Archive for category Children’s Books

Reading Goals for 2013

Something About The Way It's Written
Yesterday, I outlined most of my goals for the year for my different roles in life. I have also made some reading goals for the year to inform you, Dear Reader, about quality books and to keep track of my progress throughout the year. And, as always, “to improve my mind with extensive reading” (anything for you, Mr. Darcy). So, here we go. Reading Goals for the Year:

1. I have joined Jessica from Quirky Bookworm with her quest to read some classics in her “Classics Catch-Up Challenge.”

2. I want to be more accountable with my reading, so I am going to track the books I read through GoodReads and Pinterest. I will also add a tab on the blog of my reading for the year and give you guys a quick way to access my reviews.

3. As far as number of books, I don’t even know where to start. I’ve never been good at keeping up with what I have read, so this year is going to be more of a benchmark year – just to keep track of my progress and then set the bar higher or lower from there.

4. As a general rule, I want to incorporate more reading aloud time with my children. I tend to get lazy about this, so reading aloud is going to be the focus of our homeschool this semester.

Here’s a List of Books in my “To Read Pile” for now:

Classics for the “Classics Catch-Up Challenge” for January-February:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Spiritual Non-fiction Reads

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott

Love Does by Bob Goff

General Fiction

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Children’s Fiction

The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” by C.S. Lewis

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter

On Writing

How to Become an Online Writer by Ruth Pound

Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers by Kate Hopper

31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo by Bryan Allain

Other Non-Fiction

One Bite at a Time by Tsh Oxenreider

Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider

*photo credit



How to Have Christmas Traditions without Losing Your Christmas Spirit

Two years ago, my family decided to spend an evening looking at Christmas lights. We were new to the area, so we didn’t know exactly where to go. After driving aimlessly for about an hour, my husband turned down another side street, heading back to the highway. Suddenly, my oldest pipes up, “Dad! It’s a Braums. We should stop and get some ice cream!” Tired of dealing with light hunting, we decided some ice cream would do us all some good. After our treat, we trekked back out for one more try at light gazing, and we stumbled upon the County Light Festival, a huge display of lights with accompanying Christmas music via radio. It was awesome! Last year, we drove straight to the County Light Festival without even bothering hunting for house lights. On our way through the exit, my then five year old said, “Mom, after this we should go look for that Braums again and get some ice cream!” Thus, our accidental holiday detour became a holiday tradition.

I like to make Christmas a magical time for my kids, but it could easily become overwhelming and expensive and a little stressful. A few years ago, I took a tip from one of my friends for a simple advent activity.

2012-12-08 08.46.20

I wrap all of our Christmas movies and books. I come up with a few fun crafts and events we want to attend. Then, I number everything 1 to 25. The kids open a present everyday leading up to Christmas. Over the past few years, I’ve added a book or movie to our collection, but I rarely have to spend much money to come up with 25 things. I like doing this method because I don’t get overburdened with crafts. We aren’t traveling to a new Christmas adventure every day, and we aren’t spending a ton of money (I also take full advantage of the library books, too. I wrap them up along with our own books.)

So, here’s a list of the books we are using this year:

For crafts, I found easy and fun activities from Pinterest (check out my Christmas Board here)

We are watching three holiday movies:

I also added some fun activities to our list, too. We usually call family members to sing “Jingle Bells.” We are going to have a dinner by candlelight one night, and spend an evening looking at Christmas lights (with a stop at Braums, I’m sure, before the night is over). I’m super excited for this year’s tour because this house is in our town.

We will also attend a Merry Tuba Christmas concert. Have you guys ever heard about Tuba Christmas? Volunteer tuba players from a surrounding area get together and rehearse for about an hour, and then they put on a free concert, usually outdoors, playing Christmas music. It’s quirky, fun and, best of all, absolutely free. You can take camping chairs and a thermos of hot chocolate and spend a morning with the family. Check out the website to find a Merry Tuba Christmas near you.

I hope you all enjoy this great holiday season!

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The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man

The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man

The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man sparks the imagination of little boys who don super hero capes and fight the bad guys without all the excess baggage of violence, strong language, or super scary villains.

My little boys love to talk about Spider Man and Batman and Superman, yet they don’t get to watch any of those movies. Okay. So, one time at the tire store, my boys watched part of a Spider Man movie playing on Spike TV in the waiting area. This hardly constitutes them as Spider Man experts, yet my oldest talked about the scenes he saw for weeks. WEEKS.

This past weekend, we showed them the original Superman movie, and they followed it rather well – except for that lame section with Lois Lane voicing over atrocious poetry about Superman reading her mind. The boys pretended to shoot things with their stick guns during that section. Who could blame them?

