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Read! Build! Learn! With LEGO and Libraries

LEGO and Libraries – A Good Fit

I have never known a child who did not love to play with LEGO building bricks, but I have met many a reluctant reader.  Now like a little foot in its first shoe, LEGO is partnering with libraries all over the country and offering a one-of-a-kind experience that’s a good fit, too: Read! Build! Play! And just how lucky are we? Los Angeles is the first stop! That’s a super step forward to encourage reading we can all build on. If you cannot make it to the library event, (on Tuesday, June 26th from 11a.m. noon at the LA Public Central Library 630 West 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071 – Cost is free. Participation is first come, first serve) be sure to visit this new website that provides families tips, suggestions and ideas on how to keep playtime fresh, energetic and educational –

Everyone knows that, from birth, reading and play are critical to a child’s growth – so why not combine the two? Designed for children under five, the Read, Build, Play experience brings together reading and building in a fun, educational way. As story tellers read, children will be encouraged to build, sing, play and explore through original games and creative activities.

Support libraries across the country and encourage children’s play and learning development. 

The experience also celebrates the hard work of librarians in their quest to help grow our youth.  In June, the Association of Library Service to Children kicked off a national program with LEGO DUPLO in which parents can support their local library by nominating them to receive special recognition for all their hard work.

Beat boredom this summer with the program’s website, Check it out for suggestions and ideas on how to keep playtime energetic and educational. Download unique activity kits to involve you and your kids in a variety of ways to play and read. At this site, anyone will also be able to find ways to support their local libraries, including online nominations for recognition in the Read! Build! Play! program. 

Parents – you can link to the website to vote for your local library and download the activity guide while reading. And if you do attend the event be on the lookout for a 6-foot X 6-foot book stack model made entirely of vibrant DUPLO bricks.  

Order some copies of the new Read and Build sets from LEGO DUPLO. Just this month, a series of sets were released that are meant to inspire young children to read and build along with the story line. 3 sets of books and bricks like Grow Caterpillar Grow! and Busy Farm blend reading with construction play for a new, fun way to encourage directed and free play, and hands-on exploration while reading. 




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Congratulations Graduates!

Step One: Order cap and gown. Step Two: Buy this book.

My daughter is graduating from high school in less than a month and I’ve been wondering what to give her right after she gets handed her diploma. Of course first on the list is a gigantic hug and kiss for all her hard work (if any of you have gone through the college application process recently you will know what I mean), perseverance and positive attitude. Next of course is the big, beautiful bouquet of flowers, but don’t end there!

I’ve found the perfect graduation book to give not just to my senior, but to any graduate, be they college grad or someone who has just received their Masters, Doctorate, law or medical degree. Skip the Hallmark books and the check-out counter mini books at the chain store for this special occasion. I recommend putting your child’s major accomplishment front and center by making Celebrating Graduation: Share, Remember, Cherish by Jim McCann ($9.99, Andrews McMeel Publishing) an integral part of any graduation celebration. McCann, founder of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM and, knows what is meaningful to his family and customers and with this book he’s shared a lot of his insights (and others’) in a delightfully accessible way.

Filled with fantastic quotes like this one most parents of teens will relate to:

Opportunity never
announces in advance
when it is going
to come knocking.
Make sure you’re not
hanging around
in your underwear.
Put some jeans on.
Answer the door. 

-Jim McCann

Inside the book readers will find wonderful anecdotes recalled by employees in addition to advice, artwork, trivia and facts that help make Celebrating Graduation: Share, Remember, Cherish the perfect accompaniment to your graduation festivities.

If we are facing
in the right direction,
all we have to do
is keep on walking.

-Buddhist saying 

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Three Days in 3D From Barron’s

Debbie Glade reviews three special board books for the youngest readers.

There’s something exciting about opening a sturdy, colorful die cut board book, and it’s even more exciting when there are three in a series. Every page of each book is a different shape, so when the books are closed, they have a wonderful 3D effect.

