Saturday, June 29, 2013

Girl Rising -- Powerful Stories of Girls Who Are Rising + A Reminder to Support Them

We interrupted your regular scheduled programming to bring you this special announcement: EDUCATING GIRLS MATTERS...A LOT!!!
Image from the Girl Rising Website
What I should be posting today is my latest Project 101: Weekly Library Challenge post where I share a book the boys are reading and a book that I have been reading this week too -- of course both books are from the library. However, I had the amazing opportunity today to watch Girl Rising, a powerfully moving and inspiring documentary about girls who are standing up, against incredible odds often, to demand an education (and the story of those along the way you are helping or hindering their process). I loved the uplifting and hopeful aspects of the films, despite some grim realities:
  • 66 million girls are out of school globally
  • Every year, 150 million girls are victims of sexual violence (girls who are not in school are more susceptible to this violence)
  • 14 million girls under the age of 18 will be married this year; 13 in the last 30 seconds
  • The #1 cause of death for girls 15-19 worldwide is childbirth
  • Girls with 8 years of education are 4x less likely to be married as a child
  • A girl with an extra year of education can earn 20% more as an adult
  • Educated girls grow economies: If India enrolled 1% more girls in secondary school, the country's GDP would rise by $5.5 billion
Educating girls improves economies, drives small businesses and can reduce poverty, and we can all do something to help. 

After I watched the film, I knew my first step in helping was spreading awareness about the film and its message, so this is my start...but only my very first baby step. Please take a few minutes to watch the Girl Rising Trailer, learn more about the importance of education for girls and get involved to make a difference.

And, I have a Library Challenge tie-in as there is a 10x10 Book Club featuring two novels that tell important stories from Cambodia and Ethiopia. I am putting these on my Library List! Does anyone want to join me in reading these books and discussing them? 

Also, if you've seen the movie, I would love to hear your thoughts about it. Did a particular girl's story stand out from you? Did the film inspire you to act? If so, in what ways? Please share in the comments or on my Facebook page as I would love to engage about this wonderful film. 

I have to close with a few words about the girls here in the U.S. who also need support to continue their education and about the reality that no act is too small. If you prefer to engage in a program or charity in your own community that works with youth/girls, then do it! It makes a difference. (I know many of you don't live in the U.S., but may live in countries that are classified as part of the "developed" world. I am sure that, as in the U.S., there are girls in your countries as well that could benefit from your support). The issues facing girls around the world a serious, and in poverty-stricken countries these issues can be particularly challenging, dangerous and brutal. 

I also have seen young women right here where I live (in California) face challenges as they, too, must help raise younger siblings rather than tending to their schoolwork or find themselves pushed to think more about boys and attracting the correct husband than their studies. Mentoring a young woman in your community could change her life. Raising your own children to support women's equality and education also matters. Do what you can with what you have where you are -- if that means making a donation to an organization working in another country, great; if it means doing something in your own community, great; if it means turning a family vacation into a service trip, great -- again just do something! The truth is that if each and everyone of us does something, then together we will create a world in which all girls are rising. 

Love seeing this young woman from East Los Angeles with her award
from the Reel Rasquache Art & Film Festival standing proudly
with her male counterparts. Her film was well-received by the audience.
My husband taught film to a class of 37 in East L.A., and we
are very proud of their accomplishments. Engaging women
with (STEM) Science, Math, Engineering and Technology is
particularly important, and we are proud to do that with Think Ten Media Group.
Congrats to one of the many girls rising through digital arts education!
(P.S. If my blog posts ever slow down, it is probably because I am busy doing work
for Think Ten -- empowering youth and making media that matters!) 

Thanks for reading. I truly hope you have the chance to watch the film - please also check out the take action page to see just how easy (and affordable) it is to make a difference: $30 buys a school uniform, $50 pays for school fees for a girl for a year and $100 pays for desks and chairs. 

