Author: Rita

Want your kids to love reading? You need to love reading to them.

Evidently reading to your kids is more than just reading to your kids. And seriously pedigreed educational consultant Diane W. Frankenstein explores her concept of “conversational reading” in her excellent resource, Reading Together: Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read. The idea is simple, and probably even common sense: Instead of just droning on, make the process interactive. So this reference guide includes specific books sorted by age, along with questions to help bring each one to life. There’s also a chapter on generic conversation starters that will work for almost any book,...

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Keeping her pants up while getting down

My daughter’s going through a growth spurt, and any jeans without those little adjustable waist button-and-elastic dojobbies tend to sag to her rear’s danger zone without an actual belt. I’ve spent the past several weeks plying her with all the pleather monstrosities that came with her jeans. “But Mommy!” she cries. “I hate belts!” Well. She used to. Then I showed her the rock themed children’s leather belts and belt buckles that Cutie and Patootie sent my way that, like, totally rocked her world. The belt buckles are Joan Jett big, and see that record over there? It actually...

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A female pirate? Ahoy.

We love Oliver Chin, author of the Tales from the Chinese Zodiac Series. In his latest book, Baltazar and the Flying Pirates, Chin teams up with illustrator (and blogger!) Justin Roth in this, um, high-flying tale of adventure and fortune. The best part? The head pirate, Captain Redlocks, is a redheaded woman. Oh yes she is. And she captains the Cutlass, the fastest ship in the skies. Because not only men can be all swarthy and adventurous and brandish swords and wear cool black eye patches. (Does anyone besides me see a hat tip to My Lady’s Cutlass, the...

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Brains = Cool

With my daughter starting kindergarten, I’ve been thinking a lot about kids thinking lately. And more specifically: how to make thinking cool to my kid. Part of the problem? Pop culture surrounds kids with celebrations of the body, not the mind. That’s why I love the new Thinkers Collection of kids’ tees at Peek … Aren’t You Curious? The innovative t-shirt designs turn ideas from Newton, Einstein, Descartes and Copernicus into teams to cheer on. But they’re not ordinary shirts–these fabulously constructed 2-in-1 thermal tees combine adult-clothing detailing and quality with kid-approved softness — lessons taken from co-founder Amy...

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Cartoons for the thinking mama

When I was in high school, an artist friend of mine and I wrote a graphic novel during biology class featuring the adventures of our teacher’s prominent nose, thus beginning my love affair with random and edgy hilarity. If you adore the absurd, you are going to love Nicole Chaison’s graphic memoir, The Passion of the Hausfrau: Motherhood, Iluminated which is one part memoir, one part modern illuminated manuscript, and all parts brilliant. The narrative from cartoonist, writer and mom-of-two Chaison is funny enough, but the cartoons that illustrate every page take it to another level. From Chaison’s adventures...

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Green: A great color for every baby

There’s so much advice for new moms to wade through, and after being pregnant and told you can’t eat spicy tuna rolls or a good brie for ten months, it would be easy to throw up your hands by the time you get around to choosing the safest, most earth-friendly fabric softener for all those onesies. In Healthy Child, Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home, author Christopher Gavigan of the CMP beloved Environmental Working Group, offers practical, common sense, non-judgy green parenting advice for environmental newbies and devoted composters alike. You’ll find tips for choosing a green...

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I can bring home the bacon, I can wipe your butt with one hand

My childless co-workers are intrigued by my ability to open almost anything with one hand. I did not possess these mad skillz when I was a new mom. So while the diaper clutches from Kristi G Diaper Bags touted the “EZ-Wipe System,” I was apprehensive. (And not just because it sounded like something more suited to a car wax than a chic accessory.) As it turns out, I admire the bag’s modern look, stylish cloth and fancy-schmancy G hardware, and seriously, one-handed wipe removal. Zippering it all back together does take two hands, but by that time, the poop...

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Excessively motivated parents, your owners manual has arrived

After researching my proposal for my own parenting book (Ahem, Sleep Is for the Weak, shameless plug, shameless plug) I thought I’d read every baby handbook on earth. And, I admit it, I became really jaded and snooty about them. Let’s just say there’s a lot of rehashing going on in the baby humor world and it’s hard to find a fresh perspective. The Perfect Baby Handbook: A Guide for Excessively Motivated Parents is totally different. Talented ex-Radar writer and Details creative director Dale Hrabi has produced a half graphic novel, half biting satire that had me at “competitive...

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Just the right shade of … skin

My daughter recently drew a picture of herself and one of her school friends. She made herself pink and her friend brown. Neither color was exactly … right. And as a budding artist, she was bothered by the limitations of her crayons. Just as her hair isn’t really “red” and her skin isn’t really “pink,” her friend’s skin wasn’t exactly “brown” or “black.” Nothing quite worked. But now! No kid (or adult) will have to settle for pink, brown, yellow, red, or black. We can all draw our own color — the skin shades we really are. This set...

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Our favorite dolls get ink

We love Melissa Conroy’s Wooberry dolls. The originals are not only designed from her child’s sketches, they’re also handmade. And beyond adorable. In a move that touches my writerly heart, the dolls have gone meta and returned to their paper-based roots in pOppy’s pants, Conroy’s first (and hopefully not only) book. Featuring pOppy and pEnelope, two of Conroy’s signature dolls, this picture book combines photography and drawings and had my daughter and me wondering just how much sewing did Melissa have to do to get this book created? I especially love the postcript by the author’s father, Pat, which...

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