Learn the Power of Play with our January Book Recommendations

Welcome to 2022! As we kick off a new year, we’re exploring the thing that makes Gymboree Play & Music unique, our commitment to Play. This month our brand channels will highlight the many ways play and imagination have a purpose in our lives.

Our booklist reflects titles that teach children how to push the limits of their mind, and explore the world unseen through play. See the books that made the list below.

 

The Year We Learned to Fly

by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López 

On a dreary, stuck-inside kind of day, a brother and sister heed their grandmother’s advice: “Use those beautiful and brilliant minds of yours.” And before they know it, their imaginations lift them up and out of their boredom. This precious skill, their grandmother tells them, harkens back to the days long before they were born, when their ancestors showed the world the strength and resilience of their beautiful and brilliant minds. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael Lopez’s dazzling art celebrate the extraordinary ability to lift ourselves up and imagine a better world.

Ben and Emma’s Big Hit 

by Gavin Newsom , Ruby Shamir , Alexandra Thompson 


Ben loves baseball. He loves the lines of diamond-shaped field and the dome of the pitcher’s mound. What Ben doesn’t like is reading. Ben has dyslexia, which means letters and sounds get jumbled up in his brain, and then the words don’t make sense. But when Ben starts looking at reading like he likes to play baseball, he realizes that if he keeps trying, he can overcome any obstacle that comes his way.

See, Touch, Feel: A First Sensory Book

by Roger Priddy 

There’s lots for baby to explore in See, Touch, Feel: A First Sensory Book. This sturdy board book, with bright photographs of happy babies, is specially designed to stimulate curiosity through sensory play.

As your baby grows, See, Touch, Feel will help your child develop language recognition and motor skills, as they learn to interact with the book in new ways. With lots to explore together, See, Touch, Feel is an ideal first book to share with your baby.

We All Play

by Julie Flett 

 This wonderful book celebrates playtime and the connection between children and the natural world. Beautiful illustrations show:

  • birds who chase and chirp!
  • bears who wiggle and wobble!
  • whales who swim and squirt!
  • owls who peek and peep!
  • and a diverse group of kids who love to do the same, shouting: 

We play too! / kimêtawânaw mîna

At the end of the book, animals and children gently fall asleep after a fun day of playing outside, making this book a great bedtime story.

Let’s Play! A Book About Making Friends

by Amanda McCardie and Colleen Larmour 

When Sukie’s family moves and she has to start at a new school, she feels shy and lonely at first. But soon she learns that receiving small acts of kindness—someone saying hi, or saving a hoop for her—makes her feel braver, and that passing friendliness along is a good feeling, too. Before long, Sukie, Joe, Poppy, and Stan are all becoming friends! Young readers are invited to join them as they explore meeting new people, celebrating differences, being thoughtful, and standing up for one another.

Celebrate the Holidays with Our December Book Recommendations


With 2021 coming to a close, we are focusing on the things that matter most during the holiday season – family, love, and traditions. Whether it’s the celebration of Diwali, Kwanza, Hanukkah or Christmas, we recognize that each family observes the holiday season in their own way and for that reason, our December theme is “Happiness Through the Holidays.” See which books made our December list below.

 
 

The Day the Holidays Blew Away

by Maureen Llewellyn , Olga Kutuzova and, Yip Jar Design 

Les the Leprechaun finds himself in the ultimate predicament when Calendar encounters a horrific wind that blows the months away! Les discovers St. Patrick’s Day is lost so he sets out find it but instead stumbles upon holiday after holiday that is not St. Patrick’s Day! Will the luck-o-the-Irish be on his side and lead him to his favorite holiday? Travel with him on this whirlwind journey through the holidays to find out!

Home for the Holidays: A Book for Kids About the Different Holidays That Bring Us Together

by Sesame Workshop and, Craig Manning 


No matter what holidays you celebrate during the most wonderful time of the year, love, family, togetherness, and giving are universal. In this diversity book for kids, share in the joy with Elmo, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, and more friends with festivities on Sesame Street! From Thanksgiving and Eid al-Fitr, to Chinese New Year, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Christmas, and New Year’s, this special picture book is a heartfelt celebration of different cultures and holidays from around the world. Featuring new and international Sesame Street characters, this sweet story proves that the things everyone cherishes are the same…because there’s no place like home for the holidays.

Babushka

by Dawn Casey and Amanda Hall 

With beautiful illustrations evoking folk art traditions and sensitive storytelling, Babushka tenderly reminds us that nothing is more important during the holiday season than taking the time to show love for one another. This timeless Russian tale will warm your heart and fill you up with the joyful, generous spirit of Christmas.

How to Catch an Elf

by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton 

It’s Christmas Eve and an elf is on the loose… in YOUR house! Do you have what it takes to catch him? Follow along in this fun holiday story as a mischievous elf causes chaos Christmas Eve! Filled with zany traps, vibrant illustrations, STEAM concepts, and even Santa Claus himself, this Christmas picture book for kids is guaranteed to become a new holiday tradition!

The perfect elf book for kids, funny stocking stuffer or Christmas gift for ages 4-10, this festive read aloud is loved by children, parents, and educators alike.


 

All I Want for Christmas Is Ewe

by Rose Rossner and Gail Yerrill 

Wish your little sugarplum a beary Merry Christmas and jingle all the way with this heartwarming story for babies and toddlers! Combining beautiful illustrations, charming animal puns, and the evergreen message of love, All I Want for Christmas is Ewe is a moovelous way to celebrate the season and share your love for each otter.