P.S. This post was also delayed because Grandma came in town today (my mom, who Wild Thing cannot get enough of!), so if you don't hear much from us over the next week, that's why! Here's some posts to check out while we're off playing with Grandma: 

Things That Go: Fire Trucks, Police Cars + More! 
Simple Ideas for Baby Play at Home

100 Acts of Kindness Challenge
Top Posts of 2012

Thursday, June 27, 2013

{Kid's Co-Op} Eric Carle Activities & Bug Fun

Eric Carle's birthday was Tuesday, and we are big Eric Carle fans at our house. Wild Thing, in particular, loves The Very Hungry CaterpillarThe Very Quiet Cricket and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Of course, we plan to explore new books by him and I absolutely LOVE doing book extensions, so these Eric Carle-related activities from The Kid's Co-Op and other bug activities stood out for me:
Sharing at: Read.Explore.Learn

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Happy Birthday, Eric Carle~We're Doing a Very Hungry Caterpillar Virtual Food Drive to Help Very Hungry Kids! Join Us!!

Thanks to FSPDT, Pleasantest Thing, Pennies of Time, and Rainbows Within Reach for images in collage.
Summer is officially here (for half of the world anyway). For many of us, school was out well before the First Day of Summer/Summer Solstice on June 21st. While summer means beaches, pools and vacation for many families, it also means increased food insecurity for others. Food budgets increase for almost everyone in the summer, and families that rely on free and reduced school lunches struggle with the loss of these much needed meals (many schools also provide breakfast to children as well and for many children, their only meals are the ones they eat at school). For some reason, thoughts of the summer struggle against hunger surged to the forefront of my brain every time I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, or overheard Wild Thing reading it to himself or his father or brother (he has the whole book memorized). 

Finally, it came together, that caterpillar who is so very hungry and needs all of those food items in order to become a beautiful butterfly made me think of all of the very hungry children who need access to healthy, regular meals if they are to reach their full potential. 

In the U.S., 21 million children receive free or reduced lunches at school, but only 3 million take advantage of free summer meal programs. What are those other 18 million children eating? How will their food needs be met? These thoughts led me to the idea of a Very Hungry Caterpillar Virtual Food Drive that I decided to kick off on June 25th, Eric Carle's Birthday. I am honoring the birthday of a very beloved children's book author who has brought smiles to so many children's faces by encouraging others to help bring smiles to children's faces themselves by taking steps to help children have access to healthy foods this summer. Here's what we did. 

We took The Very Hungry Caterpillar book with us to the grocery store and did a Hungry Caterpillar Hunt to Fight Hunger -- selecting foods that the caterpillar ate that we then donated to our local food pantry, which accepts fresh produce. Wild Thing had a blast hunting for all of the food and getting creative with food items that needed some adjustment. 

We found: 1 apple, 2 pears, 3 plums, 1 pint of strawberries, 5 oranges (as you can see, he took the fruit part very literally. If he could have taken 4 strawberries out of the pint, he would have), a box of cake mix (aka 1 piece of chocolate cake), 1 jar of peanut butter (aka 1 ice cream cone - I like peanut butter ice cream), 1 cucumber (aka 1 pickle), 2 boxes of macaroni and cheese (aka 1 slice of swiss cheese), 2 boxes of red beans (representing the slice of salami and the sausage -- since the beans were also red and sources of protein, we thought it worked), 1 bag of blow pops (aka 1 lollipop), 1 box of cherry fruit bars (aka 1 piece of cherry pie), 1 box of cupcake mix (aka 1 cupcake) and 1 watermelon. I wish I had gotten a picture of Wild Thing grabbing the big watermelon - he was so excited about it. It was the first thing he grabbed at the store. I thought we were done, but Wild Thing reminded me that the caterpillar eats 1 nice green leaf to feel much better, so we went and got a box of salad mix. Finally, we decided to add a bag of rotini pasta and farfalle pasta since the rotini looked like a caterpillar to Wild Thing and the farfelle pasta looks like butterflies. 

If you get inspired to do your own Hungry Caterpillar Hunt to Fight Hunger and your local food pantry does not accept produce, you could always get canned or dried fruit, cereals that have fruit in them or trail mix to substitute for the fruits the caterpillar eats. I am grateful that our food pantry accepts produce because I know from my own experience in working with low-income children that fresh fruits and vegetables are often very rare items to have at home. 
No Kid Hungry
Another important way you can help families struggling with hunger this summer is to spread the word about free summer meal programs. On the No Kid Hungry website, you can find out what locations near you provide summer meals and learn of other ways to get involved in the fight against hunger this summer, including through donations to the organization (or to your local food pantry). No Kid Hungry (and many food banks) can turn $1 into 10 meals, so your donation can make a really significant difference. Plus, this summer Arby's is matching every donation up to $100,000 for No Kid Hungry. 

