Land & House Packages You Should Know When Looking For a New Home

The process of purchasing a new home can be very challenging especially when it is your first time. The first issue to carry out before commencing on the home purchasing process is determining if you are ready to become a homeowner. This decision will mainly depend on your current situation. You should bear in mind the responsibilities that come with purchasing a home like home repair and maintenance, lawn care as well as other costs. This home purchase process can be easy when you are aware of land & house packages available. Provided here are the main steps to undertake in the home purchase process.

Look at your credit score and report

Checking your credit is important before going for any loan or mortgage. The law authorizes that you should acquire a credit report copy for free every year. Sites that offer credit reports can help you to acquire the copy.  The scores vary from three hundred to eight hundred and fifty in most instances. A good score will improve the chances of qualifying for a good loan. Ensure that your report does not have errors. You should be ready to dispute any errors when they may be present. This will improve the credit score.

Find out how much you will afford

The internet can help in finding out the amount of cash you can manage. There are many mortgage calculators available online which will aid in calculating the mortgage payment for every month. You should also consider the amount required for down payment, remodeling cost, closing cost, fees including that of inspection, attorney, and appraisal. Bear in mind that you do not have to make a down payment of twenty percent like your parents did. The good news is that some loans don’t require down payment or have a little payment. You will explore the loan options available with the help of an expert in land & house packages.

Choose a competent lender

When you have chosen a mortgage lender, you should acquire a pre-approval.  Qualifications are based on the information you provide to the lender where there are no assurances. On the other hand, you will have a picture of the loan that you qualify for through pre-approval. The lender will acquire additional information from what your credit report displays. Before you start looking for a home, you can go ahead and acquire a genuine approval.  This will ensure that the sale is quick when you make the offer. Furthermore, your deal will be attractive since you have a financial guarantee.

Find the ideal home

Finding the right home may not be a simple task to perform if you are not conversant with the common and complex land & house packages available today. You should determine the number of bathrooms and bedrooms your family needs. Also, you should consider your ideal space as well as the size of the kitchen. Will you require cabinet space and several closets? Another issue is whether you require a huge yard for the pets and kids to play.

After coming up with a list of your required facilities, it will be important considering the type of neighborhood you desire. Also, the distance from, and to work, local shopping facilities and the nature of schools available in the area. Your safety requirements should also be considered. As you assess the type of new homes NSW has, it is good to pay attention to the home appreciation rate in the region. Check out http://www.edenbraehomes.com.au/house-and-land/packages/

Tips to Decorate With Ease Using Blinds

Blinds are an excellent addition to every home. They make the room look more stylish and relaxing. If you want to block the light out, blinds can help you achieve that blackout look anytime. You can also leave a couple of inches of opening to enjoy natural flow of air. With the many variants and brand names readily available in the market today, you need to make sure that the Venetian blinds Brisbane market offers are of great quality.

venetian blinds brisbane

Designing with blinds can be an obstacle. With the ideal type and blind colour, you can absolutely integrate your blinds to your total interior style. Whether you desire roller shades, matchstick shades, cellular shades, roman shades, sheers, plantation shutters, and of course, Venetian blinds, embellishing with blinds will certainly improve the general look of your interior. Take a look at these pointers below to help you embellish your house with ease utilizing blinds.

1. Choose a Neutral Palette. You have to remember that routinely replacing Venetian blinds Brisbane stores offer today to fit your interior style can be a bit pricey. If you wish to go with vibrant colours, you can do so on your curtains as it is simple to replace them every week.

2. Select a Style that Suits the Space. There are a lot of styles you can pick from when you desire to use Venetian blinds from Signature Blinds Brisbane shops provide. You can either have horizontal or vertical Venetian blinds in Brisbane to match your interior style and layout.

3. Pair it Up with the Right Window Treatment. For maximum visual effects, it is best to combine your Brisbane Venetian blinds with the right window treatments. They typically work well with drapes and large fabrics. You can decide for drapes with bold patterns as long as your blind colours have natural, white or cream tones.

