Back-to-School with Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing


It’s back to school time. Some kids in the United States have already returned to school. Most are doing a hybrid form of schooling which includes both online and in person classes.

My school district goes back to school on September 8, 2020. They are doing split classes (AM and PM), as well as hybrid online/in person classes.

I work in the school district for an after school program. I am curious to see how it’s all going to work out. I’m also a bit scared seeing as how I am considered “high risk” and I’m a bit worried about my health.

If you have a child who is starting school for the first time, or a child/teen returning to school, you might be interested in some of these great back to school books from Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

A School-Bus Shaped Crayola Board Book 


By Tina Gallo, Illustrated by Clair Rossiter

8/18/20 | ISBN 9781534464339 | Ages 2-5

Celebrate the back-to-school season with fantastic Crayola colors in this adorable board book that’s shaped like a school bus with foil on the cover.

Picture Books celebrating Learning, Teachers, and the First Day of School


By A.E. Alli, Illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell

6/30/20 | ISBN 9781481485630 | Ages 4-8

A heartwarming picture book following a group of boys from different backgrounds throughout the school year as they become the best of friends.


By Aaron Reynolds, Illustrated by Emma Reynolds

6/30/20 | ISBN 9781534427044 | Ages 4-8

In this wildly charming and fantastically imaginative story by the New York Times bestselling author of Creepy Carrots and Creepy Pair of Underwear, a young animal expert knows just what to do when she spots her teacher in the wild.


By Tony Hillery, Illustrated by Jessie Hartland

8/18/20 | ISBN 9781534402317 | Ages 4-8

Harlem Grown tells the inspiring true story of how Tony Hillery invited students from an underfunded school in Harlem to turn a vacant lot into a farm. These kids turned an abandoned space into something beautiful and useful while learning about healthy, sustainable eating and collaboration. 

Favorite Characters Heading to School


By Alexandra Cassel Schwartz, Illustrated by Jason Fruchter

6/30/20 | ISBN 9781534463066 | Ages 3-7

It’s Daniel Tiger’s first day of school in this adorable 8×8 storybook based on an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood! This storybook includes a sheet of unbelievably cute stickers.


By Charles M. Schulz, Illustrated by Robert Pope

6/30/20 | ISBN 9781534464568 | Ages 3-7

Celebrate the back-to-school season with Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the rest of the Peanuts gang in this 8×8 storybook.

Learn to Read with these Schooltime Stories


By Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Mike Moran

6/30/20 | ISBN 9781534453074 | Ages 4-6

From acclaimed, prolific author Jane Yolen comes a colorful Level 1 Ready-to-Read story all about a school music concert.


By Patricia Lakin, Illustrated by Priscilla Lamont

5/5/20 | ISBN 9781534463226 | Ages 4-6

Award-winning author Patricia Lakin is back with a Level 1 Ready-to-Read about the adorable hamsters, Max and Mo. Join Max and Mo as they participate in an exciting science fair.


By Tina Gallo

5/5/20 | ISBN 9781534464209 | Ages 4-6

Boss Baby fights for babies’ right to story time in this Level 1 Ready-to-Read based on The Boss Baby: Back in Business, the hit series currently streaming on Netflix.

Chapter Books about Extracurricular Activities 


By Lyla Lee, Illustrated by Dung Ho

9/15/20 | ISBN 9781534440173 | Ages 6-9

Fresh Off the Boat meets Junie B. Jones in the adorable chapter book series following Mindy Kim, a young Asian American Girl—in this fourth novel, Mindy runs for class president.


By Wanda Coven, Illustrated by Patricia Burris

8/25/20 | ISBN 9781534461307 | Ages 5-9

When Heidi’s class needs a new president, Heidi throws her witch’s hat into the ring! Now there are so many Heidi needs to do to prepare for the election. She has to make posters. She has to give a speech. And hopefully along the way she will figure out what being class president really means. Does Heidi have the magic it takes to win the vote?


By Mark Young, Illustrated by Mariano Epelbaum

7/21/20 | ISBN 9781481491396 | Ages 8-12

Newton Warp’s classmate, Odifin Pinkwad, exists as a brain in a jar, and cooks up a dangerous plan to win a school Trivia Night, in the fourth book in Franken-Sci High, the wacky series created with The Jim Henson Company.


By Kara West, Illustrated by Leeza Hernandez

7/14/20 | ISBN 9781534467231 | Ages 5-9

Mia plays a superhero in a school play in this eighth adventure of the Mia Mayhem chapter book series.

