Hooray, it’s Independence Day!

Fourth-of-JulyToday is a day to celebrate our great country and the wonderfully unique heritage and history that makes up the United States.

Many of us will celebrate with picnics and fireworks, outdoor games, festivals and other celebrations, but it is also a great day to learn a little more about the country you live in…so here is a fun little activity to learn more about the states and their symbols.

Fill in the blanks with either the state name or the plant or animal. Helpful hint: Visit Arbordalepublishing.com to find the animals in each of the books listed.

It took a magpie to help Maine’s state animal (___________)  to learn to tell jokes in Moose and Magpie.

Ohio’s state bird the _______________ fills the apple tree planted by Nicholas and Grandpa Santos in Christmas Even Blizzard.

12-t Felina is Florida’s state animal and when she meets Felix; this ____________ learns that she is very special and rare.

In North Carolina the state flower___________________ may attract a bear just like in The Tree that Bear Climbed.

Mandy __________ (Washington’s state land mammal) joins Peter Pika to find the Mountain Monarch in The Glaicers are Melting!.

New York’s state animal, the _____________, won’t be found watching fireworks from the empire state building, but you can read about their incredible building ability in The Beaver’s Busy Year.

If you visit Texas, be sure to try the state snack ___________________. You can even get a recipe to make your1-t own from Burro’s Tortillas.

In Prairie Storms, Kansas’s state animal the _____________ stands strong in the cold wind and snow.

Maggie’s sandbox was not the ideal spot for Maryland’s state the ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­______________________ to lay her eggs in Turtles in my Sandbox.

If a Dolphin were a Fish star Delfina would swim over to this state (_____________), that has named the bottlenose dolphin as their state marine mammal.

If you visit Alabama be sure to try the state fruit, blackberries all of the animals in this book _____________________ love them too!

If you are in Minnesota, follow Hope’s lead and raise this state insect ________________ in your own garden.

The national bird and a symbol of liberty, ____________; this bird tries to help Marcel find food in Whistling Wings.

fireworkWe hope you enjoyed this fun Fourth of July activity and learned a little too! For more information on state symbols we did our research at State Symbols USA. Or learn more about the books mentioned here at Arbordale Publishing.

Summer is here!!

School is almost out and the fun begins, but before you dive into the pool for the season here are a few days to celebrate and help the environment as well.

First up, June is the National Zoo and Aquarium month. The perfect way to see animals from all over the world and meet the keepers that take care of these animals is to visit. Go to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to find a zoo or aquarium near you. If you can’t visit, read Animal Helpers: Zoos or Animal Helpers: Aquariums to learn about those that care for wild animals every day.
Find a zoo or aquarium at www.aza.org

World Oceans Day is June 8th and a great day to recognize how important the world’s largest body of water is to our survival and the animals that live there. Events are happening around the country as well as online. Take a “Selfie for the Sea” or enter the photo contest to support conservation of the ocean. Learn more at www.worldoceansday.org

Meteor Watch Day is June 30th and a perfect night to go outside and watch the sky. Take this day to learn about meteors and other objects in the sky. Download a sky map app and look at star formation or a perfect way to prep for meteor day is to read Pieces of Another World, check it out here.
Learn more about meteors http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Meteors



You don’t have to have a national day to celebrate the earth, nature or the environment. Summer is the perfect season to take a hike and identify plants and animals. Share your outdoor ideas with us and you may win a book for summer reading!


Weather predicting rodent: why February 2nd is significant

groundhogSpring seems so far away, yet it is almost time for Punxsutawney Phil, Staten Island Chuck, General Beauregard Lee, and many others to emerge from their winter den to predict the weather for the remainder of winter. While there is not much actual science behind the holiday, this rodent’s prediction is highly coveted as the hope for an early end to the icy, snowy weather is anticipated.

Where did the idea for this holiday come from? February 2nd has been a significant day in winter for centuries. This date reflects the midpoint of winter, halfway between the solstice and the equinox. From the Pagan holiday (Ibolc) to the Christian holiday (Candlemas), many past celebrations have marked this midwinter point.

The first mention of weather prediction on Candlemas day comes from the Germans. This date was also a day for the farmers to assess their feed supply, and predict if they would have ample supply for the remainder of the season, or skinny cows come spring.

The early German settlers brought their weather predicting traditions to America. Instead of a hedgehog, or a badger the groundhog fit the bill to be woken from his hibernation and predict the duration of the remaining winter. The first reference to Groundhog Day in Pennsylvania was in 1841, the first reporting in the newspaper was in 1886, and the first time Punxsutawney Phil emerged from Gobbler’s Knob was one year later in 1887.

Through 2013 Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow 100 times predicting more winter, and only 17 times has he predicted an early spring. What will the prediction be in 2014? Find out at 7:30 on Sunday morning.

Celebrate with this groundhog coloring page! And learn more in Prairie Storms by Darcy Pattision.



Information for this post gathered from http://www.groundhog.org/, and mental_floss http://mentalfloss.com/article/29889/where-did-groundhog-day-come.