Finally because we really do love The Very Hungry Caterpillar at our house, I wanted to also share these great activities, parties, games, printables and more that connect to the book.

For more caterpillar and butterfly fun, plus recipes inspired by the foods in the book, you should also check out my Party Planning-Hungry Caterpillar/Butterfly Pinboard, which I started over a year ago when I was planning Caterpillar's 1st birthday party. The VHC party never happened, but the board continues to grow. Maybe I'll pull off the party someday! 

While I hope you have been inspired to read (or re-read) this beloved children's book, my real hope is that you have been inspired to join me in the fight against hunger. I would love to see the Very Hungry Caterpillar Virtual Food Drive reach communities across the world. I know that Fit Kids Clubhouse will be participating as part of her Summer of Gratitude and House of Hendrix shared with me how they collect fruit for the homeless. I also learned, through this project, about Kaibosh, which is an awesome organization in New Zealand that collects unused food items from restaurants, bakeries, etc. and distributes the food to food banks! I love learning about organizations like these and hearing about the efforts of individuals committed to making a difference in their communities. 

Now, I want to hear from you -- if you have been inspired, please leave a comment or pop over to Facebook and share what you are doing so that there will be no kid hungry this summer. I will be Facebook sharing, tweeting and G+-ing all of your wonderful efforts. Remember, too, that if you cannot donate food or make a donation to an organization, raising awareness/spreading the word is also so important, so please share this post or share the No Kid Hungry link or the link to a food pantry/bank in your area. I also know that many food banks have less volunteers in the summer, so donating your time can make a big difference too. No act of kindness is too small. Thanks so much for reading!

Sharing at: Kid Lit Blog Hop, Tuesday Tots, Mom's Library, Artsy Play WednesdayIt's PlaytimeVery Hungry Caterpillar Linky at Powerful MotheringRead.Explore.Learn, Sharing Saturday, Super Summer SaturdayStress-Free Sunday and The Sunday Showcase!

You might also like:

Moms Fight Hunger Go Orange Blog Hop
Blogging to Fight Hunger
Eric Carle Linky Party

Saturday, June 22, 2013

{Project 101} Weekly Library Challenge: These Books are On Fire -- And Beach Books for Mama Take Two!

If you follow the blog, you are well aware of Project 101, which is a Weekly Library Challenge in which I share 1 book that the boys have been reading from the library that is their favorite for the week and then 1 book that I am reading.  About a month ago, I shared 5 of my favorite books from the library challenge as a list of Beach Books for Mamas. The books were all very family oriented as different parents shared their parenting journeys (oh - except for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass). I loved seeing comments and responses about the books, other book suggestions as well as some good-hearted teasing that my "beach" books weren't that beach-y relative to what many people prefer. I definitely understood, as I like a page-turning novel as much as anyone else, so this week as I share some books that are on fire (for the boys and me), I will also be sharing 5 Beach Books for Mama: Take Two -- I think this list will fall more in line with the types of books people more often think of as poolside or oceanside, chilled out reading. But, first to share the fire book that the boys have been reading. 

Flynn Saves the Day is a Thomas the Train book we recently checked out from the library that Wild Thing loves to read. The book tells a simple story of Percy seeing that Thomas is in trouble because of a fire, so he goes and gets Flynn the Fire Engine to help. In a week span not long ago, there were 5 wildfires in surrounding areas -- one that was actually in our very small town. When we read the book, we also discuss fire safety, and Wild Thing learns that if he sees a fire, like Percy, he needs to go and ask for help and not try to take care of the fire by himself. He is learning to stay away from fire -- something we reinforce as he joins us outside while his father prepares to grill. Teaching fire safety literally saves lives. Using books and other activities to do so helps children understand how to be safe and helps them also understand what firefighters and other community helpers do to help others. This post of of 10 Activities for Fire Prevention Week is the most popular on my blog and includes many other fire safety, fire fighter and fire truck books. No Time for Flash Cards has a wonderful, comprehensive list of 20 Books about Firefighters and Fire Trucks

