Monthly Archives: July 2013

6 Apps We Absolutely Love for Children This Summer

by Cameron Crane
Little Red Riding Hood by Nosy Crow



Ages: 4 & up

Description: Built with an innovative, user-generated narrative structure that immerses a child in the story, Little Red Riding Hood re-invents interactive storytelling. Readers play games to help Little Red Riding Hood collect three different objects in the course of her journey through the woods, choosing what items to gather at forks in the path. These objects determine how Little Red Riding Hood defeats the Big Bad Wolf and saves Grandma.





Ages: 4 & up

Description:Three-time Caldecott honoree Mo Willems invites you to join some of his most beloved characters in this collection of entertaining games and activities to play anytime, anywhere! 
“Mo…On the Go!” lets you dance, draw, take pictures, create monsters, and even drive the bus! As you play, unlock stickers to put in your sticker vault!


Weird But True by National Geographic



Ages: 6 & up

Description: Did you know a hippo’s lips are about two feet wide? Or that didaskaleinophobia is the fear of going to school? Or that before toothpaste was invented some people cleaned their teeth with charcoal? Filled with wacky facts and tantalizing trivia that will engage curious kids and parents alike, Weird But True presents each of the 625 facts in a fun, colorful, and interactive format that will keep kids entertained—and learning—for hours! And parents can rest easy knowing that each fact is age-appropriate and handpicked by a brand they know and trust: National Geographic Kids.




Ages: 4 & up

Description (Courtesy of Cool Mom Tech): As with most kids, mine heard the song and thoroughly enjoyed, but it wasn’t until we had the Blue Bear app with its non-stop access to the video and song did everyone fully get its unbelievably catchy nature and full potential for fun. Read more here




Ages: 4 & up

Description: PBS’ first app designed specifically for parents, PBS Parents Play & Learn provides more than a dozen games parents can play with their kids, each themed around a familiar location – including at the grocery store, in a car, in the kitchen, and many more. The app is designed to build on a child’s natural curiosity about his or her everyday world and to encourage dialogue between kids and parents. 


Tails Toes Eyes Ears Nose by Marilee Robin Burton


Ages: 3 & up

Description: Teach your children basic body parts through this fun, simple app. We start by seeing the tails, toes, eyes, ears, nose of each animal; then, the rest of its body gently appears, creating a delightful surprise for little ones. Soon, they’ll be recognizing and 
The app builds early learning and literacy skills by having the word for each body part appear when touched.


6 Apps We Absolutely Love for Children This Summer

by Cameron Crane


Ages: 4 & up

Description: Built with an innovative, user-generated narrative structure that immerses a child in the story, Little Red Riding Hood re-invents interactive storytelling. Readers play games to help Little Red Riding Hood collect three different objects in the course of her journey through the woods, choosing what items to gather at forks in the path. These objects determine how Little Red Riding Hood defeats the Big Bad Wolf and saves Grandma.





Ages: 4 & up

Description:Three-time Caldecott honoree Mo Willems invites you to join some of his most beloved characters in this collection of entertaining games and activities to play anytime, anywhere! 
“Mo…On the Go!” lets you dance, draw, take pictures, create monsters, and even drive the bus! As you play, unlock stickers to put in your sticker vault!


Weird But True by National Geographic



Ages: 6 & up

Description: Did you know a hippo’s lips are about two feet wide? Or that didaskaleinophobia is the fear of going to school? Or that before toothpaste was invented some people cleaned their teeth with charcoal? Filled with wacky facts and tantalizing trivia that will engage curious kids and parents alike, Weird But True presents each of the 625 facts in a fun, colorful, and interactive format that will keep kids entertained—and learning—for hours! And parents can rest easy knowing that each fact is age-appropriate and handpicked by a brand they know and trust: National Geographic Kids.




Ages: 4 & up

Description (Courtesy of Cool Mom Tech): As with most kids, mine heard the song and thoroughly enjoyed, but it wasn’t until we had the Blue Bear app with its non-stop access to the video and song did everyone fully get its unbelievably catchy nature and full potential for fun. Read more here




Ages: 4 & up

Description: PBS’ first app designed specifically for parents, PBS Parents Play & Learn provides more than a dozen games parents can play with their kids, each themed around a familiar location – including at the grocery store, in a car, in the kitchen, and many more. The app is designed to build on a child’s natural curiosity about his or her everyday world and to encourage dialogue between kids and parents. 


Tails Toes Eyes Ears Nose by Marilee Robin Burton


Ages: 3 & up

Description: Teach your children basic body parts through this fun, simple app. We start by seeing the tails, toes, eyes, ears, nose of each animal; then, the rest of its body gently appears, creating a delightful surprise for little ones. Soon, they’ll be recognizing and 
The app builds early learning and literacy skills by having the word for each body part appear when touched.


Planting Seeds with Annie Fox


Today, Little Pickle Press welcomes the amazing author Annie Fox to help us navigate relationships with teen children and how to be a progressive parent. Annie works with teens in schools and shares with us today her expertise about raising teens. Her book on that subject is the perfect fit for parents looking for some guidance and can be used with your teen as you help them find reading resources during the summer. Though she speaks to the experience of raising girls, Annie’s advice is good for parents of all children.

As soon as kids start to crawl, they begin moving away from us. That’s exactly as it should be! We keep an eye on them constantly, but it’s just not possible to protect them from everything they may encounter. As an early childhood educator once said to me, “Kids need to eat a certain amount of dirt every day. It builds up their immune system.” I can buy into that philosophy. When it comes to safety, the best approach is to make our behavior expectations crystal clear. Our kids may not always do what we want them to when we’re not around (you can count on that), but at least they will have our voice inside their head, telling them what we expect them to do. In that moment of reflection, they will be more likely to do the right thing. Bottom line, we’re gardeners. We plant seeds. That’s all we can do.

Most parents of teens are white-knuckling through the experience, fearful of the rapid transformation happening in front of their eyes. Teens are moving targets, and parents need to be tuned in well enough to move with them. Many parents miss the opportunity to talk less and listen more to their teens. That’s the only way we can learn who they are becoming, or discover any gaps in their knowledge about getting along with people, managing stress, or dealing with frustration and conflict. It’s not easy being them! Of course the good news is that no one stays a teen forever. And no one stays the parent of a teen forever. Your goal is to have a healthy relationship with your soon-to-be young adult child. Figure out how to be the kind of parent your adult child wants to come home to visit!

Since 1997, girls from all over the world have been turning to me for help in navigating their friendship messes. I guess that makes me an expert on social garbage. I thought, if I write a book to help younger girls, maybe they will have easier friendships when they get to middle school. Combine effective tools for managing conflicts with the self-respect and social courage to use them, and we’re talking about effective strategies for positive change. My new book should be in print in early September. Just in time for a new season of girl friendship drama! I’m quite excited about it, especially because I’m working with a fabulous young illustrator, Erica DeChavez, and the collaboration has been awesome.

If you’ve got a daughter who can walk and talk, you’ve likely had at least a few conversations and some strong disagreements about her choice of clothes. There’s nothing new about any of this; it’s the job of every generation to attempt to scandalize their parents. But pop culture is far more extreme now, and something very destructive is being foisted on our kids. Styles for girls of all ages are moving in a very dangerous direction. So much of what’s sold is too short, too tight, too low cut, too peek-a-boo, too . . . sexy for little girls. And they want these styles, because their friends wear them and because too many little girls, tweens, and teens truly believe that their value as people is a direct function of how they look. Our culture sexualizes girls, teaching them to value themselves solely as “bait” for guys. It’s unhealthy for both sexes, because when boys learn to objectify girls, healthy relationships become a very rare thing.

