6 Baseball Stories to Share with your Kids

It’s officially baseball season, and if you’re like me, you’ll have littles starting park district ball in the next several days. In honor of America’s favorite game, I’ve compiled a list of six children’s illustrated books we have absolutely loved, that also share a piece of baseball’s varied history. Head on over to your local library or click through to Amazon to pick up a copy and read with your kids before their next big game.

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Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team

Written by Audrey Vernick, Illustrated by Steven Salerno

In Brothers at Bat, Audrey Vernick tells the heartwarming, generational story of an all-American family, bound together by their love of baseball. In 1938, the twelve Accerras brothers ranged in age from 7 to 32. The oldest nine formed a baseball team, first coached by their dad, and then by one of the elder brothers. They played through 1952, only stopping long enough for six brothers to serve in World War II, to become the longest-playing all-brother baseball team. Ever.

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Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings

Written by Deborah Hopkinson, Illustrated by Terry Widener

Girls can’t throw. Girls can’t play baseball. But this gal might bring in some dough.

Said the coach who greatly underestimated the pitching ability of Alta Weiss.

In 1907, baseball was decidedly a boys game, but at 17 years old Alta Weiss pitched for the Vermilion Independents, a semi-pro all male team. The following year her father became co-owner and renamed them the Weiss All Stars. Though she didn’t continue playing professionally, Alta did go on to medical school and was the only female graduate of the class of 1914.

Girl Wonder is a champion story for little girls who love playing baseball, and love living life outside the lines.

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Who’s on First?

By Abbott & Costello, Illustrated by John Martz

In 1999, Time magazine named Abbot and Costello’s 1930s comedy routine “Who’s on First,” the best comedy sketch of the 20th century. John Martz brilliantly translates the routine for younger audiences through his bright illustrations of an all animal baseball team.

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Clemente!

Written by Willie Perdomo, Illustrated by Bryan Collier

Clemente! is a fictional story of a boy named for baseball hero, Roberto Clemente. Willie Perdomo uses poetic language and sing-song phrasing to share Clemente’s story through the pride and admiration of an average hispanic family. Emphasizing Clemente’s efforts to help the underprivileged, his respect for family, and his determination to fight for what is right in the world, the little boy is encouraged to take pride in his name, and his heritage, and to believe that anything is possible.

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She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story

Written by Audrey Vernick, Illustrated by Don Tate

In She Loved Baseball, Audrey Vernick tells the story of Effa Manley, an incredible woman of action who fought for equality in the 20th century. When Harlem business owners refused to hire black people, Effa organized and boycotted to make sure they did. When Negro League baseball owners protested her presence at meetings because of her gender, Effa demonstrated she belonged by the way she cared for her players and managed her team. When the Majors started signing Negro League players without buying out their contracts, she helped negotiate for the first black player in the American League (which also set the precedence for every other similar trade). When the Negro League itself came to an end, it was Effa who lobbied for it’s history to be preserved. Because of her contributions to baseball and civil rights, in 2006 she became the first woman ever to be inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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Sesame Street Cloth Tote

You’ll remember we used these cloth totes for Noah’s Sesame Street party decorations and goodie bags. Today I’m sharing how-to tips to create your own 9″ X 10″ X 3″ (finished) personalized cloth tote for parties or play.
Sesame Street Cloth Tote

Start by picking a themed fabric, two complimentary colored fabrics, and start cutting!

Pieces for Sesame Street Cloth Tote

What you need

  • 2 rectangular cuts of themed fabric, 10″ wide X 11″ high
    Sesame Street pattern in flannel
  • 1 rectangular cut of complimentary fabric, 4″ wide X 32″ long
    Blue polar fleece
  • 2 rectangular cuts of complimentary fabric, 2″ wide X 17″ long
    Blue polar fleece
  • Personalized letter pattern (in the font of your choice), printed on paper, cut, and traced backwards on the wrong side of a second complimentary fabric
    BD Cartoon Shout at 551.71 size font on red polar fleece

How to make it

  • After cutting out all of your pieces, pin fabric together as shown below (remember to pin fabric with the right side facing “in” for the handles and back of the bag), and stitch what you’ve pinned.

Pinned Pieces Sesame Street Cloth Tote

  • Turn handles right side out, and run a seam down the center on the finished side (to make the handles more sturdy).

Sewing Instructions

  • Sew the front of the bag to the back, by pinning the front of the bag (themed fabric with personalized letter) to the back of the bag (blue fleece) remembering to keep the right side of the fabric facing “in”.
  • Turn the top of the finished bag, and seam to finish.
  • Finish the sides of both the front and back of the bag by running a stitch around the right, bottom, and left sides of the outside of the bag.

Attaching handles

  • Sew the finished handles to the front and back of the tote 1-1/2″ from each side

Sesame Street Cloth Totes

  • Stuff with 4 pieces of tissue paper to help it stand, or use as is :)

Creative Advice from Walt Disney

Maybe it’s because I’m a blogger – where creative art lasts for approximately two minutes if you’re lucky – but I’m always in awe of a creative endeavor that continues to make an impression on people generations after it was created.

