The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls

25 Feb

The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls by Charles C Dowd is a charming ABC book that little girls will love.

The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls

The book got its start on Kickstarter, and nearly 400 people (myself included) contributed to helping get the book into production. I was so excited to receive my copy and be able to share it with my daughter. Every page features a unique career, all the way from astronaut to zookeeper.

One of the many great things about this book is it features careers that many young children might be unfamiliar with. Every girl knows that they can grow up to be a doctor or a nurse, but with The A to Z Guide they can also aspire to be an EMT or an X-ray technician!

The colorful illustrations are action-packed and feature diverse characters that many girls can identify with. With jobs like chef, paleontologist, and yoga instructor, there’s something for every girl!

A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls

Every girl should have this book as part of her personal library. It delivers such an empowering message in a fun, accessible way. Let’s teach our daughters that girls can do anything!

Be sure to also check out The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls Coloring & Activity Book for empowered girls who love to color!

A to Z Guide Coloring Book

I recommend The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls for ages 2-7. Learn more about Charles C Dowd and his other books by visiting his website.

Muddle and Match

22 Feb

Muddle and Match is a series of silly books that let kids mix up the pages to create one-of-a-kind characters. The stories are zany, alliterative tongue twisters that will have kids in stitches!

Muddle and Match Inside

These books keep children entertained whether you’re on the go or at home, and the sturdy board book pages make them suitable for even the youngest members of the family!

Muddle and Match Imagine Inside

I recommend the Muddle and Match collection for kids ages 3 to 8.

Muddle and Match AdventureMuddle and Match: Adventure

Mix-and-match exciting characters including a cowboy, a knight, an astronaut, a pirate, and an explorer.

Muddle and Match ImagineMuddle and Match: Imagine

The fantastical characters in this version include a mermaid, a fairy, a witch, and a princess.

Muddle and Match Jungle AnimalsMuddle and Match: Jungle Animals

Create captivating creatures by combining animals like a zebra, a cheetah, a frog, and a monkey.

Muddle and Match MonstersMuddle and Match: Monsters

These silly and colorful monsters make tons of crazy combinations!

Muddle and Match

Art Appreciation for Kids with Usborne Books

15 Feb

I recently became an independent consultant for Usborne Books and More. I’ve spent the last four years sharing hundreds of wonderful children’s books with the lovely readers of this blog, and working with an amazing publisher like Usborne seemed like a natural next step for me. Usborne has hundreds of non-fiction books for kids that make subjects like science and history accessible and fun. They have a large selection of books about art, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some of them!

Art History Books for Kids

My father is an artist, and art education was an important part of my childhood. I am truly impressed at the overall quality and attention to detail that Usborne puts into their non-fiction titles, and I can honestly say that these are the most comprehensive and entertaining art history books that I have ever read!

Usborne Lift-the-Flap ArtLift-the-Flap Art

This book is an excellent introduction to art history for younger readers. The book is divided up into eight sections including Exploring Art, Making Art, Colorful Ideas, and Hidden Meanings. This book goes beyond just a typical art history lesson by incorporating fun facts like how early artists made their own oils paints (did you know that ground beetles were used to make the color red?). There are dozens of flaps to lift that reveal bite-sized chunks of information and cool pictures. This tactile learning makes this book an excellent pick for reluctant readers and children who get bored easily. Ages 6 to 10.

Usborne Famous Paintings FlashcardsFamous Paintings Flash Cards

This set of 30 thick and sturdy flash cards is perfect for art lovers of all ages. Each 4×6 inch card features a picture of the painting on one side and facts about the painting on the other. Every card includes the name of the artist, where and when it was painted, the medium used (oil paint, acrylic, etc.) and where in the world that painting can be viewed today. They also include a few brief paragraphs with fascinating tidbits on the history of the painting. Ages 6 to 12.

The Usborne Art TreasuryThe Usborne Art Treasury

This book features 22 works of art, by artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Hokusai, O’Keefe, Degas, and Rousseau. Each work of art is accompanied by a project that is influenced by the style or methods of the artist. This book is unlike any of the other books on this list because in addition to teaching art history and appreciation, it encourages kids to get their hands dirty and create art. There are projects for a variety of skill levels, so this book will appeal to a wide range of ages. There are plenty of different drawing and painting projects, as well as sculpture and collage. This book is the perfect way for any budding artist to spend a rainy day! Ages 6 to 12.

