How Families Can Celebrate Read Across America Day

This Saturday, March 2nd, is Read Across America Day so I wanted to share some reading resources, tips to help your children develop a love of reading, ideas for a Dr. Seuss party, and even an awesome freebie ($40 value)! 

Early literacy has been a cause that’s been really important to me since my college days as an early childhood education major, throughout my years teaching pre-k, and now as a mom. From volunteering to read to children in schools, to hosting book fairs to collect book donations, to sharing about the importance of reading here on this blog, I try to do as much as I can to promote literacy. Since I’ve been celebrating this special day for years I wanted to share ways you can get your family excited about this “holiday” and reading in general. The first annual Read Across America Day was March 2, 1998 and it’s celebrated on the birthday of beloved author Dr. Seuss. The purpose of Read Across America is to motivate children to read because research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.

My boys recently developed a love of reading which makes me so excited because I loved reading as a child (and still do though I don’t have as much time to do so now). While both my boys have learned reading basics they are at very different places in their reading skills. With Lucas, who is a fairly new reader, we are working on retaining more information about what he has read so he is able to answer basic questions about the books. For Jacob, my goal is to find age-appropriate books he will enjoy at his reading level. Just this week he tested at almost a 12th grade reading level but he’s only in 5th grade so many teen books aren’t appropriate for him yet and books that are age-appropriate aren’t challenging enough for him. If anyone has any tips to help either of my boys I’d love for you to share them with me on Twitter or Facebook!

Anyway, let’s get on to the fun! Here are some ideas of how your family can celebrate reading this week and every day:

Throw a Dr. Seuss themed party

There is no better way to celebrate reading than with a party and of course, on Read Across America Day, we celebrate Dr. Seuss so I had to make that the party theme. Get Seussical party ideas here. All the ideas are based on Dr. Seuss books and characters. These Truffula Tree Cupcakes would also be fun to make with the kids.

Make reading fun

Another one of my favorite posts shared ways to encourage reading by making it fun! When I became a mom I vowed that I’d help my kids develop a love of reading like I had when I was a kid but, nowadays, kids just don’t seem to get lost in books like my generation did. I think that part of this is because there are so many distractions vying for their time, whether it’s screens or just busier lives in general. While we can’t eliminate all the distractions that are getting in the way of reading time, we can show them how much fun reading can be to encourage them to become life long readers. Here are some of my ideas to make reading fun:

PICK GOOD BOOKS.

This might seem obvious but kids are more likely to want to read if given books they enjoy (even if they are choosing to read books about superheroes in underwear or wimpy kids with diaries…. ) I’ve found that older kids are drawn to series and books with characters that they can relate to.

MAKE READING A GAME.

I’ve found when I make anything into a game it’s automatically more fun for kids (I can’t be the only parent who discovered that the cleanup “game” could even get children excited to do a boring task like cleaning up their toys!) There are so many ways to turn reading into a game when kids are younger but one of my favorites is to follow the likes of my child’s favorite YouTube stars and play the popular “try not to laugh challenge”. Challenge your kids not to laugh as you read the book out loud in as many silly voices as you can. Then let them take a turn trying to make you laugh!

READ IN NEW PLACES.

Part of the fun of reading is that books transport the reader to new places, whether real or imaginary. Bring that adventure to life by reading together in different places in your home or community. Spend a rainy afternoon reading inside a pillow fort in your living room and enjoy a beautiful fall day outside on a blanket in your backyard or in the shade of a tree at a nearby park. Books don’t just have to be read while sitting on a couch!

BRING THE STORY TO LIFE.

When I was a preschool teacher I found that the best way to get my class excited to read was to get them involved in the story. Whether they acted the book out, did a craft that corresponded with the story, or yelled out the repetitive lines in books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, they loved participating. Being part of the story is so much more fun than just listening to someone read it. One of my fondest memories of story time was when I was a teacher and had created a giant caterpillar out of posterboard and let the kids in my class take turns “feeding” him pretend play food as I read the story of the Hungry Caterpillar to them.

I share more ideas on how to make reading fun here.

