an all-white school in the South, and Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space. The book, as noted on the cover, is “illustrated by 13 extraordinary women.” (By Susan Hood)

“Dolores Huerta: A Hero To Migrant Workers”


Two Lions/Amazon Children’s Publishing

In this book by Sarah Warren, labor activist and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta takes the center stage. (Illustrated by Robert Casilla)

“The Youngest Marcher”


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Simon & Schuster

In The Youngest Marcher, kids will meet Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Civil Rights activist who taught the world you’re never too young to make a difference. (By Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton)

“Frida Kahlo”


Lincoln Children’s Books/Quarto Group

This book teaches kids about the life of artist Frida Kahlo, and is part of the “Little People, Big Dreams” series, which highlights extraordinary women. (By Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, illustrated by Gee Fan Eng)

“Shark Lady”


Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Shark Lady includes a title many kids will love as well as the story of Eugenie Clark, a famous marine biologist who adored sharks and their fellow friends under the sea. The title comes from the nickname Clark earned for her work. (By Jess Keating, illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns)

“Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls”


Timbuktu Labs

Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls is a wildly popular book that started as a Kickstarter project and is filled with stories of trailblazing women paired with illustrations from women artists. Timbuktu Labs released the second volume last year.

“Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker”


Chronicle Books

Kids can learn about Josephine Baker, an African-American singer, dancer, and Civil Rights activist, in this picture book written by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Christian Robinson.

“Malala’s Magic Pencil”


Little, Brown Young Readers

Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani activist for girls education and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, tells her own story in Malala’s Magic Pencil. (Illustrated by Kerascoët, a joint pen name for Sébastien Cosset and Marie Pommepuy)

“Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History”


Little, Brown Young Readers

Little Leaders informs kids about black history and the women who made it, including abolitionist Sojourner Truth and poet Maya Angelou. (Written and illustrated by Vashti Harrison)

“Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909”


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HarperCollins

Brave Girl tells the story of Clara Lemlich, a leader of the women’s labor movement who helped guide the Uprising of the 20,000 shirtwaist workers strike that began in 1909. (By Michelle Markel, illustrated by Melissa Sweet)

“Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows In The Bronx/La Juez Que Creció En El Bronx”


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Simon & Schuster

This bilingual book shows kids how Sonia Sotomayor persevered to become the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court justice. (By Jonah Winter, illustrated by Edel Rodriguez)

 

 

This article was written by Taylor Pittman from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Language and Literacy Series: Reclaiming the Joy of Reading in the Age of Distraction

Susan Magsamen is the Senior Vice President of Early Learning at global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt She is a member of the Educational Advisory Board for The Goddard School and senior advisor to The Science of Learning Institute and Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University. This piece was originally published on HMH’s blog

My own love of reading was cultivated in an era with fewer distractions than today. At that time, all of our play was physical and concrete – we played with hands-on toys and games, we rode bicycles and played outside (which held opportunities for all sorts of mischief). I recall putting on plays, having visceral experiences with art supplies, some television, and boys readinglots of books. Reading offered both privacy and companionship, an opportunity to focus and contemplate, but also indulge the imagination.

I realize now that there was a special kind of innocence wrapped up in these memories. During my own childhood, distraction was the murmur of the radio or television, or the sight of something fleeting that simply “caught your eye.” Things are different today. Adults and children are caught in a blizzard of digital noise streaming from various devices that constantly compete for our attention, disrupting our focus. There is no doubt that this new reality has impacted the way we read and engage with books.

Daniel Goleman, a psychologist best known for spotlighting emotional intelligence, has noted that the deluge of distractions can have far-reaching effects. Speaking to KQED’s Forum, he explained “because attention is under siege more than it has ever been in human history, [and] we have more distractions than ever before, we have to be more focused on cultivating the skills of attention.”

According to Goleman, the neural circuitry that registers attention in the prefrontal cortex of the brain is identical to the circuits that govern executive functioning, which includes the ability to manage distressing emotions and to feel empathy.

Medical research has identified clinical conditions that may interfere with a child’s ability to focus, but to tackle real-world distractions, there are things we can do at home and in the classroom to minimize the noise and create an environment conducive to experiencing the magic of reading.

