We’re so excited to bring you our latest NAPPA Award winners, great for babies, toddlers and Mom.
Celebrating Kindness and Positivity
We’re so excited to bring you our latest NAPPA Award winners that are full of kindness and positivity.
NAPPA Awards has been celebrating the best in family products for 33 years. For more product reviews and gift ideas visit nappaawards.com.
Try some of these fun, creative indoor activities to bring a little sunshine to any day.
For more product reviews visit nappaawards.com
Let’s Go Outside
Instead of shuttering their doors completely, these businesses kept up the fun by offering outdoor options
What an absolute ride this school year was! Congratulations to us all for pulling through. Now, with the arrival of summer, we could all use some relaxing family fun in our reopened city. I don’t know about your family, but my kids are ready to dive right in and make up for lost time. Ever the cautious parent, however, I began a search for fun activities that we could safely do as a family as we reemerge into society.
Check out a few of my favorites that we’ll be frequenting all summer, especially because they offer outdoor options. If L.A. is anything, it’s creative. From pop-up shops to pedestrian-friendly makeovers, our city has welcomed us back with open arms.
Family fun in Playa Vista
Playa Vista has long been a great community for families to enjoy the various parks, restaurants and shops. Recently, local officials have gone the extra mile to provide additional space for outdoor games and lounging.
The newly car-free center section of the shopping area Runway Playa Vista now serves as a pedestrian’s paradise. Restaurants have spilled onto the sidewalks, additional seating has been added and there are a few tables of games such as air hockey and ping pong to keep families entertained.
The game tables are right outside the Micro Kickboard Pop-Up Shop. In order to get the pieces to play the games, pop into the Micro Kickboard scooter store and give your ID in exchange for the pieces.
While you’re there, be sure to check out their scooters. They have something for everyone, ranging from tiny scooters for babies to adult sizes. And you can try out the scooters on their indoor test tracks for some added amusement. Getting my girls out of there was a struggle!
Shorty Yoga has mastered the art of what so many businesses have had to do as a result of the pandemic: pivot. The unique aspect of Shorty’s is that it’s a kids-only yoga studio. While the indoor studio was temporarily closed, the instructors found a way to make yoga for kids fun and safe by offering virtual classes, private classes and in-person, “shorty pods” at families’ homes. These pods consist of gathering two to four children in an outdoor space for some socially distanced stretching.
Founder Donna Delshad says, “We had to get our Shorties outside to have some fun, interact with their peers and feel good, all while staying safe from COVID.”
Drive-in at the park
My family has done just about all of the “Netflix and chill” we could handle. We were thrilledto find that L.A. County Parks’ “Drive In at the Park” included Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area as one of the new locations. I’m not ashamed to admit that our favorite part is probably the food trucks. We also love inviting our friends to meet up so the kids can play in an outdoor space while wearing their masks and observing social distancing.
The movie showings are Friday and Saturday nights and they start at dusk, but you can arrive as early as 6:45 p.m. to set up and “pregame.” Parents, trust me on this one: pick a day, book your tickets via ticketfairy.com and watch as your kids delight in this centrally located experience.
Village Well Books & Coffee
Bookstores are my family’s happy place. Village Well Books & Coffee is a gorgeous spot with bright vibrant colors everywhere from the books to the art to the furniture and fixtures around the store. One of my favorite aspects is the diversity of their titles. The children’s literature section represents a melting pot of cultures.
Owner Jennifer Caspar knew what she was doing by adding the café, which features coffees and teas, smoothies, pastries, breakfast burritos, sandwiches and more. You can dine outside on the bright colorful tables and chairs while enjoying the view of downtown Culver City.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Located in Playa Vista inside the new Free Market is Jeni’s Ice Cream. Jeni’s has locations throughout L.A. and in various cities around the country. The new Playa Vista location was our family’s first Jeni’s experience, and we are sold.
I especially loved that you have the option of getting a single scoop or two half scoops. The outdoor space at Jeni’s has plenty of tables and room for running around.
Speaking of yummy treats, you don’t have to travel to New Orleans to get a taste of beignets this summer. The Beignet Box has all your delectable desires right in their super cute café, located in the heart of Studio City.
There are traditional beignets, mini beignets and (my older daughter’s favorite) the beignet sundae. This beignet with ice cream, caramel, chocolate and whipped cream is a party in your mouth. We left covered in powdered sugar from all the damage we did. They also have ample outdoor space to socially distance and still maintain a great view of the goings-on of the ever-bustling Ventura Boulevard.
