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18 Story Books on Weather for Kids There’s a riotous energy this time of year: the mad leafing out of plants and trees, crazy bird song at dawn, unruly swarms of biting insects, the palpable freedom of school letting out for summer, and wild weather that can change from snow squalls to thunderstorms within hours. Those first spring storms are greeted with a mixture of excitement and nervousness in our home. Thunder… Read More

Books for Young Bards

April is National Poetry Month! Time to indulge in poetic forms of all kinds and kids’ books serve up odes of opportunities. Picture books are notorious for revealing in rhyme and rhythm, but novels can deliver a powerful poetic punch too, and ought to be a part of any reader’s well-stocked library bag. Highly accessible, novels in verse have an intimate and immediate feel to them, and often make good read-aloud books, even as they are perfect for savoring in quiet. Has your family had a healthy serving of poetry today? Try one of these middle-grade grade novels and satisfy their cravings for couplets. Read the rest of this entry…

If ever there were a month for spontaneous outbursts of snowdrop-covered verse and dandelion rhymes – it’s now. After a long, grueling winter, to see the ice recede and flowers push up and bloom, to hear birdsong in the morning and to leave heavy coats behind, is poetic glee. Spring itself is living poetry. What a glorious time to share some couplets with a couple of kids, so here are six new books for young bards. Read the rest of this entry…

Here is a new book filled with humorous rhymes and fantastically bizarre cars. Poem-mobiles: Crazy Car Poems is the work of the 2011-2013 US Children’s Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis, and award-winning children’s poet, Douglas Florian. Together, they have created a collection of futuristic automobiles, from the Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow and the Caterpillar Cab to the Eel-ectric Car and The Sloppy-Floppy-Nonstop-Jalopy, which will have readers wheeling with delight. Read the rest of this entry…

‘Tis the season for stories. And what better way to share a story than snuggling up with your favorite kids and turning the pages of a beloved holiday book. Here are twenty suggestions for Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa!

Thanksgiving is a national holiday that ties us back nearly 400 years to a time when the Wampanoag Indians were vital in helping the Pilgrims survive their new world. This year along with your harvest feast, go ahead and have a slice of history too! Here are four non-fiction books that give interesting perspectives about our national holiday, dispelling some of the more romantic myths and introducing some fascinating facts…

A Bushel of Books about Apples ‘Tis the season when orchards bear autumn fruit, and cider is poured into eager cups, and the smell of pie beckons from the oven. ‘Tis the season for apples. Hand-picked from dozens of titles, here’s a bushel of picture books that celebrate the apple. There are a few new books, books about the life cycle of apples, apple–picking, and America’s mythic hero, Johnny Appleseed, plus some… Read More

In this month’s Open Sesame, Cheli presents Raymie Nightingale, the must-read novel of the summer.

In this month’s Open Sesame, Cheli shares two new middle grade novels which weave powerful stories of children and foxes.

April is National Poetry Month! Time to indulge in poetic forms of all kinds, and kids’ books serve up odes of opportunities. Picture books are notorious for reveling in rhyme and rhythm, but novels can deliver a powerful poetic punch too, and ought to be a part of any reader’s well-stocked library bag. Highly accessible, novels in verse have an intimate and immediate feel to them, and often make good read-alouds, even as they are perfect for savoring in quiet. Has your family had a healthy serving of poetry today? Try one of these six middle grade novels and satisfy their cravings for couplets.

In this month’s “Open Sesame,” Cheli presents five new picture books which honor women who made a difference in art, photography, science, sports media, and education.

In celebration of Black History, this month’s Open Sesame shines a spotlight on Jerry Pinkney and his illustrious career.

In this month’s “Open Sesame,” Cheli shares ten more notable books of 2015, including picture books, novels, and one of the best works of narrative nonfiction she has ever read!

In this month’s Open Sesame, Cheli shares ten new picture books that ring in holiday cheer.

In this month’s “Open Sesame,” Cheli reviews a pair of irresistible new picture books by two masters of the craft, Eric Carle and Kevin Henkes!

Do you know a young child who dreams of diggers and dozers? Who is a fan of firetrucks and a believer in buses and bikes? In this month’s “Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings & Reviews,” Cheli presents six new books featuring things that GO!

