Dear Fellow Journalers,

I once walked into a bookstore in Virginia and never wanted to leave. I live in New England (USA) and while there are still great barns and antique shops, quaint book stores are NOT the norm. The bookstores I’m talking about have a great book selection along with comfy chairs, maybe a nook or two with windows, and maybe a cafe.`If they cater to the community they are situated in then you have a definite winner. This past summer I went on a search to find my next great read and found a great bookstore, courtesy of Yankee Magazine.  So, for those of you who are “armchair travelers” here’s the short list

R.J.Julia’s in Madison CT –This store on the Connecticut shoreline, is always attracting authors for signings and readings. There’s an on-site (independent owned) cafe that sells food along with signature coffee.

Gibson’s  Bookstore -Concord, NH – This store boasts more than 40,000 books! They also have plenty of tables and chairs and a reading schedule.

Northshore Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT – This store is in a converted inn with multiple floors including one completely devoted to children. There is also a cafe and lots of comfy chairs.

“Books you don’t need in a place you can’t find” is a slogan from a  store in Montague MA called fittingly Montague Bookmill. Plenty of books and seating.

Maybe you’ll find a hidden gem in one of these absolutely delightful mecca for book lovers.





Children’s books of 2019

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Mary Beth shares this very informative article

Best Classic: Goodnight Moon at Amazon

“Kids love hearing all about the great green room and all of the quirky things it contains.”

Best Toddler: Little Blue Truck Leads the Way at Amazon

“Toddlers love following the adventures of Little Blue as he makes his way through the big city.”

Best Baby: Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes at Amazon

“Babies love the rhythmic, rhyming text you’ll find in this beautiful board book.”

Best Spanish: Que Cosas Dice Mi Abuela at Amazon

“In ‘The things my Grandmother says,’ a grandmother teaches manners to her grandchildren.”

Best New: I’ve Loved You Since Forever at Amazon

“Penned by Hoda Kotb from the Today Show… lyrical text and gorgeous photos.”

Best for Confidence: Giraffes Can’t Dance at Amazon

“Gerald the giraffe… tries over and over again to learn how to dance.”

Best Illustrations: The Wonderful Things You Will Be at Amazon

“Sweet and simple, beautifully written and illustrated… encourages kids to be kind and caring.”

Best Overall Message: I Like Myself! at Amazon

“Bold and colorful illustrations and fun and witty rhymes… kids are perfect just the way they are.”

Best Silly: Dragons Love Tacos at Amazon

“Dragons really love tacos, but when they eat something spicy you better watch out!”

Our Top Picks
Best Classic: Goodnight Moon

Buy on Amazon
Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon has been around for years, but it still shows up on best-seller lists, and for good reason. Kids love hearing all about the great green room and all of the quirky things it contains, and they love to say goodnight to each item, one by one, along with the little bunny who lives in the room. Meanwhile, parents find that reading this book over and over again—with its rhythmic lyrics—isn’t so tedious. Pick up a copy soon to start saying goodnight to each and every object in the room with your own kid.

Best Toddler: Little Blue Truck Leads the Way

Buy on Amazon
As a follow up to the crowd favorite Little Blue Truck, toddlers love following the adventures of Little Blue as he makes his way through the big city. Adventures ensue as everyone’s favorite truck encounters police cars, taxis, vans, and limousines—and learns some big and important lessons along the way.

What’s great about this book, too, is that it’s one in a series, so if your toddler really catches on to this particular one, there’s a high likelihood she’ll fall in love with the other versions, as well, which means it’ll be easy for you to make the swap between books to keep things fresh.

Best Baby: Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

Buy on Amazon
Babies love the rhythmic, rhyming text you’ll find in this beautiful board book by Mem Fox, and parents are sure to love the bigger message it spreads about the beauty of all babies, no matter their race, gender, or where they are born. In all his books, Mem Fox is a master at painting a clear picture of how we are all different and that is what makes us beautiful. The simple watercolor illustrations are easy for babies to follow along, and, as a bonus, your baby is sure to love looking at pictures of other babies, as well.