4. Select the Right Material. There are a lot of materials utilized nowadays for the making of Venetian blinds. Make certain you select the one that is best for your house. Have a look at these products and choose which one suits your area:

  • Real Wood. If you wish to achieve a standard timeless appearance, you can select wooden blinds.
  • Aluminum Blinds. If you want a more affordable option, you can go with aluminum blinds.
  • Faux Wood. These type of Venetian blind appearances like natural wood but costs a lot less expensive than the real ones.
  • Vinyl. Vinyl has been around for a lot of years. This is a really versatile and long lasting material and is widely used in the building market, water infrastructure, medical applications, vehicle market, electronic devices, packaging as well as transportation.

Blinds have actually been around for so many years and have actually undergone a style change a number of times. More colours have been included and are now combined with curtains to achieve a cozier interior. When it concerns window treatments, there are a lot of designs you can pick from. You can easily find Venetian blinds Brisbane stores currently offer once you have decided on the colour, style, and material you want for your blinds. You can also visit  http://www.signatureblindsbrisbane.com.au/blinds/venetian-blinds/ for more details.

Investing in Rentals: Top Reasons to Start a Business in Tourist Accommodations

A trip to the Sunshine Coast is every Queen slander’s dream escape. The escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city seems relevant to the modern citizens today. This can be an uphill task in a state like Queensland where everyone seems to be moving faster. You’ve got to do what needs to be done now and hope retirement will be worth every restless moment. However, before retirement, you must also take breaks from it all and just relax. Of course, taking holidays is the ideal break but spending a weekend or two at quality beaches on the Sunshine Coast can also do a lot for you. Imagine if you never have to make accommodation plans every time you can afford to, for example, spend some time away at the Noosa Main beach. Noosa rentals provide a great opportunity to make a home away from home while removing such stresses. Furthermore, like the rest of Noosa real estate, they can also be a viable investment.

noosa rentals

This article tackles the key reasons why your trip to Noosa and Sunshine Coast can be both for leisure and business by investing in rental properties for tourist accommodation:

Investing in Rentals: Reasons behind its Success

Why are investments made in real estate surviving market fluctuations better than, for example, stock trading? This might be the result of a myriad of factors not clearly understood or maybe pure coincidence. In the recent past, however, many investors seem convinced to withdraw from stock trading and acquire property instead. It doesn’t have to be the putting eggs in one basket cliché but it is evident that real estate investments are paying off worldwide. If for example, you owned some Noosa rentals or some rental properties Sunshine Coast has today, you could always benefit even during off season. Taking your family for an impromptu Sunday getaway to the beach is definitely better than lazing the day around an already over-familiar city apartment.

Renting a Place to Stay In VS Dwelling in Hotels

Real estate might not be what you are looking for right now. Maybe you are considering renting a property for rent Sunshine Coast property owners have for lease. On one hand, a nagging voice tries to convince you to get the tried and tested hotel accommodation. Researching FAQs for renting in Queensland, for example, may have made matters worse if terms like lease agreement, rental bond, and those in legislation requirements are unfamiliar to you. It could make the option for booking a hotel to seem heavenly. Take a break and think of the many times you called your favorite hotel only for the receptionist to tell you they are overbooked for the summer. Think of the sinking feeling you get when you have to settle for the second best. Now, remember the big number of great rentals Sunshine Coast has in the market. These are not likely to get over leased so forget the hotel.

Renting Terms Demystified

Assuming you’re the one who almost settled for less because an internet search discouraged you. Some of the terms you will come across when searching for rentals Sunshine Coast agencies lease are:

Rental bond: Refers to the deposit you should make that is four times the weekly property’s rent. It acts as security and should be refunded to you when you move out unless to cover costs you are responsible for.

Leasing agreement: A legally binding document that is evidence of the information you provide the landlord and the terms of your tenancy. It includes the period for lease and special terms like under what conditions a dog can be allowed in the house.

With this information, you have a place to start if you would like to lease, for example, some of the Noosa rentals in the market. To learn more, consider the information provided at https://rwnoosa.com.au.

