Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Books Ambassador in January | Barefoot BooksAs we roll into 2016, are you looking for a new opportunity to learn and grow? To meet new friends with common interests…and perhaps travel with them to France? To make a big impact on the children and families in your community…and beyond? If so, you’re in the right place!

Flexible and fun, with no minimums or hidden fees, the Barefoot Books Ambassador Program empowers you to run your business your way, to pursue your own goals–and get great discounts on the books you love!

This January just might be the BEST time yet to start your Barefoot journey! Here’s why:

Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Books Ambassador this January | Barefoot Books

Good friends + gorgeous books = a great Barefoot event!

  1. Join before January 31st to get $50 Barefoot Bucks! Barefoot Bucks work like Host rewards, giving you $50 off whatever product you like. That means you get more beautiful, multicultural books for less money! When you join, you also receive amazing business tools, resources, support and training for FREE!

  2. Double Host rewards: If you’re worried that you’ll have trouble convincing people to book events after the holiday season, don’t be! In this cooooooooold month, everyone is looking for ways to stave off the cabin fever. You’ll have plenty of eager hosts chomping at the bit to hold Barefoot Books events at their homes–especially with our special Double Host rewards! Such a can’t miss Host special makes it all the easier for you to land bookings right away and get your business off to a great start.

    Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Books Ambassador this January | Barefoot Books

    Help families keep their reading resolutions in 2016!

  3. Reading Resolutions: This January, we’re challenging families to set–or restart–reading resolutions! As an Ambassador, you can use our buy 3, get 4th free consumer offer to enable families get more books for less cash. Our Children’s Literacy Workshop party theme pairs perfectly with this offer–and with everyone’s natural desire to help the children in their life grow and thrive in the new year.

  4. Speaking of resolutions…what about yours? You can use the Ambassador program specifically to help you achieve the personal growth YOU want to see in your life. If you long to conquer a new challenge or gain recognition for your skills; to step outside your comfort zone or inspire others to do so; or to pay for a family vacation or pay off student debt, our supportive Ambassador community and expert training will equip you to reach YOUR goals.

    Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Books Ambassador this January | Barefoot Books

    How far will YOU fly in 2016?

  5. Lastly, and most importantly, becoming an Ambassador is a decision you can feel great about. When you become an Ambassador, you join a community passionate about sharing stories, connecting families and inspiring children. You share beautiful, educational and inclusive books and products with your community; and in doing so, nurture a love of storytelling, creativity and diversity that empowers children to see the world in a whole new light.

Are you ready to begin your Barefoot journey? We at Home Office are so excited to see what 2016 will bring–and can’t wait to see what YOU achieve!



Four Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year with Kids | Barefoot Books

Welcome to the Year of the Monkey! According to lunar astrological calendar, every year in a twelve-year cycle is ruled by a different animal—and as of Lunar New Year on Monday, February 8, 2016, the monkey is in charge! The monkey’s place in the Lunar Zodiac was established in the mists of time, when the Jade Emperor decided that a different animal should rule each year and, to determine the order of the animals, challenged them all to an epic race. The monkey finished ninth, earning it the ninth place in the Lunar Zodiac. If you were born in 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992 or 2004, this is your year. You’re known for being happy, confident and enthusiastic, no matter what place you finish in any race!

Cherished in China, Korea and beyond, Lunar New Year is a great way to introduce the children in your life to another culture’s traditions. Here are a few kid-approved ideas for celebrating Lunar New Year:

Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year with Kids | Barefoot Books

From The Great Race

Have a Lavish New Year’s Eve Dinner

Traditionally, the festival opens with a lavish New Year’s Eve dinner held in honor of deceased ancestors. This meal is a time for all living family members to come together with the deceased, creating a united community to celebrate past and present generations.

In the past, family members filled bamboo stems with gunpowder and burned them to drive evil spirits away; today, people use firecrackers instead. Each is rolled in red paper, as the color red is considered lucky.

