1000 Picture Books in 2016~February

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Reading for Research month ( ReFoReMo) starts March 1st. What a wonderful opportunity to keep on track with the 1000 picture books in 2016 reading challenge! Hop over to Carrie’s blog to learn more about ReFoReMo.

ReFoReMo 2016

Visit my January post to learn more about the 1000 picture books in 2016 reading challenge. There is a Facebook group (search One Thousand Picture Books) and a Goodreads group for the challenge. Here’s my February reading list with Goodreads links. Happy reading and writing!

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  1. Two White Rabbits by Jairo Buitrago
  2. One Family by George Shannon
  3. Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History by Don Brown
  4. Action Movie Kid by Daniel Hashimoto
  5. Wait by Antoinette Portis
  6. Whose Shoe? by Eve Bunting
  7. Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins
  8. What James Said by Liz Rosenberg
  9. One Snowy Rescue by Christina Butler
  10. Big Bad Bubble by Adam Rubin
  11. Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin
  12. Here Comes the Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood
  13. Mother Bruce by Ryan Higgins
  14. Be a Friend by Salina Yoon
  15. There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann
  16. Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar
  17. I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  18. Lucy in the City by Julie Dillemuth
  19. Princess Nina by Marlise Achterberg
  20. Zen Socks by Jon J. Muth
  21. Sonya’s Chickens by Phoebe Wahl
  22. Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle
  23. The Boy Who Lost His Bumble by Trudi Esberger
  24. Everything by Emma Dodd
  25. Gilbert the Ghost by Guido Van Genechten
  26. Aqualicious by Victoria Kann
  27. 10 Easter Egg Hunters: A Holiday Counting Book by Janet Schulman
  28. Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul
  29. Penguin in Love by Salina Yoon
  30. Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon
  31. Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon
  32. The Little Snowplow by Lora Koehler
  33. Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen
  34. What Does the Fox Say? by Ylvis
  35. Pretty Princess Pig by Jane Yolen
  36. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick
  37. Alice in Wonderland: Down the Rabbit Hole by Lewis Carroll
  38. The Red Bicycle by Jude Isabella
  39. Snappsy the Aligator by Julie Falatko
  40. Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford
  41. The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Miller Zietlow
  42. Little White Fish Has a Party by Guido Van Genechten
  43. Float by Daniel Miyares
  44. Fancy Nancy: Saturday Night Sleepover by Jane O’Connor
  45. How to Dress a Dragon by Lynne Thelma Godin
  46. You Can Do it, Bert! by Ole Konnecke
  47. One Word From Sophia by Jim Averbeck
  48. Happy! by Pharrell Williams
  49. Here Comes Valentine Cat by Deborah Underwood
  50. Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh
  51. Nose to Toes, You Are Yummy! by Tim Harrington
  52. The Full Moon at the Napping House by Audrey Wood
  53. You Make Me Happy by An Swerts
  54. All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey
  55. The Impossible Voyage of Kon-Tiki by Deborah Kogan Ray
  56. The Ladybug Race by Amy Nielander
  57. Ten Rules of Being a Superhero by Deb Pilutti
  58. The Weatherboy by Pimm van Hest
  59. Orion and the Dark by Emma Yarlett
  60. The Best Pet of All by David LaRochelle
  61. A Good Home for Max by Junzo Terada
  62. Hilda Must be Dancing by Karma Wilson
  63. Many Moons by James Thurber
  64. Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion by Mo Willems
  65. Zero by Kathryn Otoshi
  66. Dear Yeti by James Kwan
  67. Love Monster and the Perfect Present by Rachel Bright
  68. Tickle Monster by Josie Bissett
  69. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
  70. The Noisy Clock Shop by Jean Horton Berg
  71. Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett
  72. Let’s Do Nothing! by Tony Fucile
  73. Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin
  74. Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin
  75. Zoom! Zoom!: Sounds of Things That Go in the City by Robert Burleigh
  76. Slightly Invisible by Lauren Child
  77. The Peddler’s Bed by Lauri Fortino
  78. Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington
  79. Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson
  80. Happy by Emma Dodd
  81. Betty Bunny Wants Everything by Michael B. Kaplan
  82. My Dog, Bob by Richard Torrey
  83. Swap! by Steve Light

 

 

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1000 Picture Books in 2016~January

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If you are an aspiring picture book writer chances are you are familiar with 12 x 12, PiBoIdMo, Revimo, and ReFoReMo. Reading, writing, and revising challenges help motivate kid lit writers. We hear time and again how important it is read A LOT of books in the genre you write.

I recently watched the January 12 x 12 webinar with Julie Hedlund and Tara Lazar. Tara offered great advice on improving craft: read 500-1000 picture books. Then I discovered the Read 1000 Picture Books in 2016 reading challenge. Coincidence? I think not! I joined the Facebook group and the Goodreads group. The groups share reading lists so you will never run out of books to read. I encourage you to join the challenge! Here’s my January reading list with Goodreads links to get you started. Happy reading and writing!

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  1. Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light
  2. Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato
  3. Nellie Belle by Mem Fox
  4. Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten by Marc Brown
  5. Zora’s Zucchini by Katherine Pryor
  6. Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds
  7. Thankful by Eileen Spinelli
  8. The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! by Mo Willems
  9. Leopold by Ruth Westheimer
  10. Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
  11. Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Love by James Dean
  12. Wish by Emma Dodd
  13. The Red Hat by David Teague
  14. Sheep Go to Sleep by Nancy E. Shaw
  15. Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
  16. Cat Nap by Toni Yuli
  17. What Does it Mean to Be Kind? by Rana DiOrio
  18. Rufus the Writer by Elizabeth Bram
  19. A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell
  20. Michael Recycle and Bootleg Peg by Ellie Bethel
  21. Liplap’s Wish by Jonathan London
  22. I Don’t Want a Posh Dog by Emma Dodd
  23. Skunkdog by Emily Jenkins
  24. Shoe Dog by Megan McDonald
  25. A Small Brown Dog with a Wet Pink Nose by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
  26. This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
  27. Ninja! by Arree Chung
  28. Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  29. Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman
  30. No Yeti Yet by Mary Ann Fraser
  31. So Many Days by Alison McGhee
  32. Chicks and Salsa by Aaron Reynolds
  33. Sleep Tight Anna Banana! by Dominique Roques
  34. Where’s the Baboon? by Michael Escoffier
  35. Igor Spot Champion by Guido Van Genechten
  36. By Mouse and Frog by Deborah Freedman
  37. Chooky-Doodle-Doo by Jan Whiten
  38. This is Sadie by Sara O’Leary
  39. Snowy Bear by Tony Mitton
  40. Pete the Cat: Five Little Pumpkins by James Dean
  41. Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! by Doreen Cronin
  42. Anna Banana and the Chocolate Explosion by Dominique Roques
  43. Claire and the Unicorn Happy Ever After by B.G. Hennessy
  44. Grandma’s Gloves by Cecil Castellucci
  45. Grandma’s Purple Flowers by Adjoa J. Burrowes
  46. Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley
  47. Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola
  48. Anna’s Corn by Barbara Santucci
  49. I Remember Miss Perry by Pat Brisson
  50. Never Ask a Bear by Louise Bonnett-Rampersaud