What’s going on here in 21st Century America is a war of values. On one side, parents doing their best to raise healthy young adults. And what are we up against? The marketing might of multi-billion dollar corporations. You probably don’t need anyone to tell you who’s winning. I wrote Teaching Kids to Be Good People because the world needs more good people, i.e., folks who notice the suffering of others and have the social courage to work to make things better. But where are these empathetic, compassionate, socially responsible young people going to come from? From parents with a game plan. All teachers aren’t parents, but all parents are teachers. What we need to teach our kids is how to respect themselves and others. That’s character education. The test for how well we taught them is Life.


Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an author, educator, and an expert on human connectedness. She has created award-winning books, games and apps. Her websites address teen issues, parenting, and social emotional learning. She and her husband, David Fox, created the Marin Computer Center in 1977 and through their company, Electric Eggplant, have collaborated on many games, ibooks, and apps. The InSite, Annie’s first website where she launched her online advice career, is now in its 16th year! Annie is a frequent speaker at schools where she enjoys helping teens make better choices, online and off.

Planting Seeds with Annie Fox


Today, Little Pickle Press welcomes the amazing author Annie Fox to help us navigate relationships with teen children and how to be a progressive parent. Annie works with teens in schools and shares with us today her expertise about raising teens. Her book on that subject is the perfect fit for parents looking for some guidance and can be used with your teen as you help them find reading resources during the summer. Though she speaks to the experience of raising girls, Annie’s advice is good for parents of all children.

As soon as kids start to crawl, they begin moving away from us. That’s exactly as it should be! We keep an eye on them constantly, but it’s just not possible to protect them from everything they may encounter. As an early childhood educator once said to me, “Kids need to eat a certain amount of dirt every day. It builds up their immune system.” I can buy into that philosophy. When it comes to safety, the best approach is to make our behavior expectations crystal clear. Our kids may not always do what we want them to when we’re not around (you can count on that), but at least they will have our voice inside their head, telling them what we expect them to do. In that moment of reflection, they will be more likely to do the right thing. Bottom line, we’re gardeners. We plant seeds. That’s all we can do.

Most parents of teens are white-knuckling through the experience, fearful of the rapid transformation happening in front of their eyes. Teens are moving targets, and parents need to be tuned in well enough to move with them. Many parents miss the opportunity to talk less and listen more to their teens. That’s the only way we can learn who they are becoming, or discover any gaps in their knowledge about getting along with people, managing stress, or dealing with frustration and conflict. It’s not easy being them! Of course the good news is that no one stays a teen forever. And no one stays the parent of a teen forever. Your goal is to have a healthy relationship with your soon-to-be young adult child. Figure out how to be the kind of parent your adult child wants to come home to visit!

Since 1997, girls from all over the world have been turning to me for help in navigating their friendship messes. I guess that makes me an expert on social garbage. I thought, if I write a book to help younger girls, maybe they will have easier friendships when they get to middle school. Combine effective tools for managing conflicts with the self-respect and social courage to use them, and we’re talking about effective strategies for positive change. My new book should be in print in early September. Just in time for a new season of girl friendship drama! I’m quite excited about it, especially because I’m working with a fabulous young illustrator, Erica DeChavez, and the collaboration has been awesome.

If you’ve got a daughter who can walk and talk, you’ve likely had at least a few conversations and some strong disagreements about her choice of clothes. There’s nothing new about any of this; it’s the job of every generation to attempt to scandalize their parents. But pop culture is far more extreme now, and something very destructive is being foisted on our kids. Styles for girls of all ages are moving in a very dangerous direction. So much of what’s sold is too short, too tight, too low cut, too peek-a-boo, too . . . sexy for little girls. And they want these styles, because their friends wear them and because too many little girls, tweens, and teens truly believe that their value as people is a direct function of how they look. Our culture sexualizes girls, teaching them to value themselves solely as “bait” for guys. It’s unhealthy for both sexes, because when boys learn to objectify girls, healthy relationships become a very rare thing.

What’s going on here in 21st Century America is a war of values. On one side, parents doing their best to raise healthy young adults. And what are we up against? The marketing might of multi-billion dollar corporations. You probably don’t need anyone to tell you who’s winning. I wrote Teaching Kids to Be Good People because the world needs more good people, i.e., folks who notice the suffering of others and have the social courage to work to make things better. But where are these empathetic, compassionate, socially responsible young people going to come from? From parents with a game plan. All teachers aren’t parents, but all parents are teachers. What we need to teach our kids is how to respect themselves and others. That’s character education. The test for how well we taught them is Life.


Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an author, educator, and an expert on human connectedness. She has created award-winning books, games and apps. Her websites address teen issues, parenting, and social emotional learning. She and her husband, David Fox, created the Marin Computer Center in 1977 and through their company, Electric Eggplant, have collaborated on many games, ibooks, and apps. The InSite, Annie’s first website where she launched her online advice career, is now in its 16th year! Annie is a frequent speaker at schools where she enjoys helping teens make better choices, online and off.

Be BIG, Win BIG

This summer, we are encouraging our readers to be as BIG as they can be. Being BIG isn’t a matter of size or height. It isn’t measured in inches or pounds. When we talk about being BIG, we’re talking about being the best possible you that you can be.



We believe that when you are a BIG part of your community, you deserve some pretty BIG things. That’s why we are giving away a full set of our award-winning picture books to one BIG winner!


How have you been BIG this summer? Tell us here




Be BIG, Win BIG

This summer, we are encouraging our readers to be as BIG as they can be. Being BIG isn’t a matter of size or height. It isn’t measured in inches or pounds. When we talk about being BIG, we’re talking about being the best possible you that you can be.



We believe that when you are a BIG part of your community, you deserve some pretty BIG things. That’s why we are giving away a full set of our award-winning picture books to one BIG winner!


How have you been BIG this summer? Tell us here




Families are Forever: A Book Review

Reviewed by Terry Doherty, The Reading Tub
We’re so excited about books that we want to share a great title with our readers. Today, Little Pickle Press is happy to present a syndicated article from our friends over at The Reading Tub! Terry Doherty wrote this piece, and offers a review of Families are Forever by Craig Shermin, a book about a girl and her hippo. The book won a Mom’s Choice Award. Enjoy!



Publisher: As Simple As That®, LLC, ©2003


Material: Hard cover


Summary: Rain, a six-year-old girl, tells us her story of how she came from China to live with her Mom and Bo, her stuffed hippo. This is a first-person story about becoming an adoptive family.


Type of Reading: Bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, read aloud book, middle-grade reader


Recommended Age: Read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 8 to 12


Interest Level: 4 to 8


Age of Child: Read with 4-year-old child


Little Kid Reaction: Our child liked looking at the pictures and asking about when s/he was a baby.


Big Kid Reaction: We liked this story. Because of our child’s questions, we were able to introduce a “second plot” with our own adoption story. Although this is a story of a Chinese adoption, we didn’t feel limited by it in our situation (which was a domestic adoption).