For fans of I Love You Like No Otter, this cute holiday treat is the best book gift for kids and animal lovers ages 0-3—made just for their little hands! The perfect addition to any Christmas gift, holiday stocking stuffer, baby shower gift, or festive read aloud.

Learn About Community With Our November Book Recommendations


When it comes to building strong foundations for our children, their community is key. Whether it’s a community of friends and family, educators, or people in our neighborhood, children learn about the world around them based on those they engage with most frequently. This month we’re focused on the concept of Community and the ways children can identify the circles and networks around them. See which books made or November list below.

 
 

The Circles All Around Us

by Brad Montague and Kristi Montague 

In the circles all around us, everywhere that we all go, there’s a difference we can make and a love we can all show.

This is the story of a circle. When we’re first born, our circle is very small, but as we grow and build relationships, our circle keeps getting bigger and bigger to include family, friends, neighbors, community, and beyond. Brad Montague originally created Circles as an Instagram video adorably narrated by his kids, and now this picture book adaptation is the perfect way to start a conversation about how to expand our worlds with kindness and inclusivity—even if it seems scary or uncomfortable. This book makes an ideal new-baby, first-day-of-school, or graduation gift, or any milestone that celebrates someone’s world getting bigger. 

We’re Better Together

by Eileen Spinelli and Ekaterina Trukhan 

Cooperation, helping, and working together are beautifully illustrated in this book that demonstrates the joys of community and teamwork for young readers.

We’re better together when we play, when we make music, and when everyone pitches in. This celebration of coming together to solve problems, support communities, and honor everyone’s differences is perfect for young children who are learning about empathy and cooperation. With durable cardstock pages and approachable language, this book will help spark meaningful conversations at home or in the classroom.


 

My Neighborhood

by Maddie Frost and Amy Pixton 


Indestructibles is the trusted series for easing little ones into story time. Beloved by babies and their parents, Indestructibles are built for the way babies “read” (i.e., with their hands and mouths) and are:

  • Rip Proof—made of ultra-durable tight-woven material
  • Waterproof—can be chewed on, drooled on, and washed!
  • Emergent Literacy Tool—bright pictures and few or no words encourage dialogic reading
  • Portable—lightweight books can go anywhere, perfect for the diaper bag and for travel
  • Safe for Baby—meets ASTM safety standards

Look Where We Live!

by Scot Ritchie


In this engaging nonfiction picture book, five young friends — Nick, Yulee, Pedro, Sally and Martin — spend the day traveling around their neighborhood and participating in activities designed to raise money for their local library. Along the way, they learn about the people and places that make up their community and what it means to be a part of one.

A map opens the story, with each of the places the children will be visiting labeled, including the gas station, retirement home, school, police station, soccer field, community garden and, of course, the library! Then each of the following spreads features a different location, detailed in a bright, busy illustration. Illustration captions expand the locations’ connections to the concept of community. For example, when they stop at a yard sale, the caption reads, “Donating means you give something to help a good cause. You can donate money, things or your time.” In some cases, readers are asked to find things or people within the illustrations, which adds an interactive experience.

Our Class is a Family

by Shannon Olsen and Sandie Sonke 

Teachers do so much more than just teach academics. They build a sense of community within their classrooms, creating a home away from home where they make their students feel safe, included, and loved.

With its heartfelt message and colorfully whimsical illustrations, “Our Class is a Family” is a book that will help build and strengthen that class community. Kids learn that their classroom is a place where it’s safe to be themselves, it’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s important to be a friend to others. When hearing this story being read aloud by their teacher, students are sure to feel like they are part of a special family.

Gymboree Play & Music Partners with Penguin Random House for October Book Recommendations


 

This month we’re partnering with Penguin Random House for our October book recommendations. Our October theme is Music to My Ears, so we’re highlighting three books that give children a glimpse into the lives of famous singers.

Each book selection reveals stories of triumph, cultural appreciation, and overcoming and will give your child a behind-the-scenes look at what it feels like to be a star on the rise.

This month we’ve also included ISBN details and princing information so you can purchase it from the bookstore of your choice. To learn more about each book, double click the cover art to be taken to the Penguin Random House website. And as a special treat, you can listen to snippets of the book below as well. 

About Penguin Random House

Penguin Random House is the international home to more than 300 editorially and creatively independent publishing imprints. Their mission is to ignite a universal passion for reading by creating books for everyone. They believe that books, and the stories and ideas they hold, have the unique capacity to connect us, change us, and carry us toward a better future for generations to come.

Their dedicated team of publishing professionals is committed to helping authors realize their very best work and to finding innovative new ways of bringing stories and ideas to audiences worldwide. By leveraging their global reach, embracing new technologies, and collaborating with authors at every stage of the publishing process—from editorial and design, to sales and marketing, to production and distribution—they aim to provide them with the greatest platform possible. At the same time, they fiercely protect their authors’ intellectual property and champion freedom of expression, ensuring that their voices carry beyond the page and into the folds of communities and societies around the globe.

 

Sing with Me

by Diana Lopez

An exuberant picture book celebrating the life and legacy of Selena Quintanilla, beloved Queen of Tejano music.

From a very early age, young Selena knew how to connect with people and bring them together with music. Sing with Me follows Selena’s rise to stardom, from front-lining her family’s band at rodeos and quinceañeras to performing in front of tens of thousands at the Houston Astrodome. Young readers will be empowered by Selena’s dedication–learning Spanish as a teenager, designing her own clothes, and traveling around the country with her family–sharing her pride in her Mexican-American roots and her love of music and fashion with the world.

