Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing

Parental polls are in agreement that the best books for 4 year olds are entertaining, educational, and relatable – kids want to feel that they’re being understood with whatever is happening in their lives. Natasha Wing understands the need for children to feel understood; a fact that is proven in her tale entitled “The Night Before Kindergarten.” The beginning is engaging with the following opening lines…

“Twas’ the night before Kindergarten,
And as they prepared,
kids were excited,
And a little bit scared.”

The nights leading up to the first day of school are stressful – particularly when it’s a child’s first time being away from their parents in an educational environment. Not all kids go to preschool! With the first few lines in Wing’s story, parents will be able to see how this tale could help their child cope with the first day of Kindergarten. And children will be immediately drawn into the process of what to expect from the perspective of an eager (but nervous) little girl as she makes the same preparations. From packing school supplies to kissing Mom and Dad goodbye, all the bases of the first day of Kindergarten are covered in this amusing rhyme.

The book is soothing for parents and kids, offering them both a glimmer of hope in a day that’s sure to be nerve-wracking and stressful. This tale also offers a life lesson, discussing change and the importance of transition. Kids (and adults) will experience the same feelings of nervousness throughout their lifetime – whether it begins in Kindergarten or Preschool. However, this tale teaches that all of those moments will have hopeful outcomes that lead to happiness and comfort. Wing tries to instill the fact that “nothing is as bad as it seems” when life boils down to new situations and the unknown of first-time experiences.

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

The top 10 books for 6 year olds in 2012 have taken a leader. From the brilliant mind of Peter H. Reynolds comes “The  Dot.” – An account from the perspective of Vashti; an art class student who “just can’t draw!” But Vashti’s teacher sees an inner artist in all of his students. This book opens up with relatable frustration – as every child (and adult, for that matter) has felt like they couldn’t do something. However, it proves that with gentle encouragement and a nudge in the right direction, we can be and do anything we set our minds to.

What happens when the teacher says “You can” to Vashti?

It all starts with one dot of color on a piece of paper and ends with millions of dots on hundreds of pieces of paper – all different colors and shapes befitting a child’s imagination. She gets compliments on her original artsy dot, and what she thought was unremarkable becomes extraordinary. Vashti’s self-confidence is soaring towards the end of this book! The dots in this tale can represent the many “dots” or obstacles that a child could be going through – such as dealing with the first day of school, overcoming a learning disability, or something as simple as taking interest in a new hobby.

Why is this book important to a child’s mental growth?

When faced with a difficult dilemma or an obstacle, parents and teachers want their children to meet with the problem head-on; they want them to believe they can overcome those obstacles. When Vashti says, “I can’t,” her teacher assures her, “You can!” It’s a moral message that will stick with children throughout their entire lives, well into adulthood – where they will eventually pass the same beliefs and life lessons down to their kids. This book is something that can be cherished through generations!

Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills

When writing some of the best books for 5 year old kids, Tad Hills has a knack! His recent release “Rocket Writes a Story” is the sequel to his first “How Rocket Learned to Read” – all following an interesting and imaginative pup with adoration for all things literary. For parents who homeschool or teachers in a public classroom, Hills has developed plots that are timeless in a child’s reading world. Instead of encouraging children to write whatever they can think of, Rocket (the main pup in both tales) shows kids how imagination and perseverance will help them create wonderful achievements.

Why is this book so inspiring?

Adults might find it perplexing how an animated dog can teach children to put their best foot forward when it comes to reading and writing. However, those adults probably lack the imagination of aforementioned children. Kids can be inspired by anything! What better way to set a child’s ambition in motion than with one of the cutest animals in existence? A puppy! Rocket is relatable and that’s what makes this tale so inspiring.

The overall concept of this book is that Rocket is having troubles writing a story. He’s drawing a blank, dealing with writer’s block, and just can’t seem to find the words or ideas that he needs. With the help of a yellow bird, Rocket realizes he can write about anything – all the things around him become his muse and he begins to jot down descriptions and details about everything he sees.

Before long, Rocket’s written an amazing story with the help of his feathered friend, and all it took was imagination and belief that he could do it. From children to adults, we’ve all experienced the same “blocked” feeling that Rocket appears to be going through in Hills’ tale. This makes an awe-inspiring, motivating story that is fit for all ages.

My Mouth Is a Volcano! by Julia Cook

Julia Cook has done it again with yet another tale to add to the list of top 10 books for 5 year olds. It’s entitled “My Mouth is a Volcano!” – A story that revolves around interruption and how adults can teach their children to deal with feeling the need to interrupt. Illustrated in beautiful detail, this book features a cover photo of a little boy – his mouth open wide to spew forth a magma-like outpouring of words. While Cook’s illustrated covers are known to shock and awe, the interior tale is even more surprising.

Is this book appropriate for my child?

Does your offspring have a problem with interrupting when someone else is speaking? Is he perplexed as to why he should wait his turn when talking? Does she often blurt out exactly what is on her mind, despite the conversation others might be having? If those answers would be a resounding “YES!” then this book would likely help your child. The premise of the story focuses on Louis; a little boy who gets ridiculously excited about everything he has to say – which is a lot! He describes his words as living things that wiggle and jiggle against his teeth until he simply must push them out – every word tumbles out on the tip of his tongue during the most inopportune times. He describes it as an ERUPTION, where his teachers and other adults describe it as interrupting.

Louis works hard throughout the 32 pages to gain control of his volcanic mouth. Towards the end of the book, he finally develops an effective technique that allows him to speak his mind without being rude when others are talking too. It’s a creative and beautifully illustrated book, rife with the lessons that children will utilize for the rest of their lives.

For more great picks in books for 5 year olds, visit:


Ish - By Peter Reynolds

Has your child ever come home crying after a bad day at school? Was it because a peer told them their work wasn’t good enough? Or made some other rude comment that hurt your kid’s feelings? It happens – and as parents, it’s difficult to feel like there’s nothing we can do to soothe the aches of a bad day or a mean school-yard bully. Author Peter Reynolds understood this feeling, which is where his tale of “Ish” comes from. One of the best books for 6 year olds 2012, this story is one of triumph in the face of cruel comments.

What happens in this book?

Ramon is an artistic and creative little boy who draws on everything – all the time. It’s his favorite subject in school and the highlight of every single day. However, his older brother (Leon) is jealous of Ramon’s carefree sketching and laid-back attitude, choosing to make a hurtful comment and laugh at his drawing. This completely crushes Ramon’s spirit; his brother is someone he looks up to – someone whose opinion he values.

The tale goes on to relay how upset Ramon is over what his brother has said and how he reacted. He’s down in the dumps, losing all comfort and confidence in his beautiful artwork. Just as he’s at the brink of giving up drawing forever, his sister comes to the rescue with a shoebox full of some of her favorite art that he’s drawn in his short lifetime. This helps Ramon understand that he’s special and his brother was just being a big bully – something he forgives him for and apologies set everything right towards the end.

