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Listmania! Best Halloween Books for Kids

Since the Munchkin was a wee one, I have always found books about upcoming holidays to be really helpful. Not only can they help make sense of what can be somewhat confusing traditions (you mean I get to knock on people’s doors and ask them for candy!!??), but they also get everybody in the mood!

I’ve compiled a list of some of the best Halloween books for the whole family to read together!

PhotobucketMommy? I’ve already touted the pop-up version of this book by Maurice Sendak, so of course I heartily recommend the regular version as well. A little boy searches through a creepy mansion in search of his mom, and even though the monsters he encounters try to scare him, he quickly shows them who is boss. And on the last page, Mommy!

PhotobucketLeonardo, the Terrible Monster Leonardo is a monster whose misfortune it is to be not all that scary. When he decides to find the easiest kid to scare and attempts to give it all he’s got, the kid starts to cry. But, it isn’t because of Leonardo.

PhotobucketPumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden This non-fiction book tells all about the development of a pumpkin seed into a plant, then a pumpkin, carving it into a jack-o-lantern, and then back to seed again, completing the circle. This is a great book to teach your kids about that ol’ “circle of life” thing and the color photographs are stunning. The text is sort of meh, but I think it affects adults much more than the kids.

PhotobucketThe Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything Beautiful illustrations help tell the story of a woman who finds a clever way to deal with the things that are trying to scare her. A just-scary-enough book.

PhotobucketBig Pumpkin A green-faced witch grows a pumpkin to bake into a pie for Halloween. But the pumpkin is too big! She needs help, and she gets it from various passersby, including a ghost, vampire, mummy, and little bat. A very cute story!

PhotobucketRoom on the Broom When a friendly witch loses her hat, she manages to pick up a lot of friends on her way to look for it! With lessons of friendship and cooperation, this modern folktale is sure to be a big hit.

PhotobucketScary, Scary Halloween This book is certainly designed to give children a a bit of a scare, but in a good way! The unseen narrator (a mother cat) describes all the spooky things she sees, which just happen to be children in Halloween costumes. With some great verse and wonderful illustrations, kids of all ages will love this book.

PhotobucketThe Night Before Halloween What do monsters and mummies do before Halloween? Using lighthearted verse inspired by “Twas the Night Before Christmas” we find out what they do to prepare for the big day when the kids will be knocking at their door.

PhotobucketScratch and Sniff: Halloween There aren’t a whole lot of scratch and sniff books anymore, but kids sure do love them. There is a vile (not really!) witch’s brew, a lollipop, pumpkins, bats and ghosts featured in all their olfactory goodness. Uh, well, maybe it doesn’t really smell like a bat, but that’s probably a good thing!

The Ghost's DinnerThe Ghost’s Dinner Read as Henry the Ghost fixes dinner for his friends, and watch as they turn the color of each dish! But then, they mysteriously disappear after dessert, and Henry must save the day.

Ghosts in the House!Ghosts in the House! This visually stunning book is an unorthodox tale of a young witch who goes to live in a house. Except one thing, there is a ghost already there! But never fear, the clever witch has a plan.

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Listmania! Best Halloween Movies for Kids

I know, it’s only September.  But hey, all the stores have their Halloween stuff out, so I consider the holiday to be fair game. But, if you need to order a movie, it takes a while to ship and all that, so before you know it, Halloween is almost upon you!

Besides, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and it doesn’t take much for me to get into the, uh, spirit.  So sorry, couldn’t resist.

But as with all “scary” movies, buy with caution and forethought into how your little viewer will be likely to handle it.

PhotobucketThe Nightmare Before Christmas This movie is really two movies in one, because not only does it work for Halloween, it works equally well for Christmas. I’m all about the value, you know. This is a new re-release, and you’d better snap it up quick, because once they are gone, it’s unlikely Disney will do another for a while. Take it from the woman who lost her DVD oh, eight years ago and wasn’t able to buy another until this month.

PhotobucketIt’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Can this 1981 gem be any more classic? Can Linus be any cuter? And Lucy any more endearing than when she collects her brother from the pumpkin patch to put him into bed? Can Glinda just be done with the questions?

PhotobucketCasper Debate abounds about this movie, actually. Some people think it is horrible, while others see it as light and fluffy bit of entertainment. There are no Oscar noms here, but the kids will probably really like it.

PhotobucketClifford’s Big Halloween Clifford is just one of those enduring, endearing creations that will be loved until the end of time. Trust me, you can never go wrong with Clifford.

PhotobucketMickey’s House of Villains Not a movie but a collection of animated shorts held together by an admittedly thin plot device. It is a mixture of old and new shorts, along with a sing-a-long by all the Disney villains.