Send Letters to Loved Ones in Red Envelopes

The use of red extends to red envelopes or red packets that are traditionally passed out during the celebrations. The packets almost always contain money­— sometimes chocolate coins— and the amount is always given in even numbers. The number eight, for instance, is considered lucky, as is the number six, because in Mandarin it sounds like the word for “smooth,” promising a smooth year.

Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year with Kids | Barefoot Books

From Lin Yi's Lantern

Make a Paper Lantern

The fifteenth and final day of the celebration is commemorated with the Yuan Xiao Jie, or the “Festival of Lanterns.” Gathering under a full moon, adults and children light up the sky with their lantern displays and a lantern-carrying parade. Like the children in the photo above, learn how to make a paper lantern in the informational notes in Lin Yi’s Lantern, a gorgeously-illustrated Barefoot tale from China!

Share a Story to Learn More About the Culture!

Research shows that children (and grown-ups!) often draw incorrect conclusions about other cultures. In order to help children challenge stereotypes and develop global literacy, it’s important for adults to educate themselves and correct their own misconceptions. It’s easy to get started: just share stories from other cultures with the children in your life. It’s a great way to prompt conversations about diversity!

Keen to explore East Asian cultures? You’ll experience the excitement of a rural market in Lin Yi’s Lantern (ages 5-9), discover the warmth and wisdom of Buddhist thought in The Barefoot Book of Buddhist Tales (ages 6+) and meet “The Beggar Princess” in The Barefoot Book of Princes Stories (ages 4-9).

And, of course, be sure to watch the Jade Emperor’s epic race unfold—and find out why there is no Year of the Cat—in The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac (ages 4-9). Find additional tales from China and beyond here!

Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year with Kids | Barefoot Books

Want more ideas?

For more information on the traditions and customs of Lunar New Year, and for recipes and crafts you can make with the children in your life, check out our Pinterest board!

Want to find out which animal you are? Download a Lunar Calendar from The Great Race to use in your classroom, for fun at home or as a festive desktop wallpaper!

Do you have any Lunar New Year traditions? What is your Lunar zodiac animal? Share your stories in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter!


From 'Twelve Days of Christmas' Illustrations to Hand-Made Ornaments | Barefoot Books and Rachel Griffin

Talented artist and Barefoot Books illustrator Rachel Griffin now adds Christmas tree designer to her list of credentials! Her unique decorations (like the one pictured above) are inspired by her gorgeous illustrations from her picture book The Twelve Days of Christmas. By using memorable icons from her book, Rachel’s array of materials and vibrant colors help weave a story throughout the tree.

Rachel traveled all the way from England for this special event! The tree is now available to view at the Concord Museum.*

While she was here, Rachel delighted us by sharing her insight on the finished product:

Now that you’ve finished, do you have a new favorite ornament, or is it still the three French hens?

The French hens are still my favorite individual ornaments, but as a whole I really like the way the “three geese a laying” have been displayed on the tree—the blue eggs look good where they hang! Instead of painting them, I drew on dirt which give them a more natural look. And everyone seems to love the Indian elephants!

From 'Twelve Days of Christmas' Illustrations to Hand-Made Ornaments | Barefoot Books and Rachel Griffin

What has the entire process felt like for you?

I’ve really enjoyed it! Now that it’s all done, it’s wonderful seeing the final product, though it took longer than I thought to get here.

What are you hoping viewers will get from your Family Tree experience?

I’m really hoping that way people look at the tree will be the way they look at my book. That they will then look more deeply at the details of the pieces. When you see the French hens, for example, you can then examine it up close and see all the fabric and beads that go with it.

Were there any challenges throughout the process and if so, how did you overcome them?

When I finished decorating yesterday, I felt fine about it but not brilliant. Taking it down today and then doing it all over again was a little overwhelming because there was so much work to do! Especially when rehanging the pears for the fifth time. I feel really pleased with it now. It reads just like the book—people can stare at each section and take it all in and then move to the next one. Its eye catching and familiar to the story and the song.