Children will be able to relate to “Ish” because it teaches them how to trust their hearts. It shows them how to differentiate between loving criticism and praise, or plain meanness. There’s a little Ramon in every classroom and home; therefore, parents and teachers will have no problem conveying this sweet, endearing self-confidence booster to all their doubting kids. Even the ‘Leons’ of the group will learn something.

Looking for great books for kids in approximately this age range?  Here is where to find the best books for 6 year olds this year:


A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue - By Julia Cook

Julia Cook is a devoted children’s author who knows what it takes to make it onto the list of the top ten books for 4 year olds. She demonstrated this ability with her 2005 release, “A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue.” At first glance, the illustration on the cover looks a little intimidating – maybe even scary or excessively silly to the average post-toddler. Albeit, the real surprise is on the interior, as Cook weaves a wondrous tale about Josh and his affinity for tattling on his classmates, his brother, and even his dog!

What makes this book a good teaching guide?

In this story, Josh doesn’t have any friends because he tattles on them all. He loves telling any adult who will listen about the supposed awful things the other children (and his pets) do. After a long night of tattling, he finds his tongue has grown to several times its normal size. It’s also turned yellow with big purple pole-dots! From there, Josh has to relearn the “tattle rules” to set his tongue back the way it was.

The whole concept of this book is clever and creative. In terms children can understand, the story makes a comparison between tattling and telling. Adults will have an easier time teaching kids that tattling is unnecessary, while telling when someone is hurt or bullied is a good thing to do. It gives clear examples of what is considered important to tell and what is considered tattling; a feat that most parents or teachers have a hard time with.

This book is especially relevant in classroom settings where children might be subjected to bullies or hurtful comments. Teachers can use the tattling story to enhance their learning environment, encouraging friendship and trust within their classroom. This interactive approach could lead to a decrease in name-calling while bringing kids closer together.

To find other great books for 4 year olds this year, visit:


Monday, August 27, 2012

The Invisible String - By Patrice Karst

Separation is a serious issue, both for parents and their children. This is the main reason why The Invisible String (by Patrice Karst) has made its way to the third spot on the list of top 10 books for 3 year olds.  It can also be a tale on how to deal with loss - specifically the death of someone a child loved, or the overall anxiety and fear that comes from the thought of being separated from a person that is an integral part of a child's life. However, this book isn't just a creative comfort for children - it's also an important tale for anyone who has ever had difficulty dealing with loss or separation.

What is this book about?

The story begins with a mother telling her twins that an 'invisible string' connects to all the hearts of people. This string cannot be cut, torn, or broken in any way - even after death. Instead, it acts as a conductor of love between the people who care about each other. This string also cannot be seen with the eyes, but it can be felt with the heart - sending the message to readers that they are never truly alone, and will never be forgotten or abandoned by those who their invisible string is connected to.

The Invisible String is self-explanatory; it's a must-have for the bookshelves of anyone who enjoys reading a tale with a positive moral and practiced life lesson. The string can be the comfort children need to get over a divorce, a death, a loss of any kind - but it can also be the one thing that makes an adult feel better about the same situations. Instead of feeling disconnected due to travel, heartbreak, or physical loss, people who "feel" their invisible string are likely to experience a better understanding and firmer grasp on their emotions and the situation they're dealing with.

Harold and the Purple Crayon (50th Anniversary) - By Crockett Johnson

Some of the best books for 3 year olds will feature stories about children (just like them) who take on the world with imagination, creativity, and fascination - such is the story of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Written in 1955 by Crockett Johnson, the 50th anniversary edition evokes a feeling of warm nostalgia in the wise hearts of decades-old readers and their descendants.

What is Harold and the Purple Crayon about?

Harold is a little boy with a purple crayon who decides to go on a walk in the moonlight; alas, there is no moon, so Harold sets off across a blank landscape. The first thing he does is draw a line to represent the horizon - then he draws the moon, walking in its purple moonlight as he also draws a tree (which is a forest to Harold, but the one tree is so he won't get lost in the forest).  Then he draws a dragon to guard the fruit of the tree, but the dragon turns out to be rude and fearsome, causing Harold to step back with his hands shaking (drawing squiggly lines all the while). 

Before Harold realizes it, his lines have become waves and he finds himself at the bottom of an ocean; fortunately, he draws a boat to save himself. The story follows Harold the rest of the way home as he searches for his bedroom. He creates a whole city, complete with numerous windows, but none of them are his. After a while of searching, Harold remembers he used to see the moon from his bedroom window; therefore, he draws his bedroom window and becomes the little boy on the inside looking out at the outside.

Harold and the Purple Crayon has evolved into a timeless classic, fit for all ages in all diverse cultural backgrounds - all presented with the same message of hope, artistry, and inspiration. Where Harold finds danger, he perseveres to make those frightful situations a little better. Where he feels lost, he creates what he needs to feel safe again.

Find a whole list of this year's top books for 3 year old children:


Pokemon: Ultimate Handbook - by Cris Silvestri

The Pokemon: Ultimate Handbook is exactly what you'd expect from reading the title and the description of the book on Amazon.com. Rated by parents as one of the top 10 Pokemon books, the handbook offers everything a child (or die-hard) fan needs to know about Pokemon -- from characters, to specific movies and special Pokemon cards. There are also tips on how to play your best at the card games and speculation about which Pokemon would be the most difficult to catch. With the tagline of "Gotta read em' all!," the Pokemon: Ultimate Handbook is really the end all for Pokemon fans, describing every aspect of the franchise in detail for prospective players and viewers of the renowned television series.

Who is the Pokemon: Ultimate Handbook a perfect gift for?

This handbook is a great present for anyone who's ever had a real infatuation with the game, TV series, or other books. Some 20-somethings have been known to buy this handbook after years of following the entire franchise, while some parents are more interested in buying it as a Christmas or Birthday gift for their children. There's really no set target audience when it comes the who the Pokemon: Ultimate Handbook is perfect for. It's ideal for anyone who's ever had an interest in Pokemon.

Like with every book, the Pokemon: Ultimate Handbook has some faults, but it's overall an excellent reference source. There are some Pokemon that are apparently missing from the index, but they're also the rarest and the ones that most people will never find or catch. This shouldn't deter the hardcore Pokemon fans, as the book is comprehensive enough to cover other more intriguing aspects of the characters and over franchise. You (or your children) will be masters in no time, combating the greats (such as Ash) and catching the best Pokemon for your collection.

How to Draw Pokemon - by Tracey West

How to Draw Pokemon is one of the most well-noted and best pokemon books of this generation, teaching kids (and adults) how to sketch some of their favorite characters from the popular game. Unfortunately, as witnessed in other reviews, this book also contains some flaws that many people will find unappealing. The most complaints revolve around…

-- The level of difficulty in each drawing tutorial. Described as advanced, these sketches aren't going to be something that somebody draws perfectly the first time. The people who draw these characters on a regular basis have been doing so for years, whereas someone just starting will be disappointed if they strive to get every detail accurate the first time. It takes practice! Some of these characters are intricate and very decorated, meaning more than one evening will have to be spent on perfecting each one. However, the great thing about that is, it keeps children occupied for long periods of time -- allowing mom and dad to spend some quality time together, or get some work done without the pestering of little ones.