PhotobucketBedknobs and Broomsticks Who doesn’t love Angela Lansbury in a live-action/animated movie about a magic bed? The young Ms. Lansbury plays an apprentice witch who goes on adventures with three adventurous orphans. This is old-skool Disney, and what’s not to like?

PhotobucketSomething Wicked This Way Comes The scariest, thematically, of all the movies on this list. And it technically isn’t really about Halloween. But, this movie adapted from an excellent Ray Bradbury novel will leave you with tingles.

PhotobucketCorpse Bride All right, another movie not truly about Halloween. But with the underworld, ghosts and ghouls, it is sure to get you into a Halloween frame of mind. Victor Van Dort is already engaged, but somehow finds himself accidentally married to the Corpse Bride. Which bride will he pick, the one that’s alive, or the one that’s dead?

Photobucket The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad This DVD has both a version of Wind in the Willows (one of my favorite in children’s literature) and Sleepy Hollow. Both are definitely worth owning, and the vision of the Headless Horseman is enough to send almost everyone in the family hiding under the table.

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Listmania! Great Jackets and Coats for Boys

Boden Fleece Lined AnorakBoden Fleece Lined Anorak A great everyday jacket.

Boden Padded JacketBoden Padded Jacket Cozy and comfy with a removable hood.

Old Navy Boys 3-in-1 Color-Blocked CoatsOld Navy Boys 3-in-1 Color-Blocked Coats This can be worn three ways for the ultimate in versatility.

Gap Hoodie barn jacket

GapKids: Hoodie barn jacket Has a built in hoodie for the layered look without the bulk.

Gap Warmest jacket

GapKids: Warmest jacket  Available only online, this will keep him warm on even the chilliest days.

Joseph Abboud 'Junior Wallace' Wool Coat

Joseph Abboud ‘Junior Wallace’ Wool Coat  A great-looking long wool coat.

The North Face Kids Recycled Denali Jacket

The North Face Kids – Recycled Denali Jacketl One of the most popular cold-weather jackets, and it’s on sale!

The North Face Kids Denali Hoodie

The North Face Kids – Denali Hoodie  The hoodie version of the jacket above, also on sale!

Quiksilver Kids Crosstown Fleece

Quiksilver Kids – Crosstown Fleece A classic lined hoodie keeps up with fashion trends.

Patagonia Kids Synchilla Marsupial

Patagonia Kids – Synchilla Marsupial  Some of the warmest fleece around!

Listmania! Back to School Books

For many students, each school year brings at least a little bit of anxiety. There is a new teacher, new classmates, and just a general fear of the unknown. From a child just starting kindergarten or preschool to an “old hand” in fifth grade, these books are an enjoyable way to ease children back into the school groove. Because let’s face it, even the most devoted student needs some help getting back into the swing of the school year after a long, busy summer.

PhotobucketClass Clown Life in Mr. Hockaday’s third grade class is never boring, especially thanks to the antics of Lucas Cott.

PhotobucketI Am Too Absolutely Small for School Lola thinks she is too small for school, but her brother Charlie comes up with all sorts of funny reasons why she should go. Charlie finally comes up with a reason that Lola can’t refute with her own brand of logic.

PhotobucketThe Teacher from the Black Lagoon A boy’s worst fears about his first day of school.

PhotobucketThe Night Before Kindergarten Set to rhymes like The Night Before Christmas, this book deals with the excitement and apprehension of the first day of school, with a twist!

PhotobucketArthur’s Teacher Trouble Arthur thinks his teacher is too hard, giving them homework on the first day of school! But eventually Arthur is pleasantly surprised to learn that hard work is rewarded.

PhotobucketNever Spit On Your Shoes Arnie is tired. He’s just finished his first day of first grade, and boy does he have some stories to tell his mom.

PhotobucketThe Best School Year Ever The Herdmans are back! They manage to kidnap a baby, rescue a kid’s head from a bike rack, and wash their cat (amongst other things!) in this hilarious book.

PhotobucketBack to School with Betsy At the start of third grade, Betsy is disappointed because her favorite teacher won’t be teaching anymore. But, things turn out much better than she ever expected.

PhotobucketCurious George’s First Day of School George is the best monkey to help Mrs. Apple on the first day of school. Until he gets into trouble, of course!

PhotobucketTime for School, Mouse! From the author of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, this book has Mouse hunting for his homework.

PhotobucketStarting School with an Enemy Fifth grader Sarah’s first days of school aren’t going all that well. Did we mention that her family has just moved to Maryland, where she hates it?

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Listmania! Best Backpacks for Back to School

If you are anything like me, you have already started gearing up for back to school.  Just this week I loaded up on pencils and markers at Target, which was having a sale.  Whoo-hoo!

And what about backpacks?  A good one is essential, not only for hauling home countless pieces of paper and books, but to help ease the strain on little backs by counting on good construction, ergonomic design, and sturdiness.  Becuase if your kid is anything like mine, those backpacks take a beating.