Extra Details:

Hardcover | $17.99
Published by Dial Books
Jul 20, 2021 | 32 Pages | 8-1/2 x 11 | 4-8 years | ISBN 9780593110959

My Voice is a Trumpet

by Jimmie Allen

From rising country star Jimmie Allen comes a lyrical celebration of the many types of voices that can effect change.

From voices tall as a tree, to voices small as a bee, all it takes is confidence and a belief in the goodness of others to change the world. Coming at a time when issues of social justice are at the forefront of our society, this is the perfect book to teach children in and out of the classroom that they’re not too young to express what they believe in and that all voices are valuable.
 
The perfect companion for little readers going back to school!

Extra Details:

Hardcover | $17.99
Published by Flamingo Books
Jul 13, 2021 | 32 Pages | 9-1/4 x 9-1/2 | 3-7 years | ISBN 9780593352182

Nina : A Story of Nina Simone

by Traci Todd

This illuminating and defining picture book biography illustrated by Caldecott Honoree Christian Robinson, tells the story of little Eunice who grew up to become the acclaimed singer Nina Simone and her bold, defiant, and exultant legacy.

Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in small-town North Carolina, Nina Simone was a musical child. She sang before she talked and learned to play piano at a very young age. With the support of her family and community, she received music lessons that introduced her to classical composers like Bach who remained with her and influenced her music throughout her life. She loved the way his music began softly and then tumbled to thunder, like her mother’s preaching, and in much the same way as her career. During her first performances under the name of Nina Simone her voice was rich and sweet but as the Civil Rights Movement gained steam, Nina’s voice soon became a thunderous roar as she raised her voice in powerful protest in the fight against racial inequality and discrimination.

Extra Details:

Hardcover | $18.99
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Sep 28, 2021 | 56 Pages | 8-1/2 x 10-1/2 | 4-8 years | ISBN 9781524737283

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month With These Special Book Recommendations


 

September 15 – October 15th is observed in the United States as Hispanic Heritage Month. National Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture, and achievements in the United States. To celebrate, we curated a special book list to honor authors who have a Hispanic, Latin American background.

The titles feature a mix of bilingual books, picture books and stories that will give your family a deeper look into the lives and cultural experiences of some of the authors.

 

La Princesa and the Pea

by Susan Middleton Elya and Juana Martinez-Neal 

El príncipe knows this girl is the one for him, but, as usual, his mother doesn’t agree.

The queen has a secret test in mind to see if this girl is really a princesa, but the prince might just have a sneaky plan, too . . .

Readers will be enchanted by this Latino twist on the classic story, and captivated by the vibrant art inspired by the culture of Peru.

Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You

by Sonia Sotomayor and Rafael López 

In Just Ask, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges–and looks at the special powers those kids have as well. As the kids work together to build a community garden, asking questions of each other along the way, this book encourages readers to do the same: When we come across someone who is different from us but we’re not sure why, all we have to do is Just Ask.

Alma and How She Got Her Name

by Juana Martinez-Neal

If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell. In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discovery for children who may be curious about their own origin stories or names.

La Madre Goose: Nursery Rhymes for los Niños

by Susan Middleton Elya and Juana Martinez-Neal 

Classic favorites get a modern Latino twist

The itsy arañita
climbed up the water spout.
Down came la lluvia
and washed la araña out.

Classic Mother Goose rhymes get a Latino twist in this cozy collection. From young Juan Ramón sitting in el rincón to three little gatitos who lost their mitoncitos, readers will be delighted to see familiar characters in vibrant, luminous scenes brimming with fanciful details.

La Madre Goose will make a playful multicultural addition to every modern bookshelf.

¡Te amo, te abrazo, leo contigo!/Love you, Hug You, Read to You!

by Tish Rabe and Frank Endersby 

“There are three things I’ll always do . . . love you, hug you, read to you!” The simple promise of togetherness offered in this bilingual (Spanish and English) board book is enhanced by interactive prompts throughout, encouraging parents to engage with their child while reading. Studies show that asking questions, like the ones in this book, helps children learn to read faster than if they just listen to a story. Love and literacy are gifts we can give to our children every day!

My Papi Has a Motorcycle 

by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña 

When Daisy Ramona zooms around her neighborhood with her papi on his motorcycle, she sees the people and places she’s always known. She also sees a community that is rapidly changing around her.

But as the sun sets purple-blue-gold behind Daisy Ramona and her papi, she knows that the love she feels will always be there.

With vivid illustrations and text bursting with heart, My Papi Has a Motorcycle is a young girl’s love letter to her hardworking dad and to memories of home that we hold close in the midst of change.

Nosotros Means Us: Un cuento bilingüe

by Paloma Valdivia 

A moving bilingual ode to the unshakeable bond between a parent and child in the tradition of Runaway Bunny and The Wonderful Things You Will Be.

If I were a sheep, you would be a lamb.
If I were a bear, you would be a cub.
As a mother holds her toddler, they muse over the way their love would translate if they were different animals. But no matter how they change, they will always be “us.” This bilingual story is a timeless ode to the unshakable bond between parent and child.

Not a Bean

by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez and Laura Gonzalez 

With Spanish vocabulary and a clever counting concept, this poetic story shares the life cycle of a Mexican jumping bean. This curious jumping insect is actually a seedpod from a shrub called yerba de la flecha, into which a caterpillar burrows, living inside the pod until it builds a cocoon and breaks out as a moth. Perfect for preschoolers and pre-readers, this creative picture book explores the Mexican jumping bean’s daily life and eventual transformation and escape from the pod.