-- The condition of the used How to Draw Pokemon books from Amazon. This should really come as no surprise and people are encouraged to use their common sense when dealing with this situation. If it's on the used section at discounted prices, it's probably got some marks and drawings in it already. This isn't the fault of the book itself, nor is it the fault of the artist who compiled the sectioned tutorials. It's the fault of you and the seller for not being straight-forward and honest with one another. Your best bet for buying a used edition is to ask the seller what condition the book is in, being specific with questions and gaining an educated opinion and outlook from there.

Find more of this year's great choices in Pokemon books for kids:


Transformers: The Ultimate Guide - by Simon Furman

Easily one of the best Transformers books of the last 15 years, the Transformers: The Ultimate Guide is rife with information and knowledge that every Transformer fan NEEDS to know. It's a jackpot of everything Transformers, from the very beginning when the franchise had just approached the concept of robots from outer space. What are others saying about the Transformers: The Ultimate Guide?

"Every Transformers fan needs this book -- from those who are just getting into the whole concept of the spacial robots, to those who have been hardcore fans for years. With 141 pages of content, this book is a jewel among the rocks of Transformers memorabilia -- instantly becoming one my most treasured guides in my series collection. Everything you'd ever want or need to know is featured between the covers of this book, and it's not all illustrations! Sure, there are a few pictures, but not so many that it takes up the whole page and leaves nothing for knowledge. Words and tidbits far outweigh the beautiful and intricate illustrations in what is (in my opinion) the best guide book for Transformers in the last 15 years."

"I've been a Transformers fan for… a really long time. *laughs* Therefore, when my son became old enough to get into the modern animated series, I was thrilled at how they took an immediate interest in it. However, the Transformers: The Ultimate Guide is a little too advanced for an 8 year old. Recommended for children in the 6th grade and up, I realize now that this is one of those presents that will have to be held until he reaches a better age of understanding. Until then, I have no problem with reading him important passages and summarizing whatever he needs -- it gives me the opportunity to learn more about Transformers and I enjoy sharing the experience and interest with my kid."


Transformers Animated: The Allspark Almanac - by Jim Sorenson

In a review of 33 people, ranging from parents to Transformers Animated fans of all ages, the Transformers Animated: The Allspark Almanac received a 5 star rating from every person. Ranked as number one in the top 10 Transformers books parental poll, this handbook details every aspect of the animated T.V. series -- from who the characters are, to prospective plots, to theories about where some of the Transformers came from. It's the ultimate guide for anyone who has ever enjoyed the animated series. Here are a few well-rounded reviews from some of the aforementioned 33 people polled…

"This book is exactly what you're looking for. Buy it now. Books like these make having a hobby that much sweeter because they're comprehensive, well planned out, accurate, and beautifully written. The Transformers Animated: The Allspark Almanac is no exception as it houses references to some of the greats in the Transformers series -- also featuring awesome extras and FIYs for hardcore fans who enjoy finding those little "Easter Eggs" in the information they read. It's not some boring, drawn out handbook. It's creative, imaginative, and interesting to the very end."

"My children (2 boys, ages 9 and 11) have memorized the Transformers Animated: The Allspark Almanac from cover to cover. Even my husband took a peek and loved it, describing it as a "veritable goldmine of valuable Transformers information." As for me, I've never been into the series of Transformers, but this book has so far been every bit worth the $15 I paid for it. There are 220 pages chock full of information, little tidbits that you wouldn't expect, and colorful pictures that are amazingly illustrated. The author really went all out for this almanac."

"What's there more to say about the Transformers Animated: The Allspark Almanac other than it's almost too good to be true? A well-written, fantastic book that details anything about everything in the Transformers world."


To find other great Transformers books for kids, visit:


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Tales of Beedle the Bard (From Harry Potter) - by J. K. Rowling

In December 2007, J.K. Rowling regaled Harry Potter fans with The Tales of Beedle the Bard; a book designed to be the fictional stories gathered in the midst of Potter's wizarding world. It was the equivalent to reality's the Brothers Grimm tales and ranked as one of the top 10 fairy tale books of all time. Below, you'll find a brief overview of several stories featured in this book, along with how each tale would apply morally in essential life lessons.

-- The Tale of Three Brothers.
About three brothers of step-ladder ages, this story begins when they meet death. Instead of dying, they ask death to bestow a gift on each of them to give them power over death for a few more years. They're given the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, and the Cloak of Invisibility. These items prove to be chaotic, and have all become integral parts of the Harry Potter series. The moral? Every man can avoid an inevitable death for only so long, but in the end, we're all equal in dying.

-- The Fountain of Fair Fortune. Three witches accompany a luckless knight across multi-adventurous terrain in search of a fountain that's said to grant all who find it their wishes and small fortunes. The premise of the story is self-explanatory, as the witches and knight face many challenges, overcoming each obstacle in turn. The moral? The fortunate life isn't important because of the reward at the end -- it's important because of the journey getting there. It's a tale that attempts to instill an appreciation of life in children and adults.

-- The Warlock's Hairy Heart. This story is morbid, much darker than the other tales, and more sophisticated in theme. A warlock decides that love is useless and foolish, so he cuts out his own heart, puts it in a box, and lives his life as a cold person until he meets a Maiden. She's everything he's ever dreamed of and he feels the stirrings of love, but when he tries to literally give her his heart, he discovers it's grown hairy and worthless. The moral varies from reader to reader; therefore, this one is up to the reader to decipher.

Grimm's Fairy Stories - by Nate Turner

Rated as one of the best fairy tale books of all time, Grimm's Fairy Stories (by Nate Turner) is a timeless collection of stories spanning every genre -- from the dark and morbid, to the light-hearted and morally uplifting. Unfortunately, not all stories from the original Brothers Grimm anthology are represented. This book is like a grab bag of old and (somewhat) popular favorites, told in a manner that may be unfamiliar to most children. They'll learn that not all stories originally had happy endings, and some of them were better that way. A couple of the 25 stories featured here are…

-- The Goose Girl. The Goose Girl follows a young woman who wants nothing more than to please the royal family of her betrothed. She comes from a peasant background, but is one of the most beautiful women in her village. As the story progresses, the Goose Girl finds solace in speaking with the King's geese about her troubles and it's through the ventilation of her anger to the geese, she finds the courage to stand up to the ones who seek to put her down, eventually falling head over heels in love and marrying regardless of what her new husband's family thinks of her.

-- The Six Swans. The basis for the movie "The Swan Princess," this story is about six brother and their sister. The six brothers are turned into swans by an evil woman who wishes to take away everything that is dear to their sister. Instead of giving up on saving them, the girl finds help and a way to turn her brothers back into the young men they were. She must create cloaks of stinging nettles to throw over their feathers, all the while never uttering a sound. In the end, she completes each cloak after a year of nonstop hard work and silence. All is successful and she gains her six brothers back, while the witch is never seen or heard from again.