Middle Grade Navigating Complicated Social Situations


By Patti Kim

6/30/20 | ISBN 9781534443457 | Ages 10 and up

Mickey navigates the pitfalls, heartbreaks, and triumphs of seventh grade in this uplifting companion to I’m Ok, which award-winning author Gene Luen Yang praised as “funny and heartfelt.”


By Stephanie Faris

4/28/20 | ISBN 9781534445192 | Ages 9-13

Mean Girls meets The Clique in this relatable M!X novel that tackles the effects of online bullying.

Teen Reads with School Settings


By Jennifer De Leon, Illustrated by Elena Garnu

8/18/20 | ISBN 9781534438248 | Ages 14 and up

First-generation American LatinX Liliana Cruz does what it takes to fit in at her new nearly all-white school. But when family secrets spill out and racism at school ramps up, she must decide what she believes in and take a stand.


By Rachel Lynn Solomon

7/28/20 | ISBN 9781534440241 | Ages 12 and up

The Hating Game meets Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by way of Morgan Matson in this unforgettable romantic comedy about two rival overachievers whose relationship completely transforms over the course of twenty-four hours.

See more of our Fall 2020 titles here.


*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the benefit and enjoyment of site readers. 

Teen Stress is Real–Hyland’s Safe & Natural “Serene” Can Help


Let’s face it, this is a stressful time in our world’s history. People are worried about catching the COVID-19 virus. Some people have lost their jobs. People around the globe had to self-quarantine. It’s been a mess all around.

It’s understandable that adults can be under an extreme amount of stress, most especially if you have lost your job and have to worry about paying bills. Even home schooling children can cause a lot of stress.

Did you know that children and teenagers can feel stress too due to the pandemic? Learning from home is a huge adjustment and missing spending time with friends can be extremely hard on a young person.

There are things adults can do to ease the stress in their life, but what about young adults and teenagers?

A company called Hyland has a product that is non-habit forming and can help ease the symptoms of stress. The product is called Hyland’s Young Adult Serene.

Young Adult Serene is made with a homeopathic blend of natural active ingredients to help ease stress symptoms such as headaches, upset stomach, sleepiness and irritability.

The tablets dissolve quickly, with no side effects. They are non-habit forming and non-drowsy too.

Hyland’s Young Adult Line also includes safe and natural remedies for acne and menstrual symptoms.

Acne can cause stress – and a lot of it. I remember when I was a teen and I woke up to a pimple. It would ruin my day! I would look for anything I could to fix it ASAP. I’ve even tried toothpaste on a blemish to help get rid of it. I’ve been that desperate at times.

Thankfully I outgrew acne. My son was lucky where he barely had any pimples. My daughter on the other hand, sadly she had (and still has) a bad case of acne. She’s on prescription medication for it.

Hyland’s has a product called ClearAc. It is an acne medicine specially formulated for a teen’s skin. Clear skins starts from the inside out, so Hyland’s developed a homeopathic blend of natural active ingredients to stimulate the body’s own healing, naturally.

In addition to my daughter having to deal with acne (she’s turning 23), she also has terrible periods. They are not as bad as they were when she was younger (and prior to going on birth control for her acne). Back when she was a teen she had horrible periods. Even my son would complain about how moody and nasty she was during “that time of the month.”

I felt bad for her. I knew she was in a lot of pain and discomfort from the cramps. The best I could do is get her over the counter medications to help ease the symptoms. I am not a fan of giving my kids medications unless they truly need it. I feel the same way about myself.

Hyland’s Young Adult line has a product called Young Adult Moon. It’s a caffeine-free formula that helps with cramps, irritability and backache.

Moon is caffeine-free, hormone-free, and made with natural active ingredients, just like their other Young Adult products.  Moon also does not contain any harsh anti-inflammatory medications (NSAID’s).

Hyland’s sent me these products to try out with my kids. They are young adults (currently 20 and almost 23). I was told that these products could work for them as well.

With the Serene product, both of my kids tried it out. My son said that he didn’t notice a difference when he took it. At first he thought he did (maybe it was psychosomatic?), but then he said he wasn’t really sure. As for my daughter, she said that the product helped her. She said, and I quote, “I feel more chill” (do people even use that term anymore?). She keeps this product next to her bed.

Whether it works or not for her, I don’t know. But she believes it does, so that is all that matters to me. It’s a homeopathic formula, so I don’t have to worry about her taking medications.