Cerca / Close 

by Juan Felipe Herrera and  Blanca Gómez

Some things are close — cerca. Others are far — lejos. With sweet simplicity, this charming dual-language board book and its companion volume, Lejos/Far, engage young children.

Mi cuarto está cerca de la cocina. My bedroom is close to the kitchen.

As she walks from her kitchen through a daisy-filled yard to the house next door, a little girl notices things that are close to each other — just as the little boy she goes to visit is close to her.

Carmela Full of Wishes

by Matt de la Peña and  Christian Robinson 

When Carmela wakes up on her birthday, her wish has already come true–she’s finally old enough to join her big brother as he does the family errands. Together, they travel through their neighborhood, past the crowded bus stop, the fenced-off repair shop, and the panadería, until they arrive at the Laundromat, where Carmela finds a lone dandelion growing in the pavement. But before she can blow its white fluff away, her brother tells her she has to make a wish. If only she can think of just the right wish to make . . .

With lyrical, stirring text and stunning, evocative artwork, Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson have crafted a moving ode to family, to dreamers, and to finding hope in the most unexpected places.

Foster First Foundations with our September Book Recommendations


Early childhood is a crucial time in a child’s development. 

Every experience your child has in their formative years from the places they visit regularly to the people they engage with frequently, everything becomes a  building block of your child’s brain architecture. And as a whole, these things will strongly influence your child’s ability to learn, maintain healthy habits, and support positive behavior throughout their life.

 

At Gymboree Play & Music, we believe in cultivating the whole child. So whether it’s through play in our centers, or play dates your child has with friends after class, we wanted to select books that support this area of growth beyond our doors. 

Check out our September booklist for titles that will teach you and your kids about building foundations in community, school, and life.

Recommendations for Children

All Are Welcome

by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman 

Discover a school where all young children have a place, have a space, and are loved and appreciated.

Readers will follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where students from all backgrounds learn from and celebrate each other’s traditions. A school that shows the world as we will make it to be.

First Day Jitters 

by Julie Danneberg and Judy Love 

Everyone knows that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach just before diving into a new situation. Sarah Jane Hartwell is scared and doesn’t want to start over at a new school. She doesn’t know anybody, and nobody knows her. It will be awful. She just knows it. With much prodding from Mr. Hartwell, Sarah Jane reluctantly pulls herself together and goes to school. She is quickly befriended by Mrs. Burton, who helps smooth her jittery transition. This charming and familiar story will delight readers with its surprise ending.

by Peter H. Reynolds

The Word Collector

Some people collect stamps. Some people collect coins. Some people collect art. And Jerome? Jerome collected words . . . In this extraordinary new tale from Peter H. Reynolds, Jerome discovers the magic of the words all around him — short and sweet words, two-syllable treats, and multisyllable words that sound like little songs. Words that connect, transform, and empower.From the creator of The DotI Am Human, and Happy Dreamer comes a celebration of finding your own words — and the impact you can have when you share them with the world.

School is More Than a Building

by Kelley Donner 

With its delightful watercolor illustrations of school life, School is More Than a Building paints a positive picture of a school environment where children know and understand that the people who work there care and look out for their best interests. When read aloud, children are reminded that they are part of a very special community and that schools are there for them.

Sticks

by Diane Alber 

A heartwarming story about finding your place in the world. Sticks is about a Popsicle that accidentally melts and becomes just a plain stick. He has a hard time adjusting to his new normal but with the help of some new friends (who happen to be sticks too) he realizes that everything happened for a reason and that melting was part of his journey.

Sticks is a story that almost anyone can relate to. It’s about finding yourself in a situation that didn’t turn out like you expected and having your friends and family help you find he courage to pick yourself back up and persevere.

Recommendations for Parents

What Do You Say?

by William Stixrud PhD and  Ned Johnson 

William Stixrud, Ph.D., and Ned Johnson have 60 years combined experience talking to kids one-on-one, and the most common question they get when out speaking to parents and educators is: What do you say? While many adults understand the importance and power of the philosophies behind the books that dominate the parenting bestseller list, parents are often left wondering how to put those concepts into action. 

In What Do You Say?, Johnson and Stixrud show how to engage in respectful and effective dialogue, beginning with defining and demonstrating the basic principles of listening and speaking. Then they show new ways to handle specific, thorny topics of the sort that usually end in parent/kid standoffs: delivering constructive feedback to kids; discussing boundaries around technology; explaining sleep and their brains; the anxiety of current events; and family problem-solving. What Do You Say? is a manual and map that will immediately transform parents’ ability to navigate complex terrain and train their minds and hearts to communicate ever more successfully.

Parenting Right From the Start

by Vanessa Lapointe and Shefali Tsabary 

The baby and toddler years are the most important period for any child’s emotional and psychological development. Parents naturally want to do what’s best for their kids, but they often struggle to know what that is, especially when dealing with the big “battlegrounds” of sleep, feeding, and managing aggression.

The latest scientific research indicates that it is through a strong and stable sense of connection to their parents that children learn how to regulate their emotions, master social skills, and develop a sense of identity. Unfortunately, many of the currently accepted parenting practices and traditional attitudes disrupt healthy connection rather than foster it, leading to behavioral issues and emotional problems that can last into adulthood.

The Importance of Being Little

by Erika Christakis 

 In her pathbreaking book, Christakis explains what it’s like to be a young child in America today, in a world designed by and for adults, where we have confused schooling with learning. She offers real-life solutions to real-life issues, with nuance and direction that takes us far beyond the usual prescriptions for fewer tests, more play

Parenting from the Inside Out

by Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell 

In Parenting from the Inside Out, child psychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and early childhood expert Mary Hartzell, M.Ed., explore the extent to which our childhood experiences shape the way we parent. Drawing on stunning new findings in neurobiology and attachment research, they explain how interpersonal relationships directly impact the development of the brain, and offer parents a step-by-step approach to forming a deeper understanding of their own life stories, which will help them raise compassionate and resilient children.