With this in mind, what can we do to foster a love of reading in our children that stems simply from the sheer pleasure and joy that a great story provides?

Here are five easy ways to create a distraction-free reading zone for kids.

  1. Create a Dedicated Reading Space: Create a reading environment free of clutter. The fewer objects that can capture your child’s attention, the better.
  2. Get Comfy: Have a comfortable chair or cushion for children and adult readers to sit on. The physical comfort helps kids relax their bodies, which in turn facilitates attention and focus.
  3. Start a Reading Ritual: Ritualize the opportunity to read. For very young children, the ritual of a bedtime story is the enchanting portico that leads to more reading. Consecrating the event early on acknowledges that reading time is special, even as children get older and read on their own. Having a special hat to wear or a pillow to sit on just for reading designates that reading time is distinct from other activities.
  4. Take Time to Share: Give your child ample opportunity to share what they have read. Remember, a joy shared is doubled! Ask some simple questions about your child’s reading experience to encourage engagement: Who was your favorite character? What did you like about the story? How did the book make you feel?
  5. Be a Reading Role Model: Model a love of reading. Whether you show your kids the stack of books on your night table, or point out how much you love to read the newspaper with your morning coffee, highlighting the ways that reading enriches your life will help them understand the importance and enjoyment of literacy.

It is important for adults to find some quiet space amidst the distractions as well. I heard a story the other day that offered a vivid reminder of this concept: A four-year-old girl learned how to make the color green in school, mixing yellow and blue paints to create a series of green hues. With carbonated excitement, she couldn’t wait to show her father. But when he came home, he was concentrating on his cell phone. He finished a call and then began to text. The child’s efforts to capture his attention were futile until, with her art work in one hand, she gave a good, hard tug on the leg of his pants. Her father then looked down and said, “Sara, what are you doing down there?” To which she replied, “Daddy, I live down here.”

To create an environment that is conducive to concentration, young children need our undivided attention. By finding and nurturing those simple moments of focus, we can enjoy “living” in our children’s worlds and be present as they share in ours.

Language and Literacy Series: What Reading Looks Like Together

Susan Magsamen is the Senior Vice President of Early Learning at global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She is a member of the Educational Advisory Board for The Goddard School and senior advisor to The Science of Learning Institute and Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University.  This piece was originally published on HMH’s blog.

Reading TogetherOne of my favorite sayings is “If you take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.”  I can think of no other moment more precious and invaluable to ensuring a strong foundation than reading with a child – whether in the classroom, at home or in the library.

Language and literacy is the foundation for all learning. It’s a major portal through which the other learning domains unfold including math, science, social studies, creative expression, proficiency with technology, social /emotional development, 21st century skills, executive functioning and healthy, physical development.

We know that children acquire early, emergent literacy skills through various verbal and non-verbal forms. Books, in both print and digital form, have a well-earned and beloved role to play in supporting early literacy. They offer a unique progression of experiences.

While digital content brings its own unique benefits in terms of interaction and engagement, exposing young children to real books —so they have a full tactile and sensory experience of books — is always a good idea. Letting young children spend time alone with books, turning the pages and having an “up close and personal” involvement with the pictures and the letters on the page can stimulate their imagination and set the stage for self-driven exploration.

Reading books to children is equally valuable and establishes an especially positive and meaningful relationship as you read together. That meaningful relationship is the seedbed upon which a child’s confidence can flourish.

Interactive reading takes this a step further. Though it sounds like a tech term, it doesn’t have to be. It’s simply a style of reading with children that uses all elements of the book as a springboard for fuller exploration. That exploration might lead you to an app, online or real-time activity. For example, a story about baking cookies could lead to actual cookie baking; a story about finding a treasure could lead to drawing a treasure map.

Editor and author Jason Boog, is a real champion of interactive reading. Here he shares a list of print books provided by the American Library Association that are rich with opportunities for interactive reading.

Below are just a few examples of some great interactive reading books that support important skill development for early learners to get you started:big-green-monster

Social Emotional Development:

  • “Go Away Big Green Monster” by Ed Emberly

This book helps children unpack their fear of the unknown by literally taking it apart one page at a time.

Executive Function:give-a-mouse-a-cookie

  • “If You Give A Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff

There is no better way to understand process, consequences, and cause and effect than these delightful books.

