Friday, January 31, 2014

14 Days of Loving-Kindness: A Challenge for My Family and Myself

At the end of December, I selected my guiding word for 2014: Compassion. I wrote very little on my blog for most of January as I focused on what compassion means for me and how to begin sharing my journey with others. 

I decided focusing on 14 Days of Loving-Kindness in February might be a good start. The dictionary definition of compassion doesn't quite capture what compassion means to me: 1) a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc.; 2) sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

Feeling compassion for someone or acting compassionately, for me, involves feeling loving-kindness toward that person or expressing kindness for a person that is rooted in love. 

For me, compassion requires empathy, not sympathy.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The 10 Best Multicultural Children's Books We Read in 2013

More of Our Favorite Multicultural Children's Books + Multicultural Shares from The Kid's Co-Op

For Multicultural Children's Book Day, we shared our Top 3 (+1) Multicultural Children's Books with each of the boys and myself picking our favorites: The Magic Poof, ABC Kids, City I Love, and Kids Like Me...Learn ABCs.

I decided to also look back through the blog at all of the books we read and shared last year and discovered that about 40 of the books we featured on our blog qualified (to me) as multicultural kid lit. Rather than sharing all 40, I decided to pick our Top 10 to highlight here, so with our favorites from Monday that makes 14 Multicultural Children's Books that we absolutely love. (Special thanks to No Time for Flashcards who shared the Best Children's Books they read in 2013 on her blog earlier this year and planted the seed of this idea in my head). Here's our Top Ten! 

I Am Mixed by Garcelle Beauvais and Sebastian Jones introduces young readers to Jay and Nia, twins whose parents come from different backgrounds. As a family, the twins and their parents find ways to celebrate their mixed ancestry.  (Psssstttt...Throughout this post, when you click on the book title you'll go to a post from last year where we highlighted the book.)

Tito, the Firefighter - Tito, el bombero by Tim Hoppey introduces readers to various Spanish words as they meet Tito, a young boy who speaks Spanish and whose language skills prove valuable fas he helps a New York firefighter respond to an emergency call in Spanish -- a book perfect book for little ones that love firetrucks.

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama highlights many important moments in the history of the U.S., including highlighting individuals from various backgrounds who have shaped the nation.

Rosa's Bus: The Ride to Civil Rights by Jo S. Kittinger tells the inspiring story of Rosa Park and her historic act -- highlighting that each of us can truly make a difference. 

Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Greenfield Thong encourages children to seek and find the shapes that are all around them, while also introducing readers to Spanish language words, foods and culture. 

Nighttime Ninja by Barbara Decosta with unique illustrations by Ed Young, this book captivated my sons as a little nighttime ninja goes on a quest for ice cream, only to be caught by his mother. 

Talk Peace by Sam Williams, a lovely and simple book encouraging children to talk peacefully with beautiful artwork and children of multiple backgrounds. This truly multicultural book takes young readers throughout the world as it celebrates peace.  

The Construction Crew by Lynn Meltzer, a perfect book for Preschoolers, especially those who love building. I loved that the construction workers were diverse in not only race and ethnicity, but also gender. 

Ten Trick-or-Treaters by Janet Schulman, a fun counting book that my sons devoured at Halloween, which features children of various ethnicities-- in lots of fun costumes too!

A Color of His Own - Leo Leonni, a classic children's book in which a chameleon learns to accept himself just as he is and to celebrate and appreciate what makes him unique. 

I also wanted to get back on track with the Weekly Kid's Co-Op this week after taking a "soft" bloggy break, so I thought it would be perfect to share these five multicultural posts from last week (again click to go to these fab posts): 

Celebrating Diversity in Children's Literature for Multicultural Children's Book Day from Africa to America. 

Making Rainbow Stew for Multicultural Children's Book Day with Crafty Moms Share.

Five Books to Celebrate Chinese New Year from Generation iKid.

China Elementary School Unit Study for Chinese New Year from Afterschool for Smarty Pants.

Norwegian Heart Basket Valentine's Day Fun from World of Learning.

Sharing at: Booknificent Thursday and Sharing Saturday.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Kid Picks: Celebrating Multicultural Children's Book Day

The Magic Poof, ABC Kids, and City I Love - 3 of Our Favorite Multicultural Children's Books

Did you know today is Multicultural Children's Book Day? I love that Mia Wenjen of Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr of Jump Into a Book (two of my favorite blogs for kid lit suggestions) put their creative minds together to raise awareness about the lack of diversity in children's books and to highlight wonderful multicultural kid lit! 

Census data shows that 37% of the US population consists of people of color, but only 10% of children’s books published have diverse content. Mia and Valarie are leading the charge to change that, and so many other bloggers, like me, are joining in!

