Meet Emily Arrow + a Giveaway!

I love introducing readers to new books for kids, and today, I’m excited to introduce you to someone whose own love of children’s books inspires her music.  Meet Emily Arrow! 

Emily Arrow is a music educator, singer, and songwriter who has carved out her own musical niche she calls kidlit tunes.  You already know how I feel about children’s books, and many of you have seen the plentiful ukuleles that adorn the walls of our home.  So, when I first heard this talented, ukulele-strumming artist singing a song about Be a Friend, I became an immediate fan.  

Ukuleles + Kid Lit = YES!



I had a chance to catch up with Emily and ask her a few questions about her music.  She had some great things to share about her sources of inspiration, favorite books, and more.

What inspired you to write music based on children’s books?  It’s certainly a unique niche!
As a classroom music teacher, I began using my favorite picture books in the classroom in conjunction with my music units. For example, for Earth Day, I read The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. Then I wanted to infuse music into each lesson that involved literature. After scouring the internet for resources and finding virtually nothing, I decided to create my own songs to go with books! I then began offering storytimes at local bookstores and developed my style, and ultimately genre, of kidlit tunes.

What artists/singers/songwriters influence your music? 

The most influential children’s musician I’m influenced by is Raffi. I was raised on his music, specifically his album pioneering a movement to respect the Earth and its resources. His message-driven music gives me inspiration to create music that’s simple and meaningful to all ages.

Music is a huge part of our family’s life.  I started singing to my kids before they were born, and this blog is named after the Bob Dylan song that was our morning anthem all through their preschool years (though we usually sang the Elizabeth Mitchell version).  Now our home is filled with instruments and music of all kinds.  How do you encourage families to incorporate music into their daily lives?  What about parents who don’t feel particularly musically-inclined themselves – any tips for sneaking more music into the day?  

I love to hear how musical your home is!! YAAAAY! There are lots of fun ways to include music in the home, starting with accessibility. An instrument should be just as accessible as an iPhone in the home. Percussion instruments like drums, egg shakers, and tambourines encourage rhythm and musical participation. I also recommend creating playlists together –  “coloring” playlist, “getting ready for school” playlist, “packing for a trip” playlist. This gives young listeners a sense of ownership over their music choices and builds a lovely relationship between experiences and music.

How about books?  What are your favorite tips for sneaking in a little extra reading time with the family?
 Not having a family of my own, I can imaging reading time is hard to come by. But I have a cool project that I recommend to parents of young readers: Video record yourself reading the story the night before during bedtime (or whenever your preferred reading time is). Then during the chaos of the day, why not sneak an extra read in by letting your kiddo watch? Parents tell me their kids get a kick out of this and it’s fantastic modeling for them to watch a read aloud-even if it’s their own parent!


What was your favorite book or books growing up?  What are some of your favorites now (that aren’t featured in music on this album)?

So many! Growing up, I loved Corduroy by Don Freeman, Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, and when I began reading on my own, I was obsessed with The Boxcar Children series. 

My favorites in 2016 (in addition to the album books of course) include Be a Friend by Salina Yoon,  I Love You Already by Jory John & Benji Davies, the newly released Hannah and Sugar by Kate Berube, and the upcoming Explorers of the Wild by Cale Atkinson.

What’s your favorite part of performing for children?

Audience participation. We make kazoo sounds, we yodel, we draw in the air, we basically do everything fun you ever wanted to do at a show but couldn’t because you’re an… adult. 

I love Emily’s creative ideas for integrating music and reading into our homes.  I think I need a “putting away laundry” playlist!  

Emily’s debut album, Storytime Singalong, features songs based on some truly delightful picture books including Louise Loves Art, The Curious Garden and The Dot as well as several original pieces.  The sweet and memorable songs are a great way to extend the pages of picture books for your youngest readers.  
 

I’m giving away a copy of Emily Arrow’s award-winning Storytime Singalong to one lucky reader!  If you’d like a chance to win the album, do any of the following for an entry in the random drawing:
1.  Comment on this blog (or on the social media outlet you read this post) and share one way your family incorporates music or reading into your daily life. 
2.  Check out Emily’s YouTube Channel, then come back and let us know your favorite song!
3.  Share this blog post.

Make sure to tag in me in any of the above options so I see it and add your name to the drawing!
 
If you’re not the lucky winner, you’re still a lucky reader because you can purchase your own copy of Emily’s album right here.   The deadline for entries is March 31st at midnight CST.  I’ll announce a winner on April 1st – no fooling.  😉   Good luck!

The Deal of the Year for Book Lovers


I’ve got THE BEST money-saving, freebie deal to share with you today.  This is the big one friends.  A completely legit, no coupon code required, money-saving deal that will blow your mind. 


What if I told you that by using this deal, my family has saved over $4,000 dollars in the last six months alone in free books?  Free books!  We don’t get to keep them of course, this deal is more like Netflix, where you pay a monthly subscription to get access to all of these books but you do have to give them back when you are done. Except unlike Netflix, this deal is absolutely free. 