The three 8-page books, A Day at the Circus, A Day at the Farm and A Day at the Zoo ($6.99, Barron’s Educational Series, ages 1 and up) show wee ones what they would see if they visited these places. Children in the stories are shown lending a helping hand. With simple rhyming prose and rich and colorful illustrations, these books make for a perfect gift and a cozy bedtime read.

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This Magic Hat Trick Never Gets Old

Today’s review comes courtesy of Debbie Glade.

Hocus Pocus ($15.95, Kids Can Press, ages 3 -7), written by Sylvie Desrosiers and illustrated by Rémy Simard, is a young child’s version of a graphic novel.  Told through pictures, it is a story about a rabbit that appears from a magic hat in the house of a man and his dog. The dog and the rabbit engage in a classic feud as the man, wearing headphones, is sound asleep in his easy chair. (The rivalry pleasantly reminds me a little bit of Sylvester and Tweety Bird.) The only words in this book are essentially sound effects, as the story cleverly comes to life one frame at a time. The illustrations are crisp and colorful and pretty darn adorable. What I love about this story is that the youngest readers can really savor the book and take their time to uncover the plot using their own detective work and interpretations. It’s a really cute story, and parents will love it too. There’s sure to be a few audible giggles when you read it together and talk about what’s going on in the pictures. The true magic of this story is that you don’t have to own a dog (or a rabbit) to appreciate the humor.

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Adventure On The Go!

I loved Bizzy Bear Off We Go! ($6.99, Nosy Crow, ages 1 and up) by Benji Davies from the moment I picked it up and noticed that the yellow taxi cab on the cover moves! I pulled on the tab to reveal a green bus and motorcycle passing Bizzy Bear by as he embarks on his adventure by plane, train, and automobile.

Through a series of thick cardboard pages, Bizzy Bear hails a taxi, gets stuck in traffic, hops a train across the river, and catches his plane just in time to make it to the beach, where he goes for a sail on the ocean. Each new mode of transportation introduced offers a movable tab that slides to make the car, traffic, train, plane, or boat move in a creative way. I not only loved this interactive element to what is a cute and colorfully illustrated story, but I also found the narrative easy to read due to its careful rhyme scheme and rhythm. This book makes a perfect read-aloud and tactile activity to do with an infant or toddler. It’s the ideal vehicle for getting your child started on learning about various modes of transportation in a fun way.

Reviewer Karen B. Estrada has 9 years of experience as an English educator teaching students ranging from 6th grade to adult learners. She got her start teaching as a participant of the JET Program, during which she spent 3 years living and teaching in a rural Japanese town of 5000 people.  Since then, Karen has continued to teach English and Writing Skills at various levels in diverse settings such as Harlem, New York City, suburban New Jersey, and semi-rural Maryland. She holds a BA in English from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX and an MA in Teaching of English from Teachers College, Columbia University. Karen is currently taking a short break from teaching as she awaits the arrival of her first child due in late April.

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Gift it! Putting iPad to Bed

Everyone’s talking about …well let me rephrase that, everyone’s texting, IMing, Skyping, Facebooking and Tweeting about the new parody of Goodnight Moon entitled Goodnight iPad: A Paradoy for the Next Generation ($14.95, blue rider press, all ages). However, the author, Ann Droyd (aka David Milgram) really does not ridicule this classic children’s book, but rather pays homage to its battery-free simplicity. With Goodnight iPad, originally conceived by his agent as Goodnight iPhone, Milgram imagines a scenario where a tired (and ticked off) grandma takes all the electronic gadgets from the characters depicted and tosses them out so a family can get to sleep unaffected by the impact of modern technology. Absent from the original Goodnight book, technology has taken over this household in a big, handheld remote, shiny silver way. The author succeeds in contrasting life’s current fast, plugged-in pace with, if only for one night, a time when going to bed was relaxed and unwired. Now we cannot tear ourselves away from our electronics and it’s taking a toll on our down time and for many, probably the ability to fall asleep!  I’m certain that’s why my 10-year-old son enjoyed the book so much. He knows he’s as wrapped up in technology as the next tween but could easily take a step back and laugh, just like Milgram does. Our recent 60 hour power outage drove that point home. We all emerged unscathed, and a bit more tuned in to one another instead of to our phones, laptops or Playstations. While Milgram may be a children’s author, he’s clearly branching out and his message is reaching a larger and more varied audience.  So put away your gadgets guys and gals and listen to Grandma! Kick back for a bit. You just might like it.