As for me, I spent this week reading about the girl who was on fire...Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. I read the trilogy and definitely think these captivating young adult novels fit perfectly as beach books. If you have seen The Hunger Games movie and liked it, you will definitely appreciate the book as you get more details about the characters and the world of Panem. The overall story told through the three books engages readers through the political element as the districts struggle against Panem and through the love triangle between Katniss (our heroine), Peeta and Gale. In the end, part of me felt let down by how quickly things wrapped up, and I wasn't quite ready to let go of the characters, particularly I wanted to see more of Gale's life. Still, as beach books go, I am happy to have this trilogy on the list. 

I love books that are page turners and for me, the best page turners are mysteries/detective fiction and two of my favorite writers in the genre are Raymond Chandler and Sara Paretsky. Raymond Chandler is one of the most-well detective writers and Philip Marlowe has become one of the most famous private detectives in fiction or on the screen, even played by Humphrey Bogart. The Long Goodbye is the most critically acclaimed of his novels, but it all started with The Big Sleep. I enjoyed reading both. So, pick up either if you are new to Chandler and want to give his engaging mysteries a try. The Big Sleep was published in 1939 and Bogart starred as Marlowe in the 1946 film based on the book. I have not seen it, but may have to track a copy down and check it out. I also love the way the book takes me back in time letting me experience the grimy underworld and corruption of the 1940s. 

I stumbled upon Sara Paretsky many, many years ago. Her detective fiction features a female protagonist, the gritty V.I. Warshawski, a Chicago-based private investigator with blue-collar roots and a distrust for those in power. Her detective work often lands her on the wrong side of those in power. Too often, it seems she will not survive, but of course she does. This is what makes great crime fiction -- a leading character who uses their brains, brawn and skills to keep finding ways to survive and to wriggle their way out of danger. Before I had children, I could read one of her novels in one sitting, maybe two. The action keeps the pages turning and Paretsky provides many additional recurring characters for readers to love. You can start with Indemnity, her first novel featuring Warshawski. Though one of my more recent favorites is Body Work.

Now for some beach books in a different vein, in case crime novels/detective fiction is not your thing. Romance novels and travel fiction are also great options for poolside/seaside reading. Of course, that must mean it's time for some Jane Austen! Pride and Prejudice was recommended by a blog reader after my last Beach Book post, and I definitely agree. I have read all of Jane Austen's novels more than once. For me, re-reading an Austen novel is like catching up with an old friend that I have not seen in years but those years never matter, you pick right up where you last left off. There is something comforting about re-reading books like this. In fact, Sense and Sensibility was the first book I shared as part of Project 101. I think the appeal of Austen books (particularly for women) lies not only in the romance, but also in the strong female leads that Austen provides, women who often defy their times. As a pianist, I always enjoy that aspect of the books as well and get inspired to sit down and do some more piano playing myself after reading one of her books. 

Do you have a favorite Jane Austen book? Is their an author or book that you love to re-read? 

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert walks the line of, in some ways, being a romance novel, but is definitely a wonderful piece of travel writing. As someone who loves to travel and prioritized overseas travel before I had children, I loved going on Gilbert's journey with her and recalling many of my own travel adventures. I love seeing the ways that travel helped her find herself and the life lessons she shares. Reading the book always gives me the travel bug and leads me to daydream of another trip abroad, though I have no idea when that might be! 

Do you have a favorite travel book? I just got 4 from the library and can't wait to get started on reading them. Expect to see more travel books featured as part of Project 101 over the coming weeks. 

The last book on my Beach Book list is the only book I have not read and that is truly on my summer reading list as I have had numerous friends read it and recommend it. I have read both of Khaled Hosseini's previous novels: The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns and both drew me in completely, and also broke my heart, so I expect that And The Mountains Echoed will be no different, so if you are looking for an upbeat, light and happy novel, I suspect this is not the novel for you. However, I also expect this latest novel from Hosseini to be beautifully written and to tell a moving story. I love stories that touch my heart and open my eyes to the world around me, and this is what Hosseini does so well.  Hosseini is a New York Times Bestselling author, so apparently I am not the only one drawn in by his heartfelt stories and beautifully written prose. 