Here are some that should easily see you through the year, from preschool to college!

PhotobucketJanSport – SuperBreak. One of the most popular and reliable backpacks out there, at a reasonable price!

PhotobucketThe North Face – Jester Another classic, and not too hard on the wallet.

Photobucket
Quiksilver Kids – Ankle Biter
A nice backpack for the preschool set.

PhotobucketJanSport – Big Student Another great Jansport product, this time for big students, just as the name implies. Perfect for college!

PhotobucketThe North Face – Borealis A bit more utilitarian than the one above, great for laptops.

PhotobucketHurley – One Backpack Hi-tech, with moisture-wicking material on the back padding!

PhotobucketDakine – Prom Another hi-tech wonder, with an insulated cooler pocket! Good for laptops, too.

PhotobucketJanSport – SuperBreak W Old-skool style, with one main compartment and not too much else.

PhotobucketQuiksilver – Schoolie Backpack 10 Be the coolest surfer on the block! MP3 holder included!

PhotobucketJanSport – Wheeled Superbreak And for those who like wheels to save their backs, this one is for you.

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Listmania! Best Books for Preparing Older Kids for a New Baby

I have a six year old son, and in a few months, will be having another baby. Even though he is totally excited about having a new sister (when we made the announcement to him he said, “Yay, I will finally have a partner!”) I think it’s a good idea to try and prepare him for the realities of a newborn and to having another person in the family. These books are some of the most helpful ones out there. I’ve excerpted some of the reviews from Amazon.

PhotobucketThe New Baby by Mercer Mayer (ages 4-8) In this well-loved Little Critter picture book, our funny young hero has to get used to a new baby sister. What a problem. The baby doesn’t pay attention when Little Critter reads to her. She cries when he makes silly faces. And she can’t understand the jokes he tells. It’s seems like an impossible task, but Little Critter finally figures out what you CAN do with a new baby — and becomes a very good brother.

PhotobucketWe Have a Baby
by Cathryn Falwell (Ages 2-6) Each new facet of taking care of a baby is brought out in this charming picture book. Not only are new infants exciting, they’re also a big responsibility as Falwell gently reinforces. With an economy of text and simple illustrations, she describes bringing a baby home, involving a sibling in its care, and a happy family going through its routine. Soft pastel hues of pinks and salmons, purples and blues highlight the action. Although children may not notice or care, Falwell’s illustrations are ethnically ambiguous, and it is impossible to determine the gender of the older child.

PhotobucketI’m a Big Brother and I’m a Big Sister
by Joanna Cole (ages 2-6) The texts in these two books are identical, with the exception of the gender terms. Cole has successfully captured the youngsters’ voices, making it easy for readers to identify with them, whether the books are being read aloud or alone. Familiar situations, as well as positive reinforcement of individuality and importance as part of the family, are good reasons to put this book into the hands of children who will soon be older siblings.

PhotobucketHello Baby! by Lizzy Rockwell (ages 2-6) From a chart on how a baby grows in utero to the end of her first day home, this book covers the entire birthing process as described by an older brother. The opening pages present information about the fetus, while the middle section shows the family getting ready and the boy and his grandmother waiting anxiously for the big moment. Rather than delve into the boys emotional responses to having a new sibling, the book objectively presents intimate images and experiences: the baby inside the womb (shown in mothers tummy and in a full-page close-up), the mother nursing her, the boy and his dad carefully sponging around the umbilical cord scab. There is comfort in the honesty and straightforward familiarity of the text, which is supported by soft colored-pencil drawings.

PhotobucketWaiting for Baby by Harriet Ziefert (ages 4-8) Max does everything he can think of to encourage his new sibling to be born. He talks to his mommy’s tummy, sings to it, plays his drum for it, but nothing seems to work. Max is convinced that this baby will never arrive … until the day finally comes when Daddy takes Mommy to the hospital. Harriet Ziefert has written a delightful story about the anticipation of a new arrival. Expectant parents will want to read it with their children, and soon-to-be older siblings are sure to identify with Max. Best of all, there’s a gift in the back of the book for the big brother or sister to give to the new baby: a nursery door hanger with two important messages: “Shhhh! Baby sleeping” and “Come in! Baby awake.”