When it comes to the ClearAC, I can’t really comment much on that. My daughter’s acne issue has been pretty good lately. However, she was using this product to see if she had any breakouts. She didn’t, but I don’t know if it was due to this product, or just that she’s been doing better lately with break outs.

When it comes to the Moon product, my daughter tells me that her cramps were not that bad and I don’t think she was really that irritable. She says she was irritable, but both my husband and I didn’t think she was. Trust me, we have seen her irritable side, and it’s not pretty. Ha Ha.

As a parent, I am concerned about what my children put on, and in, their bodies. I am all for homeopathic remedies whenever possible.

If you are interested in learning more about these and other Hyland’s products, visit Hylands.com. That brand is also all over social media. Their links are found on the bottom of their website.


*I received free product samples to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Do you have a teen driver? If so, you need to check out the Drive Safe Challenge website


Passing a driver’s license test is a milestone for any teen driver. But, while teenagers gain a new-found sense of independence when they’re issued their license, parents are often left feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety.

The worry isn’t unfounded – teen drivers are the most inexperienced drivers on the road and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the leading cause of death for teens is motor vehicle accidents. So, how can parents help keep their young drivers safe on the road? The best answer is education. Fortunately for parents, Mercury Insurance has created the Drive Safe Challenge website, a comprehensive resource designed to aid parents in teaching teens collision avoidance techniques and safe driving practices. The site also includes statistics, driving tips, a driving contract and more.

Many states require teens to have a minimum number of supervised driving hours and to complete a driver’s education course before they’re eligible for a license. New York, for example, requires teen drivers to finish a minimum of 24 classroom hours and 24 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction.

Currently, all 50 states have a graduated driver’s license program limiting driving privileges for teens. Most include a learning stage, an intermediate stage that limits unsupervised driving in high risk situations like driving late at night, and a full privilege stage. These restrictions have a positive effect: states with stricter guidelines for young drivers have seen a reduction in crash rates as reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Parents can work to reinforce the good driving practices taught through formal driver’s education by spending more time in the family vehicle with their teen. Providing guidance while teens are behind the wheel and leading by example are important aspects of driver education. The more driving practice your teen driver receives, the better. Visit the Drive Safe Challenge website to learn more about how you can help keep your teen driver safe on the road.

*This is a sponsored post. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do no necessarily reflect my own. 


Know the facts and SHATTER THE MYTHS about drugs and alcohol


This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of National Institute on Drug Abuse for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.



I know being a parent is a tough job. Being a parent to a teen/young adult is even harder.

I have two teenagers, ages 17 and 19 (almost 20). The teen years are not easy at all. There are plenty of days I wish I could go back to dealing with their “terrible twos.”

When you have teenagers there is so much more you need to worry about, and plenty of discussions to be had with your teen about curfews, friends, dating, and school. You should also talk about the potential risks of marijuana, other drugs, and alcohol with your children

When I was a teenager my parents didn’t talk to me about drugs and alcohol. I guess they assumed that I knew everything I needed to know from my peers and from school. Little did they know my peers were the worst influences on me. I was attending keg parties when I was only 15 years old. In hindsight, I was not too smart to do that at such a young age, especially knowing what I know now. I made extra certain to share all the facts with my kids to aid them in making smart choices.

January 23 – 29, 2017 is National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM (NDAFW). It’s an annual, week-long observance that brings together teens and scientific experts to shatter myths about substance use and addiction.

NDAFW is sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), both part of the National Institutes of Health.

I wish they had something like this when I was a teenager. This event didn’t launch until 2010. Thankfully my kids were able to participate in school activities during the event.

The purpose of the week-long campaign is to SHATTER THE MYTHSTM,SM that kids might have about drugs and alcohol. Most of what they know about drugs and alcohol comes from their peers, movies, television, the internet and music which often objectifies drugs and alcohol and makes them look “cool” and fun to do.

These events connect teens with experts and scientists so that teens can ask questions about drugs and alcohol and receive the REAL facts about them. It’s a safe place for teens to ask those serious questions without the fear of being judged or getting lectures on why they shouldn’t use drugs and alcohol.

Since its inception, the number of community-based events held has grown dramatically, with more than 2,000 held last January throughout all 50 states and several international sites.

I visited the NDAFW website and learned some facts about drugs and alcohol that really made me think. For example, I read up on e-cigarettes, which seem to be very trendy these days.

