An Unconventional Librarian’s Holiday Gift Guide for Kids

Holiday Gift Guide for Kids


If you’re all things Nat Geo and wild animals like I am, you’ve got to check out this list of books for your little animal lover!


National Geographic Kids:

Just Joking Jumbo


Bet You Didn’t Know!


Hey Baby!


Ultimate Dinopedia

Bibliographies, Information, General

Add this to your Summer Reading list – Families on Foot : Urban Hikes to Backyard Treks and National Park Adventures

Families on Foot : Urban Hikes to Backyard Treks
and National Park Adventures

Thinking about hiking this summer? Here’s a book that’ll help out. From what to pack, to what to cook,
it’s all inside.

Down and Dirty Tips and Tricks for Families on the Trail Published in partnership with the American Hiking Society, Families on Foot offers practical advice and engaging activities to make hiking even more fun for families. You’ll find clever ideas and inspiration that apply to kids of all ages–from tackling diaper blowouts in the backcountry to using smartphone apps and GPS to engage teenagers with nature. Information for children with special needs and seniors also is included. Author Jennifer Pharr Davis, the former record holder of the fastest thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, together with her husband Brew Davis, marries old-fashioned know-how on safety, preparation, and trail conservation with modern day activities and technology, inspirational and interactive games, and down-and-dirty fun on the trail. Information includes smart tactics for families with kids of a variety ages on the trail–from tackling diaper blowouts in the backcountry to getting teenagers engaged in nature with smartphone apps and GPS–and is inclusive of special needs children and senior adults.

Mad props to the book for including pregnant women and folks with special needs in the book. Hiking is for everyone!


When I Carried You in My Belly by Thrity Umrigar, Illustrated by Ziyue Chen

When I Carried You in My Belly is one of those books that should have been written years ago because you’re instantly carried back in time to when you were a little one in your mama’s arms and feel like the book was written just for you.

“When I carried you in my belly,

we danced every dance together:

the rumba and the samba,

the tango and the fandango

And that is why your feet…

Tap in rhythm to the earth today”

Aren’t those words precious? The whole book is a love song. It’s also an affirmation to girls that they are loved and that they are capable of doing anything. And that’s a fact that many, too many girls outside of the US don’t know. The book shows people of color and families participating in activities that aren’t stereotypically gender specific. Like the grandfather bakes, the grandmother builds the baby’s crib. The family bellydances, and eats noodles and represents so many great things about non traditional families.

So much good going on in this book!

Children Diversity Reading Challenge

Wonderful You: An Adoption Story by Lauren McLaughlin; illustrated by Meilo So

Wonderful You: An Adoption Story

Never have I read a book that so beautifully captures the dreams of young mothers for their unborn children. To be sure, Wonderful You is an adoption story, but it is about so much more than adoption. Mothers have dreams and visions of what their life will be like once a baby comes and I feel like adoptive or birth mothers have similar visions. I can only imagine that the mother giving up her child for adoption hopes the adoptive parents live up to her dreams. Both mothers want the best life for their new babies and want the babies to feel loved and supported. Wonderful You captures those feelings beautifully.

Especially captivating are the watercolor illustrations. They make you feel dreamy, like you’re in the heads and hearts of both families. And the fact that the adoptive parents are multicultural are an extra bonus!

Wonderful you is a lovely  book but it’s not just for adoptive families; it’s for every family that wants to show their child that they, too are Wonderful.

Books Children

Need to talk to kids about death? Try Life and I by Elisabeth Helland Larsen & Marine Schneider

Life and I by Elisabeth Helland Larsen & Marine Schneider


There’s something about talking to children about death that leaves even the strongest of parents stuttering, mumbling, or reaching for euphemisms. I’ve learned through experience that sometimes kids need the truth. Maybe a basic truth, but the truth. Some kids need a bit of a story to help them understand. If you’re in a situation in which  you have to speak to a little one about death and your little one needs a story to connect with but you don’t want to go the religious or anthropomorphous route of talking animals, Little Gestalten brings us an interesting view.

It’s called Life and I, A Story About Death. Death is depicted as an impish, waifish  watercolor little girl sort-of-being who talks about all the things that death is part of.

I pay visits to small animals with soft fur and to big animals with trunks or sharp teeth…

Death also discusses how she visits many people at one time, old and young. Death has to exist, the book says, in order for new babies to make their way in this world. The best part of the book is near the end when Death says that Love doesn’t die even when something  you love does.

There are some great bits in the book. Perhaps it will make discussing death easier with little ones. This is a keepsake book that would be nice if talked about every year on a grandmother’s birthday or something.

Talking with kids about death is difficult. I’ve had to do it myself many times. I hope more books become available that are as beautifully illustrated as Life and I.

How have you talked to your little ones about death?