Usborne Children's Book of ArtThe Children’s Book of Art

This is a fabulous introduction to art for children in the upper elementary grades. The book features 35 works of art, plus lots of photos. There are biographical blurbs on 30 different artists, from the Renaissance period all the way to the 20th century. The book is packed with bite-sized chunks of information about different artists and paintings, and it also includes an introduction to various artistic mediums and techniques. There is a glossary of over 30 art terms, which makes this book an excellent choice for independent reading. Ages 9 to 12.

The Usborne Book of Famous PaintingsThe Usborne Book of Famous Paintings

This book features 35 of the world’s most famous paintings. The book has large, full-color pictures that fill up the page. Every image is accompanied by plenty of information, including where and when the work was painted and a fascinating glimpse at the story behind the painting. This book is a must-have; it’s like visiting the world’s most renowned museums without ever leaving home! Ages 9 to 13.

The Usborne Book of Famous ArtistsThe Usborne Book of Famous Artists

This book features 35 of the world’s most famous artists. The artists are listed in chronological order, all the way from medieval painter Giotto and Renaissance great da Vinci to 20th century artists like Rene Magritte and Jackson Pollock. There are 2-4 pages on each artist, packed with pictures and information on the artist’s life and career. None of the paintings in this book are featured in The Usborne Book of Famous Paintings so they complement each other perfectly. Ages 9 to 13.



Board Books about Counting and Numbers

8 Feb

My toddler is obsessed with reciting her numbers. She loves to “count” from 1 to 10, and I wanted to introduce her to books that would encourage her love of numbers.

Counting Board Books

Since counting is seen as more of a preschool-aged activity, number-themed board books are hard to come by. That’s why I am so pleased to share this list of my twenty favorite counting books – all in board book format – that your toddler will love!

Count the BirdsCharley Harper’s Count the Birds by Zoe Burke and Charley Harper

Kids can count a variety of different birds with this colorfully illustrated book from acclaimed wildlife artist Charley Harper.

Animal NumbersAnimal Numbers by Alex A. Lluch

This interactive board book features sliding panels that reveal different animals on every page.

Counting KissesCounting Kisses by Karen Katz

A fussy, tired baby gets showered in kisses by every member of her family – even the dog and cat! Part bedtime book and part counting book, little ones will love to read, kiss, and count along.

One GorillaOne Gorilla: A Counting Book by Anthony Brown

Kids can count a variety of primates in this beautifully illustrated book. There’s one gorilla, two orangutans, three chimpanzees, and lots more!

Quack and CountQuack and Count by Keith Baker

This beautifully illustrated book uses bouncy rhymes to teach counting and addition.

123s123s by Charley Harper

This beautiful counting book showcases Charley Harper’s vibrant wildlife illustrations.

The Very Hungry CaterpillarThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The story of this insatiable caterpillar is beloved by millions, and perfect for all ages!

Hippos Go BerserkHippos Go Berserk! by Sandra Boynton

One hippo invites two more hippos to party, and three hippos bring along four. Soon hippos start arriving in groups of five, six, seven and more!

Fish EyesFish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On by Lois Ehlert

This vibrant book uses brightly colored fish to teach counting and basic addition.

123 to the Zoo1, 2, 3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle

If your child loves the zoo, this book is a must!

Little Owl's 1-2-3Little Owl’s 1-2-3 by Divya Srinivasan

Little Owl flies through the night, saying hello to all of his animal friends and counting them along the way.

Mouse CountMouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Count forward and backward in this suspenseful story of ten clever mice and one greedy snake.

Five Little MonkeysFive Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow

This zany rhyming book brings the popular children’s song to life.

Chicka Chicka 123Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 by Lois Ehlert, Michael Sampson, and Bill Martin Jr.

This counting companion to Chicka Chicka Boom Boom counts all the way to 100 using silly rhymes.

Pride & PrejudicePride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Counting Primer by Jennifer Adams

This charming book introduces toddlers to the world of Jane Austen, a must for bibliophile parents everywhere!

How Do Dinosaurs Count to TenHow Do Dinosaurs Count To Ten? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

Dino-loving little ones will adore the colorful, friendly dinosaurs in this funny book.

Olivia CountsOlivia Counts by Ian Falconer

This companion to Olivia features an extra helping of the precocious piglet.

My Very First Book of NumbersMy Very First Book of Numbers by Eric Carle

With this clever book children can turn the top and bottoms halves of each page separately to match the printed number with its corresponding picture.

1-2-3 Peas1-2-3 Peas by Keith Baker

This silly and colorful story of anthropomorphic peas counts from 1 to 20 and then counts by tens up to 100.