How Children Succeed

by Mariana Bissonnette 

Babies Build Toddlers is a unique parenting book with an innovative illustrative approach that makes child development information both accessible and actionable for everyday readers. Author, Mariana Bissonnette tells the powerful story of the child during their most essential stage of development: infancy. The first 18 months lay a critical foundation for a child’s future emotional, cognitive, physical, and social well-being.

But this early time is often the most difficult for parents! Many find themselves in “survival mode” until toddlerhood, something that overlooks the incredible potential of this early time. Babies Build Toddlers offers readers a window into the intersection of development, education and parenting through clear developmental timelines (including movement, language, eating, sleeping, hygiene, and bonding), practical suggestions for how to support that development, and illustrations from a team of illustrators who celebrate the fullness of each parent’s journey.

Support Your Growth Mindset with our August Book Recommendations


When it comes to mindset, we’re often encouraged to “be positive” and
“think outside the box.” If we’re up against a challenging situation. But what’s not often explained is why this is necessary and what happens when we don’t.

This month Gymboree Play & Music is leaning into the concept of the growth mindset in an effort to educate kids and families on the possibilities that become available to us when we persevere and allow ourselves to “grow” through various situations instead of “go” through these circumstances.

Check out our August booklist for titles that will teach you and your kids about the growth mindset.

Recommendations for Children

Three Little Engines

by Bob McKinnon , Lou FancherSteve Johnson 

Graduation day is finally here! The Little Blue Engine, the Yellow Passenger Engine, and the Red Freight Engine are excited to take their final test of Engine School: making their first solo trip over the mountain. But each engine encounters different challenges and obstacles on their journey. Gorgeous illustrations by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson combine with a poignant story told by Bob McKinnon to remind a new generation of readers to “think they can.”

Beautiful Oops

by Barney Saltzberg

An award winning, best-selling, one-of-a-kind interactive book, Beautiful Oops! shows young readers how every mistake is an opportunity to make something beautiful. A singular work of imagination, creativity, and paper engineering, Beautiful Oops! is filled with pop-ups, lift-the-flaps, tears, holes, overlays, bends, smudges, and even an accordion “telescope”—each demonstrating the magical transformation from blunder to wonder.

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain

by JoAnn Deak Ph.D.Sarah Ackerley 

Educator and psychologist Dr. JoAnn Deak offers a fun and engaging introduction to the anatomy and functions of the brain that will empower each young reader to S-T-R-E-T-C-H and grow their fantastic, elastic brain! 

The Book of Mistakes

by Corinna Luyken 

As one artist incorporates accidental splotches, spots, and misshapen things into her art, she transforms her piece in quirky and unexpected ways, taking readers on a journey through her process. Told in minimal, playful text, this story shows readers that even the biggest “mistakes” can be the source of the brightest ideas—and that, at the end of the day, we are all works in progress, too.

Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle

by Chris Raschka 

Learning to ride a bike is one of the most important milestones of childhood, and no one captures the emotional ups and downs of the experience better than Chris Raschka, who won the 2012 Caldecott Medal for A Ball for Daisy. In this simple yet emotionally rich “guide,” a father takes his daughter through all the steps in the process—from choosing the perfect bicycle to that triumphant first successful ride. Using very few words and lots of expressive pictures, here is a picture book that not only shows kids how to learn to ride, but captures what it feels like to fall . . . get up . . . fall again . . . and finally “by luck, grace, and determination” ride a bicycle!

Recommendations for Parents

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

by Carol S. Dweck 

In this brilliant book, she shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. People with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed. Mindset reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, and athletes can put this idea to use to foster outstanding accomplishment.

Grit for Kids

by Lee David Daniels 

Your kids are the most important people in your lives. In this increasingly competitive and confusing world they need you to help them be their best. They need you to guide them in developing traits for success and happiness. Grit for Kids will teach you how to help your child to develop their own grit in just 16 easy-to-follow chapters.

Helping Children Succeed

by Paul Tough 

In How Children Succeed, Paul Tough introduced us to research showing that personal qualities like perseverance, self-control, and conscientiousness play a critical role in children’s success.
      Now, in Helping Children Succeed, Tough takes on a new set of pressing questions: What does growing up with economic and other stresses do to children’s mental and physical development? How does adversity at home affect their success in the classroom, from preschool to high school? And what practical steps can the adults who are responsible for them take to improve their chances for a positive future?

by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson 

In The Yes Brain, the authors give parents skills, scripts, and activities to bring kids of all ages into the beneficial “yes” state. You’ll learn

Big Little Breakthroughs

by Josh Linkner 

Instead of shooting for a $10-billion payday or a Nobel Prize, the most prolific innovators focus on Big Little Breakthroughs—small creative acts that unlock massive rewards over time. By cultivating daily micro-innovations, individuals and organizations are better equipped to tackle tough challenges and seize transformational opportunities.

How Children Succeed

by Paul Tough 

How Children Succeed introduces us to a new generation of researchers and educators who, for the first time, are using the tools of science to peel back the mysteries of character. Through their stories—and the stories of the children they are trying to help—Tough traces the links between childhood stress and life success. He uncovers the surprising ways in which parents do—and do not—prepare their children for adulthood. And he provides us with new insights into how to help children growing up in poverty.