Best Spanish: Que Cosas Dice Mi Abuela

Buy on Amazon
Spanish-speaking parents will love this fun book—which translates to “the things my Grandmother says”—in which a grandmother teaches manners to her grandchildren and their friends using traditional Spanish-language sayings. Written in the voice of a little boy talking about his regular day—sprinkled in with the advice from his Grandmother on manners—this book will pique the interest of adults and kids alike. Readers called this book excellent and adorable​ and specifically called out the illustrations and bright colors as being appealing to toddlers.

Best New: I’ve Loved You Since Forever

Buy on Amazon
It’s not necessary to have had kids for years and years to understand the bond between a parent and a child. I’ve Loved You Since Forever, which was published in March of 2018, was penned by Hoda Kotb from the Today Show as a love letter between parents and their kids.

Kotb’s inspiration for the book was the adoption of her baby girl, Haley Joy, and the love that exists everywhere between parents and their children. The lyrical text (not to mention the adorable message) will keep adults interested while reading the book over and over, and gorgeous photos will keep the little ones coming back for more.

Best for Confidence: Giraffes Can’t Dance

Buy on Amazon
If you’re trying to teach your kid about the importance of never giving up, this book is for you. Follow along on Gerald the giraffe’s journey as he tries over and over again to learn how to dance. With a touching message about perseverance—and marching to the beat of our own drummers—Gerald finally does succeed in learning how to dance, but only after receiving some encouraging advice from an unlikely friend.

Giraffes Can’t Dance is definitely a crowd-pleaser, with 3,000 reviews, making it an Amazon bestseller. Parents commend this book for teaching confidence and self-esteem, with one parent noting it is a great buy for kids with special needs.

Best Illustrations: The Wonderful Things You Will Be

Buy on Amazon
Every parent sees the infinite potential in his or her child, and Emily Winfield Martin uses rhythmic rhyme in her story to express all the loving things that parents think of when they look at their kids. It also encourages kids to be kind and caring and help others when needed, which is a life lesson we all should be reminded of.

From Look.

From my personal experience, reading aloud to your children is one of the best ways of bonding. We have a weekly “read aloud” day where all the children pick a book from our extensive library and take turns reading it aloud to the rest of us. I started using the prompts from my reading journal to extend the experience for our children.

~Mary Beth

July 4th

Dear Fellow Journalers,

We wanted our children to understand that the 4th of July was not just fireworks and barbecues. Our neighborhood hosted a block party every year complete with a parade of decorated bikes. The children’s bikes got more and more sophisticated as the years went by. Some were decorated with red, white and blue balloons, streamers and glitter! While we knew that the excitement level was really high, we hoped to find activities for our children that were both fun and educational.

Fireworks are an important part of the festivities but we decided to make firework confetti balloons for the little ones. You’ll need festive balloons (try Dollar Store), a funnel, air pump and confetti. Carefully secure a balloon under the funnel. Gently pour confetti down the funnel and into each balloon. Using the air pump fill balloons with air. Tie off and you’ll have a POP instead of a BANG!

To help educate them on our country’s history, we checked out a tv series called Liberty’s Kids which lets children explore dates, people, and events and the American Revolution. We checked out our library’s video section and rented Johnny Tremain and Drums along the Mohawk and made red, white and blue popcorn.

Celebrating the 4th of July can be fun and educational along with traditional celebrations. Let us know about your family’s celebrations.


Summer Bucket List for children

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Mary Beth promised me she would send some posts about travelling with children for this month and so here is her  first installment.


Each Spring the children ached to get outside after the snowy winter. Unfortunately, our spring  weekends were rain-filled EVERY weekend! To keep their spirits up and get them motivated for summer I purchased 5 large mason jars and 1large wooden bucket at our local garden shop. Hey, we’re talking “Bucket List” right?

Anyway, one Friday night I had all the kids assemble at our large kitchen island. I then gave each of them a jar, some paper, pencils and scissors. Their instructions were to write out a summer wish list (even if impractical), cut the paper into strips and put them in the jar. I made labels for each of the jars with some different colored cardstock and die-cuts. My husband was in charge of painting the bucket.

The children came up with some great ideas and kept adding them to their jars over the next week. On June 14th, (the last day of the school year) we emptied the jars into the bucket. After a delicious cookout on the deck, we took turns taking 5 ideas out of the bucket. We voted on which ideas we would do and as you can imagine we had a delightful and interesting summer!

