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 www.concordmuseum.org.

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.

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Three reasons why nonfiction is good for children. If you fell in love with fiction as a kid, you might be surprised to learn that children’s nonfiction is booming. This summer, Publishers Weekly suggested that children’s nonfiction is “having its moment,” due in part to Minecraft’s continued popularity and Common Core’s emphasis on nonfiction. Meanwhile, literacy advocates like the Federation of Children’s Book Groups and Scottish Book Trust are raising the profile of children’s nonfiction in the UK.

Still, when you imagine reading nonfiction with your children or students, you might be a bit bewildered. Curling up with nonfiction sounds about as exciting and enlightening as reading a phone book. Why even have the Yellow Pages in the Google age?

But the fact is that nonfiction is good for kids. So is fiction, of course; the two are complementary, not mutually exclusive. As teacher and storyteller Karyn Keene puts it, “Fiction opens other worlds; nonfiction opens this one.”

To find out how nonfiction “opens” our world for kids, we asked teachers to share the concrete ways they see nonfiction impact their students. Here’s what we learned: Three reasons why nonfiction is good for children.

Nonfiction sparks kids’ inherent curiosity.

Has a preschooler ever driven you nuts by repeatedly asking, “Why?” If you’ve ever been around a four-year-old for even four minutes, you’re probably nodding. As elementary technology teacher Vanessa Vosburg explains, “Children have a natural desire to learn about the world around them and are highly motivated to explore materials that will answer their questions.” Thus, giving kids easily-accessible knowledge in the form of children’s nonfiction ignites their natural desire to learn.

For example, the labelled illustrations in Wonderful Words give children an easy way to learn the names of different objects, people and places. Familiar sights are labeled, like swings and skateboards; as are potentially less-familiar ones, like hummus and a hearing aid loop sign. When a child learns words for objects she’s never seen, her world expands. With a jolt of joy, she realizes that the adventure of learning will never end.

Nonfiction develops contextual knowledge, helping kids to make connections.

It’s difficult to absorb new information when you have no context for it—no place to put a city on your mental map, or no culture in which to place a person. For this reason, young children have a distinct disadvantage when encountering new places, people or ideas. Fortunately, nonfiction books give children the factual knowledge they need to process new ideas effectively and face the world around them with curiosity instead of fear. As history teacher Emily Anderson explains, reading nonfiction in early grades “helps kids to make connections more easily as they get older.” In other words, the more you know, the more you can know—and the more fun learning becomes!

Three reasons why nonfiction is good for children.

For example, our World Atlas illustrations locate familiar people and places in their geographic context alongside less familiar landmarks, which enables a child to weave new facts into her existing purview. With each colorful spread, the reader’s tapestry of knowledge expands, and with it, her comprehension of our complex world.

Even today’s world needs to be understood in the context of yesterday’s. Since we can’t understand the present without the past, our Atlas explores how each region’s climate and geography has influenced its cultural development. By introducing kids to the forces that shaped the past, we prepare them to understand the present and identify ways that they, too, could impact the future.

Kids discover real-world heroes.

Speaking of the past: There’s nothing more motivational than a true story. Nonfiction shows children “real heroes and real people in both ordinary and extraordinary circumstances,” Ms. Anderson says. When a child reads about the incredible achievements of real people like Rosa Parks, Ada Lovelace, Cesar Chavez or Leonardo da Vinci, he realizes that even he, too, could do the extraordinary.

“Seeing these real people gives kids heroes to look up to, people whose heroics they could achieve themselves,” Ms. Keene says. “Nonfiction could inspire our future social activists or research scientists.” In this way, she adds, nonfiction “opens doors of possibility for children.”

Our world is full of things for children to learn and do and be. With nonfiction books like World Atlas and Wonderful Words, the door to that world is open: all children have to do is step through.

But wait: what does print nonfiction do for children that a web or mobile resource can’t? That was our next question for elementary technology teacher Vanessa Vosburg. Find out her answer in our next post!

