Ciao Bambino!

I was asked to guest blog at the very cool Ciao Bambino, and my post is up now. The blog’s tagline is “Inspiring Families to Explore The World.”

Ciao Bambino has helped hundreds of families successfully experience the joys of traveling together in Europe and now our portfolio covers Hawaii, the Caribbean, and other popular tourist destinations. We don’t believe parents need to give up staying somewhere amazing just because they want to travel as a family!

That is one neat blog. It’s about traveling with kids, something I love and always look forward to doing more of — traveling with my kid, that is. It’s accessible, dream-inspiring, informative and sophisticated all at the same time. I am so impressed with that blog.

Ciao Bambino

My article is about being on “The Big Island of Hawaii with Kids” and it was fun to write. Have a look.


The Little Travelers

My young daughter likes to learn. She will tell you that. “I want to know about everything,” she says, “because I’m curious.”

When she was 3, I happened to read the book Lonesome Dove for the first time. What a wonderful book, and I loved it from that first great sentence. One day I clasped the book to my heart and told her, with feeling, “I am enjoying this book so much. I can’t wait until you are older so you can read it and enjoy it too.”

She listened with every pore and then smiled and told me, with great sincerity, “I will.” She meant it, and I believed her.

It is so satisfying, this business of having a child who loves to learn and experience, because there are so many things I want to share with her and she is all ears.

travelers-copyOne thing I want is for her to travel and see a bit of the world. So I was thrilled a couple years ago when I stumbled upon The Little Travelers, a series of DVDs by a southern California woman talented in video production who homeschools her two little girls and travels extensively with them.

The Little Travelers Production company was founded by Angelina Hart. The goal of the production company is to present the world to children in a format that they can easily receive. Through a variety of media we offer a travel documentary series designed specifically for children, yet interesting and appropriate for all ages.

Through the methods of basic field observation, rather than a scripted production, a rich and authentic experience is portrayed of each culture. The children portrayed in the series are not actors. We feel that by having children speak in a way that children naturally speak adds to the charm and authenticity of the childhood experience.

We offer a multicultural experience for those interested in travel and learning about other cultures and foreign countries. We hope to inspire all who come in contact with our products to have adventures of their own, whether in a foreign country or their own backyard. Happy traveling!

My mom got two of the DVDs for my daughter for Christmas that year when she was 3: The Little Travelers – Japan, and The Little Travelers – The British Isles.

We have watched them over and over and over. They are wonderful.

In each location, the mom and two kids rent a home and stay for several weeks. The unscripted, documentary-style movies explore, for instance, a Japanese home, and show what they eat there and what the bathrooms look like. The girls visit temples and play in cherry blossoms.

The two girls, who are perhaps 3 and 6? in the first movie, meet and play with local kids, even when they don’t speak the same language. They are not observers, but are participants.

In The British Isles, we watch as they go on a caravan adventure.

These movies show kids (and their parents) what it’s like to travel and live in another country. What it looks like there, how people live and what their history and legends are. In the Japan movie, they go to a school and the movie shows seven or eight kids teaching how to pronounce the same simple words, and laughing.

These are wonderful DVDs. When we traveled ourselves with one of the movies, and somehow lost the disk, it caused a bit of a crisis and we had to order it again.

Since then, The Little Travelers have taken other trips and now there are two more DVDs. I subscribe to their blog‘s feed, so I hear about the trips in progress and know when a new DVD is available. We have those now, too (Bali, and Iran).

Angelina Hart actually took her two young girls into Iran, and we got to see what the people are like there. I would never go into Iran in these times, but I’m thrilled to have gotten to see it through The Little Travelers’ eyes — and for it to be my daughter’s first look at Iran, too.

It was a movie not about politics, which is all that most of us know of Iran, but about the people and culture.

She and I look at these places on the globe, and when she hears one of them mentioned, she recognizes it.

“Indonesia?!” she’ll say. And I know she’s got pictures in her mind of The Little Travelers learning to throw clay on a pottery wheel there, and children in their traditional dress, dancing, as well as water buffalos walking through rice paddies.

Here is an interview with Angelina Hart, the girls’ mother and producer of the DVDs.

Watch video trailers of The Little Traveler DVDs here.

I highly recommend this series of DVDs, which is appropriate for the youngest kids and has been thoroughly enjoyed by every adult who has seen them with us, too. They make great gifts, too.


Caldecott Books

ox-cart-man1I am a reader. According to my grandmother, when I was young I would set my alarm clock for 30 minutes earlier than I needed to get up for school, just so I could read. I don’t remember that, and as I am also a sleeper I can hardly believe it (though I do).

I do remember that I would stand on my bed at night and rest my book on the windowsill, where I could read by the light of the moon.

Recently, through Facebook, I heard from a person I went all through elementary and high school with. He told me that he has a daughter now who is a voracious reader. He told me that growing up he’d never seen anyone who read so much and enjoyed books as much as I did, and now he sees the same thing in his own daughter. He told me that sometimes when he looks at her he is reminded of me.

I, too, have a child who loves books now, and it is a wonderful thing.

The kindergarteners at her school are doing a “Caldecott Challenge.” That’s where she and the other students have to read at least 10 Caldecott Medal books, and then they get to participate in a special something-or-other at the school’s library.

The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published that year. It was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. Together with the Newbery Medal, it is the most prestigious American children’s book award.

The school library has a bookshelf filled only with books that won the Caldecott Medal, and everyday we have been bringing one or two of those books home and reading them before bed.

What wonderful books. The librarian said something to me about how they do this Caldecott Challenge to introduce kids to other literature, so they aren’t only reading Arthur and Fancy Nancy.

I don’t mind Arthur or Fancy Nancy, but I am charmed to my toes reading most of these award-winning books with the beautiful illustrations. As is my daughter. We look at each picture, and discuss them, and talk about the story. We are really enjoying them together.

Here is a list of all the Caldecott winners (one per year). Really consider picking up some of these books for the children on your Christmas list, or buying from this list for birthdays. These beautiful children’s books are enriching our lives.

Some that we have read and enjoyed recently include:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • The Little House
  • The Little Island
  • A Tree Is Nice
  • Chanticleer and the Fox
  • May I Bring a Friend?
  • Noah’s Ark
  • Ox-Cart Man
  • The Polar Express
  • Lon Po Po
  • Grandfather’s Journey
  • Officer Buckle and Gloria
  • Rapunzel
  • Flotsam

We both especially liked (if we have to narrow it down) Ox-Cart Man and Flotsam. That was hard to narrow down, and really I’d like to add most of the other books to that list, too.

I know this assignment is for my daughter, but I truly feel like it’s for me, too, because I am enjoying the books so much. It’s like getting to be a kid all over again.