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Top 3 Best Places to Spend Your Retirement Days

When it comes to picking a place where you can retire, it’s great to give the choice some careful planning. Very few people in their 60s like to pack belongings and relocate a few times. However, selecting the perfect retirement house in Australia can be difficult. Regions like Queensland has always been a popular choice as there are a lot of land for sale Sunshine Coast wide that you can choose from. For those more than 60 years old, the choice will come down to a couple of essential components, for example, where your kids and grandchildren live, what luxuries are accessible, great transport connections and cheap homes. Image result for land for sale sunshine coast You can check these dream retirement destinations below and see if they fit your retirement goals: 1. Port Macquarie There is a large number of fine eateries and bistros to feast in, which can be found on the Port Macquarie site. There are various yearly attractions and celebrations in the Port, and the most appealing to retirees is, without question, the Tasting on Hastings, a month long food festival held every October. The median property cost here is $520,000, and the cost to lease is $420 every week, according to realestate.com.au. There are additionally 13 retirement towns than you can choose from. 2. Yankalilla, SA Set on the western side of South Australia’s staggering Fleurieu Peninsula, Yankalilla is a beautiful haven that has loads of appeal and character. If you love to be surrounded by nature just around an hour’s drive south of Adelaide, this is the best spot for you. It has quaint little bed and breakfast establishments if your family and companions come to visit, and there are moderate lodging choices in case you’re hoping to set up forever. Median costs in Yankalilla are about the $240,000 check. For shoreline trips, the close-by seaside havens of Normanville, Carrickalinga and Myponga Beach are excellent spots for an unwinding, morning swim or evening walk. While it might not have as many retirement sanctuaries, the fact that it’s an hour’s drive from the state’s capital means you can get to greater shopping buildings and medical centers. Home to ranchers, specialists, city-inhabitants down for the end of the week and retirees, this is a perfect place for those seeking to be near a capital city while enjoying the serene way of life of the countryside. 3. Sunshine Coast, Queensland It’s not a surprise that Sunshine Coast is part of this list. It is quite calmer compared to its southern counterpart, the Gold Coast. However, it is also lively as this is home to a few renowned suburbs like Noosa, Maroochydore, Mooloolaba, and Caloundra. No wonder a lot of tourists prefer houses for rent Sunshine Coast wide whenever they want to unwind.  There has been less advancement around there, and less expensive lodging as well. However, that will all rely upon what type of accommodation you’re searching for. Costs of land for sale Sunshine Coast wide can run from about $500,000 to $2 million, or in case you’re not having any desire to purchase, there’s a lot of rentals accessible as well. You can also select from a wide variety of retirement houses for sale Caloundra offers, with various reasonable choices near amenities. An hour’s drive north of Brisbane, it’s an incredible place spend your retirement that is tranquil and quiet, but not too far from major cities. Making sense of where you need to live when you resign isn’t a simple choice. You’ll have to factor in your way of life without sacrificing basic conveniences.  Being near your kids and grandchildren in your retirement years is important so you will have the support and love of your family.  You can also check on other houses for sale Golden beach has today to see if they meet your requirements. If you are keen on selecting land for sale Sunshine Coast has today, you can ask around or visit http://www.henzells.com.au for more details.

Why Building Your Own Home is Better Than Buying a Pre-Owned Home

When you purchase a pre-owned home, the standard procedure includes looking through various locations to choose the home you like best. The pursuit can get awkward and tiring, especially if you have a distinct taste. Even if you eventually settle with a pre-owned home, there is a chance that it won’t really meet your expectations. That is why choosing a reliable Perth home builder to construct your dream home is still a smart way to go.

Do not just settle with a pre-owned home just because it has a great view of the ocean or rolling hills. Make sure to check the interior of the home to know whether there are any major repairs or renovations needed. If you find out that the floor boards are already rotten beneath the plaster, you can either move on to hunt another property or strike a deal with the broker so you can buy the property at a cheaper cost. It may take a while before you can move in but if the view is really that good, waiting until the home is renovated might be a good choice. Just be sure to hire a trusted Perth home builder to renovate the property or construct any additional structure.

Below are a few reasons why building a new home from scratch is ideal rather than buying a pre-owned home. 

Modified to Your Requirements

Most homeowners do not consider the idea of building their own homes since they feel it is too expensive. However, the genuine reason is that they’re in a rush and would prefer not to wait until the construction is complete. Needing a place to move in immediately is also an issue. What most homeowners do not realise is that hiring a new home builder Perth has these days is actually more economical.