  • “Curious George Saves His Pennies” by H.A. Reycg-saves-pennies

Helping young children learn and understand self-regulation and judgment are essential skills for lifelong success. Curious George explores through playful  trial-and-error exploration.

21st Century Skills:

  • “Jumanji” by Chris Van Allsburgjumanji

Innovation, creative problem solving, and collaboration are demonstrated through this amazing adventure where the world changes all the time.

Social Studies:

  • “Ultimate Weird But True,” National Geographicultimate-weird-but-true

Packed with tons of really cool, wacky facts that get little kids totally excited and engaged about the real world.

Over the next several weeks I look forward to discussing the power of language and literacy from some unusual points of view. What does gesture, behavior modeling, sound and vocabulary have to do with learning critical skills? How do you foster a love of reading with so many distractions? How do you use ebooks and other digital media and tools effectively to inspire a love of language and words? I will also provide ideas, recommendations and tips on ways to engage young learners.

Enjoy!

Interest Your Children in Reading

Reading - Teacher & Girl BConvincing your children to read can be a difficult task, especially when television and video games are so accessible. How, in a world so focused on technology, can we encourage children to step away from the remote and pick up a book?

  • You’ve heard the phrase ‘monkey see, monkey do.’ In order to change your child’s habits, you also have to focus on your own. If you’re spending a lot of time in front of the television and computer screen, your children will follow your example. The same is true about reading, so it’s important to set aside certain times during the day for reading so your children will start getting in the habit of doing the same.
  • Reading out loud can introduce your children to storytelling and help your children learn to enjoy reading. Creating funny voices for characters or acting scenes out can make reading a fun and interactive experience for children.
  • If your family has a lot of interesting stories, create your own family history book.  This may become an interesting family artifact.

How do you make reading fun?

10 Tips for Raising a Book Lover

Reading - Teacher & Girl A

1.  Provide a wide selection of age-appropriate books. Don’t limit books to your child’s play space. Consider making some available in their bedroom, on the lower shelf of a “grown-up” book shelf, on the coffee table, etc. Be sure to place the books within their reach.

2.  Be sure your child has a cozy reading spot. Consider making an area in the family room or playroom with a comfy cushion or child-sized chair, stuffed animals and a big basket of books to choose from!

3. Consider serving snacks or meals that relate to the stories your child enjoys. Add just a drop or two of green food coloring into scrambled eggs and you could serve green eggs and ham for breakfast!

4.  Read to your child at every stage. Some parents begin reading to their child before they are even born!

5.  It’s never too late to start a reading routine with your child. Set a goal of reading at least one book per day with your child–even on the busiest of days!

6.  Include a bedtime story as part of your everyday routine. But…

7.  Don’t limit reading to bedtime. Cuddle up and enjoy giggling with your child over a funny book.

8.  If your child has a tough time sitting still for story time, encourage her to color or manipulate play dough while you read the story.

9.  Point to the words as you read. This helps children start to associate sounds with letters.

10.  Ask your child questions as you read. “How do you think that made her feel?” “What color do you think he will choose?” Be sure to also answer your child’s questions as you go along.

Word Wonderland

Snuggle up with your little one and share in the adventures of a good book! Children of all ages will benefit from this quality time with you and their imaginations will soar with every turn of the page.

Stick to simple board books with one picture per page and contrasting colors for the youngest readers (Infant to One Year). Make exaggerated faces to express emotion, change your voice, describe everything and point to the items on each page as you make your way through the book. Watch your child for clues as to what part of the book is his/her favorite.

As children grow, so can their stories. Progressively move to longer books and allow your child to interact by pointing to items, turning the pages and even reading some themselves, if developmentally appropriate. Continue to make faces and change your voice for characters or make sounds for objects and animals. If they’re still learning to sound out words, help them along by annunciating sounds in a normal tone and prompting them to repeat after you.

Together, you and your child can learn, laugh and create fond memories as you beat the winter blues, book after book.

Some great winter books to check out: Biscuit’s Snowy Day by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, Welcome Winter by Jill Ackerman, Winter Friends by Carl R. Sams and Jean Stoick and Winter by Gerda Muller.