Goodnight Moon 123Goodnight Moon 123 by Thatcher Hurd

This counting book is a fun quick read, especially for kids who love Goodnight Moon.

The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy

4 Feb

The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm BoyThe Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy (©2015) by Alexandra Bracken is the first in a series of new Star Wars novels written specifically for young readers. The book is a retelling of Star Wars: A New Hope with a twist: it is told from the perspective of all three main characters.

The book is split into three acts. The first act follows Princess Leia as her spaceship is boarded by Darth Vader and she is taken captive aboard the terrifying battle station known as the Death Star. In the second act we meet Han Solo, who reluctantly joins a rescue mission for the princess. The third act is told from the perspective of Luke Skywalker, who joins the Rebellion in an effort to destroy the Death Star once and for all. This three-act style gives a fascinating look into the background and motivation of Princess Leia and Han Solo, which is largely untold in the Star Wars films.

This book captures all of the magic and excitement of the film, while adding a wealth of new details that further enhance the story. The large text, short paragraphs, and familiar characters make it an excellent choice for reluctant readers. Whether you’re new to the Star Wars universe or already a long-time fan, this book is a lot of fun!

I recommend The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy for ages 8-12, but even teens and adults will enjoy this well-written adaptation.

The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy is followed by So You Want to Be a Jedi? [The Empire Strikes Back] by Adam Gidwitz and Beware the Power of the Dark Side! [Return of the Jedi] by Tom Angleberger.

5 Unique Picture Books to Read This Valentine’s Day

28 Jan

Valentine’s Day was one of my favorite holidays as a child. I loved making cards for all my friends and classmates and seeing how many I got in return, not to mention eating candy and treats in school!

Valentines Day Picture Books

These out-of-the-box picture books represent themes like love, kindness, generosity, and friendship. I guarantee that they will bring more smiles than a box of candy hearts!

Love MonsterLove Monster by Rachel Bright

It’s hard being a monster in world of cute, fluffy things. But our hairy, googly-eyed protagonist doesn’t want to sit around feeling sorry for himself, so he decides to leave Cutesville and find someone who will love him just the way he is. This story is delightfully funny and full of heart. Also available as a board book.

Plant a KissPlant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Peter H. Reynolds

A little girl decides to do something a bit unusual – plant a kiss! She lovingly tends it until one day it finally sprouts. Ignoring naysayers, the little girl decides to share her bountiful harvest with the world. Kids will delight in this one-of-a-kind story about kindness and sharing. Also available as a board book.

HedgehugsHedgehugs by Steve Wilson and Lucy Tapper

Horace and Hattie are hedgehogs and best friends. They do absolutely everything together, but the one thing they can’t do is hug! They are just too prickly. Horace and Hattie try many ways of covering their spikes but nothing works, until they happen upon a clothesline full of socks! This endearing story of friendship is fun to read all year long! Also available as a board book.

Hug MachineHug Machine by Scott Campbell

“No one can resist my unbelievable hugging. I am the Hug Machine!” This adorably affectionate little boy hugs everyone and everything in his path. His hugs have the power to calm or to cheer. Then, just when Hug Machine is running on empty, his mother swoops him into her arms. A Hug Machine’s work is never done! This book is more silly than sappy, and it’s hard not to love.

A Crankenstein ValentineA Crankenstein Valentine by Samantha Berger and Dan Santat

Hearts, flowers, and candy aren’t for everyone. Enter the monstrously cantankerous Crankenstein. This lovey-dovey holiday makes Crankenstein even crankier than ever – until he finds a friend who hates Valentine’s Day as much as he does! Whether you hate Valentine’s Day or love it, this book will give you a chuckle!

Great American Women: Picture Book Biographies

11 Jan

Picture books are a fantastic way to take a history lesson from mundane to exciting. Today I’m pleased to share 12 picture book biographies that feature great women from American history. The achievements of these women changed history, and their stories are captivating and diverse.

Great American Women

I created this list in honor of my little girl, and I hope that the girls and boys in your life enjoy these inspiring stories as much as I have!