As a mother who has traveled extensively and met wonderful people from so many different cultures and who is raising children that have very multicultural/multiethnic backgrounds, finding children's books that highlight and/or celebrate the diversity of the world is very important to me. 

In honor of this fabulous day, I decided to highlight three of our families favorite multicultural children's books. I asked each of the boys to pick their favorite book. Their choices were no surprise. 

Caterpillar (2.5) selected The Magic Poof by Stephen Hodges, which we've highlighted on our blog a few times before. This fun book is all about Ange-Marie and her amazing hair (or poof)! It is a playful story with engaging illustrations that celebrates Ange-Marie's unique hair. I love that my sons are both drawn to an African-American female lead character, which is extremely rare in the world of kid lit. I also love that this book encourages children to celebrate whatever makes them unique. 

When we initially got this book this summer, Caterpillar was immediately drawn to it. I know many elementary school-aged children that love The Magic Poof, but my little tot loves it too! (Click this sentence to read our initial review of the book). 

Wild Thing (4) quickly selected ABC Kids by Simon Basher, a fun alphabet book featuring creative alliteration on every page. Plus, each page features a child and the diversity among them impressive (and rare in similar books I've seen). 

Fun illustrations of children of so many different ethnicities makes this book a big winner. We have probably checked this book out from the library at least 10 times now! (I think it's time for Mommy to finally buy it). Of children's book genres, alphabet books rank at the top of our list with ABC Kids at the top of the top!

Bonus share - while on the subject of alphabet books, I also have to recommend Kids Like Me...Learn ABCs by Laura Roney. This is another book we highlighted through our Weekly Library Series last year, a true gem of a book - rare and beautiful. Children photographed in the book have Down's syndrome. Plus, the book includes upper case and lower case letters and sign language for each letter. 

Now for my "official pick:" City I Love by Lee Bennett Hopkins, a poetry book for children that highlights eighteen different cities: New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Venice, Mexico City and many more -- absolutely multicultural and absolutely fabulous! This book serves as a great jumping off point to truly explore the multicultural beauty of the world, and then to discuss with your children which cities they love. 

We love discovering new books that celebrate multiculturalism and diversity, so if you've got a favorite we should know about, please share it! Leave me a note in the comments with a book or link to a post or pop over and share it with The Good Long Road on Facebook. I'll also pin books/posts to my Around the World with Kids Pinboard

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

We Love Kids Get Arty: Exploring the Great Artists with Toddlers and Preschoolers

Inspired by Red Ted Art

Kids Get Arty from Maggy Woodley of Red Ted Art is a wonderful bi-monthly link-up and arts education series. She inspired me to find creative ways to introduce my sons to great artists and to explore numerous artistic styles and approaches with them, even at young ages. If you're even a tiny bit intimidated by the idea of exploring art with your children, Red Ted Art and this series will absolutely help you get started through its fun and accessible ideas.

We've now explored Andy Warhol, Vincente Van Gogh, Romero Britto, Inocente, Molly Upton, Diego Rivera and Robert Rauschenberg -- and in some pretty creative ways. My 2.5 and 4 year-old sons began exploring the great artists a year and a half ago proving that even toddlers and preschoolers can explore the great artists.

Here's what we've done so far as we've explored the great artists: 

(We shared a Britto-inspired Letter A Color By Number Sheet here). 

(Try the Britto hearts and this Inocente project as part of your Valentine's Day-related activities). 

(This one was a community art project, rather than an activity I did with the boys. 
Most of the participants were elementary school children). 

I'm planning another Romero Britto inspired art project that I hope to share on the blog very soon! I love his heart art and always get inspired to revisit his work each year around Valentine's Day.

For more Kids Get Arty ideas, visit Red Ted Art and get inspired.

P.S. Red Ted Art is also one of my favorite people to follow on Pinterest for great ideas for art projects with kids along with Tinkerlab, The Artful Parent, and Artchoo.

Sharing at: Hands On Play, Mom's Library, Artsy Play Wednesday, and Outdoor Play Party

Monday, January 20, 2014

Raising a Self-Reliant Child: The Value of Service Projects

Today is MLK Day in the U.S. In addition to honoring King and his legacy, the day is also a National Day of Service. Organizations host service projects for individuals to participate in and often individuals themselves, including children, initiate projects. There are so many simple service projects that you and your family can easily do -- I love these 4 that Pennies of Time will be doing today.
The MLK Day site and Pennies both highlight these important words from King: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'" To encourage service with our children/families, the Multicultural Kids Blog is hosting an MLK Day of Service Blog Hop. You'll find details at the bottom for the hop and a chance to link up and share your favorite service activities for kids!

As I reflected on King's legacy and my experiences doing service activities with my own children and with other children and young adults through various work and volunteer efforts, I found myself thinking quite a bit about how empowering those experiences are.

