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.

45 Years of Gymboree Play & Music

In a month where we’re celebrating a significant 45 Anniversary, we feel it’s important now more than ever, to take a look back at just how far we’ve come. 

In the Beginning

Long before Gymboree Play & Music was launched in 1976. Joan Barnes, in her early 20s, had taught modern dance to children in New York City before organizing a children’s recreation program for the Jewish Community Center in San Rafael, California. 

She was serving as the recreation administrator at that center when, in 1975, she came up with the notion of offering exercise classes for babies with their parents. The idea stemmed partly from her personal desire to share physical fitness playtime with her own daughter.

Her baby exercise classes were such a hit that parents lined up to bring their babies and toddlers to attend the exercise sessions. Recognizing the commercial potential of her idea, Barnes left her job with the Jewish Community Center and opened her first commercial children’s workout center in 1976.

And thus Gymboree Play & Music was born. 

80’s

By 1984, 125 Gymboree franchises were operating in 20 states. The franchises were typically operated by women, many of whom had training in occupational therapy or education. Classes were usually held in church halls and community buildings, and parents were charged only $4 to $8 per 45-minute session. 

Our early classes varied to accommodate children ranging from three months to four years in age, typical sessions included the children hanging from bars to build up arm muscles, popping soap bubbles to develop eye-hand coordination, or walking on inflated logs to improve balance. 

By 1987, our chain had grown to include more than 350 centers throughout the United States and in several foreign countries. Aside from the rapid sales growth, it was all too-evident that by the mid-to-late 80’s, Gymboree Play & Music had become an established and respected brand by parents around the world.

90’s

Over the next 5 years, the Gymboree brand continued to build a global reputation by opening its first retail store in 1989 and expanding its play centers into countries like Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Indonesia, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Mexico before going public in 1993 pushing the brand further into the global spotlight. By the end of the 1990s our Play & Music programs allowed master franchisees to open in the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, and Ireland. 

2000’s

Throughout the early to mid 2000’s the Gymboree Play & Music brand underwent several changes, but ultimately thrived as parents around the world found resonance with its innovative approach to early childhood development, education and music.

While the retail component of the business fluctuated, the demand for play based education continued to increase, allowing Gymboree Play & Music to become its own company in 2016.

Today

Today, after 45 years of our commitment to families and learning, Gymboree Play & Music has more than 700 locations globally that have supported the growth of hundreds of thousands of kids from around the world. 

If you are interested in learning more about our company, and our franchise opportunities, please visit us online, or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

May Book Recommendations for AAPI Heritage Month


Photo credit: Rendy Novantino

We’re Celebrating Asian Authors for AAPI Month!

 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month (AAPI Month), brings attention to the contributions of people from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Fiji, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Palau, the Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tonga, Vanuatu, Vietnam, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

To celebrate, we’re honoring Asian authors who’ve written books that highlight the many cultures and stories within the AAPI community. Our final selections were based on recommendations from several public libraries, publishing houses, blogs, and by sales ranking. There are titles for kids and parents alike, feel free to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to see the full list.

 

Recommendations for Children

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners

by Joanna Ho  and  Dung Ho 

A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future.

Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self-love and empowerment. This powerful, poetic picture book will resonate with readers of all ages.

Drawn Together 

by Minh Lê and  Dan Santat  

When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens-with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words.

With spare, direct text by Minh Lê and luminous illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat, this stirring picturebook about reaching across barriers will be cherished for years to come.

The Most Beautiful Thing

by Kao Kalia Yang and Khoa Le 

Drawn from author Kao Kalia Yang’s childhood experiences as a Hmong refugee, this moving picture book portrays a family with a great deal of love and little money. Weaving together Kalia’s story with that of her beloved grandmother, the book moves from the jungles of Laos to the family’s early years in the United States.

When Kalia becomes unhappy about having to do without and decides she wants braces to improve her smile, it is her grandmother―a woman who has just one tooth in her mouth―who helps her see that true beauty is found with those we love most. Stunning illustrations from Vietnamese illustrator Khoa Le bring this intergenerational tale to life.

Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala

by Meenal Patel 

Priya lives in the United States and her family is from India. She feels the magic of the place her family comes from through her Babi Ba’s colorful descriptions of India–from the warm smell of spices to the swish-swish sound of a rustling sari. Together, Priya and Babi Ba make their heritage live on through the traditions that they infuse into their everyday lives.

Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala is a celebration of the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren, the threads that connect each of us to our heritage, and the power of sharing our traditions with others.

The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee

by Julie Leung and Julie Kwon 

Hazel Ying Lee was born fearless—she was not afraid of anything, and the moment she took her first airplane ride, she knew where she belonged. When people scoffed at her dreams of becoming a pilot, Hazel wouldn’t take no for an answer. She joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II. It was a dangerous job, but Hazel flew with joy and boldness.

This moving, true story about a groundbreaking figure will inspire young readers to challenge barriers and reach for the sky.

Recommendations for Parents

How Much of These Hills Is Gold: A Novel 

by C Pam Zhang 

Both epic and intimate, blending Chinese symbolism and reimagined history with fiercely original language and storytelling, How Much of These Hills Is Gold is a haunting adventure story, an unforgettable sibling story, and the announcement of a stunning new voice in literature. On a broad level, it explores race in an expanding country and the question of where immigrants are allowed to belong. But page by page, it’s about the memories that bind and divide families, and the yearning for home.

Interior Chinatown 

by Charles Yu 

After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a wider world than he’s ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family. Infinitely inventive and deeply personal, exploring the themes of pop culture, assimilation, and immigration—Interior Chinatown is Charles Yu’s most moving, daring, and masterful novel yet.

A Place for Us: A Novel 

by Fatima Farheen Mirza 

A Place for Us takes us back to the beginning of this family’s life: from the bonds that bring them together, to the differences that pull them apart. All the joy and struggle of family life is here, from Rafiq and Layla’s own arrival in America from India, to the years in which their children—each in their own way—tread between two cultures, seeking to find their place in the world, as well as a path home.

The Joy Luck Club

by Amy Tan 

With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.

What We Carry

by Maya Shanbhag Lang 

Unable to remember or keep track of the stories she once told her daughter—stories about her life in India, why she immigrated, and her experience of motherhood—Maya’s mother divulges secrets about her past that force Maya to reexamine their relationship. It becomes clear that Maya never really knew her mother, despite their close bond. Absorbing, moving, and raw, What We Carry is a memoir about mothers and daughters, lies and truths, receiving and giving care, and how we cannot grow up until we fully understand the people who raised us. It is a beautiful examination of the weight we shoulder as women and an exploration of how to finally set our burdens down.

Enter Our Book Giveaway for Neurodiversity Awareness Month!

To round out Neurodiversity Awareness Month we partnered with Lindsey Rowe Parker, the author of “Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down,” to giveaway two signed copies, to two different winners. Winners can select between the English and Spanish version of the book.

To enter, you will need to visit the giveaway landing page where you can enter through Facebook or Instagram. You do not need to be a current customer to enter. There is no purchase necessary to win.

Winners will be selected at random and contacted via email. Winners who do not accept the prize within 30 days will forfeit the prize and a new winner shall be selected. Official announcements will be made via the Official Corporate HQ Gymboree Play & Music Facebook and Instagram accounts.

The giveaway ends at 11:59PM 6th May 2021 (Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Enter to win here.

Gymboree Play & Music April Book Recommendations

This month is all about neurodiversity at Gymboree Play & Music!

Neurodiversity is a concept that’s been around for a while. In a nutshell, it means that brain differences are just that: differences. So conditions like ADHD and autism aren’t “abnormal.” They’re simply variations of the human brain. For kids with learning and thinking differences, the idea of neurodiversity has real benefits. It can help kids (and their parents) frame their challenges as differences, rather than as deficits.

Our book recommendations for April aim to support both kids and their parents understand the complexities around neurodiversity, and to educate others on this concept as well. Check out our full list below. 

 

Recommendations for Children

Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down

by Lindsey Rowe Parker and Rebecca Burgess 

A Picture Book about Sensory Differences. 


The vibration in her feet when she runs, the tap-tap-tap of her fork on the table at mealtime, the trickle of cool water running over her hands–these are the things that calm her jitters down. This book is for anyone who has ever felt the need for a wiggle, stomp, or squeeze! 