It’s called….wait for it….the public library.  
You probably have one right in your hometown.  It’s this completely magical building where anyone can just walk in off the streets, and regardless of credit history or the size of  one’s bank account, can gain access to as much free reading material as he/she wants.  The library in our town is so magical that even if they don’t have the book we are looking for, they can use some kind of wizard summoning spell to make it appear in the library, sometimes as quickly as the NEXT DAY. 

Wait, there’s more.  If I can’t make it to the library, I can get on my computer and press a few buttons and then the next time I visit, all of the books I want will be waiting on a special shelf with my name on them.   For FREE! 

Did I mention how all of this is free? 

My youngest waiting for the library doors to open so he could begin his summer reading program.

Listen, in all seriousness, I can’t sing the praises of the public library loud enough.  Our local library has been a cornerstone to the experience of raising my children.  I started started bringing them to story time as babies, and by the time they were precocious preschoolers, they knew some of the librarians by name and these wonderful ladies knew them too.  They knew what books my boys would want to read, and before long, knew which children’s books I would want to read myself.  I met mamas and their kids at the library that are still friends today.  Our family has had the opportunity of meeting some of our favorite authors in this public space, and the privilege to be inspired by their stories.  These experiences are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what our local library offers.  If you want to start a business, the library offers myriad resources on how to go about doing that.  Want to know more about your family tree?  The library has people on staff that will help you sort out your genealogy (but they won’t help you sort out your family … there has to be a limit to what these wizards can accomplish).  Need to use a computer?  They have one for you, for free!  Test coming up?  The library offers practice exams for academic, civil service, military and many professional industries.  Need help with your taxes?  The library has accountants on hand during tax season to answer your questions.  Our local library even brings in adorable, furry dogs to snuggle up and read to if you just really love dogs.   

I feel like I forgot to mention that all of this is free.


In the last six months alone, our family has checked out over 300 books from our local library system.  I found this handy calculator on my library’s website, which is how I found out that we had, in fact, saved over $4,000 in materials and resources.  In six months.  While there are books I am so thrilled to own, and bookstores I love to support, our budget simply cannot keep up with our reading habit without our library.

 Our library habit is so intense it requires one of these really large rolling carts.  And that’s just the books for the kids.


There is substantial research illustrating the direct correlation between reading aloud to our babies and children and their academic success down the road.  If you are research-minded, I’d highly encourage you to check out this article or this one.

If you’ve already had the experience of raising a reader, you may already know this intrinsically.  You’ve felt the weight of your baby’s warm body snuggled into you while you read Goodnight Moon, or the wiggling, giggling toddler squirming on your lap while saying “No!” to the pigeon in Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus for the one hundredth time, or the wide-eyed, breathless anticipation of your young child desperate to know what happens to Harry Potter in the next chapter.  You’ve watched your child grow into a reader, and watched him disappear behind a book and discover the possibility of living so many kinds of lives.  You’ve seen your child reenact her favorite scenes with her dolls.  You’ve seen your teenager find empathy for someone whose experiences he can only imagine because of a book, and you yourself have left behind a busy day of work and diapers and bills and difficult relationships to sink beneath the sheets with a copy of your favorite author’s latest novel.  You don’t need to read the research to know the magic of books. 

So, today, if you are already a regular at your local library, take a minute to thank the men and women who make the magic happen.  Take a friend while you are at it.  And if you aren’t a library regular, get in your car and go now.  Sign up for a library card, ask for a book recommendation and see for yourself.  This really is the deal of a lifetime.  

***UPDATE – Giveaway has ended and the winner, Susan Harris, is in possession of her sweet tote.  Thanks for all of the entries!

Wait…if you’ve stuck with me this far, don’t leave yet!  I’ve got one more deal to offer you today.  I’d like to introduce you to Tammi Salas, writer, artist and fellow library enthusiast.  I first discovered Tammi last November when she took part in a “Rainbow Friday” event with other bloggers.   Rainbow Friday was offered as a kind of antidote to Black Friday, an opportunity to shop for handmade, meaningful gifts that also give back.  Tammi was selling her “Library Junkie” totes and donating 20% of her sales to fund a library in Pastures Preschool, a one-room schoolhouse in Bodega, California.  I did what anyone would do and immediately bought one as a gift and then kept it for myself.  Thankfully, there is still a chance for one of you to own this bag, as Tammi is graciously donating a bag to one lucky reader! 


 Here’s what you can do to increase your chances of getting your hands on this bag:

1.  Comment on this post below and tell me your favorite thing about the public library.
2.  Share this post and tag me (so I see it).
3.  Visit your library and share a picture (and let me know if I can share it too!)

I’ll enter your name into a drawing once for each of the above actions and choose one name at random on January 31st to receive this cute and handy tote.  In the meantime, please take a moment to visit Tammi on her blog where she shares beautiful stories on motherhood, community, art and more.  You can also visit her Etsy shop (which she’ll be re-stocking in the coming months with additional items) or follow her on Instagram (@tammisalas) for artistic inspiration.  Thank you so much Tammi for sharing your many gifts and sweet tote with us, and for your generous spirit.