10 Cool, New Bedtime Stories of 2016

Refresh your collection of bedtime stories with our top 10 favorite children books of 2016.

Bedtime is a precious time for nurturing the bond between you and your child. There are invaluable benefits of reading with your kid each night. You can always rely on the classic favorites like Where the Wild Things Are or Goodnight Moon for a nighttime read, but if you’re looking for some fresh reading material for your kid then look no further. We picked our 10 favorite, cool children’s books that have been released in the last year.

The Littlest Family’s Big Day by Emily Winfield Martin

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The Littlest Family’s Big Day takes one part cute woodland creatures with one part dreamy storytelling. Featuring the same soft imagery as her last books, your children will love the beautiful illustrations of the forest that the Littlest Family explores.

I Am a Story by Dan Yaccarino

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Buckle up because children’s books just got meta. I Am a Story tells a story about stories so you’ll be reading a story about stories to your kid. Yaccarino uses bright colors and a simplified style to take a look at storytelling throughout the ages and around the world. From cave wall paintings to the local library, I Am a Story briefly sweeps over the history of the story in his newest book.

The Little Elephant Who Wants to Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin

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Compared to the other books in this list, The Little Elephant Who Wants to Fall Asleep is a dense picture book. The writing is purposeful in its lengthiness, aimed to make your kid fall asleep without the need of pulling out Tolstoy’s War and Peace with its rhythmic, soothing style.  If your little one is notorious for getting excited by their bedtime book then The Little Elephant Who Wants to Fall Asleep will be perfect for relaxing them for bed.

What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada

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“My problem held an opportunity. It was an opportunity for me to learn and to grow. To be brave. To do something.”

With Mae Besom’s delicate illustrations, Yamada encapsulates a great lesson for both young and old in the follow-up to his 2014 book What Do You Do With an Idea? It follows a young protagonist who encounters a problem that seems too daunting to deal with, but the way that he deals with it will inspire both you and your child for future challenges. Trust me, it’s a great lesson against procrastination and escapism.

Return by Aaron Becker

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Return
is the final book in Becker’s trilogy, telling the story of a daughter and father who go on an imaginative adventure together. The book features no text, relying on the gorgeous illustrations to convey the journey of daughter and father. With no words, this book is a great opportunity to ask your kid to narrate the story as they understand it through the imagery. Let your kid take on the role of storyteller for the night.

Penguin Problems by Jory John

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Like Yamada’s book, Penguin Problems is a story about meeting challenges and how to deal with them. Penguin Problems follows a young penguin who meets obstacles everywhere he goes, but a chance encounter with a walrus changes his outlook on life. If your kid has ever had a tantrum over a seemingly simple problem then it would be good to read this together. Let them learn the wisdom of the walrus.

If You Give a Mouse a Brownie by Laura Numeroff

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Numeroff is back with another addition to her If You Give a…. series. The Mouse is back and with a similar taste for sweets as If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Using the same circular formula, this book will surely elicit some laughter from your little one at the ridiculous heights a kid will go for his mouse friend.

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

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Ada Twist, Scientist
is the latest book by Andrea Beaty, following in the likes of Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect. Ada Twist is a young girl with a lot of questions and the gumption to figure out the answers. Encourage your little Einsteins to question and analyze the world around them with this book about curiosity. You may be hearing “Why?” or “How?” for a few days though…

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

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We Found a Hat
is the latest in Klassen’s books featuring animals who love hats. Klassen uses his distinctive style to illustrate the simple story of two turtles finding a hat. Do you love turtles? Do you love turtles who wear hats? You’ll like this.

The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

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The last Elephant & Piggie book is a lighthearted farewell to the beloved series. The Thank You Book follows Elephant and Piggie as Piggie goes around thanking their friends. Using the familiar energy and humor of previous books, The Thank You Book is a sweet love letter to both the series and to the fans. Plus, your kid will be more than prepared for Thanksgiving after reading along with you.

Have you read any good books with your kids lately? Tell us what their favorite new book is!


How to Make Your Own Gummy Bears

Have you ever tried making the iconic gummy bear candy yourself? Gather your kids and treat everyone to something sweet!

The gummy bear has been a staple of America’s sweet tooth since its debut in 1922 and it is still going strong as everyone’s favorite candy. We love it so much that we even made an entire collection of products based around it. So we figured it was about time to try making the candy itself. What we found was that it is surprisingly easy to do it yourself! See for yourself how easy it is to make your own gummy bears at home.

Remember that making gummy bears requires a stove so make sure you are supervising the little ones during each step of the process.

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup cold water
    You can replace the water with fruit juice of your choice for extra flavor
  • 1 package flavored gelatin
    Use any flavor that you prefer,
  • 2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
    Gelatin is not a vegetarian ingredient. For alternative use, use agar powder.

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  • Bear-shaped silicone mold
    Bear-shaped molds can easily be found at your local crafts & hobby store or online. If you do not want to buy a new bear-shaped mold then any mold made from silicone will work. It’s important that the mold is made out of silicone as the flexible material will make it easier for you to pop them out when they’re done.
  • A measuring cup with a spout or a baster.
    Use one or the other to pour the mixture into the molds. We recommend the measuring cup as it is easier to clean than the baster.

Directions

  1. Pour the 1/2 cup of cold water into a pot. Do not heat the water yet.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of unflavored gelatin. Give it a brief stir.
  3. Add the packet of flavored gelatin.
  4. Mix well. Make sure there are no clumps of gelatin in the mixture.
  5. Have your molds ready nearby with your spouted measuring cup or baster handy.Note: The next steps involve using the stove so I suggest having your kid watch you do steps 6-9 unless they are old enough to use the stove with your supervision.
  6. Turn the stove on on low to medium heat. Keep mixing gently and slowly for about 10-15 minutes while the mixture heats up. Keep the heat low enough that the mixture doesn’t simmer. The gelatin will dissolve in the heat.
  7. Ensure that the gummy bear mixture is clear and free of all clumps.
  8. Take the pot off the heat.
  9. Portion out the mixture into the molds. Fill them up all the way, but do not let them overflow. Work quickly as you need to get the mixture into the molds before they get cool and solidify.
    If you have a measuring cup with a spout: Pour the mixture into the cup then use the spout to evenly distribute into the molds.
    If you have a baster: Dip the baster into the mixture and drop into the mold. Avoid bubbles.
  10. Put your molds in the freezer for 10 minutes then move to the refrigerator for another 15-20 minutes until they are set. Test one of the gummy bears to check that it is set. If they are still warm and squishy then put them in the refrigerator for 10 more minutes.
  11. Pop them out of their molds!
  12. Eat! The gummy bears are now ready for you to enjoy.

Refrigerate the gummy bears in an airtight container. These will keep for about a week, but we would be surprised if they last that long.  You can toss them in a little bit of powdered sugar or cornstarch to keep them from sticking to each other. Skip this step if you plan on going sour!

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Photo Cred: Jorge Romero

Love sour?

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Citric acid

The sour taste comes from citric acid. When you’re ready to pop the gummy bears out of their molds then take citric acid and mix it with granulated sugar. Press each gummy into the citric acid sugar mix for a slight zing to each candy. You will still need to refrigerate these gummy bears if you don’t plan on eating them all right away.

Try making them yourself! Take some pics and show us in the comments below if you’ve tried making the iconic candy yourself.