Our Latest Blog Entries

Ten Facts About Child Illiteracy in America September 15 2014

At Arden Anne, we care a lot about child illiteracy right here in our backyard. That's why we donate a children's book with every purchase made on Arden Anne.

To know why we care so deeply about this issue, perhaps these ten facts - which you may already have seen in some list or another - will make you understand.

  1. Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.
  2. 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.
  3. Kids who don't read proficiently by 4th grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school. 
  4. As of 2011, America was the only free-market OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) country where the current generation was less well educated than the previous.
  5. Nearly 85% of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, proving that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime. More than 60% of all inmates are functionally illiterate.
  6. 53% of 4th graders admitted to reading recreationally “almost every day,” while only 20% of 8th graders could say the same.
  7. 75% of Americans who receive food stamps perform at the lowest 2 levels of literacy, and 90% of high school dropouts are on welfare.
  8. Teenage girls ages 16 to 19 who live at or below the poverty level and have below average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to have children out of wedlock than the girls their age who can read proficiently.
  9. Reports show that low literacy directly costs the healthcare industry over $70 million every year.
  10. In 2013, Washington, D.C. was ranked the most literate American city for the third year in a row, with Seattle and Minneapolis close behind, while Long Beach, CA was ranked the country’s most illiterate city, followed by Mesa, AZ, and Aurora, CO.

These statistics, which are factual, should frighten us all into taking action for our children. Please support our effort to reduce, and eventually end, child illiteracy in the world's most affluent country.



  1. One World Literacy Foundation.. "Illiteracy Statistics." One World Literacy. Accessed April 16, 2014.
  2. WriteExpress Corporation. "Literacy Statistics." Begin to Read. Accessed April 16, 2014.
  3. Cullinan, Bernice E. "Independent Reading and School Achievement", American Association of School Librarians. Accessed February 2014.
  4. Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy. "Reach Higher, America Overcoming Crisis In The U.s. Workforce." National Commission on Adult Literacy. Accessed April 16, 2014.
  5. Blankenship, John. "Functional illiteracy continues to grow, but there is help." The Register-Herald. Accessed April 16, 2014.
  6. American Council on Education. "Literacy Facts > Literacy in America." Gaston Literacy Council, Inc. Accessed April 16, 2014.
  7. American Council on Education. "Literacy Facts > Literacy in America." Gaston Literacy Council, Inc. Accessed April 16, 2014.
  8. American Council on Education. "Literacy Facts > Literacy in America." Gaston Literacy Council, Inc. Accessed April 16, 2014.
  9. American Council on Education. "Literacy Facts > Literacy in America." Gaston Literacy Council, Inc. Accessed April 16, 2014.
  10. Hess, Alexander E.M., Samuel Weigley, and Michael B. Sauter. "America’s Most (and Least) Literate Cities." 24/7 Wall St.com. Accessed April 16, 2014.

The Importance of Developing Fine Motor Skills June 25 2014

An important area of development during a child's pre-school years is fine motor skills, or use of those tiny hands and fingers. Unlike gross motor skills, which allows your child to walk or chase after a ball, fine motor skills allow for increasing independence in smaller but equally significant matters: holding a crayon, opening a zipper, washing hands using soap, and so on.

Combining this skill with increasing hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills also open new doors to imagination, exploration, learning, and the creative process. Child development research shows that emphasis on intellectual activities, coupled with perfecting one's fine motor abilities and hand-eye coordination, allows children to perform better in school and in life. In order to learn to write or draw, for example, a child's hand must be strong and coordinated enough to hold a pencil steady for a long period of time.

Among the fine motor skills your pre-school child should perfect are the abilities to:

  • paste things onto paper
  • clap hands
  • touch fingers
  • button and unbutton
  • work a zipper
  • build a tower of 10 blocks
  • complete puzzles with five or more pieces
  • manipulate pencils and crayons well enough to color and draw
  • copy a circle or cross onto a piece of paper
  • cut out simple shapes with safety scissors

Arden Anne's toys that focus on fine motor skills development are an excellent start to getting your child ready for what awaits in pre-school and beyond. An example of an excellent toy that is not only eco-friendly but also helps develop fine and gross motor skills is Green Toys' Animal on Wheels. Or see our entire selection of Green Toys products, all of which help develop your child's motor skills.

Thank You, Maya Angelou May 28 2014

Author, poet, actor, singer, songwriter, dancer, playwright, historian, director, civil rights activist and teacher. Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Arts. Three time Grammy winner and Tony nominee. Your impact on this world has been immense; you will be missed.

What you endured as a 7 year-old is beyond comprehension, and I can only shudder to think of my own 7 year-old in your shoes. But from the ashes rose this magnificent being, one that this world had not seen before. 

You are a legend. Thank you for making us feel better.

Thank you, Maya Angelou.

Weihnachtsmarkt in Germany May 19 2014

For many Germans, adults and children alike, the most wonderful time of the year begins in November, because it's time for the annual "Weihnachtsmarkt" (or Christmas market) to begin in many cities all over Germany. It is a reflective time of the year, marked by candlelight and the smell of biscuits, ice-flowers on the window, mysterious Christmas stories, freezing cold and romantic nights around the blazing fire. Gingerbread, stollen, spiced biscuits, cinnamon stars, "glow" wine, hot apple juice are part of every Christmas market.

Most visitors go with family, friends or work colleagues to the Christmas market. Children, especially love this time and place because of the many sweets and treats every Christmas market has to offer. Some markets feature special children activities, such as gingerbread house building or wax candle making, which children will have tremendous fun partaking in. 

The Striezelmarkt, Germany oldest Christmas market and the Nuremberg Weihnachtsmarkt are always worth a visit. In addition to the food and beverages, many handmade toys and games made in Germany are popular treats, stocking stuffers and Christmas gifts for German children and foreign visitors.

What makes Japanese toys and games unique? April 30 2014

A deep-rooted cultural value for the Japanese is the concept of “wa”, which means “group harmony”. The concept of “wa” places the common greater good at higher importance than the needs of an individual. This principle holds true throughout Japanese society, including schools, social groups and, and even the workplace. Many Japanese toys and games, therefore, focus on group play and harmonious play, rather than toys and games that value the individual victory as is common in many Western toys and games (think Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, Action Figures, etc.)

(wa, meaning harmony)

Japan’s history and culture spans thousands of years, and throughout this period, much of the country’s events and experiences have been incorporated into its toys and games. Take, for example, Japan’s Edo period (1615 – 1868) before the country opened itself up to the West. During this prosperous period, many new folk toys were created oftentimes by individual artisans or small groups of artists. A popular toy was the cylindrically shaped, wooden kokeshi doll that had a large influence on other toy makers at that time. These “toys” reflected Japanese regional history, customs, stories and legends, and while their creation still continues to the present day, they are more likely to be sold as souvenirs or collector’s items, rather than toys.

(Traditional kokeshi doll)

After opening its doors to the West during the Meiji period (1868 – 1912), Japan quickly transformed into an industrialized nation following in the footsteps of the industrial revolution that similarly drove much cultural change in America and Europe. Japan especially flourished during and after the period of the Great War (1914 – 1918), as Western production and exports of goods, including toys, came to a virtual standstill. During this Golden Era, Japanese toy manufacturers focused on creating unique toys for both the domestic and international markets, including the now-classic wind-up and battery-operated toys (then considered a novelty and break-through in toy technology). An example of such a battery-operated toy is the cymbal-clapping monkey, made famous in the animated Pixar movie Toy Story 3 (the all-seeing cymbal-clapping guardian monkey). 

(Cymbal-clapping monkey)

Today, Japanese toys and games are heavily influenced by domestic entertainment content, particularly Japanese movies, television and comics, which gave rise to Godzilla and other colossal monsters (kaijus) and on the other end of the extreme, Hello Kitty, probably the world’s most beloved little kitty. It is safe to say that any Japanese toy available on Arden Anne will make for a unique and high-end gift, whether given to your own children or as a present to someone else. You are unlikely to find such beautifully presented items at your local mega-toy retailer or anywhere else online. Please come back often to view our ever-changing inventory, hosting the latest and greatest toys and games that are currently popular in the Japanese market.