Judy Blume: parents shouldn't worry about what their kids are reading


Judy Blume -- whose books have been frequently challenged in schools and libraries -- is skeptical of the idea that parents need to be worry about whether the books their kids read are "appropriate". Bloom says that any book a kid is captivated by is, by definition, "appropriate": "[Kids] are very good, I think, at monitoring what makes them feel uncomfortable. If something makes them feel uncomfortable they will put it down."

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Collaborating with your kids: the story of "A Dark and Dismal Flower"

JC Herz and her five year old daughter, Eve, created A Dark and Dismal Flower, a beautifully-animated picture book. In this essay, Herz offers her advice on how to collaborate with your own kids.

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Kokuyo Roll Table: Roll of drawing paper wrapped around a cube


The Kokuyo Roll Table is a clever alternative from Kobe Ishou Sourenjo is a very clever way to package and dispense rolls of kids' drawing paper. It seems like it would be tedious to re-fill, though -- but if you're game for it, it should be simple to make your own for your playroom with four pieces of MDF (or pine, if you're fancy!) and some screws.

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Moonhead and the Music Machine

Fresh from the always-great Nobrow Press and comics creator Andrew Rae is Moonhead and the Music Machine, a surreal all-ages graphic novel that tells the coming-of-age story of Joey Moonhead, whose head is a moon, and whose freak-flag is just starting to fly. Cory Doctorow reviews a fine, funny and delightful tribute to album rock, outcast liberation, and high school social dominance.

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Not selling out: Teens live in commercial online spaces because that's their only option


danah boyd points out that when kids conduct their social lives in commercial spaces, it's not because they don't care about selling out; it's because they have no other option: "In a world where they have limited physical mobility and few places to go, they’re deeply appreciative of any space that will accept them."

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Dante in Lego

Romanian Legoist Mihai Marius Mihu's Nine Circles of Hell creations are the perfect companion to the Dante for Fun picture books that retell the Inferno, Paradiso and Purgatorio for children.

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Movies: 'The Fault in Our Stars' reviewed by young woman, 14, whose mom survived cancer

Naomi Horn, 14, reviews the film adaptation of John Green’s best-selling book about young adults with cancer who find love. Naomi is no stranger to cancer: her mom is a survivor, and others in her family have died of the disease.

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Haunted Mansion comic/birthday card


Vince Dorse, creator of Untold Tales of Bigfoot, made this wonderful comic about the Haunted Mansion as a birthday card for his mother (click through below for the whole strip).

Haunted Man/Son

American juvenile incarceration: destroying a generation to feed the prison system


Wil Wheaton writes, "Today's Fresh Air (MP3) is just heartbreaking. It's an interview about the juvenile 'justice' system in America with Nell Bernstein, author of Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison, and how prison is just destroying young lives in the name of giving prison workers jobs. No. Seriously. It's infuriating, and it dovetails perfectly with your review of Matt Taibbi's new book."

Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison

'Burning Down The House' Makes The Case Against Juvenile Incarceration (Thanks, Wil!)

Student's awesome non-apology for wearing leggings


A student named Chloe Britt was disciplined for violating her school's dress-code by wearing leggings; she was required to fill in a Cultural Revolution-style confessional called a "think sheet" explaining her crime, which she did with a lot of style. "Who was bothered when I broke this rule?" "Mrs Rodgers because she thinks me wearing leggings is more important than me being in class and getting an education." "This is what I could have done instead:" "Nothing. I'm still going to wear leggings." GO CHLOE GO! (via Seanan McGuire)

Kickstarting a kids' picture book about girls and science by Zack "SMBC" Smith

Zach Weinersmith, creator of the wonderful Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and the Kickstarter-record-busting Trial of the Clone choose-your-own-adventure is unstoppable: he's kickstarting Augie and the Green Knight: A Children's Adventure Book , a girl-positive kids' picture book about science. $25 gets you the book and the ebook (I bought in!).

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Kickstarting Kibo: robot-blocks for kids 4-7

Jenise sez, "When I worked for a robotics company, I complained bitterly about the lack of robotic toys for my daughter to my boss, Mitch Rosenberg. Yesterday, he sent me an email with the answer to my problem: KIBO, a robot kit specifically designed for kids age 4-7. Mitch partnered with Marina Umaschi Bers, co-creator of Scratch Jr., to found KinderLab Robotics, Inc., and they're trying to produce the toy I dreamed of for my daughter."

Looks amazing, but it ain't cheap: $219 minimum to get the actual blocks, $349 for the full set.

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'The Cat Says The Lid Stays Closed,' from Jonathan Mann's 'Animals' album

[Video Link] "The Cat Says The Lid Stays Closed," an animated ditty from the Album "Animals" by Jonathan "Song A Day" Mann. Give him some dough if you like his work.

Critical thinking vs education: Teaching kids math without "correct" answers


Brooke Powers assigned her middle-school math class a probability exercise with no single correct answer and was monumentally frustrated by her kids' inability to accept the idea of a problem without a canonical solution. After a long and productive wrangle with her kids about how critical thinking works and why divergent problem-solving is much more important than mechanically calculating an answer that you could just get out of a computer, she salvaged the exercise and made something genuinely wonderful out of it.

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