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April is National Poetry Month. Since this celebration was established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, April’s poetry festivities have spread far beyond US borders. Parents have long enjoyed nursery rhymes and finger plays with our toddlers, but how can we continue to explore rhythm, rhyme, and language with our children as they grow? These ten poetry anthologies and picture books are a great place to start.


 

Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry

Edited by Bill Martin Jr. & Michael Sampson

This hefty collection selected by beloved author Bill Martin Jr. contains nearly 200 poems. Kid favorites like Margaret Wise Brown and Jack Prelutsky, appear alongside poets who parents will love to share with their children, like Edna St. Vincent Millay and Langston Hughes. Each piece is expertly selected and organized by theme such as animals, school, and feelings. Prominent illustrators Lois Ehlert, Stephen Kellogg, Chris Raschka, and others provide the accompanying artwork.

Enormous Smallness: A Story of E.E. Cummings

by Matthew Burgess, Illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

A captivating and quirky biography portraying the life of Edward Estlin — better known as e.e. — Cummings is the stunning picture book debut of author Matthew Burgess. Significant space is devoted to Cummings’ early years, revealing how the child who loved to play with words became a poet defying convention. Cummings’ poetry is woven through the text as well as presented again in the back pages of the book along with further biographical information. Kris Di Giacomo’s jumbled multimedia illustrations engage the reader with their texture and detail.

Frederick

by Leo Lionni

This classic picture book by Leo Lionni tells of a family of field mice busily gathering food to last them through the harsh winter – except Frederick. While others work ceaselessly, Frederick daydreams. When the mice question him, Frederick explains that his work is to collect sun rays, colors, and words to help them survive the winter. Later, deep into winter when the food has run out, Frederick provides his family with the power of story and imagination, and in the process discovers he’s a poet. Lionni’s whimsical collages complete the charming tale.

Hi, Koo: A Year of Seasons

by Jon J. Muth

In this peaceful, appealing picture book, Koo, the nephew of wise panda Stillwater from Jon J. Muth’s earlier books, takes us from the falling leaves of autumn to the icicles of winter, the puddles of spring to the fireflies of summer. The book is written entirely in haiku, a three-line poem typically comprised of a five syllable-seven syllable-five syllable pattern. Koo, his human friends, and the seasonal scenes depicted with watercolor and ink, gently guide readers through the changing seasons.

Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat

Edited by Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni introduces this brilliant collection of poetry and lyrics as “stories in rhythm.” In this anthology, the words of poets like Gwendolyn Brooks and Gary Soto march alongside those of hip hop artists like Lauryn Hill and Mos Def, emphasizing the rhythmic connections between poetry and hip-hop. Giovanni’s selections beg to be read aloud and listened to, and an accompanying audio CD contains 30 of the 51 selections featured in the book, often performed by the artist. Several illustrators contribute artwork in a range of styles to the book, including Kristen Balouch, Michele Noiset, and Damian Ward.

Honey, I Love

by Eloise Greenfield, Illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist

Honey, I Love is a celebration of a little girl’s love for her family: her cousin’s southern accent, rides in her uncle’s car, kissing her mama’s arm. Children will relate to the young narrator’s appreciation of the people and things around her, as well as the one thing she doesn’t love — bedtime. The repetition and rhyme make this poem a joy to read aloud and Jan Spivey Gilchrist’s illustrations are a tender and beautiful portrayal of a tight-knit family. Honey, I Love was originally published in Eloise Greenfield’s earlier collection, Honey, I Love and Other Poems, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon.

A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms

Selected by Paul B. Janeczko, Illustrated by Chris Raschka

You may have heard of sonnets and limericks but do you know what a tercet is? How about a cinquain or a villanelle? Paul Janeczko takes us on an adventure through various poetic forms illuminating just how fun poetry can be, not in spite of all of the rules, but because of them. 29 different forms are showcased with examples and definitions. Chris Raschka’s illustrations of watercolor, ink, and torn paper are bold and lively. The small blue symbols in the corner of each page offer a clever visual to demystify some of the unfamiliar vocabulary. The duo’s previous collection, A Poke in the I, features solely concrete poetry.

 A Pocketful of Poems

by Nikki Grimes, Illustrated by Javaka Steptoe

Tiana, full of words and life, takes us on a playful journey through the year, through her Harlem neighborhood, and through the joys of language. Nikki Grimes’ series of poems, many in haiku form, are about the simple things made magical to young children, like watching pigeons, hitting a homerun, and carving jack-o-lanterns. Through her narrator, Tiana, Grimes unpacks everyday words and experiences in a delightfully sensorial way. Javaka Steptoe’s energetic collage illustrations of paper and found objects pop off the page.

