Tips for Sending Kids Off To School

Barefoot Books

 As a piano teacher for over 15 years now, it seems I find myself, especially around this time of year, busily hurrying about, gathering up lesson books at the teacher store, cleaning up my music studio a bit and ordering popular sheet music and theory books for returning piano students as well as welcoming aboard new ones.

About this time, from late August to early September, that's when all the schools here in California begin, whether you attend a public, private or charter school. And so my heart begins to race as my mind is flooded with past memories that identify with that universal feeling as a parent, as well as a grandparent of letting go of your child or grandchild into the hands of a new teacher that will help mentor and guide your child through a new school year of great things to learn and much interaction with other children.

It seems like it was just yesterday that I was waving goodbye, all teary-eyed to our daughter as she boarded the big yellow school bus and was headed for kindergarten. Now she will soon be expecting her new little baby of her own. As I pour myself another cup of coffee, I think back to the time my own mother gave our first born daughter her first car and how I felt my heart breaking as she drove off to Stanford to complete her education and embark on a wonderful, exciting bright future of world travel, wonderful teaching jobs and meeting her future husband. It all seems like yesterday and now she's a proud mother of 2 charming, sweet boys.

As I tend to live life more and more in the present, I was thinking of what I could possibly share with my readers in the upcoming weeks and decided that the obvious coarse of action would be a series of future posts that serve as a bridge for preparing you and your child for back to school... where you are now and where you will be headed this Fall. I would like to introduce my readers to a new children's book from Barefoot Books that captures the heart and essence of "Back to School" and what that means and feels like to your child. Children are indeed a real blessing.

Packing Backpack, Lunchbox, and Confidence: Tips for Sending Children Off to School

It happens every autumn. Millions of young children start school for the very first time. They carry backpacks, lunchboxes, pencils, sometimes a grin on their face, but more often, a look of trepidation about what school will really be like. They wonder: Will my teacher be nice? Will I have friends? What if I can’t find my way? Who will sit with me? What will I do? What if I don’t like it? What if I miss home? What if it’s too hard?
As parents guiding our children off to start school for the first time, or to begin a new school year, we want to do all we can to ensure that they have a great experience. At the same time, we want to encourage their independence as they set off on a new journey in their development.

Kathryn White, author of Ruby's School Walk, early educator and mum of five children, shared her tips to ease children's start-of-school anxiety and make this an enjoyable milestone:

  • Read with your child and talk about the school experience. Share with them stories about your memories of school, both the good and the less so. School is an adventure, and like all adventures, has its ups and downs.

  • Help spark your child’s imaginations about school to encourage them to talk about their concerns and face their fears. You can do this through stories, books, drawings and other art forms. Ask them questions such as what they think school will be like, what they are excited about and worried about, what they think they will learn, etc. These conversations can also be had with grandparents and other favorite people in your child’s life.

  • Build a community in your neighborhood. It is amazing what a familiar and friendly face can do to help a child overcome their fears about going to school. As your family journeys to school each day you might see this friendly neighbor, or only see them occasionally, but it will help your child feel comfortable and safe on their trip to school.

  • Sit down together and create a fun map to school. Note interesting landmarks and have your child colour them in or place numbers at each point. On that first morning to school, your child will be pre-occupied with ticking off the landmarks on their special map. The school can be drawn with welcome signs, making it a great triumph upon their arrival.

  • Walk with your child to school whenever possible. If you don’t live nearby, take public transport, bike or drive and get out a few blocks away and walk together. The walk will become a meaningful way to spend time together and help get the day off on the right foot.

  • Create traditions. Take pictures of your child in front of your home or on their way to school. Each year you can reflect back on these first day of school photos and see how much your child has grown in every way.

  • Know that if the first day went well or didn’t go well, there are many more days of school throughout the year and peaks and valleys along the way.
    Here's some information on this delightful children's book:

    Ruby’s School Walk

    Join Ruby on her way to school and see the world her mum cannot see. In an old house, she spies bats with red eyes peering out and scary witches that flit about. And these aren’t the only dangers on her path: tigers, crocodiles and mighty beasts abound! ‘I must be brave, I must be strong,’ chants Ruby as she musters the nerve to scare them off; but will it work?
    Ages 4 to 7 years
    Written By: Kathryn White
    The author has written over a dozen children’s books, but Ruby’s School Walk is her first with Barefoot Books. She often visits libraries and schools leading interactive workshops with her books. To learn more about Kathryn and her work, visit her website.

