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The little book with BIG resources!

A Kansas City Family’s Guide to Read Across America

There are National holidays happening every single day throughout the year but one of my favorites is Read Across America day, which is coming up SOON on March 2nd, 2018. We’ve got some ideas for how your family can get involved right here in Kansas City today on the blog. If your kids aren’t avid readers yet, no worries, take a look at the scoop on ways to grow a reader also on the blog.

Whether your family is full of active readers or you’re just getting your feet wet when it comes to sharing the love for literacy, we want to encourage you to celebrate the day and join in as we Read Across America right here in KC. Take a look…

Read Across America Kansas City

The Read Across America Program was launched in 1998 as a way to encourage literacy in schools and at home. Sponsored for by the National Education Association(NEA) it has spread like wildfire encouraging kids to read 365 days per year with a special kick off on March 2nd. The mascot has been commonly associated with the famed character from the Dr. Seuss series, otherwise known as The Cat in the Hat.

Read Across America in Kansas City

This celebration of reading aligns with the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Around the country there are events to be found highlighting literacy such as library programs, online events, school collaborations and more. Teachers and parents are encouraged to partake in this program by involving students in a variety of reading materials, fun activities and so on. You can even plan your own event! So why am I sharing this information with you?

I feel that this is a special day where we can all be reminded of the importance of reading and literacy in our communities and I have taken some time to look for ways that you can celebrate this event at home and in the classroom. If you don’t want to plan an event be sure to look for one in your area!

How can you get started?

So how can you get started? By taking the Reading Pledge, of course! You can sign up as an individual or as a group and pledge participate and read

Once you have made your pledge to plan for reading in your home or school or program, then you can look for some great resources, books and literacy building activities that are fun and engaging. If you need a few monthly ideas then you can download this resource calendar with activities that you can do all year long!

Next on the list, I should explain that while Read Across America features Dr. Seuss they are also looking to spread diversity in reading. You can read from different genres, cultures, styles or topics as long as you are committed to reading. Check out these great ideas for diverse books.

Head Over to the Library

Plan a trip to your local library in Kansas City to grab books or discover special story time activities for families happening throughout the month.

Mid-Continent Public Library branches all across the metro area have story time sessions for babies and families available on March 2nd to help you celebrate the day. Check out their event calendar online for details on sessions happening near your home.

Beyond March 2nd, your local library is an amazing resource for your family. Check out our previous post on fun at the library in KC each month.

Planning an event at home

If you are interested in planning your own event at home, in the classroom or in the community there are a list of free items that you can choose from to get started. Find visuals, ads, posters, banners, and even reading certificates as well as directions on how to plan your own event, tips and background information sheets that can help answer questions for those attending online here.

Seussville is a great website where you can get lots of great reading activities, printables, guides and even lesson plans that you can use to encourage reading in a Seuss themed way.

Additionally, you can usually find a live video of a celebrity reader on March 2nd in the morning around 9am. Or you can watch live video from years past by searching the NEA site. If you want to stay up to date on current NEA information and the book of the month then you can follow their Facebook page.

 “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.”

From iFamily to Yours,


Beat The Summer Slide: A How To Guide

Avoiding the summer slide can be difficult, especially when your children are eager to get out and enjoy pool time, run around with friends, and get away for that much needed family vacation. Make sure that your child doesn’t fall behind before the new school year starts with these six simple (and fun) ideas from Erin. Take a look…

beat the summer slide with six steps

 Beat The Summer Slide: A How To Guide

School is out for the summer!  My kids and I are embracing summertime full force with picnics, parks, pool time, and nature walks. We are loving summer and I know the “official start” to summer may be up for debate but it has definitely started in our house!  I definitely plan on sharing some super fun summer activities and boredom busters later on this season! However, I thought it was important to share with you some tips on beating the summer slide, where knowledge and skills are lost over the course of summer.  I read a statistic recently that said when kids go back to school in the fall that teachers will spend around six weeks re-teaching old material to make up for lost time.  My kids’ education is so important to me, so hearing that stat made me think about some ways to beat that summer slide and keep the kids learning and on track for the next school year.  Take a look at some ideas here and feel free to add your own ideas below in the comments.

