5 Must-Have Books Every Family Should Have This February

The winter traditionally brings snow, hot cocoa and warm sweaters. But this year, it also bought a ton of titles that are pushing the limits to the ways children explore their environment and even learn to love themselves.

It was hard to pick just 5 books that would resonate with all of our families, but we did our best. See the books that made the list below.

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s First Winter

by Eric Carle 

There are so many ways to spend a chilly winter day. Join The Very Hungry Caterpillar and explore everything winter has to offer!

Welcome winter with The Very Hungry Caterpillar and his friends in this sensory exploration of the season. Discover the very best of this time of year: snowy days full of play, the sounds of birds chirping atop a snowman, the smell of cookies fresh from the oven, and so much more!

Hello, World! Garden Time

by Jill McDonald 

Hello, World! is a series designed to introduce first nonfiction concepts to babies and toddlers. Told in clear and easy terms (“Roots spread into the soil below, and then a shoot pushes up out of the earth”) and featuring bright, cheerful illustrations, Hello, World! makes learning fun for young children. And each sturdy page offers helpful prompts for engaging with your child. It’s a perfect way to bring science and nature into the busy world of a toddler, where learning never stops.

Friendship Is Forever 

by Patricia Hegarty  Macon, Summer 

Learning the importance of friendship is easy with this sweet board book that fosters social-emotional development..

The precious gift of friendship
is a thing to treasure.
Closeness, love, and loyalty
are things that we can’t measure.  

Learn new words while appreciating the value of quality time with this irresistibly illustrated board book that’s perfect for holidays and all year round!

Wonderful Babies

by Emily Winfield Martin 

Celebrate all kinds of babies with this original board book by Emily Winfield Martin–perfect for baby showers and fans of the New York Times Bestseller, The Wonderful Things You Will Be!

From sweet baby to wild baby, from snuggly baby to grumpy baby, this book captures the adorableness of a diverse cast of babies in all their moods. With simple text and irresistible art, this book will capture the hearts of parents and the youngest readers alike.

I Am Golden

by Eva ChenSophie Diao 

This joyful and lyrical picture book from New York Times bestselling author Eva Chen and illustrator Sophie Diao is a moving ode to the immigrant experience, as well as a manifesto of self-love for Chinese American children.

What do you see when you look in the mirror, Mei? Do you see beauty?

We see eyes that point toward the sun, that give us the warmth and joy of a thousand rays when you smile. We see hair as inky black and smooth as a peaceful night sky. We see skin brushed with gold.

Learn the Power of Play with our January Book Recommendations

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

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

 

The Year We Learned to Fly

by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López 

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

Ben and Emma’s Big Hit 

by Gavin Newsom , Ruby Shamir , Alexandra Thompson 


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

See, Touch, Feel: A First Sensory Book

by Roger Priddy 

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

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

We All Play

by Julie Flett 

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

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

We play too! / kimêtawânaw mîna

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

Let’s Play! A Book About Making Friends

by Amanda McCardie and Colleen Larmour 

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

10 Mom Influencers We’re Watching in 2022

As 2021 comes to a close, we’ve been reviewing every piece of content, every influencer suggestion, and every submission we’ve come across this year. As we move towards 2022, we wanted to share some of the top influencers we’ve seen doing amazing work in the parenting community! See who made our list below. 

 
 

1. Savannah Rose LaBrant (@sav.labrant)

Cole and Savannah are husband and wife from California. They have three adorable kids, thus, know a lot about parenting.

2. Anna Saccone (@annasaccone)

Being a wife of Jonathan and a mom of four, Anna Saccone is definitely busy raising kids. They also have 6 Maltese dogs in the family, making life that much more fun.

3. Jenna Kutcher (@jennakutcher)

Jenna Kutcher is a digital marketer, podcaster, educator, wife, and mother from Minnesota. As a woman of many talents, Jenna inspires thousands of people through her podcast  @goaldiggerpodcast in addition to being a mama.

