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Category Archive: BOOKS AND MUSIC

Feb
06

Books for Your Budding Artist

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Even Picasso needed a dose of inspiration now and then. We know it’s important to let kids experiment without structure, but it’s also a good idea to expose them to new technical and artistic ideas.  Creativity shouldn’t be stunted by reading a “how to” book, or by looking at famous artists’ work.  On the contrary, …

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Jan
27

Berenstain Bears help to navigate the scary “stranger talk.”

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Talking to kids about strangers can be tricky  to navigate. On the one hand, we tell our kids, “Don’t talk to strangers!” – (Look what happened to Little Red Riding Hood.)   On the other hand, we tell our kids, “Be polite and say hello to the nice old lady.”  It’s such an important life …

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Jan
23

“Comics are books,” and other lessons from kids on reading.

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Reading doesn’t always go the way I pictured. Well, it does have a lot of pictures, but that’s not exactly how I imagined reading.   “Reading,” according to me,  means curling up with a good book and becoming immersed in its words.  My kids would beg to differ.  Problem is we don’t always agree on …

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Jan
16

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

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Today is a perfect time to teach your kids about courage, freedom, discrimination, and poetry. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and message offers excellent opportunities for parent-children discussions about discrimination, love, tolerance, respect, and history. So today, from my freezing corner in Canada, my kids and I will be watching Youtube clips from the famous …

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Jan
13

Shakespeare Can Be Fun! is a very fun series for kids.

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Shakespeare for children?  Anon! (“Anon,” is often used by Shakespeare to mean “in short a short time, soon.”  )  In one of my ambitious moments, I thought it would be great fun to read scenes from Romeo and Juliet out loud with my kids.  Hysterics ensued every time the word “anon” appeared, followed by  “What …

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Jan
11

Laugh out loud books for children and tweens.

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Do your kids have a case of the back-to-school blues?  Cold winter weather bringing you down?  Now may be the perfect time to cheer up with a laugh out loud book.  These quality books are not only clever and well written, but are just downright funny! AGES 3 AND UP: 1- Don’t Let the Pigeon …

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Jan
09

How to encourage imagination and creativity

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Zipping between school and the next extracurricular activity has become a way of life for families today.  Perhaps we need to iphone-schedule unstructured time for imagination and creativity. Allowing the brain time to wander stimulates critical and lateral thinkers, who are able to play with ideas and imagine several possibilities and outcomes.  Research shows that …

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Jan
04

Worth the purchase? Mother-Tween book club’s verdict on Hugo Cabret

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The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a thick hardcover book, and it cost me $27.95 CAD at the bookstore. Rarely do I fork out that much money on children’s books, especially one that consists of about 50% illustrations. My kids convinced me to take the plunge, because we’re on a “read the book, see the …

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Dec
27

Don’t miss these MET opera productions for the family: Wed. and Thurs. at a movie theatre near you!

You don’t have to live in New York to catch the MET’s phenomenal operatic productions. “Front Row Centre Events” by Cineplex Odeon is the greatest invention since sliced bread.  Anyone near a North American city can watch operas from the MET, live theatre from Royal Albert Hall in London, live symphonic performances from the best …

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Dec
24

Music to warm your winter holiday: Top 5 picks

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Winter holiday music need not be confined to Christmas carols  and Hannukah songs. Much as I enjoy the melodies of those holidays, by the time December rolls around I’ve more than had my fill.  Rather than stuffing my ears with cotton buds, I decided to create my own mix of music. While none of the …

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Dec
20

Help! Five ideas to keep you and the kids entertained over winter break

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Winter break can be a stressful time for many parents. When it’s freezing cold outside and the kids are off school, what’s a parent to do?  Being stuck at home doesn’t have to mean endless hours of electronic games and TV. Here are some stress-free ideas to keep you and the kids entertained on those …

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Dec
14

Four Educational gifts adults and kids will love

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If you’re looking for a gift that is brainy and entertaining, here are  four  recommendations for a variety of ages that are sure to please. WISE ALEC. I love Trivia games, but it’s difficult to find one that levels the playing field so everyone in the family can play. Wise Alec makes it easy to …

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Dec
12

Read it, watch it, discuss it! PART TWO: Pinocchio

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Disney’s movie version of Pinnochio is so ubiquitous and celebrated, it’s easy to overlook the book’s existence.  I recently stumbled across the book, “Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi, and it is an absolute gem. “Once upon there was …”A king?” did I hear you cry?  But if you did cry “king,”children, you were wrong.  Because once …

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Dec
07

Read it, watch it, discuss it! Bonding over books and movies. PART ONE.

