Basic Grocery Store Etiquette

Some things to keep in mind right now, in no particular order:

  • Minimize your trips. Don’t go more than you need to. Really. (Check in with neighbors, family and friends when you need to go. You can save them a trip, and maybe they’ll save you a trip in the future.)
  • Try to space out parking. Don’t park right next to someone if you can avoid it.
  • Hand sanitize as you go through the store gathering items and when you leave. (If you wear gloves, take them off when you leave, and consider using sanitizer on them. If you don’t take gloves with you when you leave, throw them in a waste basket, not on the ground or in the basket.)
  • Put a mask on before you go in and take off when you leave, unless you plan to make more stops. It’s a good idea to have a plastic bag to put your used mask in so you can clean it when you get home. Don’t touch your face when removing mask until you’ve sanitized your hands.
  • Wipe down your cart or basket.
  • Keep your distance. Don’t cluster around things.
  • Buy what you touch. Don’t put it back. Don’t open and close and check inside things.
  • Be patient with everyone, even those who aren’t patient with you. We’re all stressed in some fashion.
  • Smile, even if you’re in a mask. It shows in your eyes.
  • Don’t complain about what’s not there. We all know there’s going to be stuff missing at this point. Sigh, shake your head, shrug, whatever, and move on.
  • Don’t bring your kids if you can possibly avoid it. I have kids. I love my kids. I know how hard it is to do things without your kids sometimes. BUT. They touch everything. They forget to cover their mouths. They forget to keep their distance. They can’t stop themselves from not listening at least once.
  • Thank the workers who are there.

I write lists for a living (really) so please excuse the parallel imperative verb form. I’m not trying to sound bossy. These are just some things that have occurred to me from what I’ve seen and what other people have said/written about their experiences.

I’m open to correction or addition. Just let me know if you think I’m off the mark on something.

Here’s a great resource from the CDC for wearing and making homemade masks: Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19

Some closing words from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. I didn’t vote for him. I haven’t agreed with all of his policy positions in the past. However, I think he’s doing a great job on this, and I want to thank him for doing his best to follow the science and the experts to keep folks safe.

Finally, a couple of thoughts, building on what CDC and DeWine say:

Gloves and masks don’t preclude washing hands, keeping distance, and not touching your face. Observe those things first.

Gloves and masks need to be changed, cleaned, discarded (depending on the type of item) to be at all helpful. If you walk around wearing the same pair of gloves all day, you’re not really helping anything. Potentially, you’re spreading the virus. If you wear gloves to the gas station, happen to pick up the virus, and then get in the car, drive, go in the house, and pick up your kid without taking off the gloves, you’ve just spread the virus in your car, on your door, and to your child. At the least, keep sanitizer handy to use on your gloves, too. Change and wash your mask between outings, which we should be minimizing, right?


Some Favorite Kid Reads

I know many friends, colleagues and complete strangers are sharing their favorite books online in closed social networks right now. It’s amazing to watch and listen.

Authors and illustrators are taking part, too. Many have shared their books online in the past, or have permitted others to read them aloud or convert them into faux animations. Many more are doing so now. I thought I’d share a few favorite video read-alouds.

So much more out there, but this should get you started. Also, be sure to visit

#OperationStoryTime | Your Favorite Authors Host Story Time Online!

You should also check out the Barefoot Books You Tube channel, which has wonderful singalongs and readings.

Aaaand of course, Storytime from Space! Listen to astronauts read some awesome books from the International Space Station! Here’s one to get you started:

Don’t Panic, but Be Mindful.

Folks, keep in mind that there are many more people with compromised immune systems in the community, in your circles, than you think there are. Age is a factor, yes, but so are myriad conditions ranging from cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, organ transplants, sickle cell, MS, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, diabetes, and more. (Trauma, stress, lack of sleep can also weaken immune systems, for the record.)

Image result for coronavirus

Testing and social distancing matter—Why?—because it limits contagion. I guarantee there are people you care about who are immune compromised and you just don’t know it. Don’t panic, but be selective in your outings and interactions. Don’t get angry at people who choose to stay home and decline interaction. Some of us still need to come together, in limited ways, to help one another, to access things, etc., even just to relieve anxiety. Some of us don’t have the luxury of being able to help or interact or even reasonably get to the store because of greater risk.

Just be mindful. Check in with people who might not want to risk crowded stores. If a child doesn’t understand steps you are taking, even down to washing hands more often, put a name/face to your explanation. This is to protect grandma, this is to protect your cousin, this is to protect our friends, etc.

Also, take deep breaths and walks in fresh air.

Visit the CDC’s website on Coronavirus (COVID-19) or the WHO’s website to learn more. Check this out, too: A COVID-19 coronavirus update from concerned physicians (March 15)

There’s a lot of info out there. I’ve been selective about the links and videos here. NPR has a good broadcast on Misinformation Around the Coronavirus.

Here are some other helpful links about coronavirus and kids:

Here are some videos you can watch with your kids:

Need some new songs to sing while washing your hands? (There’s one from Prince … You know you want to listen.) You can also look up any number of hand-washing songs on You Tube. I won’t torment you with them here.

Check out NPR’s Kids Around the World Are Reading NPR’s Coronavirus Comic and the video:

And just because:

They Might Be Giants – The Bloodmobile from They Might Be Giants on Vimeo.


Kid Fun at Home?

Well, if you can, enjoy the fresh air, read stories together, play games, make art,  bake, invent, make music, etc. (Yes, these are past photos. We haven’t done all this just yet, but I’m motivating myself, too!)

However, as many of you know, there are some amazing online resources out there for, yes, engaging and distracting kids on their own as well as for finding things to do together. I can’t begin to find or list them all, but I want to share a few before I get back to work.

Something new I just found:

OLogy, a whole bunch of fun science explorations, games, activities, etc., from the American Museum of Natural History

Here you go:

Also, I believe Discovery Ed and a number of other education sites are offering free access for now. Here’s a list of Digital Word Games for kids from Scholastic.

Need physical activity?

Got Star Wars? Marvel?

Aaand many children’s authors maintain cool websites. Look them up! Some might be mostly biographical, but others have fun read-alouds, games, activities and other things.

Check out:

Puffin Books has a You Tube channel dedicated to authors reading aloud their picture books, and they post fun activities there, too. You can also look up story read-alouds on You Tube, like Once Upon a Story and Brightly Storytime. Also, Charlesbridge Publishing has Remote Author Content available. Authors read stories, etc.

Kid-Lit TV has great read-out-loud videos and other activities!

They Might Be Giants for kids?

Finally, check your library websites. They have SO MUCH. I promise there is stuff on your local library website that you didn’t know was there!

Wow! And I just saw this list, compiled by Publishers Weekly. It has a ton of great resources from the kid lit community (National Geo, DK, Resources for Rebel Girls, and various other publishers): How Kids’ Lit Is Responding to the Coronavirus.

Bread and Roses

On my brain today, and above all, as a writer-educator, I love drawing focus to primary sources.

Bread and Roses

As we come marching, marching, in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill-lofts gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing, “Bread and Roses, Bread and Roses.”

As we come marching, marching, we battle, too, for men—
For they are women’s children and we mother them again.
Our days shall not be sweated from birth until life closes—
Hearts starve as well as bodies: Give us Bread, but give us Roses.

As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient song of Bread;
Small art and love and beauty their trudging spirits knew—
Yes, it is Bread we fight for—but we fight for Roses, too.

As we come marching, marching, we bring the Greater Days—
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler—ten that toil where one reposes—
But a sharing of life’s glories: Bread and Roses, Bread and Roses.

James Oppenheim wrote and published the poem (which inspired songs and slogans of the same title in the labor movement and later folk music) in December 1911. However, the phrase “bread and roses” (and its implicit meaning) originated from a speech given by suffragist Helen Todd in 1910 and an article she wrote in September 1911.

File:Getting out the vote by Helen Todd lecturing audience on grass hill.png

Helen Todd, spreading the word. Photo from The American Magazine (1911), Volume 72, pp. 613.

Helen Todd might be my next children’s bio research subject. Alas, I have a whole list of them to pursue. Currently, I’m working on Adolphe Sax, a nod to my son’s love for the saxophone and the extraordinarily quirky and inventive life of the man who created his instrument of choice.

Back to Todd, here’s the relevant excerpt from her article, which invokes a part of her earlier speech:

“No words can better express the soul of the woman’s movement, lying back of the practical cry of ‘Votes for Women,’ better than this sentence which had captured the attention of both Mother Jones and the hired girl, ‘Bread for all, and Roses too.’ Not at once; but woman is the mothering element in the world and her vote will go toward helping forward the time when life’s Bread, which is home, shelter and security, and the Roses of life, music, education, nature and books, shall be the heritage of every child that is born in the country, in the government of which she has a voice. There will be no prisons, no scaffolds, no children in factories, no girls driven on the street to earn their bread, in the day when there shall be ‘Bread for all, and Roses too.’

Read the entirety of her article “Getting Out the Vote.”

Todd’s words were picked up by women social and labor activists across the country, including labor leader Rose Schneidermann, who organized for the Women’s Trade Union League and helped form the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. The slogan became so widespread that it gave its name to the massive workers’ strike at the Lawrence textile mill in January 1912. By the second day of the what came to be called the “Bread and Roses” Strike, more than 10,000 mill workers (men, women and children) had joined. At the peak of the nine-week strike, estimates suggest as many as 25,000 workers took park when workers from across the region joined in solidarity.

Read more about the Bread and Roses Strike from Zinn Education.

Below are some related primary source images and posters shared online.

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Winter Picture Book Gifts

Okay, this one’s impossible to constrain, so I’ll be breaking it up into categories. First, if you want a great resource for finding some of the best picture books out there, check out Read Brightly. They generate some great lists.

Today, I’ll do a seasonal-style list … So, things related to Christmas, Hanukkah or the solstice for those who celebrate those days as well as some other wintery titles.

Some Favorite Hanukkah Tales

Celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah?
Check out Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko!

Some Favorite Christmas Tales

(‘Twas) the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore is an obvious favorite, and there are so many wonderful versions out there. I just wanted to share ours, the one illustrated by Douglas W. Gorsline and the one illustrated by Rachel Isadora. Also, we haven’t read this one yet, but I have it on reserve and am excited to see it: ‘Twas Nochebuena by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and Sara Palacios.

Other Winter Titles

These are some other favorite wintery tales.

Winter’s Solstice Books

And for a multicultural tour of winter holidays, check out Lights of Winter by Heather Conrad and DeForest Walker.

Board Book Gifts

I meant to start posting a gift idea a day after Thanksgiving, but, well, life.  So I have some catching up to do! I wanted to share some lovely and exciting kid lit books that I’ve encountered that would make wonderful gifts for any holiday, birthday, or purpose. We celebrate Christmas, but we love to give the gift of beautiful, inspiring or informative words and images year-round …

A note: I will post items from Amazon because the site has a handy Look Inside feature. That said, I encourage you to purchase books from brick-and-mortar bookstores as well as independent and used stores (b-a-m or online). One of my favorite online book spots is If you haven’t visited them, you should. Really.

So, first up, board books …

Most folks go for the classics by Eric Carle and Bill Martin, Jr., Margaret Wise Brown, Mem Fox, and Sandra Boynton, as well as popular new series titles like Chris Ferrie’s Baby University books, Irene Chan’s Baby Loves Science books, and interactive books like those by Herve Tullet. Not to mention Jon Stone and Mike Stollin’s The Monster at the End of This Book. Those are wonderful, but I wanted to toss out some great titles you might have missed.

In no particular order …

  • Whistle for Willie, by Ezra Jack Keats
    I’m gambling most of you have read The Snowy Day, also a classic. If you love its simple perfection as much as I do, then you’ll enjoy Whistle for Willie, too.
  • The Wheels on the Tuk-Tuk, by Kabir Sehgal, Surishtha Sehgal and Jess Golden
    A lovely and fun twist on the classic Wheels on the Bus that takes you through the streets of India.
  • Rapunzel, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Pea, and Snow White, by Chloe Perkins and various amazing illustrators
    I am SO excited about these titles. I’m not a princess book sort of parent, but these are beautifully illustrated and endearingly written. If you love the princess fairy tales, please consider these.
  • All the World, by Liz Garton Scanlon and Marla Frazee
    Just a lovely, hopeful poetic jaunt through the best of our world. Also available in larger picture book format.
  • Hush Little Baby and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, by Sylvia Long
    These have been favorite early reads for all three of my children. We still sing these versions of the lyrics, and Sylvia Long’s illustrations are enchanting.
  • You and Me, by Giovannia Manna
    One of my kids favorites. Are you a flower or a tree, a tower or a cave? Find out! This large board book is characteristic of the stunning illustration style of the Barefoot Books collection.
  • Haiku Baby and Haiku Night, by Betsy Snyder
    As toddler, my kids loved these illustrations, and I enjoyed reading the short, sweet but powerful haiku.
  • It’s a Firefly Night, by Dianne Ochiltree and Betsy Snyder
    I love this as much for its rhyming narrative as I do for its illustrations. Betsy Snyder has a standout style that my kids and I adore. (See her haiku books above.) And fireflies! Enough said.
  • Think Big, Little One and Dream Big, Little One, by Vashti Harrison
    There are lots of great new bio and lit board book sets out there as well as mighty girl titles. These two are probably my favorite.
  • Little Blue Truck, by Alex Schertle and Jill McElmurry
    If you haven’t found this one yet, you should. It’s another that I can recite because we’ve read it so much.
  • Bear on a Bike, by Stella Blackstone
    More from Barefoot Books! This one’s a favorite, colorful journey of ours, but we love all the Bear books by Stella Blackstone.
  • Grumpy Cat, by Britta Teckentrup
    He’s just too grumpy, but sweet, not to love. Britta Teckentrup has several great titles with her distinctive illustration style.
  • The Itsy Bitsy Spider, by Iza Trapani
    Our favorite version of this delightful nursery rhyme/song.
  • Good Night, Gorilla, by Peggy Rathmann
    We wore this very-few-words title through. Everyone needs to meet this cheeky gorilla!
  • Don’t Push the Button!, by Bill Cotter
    Another interactive reminiscent of that lovable monster, Grover.
  • Black Cat & White Cat, by Claire Garralon
    Simple and wonderful.



Happy Halloweensie (Again)!

Well, I decided to do another one! Please be sure to visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s website to read more Halloweensie stories. They’re super-spooky-silly-fun!

The Jack-o’-Cavernb713bb9c16acf569ad416e011204ddc4

Festus Flamel wants the biggest, roundest, screamiest pumpkin ever.

“My Monster-Gro potion should do the trick!”

A sprinkle a day, and his pumpkin grows … and grows … and grows. His pumpkin grows sooo monstrous that it squashes his house.


Festus tunnels through the gourd-gantuan beast.

“I can work with this.”

Festus digs out the stringy guts. He carves a gap-toothed maw beneath two moon-slit eyes. He stitches cobwebs across its bulbous ribs and lights a fire.

Then, he bakes.

When masked marauders come haunting, the Jack-o’cavern yawns.

For a scream, Festus serves the perfect Halloween treat—whole-brain pumpkin-bread.

Happy Halloweensie!

Wow! It’s been a year since I posted. Told you it’s not a blog! That said, I couldn’t resist the seasonal challenge from Susanna Leonard Hill this year. That’s right! It’s Halloweensie time! Be sure to check out the contest rules and join in the fun if your fingers are feeling spooky or silly or just otherwise inspired.

Here we go …

The Bone House

On Halloween night, when Mira goes looking for mischief, Moon slices a fresh trail into the woods.

“Sweet trick!”

Leaves flutter forward. Mira follows to a bent bone house, whose hollows glow warm and bright, and knocks.

Bones clickety-clack-open.

She steps inside.

Bones snickety-snatch-grab!


A fire pops, a cauldron bubbles, but the bare frame rattles.


Bones crickety-crack-sigh.

“I can fix that.”

Bones slickety-slack-let-go!

Mira gathers cobwebs to stir with memories and dreams. She paints the silky potion from joint to joint until every bone stretches and gleams.

The bone house stands.

“Wicked treat!”

It’s time to go haunting.