Books make wonderful gifts, and unlike many of the toys we buy them that sit collecting dust after being played with for maybe ten minutes, they tend to be enjoyed long after the holidays have ended. If you’re looking for some ideas for books to get your children this holiday season, read on for my recommendations.
With two children who enjoy reading, books have long been a part of my Hanukkah gift list, and I love how my children’s tastes have evolved from board books, to picture books, to graphic novels, to chapter books.
As a blogger, I get many requests for book reviews, and I have included some that I believe both kids and their guardians will enjoy, along with some of my personal favorites. I note the requested review books with an asterisk, and, all views expressed are my own.
You may notice the absence of a recommended age range for each title, this is because I understand children’s reading ability and preference can vary greatly. I hope with each description you can get a better sense of the books’ appropriateness for your child(ren). If you would like to see age guides, they are provided within the Amazon listing for each book.
Note: I will update this list on occasion. Check back to see new additions.
Being a parent today means having access to a wealth of information to guide you toward raising your kids in the best possible way. In the “old” days our parents and grandparents maybe had a handful of books and an occasional newspaper advice column to turn to for help. Most of the time, people with kids were just making it up as they go, and didn’t live under constant fear of shame and ridicule. Or, at the very least, any shame they felt was limited to a close circle of friends and family.
Now, we have a whole Internet full of ideas on how to raise kids, and, more often than not, a contradictory list of all the ways you’re doing parenting wrong. You would be right to think we shouldn’t let our worth be determined by randos online, but, what can I say, those keyboard warriors have a weird power about them.
As much as I share about my motherhood experience, I do hold back, because I know many of the things I do as a parent would be met with ridicule and shame. My style is a mishmash of attachment, tiger, free-range and anything else you may think of. My parenting often changes with my mood or based on what I feel my kids’ need. I consider outside input, then do what I feel is best for my family.
No matter how I hard I try, I still feel shamed by parenting “advice” online, whether it is coming from an expert or just a bunch of moms in a Facebook group. I acknowledge that as a writer who focuses on parenting, I also contribute to this mess. I hope anyone who reads my stuff takes it with a very large grain of salt.
I think we need to laugh at how varied and disconnected parenting advice can be, so I made I list of all the things I have done or am doing wrong as a parent.
My oldest will soon be 10 years old, and, with each year, he is becoming one of fewer and fewer kids his age with their own phone. He has known children with smartphones since he was in Kindergarten, and has expressed interest in one ever since.
Before he was nine, I wouldn’t even address the question of getting him a phone. I believe (and still do), he had no valid reason for having one, and trusted that he was always with a reliable individual (whether a teacher, relative or activity leader), who had access to a phone and my information should he ever be in trouble.
Still, I understand the desire to want to enable our kids to be able to reach us if/when they are in trouble or scared. My son is growing more independent, and if a phone could help ease some of my worries and allow him to do more on his own, it may not be a terrible solution.
This thought occurred to me last month, when my son wanted to march in our town’s Homecoming Parade with the Middle School. When I dropped him off, there was no clear adult in charge (though there were some present), and it was a loud chaotic mess of teens, floats and excitement.
I hesitated and asked my son if he wanted to stay. He said he did, and though I felt concerned about his welfare, I agreed, got back in my car and drove off to meet my husband and our seven-year-old with whom I’d be watching the parade.
Halloween is fast approaching, and kids everywhere are counting down the days until they can go trick-or-treating. Stocking up on candy and other goodies is a joyous time for lots of children, however, unfortunately that fun can be spoiled by bad behavior from kids AND adults.
I won’t say my own kids are perfect by any means, and I certainly have observed them engage in some of these problematic actions. Parenting, after all, is an ongoing learning experience. As someone whose family has participated in a massive town trick-or-treating event since my kids’ were little, I have observed a few things which I want to pass on to you.
The summer is winding down, and many kids are already back in the classroom or will be in a matter of weeks. While every school year has its challenges, starting kindergarten, heading off to college, or moving to a new school bring unique worries for both students and parents.