Did you know…

  • 9.5 percent of 8th graders used e-cigarettes in the past month. – I was shocked when I read this.
  • Twice as many boys use e-cigs as girls. – This fact didn’t surprise me.
  • 30.7 percent of e-cig users started smoking within 6 months; 8.1 percent of non-users started smoking within that time. – My daughter knows a lot of kids who smoke e-cigarettes. She said they are not addicting. This scary fact proves that she’s wrong.
  • Manufacturers don’t have to report e-cig ingredients, so users often don’t know what’s in them. – That is scary! You have no clue what you are actually inhaling into your body. Why would anyone want to take such a risk with their health?

One important resource that NDAFW utilizes is the “National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge.” This is a 12-question multiple choice quiz that teens and adults can take in order to test their knowledge about drugs. If you are a parent you can take the IQ Challenge and share your results with your teen. It’s a great way to start a conversation about drugs and alcohol.

I would encourage all parents and guardians to take the “National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge.” I thought I knew a lot about drugs and alcohol, but I still got several wrong (I did fairly well). I plan on requesting that both my teenagers take the quiz too so we can discuss the results.

Check to see if there are any events going on locally for National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM. If not you should check out their website and find out how you can get involved.

The website is also a valuable resource for talking to your teen about drug and alcohol facts. It’s an important discussion all parents should have with their teens.


Take the IQ Challenge!



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Applying Strengths-Based Parenting During Your Child’s High School and College Years



Your children’s high school and college years can be some of the most exciting, challenging and stressful — yet rewarding — years of their lives. New opportunities for growth, exploration, and developing professional and personal relationships are seemingly everywhere. By seizing on the wealth of opportunities available during these special years, your children will be one step closer to blossoming into happy, healthy independent adults who can create fulfilling lives for themselves.

While it may pull on your heartstrings to see your little ones who used to toddle across the kitchen now forging a path for their future, this exciting phase lets them uncover their true talents and allows them to shine. In Gallup’s StrengthsFinder 2.0, talent is described as a natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving. A strength is the result of taking that talent and with investment — skills, knowledge and practice — using it to provide near-perfect performance in a given activity.

Our children do best when they get to use their strengths every day. Likewise, when parents apply their own individual talents and strengths, parenting becomes easier and more fulfilling, which affects their children’s fulfillment too.

As tough as it may be, it’s important to give your children the independence they crave during these formative years. If they elect to drop a class or activity that is not a right fit in favor of one that fosters their creativity, trust their instincts and that they are using their natural talents to the best of their ability. Focus on creating a positive, supportive environment where your children can apply their talents and build them into strengths.

When was the last time you really listened to your kids talk about their passions and started a conversation about developing those areas? At this age, they need to know what steps to take to determine which opportunities are available and how to seek them out.

The Gallup Student Poll has studied nearly 4 million responses from high school students to help educators build focused education that will engage students today and make them ready for tomorrow. Gallup’s Student Poll measures four areas of student success: enthusiasm for school, hope for the future, a knack for entrepreneurship and an understanding of finances. For parents of high schoolers, talk with your children to gauge how they are doing in each of these areas. Maybe you will spark an idea for a side business based on their passions that they can start during summer break. A little extra spending money goes a long way during these busy years filled with after-school activities, homecoming dances and prom.


Of note to parents of older children, the Gallup-Purdue Index studied 30,000 U.S. college graduates to measure the degree to which students were engaged in their work and thriving in purpose, social, financial, community and physical well-being. The study concluded that those who had the following six experiences (Gallup’s Big Six) fared better later in life than those who didn’t have these experiences:

  1. Had a professor who made them excited about learning
  2. Had professors who cared about them as a person
  3. Had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams
  4. Worked on a long-term project
  5. Had a job or internship where they applied what they were learning
  6. Were extremely involved in extracurricular activities

Stay involved in your children’s progress, and keep tabs on whether the Big Six are showing up in their lives. Pay attention to how they use their strengths in important interactions, whether it is developing a rapport with an internship coordinator or making a positive connection with a student adviser. Remaining focused on these key points allows you to be your kids’ biggest cheerleader and main support system for their long-term success. Our future doesn’t depend on everybody being the same; it depends on all individuals applying and sharing their unique talents, their blessings, their beliefs and their passions.

Take heart, new college parents. The holiday break will be here soon, and that means more opportunities to practice using your unique parenting strengths by touching base and really listening to how all those important new life experiences are going for your children as they navigate campus life.


