I don’t know about the rest of the country, but down here in Nashville we went from about 80-degree days to 30-degree mornings overnight. And before I knew it, I was fumbling through our coat closets to pull out last year’s jackets for the kids to bundle up in on their way to school. And now, I’m scanning all of my favorite shops online to find some great deals on new winter coats for this year — since the 3/4 length arms on last year’s coats won’t quite cut it when the really cold weather hits. Since winter weather can be so dreary...Read More
One of the hardest things about buying clothes for my tween is that she wants to look grown-up, but the clothes made for teens are too often high on price and low on, uh, coverage. And the message isn’t always one I want to promote, like those “Math is hard” shirts that keep popping up like a negative self-esteem whack-a-mole game. Luckily, we’ve found a great company in California with clothes and accessories we think are perfect for our tweens and teens — because they’re designed and curated by actual tween and teen girls. Related: We’re fawning over these 9 adorable...Read More
We Harry Potter fans have waited very patiently. As in, it’s been five years (yes, really) since Deathly Hallows Part 2 came out. But friends, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is just out in theaters, living up to the magic we expect from J.K. Rowling’s universe in every way with blow-your-mind imaginative worlds, multiple layers of meaning that will spark interesting conversations with your kids, outstanding performances, and some impressive action scenes that will truly thrill. I still remember that breathtaking feeling I got when I first saw the grand hall at Hogwarts and the shops on Diagon Alley, and it’s the same feeling with the reveal of...Read More
Move over grown ups, there’s a new coloring demographic in town. And, we’re not talking about kiddie books filled with hearts and teddy bears. Art With Edge — Crayola’s latest line of seven cool coloring books and two coloring kits — are filled with zombies, sugar skulls, graffiti, bold and fearless sayings, and quirky cartoons just begging to be filled in with color by the tweens and teens in your life. (They also have two superhero books, Justice League and Batman, which may be a great option for some kids, but to me, they didn’t seem to fit in with Crayola’s new and edgy line for our bigger kids.) My girls, ages 12...Read More
We love how the Internet can help us when it comes to raising a generation of more curious kids. There are just so many remarkable free educational online tools and resources that help support a child’s natural curiosity, and even help push them a little (or a lot) when it comes to learning about all kinds of subjects and sparking their passion about the world around them. That’s exactly what our newest sponsor, the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (or CTY, as it’s been fondly known for more than 30 years), does for bright kids and their families. And if you don’t know about...Read More
8 ideas for hosting an awesome Gilmore Girls watch party that even Lorelai and Rory would want to come to.
You may have heard Gilmore Girls fans across the globe collectively freaking out over the revival event coming to Netflix Thanksgiving weekend — Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. We will, of course, be watching while Rory continues to figure out her life and career, Lorelai struggles to understand her relationship with Luke, and both of them eat way more junk food than anyone ever should. Of course, these four episodes will be so much better if you watch with friends, so we’ve collected some fun and easy ideas to help you throw an epic Gilmore Girls watch party. These are low on the DIY component,...Read More
Who knew coloring would have become such a huge trend in 2016?Maybe it’s a welcome break from so much screen time or just a way to keep ourselves sane in a crazy year. Because now our girls can even color in their own clothes, with the Christmas-themed Tons of Fun Color-in Dress by Who’s Little? for ModCloth. Do you know how much I would have freaked out over a color-your-own coloring book dress when I was a kid? I’m pretty sure my daughter will too. Related: We’ve got 21 of the coolest coloring books for adults. Pass those markers over, kids. The dress is made...Read More
These 6 new books for kids about the arts are sure to inspire young painters, musicians, and writers.
I’ve noticed a trend lately among the hundreds of children’s books I receive for review: stellar new books for kids about the arts. We tend to promote a lot of STEM toys, books, and opportunities for kids because we’re passionate about science and technology and the digital world our kids will live and work in. But we still love to find great books for kids about the arts that can inspire young painters, musicians, and writers too. These 6 books for kids about the arts will encourage your littlest ones to try their hand at creativity, or they can be used to supplement your elementary-age children’s...Read More
With the massive popularity of Cards Against Humanity, it was only a matter of time before someone created a G-rated (ok, G-rated-ish) adaptation that pays homage to its irreverent mastery. Enter Not Parent Approved, a truly hilarious, very clever family card game that should be the breakout hit of the upcoming holiday season. Related: 8 of our favorite family games for 6 or more players Think of Not Parent Approved as a cross between the old Match Game (aw, we miss you Charles Nelson Reilly), Apples to Apples and CAH, in which all the players try to pick the most apt red card...Read More
Graphic novels are so popular in children’s literature these days and it’s easy to see why. The long misunderstood genre (“comic books” no more) is finally receiving recognition as engaging literature that combines visual and compelling storylines to appeal to kids who may not be ordinarily inclined to choose a book over a screen. But one common misconception about graphic novels is that they appeal mostly to boys. In fact, my own daughters, and lots of other girls I know, love graphic novels too — especially the titles that feature smart, engaging, strong, and courageous female characters. And if anything has become apparent over the past year, it’s that...Read More
With all the negative discourse going in the world right now (particularly right now), I’ve been on the lookout for positive things that make me and my children feel better. I try to take some time each day to find the good in the world: reading about random acts of kindness, watching videos of parents giving pep talks to their kids, and reading books that teach empathy with my girls. So I was really excited when just recently I received a copy of The Barefoot Book of Children to review. If, like me, you’re already a fan of Barefoot Books, then...Read More
My kids hate to see me cry, but there have been times when I’m following the Syrian refugee crisis that I can’t help it. They’ve caught me looking at the haunting photo of Omran Daqneesh in the ambulance, seeing the tragic body of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi on a Turkish beach, and watching desperate mothers and fathers trying to get their families to safety while “reporters” trip them as they run from armed guards. But, you know, I think it’s a good thing that they see me cry at images like this. As strongly as I feel about it, I’ve still struggled to explain the Syrian...Read More
Move over family movie night — we found 4 fun art activity books the whole family can enjoy together.