    Illustrated By: Miriam Latimer
    Miriam is a full-time illustrator who also combines her love of art with workshops for young children. She has illustrated five Barefoot Books, including bestseller The Prince’s Bedtime and Shopping with Dad. Her quirky, colorful art is usually done in acrylic paints, but she also uses pencils and a bit of collage. To learn more about Miriam and her work, visit her website.
    I love Miriam's artwork. Here are a few more samples of her talent.

    Ice cream
    Miriam's Books
    Buy a book, build a library!
    To purchase Ruby's School Walk, Hardcover Format for $16.99, visit:  My Marketplace

    A Look Inside Ruby's School Walk with Kathryn White and Miriam Latimer (Barefoot Books)

    I hope your child’s first experience with school is part of their magnificent journey of growing up!
    Happy Reading,
    -- LadyD
“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.” — C. S. Lewis

My Family from

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Review: Stories from the Silk Road

I was surfing the web and came across this very informative article The Silk Road by Oliver Wild.

The historical facts are so important and very interesting to read that I thought I would post the entire article here. I was delighted to find this addition because it reminded me of a paperback book for older children that is in my Barefoot Books library called The Silk Road.

The Silk Road extending from Southern Europe t...Image via Wikipedia

"The region separating China from Europe and Western Asia is not the most hospitable in the world. Much of it is taken up by the Taklimakan desert, one of the most hostile environments on our planet. There is very little vegetation, and almost no rainfall; sandstorms are very common, and have claimed the lives of countless people. The locals have a very great respect for this `Land of Death'; few travellers in the past have had anything good to say about it. It covers a vast area, through which few roads pass; caravans throughout history have skirted its edges, from one isolated oasis to the next. The climate is harsh; in the summer the daytime temperatures are in the 40's, with temperatures greater than 50 degrees Celsius measured not infrequently in the sub-sealevel basin of Turfan. In winter the temperatures dip below minus 20 degrees. Temperatures soar in the sun, but drop very rapidly at dusk. Sand storms here are very common, and particularly dangerous due to the strength of the winds and the nature of the surface. Unlike the Gobi desert, where there there are a relatively large number of oases, and water can be found not too far below the surface, the Taklimakan has much sparser resources.

The land surrounding the Taklimakan is equally hostile. To the northeast lies the Gobi desert, almost as harsh in climate as the Taklimakan itself; on the remaining three sides lie some of the highest mountains in the world. To the South are the Himalaya, Karakorum and Kunlun ranges, which provide an effective barrier separating Central Asia from the Indian sub-continent. Only a few icy passes cross these ranges, and they are some of the most difficult in the world; they are mostly over 5000 metres in altitude, and are dangerously narrow, with precipitous drops into deep ravines. To the north and west lie the Tianshan and Pamir ranges; though greener and less high, the passes crossing these have still provided more than enough problems for the travellers of the past. Approaching the area from the east, the least difficult entry is along the `Gansu Corridor', a relatively fertile strip running along the base of the Qilian mountains, separating the great Mongolian plateau and the Gobi from the Tibetan High Plateau. Coming from the west or south, the only way in is over the passes.

The Early History of The Region
On the eastern and western sides of the continent, the civilisations of China and the West developed. The western end of the trade route appears to have developed earlier than the eastern end, principally because of the development of the the empires in the west, and the easier terrain of Persia and Syria. The Iranian empire of Persia was in control of a large area of the Middle East, extending as far as the Indian Kingdoms to the east. Trade between these two neighbours was already starting to influence the cultures of these regions.

This region was taken over by Alexander the Great of Macedon, who finally conquered the Iranian empire, and colonised the area in about 330 B.C., superimposing the culture of the Greeks. Although he only ruled the area until 325 B.C., the effect of the Greek invasion was quite considerable. The Greek language was brought to the area, and Greek mythology was introduced. The aesthetics of Greek sculpture were merged with the ideas developed from the Indian kingdoms, and a separate local school of art emerged. By the third century B.C., the area had already become a crossroads of Asia, where Persian, Indian and Greek ideas met. It is believed that the residents of the Hunza valley in the Karakorum are the direct descendents of the army of Alexander; this valley is now followed by the Karakorum Highway, on its way from Pakistan over to Kashgar, and indicates how close to the Taklimakan Alexander may have got.

