Skip to content

Books to Read This Earth Day

Earth Day is this weekend! Depending on where you are, you may be stuck inside watching another beautiful snow storm or out enjoying a hike to celebrate. Whatever you do, be sure to add in some story time! We’ve got some suggestions on books to get you in the Earth Day spirit:

 

I Stink by Kate & Jim McMullan
All the things we use create waste. Find out about all the hard work garbage trucks do in “I Stink” and then try to find one thing you can do to reduce the work garbage trucks have to do to keep our cities clean.

 

A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Robinowitz
Helping animals can be incredibly rewarding, as the young boy in “A Boy and a Jaguar” discovers. Overcoming his stutter, he finds a way to use his passion to protect his favorite animals. Start a conversation with your little ones to find out what their passions are!

 

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Conney
Plants do more than provide oxygen for us to breathe. They also make the world a beautiful place! Join Miss Rumphius on her world-beautification project and plant your own favorite plants as a family.

 

The Moon by Robert Louis Stevenson
Yes, this planet is pretty stellar. But….the MOON! The moon is quite awesome as well. You can read Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem about Earth’s favorite little sister with the free ebook provided in the Novel Effect app!

 

The Earth Book by Todd Parr
Here’s a whole book devoted to our home planet! It’s full of great ideas and simple ways that even the littlest of humans can chip in and make the world a greener, better place.

 

The best way to celebrate Earth Day is to make EVERY day Earth Day! We hope some of these books (and one poem) on the Novel Effect app inspire your family to find little ways every day to make our shared home the best it can be.

4 Literary Themed Holidays in April

The Month of April showers us with all the things for book lovers.! All month long, there are special celebrations and events that you and your little wordsmiths can enjoy together. Look for these celebrations locally to find shared experiences that will help build lasting memories and lasting love of reading for your family.

 

1. National Poetry Month

April is a month for poetry! We’ve celebrated at Novel Effect by adding free children’s poetry to the app, complete with the text, so you can enjoy some immersive poems right away. Additionally, if you’re looking for a fun poetry-related activity to do together, why not create your own black-out poetry using magazines or newspapers you have around the house?

 

2. National Library Week

April 8th-14th is National Library Week! Since 1958, this established event has been a big deal in the library world. It features micro-celebrations for everyone from school librarians to bookmobiles, with special activities for readers both big and small. The best way to celebrate is to support your local library – stop by and check a book out, attend a story time, and don’t forget to mention Novel Effect while you’re there. If you can’t make it in, little things like following/liking posts on their social media channels can go a long way to help their visibility in the community.

 

3. World Book Day, April 23rd

World Book Day is an UNESCO organized event celebrating all things related to reading, publishing, and copyright. First celebrated in 1995, the date April 23rd was chosen as it is the birth or death day for Cervantes, Shakespeare, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Vladimir Nabokov, and many other notable writers. April 23rd also happens to be St. George’s Day. In some cultures, books are given as a gift to a love interest St. George’s Day, not unlike the gift exchanges on Valentine’s Day here in the US, so feel free to pass along the gift of reading to someone you love on this day.

 

4. Independent Bookstore Day

Indie bookstores are community centers run by passionate book people. The last Saturday in April (this year, April 28th) is a day to celebrate these special places that make a neighborhood unique. Every store (and every Independent Bookstore Day party) is different, but it’s not uncommon to find authors, live music, kids events, art tables, contests, and fun exclusives that can’t be found anywhere else. Seattle bookstores have a passport program to encourage you to hit the wide variety of bookstores across the city. Novel Effect will be participating in several celebrations across the countries, so if you don’t see us, be sure to let the bookstore know that you would like to!

 

April is a big month for Novel Effect in another way – we were nominated for 2 Webby Awards! The Webbys, according to The New York Times, are the “internet’s highest honor.” As a nominee we have the possibility of winning the Webby chosen by the academy or the People’s Choice Webby, chosen by popular vote. We’d love your vote in each of the two categories where we were nominated:

Mobile Sites & Apps: Family & Kids: https://vote.webbyawards.com/PublicVoting#/2018/mobile-sites-apps/general/family-kids

Mobils Sites & Apps: Integrated Mobile Experience: https://vote.webbyawards.com/PublicVoting#/2018/mobile-sites-apps/features/integrated-mobile-experience

6 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Reading

How do we motivate our children to engage in reading experiences and understand the value of the written word? Some early readers struggle and get frustrated. Others find the many distractions more compelling (and instantly gratifying) than doing the work of reading.

