Tag Archives: books

The Twelve Days of Christmas — Gift Ideas for Families

We know that the holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, and gift-giving is not the least of those stressors. If you need some gift ideas for interesting, novel, and super fun presents for the families in your life that have young children, look no further!


Learn sequencing and patterns with this tactile portable flannelboard from BirdBird Handmade — now with a Christmas Tree pack! We love how precise and carefully made these felt shapes are… and kids love working with miniatures… it makes them feel so big!


Magic Paper (Chinese Calligraphy Paper) is reusable hundreds of times, is perfect for developing grasp & pincer-grip (important pre-writing skills), fine motor coordination, precision, manual dexterity, and patience!

It’s great fun for ALL ages, and is made of ground slate, pvc glue, and flocked fabrics, so really safe ‘ingredients’ for such a magical object!


We’re bundling our favourite books with Gift Certificates for classes! A perfect little present for the whole family at once!

$100+ gst for the bundle! And you can get it gorgeously gift wrapped for a donation to Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta at Northland Village Mall‘s Coat Check/Gift Wrapping centre!


These sweet little Pebbino Birds are made with slate, twigs, silver wire, and air and poly clay, and we love them.

They’re just $15, and if you want one that looks like YOUR family, our artist will make a custom piece for $20.



Our friends at Tribe of Lambs have sent us some of their awesome, unisex ‘Kashish Bracelets’ — if you’re into gifts that keep on giving, you can’t go wrong with jewellery from this amazing company.

Check out more about their mission at tribeoflambs.com

And more about Kashish below:

An open-ended bracelet with square ends, adding just a touch of the Tribe with a small lamb engraving on either side. Molded and handset by Indian craftsmen, this piece looks simply stunning on its own or is perfectly stackable to add a bit of heart to any arm party. ($58)

*Kashish is an 8 year old girl who comes from a family of Tibetan refugees. Northern India has a large community of Tibetans who often live well below the poverty line due to lack of jobs and resources. This results in terrible living and family situations for children, often pulled out of school or just left to fend for their own. Kashish is now happy and flourishing at Sudeshna’s children’s home, one of the Tribes Compassion Project Partners.


On the 6th Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me… an illustrated anthologieeeeeeeeee!!

A whole collection of beautiful stories makes the perfect gift that any child can grow up with and cherish forever.

We’ve got all sorts in store; classic fairy tales, snippets of new favourites, cultural compilations, editions with illustrators and authors from around the world and across time… and at every price range, starting at just $20.00!


On the Seventh Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me… a perfect Wee Free Librareeeeeeee!

Alex loves these little libraries so much she’s got one of her very own at home (that’s it in the pictures!)

You can stock yours up with books to help bring your neighbourhood closer together, or non-perishable food items and warm winter clothing for people that need them this season (Wee Free Pantries)!

We’ve got one in store for you to check out — and ‘Wee Free Librarees’ is giving Rhyme and Reason families a discount — they’re usually $295.00, but you can get one through us for $280.00, AND you can get your initial stock for just $20.00 — they’ll load you up with lots of titles!

The quality of these little shelters is amazing, so the price is totally fair, but we know it’s a tricky time financially for a lot of communities! Why not try splitting the stewardship of a library on the property line between several homes, or fundraising for one in your community!

Check out more at the link below:

For Day 8, we are sharing “Story Box”, a gorgeously illustrated wordless story puzzle, that helps even young children to develop their understanding of sequencing, narrative and conflict, characterization, imaginative and creative thought processes, and improvised oration.

This particular set is a fragmented fairy tale, so it uses archetypes that kids are familiar with to help build confidence in their storytelling!

$22.50 in store!


We pull out these Dandelion Seeds Tonal Bar sets in class all the time, but we don’t use the framework that they come with nearly as often as we’d like to!

Arts for the Very Young International has the bells on for just $29.95, which is a phenomenal deal, but better than that, you can get their education framework as pick-and-pulls, which we can guarantee are so fun, entertaining, and informative. It’s a colour-coded method of learning musical notation that also helps develop your child’s sense of pitch, timbre and tempo. Instrumental play is always such an amazing thing to witness, and is so, so good for little brains!

We can’t say enough good things about it! Check out the AVY-I online store here: http://www.avy-institute.org/online-store/!/c/0/offset%3D18%26sort%3Dnormal


Think ‘Apples to Apples’ or ‘Cards Against Humanity’ but… you know, really lovely and educational and fun for young families instead!

We’ve played this game with kids as young as 3, though you have to adapt it a little. One player says a word (like ‘love’ or ‘sadness’ or ‘playing’) and the other players choose a card from their hand that best represents that word! You can play as a card-collecting game or a race, and you don’t need the original game to play, you can simply use one of the booster packs.

The artwork is indescribably beautiful, and this is MASSIVE for developing our children’s symbolic and creative thinking, narrative and literacy skills, and empathy. Learning to lose at a game is also important for emotional maturity, although really, when you’re playing this game, no one loses, and it can be an amazing collaborative opportunity! Try playing in teams!


Day 11 sees us pricing our Cubeebs to move!

Normally $15, we’re pushing at $8! And our tactile cubes, with a different fabric on each face (perfect for sensory stimulation, problem solving, and gauging force and pressure exertion) are just $10!

Get yours before they’re gone!


For the last day of our Twelve Days of Christmas features, we wanted to share the love with a couple of socially-conscious local clothing companies!