For more info on top fairy tale books for kids, visit:


Giant Sticker Activity First Words Book - The Teacher's Instant Favorite

The Giant Sticker Activity First Words Book's title is self-explanatory, and the pictures on the book's cover go a long way to detailing what parents and teachers can expect, as well. Voted a teacher's instant favorite and one of the top 10 sticker books for children under 6 years of age, this book is chock full of learning opportunities for flourishing children.

What will children learn with the Giant Sticker Activity First Words Book?

This activity book features over 600 stickers and the same number of silhouettes (or outlines, if you'd prefer). These outlines are exactly designed as the sticker they match to, encouraging children to find the correct sticker to fit the silhouette in an effort to improve hand-eye coordination. From there, kids will also notice there are words under each outline, letting them know what kind of item they've just paired with the accurate picture. This can drastically improve their vocabulary, as the process is methodical to lead children to feel comfortable while keeping their own learning pace. It's the key to effective education.

Some of the activities are coupled with the stickers -- such as, there are several items that will instruct a child to draw their own, matching it exactly to the picture. Other items will ask kids to write what an object is, while counting, sorting, and learning new words are also apart of the joys in the Giant Sticker Activity First Words Book. Parents and teachers will find comfort in the fact that kids are learning AND having fun, instead of sitting there so bored that they're not picking up any of the information. It's an ideal way for children to learn new things while working at their own pace, advancing in levels of vocabulary and counting as they progress through each stage of the book.

Beach Sticker Activity Book - Dover Little Activity Books

Dover Little Activity Books is renowned for making amusing distractions for children who need something to rapt their attention during long car rides or plane trips. The Beach Sticker Activity Book  is one of their creations from 1997; a time when children were a little more apt to be inspired by stickers and simple scenarios. While this book didn't make the grade for one of the best sticker books for kids, it's still a fan favorite simply because it's a beach scene -- and what child doesn't love an idea of playing in the sand with the gentle ocean waves lapping lazily behind them?

What does the Beach Sticker Activity Book consist of?

This sticker book is best reserved for distraction bags of 3 hours or less in trip time -- which means, if you're going to be on the road for longer than 3-4 hours, the Beach Sticker Activity Book isn't for you. There are only 4 pages and the entire book is around 4 inches in length and width. The cover acts as the stickers' background scene, while there are around 30 different stickers of various beach-related items. Children older than 4 years will have this done in no time, which is why it's mostly suggested for toddlers and kids just beginning to exercise their imagination in scenario formats.

Overall, the Beach Sticker Activity Book is a fun, short distraction method. Perfect for 18 months old or generally children under 3 years but older than 8 months, this book has a knack for being a kid's instant favorite. Plus, the stickers are easy to remove, which means different scenes can be captured on the same small background until your child's creativity is spent. But parents beware! It also might evoke some repetitive questions and requests for a venture to the nearest beach.

To find this and other top picks in kids' sticker books, visit:


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Disney's Beauty and the Beast - Little Golden Book - The Lifetime Treasure

One of the best presents a parent can give to their child is the gift of a beautiful and timeless tale, such as the one told in Disney's Beauty and the Beast (now available in Little Golden Book edition). A generational treasure, this story has been told multiple times with the incorporation of numerous different characters. However, no one told it quite like Disney did; a way more suited for the sheer enjoyment of children -- something that could be passed down through the years. Little Golden Book has taken the initiative to turn one of the top 10 Disney Princess books into a vintage piece of memorable literature, fit for children and adults of all ages.

What happens in the Little Golden Book version of Disney's Beauty and the Beast?

It's all apart of the experience to write a child's name on the name plate on the inside cover of a Little Golden Book, and Disney's Beauty and the Beast is no exception. This act designates the book as theirs, giving kids a further reason to treaure the story and protect the book as a whole. The cover of this particular book is straight from the Disney's Beauty and the Beast film, making it easier for children to associate the scenes from the movie with the telling of the story.

As per usual, beautiful Belle is whisked off to a strange and forboding castle as a debt to her father. She meets the mean-spirited, but misunderstood Beast, who eventually warms up to her, and she to him. Unfortunately, there are those in the nearby village who would prefer to see the Beast as a trophy on the wall of Gaston; a cruel and arrogant man with passion in his eyes for Belle. From beginning to end, children can watch as the relationship between Belle and the Beast blossoms into a slow romance, eventually coming to a head at the end of the book. It's a story that will warm the heart of the toughest child every time.

Disney's 5-Minute Princess Stories - Instant Bedtime Classics

Every little girl seems to go through a point in her life where she's absolutely enamored with the thought of being a princess, if only in secret. It doesn't mean she always dreams of frills and pink lace, but she might yearn for the freedom and independence that comes through in some of the best Disney Princess books 2012. These tales are abundant in happy endings, life lessons, and positive moral values that allow a child to feel good about herself. Numerous examples can be seen in Disney's 5-Minute Princess Stories; a book overflowing with 250 pages of interesting and unique stories and illustrations for the royal sweetheart in every parent's life.

What are the Disney's 5-Minute Princess Stories about?

The cover of this book is designed to relax and intrigue a child, with every princess in her pajamas, awaiting the tales that Belle has brought to them. The pages are silver-edged, creating a mystical appearance that will have children wondering in awe about the possibilities that await them in each inside story.

There are 18 stories told about the princesses -- including the recent addition of Tiana, but predating the popular Rapunzel. The tales are ones that we've all heard several times, only with Disney princesses as the leading characters. For example, Little Red Riding Hood gets a magical twist when a favorite princess is introduced, while The Gingerbread Man has a hard time outrunning a certain royal beauty in the revised story.

The outer cover of the Disney's 5-Minute Princess Stories has been dubbed "very sturdy" by parental reviews from around the world; however, their one complaint seems to lie with the pages. Many buyers have experienced problems when it comes to how their books were glued together. It is for this reason that parents are urged to shop around for this particular book -- to ensure their child gets the very best in outward appearance and inward stability.


For some great shopping options on this book and others among the list of the best Disney Princess books this year, visit:


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Llama Llama Holiday Drama - By Anna Dewdney

With only 2 years under this story's proverbial belt, Llama Llama Holiday Drama has reached the number five spot on a list of the top 10 Christmas books for kids. Best read to children of ages 3 and up, this books tells the tale of Llama Llama as he stresses over the preparation for Christmas. "Just how many days to go. Llama Llama wants to know!" He's filled to the brim with excitement, turning to impatience and anxiety over what still has to be done for the holidays. This is a book that strives to teach children a moral lesson through the perspective of a relatable creature. Rife with messages and life lessons, Llama Llama Holiday Drama educates children on the importance of patience and keeping calm.

What is Llama Llama Holiday Drama all about?

Llama Llama is a young Llama who has a problem with patience. He wants Christmas to hurry up and come -- but as it gets closer, he panics and becomes overwhelmed by all there is to do. He revels in how stores are preparing for the holidays with their, "Fluffy snow and funny elves. Goodies piled high on shelves."