Efficient Than Spending More on Renovation

The issue with pre-owned homes is you need to pay for it in one go. Even if you take advantage of financing or mortgage loans, the interest rate is still a weighty cost. When you buy a pre-owned home, you will pay for everything inside, even if you don’t really like some items such as the ugly-looking wallpaper or the unbelievably small bathroom. Building your own home will ensure that you approve every addition, every nook and cranny of your own place. You will not mind spending as long as you can have the design you want for your home. When you hire the best Perth home builder, you will get to have a budget estimate which you will have to approve or revise, depending on your budget.

With home development, you can take it moderately – you don’t need to spend all your cash in one go. So in case you’re stressed on overspending plan, you can just gradually add to the development a tiny bit at a time. You can begin with the outside and after that the plumbing, before concentrating on the insides. You can assemble gradually room by room so you won’t be troubled monetarily. Perth new home builder WA wide will even enable you to design out your home building project a little bit at a time.

No Bad History of Sorts

When you build a new home, you will not have to deal with other people’s history. You will not have to wonder about what the previous owners did to the home. You will create your own memories in your newly constructed home. Although you can hire cleaners to clean a pre-owned home, hiring a new home builder Perth WA has today is still a hygienic choice.

Buying HVAC Systems of the Now: Energy-Efficient and Sustainable

With every fortune, there’s always a price to pay. The good news is the increasing availability of smarter HVAC systems in the US market today. It’s a response to the demand for energy-efficient HVAC systems by consumers. On the other hand, inferior products and incompetent service are also on the rise. Is getting a regular duct cleaning Atlanta has these days enough for your HVAC to become sustainable?

Energy needs

Sustainable HVAC systems are only a few of the many solutions to the growing demand for energy-efficient products. But its significance can’t be taken for granted.

Before, consumers were quality-centric; now, they’re cost-conscious. However, being cost-conscious also means demanding for energy-efficient and sustainable HVAC systems. It will never equate to buying tempting cheap products and services to save money. The latter is counterproductive.

Buying smart and well-designed HVAC systems, ductwork, and products will benefit you in the long run. You will save money, ensure your family’s health, and help the environment.

Buying an energy-efficient HVAC System:

Impacting the environment

Because they consume a lot of energy, most HVAC systems are now being retrofitted to minimize their negative impact on nature. Rating systems like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) are motivating the manufacturing industry to design HVAC systems with harmless materials like plastic.

Your Health

Indoor air quality is crucial. It can affect a family’s health since they stay inside their homes for about 90% of their time. Existing air-conditioners are retrofitted to circulate cleaner air. The best air conditioning installation Atlanta GA includes services that cater to the diverse needs of consumers.

Your Pocket

Manufacturers are also designing HVAC systems that are more economical for consumers. Since the pulse of today’s market is being cost-conscious, these systems are designed and installed strategically to reduce operational costs. The latter is, of course, the responsibility of the HVAC dealer.

Facility managers in commercial properties today are also benefiting from energy-efficient HVAC systems. It’s evident in the dramatic decrease of energy cost in buildings. Click here Moncrief Heating & Air Conditioning

Preventive Maintenance

Besides smart design, quality maintenance is also important in sustaining the performance of a high-efficient HVAC system. You can do maintenance on your own or you can hire professionals.

Simple tasks like checking the filters and taking care of return air vents can prolong an HVAC system’s life. If you see a large build-up of mold or dust, then you can get a duct cleaning Atlanta companies offer. When looking for a duct cleaning Atlanta has nowadays, remember to look for companies that offer good service plans and periodic maintenance.

Meanwhile, if you think a part of your HVAC system is beyond repair, you can always replace it. You can call for a Moncriefair air conditioner replacement in Atlanta GA if your air conditioner’s brand is Carrier. A Moncriefair air conditioner replacement is Carrier-authorised—it means they service brands including Carrier.

As products and technology get smarter, don’t forget to consider giving back to nature. Buy products that do not only benefit your pockets, but also the environment. In the past, it sounded impossible, but now you can do it with the sea of energy-conscious HVAC dealers in your area. See more at http://www.moncriefair.com/air-duct-cleaning-in-atlanta-ga.php

The Key Importance of Proper Ventilation and Air Circulation — Keep it Healthy

The commercial setting isn’t quite clearly known to be solely comprised of a one-man team. Such applies to your ventilation system — there are different parts or regions that specialize for a particular function. Heating and air conditioning service providers like Moncrief Heating & Air Conditioning take these “members of the team” into consideration. It even involves keeping employees and the facilities not only comfortable but also healthy.

