Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year!

New Features coming to The Kids' Stacks!

For 2011 I'm planning some fun new features for the blog.

- Weekly highlighting a pre-reading skill and some great books and activities to help prepare the kiddos in your life for educational success.

- Monthly favorite series highlights.

- Monthly favorite author highlights.

- And print to screen highlights of children's films coming to theatres near you based on literature and how you can incorporate some screen time and literacy.

I look forward to your readership and comments!

I hope you have had a very happy holiday season and that this next year is a wonderful one!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Reindeer Christmas

Today's highlighted book is: The Reindeer Christmas by Moe Price

What did Santa do to get around before the reindeer? This picture book full of lush illustrations tells the story of how Santa gained his sleigh and the his famous flying reindeer. A charming story you are bound to share again and again.

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Candy Cane Reindeer

Candy Cane Reindeer are super easy for even the littlest hands to do. You'll need candy canes, googly eyes, small pom-pons, pipe cleaners and glue. If you want to get really fancy you can also use beats and brick-a-brack to dress up your reindeer. The picture below is pretty self-explanatory for how to put the pieces together. When done you can give them as stocking stuffers or use them as ornaments!

Clothespin Reindeer

Clothespin Reindeer are a little tougher to make, but not by much. You'll need plain wooden clothes pins, tacky glue or a glue gun (watch out for little fingers), googly eyes, small pom-pons and any extra decoration pieces you want to use. It takes 2-3 clothes pins, depending on how you want to do the legs. If you use two clothes pin glue them together overlapping the pin heads, but tines pointing in opposite directions, for 3 clothes pins, glue two together the same direction and the 3rd with tines in opposition. Be sure to give the glue time to dry or cool before decorating. When they are finished you can stand them up in a cute display like the ones below, or use them as ornaments for your tree.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Scholastic Experts Issue List of ‘Ten Trends in Children’s Books from 2010’

Read The Full Text of the Article Here

1.The expanding Young Adult (YA) audience: More and more adults are reading YA books, as the audience for these stories expands.

2.The year of dystopian fiction: With best-selling series like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, readers can’t seem to get enough of fiction that suggests the future may be worse than the present.

3. Mythology-based fantasy: Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series set the trend – and now series like The Kane Chronicles, Lost Heroes of Olympus and Goddess Girls are capitalizing.

4. Multimedia series: The 39 Clues, Skeleton Creek and The Search for WondLa are hooking readers with stories that go beyond the printed page and meet kids where they are online or via video.

5. A focus on popular characters – from all media: Kids love to read books about characters they know and recognize from books, movies and television shows. Titles centered around those popular characters (like Fancy Nancy, David Shannon's “David,” or Toy Story characters) are top sellers.

6. The shift in picture books: Publishers are publishing about 25 to 30 percent fewer picture book titles than they used to as some parents want their kids to read more challenging books at younger ages. The new trend is leading to popular picture book characters such as Pinkalicious, Splat Cat and Brown Bear, Brown Bear showing up in Beginning Reader books.

7. The return to humor: Given the effects of the recession on families, it is nice to see a rise in the humor category, fueled by the success of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Dav Pilkey's The Adventures of Ook & Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future, and popular media characters like Spongebob, and Phineas & Ferb.

8. The rise of the diary and journal format: The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is the most well-know example of this trend, but the success of Wimpy Kid is leading to popular titles such as Dear Dumb Diary, Dork Diaries, The Popularity Papers, and Big Nate.

9. Special-needs protagonists: There is a growing body of literary fiction with main characters who have special needs, particularly Aspergers Syndrome and Autism. Examples: My Brother Charlie, Marcelo in the Real World, Mockingbird, and Rules.

10. Paranormal romance beyond vampires: The success of titles like Shiver and Linger, Beautiful Creatures, Immortal, and Prophesy of the Sisters shows this genre is still uber-popular and continues to expand.

Dinosaur on Hanukkah

Today's highlighted book is: Dinosaur on Hanukkah by Diane Levin Rauchwerger

This books tells the story of a little boy and a dinosaur friend who comes to celebrate Hanukkah. The dino is no native to the traditions, but he tries with his best intents to celebrate, though he is not always successful and sometimes makes a rude and messy house guest. Still, boy and dino have a good time and the little boy even invites Dinosaur back for Shabbat! All in all a cute story and one children of all faiths can enjoy.

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Tonight is the eighth and final night of Hanukkah. If you have Jewish friends, why not make them a Happy Hanukkah card? You can incorporate the traditional colors of Hanukkah, and the flag of Isreal: Blue and White, into your card as well as the symbols of the Menorah, Dreidle and Star of David.

If you don't have any Jewish friends, then check out your local Jewish Community Center to see if they do a public menorah lighting that you can attend! Hanukkah is all about sharing the miracle light with the world and many JCCs welcome the opportunity to share their faith traditions with others.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Russell's Christmas Magic

Today's highlighted story is: Russell's Christmas Magic by Rob Scotton

Russell is an adorable sheep who helps save Christmas when Santa's sleigh crash lands nearby. This is a cute and exciting story that will draw kids in. I love the illustrations!