He and his mother go through the usual preparations of unpacking Christmas decorations, such as stockings and special silver trays for holiday parties. Still, Christmas isn't coming fast enough as, "Llama Llama waits, waits, waits." Llama Llama eases his anxiety by making sugar cookies with his mother.

Towards the end of the book, Llama Llama's mom snuggles and cuddles her little Llama, reassuring him that Christmas will come sooner than he thinks. It's a story of love and understanding, as the mama Llama never loses her patience with Llama Llama. Instead, this book dives into the mentality of smaller children to offer kindness and a message of patience when their excitement is overwhelming.


To find this and other great picks among children's Christmas reading this year, visit:


How the Grinch Stole Christmas! - By Dr. Seuss

One of the best Christmas books for kids is Dr. Seuss's "How The Grinch Stole Christmas!" -- hands down, a tale full of everything that makes Seuss a timeless treasure. One of the go-to books for the holiday season, stories of the Grinch and his treacherous plans to thwart Christmas are available in multiple languages, encouraging children from all cultures to discover and love Seuss books. This is a book that sticks with someone through their entire lives, bridging the gap between generations as a story that parents can pass on as a beloved favorite to their own offspring.

What's so special about "How The Grinch Stole Christmas!"?

The act of some spiteful creature impersonating Santa Claus is an old story. It's been done, but never quite like Dr. Seuss did it. The Grinch is a mean, green beast of a thing who despises the seasonal holidays; all because the Whos down in Whoville have fun opening their presents and preparing for the big day.

Christmas is a big deal in that little town, and big deals can get pretty loud -- which means annoying for The Grinch. Told in rhyme, The Grinch dresses up like Santa to frolic down from his mountain in the middle of the night and steal all of the Christmas goodies from each Who's house. "He took the Who's feast! He took the Who pudding! He took the roast beast!"

In the end, The Grinch takes everything from the Whos -- all the things about Christmas that he thinks will ruin the holiday for them. As the sun rises, the Whos start singing and The Grinch realizes, "Christmas came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags!" His heart fills with an emotion he never knew he had, growing "three sizes that day!" The ending is meant for warm, fuzzy feelings as The Grinch joins all the Whos in Whoville for their Christmas feast -- "And he, he himself, The Grinch...carved the Roast Beast!"

Disney's The Jungle Book - Little Golden Book

Released on October 18, 1967, Disney's The Jungle Book leapt to overnight fame in film format, amongst children and adults of all ages. In 2003, Little Golden Books condensed the movie into a shorter written version of the animated movie, allowing for quicker reading of a timeless tale at bedtime. Over the past decade (almost), The Jungle Book from Little Golden Books has become one of the best Disney books for kids; a staple on the bookshelves of every family home.

What happens in Disney's The Jungle Book?

The concept in the book version is the same as in the film, only abridged. Mowgli is a little boy who has grown up around animals in the jungles of India. He lives with a pack of wolves with whom he's grown up, after his adopted wolf mother found him as an abandoned infant and raised Mowgli as one of her own. However, he's cast out for his own safety -- his pack believes it's time for him to return to the man-village to live his path as a human.

His protectors are charged with his safe journey. They include a black panther named Bagheera, and an amusing bear named Baloo -- both of whom steer him clear of enemies, such as the tiger (King of the Jungle), Shere Khan, and a squeeze-happy Indian Python, Kaa.

The whole tale is quite dramatic, with bits of humor tossed in here and there. The key elements represented in the Little Golden Books version include -- when Mowgli becomes hypnotized by Kaa, when he faces off against Shere Khan, and when he meets the jubilant and devious Orangutan King, Louie. Disney's The Jungle Book ends in a bittersweet way as Mowgli follows a little girl into the man-village, where he decides to stay. His protectors turn to leave, knowing Mowgli is content and safe within the village.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Disney Princess Collection Book - Behind The Scenes

Beginning with the first princess ever created by this timeless franchise, Snow White takes the forefront of the Disney Princess Collection Book. She's followed by Cinderella, Arielle, and Belle, to name a few -- all with different stories to tell that have never been told before. Polled as one of the top 10 Disney books since 2009, these tales feature princesses who pre-date Disney's newest additions, such as Tiana or Rapunzel.

Written for ages 3 and up, the stories represented in this book are ideal for children who don't have the patience to sit through the length of a Disney movie. It gives kids the chance to 'get-to-know' the Disney princesses outside of the animated films.

What should I expect from the Disney Princess Collection Book?

The best part about these stories is the way in which their told, directly from the perspective of the featured princess. Rife with colorful and magical illustrations, this book relies on the written word -- which compromises 80% of the pages to help kids along with their reading and vocabulary. While there are new stories told from the POV of each princess, there are also shorter versions of each film. For example, the background of Aurora is given in a condensed manner, with all of the main elements and key points conveyed without the fluff that would be in the movie. The main stories are then followed up by mini-tales, perfect to read right before bed.

For a mash-up of all Disney princesses in one convenient location, the Disney Princess Collection Book is amazing. The exterior of the book is shining with silver, gleaming with the promise of beautiful tales. The interior pages are glossy and stain-resistant, allowing kids to be their messy selves without fear of severely damaging the book. However, as with all things, this collection is best kept clean and cherished.


For more great stories for boys and girls from Disney this year, visit:


A Christmas Carol (Little Master Dickens) - By Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver

You wouldn't expect classic literature to be lumped in with the best Christmas books for kids 2012, but Jennifer Adams thinks outside the box when it comes to babies and their board books. Told in a direct manner with simple terms and beautiful illustations, A Christmas Carol is part of the Little Master Dickens series; a group of board books for children who wouldn't yet understand the timelessness of Charles Dickens and his stories of Scrooge.

What can I expect in this version of A Christmas Carol?

This book is condensed into a board book, perfect for children 3 and up. The key elements of the larger written version are detailed through colorful pictures and few words, allowing kids to get the 'jist' of the tale without feeling overwhelmed by extensive vocabulary. The tale introduces Ebenezer Scrooge -- a crochety old man with a penchant for overworked employees, strict conditions, and no compassion. He's visited by the usual ghosts -- past, present, and future. The tale skips quickly along through creative pictures and limited word usage, detailing how Scrooge's outlook changes to reveal a remorseful and kinder man.

This version of A Christmas Carol is less morose than the original, because it's meant to entertain children -- not scare or depress them. The ghosts aren't terrifying, but they retain their reflective manner -- while Scrooge keeps his "Bah Humbug!" declaration without the mild profanity from the Dickens novel.

Clever, simple text teaches toddlers how to recognize certain words, while bold illustrations offer understanding. This is a board book of a different breed, since parents usually don't consider the lengthy versions of A Christmas Carol to be attention-appropriate for their growing children. However, Jennifer Adams believes kids shouldn't be left out of the magic of classic literature. With these easy-to-understand board books, Scrooge can become an integral part of your brilliant toddler's seasonal to-read list.