What is an HVAC system exactly?

Standing for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning System — it is in charge of maintaining a preferred “condition” of the air that circulates around the commercial area, its quality and integrity, distribution, other aspects, even its sanitation. Most systems like the HVAC system Atlanta GA has do this and more.

Suspended air is not healthy

Plain air particles are almost invisible to the naked eye and harbor a lot of agents like chemicals, microorganisms, dust, scents, and the like. This is one of the reasons why ventilation is important — it prevents these things from being suspended into the air without motion, consequently exposing the workplace to things ranging from infectious diseases, dust irritation, humidity, and even moisture isolation (which micro-organisms prefer).

In a commercial set-up, these factors increase relatively with the number of individuals in an area.

The main gist of efficient air circulation and its cycle explained

To prevent prolonged air suspension, vents are placed to suction the air in the commercial area so it flows inward to the central heater or air conditioner for re-conditioning. Professionals like those from Moncrief Heating & Air Conditioning know this and may provide you alternatives for the central unit, like a commercial air conditioner Atlanta GA manufacturers set up, that benefits you the most — and some actually filter and get rid of unwanted micro organisms as an added feature.

An input duct may create a vacuum, however, so there must be an output. Once the inbound unconditioned or recycled air is filtered through the central HVAC system, the air, now conditioned to an optimally preferred state, is sent toward the outbound vents that distribute conditioned air evenly for that comfortable feel in the workplace. The cycle goes on.

Even systems break down and need check-ups

The demands on commercial HVAC systems outpace the residential setting. Because it involves larger areas, more vents and ducts, stronger and more energy-demanding units, and more complex setups, it is inevitable for HVAC systems to malfunction entirely or by functional region. When this happens, it is best to have it attended to as fast as possible by professionals that offer various functions such as the best HVAC repair in Atlanta GA would offer.

Know who to turn to

HVAC systems require a great deal of expertise and technical ability to be managed. This is why technicians need to be accredited with a North American Technician Excellence certificate to be able to deliver and address your HVAC-related concerns accordingly.

It is a standard for HVAC service providers like Moncrief Heating & Air Conditioning to assure you that your commercial HVAC needs are professionally handled. Know more about them at their website http://www.moncriefair.com/.

Business Name: Moncrief Heating & Air Conditioning
Name: Amanda Wolski
Address: 935 Chattahoochee Ave., NW
Contact Name: Amanda Wolski
Phone: 404-350-2300
Logo URL: http://www.moncriefair.com/assets/images/moncrief-logo.png
Tagline: A LEGACY OF COMFORT AND TRUST
Trading Hours: 7AM-7PM
Trading Days: m-f
Payment Types: American Express, Discover, Visa, Mastercard, Cash
Year Founded: 1898

6 Essential Factors that You Should Consider When Building Two Storey Homes

Many individuals and families in Perth are now choosing to have a double-storey home to improve their way of living. After all, there are many benefits that come with this type of place. Aside from being able to maximize spaces on a small piece of land, building vertically will open up a plethora of possibilities that you can embrace to make you home as functional and stylish as possible. However, building such a place does not come without challenges. Nevertheless, you can always make the process smoother and ensure results will meet your expectations by considering some important factors, with the help of two storey home builders in Perth WA, such as Aveling Homes.

1. Design

First and foremost, you should choose a design that will exactly meet your needs for living in such a home. Carefully think through your preferences. For example, how do you like natural light to enter your living area or rooms? Or, how do like to entertain your family or guests if you will be expecting some? You can talk with 2 storey home builders Perth has to come up with the best solutions to these matters.

2. The Right Budget

Planning an effective budget for a new home is always challenging. Nevertheless, you can make the task easier by avoiding the most common mistakes often encountered during the process. For one, you should never underestimate the expenses, as they can really add up. On a similar note, you should never overspend on luxuries without considering the final value of your finished home. Remember that luxurious items that are not valued by other people can result in a loss should you decide to sell your home in the future.

