Summertime books kids and their parents can dig into!

With summer in New York starting under the guise of dreary, rainy, Seattle-like weather, rather than allow my kids to wallow in their “we’re trapped indoors” self-pity, I decided to make the most out of our time. To help you kick-start your kids’ tolerance (“love” is too strong a word) of reading and keep them occupied during summer, keep reading for a host of books to combat the “summer slide.”
Little Redheads Across America

Inspired by the extra attention her copper-haired son would receive in public, author Nicole Giladi, a brunette, became curious about redheads, who make up only 2 to 4 percent of the U.S. population and received more than 2,500 submissions and 400 redhead children were chosen for the book.

Giladi created an 88-page hardcover children’s coffee table book filled with more than 400 professional photographs of young redheaded children from every state. The book contains child friendly facts about redhead characteristics such as freckles, sunburns, genetics and teasing.

The U.S. has the world’s largest redhead population with somewhere between 6 to 12 million.


Age Appeal: One to 100!

What kids will go gaga for: If they’re redheads, seeing other kids who resemble them on the pages of this book- and feeling a sens of kinship with the red-headed community. Realizing that their red-hair makes them unique and rather than feeling upset about their difference- embracing it and feeling incredibly empowered by it.Of course my little red-head ADORED this book!!In fact she reads it at least once a week- to “get back to her red-headed roots– and has learned so many interesting facts and of course LOVES to hang out on and play all the games

Parent Perks:Easily the greatest gift you can give your little red-head- or any red-head in your life! An affirmation and concrete proof that they are just as fabulous as you’ve always claimed them to be!


Thumbuddy To Love comes in 2 versions…Ballerina Sue for girls and Fireman Fred for boys. Both tell how Ballerina Sue/Fireman Fred no longer need to suck their thumb because they have important work to do. Fireman Fred needs his hands and his thumbs to fight fires and climb ladders and Ballerina Sue has a competition to go to and she must dance with her hands above her head. Everyone cheers them on as they learn the importance of stopping thumb sucking. It is the first thumb sucking teaching tool/book/thumb puppet of its kind. It also is the recipient of the Mom’s Choice Award.

Cost:Both books come with a Thumbuddy Thumb Puppet and are packaged in reusable packaging. Retail is $19.95 for each.

Age Appeal: Three to six.

What kids will go gaga for: It is a wonderful story on the importance of not sucking your thumb. It is a personal growth book about growing up and not needing to suck your thumb anymore. Kids love the illustrations and the calendar in the back of the book that comes with stickers so kids get involved by marking the days off they do not suck their thumb.

Parent Perks: Parents now have a teaching tool/story to read to their children to teach the importance of stopping thumb sucking. It is valuable for parents because they can read it before bed time and the thumb puppet is valuable to children because they can put it on and use it as a reminder to not suck their thumb day or night.


Tell Me a Story
For years the Staten Island Advance carried this column, Tell Me A Story and now many of these stories are available on CD. Tell Me A Story: Timeless Folktales from Around the World, Tell Me A Story 2: Animal Magic and Tell Me A Story 3: Women of Wonder (due out on June 30) feature multicultural folktales, with readings by some of stage and screen’s most talented performers (wait’ll you hear Paula Poundstone doing Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind on Women of Wonder!), and with original music by Laura Hall (best known as the pianist on Whose Line Is It Anyway?)

Each CD features six to eight stories from the column, each one read by a different performer, among them Oscar, Tony and Emmy winners. Each one also is introduced (and in some cases interwoven with) original music by the amazing Laura Hall ( The music is written to reflect the tone of the story and/or place of origin, and the readers.

On the CD Tell Me A Story: Timeless Folktales from Around the World, Friedman casts against type, so, for instance, Jack McGee (from Rescue Me and many films, with his tough Brooklyn accent) reads a Japanese tale called Two Frogs from Japan. Tell Me a Story 2: Animal Magic features readers from the story’s country of origin. And Tell Me a Story 3: Women of Wonder is all female–the stories of goddesses and heroines, with for instance, Bryce Dallas Howard (who plays Sarah Connor in the new Terminator) reading a British tale, Paula Poundstone reading an American Tall tale.

Cost: $18.95 retail for Timeless Folktales (71 minutes), $16.95 for Animal Magic (61 minutes) and $18.95 for Women of Wonder (69 minutes).

Age Appeal: While they’re designed for kids 5 to 10(ish), three year olds will love them and of course they’re designed to appeal to parents –who therefore won’t mind – AT ALL- when their kid listens to it over and over and over again.

What will kids will go gaga for: There’s a story called The Selkie Bride on the first one in which the Selkie leaves her children, and kids talk about what that means. But the readers also inspire kids the way good performers always do–to laugh, to cry, to memorize. Friedman admits she made these CD’s because, ” My younger daughter is dyslexic, and when she was young she despised reading; she learned to love reading THROUGH audiobooks. And I’d been waiting around for someone to produce audiobooks with selected stories (I’ve written nearly 1000 now), but when no one came along, I bit the bullet and began producing them on my own, hiring some of the amazing talent I’ve met over the years–actors, musicians and so on.”

Parent Perks: Entertainment, opening conversations, laughter together in the car. But I’ve watched kids. They’ll put on their headphones and listen FOR HOURS. These CD’s will inspire imagination–the way radio does and reading do and TV cannot–inspire kids to SEE, THINK, DREAM. These are so much fun to listen to with the whole family and they inspire a desire to read more–more folk and fairytales, more myths, more legends, history, fiction…


My Body Belongs to Me

This book will help teach children that their bodies are private. The story is a simple scenario involving a gender neutral child who is inappropriately touched by an uncle’s friend. The powerful message really comes through when the youngster tells on the offender and the parents praise the child’s bravery. The last page shows a proud, smiling child doing a “strong arm” pose. The text assures them that it wasn’t their fault and by speaking out the child will continue to grow big and strong. It is a compelling and uplifting message.

Cost: The hardcover 32 page book with color illustrations is $14.95.

Age Appeal My Body Belongs to Me is intended for children ages 3-8. There are schools in the DC area reading it to children as old as 10 and getting a positive response.

What kids will go gaga for: Children will enjoy looking at the colorful pictures and trying to spot the teddy bear throughout the book. Parents and educators will appreciate the discussion that follows. Children will be able to ask questions about their bodies and the book contains Suggestions for the Storyteller on various topics to address.

Parent Perks: Many parents, good parents, are not discussing body safety with their children. Sometimes they don’t know how to have the conversation and don’t want to make a mistake. Sometimes they don’t know when to have the conversation and unfortunately wait too long. Sometimes they are laboring under the misconception that this is not going to happen to their children. Reading this book with their children will help answer all their questions and ultimately enable them to sleep better at night knowing that they spoke to their children about this important subject.

Drawbacks: Keep in mind, especially when reading the book in a group setting, that you may be reading to a child who has already been touched in some way and is keeping it a secret. Be sensitive and avoid making the child feel guilty for not having told right away. Convey that it is OK for the child to tell someone even if he or she has been keeping it a secret for a long time.

Overall: Studies show 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be molested and many will carry the debilitating results of such action into their adult lives. Pedophiles do not wear a scarlet letter. It could be a child’s soccer coach, a friend’s parent or a trusted relative. The best thing you can do is teach your child that their body has boundaries and that if someone touches them inappropriately they should tell a parent or teacher right away. This book helps to facilitate that discussion in a child-friendly way.


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