Hilltown Families


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‘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 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!

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!

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…

“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.”

This month in “Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings and Review,” Cheli shares seven new children’s picture books that feature birds… a perfect theme of titles to usher in spring!

This month in “Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings & Reviews,” Cheli shares five new kids’ books that bring history alive in honor of Black History Month. Courageous individuals, unsung heroes, and influential (but little-known) events, reach through pages of text, photos, art, and poetry, and connect young readers to the struggles and achievements of the civil rights movement… she also shares a special pick just for grown-ups too!

This month in “What to Play? Play Ideas for Family & Community,” Carrie shares one way families can take their child’s favorite picture or board book to inspire creative-free play…

Take a journey through history, from sea to shining sea, through the art of Wendell Minor, our nation’s premier historical picture book illustrator at the exhibit, “Wendell Minor’s America,” at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. Opens this Saturday, Nov 9th…

Coming down the tracks and headed straight into the hands of young enthusiasts, are three new picture books about trains. If you have little engineers in your life, the ones who sleep with trains under their pillows, who hear the whistle from miles away, who build tracks from one end of the house to the other, then check out these exciting books…

In honor of Black History Month I want to share an extraordinary book about an extraordinary human being: Carver, a life in poems (Front Street, 2001) is an intimate portrait of the botanist, inventor, scientist, artist, musician, and teacher, known as George Washington Carver. Written by acclaimed poet, Marilyn Nelson, the book takes us through Carver’s life in a series of narrative poems told from the voices of the people who knew… Read More

Three Favorite Folktales It’s National Folktale Month! And I’m digging into the vaults to share three of my favorites, all starring leading ladies. For me, folktales are food for the soul. And when packaged into a picture book, also provide a feast for the eyes. They are an important part of your child’s literary diet, so next time you go to the library don’t forget the folktales! The Woman Who Outshone The… Read More

Kids love the spook and scare of Halloween! Here are ten picture books that prickle the spine, rattle the funny bone and charm the candy right into our hands for families to read together tonight!

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