31 Days, Children's Books

31 Days of Picture Books

I’m not very good at home decor (understatement). However, there is a blog I have followed for years that is all about decorating. I started following Nesting Place because a friend/sister-in-law who knows what she’s talking about told me The Nester’s style is perfect. Well, yes, it is. And heaven knows, I need someone to tell me what looks good when it comes to my home. Still, what sticks with me the most from reading years of the amazing insight The Nester shares has touched more than just my home (though I do have to give her credit for helping me realize I love the colors white, blue, and grey). What sticks with me about The Nester is her motto:

It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

I say that to myself all the time these days.

The Nester is one of my favorite bloggers, so I am thrilled to join in on her 31 days series this October. For 31 days, a bunch of blogs will pick one topic (any topic, doesn’t have to be about decorating) to focus on and blog about every day. Since I can’t tell you anything about color palettes, or how to unpack from a move a little each day, or how to save up for a European vacation, I’m sticking to something I can talk about to infinity and beyond: picture books.

I cherish the time I spend reading to my children. I treasure the memories of being read to as a child. When I see my parents reading to my children, there is a throb of rightness inside of me. I don’t know why reading to a child or being read to as a child is so significant, but I know it has always been part of my love language. Picture books tie me to my childhood like no other object. The pages of certain fairy tales make me feel as if I’m looking into a room that I’ve lived and breathed in. Yes, I had (have) an overactive imagination. But, as Meg Ryan says in You’ve Got Mail, “When you read a book as a child, it becomes part of your identity in a way no other reading in your whole life does.” Yes, it’s just a quote in a movie. But I think it’s true.

31 Days of Picture Books starts tomorrow. I am looking forward to sharing some of the books that shaped my childhood and the books that are favorites of my own children. My goal is to feature books that aren’t so popular, ones that you maybe haven’t heard of. This won’t be an attempt to create a list of the best children’s books of all time. My choices will be based on those books whose words, beauty, whimsy, imagination, or awesome-fun story have grabbed my family and stuck with us. I hope you’ll enjoy diving into the world of picture books with me for this month. If you’re not into children’s books, don’t abandon me for the month of October entirely — I’ll still be posting some adult book reviews, too.


The 31 Days of Picture Books series is under way. Check out the posts so far, and feel free to tell me about the books that transport you back to your childhood, whether you read them as a child or are reading them to your children now. I’m embracing the child that has grown but is still in me. Here’s your invitation to do the same.

All the 31 days Posts:

Day 1: Little Books, Lasting Memories

Day 2: Books for Little Ballerinas

Day 3: Bing Bong Bang and Fiddle Dee Dee: A Wise Book

Day 4: Our Friends Lily and Milo

Day 5: Saturday Picture Book Reading

Day 6: A Book to Banish My Sunday Pity Parties

Day 7: Grab Your Winter Coat Books

Day 8: Introducing Young Children to Art Through Picture Books

Day 9: Rags

Day 10: Finding Balance in the Fairy Tale Frenzy

Day 11: Pilgrims or Indians?

Day 12: Saturday Cooking: Picture Book Edition

Day 13: Brain Fry

Day 14: Apple Picking and Books for Other Major Life Events

Day 15: Permanent Marker for the Brain, Or Poetry for Children

Day 16: My Favorite Children’s Books

Day 17: Surrounding Children with Books on a Budget

Day 18: Longer Books for Little Brains

Day 19: Must Love Dog Books

Day 20: Tootle, Choo Choo and Other Literary Trains

Day 21: Monday Quote

Day 22: A New Favorite Author – Barbara McClintock

Day 23: On Letting Children Choose Booksy

Day 24: Little Ones and Sick Days

Day 25: Pinkalicious or Pinkayuckious?

