Children's Books, Friday Favorites - Children's Books

Dragon Fever: Friday Favorites, Ed. 5

“Mommy! It’s MORNING! Can we read the dragon books?”

Isaac, my energetic three-year-old, wakes up every morning at the same time – 6:45. He may actually wake up sooner than that, but he has to wait until his bunny clock wakes up to get out of bed. That clock is a lifesaver. To all you mothers with early birds, I feel you. For those of you who have children who sleep til 8:00 or 9:00 (or even 7:00!), I envy you.

If I’m forced to admit it, though, we’ve had some pretty sweet times with just Isaac. Being the second child, he doesn’t get as much one-on-one time as he may need. So even though I’ve been up on and off all night with the baby, and probably an older child once or twice, too, I smile a tired smile as I try my hardest to lift my head off the pillow when Isaac comes bounding in, enthusiastic about the day and about “the dragon books.”

“The dragon books” are very specific. (Actually, one of them is about an alligator. But whatever.) I picked them out last week at the library and I am pretty much sick of them. (You would be, too, if you read them three times a day.) But even now, I can honestly say they are great books for little boys. I’m not sure what we’re going to do when we have to return them to the library. Probably put them on his Christmas wish list.

A Cold Winter’s Good KnightA Cold Winter's Good Knight is another fun book in the Good Knight series by Shelly Moore Thomas. We love them. They are so fun, and a great opportunity to talk about silent K’s with a kindergartner. This particular book is also a good one for a discussion on manners, as the Good Knight’s little dragon friends attend a ball in the King’s Castle and get into all sorts of mischief as they try to figure out what exactly manners are.

King Jack and the DragonKing Jack and the Dragon is one of the most perfect books for preschool boys that I’ve ever seen. I hope my little boy will grow in bravery as he grows in stature, and I think introducing him to gentle ideas of bravery are a challenge. This book does a great job of it, though. The illustrations by Helen Oxenbury truly help little eyes imagine what Jack and his friends are pretending to see, and the rhyming words make it easy for children to memorize. Memorization isn’t required, of course, but Isaac has memorized almost the whole thing already and he is so proud of himself. =)

There's an Alligator under My BedFinally, the dragon book that isn’t a dragon book is There’s An Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer. I’ve seen this book mentioned on many reading lists for kids through the last few years, but I always stayed away from it. I guess I worried it would make my children begin the timeless tradition of imagining that scary monsters live under the bed. But I shouldn’t have worried. The book actually brings to light how ridiculous it is to believe an alligator lives under your bed, without being “preachy” or making fun of children. Besides that, it’s just fun.

So that’s what we’ve been reading this week, along with a few Berenstein Bears books.  We’re looking forward to reading some Thanksgiving themed books in the coming weeks as we approach the best and most under-celebrated holiday in America. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

If you liked this post, check out these!

Books for Little Boys

31 Days of Picture Books

Everyday Life, Parenting

Saturday Mornings With Kids

Saturday Morning With A Baby

You wake up to feed Baby at 5:30. It’s too early, but your baby is so sweet. You feed the baby, then spend an hour patiently rocking and pacing with the baby, enjoying the warmth of her tiny little body and the knowledge that once she goes back to sleep, you will, too. Yes, you must will yourself to ignore that basket of unfolded laundry as you get back in bed. But you’ll fold it later, maybe as you watch some football while the baby takes another nap. You might even have time for a nap later, too. Saturdays are the best.

Saturday Morning With A Baby, A Three-year-old, and A Five-year-old

You wake up to feed Baby at 5:30. It’s too early, but that hardly registers because you’ve already been up five times in the last three hours with another kid who can’t breathe through his nose. You stumble into the baby’s room, feed the baby, and sink into a pit of agony when you realize she’s not going straight back to sleep. You rock for five minutes, pace for five minutes, all the while watching the clock tick closer and closer to the time when your other children will get up (6:30), whether they’re still tired or not.

Finally, you put the baby into her crib still awake, hoping she can squirm it out instead of cry it out so the kids won’t get woken up a nanosecond too soon. Your hope in the squirm-it-out-method is pretty weak, though, so you lay down on the floor next to the crib. The baby keeps squirming, getting more agitated. But this carpet is surprisingly soft. Oh, maybe she’s actually falling asleep. She is! It’s a miracle! You could get back in bed, but then you’d have to navigate around the five baskets of unfolded laundry that you have successfully ignored for three days. You’re so good at ignoring laundry, you only think about it when (a) it’s in the way or (b) someone runs out of underwear. And anyway, this carpet is really not so bad. You feel yourself drifting into sweet, sweet sleep, which is a darn good thing because there’s no hope of a nap for the rest of this busy day.

Then you hear the pitter-patter/running of the bulls coming down the hall.

“Can we have ORANGE juice????”

It’s morning.

And Saturday is just another normal, crazy, beautiful, wonderful day of the week.

As long as there’s caffeine.

Children's Books, Friday Favorites - Children's Books

All The Words! Friday Favorites, Ed. 4

A few weeks ago, I had an exciting day. I got a whole bunch of awesome books.

bookboom

They’re all great, but Isaac (3) has seized on The Giraffe That Walked to Paris as his current favorite. I thought it was a delightful book…the first time I read it. And the second time, it was pretty good, too. But each page looks like this:

allthewords

Look at all those words! Reading aloud to my children is one of my absolute favorite things to do, but a few days after we brought this one home, I had to start telling Isaac to pick a different book. Like, how about War and Peace?