So, welcome back in a bigger way this summer, L.A. My family will continue to take precautions, and I have a feeling that being outdoors more for eating and entertainment will be a part of our future for a long time to come.
Jill Carter is an attorney, writer and mother of two in L.A.
Springtime Reads (For You)
By Mike Sonksen
As a parent, professor and writer, my house is filled with an eclectic assortment of books. There are the books I read to my kids and then after they fall asleep, I read my own. Here’s a short list with some recent titles by local authors, including one about the late great Octavia E. Butler, who was also one of our own.
‘Guide to Spiritual L.A.’
A guidebook unlike any other, in “Guide to Spiritual L.A.,” Catherine Auman presents a comprehensive source of Native American sacred sites, meditation gardens, desert day trips, yoga centers and more mysterious spaces, including botanicas and locations of the many infamous spiritual cults that have called Southern California home. As Phillip Goldberg writes in the introduction, “Somehow, a city known for glitz and glamour also acquired a strong ethos of inner development: In what other city could Bhatki Fest, Yoga Month or yoga therapy have been incubated? Where else could professor Christopher Chapple create a Yoga Studies program at the Jesuit-run Loyola Marymount University?” Auman has been investigating spiritual growth for four decades and this book is a culmination of her lifetime research. Combining history, some philosophy and zany tales, this is a fascinating read for anyone curious about L.A.’s many eclectic spiritual traditions. The book offers endless information and dozens of offbeat sites to visit for those who are curious.
‘A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky’
“A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky” showcases the inner world of Octavia Butler and how the Pasadena-born science fiction author expanded space and time through her discipline and concentration. Grammy-Award winning journalist Lynell George spent four years in the Butler archive at the Huntington Museum, diligently sifting through Butler’s notebooks, to-do lists, recipes, scraps of paper, letters, bus passes, library cards, receipts and other ephemera to meticulously uncover how Butler made the impossible possible and constructed herself through a regimented recipe of reading, writing and ritual. Though Butler passed 15 years ago, her work has never been more popular. George’s book shows how Butler defied all odds to make her dreams come true. Read this for inspiration and as a roadmap for your own journey.
‘East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte’
The 31 essays in this collection (edited by Romeo Guzman, Carribean Fragoza, Alex Saye Cummings and Ryan Reft) represent a three-century history of the San Gabriel Valley. Combining creative nonfiction, oral history and traditional scholarship, the various writings here reclaim the histories and geographies of the urban fringe these writers call “east of east.” The book’s spirit writes against the pioneer narrative that falsely claims El Monte is the end of the Santa Fe Trail. “These communities,” the introduction states, “are part of a much bigger story of colonization and conquest, labor and culture, race and suburbanization at the fringe that has not yet been told.” In the epilogue, Wendy Cheng celebrates the San Gabriel Valley’s everyday cosmopolitanism as “a crossroads and a destination, a central part of the great drama of a multiethnic, metropolitan, urban-suburban life that continues to transform cities across the United States in the twenty-first century.”
‘See You Emanating A Sense of Joy’
This one-of-a-kind book, curated and edited by poet Peter J. Harris, is anchored by dozens of historical photos bookended by a groundbreaking essay and five poems meditating on family, fatherhood and the richest interior dimensions of humanity. Harris started the Black Man of Happiness Project in 2010 to explore the important question, “What is a happy Black man?” To Harris this question is too often overlooked because “pain has branded the primary contours of African American history.” The opening essay “What a Treasure Hunt This All Remains,” reflects on a 1965 photo of Stokely Carmichael on a Southern porch in dialogue with an 82-year-old man. “This photo,” Harris writes, “simultaneously captures the living exchange, vision, political work, resistance and existences of folks who refused resignation to dimensional impositions— economic impositions, political impositions, social impositions and interpersonal impositions.” Though Harris acknowledges, “No book of photos, no social media campaign, in and of themselves, can neutralize society’s virulent, visceral historical flow of venom against Black men;” this book shows how joy and happiness animate life and death. The breathtaking photographs, along with Harris’s poignant essay and poems are an “oral history of happiness” that promote renewal, restoration and ethical determination. Harris has done the inner work and wants the world to know that “happiness is refreshing protection and a motivating counter spell.”
Centered on a home that’s been in the same family for over a century in Middleton, Conn., this novella by Kate Maruyama is a horror story with reversal and a lot of unexpected twists. The Massey family is steeped in tradition, including summer barbecues and lobster boils, but the mood shifts every winter solstice. Inheritance is interrogated, as are the sins of the father. This is no story for kids, but any adult who likes horror or teen who sees what’s beyond the facade will love this one. Maruyama packs a lot in 81 pages, from dismantling white supremacy to critiquing dysfunctional families. You never know what might happen on the shortest day of the year.