Have you read And The Mountains Echoed? If so, please share your thoughts (but no spoilers).

Now for the big question, how did I do with this beach book list? Better? What's on your summer reading list? Do you have a favorite beach book? I'd love to add it to my list!

You might also like:

Tot/PreK Summer Reading List
Beach Books (#1)
Summer Book Nook & Reading List

Thursday, June 20, 2013

{Summer Reading} Our Special Summer Book Nook + Book Activities and Reading Lists from The Kid's Co-Op

I put a blanket on the ground and add another for the bunnies. I also brought out a pillow and, of course, some books. Behind the bunnies, I folded up the crib runner my mother made which is no longer in use. It served as some great extra padding and decor for the tent. The boys love the transformation! Look carefully, the shadow along the back of the tent is of Wild Thing peering into the tent with his binoculars for the first time.
For the summer, I have decided to transform our tent into a special summer book nook. My husband won a tent recently when he completely his Community Emergency Response Team training. Of course, we put it in our yard -- why not?! The boys love it, so I thought it would be a new and fun place to read. (There are other books in the tent that you can't see in this picture. Plus, at night we'll read using flashlights and a lantern).

When I started to transform the tent into a book nook, I decided to create a whole reading adventure/experience to go with my son's first look at the tent as a special reading space this summer. I packed his backpack with some trail mix, binoculars (made from toilet paper rolls), a flashlight and a notepad and pen (plus some stickers so that he could decorate his binoculars). I also decided that we would head out this morning in search of rabbits. We have come cottontails that often come into our yard, and we like to leave carrots and lettuce scraps under a special tree for them. Of course, we did not see any rabbits this morning. But, anticipating this, when I added some pillows, blankets and books to the tent to create the right reading environment, I also put two stuffed bunnies in the tent and The Velveteen Rabbit so that at the end of our walk, we would indeed find some rabbits. Oh - and I put some carrots in there too, which went very well with our trail mix for a morning snack. 

We often see bunnies underneath this tree at night. 
Since there were none under the tree this morning,
we went looking for them...

Little brother is really checking these bunnies out!
I read The Velveteen Rabbit. Then big brother decided to read to all of us.
He enjoys helping Caterpillar learn his alphabet.
After reading time, Wild Thing and Caterpillar
thought the bunnies needed to go to the park!
I would say our new Summer Book Nook is a hit, as was our recent summer reading adventure. 

Is there a special reading space in your home? How do you make reading fun? Have you had a reading adventure lately? Please share. I love anything that makes reading even more special and fun for little ones. Here's some other reading adventures and fun books from The Kid's Co-Op last week. 

Last week's Kid's Co-Op featured many creative book activities and great reading lists that I thought would be perfect to share. First, some awesome book activities:
  • Since we also loved the book little blue and little yellow by Leo Lionni, I was a big fan of the activities for the book that Simple Mommie shared.
Plus, here's some book lists that will inspire you to head to the library (or, as the case may be, pop over to your library's website to start putting some books on hold!): 
  • Buggy and Buddy shared a great list of books selected by Elementary School teachers.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

{Virtual Book Club for Kids} Move, Eat, Draw, Learn with Trains by Gail Gibbons

Wild Thing (3.5 years-old) has been a train fan for awhile now (probably for two years). He loves all things that go, but trains were his first obsession in this area, which begin when he was probably Caterpillar's age (18 months) or perhaps a bit younger, so when it came time to select a Gail Gibbons book for us for the Virtual Book Club for Kids, her book Trains was the obvious choice. Each month with the Virtual Book Club for Kids we share a way that we move, eat, draw and learn with the book. So, here's 4(+) fun ways to play (and learn) with Trains! (Though I am flipping the order and sharing move, draw, eat, learn - you'll see why). 

Move - Pretending to be a train gets my boys moving every time. Sometimes we pretend to be trains while walking in a specific way. Sometimes, we use a good old cardboard box. Wild Thing will push Caterpillar. Then, I will push Wild Thing. Wild Thing also likes to turn blankets into trains as I pull them around the house (okay, so that one gets me moving, not them). Another way we move with trains is when we visit a nearby train station that offers special train rides, but which has trains parked on the tracks on a regular basis for children and adults to explore. They can climb up on the trains and run and walk alongside the tracks looking at many different types of trains. There are even trains that have been converted into shops. It is a great free outing that we do regularly. 

