Category Archives: Winter Reading Week 2012

Winter Reading Week: WM Favorite Books

Winter Reading Week continues into this week because superior French parenting sort of derailed my theme last week…and so in this time to celebrate what we love, it seems perfectly appropriate to celebrate books and authors we love.

Among my circle of friends, I am surrounded by women with a range of really cool, creative and artistic talents. One edits films, ads for Etsy vendors or corporate videos, one takes fabulous pictures of children and families, one paints beautiful customized canvases for kids rooms (oh, and yes, those are my sisters), another is a party planner and then there is my friend Vanessa Giancamilli Birch, who  along with several talents, has published four children’s books. Receiving a pitch letter from one of your best friends is pretty much hilarious but along with her pitch came an autographed copy of her latest book, Seagull by the Shore; the Story of  Herring Gull.

Beautifully illustrated and written

Not only is the book a delightful read, my girls absolutely loved it, it is also beautifully illustrated. In her well written pitch, Vanessa immediately noted, “Why would children be interested in a book about a seagull?”

And while it’s a good question, I wouldn’t have asked it because we spend countless summer days in Bethany and my girls are obsessed with the seagulls. My personal feeling towards those birds is a little different from my girls – so I actually can see that it’s a great bird to feature in a kids story – and Vanessa’s book even softened my attitude towards the seagull as I learned about the mommy bird forgaging for her babies.

Vanessa pointed out that seagulls aren’t nearly as interesting as tigers, monkeys, elephants or pandas but it is precisely because they aren’t exotic and they don’t live in faraway lands that she believes this book appeals to children – and I couldn’t agree with her more. Learning about creatures they see every day is endlessly fascinating and fun for little ones. We absolutely loved Vanessa’s book, just as we loved her other three, reading about Patches the dog remains one of our top favorite books in the nightly book rotation chez moi (we also love the Platypus and Gecko books too!).

This is the first book Vanessa has published since she had her first child, so I had to ask her if she feels differently about writing children’s book now that she is a mother. “I feel much differently about children’s books now that I have my son.  I don’t necessarily have the time to write, but I feel like now when I write I’m a much more creative thinker.  I try to view the world from my son’s perspective.  Before I had him, I would write about the everyday life of an animal (like the seagull in my latest book) and take for granted the little things, like the bird plucking a piece of bread from a picnic.  But now, thinking about that same small action from Rocco’s perspective makes those everyday habits fascinating and full of wonder,” was Vanessa’s response to my question. Leaves me eagerly awaiting to see what she writes next and how she’ll feel about that project once it’s completed.

So, please, check out Vanessa’s book and if you’re interested in having this local mom and author come read at show-and-tell at your children’s school, then be sure to post a comment here. She is absolutely open to it – so don’t be shy.

Moving on to other books or authors I love, and in my attempt to highlight authors that aren’t as common as, say, Mo Willems, I feel compelled to talk about Barefoot Books. I found this line before Christmas while shopping in New York City and we love them. I bought six at once and plan to go buy more. We’ve started off with a dinosaur book, a pirate book, a book about a fruit thieving parrot named Tico Tango, a poetic book about animals in the meadow,  two kids’ adventures with a Dragon on the Doorstep, and finally a mathematical twist on the Princess and a Pea. True, I might have a compulsive book-buying problem but these books are fabulous. Not only are they exciting and creative but they come with CDs that sing-along with the book. I think the word for these books is infectious. Beyond Vanessa’s books, they are my new go-to gift books for all kid related birthdays, occasions, etc.  After reading more about Barefoot Books on their site, I am even more loyal to this small company as it was founded by two mothers who wanted to instill creativity and imagination in their children while also teaching them about diversity and the world around them. If a tango thieving parrot, portside pirates or mathematically sophisticated princesses don’t do it for you, then surely they have something that will.

Now let’s move on to apps. I don’t know about you but I am constantly overwhelmed with app choices and what are the best ones for my kids. I’ve given up the “is it good for them” fret and have moved on to, if they’re going to do it, it’s limited and it’s going to be strictly educational (minus the zombie killing game I can’t seem to get deleted off my husband’s iPhone much to my chagrin and 3-year-old’s delight). That being said, I still don’t spend much time researching great apps, because I don’t need too, thanks to Moms with Apps.  I hop onto that site or Common Sense Media and come away with plenty of ideas on great books or apps for my girls. The Common Sense Media app has proven particularly useful to me time and again. Seems I need an app for my apps.