Take Batman for example, who recently turned 75. Or the Chronicles of Narnia, close to 65. Or Star Wars, pushing 40 in the next few years. I would imagine there is nothing more exciting and celebrated for an artist than to create something with the potential to outlast themselves.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Disney’s It’s a Small World, an attraction ridden by children around the world for five decades. Congratulations to the creative team are in order indeed.

Alice Davis, Disney legend, was the commissioned costume designer for this attraction. It is said that when she asked Walt Disney about the budget for her part of the project, he responded with this wonderful  nugget of creative advice (you can watch her entire interview in the video “Disney’s Journey from Hans Christian Andersen to Frozen” here):

Walt Disney, clearly knew what he was talking about. Of the creative projects he had a hand in, there are many more, which have been loved for longer than this one attraction. He understood that the single most important component of creating a lasting impression with your art is probably the simplest:

To always do your best.

His words really hit me as a blogger – someone trying to establish a voice, hone my skills, and make something special readers would want to come back to in this tiny space I call my online home. To stop looking at everyone else’s best, and just simply show up every day and do my own.

But that truth applies everywhere doesn’t it?

Whether you’re a photographer, a teacher, a sous chef, or a stay-at-home mom, the secret to your success and your lasting influence is to keep showing up every day and giving YOUR best.

Sometimes it’s the simplest truths that are the most profound.

What do you need to do today to give your best where you are?

Always. Always what we Need.

We wake up to the sound of the rain drumming the ceiling above us, and with it the peppering of my mind with the coming events of our day.

Garbage out. Mike off to work. Pick up Uncle John. Fish for dinner.

“Mommy I can hear the rain,” my eldest whispers with his head cocked toward the window in awe. Probably because we haven’t heard that sound for so long.

I’m out of bed now, rubbing my eyes. Trying to focus, I manage to flip on the Keurig. Just one cup of coffee. I just need one cup of coffee.

Breakfast. Make the bed. Get us dressed. Out the door.

I expect to be annoyed running out to the car this morning, but with every one tucked quietly and belted into their seats, I smile to myself as I start the car.

At least it isn’t snowing.

We begin the drive thanking God for the rain. This simple prayer sets my day so clearly into focus, and with it, come the gentle lyrics of a song . . .

Send some rain, would you send some rain?
‘Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again -
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade
Would you send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid

A plea for mercy. A plea for change. A plea for provision. We know those prayers well.

But maybe not, not today
Maybe You’ll provide in other ways
And if that’s the case . . .

Moments of disappointment coupled by moments of creative surprise when God says “no” to a prayer by answering a different kind of “yes” -

We’ll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain

Moments of waiting producing such hard-won character, building such faith in our hearts when we find ways to say thank you in difficult circumstances.

Oh, the differences that often are between
Everything we want and what we really need

So many “no’s” and so many “yes’s” but always, always, always what we need.

We’ll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need

Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes.

My heart beats hard inside me, and I can barely continue singing the words.

We have so much. Are so full. So rich. So thankful for all the answered prayers, and all the unanswered ones that have helped us reach today.

Because here we are, driving in the rain. And it’s no longer snowing.

You can listen to Gratitude by Nichole Nordeman here, or read the entire lyrics to her song here.

Decorating for Sesame Street

I really enjoy theme decorating for birthday parties. Each of my boys get so excited to select their own party theme and love seeing our living room turn into something special to celebrate them – but decorating can get costly if you’re not careful. I loved that we were able to reuse and repurpose most of our decorations for this years Sesame Street party.

Decorating for Sesame Street 1Because Noah loves Sesame Street so much, we have a lot of dolls and toys already on hand we were able to arrange around the living room with guest goodie bags for the party.

Pictured above: Walter (from The Muppets), Rockin Abc Big Bird, Cookie Monster, (little) Ernie, and Elmo.

Decorating for Sesame Street 2The goodie bags are made of fabric and stuffed with tissue paper to help them stand on their own. The Sesame Street fabric and bold personalized letters helped pull the decor together for us, and because it was money already spent for guests, it was a perfect (temporary) repurpose for party decorations.

Pictured above: Kermit the Frog (from The Muppets), Lullaby And Good Night Elmo, Ernie, Murray, and (little) Bert.

Decorating for Sesame Street 3Pictured above: Sesame Street Neighborhood Playset with various figure sets. 

Decorating for Sesame Street 4I was able to reuse last year’s birthday banner, with graphics from MuppetWiki, and Mike was gracious enough to string up some colored streamers. We didn’t even bother with balloons.

Decorating for Sesame Street 5Pictured above: Sesame Street band set figures.

Decorating for Sesame StreetPictured above: Gift table.

Elmo Cake & CupcakesAuntie Jessie of course worked her magic with the Wilton Elmo Face Cake Pan for her secret chocolate cake, and I added our family favorite Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes to the dessert table. Super yummy, super festive, and when the party was over, clean up was obviously a breeze!

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