Mom’s Reading List : Fall 2017

As we move quickly move through summer (it’s always too quick!) I found that certain parenting books have made my reading list. As Bean grows older, our concerns and the issues that we choose to address change, and so I compiled a (short) list of the books that I found most compelling regarding parenting. They are by no means meant to dictate a specific lifestyle to others, but were chosen due to their controversial nature (books that cause a stir are always interesting to read) or because they examine ideas that we consider worth exploring.

1. “Dirt is Good” by Jack Gilbert and Rob Knight

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Focus: Germs and Hygiene

GERMS! EVERYWHERE! Dirt is Good explores the importance and necessity of exposure to different microbiomes in order for our littles (and big!) ones build a stronger immune system and resistance to full-blown infections. As someone who regularly reaches for hand sanitizer after using public bathrooms, Gilbert & Knight differentiate between situations where parents can rest easy, versus those where germs are not beneficial.

2. What I Told My Daughter” by Nina Tassler

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Focus : Inspirational Life Lessons

Whether you have a daughter or not, What I Told My Daughter is a compelling compilation of empowering and moving lessons female leaders – across all fields – have passed onto their female offspring. Whoopi Goldberg, Nancy Pelosi and Mia Hamm are amongst the story tellers in Tassler‘s book, sharing their experiences living as a woman in a “man’s” world, and how this helped them cultivate success and strength.

3. “Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue” by Christia Spears Brown

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Focus: Gender and Parenting

“Boy or girl” is a question that almost all expecting mothers are asked. The “allocation” of gender begins even before, and is most visually represented by the stark division of boy “blue” and girl “pink”. However, as Brown discusses in her book, our preconceptions and expectations go beyond mere color-coding. From everyday gendered comments to career choices, this book addresses the need to give children – regardless of gender – the opportunity to explore all choices and opportunities, and see beyond the veil of gender.

4. “Glow Kids” by Nicholas Kardaras

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Focus : Screen Time

Technology, and by extension, screens, are part of everyday life. Kardaras, a psychologist by profession, makes the case against excessive screen time and how it affects brain development amongst children and adolescents. Moderation and delayed exposure is important, he argues, and examines the troubling new phenomenon of “screen addiction”, spurred by video games and social media, particularly in teenagers.

5. “The Collapse of Parenting” by Leonard Sax

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Focus: The Need for Boundaries

A highly controversial book – and therefore delightful read – Sax attempts to tackle the issue of the blurred lines between ‘parent’ and ‘friend’ that define more and more families today. Set against a predominantly American setting, each chapter is titled with a question, ranging from “Why are so many kids on medication?” and “why are so many kids fragile?” to discussing “the culture of disrespect” that can flourish when parents lack parental authority. A recommended read, if not just for the dramatic title.

(Images taken from amazon.de)

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5 More Toddler Plane Activities

What happens on a flight that is long enough to cross time zones but is short enough that it is not a red-eye, nor does it cross into sleep time? We are about to embark on a daytime 8.5 hour flight – so this is what will be inside Bean’s inflight backpack! Here are 5 more activities that should keep mom, dad and the toddler entertained on short to medium haul flights where sleep may not be an option.

1. Memory Cards

Available in different designs and colors, memory card games are easy to pack, to use, and even DIY. Younger kids may be content with matching pairs and naming, whereas older kids can play an actual memory game, matching the cards while face down.

2. Kinetic Sand (Travel Size)

Kinetic sand is available in pocket-sized containers shaped like a castle, making them ideal for playing with both in-flight and at the destination. Easy to mould and clean up (!!!) as well. It can also be made at home with corn starch, craft glue and fine grain sand.

3. Caterpillar Color Game

A straightforward game, it can be played by 2 or more people, and involves a race to see who can create a full caterpillar using the color discs available. A toss of a the die determines which disc is to be placed to form the caterpillar’s body. It can also used as a color or counting activity.

4. Nesting Puzzles

Haba and Goki both make sturdy, travel-sized, wooden nesting puzzles which are about the size of a paperback novel. Different themes, including life cycles of plants and animals, offer both fun and educational options. Definitely a neat and compact way to bring puzzles onboard – especially if your kiddo enjoys them!

5. Search & Find Book

Great for around 2 years onwards, search and find books not only help build vocabulary, but are also entertaining to play together, offering a more structured version of eye-spy for younger kids.

Happy travels! 

Products and images taken from Amazon.de 

What’s Inside Bean’s InFlight Backpack?

“What do you pack for Bean when you travel with her?” is a question I’ve been asked a lot. Having family spread across the world requires plane trips now and then – including dreaded long-haul red-eye flights. Our next flight will be 17-hours with one stop over – and for this one, mom is going solo again. However, have no fear – entertainment is here!

Bean’s age: 22 months 

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Oh but what treasures lie within?