Fostering independence in my boys and raising them as self-reliant children is very important to me. We do this in many ways: using Montessori-inspired techniques to teach practical life skills, encouraging them to do things themselves when they are able to and to try certain tasks before asking for help (brushing teeth, getting dressed, making a sandwich, etc.). I also focus on helping them learn how to make good choices.

Equally valuable in raising self-reliant children is encouraging my children to serve others, to behave kindly, to help others when they can. I've seen with my own eyes that even a toddler can serve. I've seen the proud smile on my son's face when, at 2, he saw that he had cleaned up trash at a community event and made the area cleaner and the patrons at the event happier.

I've seen children who are often recipients of charitable giving themselves share their excitement in realizing that they can help others. I've seen a shift in them as they come to see that they can make a difference in the world.

Raising self-reliant children is something I think most parents seek to do. Making service part of our children's lives improves their sense of self, their confidence and their independence.

It makes them superheroes and magicians. In following Pennies of Time, I've seen how her children's experience of serving daily has given them "magic eyes." They now see opportunities to serve all around them and, most importantly, see themselves (at young ages) empowered and capable of helping others, of making a difference in the world, of being the change.

Today some wonderful bloggers are sharing ideas about the kinds of volunteer work they have done with their kids.

As I focus on Compassion this year, family service and a continued emphasis on teaching my children to help others and give back will be one of the primary ways I nurture compassion (and self-reliance) in my sons.

I hope the activities shared below will encourage you to take the opportunity today to serve as a family. It can be simple and fun. If not today, then any day! Who knows, perhaps helping others will become a family tradition?

I'm sharing this post at The Sunday Parenting Party and Mom's Library.  
Please share your own ideas in the comments or by linking up below!  You can also join the discussion in the Multicultural Kids Blog Google + Community!
For some ideas on doing volunteer work with kids, browse the MKB list of family-friendly service projects or great organizations to support. You can also follow the MKB Teaching Global Citizenship and Black History boards on Pinterest, as well as my Be the Change board

Participating Blogs

Share your own posts below!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Best of 2013: Inspired Giving with The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Almost exactly one year ago, I shared my best/favorite post of 2012, our daily gratitude postcards and expressed my gratitude for the Kid Blogger Network and all that I learned from my colleagues in the group. I'm excited to share my top pick from 2013 along with other members of the group again this year as they select their best of the best. 

This year, I chose the Very Hungry Caterpillar Virtual Food Drive activity that Wild Thing and I did for Eric Carle's birthday as our top post, not only because it was among my most popular posts of the year, but also because so many others commented on how our activity inspired them to also take action during Hunger Action Month. Train Up A Child and Crafty Moms Share are just two bloggers who shared how they were inspired in their own Hunger Action Month posts, and I know many others were inspired as well and shared with me on Facebook. I always love chains of inspired giving and that's exactly what happened through this post making it, by far, my favorite (and best) of 2013. (Bonus: our Very Hungry Caterpillar Virtual Food Drive post also includes 40+ Activities Inspired by The Very Hungry Caterpillar-Inspired!)

Below you'll find over 50 Kid Blogger Network members coming together for The KBN Best Of 2013 Blog Hop. We know you'll find tons of wonderful ideas to browse, pin and share. We'd love for you to join the blog hop and share your favorite activity of 2013 too, and make sure you're following the Kid Blogger Network on Pinterest

Happy New Year from the KBN Best of 2013 Blog Hop Co-Hosts! 
Powerful MotheringThe Good Long Road, All Done Monkey, Afterschool for Smarty Pants, B-Inspired Mama, Babble Dabble DoBits of PositivityBoy Mama Teacher MamaCaution! Twins at PlayChild Central Station, Creative Family Fun, Creative World of VaryaCute and PeculiarDirt and Boogers, Edventures with KidsThe European Mama, The Eyes of a BoyThe Fairy and the FrogFrogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails, Fun-A-Day!, Glittering Muffins, Growing Book by Book, Hands on: as we growHere Come The Girls, iGame Mom, I Heart Crafty ThingsInspiration Laboratories, Kid World CitizenKiddie FoodiesKids Yoga Stories, Kitchen Counter Chronicles, LalymomLemon Lime Adventures, Let's Play MusicLiving Montessori Now, Makeovers and MotherhoodMama SmilesMulticultural Kids Blog, My Little 3 and Me, P is for Preschooler, Peakle PiePennies of TimePlaydough to PlatoPlayDrMom, Preschool Powol PacketsRacheous - Lovable LearningStill Playing School, Smiling Like Sunshine, Stir the WonderTeach Me Mommy , Teach PreschoolThere's Just One Mommy, Toddler ApprovedTrue Aim Education, Tutus and Tea PartiesWhere Imagination Grows, and Wildflower Ramblings.