Pros: The story has great universal appeal. The story emphasizes creating a family, with adoption playing a role, but not taking center stage from the love itself.


Cons: None.


Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This will particularly appeal to families of international adoption, but all adoptive families will enjoy the story.



Educational Themes: Every family can enjoy this story. It can help young children write their own story, adopted or not. It is a great way to introduce adoption as a concept of love.


Notes: 2008 Silver Recipient: Illustrated Series, Moms Choice Awards


Literary Categories: Fiction – family, cultures and tradition, adoption


Date(s) Reviewed: May 2006


You can pick up your copy of Families are Forever here!

Thanks to our friends at The Reading Tub for sharing this article with us!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Terry’s passion for literacy spans her life-time. She began her first journal in 1971 on a cross-country family vacation, and hasn’t stopped writing in 40 years! In May 2002, Terry started her own consulting company that provides research and writing services. As the Senior Editor for Moms in Print, she offered reviews and detailed comments on EVERY manuscript submitted for consideration. In 2003 she launched The Reading Tub. What started as a hobby project became a full-fledged, accredited 501c3 in less than a year! She partners with other non-profits to provide at-risk readers with the tools they need to become successful students and citizens. Visit The Reading Tub here

Families are Forever: A Book Review

Reviewed by Terry Doherty, The Reading Tub
We’re so excited about books that we want to share a great title with our readers. Today, Little Pickle Press is happy to present a syndicated article from our friends over at The Reading Tub! Terry Doherty wrote this piece, and offers a review of Families are Forever by Craig Shermin, a book about a girl and her hippo. The book won a Mom’s Choice Award. Enjoy!



Publisher: As Simple As That®, LLC, ©2003


Material: Hard cover


Summary: Rain, a six-year-old girl, tells us her story of how she came from China to live with her Mom and Bo, her stuffed hippo. This is a first-person story about becoming an adoptive family.


Type of Reading: Bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, read aloud book, middle-grade reader


Recommended Age: Read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 8 to 12


Interest Level: 4 to 8


Age of Child: Read with 4-year-old child


Little Kid Reaction: Our child liked looking at the pictures and asking about when s/he was a baby.


Big Kid Reaction: We liked this story. Because of our child’s questions, we were able to introduce a “second plot” with our own adoption story. Although this is a story of a Chinese adoption, we didn’t feel limited by it in our situation (which was a domestic adoption).


Pros: The story has great universal appeal. The story emphasizes creating a family, with adoption playing a role, but not taking center stage from the love itself.


Cons: None.


Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This will particularly appeal to families of international adoption, but all adoptive families will enjoy the story.



Educational Themes: Every family can enjoy this story. It can help young children write their own story, adopted or not. It is a great way to introduce adoption as a concept of love.


Notes: 2008 Silver Recipient: Illustrated Series, Moms Choice Awards


Literary Categories: Fiction – family, cultures and tradition, adoption


Date(s) Reviewed: May 2006


You can pick up your copy of Families are Forever here!

Thanks to our friends at The Reading Tub for sharing this article with us!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Terry’s passion for literacy spans her life-time. She began her first journal in 1971 on a cross-country family vacation, and hasn’t stopped writing in 40 years! In May 2002, Terry started her own consulting company that provides research and writing services. As the Senior Editor for Moms in Print, she offered reviews and detailed comments on EVERY manuscript submitted for consideration. In 2003 she launched The Reading Tub. What started as a hobby project became a full-fledged, accredited 501c3 in less than a year! She partners with other non-profits to provide at-risk readers with the tools they need to become successful students and citizens. Visit The Reading Tub here

The Magic of Magic Blox

By Kelly Wickham

Sarah, the Little Pickle Press designer, has worked with Jason Lane of MagicBlox before and tells me he is incredibly great to work with so it was no surprise, when I called him up one day,  that I learned that Sarah was absolutely right. MagicBlox, I learned, is a website where you can go online and read lots of material for free. That’s right: free.Since Little Pickle Press is committed to preventing the summer slide that school age children often experience when out of school, we thought we’d share with you the magic of MagicBlox. You’ll want to check them out right away.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 5.39.19 PM
Jason’s background is that he worked at a day care for 4 years in high school as his part-time job and then went on to college and became a teacher’s aide and did computer lab assisting while tutoring algebra. He has a vested interest in children.

We don’t have an iPad app yet, and our Android app is still in the shop, but here are some screenshots of your books within our browser experience that’s accessible through all computers. His background in digital media and technology was building and fixing servers and networks in Los Angelos. That led to a job at Telemundo and later, NBC when it was acquired. I was impressed that he worked on some rather high profile shows like The Office, My Name is Earl, and 30 Rock.
 
Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 5.39.44 PM
Even more impressive is that he got into the startup space, met an entrepreneur and came up with MagicBlox where consumers can access digital media even at a time when “mobile” wasn’t even considered a word yet. Now, we talk about the mobile space all the time.
MagicBlox ties the business side with media and a love of children and reading. They’re a fast moving company who is working on apps on both Android and iPhone products to make reading interactive. While apps are highly lucrative for parents who have these materials in their homes already, it’s a costly endeavor. In 2010 their first book opened the site that they piloted for a year and a half. MagicBlox is building an app right now so everyone can read online or with tablet apps.

It works like this: MagicBlox is reading but better. You can choose audio, go full screen, and then follow along with audio narrations, usability enhancements, and find more books based on your reading taste. They have nearly 600 books right now and add new titles each week.
Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 5.39.08 PM
MagicBlox has a Read Free/ Sign up now button – when you register with email address and read 1 book free every month. To me, that’s the secret sauce of what MagicBlox is doing. All accounts you sign up for are free and you get a free book each month as the books get reset so when you come back you can choose another one. There’s value in this for authors, too, who want to get their work in the hands of the public and there are links that take you to purchase them if you’d like.
The cost is extremely reasonable where MagicBlox has a 5-book plan for $2.99 a month and for $3.99 you can gain unlimited access. A yearly pass for $38 seems like the best plan for all you readers out there.  It’s browser-based but that will be changing in the near future. Magic Blox isn’t the business of storing physical books, but it’s still a value to authors to get their books added to the MagicBlox library which is a free marketing portal for children’s book authors since there’s a lot of exposure for discovery.

Jason also shared with me that MagicBlox did a pilot where schools could get a site license for up to 14 classrooms and get free access if parents sign up, too. In the future, MagicBlox hopes to allow schools the opportunity to use it as a fundraiser as well. What better pairing for literacy and supporting schools could you want? There are lots of books to discover and children can get access to content at an affordable cost. This is a great deal for parents of readers who usually purchase books for their avid readers. Really, it’s a great deal for every reader. I hope you check out MagicBlox today and get to reading.
Thanks for sharing MagicBlox with us, Jason! We hope all our readers will check it out. If you visit today, you will notice our very own title, Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food, right on the front page so you can read it online!

The Magic of Magic Blox

By Kelly Wickham

Sarah, the Little Pickle Press designer, has worked with Jason Lane of MagicBlox before and tells me he is incredibly great to work with so it was no surprise, when I called him up one day,  that I learned that Sarah was absolutely right. MagicBlox, I learned, is a website where you can go online and read lots of material for free. That’s right: free.

Since Little Pickle Press is committed to preventing the summer slide that school age children often experience when out of school, we thought we’d share with you the magic of MagicBlox. You’ll want to check them out right away.