This `crossroads' region, covering the area to the south of the Hindu Kush and Karakorum ranges, now Pakistan and Afghanistan, was overrun by a number of different peoples. After the Greeks, the tribes from Palmyra, in Syria, and then Parthia, to the east of the Mediterranean, took over the region. These peoples were less sophisticated than the Greeks, and adopted the Greek language and coin system in this region, introducing their own influences in the fields of sculpture and art.

Being Greek, I was fascinated to read about the cultural exchanges!

Close on the heels of the Parthians came the Yuezhi people from the Northern borders of the Taklimakan. They had been driven from their traditional homeland by the Xiongnu tribe (who later became the Huns and transfered their attentions towards Europe), and settled in Northern India. Their descendents became the Kushan people, and in the first century A.D. they moved into this crossroads area, bringing their adopted Buddhist religion with them. Like the other tribes before them, they adopted much of the Greek system that existed in the region. The product of this marriage of cultures was the Gandhara culture, based in what is now the Peshawar region of northwest Pakistan. This fused Greek and Buddhist art into a unique form, many of the sculptures of Buddhist deities bearing strong resemblances to the Greek mythological figure Heracles. The Kushan people were the first to show Buddha in human form, as before this time artists had preferred symbols such as the footprint, stupa or tree of enlightenment, either out of a sense of sacrilege or simply to avoid persecution.

The eastern end of the route developed rather more slowly. In China, the Warring States period was brought to an end by the Qin state, which unified China to form the Qin Dynasty, under Qin Shi Huangdi. The harsh reforms introduced to bring the individual states together seem brutal now, but the unification of the language, and standardisation of the system, had long lasting effects. The capital was set up in Changan, which rapidly developed into a large city, now Xian.

The Xiongnu tribe had been periodically invading the northern borders during the Warring States period with increasing frequency. The northern-most states had been trying to counteract this by building defensive walls to hinder the invaders, and warn of their approach. Under the Qin Dynasty, in an attempt to subdue the Xiongnu, a campaign to join these sections of wall was initiated, and the `Great Wall' was born. When the Qin collapsed in 206 B.C., after only 15 years, the unity of China was preserved by the Western Han Dynasty, which continued to construct the Wall.

During one of their campaigns against the Xiongnu, in the reign of Emperor Wudi, the Han learnt from some of their prisoners that the Yuezhi had been driven further to the west. It was decided to try to link up with these peoples in order to form an alliance against the Xiongnu. The first intelligence operation in this direction was in 138 B.C. under the leadership of Zhang Qian, brought back much of interest to the court, with information about hitherto unknown states to the west, and about a new, larger breed of horse that could be used to equip the Han cavalry. The trip was certainly eventful, as the Xiongnu captured them, and kept them hostage for ten years; after escaping and continuing the journey, Zhang Qian eventually found the Yuezhi in Northern India. Unfortunately for the Han, they had lost any interest in forming an alliance against the Xiongnu. On the return journey, Zhang Qian and his delegation were again captured, and it was not until 125 B.C. that they arrived back in Changan. The emperor was much interested by what they found, however, and more expeditions were sent out towards the West over the following years. After a few failures, a large expedition managed to obtain some of the so-called `heavenly horses', which helped transform the Han cavalry. These horses have been immortalised in the art of the period, one of the best examples being the small bronze `flying horse' found at Wuwei in the Gansu Corridor, now used as the emblem of the China International Travel Service. Spurred on by their discoveries, the Han missions pushed further westwards, and may have got as far as Persia. They brought back many objects from these regions, in particular some of the religious artwork from the Gandharan culture, and other objects of beauty for the emperor. By this process, the route to the west was opened up. Zhang Qian is still seen by many to be the father of the Silk Road.