PhotobucketWhat Baby Needs by William Sears (ages 5-8) The text, addressed to an older sibling, describes both the changes that the family prepares for and the ways that the baby, growing inside the mother’s uterus, might make her feel: hungry, thirsty, and tired. Older brothers and sisters are encouraged to see themselves as competent to contribute at this time. What Baby Needs is a warm look at how life in the family changes to accommodate the needs of a newborn, and the care an infant requires. Both texts are prefaced by notes for adults on what kind of information and experiences might be helpful or appropriate to share with a child.
PhotobucketWhat to Expect When the New Baby Comes Home by Heidi Murkoff (ages 3-8) Instead of being set up as a story in which a child experiences the various realities of having a new sibling, this book poses questions that are then answered in paragraph form. Queries range from “Why do new babies cry so much?” to “Can I play with the new baby?” The answers tell why babies are the way they are, how they create change in a household, and how one can interact successfully with them. The family friend, Angus the Answer Dog, acts as tour guide, providing plentiful commentary. A paw print highlights his simple suggestions for a new baby, such as practicing holding a doll or stuffed animal before holding the infant.

PhotobucketI’m Going to be a Big Sister and I’m Going to be a Big Brother by Brenda Bercun (ages 2-6) These books are essentially identical except for a few minor stereotypical differences such as showing the girl’s toys to include makeup whereas the boy has tools. Each one is a didactic exploration of how a household gets ready for a new baby and what it means to be the older sibling. Readers are cautioned about dangerous toys versus safe toys and are advised to always wash their hands before touching the baby’s hands and toys. The books address the logistics of who will care for the child while Mommy’s in the hospital, which in these cases is Grandma. Finally, several pages are devoted to the older sibling’s role: Being a big brother [sister] means being a teacher and an example to your sister or brother.

Listmania! 15 Books That Stuck With Me

This is actually a meme going around on FaceBook. One of my friends did this list and I found it fascinating, so I decided to do one of my own. Some of these titles are not seen as “classic” literature, but for whatever reason, these books are the ones that resonated with me the most. And not to brag, but I have read a lot of books. Here they are, in no particular order.

PhotobucketI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings- Maya Angelou This book opened up a world completely unfamiliar to me, but was so well-written that I identified immediately with Ms. Angelou. I admire her strength to this day.

PhotobucketThe Brothers Karamazov- Fyodor Dostoevsky Now I may not have liked this book as much if I hadn’t had a professor to guide me through and help me make actual diagrams of the different families in this saga, but this is truly a fantastic book and worth the effort.

PhotobucketHenry IV and V- Shakespeare I think well-written footnotes are the key to enjoying Shakespeare to the fullest. Without a good explanation as to what the words mean, it often can be confusing. I’m no Shakespeare expert, but it is my humble belief that the characters in these two Henrys are the most fully developed in all of Shakespeare.

PhotobucketNancy Drew Mysteries- Carolyn Keene I so very much wanted to be Nancy Drew! Her dad allowed her to pretty much do whatever she wanted, she was smart, and she had a steady boyfriend. And a convertible!

PhotobucketThe Little Prince- Antoine de St. Exupery I still do the ugly cry every time I read this book, even though I know damn well how it is going to end.

PhotobucketThe Wind in the Willows- Kenneth Grahame The adventures of Toad, Rat, Badger and Mole will always have a very firm place in my heart.

PhotobucketEthan Frome- Edith Wharton Not exactly a book, but one of her short stories. But oh, what a short story it is! The impact of this story is huge, even though Wharton displays an enviable economy of words, which is what I love so much about it.

(more…)

Listmania! Best Easter Books for Kids

Ahhhh, Easter. It’s one of those holidays that almost everyone celebrates in one way or another, whether by going to church or going on Easter egg hunts. Here are some great books for kids about the Easter hoilday.

PhotobucketThe Night Before Easter Written in a similar vein as “The Night Before Christmas,” bunnies take center stage!

PhotobucketEaster Bugs : A Springtime Pop-up A wonderful pop-up book which features a new bug on every page inside brightly decorated Easter eggs.

PhotobucketMy First Easter From uber-popular author/illustrator Tomie dePaola, this board book is a great introduction to Easter for the young ones.

PhotobucketWhere Are Baby’s Easter Eggs?: A Lift-the-Flap Book Kids adore lift-the-flap books, and this sparkly one will be no exception.

PhotobucketSilly Tilly and the Easter Bunny This Level 1 I Can Read book will have them volunteering to read about Tilly almost missing Easter because she lost her glasses.

PhotobucketMax’s Easter Surprise Read all about Max and Ruby and the big Easter parade!

PhotobucketWhat Is Easter? A fantastic book for parents who are looking to reconcile the religious and secular aspects of Easter.

PhotobucketThe Very First Easter A modern re-telling of the Biblical story of Easter.

PhotobucketDumb Bunnies’ Easter This extremely silly book has the dumb bunnies getting ready for Easter on December 24th and expecting the Easter Bunny to come in a “shiny red minivan pulled by eight flying pilgrims.”

PhotobucketThe Easter Story A masterfully condensed and simplified Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ for young readers, along with beautiful golden-hued illustrations.

PhotobucketThe Golden Egg Book The Golden Book Easter classic about a bunny—and a little duck that is about to hatch!

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