The Bible Miniseries

Have you been watching The Bible miniseries on The History Channel? LifeWay is very excited about it! Here are some resources if you’re interested in digging deeper into the series and its history and future.

Have you been watching the series? I haven’t, but I will definitely catch up on the DVDs when they’re released!

Are You Ratings-Ready? Comic Book Edition by Mike Nappa

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Ever wonder how comic books are rated for content—or if they’re even rated at all? Wonder no more! Here’s what you need to know.

 

Are Comic Books Rated?

Well, yes and no.

With the demise of the Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval (1954-2011) there is no longer any semi-independent body issuing ratings or approvals for comics. However, most individual comics companies offer parents some sort of rating system to help them find books appropriate for their kids. The ratings are generally featured on the cover, next to the UPC code.

 

How Does Marvel Comics Rate Their Books?

According to Marvel’s editor in chief, Axel Alonso, “Not all comics are intended for kids–which is why we label our comics for their intended audience. That said, most of our content is PG-rated material aimed at a multiplex audience.”

Here are the specific ratings you’ll find on a Marvel comic:

  • All Ages. These comics area rated by default, meaning they don’t have any rating at all on the cover. That signals the content has been judged appropriate for children, teens, and adults alike.
  • A Appropriate for age 9 and up. These are typically the flagship comics from Marvel, such as Fantastic Four or Amazing Spider-Man. Books with this rating will be typically absent of profanity or adult content, but will be full of action and might include words that many younger children won’t understand (i.e. “invulnerable”).
  • T+ Suggested for Teens and Up. Comics with this rating are comparable to a PG-13 movie rating. According to Bill Rosemann of Marvel Comics, “In these titles you can generally find the violence and language turned up a notch. Recommended for our teen and adult readers.” These are books like Punisher, Elektra, and Marvel Knights.
  • Parental Advisory. Comics with this rating are intended for adults only, and could contain profanity, partial nudity, and graphic violence. Consider this the “R” rating you’d see on a comparable movie.
  • Max: Explicit Content. Basically the NC-17 of comics.

 

How Are DC Comics Rated?

  • E – Everyone. Cartoon violence and comic mischief at best. Typically suitable for children (or for the young at heart!).
  • T – Teen. This is DC Comics’ version of a PG-13 rating, and will likely include action-style violence and mild profanity.
  • T+ – Teen Plus. A unique rating that falls somewhere in between “T” and “Mature.” Typically targeting readers ages 16 and up, these books will likely contain some profanity and suggestive themes, but no nudity.
  • Mature. Intended for readers 18 and older. May contain nudity, intense violence, extensive profanity, and sexual themes.

 

Where Can I Find More?

Diamond Comic Distributors website, Kidscomics.com, is a resource that offers a wealth of recommendations for parents.

Still, the best comic book rating system for your family is you, the parent. Don’t be afraid to take time to read the books your kids are interested in and then to decide whether or not they are appropriate for your household.

 

Mike Nappa is an author of more than 50 books. He is also the founder of Nappaland Literary Agency and a former book acquisitions editor. He is featured each month in ParentLife magazine and in Trends and Truth Online on the ParentLife blog.

Captain Underpants Speaks to Parents! An Interview with Dav Pilkey {Trends and Truth Online with Mike Nappa}

 

Dav Pilkey is the creator of the New York Times bestselling kids’ series, Captain Underpants. Recently, he took a little time away from his Captainly duties to answer a few questions for ParentLife readers:

T&TO: What should every parent know about Captain Underpants?

Pilkey: I purposely designed each [Captain Underpants] book so they would not only be fun to read, they’d be easy to read. Each story has short chapters and pictures on every page, but the humor is aimed squarely at third and fourth graders (and above). My goal was to present kids with a series that would give even the most reluctant readers a feeling of success.

T&TO: What makes writing Captain Underpants worthwhile for you?

Pilkey: I feel very motivated by all of the positive feedback I get from parents and teachers and librarians. They tell similar stories, always about a kid who refused to read until they were introduced to Captain Underpants—then everything changed…I just heard from a grandmother the other day who had to yell at her granddaughter to STOP reading (apparently it was way past her bedtime, and she was under the covers with a flashlight).