Looking for a beautiful, quiet outdoor nook to take your favorite book and read in nature, click HERE for the perfect spots in L.A.
Diversity and Inclusion – The Benefits in Raising Your Children to be Accepting
By Jeanne Huybrechts, Chief Academic Officer, Stratford School
“Diversity is the mix. Inclusion is making the mix work.” – Andres Tapic
We live in an increasingly diverse world where our children encounter people of varying races, cultures and abilities. As parents, teaching our children about diversity and inclusion is paramount as we focus on raising tolerant, accepting, and empathetic children.
How do you guide your child to grow to be a diverse, inclusive, and compassionate individual? Here are three ways where you, as a parent, can teach your child to have a positive attitude and approach.
1. Be a Role Model. Parents have so much influence on their children’s view of the world and ways of thinking, especially in matters related to how they treat other people and how they make decisions. Parents should message to children at an early age that diversity is not just a nice-to-have, feel-good goal but is a smart goal. Multiple studies of group dynamics in schools and in business have demonstrated the business value of assembling teams composed of people who have different perspectives, different ways of looking at problems and different life experiences to contribute to the collective intelligence of the group. Groups that are more diverse make smarter decisions than homogenous groups. There are deep and long-lasting benefits that inclusion policies and practices can bring to team dynamics, to organizations and to interactions among children in the classroom and on the playground.
2. Explain Differences, Don’t Ignore Them. When developing curriculum and programming related to diversity and inclusion, my three go-to resources are Facing History and Ourselves, the Teaching Tolerance organization, and Common Sense Media. Facing History uses lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate, and they do this by creating rich and rigorous histories of past injustices, of discrimination based on sex, religion, national origin and race – injustices fueled by unaddressed nationalism, racism and prejudice. Included in every lesson package are prompts and exercises that lead to reflection on the sustained damage produced by the injustices. Facing History has many resources for parents seeking to reinforce the values of acceptance and inclusion within diverse communities – the value of getting to know people different from ourselves.
Along these lines, my favorite resource for parents (and teachers) is Beyond the Golden Rule, published by Teaching Tolerance. The 50-page book is free and downloadable. It features advice and resources for parents of toddlers, teenagers and all ages in between. From the Teaching Tolerance website: “Whether you are the parent of a 3-year-old who is curious about why a friend’s skin is brown, the parent of a 9-year-old who has been called a slur because of his religion, or the parent of a 15-year-old who snubs those outside of her social clique at school, this book is designed to help you teach your children to honor the differences in themselves and in others — and to reject prejudice and intolerance.”
3. Use Children’s Books to Explore Differences. Finally, Common Sense Media maintains a wonderful list of books that promote diversity and inclusion for children of all ages – again, toddlers to teens. Among my favorites are A Snowy Day and Last Stop on Market Street, both read aloud books; New Kid, a marvelous graphic novel; Maniac Magee; Stella by Starlight; Wishtree; and American Born Chinese. What these books have in common is that they promote values of diversity and inclusion in memorable stories about interesting characters — stories that show rather than tell, thus grounding abstract concepts like inclusion in examples of real people having authentic experiences and processing genuine feelings.
It’s tempting to try to be completely politically correct when talking about diversity and inclusion, as children are naturally curious about the world around them. When we help children understand these differences, they’ll be one step closer to respecting and celebrating the differences in all people, cultures and experiences and how those differences ultimately can bring the joy of living into our world.
Stratford School has three locations in Los Angeles County with a focus on infusing a strong liberal arts curriculum with STEAM inspired learning. For more information visit stratfordschools.com
Kindness for Valentine’s Day — and Beyond
While every day is a great day to show your love and appreciation for your kids, Valentine’s Day gives all of us a wonderful opportunity to express our feelings — and nothing says love more than kindness. With the help of our friends at NAPPA Awards, we are celebrating kindness and positivity all year long by showcasing books, music and other great products that will bring joy and connection to your family and remind us that we need to be kind to ourselves, to each other, to our community and to our world.
Best for Mom
Let’s start with all the moms who always put everyone else first. We know this past year has not been easy, parenting through a pandemic, that’s why we love KindNotes. These beautiful jars of 31 handcrafted messages, enclosed in mini decorative envelopes, combine the charm of handwritten notes with positive affirmations perfect for a little pick-me up. Comes in a variety of designs and themes and can be customized. Starting at $34.95, kindnotes.com
And we think every mom deserves some quiet time to reflect and recharge. MamaZen Mindful Parenting App provides the perfect space to relieve stress, fatigue and anxiety using a combination of meditation, hypnotherapy and mindfulness . The 150 brief audio sessions (5-15 min) cover common topics among moms. 30-day free trial, then $14.99/month, mamazen.com
Share Kindness Through Music
We know you’re going to love these recent NAPPA Award winners as much as we do. Music is such a wonderful source of well-being and the messages of kindness in these songs are universal and great for all ages.