The first is Full Steam Gear, and if the force is strong in your family, you’ll want to check out their tiny clothes for nerdy fams. A portion of all their proceeds goes to Heart Beats Children’s Society, which supports families dealing with congenital heart disease. Their Etsy store can be found here, although the majority of their work is on demand: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/fullsteamgear

Our second company is Fabric of our Lives, and their seamstress, Donna, refashions heirloom fabrics into new items. You could make a onesie out of Grandpa’s favourite sweater, or a blankie out of Auntie’s old linens. It’s a great way to repurpose fabrics otherwise sitting around, and in such a joyful way that carries on the spirit and specialness of our loved ones! You can contact them through their Facebook page for more information or for a consultation!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Tactile and Interactive Board Books

Last month we wrote about why board books are so important for early development.

This month, we’d like to share some of our picks for our favourite type of board books — those with movable parts, interactive elements and lots of tactile stimuli!

Before we get into the benefits of these books, we want to add the same disclaimer we do in every program in which we talk about choosing books for babies: Making books with lots of bells and whistles might seem like a gimicky way for publishers to sell titles, and sometimes it is. It might also seem counter-intuitive to other parenting advice we’ve heard; having books with ‘toys’ in them might seem to work against the logic that tells us digital screens cause over-stimulation and that we need to teach slower, sustained attention to our children.

But! These books are also brilliant tools for:

  • learning engagement (having novelty input is what sparks our imaginations and pushes us to learn more)
  • hand-eye coordination (tracking is a crucial pre-reading skill)


  • developing pincer grip and fine-motor coordination (the pre-writing skills that allow us to hold pens and pencils and move them in small, concentrated ways)

Board books, with their flaps, sensory patches, sparkles, tabs, pulls, holes, and sometimes even actual bells and whistles, provide a unique opportunity to build these skills while simultaneously strengthening the same bonding, literacy, and communication skills of regular storytime.

Our list of our favourite tactile and movable board books is always changing. Our Director has a list published through Calgary Public Library if you’re interested in borrowing rather than buying, but these books tend to have a shorter lifespan than other books (which is OKAY!) and new ones are always being developed. Some of our stand-by classics include:

  • Re-pubs by Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr. like “The Very Hungry Caterpillar“, “Mister Seahorse” and “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” (the Slide & Find edition particularly)
  • Just about anything by Salina Yoon, but especially “Opposnakes“, her Lift-The-Flap-Adventure Series (Space Walk and Deep Sea Dive), and “Who Do I See?
  • Rufus Butler Seder’s Scanimation Series, especially “Waddle!” “Gallop!” and “ABC Animals
  • Anything that Herve Tullet has ever written (seriously) but for the littlest readers, we recommend his Tullet Game Series
  • The current publishing phenomenon that is the Usborne “That’s Not My…” Series. These ones include tactile swatches that are higher-quality than most mass-market titles, like full velcro (a lot of publishers shy away from rougher textures in favour of softer, ‘babier’ ones, but it is so important to expose our children to a whole variety of fibres!), puffy fabrics (that can be pressed deeply into the books, excellent for learning about pressure and weighting), and one-off textures that have been manufactured for each title.

We like the last series so much that we are going to submit a massive order through Usborne at the end of April. We’ll be carrying them in-store once our new location is up and running, but if you’d like to order a set now (and secure a title before it discontinues or batch re-prints) you can add your selection to our order (residents of the Greater Calgary Area only). Just shoot Alex an email with your title selections and we’ll get them on the list!



If you ever have any questions about recommendations for books for your little one, we are always happy to help!

Happy Reading!


Babies and Board Books

It’s no secret that babies need books, and it just makes sense that the best books for babies are the hardier, more durable Board Books that are a unique joy of modern parenting.

Mother and her daughters reading a book.

Often printed on recycled cardboard with vegetable and food-grade inks, these books are meant to be explored by babies in the same way they explore everything — orally.

Yes, they’re going to get soggy; yes, they’re going to have chunks taken out of them; and yes, you are going to have to recycle them eventually… but that is literally what they are built for. If you need to “learn to stop worrying and love the destruction of baby books”, check out this great blog post from A.J. O’Connell at Book Riot.

Providing a stock of board books for our babies to devour fosters an early love of reading, an exposure to words, language, and literacy, and a comprehension of the mechanics of books (In English we read books from left to right across a page, top to bottom, and turn pages to the left)! On top of that, sharing a book with YOU also provides them with a huge rush of those feel-good hormones (dopamine, seratonin, and oxytocin) that increases the bond between you both, and builds positive associations around reading and learning.

Keep your eyes peeled for board books for every age and stage including high-contrast black and white books for newborns and their developing eyesight, bathtime books that can get wet, and books with lots of flaps and movable parts — we’ll follow-up next month with a list of our favourites!

Book Review: You Are Stardust


We are ALWAYS looking for exciting and interesting books to share with our families and children — and despite some lingering fears that e-publishing will mean the death of the book, it is clear to us that Children’s Literature is alive and THRIVING!

This month we’re taking the time to highlight the delightful “You are Stardust” by Elin Kelsey, with artwork by Soyeon Kim.

With the facts of a non-fic and the flow of a lullaby, this gentle and beautiful picture book is a great fit for every age. Whether you’re sharing a story with a curious five-year-old, reading aloud to a classroom of second graders, or even if you just need a break from the sing-songy offerings of stand-by baby titles, this book has something for you!

We promise there is something for everyone in this book! It is also perfect for extended activities! Try piecing together different materials to make your own collage/diorama! Talk about the habitats of different animals in the pictures! Pick one of the natural processes (like pollination or the water cycle) that are touched on so simply and expand the conversation!

You can also check out more activities on the website, or download the book app from The App Store!