#1 Read

Read 20 minutes a day. Read aloud. Have your child read to you. Listen to audio books. Lead by example and encourage your kids to read by enjoying a book yourself. Let your child pick out a book based on their own interests.  Read outside on sunny days or build a fort on rainy days and read inside the fort. Make it fun and engaging!

#2 Visit The Local Library

The MCPL branches have a fantastic summer learning program going on now until July 31st for ages birth to 19 years!  Kids can earn points by reading, doing small various activities at home and attending programs throughout the summer. Book prizes are awarded with each completed level and drawings are taking place throughout the summer for tickets to the Royals, Legoland, Powell Gardens, Coco Key, and much much more! Check it out and sign up online.

#3 Sharpen Math Skills

There are some awesome math apps out there like Reflex, which uses fun games to practice math skills.  You can also create good ole fashioned flash cards for addition and subtraction, multiplication and division facts.  Workbooks and activity books can be fun for road trips or for the daily commute. I’ve found some great flashcards and workbooks at Dollar Tree and Five Below.

#4 Take Field Trips

KC has SO many things to do for kids! Make it fun and educational by visiting fun places: Union Station and Science City, Money Museum, SEALIFE, KC Zoo, Harry S. Truman museum, Burr Oak Woods, National WWI Museum and the list goes on and on.

Pro Tip: Check out FieldTripGuideKC.com for inspiration on enriching activities for your kids! 

#5 Learn Around The House

Use everyday tasks you can encourage your kids to learn different things.  Take the kids grocery store and give them a chance to practice math skills, cook together, do fun science experiments with everyday household items, measure things inside and outside the house, chart the weather highs and lows and different weather patterns.

#6 Play Board Games

Uno, Monopoly, Bananagrams, Battleship, Memory, Hi Ho Cherry-O, Checkers and Chess, Dominoes are all great games to boost brain power!

By providing opportunities for your kiddos to keep learning throughout the summer months, you will give them an excellent head start to school in the fall and have some fun in the meantime!  And the teachers will thank you for it too!

From iFamily to Yours,


Growing a Reader: How to Begin Healthy Reading Habits at Home

Happy Monday, Kansas City! One of the best activities to focus on in this winter months is reading. I’m sure a lot of us want to help our kiddos develop healthy reading habits, and our Mom Squad Ambassador, Erin, has some great tips to start those habits today. Check it out!

Growing a Reader: How to Begin Healthy Reading Habits at Home


How to Begin Healthy Reading Habits at Home


One of my main resolutions for 2017 is to read more! Reading takes you to far off places without ever having to leave your living room! Reading expands our knowledge of the world around us. Reading is the foundation of learning and education. And it is just plain fun! I love to read and I definitely have not been doing near enough. Life just gets in the way sometimes! I’m currently participating in the MCPL Winter Reading Challenge for adults and that is motivating me to keep reading! The love of reading really does start at home. I’d like to share a few tips on healthy reading habits that work for my family and they will probably work for yours too!


Start early

Babies love interactive touch and feel board books, flap books, colorful books, and books with faces and black and white patterns. Reading to your baby is a great way to spend time together. They will love hearing your voice while you read aloud and extra cuddle time is nice too!


Visit the library weekly

I have taken my kids to the library since they were around 6 months old, every week or so. The library is a fantastic resource in our community! MCPL offers weekly story time for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and families. They have numerous branches around the KC area. And what is better than FREE books? My family loves coming home with armfuls of books!


Notice your child’s interests

Have your child pick out books that interest them. They will be more inclined to read if it is a topic or character of their own choosing. It only makes sense. As adults we too would get bored or uninterested easily if we chose a book we didn’t really like.

Set an example for your children

Show him that reading is important. If your child sees you reading, they will want to do the same.


Create a cozy space for reading time in your home

My kids and I usually all pile in my bed 3-4 times a week and read together. Everyone gets their own pillows and blankets and it seems to create a calming effect for my wild monkeys!