Day 26: On the 26th Day…

Day 27: Your Favorite Children’s Books

Day 28: The Crazy Cat Lady

Day 29: Books For Your Tiny Ones

Day 30: Because You Said So…

Day 31: Stretching 31 Days Into Forever

Related posts:

Books for Little Boys

Your Kids Have A Crush On You

The Library Is For Everyone

Reading, Reviews

September Reading

When I look back on the month of September, I think of many wonderful days, several very hard days, and the shock of how fast my children are growing. What doesn’t come to mind is the books I’ve read. August was definitely a month full of good reads, but September dried up a bit. Still, there have been some good ones. Here’s a review of what I’ve read:

Orphan TrainOrphan Train – Loved it!  Read my review

Rules of Civility -Liked the first half, hated the second. Review

Me Before You – Not my kind of book – Read my review.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess – This one was a real life changer! Here’s the review.

The Book of James (Bible)

The Princess and the Goblin

Hearing God – Dallas Willard – Still in the middle of this one.

The Lost Art of MixingThe Lost Art of Mixing – I love this author, Erica Bauermeister. I am almost done with this one and will review it here in the coming days.

I still don’t have a Fall reading list. I can’t summon up enough books that I’m sure I want to read. It’s funny how good books come in droves and then hide for a while.

What have you read in September?


7 Challenge

The Haiti Hunger Diet and A Congo Fast

Well. Eating rice for breakfast, a banana for lunch, and beans and rice for dinner is no picnic. That’s what I learned on Monday when I ate like a poor person from Haiti as part of my 7 Challenge. I think I kind of cheated on the banana-they grow wild in Haiti, but 94% of Haiti is deforested, so I’m not exactly sure where the “wild” is. I had planned to skip lunch, but at 12:30 in Target, I had a moment of weakness and bought a banana. I’m just proud it wasn’t a Snickers bar. I had 200 calories up until dinner when I had 300 calories.

Bottom line: aside from the adequate food supply around me, clean drinking water, a clean bathroom, a climate controlled habitat, and complete financial security, I was just like a Haitian on Monday. Oh, and I bought diapers and vitamins at Target. But aside from that: Haitian.

As you can imagine, I felt miserable most of the day. Refraining from popping a few of my kids’ Goldfish crackers in my mouth or eating the crusts from their toast made me realize just how easily I can access food whenever I feel the slightest bit hungry. After my Haiti Monday, I can see how people take desperate actions when food supply is in jeopardy. I know that even on that Haiti hunger diet, I still have never experienced true hunger. And I fervently, repeatedly thank the Lord for that, because Monday was not fun.

But if I thought eating like a Haitian was rough, eating like a Congolese is going to be nearly impossible. Why? Because they don’t eat. As reported in the NY Times, many families in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have taken to harsh food rationing they call Delestage: “Today we eat, tomorrow we don’t.” Some days the little ones eat, some days the big kids eat. The NY Times article is heartbreaking, sharing how at the end of a day with only a little bread in the morning, the little ones are weak and whining. Why are times so desperate in DRC? The people who are having to ration food have jobs as police officers, teachers, tennis coaches, etc. Still, they don’t have enough to feed their families. DRC has rich national resources, but their corrupt government and land owners keep most of the country in poverty. Civil War and violence has wrecked Congo. Atrocities upon atrocities have happened there. You know that issue of 60 Minutes featuring the child soldiers in Africa? Yeah, that was in DRC. I may have concerns with my government here in U.S., but I’m so thankful for my country and its government as I learn what corruption has done to Haiti, Congo, and other countries.

So today I’ll eat a piece of bread for breakfast, drink tea the rest of the day, and have a banana or a sweet potato (both native to Congo) for dinner. If I’m able to eat less than that without endangering my children, I will.

Why am I putting myself through this again? I know I’ll never reach any kind of kinship with the starving people in Haiti or Congo. However, feeling hungry through the day causes me realize how much food I have, how much food I waste, and how many people–valuable, precious human beings–need help. The hunger also reminds me to pray. I want to be moved to make a change. Hunger and the small degree of empathy it brings prods me from awareness into action.

Are you doing a 7 Challenge of your own? Tell me about it in the comments!