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Rainbows and Dots: Simple, Happy Things for Young Readers

The Rainbow Book ($9.99 Accord Publishing, *ages 6 and up) by Kate Ohrl is a beautiful, uncomplicated and unique book. Die cutouts of snowflake-like shapes feature different vivid colors of the rainbow, against a black background. The colors of bottom pages can be seen through the top pages, creating a lovely rainbow. One sentence on each page describes how each color “feels.” The book is designed to not only teach children about colors, but also stirs up their creativity. Simply said, The Rainbow Book makes me .

* Please note that this book is not recommended to children under 3 due to a potential choking hazard.

Dot ($14.99, Farrar, Straus Giroux/MacMillan Children’s Publishing, ages 3 and up) by Patricia Intriago is another simple, yet wonderful book that slightly brings to mind the prose of Dick and Jane. It’s basically all about dots, their emotions, senses and actions. There’s something to be said about the simplicity of this book. It’s cute and clever – perfect for those who are just learning to read.

Books reviewed by Debbie Glade.

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Gift It! The Power of CUTE

Like the monster featured in this adorable and truly original lift-the-flaps, pull-the-tabs, turn-the-wheels and pop-ups book, I succumbed to the fearless main character’s contagious cuteness. 


The Power of Cute by Charise Mericle Harper ($10.99, Robin Corey Books, ages 4-8)  had me from the first speech bubble! “I am not afraid of you!” is spoken boldly by a superhero baby after encountering the stomping and roaring big monster.  In what is billed as My Very First Graphic Novel, young readers will find a baby they can identify with; a baby who does not whimper in the face of something scary, but rather, relies upon his own inherent powers to turn what could be a fearsome creature into a reduced-sized, tame and cute baby monster. The clincher for me was when the cute baby brought her new friend home to a house full of cute little monsters, who had already experienced The Power of Cute. Your child’s self-esteem is sure to be buoyed by this charismatic hero, a match for any menace who happens to cross his cute path.

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Gift It! The Wizard of Oz: A Scanimation Book

This blog post comes from Ronna Mandel:

Who doesn’t love giving and getting books as presents?  The best part about giving a book as a gift is that you can dedicate it on the inside cover with a personalized book plate or a simple, but meaningful handwritten note.  I may donate a lot of books, but I can never part with a book that has a date and message inside, reminding me of a special friend’s present to one of the children or to me and my husband.

In the next few days I’ll be writing about books that would make wonderful holiday gifts whether as stocking stuffers or wrapped and placed under the tree. Or like me, you can plan on giving a book for each of the eight nights of Hanukkah.

Now here’s a book that’s perfect for everyone in the family – The Wizard of Oz: A Scanimation Book from Rufus Butler Seder ($14.95, Workman, all ages) – because we should all have at least one book with the amazing Scanimation technology on a coffee table at home! If you haven’t perused the pages of one of these types of books  (i.e. Gallop!, Swing!, Waddle!, and Star Wars: A Scanimation Book), it’s time to be introduced.  The book opens with Dorothy’s ruby slippers clicking together because with this technology, pictures move bringing motion with every turn of the page, recreating memorable moments to enjoy all over again. You’ll find famous quotes opposite the iconic images such as the Wicked Witch of the West warning, “Ill get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!” or the Tin Man’s line, “The tinsmith forgot to give me a heart. No heart. All hollow.” There are 10 terrific scenes in all and each one cleverly conveys the movie’s progression in much the same way a movie or video work. Why not see for yourself?

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