 

For example, our World Atlas illustrations locate familiar people and places in their geographic context alongside less familiar landmarks, which enables a child to weave new facts to existing knowledge. With each colorful spread, the reader’s tapestry knowledge expands, and with it, her understanding of complex world.


A spooky fruit and gelatin recipe straight from Dracula’s kitchen. Wash your hands before you start! Always have a grown-up in the kitchen with you when you cook. Ages 8 and up.

QUANTITY Makes 3–4 small glasses (tubs)

MATERIALS

• 1¼ oz packet unflavored gelatin (enough to set 2½ cups liquid); For a vegetarian version, use agar-agar, following the instructions on packet

• 1½ cups blueberries or blackberries, or any fruit you wish

• 2¼ cups dark red or blue berry juice (e.g. blueberry or cranberry)

• ¼ cups boiling water

KITCHEN STUFF

• Mixing bowl

• Measuring cup

• Teapot

• Tablespoon

• Containers (for gelatin)

LET’S BEGIN

1. Wash the fruit and pat dry with a paper towel.

2. Put the gelatin into the measuring cup. Pour ¼ cup boiling water over the gelatin and stir carefully with a spoon, to dissolve it.

3. Add the berry juice to the dissolved gelatin so that it fills the measuring cup up to 2½ cups.

4. Divide the fruit between the containers and pour the gelatin mixture over the fruit.

5. Put Dracula’s gelatin in the fridge for about 45 minutes to set.

Tip: Add more fruit than gelatin for set fruit.

The recipe shown in the picture is of Cran-Grape juice gelatin with blackberries. Yum! Download this fun Hallowe’en recipe and more here.

Looking for more fun in the kitchen?

Encourage budding chefs to create tasty meals with 40 laminated recipe cards that feature nutritious vegetarian dishes from around the world. Unique recipes ranging from the familiar to the exotic are divided into five color-coded categories to reflect the major food groups. Simple step-by-step instructions put kids in control as they learn that cooking is more than an art — it’s a science! Includes 8-page booklet with information on nutrition, kitchen safety and terminology. This edition has been updated with even tastier recipes.


A craft to make you say “Ahhh!” Bring the friendly monsters from Grim, Grunt and Grizzle-Tail to life with a paper plate mask! While you’re creating your mask, think about a Monster Story for your own monster. How will your monster sound? Is your monster friendly or misunderstood, like Grizzle-Tail? Let your imagination shape your mask and the story to go with it. Ages 5+

WHAT TO FIND

  • Paper Plates
  • Scissors
  • Tissue paper cut into small pieces
  • Glue, tape and a stapler
  • A small bowl with some water
  • Construction paper
  • Popsicle stick
  • Any additional art supplies you have

WHAT TO DO

1. Sketch out the monster you’d like to make on a paper plate. Have an adult help you cut out holes for the eyes.

2. Put a small amount of craft glue into a dish and add water in equal parts. Stir together and paint the surface of the plate with the glue mixture. Layer your cut tissue paper onto the wet glue. Secure any loose ends or overlapping pieces with additional glue where necessary. Set aside to dry.

3. Use construction paper to cut out features for your monster, like big eyes, a nose and mouth. Create pointy teeth by cutting out lots of triangles. Add ears and horns to your creature by glueing them on the back of the plate. Use paint, pipe cleaners, puff balls and your imagination to make your monster unique.

4. Glue a popsicle stick to the bottom of your monster and reinforce with tape. Make your mask sturdier by stapling another plate to the back. Have an adult use scissors to make sure you can still see out of the eye-holes.

5. When you’re finished, walk around the house and pretend you’re a monster! Then, share your masks with us @barefootbooks on Instagram!

Ready to scare? Download the activity here.

Check out these Monster Stories perfect for the Hallowe’en season!

Meeting monsters on the page helps children realize that many of the scary things in life are less frightening than they appear — and that monsters can have feelings too! Inspire young readers with these adventures that teach courage, compassion and kindness.

Buy Grim, Grunt and Grizzle-Tail here or get the six book set and save!