Make it Happen!
Cheery, charming and energetic songs celebrate the simple joys of life, while also delivering positive messages of empowerment, courage and strength. Packed with lyrical wisdom centering on creating meaningful relationships and experiences. $9.99, staceypeasley.com
Thank You, Mister Rogers – Music & Memories
A heartfelt tribute album featuring classic songs performed by award winning artists. Highlights include the spirited Latin rhythms on Jaci Velasquez’s playful take of “You Can Never Go Down The Drain,” Jon Secada’s Spanish interpretation of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” and actress/singer Rita Wilson, whose husband Tom Hanks wonderfully portrayed Fred Rogers in the movie, provides a tender rendition of “Sometimes People Are Good.” $10.95, thankyoumisterrogers.com
A Mind of Your Own
Featuring Nashville-based songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, a Brooklyn-based, fiddle-playing child psychiatrist and an array of acclaimed Americana performers in a captivating and upbeat debut album filled with songs and skits touching on a variety of topics—making new friends, coping with failure, learning a new language, dealing with emotions and bullying. Invites listeners to think deeply on feelings and emotions that come with growing up, while focusing on resilience. $14.98, folkways.si.edu
Words to Inspire
Find a cozy nook and start reading together. Beautiful illustrations and words will inspire you to be in awe of nature and all the creatures around us. There is so much to be thankful for if we just take a look around and really notice.
Good Morning, Good Morning
The lyrical wordplay encourages children to explore their surroundings and notice the subtle sensations within their bodies, all while helping them develop their daily mindfulness practice. Written and illustrated by women of color and featuring diverse characters. $12, ages birth-4, bounlesblooms.com
The Mighty River
Celebrates the community we share through nature and the diverse animals and plants that call the river home. Includes beautiful illustrations, a wide array of information, ideas on how to protect our waterways and space to draw and describe river animals and scenes. $15, ages 2-8, years, beautifulworldbooks.com
A curated collection of children’s stories celebrating the timeless power of kindness to make the world a gentler, safer and even more loving place by author and highly-respected folklorist, Margaret Read MacDonald. $16.95, ages 6-10, augusthouse.com
The Book of Cultures
A 120-page picture book for young readers to discover the world, embrace its diversity and go on adventures near and far, all from the comfort of their home. Featuring 30 stories with buddies from different countries, followed by a 2-page activity snapshot on each culture. $35, ages 4-9, worldwidebuddies.com
To teach our kids about their big feelings is a true gift. Sit together, talk and use these creative and colorful cards to enhance your child’s social emotional learning.
The Little Yogi Deck: Simple Yoga Practices to Help Kids Move Through Big Emotions
A colorful card deck featuring 48 simple yoga and mindfulness practices to help kids work through big emotions on and off the mat. Eight color-coded categories include anger, worry, excitement, sadness, joy, jealousy, shame and peace. Includes a practice booklet. $19.95, ages 5+, Shambhala.com
Mindful Moments: Guided Exercises and Mantras for Kids
Easy-to-follow guided exercises blending mindfulness meditation and empowering affirmations to build emotional intelligence and encourage kids to tap into the present moment and their unique strengths. Includes mindful tips booklet. $30, ages 2+, boundlessblooms.world
It is through play that kids learn about life. Give them a world filled with imagination, kindness, love and generosity.
Poppy the Kindness Unicorn & Pawley Bear
Join Poppy and Pawley on their journey filled with friendship, kindness, and lots of fun as they spread kindness through Sharewood Forest. $34.99, ages 3+, plushible.com
Care Bears: Love-A-Lot Bear
A group of huggable BFFs living that sweet caring life. Perfect for unlimited bear hugs and ready for you to take on your adventures of sharing and caring. Comes with a collectible Care Coin to spark on conversation and action on everyday acts of kindness. $14.99, ages 4+, Walmart.com
Sharewood Forest Friends
Enter a magical world filled with friendship and sharing. Each friend comes with an adorable outfit, pajama set and reusable packaging that unfolds into a unique playscape, where kindness grows as large as the mighty oak and spreads like wildflowers. $34.99, ages 2-4, sharewoodfriends.com
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