This is a Poem That Heals Fish

by Jean-Pierre Simeon, Illustrated by Olivier Tallec, Translated by Claudia Zoe Bedrick

Arthur is worried his fish Leon will die of boredom. His mother says, “Hurry, give him a poem!” a certain cure. But what is a poem? After he can’t find one lying around the house, Arthur sets off through his neighborhood searching for poems. He tells each person he meets about his quest, but the responses of his family and neighbors as they describe poetry only puzzle him. Returning worriedly to his listless fish, Arthur tells Leon all that he has learned, unknowingly creating a poem as he shares. Olivier Tallec’s lush and dreamy illustrations complement this imaginative tale.

Very Short Mother Goose Tales to Read Together

by Mary Ann Hoberman, Illustrated by Michael Emberley

Many children’s first introduction to poetry is often in the form of Mother Goose nursery rhymes. In this installment of Mary Ann Hoberman’s New York Times bestselling series You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You, classic nursery rhymes are given a fresh spin with new lines, plot twists, and unexpected characters rendered by illustrator Michael Emberley. This delightful series is one that you’ll definitely want to read with your child — literally. Placement of the lines and their color coding indicate whose turn it is to read. So cuddle up with your favorite little reader and begin.

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Going back to work after having a baby is hard. Regaining your footing in a world where working mothers are so often penalized is tough, and (just like most things during the postpartum period) it takes time.

The challenges we face as working women returning from a maternity leave can be so different from those we faced before, it can feel like we're starting over from scratch. But mothers will not be deterred, even if our return to the working world doesn't go exactly as planned.

We are resilient, as Serena Williams proved at Wimbledon this weekend.

She lost to Angelique Kerber in the final, just 10 months after welcoming daughter Alexis Olympia and recovering from a physically and emotionally traumatic birth experience.

Williams didn't get her eighth Wimbledon title this weekend, but when we consider all the challenges she (and all new moms) faced in resuming her career, her presence was still a huge achievement.

"It was such an amazing tournament for me, I was really happy to get this far!" Williams explained in an emotional post-match interview.

"For all the moms out there, I was playing for you today. And I tried. I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

The loss at Wimbledon isn't what she wanted, of course, but Williams says it does not mean there won't be wins in her near future.

"These two weeks have showed me I can really compete and be a contender to win grand slams. This is literally just the beginning. I took a giant step at Wimbledon but my journey has just began."

When asked what she hopes other new moms take away from her journey, Williams noted her postpartum recovery was really difficult, and hopes that other moms who face challenges early in motherhood know that they don't have to give up on whatever dreams they have for themselves, whether it involves working or not.

"Honestly, I feel like if I can do it, they can do it. I'm just that person, that vessel that's saying, 'You can be whatever you want to be.' If you want to go back to workand to me, after becoming a mom, I feel like there's no pressure to do that because having a child is a completely full-time job," she said.

"But to those that do want to go back, you can do it, you can really do it."

Thank you, Serena. You may not have won, but this was still a victory.

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Since baby Crew became the newest member of Chip and Joanna Gaines' family three weeks ago, his proud parents have been keeping the world updated, sharing sweet snaps of their youngest and even giving us a glimpse into his nursery.

Now, Chip Gaines is showing off a pic that proves there is nothing cuter than a floppy, sleepy baby.

"My heart is full..." the proud father of five captioned the photo he posted on his Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Earlier this week Crew's mama shared how she gets him so sleepy in the first place, posting an Instagram Story showing how she walks around the family's gardens on their Waco, Texas farm to lull her newborn boy to sleep.



The couple are clearly enjoying every single moment of Crew's babyhood. As recently as 7 days ago Chip was still sporting his hospital bracelet. Joanna says with each child he's worn his maternity ward ID until it finally wears off. We can't blame Chip for wanting to make the newborn phase last as long as possible.

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It was a changing table must-have a generation ago, but these days, many parents are forgoing baby powder, and now, the leading manufacturer of the sweet smelling powder was dealt a big financial blow.

Johnson & Johnson was just ordered to pay almost $4.7 billion to 22 women who sued, alleging baby powder caused their ovarian cancer.

A St. Louis jury says the women are right, but what does The American Academy of Pediatrics say about baby powder?

It was classified "a hazard" before many of today's parents were even born

The organization has actually been recommending against baby powder for years, but not due to cancer risks, but inhalation risks.

Way back in 1981 the AAP declared baby powder "a hazard," issuing a report pointing out the frequency of babies aspirating the powder, which can be dangerous and even fatal in the most severe cases.

That warning didn't stop all parents from using the powder though, as its continued presence on store shelves to this day indicates.