A Friend for Henry

by Jenn Bailey and Mika Song 

In Classroom Six, second left down the hall, Henry has been on the lookout for a friend. A friend who shares. A friend who listens. Maybe even a friend who likes things to stay the same and all in order, as Henry does. But on a day full of too close and too loud, when nothing seems to go right, will Henry ever find a friend—or will a friend find him? With insight and warmth, this heartfelt story from the perspective of a boy on the autism spectrum celebrates the everyday magic of friendship.

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

by Sonia Sotomayor and Rafael López 

Feeling different, especially as a kid, can be tough. But in the same way that different types of plants and flowers make a garden more beautiful and enjoyable, different types of people make our world more vibrant and wonderful.

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.

I See Things Differently

by Pat Thomas 

I See Things Differently will help children understand what autism is and how it affects someone who has it, and is a wonderful catalyst for discussion that will help children to better understand and support autistic classmates or siblings. Titles in the sensitively presented A First Look At series explore the dynamics of various relationships experienced by children of preschool through early school age. Kids are encouraged to understand personal feelings and social problems as a first step in dealing with them. Written by psychotherapist and counselor Pat Thomas, these books promote positive interaction among children, parents, and teachers. The storylines are simple and direct–easily accessible to younger children. There are full-color illustrations on every page.

All My Stripes

by Shaina Rudolph 

Zane the zebra feels different from the rest of his classmates. He worries that all they notice about him is his “autism stripe.” With the help of his Mama, Zane comes to appreciate all his stripes — the unique strengths that make him who he is!

Includes a Reading Guide with additional background information about autism spectrum disorders and a Note to Parents and Caregivers with tips for finding support.

Foreword by Alison Singer, President, Autism Science Foundation.

Recommendations for Parents

Sincerely, Your Autistic Child

by Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network (Author), Emily Paige Ballou (Editor), Sharon daVanport (Editor)

Most resources available for parents come from psychologists, educators, and doctors, offering parents a narrow and technical approach to autism. Sincerely, Your Autistic Child represents an authentic resource for parents written by autistic people themselves.

From childhood and education to culture, gender identity, and sexuality, this anthology tackles the everyday joys and challenges of growing up while honestly addressing the emotional needs, sensitivity, and vibrancy of autistic kids, youth, and young adults. Contributors reflect on what they have learned while growing up on the autism spectrum and how parents can avoid common mistakes and overcome challenges while raising their child.

Part memoir, part guide, and part love letter, Sincerely, Your Autistic Child is an indispensable collection that invites parents and allies into the unique and often unheard experiences of autistic children and teens.

Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

by Steve Silberman and  Oliver Sacks 

What is autism? A lifelong disability, or a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference akin to certain forms of genius? In truth, it is all of these things and more—and the future of our society depends on our understanding it. Wired reporter Steve Silberman unearths the secret history of autism, long suppressed by the same clinicians who became famous for discovering it, and finds surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years.  Going back to the earliest days of autism research, Silberman offers a gripping narrative of Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger, the research pioneers who defined the scope of autism in profoundly different ways; he then goes on to explore the game-changing concept of neurodiversity. NeuroTribes considers the idea that neurological differences such as autism, dyslexia, and ADHD are not errors of nature or products of the toxic modern world, but the result of natural variations in the human genome. This groundbreaking bookwill reshape our understanding of the history, meaning, function, and implications of neurodiversity in our world.

Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine 

by Barry M. Prizant 

Autism therapy typically focuses on ridding individuals of “autistic” symptoms such as difficulties interacting socially, problems in communicating, sensory challenges, and repetitive behavior patterns. Now Dr. Barry M. Prizant offers a new and compelling paradigm: the most successful approaches to autism don’t aim at fixing a person by eliminating symptoms, but rather seeking to understand the individual’s experience and what underlies the behavior.

“A must-read for anyone touched by autism… Dr. Prizant’s Uniquely Human is a crucial step in promoting better understanding and a more humane approach” (Associated Press). Instead of classifying “autistic” behaviors as signs of pathology, Dr. Prizant sees them as part of a range of strategies to cope with a world that feels chaotic and overwhelming. Rather than curb these behaviors, it’s better to enhance abilities, build on strengths, and offer supports that will lead to more desirable behavior and a better quality of life.