In the west, the Greek empire was taken over by the Roman empire. Even at this stage, before the time of Zhang Qian, small quantities of Chinese goods, including silk, were reaching the west. This is likely to have arrived with individual traders, who may have started to make the journey in search of new markets despite the danger or the political situation of the time.
The Nature of the Route
The description of this route to the west as the `Silk Road' is somewhat misleading. Firstly, no single route was taken; crossing Central Asia several different branches developed, passing through different oasis settlements."

To read the full Silk Road book for free online, visit:

My Review:

The books starts out with a wonderful historical introduction and you will travel with Cherry Gilchrist stepping backward in time along the Silk Road! In the back of the book you will find a beautiful map of the Silk Road to follow along.

In Woven Wind you will be introduced to the goddess of silk. Then you will read an exciting chapter about the monkey and the river dragon. I liked reading about The White Cloud Fairy and then a favorite of mine, The Magic Saddlebag, you must read to learn of the ending... perhaps you have found a garment in your closet made of silk...
For sure, you will enjoy reading of the rich history told in The Silk Road and look upon the elegant and richly detailed pictures with delight. Thank you Barefoot Books for this excellent addition to my library!

Stories from the Silk Road is $12.99 plus tax. You can order it at my market place:

Stories from the Silk Road
Journey along the ancient trade route between East and West. The seven intriguing tales in this collection each feature an important city along the Silk Road, and are filled with adventure and drama, as the merchants, muleteers, spies and shepherds travel this exotic route.

Ages 8 and up

Retold By: Cherry Gilchrist

Cherry Gilchrist is a writer and lecturer, whose themes include mythology, alchemy, life stories, personal relationships, and Russian art and culture. Visit her site:

Illustrated By: Nilesh Mistry

This book is a compilation of old folktales from Asia and the Middle East. The author's retelling is well-written and gives insight into how it really was to travel the Silk Road. The background information before each story introduces different stops along the Silk Road and segues into the following story nicely. This book is perfect for older children who love imaginative and colorful stories.

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Children's Books About Pirates!

Pirates seem to be very popular on the West Coast these days. In fact there’s even an International Talk Like a Pirate Day. In California, Legoland’s Pirate Shores area is composed of five pirate themed adventures with rides. Then in San Francisco, you’ll find The Pirate Shop carries an extensive array of essential pirate paraphernalia like various Jolly Roger flags, glass eyes, spyglasses and skeleton keys. 

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”, the fourth installment of the ever popular Disney film series is due out in the summer of 2011. The famous pirate ship Black Pearl sailed from the Bahamas all the way to Hawaii because the next “Pirates of the Caribbean” series is being filmed in Oahu. Johnny Depp will continue his role as Jack Sparrow in the film “On Stranger Tides”. So along with Titanic and Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest grossed the most money in U.S. history with $1.07 Billion.

The original score of the 2003 film Pirates of The Caribbean was composed by Klaus Badelt. My students love to play The Curse of the Black Pearl on the piano, listening to those low bass tones. For Pirates of The Caribbean; Dead Man's Chest, Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack, listening to the pipe organ and other folksy tunes just might cause you to wear an eye patch and mount a parrot on your shoulder!
Pirate stories are full of famous pirates, like Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, and Jack Rackham. I would say that pirates in the entertainment field are very popular right now and of most interest.

If you have a 3 to 7 year old Pirate Wannabe who loves reading books, then I would like to recommend two special, quality children’s books to you.

First, Barefoot Books has published Portside Pirates by Oscar Seaworthy. (What a name, so appropriate for this subject.) The fun-loving music is worth the price of the book for its catchy tune on the CD. At the back of the book, you will find great information filled with interesting facts about famous pirates around the world and famous pirates in history. The vibrant illustrations, along with the sing-song story will really capture your imagination. The book is great for little buccaneers who love pirates but don't want anything too scary to read before bed. Portside Pirates

So, jump aboard and sing along with this courageous band of young buccaneers! After visiting Timbuktu, the crew cannot keep the Galleon from being blown off course. But don't fret, when the storm blows out, they find and explore a wreck filled with fun surprises.

