Parents asked this former teacher what kids should be reading. Her response was perfect.

When parents ask children's author Kate Messner about what kids should be reading, she always says the same thing.

Messner is an award-winning author who has written more than 30 books, including the juvenile fiction series "Ranger in Time." She was also a middle school teacher for 15 years.

In a Twitter thread, Messner shared that parents often approach her to express concern about the kinds of the books their kids read.


"Sometimes, adults worry that summer reading isn't hard enough or challenging enough or academic enough," she wrote.

Her advice? Let them read what they love: "If they love it and want to read?" That is enough."

Messner also offered comfort to parents whose kids only want to read graphic novels.

She assures parents that comic books and graphic novels are still great reading choices.

She told the story of a dad who stopped her in the grocery store one day to say that his son kept reading graphic novels and ask her what he should do about it. Messner replied, "Buy him more graphic novels. And go to the library because they have some great ones."

Messner pointed out that she grew up reading "Archie" comics, which made her a reader. "Comics and graphic novels of today are smart and sophisticated," she wrote, "and they create readers in a big way."

That endorsement of graphic novels is a balm to parents who worry their kids aren't "really reading" when they indulge in comic-style books. But reading can be done in a variety of ways, books come in a variety of formats, and if a kid is enamored with stories being told a specific way, there's nothing wrong with that.

Reading graphic novels is a good "in" to the reading world for some kids, and when they are ready for something different, they'll already have the reading habit established.

Forcing kids to read books they don't like or aren't interested in is a quick way to make kids hate reading.

In our eagerness to create readers, parents and educators can do some unintentional damage. For example, mandatory reading logs, where kids are required to read for a certain number of minutes and keep track of it each day, have been shown in at least one study to diminish a child's interest in reading.

"When reading is portrayed as something one has to be forced to do," the authors of one such study wrote, "students may draw the conclusion that it is not the kind of activity they want to engage in when given free time."

Since 1 in 4 American adults don't read any books, helping kids love reading is important.

According to a Pew report, about 24% of adults in the U.S. haven't read any books — in whole or in part — in the past year. That includes, print, electronic, and audio formats. One might assume that those numbers are a product of the digital generation, but the report found that Americans under 50 years of age are more likely to have read a book than those over 50.

Books don't have to be long or difficult to be valuable. And considering the research that shows how reading increases intelligence, empathy, mental health, and more, developing a habit of devouring books is more important than fretting over specific kinds.

And way to do that, according to Messner, is simple: "Let your kids read what they love. The End."

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.