 

Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg & Three Cups of Tea

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I chose a very special book for my second post for Dive Into Diversity. My son, Mason, will be seven years old next month. After he was born, my friend came from Idaho to visit us in Oregon. She brought Mason a beautiful book as well as an inspiring CD for me. I am listening to Women of the World: Acoustic as I write this post. I hadn’t listened to this music in a long time. I also hadn’t read Listen to the Wind in a long time. Mason is now old enough to appreciate this beautiful true story about compassion, celebrating culture, and working together to make the world a better place through education and peace.

Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg & Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson ~ art by Susan L. Roth

Listen to the wind

Greg Mortenson stumbled, lost and delirious, into a remote Himalayan village after a failed climb up K2. The villagers saved his life, and he vowed to return and build them a school. The remarkable story of his promise kept is now perfect for reading aloud. Told in the voice of Korphe’s children, this story illuminates the humanity and culture of a relevant and distant part of the world in gorgeous collage, while sharing a riveting example of how one person can change thousands of lives.

The first page of Listen to the Wind introduces young readers to the children of Korphe.

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The last three sentences draw the reader in and set up the story.

“We study in the school that we helped build.

Before our school was built,

we had lessons outside.

We wrote with sticks,

on the ground.”

We learn how the people of Korphe helped Dr. Greg and how Dr. Greg wanted to give back to the people of Korphe. Dr. Greg asked the wise man how he could help. The wise man said, “Listen to the wind.”

Dr. Greg closed his eyes and heard the voices of the children.

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The language throughout the entire book is inviting. I love the use of “folds” to describe the mountains.

“We watched him walk away until he disappeared into the folds of the mountains.”

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Susan L. Roth’s collage illustrations are breath-taking. I had a difficult time deciding which pages to include in this post!

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The outcome of all their hard work is displayed powerfully in the final spread, which includes a letter from the children of Korphe and an illustration of them studying in their new school.

“We are the children of Korphe. Can you hear our voices?

Listen to the wind . . .”

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The end of the book includes a beautiful Korphe scrapbook as well as an artist’s note.

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My favorite photograph in the scrapbook is of Haji Ali, the wise man who tells Dr. Greg to “listen to the wind.”

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To learn more about the story behind Listen to the Wind visit Three Cups of Tea.

diveintodiversity

 

 

 

MARCH-ing Books to Kids

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I believe books are one of the most special gifts we can give children. According to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the U.S. DO NOT own books. The literacy initiative Picture Book Pass it On is working hard to get books into the hands of less fortunate children.

I was super excited when I discovered Picture Book Pass it On. I singed five copies of my picture book, Mama’s Purse, and headed down to the Women’s and Children’s Alliance to donate them. Then I wrote a blog post and completed the three PBPiO calls to action. What an incredible feeling to help children in my community!

I love reading. I love picture books. I love helping kids. When I learned about MARCH-ing Books to Kids, I said, “Count me in!”

Picture Book Pass it On is encouraging folks to participate in MARCH-ing Books to Kids during the month of March. The founder of PBPiO, Michelle Eastman, has given kid lit lovers and authors another wonderful opportunity to help children in need through the  Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.

Michelle discusses the details of MARCH-ing Books to Kids and the VNS Storybook Project in her post:

MARCH-ing Books to Kids…Calling all Book Lovers and Authors to Make a Difference to a Child in Need…

According to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), Nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the U.S. DO NOT own books.  That is just plain wrong.  But, we can help fix it.

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I believe that every child’s Bill of Rights should be indelibly inked with the right to have picture books read to him/her and to own their very own books.  Many of us take for granted the sacred ritual of cracking open a picture book, and cuddling together while the words and pictures collectively take us away.  You can probably recall having been read to by your parents or caregivers.  You likely hold a special picture book, from your childhood, close to your heart.  And, until now, you’ve probably not given much thought to how profound that experience can be.

Imagine, never having that.

I CAN imagine a child, growing up, never knowing the power of a picture book.  I WAS that child.  I DO want to lead the charge to ink “Picture Book” on every child’s Bill of Rights.  I’m a mom, teacher, and children’s author who believes, passionately, that we should never, ever, underestimate the power of a picture book.

I celebrate the power of the picture book through my Picture Book Pass it On (#PBPiO) project, encouraging people to donate books to kids in need.

Throughout the month of March we are launching a special initiative called “MARCHing Books to Kids”.  PBPiO encourages book lovers to donate a favorite children’s book, and we invite children’s authors to donate signed copies of their books to the Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.  The Storybook Project recruits, screens and trains volunteers to work with incarcerated parents and/or grandparents at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women (ICIW) in Mitchellville, Iowa and the Newton Correctional Release Center (CNRC) in Newton, Iowa. Once per month, volunteers work with the mother, grandmother or father. The parent/grandparent and volunteer choose a book from the Storybook library that is appropriate for the child. The parent or grandparent reads the book while the volunteer records the reading onto a digital voice recorder. The book and CD are mailed to the child.

To participate in MARCHing Books to Kids, please follow the 3 calls to action:

#1 Pledge to donate a new picture book/s to Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.  Authors are invited to sign their books.  Please include a note stating that your book is part of the Picture Book Pass it On/MARCHing Books to Kids initiative.  Books may be mailed to:

VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project

c/o Tabby Kuehl

1111 9th Street

Suite 320

Des Moines, Iowa 50314

#2 Post your pledge on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO .  Share it on your blog and on social media.  Please include our badge and #PBPiO, and #MARCHingBookstoKids

#3 Pass it on.  When you post about your pledge, challenge one or more friends to join your #PBPiO  giving chain.  Encourage them to take the pledge and keep passing it on…

If distance prohibits your ability to mail books to the Storybook Project.  Please consider donating books to children in need in your own community.  Oh, and be sure to share your giving story on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO We love to see how books are reaching kids all over the globe.