A Bad Kitty Christmas - By Nick Bruel

Nick Bruel has created a classic series with Bad Kitty, including his newest, less-than-a-year-old addition, A Bad Kitty Christmas. One of the newer tales to be dubbed one of the best Children's Christmas books of the last decade. It's also been noted as educational, humorous, and great for teaching kids how to read and understand the English language; the alphabet is covered at least four times in this book -- all in entertaining and interesting ways.

What happens in A Bad Kitty Christmas?

This book is 80% pictures, because as the old adage goes, "a picture's worth a thousand words." This is the case for Bad Kitty as children see she's upset about not getting everything she wants for Christmas. The tagline of, "Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the city, not a creature was stirring.... except for Bad Kitty!" starts the whole book off with a bang.

She wreaks havoc on her home before being tossed out into a snowy Christmas morning where she makes a new friend, followed by reuniting with an old friend. Together, they rediscover the true meaning of Christmas -- at least that's what Bad Kitty wants her readers to believe. It's believed that while Bad Kitty warmed up to the idea of a Christmas without greed, she'll likely return to her old ways to the delight of her readers.

If A Bad Kitty Christmas teaches children anything, it's how to have patience and be thankful for what you're given. The true meaning of Christmas is more than packages and vibrant boxes with silky ribbons -- it's about family, friends, and the love of the season; all things that Bad Kitty comes to realize towards the end of the book. Kids will appreciate the colorful illustrations that go along with each catchy rhyme, while parents will find the kitty's capers to be amusing and enjoyable.

For more top picks in kids' Christmas books this year, visit:


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Zoobooks Magazine - The Specifics

Some of the best magazines for kids will feature interesting facts, appealing activities, and amazing photography; all things that children will appreciate because of the amusing, entertaining, and accurate information within every issue. Zoobooks Magazine is just what children and their parents have come to expect from a monthly circular. Instead of filling a child's head with nonsense about nothing, this magazine strives to be informative and helpful when it comes to animal facts -- such as habitats, pet care, and culture.

What can I expect from Zoobooks Magazine?

As we've mentioned, Zoobooks is full to overflowing with animal tidbits and awe-inspiring photography. The writers and photographers have worked hard to put together issue upon issue each month. Some adults will remember these magazines from when they were growing up, complete with those 3 ring binders where all the back issues were kept for repeated reading. This is a magazine that children and their parents can read over and over again without getting tired of the information. Plus, kids can surprise their teachers and friends with how much they know about specific animals.

The one thing that parents might be concerned with is the images of predators with their prey. For example, there could be a picture of a lion engrossed in eating a zebra. While the pictures aren't intensely graphic, some parents might not feel comfortable with letting their children see that sort of thing at such a young age, especially when it comes to later answering questions about the food chain or the crueler side of nature.

Zoobooks Magazine is reading material that stays with kids as they grow up, morphing from just a great magazine to something passed down from parent to child. The price is a constant $29.95 for a year's worth of issues -- each featuring a specific theme per issue (such as Nocturnal Animals) with posters, stickers, and tear-out cards inside.


For more subscription options or a look at some other top picks in magazines for children this year, visit:


The Serpent's Shadow - By Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan is one of those authors who will always have a spot on a kid's list of top 10 chapter books. He's keen on developing amazing concepts and intriguing storylines; all of which keep kids interested in learning what's going to happen next. One example of his excellent writing is The Serpent's Shadow (The Kane Chronicles, Book 3). The final installment in the Kane trilogy, this book is packed with action, adventure, a little teen-style romance, and confidence building morals. It teaches kids the lesson of, "You can do anything your set your mind to!"

What's The Serpent's Shadow about?

This series of stories is best read in order, from first to last. Kids will have a firmer grasp on what adventures and mishaps the Kane siblings will come across, as well as why these events are taking place. In The Serpent's Shadow, Carter and Sadie Kane are on a race against time (as always) to stop Apophis, the chaos snake, from plunging the whole world into eternal darkness.

The task of destroying a creature so ancient and near-impossible to kill is daunting, but the Kane siblings build a plan of attack -- to acquire a spell to turn the serpent's own shadow into a weapon. The tale goes onto describe how the gods are divided on the subjects of Apophis -- some of them want him to rise, while others are trusting in Sadie and Carter to save the world. It's quite a large expectation to place on the shoulders of 2 teens!

The Serpent's Shadow is intense. The events leading up to the final showdown between the Kanes and Apophis are page-turning, leaving kids (and adults) breathless after finishing the book. It's a trilogy that families will want to add to their bookshelfs, taking turns reading and discussing what transpires in the Kane household.

The Care and Keeping of You - By Valorie Schaefer and Norm Bendell

The Care and Keeping of You is on the top of a list for the best chapter books for kids because it explains touchy subjects in a direct way. Written with girls in mind, this book takes you through hair care, the importance of facial cleansing, washing hands, and a great deal more -- covering every body part and subject from head to toe. Learning to take care of themselves is an integral part of a child's growing up process, and this book allows children to learn at their own pace about matters that may be too embarrassing to talk about with parents.

What's in The Care and Keeping of You book?

Known also as the "Body Book for Girls," the chapters covered can be used to teach boys about certain things, as well. For example, male children might be perplexed over how the menustration chapter would pertain to them, but they'll find the acne treatments and deodorant suggestions to be useful. The chapters go through the process of discussing why it's important to keep our bodies clean and well-groomed. In addition, there are 2 chapters in the back specifically for girls which features information on what a period is (and why it's 100% normal) and body hair.

While puberty and the changes of a body are covered in this book, sex isn't. That talk is best left to the parents because some adults will prefer their children not learn about sex or the act of intimacy until the right time. With the targeted audience for this book being between the ages of 9 and 12, sex might be a topic that would be off-limits; therefore, this is one pubescent book that respects the wishes of most parents on those matters.

Overall, The Care and Keeping of You is the ultimate body book for kids who are experiencing the traumatic throes of their changing appearance. Parents can rest assured that this book can be passed down through generations in their family; plus, it makes children feel more comfortable about talking these things over and asking questions with their parents.


For shopping options on this book, and to find other top-rated chapter books for kids this year, visit:


The Amazing Pop-Up Geography Book - By Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels

People once believed that the earth was flat -- that anyone who ventured too far away would fall right off the side and into the great unknown. Fortunately, we don't believe that anymore -- so, why should the earth be a 2D experience on the pages of a boring Geography book? Ranked number 4 in a list of the top 10 pop-up books, The Amazing Pop-Up Geography Book is one of a kind. The entire world is seen from new angles, complete with spinning pieces, hidden chambers, and secret flaps that reveal new and interesting tidbits about certain areas.

Why is the The Amazing Pop-Up Geography Book a great choice for kids?

It's common knowledge that pop-up books are popular amongst children... and most adults! This book extends a message of, "Take care of our world" while teaching readers about Continents, Oceans, and everything in between. Below, you'll find testimonials from real parents who thought this pop-up book would be just another non-informative piece of toddler boredom. Instead, each parent was pleasantly surprised by the amount of entertaining and accurate facts provided on every page.