4. Family Fizz (@familyfizz)

The Family Fizz entertains and inspires other families. Follow them if you want to laugh and share in the good vibes.

The Family Fizz entertains and inspires other families. Follow them if you want to laugh and share in the good vibes.

5. Naomi Davis (@taza)

Known as Taza, Naomi Davis is a wife to Josh and a mother of five kids. She is also the author of A Coat of Yellow Paint.

6. The Ohana Adventure (@theohanaadventure)

They are a crazy family of 8 from Hawaii. They believe in doing hard things, spontaneous adventures, laughing together and trying new things. You can catch them across social media and on IG and Youtube.

7. Jessica Shyba(@mommasgonecity)

Jessica Shyba has five kids and still manages to blog full time and still look beautiful! Her blog, Momma’s Gone City, is all about her chronicles of moving and being a parent of five in the big city of New York.

8. Bunmi Laditan(@honesttoddler)

Believer and author. Dear God: Honest Prayers to a God Who Listens (2021) Honest Toddler, Confessions of a Domestic Failure, Dear Moth

9. Elle Walker (@
whatsupelle
)

Elle Walker is the other half of the duo, “What’s Up Moms,” which is the top parenting YouTube channel. She’s a mom to to @presleyswalker (I0) @fordpwalker (7) @tessmarinwalker (5) and wife to @rosshw12.

10. Latham Thomas(@glowmaven)

A Soulful #Doula, Yogini and Self-Care Diva, Latham is the founder @MamaGlow. Ranked to #Oprah’s Super Soul 100, as the proud mom of Fulano, she is also the author- OWN YOUR GLOW!

Celebrate the Holidays with Our December Book Recommendations


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

 
 

The Day the Holidays Blew Away

by Maureen Llewellyn , Olga Kutuzova and, Yip Jar Design 

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

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

by Sesame Workshop and, Craig Manning 


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

Babushka

by Dawn Casey and Amanda Hall 

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

How to Catch an Elf

by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton 

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

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


 

All I Want for Christmas Is Ewe

by Rose Rossner and Gail Yerrill 

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

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

Learn About Community With Our November Book Recommendations


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

 
 

The Circles All Around Us

by Brad Montague and Kristi Montague 

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

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

We’re Better Together

by Eileen Spinelli and Ekaterina Trukhan 

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

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


 

My Neighborhood

by Maddie Frost and Amy Pixton 


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

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

Look Where We Live!

by Scot Ritchie


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

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

Our Class is a Family

by Shannon Olsen and Sandie Sonke 

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

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

Build a Solid Musical Foundation with Gymboree Play & Music

We all know gentle sounds and lullabies are a way to soothe babies and create bonds. But beyond bonding, music serves a higher purpose in the early development of babies and children.

Music Classes Help Your Child Build a Solid Developmental Foundation

A 2017  study on Music Interventions and Child Development revealed that the impact of music has indicated positive effects on a variety of skills. Their findings suggest musical interventions may the potential to support educational processes and development of children. Based on our findings there are at least three distinct ways music can support your child’s growth. 

Language Development : Research shows children in transition from kindergarten to school develop fundamental skills important for the acquisition of reading and writing. Previous research pointed toward substantial correlations between specific language- and music-related competencies as well as positive transfer effects from music on pre-literacy skills. 

Strengthened hand-eye coordination : Whether its playing the violin, strumming the strings of a guitar or shaking a maraca, musical instruments  are known to enhance dexterity and hand-eye coordination.

The opportunity to develop motor skills is higher in young children and in our classes children interact with different instruments which are beneficial in developing these skills. 

Improved Mental processing : One of the lesser discussed benefits of music exposure to younger children is its ability to process events. In 2020 Neurologists found that have found that Musically trained children perform better at attention and memory recall and have greater activation in brain regions related to attention control and auditory encoding, executive functions known to be associated with improved reading, higher resilience, greater creativity, and a better quality of life.

