Shel Silverstein


When one of my six year old’s best friends was over for a play date recently (sidebar: can we all come up with a better phrase for this, please), she regaled my girls with stories of this magnificent collection of poems she had recently started reading.  So you can imagine how impressed both kids were when upon seeing my childhood bookshelf, they saw the very same books that had been mentioned by their beloved friend.  Street cred!  Brownie points!  Mom was cool!  It lasted thirty seconds.  But the books are back with us now, and and least they’re still considered cool.

Second up in my New Year, Old You series is Shel Silverstein.  Specifically, the poetry of.  The hippie environmentalist in me still has some major issues with the ending (spoiler!) of The Giving Tree.  But the poems and the adjoining pen line drawings in A Light in the Attic, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Falling Up and Every Thing On It are fantastic.  Whimsical, funny and smart, and a great treat to dip into at will.  Quick parenting tip: the poems are also a good solution for that “one more book” or “one more chapter” plea every night at bedtime (just my kids?  fine).  It’s such an easy giveaway to allow just one more poem.  Especially if they are this fun.  If you are a dreamer, come in.


A Time to Keep

Hey, you.  Yeah, you.  On the treadmill.  Sweating with exertion from your aggressive new cardio goals.  Shaking with deprivation from your new carb-free/caffeine-free/sugar-free existence.  Slow down.  Take a break.  Grab a mocha (it won’t kill you).  I have some new book recos for you.

So we spent the holidays in my childhood home, and as my parents haven’t moved since I upped and adulted, it’s a really fun trip down memory lane.  Sparkly Jessica McClintock prom dress still hanging in the closet.  Top Gun era Tom Cruise and Moonlighting era Bruce Willis still lining the walls.  And miles and miles of childhood books to peruse and share with a new generation.  Hence beings my series New Year, Old You.  A week’s worth of old favorites from when friendship bracelets and braided ribbon barrettes still ruled my world.

First up is A Time to Keep by Tasha Tudor.  If your holiday included a lot of screen time and not a lot of quality time, then congrats, you are part of an average American family!  If you’re looking for a sweet tale of simpler times, with family life unplugged, then this book is a great start.  It’s a year in holidays, with month by month merrymaking from the countryside.  Tiny littles will love the beautiful illustrations and stories behind each celebration.  Older kids may want to replicate activities such as charades or Valentine’s Day cards.  And while your treasures are busy building connections via innocent craft projects, you’ll have time to get back to dissecting last night’s Golden Globes looks.  What?  It’s 2017.  You can’t stay offline forever.

Five Days of Giving: Let Girls Learn

Who runs the world?  Beyoncé.  Beyoncé runs the world.  As she should.  Let’s be honest.  But a really close second is girls, who don’t have the luxury of enjoying books if they aren’t provided an education.

Recognizing that adolescent girls face multiple challenges in pursuing an education, Let Girls Learn is employing a holistic approach to change the perception of the value of girls at the individual, community and institutional levels; foster an enabling environment for adolescent girls’ education; and engage and equip girls to make life decisions and important contributions to society. Building on U.S. government expertise, Let Girls Learn elevates existing programs and invests in new efforts to expand educational opportunities for girls—including in areas of conflict and crisis. The initiative leverages public-private partnerships and challenges others to commit resources to improve the lives of adolescent girls worldwide. It also expands collaborations with experts and places particular emphasis on community-led solutions to help adolescent girls complete their education.


Thanks to all who have read along and maybe even contributed to the featured or other organizations these past five days.  And a very happy New Year’s to all.  Have fun out there getting blotto for the big night.  Oh, wait, you’re a parent?  Don’t forget to put on your jammies before falling asleep in front of Ryan Seacrest at 10:30.  See you in 2017!



Five Days of Giving: First Book

Today’s organization, First Book, is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to children in need. Since its founding in 1992, First Book has distributed more than 150 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families.

First Book supports the largest and fastest growing network of educators and program leaders exclusively serving children in need. In partnership with these heroic educators and other organizations, First Book transforms lives by improving access to equal, quality education for all kids.


Five Days of Giving: Reading Is Fundamental

Day Three!  Still have some pocket change left?  Good news!  There is still a need for your generosity.  Today’s choice also offers a host of useful info on their website, including some fun booklists.

Reading Is Fundamental brings the joy of reading and learning to children in need of support across the country. With the help of thousands of RIF volunteers and local established chapters throughout the country in schools, Head Start programs, community centers, health clinics, migrant camps, and homeless shelters, we provide books and supporting literacy resources to reach children wherever they are in need.

Five Days of Giving: Books for Kids

Day Two of our Five Days of Giving, and we have another great place to get rid of some of that silly money overage you’ve been trying to offload.

The mission of the Books for Kids Foundation is to promote literacy among all children with a special emphasis on low-income and at-risk preschool-aged children. Books for Kids creates libraries, donates books, and implements literacy programs to develop the critical early foundation and skills which young children need to be successful in life.

Five Days of Giving: 826 National

I used to work in the .org world (not to age myself too much, but it was actually a little before this whole internet thing got really big).  It was a true privilege getting to know the generous souls who were kind enough to part ways with their money to keep our nonprofit afloat.  Donors came in all types – name in lights please, anonymous, hands on, mission specific, in it for the tchotchkes, gala gals, just give me the tax break already.  I didn’t care.  Charitable organizations are the lifeblood of our communities and I was grateful for anyone who was willing to write a check (again, it was a while ago, that was still a thing.  adorable, right?).  Anyhow, you’ve probably surmised my now that literacy and kids and books and such are dear to me, so for the next five days, I’ll be encouraging you to get out your checkbook (jkjk, are you 100?) or credit card and consider one of the featured charities for your year-end giving.  Also, gentle reminder that this is a good time to adios that egg nog in your fridge.  Party’s over people.  That stuff don’t last forever.

The first featured group, started by Dave Eggers,  is a favorite as I used to be a volunteer with their after-school tutoring program, and got to see firsthand what a positive impact the one on one tutoring time had on kids.  From their site: 826 National is a nonprofit organization that provides strategic leadership, administration, and other resources to ensure the success of its network of seven writing and tutoring centers. Our mission is based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with individualized attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.