Consider reading apps and programs

While nothing can replace the feel of a physical book, reading apps can be a new way to make reading fun. Our boys LOVE the smartphone app Epic which they were introduced to in school. This app turns reading into a game and encourages them to read for badges with honors like “I read two days in a row” and “I read 50 books”. While nothing can replace the feel of a paper book, I was impressed that this app makes my boys so excited to read that in the past (even when Lucas was reluctant to read) he’d spend hours at a time doing so!

Hooked on Phonics is also a great program for younger children (ages 3-8) and they are offering a freebie in honor of Read Across America Day. HOP is offering their digital app “Learn To Read” year subscription plan for FREE ($40 value; iOS, Android, Amazon, Web) on Friday, March 1st, 2019. To get your freebie go to their landing page hookedonphonics.com/read2019 and put in READ2019 in the promo code area on the HOP website for your free year subscription. (Please note this is ONLY valid on Friday 3/1/19 which is the day before Read Across America Day.)

Other resources:

List of summer reading programs that reward children for reading.

Reading is Fundamental Literacy Central Parent Resource Page

How to make a fun superhero bookmark

My 10 favorite books for preschoolers

25 fun writing activities for kids (that build reading skills as well)

I hope that I have given you ideas to make reading fun for your family that will help you celebrate Read Across America Day. Though March 2nd is the official “reading holiday” I encourage you to spend time reading with your children every day, whether it’s a short book in between errands, an afternoon of reading as you are cuddled together on the couch, or a chapter a night before bed. 

Ways To Make Reading Fun For Kids

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyLiteracyStory #DGMyStoryEntry #CollectiveBias

When I was younger I loved to read. Whether I was in the backseat of our van on a long family road trip, or curled up in bed begging my eyelids to stay open for “just one more chapter”, reading was something that I always enjoyed doing. So much so that at one point I even wanted to be an author and write books of my own! (A blog author is close right? I may not see my name on bookshelves everywhere but I still get to share my stories here!)

Anyways, I vowed that I’d help my kids develop a love of reading like I had when I was a kid but, nowadays, kids just don’t seem to get lost in books like my generation did. I think that part of this is because there are so many distractions vying for their time, whether it’s screens or just busier lives in general. While we can’t eliminate all the distractions that are getting in the way of reading time, we can show them how much fun reading can be to encourage them to become life long readers.

Here are some of my favorite ways to make reading fun for kids:

HAVE A SNACK WHILE YOU READ TOGETHER.

I was just talking to a mom yesterday about how our kid’s favorite part of their sports team seemed to be the snack at the end of the game and how they both looked forward to that every week. As silly as it sounds, snacks are important to kids- whether it’s their game day snack or their after school snack- so reading during snack time can make it more enjoyable (especially for reluctant readers). Our favorite snacks are ones that are easy and mess free- like bowls of colorful Kellogg’s® Froot Loops® Cereal.

(Hover over the image above to start shopping Kellogg’s® line of cereals at Dollar General)

PICK GOOD BOOKS.

This might seem obvious but kids are more likely to want to read if given books they enjoy. There are so many good books out there but here are ten of my favorite picture books:

  • The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
  • The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
  • Happy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch
  • Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
  • Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  • If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • What If The Zebras Lost Their Stripes? by John Reitano
  • There’s An Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Some of these books I enjoyed reading during my childhood and they are still favorites of mine! I also loved Shel Silverstein’s books like The Giving Tree and Where The Sidewalk Ends. Books have such a lasting effect on people!

As children get older I think that letting them select the books they read becomes even more important (even if they are choosing to read books about superheroes in underwear or wimpy kids with diaries…. ) I’ve found that older kids are drawn to series and books with characters that they can relate to.

MAKE READING A GAME.

Lucas spent almost four hours reading and listening to audio books this past Saturday, all thanks to a smartphone app that turns reading into a game. and encourages them to read for badges with honors like “I read two days in a row” and “I read 50 books”. While nothing can replace the feel of a paper book, I was impressed that this app made him so excited to read and kept his attention for hours! Another way to turn reading into a game? Follow the likes of your child’s favorite YouTube stars and play the popular “try not to laugh challenge”. Challenge your kids not to laugh as you read the book out loud in as many silly voices as you can (I know you all can probably do a great impression of Tony the Tiger from those Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes® Cereal commercials!)