From "Tales from Old Ireland" by Malachy Doyle, illustrated by Niamh Sharkey.

You can’t help but wonder at the mystery surrounding All Hallows’ Eve. From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to the upcoming Pride and Prejudice and Zombies film, Halloween has inspired popular culture for ages, spreading from Northern Europe to as far as Hong Kong!

But how did Halloween become the holiday we know today?

  • Halloween as we know it evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats for spirits who roamed the streets during a sacred festival that honored the dead, called “Samhain” in Ireland and “Nos Calan Gaeaf” in Wales.
  • Samhain festival-goers started dressing in ghost, witch and goblin costumes to escape the notice of real spirits wandering the streets. To this day, these remain revelers’ most popular Halloween costumes; just ask the spooks from our very own Barefoot Book of Giants, Ghosts and Goblins!
  • Jack o’ Lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits on the Samhain holiday.

From "Tales from Celtic Lands" by Caitlin Matthews, illustrated by Olwyn Whelan

  • If you’re the last one frolicking about the bonfire on Nos Calan Gaeaf, watch out! According to Welsh legend, the spirits of a giant black sow and headless woman might carry you with them back to the spirit world!
  • According to tradition, if a person wears his or her clothes inside-out and walks backwards on Halloween, he or she will see a witch at midnight.
  • Scottish girls believed they could see images of their future husband if they hung wet sheets in front of the fire on Halloween.

Not so keen on wearing your clothes inside-out or hanging wet sheets by a fire? Celebrate instead with our monstrously fun Halloween craft, spooky recipes or scary-fun books! Befriend a not-so-scary giant (above), gallant heroes, fiendish folk and more in Tales from Old Ireland.

Wishing you and your family a safe and spooktacular Halloween!


Paper Leaf Suncatcher Activity from Barefoot Books -- A perfect fall craft for kids!

This fall, decorate your windows with translucent leaves that let the sun shine through! Using office supplies and tissue paper, work with your family to create a stunning window display perfect for seasonal parties. This activity is inspired by Skip through the Seasons, which teaches us about winter, spring, summer, and fall.

Paper Leaf Suncatcher Activity from Barefoot Books -- A perfect fall craft for kids!

What You Need:

• Templates (found here)

• Tissue paper in fall colors

• Plastic sheet protectors (or contact paper)

• Scissors

• Glue

• Tape

What To Do:

Paper Leaf Suncatcher Activity from Barefoot Books -- A perfect fall craft for kids!

1. Print out the downloadable templates. Break open the sheet protectors and apply glue sparingly to one of the inside covers.

2. Tear off pieces of tissue paper and glue them down until you have covered one side. You may need to apply more glue where the tissue paper overlaps.

Paper Leaf Suncatcher Activity from Barefoot Books -- A perfect fall craft for kids! 3. Evenly apply glue to the other inside cover, then fold it over and press down firmly to sandwich the tissue paper. Let dry.

4. Tape leaf templates to the page (Note: You could do this first so you’ll see the templates as you lay down the tissue paper). Carefully cut out the leaves. Make smaller leaves with the scraps.

Paper Leaf Suncatcher Activity from Barefoot Books -- A perfect fall craft for kids!

5. Tape the leaves to your window or use string to make a mobile!

Ready to get started? Download a printable copy of these craft instructions and leaf templates here!

When you’ve finished, we’d love to see what you create! Share your photos with us on Instagram using #barefootbooks!

Skip Through The Seasons Paper Leaf Suncatcher Activity from Barefoot BooksWant to discover more about the changing seasons?

Consider our popular title Skip through the Seasons.

Whirl through the months of the year in this action packed seek-and-find book that takes young readers on an outdoor adventure as the months pass by. The detailed pictures offer a wide variety of items to spot, while also teaching the changes that happen in nature as the year turns.

Buy Now >>


Eat Your Vegetables! Using Books to Help Raise Healthy Kids

We know that parents and caregivers pay attention to providing good nutrition for their children. Raising kids with an appreciation for vegetables can can give their health, and their appreciation for the earth, an advantage. Whether you are trying to encourage your children to eat more vegetables in general or have a child who prefers a vegetarian diet, you’ll find many helpful stories and kid-friendly recipes in our collection to help raise healthy and compassionate kids.

Eat your vegetables! Books to Use to Raise Healthy KidsHerb the Vegetarian Dragon

All the dragons in the forest of Nogard like nothing better than raiding Castle Dark and carrying off princesses to eat – all the dragons, that is, except one. Herb is at his happiest tending his vegetable patch, for Herb is a vegetarian. So it is unfortunate that he is the one captured by the castle’s knights in armor. Treacherous Meathook and his dragon cronies will only help Herb if he agrees to eat meat – will he give in to their blackmail. Jules Bass’s lighthearted story combines with Debbie Harter’s jaunty illustrations to make this a hilarious picture book that also offers young readers plenty of food for thought.

Ages 5 to 7 years

Eat Your Vegetables! Using Books to Help Raise Healthy KidsThe Gigantic Turnip

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.

Ages 3 to 7 years

Eat Your Vegetables! Using Books to Help Raise Healthy KidsWhat’s This? A Seed’s Story

Learn the basics of how plants grow in this springtime story. When a young girl plants a seed, she learns she must be patient to achieve results. She is rewarded by a beautiful sunflower, and brings her flower to school to share the seeds with her entire class. Includes notes about roots, shoots, flowers and
seeds.

Ages 3 to 7 years

Eat Your Vegetables! Using Books to Help Raise Healthy KidsKids’ Kitchen

Encourage budding chefs to create tasty meals with 40 laminated recipe cards that feature nutritious vegetarian dishes from around the world. Unique recipes ranging from the familiar to the exotic are divided into five color-coded categories to reflect the major food groups. Simple step-by-step instructions put kids in control as they learn that cooking is more than an art — it’s a science! Includes 8-page booklet with information on nutrition, kitchen safety and terminology.

For all ages

No matter which stories you choose to share, remember: If you’re reaching for lots of vegetables, your kids will likely take them too.


The Enduring Power of Fairytales for Kids

“If you want your kids to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

—Albert Einstein

Fairy tales, of course, have been with us for a long time. Sharing them is a tradition often passed down from one generation to another, but did you know the power that these stories can have on children?

Fairy Tales Show Kids How to Handle Problems

We learn from the characters in stories, even as adults. They help us because we connect to our own lives, dreams, anxieties, and consider what we would do in their shoes. Fairy tales help children learn how to navigate life.

Fairy Tales Build Emotional Resiliency

Fairy tales show real life issues in a fantastical scenario where most often the hero triumphs. They allow children to discover in a safe environment that no one in life is immune from challenges.

Fairy Tales Cross Cultural Boundaries

Many cultures share common fairy tales like Cinderella, with their own cultural flavor. We read the versions and know we all share something important, the need to make sense of life with story, and the hope for good to triumph over evil.

Fairy Tales Teach Story

Fairy tales are understanding the basics of story — setting, characters, and plot (rising action, climax, and resolution) as well as the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Once a child understands story, it supports his ability to make predictions and comprehend other stories he’s reading.

Fairy Tales Give Parents Opportunities to Teach Critical Thinking Skills

Perhaps you disagree with a message in a fairy tale. Reading that fairy tale is the perfect opportunity to open the discussion with your kids. Exposure to different ideas and guided conversations help your kids learn to evaluate what they read and think for themselves.

Host a Party with a Purpose!

Fairytales and Cocktails Party is a grown-ups only gathering that promises delightful drinks, stress-free shopping and scintillating conversation!

We’ll talk more about why fairy tales have endured and are still so valuable for children today. Your experienced Ambassador can make personalized suggestions for Barefoot books and gifts that will delight the kids in your guests’ lives. Go ahead and treat yourself and your friends to a fabulous girls’ night out with your Barefoot Books Ambassador.