Category: Books for Kids

D is for design, in the fantastic new alphabet book by Maira Kalman: Ah Ha to Zig Zag

The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City houses incredible exhibits for lovers of design, including fantastic workshops for kids to help them gain an appreciation for fine design before they even hit kindergarten. And Ah Ha to Zig Zag, the new alphabet book by Maira Kalman, one of our favorite illustrators, celebrates pieces from this collection. Who knows, maybe your children will even be inspired to start their own museum one day. This isn’t your typical “A is for Apple” book. In fact, in Ah Ha to Zig Zag, A is for cAp . . . and every...

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Please judge these beautiful gift books by their covers

A glance through our archives shows that we love wonderful books for kids. If you would like to help get a child in your life as hooked on books as we are, check out this stunning four-book collection of classic children’s titles. With new cover art by Rifle Paper Co’s Anna Bond, whose stationery and gifts have been featured many times on Cool Mom Picks, the In Bloom Book Collection pulls together four well-known titles in children’s literature: Little Women, Heidi, A Little Princess, and Anne of Green Gables. Each of these storybooks could stand on its own as a gift, but these new covers make them especially impressive as...

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3 great Thanksgiving books for kids to be thankful for.

We love Thanksgiving, but we’ll admit it can get the short end of the stick, sandwiched between the Halloween sugar-fest and the merry-and-bright excitement of the holidays. While one of the nice things about Thanksgiving is that it’s about family, not gifts, we still love the idea of putting a few great Thanksgiving books for kids into our storytime rotation. Or hey, set them at the kids’ table, at least long enough to keep them entertained until homemade pie is served.   Combining the traditionally told story of Thanksgiving with the adorably cool Pete the Cat character is a great way to get...

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3 amazing new picture books for kids and parents to love

For those of us who love great illustration as much as a great story, I’ve found three new picture books that are worth making space for in your kids’ bookcase or wrapping to give to a child this holiday. What I love most about all three is that they’ll keep you talking about what you see as you go through the pages and maybe even long after the book cover is closed.   Flora and the Flamingo, one of my family’s favorite recent picture books and a 2013 Caldecott Honor book, has a sequel that is just perfect for these colder days. Flora...

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Sponsored post: Personalized books starring your child. And another favorite star.

This is a sponsored message from Peppa Pig and Me As any kid can tell you, the only thing better than reading a book about one of their favorite cartoon characters is being in a book with one of their favorite cartoon characters. Now, there’s a cool new way to make that happen. Personalized Peppa Pig books allow you to put your favorite child in a Peppa Pig story–not just their names, but their actual image. Can you think of  anything more likely to make a kid want to read a book over and over? – Don’t miss a special discount for Cool Mom Picks readers below – Choose from a selection...

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A Halloween story so spooky it might even give mom and dad the creeps.

As a kid who saw creatures in my bedroom shadows at night, I always identified with the protagonist of Bedtime for Frances, who saw monsters in her bathrobe and had all kinds of other excuses for not going to bed. The new scary story for Halloween that’s sending shivers up my spine, even as an adult, is What There Is Before There Is Anything There by Argentinian author/illustrator Liniers. It’s bedtime, and the young boy in the story sees strange creatures descending into his bedroom when he turns out the light. Unlike some other kids’ books, you actually see the creatures–not just dark imaginings. Spooky. Then, in a seriously creepy...

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A creative activity book that could make a future Duchamps or Dali out of your kid.

A few years ago, we fell in love with artist Marion Deuchars’ smart, fun activity book Let’s Make Some Great Art, which teaches kids about twelve great masters and encourages them to imitate their styles all over the pages. I’m thrilled to find a follow-up book for kids, Draw Paint Print Like the Great Artists, with more than 200 pages of creative inspiration for kids to absorb–and, best of all, draw, paint, or print all over. What makes this Marion Deuchars book so inviting is that it doesn’t look like a stuffy art manual, a boring composition book, or even an art workbook. In...

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Little Humans: The photography book about little kids doing big things.

Whenever I’m scrolling through Facebook updates, I can’t help but stop and read photographer Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York photo feed. He has an incredible talent for capturing interesting portraits and poignant quotes about life from his subjects. You’ve got to check him out if you haven’t already. So I nearly jumped out of my seat at the chance to share his work with my kids when I saw he was releasing a book on his tiniest subjects, Little Humans.  This photographic book is more than just a coffee table book; it features those street photos we love, but this time the...