READ IN NEW PLACES.

Part of the fun of reading is that books transport the reader to new places, whether real or imaginary. Bring that adventure to life by reading together in different places in your home or community. Spend a rainy afternoon reading inside a pillow fort in your living room and enjoy a beautiful fall day outside on a blanket in your backyard or in the shade of a tree at a nearby park. Books don’t just have to be read while sitting on a couch!

BRING THE STORY TO LIFE.

When I was a preschool teacher I found that the best way to get my class excited to read was to get them involved in the story. Whether they acted the book out, did a craft that corresponded with the story, or yelled out the repetitive lines in books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, they loved participating. Being part of the story is so much more fun than just listening to someone read it. One of my fondest memories of story time was when I had created a giant caterpillar out of posterboard and let the kids take turns “feeding” him pretend play food as I read the story to them.

I hope that I have given you ideas to help make reading fun for your family. I encourage you to spend time reading with your children every day, whether it’s a short book in between errands, an afternoon of reading as you are cuddled together on the couch, or a chapter a night before bed. 

Early literacy has been a cause that’s been really important to me since my college days as an early childhood education major. From volunteering to read to children in schools, to hosting book fairs to collect book donations, to sharing about the importance of reading here on this blog, I try to do as much as I can to promote literacy. I really love when companies support causes that I’m passionate about so I was so happy to learn that Kellogg’s, a brand that makes some of my family’s favorite cereals, is promoting literacy as a sponsor of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is celebrating over 20 years of helping individuals learn to read, prepare for their high school equivalency, or learn English. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $140 million (WOW!) to nonprofit organizations and schools that have helped more than 9 million individuals advance their literacy and basic education skills.

I encourage you to learn more about this literacy initiative and enter the #DGMyStory Sweepstakes for a chance to win a $50 Dollar General gift card. Entering is easy, just share your own personal literacy story with the hashtag #DGMyStoryEntry by 10/22/17. (Just think about all the cereal you could buy with that $50 to Dollar General! Yum! Just wandering down the cereal aisle you could grab all your family’s faves, like Kellogg’s Frosted Bite-Size Mini-Wheats® Cereal and Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® Cereal, and you’d be set for easy breakfasts and snacks for months.)

How do you make reading fun for your kids? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below or join the conversation on social media.

BabyGap Mr Men Little Miss Events This Weekend

I am so excited to share that I am working with Milk & Bookies and Gap to help celebrate the launch of BabyGap’s Mr. Men Little Miss clothing line collection! I will be at the Chicago event at Water Tower Place this Saturday morning as the guest reader at their special event.

BabyGap is collaborating with Mr. Men Little Miss this Spring to create a limited edition collection featuring beloved characters from the iconic children’s books created by British author Roger Hargreaves. The collection includes onesies, bibs, blankets, socks and hats all designed with Mr. Men Little Miss’ signature bright colors and bold lines.

In conjunction with the collaboration, 20 Gap stores across the country will host a celebration of reading on Saturday, February 6th in partnership with Milk + Bookies, a charitable organization that celebrates reading and provides books to under-resourced families. Guests will enjoy a Mr. Men Little Miss book reading by a local parenting blogger, refreshments and activities for children and the opportunity to take part in a book drive benefitting a local Boys & Girls Club.

See the invite below for the Chicago Water Tower event, RSVP here and please make sure to introduce yourself if you attend the reading! I’d love to meet you :)

Not in Chicago? Here are the rest of the events:

• 17th & 5th 122 5th Ave. (New York)
• 59th & Lexington 734 Lexington Ave. (New York)
• Chestnut St. 2159 Chestnut St. (San Francisco)
• Chinook Centre 6455 McCloud Trail SW (Calgary)
• Copley Place 100 Huntington Ave. (Boston)
• Garden State Plaza 290 Garden State Plaza (Paramus)
• The Grove 189 The Grove Dr. (Los Angeles)
• Hoboken & Washington St. 222 Washington St. (Hoboken)
• Houston Galleria 5085 Westheimer Rd. (Houston)
• Court King Prussia 160 N. Gulph Rd. (King of Prussia)
• Lenox Square 3393 Peachtree Rd. NE (Atlanta)
• Lincoln Rd.1001 Lincoln Rd. (Miami Beach)
• Michigan Ave 555 N Michigan Ave. – Chicago
• The Mall at Millenia 4200 Conroy Rd. (Orlando)
• NorthPark Center 728 N. Park Center (Dallas)
• South Coast Plaza 3333 Bristol St. (Costa Mesa)
• Stanford Shopping Center 228 Stanford Shopping Center (Palo Alto)
• Eaton Centre 260 Yonge St. (Toronto)
• Tysons Corner Center 7906 Tysons Corner Center (McLean)
• Water Tower Place 835 N. Michigan Ave. (Chicago)

Literacy Events Around The Nation Today

Join the record-breaking literacy celebration today, October 3, with Jumpstart! People all across the country will read the children’s book Otis by Loren Long in support of Jumpstart’s mission to work towards the day that every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed. Joined by Tiffani Thiessen, actress and star of USA’s White Collar, Jumpstart hopes to break last year’s record of 2.3 million participants reading the same book at the same time.

Jumpstart will host several large scale events on October 3 in cities and towns across the country with marquee events in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. In addition, many of Jumpstart’s campaign Reading Partners and sponsors will be hosting events. Gymboree will host events in every Gymboree, Janie & Jack, Crazy 8, and Gymboree Play & Music locations across the country. Additionally, official Reading Partner, We Give Books will have Otis available to read online for free in both English and Spanish at www.wegivebooks.org.

”Jumpstart’s Read for the Record is a meaningful way for Americans to support the critical need for high-quality early education in our country,” said Jumpstart’s president and CEO, Naila Bolus. “We know that for children living in low-income communities, this need is significant. By the time these children enter kindergarten, they are already 60% behind their more affluent peers. Jumpstart’s Read for the Record brings light to this national issue and gives citizens a platform to voice their support for this cause.”

Learn more at http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/read-record.

Chicago Area Events

Chicago will hold two events today in honor of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record.

Lincoln Park Zoo:

The Lincoln Park Zoo will host three readings of “Otis” by Loren Long on Thursday morning. The readings are open to the public, and U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley will attend. Readings are at 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Chicago Children’s Museum:

The Chicago Children’s Museum will also hold an event. Kraft Family Free Night will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is open to the public. There will be readings of “Otis“ throughout the night.

 

 

8 Tips For Teaching Your Child To Read

Teaching your Child to Read

Image courtesy of Rusty & Rosy Reading.

Kohl’s Cares Teams Up With Curious George

(Disclosure: I received a few products from the new Kohl’s Cares line but all thoughts are my own.)

Kohl’s Department Stores is inviting children and families across the country to indulge in playful curiosity while giving back to their communities with the latest Kohl’s Cares merchandise. Young readers will be thrilled to embark on new adventures with Curious George, the lovable monkey and adults will be proud to support the program. The Kohl’s Cares program has raised more than $231 million for children’s health and education programs across the country.

I personally love the program because early literacy is so important to me. I think it’s great that these hardcover books are made available to all families at such a reasonable price (each item is only $5) and the money goes to a good cause. The addition of the featured character stuffed animals allow children to retell the stories themselves.

The featured books and characters available currently include:

  • Curious George’s First Day of School and Curious George plush
  • Curious George’s Dinosaur Discovery and Dinosaur plush
  • Curious George and the Puppies and Puppy plush
  • Curious George Visits the Zoo and Kangaroo plush
  • Curious George Goes Camping and Moose plush (online exclusive)

Other items available include:

  • Curious George Backpack
  • Curious George Note Cards
  • Kids Treats Book
  • Taste of Home: The Busy Family Cookbook

Which book and character plush set would your child love the most?

Nurture Your Books Giveaway Hop {Balloonatiks Book Giveaway}

I am really excited to be participating in Nurture Your BOOKS blog hop to promote global literacy. Today’s giveaway is a perfect gift for boys in the 7-11 age range to get them excited about reading!