Although these are just a few benefits, we know our classes can have a life-long impact on your child’s development. Learn more about our class offerings below and how they can help your child.

For Children Ages 6 months to 16 Months


Our Music I class is for children that are learning through listening and watching, moving, and “singing” with coos and babbles.

What to expect in class: Experience music from all around the world– music from both past and present, near and far! From The Beatles to Bach! In Music 1, children will delight in the sound of instruments, and “singing” through musical baby talk. They’ll enjoy being sung to, experiencing new sounds and the anticipation of surprise!

Benefits:

Physical: Sensory exploration time is supported while children practice their motor skills, which is crucial for your baby’s overall development.

Cognitive: Music-play helps activate parts of the brain responsible for music and speech processing. It creates an early appreciation of music and supports language development.

Social: Through music, you can hear and feel emotions. Tunes can be happy, sad, or angry! This supports social development in understanding emotions in a new way.

Adults: You get to engage with your little one making emotional connections and strong bonds. Being involved in your child’s play helps both of you feel more connected.

For Children Ages 16-28 Months

Our Music II class is for children that are ready to learn through a progression from receptive to expressive musical behavior.

What to expect in class: Experience music from all around the world-music from both past and present, near and far! From The Beatles to Bach! In Music 2, children will begin to experiment with ways to play musical instruments, accompany a song with rhythm, and act out lyrics through movements using both gross motor and fine motor skills. Children know so much about music at this stage, and are at the beginning stages of being able to express themselves musically!

Benefits:
Physical: Sensory exploration time is supported while children practice their motor skills, which is crucial for your child’s overall development.
Cognitive: Music play helps activate parts of the brain responsible for music and speech processing. It creates an early appreciation of music and supports language development.
Social: Through music, you can hear and feel emotions. Tunes can be happy, sad, or angry! This supports social development in understanding emotions in a new way.
Adults: You get to engage with your little one making emotional connections and strong bonds. Being involved in your child’s play helps both you feel more connected.

For All Ages


Our Family Music class is for children of all ages, at every stage who want to learn about music!

What to expect in class: Engage your little one in a multi-age music class which provides opportunities not only to learn musical techniques, styles, and about different instruments, but also supports social and emotional development.Benefits:

Physical: Sensory exploration time is supported while children practice their motor skills, which is crucial for your child’s overall development.

Cognitive: Music play helps activate parts of the brain responsible for music and speech processing. It creates an early appreciation of music and supports language development.

Social: Through music, you can hear and feel emotions. Tunes can be happy, sad, or angry! This supports social development in understanding emotions in a new way.

Adults: You get to engage with your little one making emotional connections and strong bonds. Being involved in your child’s play helps both you feel more connected.

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


 

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

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

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

About Penguin Random House

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

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

 

Sing with Me

by Diana Lopez

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

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

Extra Details:

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

My Voice is a Trumpet

by Jimmie Allen

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

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

Extra Details:

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

Nina : A Story of Nina Simone

by Traci Todd

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

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

Extra Details:

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

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month With These Special Book Recommendations


 

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

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

 

La Princesa and the Pea

by Susan Middleton Elya and Juana Martinez-Neal 

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

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

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

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

by Sonia Sotomayor and Rafael López 

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

Alma and How She Got Her Name

by Juana Martinez-Neal

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

La Madre Goose: Nursery Rhymes for los Niños

by Susan Middleton Elya and Juana Martinez-Neal 

Classic favorites get a modern Latino twist

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

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

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

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

by Tish Rabe and Frank Endersby 

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

My Papi Has a Motorcycle 

by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña 

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

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

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

Nosotros Means Us: Un cuento bilingüe

by Paloma Valdivia 

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

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

Not a Bean

by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez and Laura Gonzalez 

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

Cerca / Close 

by Juan Felipe Herrera and  Blanca Gómez

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

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

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

Carmela Full of Wishes

by Matt de la Peña and  Christian Robinson 

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

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

10 STEAM Activities To Do With Your Pre-schooler This Fall

It’s fall and we’re going full STEAM ahead!