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Fireflies: A writer’s notebook so great for kids, you may never see it again.

This review almost didn’t happen, because my daughter “lost” this writer’s notebook; she’d written so many hopes, dreams, and ideas in it that she didn’t want anyone, to see it. Ever. It’s that kind of book. It inspires trust and sparks imagination. And she only let me have it back briefly, if I promised not to read what she’d written. And I’m trying really, really hard not to. It’s called Fireflies: A Writer’s Notebook, and although it’s been written for all ages, it’s especially perfect for my precocious eight-year-old writer. The idea is that ideas are like fireflies, which can spark...

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Need a Hunger Games alternative for your tweens to read? Find an unlikely heroine in The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee

The lead character in Barry Jonsberg’s excellent new book for tweens, The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee, isn’t as strong as Katniss in The Hunger Games or as fearless as Divergent’s Tris, but Candice Phee is still my new favorite literary heroine. And the quest she goes on to save her family is as noble and enjoyable to read as those more action-packed books that have captured so many girls’ imaginations lately. If your tweens aren’t quite ready for the intensity of those other books, but are looking for something new to read before bed, that will make them scream “just one more chapter, Mom?” from their rooms, then this is...

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In This Book: A stunning picture book for kids and the parents who love reading to them

Just out in the US from French author Fani Marceau is a new favorite picture book that I expect will become a permanent fixture on many kids’ bookshelves: In This Book. It features the kind of repetitive structure that really appeals to babies and the earliest readers: I am in the tree, said the monkey. I am in the tunnel, said the train. I am in the water, said the swimmer. I am in the forest, said the wolf.  Which doesn’t mean it’s boring. In fact I read it to my seven-year-old and a kindergarten friend of hers and they were equally captivated. Not just...

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Chu’s First Day of School is the coolest new book for kids. Not just because it’s by Neil Gaiman.

I love how books can help kids adjust to new life events, like going to school for the first time. If your preschooler or young elementary student is nervous about these early weeks of school, or you have a kid heading off to a new school this year and having to make all new friends, I am so excited to have found Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex. Because, Neil Gaiman. Just one of my favorite authors, that’s all. Chu may already be a favorite in your household, considering his inaugural book, Chu’s Day, was a New York Times bestseller. In this...

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Little Elliot, Big City: The next big thing in children’s picture book characters. Or, little thing.

– This is a sponsored message from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group – If you’re particular with your picture books, and prefer the kinds of books you like reading as much as your children do, you need to check out the sweet new release, Little Elliot, Big City, which is just out today. You’ll be captivated right away by author/illustrator Mike Curato’s charming, cinematic depictions of New York City that invoke a retro noir, 40’s-era style you’ll want to frame and hang on the walls. But it’s the enchanting story of a kind little polka dotted elephant with a sweet tooth that will really make this a bookshelf staple for...

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We’re nuts for Eric Litwin’s Bedtime at the Nut House. (Yeah, we went there.)

I don’t know about you, but the books that get my reluctant reader the most excited are the ones that drive me nuts. You know, the ones that include a catchy little song that he can shout at bedtime, when he’s supposed to be relaxing? His most recent favorite is Bedtime at the Nut House, with just that very sort of catchy chorus. And you might recognize the style considering it was written by Eric Litwin, author of our own bookshelf staple, Pete the Cat.   What happens when Wally and Hazel Nut refuse to go to bed? Let’s just say that...

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Mix It Up! A wonderful, interactive book for kids. No not an e-book, an actual book.

I was instantly captivated by Hervé Tullet’s 2011 best-selling Press Here, with it’s “interactive” pages that remind us you don’t need a screen to engage a child. Now he’s back with a wonderful follow-up in Mix It Up! which is similarly playful and engaging, only this time with a focus on painting and color mixing. Each page beckons the reader to do something simple–tap a fingerprint, press down a hand and count to five, “mix” two dabs of colored paint together–and the next page shows the results with charming messages of encouragement. What’s particularly clever is the way he asks you to close...