Jason’s background is that he worked at a day care for 4 years in high school as his part-time job and then went on to college and became a teacher’s aide and did computer lab assisting while tutoring algebra. He has a vested interest in children.

We don’t have an iPad app yet, and our Android app is still in the shop, but here are some screenshots of your books within our browser experience that’s accessible through all computers. His background in digital media and technology was building and fixing servers and networks in Los Angelos. That led to a job at Telemundo and later, NBC when it was acquired. I was impressed that he worked on some rather high profile shows like The Office, My Name is Earl, and 30 Rock.


Even more impressive is that he got into the startup space, met an entrepreneur and came up with MagicBlox where consumers can access digital media even at a time when “mobile” wasn’t even considered a word yet. Now, we talk about the mobile space all the time.

MagicBlox ties the business side with media and a love of children and reading. They’re a fast moving company who is working on apps on both Android and iPhone products to make reading interactive. While apps are highly lucrative for parents who have these materials in their homes already, it’s a costly endeavor. In 2010 their first book opened the site that they piloted for a year and a half. MagicBlox is building an app right now so everyone can read online or with tablet apps.

It works like this: MagicBlox is reading but better. You can choose audio, go full screen, and then follow along with audio narrations, usability enhancements, and find more books based on your reading taste. They have nearly 600 books right now and add new titles each week.



MagicBlox has a Read Free/ Sign up now button – when you register with email address and read 1 book free every month. To me, that’s the secret sauce of what MagicBlox is doing. All accounts you sign up for are free and you get a free book each month as the books get reset so when you come back you can choose another one. There’s value in this for authors, too, who want to get their work in the hands of the public and there are links that take you to purchase them if you’d like.

The cost is extremely reasonable where MagicBlox has a 5-book plan for $2.99 a month and for $3.99 you can gain unlimited access. A yearly pass for $38 seems like the best plan for all you readers out there.  It’s browser-based but that will be changing in the near future. Magic Blox isn’t the business of storing physical books, but it’s still a value to authors to get their books added to the MagicBlox library which is a free marketing portal for children’s book authors since there’s a lot of exposure for discovery.



Jason also shared with me that MagicBlox did a pilot where schools could get a site license for up to 14 classrooms and get free access if parents sign up, too. In the future, MagicBlox hopes to allow schools the opportunity to use it as a fundraiser as well. What better pairing for literacy and supporting schools could you want? There are lots of books to discover and children can get access to content at an affordable cost. This is a great deal for parents of readers who usually purchase books for their avid readers. Really, it’s a great deal for every reader. I hope you check out MagicBlox today and get to reading.

Thanks for sharing MagicBlox with us, Jason! We hope all our readers will check it out. If you visit today, you will notice our very own title, Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food, right on the front page so you can read it online!

Featured Customer of the Month: Seattle Children’s Museum

By Audrey Lintner

Image courtesy of the Seattle Children’s Museum
When I was seventeen, I flew to Washington, D.C. to give a speech at the National Range Management Conference. One thing about this trip excited me more than anything else. Was it the solo flight? Attending my first “grownup” dance? Meeting Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor?

Okay, so all of those events were pretty cool, but what really pegged my enthusiasm gauge was the fact that I got to tour THE National Museum of Natural History.

I’ve always loved museums; there’s something about the never-ending flow of, “Wow, look at that!” moments that brings out the kid in me. In spite of the fact that the calendar thinks I’m an adult, I especially enjoy children’s museums. So many nifty interactive displays, so little time …

If you’re in the mood to see some nifty interactive displays, you’ll definitely want to visit the Seattle Children’s Museum. A short hop from the famous Space Needle, the museum is, and I quote, “where imagination comes alive … in 22,000 square feet of space.”

Designed for children ten and under, the Seattle Children’s Museum has something to appeal to just about everybody. From story time for the littlest patrons, to the horizon-expanding Global Village, the museum puts imagination in the driver’s seat and reminds us that learning can (and should) be fun.

In addition to permanent exhibits and daily programs, the Seattle Children’s Museum offers a little something extra: caring. Every aspect of the museum is designed to be as safe and inviting as possible, especially for the youngest visitors. Children with sensory issues are not overlooked, thanks to the monthly Sensory Sensitivity Hours, which feature dimmed lights and lower noise levels.

The Seattle Children’s Museum is definitely on my list of “must see” places. Besides, after reading Rana DiOrio’s “What Does It Mean to be Global?” I just have to see the museum’s Global Village.

Available in the LPP shop

Featured Customer of the Month: Seattle Children’s Museum

By Audrey Lintner

Image courtesy of the Seattle Children’s Museum
When I was seventeen, I flew to Washington, D.C. to give a speech at the National Range Management Conference. One thing about this trip excited me more than anything else. Was it the solo flight? Attending my first “grownup” dance? Meeting Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor?

Okay, so all of those events were pretty cool, but what really pegged my enthusiasm gauge was the fact that I got to tour THE National Museum of Natural History.

I’ve always loved museums; there’s something about the never-ending flow of, “Wow, look at that!” moments that brings out the kid in me. In spite of the fact that the calendar thinks I’m an adult, I especially enjoy children’s museums. So many nifty interactive displays, so little time …

If you’re in the mood to see some nifty interactive displays, you’ll definitely want to visit the Seattle Children’s Museum. A short hop from the famous Space Needle, the museum is, and I quote, “where imagination comes alive … in 22,000 square feet of space.”

Designed for children ten and under, the Seattle Children’s Museum has something to appeal to just about everybody. From story time for the littlest patrons, to the horizon-expanding Global Village, the museum puts imagination in the driver’s seat and reminds us that learning can (and should) be fun.

In addition to permanent exhibits and daily programs, the Seattle Children’s Museum offers a little something extra: caring. Every aspect of the museum is designed to be as safe and inviting as possible, especially for the youngest visitors. Children with sensory issues are not overlooked, thanks to the monthly Sensory Sensitivity Hours, which feature dimmed lights and lower noise levels.

The Seattle Children’s Museum is definitely on my list of “must see” places. Besides, after reading Rana DiOrio’s “What Does It Mean to be Global?” I just have to see the museum’s Global Village.

Available in the LPP shop

How To Create A Literate Home

By Audrey Lintner

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng
If I had a nickel for every “home” I was invited to create, I could definitely afford a bigger home. Which would be nice, because then I’d have more room for books.


Create a safe home. Create a loving home. Create an organized home. The first two were no problem, but the third will never happen in my lifetime. Let’s look at a fourth option: the literate home. Parents want the best for their kids, and that includes the all-around enrichment that comes with literacy.


So how do you create a literate home? Is a bounty of board books enough, or should you invest in the Iliad? Does your Kindergartner need a Kindle? Fear not! The folks at PBS have come through with an easy-to-follow list of helpful hints for creating a literate home.


Books

Fairly obvious, but it bears repeating. Fill your home with books. Bright colors and engaging concepts will captivate novice readers and fire a lifelong love of the written word. In addition to having books and other reading material close at hand, inspire your child by being a good example. Let them see you reading, and let them know how much you enjoy it.


Writing materials

The classic #2 pencil is just one way for kids to “get the point.” Sidewalk chalk, finger paints, and chunky markers not only offer a creative boost to writing practice, they help little ones develop the necessary motor control for using small tools.