I also absolutely love the Pool Noodle Train Tracks that Play-Trains recently shared on her blog. What an awesome way to get train-loving kids moving and outside this summer! 

Draw - For our art component this week, we made trains using recycled boxes and milk caps. (If you read the blog, you know how much I love to use milk caps!) The boys had lots of fun painting their trains and glueing on the wheels. 

Wild Thing is making sure we have what we need to get started.
After he glued the wheels on the train, he enjoyed painting the train.

Caterpillar enjoyed transferring milk caps between freight cars too.
Eat - Then, we used our new trains to help carry our ingredients when we made a simple batch of 3-ingredient, no bake cookies. In Trains by Gail Gibbons, she shares about many types of trains, including freight trains that often carry food and the hopper cars that carry grains. So, we thought it would be perfect for our trains to be freight cars. My next goal is to transform them into true hopper cars so the ingredients can come out of the bottom of the train! When we do that, I will definitely share it. The simple 3-ingredient no bake cookies we made this time were a variation on a peanut butter oat variety that we really like. This time, I used sunflower seed butter instead, a perfect way to make the cookies for children with nut allergies. (We have also made krispy treats that look like trains in the past. You can find them here, as well as 10+ fun ways to learn, play, create with trains including a DIY train table.) 

Staple ingredients are: honey, rolled oats, sunflower seed butter.
Wild Thing added in some peanut butter cups, which we typically do not do.
The Freight cars delivering the ingredients.
We mixed 1 cup oats, 1 cup sunflower seed butter and eyeballed the honey.
You want enough to get it all to stick together. Then I made cookie balls
and put them in the muffin tin to go in the fridge and set.
Now the cookies are ready to eat.
Learn - The book is such a great learning tool as it is full of fun facts and information about trains, including some brief history about trains, that some trains are steam trains, others are diesel and others are powered by electricity, and the different ways that trains are used (for passengers, for freight and details about types of freight). As we read it, we talk about the types of trains we have been on and seen. We also have extended the learning opportunity regarding how trains work into everyday life -- talking about coal powering steam engines when we grill (we have a charcoal grill) or discussing the power of steam when I make a pot of tea. Learning opportunities are all around us! I have also used the book to reinforce Wild Thing's interest and awareness of blending sounds (which began many months ago) as we read the word train and track and recognize their common beginning sounds. (You can read about and see the TR learning activities we did with Trouble with Trolls and GR learning activities we did with There Was a Tree. I have added to the TR cards we made with Trouble with Trolls adding words like train, track and others to further reinforce his understanding of these blended letter sounds). Finally, I have to share another cool activity from Play-Trains: Coal and Water Steam Engine Sensory Play

As you can see, Trains by Gail Gibbons offers many fun learning and play activities. We have also been enjoying some other books by Gibbons. Our other favorites are Dinosaurs, Corn and Vegetables. Dinosaurs and Vegetables both lend themselves quite well to sorting activities. We plan to sort Wild Thing's dinosaur fact cards using the book putting all of the sauropods together and such. I also plan to have Wild Thing and Caterpillar sort vegetables too. I also thought I would share some other dinosaur, vegetable and corn activities we have done in the past that would work as extensions/connections to those Gibbons' books: Composting and Dinosaurs, Cornmeal Sensory Bin, Popcorn on the Cob and Vegetable Recipes for Kids from A-Z

Have you read any books by Gail Gibbons? Which are your favorites? 

(P.S. My son is actually playing trains with chairs as I finish this post right now!) 

Sharing at: Eco-Kids Tuesday, Artsy Play Wednesday, Mom's Library, Kid Lit Blog Hop, It's Playtime, Stress-Free SundayThe Sunday Showcase and Kids in the Kitchen!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

5 Great Films About Fathers -- Selected by a Father + Filmmaker

Not only is my husband a great father to our two sons, but he is also a talented independent filmmaker. SMUGGLED, the latest independent film that he wrote and directed, which our production company released a couple of months ago, won 5 awards on the film festival circuit with 15 selections and has been featured by NBCLatino, ABC and many other media outlets, including a great write-up by Mamiverse praising the way the film portrays a beautiful mother-son relationship (largely in honor of his own mother who passed away over 10 years ago). I also love this post from Kid World Citizen about the way the film can be utilized to teach youth about immigration. 