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Quest by Aaron Becker: A first look at this gorgeous new children’s book

Summer’s dragging on at our house, and my kids are ready for an adventure. I haven’t booked us a family expedition to, well, anywhere, so they’re turning to books to satisfy their cravings. For my youngest, who still prefers picture books to chapter books, that mystery and excitement is coming from the pages of Quest by Aaron Becker. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because you may have seen his first wordless picture book, the Caldecott honoree, Journey.  I’m not quite sure how he’s able to tell such a vivid story in pictures alone, but my kids are mesmerized. In Quest, a king surprises...

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The Bear’s Song: A new bedtime book for kids that I don’t mind reading over and over.

I have a few non-negotiable criteria when I’m looking for a new bedtime book to read with my kids and The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud exceeds my expectations on all counts. This book is my kids’ and my own current favorite bedtime story. The art is reminiscent of Richard Scarry’s busy world–only more artful than cartoony–making it fascinating for the kids. They quietly listen as I read because they’re so mesmerized by the images. Plus, the book isn’t too wordy which means it’s absolutely re-readable; one of my essential requirements.  Plus the plot is adventuresome, and our favorite part is to try...

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It’s World Cup time, and this new soccer book for kids is a winner.

Everyone’s eyes are on World Cup soccer for the next month, and The Soccer Fence by Phil Bildner, a thought-provoking and hope-filled soccer book for kids set in the waning days of South African Apartheid, is perfect for reading breaks between games. The book tells the story of Hector, a soccer-loving young Black child living in a Johannesburg township. When he travels to the wealthier “whites only” sections with his mother, he notices the stark difference between his neighborhood’s dirt-and-gravel makeshift soccer fields and the white kids’ lush green lawns. He also sadly notices how he is ignored and not invited to play by...

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Get dirty this summer with 52 cool gardening project for kids

We’ve featured some really great micro-gardening tools here over the years, like the cool Foodie Garden Kits and the Click & Grow smart herb garden which help to create gardening projects for those of you with kids, but not a lot of space for traditional sowing and planting. However if you’re ready to take it outside, be sure to take a look at Gardening Lab for Kids by Renata Fossen Brown. This fun collection of DIY activities–or gardening “experiments,” as the author calls them–ranges from building rain barrels and gardening tool boxes to making a desert terrarium or growing a tropical porch container. My kids were immediately drawn...

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The Baby Tree: May we never ever talk about storks again.

I admit, the folk tales and stork mythology stories that seek to answer “where do babies come from?” don’t appeal to me a bit. I want my kids to understand the actual facts in age appropriate ways and the right book can be perfect for that very thing. Especially if you’re feeling awkward about it yourself. So was thrilled to find just what I have been looking for–and probably a lot of you too–in the absolutely charming, wonderful, relatable The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall whose title belies the informative lesson about reproduction for young kids. A child  about to have a baby sibling sets out to...

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PhotoPlay! The cool coloring book gets bigger and better.

When I first got my hands on the open-ended coloring book Fotoplay! back in 2012, I fell in love with the way photographer M. J. Bronstein used her snapshots as prompts, encouraging kids  to draw all over them to create their own personal masterpiece. Her new coloring book, PhotoPlay!: Doodle. Design. Draw. is just as cool, and with more than double the pages to keep kids engaged for a good long time on a road trip or a rainy day. Every page in PhotoPlay! features an interesting black-and-white photograph with a prompt or idea for how to finish the picture, like Jesse and...

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Dad’s Book of Awesome Science Experiments that moms think are awesome too

When cool dad and author Mike Adamick’s new Dad’s Book of Awesome Science Experiments (phew!) arrived at our door, my oldest daughter screamed with delight and I haven’t seen the book since. Whether you’re looking to get your kids more excited about science or are just looking for some weekend rainy-day activities, this is the book for you. And your screaming kids. Similar to Adamick’s first book Dad’s Book of Awesome Projects which helps bring more dads into the crafting fray with their kids, this sequel is chock full of fun activities for parents (of any sex) and kids, though this time...

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The Pigeon Needs a Bath: Yay for the newest book from Mo Willems!

