Continuing Ed

Best Summer Reading Lists (K-5) and Great Websites for Kids from the Newton Public Schools

Newton (Massachusetts) has a wonderful public school system and here is a K-5 reading list that  is comprehensive and equally wonderful. Click here for the link.

The following is a great list of  websites to keep you reading, learning and having fun – also from the Newton Public Schools.

Activity TV

All ages can learn to create crafts by watching these online videos.

ALA Great Websites for Kids

A searchable database of sites recommended by the American Library Association.Animal Fact Guide

Avoid the ads and you will find short articles about interesting and endangered animals around the world. Explore “FunStuff” to find coloring pages, mazes and more.

Brain Pop and Brain Pop Jr.

A subscription service accessible in most Newton schools for short videos on a variety of educational topics.

Check out the free movie of the month at home!Children’s Room – Newton Free Library

Find a wealth of information and activities selected by the Newton public librarians.


Take a virtual field trip to San Francisco’s Exploratorium Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception. Explore the digitallibrary of learning resources and enjoy (and learn from) video clips and hands-on activities.

Education and entertainment are linked through FunBrain, a great site for online educational games (math, grammar, science,spelling, history) for kids of all ages.


A multimedia online interactive encyclopedia, connecting kids to the world.

Horizon Magic Portal

Entering the magic portal will transport you to the fascinating and fragile world of coral reefs. Children can learn about thecreatures that inhabit coral reefs through multimedia and fun activities.

International Children’s Digital Library

An online library of children’s books from around the world.

Internet Public Library for Kids

Are you curious? Do you have questions? If so, visit the Kids section and explore the wide variety of websites for children!

Jack Prelutsky

Jack Prelutsky has delighted children with his humorous poetry for thirty years and was named the first Children’s Poet Laureate in 2006. His highly interactive website will delight all who visit and foster a love of poetry.

Jon Scieska

The author is the National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature and has a website chock full of fun for readers. There is a direct link to his other site, “Guys Read”, with helpful tips for aiding parents in keeping their children reading.

Kids Click

Annotated and searchable directory of websites created for kids by librarians.

Boston Book Festival: a dinner party and books (and their authors)

Am I dreaming? I just found out that I am going to a dinner party with authors Dennis Lehane and Joseph Finder. I am the  back-up, back-up date for a friend whose first two picks (her husband and a charming, beautiful accomplished friend) fell through…I don’t mind being the A-minus list date – it will be such fun!  It is a dinner set up through the Boston Book Festival – you can click through to their site.  The second annual festival is October 16, 2010 and here is a video of highlights from the first one.

Joseph Finder Vanished
Dennis Lehane Shutter Island

How do you feel about math? Good, iffy, hate it so much you don’t want to read this?

× ¼∫ −³  ∞ √ ≈ ≠ ∏ ≡ ≥ ≤ ¹

Did you know that fifty percent of available jobs are math based? Well, it’s true. So if you  – or your children –  are closed off to thinking you are good at math, well, you do the math. That’s a lot of missed opportunity.

Before you think I am getting all preachy,  I am only slightly math-phobic  – sorry, Dad, but it’s not like that is news – I am having a flashback to a dining room table and not understanding the “engineer’s way”of solving a problem and tears, mine, possibly Dad’s.

Having said that I am committed to my children not having the same experience with math so I found the most amazing tutor on the planet. First, she is sweet and kind and really pretty (like Disney princess pretty but with a killer math brain and a great sense of humor) and has helped both of my children with math where I could not.

So just because I do not care for math, I have been able to break the cycle and both of my children are terrific in math. The new links in the sidebar are all from the amazing tutor and  I am completely stealing Pragmatic Mom’s idea of having math site links on her site – Feel free to take some of these,  Pragmatic Mom and everyone else, enjoy – they are really fun sites.

Favorite books for Middle School readers at Pragmatic Mom

What does Capability Mom do all day? She reads, of course. When she is not unstopping the bathroom sink or walking the dog or making dinner or folding laundry or buying groceries or cleaning or paying attention to her blog or her family. I did all of these things today and posted on social media (okay, it was a really, really short post) at CoffeeShopBloggers.

Pragmatic Mom is an amazingly energetic and productive person (and she is sweet and funny, too) who gets more done in a day than I get done in a week. Seriously. She may not even sleep or maybe she does and is just so super bright and efficient… never mind. I grow weary of this hapless comparison. Go to Pragmatic Mom’s site and read her post that I helped out with…

Top 10: Books for Summer Reading (Middle School)

A HUGE thank you to Capability:Mom for creating this list.  She knows Middle School children’s literature much better than I do — my oldest is 10-years-old so I’m slowly getting there.  She also blogs on children’s literature but skews a little older towards YA (Young Adult) as well as on cooking/baking and other topics of interest.  She is a library freak and volunteers at every library in town including both elementary, middle school and public library.  Needless to say, I picked an authority on the topic and am excited to read these books myself!  Thank you Capability:Mom!  Check out her blog for more books as well the Rainbow Cake saga…

p.s.  Don’t forget that if your child reads 10 books and fills out a form at Borders, she or he can get one book free from their list of 10.  And there are some great books for middle schoolers on their list!

To purchase any book on this list, please click on image of the book.

10. Heartbeat by Sharon Creech

I always love her.  This one is especially beautiful and unusually written. The family of this young girl is expecting a baby and the gorgeous writing takes you through growing pains, friendship, family, change and acceptance.

9. The Giver by Lois Lowry

This tale is set in the future in a utopia (where fear, pain, war and hatred have been eliminated) that feels anything but as we follow 12 year old Jonas through his life. Wonderfully written and 1994 Newbery Medal winner.

8. Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech

Two children, named Dallas and Florida or the trouble twins for short, move in with an older couple who have raised a family in the quiet holler of the title. Now this couple is now looking for adventure. Everyone gets that and more. Intense and fast-moving, a sweet story.

7. Bud, Not Buddy by Paul Curtis

A young orphan boy determinedly sets out to find his family. The story is set in 1936 during The Great Depression.

6. Holes by Louis Sachar

Made into a movie, this novel won the 1998 Newbery Medal. Two boys, Stanley Yelnats (check out the palindrome) and Hector Zeroni realize how intertwined their lives and families are in a “work camp” where they become the best of friends.

5. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia) by C. S. Lewis

This is a favorite, a fantasy story of four siblings who discover an enchanted world with fantastic characters, adventures and challenges.

4. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Hugo is almost a book within a book.  The book IS actually mostly illustrations (284!) , and the illustrations tell their own story.  I call The Invention of Hugo Cabret a children’s literature version of The Phantom of the Opera.  They are both set in Paris; Hugo is set around 1931.  They both sneak around in hidden canals and passageways that they know like that back of their hand.  And They both have deep, dark secrets from the past.  ( I posted on this book previously…)

3. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

A young girl (Kit) who grew up with her grandfather in Barbados must move in with her aunt and uncle when her grandfather dies. She struggles with her impulsiveness and the strict rules of the times.

2. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

Seeming unrelated events happen and bring Calder and Petra together in this lovely story of an art theft and a mystery.

1. The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg

In this 1997 Newbery Medal winning book, four sixth grade students end up working together on the school’s Academic Bowl team. The story wends and weaves and you are left attached to these characters.

Honorable Mention

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

15-year-old Eragon, a farm boy, hatches a dragon and learns that he is the last of the Dragon Riders and must battle evil.

pragmatic mom top 10 books for middle school by capability mom

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