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Read to Your Kids, Even in the Summertime It's important to read aloud to young children even in the summer months when pools and backyards beckon. Here are some of this summer's brightest new picture books. "You're a Crab!: A Moody Day Book" by Jenny Whitehead; Henry Holt & Company; 32 …Read more. Children's CDs To Pepper Your Music Library CDs made specifically for kids aren't patronizing and super-sweet anymore. These music selections rock, roll, energize and calm, and are great for inside and outside fun. "Bon Voyage" by Jazzy Ash; Leaping Lizards Music; $12.97. It was hard to turn …Read more. Nonfiction Books for Summer Learning and Entertainment Face it — kids lose some brain power over the summertime. These books will help them learn a little about interesting topics. "Elvis: The Story of the Rock 'n' Roll King" by Bonnie Christensen; Henry Holt and Co., 32 pages; $17.99. I certainly …Read more. Humor Reigns in Children's Books Laughter is the best medicine for what cures all ails, including the boredom and idle time that summertime brings to youngsters. These new books will induce giggles aplenty. "Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat" by Deborah Underwood; illustrated by …Read more.
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How-To Books for Summer Creativity

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Everybody needs a little guidance, and these books help kids learn more about photography; jewelry-making; helping communities through circus acts; and about being a "Really Professional Internet Person."

"Guide to Photography" by Nancy Honovich and Annie Griffiths; National Geographic Kids; 160 pages; $14.99.

National Geographic's books for kids are as clear, fascinating and well organized as their books and magazines for adults. This compact guide to taking pictures is easy to use, with step-by-step instructions; information about editing; behind the scenes stories about pros; and a list of some careers for camera hounds. With information about smartphone cameras and SLRs, point-and-shoot and even underwater cameras, no photography stone is left unturned. Page-spread titles include "Night Shots," "Framing the Shot," "Portraying Animals," and lots of pro-photographer Annie Griffith's "Annie's Assignments." One explains how to balance twilight with ambient light — a professional topic that she makes accessible and understandable.

As an avid picture-taker and Instagram-poster, I can't wait to learn the tips and tricks in this guide to photography, great for youngsters ages 8 and up, and even for adults!

"Really Professional Internet Person" by Jenn McAllister; Scholastic; 240 pages; $14.95.

Though I'm always on my teens' backs to put down their smartphones, I also know how vital the Internet is to their lives and future careers. This unique guide, one of a kind for sure, is penned by YouTube sensation Jennxpenn, who has been posting funny, candid videos on YouTube since she was 12. Now with over 4 million fans Jenn has become a mouthpiece for millennials and has a multifaceted career that includes collaborations with Old Navy, Mattel and even Hollywood studios.

An insider's guide to building a successful media career, plus a close-up portrait of one teen's struggle to do so during high school, Jenn McAllister's empowering guide should encourage kids who feel a passion for videomaking.

"Made With Dad" by Chris Barnardo; Skyhorse Publishing; 256 pages; $17.99.

Crafter extraordinaire and father of four Chris Barnardo, creator of the hit website dadcando.com, shares his creative parent/child concoctions clearly in this packed book. As the subtitle ("From Wizards' Wands to Japanese Dolls, Craft Projects to Build, Make, and Do With Your Kids,") suggests, these 55 fun projects range from colorful butterflies to fast racing cars, homemade batteries to intricate origami.

There are simple projects for kids as young as 6, while others are complex enough for teens, and all have color photographs and step-by-step instructions.

Tools needed are explained at the start of the book so there are no surprises; most are regular household items. My favorites? Retro ray guns, secret hideaways made out of old books and dragon-hunters' goggles.

"The Jewelry Recipe Book" by Nancy Soriano; Artisan Publishing; 223 pages; $24.95.

Homemade jewelry is no longer just about plastic beads and twine. Today, personal style can be crafted at home, with simple materials and techniques. For teens and adults, Nancy Soriano's lushly illustrated book offers easy instruction so readers can create their own necklaces, rings, earrings, pins and hair concoctions. All 35 chapters are organized by material and feature two or three designs that showcase that material. Basic jewelry-making techniques — crimping, dying, knotting — are described, with additional tips and tricks that get more detailed.

Best of all, most materials can be found at local craft stores, flea markets or even Grandmother's old trunk. The jewelry recipes will please every style — earthy, funky, edgy, sophisticated or even classic palates. I can't wait to get started!

"Watch Out for Flying Kids!" by Cynthia Levinson; Peachtree Publishers; 216 pages; $22.95.

Sometimes a good how-to book shows kids how a simple idea can turn into something life-changing and community-building. In this thoughtful, nonfiction book that simple idea is the world of social circus, a movement that brings kids from different worlds together to help confront conflicts bigger than themselves. Cynthia Levinson, author of the award-winning "We've Got a Job," follows the child stars of two professional circuses: Circus Harmony in St. Louis, Missouri, and Circus Galilee in Israel. In both places, kids from inner-cities and suburbs come together to participate in circuses. In the process, they learn to see past and overcome economic class, religion and ethnicity.

It's heartwarming and inspiring to see the kids' (of all ages) relationships and skills evolve over the five documented years. It's also really cool to follow them as they perform awe-inspiring acts and overcome cultural obstacles. What an inspiring book — worthy of your coffee table! The photographs are fantastic, too.

To find out more about Lee Littlewood, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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