About the author:

Mary Reckmeyer, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of Gallup’s Donald O. Clifton Child Development Center, which has received national attention for excellence in early childhood education and helped parents and children build their lives around strengths. She has studied talent-based interviews of thousands of individuals, including children, teachers and parents, and she helped create the Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer. Reckmeyer also coauthored How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids. She and her husband have four children.

A must have school supply – a quality backpack



It’s back to school shopping time. Parents across the country are making lists and checking them twice to make sur their child has everything they need for the start of the new school year.

School supply lists have changed A LOT since I went to school. Back in the day we needed a binder, paper, pencils, pens and erasers. That was pretty much it. Anything else was a bonus. Nowadays kids are required to have pens in certain colors, special pencils, super expensive calculators, numerous folders and notebooks, as well as supplies for the classroom.

We always take advantage and stock up on school supplies when they are on sale year round. That way when we have to go school shopping we have almost everything we need and we can avoid the crowds and long lines. The only things we need to pick up are those specific extras teachers might require.

The cost of school supplies really add up, so it’s important to take advantage of sales and special.

There is on thing we learned NOT to skimp on and that’s backpacks. We learned that lesson the hard way over the years.

We used to buy our kids whatever character backpack they wanted from “bargain” type stores (I won’t mention brand names, but I’m sure most readers know what stores I am referring to). We would buy the kids $10 – $15 backpacks. We thought we were saving money but in the long run it ended up costing us MORE money because we always had to replace the backpacks a month or two after school started.

When it comes to backpacks it’s well worth it to spend a little more to get a quality backpack that will last the entire school year.

If you are in need of a backpack for your child for the upcoming school year, check out the great variety available at eBags, Here are just a few examples.



JanSport High Stakes

Available in 14 colors; retail price $29.99 – $39.99

  • Fully lined with Herschel Supply’s signature coated fabric
  • Fully padded and fleece-lined 15″ laptop sleeve
  • Magnetic strap closures with metal pin clip
  • Main compartment with cinch top closure
  • Front pocket with hidden zipper and key clip
  • Internal media pocket
  • Ventilated air mesh back padding
  • Contoured shoulder straps


Middle School/Jr. High

Adidas Prime

Available in 7 colors; retail price $60.99 – $64.99

  • Padded laptop sleeve for up to a 15.4’’screen
  • Tricot-lined tablet sleeve and media- safe pocket
  • Two side water bottle pockets
  • Front zippered pocket with deluxe organization
  • LoadSpringTM shoulder strap system and air mesh back panel will help ease the load
  • 3D embroidered brandmark


High School

Hershel Supply Co.Little America

Available in 21 colors; retail price $79.99 – $143.99

  • Fully lined with Herschel Supply’s signature coated fabric
  • Fully padded and fleece-lined 15″ laptop sleeve
  • Magnetic strap closures with metal pin clip
  • Main compartment with cinch top closure
  • Front pocket with hidden zipper and key clip
  • Internal media pocket
  • Ventilated air mesh back padding
  • Contoured shoulder straps

I recommend Jansport backpacks. My kids have used that brand’s backpacks many times over the years. They have plenty of great colors and designs to choose from.

My son has an Adidas backpack from eBags. I made extra certain to give it a good “once over” to see how well it’s made. I even tugged on the straps to see how well they are sewn on. It is a quality backpack.


The backpack suits his needs. It’s very room and can handle the super heavy and huge text books he’s bringing home.

There is also room for his laptop, but he doesn’t bring it to school with him.

Our daughter has a zebra print backpack from eBags. I don’t have a photo of it because she leaves it in her car (she goes to college). Every time I ask her for a photo she keeps forgetting to snap one for me. Ugh!

Her backpack looks just like this one.


I like that eBags has such a huge assortment of colors, designs, sizes, brands and prices available to suit everyone’s needs.

I’ve even found a lunch bag for work that I wan to pick up the next time I get paid. I love the design and that it’s insulated.


eBags has so much more than just school supplies (backpacks, lunch bags…). They also sell luggage, portable chargers, packing kits, clothing, sporting gear, automotive products and so much more. eBags an easily be your “one stop shop” for a lot of your family’s needs.

Ladies… eBags carries A LOT of beautiful handbags too!

If you would like to check out all that ebags has to offer, visit eBags.com. You can also check them out on social media. All of their links are found at the bottom of their website.

Have you ever shopped at eBags? Are you in need of a quality backpack?



*I received free product samples to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.