Kids are constantly trying to figure out where they fit in and to discover who they want to be. Halloween is the perfect holiday for your children to practice and experiment with these different explorations.
As parents, we can be skeptical about Halloween because it revolves around excessive candy consumption with the occasional instance of tricking instead of treating. However, Halloween enables children to experiment with different forms of expression in a safe environment—an environment where everyone is dressing up and pretending to be someone or something new and creative.
Celebrate Halloween as an adventure into your child's self-expression!
Here's what we mean…
• If your child wants to be a zombie, a ghost, a vampire, or some sort of creepy-masked creature, perhaps this is a good way for him to face some of the things he's scared of and gain more confidence by becoming one of these creatures himself. Plus, the creepy mask is only for one night.
• Dressing up as a ballerina, a queen, or a fairy allows your child to admire these figures—whether they're real or not. Pretending to be one of these characters can foster an appreciation for a dancer's artistic expression or a queen's royalty and leadership role, and pretending to be a magical fairy stimulates and nurtures the imagination. Overall, putting on a crown or a tutu invites your little girl to dream of royalty and magic. It's likely that one day she'll realize that she'd rather be a lawyer or a painter instead of a fairy anyway.
• Wanting to zoom around your neighborhood as a superhero (i.e. the popular Batman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, or any others) encourages your child to tap into their own inner hero. They start to wonder how they can help make the neighborhood a safer place like Batman. They learn to connect to Spiderman, a relatable teenager who becomes a superhero. By putting on a cape or a mask, your child will probably be inspired to do some good too.
Surely children will continue to anticipate trick-or-treating with family or friends, but Halloween is also about inspiring kids to exercise their creativity and imagination, by getting crafty with costume ideas, while aspiring to dress up and become someone with qualities they admire.
Wearing a costume can let a child express him or herself while also being comforted by the fact that he or she is only dressing up as a character or creature temporarily. Pretending to be someone or something is a freeing experience, especially when you know that the costumes, masks, and makeup come off at the end of the night.
The first laugh, the first word, the first step—a baby's life is bursting with extraordinary first moments.
If you're an expecting mother, or know someone who's expecting, there are so many magnificent milestones you can look forward to witnessing and celebrating. Reading, singing, and talking to your baby are a few important inspirations to help mold a bright child. That's why we encourage you to get excited about your baby's first book now!
How will you ever choose your baby's first book?
A baby's first book will remain a treasured family keepsake for generations to come, so whether you're gifting this book for an expecting parent or purchasing for your own little one, choose with care.
We recommend a book that speaks to your child directly, that illustrates how much they are loved, that shows them they are one of a kind and that they are perfect just the way they are. A book that tells them: You are the one and only ever you (from Nancy Tillman's On the Night You Were Born).
If this message speaks to you, check out the personalized version of On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman. This timeless classic is a loving ode to the uniqueness of each child—and the newest addition to Put Me In The Story's collection.
Even more important than choosing the perfect baby book to be your child's first is the bond between parent and child. How will you help nurture that bond?
5 Ways to Bond with Your Baby
• Read often. Help influence your child's love and appreciation for reading by starting early. Even if your baby seems restless or uninterested when you read to him or her, keep at it. Books, language, and communication are essential in a baby's upbringing, and should be incorporated into your routines every day. The growth of a healthy imagination, a lifelong love of reading, and an introduction to sound, language, and communication are just a few of the many benefits.
• Fill your library with picture books. Seek out picture books with contrasting images in black and white or primary colors (like red and blue). If your baby shows interest in the book or pictures—this could be anything from a murmur to a stare—let him explore the pages! Even if it means things get a little messy.
• Keep your baby away from electronics. Try to minimize your baby's time around television, tablets, computers, etc. as much as possible. The best form of connection is through the loving faces of his or her family and friends. This means you may have to limit your email and television time while your baby is up and about!
• Sing to your baby or play music. Incorporate nursery rhymes into your day. If you don't think you have the best singing voice, this is a great way to practice without any embarrassing repercussions. If you start early, your child will grow up to love and feel comforted by your singing voice. You can always try nursery rhyme recordings or albums if that suits your style better.