Read more

Bedtime Stories for Read Across America Day

Every year, on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, parents, teachers, librarians, kids, and lovers of children’s books celebrate all things reading! We here at Novel Effect enjoyed the day, literally reading across America (in classrooms from Washington state to South Carolina) volunteering and sharing our magical story time experience.

After a busy day of fun reading experiences, we thought we would share some of our favorite bedtime stories so you can keep the celebration going right up to the point the sandman arrives.

 

HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON by Crockett Johnson

Harold is the perfect story to unwind to after a day full of imagination. Harold himself uses his purple crayon to draw out his own adventures before falling asleep in his bed, crayon (almost) in hand. I particularly love the dragon roars and the boat scene in the middle of the book – the music and sound effects are spot on!

 

DREAM ANIMALS by Emily Winfield Martin

The whimsical and nostalgic imagery of “Dream Animals” beautifully demonstrates the power of books and how they can help children develop their imaginations. Plus, there are some great, unexpected character voices that really set the mood of the story.

 

 

GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT, CONSTRUCTION SITE by Sherri Duskey Rinker

Gentle rhymes and gentle music help prepare busy minds and busy construction sites off to sleep for the day. After a day full of busy hands and fun activities, this is the perfect story to help unwind the chaos and get settled in for bed.

 

OH THE PLACES YOU’LL GO by Dr. Seuss

Ok, so this isn’t a bed time store, per se! But we couldn’t have a list for Read Across America Day and NOT have a book from the birthday boy himself. Plus, dreams are where…well…dreams are born. Why not send your child off to sleep with visions of all the things the places they can!

3 Tips for Spring Break with Kids

Spring break takes on a whole new meaning after you have kids. With winter winding down, Spring Break is rapidly approaching on the calendar. A lot of stress can come from travel in general – busy airports, long car rides, and the crowded destinations are only the tips of the vacation icebergs. Before you decide to shut you and your family in your house for the break, here are some tips to keeping your cool on even the hottest spring break beach!

       1. Countdown Calendar

Before you even get on the road, get your children prepped and pumped for their trip with a countdown calendar. While the underlying meaning of the calendar is to have your kids help you pack and plan activities, it will give them a space to get excited about the trip beforehand. If you’re traveling to a destination include interesting facts about where you are going. Are there any unique animals that are native to the area? Any interesting festivals happening while you’re there? Write down little fun facts a few weeks in advance on the calendar for your kids to look at, and as you get closer to your trip pair these facts with different things they can pack. Is it sunny where you’re going? Better pack some sunscreen and sunglasses! 

Photo by Jake Hawkes on Unsplash

       2. Up Your Reading Game

One of the easiest distraction during a long car ride is something almost everyone resorts to – screens. Anything to keep your kids from asking the dreaded “are we there yet?” Every hour on the hour. While this certainly get the job done, there is something magical about reading a good book while you travel. For your kids, Novel Effect takes it to a new level by adding engaging sound effects and follows along with your voices to make every moment magical where it counts. There are hundreds of stories to choose from, including some great travel stories (I suggest “Wherever You Go”). 

Photo by Domenico Daniele on Unsplash

        3. Soothing Soundproofing

The first time traveling with a child is anxiety inducing. What if they don’t get their nap in before the airport? What if they scream? How will they handle that much time in the car? If you’re going to be in a busy airport or amusement park with a sleepy baby, a pair of soundproof headphones can do wonders for your child. It keeps all of the new sound as muffled as possible for them so they can enjoy a nap almost anywhere. Headphones like these help children who might be more prone to over stimulation by loud or new surroundings. Sound machines, especially if they use one at home, are another way to ensure that even in the strange surroundings of a hotel room, your child can get the rest they need.