The Pattern Seekers: How Autism Drives Human Invention

by Simon Baron-Cohen  

Why can humans alone invent? In The Pattern Seekers, Cambridge University psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen makes a case that autism is as crucial to our creative and cultural history as the mastery of fire. Indeed, Baron-Cohen argues that autistic people have played a key role in human progress for seventy thousand years, from the first tools to the digital revolution.


How? Because the same genes that cause autism enable the pattern-seeking that is essential to our species’s inventiveness. However, these abilities exact a great cost on autistic people, including social and often medical challenges, so Baron-Cohen calls on us to support and celebrate autistic people in both their disabilities and their triumphs. Ultimately, The Pattern Seekers isn’t just a new theory of human civilization, but a call to consider anew how society treats those who think differently.

Connecting With The Autism Spectrum

by Casey “Remrov” Vormer  

For a friend, family member, or coworker with autism, communication can be challenging. But Connecting with the Autism Spectrum can help you find common ground with expert tips and helpful insights about talking (and listening) to neurodiverse adults so you can make your interactions more transparent, meaningful, and rewarding for all.

Written by Casey Vormer, a self-taught artist and autism advocate, this comprehensive guide is a trusted source for understanding neurodiversity that features a brief introduction to the autism spectrum. It also provides easy communication strategies like active listening and positive encouragement as well as steps to avoid misunderstandings by teaching how to recognize biases and correct them. Additionally, you’ll learn why the term “high functioning autism” is a misnomer to define members of this vibrant community.

Gymboree Play & Music March Book Recommendations

Photo Credit Robyn Budlender

Imagine the World Through A Child’s Eyes

This month we are focusing on the magic of imagination and how children see the world from their own perspective. The books we selected are perfect for encouraging children to use their creativity. As you’re reading with your child feel free to ask them questions about the illustrations, or the storyline. Ask them what they think is likely to come next in the story. You can even ask them to imagine a different outcome for the books and see what they come up with.

Our book recommendations for parents include new titles by Michaeleen Doucleff and Kristina Kuzmic. Check out the full list below. 

Recommendations for Children

Everything You Need for a Treehouse

by Carter Higgins and Emily Hughes

Delight your baby in this great big hug in book form, perfect for Valetine’s Day or any time year ‘round! You’ll find love on every page along with Boynton’s classic illustrations and rhyming text.

In a Jar

by Deborah Marcero

Llewellyn, a little rabbit, is a collector. He gathers things in jars–ordinary things like buttercups, feathers, and heart-shaped stones. Then he meets another rabbit, Evelyn, and together they begin to collect extraordinary things–like rainbows, the sound of the ocean, and the wind just before snow falls. And, best of all, when they hold the jars and peer inside, they remember all the wonderful things they’ve seen and done. But one day, Evelyn has sad news: Her family is moving away. How can the two friends continue their magical collection–and their special friendship–from afar?

The Box Turtle

by Vanessa Roeder

An irresistibly cute story about finding the confidence to be yourself, starring a turtle in search of the perfect shell. Terrance the turtle was born without a shell, so he uses a cardboard box instead. Terrance loves his box. It keeps him dry on soggy days, safe from snooping strangers, and is big enough to cozy up with a friend. But when another turtle points out that Terrance’s shell is, well, weird, he begins to wonder whether there might be a better shell out there…

Eventually, and through much trial and error, Terrance learns that there’s nothing wrong with being different–especially when it comes to being yourself.

Please Bring Balloons

by Lindsay Ward  

Ever wondered what it would be like to ride a carousel right off its platform?  As Emma discovers, all it takes is a handful of balloons and a very kind polar bear to show you the way.  This soaring story of friendship, between a carousel bear and the little girl who noticed him, will take readers to the arctic and back—in time for bedtime, of course—and remind them anything is possible.  Even flying.

Max’s Castle

by Kate Banks and Boris Kulikov 

When Max finds a pile of forgotten toys under the bed, his brothers Benjamin and Karl wonder what’s so special about some old blocks. So Max shows them. With some clever twists of both blocks and imagination, he constructs not only a castle but an entire adventure, complete with pirates and knights, a dark dungeon and a dragon.

This ingenious sequel to Maxs Words and Maxs Dragons shows readers just how much fun wordplay can be. This title has Common Core connections.

Recommendations for Parents

Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans

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.

Filled with practical takeaways that parents can implement immediately, Hunt, Gather, Parent helps us rethink the ways we relate to our children, and reveals a universal parenting paradigm adapted for American families.

Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine 

by Michele Borba Ed D. 

Michele Borba has been a teacher, educational consultant, and parent for 40 years — and she’s never been more worried than she is about this current generation of kids. The high-achieving students she talks with every day are more accomplished, better educated, and more privileged than ever before. They’re also more stressed, unhappier, and struggling with anxiety, depression, and burnout at younger and younger ages — “we’re like pretty packages with nothing inside,” said one young teen.

Thrivers are different: they flourish in our fast-paced, digital-driven, often uncertain world. Why? Dr. Borba combed scientific studies on resilience, spoke to dozens of researchers/experts in the field and interviewed more than 100 young people from all walks of life, and she found something surprising: the difference between those who struggle and those who succeed comes down not to grades or test scores, but to seven character traits that set Thrivers apart (and set them up for happiness and greater accomplishment later in life). In Thrivers, Dr. Borba offers practical, actionable ways to develop these traits in children from preschool through high school, showing how to teach kids how to cope today so they can thrive tomorrow.

Hold On, But Don’t Hold Still: Hope and Humor from My Seriously Flawed Life

by Kristina Kuzmic 

Kristina Kuzmic has made herself a household name, speaking directly to mothers from the trenches of parenthood via her viral videos and social media presence. She is now bringing her message of self-acceptance, resilience, and joy to book readers. With a refreshingly unpretentious, funny, and galvanizing voice, Kuzmic goes behind the scenes to reveal how she went from broke and defeated to unshakably grounded and brimming with thankfulness. Illuminating the hard-won wisdom from a life always spent one step behind–whether it was as a high school student new to America, a suddenly single mother to two kids, remarried and juggling two teens and a toddler, or the unexpected recipient of Oprah’s attention and investment–Hold On, But Don’t Hold Still is the book every mother needs to reassure her that she’s not only fine just as she is, but that she already has more tools and support than she can possibly imagine. Sparkling with wit, this heartfelt memoir is like a long coffee date with a best friend, or the eleventh-hour text message that gives you just the boost you need to get through the night.

The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life

by Julie Bogart and Susan Wise Bauer 

In this book, Julie Bogart distills decades of experience–homeschooling her five now grown children, developing curricula, and training homeschooling families around the world–to show parents how to make education an exciting, even enchanting, experience for their kids, whether they’re in elementary or high school.

Enchantment is about ease, not striving. Bogart shows parents how to make room for surprise, mystery, risk, and adventure in their family’s routine, so they can create an environment that naturally moves learning forward. If a child wants to pick up a new hobby or explore a subject area that the parent knows little about, it’s easy to simply say “no” to end the discussion and the parental discomfort, while dousing their child’s curious spark. Bogart gently invites parents to model brave learning for their kids so they, too, can approach life with curiosity, joy, and the courage to take learning risks.

The Montessori Toddler: A Parent’s Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being

by Simone Davies  and Hiyoko Imai 

It’s time to change the way we see toddlers. Using the principles developed by the educator Dr. Maria Montessori, Simone Davies shows how to turn life with a “terrible two” into a mutually rich and rewarding time of curiosity, learning, respect, and discovery.

With hundreds of practical ideas for every aspect of living with a toddler, here are five principles for feeding your child’s natural curiosity, from “Trust in the child” to “Fostering a sense of wonder.” Step-by-step ways to cultivate daily routines with ease, like brushing teeth, toilet-training, dealing with siblings, losing the pacifier. Plus learn how to:

  • Stay composed when your toddler is not and set limits with love and respect—without resorting to bribes or punishment
  • Set up your home and get rid of the chaos
  • Create Montessori activities that are just right for your one-to-three-year-old
  • Raise an inquisitive learner who loves exploring the world around them
  • See the world through your toddler’s eyes and be surprised and delighted by their perspective
  • Be your child’s guide—and truly celebrate every stage

Meet our new micro-partner “Tot Squad”.

Photo Credit: Khoa Pham


We Have a New Micro-Partner!

Today we’re happy to announce our new micro-partner Tot Squad! Tot Squad connects you with trusted and verified baby experts offering service, education, and support for all of your baby needs. 

Prior to 2020, Tot Squad offered expert car seat and baby gear installation, cleaning and safety services at locations across the US.