Bean has a small backpack that we fill with an assortment of activities, including things she can do on her own, and things we can do together. For this trip, we’ve packed (clockwise from far left):

1.  A Board book on Zoo Animals
2. A Usborne Pop-Up Book on Dinosaurs
3. Water Wow! Vehicles
4. 3 Vehicle Figurines
5. 2 Mini Play-Doh cups
6. A Toddler Fidget Cube
7. A Calculator
8. 2 Circle Sticker Sheets
9. A Packet of Post-Its
10. Assorted Lego Duplo pieces

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Plenty of fun in one small bag!

Safe travels and happy summer, everyone!

Travel Books for Babies

Travel from home and sate your kiddo’s wanderlust with these two amazing series of travel-themed board books:  Babylit’s All Aboard and Evanson’s Hello, World country guides. Sturdy and bright, these books incorporate images of famous landmarks with either shapes, colors or opposites. Let’s go!

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1. Hello, World series

The collection currently features New York, London, Paris and San Francisco (not pictured). Evanson combines places with familiar childhood topics such as colors, opposites, shapes and numbers.

To learn more about the series, click here.

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2. All Aboard series

From the same company as Babylit, All Aboard offers literary journeys through famous cities such as Paris and London, as well as various locations in the USA – New York, Washington DC, California and the National Parks. A great impromptu tour companion while travelling within the cities themselves.

To learn more about the series, click here.

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5 Parenting Books that Don’t Give Advice

Unsolicited advice- whether useful or critical- is one of the byproducts of becoming a parent. One such source is the multitude of parenting books that adorn the “family” section at the bookstore. Weaning, sleep training, potty training – the list goes on. Having waded through our fair share of “must-have” parenting books, I realized that the ones I found the most useful were the ones that (surprise!) didn’t tell you what to do, but the ones that explained unfamiliar situations in a matter-of-fact, observatory way. Whether you are a new or seasoned parent, here are 5 titles may be worth your reading list.

1.  The Wonder Weeks 

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You know how one book can change your life? For me, it was this book. Written by two paediatricians, The Wonder Weeks outlines every developmental leap that your child will go through (whether mental, physical, or both) and explains each leap in terms of “periods”, which can range from days to weeks. The reason I found this book amazing was that whenever Bean would suddenly become crankier, whinier and fussier, it would line up with a “leap”. And leaps end at some point – so there was a light at the end of tunnel! This book may just be the holy grail of parenting texts.

2. French Children Don’t Throw Food

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Oh, the French. This book has dog ears from the number of times I have reread it. Witty, funny and enlightening (!), Druckerman pens her observations of French families and their dynamics as an American living in Paris. There is no one-size fits all solution, as we find out, but an emphasis on adaptability, consistency and patience. Bonus! Druckenman also includes several easy-to-follow recipes at the back.

3. Parenting without Borders

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If multiculturalism were a parenting book, this would be it. Gross-Loh travels the world to learn more of parenting styles. From China, to Sweden, to France (surprise!)) and many more, each observation she makes prompts reflection. Although this book is written to contrast American parenting styles to those of other countries, it does not stray into judgemental territory. Easy to read, and full of insight.

4. The Danish Way of Parenting

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There has admittedly been an uptick in interest regarding Scandinavian culture. Scores of books on “Hygge” line book store shelves. Parenting books follow not too far behind. Peppered with anecdotes, Alexander and Sandahl indulge curious readers about the workings of Danish – and to a greater extent, North European – parenting. From the explanation behind leaving a sleeping child parked in a stroller outdoors in winter, to how to foster a simple, optimistic outlook on life, this book leaves any reader feeling contented and enlightened.

5. And Baby Makes Three

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In And Baby Makes Three, the Gottmans focus on the parental unit specifically, rather than the child. Parenting is daunting and challenging, and becoming a parent for the first time is never an easy task. Written in an extremely easy-to-follow format, this text reaffirms the importance of maintaining a strong foundation between a child’s parents, and in turn, how this can greatly benefit the child themselves.

(All books covers taken from bookdepository.com)

Literature for Babies

In addition to “Mom”, one of the other labels I have been accorded is “Lit Teacher”. So when I found out about the board book series Babylit by Jennifer Adams (https://babylit.com/) I became a huge #fangirl.  Look at these awesome book spines!

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Adams condenses literary classics into high-quality, colorful and engaging board books that address typical childhood learning topics such as opposites, numbers and shapes. Each book serves a dual purpose – a primer for both literature and the topic of choice. Adams has also created two language primers, French and Spanish, through Les Misérables and Don Quixote respectively.

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Current Babylit titles available include:

  • A Little Princess 
  • Aladdin
  • The Odyssey
  • Little Women
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Les Misérables
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Emma
  • Treasure Island
  • Jane Eyre
  • Pride & Prejudice 
  • & more!

If you are interested in learning more about BabyLit by Jennifer Adams, give her website a visit here.