Please feel free to contact me at www.michelleeastmanbooks.com

Thank you for making the difference in the lives of children and families!

PBPiO badge

My 3 Calls to Action:

#1 Pledge: I pledge to donate five signed copies of my picture book, Mama’s Purse, to the Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.

#2 Post: I will share my pledge on the Picture Book Pass it On #PBPiO Facebook page, my blog, and social media:

Facebook author page

Facebook blog page

Facebook book page

Twitter

Pinterest

#3 Pass it on: I challenge YOU to join the #PBPiO giving chain. Take the pledge and keep passing it on!

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Big Bad Bubble + More Marvelous Books By Adam Rubin & Daniel Salmieri

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We are huge Adam Rubin/Daniel Salmieri fans. I get the same response every time we read one of their books. “Read it again, Mom!” And again. And again. And again. All their books are clever, fun to read, and down right hilarious. Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri make a great picture book team. Daniel Salmieri’s art is a perfect match for Adam Rubin’s words.

Those Darn Squirrels

those darn squirrels

Old Man Fookwire is a grump who only likes to paint pictures of birds that visit his backyard. The problem is, they fly south every winter, leaving him sad and lonely. So he decides to get them to stay by putting up beautiful birdfeeders filled with seeds and berries. Unfortunately, the squirrels like the treats, too, and make a daring raid on the feeders. The conflict escalates—until the birds depart (as usual), and the squirrels come up with a plan that charms the old grump.

Squirrels love to pester our dog, but this squirrel crossed the line.

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Gutsy squirrel eating Charlie’s food!

Secret Pizza Party

secret pizza party

How does Racoon love pizza? Oh, let him count the ways. He loves the gooey cheesy-ness, salty pepperoni-ness, sweet sweet tomato-ness, and of course the crispity crunchity crust. But someone is always chasing poor Raccoon away from his favorite food with a broom! What’s a hungry raccoon to do? Plan an elaborate secret pizza party, of course!
But shhh! It’s a secret! In fact, you should probably just forget I told you. Nope, no secret pizza party happening here.You didn’t already tell all your friends, did you? Uh oh . . .

Be prepared for pizza requests after reading Secret Pizza Party!

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Sophie enjoying her pizza after reading Secret Pizza Party.

Dragons Love Tacos

dragons love pizza

Dragons love tacos. They love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teeny tiny tacos. So if you want to lure a bunch of dragons to your party, you should definitely serve tacos. Buckets and buckets of tacos. Unfortunately, where there are tacos, there is also salsa. And if a dragon accidentally eats spicy salsa . . . oh, boy. You’re in red-hot trouble.

Sophie made her dragon pretend tacos after reading Dragons Love Tacos.

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Pinky the dragon.

Big Bad Bubble

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An ordinary bubble may seem pretty harmless to you. To the monsters of La La Land, however, a fragile, shimmering bubble is an object of terror, and when the frightening habits of bubbles are detailed by a fear-mongering monster, Yerbert, Froofle, and Wumpus run away and cry. But with encouragement from the narrator and from readers—“Go on, Wumpus, you can do it. (Tell Wumpus he can do it.)”—the three learn to confront their fears and triumph over the bubbles!

Big Bad Bubble is by far my children’s favorite Adam Rubin/Daniel Salmieri book. It is wonderful when we discover books that they BOTH love. Mason, six, and Sophie, two, think Big Bad Bubble is the funniest book ever written.

Mogo’s fear of bubbles began when a chewing gum bubble attacked his face when he was a young monster.

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Mogo teaches the other monsters why they should fear bubbles. Bubbles are sneaky. They travel in packs. Summer is the feeding frenzy for bubbles.

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The narrator encourages the reader to disagree with Mogo, and to cheer on the other monsters.

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Tell Wumpus he can do it.

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Yerburt, use you fangs.

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Froofle, use your claws.

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Mogo finally discovers that he can pop bubbles, too.

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There is a fun twist at the end of the book that made my kids laugh and laugh.

What did we do after we read Big Bad Bubble for the 17th time? Went outside to blow bubbles, of course!

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We can’t wait for the next Adam Rubin/Daniel Salmieri book!

Party time! Hop over and read more fabulous kid lit related posts at these link parties: Kid Lit Blog Hop, Booknificent Thursdays, and The Book Nook.

 

 

 

 

How to Beat Writer’s Block

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I am working on multiple manuscripts in various stages of completion. I tried to develop an idea into a rough draft. Nothing. I tried to revise a rough draft. Nada. I tried to tweak a polished manuscript that was still missing something. Zilch. Did I lose my ability to write? What should I do? How will I get unstuck? Panic. Panic. Panic. I turned off my computer. It cannot be forced. The words will come . . .

My #1 job is being a stay-at-home mom. I beat writer’s block by exploring other creative outlets and reading a lot of mentor texts (picture books). I strive to incorporate reading in most of the activities I do with my children.

Idea jar

My two-year-old daughter, Sophie, and I made a rainy day idea jar. Sophie enjoyed coloring, counting, and putting the popsicle sticks in the mason jar. We came up with a lot of fun ideas!

  • Play dress up
  • Build a blanket fort
  • Put a puzzle together
  • Play hide-and-seek
  • Make a collage
  • Jump in puddles
  • Play the djembe
  • Call Grandma
  • Water the plants
  • Play trains
  • Make cookies
  • Paint
  • Pillow fight
  • Draw on the chalkboard
  • Legos
  • Coloring books
  • Play a board game
  • Pick something from the toy box

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Sophie was ecstatic with the first idea she picked. I turned up the tunes and we boogied down in the kitchen.

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Sophie picked read a book for the next idea. She chose I Dare You Not to Yawn by Helene Boudreau, illustrated by Serge Bloch.

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Idea jars are great tools for writing prompts. Pull out three idea sticks and write a story. This exercise helped me come up with two picture book ideas.

Go for a walk

One of the wonderful benefits of being a SCBWI member is receiving the SCBWI magazine. I read a great article in the latest issue about the correlation between walking and creativity.