In this month’s Open Sesame, Cheli shares two new novels – a middle grader and a young adult – which use multiple perspectives to show there’s more than one side to a story.

Cheli presents four new picture books teeming with night animals in this month’s Open Sesame. Great summer bedtime stories celebrating animals and literacy!

In this month’s Open Sesame, find four new books that revel in summer delights – think ice cream and swimming, circus and stars!

It’s almost officially summer! The perfect time to get away with a great book. Whether relaxing at the beach or the park, chilling in a tent or a hammock, traveling by car or plane, or even standing in line at the amusement park, here are a dozen quick picks for middle graders, all with the common thread of taking place during summer. These books are so good, some of you grown-ups may enjoy reading them as well

April is National Poetry Month, and Cheli has a treat in store for kids with a Spring-ful selection of recommended book- very appropriate for budding young bards!

This month in “Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings & Reviews,” Cheli featured three new picture books for Women in History month!

In celebration of Black History, Hilltown Families contributing writer, Cheli Mennella has 10 wondering recommendations on books that celebrate this month in “Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings & Reviews,” featuring stories of bravery, heroism, pursuit of justice and so much more…and each one beautifully illustrated.

This month in “Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings & Reviews,” Cheli shares seven picture books that celebrate winter’s whimsy, featuring stories with snowmen in the leading role!

The winter months are a great opportunity for kids to cozy up on the couch and read on a wintery day. This month in “Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings & Reviews,” Cheli provides a fantastic roadmap to some enriching and diverse reading experiences, with a rich list of book recommendations. Read on to see what your kids might enjoy reading this winter…

Eight picture books capture the adventures of some canny turkeys plotting to avoid the center of the Thanksgiving table! This diverse collection brings your children into the zany world of crazy turkey-led plots and adventures. A nice twist for Thankgiving!

Some books flourish, aided by a strong main character- and they don’t come stronger than the eccentric and smooth Skink in Carl Hiaasen’s new teen novel “Skink – No Surrender.” It’s an all-action, swampy and engrossing read…but yet written with a smooth hand, like the main character himself. Is it for you? Read on and see…

“Just look to the trees, the lure of leaves, where autumn’s paintbox hangs on every deciduous limb.” It sounds beautiful and that is fall in Western Mass. Such visual exquisiteness is universally loved. It makes sense that the season should stimulate some excellent picture books. It also stimulates a great community pride in seeing fall so lavishly captured, while being surrounded by the wonderful Western Mass landscape. Read on for some great selection of picture books from Hilltown Families contributing writer, Cheli Mennella…you’ll find something for everyone!

The first day of school is a huge leap for many young children. The world of school is different than the world of home. Excitement, anxiety, curiosity, fear, and uncertainty are feelings shared by all petite pioneers as they head into the big, new territory of school. Sometimes a good story is all that’s needed to calm a fear, tickle a nerve, boost confidence, and generate joy.

Here are five new picture books for young adventurers getting ready to explore school for the first time. You’ll find an astronaut, a cat, a panda, monsters, and even a Norse goddess, venturing into the unknown, finding fun, friends, and their own brand of special.

Summer is a great time for leisurely reading for mom and dad on the beach or in the hammock, but don’t forget about the kids! Picture books communicate so many themes across multiple layers and can be time well spent together between parents and children on the living room couch or in a tent on warm summer evening. When picture books good, they can be extremely stimulating and instructive, where complex themes are broken down into accessible story-lines.

Read our monthly column, “Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings & Reviews,” for eight mini reviews of some great picture books for your children to enjoy and to learn from!

Summer reading starts here for young adults. There is nothing as enriching as a well crafted graphic novel with its well paced storyboarding, illustrations and storytelling. They are a fantastic source of learning inspiration for young adults as it exposes them to a wide range of narrative structures and form. Read Cheli’s review of the graphic novel, “This One Summer,” in her monthly column, “Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings & Reviews.”

A beautiful and sensitive novel, emotionally wrought and rendered in stunning graphics, “This One Summer” is a top pick for young adult readers!

In a nod to National Poetry Month and to kids that love things that go go go, Cheli features a new book filled with humorous rhymes and fantastically bizarre cars. Read her post, Crazy Car Poems, in this month’s “Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings & Reviews.”

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