Elizabeth Leads the WayElizabeth Leads the Way by Tanya Lee Stone

Here Come the Girl ScoutsHere Come the Girl Scouts! by Shana Corey

JosephineJosephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker
by Patricia Hruby Powell

Who Says Women Can’t Be DoctorsWho Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone

Look UpLook Up!: Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer
by Robert Burleigh

Miss Moore Thought OtherwiseMiss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children by Jan Pinborough

Louisa The Life of Louisa May AlcottLouisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott by Yona Zeldis McDonough

When Marian SangWhen Marian Sang by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Harlem's Little BlackbirdHarlem’s Little Blackbird by Renee Watson

Georgia’s BonesGeorgia’s Bones by Jen Bryant

I Am Amelia EarhartI am Amelia Earhart by Brad Meltzer

Sarah Gives ThanksSarah Gives Thanks by Mike Allegra

Our Favorite Christmas Board Books

10 Dec

Our Favorite Christmas Board BooksIt’s almost Christmas! Books are one of the best ways to share this special time of year with the littlest members of your family. Today I’ll be sharing a list of my toddler’s all-time favorite board books about Christmas. I encourage you to share these books with a baby or toddler in your life!

Where is Baby’s Christmas PresentWhere Is Baby’s Christmas Present?

In this engaging lift-the-flap book a curious baby is looking for his Christmas present. As baby searches the house (is it under the pillow or behind mommy’s bowl?) there are plenty of flaps to lift and discoveries to make.

Dinosaur vs SantaDinosaur vs. Santa

A plucky little dinosaur tackles a series of holiday challenges, including writing a letter to Santa, decorating, and making presents for mom and dad. Dinosaur defeats every challenge with an enthusiastic roar, until he faces his greatest challenge of all – falling asleep on Christmas Eve! This book is so much fun to read that I don’t know who enjoys it more, my toddler or me. Also available as a hardcover picture book.

Olivia Helps with ChristmasOlivia Helps with Christmas

Christmas preparations are in full swing for the precocious pig and her family. Fans of Olivia will giggle at her humorous holiday antics. Also available as a hardcover picture book.

Fa La LaFa La La

My toddler can’t get enough of the adorable baby in Leslie Patricelli’s board books, and this one is no exception. In this installment, Baby helps pick out a Christmas tree, builds (and demolishes) a gingerbread house, sings Christmas carols, and visits Santa Claus. The minimal text makes it easy for even the littlest listeners to follow along.

The Night before ChristmasThe Night Before Christmas (Little Golden Board Book)

I was beyond delighted to discover that the classic Little Golden Book version of The Night Before Christmas is available as a board book! This book includes all of the original illustrations from the classic 1949 Little Golden Book.

Counting ChristmasCounting Christmas

In this cute and colorful book, three children excitedly count down to Christmas. Fans of Katz’s other board books will recognize her trademark illustrations, which seamlessly blend gouache paint, colored pencil, and collage.

Snowmen at ChristmasSnowmen at Christmas

This superb sequel to Snowmen at Night gives readers a glimpse at how snowmen (and women and children) spend Christmas Eve. This entertaining story is perfectly complimented by the opulent painted illustrations. Also available as a hardcover picture book.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Christmas 123The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Christmas 123

This simple Christmas-themed counting book features easily countable holiday images (two Christmas trees, three snowmen, and so on) illustrated in Eric Carle’s trademark style. Each spread also includes an appearance from the titular Caterpillar, who metamorphosizes into a butterfly on the final page.

Little Blue Truck’s ChristmasLittle Blue Truck’s Christmas

In this beautifully illustrated book, we follow Little Blue Truck as he delivers Christmas trees to all of his friends. The last page features a Christmas tree with real twinkling lights, which my toddler finds absolutely mesmerizing. This one isn’t technically a board book, strictly speaking, but it has sturdy cardstock pages that resist accidental tearing.

Guest Post: Book-Inspired Gifts for Kids

3 Dec

My son opened one gift after another and nothing put a smile on his face. He was disappointed and I was heartbroken. I had come up with the idea to ask his friends to bring him books for his third birthday. He LOVES books! That’s why his dad and I made him a reading nook under the staircase and I thought he would love to receive books. I was wrong!

Hello everybody, I’m Stef from Non Toy Gifts and I’ll be sharing a few great book-inspired gift ideas – just in time for Christmas.

Books are fun but you can’t enjoy them right away. You need to put on your glasses and open up the book – just like in Laurie Berkner’s song. A party is no place for reading books and if you can’t read them how are you supposed to enjoy them?

Book-Inspired Gifts for Kids

Book-inspired gifts are those gifts that include a little something extra that will allow kids to connect with the story beyond the book. It can be a toy, a game, a craft or anything else that the little ones can play with once they open their presents and that will intrigue their curiosity for the book they will discover a bit later.

Here are just a few suggestions based on some of my children’s favorite books.