Read aloud to your children no matter what age they are

This is a big one! Reading aloud is one of the most important things you can do to improve your child’s literacy. It introduces them to new, more challenging words. Children who are read to become better listeners. Reading aloud also gives you a chance to bond with your older child and opens the door to new subjects (possibly tough ones) that they may not have chosen to read about themselves.


Turn the TV off and put your phone down

This may be difficult but it can be done! We have a constant need to be connected to the outside world every minute of the day. However, our kids need us to connect with them. So, turn off the TVs, phones, tablets and connect to a whole new world inside of a book!


How to foster good reading habits in your home? We’d love to hear in the comments!

From iFamily to Yours,






Check Out 18 of the Best Children’s Books by Age Group

Hello, Kansas City! With all the time spent indoors during the winter, it’s an excellent time to reignite a love of reading in our kiddos. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Sarah, has a great list to get you started of great books for children from very young to teen. Take a look!

Check Out 18 of the Best Children's Books by Age Group

Check Out 18 of the Best Children’s Books by Age Group


My topic this week is supposed to be 18 of the best children’s books. But what does that mean? Most popular? Of all time? For ages 3-5, newborn, (ugh!) teens? Honestly, I was lost and didn’t know where to start. So where do you go if you need answers…yes first I went to Google but then went back to my roots and actually went to the library! Yep! An honest to goodness brick and mortar with windows and doors library. When I walked in, a very nice woman introduced herself as a librarian and said that she could help me find what I needed. I thanked her and tried to remember her name so I could send her a fruit basket later and headed to the children’s section.

I’m joking—at least about the library part. I am actually a passionate advocate for reading and the library is one of my girls’ and mine more popular date spots! But I was still lost about the topic, so here is my attempt of a list of the best books for kids. Some I did find on lists of well-respected journalists and papers, some from those in the “biz” of teaching kids and some I just had from my own list of loves. I am by no means an expert and I haven’t even come close to reading every book on the planet. But one thing I do know, I am a passionate reader and I want to instill that in my kids. I would much rather build their personal libraries than give them gifts and hope that one day they will appreciate that. Hopefully you can take this list and add it to your own families’ reading list.


Younger kids


Check Out 18 of the Best Children's Books by Age Group // iFamilyKC Blog


#1 Owl Moon by: Jane Yolen

When I was a kid, I thought it would be the coolest thing to go out on a snowy night with my parents. I can just imagine the cool air and the quiet. Now that I am older it seems this could be the thing of nightmares! What if I freeze? What if I come across a serial killer or a rabid wolf? Still, it’s a beautiful book—and a classic!


#2 The Giving Tree by: Shel Silverstein

ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITES! And no one understands why. I think because the relationship between the boy and the tree can be taken so many different ways. Is the tree taking care of the boy? Or should the tree have told the boy to go out, get a job, and figure out how to do things for himself? It’s up for interpretation, but such a great quick read!

#3 The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by: Jon Scieszka

My girls love this book. Every night this is on our list. And I think I like it too because of the different viewpoint—from the Wolf. He just needed a simple cup of sugar for his dear granny’s birthday cake! There is always two sides to a story!


#4 Harold and the Purple Crayon by: Crockett Johnson



#5 Make Way for Ducklings by: Robery McCloskey

I always remember this one from school and I am not sure why, the simple story of a family of ducks in a Boston park and their journey to find a new home that is safe to raise a family. What was kind of cool is when I visited Boston last year for work, I took a whole bunch of pictures of the same park (they have a statue for the ducks and everything) and then made kind of a photo album out of the book and my real pictures for my girls, they thought this was so cool!


#6 The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Back by: Drew Daywatt


#7 There’s a Giraffe in my Soup by: Ross Burach


Just a fun read. And really great for those younger kids because they can interact with the story by naming the animals and making the animal sounds.

#8 The Paper Bag Princess by: Robert Munsch


If you have a daughter or if you just need a reminder that we are strong independent women then give this one a read. Just another view of the typical princess story and gives a fun interpretation. Definitely on my list of favorites.


