Sunday, December 21, 2008

Throw Your Name In the Hat

Two great non-toxic kiddo feeding sets up for grabs right now--one at The Soft Landing and another at Northwest Mom Finds.

Review: ReadKiddoRead

I know from our past talks that a lot of you are fellow bookworms. Bookworms who surround your kids with wonderful books and hope they grow up to share your passion for reading.

Author James Patterson is spearheading ReadKiddoRead, a new resource website designed to help parents like us find books our kids will enjoy. It's one of several of Patterson's efforts to promote the joy and excitement of reading--a cause I hadn't known he championed, but which I think is pretty cool.

As his son entered elementary school, Patterson noticed he didn't really enjoy reading. He had been read to his whole life and was learning to read just fine, but it wasn't a favorite activity. So Patterson and his wife went searching for books that they hoped would not only get their son reading, but help him fall in love with reading. The books featured at ReadKiddoRead are an expansion of that project, all selected for their potential to be so awesomely kid-friendly that they spark a lifelong love of books.

The site features a wide range of books for kids from birth through grade school. I appreciated the easy organization system, arranging the reviews both by reading ability and genre. The reviews are thorough and helpful and there are links to find the books at bookstores or your local library. For each one that gets a full review, there is a list of "If you love this book, then try..." suggestions, so it connects you with titles far beyond those featured.

As I was browsing the featured books, it occurred to me that ReadKiddoRead functions the way Amazon reviews would if we could only filter out everyone who doesn't know what they're talking about. (Seriously, am I the only one that gets led astray by Amazon ratings sometimes?) Here you will find not just which children's books are popular, but which are actually worth reading.

Most of the featured books are pretty recently published and I was initially disappointed not to see some of my favorite childhood reads. But many classics do pop up in the additional reading suggestions. And, really, a site that introduces me to books I didn't know about already is actually more useful than one which just lists my favorites.

I can tell that ReadKiddoRead is going to be a useful resource as my children move through the different reading stages--especially in finding books that generally appeal more to boys. I'm glad to help spread the word about it, because I hope it succeeds in its mission to introduce more children to the wonders of pleasure reading. Every kid who grows up to join our bookworm ranks is a thing to celebrate.

Sponsored by Mother Talk.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I *pink puffy heart* baby shoes

When Puppy was getting ready to walk, we lived in Southern California. So, like lots of babies in sunshine-y places, he went barefoot or wore soft leather-soled shoes. Just what the experts ordered!

But now we're in a much colder, rainier part of the country. I'm looking at Firefly learning to stand and thinking that those thin leather soles just aren't going to cut it on our wet sidewalks, wet park grass, wet get the picture.

Stride Rite was nice enough to send Firefly a pair of shoes from their new Early Walker collection to try to solve our dilemma. They are designed to bridge the gap between the baby booties and big kid shoes, when babes are starting to walk but not yet steady on their feet.
I admit I was skeptical that a rubber-soled shoe would meet my infant shoe standards. I'm incredibly a tad picky when it comes to my kids' shoes. But they totally did. The entire shoe is flexible enough that I can not just bend it, but crumple it easily with one hand. The bottom has enough cushioning to make walking outside comfortable, but is sufficiently thin that she will be able to feel the ground--important for babies learning to walk. Firefly has narrow feet and it's been difficult to find shoes don't slip right off, so I appreciated that I could cinch the hook and loop tab tight around her ankle. They're cute (a very important factor). And in a nod to the green movement, the outsole is made of 30% recycled rubber.

They are pricey, running about $45. Kids' shoes are one area where I think it's good to splurge for quality; I'd rather buy one or two pairs of well-constructed shoes than several lesser-quality ones. If the overwhelming pinkness of the "girl" line is not your style, check out the "boy" shoes, where there are a couple of cute gender-neutral options.

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