Children's Books, Reading, Top Ten Tuesday

Favorite Sequels: A Top Ten Tuesday Post

Today is a Top Ten Tuesday on the blog. The great bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish give book bloggers a topic to run wild with each Tuesday. I haven’t had any idea what to write on the last few topics, but I’m jumping back in with Top Ten Sequels. Actually, it will be Top 7 Sequels, because there just aren’t that many sequels worthy of the first book.You know who did not write sequels? Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Mark Twain, and the list goes on and on of the great writers of classics who knew that a great book is best when it has an ending that is perfect in itself.

There are a few great writers who found a way to write great sequels. Many sequels turn into Book 2 in series (especially these days), so those count as sequels in this list as long as there is a plot that begins and ends in Book #2.

1. The sequels to Little Women: Little Men and Jo’s Boys

There are some characters you consider friends and just want more of their stories. Lousia May Alcott created those characters.

Skylark (Sarah, Plain and Tall, #2)2. Sky Lark, the sequel to Sarah, Plain and Tall

3. Prince Caspian, sequel to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

4. Belong to Me, the sequel to Love Walked In

These are books by Marisa de Los Santos I would put in the category of “Books I really liked for some reason I can’t entirely explain.” I wouldn’t expect most people to like them, but I really enjoyed the characters and the way they developed.

5. All sequels written by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Yes, I am an unabashed fan. If you’ve already read the Anne books, try Emily or Pat. Pat is a bit of a neurotic character, but I still love her.

6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

I think the first three books in this series are marvelous. I like all of them, but the first three are the best. Also, I think they can stand alone as fun books without the rest of the series, though I wouldn’t recommend reading them that way.

7. The House at Pooh  Corner

That’s about all I can come up with! What are your favorite sequels?

7 Challenge

7 Challenge No. 1: Food

You know what one of my least favorite foods is? Rice.

You know what most of the world eats every day? Rice.

It’s Day 1, Month 1 of my 7 Challenge, and I’m already struggling. When faced with the choice of rice or nothing, I usually choose nothing.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against ExcessAs I laid out in my review of Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, I’ll be starting this challenge with a month to re-think food. I’ll take 7 different days scattered throughout the month and eat like the impoverished people in one of the 20 Most Impoverished Countries around the world.

I’m starting with Haiti. This country is in dire straits, people. It’s average caloric intake per day is 450 calories (the American average is 3,500). The average household income is less than $2 a day, which puts it at No. 19 in the 20 poorest countries list. However, food prices are sky high in Haiti, compared to other impoverished countries. One meal of rice and beans costs $1.50. That means only one person gets a decent meal per household per day. Half of all deaths in Haiti are caused by starvation. 15% of children don’t make it to age 5. I could go on and on with grim statistics, but I think we all get the picture. Haiti needs help.

So today I’ll be eating one meal of rice and beans. Besides having had plentiful food yesterday and being able to look forward to plentiful food tomorrow, I’ll also have the added bonus of clean water. 40% of Haitians do not have access to clean water, and an unknown number of those that could have access cannot afford it.

I’m feeling more than a little overwhelmed with all the problems in Haiti. So what can I do? Eating like a poor Haitian for one day hardly seems enough to make a difference. But the point isn’t to fix everything in one stroke–the point is to do something. I’m going to start out by praying for Haiti this week. Next, I’ll make a donation based on the money I didn’t spend on food for me today and hopefully a little extra to Hunger Relief International. HRI works in Haiti and Guatemala to ease the suffering of the hungry in these countries.

As I think (obsess) about what I’m not eating, feed my children cinnamon toast and milk, and sip my nice glass of cool, clean water, I try to put myself in the shoes of those parents who wake up with nothing to offer their children. It’s impossible for me to know that burden. But it’s also becoming impossible for me to sit back and do nothing, knowing that so many live in that situation every day.

If you want to help Haiti, check out Hunger Relief International, Compassion International, or Harvest Field Ministries.


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