Working in the independent music world, I have a high esteem for non-commercial radio and of course the mother of it all, NPR. Supporting public radio is so important to me, as they rely heavily on listener funding to stay afloat. So if you find yourself still looking for that clever gift for the in-tune intellectual on your list, I’ve got some ideas for awesome NPR gifts from their incredibly smart and hip shop. You know, should you already have an Ira Glass finger puppet. We love reusable grocery bags and naturally a bag is a great place to proclaim your love for public...Read More
Family road trip tips: Tons of sanity-savers, tricks, and essential products to keep the back seat under control and save your vacation.
A lot of us are heading out for family vacations this month, and while a lot of parents consider a long car road trip with the kids the seventh circle of hell, I like to think of it as…a character building experience. But as tired as I get of hearing, “How much longer?” I’m sure it’s less fun for my kids, who are squished together in the back seat on a seemingly endless journey. When we took a 16-hour road trip (each way) with a 3-year-old and an 18-month-old, I had plenty of time to discover what works and what doesn’t. And after talking...Read More
I never think we can have enough coloring books around the house–or stashed in the travel bags for road trips and plane rides. As much as I love handing my kids plain sheets of paper for open-ended creativity, there’s something about coloring in the lines and having a jumping-off point for coloring that’s still really engaging for them. So I love that there are two new coloring books out for older kids too, that make really thoughtful, affordable gifts under $10. Especially because both were written by independent artists we know and love. Coloring Animal Mandalas, by Wendy Piersall is a pretty awesome take on...Read More
If you’re looking for the best Black Friday Deals from retailers both big and small (you know, the ones who can’t afford to buy huge ads) we have the biggest and best deals and discount codes here. Plus, we’ll be updating it with new Black Friday sale info as the day goes on, so keep checking back and follow us on Twitter (what, you’re not already?) to keep up as well. Also, don’t forget we have tons of great discount codes from small businesses in our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide, all good through the end of the year. Happy holiday shopping! And...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
I know, Halloween is barely over and here I am talking about Christmas. But before you know it we’ll all be pinning cookie recipes and gift wrap ideas, so we might as well get ahead of the holiday craft game too. Washi tape crafts have been a hot trend for awhile, probably because it’s such a simple, affordable tool for using in modern DIY crafts. A Washi Tape Christmas, a new book by blogger and craft expert Kami Bigler of No Biggie, offers up dozens of washi tape Christmas crafts, decorations, and gifts that are quick but still impressive. In other words, my kind of crafts. While...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
In case you missed them, here are 5 of our most popular cool tech picks from Cool Mom Tech this past week. Enjoy! 1. Our review of the new Minecraft books you might be seeing at your kids’ Scholastic book fairs. 2. 10 cool things Siri can do for you, including making your life a whole lot easier. 3. We rounded up 30 of the coolest iPhone 6 and 6 plus cases. And we want them all. 4. You’ve got to see the amazing digital art from these design students. 5. A hot tablet clutch purse to add...Read More
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...Read More
If we ask my four-year-old to help out with something, he’s taken to tipping an imaginary hat and saying, “Happy to sublige.” As in, happy to oblige. How Downton Abbey of him. He’s always cracked us up, but when I try to think of specific things he’s said, all I can hear in my head is the grandparents in my life who told me a million times, “I hope you’re writing this stuff down.” Thus: Letters to My Baby by one of our favorites, Lea Redmond of Leafcutter Designs. Related: Baby memory books for parents who find others a little too traditional This keepsake book is way more...Read More
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...Read More
If you love the written word, if you’re an avid supporter of your local library, or if you think Fahrenheit 451 should be required reading for anyone over the age of five, you might already know that this is the start of Banned Books Week which, honestly, it’s hard to believe there’s still a need for. And yet, there is. If you’re nodding along, you’ll probably be as taken with these literary socks as I am, and the excellent cause they support. From our friends at Out of Print Clothing, who make everything from e-reader covers to cool kids’ tees featuring original book cover art, they’re now making...Read More
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...Read More
This summer I mapped out fun crafts to do with my kids every week, and we completed exactly zero of them. It might be because I pinned things like build a lap-sized loom and learn to weave. I’m still not giving up on making beautiful, modern and, ahem, easy crafts with kids, though, and right now I’m drawing inspiration from Playful, the new DIY book from Merrilee Liddiard. If you haven’t seen Merrilee’s blog, MerMag, you should bookmark it right now. Her modern French aesthetic is so beautiful, and it comes through in even the simplest crafts she suggests for kids, which is what I love...Read More
If you have had a fantastic summer weekend host, a memorable visit with relatives, or some other cause to send a little thank you gift to commemorate the experience, consider the new Summertime book by Joanne Dugan a terrific option. Edited by the same author/photographer who brought us favorite books like ABC NYC and 123 NYC for kids, along with countless images in magazines that you’d recognize, Joanne has put together the work of 46 terrific photographers. I cannot stop flipping through the clean, evocative images which, even in their diversity, are so well-curated that they hang together like a gallery show about summer. And as a parent,...Read More
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...Read More
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