Your Must-Have Kids’ Book List: Part II

I once had my finger on the pulse of adult contemporary literature. But, alas, those days are behind me. Why? It’s simple: I read approximately six hundred times more children’s books than I do adult books. Sadly (and shockingly), this is not an exaggeration. My daughter completed the “1000 Books Before Kindergarten” challenge at our local library in about three months. And I read an adult book and a half in that time. Yipes.

It appears that my area of expertise has shifted a bit. Last year, at the request of a friend, I posted a list of kids’ books that I love (if you missed it, here is “Your Must-Have Kids’ Book List”). And, since writing that list, I’ve come across many new and wonderful books to share with you! This sequel to the original list is in two parts: 1) books that have been published since I wrote the last list, and 2) my daughter’s current favorites. Enjoy!

2016 KIDS’ BOOKS YOU SHOULD READ TO YOUR KIDS

Board books:

These little gems feature lovely photographs of fruits and veggies in every color of the rainbow (I guarantee you’ll see a fruit or vegetable you’ve never seen before!). They are great primers and a good way to get kids excited about eating their nutritious foods.

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Your Must-Have Kids’ Book List

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At only seven months old, my wee one already has over one hundred books in her library. We read about ten books every day and go to at least one story time each week. She has been to more author readings and book signings than most adults (Deborah Diesen, author of The Pout-Pout Fish, was her first; she saw Dan Santat, author of the Caldecott medal-winning Beeklelast week). This may seem a bit extreme for a baby, but let’s face facts: I’m pushing books hard.

So, when a friend asked me a couple weeks ago for some board book suggestions, I rattled off five or six without hesitation. Her reaction was a bit surprising. She responded:

I have to say, I mentioned to a couple of new mom friends that you gave me a few recommendations and they all went ape shit. I’ve had to send your list a couple of times. If you were to ever compile a Christi approved list of kid/baby books I think many moms would find it very helpful. There is just so much noise out there that it is really nice to get recommendations from someone who is actually using them and recommending more than the same old board books that everyone has several of in their library (I mean, Pat the Bunny is a classic, but it isn’t really stimulating and those pictures are downright creepy).

There are literally gajillions (LITERALLY) of board and picture books out there. And my friend is right–there aren’t many reliable, up-to-date lists to steer you in the right direction. To make matters worse, the pressure to add only quality books to your kid’s collection is high. Because, unlike adult books, which you normally read once before letting them collect dust on a shelf, you read each kids’ book approximately 700 million times.

So, here is a list of my favorite board and picture books. I tried to avoid the classics that everyone already knows and loves (but, just to be on the safe side, I did include a few that cannot be overlooked). Happy reading! Continue reading

Mark Your Calendars for the 10th Annual Decatur Book Festival!

One of the greatest things about being a book nerd and living in Decatur, Georgia, is the annual (free! open to the public!!) Decatur Book Festival. Last year, I attended several panels and volunteered at the kitchen stage (you can read about it here). The year before that, it was POURING rain, but I still managed to make it to a couple readings (one of which I wrote about here). It is always a good time with fabulous authors, informative panels, and fun readings.

Naturally, I was thrilled when a new hashtag popped up in my Instagram and Twitter feeds last week in celebration of the announcements of the 2015 festival’s keynote speaker (Erica Jong, who will be interviewed onstage by Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay) and full author lineup.

This year’s theme is #READdifferent: “Get out of your comfort zone, get out of your routine, and read something different. With hundreds of authors, tracks, and stages to choose from, how will you #READdifferent at #dbf2015?”

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Your 2014 Holiday Gift Guide

Alright, y’all, Hanukkah is only five short days away, and we’ve hit the two-week Christmas countdown. If you haven’t finished your holiday gift shopping, it’s time to get cracking.

Stressed out about what to get all of your literate friends? Stress no more! Here is your 2014 holiday gift guide:

THE ABSOLUTELY FREE AND UTTERLY DELIGHTFUL GIFT TO GIVE TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS WHO ADORE HARRY POTTER:

B4F_ylnIgAI3f6K.png-largeThis year, Christmas is coming early for Harry Potter fans. J.K. Rowling has announced that, in the twelve days leading up to Christmas, she will release a new Harry Potter story each day on pottermore.com. The announcement came out on Facebook, and you can read the details here.