Instill Independence in Your Child With Our July Book Recommendations


As parents, we love coddling our children.

For example, when our kids want to try the high slide alone, we hold their hands all the way down.

When they insist on dressing themselves, we step in to help them go faster. 

When they want to pour their own milk, we grab it and do it for them.

But when our overdoing becomes more than coddling, we inadvertently prevent our children from gaining a sense of independence. So how do we encourage kids to develop this skillset, while we also gain a better understanding the limitations of our “parenting”?

We read. 

Check out our July booklist for titles that will teach you and your kids about self-esteem, failure, success, and confidence. 

 

Recommendations for Children

Flight School

by Lita Judge 

A persevering penguin is determined to fly in this adorably inspiring picture book from the creator of Red Hat and Red Sled.

Although little Penguin has the soul of an eagle, his body wasn’t built to soar. But Penguin has an irrepressible spirit, and he adamantly follows his dreams to flip, flap, fly! Even if he needs a little help with the technical parts, this penguin is ready to live on the wind.

 The Most Magnificent Thing 

by Ashley Spires 

Award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires has created a charming picture book about an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. “She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. For the early grades’ exploration of character education, this funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity.

Ladybug Girl Series

by David Soman and Jacky Davis 

In the New York Times bestselling Ladybug Girl series, which encourages independence and creative play, and celebrates imagination for every preschool child!
 
When Lulu puts on her ladybug costume, she becomes Ladybug Girl, a superhero who uses her imagination to have adventures right in her own backyard. Her dog, Bingo the basset hound, is always by her side and the two prove that they are not too little to explore nature, build forts, and make their own big fun.

I Don’t Want To Go To School

by Lula Bell and Brian Fitzgerald 

It’s Mouse’s first day of school. It’s Dinosaur’s first day of school. As each of them get ready for the first day of school, they definitely DON’T want to go! But when class begins, there is a very big surprise! A reassuring tale for those first-day-of-school jitters.

It’s Mouse’s first day of school, and she is so nervous. She can’t eat her cereal, and she wonders what the children will be like. And it’s Dinosaur’s first day of school, too! He is so nervous that he can’t eat his toast. He is afraid that the teacher won’t like him. And the school looks so scary! But when Mouse and Dinosaur arrive at school, they’re both in for a big, happy surprise!

A Little SPOT of Confidence

by Diane Alber 

Confidence plays an important role in a child’s future happiness, health, and success. Confident children are better equipped to deal with peer pressure, challenges, and negative emotions. A little SPOT of Confidence is a story that uses an orange spot to help a child visual there confidence spot growing or shrinking. It shows a child real-world situations on how they can grow their confidence SPOT.

Recommendations for Parents

How to Raise Successful People

by Esther Wojcicki 

The godmother of Silicon Valley, legendary teacher, and mother of a superfamily shares her tried-and-tested methods for raising happy, healthy, successful children using trust, respect, independence, collaboration, and kindness: TRICK. Wojcicki’s methods are the opposite of helicopter parenting. As we face an epidemic of parental anxiety, Woj is here to say: relax. Talk to infants as if they are adults. Allow teenagers to pick projects that relate to the real world and their own passions, and let them figure out how to complete them. Above all, let your child lead. 

Social Skills for Kids

by Keri K. Powers 

In Social Skills for Kids, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how social skills develop in children and what you can do to support their growth. In this book, you’ll find games to encourage them in group settings, activities that you (or another caregiver) can do alone with your child, and ways to make the most of virtual interactions for social skill development.

The Gift of Failure

by Jessica Lahey 

Modern parenting is defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness: parents who rush to school at the whim of a phone call to deliver forgotten assignments, who challenge teachers on report card disappointments, mastermind children’s friendships, and interfere on the playing field. As teacher and writer Jessica Lahey explains, even though these parents see themselves as being highly responsive to their children’s well-being, they aren’t giving them the chance to experience failure—or the opportunity to learn to solve their own problems.

The Yes Brain

by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson 

In The Yes Brain, the authors give parents skills, scripts, and activities to bring kids of all ages into the beneficial “yes” state. You’ll learn

• the four fundamentals of the Yes Brain—balance, resilience, insight, and empathy—and how to strengthen them
• the key to knowing when kids need a gentle push out of a comfort zone vs. needing the “cushion” of safety and familiarity
• strategies for navigating away from negative behavioral and emotional states (aggression and withdrawal) and expanding your child’s capacity for positivity

The Yes Brain is an essential tool for nurturing positive potential and keeping your child’s inner spark glowing and growing strong.

The 4 Habits of Raising Joy-Filled Kids

by Marcus Warner and Chris Coursey 

Joy-filled kids aren’t always happy kids, but they do know how to work for and wait for what is truly satisfying in life. In The Four Habits of Raising Joy-Filled Kids you will discover a tool box full of skills that you can use with your children to help them grow in maturity and live with greater joy.

These tools help your kids, from infants to teens, build skills like:

Regulating upset emotions so they can return to joy.
Forming a stable identity that doesn’t change with each new emotion.
Developing discernment to distinguish between what is satisfying and what is only temporarily pleasurable.
Discovering heart values and not just living to please others.
Building “joy bonds” rather than “fear bonds.”

15 Books That Will Teach Your Child About PRIDE, Family Love, and Embracing Their Identity


Now more than ever, parents want to teach their children to be kind, inclusive, and compassionate. They also want to make sure that the books they bring in their home are representative of values that validate, affirm, and dignify all people. 

