Today, we're giving away two copies of Listen to the Birds: An Introduction to Classical Music, book/CD set that is introduces kids to classical music through the discovery of similarities between notes produced by instruments and birdsong. The accompanying CD offers excerpts of 20 different recordings performed by world-class orchestras.
To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this post, and include your email in Disqus (not publicly) so that we can contact you!
Additional entries will be given for the following (leave an extra comment for each action to let us know):
We are fortunate to have so many film festivals in the Pacific Northwest because they give us the opportunity to experience films – and cultures, languages and stories – we wouldn't otherwise be exposed to. The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), which runs from May 16 through June 9, is the largest film festival in the United States, and this year's program offers an interesting variety of family-friendly cinema.
In addition to special festival previews of big summer Hollywood movies like Epic and Monsters University, the Films4Families program at SIFF will screen features from France, Germany, and Japan as well as a large sampling of short films from all over the world – 20 movies, features and shorts in all.
To help you plan your family's movie-going fun we've organized our SIFF guide by the weekends when all the family films will be shown. There is a diverse mix of films in this lineup and we encourage you to go beyond your expectations and seek out something new (Ernest & Celestine) or old (Safety Last!)
SIFF family picks, May 18 and 19
Epic May 18, 10:30 a.m., Pacific Place Cinemas
May 19, 4 p.m., Pacific Place Cinemas
The first weekend of the festival kicks off with a preview of Epic, the latest film from Blue Sky Studios, the people who brought us Ice Age and Rio. A girl finds herself magically transported to the world of tiny leaf people and caught in a battle between good and evil. It's based on William Joyce's book The Leaf Menand the Brave Good Bugs. The Blue Sky folks have proven with films like Horton Hears a Who that they know what they're doing when they adapt a children's book, or create a compelling fantasy world, and Epic looks like it will continue this success. Length and rating: 90 minutes. Rated PG for mild action, some scary images, and brief rude language
Ernest & Celestine is a French animated feature about a mouse who dreams of one day meeting a bear and the unlikely friendship that develops when her dream comes true. The hand-painted animation, evocative of a children's book illustration brought to life, is becoming increasingly rare in our 3D animated world. Ernest & Celestine is an opportunity to experience a charming story in a unique and engaging way. Length and rating: 79 minutes. All ages, recommended for children over 6. In French with English subtitles.
One of the happy discoveries I made as a new parent was that children’s books are often deeply philosophical. Children’s authors seem aware of children’s philosophical propensities in ways most of us are not. Books by Arnold Lobel, Leo Lionni, Eleanor Estes, E.B. White, Natalie Babbitt, William Steig and many others all raise philosophical questions in ways both familiar to and engaging for children (and adults).
As you’re reading picture books and other children’s literature with your children, it’s natural to ask your child what questions the story makes him or her think about. If a story seems to you to raise a particularly interesting topic, you can point it out by asking your child, for example, “So what do you think makes someone a friend?” “Do you think you’d want to live forever?”
For example, take Arnold Lobel’s story “Dragons and Giants" in Frog and Toad Together, one of my favorites. In that story, Frog and Toad begin to wonder if they are brave. They decide to find out by trying to climb a mountain. In the course of this adventure, they escape snake and hawk attacks and run away from an avalanche. After each encounter they shout, “We are not afraid!”
After the final challenge, Frog and Toad run back to Toad’s house, where Frog hides in the closet and Toad jumps into bed and pulls the covers over his head. They comment that they are each glad that they know such a brave person like the other. They stay where they are for a long time, “just feeling very brave together.”
Are Frog and Toad brave? Can you be brave and afraid at the same time? If bravery is doing something that intimidates or scares you, is fear always part of bravery? Can you be brave if you aren’t afraid? Does bravery involve what you feel inside, or what you do, or both?
Or read Lobel’s story “Cookies,” in the same book. Here, Frog and Toad keep eating cookies that Toad baked. They note that they should stop eating them, and they agree a couple of times to stop after one last cookie. Frog observes that what they need is will power.
“What is will power?” asks Toad. Frog responds that it is “trying hard not to do something that you really want to do.”
Frog puts the cookies in a box, but when Toad points out that the box can be opened, Frog ties a string around the box. Frog takes more and more steps to make sure that they cannot get to the cookies and finally feeds them to the birds, telling Toad that now they have “lots and lots of will power.”
What is will power? Do Frog and Toad have it in the story? Is Frog right that will power is “trying hard not to do something that you really want to do?”
Recently I had an interesting discussion with a group of second-grade students about this question, and they noted that will power doesn’t always involve trying not to do something but can sometimes mean trying to do something you might not want to do. They pointed out that sometimes it takes will power to do their homework math problems.