 

Regardless of your travel plans this spring season, at the end of the day the process can be just as fun as the destination. The fun far outweighs the stress in the end!

Books to Celebrate with in February

Looking for the perfect book to pair with all the February holidays? Then look no further!

Read more

Tips for Teachers to Survive and Thrive this Winter

Even though the new year and new term are just barely upon us, it’s hard not to already be thinking about summer break! But hang in there for a few more months. We have some titles and activities to get you through the winter months right on into spring!

It might feel like we’re stuck inside but we can get “outdoors” at story time with the Ezra Jack Keats classic “The Snowy Day.” Get everyone excited about the potential of a snow day. Maybe the teachers and the kids have a touch of cabin fever? Get out of the classroom and pair that aquarium field trip with “Rainbow Fish”.  Let our soundscape for the best-loved tale of friendship accompany your story and all of its shimmery sweetness.

There are, of course, a lot of great activities for Valentine’s that go beyond making a mailbox out of a paper bag and passing out Minion themed cards. Here are some toddler activities that could be easily adapted for higher grades as well. One of my personal favorites is to make seed cards to exchange or as a personalized activity, and then you can plant them in preparation for spring classroom gardens. And don’t forget to keep an eye on your Novel Effect app to see some of the Valentine’s Day and Spring titles we’ve got coming your way!

If fish aren’t your thing, or you already can’t stand the thought of one more tiny heart-shaped box of bad chocolate,  then let’s focus on another great February theme with “Grace for President.” Here are some pretty cool comprehension questions and discussion prompts  from the good folks at Rutgers University. We really appreciate this book and the wonderful message it has for women big and small.

Have ideas on how you’re using Novel Effect in your classroom? Let us know here! Happy Reading!

 

4 Ways to Survive Winter When It Starts to Get Cold

For the first month or so of winter, we embrace the colder temperatures, shorter days, and festive spirit of the season, dazzled by the snow and the outdoor activities that go along with it. The onset of winter is synonymous with the holiday season and all the celebrating and merriment that envelope it.

This winter magic feels good for a while, but not too long after New Year’s it can start to get old! Reality sets in that winter also means cold & flu season, shoveling driveways, slushy sidewalks, frozen toes, and cabin fever. If your winter wonderland excitement has worn off, we’ve got some fun tips and practical ways to utilize your time to help you survive until spring!

 

1. Stock Up on Cold Remedies Early

Sure, you don’t feel ill right now, but when the cold eventually hits your household, you will want to be prepared. Now’s a great time to check your medicine cupboard for the essentials. Is there anything expired? Anything running low? Head to your local grocery store now to pick up refills on cough drops and cold remedies, that way you won’t be stuck headed to the store sick as a dog or spending money on delivery. Load up on fresh fruits and veggies so your immune system has the nutrients it needs to fight off invaders.

2. Game Night In

Baby, it’s cold outside, and that means people want to stay indoors in the comfort of home! So there’s truly no better time of year to start a game night tradition with family and friends. Board games are a fantastic way to unplug, reconnect, and have a blast with those you love, especially during a season that tends to be stressful or sad for some.

3. Embrace Being Active

Sure, it’d be easy to loaf around on the couch and binge on Netflix over the chilly months. But think how you’ll feel when everything thaws out in the spring? Take up a new hobby, explore free home work-outs on YouTube, and spend time playing with your kiddos in the snow! Whether sledding or building a snow fort, you’re not only burning off all those Christmas cookies but creating memories your child will cherish always.  Whatever activity you choose, remaining active in the winter will not only keep your body healthy but also keep the days and weeks from dragging on!

4. Change Up the Bedtime Story

Winter nights are the perfect time to introduce your kids to Novel Effect! Before they drift off to sleep, get their giggles out and switch things up by reading a bedtime story that pops right out of the book! We have tons of stories ready for you to check out on the app, and it turns story time into a fun, involved experience for you and your kids. With new titles added every week, it’s easy to find new stories that you’ve never read before!