• Start the bedtime story tradition early. By early, we mean even if your child is still inside your belly. If you have a newborn baby, sharing a bedtime story is a special way to connect before your precious little one closes his or her eyes. Just by hearing the sound and softness of your voice and feeling the warmth of your body, your baby is starting to recognize your presence through language and movement.
Bonding with your baby is going to come naturally, but it's always enlightening to learn a few simple ways to help cultivate and deepen that bond even more.
*These tips were inspired by Reading with Babies, Toddlers & Twos. Pick up the book to learn more ways to bond with your little one through books.
Nancy Tillman's On the Night You Were Born
Put Me In The Story is pleased to introduce Find Me If You Can, an interactive picture book to engage children with reading in a fun, search-and-find setting. This is the first title available at Put Me In The Story that allows parents to include up to three children in one personalized book. (How exciting!)
A refreshing and original spin off the popular Where's Waldo? and I-Spy, Find Me If You Can offers the search-and-find experience, but in a unique personalized form. Children are asked to find their photo amid a sea of smiling faces floating against several bright, colorful backgrounds. With each page turn, a new, vibrant theme appears.
Creators Tom and Sue Marzella say that the unique concept improves concentration and focus while also encouraging children to read.
"It's a keepsake," says Tom Marzella. "It's something that a family can keep for a long, long time. When you give this book to a kid, their face just lights up. And when they realize their face is on every page, they're just glued to it. They love seeing their face in a book."
"Find Me If You Can is a different kind of personalization," says Dominique Raccah, CEO and publisher of Sourcebooks. "This playful treasure hunt engages children to explore each page, and gives parents and children a chance to create a love of reading and a special bond."
Find Me If You Can is a gift; a book that really showers your children with attention and reminds them how special they are. We're excited to share it with you!
The children's section at your local library is a magical place for kids to play, interact with each other through reading, and discover endless enchanting stories on shelves. If you haven't yet taken your child to the library, or don't go as much as you'd like, read more about why the library is an important place to help expand your child's world and imagination. We'll also share a few hints to maximize your library experience.
Why take a literary adventure to the library? Because the library…
• Fosters literacy. The library is an excellent introduction to books and provides an exciting environment for reading. Trips to the local library put an emphasis on reading as an exploration. With a sea of selections, even the most reluctant of readers are bound to find and fall in love with a book.
• Offers a quiet space. Though it can be an exciting environment for young kids, the library also has plenty of quiet nooks to do homework if this kind of setting is not available at home. Plus, it has loads of resources for school projects or personal projects.
• Creates a sense of eagerness in a child's willingness to read and learn. Children will want to finish their book so they can go back to the library and check out another.
• Helps develop an appreciation for print books. Seeing thousands of books organized on shelves is enough to marvel at, but just wait until your child opens up an actual book and dives into the pages! It's important for your child to be able to touch and feel the book they're experiencing. Developing an appreciation for print books is also a wise decision in steering your child away from staring at electronic screens.
• Teaches your child how to share. Your child will learn how to borrow items and treat those items with the same respect they would treat their own. They're also likely to engage and interact with other children at the library.
• Associates reading with leisure and pleasure instead of (possible) frustration with school or homework. The library is a wonderful place to read without all the pressure.
• Is affordable. Borrowing books at the library is an effective way to spend your time and your money. If the cost of books is something you worry about, make the trip to your local library a family outing.
Are you new to the library or not sure where to start? Find a few helpful library hints below:
• Get your child a library card (even if they're a toddler!). Children love to play with Mom and Dad's credit cards, so why not grant them access to the bookshelf and let them have a library card all to themself? Make a celebration out of it and officially initiate them into the ever-expanding world of books with their very own plastic!
• Embrace your library as a community. See if your library hosts story time events, which are a great, interactive way to introduce young children to reading. You and your child can learn about books, rhymes, music, fairy tales, and do other fun activities. This can help with vocabulary and narrative skills.
• Befriend the children's librarian. Most children's sections have librarians that specialize in children's books and resources, so don't be afraid to pick their brain. They'll be able to guide you toward great collections of classics and even overlooked books that you might not have discovered otherwise.
• Look beyond the books. The majority of libraries also have DVDs, CDs, and more downloadable books and other materials available to borrow. Use these items as reading rewards: for example let your child pick out one DVD for every two books read cover to cover.