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I grabbed the leash and took my dog, Charlie, for a walk to the river. It worked! Ideas for a revision started popping into my head one after another. I keep a pocket-sized notebook and a pen with me at all times because the best ideas come at the most unexpected times. When I am walking with my children I try to remember to be observant and follow their lead. What do they stop to look at? How do they explain what they see? Children share incredible descriptions of their surroundings. Pay attention and take notes. Then read a book about going for a walk when you get home!

Say Hello! by Rachel Isadora celebrates the rich diversity in America’s neighborhoods. Carmelita greets everyone in her neighborhood as she takes her dog, Manny, for a walk. My son is always asking me how to say hello in different languages. These are the hellos you will find in this book: Arabic, French, Spanish, Italian, Swahili, Japanese, Mandarin, and Hebrew.

sayhello

Visit your neighborhood greenhouse

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Get away from the gray and gloom of winter and go to the greenhouse! The vibrant and warm atmosphere will stimulate your senses and get the creative juices flowing.

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Then read a book about gardens! What Does Bunny See?: A Book of Colors and Flowers by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Maggie Smith is a fun rhyming book with page turns children love. A rabbit explores a garden, finding flowers of every color. Rhyming clues invite the reader to answer the question: What does bunny see?

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Study books with creative page turns. How can you build anticipation and make your manuscript interactive?

Be silly!

Don’t be afraid to be silly or get messy. Explore different textures with your kids. Draw designs in flour on the kitchen floor. Make creations out of beans, noodles, buttons, strings, paper bags, and toothpicks. You just might discover a new character or setting for a book.

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Make monsters with your kids. What do they name them? What sounds do they make? How do they move? Put your story in motion through play.

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I never would have imagined playing with window gel clings would lead to a manuscript idea, but it did! Sophie and I put heart gel clings on a window, a drinking glass, and a toilet paper roll, which she claimed was a telescope.

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Sophie had another super idea when she wanted to put the hearts in a book. We picked Here Comes the Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda.

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Why should the Easter Bunny get all the love? That’s what Cat would like to know. So he decides to take over: He dons his sparkly suit, jumps on his Harley, and roars off into the night. But it turns out delivering Easter eggs is hard work. And it doesn’t leave much time for naps (of which Cat has taken five–no, seven). So when a pooped-out Easter Bunny shows up, and with a treat for Cat, what will Cat do? His surprise solution will be stylish, smart, and even–yes–kind.

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Go to the park

It’s important to be around children if you write for children. I write picture books. My children are the perfect ages for this genre. Parks are great locations if you don’t have children or your children are different ages than your target genre. Listen to what they say. Pay attention to the games they invent. Tune into your imagination by observing children as they play.

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Read a book about parks! My son loves Big Machines by Karen Wallace.

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Crash! Scrape! Scrunch! A new park is being built. See big machines in action and find out what they do.

Blog about your writing experiences

What tricks work for you? How do you beat writer’s block? What mentor texts do you recommend? Where do you write? How do you make your writing space work for you? What time of day do you write? Do you write best at home? At a coffee shop? A bookstore? The library?

If you are writing a blog post you are writing something. I often write a blog post when I get stuck on a manuscript. The simple act of writing something else stirs up ideas for other writing projects. It feels great get words on that screen.

Take advantage of the moments when you feel motivated to write. Let your kids occupy themselves even if they turn the house upside down. Leave the mess for later and write, write, write.

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Read an inspirational book about writing. One of my favorites is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

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I start all my manuscripts with pen and paper because it is a more intimate experience. I feel more connected to my work. I love the rush when ideas come so fast I get a cramp in my hand as it flies across the paper.

Natalie Goldberg writes, “Handwriting is more connected to the movement of the heart.”

Affirmations

Make affirmations and put them in your work area, on the fridge, on a mirror in the bathroom, in your car. Build your confidence. You are a writer! You are a wordsmith! Never give up. Write every chance you get. Don’t worry about grammatical errors. Let go and write, write, write.

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Make a victory jar

I am a member of the Facebook group Mothers Writing Picture books. One of the women shared a fabulous idea with the group. She made a mission accomplished jar. Sometimes we can only get in 15-20 minuets of writing per day. I often feel like I am not accomplishing much in such a short amount of time. I decided to make my own victory jar to celebrate my writing accomplishments. Progress is progress whether you write 25 words or 250 words. The next time I am feeling down about my writing journey I will reach inside the jar and remind myself of all my hard work. Celebrate success!

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Make an idea jar, go for a walk, visit the greenhouse, be silly, go to the park, write a blog post, make affirmations, make a victory jar, and read! Beat writer’s block and create word strings that sing!

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Be sure to check out all the fabulous kid lit related posts on the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

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The Sandwich Swap

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Multicultural children's book day

Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day! Children’s reading and play advocates Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom have teamed up to create an ambitious (and much needed) national event.

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia and Valarie are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.

I try to check out a wide variety of books when we go to the library. I am also participating in the Dive Into Diversity reading challenge. These are the titles my children and I picked out this week:

why mosquitoes

the chicken chasing queen

Peek!

  • Me I Am! by Jack Prelutsky ~ illustrated by Christine Davenier

Me I am!

The Sandwich Swap by Kelly DiPucchio ~ illustrated by Tricia Tusa

The Sandwich Swap

The Sandwich Swap is a story about two friends. Lily eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day for lunch. Salma eats a hummus and pita sandwich every day for lunch. Lily has never tasted hummus, and Salma has never tried peanut butter. Lily thinks Salma’s sandwich looks yucky. Salma thinks Lily’s sandwich looks gross. One day, they share their disgust about each other’s sandwiches. Their hurt feelings turn mad and they both say things they don’t mean. A food fight breaks out in the lunch room and all the kids start calling each other names.

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The next day, Lily and Salma decide to swap sandwiches. Mmmm! Yummy!

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At the end of the book, Salma and Lily meet with the principal to suggest a special event for the school. This spread folds out to reveal a long table with children sharing dishes from all over the world.

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The Sandwich Swap celebrates difference and encourages children to learn about cultures through a topic everyone relates to: food. This is a great picture book to pair with a fun family activity. Invite your children to help prepare a meal from a different part of the world.

My son, Mason, is a blue belt in taekwondo. Although he learns a lot in taekwondo, they don’t teach much about South Korea. Mason learned Grand Master’s favorite food is kimchi, and he thinks Grand Master is pretty cool so we will make kimchi for our first dish. Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish of fermented vegetables.

Grand Master

Grand Master signing Mason’s belt at the ATA City of Trees Tournament.