T&TO: According to ALA, Captain Underpants books are among the “most-challenged” books by parents and librarians. Why?

Pilkey: The reason the Captain Underpants books have been challenged by a small handful of “concerned grown-ups” is usually because of the humor. These books do tend to involve villainous toilets and booger monsters and things like that. Of course, that’s part of the appeal for most kids, but I understand that there are some grown-ups out there who are not amused by such things.

One angry lady in California complained to her local newspaper that certain characters in my books had engaged in name-calling and had “no moral value.” Oddly, she was referring to the villains. I remember thinking, “Aren’t bad guys supposed to behave badly?”

I actually think kids are smart enough to get the point of these silly books of mine. They realize that the bad guys are evil and the heroes are loyal, brave, and good-hearted. Kids totally get it, and fortunately most adults do too.

T&TO: Any last thoughts for our readers?

Pilkey: Every month I get hundreds of original hand-drawn comic book adventures written and illustrated by kids all over the world. Just last week I got two 16-page full color comics written and illustrated by a twelve-year-old from Australia. Earlier this year, I got some comics from a kid in Thailand. I couldn’t read them, but the illustrations were beautiful.

The amazing thing to me is that these comic books aren’t assignments. Nobody forced those kids to make an original comic book. These are things that kids have decided to do on their own—for fun!

It’s going to be exciting to see what happens when these kids grow up!

Mike Nappa is an author of more than 50 books. He is also the founder of Nappaland Literary Agency and a former book acquisitions editor. He is featured each month in ParentLife magazine and in Trends and Truth Online on the ParentLife blog.

Resources for Parents from Jennifer Holt

To go along with Jennifer Holt’s article on being a social butterfly in the January issue, here are some extra resources for parents.

 

 

New Year’s Organization with Neat Digital Filing

Tech expert or not, Neat’s Digital Filing System is easy to use. Neat provides users with the unique ability to acquire, organize, access, and activate their information by using one simple platform. Using Neat’s software, information from documents is identified and extracted to create a keyword searchable database. Users can also generate reports, create contact databases, and manage documents quickly and easily.

  • Free up some space in the office by eliminating those paper piles. Archive important information such as medical, insurance, and tax documents in order to access any piece of information directly from your mobile device and easily share through NeatCloud with an accountant or lawyer.
  • Capture information immediately with NeatMobile by scanning receipts or business cards directly into your Neat account and with the help of NeatCloud create expense reports directly from your mobile device.
  • Clear clutter in the glove compartment of your car by scanning automobile information such as: warranties, insurance documents, maintenance receipts, etc. and using NeatMobile, access whatever you need from anytime, anywhere.
  • De-clutter your kitchen by creating a digital recipe box. Scan favorite magazine clippings, family recipes, or even import recipes from favorite websites and search by ingredient or dish for quick access
  • Clear some space on your fridge by digitizing children’s artwork or report cards in order to make room for more. NeatCloud will allow you to share these precious memories and proud moments with a family member or spouse.

Neat has systems for MACs and PCs. Check out Neat.com for more information.

Could you use a little digital organization? I know I could!

“Pink” Products for October

While all the products might not actually be pink, the partnerships between manufacturers and breast cancer researchers in October always makes me hopeful. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in the fight against breast cancer.

I especially love that Gerber NUK has partnered with the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) this October. Breastfeeding lowers the risk for breast cancer (even in women where it runs in the family!), so I think this is an excellent match.

NUK is going to donate a portion of its sales from its entire breastfeeding line to NBCF through December 2012. This includes breast pads, breast pumps, milk storage bags, and other accessories.

This is one of my personal favorite breastfeeding products

 

Looking for other ways to support breast cancer research? Here are some fun pink products.

Infant splatter bib at ShopKomen.com ($8)

Nestly Nuzzles Pink Dog at GUND ($24)

 

Big Fish computer games ($2.99 and up)

 

Do you have any “pink” products that you love?

Cool Technology … for Parents by Christi McGuire

If you read “Cool Technology” in this month’s ParentLife, you discovered lots of apps and websites for your preschooler, school-age child, and preteen. But there’s a lot more for your family—and for parents, too! Check out these products, apps, and websites.