Secondly, If You Want to be A Pirate by E.Winfield Scott is another great choice for children of all ages. The author, E. Winfield Scott, is a self-taught artist and developed “If You want To Be a Pirate” to the delight of the children at the community health fitness center where he works. Growing up as the son of a Marine Corp officer, he has lived all over the United States and Bavaria, Germany. He has been a positive influence with children in his work for many years. He currently resides in Colorado amidst the snow-crested Rocky Mountains where hiking, biking, and all things outdoors keep him fit and ever ready to create delightful stories.

 I met the author’s mother at a friend’s birthday party and she shared this wonderful hardcover children’s book with me. It is a delightful story and song that awaits you in this enchanting peek into the life of a Pirate! Inspired by rich illustrations and lively action, children will eagerly enter into the fun-filled world of E. Winfield Scott.

Set includes “Pirate Song” on CD along with the sheet music for the piano and guitar, just perfect for rowdy pirate sing-alongs! Set on the high seas of imagination, the CD is designed to go along with the rhyme and rhythm of the text.

“If you never ever brush your teeth,
or ever change your clothes;
and never ever take a bath,
and never blow your nose…
Then you can be a PIRATE!!
A Pirate just like ME”

(Sounds very typical of a pirates lifestyle. However, I found it to be true that only once in pirate history was someone made to walk the plank!)
If You Want to Be a Pirate

So when the music in the movie swells, it’s difficult to put in words what I feel and what affect it has on me. But with a swashbuckling “yo ho” swaying to the background music of the film, pirate books will continue to reveal great treasure to my grandsons and will certainly unleash the pirate in everyone. Arrrrrr! 

 With both children's books, I give ***** stars!

“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.” — C. S. Lewis

My Family from
(Barefoot Books Ambassador)
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Back To School with Barefoot Books

 The new school year is upon us and we have some amazing new titles for older children coming this autumn!  Our highly anticipated chapter books,  Adventures of Odysseus and Arthur of Albion, are already available and are great for serious young readers and for teachers looking for stories that will work across the curriculum. 

Arthur of Albion

Discover the rich and lasting tradition of King Arthur. The stories and historical details in this gift collection relive the wonder of the Knights of the Round Table, Lancelot and Merlin, the quest for Excalibur, and Guinevere and the ladies of the court. Includes full-color map of realm of Albion.
Ages 8 and up
Retold By: John Matthews
Illustrated By: Pavel Tatarnikov
* Classic Tales Retold

* Each Page is a Work of Art

* Loved by Children and Adults

* Stunning Illustrations

Arthur of Albion

This vivid retelling brings together the best-known stories about Arthur and his court, exploring the relationships between the main characters in the legends. Magnificent illustrations by Pavel Tatarnikov add to the atmosphere of Arthurian England.
Paperback chapter book now part of the Barefoot Books Young Fiction line.

The Adventures of Odysseus

As Odysseus fights to find his way back home after the long and brutal Trojan War, he has to endure harrowing ordeals and adventures, and come to terms with devastating losses. Storytellers Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden’s graphic retelling breathes new life into this great classic.
Paperback chapter book now part of the Barefoot Books Young Fiction line.
Ages 8 and up
Retold By: Daniel Morden, Hugh Lupton
Illustrated By: Christina Balit
 Happy Reading,
-- LadyD
“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.” — C. S. Lewis

My Family from
I Write for Fortitude.
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Children's Book Sing-along Video: Barefoot Books

Knick Knack Paddy Whack (Barefoot Books)

Knick Knack Paddy Whack

Sing along with this rollicking take on a traditional tune that introduces instruments and counts from one to ten. There are educational notes about instrument families as well as a simple music score at the end. Book with CD editions include song sung by acclaimed children's performer SteveSongs.
Ages 3 to 7 years
Illustrated By: Christiane Engel
Sung By: SteveSongs

Sing along with this rollicking take on a traditional tune, Knick Knack Paddy Whack, sung by acclaimed children's performer, SteveSongs!

Available in hardcover with music CD $16.99
Available in paperback with music CD $9.99

 If you are looking for a sing-along book for your preschool class, perhaps a birthday gift or for your own enjoyment with family and friends, this delightful children's book with music CD is a winner!
You can order  Knick Knack Paddy Whack on my website at:
“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.” — C. S. Lewis

My Family from
I Write for Fortitude. Fortitude is for people who write with passion.
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