3. Building Regulations

Generally, your building plan should adhere to specific regulations in your locality, including neighborhood planning policies and local zoning regulations. So, once you have finalized your design with builders, such as Aveling Homes, you must have it approved by the local building council first before breaking ground.

4. Climate Control

Remember that integrating adequate heating and cooling systems in two-storey homes is more difficult than in traditional homes, considering that hot air would rise to the second floor. However, good builders will be able to achieve the perfect climate control system for your home. When discussing this aspect with them, consider window placement, cross-flow ventilation, and insulation.

5. Time Frame

Of course, you should determine how long it will take for your new home to complete. With that said, it is important to work with home builders in Perth WA who are transparent with your project’s time frame. Implement time management during the construction process to ensure everything is done on set deadlines.

6. Inspections

See to it that your project is inspected at various stages by an authorized agency to ensure it is on track. Also, this will determine if all of the work is up to code and satisfactory.

As constructing a two-storey home is not a small investment to make, it is, of course, crucial to choose a home builder that you can depend on. In this regard, you can check out Aveling Homes at www.aveling-homes.com.au.

Business Name: Aveling Homes
Name: Aveling Homes
Address: 42 Cedric St, Perth WA 6021
Contact Name: Sales
Phone: 6144 1000
Logo URL: http://d27s1b615zjvxg.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/AvelingHomes_Logo.svg
Tagline: Build with anyone else and you could pay too much
Trading Hours: Monday - Friday 8am to 5pm
Trading Days: monday to friday

4 children’s medicine pitfalls to avoid

It’s no surprise that the leading cause of anxiety for parents is caring for a sick child, and yet one in two parents could be unintentionally putting their child at risk by not fully understanding everything they need to know about pain and fever medicines. Keep your cool with these four tips from Dr. Sally Gatchalian of the Philippine Pediatric Society to help you nurse your little one back to health.

1. Children’s pain and fever medicines are NOT created equal

Contrary to popular belief, different children’s pain and fever medicines do not work in the same way, nor are they always equally safe for your child. Ibuprofen and paracetamol are two of the most commonly used over-the-counter children’s pain and fever medicines, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise caution when using them. For instance, if your child is suffering from other health conditions, such as dengue or dehydration, ibuprofen can increase the risk of side effects, and also has the potential to interact with a larger range of medicines when compared to paracetamol.

2. Avoid mixing medicines (unless directed by your doctor)

It can be risky to alternate or mix medicines when not under medical supervision. Alternating doses of different pain and fever medicines can be confusing and increase the risk that you’ll overmedicate your child. Generally, paracetamol can be safely taken with other medicines (but always read the label), but always check that the two medicines don’t both contain paracetamol, otherwise you could risk overdosing your child.

3. Children should never be given aspirin or a small dose of adult medicine–EVER!

A recent survey found that some parents have given their child aspirin or a small dose of adult medicine. Under no circumstances should children be given any medicine that’s meant for adults as it carries numerous risks, including potential unknown side effects. Aspirin should never be given to young children because of the risk of Reye’s syndrome, a potentially fatal condition that affects all organs of the body, but is most harmful to the brain and liver.

4. Be very careful with dosing

Almost one in three parents admit that preparing the correct dose of children’s medicine is very stressful. Always follow the labelled instructions and dose your child based on weight, not age, for more accuracy. Use the dosing device provided with the product. If you need help determining the right dose, a handy online dosage calculator is available here.

Graphic Novels for Young Kids

What are graphic novels?

Graphic novels are stories written and illustrated in the style of a comic:

  • Vivid illustrations combine with short bursts of text, often presented in a series of rectangular panels
  • The story unfolds in a clear sequence, and is often action-packed (and funny)

Graphic novels can be fiction (for example: historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, fairytales) or nonfiction (for example: history, biography, informational)

The main characters don’t have to be superheroes!

Are graphic novels “real books”?

Yes! Graphic novels are widely accepted by youth librarians and teachers as books worth reading by kids of all ages and reading levels. Top children’s publishers now offer graphic novels that are high quality (with strong characters, vocabulary, and storylines) and appropriate for young readers.