In celebration of Pride Month, Gymboree Play & Music has curated a list of books that will support these efforts for families everywhere. Feel free to see which books made our list below. 

 

 

 

Rainbow: A First Book of Pride

by Michael Genhart PhD and  Anne Passchier 

This is a sweet ode to rainbow families, and an affirming display of a parent’s love for their child and a child’s love for their parents. Readers will celebrate the life, healing, light, nature, harmony, and spirit that the rainbows in this book will bring. and sharing. “A great choice for the beginning of the school year.”*

Except When They Don’t

by Laura Gehl and Joshua Heinsz 

This rhyming picture book encourages children to celebrate their individuality and lets them know that it’s okay to play with whatever toys they want to!

It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity

by Theresa Thorn and Noah Grigni 

This sweet, straightforward exploration of gender identity will give children a fuller understanding of themselves and others. With child-friendly language and vibrant art, It Feels Good to Be Yourself provides young readers and parents alike with the vocabulary to discuss this important topic with sensitivity.

Pink Is For Boys

by Robb Pearlman and  Eda Kaban 

Pink is for boys . . . and girls . . . and everyone! This timely and beautiful picture book rethinks and reframes the stereotypical blue/pink gender binary and empowers kids-and their grown-ups-to express themselves in every color of the rainbow. Featuring a diverse group of relatable characters, Pink Is for Boys invites and encourages girls and boys to enjoy what they love to do, whether it’s racing cars and playing baseball, or loving unicorns and dressing up.

Mommy, Mama, and Me

by Lesléa Newman and Carol Thompson 

Rhythmic text and illustrations with universal appeal show a toddler spending the day with its mommies. From hide-and-seek to dress-up, then bath time and a kiss goodnight, there’s no limit to what a loving family can do together.

Share the loving bond between same-sex parents and their children in this heartwarming story of family.

Daddy, Papa, and Me

by Lesléa Newman and Carol Thompson 

Rhythmic text and illustrations with universal appeal show a toddler spending the day with its daddies. From hide-and-seek to dress-up, then bath time and a kiss goodnight, there’s no limit to what a loving family can do together.

Share the loving bond between same-sex parents and their children in this heartwarming story of family.

Love Is Love

by Michael Genhart and Ken Min 

When a boy confides in his friend about bullies saying he doesn’t have a real family, he discovers that his friend’s parents―a mom and a dad―and his two dads are actually very much alike.

Dr. Michael Genhart’s debut story is the perfect resource to gently discuss discrimination with kids. This sweet and straightforward story shows that gay families and straight families and everything in between are all different kinds of normal. What makes a family real is the love that is shared.

Julián Is a Mermaid 

by Jessica Love 

When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.

Our Rainbow

by Little Bee Books 

Every young child is enchanted by the beautiful colors of the rainbow. Now, Our Rainbow can teach toddlers all about the meaning of each color of the pride flag. Told in simple, engaging text and paired with bright illustrations, this board book teaches the youngest of readers all about the colors of this rainbow and the simple acts of kindness that can brighten up our world! This book is published in partnership with GLAAD to accelerate LGBTQ inclusivity and acceptance.

Born Ready

by Jodie Patterson and Charnelle Pinkney Barlow 

In this exuberant companion to Jodie Patterson’s adult memoir, The Bold World, Patterson shares her son Penelope’s frustrations and triumphs on his journey to share himself with the world. Penelope’s experiences show children that it always makes you stronger when you are true to yourself and who you really are.

From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea

by Kai Cheng ThomKai Yun Ching and Wai-Yant Li 

In this captivating, beautifully imagined picture book about gender, identity, and the acceptance of the differences between us, Miu Lan faces many questions about who they are and who they may be. But one thing’s for sure: no matter what this child becomes, their mother will love them just the same.

When You Look Out the Window

by Gayle E. Pitman and Christopher Lyles 

When You Look Out the Window tells the story of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, one of San Francisco’s most well-known and politically active lesbian couples. Describing the view from Phyllis and Del’s window, this book shows how one couple’s activism transformed their community — and had ripple effects throughout the world.

Love Makes a Family

by Sophie Beer 

Love is baking a special cake. Love is lending a helping hand. Love is reading one more book. In this exuberant board book, many different families are shown in happy activity, from an early-morning wake-up to a kiss before bed. Whether a child has two moms, two dads, one parent, or one of each, this simple preschool read-aloud demonstrates that what’s most important in each family’s life is the love the family members share.

Families Belong

by Dan Saks and Brooke Smart 

This deliciously warm board book is an appreciation of the unconditional love and comfort shared within a family. Through a handful of specific yet universal scenarios, from singing songs together to sharing food together, from dancing together to lying still together, this book invites the youngest readers to celebrate what it means for a family to be truly together.

I Am Jazz

by Jessica HerthelJazz Jennings, and Shelagh McNicholas 

From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn’t feel like herself in boys’ clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz’s story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers.

Re-Socialize Your Kids With Our June Book Recommendations


After more than a year indoors, parents are looking for ways to help their children learn the crucial social and emotional skills so they can be school-ready by the fall.

With that in mind, we wanted to curate our June recommendations to not only support social skills for kids but also identify books that are useful tools to help teach social skills and tackle social-emotional issues for parents.

We scoured the internet and several best-selling book lists to see what titles are trending, and here are the titles we think your family will enjoy.

Recommendations for Children

Rulers of the Playground 

by Joseph Kuefler 

A funny, relatable story about how becoming “rulers” of the playground, in the end, is less fun than playing together and sharing. “A great choice for the beginning of the school year.”*

This picture book about sharing, friendship, and kindness in a playground setting will remind you of favorites such as This Is Not My Hat from Jon Klassen and The Day the Crayons Quit from Drew Daywalt.