Here are some of the things we did on our summer vacation:

  • Went to a local farm
  • Saw a drive-in movie complete with popcorn and soda
  • Went to the county fair and enjoyed the rides (yes, all of us!)
  • Participated in the summer Reading Program
  • Planted a garden
  • Went berry picking
  • Had a fun trolley ride
  • Made paper boats (in case we had a rainy day) and had a race in the bathtub
  • Made Sun prints
  • Decorated white tennis shoes with fabric paint
  • Made kites which we took to a local beach
  • Made lemonade
  • Learned how to make home-made ice cream
  • Teamed up with some of the neighbors and had a water fight with sponges

That’s all folks – have a wonderful summer!

Mary Beth

Thanks for the memories.

Dear Fellow Journalers,

As a blog writer, I am always looking for articles and/or videos that will help me bring a story to light. Every so often, after I have wrapped up the month’s posts about a certain type journal, a surprise article will pop up and I must decide whether to incorporate it into the month or save it for another time. The ideas in this article are really timely and so I have decided to give you a bonus post this week. It’s from an article that was published on 9/1/95 in Woman’s Day Magazine.

Making a family memory is a precious thing and often doesn’t cost a thing. The women who shared these ideas were mothers and grandparents from all different backgrounds and places. There are 24 memory builders in all.

  1. Annual Date. There was a movie that came out a number of years ago that starred Alan Alda (MASH) that was called Same time next year. It was about a couple that met once a year at the same time. The viewer got to see them age and the topics of conversation change over time. This tip actually centers around your child and a once-a-year event that is special and specific to them. When I was growing up, my Grandmother would take me on a train trip to New York City every year on a day near my birthday. We would go to the circus or to see a play. Afterwards we would go to a restaurant called Schrafts for ice cream sundaes. I really cherished those memories and hoped that when I was a grandmother I could do something similar with my grandchildren.

  2. Storytime. Turn this nightly ritual into something special. Have your child pick the book and then take turns reading the chapters aloud, complete with sound effects!

  3. Memory quilt. A woman in California asked her relatives to write their names and a special message to her children on two squares of fabric which she gave them. Once she had enough squares, she made a quilt for her son and daughter.

  4. Good sports. Although we are busy parents, try to view the games your children are in. One father goes one step further. He takes his son to watch season games of his favorite team.

  5. Make mealtime special. Share one night with your family with no cell phones.

  6. Dinner on them. Once a week have the children plan and cook a family meal.

  7. Take up a collection. Remember when Mary Beth and her family collected items for their time capsule?

  8. Take a child to work day. Pick a slow day and assign them a task like copying or filing. Don’t forget that special lunch.

  9. Take a special trip to your hometown or have their grandparents tell stories about you when you were their age.

  10. Family cookbook. Pick out recipes that your family loves and write them down.One mother did this and gave it to her daughter when she was married.

  11. P.J. Day. Pick a day when everyone stays in their sleepwear all day and you enjoy family games. We used to turn off the lights and pretend that there was a power outage. We would sit in the dark and play “flash light tag” and tell ghost stories.

  12. Find a goofy raffle stuffed animal and display it in all parts of your house. First person to spot it, gets to watch a tv show of their choice.

  13. Make a special cakes for your family member. Write a letter to them each year.

  14. Christmas tree ornaments. Buy a special ornament each year for your children. One parent kept them separate and gave the whole box to her son when he was married.

  15. Postcards. Instead of taking pictures, this one family bought postcards from everywhere their family went on vacation. They would date them and keep them in a family scrapbook.

  16. Baby Box. One mother keeps the dress her daughter wore on her first trip home from the hospital.

  17. Keep a diary. One family took a trip to a distant state for a family vacation. Each child kept a diary of the event.

  18. Keep the school pictures!

  19. Video-Go-Round – start a family video with the latest “news” then send it on to another family member with instructions to keep sending it on until it arrives back with you.

  20. Collect some pictures or stories from the children that were written in school. Shared memories are the best.

  21. Take lots of pictures of the children during the year. Be sure to label how old they were and the event.

  22. Find a cause you believe in and give back. One family has a Christmas jar which they use to deposit their change in during the year. They pick a charity in January and contribute all year-long.

  23. Plan a home improvement project and have everyone participate.

  24. Enjoy the little things a walk in the park, a trip to get ice cream etc.

So these are only 24 tips. I bet you’ve come up with a few more!



June 2023

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