 

Products

Leapster Explorer® by Leap Frog® (www.leapfrog.com) allows your preschooler to engage in games and activities that help them build school skills, such as letter recognition, writing, reading, math, and more.

Motorola Digital Video Baby Monitor: Sleep better knowing your little one is fast asleep, too. This monitor delivers one of the best visual images available. The camera allows you to zoom as well as pan vertically and horizontally almost 360 degrees. Available at Amazon.com.

Kidz Gear ™ offers products and accessories that are child-sized but with high-quality performance. The award-winning line of Wired Headphones for Kids has “volume limiting technology” that brings a safe experience for children that limits maximum volume levels. Headphones are ergonomically designed with soft padded ear-cups. Priced economically for happier (and quieter) car trips! Available at www.gearforkidz.com.

Websites

Wipolo: Explore the world with your friends! You can organize all your trip details in one spot—create itineraries, keep reservations, locate destinations, learn destination facts, write a travel journal, keep track of past trips, store pictures, and share it all with others.

Healthy Children: A comprehensive website powered by the American Academy of Pediatrics to support and educate parents about the physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, and teens.

Apps

SOS Rescue Me: Your child can feel safe anywhere when they are on their own. Download this app to your child’s phone, and if she feels threatened, she clicks the button. A preselected set of contacts will receive a text with your child’s current location. Cost: $.99. Available at iTunes.

Sit or Squat: It never fails–your little one has to potty when you’re out and about. This app helps you find the nearest public restroom. Cost: free. Available at www.sitorsquat.com.

 S.O.S.: An app by the American Red Cross helps you know how to handle emergency situations, like CPR, before first responders arrive. Cost: free. Available at https://market.android.com.

Instant Playdates: Plan playdates to your Facebook friends. Cost: free. Available for Android and iPhone. Available at http://instantplaydates.com.

Mom Maps: Find family fun places and kid-friendly locations, such as parks, playgrounds, restaurants, museums, and indoor play spaces in your area—including a map to get there. Cost: free. Available at http://kidsplayguide.com.

Holiday Gift List:  Manage everyone’s Christmas or birthday wishes and tally your spending. Cost: $1.99. Available at iTunes.

New Releases for Children and Teens from B&H Publishing Group

Here are two new releases from B&H Publishing Group, the book publishing branch of LifeWay, that we thought you might be interested in.

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Courageous Teens by Michael Catt and Amy Parker – Released September 15, 2012 – $9.99

 

Courageous Teens is a student-focused presentation of Courageous Living by Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church and executive producer of the hit film Courageous.

Catt brings fresh insight to “stories of people in the Bible who displayed great courage when it would have been easier to play it safe . . . (who) challenge me to keep moving forward. They demand that I examine my priorities and deal with anything that brings fear to my heart.”

Teen readers will be inspired to resolve to live for God as they learn more about Abraham, Moses, Nehemiah, Ruth, Daniel, and many more.

Best-selling youth market author Amy Parker arranges the heart-stirring material into four categories: Courageous Faith, Courageous Leadership, Courageous Priorities, and Courageous Influence. Discussion questions are also included at the end of each chapter.

 

 


Firebird book

Firebird by Brent McCorker and Amy Parker – Releases October 1, 2012 – $14.99

Firebird is a bright orange baby oriole who just loves the sunshine. But whenever a storm blows in, he frets and asks Mama why God allows the rain to take the sun away. When Firebird is finally old enough, his mother gently instructs him to fly up through the thunder and lightning to see what’s on the other side.

It’s a rough flight, and just when he’s about to give up, Firebird rises above the storm to discover the sun shining where it always had been.

God never lets the storm take the sun away. With that truth in his heart, Firebird continues to bask in the sunshine, but just as important, he learns to rejoice in the rain.

Firebird is a children’s book that parallels the life of Samantha Crawford, a storybook artist in the inspiring new film Unconditional (scheduled for a theatrical launch in this Friday) who has lost sight of God’s love.

Do you have any new favorite children’s books?

Are You UltraViolet Impaired? by Mike Nappa

Trends & Truth is a monthly column in ParentLife magazine and also here at ParentLife Online. Mike Nappa speaks about pop culture and its effect on our kids.