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Baby Sisters Need Vaccines Too #Blogust #TBT

Baby Sisters Need Vaccines Too
#Blogust #TBT


When you become a parent for the first time you strive to do everything absolutely perfectly: contamination free zones, no strangers holding baby, homemade baby food, every single baby first documented in the baby book.  By the time the second baby comes along, you mean well, but somehow a binky dropped on the floor no longer needs the sterilization chamber of a hospital ward: just pop it into your mouth and give it right back to baby. Homemade baby food? Yeah right. Give #2 some jar food that you got on sale. Sure I have baby’s photo book ready. Ready to take out of the package and insert all those stunning firsts that are still uploaded into my camera.

So you see where I’m going with this? Second and subsequent babies kinda draw the short straw when it comes to getting things. It’s not for lack of love and affection that seconds draw up short; it’s just that parents are busier and they also learn a thing or two about what’s important and so they cut corners.

The one thing seconds  NEVER get skimped on are VACCINES.

In our house, #1 son came first.


And we were smitten. As newly minted parents we did everything we were supposed to for him. Photos? Check. Homemade baby food? Check. Vaccines? Check.

Then baby sister came along and our world changed dramatically. If I thought I was smitten with my first child, her brother was smitten with her. Photos? Check. Homemade baby food? Not so much. Vaccines? Check.

Of course we got our precious baby sister vaccinated. She stole our hearts and we wanted to make sure that #1 son had a baby sister for life.


Without vaccines, big brothers won’t get a shot at having a baby sister. And every kid deserves a baby sister. Look at the two siblings above: at her high school graduation #1 son is still smitten with his baby sister.  This #Blogust in honor of them, I’m sharing my personal vaccination stories.

Help give children life-saving vaccines by joining with Blogust. Each comment or post share will provide a vaccine to a child in need – up to 30,000 in the month of August.

Please help me help the little ones. Share and comment. Every time you do, a little sibling somewhere can get a vaccine.

Diversity Reading Challenge

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

I don’t want to say too much about Half the Sky because I feel like I can’t say enough about the book and the cause it represents.


So I’m going to say very little. What I will say echoes something Oprah has said for decades: being born a girl in the United States is about the luckiest place you can be born.  Oprah doesn’t quite say it like that but you’ll get my meaning. Girls and young women (and often boys) are tricked and sold and forced into sex slavery, prostitution, and forced to suffer other unbearable inhuman ways of life. The book made me angry and it made me cry. Sex trafficking is a thing that must be stopped.

I’m not exactly sure what I can do as one person but because I wanted to feel like I was doing something, I found a site called and they sell pants called punjammies. These punjammies are pants sewn by women who have come from similar backgrounds. The average pair of paints sells for approx $60. I bought a pair that I love and plan to buy more.

Please read this book and know that trafficking is not just in underdeveloped countries. Remember that Ellen Hopkins’ books called Trick is about teens trafficked in the Las Vegas area, although it does happen in other cities as well. We owe children a better life than this. We’ve got to do better.

Adult Fiction Books

Towne Book Center Book Club Pick: The Light Between Oceans

I heard this idea on NPR one day a long time ago and it stuck with me: whenever I hear the title of the book somewhere in the book it makes me think: gagggggggggg. I don’t know why. It feels hokey or something. And seeing as I’m a fan of very strange sounds, gagggggggghhh is not a sound I like to make when reading a book.  It’s kinda like that mushy feeling you get when there’s too much kissing going on in a book. blech.


Where was I? Oh . The Light Between Oceans. The title is NOT in the book and for that I love the book.  I didn’t love the book; didn’t hate it either.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE learning about lighthouses and Australia, but the story took too long to develop.  But when it did develop, it was nice.  What’s interesting about the book is that the human struggle post WWI in Australia is strikingly similar to that all over the world: PTSD, break ups of families, sadness, loss, new beginnings, etc.

The life of a lighthouse keeper is a lonely one. And while I’m not a swimmer or a fisherman nor do I enjoy breezy ocean sprays, there is something about being alone with a lighthouse (and it’s dangerous mercury) and the magnificent ocean view that intrigues me. Hours of solitude and being alone with my thoughts sounds like a pretty pleasurable way to spend my days.  It’s completely romantic rubbish, I’m sure but the introvert in me likes at least the idea of it.

Thanks to the magic of the internet I found a photo of a lighthouse that might have been the inspiration for the lighthouse in this book.


Not nearly as romantic looking as imagined in the book but gives you an idea of what the terrain might have looked like.

So, the great thing about reading books is that you get to travel. For this book I traveled to Australia and learned about Tasmania too, while googling Australia.

I wonder where I’ll travel to next in my readings?

Have you read The Light Between Oceans? What are your thoughts?