Book Summary: “If only they had listened to Nicole Gonzales…she was against the afterschool frog experiment in the first place. But now, in a high school science class, a chain of events has been set in motion and five ordinary teens- Nicole, Randy, Roosevelt, Sandy and Gary- have been transformed into Balloonatiks…rubbery, shape-stretching heroes, each of them with a special super power. In this first adventure, they must learn to set aside their differences and become a team. Because Hot Air City needs them! The book includes Professor Swellhead’s secret notebook! Get to know Flator, Squeeker, Sparky, Airbrian, Bouncer, and Leaky…the characters everyone is talking about!”

GIVEAWAY:

Balloonatiks book- The 1st Goopy, Goofy, Loopy Adventure by Erica Orloff

MANDATORY ENTRY:

Leave a comment telling me who you think would love to read this book.

FOR EXTRA ENTRIES:

1) Share this giveaway on a social network

2) Subscribe to my blog (look in the upper right hand corner)

3) Enter another one of my giveaways (they can be found here)

***

To find more blogs participating you can go HERE, to the host’s blog.

Giveaway ends November 25, 2011 at 11:59 EST. US Only.

(Disclosure: I received this book for free but was not compensated for this post.)

10 Fun Literacy Activities

Today is National Family Literacy Day!

Since 1994, National Family Literacy Day has helped communities celebrate the wonders of literacy and reminded people of the importance of literacy. The entire month is special as well – many families, programs and communities now join us in celebrating family literacy throughout the entire month. That’s right, November is National Family Literacy Month!

Here are ten fun activities to do with your children throughout the year:

1) National Children’s Book Week is November 13-19th. Read your child’s favorite book together and talk about what happened in the story afterwards.

2) National Cookie Day is December 4th. Make cookies with your child and use a recipe to talk about sequence. (ie. “first we have to preheat the oven, next we get the ingredients out”)

3) January is National Soup Month. Serve alphabet soup and spell words using the noodles in the soup.

4) The first day of Spring is March 21st. Help your child make a list of nature’s first signs of Spring and then go on a nature walk and have your child check off the signs that they see.

5) Mother Goose Day is May 1. Take turns reciting all the Mother Goose rhymes you can think of or read them from a storybook

6) June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. Ask your child to try to name a fruit or vegetable for each letter of the alphabet. Try to eat as many as you can during the month.

7) July is National Picnic Month. Use the newspaper to find a day that will be nice for a picnic.

8) The first Sunday in August is friendship day. Have your child write a letter to one of their friends.

9) September is Library-Card Sign Up Month. Take your child to get a library card if they don’t have one yet.

10) October is National Popcorn Popping Month. Enjoy popcorn with your child while your child makes a list of all their favorite things about popcorn.

These ideas came from the National Center For Family’s  Celebrate Literacy Calendar. Check it out because it has lots more ideas for activities to do with your children!

This post is linked to Oh Amanda’s Top 10 Tuesday.

Storytime At The UPS Store #ToysForTotsLiteracy

Early literacy is very important to me and has been for years. I took classes about it in college and made it a focus of my classroom when I taught Pre-Kindergarten. When I had the chance to organize a storytime to benefit the Toys For Tots Literacy Program I was really excited to participate and happy that another blogger, Paula of Frosted Fingers, could join me in planning a great event. We made a Facebook event for the storytime and invited all of our local friends who had young children. We also made flyers with our children. Since both my boys are young (1 and 2) I had my oldest color a white sheet of paper and then I added all of the information to it. I went to The UPS Store to copy it. One of the employees made the copies for me. I love the service at this store and even told the manager I’d be coming back next time I needed anything.

I used to think of The UPS Store as a place to ship packages and nothing more. I learned back at Christmas time that they had other services when I went in to ship a package to my sister. I used The UPS Store to make a bound book of art as a keepsake, too. This trip I noticed they made banners. I loved the one with a giraffe that was made into a growth chart. What a great idea! There was also a sign saying that the store could turn your picture into a canvas print. After that I was wondering if there was anything The UPS Store couldn’t do?