 

Update Available

We’ve been hard at work making storytime better and better! Now it’s time to update to our latest version, 1.60.2! Here’s what we’ve added:

 

  • New, improved voice recognition (let the whole family try!)
  • Addressed some pesky bugs
  • New titles added! (I recommend “Zen Shorts”!)

 

ZENSHORTSJONJMUTHAAA-W.png
Updating to 1.60.2 is easy! Just tap here on your iOS device to be taken to Novel Effect in the App Store. Once there, tap “Update”. The download will then start, and once it’s finished, you’re ready to enjoy!

Our Favorite Books to Try this Winter

My mother kept the Christmas decorations in the attic, where the heat escaped and you had to turn your head hard to the side to fit under the ceiling. We had three boxes full, containing colorful lights, wreaths, and crooked ornaments made from our little hands while in preschool. My favorite was a long garland with electric bells that would begin a carol at one end of the line and then pass the song along to a random bell somewhere further down; we used to wrap it around our banister and run up and down the garland trying to guess from which bell the music would play next.

However, the holiday season would never truly begin until my mother would unpack from the boxes our small library of Christmas books and arrange them on the coffee table. There, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg would usher in the season’s sense of magic and wonder. And Santa Cows by Cooper Eden would… well, that one was a bit odd, I admit, but it truly was the most cherished Christmas book of my midwestern family.

Books were one of the best ways my family celebrated winter. They allowed us to snuggle in our wool socks on the couch and laugh and think and learn what the holidays were all about. In an effort to celebrate the season and share good books with good people, here is a selection of holiday stories from the Novel Effect shelves this winter:

 

The Snowy Day

If any book perfectly captures the sense of joy and excitement of freshly fallen snow, it is Ezra Jack Keats’s Caldecott winner, The Snowy Day. Peter, the story’s protagonist with a red snowsuit, crunches and struts and slides in the snow, building snowmen, making angels, and exploring every way his imagination can think to play in it. The narrative, uneventful and unforced, allows for Peter’s delight to flourish and to represent something universal and genuine. For those who have not read this beautiful story, enjoy this version narrated by LeVar Burton.

 

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns

Hena Khan’s book of rhyming verses and lush illustrations demonstrates the importance of celebrating your family and your faith. The young female narrator uses a range of splendid colors to identify and introduce significant components of her life. The radiant orange of her henna designs illuminate a two-page spread, while the gentle ripples of her mother’s sapphirine hijab stand out from a powder blue background. This book is beautiful and enriching for a family of any faith to read year round.

 

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

Taking inspiration from folklore, the story of the Maccabees, and Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, Eric A. Kimmel manages to strike the right balance between spiritual and spooky in this entertaining tale about Hershel, the itinerant prankster. Determined to thwart any Hanukkah celebrations, a horde of goblins prove worthy antagonists for Hershel as they become increasingly vile and repulsive on each successive night. However, they forget that Hershel has some tricks up his sleeves. Armed with an egg, some pickles, and his clever wit, Herschel sets out to rescue the town and vanquish the goblins from the synagogue. Celebrate the Festival of Lights this year with Hershel and his thrilling adventure.

 

The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming

As Lemony Snicket observes, “Nearly everything in this world is born screaming, and the latke was no exception…” His main character’s outcry begins in a frying pan but continues as he meets Christmas decorations painfully oblivious of Hanukkah. The latke’s ire leads to humorous explanations of the holiday and a defense for potato pancakes, until he is eventually recognized by an understanding—and hungry—family. This hilarious book is a great way to gain perspective on the holiday season and to celebrate the Festival of Lights.

 

Owl Moon

Wordlessly, a father and daughter walk through the cold New England snow, hoping to catch a glimpse of a Great Horned Owl. Their adventure, told through Jane Yolen’s patient prose and John Schoenherr’s gentle watercolor illustrations, embodies a winter night’s magical ability to leave you both at peace and full of wonder. Best read by a warm fire with the winds howling outside your window, this book is perfect for bedtime during the holiday season.

 

You can find all these titles in the Novel Effect library with soundscapes to get you in the spirit: http://apple.co/2uQXDod