Popular authors who have published graphic novel series include: Jennifer Holm and Matt Holm (Babymouse and Squish), Shannon Hale (Rapunzel’s Revenge), Jarrett Krosoczka (Lunch Lady), Raina Telgemeier (Ghosts and Smile), Gene Yang (Secret Coders), James Burks (Bird and Squirrel), Jeff Smith (Bone), and Scott Morse (Magic Pickle).

How graphic novels help build children’s literacy skills

Reading motivation. Graphic novels are very popular, and especially appealing to readers who may not pick up a more traditional book on their own. They can be a “welcoming door” for reluctant or struggling readers (especially boys) who are drawn to the lively storylines and illustrations, and the smart but limited text. Quick, fun reads build confidence!

Visual literacy. The pictures in graphic novels are expressive, simple, and rich all at the same time. The images provide big clues about character and plot and encourage readers to look closely. Some graphic novels (such as Owly and The Adventures of Polo) are wordless, so the pictures must carry the full story.

Story structure. Most graphic novels for young readers have easy-to-follow plots. This can help children learn about how a story is stitched together. After sharing a graphic novel together, ask your child to tell you the basic plot of the story: “First this happened, then this … and at the end …”

Word learning for struggling readers and English language learners. Although individual words in a graphic novel can be sophisticated, the side-by-side Illustrations and text provide strong clues to their meaning.

Don’t forget to share graphic novels together — they make great read alouds!

Where to find great graphic novels for kids

Take a look at our booklist, Graphic Novels: Read the Pictures, for recommended reads. Or, browse these lists from the American Library Association — and ask the children’s librarian at your local library for more recommendations.

Expose your kids to the world of graphic novels through different genres. Here are some of our favorites:

Baby Toy Buying Guide

Your newborn finds endless joy in just gazing at you (and vice versa), but soon he’ll start to show interest in toys. But when it comes to plaything for babies, there’s more than meets the eye. What might seem too cute could actually be too dangerous—or just a big bore. We’ve got info to help you choose wisely, so your baby is happy, engaged and perfectly safe.

What Babies Want

From 0 to 1, babies explore their fascinating new world through their senses, which are swiftly developing as they see, touch, smell, hear and taste everything they possibly can. For the first couple of months, though, babies are a light on motor skills, so they rely on their eyes and ears to soak it all in. They gravitate toward bright primary or high-contrast colors with simple designs and changes in sound. This is the best time for a crib mobile—your baby can’t reach it (it’s a strangulation hazard when they can), and it provides a great source of entertainment. Attach it about 8 to 14 inches from your baby’s eyes, then as soon as he can push himself up on hands and knees, or at 5 months old, (whichever comes first), remove it from the crib. By about 8 weeks, your baby is ready for rattles and teethers, cloth toys, soft squeeze balls, and musical and chime toys.

As soon as babies can reach and grab, they’ll get a thrill from textured toys that are safe to test out in their mouths. It’s also tummy time, and cloth interactive activity mats are perfect for that. Disks and keys on a ring give them something to hold, shake and listen to, and teething toys always win raves. “At 6 months, all those teething toys come into play as they become more orally fixated and they’re cutting teeth,” says Adam Cohen, who blogs at DadaRocks.com, a kid product review site.

When babies start to sit up, they’re also mastering hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. “They love banging, repetition with open and shut, toys that are cause and effect,” says Adrienne Appell, spokesperson for the Toy Industry Association. They like to see what their bodies can do—and they’re dying to practice! Give them balls, push and pull toys, nesting and stacking toys, activity cubes, shape sorters, pop-up toys, squeaky toys, rubber blocks, large pop beads, and simple musical instruments.

Choosing Safe Toys

While your baby might very well be a future Pulitzer Prize-winner, she is still going stick everything, no matter how gross, in her mouth—and that can be risky. “There are more than 200,000 toy-related injuries a year that result in emergency room visits,” says Meri-K Appy, president of Safe Kids USA (formerly the Home Safety Council). Most are under 4 years old, and more than a dozen children under 15 die each year from toy-related accidents. Though your first instinct may be to swaddle your kid until he’s in high school, you don’t need to be scared; you just need to be smart.