We also wondered together about whether you can have will power even when you’re not using it. Can part of you want to do something and part of you not want to do it? The children were really interested in the idea that we have multiple selves with sometimes conflicting desires.
From the moment parents find out a baby is on the way, we make an endless number of decisions about how we will care for the new arrival. Hours are spent considering whether to breastfeed or formula-feed, to use cloth diapers or disposable, not to mention the hand-wringing that attends the question of who will care for the child while parents work! The discussion on what it means to raise a, for example, Jewish, African American, Indian or Latino child in American culture often does not occur until much later. Whether a family is actively part of one cultural group or religion, an interfaith family or minimally connected to a religious or cultural group, the choices about how we want to include culture in family life should be deliberate and intentional. How do we, as parents, help our children develop cultural identity?
The first step is for parents to be clear on their goal. We cannot pass on to our children that which we are not clear-minded about ourselves. If we marry someone of the same religion or culture, it may seem likely to eliminate these conflicts. “We are both Jewish, African American, or Christian, so there is no need to discuss how we are going to raise the kids.” What we fail to recognize is that, like any group identity, we all have our own unique experience of what it means to be part of a particular religion or cultural group. Interfaith families, on the other hand, typically have these conversations much sooner, as they are well aware that they grew up with different traditions.
As we think about how to incorporate culture and religion into the lives of our children, it is important to explore our own childhood experiences. What rituals and traditions brought you joy and which did you avoid? How did you feel connected to your cultural identity as a child? When we have explored these questions ourselves, it becomes much easier to pass along those traditions and values to our children.
Summer is coming and while we have our fingers crossed for lots of warm sunny days there are bound to be a few rainy afternoons that will be perfect for a trip to the movies. Here's a handy list to help you plan your summer.
I've broken this list into two parts — the more all-ages appropriate films that are likely to be rated PG (believe it or not, most of these films are not yet rated) and the somewhat more intense movies that will be more appropriate for tweens and teens.
Looking at the releases scheduled for this summer there are not a lot my munchkins will be clamoring for but Epic is one film that my daughter has announced we will be going to see early and often. She’s nuts about fairies and this has the kind of arboreal fantasy world that is right up her alley. As a non-sequel it does promise to be a bit more original than many of the other films this summer and it’s produced by the studio that created Ice Age, Rio, and Horton Hears a Who so it has a good pedigree.
I’m not sure what to make of this one. It’s Pixar, so that’s good considering their continuing record of quality storytelling. However, it’s been 12 years since Monsters Inc. and it feels a little like the well was running dry and they said, “Hey, people liked Monsters Inc. let’s do more with that one!” I’m going to trust the laurels Pixar may be resting on and give this a shot.
I am not a fan of the original Despicable Me. I felt it had a lot of story problems and the characters were weak. On the other hand, my kids loved it and they can’t wait for this one. Not least because the little yellow minion guys are featured prominently in the trailers and my son is always excited when a movie includes a submarine car.
So there are plenty of jokes in this summer’s movies about snails and/or slugs, or slug-like creatures — let’s just say gastropods in general to save time. They’re slow but they think they’re fast; they need to hurry so they make running movements/noises and go nowhere. And this particular snail wants to race in the Indy 500. I’m having trouble picturing how they resolve the problem of showing a life-size snail racing next to life-size cars. I hope they succeed; this one is from DreamWorks so it has a chance.
Today, we have another awesome giveaway associated with our new BabyMap portal: a $100 gift package from Washington GET, Washington's 529 plan, which you can use at nearly any public or private college in the country.
The gift basket includes a $50 enrollment fee waiver to Washington GET, as well as a baby T-shirt, bath thermometer, baby calendar, diapers, wipes, bath soap and lotion.
How to enter the giveaway:
It's easy! Just leave a comment on this post about your favorite current baby or toddler product. Include your email in the comment form so that we can contact you if you are the winner.
Additional entries will be given for the following (leave an extra comment for each action to let us know):
This giveaway ends Friday, May 17, at noon. We will leave a comment reply for the winner by the end of the day.
Make sure to check back to see if you've won if you haven't already heard from us by email!
And be sure to hop over to our new BabyMap site for the latest baby/pregnancy news and resources, including baby sleep tips, hottest apps for new parents, monthly milestones that matter, and much more.
And don't miss our upcoming BabyMap events (May 15 and 18) featuring leading relationship expert Dr. Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., who will offer valuable advice on the transition to parenthood and ways to stay close and connected to your partner.