Finally, I recently learned about We Give Books. We Give Books is a free website that enables anyone with access to the Internet to put books in the hands of children who don’t have them, just by reading online.  Simply choose the charity you want to read for and then select the books you want to read. For each book you read online, they donate a book to a leading literacy group on your behalf. It’s as easy as that – and points back to the question I asked at the begining of Winter Reading Week – are people reading books to their kids on the computer? It seems if you haven’t yet – now is an easy time to read a few  – to benefit others! 
Starting tomorrow, they are launching the Read for My School Campaign, which will enable you to earn books for your public school!

If you have any beloved children’s books at home, tell us here! Don’t forget, if you’re new here, be sure to “Like” the Wired Momma Facebook page, to keep up with shenanigans, great articles and really any other gossip that appeals to moi.

Winter Reading Week: To eBook with kids or not?

If you’re a WM FB fan (and if you’re  not, you’re totally missing out), then you know that I’ve declared this week Winter Reading Week. Come on, who doesn’t love a good theme, and also, I’ve gotten some of our favorite kid books of all times from friends’ suggestions or as gifts, so let’s share the love leading up to Valentine’s Day and reveal our secrets. Odds are most of you have suggestions that the rest of us haven’t yet heard. So before I get started on eBooks & print books, I’d love for you to send me an email with your favorite kids books (please include the ages the kids loved the books!!), this includes eBooks or amazing educational apps (sadly, we have enough of Angry Birds or Killing Zombies here, to my horror) or if you’d rather share your totally awesome tips for making reading fun and creative, please do send me those and Friday will be WM “loves her readers & their awesome suggestions” day. Email moi:

One of the I'm In It Personalized Books options..great way to prepare for school

So because I am totally cutting edge and hip, I wanted to kick off this week with eBooks. Either you do or you don’t with your kids. Last November, I read this article  in the NYT with great interest. In a nutshell, eBooks for kids aren’t as widely accepted as eBooks for adults, even among adults who only read books on their iPads or Nooks. By no means am I an early adopter of technology, so we are 99% traditional book readers with kids in my house but not because I’m opposed to it. I certainly wouldn’t picture myself nuzzling up with a newborn in a rocking chair with my iPad, ever, but on a road trip with my 6-year-old, if she wants to read an eBook, then I am all for it.

Before Christmas, I was lucky enough to connect with a local DC area mom, Radhika Murari, who is blazing a trail in children’s eBooks with personalized eBooks called “I’m in It!”. In fact, Radhika had her “ah ha moment” almost one year ago to the day – last February 8, 2011. She told me that  motherhood inspired this business because she was trying to follow the recommendation of her pediatrician to avoid TV time for kids under the age of 2-years-old. On long trips to the zoo and around town, Radhika would tell her son stories in the car. Her stories then evolved into stories with his name in it and she realized that kids really do respond when their name is in a story. And who are we kidding,  not just kids, after all, because  moi loves moi, you say “Wired Momma” and I say “Who me?  Oh yes, I am listening….” You know you’re the same…

So on that day last February, Radhika likened her “ah ha moment” to playing Tetrus and felt the pieces of her puzzle all falling into place. With experience in books and technology, she talked with a software developer and launched her business. Monthly she offers a new feature book and printable coloring pages. She also encourages feedback from other moms and learned that her eBooks are great birthday gifts for other kids but no one likes showing up empty-handed to a birthday party, so now you can print a personalized greeting card from the picture book to bring to the party.

For other family members interested in giving these books as gifts, you can record a personalized audio message on the first page of the book, which is really ideal for Grandparents or parents in the military. As Radhika spoke with me about her business, I really appreciated it when she said “Women think they can’t do things but before you know it, you look back, and it’s done.”

Couldn’t agree with her more.

So whether you are an eBook fanatic or opponent, I think eBooks are just going to continue to grow in popularity for kids and I enjoyed connecting with this local mom and entrepreneur who is forging her own path in this field. These books are compatible with iPads, Androids, Nook readers or Macs and PCs.  The books retail for $3.99 and Radhika is generously offering my readers 50% off to try one of her books, here’s the code to enter to receive the discount: ImInIt-41

So what do you think:  Are you eBook fans in your house for the kids? Would love to hear why or why not. And don’t forget to share your favorite books, apps or reading tips with me before the end of the week, if you’d love a to be included in Super Fan Friday.

Until then, like Moi on Facebook to keep up with the fun and frolic. Winter Reading Week continues all week…..