 Stick and Stone  

by Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld 

When Stick rescues Stone from a prickly situation with a Pinecone, the pair becomes fast friends. But when Stick gets stuck, can Stone return the favor?
Author Beth Ferry makes a memorable debut with a warm, rhyming text that includes a subtle anti-bullying message even the youngest reader will understand. New York Times bestselling illustrator Tom Lichtenheld imbues Stick and Stone with energy, emotion, and personality to spare.
        In this funny story about kindness and friendship, Stick and Stone join George and Martha, Frog and Toad, and Elephant and Piggie, as some of the best friend duos in children’s literature.

Home is In Between 

by Mitali Perkins and Lavanya Naidu 

In the timely yet timeless picture book Home Is in Between, critically acclaimed author Mitali Perkins and illustrator Lavanya Naidu describe the experience of navigating multiple cultures and embracing the complex but beautiful home in between.

Shanti misses the warm monsoon rains in India. Now in America, she watches fall leaves fly past her feet. Still, her family’s apartment feels like a village: Mama cooking luchi, funny stories in Bangla, and Baba’s big laugh. But outside, everything is different – trick-or-treating, ballet class, and English books. Back and forth, Shanti trudges between her two worlds. She remembers her village and learns her new town. She watches Bollywood movies at home and Hollywood movies with her friends. She is Indian. She is also American. How should she define home?

My Very Own Space 

by Pippa Goodhart and Rebecca Crane 

A little rabbit is trying to read his book in peace, but there’s so much going on around him! Maybe he needs some space just for himself…

With minimal text accompanying beautiful and sweet illustrations, this charming picture book explores ideas of personal space and sharing in a way that even very young children can enjoy.

Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie

by Laura Rankin 

Ruthie loves little things-the smaller the better. So when she finds a teeny tiny camera on the school playground one afternoon, she can hardly believe her luck. She wants to keep the camera in the worst way, but there’s one little problem: It isn’t hers.

Ruthie swears to her teacher and to her classmate Martin that she got the camera for her birthday. But deep down, Ruthie knows better, and all day long that teeny tiny camera weighs on her conscience until she can hardly stand it. How could one little camera turn into such a great big problem?

Recommendations for Parents

Screen Kids: 5 Relational Skills Every Child Needs in a Tech-Driven World

by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane 

In Screen Kids Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane will empower you with the tools you need to make positive changes. Through stories, science, and wisdom, you’ll discover how to take back your home from an overdependence on screens. Plus, you’ll learn to teach the five A+ skills that every child needs to master: affection, appreciation, anger management, apology, and attention. Learn how to:

  • Protect and nurture your child’s growing brain
  • Establish simple boundaries that make a huge difference
  • Recognize the warning signs of gaming too much
  • Raise a child who won’t gauge success through social media
  • Teach your child to be safe online

A Grown-Up’s Guide To Kids’ Wiring

by Kathleen Edelman 

Whether you’re a parent, teacher, coach, grandparent, or the fun uncle in your family, YOU HAVE PROBABLY TRIED TO “FIX” A CHILD.

We’ve all said things like, “He has to calm down.” “She has to speak up!” “Why won’t they just do what I tell them to do?”No matter the age or stage, kids are . . . hard. But understanding their wiring might change the way you look at (and speak to) every child that crosses your path from this day forward.

Communication expert Kathleen Edelman has spent three decades helping grown-ups make sense of the kids around them. The result? Better behavior, better relationships. In this book and the six videos that go along with it (free on YouTube), she’ll do the same thing for you and the kids in your family, in your classroom, or on your team.

The Relationally Intelligent Child

by John Trent PhD and Dewey Wilson PhD

Most parents today understand brokenness and loneliness when it comes to relationships. Then comes the need to teach relationship skills to their children! Having experienced isolation and loneliness on their own, parents can be terribly aware of how much their own children need and long for relationships.

The Relationally-Intelligent Child teaches parents the crucial insights of a must grasp concept: relational intelligence. This tool for growth and connection will not only change a child’s life, but also a parent’s own relationships. You’ll discover five key elements that can engage and equip your child with skills for being relationally intelligent with family, friends, and others.

Hunt, Gather, Parent

by Michaeleen Doucleff

In Hunt, Gather, Parent, Doucleff sets out with her three-year-old daughter in tow to learn and practice parenting strategies from families in three of the world’s most venerable communities: Maya families in Mexico, Inuit families above the Arctic Circle, and Hadzabe families in Tanzania. She sees that these cultures don’t have the same problems with children that Western parents do. Most strikingly, parents build a relationship with young children that is vastly different from the one many Western parents develop—it’s built on cooperation instead of control, trust instead of fear, and personalized needs instead of standardized development milestones.

How to Raise an Adult

by Julie Lythcott-Haims 

In How to Raise an Adult, Julie Lythcott-Haims draws on research, on conversations with admissions officers, educators, and employers, and on her own insights as a mother and as a student dean to highlight the ways in which overparenting harms children, their stressed-out parents, and society at large. While empathizing with the parental hopes and, especially, fears that lead to overhelping, Lythcott-Haims offers practical alternative strategies that underline the importance of allowing children to make their own mistakes and develop the resilience, resourcefulness, and inner determination necessary for success.

Relevant to parents of toddlers as well as of twentysomethings–and of special value to parents of teens–this book is a rallying cry for those who wish to ensure that the next generation can take charge of their own lives with competence and confidence.