Kids Blog

Your First Aquarium

An aquarium is a watery world in miniature. It can be as complicated as you want or just a simple and safe place to keep a beautiful and patient pet. If you're new to fish keeping, you should start with the basics, but even beginners can have a terrific aquarium. Both beta fish (also known as Siamese fighting fish or bettas) and goldfish are good for first-timers. They're attractive and not so demanding of a special environment in order to thrive.

Welcome to Your Awesome Robot by Viviane Schwarz

Welcome to Your Awesome Robot by Viviane Schwarz

Welcome to Your Awesome Robot, by Viviane Schwarz, is part comic, part how-to guide, and all around a hilarious way to use your imagination to make something cool. It follows the story of a child who receives a cardboard box with the title phrase written across it.

From there, we explore the fun and logistics of making your own personal robot costume. The book explains the materials you need, tasks that might require adult assistance, and potential hazards to be aware of during your robot's construction. With this guide, your imagination is your only limit.

Nursery Rhyme Comics

Nursery Rhyme Comics

Nursery Rhyme Comics is an all-star line-up of cartoonists and illustrators who use their artistic chops to put fun spins on all sorts of old rhymes and songs. Fifty rhymes adapted by fifty cartoonists. Woo-hoo! I'd like to take a moment to point some choice selections.

Books for the Early Elementary Set

Books for the Early Elementary Set

The mid-2000s were kind to my extended family when within a 12-month period, two nieces and a nephew joined it.  This year, they will all reach that extremely enjoyable early elementary age.  Their sense of humor is growing strong, their curiosity runs rampant, they’re fun to talk with and I enjoy hearing their newly formed perspectives and opinions!  Two of those children turn 7 this week and I can’t wait for them to see their birthday presents--books of course. 

Non-fiction books coincide with this group's avid curiosity!  My niece has such an avid interest in the weather that the first thing she did when she got home from school was check the forecast on her mom’s old phone.   She’s going to love the DK (Dorling Kindersley) Eye Wonder book called “Weather.”  When the DK books were first published they seemed too busy, but children loved them and I have learned over the years to appreciate them as well.  Heavy with photographs accompanied by small amounts of text, these books are a great and very accessible way to enjoy non-fiction!  She can scan the table of contents for subjects of interest or just flip through, reading about any picture that captures her attention.  Mine was caught by a photo of some funny looking water bubbles.  Did you know that raindrops aren’t tear-shaped, but instead “ actually look more like squashed buns?” 

Fun with Bubbles!

It's time to break out the pans of soapy water for a wet and wonderful outside Bubble Party. You can buy bubble solution, but it's cheaper to make your own. Take a cup of water, 2 tablespoons of light corn syrup, 4 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid, and mix them together gently. Do not mix it so much that it foams.

Pour it into a shallow pan, or seal it tightly to use later. You can either use store-bought bubble wands, or you can twist wire or pipe cleaners into shapes to catch the film. Make sure you keep your hands nice and wet to keep the bubbles from popping, and don't let the little ones drink the bubble mix.

The Importance of History

The Camping Trip that Changed America

My husband’s job as a historical researcher frequently provides the opportunity to hear well-known historians opine on the importance of history.  The speech’s always end the same way; concern about the lack of historical knowledge among today’s youth.  The statistics support their fears, but while history is unchanging the future is not!  Think back to your favorite history teacher.  The chances are you enjoyed the class because that teacher brought history alive with stories and that’s an easy gift to share with your children.  There are many wonderful historical fiction and nonfiction titles published today for children and teens.  Gone are the days of biographies where George Washington cuts down a cherry tree!  Today, historical non-fiction is so well-written it has the ability to bring the past to life in vivid and memorable ways.  

The Camping Trip that Changed America” by Barb Rosenstock reads more like fiction than fact.  When President Theodore Roosevelt read naturalist John Muir’s book on vanishing forests, “he knew that was someone he just had to meet!”  Together they shared adventures while camping their way through what was then known as the Yosemite Wilderness.  Mordicai Gerstein’s dynamic illustrations capture Roosevelt’s liveliness and Muir’s quiet while the author’s words detail their commonalities: their love of the outdoors and their determination to save them. Thanks to this remarkable, yet little known, camping trip that brought these two unique individuals together, the number of national parks and monuments was dramatically increased.

Author of the Month: Nancy Farmer

This author has had enough wild, true-life experiences to fill an entire shelf of books. She grew up helping her parents run a hotel in a part of Yuma, Arizona where all kinds of shady characters hung out. As a kid, she was brilliant, brave, and very sure of herself. Nancy didn’t care for school much. Indeed, she was dyslexic (and undiagnosed) and failed two grades because of it. But as she got older, she did read all the classics in the hotel library. One day when ditching school, Nancy discovered the cool spaces and amazing stories at the public library. Reading took hold of her and never let go.

Have an Ice Cream Party

Summer's here at last. The pool's open. The weather's scorching hot. What could be better for an afternoon treat than a big bowl of ice cream? A big bowl of ice cream and lots of friends—that's what! Read on for frosty facts and tasty treats.

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

"This hat is not mine. I just stole it."

This is Not My Hat invites us into the mind of a tiny fish who cares nothing for his underwater brethren.  The fish offers many reasons why he will succeed in his crime, why he deserves the hat over the much bigger fish he snatched it from. Obviously, we are dealing with a sociopath here.

Red, White, and Blue Music

On July 4th, burgers sizzle on the grill, and cold drinks are passed around. Happy dogs play with frisbees, and sunburned kids finally climb out of the pool. In the growing darkness, fireworks begin to crackle and zoom overhead. At last a special song starts playing, and all the people get quiet as they remember the reason for the celebration.

When the American colonists declared independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, they were doing a very brave thing. They knew that there would be no easy way to make the words they put on paper real. The Continental Army would have to fight for the country's right to exist.

People made up new songs, often using old tunes, and sung them in the streets of America. These were full of pride and jokes about the British. There were lots of them! Some, like Yankee Doodle, are classics we still remember, and many songs told the war news, such as An American Frigate,* that tells the tale of one of John Paul Jones' battles on the sea.