Pretending

More than just a way to spend a rainy afternoon, dress-up and other games of pretend will encourage literacy skills. Let your kiddos make up the stories while you help them write it all down. Use your homemade “scripts” as an introduction to famous playwrights.


Talking

You’ll be amazed at just how far the art of conversation will go toward boosting literacy. Going for a walk? Talk! Take turns pointing out signs or spinning interesting stories about the things you see. Visit libraries for story hour. Have your youngster help you with the grocery list and the shopping. Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to use big words; flipping through the dictionary is a great way to improve reading.


More Ideas

Not everyone can afford a trip around the world, but literacy skills can take you across the universe. Visit the past, explore the future, or fly to the moon and back. Visit the global village from your favorite chair and be home in plenty of time for dinner. For a detailed list of ways to create a literary home, visit PBS Parents. For some worthy additions to your home library, visit the Little Pickle Press shop. 

Photo courtesy of Audrey Lintner
Up for discussion: what book had the biggest impact on you as a child?

How To Create A Literate Home

By Audrey Lintner

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng
If I had a nickel for every “home” I was invited to create, I could definitely afford a bigger home. Which would be nice, because then I’d have more room for books.


Create a safe home. Create a loving home. Create an organized home. The first two were no problem, but the third will never happen in my lifetime. Let’s look at a fourth option: the literate home. Parents want the best for their kids, and that includes the all-around enrichment that comes with literacy.


So how do you create a literate home? Is a bounty of board books enough, or should you invest in the Iliad? Does your Kindergartner need a Kindle? Fear not! The folks at PBS have come through with an easy-to-follow list of helpful hints for creating a literate home.


Books

Fairly obvious, but it bears repeating. Fill your home with books. Bright colors and engaging concepts will captivate novice readers and fire a lifelong love of the written word. In addition to having books and other reading material close at hand, inspire your child by being a good example. Let them see you reading, and let them know how much you enjoy it.


Writing materials

The classic #2 pencil is just one way for kids to “get the point.” Sidewalk chalk, finger paints, and chunky markers not only offer a creative boost to writing practice, they help little ones develop the necessary motor control for using small tools.


Pretending

More than just a way to spend a rainy afternoon, dress-up and other games of pretend will encourage literacy skills. Let your kiddos make up the stories while you help them write it all down. Use your homemade “scripts” as an introduction to famous playwrights.


Talking

You’ll be amazed at just how far the art of conversation will go toward boosting literacy. Going for a walk? Talk! Take turns pointing out signs or spinning interesting stories about the things you see. Visit libraries for story hour. Have your youngster help you with the grocery list and the shopping. Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to use big words; flipping through the dictionary is a great way to improve reading.


More Ideas

Not everyone can afford a trip around the world, but literacy skills can take you across the universe. Visit the past, explore the future, or fly to the moon and back. Visit the global village from your favorite chair and be home in plenty of time for dinner. For a detailed list of ways to create a literary home, visit PBS Parents. For some worthy additions to your home library, visit the Little Pickle Press shop. 

Photo courtesy of Audrey Lintner
Up for discussion: what book had the biggest impact on you as a child?

Interview with Literacy Advocate Angela Santomero

By Kelly Wickham

As we focus on summer slide this month, Little Pickle Press is committed to ensuring that parents know about all the tools at their disposal, including those for beginning to read and identify letters. For instance, did you know children who are readers should read 20 minutes each day to maintain important literacy skills? Today, we interview Angela Santomero about those children who are just learning their ABCs, and for whom we can make reading an important and fun part of their education.

Angela Santomero is a true child advocate of literacy. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that she’s a heroine of it. Angela is the creator of a beloved children’s series that was on non-stop in my home when my children were young. She created Blue’s Clues and the current PBS hit, Super WHY!.  If you’re not familiar with the latter, it’s about characters led by Whyatt, the title character, who consistently says “When we have a question we look in a book!” which is, I’ve found, super important for emergent readers.

Before interviewing Angela via telephone I had a chance to research why she got into the business of children’s television programs and learned that she, much like her hero in the business, Mr. Rogers, earned a Master’s degree in Child Development Psychology. Coming at programming from this perspective lends amazing credibility and research to the passionate media business that she’s created.

Please welcome her to the blog.
Kelly: Hi, Angela! Thanks for speaking with me on behalf of Little Pickle Press today. What brought you into this particular programming niche?

Angela: Using my background, I realized that education was the first way into this business. In the classroom I did preschool curriculum and noticed that what was available on TV didn’t always line up with the research. There’s a lot of influential media for motivating children to learn to read. And, of course, we know that what’s important is Kindergarten reading, gaming, fun, and interactive ways to get children involved.

Kelly: Talk to me about your show, Super WHY!.

Angela: It was my master’s thesis and I was an avid reader who loved visual literacy and the use of television. I did research on reading and the media to embrace this. Each show has it’s own curriculum and vision and I use a similar research-based approach that I used on Blue’s Clues.

Kelly: Speaking of Blue’s Clues, I have to tell you, and I’m sure you’ve heard this numerous times, that it was the first show that my son, who is now 21, watched and talked back to the television. Thus, confirming the “interactive” part of your research.

Angela: Oh, my! I’m always so surprised to learn how old my audience is now! It doesn’t feel like I worked on Blue’s Clues that long ago, but I guess I did.

Kelly: Did you have a hard time leaving classroom?

Angela: In college I was doing classroom work and the hard part for me was about leaving the kids. When I did research at Nickelodeon I realized that nobody wanted to talk to children under the age of 6 or 7 to get their feedback. I’ll do it!, I thought, I’ll talk to the 3 and 4 year olds! So I threw myself into that work and, eventually, they incorporated a research department.

Kelly: Was anyone doing what you wanted to do?

Angela: I was definitely inspired by Fred Rogers, who also had a Master’s in Child Development, as well as Sesame Street. Both of them had the vision of marrying research and education.

Kelly: It was about helping children read, right?

Angela: Exactly! Next up for me is doing Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood because it’s so important for children to manage their social and emotional cognitive skills. I learned that preventative education and discipline get a bad rap, but parents were looking for cognitive skills for so long. We needed to put what we know about the 40+ year old into bite-sized chunks for children. They needed what I call “strategies with a handle” – something easy to grasp and hold on to. Recently, I had a conversation with a parent whose child asked “How ‘bout we don’t do time outs any more?” Because, yikes, 3 year olds! The question I ask in working through social and emotional cognitive skills was, “How can I help?” The answer was conflict resolution and practical things like how to get out the door with a 3 year old.

Kelly: How do you ensure that you involve parents?

Angela: Parenting outreach is a huge part of this role, as is talking about why we do what we do. Continuing to say things to them like “15 minutes a day equals a million new words”. It’s also about extending the learning from the series. We have plenty of information on the website, too, that helps to support it. Our shows are interactive and we’re modeling it and asking them to do it, too.

Kelly: Do you feel like girls need strong characters in your shows? Especially since you have two daughters?

Angela: Oh, of course! Fairy tales are important and princesses don’t need to be saved by the prince. Super WHY has a princess character and we wanted to show that she can be girly but very strong and smart and her reading powers. We wanted to have active girls like Red (otherwise known as Little Red Riding Hood) and we are constantly thinking about girl characters and things like girls who are good at math. With the way we tell the stories we are cognizant of what they look like and never joke at anyone’s expense. That is very important for the characters.