The Sandwich Swap inspired us to learn more about South Korea. First, we looked at a map.

“Wow, South Korea is so far away,” Mason said.

Then I printed a South Korean flag coloring sheet and information about the meaning of the flag.

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I am excited to incorporate activities for more multicultural children’s books in my February post for Dive Into Diversity. To learn about participating in Multicultural Children’s book Day click here. There will be a Twitter party tonight at 9 pm EST. Follow #ReadYourWorld to learn about other wonderful multicultural children’s books.

Continue the celebration the rest of the year! Read diverse books for Dive Into Diversity hosted by Rather Be Reading and Reading Wishes!

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Three Cheers for Mo Willems!

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My children love reading Mo Willems books. We have read three books in the Elephant and Piggie series over, and over, and over. They giggle every time we read Today I Will Fly!, We are in a Book!, and Should I Share My Ice Cream? These books are visually appealing, interactive, and hilarious. The word bubbles and expressive characters make them fun to read again and again.

Today I Will Fly!

Today I Will Fly

Piggie is on a mission to fly, but Gerald says she WILL NEVER FLY! After a few failed attempts at flying, Piggie finds a helper. In the end, Gerald declares, “Tomorrow I will fly!”

Graphics play a huge role in this book. My six-year-old son, Mason, recognizes the visual cues to read the big, bold text VERY loud for emphasis. This book has given him more confidence as a reader. He also enjoys reading it to his little sister.

Mason’s favorite part in Today I Will Fly!

“When Gerald says he will fly and Piggie says, ‘Good luck.'”

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Mason’s favorite illustration spread in Today I Will Fly!

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We Are in a Book!

We Are in a Book

Piggie and Gerald discover that someone is watching them. Is it a monster? No, it’s a reader! They are in a book! Piggie and Gerald have loads of fun making the reader say funny things like, “Banana.” Gerald becomes extremely upset when Piggie mentions that the book will end. “The book ends?!” Piggie and Gerald develop a great plan to ask the reader to read the book again.

Graphics add another level of fun to this book as well. An entire page is filled with, “Ha! ha! and hee! hee!” Mason makes sure he doesn’t miss a single ha! ha! or hee! hee! when he reads We Are in a Book!

Mason’s favorite part in We Are in a Book!

“When they ask if we will read them again.”

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Mason’s favorite illustration spread in We Are in a Book!

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Should I Share My Ice Cream?

Should I Share My Ice Cream

Gerald can’t decide if he should share his ice cream with his best friend, Piggie. He debates for too long and his cream ice melts. Luckily, Piggie shows up just time to share her ice cream with Gerald.

I am incredibly impressed with the graphics in this book as well. My favorite graphic is the word bubble in the shape of an ice cream cone. How clever!

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Mason’s favorite part in Should I Share My Ice Cream?

“I think it’s funny when Gerald’s ice cream melts.”

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Mason’s favorite illustration spread in Should I Share My Ice Cream?

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What are your favorite Mo Willems books? 

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Happy reading!

Top Posts of 2014

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Disaster struck yesterday just before I started writing this post. I was sitting in my favorite comfy chair in the living room. I reached over to hand my dog her bone. My computer slid off my lap. SNAP.

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It’s amazing what a tiny crack at the base of your computer screen can do. My son said, “Pretty. It looks like a hot air balloon with splatter paint.” I wasn’t a happy camper.

I had a meltdown. A meltdown like my two-year old. The my husband, Ian, came home . . .

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Ian is the best problem solver ever. Now, I have a very large screen connected to my computer. I can still sign up for 12×12, work on manuscripts, and blog! Hooray for handy husbands!

Blogging has been a wonderful experience for me. It has helped me develop a writing routine. I love reading informative, uplifting, funny posts by amazing writers from all over the globe every morning with my coffee. And I was nominated for my first blog award :). This fabulous community of writers keeps me motivated. Thank you.

I was inspired by other bloggers to create a compilation of my most popular posts from 2014. It was fun to go back and read old posts to see how much I have learned and improved. I am excited to see where my writing journey takes me in 2015! 

Happy New Year!

Top Ten Ridiculous Things People Say to Children’s Writers

Yesterday I attended a children’s writing conference at Boise State University. Jennifer Nielsen, New York Times best-selling author of the Ascendance trilogy, blew me away. Jennifer’s sessions, “Say This, Not That” and “What Publishers Don’t Tell You,” really hit home. She was incredibly honest and motivating. My writing flame is burning bright once again and I now have fresh ammunition for the next time someone says one of the following statements to me…

What NOT to say to children’s writers:

1. I wish I had time to write a book.

Really?! Who HAS time to write a book? You make time. You wake up early. You go to bed late. You write while your kiddos are napping. Whatever it takes…you keep writing.

2. Writing is a nice hobby.

Writing is a career choice. It takes ambition and persistence. This is what I want to do. This is what I have to do. I am a writer.

3. Maybe one day you can write a real book.

Children’s books are REAL books and they are REALLY significant in the industry. Just look at sales figures and top ten lists. Ever heard of Divergent?

4. How do you dumb it down for children?

Children require smarter writing. Children analyze, memorize, and re-read books. As a picture book author, I know it is incredibly difficult to write a book (with so few words) that will captivate kiddos. Every word has to count. Kids get bored easily.

5. Do you know famous writers?

Well, now I do. I met Jennifer Nielsen 🙂

6. You should write like these other famous authors.

Um…no. I’m not going to try to imitate famous authors. Yes, I get inspiration from them, but I have my own VOICE.

7. You’ll be rich.

I write because I love it. I want this to be my career, but I know it will take a lot of hard work. Money is not my motivation. I know I won’t earn six figures or get a movie deal for one of my PB manuscripts.

8. You’ll get used to the rejection letters.

Rejection stings. Rejection is part of the journey to success, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

9. You might get bad reviews.

Yes. So what? Famous and popular books receive bad reviews all the time.

10. You’ll never make it.

This is my passion. I won’t give up. I can do it!

Thank you for this confidence booster, Jennifer! I look forward to hearing you speak again 🙂

Jennifer Nielsen
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New York Times Bestselling author, Jennifer Nielsen, was born and raised in northern Utah, where she still lives today with her husband, three children, and a dog that won’t play fetch. She is the author of The Ascendance trilogy, beginning with THE FALSE PRINCE; Book 6 of the Infinity Ring series, BEHIND ENEMY LINES, The Underworld Chronicles, beginning with ELLIOT AND THE GOBLIN WAR; and the forthcoming PRAETOR WAR series. She loves chocolate, old books, and lazy days in the mountains.

Visit Jennifer’s website to learn more about her work: http://www.jennielsen.com/

Welcome to Children’s Book Week ~ Kid Lit Giveaway Hop! May 12-18

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I am very excited to participate in the Children’s Book Week Kid Lit Giveaway Hop. Children’s Book Week is a great opportunity to celebrate children’s literature and to encourage children to develop a lifelong love for books. So join in the fun and enter to win some really great books! AJ’s Children’s Books is giving away one middle grade novel AND one picture book of your choice.

Middle grade choices:

Gooney Bird and All Her Charms
Gooney Bird and All Her Charms

“It’s March!” Mrs. Pidgeon said as she wrote the day’s date on the chalkboard. “In like a lion, out like a lamb!”

The morning bell has rung at Watertower Elementary School, and it’s time for Mrs. Pidgeon’s class to turn to page 52 in their science books to learn about one of the most spectacular scientific subjects of all—the human body! As usual, Gooney Bird has a special plan to make learning more fun. But what on earth is in that scary-looking box that her uncle, Dr. Oglethorpe, has brought to the second grade? And what does it have to do with the charms on Gooney’s jingling silver bracelet? It looks as if another special story is in the works!

Poached by Stuart Gibbs
Poached
Teddy Fitzroy’s back for another zoo mystery—this time it’s a koala caper—in this action-packed follow-up to Belly Up, which Kirkus Reviews called “great fun.”

School troublemaker Vance Jessup thinks Teddy Fitzroy’s home at FunJungle, a state-of-the-art zoo and theme park, is the perfect place for a cruel prank. Vance bullies Teddy into his scheme, but the plan goes terribly awry.

Teddy sneaks into the koala exhibit to hide out until the chaos dies down. But when the koala goes missing, Teddy is the only person caught on camera entering and exiting the exhibit.

Teddy didn’t commit the crime—but if he can’t find the real culprit, he’ll be sent to juvie as a convicted koala-napper.

The Dragon in the Library by Kate Klimo
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Dragon keepers Jesse and Daisy need help!

Emmy, their rapidly growing dragon, has become a real grouch, saying she’s missing “something,” and the cousins don’t have a clue what that something is. Jesse and Daisy go online to ask Professor Andersson, their favorite dragon expert, for help and end up seeing him being kidnapped!

The kidnapper is none other than Sadie Huffington, the girlfriend of their enemy, St. George the Dragon Slayer. She has hatched a wicked scheme to use the professor to both find St. George and capture Emmy. Now the dragon keepers and their dragon must storm Sadie’s castle and rescue the professor from the witch and her pack of vicious dog-men!

In this third fantasy book in the Dragon Keepers series, Kate Klimo introduces readers to a magical library filled with shelf elves and reveals the secrets of the gigantic red book that Jesse and Daisy discovered in The Dragon in the Sock Drawer. She keeps the action and adventure flying while bringing both heart and imagination to this tale of two kids and a dragon, growing up together.

The Dragon Keepers series is perfect for kids who crave books about dragons and magic but are caught betwixt and between—too old for Magic Tree House and not yet ready for Eragon and the Inheritance cycle.

Picture book choices:

Then the Twins Came by Sharon Rose Anderson
Then the Twins Came
THEN THE TWINS CAME is based on the heartwarming true story of a dog’s unwillingness to share her human Mom with the new twins born to the family. Ruby shares her canine perspective on the interruption in her family dynamics. Will Ruby learn to share? To find out, read this book by Sharon Rose Anderson and illustrated by Natalie Beus.

The Christmas Tin by Sheila Eismann and Ali F. Putz
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The Christmas Tin is a most delightful read for the young at heart anytime during the year! This endearing book is based upon a true story featuring the older of the two authors when she was a young girl and conveys the timeless message that “love truly is the best gift of all.” Children will especially enjoy all of the colorful illustrations contained within this treasure!

Mama’s Purse by AJ Irving
Mama's Purse cover on Hyde Park online store
WHAT’S IN MY MAMA’S PURSE? Much more than bandages and bananas! You won’t believe your eyes because so much fun hides in my mama’s purse. From a yellow moose and a caboose made of juice to a trout and numbers to count, Mama’s purse is full of super silly surprises. You’ll never guess what zooms out next!

Mama’s Purse has been named among the best in family-friendly media, products and services by the Mom’s Choice Awards® Other awards include: Top 10 Idaho Author, Top 5 Idaho book, and 1st Place Best Children’s Book at the Top Idaho Author and Book Awards, Best Picture Book 5 & Younger and Best Cover Design awarded by the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards.

Enter the giveaway!

Make a comment on this blog post for the middle grade novel AND picture book you would like to win. Then, click on the Rafflecopter link to enter the giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway.

More prizes . . .

Don’t forget to check out the other blogs participating in this giveaway hop!
Click here to view the complete list of participating bloggers and authors…

Painted trees. Scarves. Hot tea.

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My grandmother recently passed away. I wrote this farewell letter a few days before she passed. I read it at her service.

Dear Grandma Jeanne,

I’m walking on a path beneath a tree tunnel of yellow, orange, and red. It’s your favorite season and your story is nearing the end. Tears slide under my sunglasses and skip off my chin. You loved fall the most. Painted trees. Scarves. Hot tea.

I don’t get much time by myself these days, but this is my third walk today. I had to stop and sit on this bench by this golden tree under this blue sky and write . . .

Thank you for teaching me it’s okay to be silly. Thank you for showing me the beauty of books. Thank you for inspiring me to write. Thank you for your life-long example of compassion and joy for life.

I will always remember our trip to Victoria, BC. I will always treasure our bedtime stories. I will always cherish the memories we made each summer in Montana.

This fall I will drink hot tea. This fall I will write and write and write. This fall I will dance under falling leaves. This fall I will act as silly as can be with your two great-grandchildren.

This fall, and every fall for the rest of my days, I will celebrate you—your light, your love, your life.

Love always,

Amanda Jean

Being silly with Grandma Jeanne and Aunt Georgie.

One of my favorite books that Grandma Jeanne and I read together.

The service truly was a celebration of her life. When it was over, we went outside and released balloons into the big blue Montana sky. I couldn’t take my eyes off them.

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One of my grandma’s life-long goals was to be a published writer. She accomplished this goal. Grandma Jeanne wrote two books, and was working on her third when she passed. I developed my love for writing because of her passion for the written word. I will keep my promise to drink hot tea and write, write, write.

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November is the perfect month for me to start blogging and journaling again. November is Picture Book Month and Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). This will be my first year participating in PiBoIdMo. I look forward to challenging myself to come up with 30 picture book ideas in 30 days.

I am going to let go and have fun with my writing. I will think of Grandma Jeanne—her silliness, her compassion, her joy. I already have many ideas inspired by her brewing inside of me. Sometimes I think we create the most beautiful word strings when we experience intense emotions such as grief. I will transform my grief into something special. I will celebrate her and honor her each and every time I write.

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We have a ninja, a kangaroo, and a Weimaraner puppy

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Thinking of a picture book idea every day during November for PiBoIdMo has been a piece of cake so far, but it’s only November 4th and I know the challenge will become more difficult.

My six-year old son is a purple belt in taekwondo and my two-year old daughter loves to hop around pretending she’s a kangaroo. After watching Mason show off his moves and Sophie hop around the house, my friend Robin told me, “Your kids are great. One’s a ninja and the other is a kangaroo. It doesn’t get any better than that!”

I laughed and said, “That’s a great idea for a picture book!”

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There’s never a dull moment at our house. We have a ninja, a kangaroo, and a Weimaraner puppy. I think many of my ideas during PiBoIdMo will come from the crazy stuff Charlie Blue does on a daily basis.

She howls when my son plays the harmonica. She brings back stuff to recycle almost every time we walk. She pulls the kiddos on their sled in the winter. She rolls in smelly stuff. She jumps in the back of the bike trailer when she gets tired. She swims in the river, but she’s afraid of sprinklers. She’s a furniture hog. And the queen of stealing hats . . .

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One of my favorite Charlie moments happened when my daughter was crying hysterically on my lap. Charlie (the biggest food thief in the world) gently carried a graham cracker in her mouth over to Sophie and pushed the cracker up to Sophie’s hand with her nose. My husband, Ian, and I sat dumbfounded for several seconds. Did that really just happen? Wow!

Charlie is my quiet companion on our daily walks. I often come up with my best writing ideas when I take her to the river near our house.

Charlie retrieving the Ninkasi frisbee.

We find cool stuff together like Idaho rock art.

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And for being a big spazzy puppy, she sure is sweet and gentle with Sophie.

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I can’t wait to see what kind of mischief Charlie gets into this month. She might come home smelly with a dirty diaper or a dead squirrel in her mouth (yes, this has happened), but who knows  . . . she might do something that leads to another PiBoIdMo idea in my notebook!

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Reading Teaches Children About the World

Mama's Purse Bookmark

Reading teaches children about the world. Reading encourages children to use their imaginations. Reading leads to meaningful conversations with children.

Reading is awesome.

November is Picture Book Month so I’ve been reading a ton of picture books with my children. November is also Picture Book Idea Month so I’ve been working hard to come up with some spectacular picture book ideas. I also discovered the We Need Diverse Books campaign, which I feel is extremely important.

Our family always reads a lot of books, but this month I have made an extra effort to discuss the books with my children. I have also tried to include a nice mix of fiction and nonfiction books because we definitely read more fiction than nonfiction. We have had some pretty inspiring and fascinating conversations after story time.

These are some of the children’s books my family has read this month:

A Gift for Abuelita: Celebrating the Day of the Dead by Nancy Luenn * illustrated by Robert Chapman

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Big Jabe by Jerdine Nolen * illustrated by Kadir Nelson   

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Bridget’s Beret by Tom Lichtenheld

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Busing Brewster by Richard Michelson * illustrated by R.G. Roth

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Courage by Bernard Waber

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Dinosaur Farm by Frann Preston-Gannon

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Food Trucks! by Mark Todd

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Frederick by Leo Lionni

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Frida by Jonah Winter * illustrated by Ana Juan

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Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell * illustrated by Steve Johnson

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Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine * illustrated by Kadir Nelson

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Hugs from Pearl by Paul Schmid

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I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont * illustrated by David Catrow

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Just the Two of Us by Will Smith * illustrated by Kadir Nelson

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King & King   by Linda De Haan * illustrated by Stern Nijland

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Little Cloud by Eric Carle

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My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann

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My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits * illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

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Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson

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Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

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The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

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The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

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The Boy Without a Name by Idries Shah * illustrated by Mona Caron

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The Heart and the Bottle  by Oliver Jeffers

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The Hula Hoopin’ Queen by Thelma Lynne Godin * illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

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The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

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The Lion and the Mouse by Jenny Broom * illustrated by Nahta Noj

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The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson * illustrated by E. B. Lewis

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The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy * illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

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The Recess Queen by Alexis O’neill * illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith

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Thomas and the Shooting Star by W. Awdry * illustrated by Tommy Stubbs

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Thumb Love by Elise Primavera

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Yoko Finds Her Way by Rosemary Wells

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Use your mighty imagination!

Mama's Purse Poster

  • What children’s books have you read this month?
  • Do you read fiction and nonfiction children’s books?
  • Which diverse titles do you recommend?
  • What techniques do you use to encourage children to discuss books?

Picture Book Pass it On

picturebookpassiton

Picture Book Pass it On is a literacy initiative that encourages folks to donate new or gently used picture books to children. Picture Book Pass it On was founded by Michelle Eastman in November 2014. Michelle is a teacher and a mom who is passionate about children’s literacy and the power of picture books.

Picture Book Pass it On 3 calls to action:

#1 Post a “shout-out” to celebrate your favorite picture book. It can be anything from posting a selfie of you and your fave picture book kickin’ it, to tweeting a line from one of your favorite characters or scenes, or post a picture or video of you reading a favorite picture book with a child, pet, or loved one. Or blog about a favorite picture book memory from your childhood.

#2 Pledge to donate a copy of your favorite picture book to a local children’s charity or cause (domestic violence women’s shelter, prison waiting room where children wait to visit an incarcerated parent, a struggling school, etc.)

#3 Pass it on. Help spread the word about Picture Book Pass it On (#PBPiO). Encourage others to accept the 3 calls to action, and pass it on.

Visit Michelle’s blog for the full story behind Picture Book Pass it On. There is also a Picture Book Pass it On Facebook page.

I interned at Womenspace to complete my second major in women’s and gender studies at the University of Oregon. Working at a women’s and children’s shelter was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I spent a lot of time playing basketball with the children, helping them with homework, and reading to them. I also organized the donations we received so I know first hand how important they are! When I learned about Picture Book Pass it On, I immediately thought about children at shelters and decided my first donation would be to the Women’s and Children’s Alliance in my hometown Boise, Idaho.

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One of my favorite things about being a children’s author is participating in readings and book signings. I always bring coloring sheets to color with the children and give away balloons and bookmarks. I love to see their eyes light up with joy for reading. Kiddos love books and this is the perfect time of year to give to those in need. It felt absolutely wonderful to donate signed copies of my first picture book, Mama’s Purse, to help make the holiday season a little brighter for children in my community.

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I encourage you to get involved with Picture Book Pass it On. Give the gift of reading and help make a difference in the lives of children in your community. Michelle Eastman says it best, “Never, ever, underestimate the power of a picture book!”

Idaho: Rodeo Ropers, Inventors, Astronauts, Authors and So Much More

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As a native Idahoan there are two things I get tired of hearing about from outsiders:

  1. Potatoes.
  2. Smurf turf.

Yes, Idaho produces a lot of potatoes. Yes, the Boise State football field is blue. But there are so many things that make Idaho a wonderful place to live besides potatoes and BSU football. We have amazing hot springs, bike trails, camping, fishing, hiking, skiing, hunting, whitewater rafting and kayaking.

Kayakers from all over the world compete in the North Fork Championship.

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  Fun facts about Idaho:

  • Idaho is the 13th largest state in the U.S.
  • 63% of Idaho is public land
  • Idaho produces 72 types of precious and semi-precious stones
  • Idaho has 3,100 miles of rivers (more than any other state)
  • Idaho has the longest gondola in North America (Silver Mountain in Kellogg, Idaho).
  • The first alpine chairlift was used in Sun Valley, Idaho
  • At 212 feet, Shoshone Falls are higher than Niagara Falls
  • The deepest river gorge in North America is Hells Canyon (7,900 feet deep)
  • The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area is the largest in the lower 48 states (2.3 million acres of backcountry)

*To learn more fun facts about Idaho visit: inidaho.com

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Famous folks who have called the Gem State home:

  • Barbara Morgan: NASA Astronaut
  • Joe Albertson: founder of Albertsons grocery store chain
  • J.R. Simplot: founder of Simplot (one of the largest privately-owned companies in the world)
  • Sacajawea: Shoshone Indian guide and interpreter for explorers Lewis and Clark
  • Gutzom Borglum: sculptor of Mount Rushmore National Memorial
  • Philo T. Farnsworth: invented the cathode-ray tube that would later lead to television
  • Gene Harris: jazz pianist
  • Paul Revere & the Raiders: band
  • Built to Spill: band
  • Lana Turner: film and television actress who starred in over 50 films
  • Aaron Paul: actor best known for role in Breaking Bad
  • William Petersen: actor best known for role in CSI Las Vegas
  • Dan O’Brien: Olympic gold medalist and world champion decathlete
  • Kristin Armstrong: Olympic gold medalist bicycle racer
  • Picabo Street: Olympic gold medalist alpine ski racer
  • Jerry Kramer: NFL player
  • Shea McClellin: NFL player
  • Harmon Killebrew: MLB player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Larry Jackson: MLB pitcher
  • Dee Pickett: Pro Rodeo Champion
  • Ezra Pound: poet and critic in the early modernist movement
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs: author of Tarzan of the Apes
  • Vardis Fisher: author of Children of God, Tale of Valor, and Mountain Man
  • Ernest Hemingway: author of numerous short stories and novels, including Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, and For Whom the Bell Tolls

*To learn about more famous Idahoans check out visitidaho.org.

One of my favorite things about writing this post was learning about Idaho authors. I had never heard of Edgar Rice Burroughs or Vardis Fisher. So let’s talk more about authors and books! This is a book blog after all. I am pleased to introduce a variety of books written by Idaho authors.

*Click here to read the full post and discover over 200 books by Idaho authors!


I appreciate your readership! Best wishes in 2015!

AJ

Gem Dig + Children’s Books About Rocks

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My children received a Smithsonian Rock and Gem Dig kit for Christmas. We go hiking and camping frequently and they love looking for rocks during our outdoor family adventures. I knew this gift was going to be a hit with Mason and Sophie.

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The kit includes:

  • 1 block containing 11 real gemstones, minerals, or rocks
  • 1 dowel
  • 1 mallet
  • 1 pair of goggles
  • 1 streak plate
  • 1 magnifying glass
  • 1 brush
  • Color poster
  • Instructions

They could hardly contain their excitement to discover the hidden gems. I was excited they took turns using the mallet and dowel to chisel the block.

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Mason chips away.

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Sophie gets help from Dad.

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Mason uses the magnifying glass.

My husband, Ian, and I helped break away a few chunks of the block because the kids were starting to wonder if they’d ever dig deep enough to find a rock. Mason and Sophie wanted to work together once the gems became visible. The kit only includes one mallet and one dowel, so we got creative and used a chopstick for a dowel, an ice cream scooper for a mallet, and Ian’s brewery goggles for eye protection. It worked great!

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Success!

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The discovery!

This kit received poor reviews because of the misleading packaging. The gems in the picture on the box look much larger than they really are. They are pretty small, but my kids were not disappointed. I do wish the kit came with a special container for the rocks. Mason and Sophie wanted a safe place to keep their new gems.

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The poster

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This fun family activity is a great way to introduce children to gems, rocks, and minerals. The poster includes a section on ROCKS: DIFFERENT TYPES AND HOW THEY FORM and HOW TO IDENTIFY MINERALS, but the text is super tiny and does not include many photos. My kids were not interested in reading/listening to these sections on the poster, so we decided to check out some children’s books.

Keep their excitement going by pairing this activity with children’s books so they can learn more about rocks, gems, and minerals!

Children’s books about rocks, gems, and minerals:

Gems, Crystals and Precious Rocks by Steven Hoffman

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Jump into Science: Rocks and Minerals by Steve Tomecek

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National Geographic Kids Everything Rocks and Minerals by Steve Tomecek

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National Geographic Readers: Rocks and Minerals by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

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Rocks & Minerals: A Gem of a Book by Simon Basher

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Rocks and Soil: Gems, Metals, and Minerals by Sally Hewitt

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