I am an unapologetic Mo Willems groupie, in part because I don’t think the author/illustrator has ever had a miss. Now, the .500 streak continues with his newest in the popular Pigeon Series, The Pigeon Needs a Bath. All just in time for our favorite wry, difficult, endearingly persistent urban bird’s tenth anniversary. He’s up to his same shenanigans, devising  tons of reasons why a bath would be a very bad idea, as you can imagine. (I took one last month! All these flies buzzing around me are purely coincidental!) Some of them may even sound familiar to parents. Which...

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Goodnight Songs: A wonderful collection of new poems by Margaret Wise Brown

Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny were among the regular read-aloud books in my home for a very long time. So I am thrilled for her old and new fans alike that Goodnight Songs, a treasure trove of poems from the late Margaret Wise Brown, has been discovered and published in a gorgeous new children’s book complete with illustrations from so many of our favorite artists.   Goodnight Songs is a special book in so many ways. For those of us who have always loved the gentle rhythm and repetition of Margaret Wise Brown’s writing, it brings to light a dozen...

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Ann and Nan are Anagrams – The perfect book for your future word nerds.

If your kids love wordplay as much as mine do, then Ann and Nan are Anagrams: A Mixed-Up Word Dilemma is going to be their new favorite book. With more than 101 anagrams hidden throughout the narrative and wonderful illustrations, it’s part kids’ storybook, part brain-teaser, part Where’s Waldo for the future word nerds and grammar geeks of the world. I say that in the most loving way possible, by the way. The story centers around Robert (Or Bert) in a world gone seriously crazy. A poster in a street scene may be advertising Mister Timers or Charming Marching school. The movies playing...

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The Odd One Out: A welcome twist on the classic find-it book

Thanks to a recommendation from our friends at Zoobean, I recently discovered a new book my kids are obsessing over. The Odd One Out: A Spotting Book by Britta Teckentrup puts a modern twist on the classic kids find-it book. You know, those books where they’re supposed to look for something tiny in a big, busy page of cartoons? We’re big fans of artists who don’t dumb down their art (or their vocabulary, for that matter) for kids, which is why what could be an otherwise annoying read is actually a lovely experience for parents as well as children....

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Your bookshelf needs this ninja. Unless the ninja’s already there…

Ninjas are very stealthy and there could very well already be one on your child’s bookshelf, hiding between The House on Pooh Corner and Goodnight, Moon. As for the the ninja in the board book Hello Ninja, don’t worry. He’s helpful and well-mannered and only chops watermelons. When I first opened up Hello Ninja, the author’s name kept ringing a bell. That’s because ND Wilson also wrote the 100 Cupboards series for middle graders, which I loved. That same optimism and sweetness can be found in Hello Ninja, which brings the universal appeal of ninjas to the level of board...

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The Alexander Calder pop-up book that will make kids fall in love with art forever.

When a book gets your kids excited to read more, that’s about the most beautiful thing in the world. But when a book gets your kids excited to create too, it’s absolutely thrilling. And that’s just what happened when my girls discovered the gorgeously produced new Alexander Calder pop-up book,  Alexander Calder: Meet the Artist! by Patricia Geis. If your child hasn’t yet been introduced to the magic of Calder–I fell in love with his mobiles at the Whitney Museum when I was a little girl– this is the perfect book to set kids off on a lifelong love of...

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Little Red Writing book: A picture book that inspires kids to write, not just read

Our favorite picture books inspire our kids to come up with stories of their own, though I’m especially excited about the Little Red Writing book, which also teaches them the how to construct the story so that it’s entertaining and fun. Because while I have always loved my kids’ stories, they definitely get better when they aren’t one big run-on sentence. (Sorry kids.) Written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, the book packs several grammar lessons into a story borrowed heavily from Little Red Riding Hood, as you might have guessed. Little Red is a pencil who is assigned a writing...

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Forget the Grammys. The 2014 Newbery Award and Caldecott Award winners are here.

If you liked our round-up of the best kids books of 2013, you’ll appreciate this year’s crop of books named best of 2013 by the American Library Association, and awarded a 2014 Newbery Award, Caldecott Award, Coretta Scott King Book Award and Michael L. Printz Book Award. Even when I was six and our local library was in an abandoned mall, I remember the bumpy, weighty feeling of a Caldecott Medal under my fingertip and how it symbolized a book I knew I could trust. Here, four more your children will feel that way about today. 2014 Caldecott Award Winner...

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