In an effort to reduce screentime at home, especially with Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks around the bend, I’ve been stocking up on some arts and crafts-type activity books for kids. Instead of everyone sitting on the couch, looking at their own devices, now we sit around the kitchen table and work on these projects together. And yes, of course, it’s blissfully peaceful and it happens every single night. Heh. In reality, though, sometimes I just pass an art activity book over to my kid to keep them busy while I’m working on something else. There’s no craft supply shopping or Pinterest-searching required;...Read More
The last time I hosted an election night viewing party with friends was back in 2000 when our friends resignedly left around midnight, with no winner decided. (It’s a good thing or they might have been camped out on our living room floor for a week.) I haven’t held one since, but since this year’s election night could be an historic moment for our country — and the end to an incredibly stressful election cycle — I’d like to share it in the comfort of some like-minded friends. I’m sure I’m not alone here. So I took a look at some digital election night party invitations...Read More
My daughter isn’t what you’d typically call a “girly girl.” Her favorite clothes are athletic wear and she can hold her own (and then some) with the neighborhood boys in a game of flag football. But she still loves to dress up and has a collection of dolls that has taken over her room. She may not wear sparkles and bows, but she’s still a girl in every sense of the word. So I was really excited to find out about the Girly Girl Doll Company, which is redefining what it means to be “girly” in the best possible sense....Read More
In a world where a quick Google search can answer even the toughest question in just seconds, we love the delicious act of waiting for a surprise in the mail. But while most subscription boxes give you a pretty good idea of what to expect (makeup and books, hooray!), we found one very unique subscription box for kids ages 9 to 14 that remains just as magical and enigmatic as the Loch Ness Monster, right up until they open the box. Thanks to the geniuses at Wonder and Company, every few months, your child will receive a Kids’ Mystery Box delivered right to...Read More
Let’s face it: women are rad. At everything — from sports to science, and painting and political activism. And since so much of our history focuses on men, and the Eurocentric ones at that, we love books that introduce us to new heroines from places beyond our daily view. Which is why I am so stoked to have found Rad Women Worldwide, written and illustrated by the women behind another of our favorites and New York Times bestselling, Rad American Women A-Z. Related: How about some rad women in the STEM fields? Yep, we’ve got those, too. This awesome book is a beautiful...Read More
If the impromptu dance party my girls and I broke into at the dinner table last weekend is any indication, Spare The Rock Record’s soon to be released album Let All The Children Boogie: A Tribute To David Bowie is going to be a huge hit with families. Whether you’ve been a long time David Bowie fan or you re-discovered his greatness when the world lost the amazing talent last January, Bowie’s music and message speaks to children and adults alike. Even the youngest of tots can’t keep from grooving to great music, something we talked about with Lisa Loeb in a recent Spawned podcast....Read More
This is a sponsored message from Brightly Gifts Whether you’re shopping for a special gift for your own child, grandchild, niece, nephew or best friend’s cool kid, books are at the top of so many wish lists. Which is why you’ll want to check out Brightly Gifts, a brand new shop filled with thoughtfully curated, high quality gift boxes of books to suit babies and early readers. Special offer for Cool Mom Picks readers: Save 20% off your order + get free ground shipping at Brightly Gifts with code CMPGIFTS2016. From the creators of Brightly, a popular site trusted by thousands...Read More
Like many people who love the cooler months of the year, I am very happy we’ve enter the season of crisp air, cozy sweaters, and pumpkin spice everything. But one of my favorite things about fall is the colors. Those breathtakingly beautiful fall colors. And I love that there are so many gorgeous new picture books for kids that capture what I love about the season — and all just in time for the later fall foliage we’re experiencing this year in the northeast. So, no rushing into holiday and snow stories just yet! For now, curl up with the kids under a warmer quilt, and check...Read More
Looking for a fun way to get kids learning about the election — without all the awfulness of what’s appearing on the news lately? One of our favorite kindie bands, The Not-Its, are out this week with Are You Listening, a very entertaining new video for kids about Washington D.C. and all that goes on there. The way They Might Be Giants has been so great at taking on educational subjects without sounding like they’ve set textbooks to music, the The Not-Its are doing the same in their introduction to our nation’s capital. Related: The best Schoolhouse Rock videos on YouTube The rockin’ tune is quite catchy, and my...Read More
There are a lot of things I want to do as a mom, but a big one is to raise the kinds of kids (and eventually, adults) who think about others’ needs before their own. It’s something we talk about a lot in our house — especially around the holidays — whether it’s finding the time to volunteer, donating items to those in need, or even buying for ourselves from companies that are finding ways to give back in a big way. So when I find companies that are doing really cool things that can broaden my kids’ sense of compassion, I’m...Read More
When my kids were small I somehow had the time to make their costumes by hand — things like princess dresses, a lion, and one amazing Nacho Libre costume. However, last year I literally pulled together a costume for my oldest in about 5 minutes before our friends came over to trick-or-treat with us. And his Halloween was just as awesome as ever. So, whether you’re the DIY master who’s gotten too busy this month to make something from scratch, or you have a kid who can’t make up his mind about his costume and now you need something stat,...Read More
Celebrate Everything by Darcy Miller: The party planning guidebook so inspiring it will make you celebrate…oh heck. Tuesdays.
