As my kids get older, it seems like it’s harder to find the time to read to them. By the time dinner dishes are put away, and backpacks are packed for the next day, it’s pass everyone’s bedtime and there is no time to read. While there is no substitute for a parent and child getting together to read, there are sources out there to help fill in the cracks.
The Smart Television Alliance The Smart Television Alliance a great online source for parents and caregivers to easily find television programming that is educational and entertaining for kids, on the parents’ schedules. They’re also a committed supporter of the NEA’s annual Read Across America project. They even had some of our kids’ favorite TV characters give them reading suggestions.
The Smart Television Alliance has partnered with the Disney Channel to produce a Public Service Announcement to help impart the importance of reading to children everywhere. The Disney Channel asked Super Bunny, star of the new Playhouse Disney series “Bunnytown,” to read his favorite bedtime story to a friend – A Boy and His Bunny. You can see the video below.
kidthing™ kidthing released an animated digital version of Horton Hears A Who! by Dr. Seuss for Read Across America Day. It’s available for free exclusively on for download on kidthing. The pages come to life on your computer screen with animation, narration and sound effects. Parents also have the option to turn the sound off and read the book aloud. It’s very slick but as a parent you are totally in control to what books you’re downloading.
kidthing is a secure internet-based global learning platform for children, parents, teachers, family and friends that delivers the next generation Internet-based learning environment through its proprietary distribution, publishing and social networking platform. Parents and teachers can purchase, customize and personalize content for kids and can share this in private sharing groups. Publishers and content creators around the world can make their works available in the kidthing store in an enhanced electronic format. It’s sort of an online version of Kindle for children’s books with social networking features.
YouTube There are many videos of books from Rosemary Wells to Curious George available on YouTube (probably bootleg versions, I’m guessing. I’ve created a playlist on YouTube of some kid friendly titles for my kids to watch. (I’d love to post a video here, but it keeps goofing up my blog.)
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Recently in school, Nathan had to write the story of his ancestry. It was part of what his class was learning about the United States as a nation of immigrants. Since Paul and my families’ backgrounds are complex – we have ancestors from England, Wales, Scotland, France, Denmark, Germany and Greece who immigrated as long ago as the 1600s and as recently as 1960 – the paper ended up being two pages. Needless to say this was a fairly intense assignment for a second grader. (It’s part of the Core Knowledge curriculum – see What Your Second Grader Needs to Know.)
Nathan had a hard time understanding that my father, who was born in England, was both English and Jewish. It was even more confusing that my dad became a citizen when he was a kid and was more American than English having grown up in Brooklyn in the ’20s and ’30s and serving as an American soldier in World War II.
Exploring through TV and video
Just around this time, PBS was showing their wonderful documentary, The Jewish Americans. If Nathan was older, I would have had him watch watch it with me to understand more about Jewish immigrants and how they contributed to American society. I only caught the first marvelous episode, so I was happy to receive a review copy from Click-Comm.com of the newly released DVD so I could watch the episodes I missed. The description:
The Jewish Americans is a three-night (6 hour) documentary that explores 350 years of Jewish American history. Written and directed by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin, The Jewish Americans is a journey through time, from the first settlement in 1654 to the present. It is about the struggle of a tiny minority who make their way into the American mainstream while, at the same time, maintaining a sense of their own identity as Jews. Focusing on the tension between identity and assimilation, The Jewish Americans is quintessentially an American story, which other minority groups will find surprisingly familiar. Louis D. Brandeis, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Henry Morgenthau, Hank Greenberg, Betty Friedan, Molly Goldberg, Carl Reiner, Sid Caesar, and Tony Kushner are all interviewed for the documentary.
It is our pleasure, our honor, our duty as citizens to present to you Duck for President. Here is a duck who began in a humble pond. Who worked his way to farmer. To governor. And now, perhaps, to the highest office in the land.
Some say, if he walks like a duck and talks like a duck, he is a duck.
We say, if he walks like a duck and talks like a duck, he will be the next president of the United States of America.
Thank you for your vote.
And if that doesn’t convince you, watch this video:
I’m so excited! Ratatouille is coming out on DVD next week (November 6). The nice people at Click Communications sent me a preview copy. It was wonderful timing as my mother, who’s French, was in town. She hadn’t seen it, so it was a perfect movie to share with her grandkids.
We loved watching Ratatouille again even though we had seen it in the theater when it was first released. We enjoyed the short features, too. The foodie in me loved “Fine Food and Film: A Conversation with Brad Bird and Thomas Keller,” a behind the scenes look at how master chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller brought his real life expertise to the table. And the kids loved the new animated short film “Your Friend the Rat,” starring Remy and Emile from Ratatouille
For the occasion, I made dinner using a recipe from the movie’s children’s cookbook, What’s Cooking? A cookbook based on a movie? Yes, and a good one at that. It has very authentic but kid-friendly recipes for classic French dishes like crepes, croque monsieur (a favorite of my nephews in Switzerland), and quiche lorraine. There’s a few fun dishes in What’s Cooking? too, like Easy Faux Escargot (roll ups) and Pizza Rats (cut up English muffin pizzas that look like rats’ faces).
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