Books, Brightly, and Grandparents of Children's Literature

In celebration of Grandparents Day — which is this Sunday, Sept. 10 — I'd like to share with you a grand resource for grandparents that I just recently learned of.

Brightly is a resource for parents, grandparents, and other folks dedicated to raising lifelong readers. The award-winning website, a partnership with Penguin Random House, launched in 2014 and features, as the Brightly site states, "book recommendations from all publishers for every age and stage, reading tips and insights, seasonal inspirations, author essays, contests, gift guides, and more."

Brightly has some pretty great content specifically for grandparents, including the following piece, which I've received permission to share with you in part. Enjoy! And be sure to click for the complete article as well as others, all celebrating grandparents. For Grandparents Day and every day!

By Tom Burns

Grandparents aren’t just solid sources of extra dollars, hearty hugs, and embarrassing...

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Kids and cameras: 9 tips for beginner photogs, from National Geographic Kids

kids and cameras

As long as my grandsons have known me, I've had a camera in my hand more often than not. I may not be a pro, but taking photos is one of my favorite activities.

I like to think it's my penchant for taking pictures that encouraged my grandsons to enjoy using various cameras—from their kid camera to smartphones to my DSLR—for shooting shots around their place now and then. 

I'm pretty good about explaining to my grandsons the basics of using a camera, but as a true and untrained amateur photographer myself, I'm not the greatest at sharing with them sure-shot techniques for composition and more, in easy-to-understand snippets they'll understand and remember.

Enter National Geographic Kids book Guide To Photography by Nancy Honovich and National Geographic Photographer Annie Griffiths (which I...

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Nature-nurturing books for young readers

Though Earth Day 2014 has come and gone, every day is a great day for sharing with children books on nature and the environment. Especially picture books the kids will not only enjoy but possibly — no, probably — learn a little from.


Last week I received four fantastic picture books...

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Love is in the air... and in these children's books for Valentine's Day

With Valentine's Day in sight, 'tis the season for celebrating love. Just last week I received a box of books that do exactly that, books I plan — for the most part — to share with Bubby and Mac when I see them this weekend.

Dinosaur Kisses

Alas, as time is of the essence for those looking to share sweet tales with sweet kiddos, I'm going to share these books from Candlewick (which I received free for review) with you before my grandsons even get a peek at the pages. Yes, you are that special to me.

Without Bubby and Mac previewing these stories...

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Back-to-school books for all ages, including grandmas

I've always resisted any hoopla about "summer reads" and such, as summer has always been the time I'm least likely to read. Unless I'm sitting in a car or plane while traveling, there's far too much to do and see and enjoy outdoors during the summer, so reading gets put on hold. As far as I recall, reading was similarly shelved, for the most part, by my daughters during the summers of their childhoods.

Whether you're a summer reader or not though, once the school bells ring, it's time to return to the books — for enjoyment as well as edification. Following are a few books I recently received free for review, with something sure to entertain and enlighten readers of all ages.


FOR AGES 2 to 5

Peppa Pig

Peppa Pig and the Busy Day at School by Candlewick Press, illustrated by Ladybird ($12.99 hardcover) Many a youngster — and parent — knows and loves Peppa Pig, the Nick Jr. star. In this new adventure, Peppa hems and haws about which special talent of hers she should share during Special Talent Day at school. She and her classmates first have lessons in counting, the alphabet, painting, playing store and more, followed by Special Talent time. Lo and behold, other classmates show off the very same talents Peppa had hoped to share. What is she to do? Madame Gazelle offers guidance to the perky little pig — and readers, too.


FOR AGES 4 to 7

Blue is Happy

My Blue Is Happy by Jessica Young, illustrated by Catia Chien ($15.99 hardcover) Ever since I had a boss who painted his entire office blood red, I've been intrigued by how colors have different meanings (and feelings) for each individual. This book made my heart sing as I read about a little girl's journey of discovering what others think of some of her favorite and least favorite colors. I was especially pleased the little girl saw pink a little different than most girls, stating that to her, "pink is annoying, like an itchy bug bite." An unexpectedly delightful read with adorable illustrations.


FOR AGES 5 to 8


How Did That Get In My Lunchbox? The Story of Food by Chris Butterworth, illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti ($7.99 paperback) Sometimes the best part of the school day is lunch time. But where does all that food in one's lunchbox come from? No, not the grocery store. This book — named Book of the Year by the American Farm Bureau — educates hungry kiddos on where everything from their sandwich bread and cheese to tomatoes, carrots, apple juice, clementines and even chocolate chip cookies come from. You might want to pack a lunch before setting out to read it, for you will end up hungry.


FOR AGES 7 to 12

Electrical Wizard

Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Oliver Dominguez ($16.99 hardcover) Nikola Tesla is a former and much beloved resident of my city. Until a year or so ago, in fact, my city boasted a Tesla Historical Museum dedicated to honoring the man who pioneered modern electrical engineering. Tesla changed not only the course of local history, though, he rivaled Thomas Edison in his contributions to lighting up our world at large. This intriguing book tells of Tesla's seemingly magical powers that lit up not only the Chicago World's Fair and New York City of yesteryear, but that impact modern inventions used today.




Bluefish by Pat Schmatz ($6.99 paperback) Travis is 13, a difficult age for any kid. Making matters worse, he's stuck living with Grandpa in a new town where he must attend a new school. Worst of all? Travis has a secret, something that makes him consider himself a Bluefish — stupid, angry and alone. Until, that is, an unorthodox girl nicknamed Velveeta offers blunt honesty and plenty of humor that shows Travis he is so much more. Though meant for middle readers, this coming-of-age story — winner of numerous awards and honors — will resonate with anyone who was 13 years old once upon a time.



Letters from Skye

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole ($25 hardcover) Like I said, back-to-school time is great for grownups. As the kids toil away at school during the day and on homework come evening, grandmothers and others have more uninterrupted time to dedicate to good books of their choosing. I recommend Letters from Skye next time you're choosing. I was captivated by the love story played out in letters shared across continents between a Scottish poet and a feisty American college student, beginning in 1912 and spanning decades. The trailer:


Disclosure: I received the books above free for review, though that did not influence my opinions nor my desire to share them with you.

Today's question:

What book(s) are you currently reading?