"I would recommend this book to anyone (parents AND children) who wanted to learn something new while having fun in the process. There are dozens of little pop-ups hidden in each section -- some are more well-hidden than others, which means you'll find a slew of fresh tidbits with every read. The best parts? The earthquake that 'shakes,' a volcano that spews colorfully across the pages, and a hurricane that whirls and spirals."

"I expected to find the The Amazing Pop-Up Geography Book in pieces within a week of purchasing it. That's just how rough my kids usually are with their books. Fortunately, the 9 year old has taken a special interest, carrying it around and putting it on high shelves to keep the book out of the reach of the younger ones. This has become his favorite book and he seems to discover new facts each time he reads it."

Highlights For Children - The Reflective Magazine

Edmund Burke once said, "To read without reflection is to eat without digestion" -- which means reading at a slower pace is the ideal way to properly absorb information. The Highlights For Children is the best kids magazine for reflective reading and development of strong thinking skills; it’s a proverbial whirlwind of interesting tidbits, packed full of entertaining and riveting activities. However, these activities are tedious, as well as fun; each maze, riddle, or puzzle will require brain-power and moments of reflection to gain the most out of each section.

What can I expect from Highlights For Children?

This magazine is often found in classrooms, and has even been recommended to parents as a way to supplement their child's curriculum from home. Excellent and in place at doctor's or dentist's offices, the Highlights For Children is meant to engage kids, offering them a creative outlet to pass the time. One that is far more beneficial than the usual headphones, blaring pop music, and IPhone apps.

Activities and puzzles are easy enough for children to understand, but difficult enough to keep them challenged. Each issue instills determination in a child, evoking a sense of accomplishment when the riddles and mazes are solved after an hour of concentrating and working through the problems. It's also a magazine that can bring families together. There's nothing quite like going through the mail, followed by the tangible excitement of a child who has been waiting the whole month for the next Highlights issue. It gives parents the opportunity to sit down with their kids and flip through the whole magazine, offering help when possible and talking about the information, stories, and cool facts provided.

The complaints against the Highlights For Children magazine revolve around shipping. Depending on where parents order the magazine, they might have to deal with ridiclulous shipping costs -- such as the ones seen on Amazon.com. Instead, parents should opt for ordering directly from the Highlights website. You'll get exactly what you've ordered in shorter time with no overcharges on your bank account.


Editor's note:  "Highlights for Children" has made the list of the top 10 kids magazines for 2012.  If looking for a great magazine for kids this year, it is always a good bet.  =)

National Geographic Little Kids Magazine - For Preschoolers & Parents

The National Geographic Little Kids Magazine was polled as one of the top 10 kids magazines preferred by parents in 2012. However, staring at the aforementioned poll won't tell other parents why they should subscribe to this magazine for their preschoolers and kindergarteners. How can these parents tell if this magazine contains the right tales and fun facts for their batch of little ones?

-- National Geographic Little Kids Magazine offers a free trial to curious parents, inclusive of one detailed magazine for the month and an optional subscription sign-up form. Each issue is 24 pages long, with up to 19 of those being nothing but colorful, appealing pictures of landmarks or animals for children to awe over.

This magazine is also rife with activities, such as search & find games, riddle solving, joke telling, and solving mazes, among other things. Each issue also revolves around a theme or a certain place. For example, an issue with Africa as a focal point will offer interesting, understandable tidbits on culture, followed by whole sections dedicated to African animals and their unusual or extraordinary habits.

-- This magazine is best for kids between the ages of 3-5, because the photographs are designed to amaze and keep their interest. Fortunately, children and adults of all ages can enjoy each issue, as well. There's no age limit on learning about innovative and interesting things! Tear-out cards feature full-colored photographs of different animals in relation to their natural habitat, complete with facts on the back of each card.

-- One of the best and most important deal-sealers of this magazine are the prices for subscription. 6 issues over a 12 month period will only set parents back $15. That's exponentially less than other, lesser quality magazines targeted towards children. It's also an investment in a child's flourishing knowledge and imagination.

To find some great subscription options on this and other top picks in kids' magazines, visit:


Beautiful Oops! Pop-Up Book - By Barney Saltzberg

When it comes to the best pop-up books for kids, an ideal tale will have a moral or a life lesson. Beautiful Oops! is no exception. With the lesson of, "It's okay to make a mistake," this story alters at the turn of each page. With the tagline of, "A torn piece of paper is just the beginning," this book highlights the mistakes that some children (and adults) might make while delving into their artistic moments. Smudges, smears, and droplets of paint are among the list of 'oopses' that author, Barney Saltzberg, believes can be made into something magical with just a hint of imagination.

What happens in this book?

Did we mention this is a pop-up book? Secret panels, flippable papers, and hidden flaps add to the mystery of Beautiful Oops! Each page features what would be considered a different mistake -- such as a torn piece of paper, a crumbled newsprint, or water rings from unattended glasses. The 'oopses' become more complex as the tale wears on, with more diverse and interesting creations to fix the mistakes each time.

Every element is interactive, meaning children have the opportunity to decide what they think will fix an oops. Will the aforementioned torn newsprint make the perfect smiling dog if we added just a touch of paint? Could folded-over paper be turned into a curious penguin? Saltzberg sure thought so -- and you will too! The whole book is free-spirited, delighting in small mistakes and teaching kids that the world isn't going to end just because a drop of paint of misplaced on their projects.

The message of, "Embrace life's mistakes" is prevalent for children, but it's also an excellent reminder for adults. Noted as a book that is fun for all ages, Beautiful Oops! combines artistic imagination with interpretations -- offering readers the opportunity to make something pretty out of something not-so-pretty.


For some great shopping options on this book, and other picks among the top 10 pop-up books this year, visit:


Monday, July 23, 2012

Goodnight Moon - By Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd

Goodnight Moon is one of the best board books of the past two decades. Written and illustrated by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd, this book follows a little rabbit who is attempting to postpone his bedtime. Composed in poetic format, Goodnight Moon holds a child's interest while utilizing humorous concept, basic easy-to-learn words, and a simple rhyme scheme.

What happens in the poem?

Each page features something the young bunny will say Goodnight to. He begins with objects around his room, followed by the "quiet old lady whispering hush," and ending with the moon -- all alone and gleaming on a page of its own.

Goodnight Moon is a board book that all parents have heard of, but they won't understand the magic of the tale until they read the book for themselves. There's something in the poem that children could relate to -- such as being exhausted but refusing to go to bed. The soothing words and odd rhyming patterns allow children to relax through the story, enough to go to sleep. Parents are guaranteed to be greeted with a yawn or two when the poem ends, as this book is magical when it comes to evoking feelings of calm and comfort. It repeats and relaxes in much the same way a meditation mantra would, except it's designed for sleep-evading toddlers.

The illustrations in Goodnight Moon are intricate with little details for children to delight in -- such as the pictures on the walls inside the rabbit's room or the dollhouse with the lights on. Each image is an integral part of the tale because it gives children something to focus on, offering them a pictoral grasp on the story as it's being read. From there, their imaginations take hold and it's not unusual for those aforementioned children to have a "Goodnight" ritual after reading the poem.

