Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Read, Kiddo, Read!

Hey children's book fans- thanks to Mother Talk I've just heard about a great new site out there for those of us who aren't already tied into knots over our online commitments. READKIDDOREAD is a good source of book recommendations for the under 18 crowd, spearheaded by James Patterson, New York Times bestseller in both children's and adult fiction books. I have to admit that I'm not super impressed with the selection of picture books and younger books (and no Barefoot Books!), but the recommendations seem to fill a mostly empty niche: modern, edgy and relevant. There are many great books for young male readers, an audience often under-emphasized, from "Action/Adventure/Mystery" to "Just the Facts" (non-fiction). No book is off-limits, including graphic novels and fantasy genres. I've never been a huge fan of potty humor, but the Captain Underpants series has been unequivocably successful and not every kid can be expected to go straight for Odysseus. Patterson's mantra seems to be: if it gets kids reading, its good reading for kids. He's not alone in this sentiment. READKIDDOREAD has an impressive board of educators, writers and publishers of children's literature that influence the direction of this site.

Patterson isn't just thinking about kiddos; there is also virtual community associated with this site. The user-friendly discussion groups, open blogs and other features make the site more tantalizing for grown-ups than your average book-review (you'll find me there as Barefoot Tori). Though it's still in it's infancy, I hope READKIDDOREAD will grow to fill its niche as more people join, add reviews and discuss the joys of reading! I'm already on Goodreads and several other virtual communities, but the specific nature of this site drew me in. Encouraging kids to read seems to be the hot new topic among my friends, from My First Book to Books for Africa, there's a lot happening in the world of children's books! Kick your shoes off and dive in!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Barefoot Beats on the Beach

The unseasonably warm Autumn here in Central Oregon is putting a certain rhythm in my step and some sunshine in my heart. I've seen this video around the internet, so I have to take a moment to remind my faithful Barefoot friends that Barefoot Books has a partnership with Putumayo World Music. We sell all their "playground" and "dreamland" cds as well as several others. This version of "Five Little Monkeys" is on the Animal Playground CD. Kick off your shoes and check it out! *caution* this is a contagious little song!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Barefoot Tips: Traveling with Kids

Hello Barefoot friends!
This time of year always brings up memories of sleeping in the back of the station wagon (before seatbelt laws), cool crisp mornings at Grandma's house and the special thrill of spending time with family. My parents may have a different memory: trying to fit everything into the car, breaking up back-seat fights and endless potty-breaks. As a Barefoot Mom, I try to keep both perspectives in mind as we plan for our holidays. Here are some helpful tips to guard the joy in your holidays:

1) Set realistic expectations- Be ready to change your plan as needed. Being a caregiver requires a certain amount of flexibility. If traveling by car, give yourself a day of leeway. If traveling by plane, bring snacks, books and be early. Everywhere. Try not to overschedule your days and allow your children to assist in the planning process.

2) Be prepared- Carry a first aid kit, blankets and warm clothing. Stash some granola bars and water in your car. Have a map or GPS handy. Check your car's fluids and tire pressure at regular stops, especially if it's an unfamiliar vehicle.

3) Get a child's perspective- What will be the hardest part of the trip for your little ones? Is it the change in structure, the long periods of sitting, or just being in close proximity to an annoying sibling? Help them enjoy the trip as much as you do by heading off conflicts before they happen!

Here are some great Barefoot options for keeping kids happy on the road:

We All Go Traveling By Paperback Book & Music CD $9.99
Written by: Sheena Roberts
Illustrated by: Siobhan Bell

Siobhan Bell's colorful hand-stitched illustrations and the accompanying Music CD by popular singer Fred Penner are sure to get children singing along happily. This book brings together the things your young child sees out the window with a fun song that will make time fly on the road. We have many book and music cds that will entertain your kids for hours and will have you singing along before you hit the state line!

My Travel Journal: A World of Activities $9.99
Includes to-do lists, book lists, maps, games, word searches and more! Any young traveller (recommended age 7 and up) would love to carry this journal along on their travels. We also have lots of great puzzles, puppets!

Barefoot Books also carries re-usable vinyl sticker play-scenes that will keep younger hands busy for hours, like our Map of the World and On the Farm play scenes. Only $8.99. Puppets and puzzles are a hit, too!

Tired of the same old coloring books? Ready to foster creativity and literacy skills in your children? Take a look at our new activity books! Dotty Spotty Doodles and Zig Zag Zebra each contain 24 pages of activities for kids: mazes, coloring pages, seek-and-finds, free-drawing and more! Only $6.99.

Of course there are zillions more books, puzzles, puppets and even FREE printable activity sheets on my website! Now is a great time to stock up for your holiday travels. Enjoy a 10% discount when you click the banner at the top of this blog. I hope you are celebrating the autumn season, wherever you live. Jump in some leaves with your kids, and remember to...

Live Barefoot!