amazon.ca

Tell me, what’s better than snuggling on a couch with the kids and a favourite book?  Maybe snuggling on a couch together to watch that book on film?  Or seeing that book performed live on stage?  Okay, I can’t choose.  So, why not have it all? Why not kick up my parent-kids book club a …

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Dec
02

Funniest holiday book ever: Lemony Snicket’s “The Latke who couldn’t stop screaming: A Christmas Story.”

amazon.ca

Hannukah is not Jewish Christmas.   This is difficult to explain, because Hannukah usually falls in December. (The date varies, since Jewish holidays follow the lunar calendar.)  During Hannukah, it is customary to exchange gifts.  Oh, and Hannukah is also called, “The Festival of Lights.”  Confused?  Afraid to ask? A latke is a potato pancake …

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Nov
28

How to listen to Classical music without turning into a snob

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Classical music has a really bad image. Despite its widely touted benefits on brain development, most people don’t give classical music a chance. What with its predominantly “greyer” audience and concerts with decorum, it’s no wonder Classical music is often associated with snobs. That’s a shame, because brain development aside,  a lot of this music …

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Nov
21

Poems that deserve to be their own book: Delight and enrich your kids with a poem-book today!

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It doesn’t seem practical to devote a single  book to one poem.  BUT sometimes a poem is so juicy, descriptive, and delightful, that it deserves to be a book by itself. Lately, I have noticed a growing trend of pairing wonderful illustrations with a single poem or folk song in one book.  Wasteful and impractical? …

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Nov
16

Jazz is for kids: No smoky lounges or late hours required.

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It’s funny how Jazz is the “R” rated music. Must be the sexy saxophone, or the sultry singers lying on the piano that are responsible for this image.  (Remember Michelle Pfeiffer in the Fabulous Baker Boys?)  Smoky, jazz-infused lounges with patrons in dark sunglasses  doesn’t exactly promote a child-friendly image. Woody Allen plays jazzy clarinet …

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Nov
14

Euro, shmeuro! Relive the romance of Paris and the world of yesterday in my favourite book from childhood.

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Europe may be going to the dogs, but thanks to a white cat I can still relive the romance of  Paris and of a world gone by. You see, Nennette has lost her little  white cat, Minou. She goes everywhere, everywhere looking for her.  She goes to the book shop, to the bakery, to the …

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Nov
13

Mother-tween book club showdown: THE HELP VS. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.

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On the heels of our first mother-tween meeting on “To Kill A Mockinbird,” my daughter suggested we read “The Help.” It seemed like a logical choice, since both books deal with civil rights and with deep-seeded racism in the Southern states. My daughter finished “The Help” and announced, “Mom, this book is awesome!  It’s even …

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Nov
09

Kids join Occupy Wall Street! What’s this about?

flickr David Shankbone. (From a protest Oct. 5)

It seems that everywhere you look these days, people are protesting and occupying.  Even kids are getting involved. I’m not talking about your typical kids’protests, like when they get all whiny and complain about having to get off the computer. I’m talking the serious, social-conscience demonstration type of protest. According to a report in the …

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Nov
08

The “F” word in education: Flashcards. (Reposted by popular demand , because it was deleted in a mad frenzy of self-doubt!)

The “F” word in education: Flashcards REPOSTED! (By popular demand, because I deleted the post in a mad frenzy of self-doubt.)  When I was a kid, my Dad would say, “Learning should be boring.” Suffer first  so you can enjoy and appreciate later.  I know that runs counter to almost every trend in education today, …

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Nov
07

Learn, laugh, and cry with NON-FICTION that flows like fiction. For real! For you and the kids.

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“Non-fiction” needs an image makeover. Let’s start with the name: “Non-fiction.”  How would you like to be described by something that you’re not?  Imagine:  “Meet my daughter, Exciting, and my other daughter, Non-exciting.” We don’t call books that are not mysteries, “non-mysteries,” so why apply “non-fiction” to such a vast array of topics and writing? …

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Nov
01

READ TO ME! Audible.com lets you and your kids listen to books any time, anywhere.

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Problem #1: You’re at the gym at the 15 minute mark on the elliptical, desperate for a distraction that will take away the tedium.  The magazine in front of you just isn’t cutting it, and what’s worse you’re getting blurry-eyed from trying to read while bobbing up and down. Problem #2:  You’re stuck in the …

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Oct
31

Harry Houdini died on Halloween, but his mystique lives. Relive the magic in these books: One for the kids, and one for you.

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Harry Houdini continues to fascinate, 85 years after his death on Halloween.  Considered the greatest escape artist of all time, there was not a lock he could not unfasten.  He was bound up with chains and handcuffs and dropped into rivers and lakes, but he escaped every time. Houdini was the greatest performer of his …

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