Celebrate the Little Things in Life

If you have visited the Sylvan Dell calendar of special days online, you know when cephalopod awareness day is, or even squirrel appreciation day. Many days on this calendar celebrate the animals in our stories, but this week we are celebrating ways to help others in our community.

While on Monday we celebrated the national holiday of Veteran’s Day, today is a lesser known day to celebrate kindness. World Kindness Day is November 13th, although we should be kind to others every day. Today we can do something special for our friends, family or even strangers to teach children about kindness. Here are a few suggested activities to celebrate World Kindness Day!

–          Write a letter telling someone how special they are to you

–          Give a small gift to an unsuspecting friend

–          Help someone in need by carrying groceries, holding open the door or crossing the street

–          Volunteer for a community program

If you subscribe to Fun eReader or have Sylvan Dell books here are a few suggested titles to read for World Kindness Day:  Tudley Didn’t Know, How the Moon Regained Her Shape, or any of the Animal Helpers series.

Your Environment Needs Help!

 On November 15th we celebrate recycling with America Recycles Day! While many children know that it is good to recycle, or which bin to put the “special trash” into. They may not know exactly why recycling is important. Friday is a great day to show kids why the environment needs that trash to go in a different bin, and there are events across the country to celebrate this day. Check out the America Recycles event listings to find ways to celebrate near you http://americarecyclesday.org/join-an-event. For a different take on recycling read Nature Recycles: How About You? to find out how animals recycle in their habitat.


Celebrating kindness and care for the environment is a great introduction to the true reason we gather as a family later this month and give thanks.

Find more great holidays to celebrate on the calendar of special days http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/SpecialDays.htm.


Orionid Meteor Shower: A Sight to See

This past weekend was the Orionid Meteor Shower. Did anyone get a chance to look at the night sky in the early early hours of the morning?  Although these Orionids, which appear from the Orion constellation, are rather modest, they do have a claim to fame that makes any star gazer ready to spot them: they are a product of Halley’s comet!  As Halley’s comet orbits the sun, it has left behind dust that was liberated from the comet when it was warmed by its close passage to the sun.  In turn, the Orionid meteor shower that we are able to see is the result of the Earth passing through this trail of depris deposited by the comet.  Did you know that these sand-grain size pebbles from Halley’s debris stream race through the sky at speeds of more than 90,000 miles an hour?  That’s 145,000 kilometers!  At speeds as high as this, when the debris reaches Earth’s atmosphere, streaks of light are created.  For us here on Earth, this is a beautiful sight. 

To peak your child’s interest, teach them more about the solar system and planets with our beautifully illustrated books, “Meet the Planets,” and “Saturn for My Birthday,” by John McGranaghan.  

Soar through the solar system with “Meet the Planets,” and witness the first Favorite Planet Competition.  Who will be the lucky winning planet?  Readers learn all about each planet as Pluto (the former ninth planet, now known as dwarf planet Pluto) introduces them with short, tongue-in-cheek facts.  Children (of all ages) will spend hours searching the art for all the references to famous scientists and people of history, space technology, constellations, art, and classic literature. 

In “Saturn for My Birthday,” young Jeffrey wants Saturn for his birthday, and he wants the moons too…all 47 of them!  But he’s not selfish, he’ll share some of the rings with his friends and teacher at school.  Facts about Saturn are woven seamlessly throughout this wonderful picture book.  Through a funny story, Jeffrey explains just what he will do with his present and how he will take care of it.   




October is National Collector’s Month! What do YOU collect?

Have you discovered the joy of stamp collecting?  Better yet, have you discovered the joy of collecting anything at all?  Now, I’m not talking about the junk mail that finds its way onto each and every one of our kitchen tables.  I’m talking about the collection of something meaningful, something that can offer knowledge and educate us, or simply be productive fun.

This month is your chance to get in the spirit, because October is none other than National Collector’s Month (…and Halloween of course)!  Did you know that stamp collecting just so happens to be the most popular hobby in the world?  Who knew?  And just like me, I bet you’re asking, “Why stamps?”  Well, they aren’t just little pictures on little sticky pieces of paper.  Stamps represent different historical events, people, and places!  It is the perfect stepping stone to learning as much or as little as you would like about the world. 

This is the perfect hobby to start young or with children, because it gives kids the chance to ask questions, and it’s a fun way to start.  It opens the door to so much history and information.  It may be a stretch, but if you let it, collecting can be like visiting other parts of the world from your own living room.  If you are looking for it, this is a wonderful experience to share with your children.  You can choose any way to start, which give you the opportunity to choose an approach that will interst your child the most.  For instance, you can focus the collection on a particular place or time period.  Here are a few specific areas of collecting to consider:

    • Topical (birds, castles, Disney, etc.)
    • Precancels (US or foreign)
    • Machins (Queen Elizabeth heads)
    • Perfins (stamps with holes punched into them)
    • Classics (stamps issued in the 19th century)
    • and so many more!