Happy Birthday to You! - By Dr. Seuss

Happy Birthday to You! is a classic; a treasured tale from the amazing and humorous mind of Dr. Seuss, so long ago. Ranked higher each year on the list of the top 10 board books, this particular story is in a pop-up style that will appeal to young children and toddlers alike.

Deemed one of the best ways to wish a growing someone a Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss takes us on a tour of cakes, streamers, and hilarious rhyme schemes where the focal point is the person reading. "Today is your birthday! Today you are you! ...There is no one alive more you-er than you!" It makes children feel especially special, as if Dr. Seuss is speaking directly to them.

Some customers of this board book were more than satisfied as proclaimed in their revealing reviews and testimonials.

"This book isn't just a gift for children. It's for anyone who loves and appreciates the timeless stories of Dr. Seuss. One idea that I had was to get this book for my mother when she turned 50. It was accompanied by a Princess wand and crown in a small box that had been signed in crayon by everyone at the party. We went around the room and everyone read a line out of the book, while she wore her crown and displayed her wand the entire time. She loved it! It made her feel like a kid again... which is something all adults should have the pleasure of feeling once in awhile."

"My children love this book, even when it's not their birthday! I can recite it rhyme for rhyme based on how often I've read it to them for a bedtime story. Led through the tale by a Birthday Honk Honker, several places are visited, with cakes eaten and grills fired up for delicious mustard-covered hotdogs. The poem ends with Dr. Derring's Singing Herrings serenading the reader and spelling out, "Happy Birthday!" This is definitely a book that belongs on every child's bookshelf."


To find more great board books for kids, and to find the top 10 for the year, visit:


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Zombie-Kids - By Julia Dweck and Mark Draisey

Zombies are winning the battle when it comes to their odds with other monsters -- which is the main reason why books about things that go bump in the night are ranked high on the list of the best kids Kindle picture books. One in particular is a favorite must-read amongst children in the age range of 7 and up -- it's called Zombie-Kids; an adolescent tale that's riddled with strange happenings and, of course, zombies. Lots of them!

What makes Zombie-Kids so special?

Written in June of 2012 by children's book authors Julia Dweck and Mark Draisey, Zombie-Kids is new on the scene of Kindle books. These zombies are different because they're of pre-teen age -- therefore; this story follows the habits and myths of zombies through the eyes of children for children. Instead of craving all manner of gross things that are left on the living (Brrrraaaainnnns!), these zombie kids just want to "live" their undead lives in normal ways -- such as going bowling, to the movie theatre, or roller-skating. The only problem is their bodies won't cooperate the ways a living kid's would -- leaving these zombies to their own devices, accomplishing goals in their own unique ways. Hilarity ensues!

From the point of view of a parent concerned with life lessons and moral value, Zombie-Kids encourages understanding and acceptance of the unknown. Zombies are something children can relate to in some contexts -- especially these zombies. Why? Well, kids are growing and their hormones are taking control of their minds, turning them from the sweet and innocent toddler to the raging teenager. Zombie-kids are misunderstood creatures because they're not in complete control of their actions, much like what's happening in the real lives of the children who are reading the tale. It shows kids that they can be who they are -- it also teaches them to be less judgmental of their peers because those kids are going through the same changes.

Overall, Zombie-Kids is a book that is sure to turn into a classic. It's rife with everything children could possibly want on their Kindles -- from zombies to humorous situations and fascinating illustrations. Adults might even feel compelled to read a page or two, if not the entire book. It's a story that takes the traditional horror of a movie monster and transforms it into a creature that kids can feel empathy for -- while laughing their butts off.

The Paper Bag Princess - By Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko

When Robert Munsch created the tale of The Paper Bag Princess, he had no idea it would morph into one of the top 10 Kindle picture books for kids. Of course, there were no e-book readers back then, so it's doubtful he anticipated how far technology would ascend and how many new readers he would gain as it did. The premise of The Paper Bag Princess strays from the usual submissive nature of the women in most fairy-tales -- presenting the lesson to little girls to, "be responsible for your own happiness."

What happens in the story?

Princess Elizabeth is a classic archetypal example of royal-blood. She's vain -- always primped and dressed to impress, especially when it comes to her love interest, Prince Ronald. When a dragon attacks her castle and kidnaps her beloved after setting fire to her wardrobe, Elizabeth is forced to don a large paper bag to go save him. When she finds her Prince, she defeats the dragon with a slew of interesting antics along the way. However, Ronald is less than grateful -- stating, "Come back when you're dressed like a real princess." Instead of being heartbroken, Princess Elizabeth uses the lessons she's learned and the confidence she's acquired to set off on her own -- sans the unappreciative Ronald. In doing so, she finds happiness she never experienced and her appreciation for the smaller things doth flourish.

Most moms will recommend this tale based on the fact that Princess Elizabeth is somewhat a feminist -- discovering through the pages that she doesn't need violence and negativity to outsmart a fire-breathing dragon. Although, those same moms may dispute that Elizabeth brings herself down to Prince Ronald's shallow level when she angrily retorts, "You're a bum!" after his comment about her less-than-royal attire. The theme of a strong female protagonist allows young girls to know they have the power over their own lives -- the ability to choose their own paths and make independent decisions. It's a fable that parents pray will stick with children through the rest of their lives.

Essentially, little girls will find Princess Elizabeth especially endearing. Albeit, it's a great moral and message for ALL children who will eventually venture into the ups and downs of adulthood. It's a tale that has morphed into a timeless bedtime story -- and with the use of the Kindle, children can experience technological e-readers at their best while basking in the classic glow of brilliant illustrations and enchanting words.


To find some more great picks among kids' Kindle picture books this year, visit:


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Very Hungry Caterpillar By Eric Carle

In the last 2 decades, Eric Carle has evolved into a master of the children's books. Several of his stories have made it onto the top 10 baby books list -- offering parents the guide to toddler stories on the "best of all time" level.

One example would be the The Very Hungry Caterpillar; a story that centers on a newborn caterpillar as he discovers the rumbling in his tummy continues page after page. The entire tale follows this caterpillar until he has literally gnawed holes into the book's pages -- up until the very end, when he wraps himself up in a tight cocoon. The hunger is explained to kids as the caterpillar's way of becoming ready to transform -- to transition from one stage of his life to the next. The end of the book features a beautifully colorful picture of a butterfly with the caterpillar's tell-tale body between the wings.

This book acts as a multi-educational tool. Small words are appropriate for children learning to read, while detailed illustrations allows kids to guess what the tale is about before they read the following pages. It's also a great way to get children interested in the process of science from a young age. More than likely, when a child finishes this book (whether on their own or as a bedtime story), they'll likely have questions about the process the caterpillar went through in changing. It also teaches the life lessons of "real beauty is only skin-deep" while incorporating the message of "don't judge someone based on what they look like."

Eric Carle created a classic baby book with the release of The Very Hungry Caterpillar in 1981. It's the type of story that's passed on -- giving new parents the chance to retell a traditional, educational tale that they were familiar with as children.

Check out the ten best picks in baby books for the current year: