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.

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

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.

January Book Recommendations

Photo Credit Paige Cody

Out With the Old, In With the New… Books 📚

We’re celebrating 2021 by focusing on experiences that are new and exciting for parents and kids alike.

From yoga and mindfulness to New Year’s celebrations and flowers, our January book recommendations teach your little one about the joy of new beginnings.

See the full list below.

 

Recommendations for Children

The Stars Will Still Shine

by Cynthia Rylant and Tiphanie Beeke 

Author Cynthia Rylant and illustrator Tiphanie Beeke bring us a story that is perfect for all ages. No matter what the new year may bring, the stars will still shine.Through positive affirmations in gentle verse this book teaches that even when we face new challenges in our lives, many things will always stay the same. We can take comfort in all he goodness life has to offer.

Little Yoga: A Toddler’s First Book of Yoga

by Rebecca Whitford and Martina Selway 

Get your toddler up and moving and try something new with this first book of yoga poses! Encourage your toddler to move just like “yoga baby” as you model the poses alongside them. Make a New Year’s resolution to spend time each day moving along with your toddler!

The Night Before New Year’s

by Natasha Wing and Amy Wummer

It’s the night before New Year’s! The whole family is dedicated to staying up until midnight to bring in the New Year. Everyone has sparkly streamers and fancy party hats. But after a night filled with many cupcakes and card games, will the children be able to stay awake? Older toddlers and preschooler will love this rhythmic rhyming text and hearing about the family’s New Year’s festivities.

The Tiny Seed

by Eric Carle  

Beloved author Eric Carle brings us an inspiring story about a flower. We begin with a tiny, brand-new seed floating in the wind. Preschoolers will love the gorgeous collage illustrations as they learn about all the hardships this tiny seed endured to be able to grow into a new flower. At the end of the story, we see the cycle begin anew as the flower sheds its seeds into the wind.

If I Never Forever Endeavor

by Holly Meade

A little bird, safe in the comfort of his own nest, wonders whether he should try to fly. On the one wing, he might fail. But on the other wing, he might soar! He’ll never know unless he tries. This sweet story about trying new things will resonate with anyone facing a challenge, a rite of passage, or a change. Preschoolers will enjoy following along with this story and cheering on the little bird until he is finally ready to take flight.

Recommendations for Parents

The Power of Showing Up: How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become and How Their Brains Get Wired

by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson 

Based on the latest brain and attachment research, The Power of Showing Up shares stories, scripts, simple strategies, illustrations, and tips for honoring the Four S’s effectively in all kinds of situations—when our kids are struggling or when they are enjoying success; when we are consoling, disciplining, or arguing with them; and even when we are apologizing for the times we don’t show up for them. Demonstrating that mistakes and missteps are repairable and that it’s never too late to mend broken trust, this book is a powerful guide to cultivating your child’s healthy emotional landscape.

Untigering: Peaceful Parenting for the Deconstructing Tiger Parent

by Iris Chen 

In Untigering, Iris Chen shares her journey of leaving behind authoritarian tiger parenting to embrace a respectful, relational way of raising children. As a Chinese American mom, she draws from her experiences of living in both North America and Asia and offers insights and practices to:

Heal from your childhood wounds
Change your beliefs about yourself and your children
Parent through connection instead of control
Redefine your understanding of success
Navigate and challenge cultural norms

Iris calls for a radical shift from parenting that is rooted in power to one that is grounded in partnership, but she does so with humor, humility, and empathy. This book is her invitation to you to begin your own journey of transformation as a parent.

Parent Up: Inspire Your Child to Be Their Best Self

by Kelly Rippon  

How do you raise a champion? After her son Adam Rippon, medaled in the 2018 Olympic Games, single mom Kelly Rippon found herself being asked this question all the time. Kelly had six children―what did she do to inspire them to their achievements and how did she raise confident, self-driven, emotionally intelligent children? Kelly realized that her unique parenting ideas shared the same leadership influence model she presented to audiences across the country as a motivational and professional development speaker.

Her philosophy is simple: a parent has the greatest opportunity to be the most significant influence in a child’s life. Kelly shares ten key types of influence―from Optimism to Accountability―that will inspire your kids and build your own sense of purpose and self-worth.

The Parenting Toddlers Workbook: Manage Your Child’s Moods, Potential, and Well-Being 

by Katie Penry PsyD

Toddlers have a difficult reputation―and an easy aptitude for connection, learning, and growth. Nurture your toddler’s potential with The Parenting Toddlers Workbook, a resource packed with research-driven tools and quick, accessible parenting techniques. Key insights into your child’s development, combined with tailored exercises and activities, help deepen your understanding―and strengthen your bond.

Explore strategies for parenting toddlers of different ages: 12 months, 18 months, 2 years, 3 years, and 4 years.

The 6 Needs of Every Child: Empowering Parents and Kids through the Science of Connection

by Amy Elizabeth Olrick (Author), Jeffrey Olrick  (Author)

Like most parents, Amy and Jeffrey Olrick left the hospital with their first child desperate to know, “What do we do?” But years of parenting three kids and Jeffrey’s work as a child psychologist convinced them to ask a better question: “How shall I be with this new person?”

In a culture obsessed with parenting formulas, it’s easy to miss the fact that science and lived experience have proven that human development and thriving are a matter of relationship. Drawing on decades of psychological research, neuroscience, and their own experience as parents and people of faith, the Olricks present six relational needs for human growth that will transform the way you think about your child–and yourself. Together, the needs form a trustworthy compass to guide you and your child to a path of purpose and relational wholeness.

December Book Recommendations

This Month is All About Traditions

This December we’re celebrating the many ways families observe different traditions from around the world. 

What better time of year to explore the concept of “tradition” than the holiday season. At a time when the world is going through so many changes, it’s our traditions that have kept us anchored. 

This month we curated our book recommendations to help you and your child understand the importance of traditions, and why they’re important. See the full list below. 

Recommendations for Children

Global Babies

by The Global Fund for Children

You and your baby will love looking at these vibrant photographs of babies from all around the globe. From Guatemala to Bhutan and many places in between, get a quick snapshot of the daily life, traditions and clothing of babies from around the world. The simple text teaches that no matter where they come from, all babies everywhere are special and loved.

Let’s Celebrate Special Days Around the World

by Kate Depalma and Martina Peluso 

Learn all about 13 special days from around the world and the traditions that go along with them. “Let’s Celebrate” uses colorful, vibrant illustrations and rhyming text to explore holidays from several different cultures around the globe, like Kodomo no Hi in Japan, Carnival in Brazil, and more!

Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup

by Pamela Mayer  and Deborah Melmon 

Two grandmas, two traditions, two kinds of chicken soup and Sophie caught in the middle! She loves Bubbe’s Jewish chicken soup with kreplach. She also loves Nai Nai’s Chinese chicken soup with wontons. Read to find out how Sophie brings her whole family together to form a brand new family tradition.

Love and the Rocking Chair

by Diane Dillon  and Leo Dillon 

Colorful paintings illustrate this simple yet touching story that shows us tradition can come is all forms. A young couple of parents-to-be purchase a rocking chair for their nursery. As years go by, we see the little boy grow up and move away, the rocking chair left to collect dust in the attic. But the cycle begins again when the little boy, now a man, has a child of his own and the rocking chair is needed again. “Love and the Rocking Chair” is a beautiful reminder of how family love is passed on from generation to generation.

My Food, Your Food

by Lisa Bullard and  Christine M. Schneider 

This week is Food Week in Manuel’s class. Each student gets to talk about a kind of food that is special to them and their family. As we learn about different dishes from around the world, we discover that even when foods are different, they can still be alike. What food will Manuel share with his class.

Throw Your Tooth on the Roof : Tooth Traditions from Around the World

by Selby Beeler and G. Brian Karas 

Travel around the world and discover the surprising things children do when they lose a tooth. Selby B. Beeler spent years collecting traditions from every corner of the globe for this whimsical book, and G. Brian Karas adds to the fun, filling every page with humorous detail. He perfectly captures the excitement and pride that children experience when a tooth falls out.

Recommendations for Parents

The Joy of Family Traditions

by Jennifer Trainer Thompson 

 THE JOY OF FAMILY TRADITIONS offers more than 400 fresh ideas and creative approaches to cultivating birthday, anniversary, holiday, and other rite-of-passage and seasonal traditions that strengthen personal bonds and reflect a family’s individual style, spirituality, and values. It inspires and instructs families on how to create, personalize, adapt, and preserve relevant traditions that reflect how we live today. It explores the historical, cultural, and often quirky origins of holidays, customs, and milestones, both uncommon and familiar. And it includes holidays, holy days, annual events, once-in-a-lifetime occasions, and personal celebrations.

Danish Dinner Party: Traditions and Recipes

by Richard E. Klein 

More than a cookbook, Danish Dinner Party has everything you need to host an authentic Danish dinner for 12, including cherished customs from times gone by. Both inviting and entertaining, this book will teach you how to give a proper toast, sing a classic song, and delight your guests. Delicious, time-honored recipes are included for each course.

Author Richard Klein draws from his Danish-American childhood, as well as friends in Denmark, to share Danish history, customs, and a perfect meal plan. Illustrated with whimsical artwork and peppered with personal experiences, Danish Dinner Party will help you embrace the art of hygge and the comradery of a formal, yet intimate, party with your friends and family.

Good Luck Life: The Essential Guide to Chinese American Celebrations and Culture

by Rosemary Gong  and  Martin Yan 

Good Luck Life is the first book to explain the meanings of Chinese rituals and to offer advice on when and how to plan for Chinese holidays and special occasions such as Chinese weddings, the Red Egg and Ginger party to welcome a new baby, significant birthdays, and the inevitable funeral. Packed with practical information, Good Luck Life contains an abundance of facts, legends, foods, old-village recipes, and quick planning guides for Chinese New Year, Clear Brightness, Dragon Boat, Mid-Autumn, and many other festivals.

Written with warmth and wit, Good Luck Life is beautifully designed as an easily accessible cultural guide that includes an explanation of the Lunar Calendar, tips on Chinese table etiquette for dining with confidence, and dos and don’ts from wise Auntie Lao, who recounts ancient Chinese beliefs and superstitions. This is your map for celebrating a good luck life.

The Atlas of Christmas: The Merriest, Tastiest, Quirkiest Holiday Traditions from Around the World

by Alex Palmer 

Do you know that in Guatemala there’s a tradition to kick off the Christmas season, where revelers gather to set fire to piñatas? In Sweden, a popular figure in Christmas traditions is the Yule Goat, a rowdy, menacing character who demands gifts. And in Japan, a big bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken has become the classic Christmas Day feast. These and many other global Christmas traditions are featured here in this delightful book. From decorations and activities to feasts and special treats, there’s a wide range of both lovely and unusual traditions from around the globe.

The Little Book of Jewish Celebrations 

by Ronald Tauber  and  Yelena Bryksenkova 

From lighting the menorah on Chanukah to standing under the chuppah at a wedding, every Jewish ritual reflects a time-honored practice passed down for generations. With a foil-stamped cover and a ribbon marker, this elegant volume shares the beloved stories and traditions behind Jewish celebrations, from year-round holidays to once-in-a-lifetime special events. Featuring lush illustrations that capture the heart of Jewish tradition as well as a glossary of important terms for each holiday, this little gift book is a treasure to be shared at any occasion—from bar and bat mitzvahs to Passover seders.

November Book Recommendations

Tis’ the season for gratitude and thanks. 

At Gymboree Play & Music we believe in teaching kids to see the world from a point of appreciation because we know that even in tough times, learning to look for the silver lining is a skill set that should be learned from an early age.

This month we curated our book recommendations around the concepts of gratitude and thanks to help you and your child incorporate these values into your daily lives.

See our recommendations below. 

Recommendations for Children

I Love to Gobble You Up!

By Sandra Magsamen

Take a moment to show your baby how grateful you are to have them in your life with this delightful book! Your little turkey will love the sturdy cardboard pages and soft felt feathers, and of course being “gobbled up” by your Thanksgiving cuddles!

1 2 3s of Thankfulness

By Patricia Hegarty & Summer Macon

From the same author as “ABCs of Kindness,” practice counting with your toddler as you teach them about the value of giving thanks and sharing gratitude. Together, we learn that “one little thank you can go a long, long way.”

Thank You, Mr. Panda!

By Steve Antony

Mr. Panda is so generous he is giving away gifts to all his animal friends. But his friends aren’t being particularly grateful. This heartwarming story helps teach little ones the importance of saying “thank you” and recognize it’s the thought behind the gift that counts the most. Toddlers will love Mr. Panda’s silly gifts and repeating the tag line, “It’s the thought that counts!”

Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks

By Margaret Sutherland & Sonja Lamut

What is Thanksgiving for? It’s a time for food and family, and also a time for giving thanks! There is so much to be thankful for, and this charming book will give your toddler or preschooler some ideas of what they can be thankful for too!

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

By Traci Sorell and Frané Lessac

“Otsaliheliga” is a Cherokee word used to express gratitude. Engage your preschooler in learning some Cherokee vocabulary as you read about the Cherokee traditions and celebrations that occur over the year. The book includes a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary to help you learn and pronounce the Cherokee words. See if you preschooler can repeat the words back to you as you learn together!

Zen Pig: The Art of Gratitude

By Mark Brown & Amy Lynn Larwig

Zen Pig teaches his friends about gratitude, compassion, and mindfulness in the first book of author Mark Brown’s “Zen Pig” series. It’s never too early to start learning the art of giving thanks! This book makes the concept of gratitude easier to understand for little ones. 

Recommendations for Parents

The Gratitude Diaries

by Janice Kaplan

In In this New York Times bestseller, Janice Kaplan spends a year living gratefully and transforms her marriage, family life, work and health. Her pioneering research was praised in People and Vanity Fair and hailed on TV shows including Today, The O’Reilly Factor, and CBS’s The Talk. On New Year’s Eve, journalist and former Parade Editor-in-Chief Janice Kaplan makes a promise to be grateful and look on the bright side of whatever happens. She realizes that how she feels over the next months will have less to do with the events that occur than her own attitude and perspective. Getting advice at every turn from psychologists, academics, doctors, and philosophers, she brings readers on a smart and witty journey to discover the value of appreciating what you have.

The Little Book of Gratitude

by  Dr. Robert Emmons

Gratitude is the simple, scientifically proven way to increase happiness and encourage greater joy, love, peace, and optimism into our lives.

Through easy practices such as keeping a daily gratitude journal, writing letters of thanks, and meditating on the good we have received, we can improve our health and wellbeing, enhance our relationships, encourage healthy sleep, and heighten feelings of connectedness.

Easily accessible and available to everyone, the practice of gratitude will benefit every area of your life and generate a positive ripple effect.

Thanks A Thousand

by A.J. Jacobs

Author A.J. Jacobs discovers that his coffee—and every other item in our lives—would not be possible without hundreds of people we usually take for granted.

By thanking these people face to face, Jacobs finds some much-needed brightness in his life. Gratitude does not come naturally to Jacobs—his disposition is more Larry David than Tom Hanks—but he sets off on the journey on a dare from his son. And by the end, it’s clear to him that scientific research on gratitude is true. Gratitude’s benefits are legion: It improves compassion, heals your body, and helps battle depression.

Living Life As A Thank You

by Nina Lesowitz  (Author), Mary Beth Sammons  (Author), Lee Woodruff (Foreword) 

Whatever is given — even a difficult and challenging moment — is a gift. Living as if each day is a thank-you can help transform fear into courage, anger into forgiveness, isolation into belonging, and another’s pain into healing. Saying thank-you every day inspires feelings of love, compassion, and hope. These ideas are the basis for this timely book. Authors Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons present a simple, but comprehensive program for incorporating gratitude into one’s life, and reaping the many benefits that come from doing so.

Gratitude

by Oliver Sacks 

During the last few months of his life, he wrote a set of essays in which he movingly explored his feelings about completing a life and coming to terms with his own death.

“It is the fate of every human being,” Sacks writes, “to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”

Together, these four essays form an ode to the uniqueness of each human being and to gratitude for the gift of life.