Kelly: I couldn’t agree more.

Angela: And, you know Blue is a girl!

Kelly: To what do you owe the success of the shows you’ve created? Is there a greater need for upper grade readers, too?

Angela: I owe it to the kids and the team I have in research. We don’t take it for granted. Sometimes writers want to make each other laugh and I’m never impressed by that, but the show is for the 3 year olds and 4 year olds. Scaffold the learning and make the characters real for them – that’s the secret sauce. Also, check your ego at the door.

Kelly: Do you have any advice to parents of young readers?

Angela: For the littlest readers, it’s important to know that when they’re sounding out words and you want to pull your hair out, you blink and they’re jumping in. Read, let them read, and then you get into the story. The skills will come. The more you labor it, it becomes negative.

Kelly: What are your favorite books lately?

Angela: Well, my girls are 12 and 10 and the Kindle has been fun for them to have to review books and see their interests and try them out as a sample. It’s harder to find for them so we go back to classics and mix in current books, too. Little Women and The Lemonade Wars. It’s not a series, but we wanted it to be especially because of the math skills in it. We do a lot of read-alouds together like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Wizard of Oz is one we want to read next. I know that content is changing and we my oldest wants to read The Hunger Games but she hasn’t pressed the issue yet.

Thanks so much, Angela! Early childhood literacy is so important even as we discuss summer slide under the umbrella of literacy across the board. If you’re interested, there are also Reading Camps for Super WHY! and all materials are online at PBS.org It is a 4-episode curriculum where they took show as an anchor and created activities with a 3-hour plan for lower-income schools. Students who were already at camps and summer schools were offered the materials for free and you can check that out here.

Additional Resources:
Super WHY! ABC Adventures app with 5 literacy games to master the alphabet

The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Interview with Literacy Advocate Angela Santomero

By Kelly Wickham

As we focus on summer slide this month, Little Pickle Press is committed to ensuring that parents know about all the tools at their disposal, including those for beginning to read and identify letters. For instance, did you know children who are readers should read 20 minutes each day to maintain important literacy skills? Today, we interview Angela Santomero about those children who are just learning their ABCs, and for whom we can make reading an important and fun part of their education.

Angela Santomero is a true child advocate of literacy. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that she’s a heroine of it. Angela is the creator of a beloved children’s series that was on non-stop in my home when my children were young. She created Blue’s Clues and the current PBS hit, Super WHY!.  If you’re not familiar with the latter, it’s about characters led by Whyatt, the title character, who consistently says “When we have a question we look in a book!” which is, I’ve found, super important for emergent readers.

Before interviewing Angela via telephone I had a chance to research why she got into the business of children’s television programs and learned that she, much like her hero in the business, Mr. Rogers, earned a Master’s degree in Child Development Psychology. Coming at programming from this perspective lends amazing credibility and research to the passionate media business that she’s created.

Please welcome her to the blog.
Kelly: Hi, Angela! Thanks for speaking with me on behalf of Little Pickle Press today. What brought you into this particular programming niche?

Angela: Using my background, I realized that education was the first way into this business. In the classroom I did preschool curriculum and noticed that what was available on TV didn’t always line up with the research. There’s a lot of influential media for motivating children to learn to read. And, of course, we know that what’s important is Kindergarten reading, gaming, fun, and interactive ways to get children involved.

Kelly: Talk to me about your show, Super WHY!.

Angela: It was my master’s thesis and I was an avid reader who loved visual literacy and the use of television. I did research on reading and the media to embrace this. Each show has it’s own curriculum and vision and I use a similar research-based approach that I used on Blue’s Clues.

Kelly: Speaking of Blue’s Clues, I have to tell you, and I’m sure you’ve heard this numerous times, that it was the first show that my son, who is now 21, watched and talked back to the television. Thus, confirming the “interactive” part of your research.

Angela: Oh, my! I’m always so surprised to learn how old my audience is now! It doesn’t feel like I worked on Blue’s Clues that long ago, but I guess I did.

Kelly: Did you have a hard time leaving classroom?

Angela: In college I was doing classroom work and the hard part for me was about leaving the kids. When I did research at Nickelodeon I realized that nobody wanted to talk to children under the age of 6 or 7 to get their feedback. I’ll do it!, I thought, I’ll talk to the 3 and 4 year olds! So I threw myself into that work and, eventually, they incorporated a research department.

Kelly: Was anyone doing what you wanted to do?

Angela: I was definitely inspired by Fred Rogers, who also had a Master’s in Child Development, as well as Sesame Street. Both of them had the vision of marrying research and education.

Kelly: It was about helping children read, right?

Angela: Exactly! Next up for me is doing Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood because it’s so important for children to manage their social and emotional cognitive skills. I learned that preventative education and discipline get a bad rap, but parents were looking for cognitive skills for so long. We needed to put what we know about the 40+ year old into bite-sized chunks for children. They needed what I call “strategies with a handle” – something easy to grasp and hold on to. Recently, I had a conversation with a parent whose child asked “How ‘bout we don’t do time outs any more?” Because, yikes, 3 year olds! The question I ask in working through social and emotional cognitive skills was, “How can I help?” The answer was conflict resolution and practical things like how to get out the door with a 3 year old.

Kelly: How do you ensure that you involve parents?

Angela: Parenting outreach is a huge part of this role, as is talking about why we do what we do. Continuing to say things to them like “15 minutes a day equals a million new words”. It’s also about extending the learning from the series. We have plenty of information on the website, too, that helps to support it. Our shows are interactive and we’re modeling it and asking them to do it, too.

Kelly: Do you feel like girls need strong characters in your shows? Especially since you have two daughters?

Angela: Oh, of course! Fairy tales are important and princesses don’t need to be saved by the prince. Super WHY has a princess character and we wanted to show that she can be girly but very strong and smart and her reading powers. We wanted to have active girls like Red (otherwise known as Little Red Riding Hood) and we are constantly thinking about girl characters and things like girls who are good at math. With the way we tell the stories we are cognizant of what they look like and never joke at anyone’s expense. That is very important for the characters.

Kelly: I couldn’t agree more.

Angela: And, you know Blue is a girl!

Kelly: To what do you owe the success of the shows you’ve created? Is there a greater need for upper grade readers, too?

Angela: I owe it to the kids and the team I have in research. We don’t take it for granted. Sometimes writers want to make each other laugh and I’m never impressed by that, but the show is for the 3 year olds and 4 year olds. Scaffold the learning and make the characters real for them – that’s the secret sauce. Also, check your ego at the door.

Kelly: Do you have any advice to parents of young readers?

Angela: For the littlest readers, it’s important to know that when they’re sounding out words and you want to pull your hair out, you blink and they’re jumping in. Read, let them read, and then you get into the story. The skills will come. The more you labor it, it becomes negative.

Kelly: What are your favorite books lately?

Angela: Well, my girls are 12 and 10 and the Kindle has been fun for them to have to review books and see their interests and try them out as a sample. It’s harder to find for them so we go back to classics and mix in current books, too. Little Women and The Lemonade Wars. It’s not a series, but we wanted it to be especially because of the math skills in it. We do a lot of read-alouds together like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Wizard of Oz is one we want to read next. I know that content is changing and we my oldest wants to read The Hunger Games but she hasn’t pressed the issue yet.