*These hints were inspired by Reading with Babies, Toddlers & Twos. We recommend this book for more library tips!
Isabella: Star of the Story
by Jennifer Fosberry and Mike Litwin
The perfect introduction to library and literary loving!
"It's a match made in book-reading, library-loving heaven."—USA Today
In this enthralling, literary adventure that takes place at the local library, your daughter will become the purple-haired, story-loving Isabella. She'll imagine flying as Peter Pan to the children's section of the library, chasing the white rabbit as Alice in hopes of an epic adventure, and twisting away to a Technicolor world as Dorothy. Your daughter will become the star of the story, while discovering that all she needs is a library card and a big imagination.
Harvest season sure has crept up on us. Can you believe we're almost in the heart of fall?
We'd like to suggest a few simple and fun activities from 15 Minutes Outside by Rebecca Cohen to get you and your family outdoors to enjoy the brisk autumn air. According to Cohen, 15 minutes outside creates a family stress-relief valve and a way to spend meaningful time together. Plus, outdoor adventures allow your child to redirect their energy and explore constructively.
So, what are you waiting for? Get on out there and….
• Pick apples and pumpkins. Go apple picking at a local orchard. You and your children can make applesauce or apple pie from the apples you picked. Or head to a pumpkin picking at a farm—the pumpkin patch is an incredible sight, and kids get to really pull and twist to pick their favorite pumpkin. This will make creating your jack-o'-lanterns that much more rewarding! Then toast your pumpkin seeds in the oven, or make a pre-Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.
• Sit and observe. Find a comfortable, beautiful place to be still and watch nature around you. Sit for however long you and your children are able. If you think your children will get bored, bring a notebook and colored pencils so they can sketch what they see. You can watch for birds flying south, bring a favorite book to read, or simply listen to the sounds of nature. At the end of your time together outside, talk about the nature you noticed.
• Head for the water. Take a trip to whichever body of water is near you: a creek, stream, pond, lake, river or ocean. Notice how tranquil the water is as the seasons change. Take a book, sketch pad, or picnic, and find some rocks to skip.
• Listen to a little nut music. If you have oak tree around, are the acorns falling? Or do you notice other trees with nuts on the ground? Collect some nuts and see how many sounds you and your children can make by putting them in a recycled can or tying them up in plastic bags and shaking them like maracas.
• Create, then hide pumpkin faces. A great alternative to pumpkin carving! Each child will paint a face on a pumpkin with a sharpie or marker. Then, you can either print a copy of the face or take a quick sketch to record what each face painting looks like before you hide the pumpkins. Give each child the picture of their pumpkin that they need to find and they can go out for a pumpkin hunt.
• Head back to the farmer's market. Give the cool-season veggies a chance. Ask the farmers when they start growing some of your favorite seasonal vegetables that you like, and then try growing some of your own.
• Mak 'em rake leaves. This is hardly a chore! After raking, be sure to make time to play in the leaves together (and then rake again). If you don't have a yard, head on over to the nearest park.
• Play "jump the river." Take two sticks and place them parallel or across from one another on the ground. With the stick representing the edge of the river, ask your child to jump across the river. After each attempt, the sticks move farther apart (the river gets wider). Don't land in the river!
• Plant Goldenrod. October is a great month to plant this North American native flower that grows in cooler temperatures. Butterflies love these two to three foot tall sun-loving flowers. Find out from your local nursery which native plants grow best in your area; these are the ones most likely to thrive in your climate without having to do too much extra work.
• Head to the countryside. No matter where we live, we can still make it out to the countryside—where there are roads that wind, picturesque parks, and many trails to hike. Take a walk in the woods, go for a bike ride, go fishing, or watch the sunset over the foothills.
• Graph the changing leaves. Each of you can take a bag outside and pick ten to twenty leaves of varying colors. Then, with different color crayons, make a bar chart on paper that represents how many of each color you have. To make a graph, draw a grid on a piece of paper and color in vertically the number of squares to illustrate the number of leaves that color. If you don't have any paper, group the leaves vertically out in front of you in order from most to least. A much healthier option to sorting (and eating) Halloween candy!