On Friday we had the storytime at The UPS Store. Melisa Wells, local author of the newly released book, Chicken In The Car and The Car Won’t Go, was our “celebrity” reader.  We found a little corner that was perfect for keeping attention spans. The cookies and juice helped, too! Melisa kept the children engaged through a number of short stories and the children really enjoyed listening to her read. After the storytime we collected money for the Toys For Tots Literacy Program. The children all dropped their money into a jar and then we put it all in the donation box on the counter. You can see those bills really filled it up!

Me, Melisa, and Paula

(Disclosure: This  project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias #ToysForTotsLiteracy. All opinions are my own.)

Guest Post: Avoiding The Summer Reading Slump

4708541783_73def324fa.jpegGuest contributor and MobiStories.com producer Wendy Toone, offers great tips on how your kids can avoid brain drain when they’re out of school. Take a look…

It’s Summertime! Catching fireflies, eating dinner on the deck, swimming, no school!!!

What have your kids been doing? Waking up late, lazing around in front of the TV? It’s nice to decompress after the school year. For a few days. But now what?? Camps, classes, playdates can fill up the days and keep the kids active and occupied. But my fear is always that their brains will turn to mush by mid-July, leaving them (and in turn, me) frustrated and floundering come mid-September when they’re back in school with flabby grey matter that hasn’t been exercised in way too long.

According to Kent State Graduate School of Education’s Dr. Timothy Rasinski, professor of literacy education, students can lose as much as 3 month’s worth of reading level over the summer. Research shows that younger elementary school students rarely make up deficits in reading once they fall behind. Conversely, students who read during the summer could end up 3 months ahead, too.

So, why not be even just a little pro-active in keeping your kids reading. That doesn’t mean they need to plow through “War and Peace” by August 24th. Here are just a few FUN ways reading can become part of your family’s summer fun activities:

Don’t fight TV: Kids insist on watching TV? Try letting them… with the sound off and the closed caption on (sneakyyyyy)

Act it out: Get the whole family in the act and tackle one of the classics as a play. How fun is “Charlotte’s Web” when every family member plays a different character and reads aloud…don’t forget to speak in accents and voices, use arm motions, whatever to have FUN.

Campfire stories: The art of storytelling is the original ‘reading’ before the printed page…. Everything sounds good around a fire – family memories, ghost stories, or fairy tales can captivate kids. Try a “make-it-up” story where everyone adds just one line at a time.”

Discover the classics : Treasuries of classic literature is available for even younger readers that may not be ready for the “real” version. Advanced readers can expand their world with the likes of Jules Verne and Mark Twain in addition to Stephenie Meyer and JK Rowling!

Log reading hours in a Read-A-Thon : Several non-profit groups such as Reading Is Fundamental and PBS Kids have read-a-thons that can be found on the web. Great goal-setting activity for the summer as well!

Use Your Local Library!! So many summer programs are available for all ages/reading levels. Story/song time for toddlers, book clubs for tweens and teens…And they’re FREE!

Organize a Book Swap: Get together with friends and neighbors to exchange previously read books. This allows the kids to read the latest titles (not always available at the library) while you save $$.

Get your kids excited about reading this summer by getting them excited about stories in new ways to keep them from suffering the “Summer Reading Slump.”

My Photo.jpeg

Wendy Toone is a child expert, having owned and operated a leading children’s fitness center and now produces MobiStories, Digital Books for KidsTM. She is a cableAce-award winning television producer and has worked on hundreds of television commercials as a Production Manager after spending a decade onstage as a professional dancer. Wendy’s two children have been inspirational in the creation of MobiStories.

To download a free digital book for your PC visit MobiStories.com, click on Summer (in the Ages 2 – 4 category) add it to the cart and Michelle Obama then enter the code SUM0710 in the Coupon Code Box. Here’s a How To video for reference as well.

To purchase more stories, visit Mobistories on iTunes.

(Disclosure: I am being compensated for posting this guest post. I do, however, believe that reading to children and keeping their literacy skills sharp during the summer are very important and I think that MobiStories.com is a great resource for families.)