The holidays are fast approaching, which means it’s party season! I’m thinking all about Halloween this week, but before you know it we’ll be planning New Year’s parties. Not to mention the, oh… 1,285 family birthdays that my family seems to celebrate in November and December alone. I could use a little fresh inspiration to make each of these parties really special, and I’m finding lots of it in the wonderful new party idea book, Celebrate Everything, by Martha Stewart Weddings editor and party planner extraordinaire, Darcy Miller. Whether you’re looking for something as simple as a fun cocktail recipe, a jolt of inspiration for a central...Read More
The first-ever gift I gave my daughter was a beautiful handmade doll I found on Etsy, and ever since then I’ve had a thing for gifting my kids one-of-a-kind dolls. Of course, she has her fair share (and then some) of American Girl everything, but when I find a keepsake like the handmade, organic Frida Kahlo dolls made by Mexican artists Maroma + Arte, I feel compelled add to her growing collection. She certainly doesn’t need another doll, but I really want her to have this one. And a little lesson in art history and female empowerment to go along with it won’t...Read More
I’m barely getting to the store before all the good candy is gone, so I’m definitely not looking for over-the-top complicated crafts and activities that are going to impress my friends at our annual Halloween party. And when I’m charged with bringing the games for the classroom party, too, I want easy and fun. So, I’ve been searching for simple games my kids can play with their friends at school and before we head out for trick-or-treating. These Halloween games for kids are easy to pull off — most are printable — and are actually a lot of fun. You can choose to give...Read More
If you think your kid is terrifico magnifico splendifico, have we got the designer kids clothes line for you! Mini Boden has combined their 25th anniversary with what would’ve been Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday to create a fantastic line of kids clothing based on the author’s most beloved books. James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Twits are all included in tees, sweaters, pants, dresses, accessories, and some pretty spiffy holiday clothes too. Head over to Mini Boden to check out some of the more special touches, like surprise lining fabrics, twitching...Read More
For those of you still mourning the final installment of Elephant and Piggie, there’s good news. Mo Willems has delivered to us a new heroine who’s equally lovable. His newest children’s book Nanette’s Baguette follows Nanette as she embarks on her first big adventure: bringing home a baguette for dinner. Related: 6 clever ways to get your reluctant reader to love reading This rhyming for days children’s book explores Nanette’s commitment to her duty, which is unflagging, unwavering, rock solid! Except when she runs into her friends Georgette, Suzette, and Bret with his clarinet. And then again when the temptation of freshly baked bread gets...Read More
I like to stock my daughter’s wardrobe with lots of leggings when the weather gets cooler. She can wear them under anything from dresses to long sweaters, and they’re definitely way more comfy than jeans. So, I spent a couple hours clicking through some of favorite shops to see what’s trending this fall, and I couldn’t help but be drawn to (ha) the doodle leggings that are everywhere, indie shops to big box stores alike. From unicorns to mushrooms to word play, these doodle leggings for kids are clearly revealing everything that captures their very vivid imaginations. And, really, they’re just so fun. CMP is an rstyle...Read More
Just Like Me: A book subscription box created for children of color who want to see themselves in the books they read, too.
I did the research, and in 2013, out of 3,200 children’s books published, only 93 featured African American characters. Sadly, that’s even more than I had expected. And the numbers aren’t much better for other races and ethnicities. Thankfully, campaigns like #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #1000blackgirlbooks have brought some awareness and change to the publishing industry, which I’m definitely cheering — I know that moms of all kinds would love to fill their kids’ bookshelves with more diverse stories about more diverse characters. But as the mother of two biracial girls, this is really personal for me. That’s why I’m thrilled to find the new Just Like Me! Book Box, a monthly...Read More