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Here are the instructions for some fun Felted Sheep from Martha Stewart, with a grown up to help, kiddos can definitely create!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Penguin Story

Today's highlighted story is: A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis

This adorable winter tale is all about a young penguin's search for something new and different. It seems his whole world is white, black and blue, but he senses there must be something more out there and so goes in search for it. Children will enjoy the endearing illustrations, and it may open up a great conversation about favorite colors and new discoveries.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Are You Grumpy Santa?

Today's highlighted book is: Are You Grumpy, Santa? by Gregg & Evan Spiridellis

We all have those bad days where nothing seems to go our way, turns out even Santa does. This rhyming picture book tells of Santa's no good, very bad day, and the kicker is it's also Christmas. Fortunately some kind children help to save the day and drive the grouchiness away!

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Elf Yourself and More!

The author's of today's highlighted books are also the brothers who founded JibJab. Every year around this time their website hosts a tool to let you Elf Yourself for free, sponsored by Office Max. Using digital pictures you can elf your whole family and easily share it with friends via email or Facebook.

In addition to Elfing Yourself, you can also send ecards using you family's digital photos, including versions of "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Story". There are even sendables for Hanukkah!

Your family is sure to get a good belly laugh from this activity, one Santa himself would be proud of.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Santa's Eleven Months Off

Today's highlighted book: Santa's Eleven Months Off by Mike Reiss

In this rhyming story the reader follows Santa through the eleven months of the year between New Years and next December. Take trips with Santa around to world to relax, recuperate and refuel before starting on the coming Christmas' work. This is a fun story with some good illustrations and the rhyming text helps pre-readers develop their phonemic awareness.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010


Today's higlighted book: Mooseltoe by Margie Palatini

Mooseltoe is a follow-up to an earlier story about a Moose with a spectacular moosetache. In this book Moose gets so busy with his list of to-dos before Christmas, checking off the decorations, baking and shopping, but in the hub bub he forgets the crucial tree! Unable to find a tree so late on Christmas Eve the moose family comes up with a clever alternative.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Auntie Claus

Today's highlighted book is: Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera

In this book a little girl named Sophie learns the truth behind the old adage that it is better to give than to receive. The story is cute, but a little choppy, kids are unlikely to notice that though, and it's the illustrations that really make the book. An fun read that kids, especially 3-6 year olds are apt to enjoy, and hopefully learn a good moral from.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dear Santa

Today's highlighted book is: Dear Santa: The Letters of James B. Dobbins complied by Bill Harley

This book tells the story of hockey loving big brother, James Dobbins, as told through his own letters to Santa in which he tells St. Nick of his difficulty with being nice to his sister, his strong desire for all things hockey, a rink in the back yard would be amazing, and how sorry he is for the bad things he's done in the past year. One particular touching moment happens when James gives his teacher her Christmas present and then confides in Santa how much fun it is to give to others and see their faces when they receive your gift. An endearing book, great for sharing.

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Write a Letter to Santa

There's not real instructions required for this activity - just make it fun! You might consider including: Christmas stationary, special Christmas stamps (The USPS has made evergreen seasonal Forever Stamps this year), stickers, rubber stamps, glitter and sealing it all up with some sealing wax before mailing it off to Santa! (I love Nostalgic Impressions for sealing wax and seals).

One suggestion I do have might be to include a thank you within the letter and requests for gifts for needy children, especially if your family sponsors a child. And if you don't sponsor a child, you might consider it, even if just for the holiday season, through organizations like The Angel Tree, Salvation Army Angel Tree or Operation Christmas Child.

Also, if you want to be really green and not use paper to send Santa a letter, you can Email Santa.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Eight Winter Nights

Today's highlighted book is: Eight Winter Nights: A Family Hanukkah Book by Laura Krauss Melmed

This picture book tells the story of one family's Hanukkah celebration through several short poems. The illustrations are charming and the final pages include great information on the story of Hanukkah and it's traditions for those that might not be familiar with the story of the temple and it's miracle lamp oil.

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Make Potato Latkes

Here is a super easy recipe for classic latkes from My Jewish Learning.

2 lbs (1 kg) potatoes
2 large eggs
Oil for frying
Peel and finely grate the potatoes. Put them straight into cold water, then drain and squeeze them as dry as you can by pressing them with your hands in a colander. This is to remove the starchy liquid, which could make the latkes soggy

Beat the eggs lightly with salt, add to the potatoes, and stir well. Film the bottom of a frying pan with oil and heat. Take serving-spoonfuls, or as much as 1/4 cup (50 ml), of the mixture and drop into the hot oil. Flatten a little, and lower the heat so that the fritters cook through evenly. When one side is brown, turn over and brown the other.

Lift out and serve very hot.


You may add black pepper, chopped parsley, and finely chopped onion to the egg and potato mixture.
Adding 4 tablespoons of potato flour binds the fritters into firmer, more compact cakes, easier to handle but not quite as lovely to eat.

Tonight at sundown Jewish families around the world will light the first candle of Hanukkah.

Happy Hanukkah! Nes gadol haya sham!