For Father's Day, I decided to ask him to pick 5 of his favorite films featuring fathers. Some of his picks were as I expected, but some surprised me -- in a good way. I also wrote down my own top 5 films featuring fathers before he shared his. So, here's his picks (and mine!) 
  1. Pursuit of Happyness - Based on the life of Chris Gardner, this film shows the sacrifices and risks a father will take to give his son a better life -- and to be a father that models courage and commitment. This touching film will make you life and cry -- and, most likely, will leave you inspired. 

  2. I Am Sam - More than any other film, I Am Sam gets to the core of what it really means to be a great father as it tells the story of a mentally disabled father struggling to raise his 7 year-old daughter whose mother skipped out immediately after the child was born. Sean Penn's performance as Sam is amazing. His character's love and dedication for his daughter is juxtaposed against a hard-working, high profile (and high strung) lawyer who struggles to connect to her son. Ultimately, as well, the film is a testament to the most basic parenting reality -- that it does indeed take a village to raise a child. 

  3. The Karate Kid (1984 version) - This was the first film on the list that surprised me (in fact, my #1 and 2 films were the same as my husband's). Though there is no traditional father in The Karate Kid, but certainly Mr. Miyagi ends up assuming the role of father for Daniel (played by Ralph Maccio). Likewise, Daniel fulfills the role of son for Miyagi as well, who even calls him Danielson. I loved that this film was included because it highlights the reality that being a father is not about blood, but about the roles that people play in each other's life. Certainly, there are several fathers who should (and hopefully will) be honored on Father's Day by children who appreciative them, even if those individuals are not fathers in the traditional sense of the word.

  4. John Q - This is an often overlooked film. (In fact, when he mentioned it, I realized that I had forgotten about this film). Yet, it certainly makes sense on the list. In John Q, Denzel Washington plays a father who will go to any length to save his son. Can't get much more fatherly than that. 

  5. Daddy Day Care - The list definitely needed a comedy, and this is a perfect comedic film to include as it tells the story of two fathers (Charlie played by Eddie Murphy and Phil played by Jeff Garlin) who open up a day care after being laid off from their advertising jobs. We need films/books/media that demonstrate the value of men as caregivers and that underscore that men can excel as child caregivers. Additionally, through the film, Charlie realizes that spending time with his son and being available for his son is more important than making lots of money -- an important reminder indeed for all parents. 
I have to also share that Delta Force 3: The Killing Game almost made the list, even though my husband wanted me to make it very clear that he in NO WAY is recommending that anyone see this film or that it is good -- quite the opposite, the film is AWFUL. However, it almost made the list because it is a film he always thinks about when he thinks about fathers because his father was a huge fan of all of the film. He thinks that it is quite possible that this is one of the last movies he ever watched with his dad. So, really it is the memory connected with the film that makes it important. 

How about you? What are your favorite films about fathers? Is their a film that makes you think of your dad or that the two of you always watched together? Right now, at our house, my 3.5 year-old loves to The Sandlot with his daddy! 

As for me, my top 5 are: Pursuit of Happyness, I Am Sam, Life Is Beautiful, Annie (my father and I actually performed songs from Annie together at our church. My mom made me a perfect red dress, and my dad was a fabulous Daddy Warbucks!). #5 for me is Be Kind Rewind. Be Kind Rewind is my surprise film on the list as it, like The Karate Kid, portrays a father-son like relationship between two individuals that are not related, but who certainly play the role of father and son in one another's lives -- each teaching the other some valuable things along the way. 

My husband and I also discussed some of our favorite television and film fathers of all time, which include: Cliff Huxtable (of course), Clark Griswold and Al Bunker with honorable mentions for Homer Simpson and Al Bundy. Whose on your list?
Ramon, my husband and Wild Thing + Caterpillar's daddy, shooting Smuggled. 
I also have to say that another really cool thing about my boys having a filmmaker for a father is the videos he makes each year that highlight different, wonderful family moments. I LOVE that we have these gems. You can watch them (and other work by Ramon and our company, Think Ten Media Group, on our Vimeo page).