Inspiring Picture Books for Saint Patrick's Day

A few years ago I had the privilege of working at an all-girls Catholic school in Manhattan as a reading specialist. The teachers treated St. Patrick's Day with almost the same enthusiasm as Christmas. They would go all out planning late the night before to prepare the classrooms. In the morning you could hear screams down the hallway from the girls when they entered the room to find it covered in gold and glitter the leprechauns left behind. Those teachers are saints (no pun intended) for doing so much work to create a little magic for their students. If you are looking for a few ways to celebrate the holiday with your kids, check out the following picture books to inspire fun activities and writing.

How to Trap A Leprechaun by Sue Fliess - A group of friends sets out to catch a leprechaun so that they might have their wishes granted. The book is funny and colorful and will have kids laughing, crafting and plotting to catch a leprechaun this year. This book could also act as a fun writing prompt for kids who want to write about their wishes. 

Fiona's Luck by Teresa Bateman -  Fiona tricks the Leprechaun King who has put a spell on Ireland by taking their luck and hiding it away. This book is a story of perseverance and determination and can appeal to a wide range of ages. Great for a character study!

O'Sullivan Stew by Hudson Talbott - Kate brings peace to her village after someone has stolen the witch's horse. The book is a funny and adventurous tale that highlights the Irish tradition of storytelling. 

Fiona's Lace by Patricia Polacco - You can never go wrong with Patricia Polacco. Fiona's Lace tells the story of an immigrant girl who has a talent for creating beautiful lace. As the girl struggles to adapt to America the lace unites the family. This book will spark timely and significant conversations. 

Brave Margaret: An Irish Adventure by Robert D. San Souci - A classic fairy tale with a female heroine makes for a well-crafted and exciting plot line. Margaret battles the storms and sea serpents, and in the end she saves her knight. 

If you find yourself taken by the idea of Ireland and daydreaming of a family vacation, check out Miroslav Sasek's traveling collection, This is Ireland. You will love both the illustrations and the fascinating facts about the country. 

Fun Fact: Did you know that Ireland elected its first female president in 1990? 

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5 Books on Love, Family and Friendship


At a dinner party the other night, the topic of the 5 Love Languages came up and it sparked a funny conversation. My friends and I tried to determine our own love language and others’ without reading the book or taking the quiz.

Do you know your love language or your child’s love language? The general idea of the book is that we all interpret and express love differently and we don’t always show our partner that we love him or her in the way that they innately feel loved.

The conversation got me thinking about Valentine’s Day and how our communication with one another is more important than candy hearts and crafts. Please don’t take that as a sign to hold the chocolate. My husband kindly refers to it as “mommy’s medicine." To take things a little deeper with my kids this year, I bought a couple of the following books for gifts. 

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That’s Me Loving You by Amy Krouse Rosenthal – If you loved “I Wish you More,” you will adore this new book from the same author. Don’t feel like a wimp if you cry, I can’t read it without thinking about sending my own children off to kindergarten or college someday. 


What Do You Love About You? By Karen Lechelt - A little girl asks each of her animal friends what they love most about themselves. The anteater loves his nose and the giraffe loves his neck. What a great reminder that we can be our own best friend.


You Belong Here by M.H. Clark – This book has stunning images of animals in their unique habitats. The illustrations are mostly black and white and very moving. While the entire story is about a kid, there are no pictures of humans in the book and it leaves room for the reader to imagine her own unique family. 


“And the trees belong in the wild wood and the deer belong in their shade, and the birds belong so safe and good and arm in the nests that they’ve made. And you belong where you love to be, and after each day is through you will always belong right next to me and I’ll belong next to you.”


The Friend Ship by Kat Yeh – Another tear jerker for me. When what you need is right in front of you, it can be easy to get lost looking for your missing piece in life. A story of gratitude and loyalty, this book is a beautiful tale of true love and can be related to family or friendship.


Be a Friend Salina Yoon – This book is about a boy who enjoys living life differently, as a mime. He feels lonely until he finds a friend who seems to understand him. The story helps kids think about the meaning and qualities that make up a strong friendship.


Picture Books for Little Adventurers

Our family recently took a road trip to Austin from Dallas and my four-year-old, who feels that one hundred is definitely the biggest number imaginable, said, "Mom, I guess there are probably one hundred places in the whole world." It makes me smile when I stop and realize how small their world is at this age. 

If you are traveling soon, planning a staycation, or have a geography buff on your hands, check out the following books to help them keep exploring and learning. I also received some great suggestions for traveling with kids over on Instagram!

If you are staying close to home, one fun gift idea might be to speak their love language through maps by giving them a coupon for a special adventure: "Good For One Date: Let's find a spot within a five mile radius of home," and then spend some time choosing a location together on the map. You might pair these cookies with this book for an "after school" snack and if I were the crafty type I would want to make a message in a bottle after reading the most beautiful new book, The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles. 

Happy exploring! 

Atlas of Adventures by Rachel Williams. Full of activities, maps, and facts from all over the world, this book can be revisited and explored over and over again. 

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas, Illustrated by Erin E. Stead. The pastel illustrations in this book are moving and create a melancholy tone. The book is the story of a man who lives all alone on a hill and opens ocean bottle messages. He sets out to find the recipient of a message and in-turn receives a delightful surprise.


The Littlest Family's Big Day By Emily Winfield Martin. The perfect story to accompany a family adventure or even a move to a different home.  A bear family explores their new neighborhood and creates a magical experience during the excursion.


If You Lived Here: Houses of the World by Giles Laroche. Examining different types of homes around the world, this book provides interesting facts about regions and homes. It would make a nice addition to a classroom lesson or could be included in a nonfiction unit.


Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinska. This beautiful title will provide hours of exploring and daydreaming. It also acts as a nice coffee table book for your home.  


The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski. This book proves that not all adventures require physical traveling. A little girl discovers how one can get lost in their own mind when they are allowed to create and imagine a story by reading a good book. Perfect for book lovers and big dreamers.


 City Atlas: Travel the World with 30 City Maps by Georgia Cherry, Illustrated by Martin Haake. Taking a closer look at particular cities, the atlas examines thirty locations, their landmarks and fun facts about each.

At The Same Moment, Around The World by Clotilde Perrin. A beautifully told story of diversity from the perspective of time, children will think about their own day and their activities while learning about traditions and customs from across the world. "At the same moment in Paris, France, it is seven o'clock in the morning, and Benedict drinks hot chocolate before school."


I am Amelia Earhart by Brad Meltzer, Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. The I Am Ordinary People Change the World series examines extraordinary individuals who accomplished their childhood dreams. This is a good title to start with since the mystery and courage of Amelia Earhart seem to be captivating for both adults and kids. 

Wherever You Go by Pat Zietlow Miller, Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler. A sweet alternative to the commonly gifted, "Oh, The Places You Will Go!" This book is the tale of leaving for far-off ventures and returning home when the time is right. It gives parents perspective, knowing the day is coming and reminds us that they are leaving to better themselves and not only to break our hearts.


5 Fall and Thanksgiving Picture Books That Provide Family Activities

If you're anything like me, Thanksgiving snuck up on you. As of Friday I thought we had at least one more week before the holiday. If you need some last minute Amazon Prime options for your road trips, plane rides, or to fill the days at home I've compiled some beautiful titles that come along with hassle-free activities and ideas. We are also still enjoying these earphones for iPad games and audio books.

A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins - This book tells the story of four families throughout four different centuries who serve the same dessert for Thanksgiving. The book does not gloss over what Thanksgiving looked like during our more sad and difficult times in U.S. history and allows for quality conversations with young children. At the end of the book the author shares the recipe of the fine dessert, which could make a fun activity for families to do together.


Sharing The Bread: An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller - This story is told in the early 19th century with rhyming words and old-fashioned illustrations. It shows the work and effort taken by a family to prepare a full Thanksgiving meal.  The book creates a wistful and simple tone. Reading this story each year could make a sentimental Thanksgiving tradition. Or if you're feeling industrious you might consider making paper pilgrim hats or baking bread. 


Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving by Katherine Paterson - Paterson beautifully curated a book of verses of gratitude. The pages of thanks include poems and songs from various authors and cultures and are accompanied by intricate paper-cut illustrations. Families could share a poem or verse together each day at mealtime or possibly even through the Advent season.



Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade by Melissa Sweet - An interesting true story, this book takes a unique perspective on one of the most celebrated Thanksgiving traditions. The colors and collage images are vibrant and engaging. Families could create their own collages with simple construction paper cut-outs or even torn paper. 



In November by Cynthia Rylant - You can't go wrong by reading Rylant's poetry for any situation. This book in particular is cozy and heartwarming. "In November, at winter's gate, the stars are brittle. The sun is a sometime friend. And the World has tucked her children in, with a kiss on their heads, till spring." Families might want to collect leaves or paint leaves as an activity for the holiday.

Six Informative (But Not Boring) Election Books

Heather Patterson's  Passing the Bone

Heather Patterson's Passing the Bone

With only one more debate to go and 26 days until election day, it's time to brush up on our presidential history. The election can be confusing for kids and adults too! Who remembers all of the ins and outs of the Electoral College? Luckily we can focus on the excitement and the joy of casting votes in mock elections and ways that small people can make big changes in the world.

These election books are light-hearted, humorous and empowering. Happy reading or should I say, happy voting! How will you be teaching your children and students about the voting process? Voting for dinners, class pets, jobs and chores? I'd love to hear your ideas below!

**To enter the giveaway of Heather Patterson's Passing the Bone, make sure you are following Heather and Written & Bound on instagram. Thanks so very much for reading and following along!**

Passing the Bone: America’s Next POTUS by Heather Patterson. POTUS means President of the United States, right? Well maybe there’s someone even more important around here. Passing the Bone is a delightful and endearing book about the first pup, and his many roles. While it is written for upper elementary students, my four-year-old loves it. The story line provides a cute spin on a serious topic and appeals to a wide range of age groups.

Election party ideas? It would be fun to vote for a class or family pet with these cute cookies! Photo by  Heather Patterson

Election party ideas? It would be fun to vote for a class or family pet with these cute cookies! Photo by Heather Patterson

Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio. While teaching in an all girls’ school, our staff was searching for books that represented the diversity within our classrooms and this book was a great fit. It is written for upper elementary students and does a great job of explaining the Electoral College.

When Penny Met POTUS by Rachel Ruiz. 'When Penny Met POTUS' is an empowering and funny story about a girl who goes to work with her mom for the day. Penny knows that her mother works for POTUS but isn’t sure who or what POTUS is so she sets out to find it, or him or maybe…her.

Madam President by Lane SmithThis is a fun read and a highly-relatable story for any child. The book tells the story of a child who dreams of how she would execute such power by extending recess and eliminating gross meals. It’s so much fun that it sparked some interesting conversation about how I would use my powers as president. Without question, I would request unlimited iced coffee on tap.


This Little President by Joan Holub'This Little President' is a rhyming board book perfect for tiny hands and chock-full of historical lessons. The book plays on 'This Little Piggie,' and provides short biographies about ten of our nation’s strongest leaders. While a board book, the information within appeals to both older and younger students.

Vote For Me! By Ben Clanton'Vote for me!' Is a light-hearted way to explain the “mud slinging” involved in politics, particularly to younger children. This book is particularly funny for adults during such an interesting political year.