The most basic safety tip is to purchase age-appropriate toys. “We like to think of our children as advanced and give them, with pride, something that they’re ‘ready for,’ but that can be a dangerous mistake,” Appy says. Read and heed those warning labels; they’re there for a reason and often prompted by an accident. “The back-story is tragic; it’s a loss or an injury that could be life-long,” Appy says. Most of the warning labels are for children ages 3 and under, because they’re at the highest risk for choking.

You’ll see choking hazard warnings on toys like balls, balloons, marbles, and Lego pieces. Any item small enough to fit through a toilet paper roll is small enough to fit down a young child’s windpipe, Appy explains—for instance, a ball should be more than 1.75 inches in diameter. Toy stores may have small parts testers, but the toilet paper roll offers a good guide.

Recently, button magnets and magnetic jewelry have caused alarm. They are tiny and tempting for a curious baby, and can be deadly. “If a child swallows two, they can come together in the body and injure organs,” Appy explains. Another no-no: latex balloons. Small pieces can go down your baby’s throat and get stuck. “If you must have a balloon, then Mylar is actually safer,” Appy says.

Remember, too, that well-meaning gift-givers may ignore a warning label; perhaps Grandma picked up something she loved or the nanny doesn’t read English very well. So you’ll need to check toy presents before you give them to your baby. Also, any caregivers should be well-versed in toy safety. “It’s important to talk to anyone taking care of your child,” Appy says.

Chemicals in toys

Another thing to look for on labels: phtalates, those chemicals that make plastics softer. It’s a topic that’s evolving, but Appy says that concerns are mounting that they might disrupt normal hormonal balance and could possibly be associated with behavioral issues and asthma. How to know if a toy has phtalates if it doesn’t list materials? “If your toy is marked for recycling, you’re looking for recycling #3,” she says. Luckily, Congress has already banned six types of phtalates from children’s toys, and companies like Wal-Mart, Lego, Toys R Us and Evenflo are phasing all phtalates out of their toys.

Where you shop can also impact your toy-buying. For instance, while there’s nothing inherently wrong with dollar stores, their merchandise may not pass rigorous baby toy standards. “You are definitely looking for toys that are sturdy, made by somebody who understands new regulations of toy safety, and something that will hold up with normal wear and tear,” Appy says. If you sense imminent destruction of the toy, or if there’s no label to tell you the age limit, take a pass.

At-Home Toy Safety

After opening any new toy, toss all packaging. Besides suffocation from plastic bags and wrappings, hard shell cases can often leave perilously sharp edges.

Noisy toys are annoying, and they can also be harmful for your baby’s sensitive ears. If you’ve purchased a toy that sounds loud to you, it’s likely too loud for your baby, Appy says. Take the batteries out or cover the speaker with tape.

With any toy, it’s important to provide some supervision for your baby’s play. “Make sure your child is using toys in a safe environment and then put them in a safe place when they’re done,” Appy says.

Storing toys neatly can be a hassle, but storing them safely is a must. Toy bins work, as well as toy chests that have lids with safety hinges so they don’t squash tiny fingers. It’s also smart to separate your baby’s toys from an older sibling’s toys. It keeps unsafe older-kid toys from your baby and reminds big siblings that they must help keep little toy parts out of baby’s hands.

Even after you’ve OK’d a new toy, inspect it now and then to make sure it’s still working properly, and hasn’t been damaged or broken in a way that could cause harm. Also, keep abreast of toy recalls by checking CPSC.gov or our constantly updated Recall Finder. Send in warranty cards and the CPSC will contact you if there’s been a recall.

Hand-Me-Down Toys

They don’t make ’em like the used to, right? And that might be a good thing. “Hand-me-down toys can be very nostalgic, but in the last 10 or so years, a lot has changed,” Appy says. “We know more, and we’re looking for dangers more systematically.” Which doesn’t mean your childhood Raggedy Ann doll is off limits; it just means you need to check to see, for instance, if her button eyes are going to pop off and wind up in her mouth. Or if the paint on those beautiful blocks is lead-based. Or, says Cohen, if it’s just been collecting bacteria for too long. “If it’s been in your parents’ basement for 20 years, it’s probably not OK,” he says.

Also consider age-appropriateness. You might tear up as you hand your old Cabbage Patch doll to your baby, but she might not be ready for it. “If you don’t care if it gets ruined with your child, then OK, but if you thought it was going to be given to their children and their children’s children, you might need to wait.”