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Book Review: GIRLS GARAGE: HOW TO USE ANY TOOL, TACKLE ANY PROJECT, AND BUILD THE WORLD YOU WANT TO SEE, by Emily Pilloton

If you have a girl (11+) in your life that is even just remotely interested in building or design or working on being fiercely independent, then they may need this book…

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I could spend this whole review listing all the people to whom I would recommend Girls Garage: How to Use Any Tool, Tackle Any Project, and Build the World You Want to See written by Emily Pilloton and illustrated by Kate Bingaman-Burt, because there are so many who would love this book. Pilloton is the founder of Girls Garage, which is a brick-and-mortar building in California where she helps girls “come together to do audacious, brave things as young builders.” Since we cannot all be in California, Pilloton has gifted us with this book that is not only inspirational, but is also gives concrete steps for any girl who aspires to design and/or build. This informational book is arranged in a specific order to help the reader learn a few different things.

First there’s the “Safety and Gear” section, which is naturally where any girl will want to start reading…

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Book Review–Enough! 20 Protesters Who Changed America

This picture book could be helpful when #raisingreaders to give some historical context to what is currently happening.

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I picked up this book due to the cover, because this silent protest at the Olympics is one of my favorite events in history, and the idea of reading a picture book about it was intriguing. When I read it, I discovered that it did not share the information in a way that I expected it to, but it was still informative nonetheless.

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This book, written by Emily Easton and beautifully illustrated by Ziyue Chen, goes through protests made in America, going back as far as the Boston Tea Party and as current as Colin Kapernick. I appreciate the wide range of protests included in the book, it helps the reader see that protesting can look a lot of different ways. However, the language in the book is very simplistic, like one sentence for each protest simplistic. So while that makes for an easy read, it also (hopefully) invites lots…

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After Reading the Books, Don’t Forget The Conversation!

During these momentous times of conflict and protest we are currently in, one suggestion that I’ve seen on a variety of platforms, and even given myself, is to arm ourselves (and our children) with knowledge through books. I’ve seen great lists of books everywhere, from engaging picture books to powerful YA novels and everything in between. And while this is a great first step, the conversations with young people around the books can be just as influential as the books themselves.

I realize at times it can be difficult to have some of these conversations, and that there are times we can “get away” with not talking if the kids don’t ask any questions–trust me, I’ve been guilty of doing that myself. However, you also don’t want your child to walk away with the wrong impression or understanding, so having those talks are important. You don’t have to be armed with a whole set of questions, but just a simple, “What are you thinking?” or “Do you have any questions?” can get it started. I know my kids tend to see things in black and white, so I’ve had to clarify things they’ve seen on TV, and the same would apply with books.

Even with your older kids, who may be reading books independently that deal with sensitive issues, don’t forget to check in with them and see if they have any questions or thoughts about what they’re reading that they want to talk about.

Using books to help #RaisingReaders who understand the importance of equity and become anti-racist is a great step, but don’t forget to have those important conversations!

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An Extended Bedtime Read- Little Cloud: The Science of a Hurricane

Have you ever had one of those nights where you started the kids’ bedtime process just a little earlier in the hopes that that means they’ll be falling asleep faster? Has that attempt ever backfired on you? Yeah, that happened to me last night, but for once I actually was ok with it.

downloadI was thought I was being slick. It wasn’t super early, but early enough that I was anticipating getting in a decent amount of TV or reading time in, but my book choice derailed my plans. We read an ebook copy of Little Cloud: The Science of a Hurricane written by Johanna Wagstaffe and illustrated by Julie McLaughlin, a cute informational book about how hurricanes form. Now I’m sure you’re wondering how a book about hurricanes could derail bedtime, because before we started the book, I felt the same way. However, in school both of my kids have learned a lot about clouds, the water cycle, and the water crisis, and so they had a lot to add to the facts in this book. My son just had to elaborate on what makes up clouds and the different types of clouds. My daughter saw sandbags in one of the illustrations and took us off on a tangent about their many purposes. The book only has 30-something pages, but with all those extra conversations, it took us almost 30-something minutes to read it.

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See those sandbags in the corner? Yeah, had a whole extra conversation about those.

But, and especially considering how our school year has ended, anytime I experience my kids recalling things they learned I get excited for them because that means it stuck.  So, I decided I wasn’t disappointed that our bedtime read was a little longer than usual, because I ended up with a #proudmama moment.

Whether your own kids are water “experts” or not, I would recommend this cute book, just be warned ahead of time, it may bring out questions and/or comments, so be sure to start bedtime early that night. 🙂

#KeepReading!

#RaisingReaders

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Bedtime Reading during Quarantine

So, for many of us still under Stay-At-Home orders, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain a sense of normalcy, in fact, sometimes I feel like we’re just creating a “new normal”.  One piece of our lives that I am trying to keep normal is our #BedtimeReads each evening. However, right now we cannot go to the library, I don’t have access to my office stash of books, and buying books regularly is not an option. On the positive side though, we do have access to our library online, so that’s something the kids and I have been diving into, both individually and collectively.

I decided that we needed a chapter book for our bedtime read, something that would take more than one day, with cliff hangers that had us kinda looking forward to bedtime (yeah, so there’s an ulterior motive here).  Luckily, and surprisingly, neither my 11 year or my 8 year old had read the book Holes by Louis Sachar, so that’s what I decided to go with.  For those of you who haven’t read this book, its about a teenager named Stanley who is unjustly sent to a camp for a crime he didn’t commit.  At Camp Green Lake, all the boys have to dig 5 feet holes every day, and Sachar takes readers on a historical journey to help us try to figure out why.  And for an added bonus, there’s a movie to go along with the book!

Holes was the perfect book for us to read together. It took us about 10 days to finish, both kids enjoyed it and were able to follow along with the jumps back and forth in time. Each night there were pleas to “keep going”, and we were so into it that I read it during the day a couple of times! I didn’t tell them that there was a movie version of the book until after we finished, so they were super excited about seeing Stanley and the other characters come to life.

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So, if you’re looking to create some consistent routines, especially to end your day, I would suggest finding a good chapter book like Holes that you and your kiddos can get into, and one with a movie they can watch later just might give you a couple of extra hours of peace.