In order to access these new stories, you have to answer a rhyming riddle. So, do the legwork for your Harry Potter-fan friends. Send a link each day to the new story with the answer to the rhyming riddle (unless your friends would prefer to answer the riddle themselves—in which case, just send the link!).

Then, you can cap off the twelve days of Harry Potter story links with a “real” gift on Christmas Day! How about a replica of Tom Riddle’s diary? Or some butterbeer lip balm? Or “I love you like Dobby loves socks” note cards? Or a Quidditch hoodie showing support for your friend’s favorite house? All of these and more (much, much, MUCH more) are available on Etsy.

Act quickly! The first story comes out TOMORROW!! Continue reading

10 Great Book and Literacy Organizations to Support on #GivingTuesday

Thanksgiving Week is upon us. What used to be a one-day, all-you-can-eat turkey feast has somehow morphed into the biggest shopping week of the year. After you consume your weight in stuffing and pumpkin pie, you have the privilege of standing in line at 3:00 a.m. to fight the angry (and no longer particularly thankful) masses for a $99 iPhone 6 or a $200 50″ Panasonic LED TV. And just when your retail high is starting to wane, you can spend all day Monday getting your fix with the ridiculous Cyber Monday deals online.

Luckily, in the wake of all this consumerism, there is another, lesser known day during Thanksgiving Week that is more seasonally appropriate: #GivingTuesday. Feeling guilty about elbowing that seven-year-old girl out of the way to get your hands on the last Singing and Talking Elsa and Anna 2-pack at Toys “R” Us? You can make reparations and get back on Santa’s Nice List by participating in this annual day of giving.

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WHAT IS #GIVINGTUESDAY?

#GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back. It is also a social-media movement to encourage giving. Unknown copy 3All you have to do is find a way to give–time, money, goods, or services–on December 2, 2014 and then post about it online with the hashtag #GivingTuesday. Encourage your family, friends, company, and other organizations (clubs, sorority/fraternity, etc.) to join you in giving. For more information on #GivingTuesday, you can visit this website.

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Kids Make Author Readings Way More Fun: An Evening with B.J. Novak

I have been to a number of book readings in my day. They are usually fairly staid affairs. The author reads an excerpt using his or her best read-aloud voice, all the correct inflection, and just the right amount of feeling. The audience listens raptly, chuckling good-naturedly when appropriate, nodding respectfully in agreement at all the poignant parts, and otherwise just smiling attentively. When the reading is complete, the author takes questions. “Tell us about your method. Do you have a writing routine?” someone will ask. Or: “Who are your inspirations?” All in all, author readings are predictably calm affairs.

This past Tuesday, however, I went to a very different kind of reading. B.J. Novak, of The Office and The Mindy Project fame, was in town. He is the author of One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, which I reviewed in March, shortly after it was released. But this reading was to promote his new book, The Book with No Pictures, which came out last Tuesday. Continue reading

Five Great Ways to Celebrate Banned Books Week

Yesterday marked the beginning of Banned Books Week, an annual event that celebrates the freedom to read. Banned Books Week is sponsored by a number of organizations, including the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of American Publishers, and the American Booksellers Association and seeks to bring together all book lovers (teachers, librarians, book sellers, readers, and writers) “in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”

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Each year, to raise awareness about censorship, the ALA compiles a list of books that have been banned or challenged during the past year, as published in their Newsletter on Intellectual FreedomThis year’s list contains nearly thirty books. In addition to some newer YA books like Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park (challenged for “its use of profanity and its treatment of sexuality”) there are also some important classics like Alice Walker’s Pulitzer-Prize winning The Color Purple (used in an 11th-grade AP English class and challenged for “language and sexuality or ‘obscenity,’” as well as whether the book “that deals with issues of racism, violence against women, and rape, has literary value that was age appropriate for the students.”). All of the books on the list “represent requests to remove materials from schools or libraries, thus restricting access to them by others.”

Why is the list important? Continue reading