I asked my followers on Facebook to share their insights and tips on making those transitions easier for families. I was amazed by their responses, and am pleased to share some of them here with you. If you have more suggestions on making school transitions easier, please share them in the comments.
Many parents agreed checking out the school before classes began was crucial for easing new-student anxiety. Many schools offer official orientation days where teachers and sometimes older students walk the incoming students around the building and answer questions. Other schools will offer individual tours of the school if arranged in advance.
I began limiting animal-based foods from my diet when I was in college, mainly because I never loved the texture of most meat, and I was drawn to the idea that cutting back on such food could be beneficial to the environment. I went back and forth on what exactly I included in my diet, eventually settling in my comfort zone, which is as a technical pescatarian (though my fish intake is limited), who is currently limiting dairy.
Social media makes me believe every other family has kids who happily eat platefuls of raw spinach, while I am happy with mine eating a few pieces of lettuce at dinner. What I am learning, however, is no family is perfect, and that we need to take a deep breath and realize we are all probably doing much better than we realize. I was grateful for the opportunity to speak with Brooke Brimm, a mom, advocate and champion of plant-based eating. Brooke, who has been vegan for many years, believes adding plant-based foods shouldn’t be a negative or stressful experience. In our chat on Instagram, Brooke shares how eating more vegan foods is not about shaming meat or meat eaters, nor is it about projecting our own needs onto our family. She urges her followers to make food a positive experience and to embrace the myriad of ways many of us (our kids especially) enjoy eating.
Surrogacy, or the process of carrying a child in the womb for someone else, is a fascinating and special service many parents rely on to build their families. And, while there is a lot of content from the perspective of parents who have used surrogate(s) to grow their family, we don’t often hear from the surrogates themselves.
I am fortunate to be friends with Dana Kamp, a fellow boy mom and writer, and one-time surrogate. Dana spoke with me over Instagram about her experience serving as a surrogate, and shared the often emotional story of searching for a match, going through a surrogate pregnancy, and where that relationship with that family is today.
Throughout our conversation, Dana shared valuable information for both potential surrogates and those looking to use surrogacy, and dispelled a few myths about what the experience entails.
Read on to see some of the highlights of our interview and watch the full video below.
Spring and summer travel is here, and parents are ready to get kids out of the house and on the road or in the air. But before kicking off their dream vacation, parents are left with the difficult task of packing for everyone in the family. And while it may be as simple as outfits and skincare for adults, packing for kids requires much more preparation, thought, and consideration.
I am writing this just a day after the news broke about the likelihood of the United States Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and bringing the issue of abortion back to the states. What this means is those in need of abortion services will no longer be protected by federal law, and instead their reproductive rights will be at the whim of their state legislature.
For women like me, who live in states like New York, nothing will change. However, for the thousands of women who live in states poised to enact the strictest abortion laws in the country, the overturning of Roe means they may be forced to spend obscene amounts to go out of state for an abortion, resort to unsafe and/or illegal alternatives, or continue a pregnancy they do not want.
As a mother who has carried two children in my womb, I know with a full heart the joy and wonder of bringing life into this world. I do not take this lightly, and I reject anyone who suggests those of us who are pro-choice are callous, uncaring supporters of “baby murder.” It is because of my experience with having a healthy, supported and welcomed pregnancy that I more than ever want to ensure that others have the same.
The ability to choose when to have a child is just part of the bigger picture for ensuring women and mother’s are protected. For those who choose to carry a child, we need to do a far greater job of providing them with comprehensive prenatal and post natal care.
If you just finished watching the second season of Bridgerton, you likely noticed how prominent a role croquet played in highlighting the smoldering, competitive chemistry between the Viscount Anthony Bridgerton and Miss Kate Schwarma.
Or, you might be fonder of Heathers and how croquet was used to show the divide between the haves and the have-nots.
And who could forget the memorable scene in Disney’s version of Alice In Wonderland, where Alice was forced to play a highly unusual and markedly unfair game against the Queen of Hearts?
For years, croquet has captured us through pop culture, and may even seem a bit exclusive. However, this centuries old game really is for everyone.
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