Book-Inspired Gifts for Kids

Everybody Bonjours! is a delightful book that will help kids discover Paris and its most important monuments. A little girl and her family visits the City of Lights and while there, she gets to see the Eiffel Tower, listen to the street musicians in front of the Pompidou Center, climb on the stairs in front of Sacre Coeur and much more. This book can be paired with a giant coloring map of Paris, a set of three French landmark puzzles or magnetic wooden toys.

Book-Inspired Gifts for Kids

The Press Here game is inspired by the book Press Here and they obviously make a great gift together. The book itself is like a game as the reader has to press on dots of different colors, shake the book and follow several other instructions.

Some of my kids favorite games are based on books they are familiar with, like Five Little Monkey Jumping on the Bed or I Can Do That: The Cat in the Hat. You can also check out this list of 40 kids games based on popular books and movies for more inspiration.

Talking about movies, they are also a great choice that children will love. I remember the first time I read Peter Pan’s story to my boys. They had no idea what a pirate was and didn’t seem to care much. After seeing the movie though, guess who became obsessed with pirates, sing the “I can fly” song all day long and chose to be Captain Hook for Halloween? It took a movie to make them love the book.

If you decide to go for a movie, I would suggest to start with this list of movies based on children’s books – it contains 50 titles and is the most complete resource available online.

Book-Inspired Gifts for Kids

A book like Hermelin the Detective Mouse, which is the story of a mouse who loves to solve mysteries, could inspire you to create a detective kit that would include items from the book: typewriter, binoculars and photo camera.

The possibilities are endless and all you have to do is flip through the pages of a book to get an idea about the story, illustrations or characters, then let your imagination fly and I’m sure you’ll come up with some amazing book-inspired gifts for kids.


About tStef at Non Toy Giftshe author:

Stef, a mom of two little boys, blogs at Non Toy Gifts about toy alternative gifts for young kids, from DIY to practical gifts. She shares ideas that will create beautiful childhood memories through experiences, adventures, fun learning and so much more. You can connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Google +.

Thanksgiving Early Readers

10 Nov

Thanksgiving Early Readers

I love Thanksgiving! I mean, what’s not to love? Here are eight of my favorite Thanksgiving-themed early readers. I’ve included suggested grade levels for each book, but feel free to use your judgement. These books also make excellent read-alouds for the whole family!

Silly Tilly’s Thanksgiving DinnerSilly Tilly’s Thanksgiving Dinner

Tilly is hosting Thanksgiving for all her friends, but when the absentminded mole forgets to cook dinner, her helpful friends give her something to be thankful for! Silly Tilly will have kids laughing out loud. Preschool to Grade 1.

Happy ThanksgivingHappy Thanksgiving (Robin Hill School)

The first graders in Mrs. Connor’s class are getting ready for Thanksgiving by making costumes. When the fire alarm goes off, the little pilgrims, Indians, and turkeys get to share their holiday spirit with the rest of the school! Preschool to Grade 1.

The Night Before ThanksgivingThe Night Before Thanksgiving

Kids will delight in this energetic story of Thanksgiving preparations. Relatives gather, the kids watch the parade and set the table, and mom prepares a Thanksgiving feast! This festive book is one of my favorites. Kindergarten to Grade 2.

Amelia Bedelia Talks TurkeyAmelia Bedelia Talks Turkey

When everyone’s favorite literal-minded housekeeper is put in charge of a third grade Thanksgiving pageant, disaster (and hilarity) are bound to ensue! Grade 1 to Grade 3.

Annie and Snowball and the Thankful FriendsAnnie and Snowball and the Thankful Friends

Annie wants to have a BIG Thanksgiving dinner, but her family is small. So she decides to invite a few of her friends and neighbors who can’t be with their families for the holiday. This sweet story perfectly captures the joy of Thanksgiving. Kindergarten to Grade 2.

Just a Special ThanksgivingJust a Special Thanksgiving

Lovable Little Critter is back in a brand-new story! Little Critter causes plenty of mischief during a school play and a Thanksgiving parade. Then he and his family participate in a giant Thanksgiving dinner for the less fortunate members of Critterville. Preschool to Grade 2.

It’s Thanksgiving!It’s Thanksgiving!

This collection of 12 kid-friendly poems details all of the delightful aspects of Thanksgiving. The lively rhymes flow beautifully and the illustrations are charming. Grade 1 – Grade 3.

Thanksgiving is for Giving ThanksThanksgiving Is for Giving Thanks

This sweet story highlights all of the many things and people that we have to be thankful for. A cheerful reminder that there is more to Thanksgiving than turkey and pilgrims! Preschool to Grade 2.