Today, the new TotSquad.com reflects expanded parenting service offerings, including their expert car seat installation, but also postpartum doula support and sleep training, and more services being added weekly.

Get your pressing parenting needs answered virtually via their live video link with trained experts, or they can dispatch these same experts to your home for more personal communication, depending on where you live. 

They are offering a special discount on these services to our customers. Learn more about them and the promotion here

February Book Recommendations

Photo Credit Kelli Mcclintock

Love is in the air at Gymboree Play & Music 

The month of February has been known for “love” for as long as any of us can remember. This February we have decided to show our love a little differently. 

For those of you who have followed our brand since our inception 40+ years ago, you know that we provide an inclusive, warm environment for our parents to support their children’s learning and growth. To expand this practice, this month we have added a few braille children’s books.  These books can be read by the parent, and can help your child become acquainted with braille. 

Gymbo loves each and every one of you, and he wants to help more children cultivate an appreciation of reading through more versatile titles. 
 
See the full list below. 

 

Recommendations for Children

Snuggle Puppy

By Sandra Boynton

Delight your baby in this great big hug in book form, perfect for Valetine’s Day or any time year ‘round! You’ll find love on every page along with Boynton’s classic illustrations and rhyming text.

Love

By Emma Dodd

This sweet story featuring a pair of bunnies is perfect for babies and toddlers. Follow a young rabbit and her parent as they spend the day in the meadow. The little rabbit finds love in many places, but knows a parent’s love is always best! This book is also available in braille at nbp.org

I Love You Stinky Face

By Lisa Mccourt & Cyd Moore

Older toddlers and preschoolers will love this playful bedtime story that shows a mother’s unconditional love for her little boy. “But Mama, what if I were a super smelly skunk, and I smelled so bad that my name was Stinky Face?” As he imagines himself to be a variety of sillier and sillier creatures, he finds that nothing will change his mother’s love for him. This book is also available in braille at braillebookstore.com

A Kiss for Little Bear

By Else Holmelund Minakik & Maurice Sendak

Little Bear asks Hen to deliver a drawing he made to his grandmother, who then sends Hen back with a kiss for little bear. Your older toddler or preschooler will love hearing how the kiss travels from Little Bear’s grandmother, to Hen, and all the way to Little Bear with a few stops along the way. Kisses are a great way to show your little one some love! Make this story lovingly playful by giving your little one a kiss each time the kiss in the story is passed along. This book is also available in braille at braillebookstore.com

Happy Valentine’s Day, Curious George

By N. Di Angelo, H. A. Rey, & Mary O’Keefe Young

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Curious George!  Join every preschooler’s favorite inquisitive ape as he and his friends decorate cookies and make Valentines, with some hilarity along the way! How much mischief can one monkey get into on Valentine’s Day?

Recommendations for Parents

The Scaffold Effect: Raising Resilient, Self-Reliant, and Secure Kids in an Age of Anxiety

by Harold S. Koplewicz  

In The Scaffold Effect, world-renowned child psychiatrist Harold Koplewicz introduces the powerful and clinically tested idea that this deliberate build-up and then gradual loosening of parental support is the single most effective way to encourage kids to climb higher, try new things, grow from mistakes, and develop character and strength.

Drawing on Dr. Koplewicz’s decades of clinical and personal experience, The Scaffold Effect is a compassionate, street-smart, and essential guide for the ages.

Make Their Day: 101 Simple, Powerful Ways to Love Others Well

by Karen Ehman  

In this practical and deeply touching guide–inspired by her book Reach Out, Gather In–popular author Karen Ehman gives you 101 actionable ideas you can implement today to truly make a difference in the lives of other people. Make Their Day is filled with creative ideas to connect with your family and friends on a deeper level throughout the year. This book will help you develop habits of kindness, reconnect with friends and family, and make encouraging people a priority. You’ll be able to put these ideas into action in real time with everyone in your life–even if hospitality doesn’t come naturally to you or you don’t think you have time.

Let’s outshine the negativity and hatred in our world, and reach out to others with love, just as God intended.