STEAM is an educational discipline that aims to ignite an early interest and love of math, art, and sciences in children. Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math are similar fields of study in that they all involve creative processes and none uses just one method for inquiry and investigation. 

Not only do these activities support the development of math and science skills but also provide opportunities to strengthen language skills. A study by researchers at the University of California Irvine even found that early math skills were the most consistently predictive measure of future academic success among kindergarten to fifth-grade students.

This month, as we continue our partnership with DreamWorks Animation and Netflix for Gabby’s Dollhouse, we’re focused on highlighting the STEAM activities that are in the show. Some of our locations are hosting STEAM Parties to explore Bubble Science, but just in case you can’t make it, or don’t have an event near you, we pulled 10 STEAM-themed experiments you can do at home with your pre-schooler.

1. Ice Cream in a Bag

Looking for a simple treat that’s fun to make? Try this easy recipe for making ice cream in a bag. Little ones will get to expend some energy as they shake, shake, shake to churn the ice cream. This activity is best for preschool-age children (~22 months and older).

2. Black Pepper Soap Science Experiment

Teach little ones in an abstract way why it is important to wash your hands to keep yourself and others healthy. This activity is best for Explorers and preschool-age children (~2 years and older).

3. Soap Playdough

Use this playdough recipe for a fun STEM-building challenge that your kids will love! You can use simple materials to challenge children to build, create and problem solve with this recipe.

4. Magnetic Fishing Game

Practice your hand-eye coordination with this easily-assembled fishing game. You can even talk to your little ones about how magnets work! This activity is best for Explorers and preschool-age children (~20 months and older).

5. Sensory Bin Coffee Grounds

Don’t throw out those coffee grounds just yet! Learn 3 ways to use coffee grounds for a super sensory bin! From a Spring garden to a construction site, what else can you think of to do with your coffee grounds? This activity is best for Explorers and preschool-age children (~20 months and older).

6. Toy Car Painting

Bored of your paintbrush? Try painting with a toy car instead! Afterward, you can bring out a tub of water and have a car wash. This activity is best for Runners, Explorers, and Preschool-age children (~20 months and older).

7. Slime

This slime recipe is super! Mix together water, borax, wet glue, and a bit of food coloring or paint. This activity is best for preschool-age children (~2.5 years and older). Be sure to supervise your little ones while they play with their slime!

8. Color Explosion Science

Chemistry doesn’t have to be boring—especially when you can get a cool art project out of it! This science experiment demonstrates chemical reactions. Not only is it fun to watch, but even more exciting to do.

 

9. Five Green Speckled Frogs

Enjoy this fun stop-motion version of a classic finger-play song! This activity is perfect for children of all ages!

10. Threading Practice

Let your little one practice some threading using simple supplies. Great for developing fine motor skills and preparing for tasks like lacing up shoes or stringing beads. This activity is best for Walkers, Runners, Explorers, and preschool-age children (~14 months and older). Make sure younger children are no longer mouthing and be sure to supervise them during this activity.

Foster First Foundations with our September Book Recommendations


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

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

 

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

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

Recommendations for Children

All Are Welcome

by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman 

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

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

First Day Jitters 

by Julie Danneberg and Judy Love 

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

by Peter H. Reynolds

The Word Collector

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

School is More Than a Building

by Kelley Donner 

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

Sticks

by Diane Alber 

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

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

Recommendations for Parents

What Do You Say?

by William Stixrud PhD and  Ned Johnson 

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

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

Parenting Right From the Start

by Vanessa Lapointe and Shefali Tsabary 

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

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

The Importance of Being Little

by Erika Christakis 

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

Parenting from the Inside Out

by Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell 

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

How Children Succeed

by Mariana Bissonnette 

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

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