#9 School’s First Day of School by: Adam Rex

#10 Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by: Virginia Lee Burton


A classic that still speaks to modern themes. Industrialism, new machines and technology taking over for older models. If you find a copy it is guaranteed to have that old book smell, but worth it!


#11 Bedtime for Frances by: Russell Hoban


Young Adult


Check Out 18 of the Best Children's Books by Age Group // iFamilyKC Blog


#12 Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter by: Astrid Lindgren

From the author of Pippi Longstocking, this is a good one for those aged 8-12, again it’s an oldie but a goodie. A wild-haired girl, a forbidden friendship and a war just to top it all off. Great, quick read for a book report if you teachers want something that maybe hasn’t been done over and over again!

#13 Inspector Flytrap by: Tom Angleberger and Cece Bell

A really cute series for ages 6-9 years old. It’s got everything, humor, mystery but still silly enough to be interesting to younger kids. I have heard from several kids in this age group that these are just “awesome!”

#14 The Wild Robot by: Peter Brown


#15 The Serpent King by: Jeff Zentner



Check Out 18 of the Best Children's Books by Age Group // iFamilyKC Blog

#16 The Girl from Everywhere by: Heidi Heilig

Leave an anonymous note to your teen to check out this book. This is the first in a series about a time- traveling sixteen year old who travels the globe and has to fight for everything, including her very own existence. It may even get your teens interested in history again.


#17 Outrun the Moon by: Stacey Lee


#18 The First Time she Drowned by: Kerry Kletter


I found this one on a “Teen” list but warning: it deals with some pretty heavy topics including mental health and family issues. I suppose I can’t be that naïve to think that teens don’t go through this every day! It is a beautifully written story about an eighteen year old just trying to control the demons of her present to untangle the past. I would recommend, reading this too; could be an eye opener to how we interact with our own teenagers!

What are some of your family’s favorite books? Please, share in the comments!

From iFamily to Yours,






5 Ways to Encourage Children to Read at Home

Hello, Kansas City! With the school year back in full swing, any parent knows the importance of reading. Reading begins a lifelong relationship between kids and learning, and is the foundation of success. Our Mom Squad Ambassador lays out 5 simple ways to encourage children to read at home. Start early and the benefits will reap for years to come. Check it out!

5 Ways to Encourage Children to Read at Home


5 Ways to Encourage Children to Read at Home


Reading is probably the single most important thing a child can learn. Opportunity knocks when I child has mastered reading. So, what are some ways you can encourage reading in your home? Check out these tips and feel free comment with your own suggestions!


  • Make reading fun

    Go to the library and get your child their very own library card. This is a huge deal for kids and they will love it! Let your child choose books at their reading level and ones they are interested in. Kids will be more likely to read if the book is something they like.


  • Read together

    A few times a week before bed my kids and I gather up a few books and pile in my bed for some reading time. I recently started reading some small chapter books like Charlotte’s Web and The BFG to the kids.


  • Set the example

    I love diving in to a good book! You show your kids how much fun and exciting reading can be by reading yourself.


  • Rinse and Repeat

    Well maybe not rinse but definitely REPEAT. Kids love to read the same books over and over again. Repetition is important because they memorize the words in the book and can eventually master putting the sounds together to form words.


  • Start early

    This may sound crazy but I started reading to my children when they were in the womb. I would read my books aloud instead of silently. If you have the opportunity, take your kids to storytime at the library. MCPL offers storytime from birth to school age and also a family storytime. We started taking my daughter to storytime around 6 months old.


From iFamily to Yours,



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Valentine’s Day Books

The typical gift for Valentine’s Day is something cuddly or chocolate. How about changing it up a little bit this year. There are some great books that you can read with your little Valentine to make the day extra special. There is no better gift then that quality time with you. Here are a few at the top of my list:



Valentine’s Day Books
Submitted by Mom Squad Blogger
Keri Nichol


2013 List of Children’s Holiday Book Must Haves

New Rendition of The Night Before Christmas


The Night Before Christmas

by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Charles Santore (Applesauce Press, 2011). Moore’s classic poem about Saint Nick reappears in multiple editions each season, but Santore’s illustrated version is this year’s winner, full of big pictures that bring kids face-to-face with Santa, and, most powerfully, his reindeer.