 

ultraviolet.jpgYour kids are badgering you to go online and get an “UltraViolet locker.” Movie studios and retailers are pressuring you to do the same. But what is UltraViolet? Is it safe? Can your kids use it? Can you?

Read on to learn what you need to know about this new digital media trend …

 

What is UltraViolet Exactly?

UltraViolet is the new normal in digital video distribution. Basically, it’s a system for buying and using digital movie files. Instead of keeping your movies on your computer or tablet device, UltraViolet keeps your purchases in a “digital locker” within their online library of titles. Buying an “UltraViolet Digital Copy” of a movie means you are granted access to that movie on their site.

 

How Does UltraViolet Work?

According to HomeMedia magazine, UltraViolet works this way:

“Consumers buy a [movie] title, either digitally or a physical Blu-ray or DVD, then activate a free UltraViolet account online and unlock access to a digital copy from the cloud, which holds it in permanent storage for instant access on a wide range of viewing devices.” A movie in UltraViolet’s library should be viewable on pretty much any popular device, such as tablet computers, internet-connected TVs, game consoles, and so on.

 

Does My Family Need to Buy Into UltraViolet?

Philosophically, there are some concerns. There’s a definite “Big Brother” aspect to the UltraViolet system. Access to your own property relies on the goodwill of whoever controls the service—and whatever new fees/restrictions they choose to impose in the future. (Netflix anyone?) It also keeps detailed records about your family’s viewing choices and demographics, which will be used in marketing and which some view as an unnecessary invasion of privacy.

On a practical level, because UltraViolet is a brand-new technology, there will be glitches and growing pains. For instance, at present, you have to sign up at the UltraViolet website AND also at individual movie studio sites. Also, UltraViolet can’t handle movie rentals or subscriptions, and not all movies are in the UltraViolet library yet. And because it’s internet-based only, any online disruption will interfere with your access.

HOWEVER, in spite of those things, UltraViolet appears to be here to stay.

Most Hollywood studios are betting millions on this new initiative (which helps them guard against piracy and also helps lock in their customers), and retail outlets are following suit. When Walmart joined the supporters, that pretty much guaranteed UltraViolet is not going away anytime soon—and that there would be no real competition to it in the near future.

That means that if your family likes to watch digital editions of movies, yeah, you’re probably going to have to join the UltraViolet universe. If UltraViolet ends up replacing physical media (such as Blu-ray and DVD), we’re all going to have to do that.

 

Does UltraViolet Offer Any Parental Protections?

According to the FAQ on UltraViolet Demystified the short answer is, Yes.

“Each UltraViolet user has parental control information. Parents can set the maximum rating level for their children (and perhaps the children’s grandparents), which limits what the children can purchase, what they can see when they view the digital library, and what they can stream. Parents can also set parental control on their UltraViolet players, which will restrict playback of UltraViolet movies with ratings that exceed the settings.”

 

Where Can I Learn More?

Check out the official UltraViolet website at http://www.uvvu.com, and the UltraViolet Demystified website at www.uvdemystified.com.

 

Have a pop culture question for Trends & Truths? Email it to parentlife@lifeway.com!

 

Mike Nappa is a bestselling author, a noted commentator on pop culture, and founder of the website for parents, FamilyFans.com.

Products We Love, June 2012

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Every month we have a long list of products we want to share with you,but only a few can fit in the printed magazine. That’s why it’s so great we have this online space! Here are a few things we couldn’t squeeze into the magazine this month.

 


15_AlwaysFresh.jpgTherapedic AlwaysFresh Mattress Pad (TherapedicTM international)

Kids get sick. Pets come to visit at night. Bed-wetting drags on. Protect the mattress on your child’s big kid bed with this odor-eliminating, waterproof mattress pad. Available at Bed Bath and Beyond stores nationwide. Twin pad retails for $39.99.

15_BarnyardCritters.jpgRead all five books in the Made by God series. Each book teaches children fantastic facts about their favorite animals. For ages 4 to 7. Check them out at www.zonderkidz.com; $3.99 each.

Do you have a product or book you like to recommend to everyone you know?