Thanks so much, Angela! Early childhood literacy is so important even as we discuss summer slide under the umbrella of literacy across the board. If you’re interested, there are also Reading Camps for Super WHY! and all materials are online at PBS.org It is a 4-episode curriculum where they took show as an anchor and created activities with a 3-hour plan for lower-income schools. Students who were already at camps and summer schools were offered the materials for free and you can check that out here.

Additional Resources:
Super WHY! ABC Adventures app with 5 literacy games to master the alphabet

The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Recommended Summer Reading For Children & Their Grown-ups

By Rana DiOrio, Founder

Image credit: parkcitydayschool.com

This reading list was originally published June 2011, but as we know, a good book never gets old! Enjoy!

Though it is already mid-July, I’m incredulous that summer is here. Perhaps the fog here in Northern California has me a bit confused. In any case, summer is a wonderful time for children and their grown-ups to read, so I wanted to share with you our recommendations. We will be publishing future lists, so please share your comments and suggestions.

Books for parents to read to their children:

  • A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme by J. Patrick Lewis
  • Baking with Friends by Sharon Davis & Charlene Patton
  • Blackout by John Rocco
  • Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman
  • Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill
  • It’s a Secret by John Burningham
  • My Father Knows the Names of Things by Jane Yolen
  • Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama
  • OK Go by Carin Berger
  • Otto: The boy who loved cars by Kara LaReau
  • Sofia’s Dream by Land Wilson
  • That Book Woman by Heather Henson
  • The Little Weed Flower (La Florecita de la Maleza) by Vicky Whipple
  • The Gift of Grace by Grace Mary McLelland (who was 5 years old when she wrote this book)
  • The Greedy Sparrow, an Armenian Tale retold by Lucine Kasbarian
  • The North Star by Peter H. Reynolds
  • Three by the Sea by Mini Grey
  • What Does It Mean To Be Present? by Rana DiOrio
  • Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.
  • Zero by Kathryn Otoshi
Books for children to read to themselves:
Entering 1st Grade:
  • Amelia Bedelia Series by Peggy Parish
  • Mouse Soup and Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Entering 1st or 2nd Grade:
  • Arthur Turns Green by Marc Brown
  • Big Egg by Molly Coxe
  • Blink & Collie by Kate DiCamillo

Entering 2nd or 3rd Grade:

  • Chike and the River, A Novel by Chinua Achebe
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  • Oliver Twist adapted by Lisa Mullarkey
  • Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg
  • The Cheshire Cheese Cat: Uncorrected Proof by Carmen Agra Deedy & Randall Wright
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Books for grownups to read to better understand and guide their children:

  • How Girls Thrive by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.
  • Raising Children Who Soar by Susan Davis, Ph.D. and Nancy Eppler-Wolff, Ph.D.
  • The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids by Madeline Levine, Ph.D.
Dr. Deak’s Picks for parents with teenagers:
  • Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Guide to the New Teenager, Revised and Updated by Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D.
  • Uncommon Sense for Parents with Teenagers by Michael Riera
  • WHY Do They Act That Way?: A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen by David Walsh
Books for grownups to read for fun or enrichment:
  • Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
  • Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems by Billy Collins
  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

Recommended Summer Reading For Children & Their Grown-ups

By Rana DiOrio, Founder

Image credit: parkcitydayschool.com

This reading list was originally published June 2011, but as we know, a good book never gets old! Enjoy!

Though it is already mid-July, I’m incredulous that summer is here. Perhaps the fog here in Northern California has me a bit confused. In any case, summer is a wonderful time for children and their grown-ups to read, so I wanted to share with you our recommendations. We will be publishing future lists, so please share your comments and suggestions.

Books for parents to read to their children:

  • A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme by J. Patrick Lewis
  • Baking with Friends by Sharon Davis & Charlene Patton
  • Blackout by John Rocco
  • Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman
  • Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill
  • It’s a Secret by John Burningham
  • My Father Knows the Names of Things by Jane Yolen
  • Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama
  • OK Go by Carin Berger
  • Otto: The boy who loved cars by Kara LaReau
  • Sofia’s Dream by Land Wilson
  • That Book Woman by Heather Henson
  • The Little Weed Flower (La Florecita de la Maleza) by Vicky Whipple
  • The Gift of Grace by Grace Mary McLelland (who was 5 years old when she wrote this book)
  • The Greedy Sparrow, an Armenian Tale retold by Lucine Kasbarian
  • The North Star by Peter H. Reynolds
  • Three by the Sea by Mini Grey
  • What Does It Mean To Be Present? by Rana DiOrio
  • Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.
  • Zero by Kathryn Otoshi
Books for children to read to themselves:
Entering 1st Grade:
  • Amelia Bedelia Series by Peggy Parish
  • Mouse Soup and Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Entering 1st or 2nd Grade:
  • Arthur Turns Green by Marc Brown
  • Big Egg by Molly Coxe
  • Blink & Collie by Kate DiCamillo

Entering 2nd or 3rd Grade:

  • Chike and the River, A Novel by Chinua Achebe
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  • Oliver Twist adapted by Lisa Mullarkey
  • Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg
  • The Cheshire Cheese Cat: Uncorrected Proof by Carmen Agra Deedy & Randall Wright
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Books for grownups to read to better understand and guide their children:

  • How Girls Thrive by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.
  • Raising Children Who Soar by Susan Davis, Ph.D. and Nancy Eppler-Wolff, Ph.D.
  • The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids by Madeline Levine, Ph.D.
Dr. Deak’s Picks for parents with teenagers:
  • Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Guide to the New Teenager, Revised and Updated by Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D.
  • Uncommon Sense for Parents with Teenagers by Michael Riera
  • WHY Do They Act That Way?: A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen by David Walsh
Books for grownups to read for fun or enrichment:
  • Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
  • Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems by Billy Collins
  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

15 Summer Reading Picks for Kids

Today’s guest post is by the amazing Julie Romeis Sanders who shares with us some excellent summer reading suggestions for children. Each section is done by picture books, chapter books, and middle grade with a link to purchase the book as well as book covers since we know they tell us as much about a book we would like to read with our children. Julie has also offered a few summaries to help you make decisions about getting these books for children.

PICTURE BOOKS


All theWorld by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee

Perfect for baby showers, snuggly evenings, or read alouds, this stunningly simple picture book somehow manages to capture all the wonder and magic of the natural world through the course of a summer day. From the sunny ocean to a busy farmer’s market and a quick dash out of a sudden storm, this family and their inviting community of friends are enjoying every minute! 

CHAPTER BOOKS

Just right for reluctant readers, this oversize graphic novel introduces two seeming outcasts: Gabby, a tuba-playing vegetarian, and Gator, who is better at eating the other neighborhood pets than making friends with them. Over the course of their hilarious adventures both Gabby and Gator learn to accept themselves just the way they are.

MIDDLE GRADE

Everyone can find something to relate to in this heart-warming novel about Auggie, a boy with a facial disfigurement attending public school for the first time. Auggie is funny, smart, and brave enough to face even the toughest critics of all—the 5th graders at his new public school. Keep a Kleenex handy!  