In 1998 Dr. Hugh MacDonald, then the director of neonatology at Santa Monica Hospital and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn, told the Los Angeles Times "Most pediatricians recommend that it not be used," adding that the consensus at the time was that "anybody using talcum powder be aware that it could cause inhalation of the talc, resulting in a pneumonic reaction."

Recent updates

A 2015 update to the AAP's Healthy Children website suggests the organization was even very recently still more concerned about the risk of aspiration than cancer risks like those alleged in the lawsuit. It suggests that parents who choose to use baby powder "pour it out carefully and keep the powder away from baby's face [as] published reports indicate that talc or cornstarch in baby powder can injure a baby's lungs."

In a 2017 interview with USA Today, Dr. David Soma, a pediatrician with the Mayo Clinic Children's Hospital, explained that baby powder use had decreased a lot over the previous five to eight years, but he didn't believe it was going to disappear from baby shower gift baskets any time soon.

"There are a lot of things that are used out of a matter of tradition, or the fact it seems to work for specific children," he said. "I'm not sure if it will get phased out or not, until we know more about the details of other powders and creams and what works best for skin conditions—I think it will stick around for a while."

Talc-based baby powder is the kind alleged to have caused ovarian cancer in the lawsuit (which Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal), but corn starch varieties of baby powder are also available and not linked to increased cancer risks as alleged in the case.


Bottom line: If you are going to use baby powder on your baby's bottom, make sure they're not getting a cloud of baby powder in their face, and if you're concerned, talk to your health care provider about alternative methods and products to use on your baby's delicate skin.

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In the days since a The New York Times report revealed a resolution meant to encourage breastfeeding was blocked by U.S. delegates at the World Health Assembly, breastfeeding advocates, political pundits, parents, doctors—and just about everyone else—have been talking about breastfeeding, and whether or not America and other countries are doing enough to support it.

The presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians say the controversy at the World Health Assembly reveals that mothers need more support when it comes to breastfeeding, while others, including The Council on Foreign Relations, suggest the national conversation needs more nuance, and less focus on the "breast is best" rhetoric.

The one thing everyone agrees on is that parents need more support when it comes to infant feeding, and in that respect, the controversy over the World Health Assembly resolution may be a good thing.

In their joint letter to the editor published in the New York Times this week, the presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians, Dr. Colleen Kraft and Dr. Lisa Hollier urge "the United States and every country to protect, promote and support breast-feeding for the health of all women, children and families."

The doctors go on to describe how breastfeeding "provides protection against newborn, infant and child infections, allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and sudden infant death syndrome," and note the health benefits to mothers, including reduced risks for "breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

"Helping mothers to breastfeed takes a multifaceted approach, including advancing public policies like paid family leave, access to quality child care, break time and a location other than a bathroom for expressing milk," say Kraft and Hollier.

Certainly such policies would support breastfeeding mothers (and all mothers) in America, but some critics say framing the discussion around domestic policy is a mistake, because the World Health Assembly resolution is a global matter and women and babies in other parts of the world face very different feeding challenges than we do here at home.

In an op-ed published by CNN, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations suggests the laudable goal of breastfeeding promotion can backfire when mothers in conflict-riddled areas can't access formula due to well-meaning policy. Lemmon points to a 2017 statement by Doctors Without Borders calling for fewer barriers to formula distribution in war-torn areas.

"International organizations like UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) promote breastfeeding ... and provide infant formula, but only by prescription. We believe that distributing infant formula in a conflict situation like Iraq is the only way to avoid children having to be hospitalized for malnutrition," Manuel Lannaud, the head of Doctors Without Borders Iraq mission wrote.

The various viewpoints presented this week prove that infant feeding is not a black and white issue, and policy debates should not be framed as formula versus breast milk—there is more nuance than that.

A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics found opting to supplement with formula after first breastfeeding improves outcomes for infants and results in higher rates of breastfeeding afterward, and while the benefits of breastfeeding are numerous, they are sometimes overstated. Another recent study published in the journal PLOS Medicine found breastfeeding has no impact on a child's overall neurocognitive function by the time they are 16. Basically, parents should not be shamed for supplementing or choosing to use formula.

This, according to Department of Health and Human Services says national spokesperson Caitlin Oakley is why the HHS opposed the original draft of the breastfeeding resolution at the World Health Assembly (although critics and the initial NYT report suggest the United States delegation were acting in the interests of infant formula manufacturers).

"Many women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, these women should not be stigmatized; they should be equally supported with information and access to alternatives for the health of themselves and their babies," Oakley said in a statement.

That's true, but so is everything the presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians presented in their op-ed, and that's why the U.S. should support breastfeeding policy.

Here's another truth: This is an issue with many perspectives and many voices. And we need to hear them all, because all parents need support in feeding their babies, whether it's with a breast, a bottle or both—and we're not getting it yet.

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