Friday, October 10, 2008

When a Story is More than Just a Story

I realized recently that Storytelling can be much more than a way to pass time or something to do when there are no books around -- however improbable that may be since I'm the Barefoot Books lady. I have many memories of lying in my own bed as a child listening to stories, my eyes fighting to stay open against the pull of my imagination.
A few weeks ago June was accidentally exposed to a scary part of Finding Nemo. The scene where Nemo's dad and Dory run into the sharks having a support group meeting is a little disturbing at first glance: all you see is rows and rows of shark teeth and there are definitely scary undertones. We explained carefully that the shark was not going to eat anyone and he was, in fact, a good shark who chose to be gentle with his teeth. Which is true. We skipped the next part where he got a taste of Dory's blood and went berserk.
For the next few weeks June kept asking for stories about sharks and Nemo and fish in general. After endless renditions of gentle sharks seeking approval from family members who just don't understand and some tales of improbable friendships, June finally let it go. She still likes to hear "Nemo Stories" but has moved back to her safe and always available "Princess June" stories.
Storytelling is such a great exercise for my brain as well as June's. Trying to remember the rules of a good story often get me into trouble. Spontaneous storytelling is just more fun! June has an incurable habit of "steering" the story by inserting a who, what or where in the middle of my story. If you've ever tried to tell a story about a fish, a princess, some cookies and a pumpkin patch, you know what I'm talking about. So, here's to late autumn nights in dark bedrooms when sleepy eyes fight against dreamtime and here's to moms and dads who tell stories to their kids. Keep up the good work! Somewhere in that unfathomable childhood imagination, there is some serious work going on. Character building, acceptance of differences, and a greater understanding of the world may be just one story away. Now that's Living Barefoot!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fun ways for Moms to Go Barefoot!

One of my favorite things about being a mom is getting to know other moms. I'm involved with MOPS, Mothers of Preschoolers. Our group is comprised of 50+ women who meet twice a month for much-needed Mommy time! If there's anyone who understands the pressures of being a mom, it's Barefoot Books. This company began because two moms wanted to be able to stay home with their kids, while doing something challenging and worthwhile that would contribute to their children's creativity and intellectual development. We moms like to get together outside of MOPS, sometimes with our kids and sometimes without. So, here are some fun ways MOPS can go Barefoot!

1) A Barefoot Playdate~ Kick off your shoes and dance to a Barefoot beat! I've never met a kid that didn't love to boogie with Animal Boogie! Sing-along with other fun books, or just let the kids play. I have puzzles, puppets, musical instruments and activity sheets as well as lots of fun books for kids to browse. While the kids are busy, moms can get started with some early holiday shopping or enjoy some everyday multitasking as we chat, eat, drink and laugh together.

2) Moms Night In~ Brew some coffee, tea or cocoa, or have some yummy mixed drinks, and put your shoes up, Barefoot style! Enjoy hearing a beautiful folk-tale or two while sipping on a yummy beverage. Feel your creativity being reborn as you daydream your way through our catalog and display items with complete relaxed, childless leisure.

3) Barefoot Storyteller Workshop~ Leave your littlest ones at home, or come alone, and learn about the art of good storytelling. We'll have fun while learning about the construction of a good story, what works and what doesn't, how to engage your children in your stories, and some practice storytelling! Buy and browse fun books now that you're excited about good stories!

4) Barefoot Puppet Fun~ Invite some creativity into your life with puppets! Watch a little puppet show with your kids then help them create some puppets of their own out of household items and generic craft supplies. Read or sing a few stories and browse the books!

5) Barefoot Art Class~ Wear your grubby clothes, kick off your shoes and meet together in an outdoor space for some creative fun! We'll paint murals, sculpt with clay, and express our creative side while singing along to some fun Barefoot tunes. Moms can kick off their shoes along with the kids and get their creative juices flowing!

If you love these ideas and want to implement them in your own mom's group or community, contact me and we'll talk!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Jumping into Fall with a Little Leap Forward!

I just received a box of Barefoot Books in the mail...this sentence makes me happy in so many ways. Beyond the obvious, that I love books, I'm also really excited about what Barefoot Books can mean to our children and our communities. Living Barefoot is about so much more than buying or selling books. Living Barefoot can also mean encouraging a budding poet or artist, not just in our children, but within ourselves. Our new chapter book in the young fiction category is a read that will inspire musicians, artists and cultural revolutionaries, alike. Little Leap Forward: A Boy in Beijing is about a young boy growing up during the cultural revolution when it must have felt that the world had turned upside down. The New York Times Sunday Book Review did the book justice by recognizing "how Little Leap Forward bears witness with the eye of a poet, the ear of a musician and the transformative imagi­nation of a storyteller."
This book is more memoir than fiction, and author and musician, Guo Yue, tells a beautiful story of a young musician feeling his way through a tumultuous cultural song.
Barefoot Books continues to stun me with it's cultural awareness, environmental consciousness, and an inexorable eye towards what children love, and always within the framework of amazing art and well-told story. As always, you can find these books and much more on our website.
Here's a video of Guo Yue reading an excerpt of the book and talking a little more about his childhood. Enjoy!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time there was a girl who kept a flashlight under her pillow. Once upon a time there was a boy who had a fort, stocked with his favorite books. Once upon a time you had a story, too. Take a moment to watch this introduction to Barefoot Books and see if your story is a Barefoot story. Maybe you'll remember the feeling of grass between your toes or bark against your feet. Maybe you'll start keeping a flashlight under your pillow, again. Maybe you'll begin to see your own children build forts of pillows and blankets as your tv becomes dusty and outdated. Dream a Barefoot dream.