Reading with your kids about other collectors can be another great way to get them interested in a hobby of their own.  Sylvan Dell publishes a book called “Sort it Out!”  by Barbara Mariconda.  In this book, Packy the pack rat collects tons of things and has to sort them out.  To him, all of the things he has collected are treasures in some way special to him.  This book also includes interactive activites on sorting, categorizing, and classifying.  Check it out, and maybe your child will find something awesome to collect too!



Moving Forward to Fall and Revisiting the Past with Kids!

September 23rd, three days from now, will be the Autumnal Equinox!  Sit down with your child and take the chance to teach them something they may not know.  What better way to teach kids about this spectacular occurace that only comes twice a year?  They can observe and learn at the same time!  Check out our books, “Count Down to Fall,” and “Meet the Planets” to get your child interested in the changing of seasons and the world of the stars.  Through “Count Down to Fall,” by Fran Hawk, children can watch the vibrant falling of leaves all around and capture the majesty of the maple, the oak, the linden, and more!  Through “Meet the Planets,” by John McGranaghan, children can soar into the solar system and learn about the planets.  And those of you suffering from a mild case of nostalgia, don’t worry, it doesn’t forget to include our former ninth planet, Pluto! 

By visiting our website, you will also have access to numerous arts and crafts ideas as well as interractive quizzes for kids with budding creative minds.  Corresponding to this particular time of year, we have provided some free activities for you to enjoy with your child. Children can learn the identification of stems, roots, and seeds as well as their fuctions and purposes.  Who knows, you may even find something new to learn that you didn’t know!

Not only do we have the changing of the seasons occuring around us as we speak, but look out! September 28th is coming soon.  This day has been dubbed Read a Child a Book You Like Day.  Go ahead and visit your local library to check out one of your favorite books from your childhood!  This way your child will get to know a little piece of something you enjoyed at their age.

In Support of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Day:

Tomorrow, September 13th, is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Day.  Cancer, more common in older people, does reach children as well.  Although no one really understands why young children get cancer, it is important that they always know it is not their fault.  Neuroblastoma, for instance, is one of the most frequent cancers in children today.  This disease attacks the sympathetic nervous system and spreads its harm to 650 children a year in the US.  One of the most devastating facts about this disease is that there is no cure.  Children with Neuroblastoma can undergo the most toxic form of chemotherapy, in search for the possibility of remission.  If remission does occur, however, there is no cure for relapse, a traumatizing and constant threat for children in recovery. 

Check out our book, “Champ’s Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!” by Sherry North.  This book provides the perfect opportunity for you as parents to teach your children about cancer awareness as well.  In this inspirational story, although cancer affects a young boy’s dog, children can still learn it is a disease that can find anyone.  It teaches children about cells that may grow the wrong way inside of the body, as well as ways to comfort the sick.  A person may seem completely fine on the outside although they are sick inside.  It is never too early to inform children and make them aware.   

This day, of all days, can be one for you to help.  There are countless non-profit organizations in cities all over the country.  Finding one won’t be difficult. Volunteer opportunities are available all of the time.  Children need the help of others in order to chase after a cure.  For our followers here in Charleston, you can get active in your home city.  Follow this link to meet Chase, a strong young fighter, and explore opportunities to help in the community: Chase After a Cure.  For other followers, check out this more thorough list of organizations all over the country that are available to you!  It doesn’t matter who you are, you can help!

September is National Literacy Month

The month of September is National Literacy Month.  In celebration of literacy, our featured ebook for September will be “Animalogy: Animal Analogies.”  This beautifully illustrated book makes use of animals’ characteristics and actions to teach children about analogies.

Our homepage features a free ebook every month, so go and check it out!

Take advantage of this time with your kids and teach them different ways to make reading fresh and fun! There are all sorts of ways to get children excited about picking up the next new read.  Involve your child by reading with feeling and emotion, or letting them guess what may come next in the story.  Something as simple as this can make reading books a treat to look forward to daily, be it in the middle of the afternoon or right before bedtime.

Here are a few tips to practice with your children:

  • Spend time in conversation with your child to develop vocabulary and knowledge of the world.  Label what you see and explain how things work.
  • Read aloud with your child everyday. Don’t just make sure they understand what is being read, but how a book works.  For instance, we read from left to right, as well as from the front of a book to the back of a book.
  • Teach your child about letters and words.  Take notice of the words and letters in the world around you, whether it’s on a cereal box or a billboard.  Point them out to your child.  You can post their name in their room, and let them get familiar with the letters.
  • Play with language in order to help your child become familiar with rhymes and letter sounds.  Read them nursery rhymes and involve your child by seeing how many rhyming words you can think of together: dip, lip, sip, tip, trip, hip.  Use a series of words that start with the same letter (alliteration).  This will allow your child to start recognizing letter sounds. Ex) ‘Frank the ferret found a friend.’

Visit the Reading and Literacy Tips page on our website for more advice on reading to and with children of all ages!

Holidays Make Great Excuses to Get Outdoors!

June has a number of great holidays!