From 'Twelve Days of Christmas' Illustrations to Hand-Made Ornaments | Barefoot Books and Rachel GriffinDo you have any favorite Christmas traditions in your family?

We go out to the moor and find an amazing branch—it takes a lot of time—everyone has their own opinion on what it should look like. I like to decorate it very simply.

Questions from Ambassadors:

Which page of Twelve Days is your favorite and why?

The first one because it was done in France when I was there for three months. I sketched the tree and added a French twist to it.

From 'Twelve Days of Christmas' Illustrations to Hand-Made Ornaments | Barefoot Books and Rachel Griffin

Rachel, your artwork is gorgeous! How did you develop this unique style?

It took a long time. When I was very little I was always collecting things and I still collect things. When on holiday and traveling, I just collect pieces. The creation of the Oxford calendars is where I really developed my style.

*Each year, the Concord Museum located in Concord, MA fills its galleries with over thirty uniquely decorated trees featuring artwork inspired by acclaimed children’s storybooks. If you’re in the area between November 25 through January 3, be sure to check out the exhibit for yourself! For more information about Family Trees or the Concord Museum visit

From 'Twelve Days of Christmas' Illustrations to Hand-Made Ornaments | Barefoot Books and Rachel Griffin

Read the book that inspired the decorations!

The Twelve Days of Christmas

A sparkling version of the popular Christmas song, in a new edition embossed with silvery-gold foiling and beautiful fabric illustrations by Rachel Griffin. This book includes an insightful note from the illustrator, information about the celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas (history, including the pre-Christian tradition, and customs), and the history and meaning of the song itself.

For babies to 10 years; Hardcover ($14.99)


Join the Conversation: Is Sleeping Beauty Feminist? | Barefoot Books

There have been some lively exchanges at Home Office lately about the need for spirited and dynamic heroines in our stories, rather than ‘limp-wristed blondes’ (I quote our esteemed senior editor, Kate De Palma, who has a different hair colour). Being quite a feminist bunch, we are on our guard to avoid storylines where the message seems to be ‘just lie around looking beautiful and a man will come along and solve your problems’.

So where does this leave stories like ’The Sleeping Beauty’? This question has preoccupied me, as I have reviewed my midwinter entertainment options and realised that what I most want to see is Matthew Bourne’s super-famous production of this ballet, which will return to Sadler’s Wells in London for the festive season.

Am I betraying my feminist principles by making this choice?

I don’t think so. Here’s why.

First, there is a quite particular dynamic in the set-up of this story that sets the context for Aurora’s fate. The king makes a serious mistake by failing to invite the thirteenth fairy, Carabosse. Perhaps it’s because he’s so overwhelmed with joy at the birth of a much longed-for baby girl that he simply forgets. Perhaps it is an intentional slight. Perhaps, as Angelina Jolie suggests in Maleficent there is an even darker backstory. Whatever way you look at it, though, this is a wounding of the feminine principle (Carabosse is a woman; only twelve fairies are on the godmother guest list and the number thirteen is the number of moon cycles in a year, driven out by more recent Western cultural traditions).

And this is the wound that sets the story in motion.

Join the Conversation: Is Sleeping Beauty Feminist? | Barefoot Books

From The Barefoot Book of Fairy Tales, retold by Malachy Doyle and illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli

At the baby Aurora’s christening, there is a compelling power struggle between the death-giving anger of Carabosse and life-giving power of the Lilac fairy, both of them super-strong female presences. The outcome of this, as we all know, is that Aurora is saved from death, but destined to fall into a deep sleep when she pricks her finger on a spindle. So now we have an impasse—the life-death/good-bad wishes of these two magical women have created a situation which needs masculine agency to come into play for another shift to occur.