The Third Gift Holiday Book


The Third Gift

by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Bagram Ibatouline (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011). Park, a Newbery medalist, finds a new tale to tell between the lines of the Nativity story, about a boy in the Arab desert learning his father’s trade, cultivating myrrh, and preparing an order for three wise men who tell him it will be one of three gifts for a baby.

The Snowy Day 50th Anniversary Edition


The Snowy Day

by Ezra Jack Keats, 50th Anniversary Edition (Viking, 2011). What many critics consider one of the greatest picture books of all time, Keats’ Snowy Day is being honored with a deluxe 50th-anniversary edition this season. If your grandchildren have never experienced a bedtime reading of this simple story’s combination of perfect cadence and cheerful images, you owe them a copy.

Some New Releases this November 2013

The Bakers Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shephard

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Frosty the Snowman by Steven Nelson

The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore

Resources for the 2013 List of Children’s Holiday Book Must Haves:


KD’s Books

If you know me, you know one of my favorite things in life is books.  I love to read, and I love to share my love of reading with my kids.  During my younger years, I wanted to be a children’s book author and illustrator—in fact when I headed off to college I declared my major as English and Art to do just that.  I, however, changed my career course a few years later, but I still love the thought of living in the world of children’s books just as much as I did then.  That is why when I heard about local author Ann Ingalls coming to KD’s Books to share her new book Ice Cream Soup, I jumped at the chance to go.  I loved the idea of my kids meeting a real-life author and hearing her read her own story.


The event came at the perfect time.  Lately, to interest my son in letters and writing his own name, I had been checking out books from the library about writing and stories.  My hope was that he would see how much fun the characters in the book had with learning to write and want to try it himself.  We read Arthur Writes a Story, a classic Marc Brown tale.  Here you can see my son’s Arthur-inspired story.

So that Saturday, we headed out to meet Ms. Ingalls and listen to her read her story.  KD’s Books had arranged that those who bought an Ann Ingalls book would receive a free ice cream treat from Poppy’s Ice Cream & Coffee House as well!  Poppy’s has my favorite ice cream: Gianduja.  (Gianduja is a chocolate-hazelnut flavor that you must put on your Summer Bucket List to try.  And you can thank me later.)

Quite a few gathered for the reading, kids ages 1 (my son) to 2nd grade.  Being a former teacher, Ms. Ingalls did a great job engaging everyone in the crowd.  She had prepared some fun songs and finger plays about ice cream that the kids enjoyed before she read her book.  Ice Cream Soup really is a cute rhyming story about a young boy that takes so long to prepare his ice cream just right that it becomes ice cream soup instead.  After the story, Ms. Ingalls got out some bowls, ice cream scoops and “ice cream” (colored Ping-Pong balls) for a fun ice-cream-scooping game.

Here we are posing with Ms. Ingalls who was so gracious to sign our books, answer everyone’s questions, and encourage all the kiddos gathered to write their own stories.

And of course we walked on over to Poppy’s for our free ice cream to complete our ice cream filled day!  A perfect way to pass a summer Saturday.

Be sure to like KD’s Books Facebook page to stay updated on all events like these—it is a great place to support local business and local authors.  Or the next time you are in the store, sign up for their email newsletter—that is how I heard about this particular event.  And do not miss out on their Fall Open House coming August 23-25.  My favorite place to buy birthday gifts for kiddos is there—the employees can help you find the perfect book, and puppets or toys and gadgets to go along with it!  I have enjoyed shopping at KD’s Books since I was a child, and now my two sons love it too.  Of course, more than shopping for books, they love to play with the Thomas the Train table set up for little shoppers.  What is your favorite local bookstore?  Where did you find the best books when you were a kid?

KD’s Books  (816) 525-1366

Locally owned and operated, serving the Lee’s Summit area for over 20 years!

Hours:   Monday-Friday 10:00am-6:00pm

Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm