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Thanksgiving Books

The First ThanksgivingGearing up the holidays with your children? Here are a few book ideas to share with them. You’ll be teaching them about the meaning of Thanksgiving, sharing quality time, and getting them hooked on books!

Here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving books.

The First Thanksgiving by Linda Hayward, illustrated by James Watling

Thanks for Giving by Abby Klein, illustrated by John McKinley

Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Greg Shed

The Silly Turkey Party by Steve Metzger, illustrated by Jim Paillot

Clifford Thanksgiving Parade by Maria S. Barbo, illustrated by Artful Doodlers (available from Scholastic Book Fairs).

For more book ideas, read Scholastic’s blog on the subject.

Happy reading!


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Seoul Food

One of the best ways for me to learn about other cultures is through cooking classes. I’m lucky that my local community college has a phenomenal culinary arts program and they offer evening cooking classes for those of us eager to taste the world for $65 a class. I figure that by the time I’m able to resume my active travel schedule, I’ll know what to expect – from kimchi to doro wat.

Recently, I took a class on Korean food and it was fantastic. Although I’d eaten at Korean restaurants, I’d never attempted to cook it on my own. After this class, I will definitely be incorporating Korean dishes into my regular rotation.

One of my favorite new recipes was Bim Bim Bap, a dish of beef, chicken, or pork served over a mixture of rice and vegetables topped with a fried egg.

Bim Bim Bap

Bim Bim Bap

I was thrilled to learn how to make dumplings, too. Mandu dumplings probably came to Korea with the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. Personally, I prefer steamed dumplings, but no matter how you cook them, these dumplings are fantastic. This recipe included pork, tofu, onion, cabbage, and bean noodles. The dipping sauce was made with soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, green onions, and sesame seeds.

Mandu dumplings

Mandu dumplings

Fried Mandu dumplings

Fried Mandu dumplings

Dipping Sauce

Dipping Sauce

But I also loved Bulgogi, a marinated beef dish that we ate in lettuce wraps. The marinade, which consisted of soy sauce, sugar, green onions, garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and chili paste, was so good I may just coat everything with it in the future!



But you can’t enjoy Korean food without kimchi. Ignore everything you’ve heard. If you like spicy food – really, seriously, spicy food – then you have to at least give kimchi a try. Although I don’t imagine I will make it from scratch, I would definitely buy some of this delicious dish to serve with a Korean feast in the future. But unlike many Koreans, I doubt that I’ll be eating it with breakfast!



If you’re curious about trying new foods, consider taking a class at your local community college or trying the lunch menu at an ethnic restaurant. You may not love everything you try, but it may be an eye-opening experience that leads you to adopt new favorite foods and learn more about the cultures that created them.

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Day of Knowledge

imagesDid you know that Sept. 1 is the traditional day for students to return to school in Russia? It’s known there as the “Day of Knowledge.”

In Japan, boys carry black book bags and girls carry red ones.

In India, boys and girls sit on opposite sides of the classroom.

On the first day of school in Kazakhstan, students bring their teachers flowers.

Here’s a cool chart that shows when students go back to school in some countries.

In Burkina Faso, students report to school a few days before classes begin to help clear weeds and move furniture. They work alongside teachers and school administrators to prepare the school for the new academic year. Students also purchase kerosene lanterns so they can do their homework in the evenings since most villages do not have electricity.

Although the customs – and shopping lists – may change country to country, going back to school is an exciting time for most children. In fact, there’s not a lot of grumbling from school children around the world about going back to school since they see it as an opportunity for them to learn.

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Art Without Borders

child artOne of the indisputably best things about being a child is coloring. It’s a great way for them to express themselves creatively, it builds dexterity in very young children, and it also helps them process their emotions.

There are a number of organizations that work with children to provide them with the resources and opportunities to create art. The International Child Art Foundation, based in Washington, DC, has helped children produce art in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 Chinese earthquake, and the 2004 tsunami. The foundation has even used art to help children in conflict such as Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots.

The United Nations also has used art to get children sharing their thoughts on poverty and climate change.

There are even some websites, such as the Global Children’s Art Gallery, even allow users to submit their own art. Give it a try!

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Italian Dinner

For the last 30 years, one of my best friends has been a nice Italian girl named Cara. Through her family, I got to experience different food, family culture, and history without even thinking about it.

One of the best things about kids is how open-minded they can be. They’re often more willing to embrace new things and share their own family cultures. Laying a foundation of curiosity about other people early in life – and through friendships – helps children appreciate how our differences are nothing to fear.

Even as an adult, I’m still learning – and loving it. Recently, Cara’s family hosted their 2nd Annual Italian Dinner – an extravaganza of food, music, wine, and laughter that brought together family and friends from near and far. We enjoyed dishes from their family’s native Calabria in Italy, told stories, and even danced the tarantella. In fact, there was a fair number of medagon (non-Italians; it’s kind of like being a Muggle) enjoying the feast. I’m already looking forward to next year.

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