This can only happen at the right time, though—plenty of princes try at the wrong time and don’t get through the thicket of thorns to the palace. Florimund, the prince who is lucky enough to be successful, is a young man whose name strongly suggests that he is in touch with his inner feminine (his name translates ‘Flower World,’ after all). For him, the thickets bloom into rose bushes and part. To me, this speaks to that aspect of feminism which seeks to value and support feminine qualities in boys and men. Florimund does not need to be a sword-wielding hero; what he does need is the courage to step into a vast, surreal and eerie series of rooms where everyone appears to be dead—not an easy task and one which, I would suggest, can only be met by someone who cares about what has happened and is not afraid to step into a death-like space to find out.

A word too about Aurora before she pricks her finger. This girl is lucky enough to be blessed with many qualities from her twelve fairy godmothers, all of them ones which I think any mother wishes for her daughter. However, the godmothers cannot give this child a trouble-free journey through life any more than we can for ours. Aurora is also given to be curious  and independent—she is not a goody two-shoes who just hangs out at her sixteenth birthday party lapping up the compliments of local gallants; at the earliest opportunity, she slips off to do some exploring (uh-oh).

For me, there is something satisfyingly complete about the shape of this story: the feminine principle is wounded by a king’s careless act so it must be rectified by the loving gesture of a next-generation hero.

And it is.

What do you think? Is ‘Sleeping Beauty’ feminist? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Join the Conversation: Is Sleeping Beauty Feminist? | Barefoot Books

…by the way, I think Tchaikovksy’s music for this ballet is wonderful. It’s no wonder to me
that ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ is the world’s longest-running ballet production. I am booking my tickets today!

Join the Conversation: Is Sleeping Beauty Feminist? | Barefoot Books

If you’d like a refresher on the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ story before deciding for yourself, you will find three versions of it in this season’s catalogue, in The Barefoot Book of Fairy Tales, The Barefoot Book of Princesses and The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories:

Join the Conversation: Is Sleeping Beauty Feminist? | Barefoot BooksJoin the Conversation: Is Sleeping Beauty Feminist? | Barefoot BooksJoin the Conversation: Is Sleeping Beauty Feminist? | Barefoot Books







The major themes of the story are the same in each retelling, so you can take your pick! 

Barefoot Books Removes Minimum Sales ThresholdIn a bold move, children’s publisher Barefoot Books announced this month that it is removing the minimum sales threshold for its Ambassadors, making it easier than ever for passionate individuals to start their own business through Barefoot’s direct-selling opportunity.

With the Ambassador community growing quickly, President Jessica Kim says, “We know that every person joins Barefoot Books with their own personal goal and time commitment in mind. We’re excited about this change, as it will enable us to offer this exciting opportunity to more people, including those who simply love children’s books and want to share stories in their spare time.”

In the past, Ambassadors were required to maintain a minimum of $500 in sales every 6 months to remain active. Now, Barefoot Books is removing this requirement, while still offering one of the industry’s most generous compensation plans.

“The Barefoot Books Ambassador program is a wonderful opportunity to earn income in a way that fits your family needs and lifestyle,” says Barefoot Books CEO and Co-founder Nancy Traversy. “Ambassadors have the flexibility and freedom to run their business in their own way without any sales minimums or hidden fees.”

Thanks to this increased flexibility, teachers and students can earn extra cash over the summer; budding entrepreneurs can grow their businesses and enjoy a supportive, like-minded community; and parents and literacy advocates can earn free copies of beautiful, multicultural books. Whatever your goal is, now is the perfect time to join Barefoot Books.

Reactivation Rules Apply.

5 Bookish Ways to Boost Kids' Twenty-First Century Literacy | Barefoot Books

Do you ever wonder how you’ll keep up with our ever-changing, information-saturated world? How you’ll teach the children in your life to navigate its twists and turns? How they will gain the skills they’ll need to thrive in our complex present and uncertain future?

We do, too. Through recent chats with teachers, we’ve discovered that encouraging your children or students to read nonfiction is an effective way to prepare them for our brave new world. In addition to opening “possibilities” for children, nonfiction builds skills vital to twenty-first century literacy, particularly the ability to teach themselves. “The ability to discover information and tools for yourself,” as technology teacher Vanessa Vosburg explains, “is absolutely vital in our constantly-changing world.”

Whether you’ve got an avid or reluctant reader on your hands, it’s easier than ever to find great nonfiction books your children or students will love, thanks to the recent boom in children’s nonfiction publishing. So help give him or her a headstart on developing twenty-first century literacy by following these easy tips:

  • Find nonfiction books that “specifically relate to his or her interests,” Ms. Vosburg says. “The topic could be a traditional academic area, such as a scientific book about animals, or just something the child is passionate about, such as a favorite movie or music group.”
  • Don’t shy away from nonfiction picture books, Ms. Vobsurg suggests, as they “grab kids’ attention”—even the littlest ones!
  • “Encourage your children or students to share any interesting facts they learn while reading,” Ms. Vosburg says. “Ask them questions about the topic. Having kids retell parts of books to you will help build their paraphrasing skills and cement their understanding of the material.” It’ll also give you an opportunity to ask discussion-starting follow-up questions. The more practice kids gain discussing topics that interest them now, the more capable they’ll be as adults of participating in the conversations that will shape our world’s future.

5 Bookish Ways to Boost Kids' Twenty-First Century Literacy | Barefoot Books

  • Read intentionally—and interactively! Walk your children or students through how to navigate a print nonfiction book, from the Table of Contents to the Index and everything in between. Ask them how the book’s organization makes the topic easier to understand, as in Wonderful Words—or, as in our World Atlas, even adds meaning (Find out how here!). Grab multiple pens in various colors and index cards; in one color, write each of the book’s main ideas or major sections on a different index card; then, in a different color, write each individual section’s main ideas on a different index card. Work your way through the book like this, then lay all the cards out on the floor. What can you see now about how the author constructed the argument or narrative? Then grab all the cards and toss them in the air! Rearrange them at random on the floor and take another look. How does reordering the cards show new relationships between the ideas? Then, imagine that you’ve just Googled a keyword related to this topic; all the cards on your floor represent a small fraction of the different webpages that appear in the search results—and they may be buried under hundreds of less reliable, relevant or interesting results. How would you find the pages you need? How would you know which ones to read? Which is most important? Which is most relevant? Finally, without referencing the book, try to reorder the cards to reconstruct the book’s main narrative or argument. How does this help you think about the way you gather, analyze and synthesize information online?5 Bookish Ways to Boost Kids' Twenty-First Century Literacy | Barefoot Books
  • Help your child or student follow her interests from one medium to another. If she’s already adept at navigating a print nonfiction book, help her research the same topic online, at the library, even on YouTube or Netflix. It may sound counterintuitive, but reviewing the same or similar content on a different platform—such as reading our print World Atlas and then exploring the mobile and tablet app—opens up new avenues of understanding. By interacting with a topic on more than one medium, you’ll not just learn new facts about the topic, but you’ll begin to see how authors have to structure their text differently on different media platforms, and how that difference impacts what you learn from the text as the reader.

However you incorporate nonfiction into your children or students’ reading routines, keep it fun! As media theorist Henry Jenkins explains, “In a hunting society, children learn by playing with bows and arrows. In an information society, they learn to play with information.” So give them children’s nonfiction, and let them play! With strong twenty-first century skills, your children or students will find today’s fast-paced, information-saturated world an endless source not of worry, but of wonder. Empowered by children’s nonfiction, they’ll keep on teaching themselves, learning and adapting and thriving, all throughout their lives.

How Does Children's Nonfiction Build Twenty-First Century Literacy? | Barefoot Books

“What does print nonfiction do for children that a web or mobile resource can’t?”

This question concluded our previous post about children’s nonfiction, in which we chatted with three teachers about why nonfiction is great for kids. Among other things, we learned from elementary and middle school technology teacher Vanessa Vosburg that children’s print and digital nonfiction work together to build vital twenty-first century literacies.

What is twenty-first century literacy?

Ms. Vosburg defines twenty-first century literacy as the ability to participate in and contribute to our information society. “It’s not just creating a PowerPoint based on information you’ve read about animals,” she says. “It’s starting a discussion on the topic, noticing trends and patterns. It’s understanding why those patterns are important and what they mean in the big picture.”

“Previously,” she explains, “elementary school students would memorize facts, like the fact that polar bears live in the Arctic and penguins in the Antarctic. Now, we’re teaching children to participate in discussions and use their innate reasoning skills to understand why a polar bear lives in the Arctic, and why that fact is relevant to their lives.”

How Does Children's Nonfiction Build Twenty-First Century Literacy? | Barefoot Books

Developing twenty-first century literacy is thus as complex a goal as our twenty-first century world. But, parents and teachers: don’t feel overwhelmed! Children’s print nonfiction lays a strong foundation on which kids can build the twenty-first century skills they need to succeed in school—and the rest of their lives.

Reading print nonfiction teaches children “how to teach themselves.”

When asked which foundational twenty-first century skill is most important for children to learn, Ms. Vosburg says, “I want my students to know how to teach themselves.”

So Ms. Vosburg prioritizes showing her students how to “use their computers for research, especially finding reliable sources and incorporating information from multiple sources,” she says. It’s no easy task. “For children, researching a topic online can be overwhelming,” she explains. “There’s so much information readily available in our digital age that narrowing down where to look and then deciphering a digital source can frustrate students, especially younger children. Not only do they need to comprehend the material, but they also need to judge whether or not a website can be trusted as a reliable source. But I’ve found that the wider the variety of nonfiction children have read, the easier it is for them to grasp these skills. Early exposure to nonfiction empowers children to find answers to their own questions for themselves.”

How Does Children's Nonfiction Build Twenty-First Century Literacy? | Barefoot Books

One way reading nonfiction empowers children is by teaching them how information is structured. A novel’s structure is emotional and story-driven; a website or app’s information architecture is intuitive and user experience-centric; but one can argue that a print nonfiction book’s structure is rational, designed to present content in a logical way. Often, a book begins with an introduction that provides context for the argument and ends with an epilogue that recaps the argument and its importance. In between, chapters discuss related, but distinct topics, which logically progress from beginning to end.

For example, our World Atlas begins with three introductory spreads that provide context: “The Story of Our Planet” offers geological context; “Mapping the World,” historical context; and “The Oceans and Continents of the World,” geographic context. The Atlas ends with a glossary that reinforces key terms used throughout the text. Between, distinct spreads feature each region of the globe, moving from oceans to land mass, with Oceania as a transitionary region. Each spread includes the same categories of information—“Physical Features,” “Climate and Weather,” “Natural Resources,” and so on. The spreads move in a logical order from region to region from beginning to end. And the structure itself has meaning: the ocean-to-land organization emphasizes the fact that Earth’s five oceans, despite their lack of permanent human civilization, are just as diverse and important as the seven continents.

How Does Children's Nonfiction Build Twenty-First Century Literacy? | Barefoot Books

Reading a nonfiction book like the World Atlas or Wonderful Words, Ms. Vosburg says, “gives children an overarching view of how information and themes are structured. Instead of seeing facts in isolation—which is easy—they can see how each fact ties into the next, how larger topics flow together and how all the parts combine into the whole.” Children who understand how facts relate to each other and to larger concepts will have greater success doing Internet research, where one keyword search leads down a rabbit hole into a network of diverging, overlapping and intersecting tunnels. When children understand how one small fact can contribute to a larger argument or narrative, they can more readily identify which of the dozen scattered scraps of information they’ve found is most important, and can more effectively combine those scraps into one holistic whole.

As it provides this “big-picture view” of information, Ms. Vosburg explains, reading nonfiction helps children learn to think for themselves. Children who read nonfiction find a larger realm of understanding open before them: they can use their “critical thinking skills to form their own opinions about the information presented and see how it relates to themselves,” Ms. Vosburg says.

Moreover, reading nonfiction helps children use critical thinking skills to identify reliable sources online. “Being exposed early to print nonfiction material increases a child’s understanding of the structure, language and style of digital nonfiction,” Ms. Vosburg says. Since a logical argument or unbiased historical account has the same basic characteristics in any medium, a child who is familiar with print nonfiction will be more likely to gravitate toward logical, unbiased information online. Thus, reading nonfiction in elementary school helps children “overcome many of the common struggles they have with independent research in middle and high school,” Ms. Vosburg says—and throughout the rest of their lives.

Ready to wield the power of children’s nonfiction to empower the kids in your life to build twenty-first century skills? Keep your eyes open for our next post on nonfiction—Ms. Vosburg will share her top tips. You won’t want to miss it!


Barefoot Ambassador Jessica Romick has been hard at work in the kitchen creating a tasty new recipe that is sure to warm your tummy as the chilly winter air approaches. This stew contains a variety of savory vegetables including turnips (of course!), potatoes, carrots, and more! Jessica was kind enough to write to us about her new creation that is inspired by the The Gigantic Turnip by Aleksei Tolstoy and Niamh Sharkey. She writes:

I recently began sharing a story time with the homeschooling cooperative my four-year-old son is a member of. It’s been such a joy to read [Barefoot's] beautiful books to the children and see the excitement on their faces when I pull out a new book or a puppet. We’ve discussed the changing of the seasons with Listen, Listen; we’ve learned about dinosaurs through I Dreamt I Was a Dinosaur; and we’ve enjoyed learning how children around the world say “Hello!” using the Children of the World matching game.

In September, I shared one of my favorite stories—The Gigantic Turnip—and wanted to bring the story to life for the children in a unique way. I began looking around Pinterest to see if any other ambassadors (or anyone) had created a Gigantic Turnip Stew like the one mentioned at the end of the book. To my surprise, I found nothing! I hunted around for other recipes that focused on root vegetables and then set about creating my own take on what a Gigantic Turnip Stew would be.

After several trials I’m happy to share my recipe here with you. It has become my favorite fall meal (I’m eating a bowl of it right now as I write this)! Feel free to share this recipe with your friends, family, and clients. Bon Appetite!

Download Jessica’s “Gigantic Turnip Stew” recipe here!

Curl up with a copy of The Gigantic Turnip while eating a this delicious stew!

Find out what happens when the old woman, the old man, and all twenty-one animals on the farm try to harvest a rather large root vegetable. This well-loved Russian tale uses humor, counting and repetition to appeal to beginner readers. Book with CD editions include story read by Ellen Verenieks.

The Blue Ribbon Book
The Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books
ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award Finalist
Books for Children, Mother Goose Award Winner
Children’s Book Council NOT Just for Children Anymore! Winner


If you would like one of your Barefoot-inspired creations to be featured on the Living Barefoot blog, message us on Facebook!


Every year, Barefoot Books selects one of their beloved illustrators to decorate the main tree at a local fundraising event*. With an emphasis on art in all that Barefoot does, our tree is a reflection of the creativity and imagination that runs through all our books. This year Rachel Griffin, illustrator of the brand-new Twelve Days of Christmas, is designing original ornaments based on her book and will be travelling all the way from England to celebrate this special event with us! Rachel’s artistic style includes hand-sewn fabric collage illustrations made from a variety of different materials and vibrant colors. Unlike most versions of Twelve Days of Christmas, she incorporates imagery from various cultures including pipers from India and drummers from Africa. Her artwork and new take on the classic story makes this the perfect book for the holiday season!

The brilliantly gifted artist is hard at work creating her decorations for this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas tree and graciously shared with us some insight into her creative process.

Where do you get your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from books, museums, art galleries and my magpie eye always on the lookout for inspiring images.

There is so much detail in your artwork, what has the process been like for you creating these decorations?

The process has been quite straightforward forward as I am using the book I illustrated as a reference to work from, the visual and color scheme work had been done so it is just about using inspiration from the book to come up with 3-D images for each verse. I have sketched out the elements from each verse and created patterns for the birds and hearts, they seem to come together as I am sitting at my desk creating. I have all the materials I need for each verse laid out on my desk and by the time I have finished every inch of my studio is covered with materials: sequins, beads, etc.

Your art features many different materials, where do you find such interesting pieces? Which are your favorite to work with?

I find all my collections of material from travelling, going to antique markets, charity shops, and unusual shops in cities. I never buy online as part of my process is in the collecting and finding. On this project I have found some amazing wool felt which is a dream to work with and the colors are amazing.

How is decorating a Christmas tree different from illustrating a book? How is it similar?

It is very similar to how I work on my illustrations as they are 3-D, so working on the decorations has been a natural progression for me. The only difference is that it’s trying to create each verse in the same way so they hang well
together, whereas in the book they stand on their own on each page.

Do you have a favorite ornament so far?

Three French hens — I love the colors I have used and the 3-D images I have thought of to go with the three fat French Hens!

*Each year, the Concord Museum located in Concord, MA fills its galleries with over thirty uniquely decorated trees featuring artwork inspired by acclaimed children’s storybooks. If you’re in the area between November 25 through January 3, be sure to check out the exhibit for yourself! For more information about Family Trees or the Concord Museum visit

Read the book that inspired the decorations!

Twelve Days of Christmas

A sparkling version of the popular Christmas song, in a new edition embossed with silvery-gold foiling and beautiful fabric illustrations by Rachel Griffin. This book includes an insightful note from the illustrator, information about the celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas (history, including the pre-Christian tradition, and customs), and the history and meaning of the song itself.

For babies to 10 years; Hardcover ($14.99)


Cleo and Caspar Coloring Activity | Barefoot Books

Have you heard of “book extensions”? During this year’s Summer Reading Program, our Global Program Director Stefanie Paige Grossman explained that “book extensions…are activities based on books that further enhance learning.” From pretend play to Big Kid Book Reports, book extensions reinforce the story’s characters, imagery and themes by prompting children to interact with them in a new way.

Cleo and Caspar Coloring Activity | Barefoot Books

“One of the most common ways to follow
up on a book is with a creative art activity,” Stefanie says. “While working on a book-related art activity, you might notice that
your child narrates her own story or talks about new creative ideas, sparked by the book. She’s making valuable cognitive connections!”

A coloring book is a no-stress art activity that can easily fill that rainy-day recess or antsy pre-dinner hour. With this coloring activity starring Barefoot’s favorite cat Cleo, kids can grab their favorite crayons or colored pencils and bring Cleo’s black-and-white backyard back to life.

Get started coloring Cleo here!

Looking for more adventures with Cleo? Check out these Barefoot favorites:

Cleo and Caspar Coloring Activity | Barefoot Books


Cleo and Caspar

Meet Cleo the Cat’s new housemate Caspar. When Cleo finds out that another animal has joined the household, she isn’t happy, but she soon discovers that new playmates can be fun. The simple, rhyming text is full of action verbs.

Cleo and Caspar Coloring Activity | Barefoot Books


Come here, Cleo!

Follow Cleo as she investigates the world around her. Cleo wakes up and makes her way outside where she climbs, skips and bounces until she is finally called inside for kisses.