The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

Julie is a freelance editor based in San Francisco with more than twelve years of experience in children’s book publishing. During her time at acclaimed independent publishers Bloomsbury and Chronicle Books, she edited books for children of all ages and discovered award winning authors such as Rick Yancey (2010 Printz Honoree) and Aaron Reynolds (author of 2012 Caldecott Honor). Julie has also been a workshop instructor at the Columbia Publishing Course (2004-2011) and lectured at writers’ conferences around the world. Now, as a freelance editor, she offers a range of services for authors, agents, and publishers, including editorial development, project management, and consultations. Creative collaboration and constructive feedback is at the heart of her editorial philosophy. You can learn more about Julie and her work here.

15 Summer Reading Picks for Kids

Today’s guest post is by the amazing Julie Romeis Sanders who shares with us some excellent summer reading suggestions for children. Each section is done by picture books, chapter books, and middle grade with a link to purchase the book as well as book covers since we know they tell us as much about a book we would like to read with our children. Julie has also offered a few summaries to help you make decisions about getting these books for children.

PICTURE BOOKS


All theWorld by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee

Perfect for baby showers, snuggly evenings, or read alouds, this stunningly simple picture book somehow manages to capture all the wonder and magic of the natural world through the course of a summer day. From the sunny ocean to a busy farmer’s market and a quick dash out of a sudden storm, this family and their inviting community of friends are enjoying every minute! 

CHAPTER BOOKS

Just right for reluctant readers, this oversize graphic novel introduces two seeming outcasts: Gabby, a tuba-playing vegetarian, and Gator, who is better at eating the other neighborhood pets than making friends with them. Over the course of their hilarious adventures both Gabby and Gator learn to accept themselves just the way they are.

MIDDLE GRADE

Everyone can find something to relate to in this heart-warming novel about Auggie, a boy with a facial disfigurement attending public school for the first time. Auggie is funny, smart, and brave enough to face even the toughest critics of all—the 5th graders at his new public school. Keep a Kleenex handy!  



The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

Julie is a freelance editor based in San Francisco with more than twelve years of experience in children’s book publishing. During her time at acclaimed independent publishers Bloomsbury and Chronicle Books, she edited books for children of all ages and discovered award winning authors such as Rick Yancey (2010 Printz Honoree) and Aaron Reynolds (author of 2012 Caldecott Honor). Julie has also been a workshop instructor at the Columbia Publishing Course (2004-2011) and lectured at writers’ conferences around the world. Now, as a freelance editor, she offers a range of services for authors, agents, and publishers, including editorial development, project management, and consultations. Creative collaboration and constructive feedback is at the heart of her editorial philosophy. You can learn more about Julie and her work here.

9 Tips for Preventing Summer Slide

By Karen O’Hanlon
Summer is a time packed with sunny days and fun activities. For many parents it can seem like a challenge to fit reading in. As a parent of four myself, and a teacher for two decades, I was always on the lookout for ways to incorporate reading and writing into summer activities. Here are my nine favorite tips to keep your child’s skills up while also making the most of sunny days.

1) Catch up on your own reading.

Nothing increases a child’s love of reading more than seeing their own parents read. So read your favorite books, magazines, newspapers, blogs and recipes—then talk about what you are reading with your children.

2) Point out all the print you can.

Make sure your kids notice that print is everywhere. It’s on your phone. In the mail you’re opening. It’s in the recipe you’re following. In public, print is on buildings, doors and walls. When you’re headed down the road to your next summer getaway, words are on road signs, billboards and even other cars!

3) Keep up a daily reading routine.

Show your child that, no matter the other sorts of fun you can have during summer, reading remains important. Most parents are accustomed to reading nightly bedtime stories. If that still works for you over summer, great, but consider your many options. My husband and I loved family reading sessions during lazy Sunday mornings in bed. You can also intersperse busy and active times with quiet reading. For instance, if you’re camping or biking, take a break by a lake or stream. Maybe have a picnic, play for a while, then dig out the blankets and the books for afternoon quiet-time.

4) Use community resources to help support your kids’ love of reading.

Seek out summer reading programs. Libraries, schools, city recreation departments and local bookstores frequently offer summer reading programs that help children set goals and earn rewards by reading a certain number of books. Summer is the perfect time to set aside academic concerns like memorization, required reading and workbooks. The best reading programs celebrate the simple pleasure of reading while offering small frequent rewards such as bookmarks, pencils or erasers, followed by an extra-special reward at the end. My kids once earned four tickets to a professional baseball game!

5) Be flexible about medium and subject.

Provide lots of options and allow your kids to choose their own reading medium and content. These days books, e-books, magazines and comic books should all be viable choices. And try not to get too caught up in subject matter. Maybe instead of a cute story, your kids would rather read about how to make a kite or take care of a pet. I worried my older son wouldn’t be a reader, so I bought all kinds of reading materials for him. For a long time, nothing seemed to stick. Then, around age ten, he begged me to buy him a computer manual. I thought, “Really? Okay. I guess it’s worth a try!” That sure did the trick. He read a number of computer manuals. From there he branched out into history and biographies, and (by the time he was a teenager) philosophy and politics.

6) Play board and card games.

Before beginning, be sure to read the rules out loud. Games with cards that have instructions printed on them are especially great because kids are highly motivated to understand the detailed directions that make the game challenging. Double bonus points for tracking down and playing age appropriate letter and word games like Hangman or Boggle.

7) Some of our deepest reading is tied to experience.

Watch your kids when they aren’t reading to see what catches their interest, then find books on that topic. If you’re on a summer outing to an aquarium, acquire books about tropical fish or dolphins. This helps your kids to realize that reading is a tool for expanding their knowledge on any subject about which they are curious.

8) There’s more to reading than sticking your nose in a book and wiggling your eyes.

Good comprehension is the core of good reading. How does one help build good comprehension? An excellent way is to tell engaging stories. Even though they may not be written, personal stories of all kinds are completely captivating for kids. My kids loved their dad’s stories – like the time he left his yogurt cup on the truck roof and didn’t remember until it shocked him by splattering the windshield with peaches and cream. Discussing stories, by asking and answering questions, is key to helping a child’s comprehension increase by leaps and bounds. And don’t shy away from challenging vocabulary in your storytelling. Just be patient and explain any word your kids may not know.

9) Writing is the other side of reading.

Without writers, there could be no readers. Often, kids don’t understand that reading is basically a form of conversation—only written down as a way of sharing it with more people. Help your kids grasp the relationship between reading, writing and speaking by writing down their stories. When he was nine, my youngest son loved Indiana Jones, so I helped him write story after story about Indy falling into a series of pits. Whatever your topic, make sure to leave room for kids to draw their own illustrations.

Older kids can keep a journal about the family’s summer adventures. Emphasize that their journals are family records, reading their narratives back to the whole family. This way you can re-enjoy the last visit to Disneyland, the walk you shared on Glass Beach or that camping trip where brother used a fishing pole for the first time.
These ideas can help your kids to develop their passion for reading and writing all year round, but they’re especially useful during the summer when adventures are more likely to soak up your days. Enjoy, and be sure to add any ideas of your own in the comments.

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Karen O’Hanlon is a retired school-teacher. She taught pre-school, K-2nd, and special education for over twenty years. She also taught early childhood education at California community colleges for seven years.

At home, Karen was the mother of four children, all of whom are grown up now. Karen and her youngest, Damon, began Mind Like Child in order to share their combined child-related knowledge and expertise.