Superheroes, on the whole, seem to be a universal fascination for active little boys; however, finding superhero books that are actually entertaining and well-written can be quite the challenge.  

When our family hits the library, the boys use their own X-ray vision to spot all of the superhero books in the place. Most of you know about my loathing of character books. Unlike the movies, most character books lack vivid story, pace, voice – you know – good writing. I never read comic books as a kid, so maybe those would be some character books I could support.

Anyway, The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man projects the look and feel of a comic book or a super hero book, yet it keeps the heart-warming, boyhood charm for the preschool age. My four year old requested this book every night we had it from the library, and my five year old enjoyed it as well. Plus, I didn’t mind reading it to them. That’s a winner in our house.

The entire book focuses on Awesome Man and his Awesome Dog Moskowitz as he narrates all of the aspects of his life. He talks about how he needs to stay healthy with the right fuel and how he has to keep his anger in check. We see him take on the Flaming Eyeball and other villains, and we travel with him to his secret Fortress of Awesome. Awesome Man speaks directly to the reader, encouraging conversation with his audience. The illustrations jump off every page with the classic comic book feel. My boys soaked it up.

The book has the age range listed as 4-8, but I would say it’s more in the 4-6 range – perfect for little boys just beginning to race around their house with blanket capes wrapped around their necks.

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My Favorite ABC Books

My baby girl is almost 2. In her honor, I would like to present my favorite ABC books. Learning the alphabet is a gateway to words, which is, of course, the gateway to the world. I want my littles to love to read and learn, so I started giving them those fundamental tools early. Along with saying the letters and playing with magnetic letter sets and drawing letters in sidewalk chalk, I also love to read ABC books with my kiddos. My youngest shows her pride at knowing the letter on the page just like her big brothers. It’s a big deal. Also this. I love when this happens:

Grab a copy of one of these at your local library, or click the links here and have Amazon deliver them to your door.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

1. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. The best ABC book ever. My kids LOVE shouting Chicka Chicka Boom Boom at random times throughout the day. Such a fun and creative rhythmic book.

The City ABC Book

2. The City ABC Book by Zoran Milich. I love, love, love this book. The creator captured black and white photographs of every day city scenes and architecture. Then, he highlighted each outline of the alphabet letters in red. My kids eat this book up. It’s a puzzle. It’s learning. It’s beautiful.

Alphabet City

3. Alphabet City by Stephen T. Johnson. Much like The City ABC Book, this Caldecott-winning book captures the everyday still life of a city and transforms the photographs into gorgeous letter pictures.

Curious George's ABCs

4. Curious George Learns the ABCs by H.A. Rey. This is a board book version of this Curious George book, which is for older kiddos. I love both versions.

Dr. Seuss's ABC

5. Dr. Seuss’s ABC Book: Who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss? No one. That’s who. Rhyme, rhythm, learning, silliness all wrapped up in one book, typical of Dr. Seuss and why all humans adore him.

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5 Children’s Books Every Music Lover Should Read

As I have mentioned before, my husband is a band director, so music is like another member of our family. We play music all the time at home and in the car, and we love to attend performances and concerts. We love to sing. I honestly think singing to your children is just as important as reading to your children. So today, I thought I might share some of our favorite books that accompany music.

Our library has several illustrated books that have the accompanying music and/or CD. And my kids LOVE them. Check out these the next time you hit the library:

A Hunting We Will Go!

1. A Hunting We Will Go by Steven Kellogg. This book follows two children as they get ready for bed, along with several of their animal friends. The story becomes a grand adventure, leading them through a forest and onto the sea as they journey off to bed.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

2. There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly: This Caldecott Medal winning book by Simms Taback brings a classic folk tale to life. The absurd lyrics will have your children laughing, but Taback’s illustrations will have them beg for more. Another one of our favorites Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, by the same author, cleverly uses song and illustration to narrate a tale of repurposing. The book creatively uses cut outs and design to enhance the theme and emphasize the importance of contentment.

Grandma's Feather Bed (John Denver Series)

3. Grandma’s Feather Bed: An illustrated version of John Denver’s folk tale, made famous (in my life) by the Muppets.

4. America the Beautiful: Along with the words and music to one of America’s most beloved songs, this book has an added element of geography, depicting some of the breathtaking landmarks of our country on every page.

What a Wonderful World

5. What a Wonderful World: The illustrator of this book features Louie Armstrong’s most famous song with colorful and vivid illustrations. The book comes with an accompanying recording of the song as the children follow along with the book (“The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the skies are also on the faces of people passing by.” Love it!)

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