Live Love Now: Relieve the Pressure and Find Real Connection with Our Kids 

by Rachel Macy Stafford 

With illuminating, straightforward strategies, this guide reveals the importance of practicing acceptance, pursuing peace, and exploring wellness and purpose for yourself so you can be the kind of real, relevant, and lifelong role model young people are searching for. Engaging and thoughtful, each chapter includes moving stories from Rachel’s personal journey as a mom of a teen and pre-teen along with illustrative narratives and prompts to help you reflect and take steps toward becoming the kind of adult young people trust.

Whether you’re a parent, educator, older sibling, coach, or anyone in a role of leading young people, this book will help you meet the goal of raising and guiding young people to become resilient, compassionate, and capable adults.

The Intellectual Lives of Children

by Susan Engel  

Adults easily recognize children’s imagination at work as they play. Yet most of us know little about what really goes on inside their heads as they encounter the problems and complexities of the world around them. In The Intellectual Lives of Children, Susan Engel brings together an extraordinary body of research to explain how toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary-aged children think. By understanding the science behind how children observe their world, explain new phenomena, and solve problems, parents and teachers will be better equipped to guide the next generation to become perceptive and insightful thinkers.

The activities that engross kids can seem frivolous, but they can teach us a great deal about cognitive development. A young girl’s bug collection reveals important lessons about how children ask questions and organize information. Watching a young boy scoop mud can illuminate the process of invention. When a child ponders the mystery of death, we witness how children build ideas. But adults shouldn’t just stand around watching. When parents are creative, it can rub off on their children. Engel shows how parents and teachers can stimulate children’s curiosity by presenting them with mysteries to solve.

UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World

by Michele Borba Dr. 

In UnSelfie Dr. Borba pinpoints the forces causing the empathy crisis and shares a revolutionary, researched-based, nine-step plan for reversing it.

The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured. Dr. Borba offers a framework for parenting that yields the results we all want: successful, happy kids who also are kind, moral, courageous, and resilient. UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want to kids shift their focus from I, me, and mine…to we, us, and ours.

10 Valentine’s Day Ideas Your Child Will Love

Valentine’s Day is a special day for kids to celebrate love and friendship. We rounded up some of the cutest Valentine’s Day ideas from blogs near and far, and we included them in our list below. Enjoy!

Make Valentine’s Day Boxes at Home

Help your kids craft Valentine’s Day boxes to collect all of their Valentine’s Day cards from their classmates, friends, and family! They’ll love the chance to get creative with the colors and materials they can use. We spotted these cute boxes over at Giggle Galore.

Give Airplane Valentines

These cute little airplanes will surely make any child’s heart soar! A quick trip to the candy aisle will get you all you need. And these airplanes are easy enough that your kids can join in on the fun of making them, too! Get the tutorial at The Krazy Coupon Lady.

Buy A Valentine’s Themed Lego Set

Even kids who aren’t into Lego (are there any?) will be drawn to this irresistible canine cherub. With 150 pieces, this set is a challenge, yet it comes together quickly enough that young children won’t lose interest. This is available at Amazon.

Throw A Chocolate Fondue Party

Who doesn’t like chocolate? Kids will love dipping cookies, crackers, or fruit in this sweet fountain. This idea is deliciously smooth and perfect for a Valentine’s Day dessert. We spotted this over on Fresh Mommy Blog.

Share An Animal Gram

You can get a pack of four zoo animals at the Dollar store and tie them to construction paper as shown above. We spotted this over on The Blue Robin Cottage.

Stage a Fun Photo

This adorable Valentine balloon craft is made with only a few supplies! You can even modify the balloons by drawing your own, using heart stickers or make fingerprint hearts. Get the full tutorial at The Best Ideas for Kids Blog.

Do An Experiment With Candy

Valentine’s Day is a fun holiday to experiment with candy. And this blog shows you science experiments that can be entertaining for your little ones. Check out their ideas here.

Bake Red Velvet Cookies

These red velvet sugar cookies will make your day! Soft & tender, fun & brightly colored, with a hint of cocoa & a slight cream cheese tang. Get the recipe at Baking A Moment.

Make Heart-Shaped Cheesecake

You’ll make everyone happy with this marbled red velvet cheesecake recipe. It’s packed with flavor and tastes just as good as it looks. Get the recipe at The Novice Chef Blog.

Make A Box Of Chocolates

It’s fun to receive a box of chocolates, but have you ever thought about making the box of chocolates yourself? This tutorial is easy to duplicate. Check out the full tutorial at Lily The Wandering Gypsy.