Still, we read this one pretty often. It’s one of those that’s not my favorite even if it is my child’s. However, I am quite glad that Isaac has the capacity and desire to sit still and listen for a good fifteen minutes at a time. In every other setting, he is a ball of energy. My husband and I were joking yesterday about how many photos we have of our girls, but we have so few of Isaac, even though he is one of the cutest things that ever breathed. He’s also one of the fastest! Too quick for a camera.

Aside from The Giraffe, we also started Charlotte’s Web this week. We’re three chapters in and everyone loves it so far. I’m a little afraid of when we get to the end, though! I think it will be the first book we’ve read that ends on a bit of a sad note.

So that’s what the kids are reading this week! For more Friday Favorites, go here. I am loving writing this series, and I’d love any feedback you have to give! And for a great podcast on instilling a love of reading in your kids, check out the Inspired to Action Podcast! The latest one features Sarah Mackenzie from Read Aloud Revival.

Reading, Reviews

Fall Reading List – Fiction Update

So I know all the people on the internet have been holding their breath, waiting to see how the Fall Reading List is turning out. Wait no more! Today I’ll tell you my thoughts on the three novels I’ve read so far.

First, I read Rosie by Ann Lamott. I really wish I had done some more research and asked around about what Lamott book I should start with. My whole purpose was to get a taste of this writer whom so many of my friends admire. I picked one of her earlier novels, and that was a mistake. The characters were so unlikable! Except for Rosie, of course, who was not featured in the book as much as she should have been. Her mother Elizabeth was the main character, and she was a pretty miserable individual. Rosie featured some very dark themes, such as alcoholism, child abuse, sexual immorality, and drug abuse, without offering much hope. On the flip side, I’m looking forward to reading some of Lamott’s books she wrote after converting to  Christianity. Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year looks intriguing. I admire Lamott’s writing style.

Next up was The Grapes of Wrath. I chose that American classic because I’m a student of literature and I thought I should finally be acquainted with the infamous Joads. From a literary perspective, it’s clearly a great book. As for whether or not I enjoyed it, I didn’t really. It was raw. I guess that’s what a lot of American Literature is, and that’s why I’m not a big fan. Our country is relatively young and the harsh, hard landscape of American life for the first two centuries makes the literature produced by it pretty rough sometimes. I’m too squeamish for some of it.

Finally, and worst of all, was The Signature of All Things. Elizabeth Gilbert became famous for her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. One of the reasons I read at all is to understand what the people around me relate to and what makes them tick. So many people loved that memoir, I had to pick it up and see what it was about. While I found Gilbert’s search for meaning to be pretty empty, I did like her writing style. The Signature of All Things is Gilbert’s first novel since Eat, Pray, Love. It’s about a botanist named Alma, born in 1800, to a flamboyant scoundrel who becomes rich on botanical medicines, and a Dutch mother. None of these characters are very endearing. What’s worse, the confused, garbled, search for meaning theme from Eat, Pray, Love continues with even less clarity. There is a Creator, there is mysticism, there is evolution, there is harsh Quakerism, and it all makes very little sense to me. What’s worse, the novel drags on for 500 pages (on my Nook) and spends a lot of time on the qualities of moss. I am sure that there is a lot going on under the surface in this novel, but I didn’t find it a worthwhile pursuit.

In conclusion, the novels have been a let down so far. But the nonfiction has been great! So look for some rave reviews on that in the next few days.

 

 

Saturday Cooking

Saturday Cooking, Pumpkin Free Edition

Fall is technically here, though our only clue in these parts is the temps below 70 degrees at night. So it’s time for my three favorite fall recipes.

First, I gotta say, I had no idea that the ENTIRE AMERICAN POPULATION loved all things pumpkin. I mean, I’ve noticed the Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks in the last few years. But then the recipes started popping up everywhere on Facebook and Pinterest and all the cooking shows and websites. Pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cookies, even pumpkin brownies (!)(I’m sorry, but if you handed me a brownie without chocolate in it, I would probably not hand it back to you because my parents raised me right, but I would shed a few secret tears).

Pumpkin, you are the darling of the season. How sweet.

If only I liked you.

Recipe 1: Cranberry Bread

Cranberry ThanksgivingI had someone ask me recently after learning I don’t like pumpkin all that much, “So, what flavor do you love in the Fall?” I can’t say I’ve ever considered that question before. I didn’t know Favorite Fall Flavors were a requirement. But I have lately been encouraged to “embrace autumn” and I thought it was good advice. So I gave it some thought and here’s the answer: cranberry. I love cranberry. Cranberry bread, cranberry muffins, cranberry juice, all of it. Well, not so much the cranberry sauce from a can. Ick. But all other things cranberry, I love.

It so happens that my favorite cranberry recipe is from a book. It’s called Cranberry Thanksgiving, and the story is great, but the recipe at the back for “Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread” is even better. I can’t give it to you here because that would be copyright infringement, but you should definitely make it! Just be sure to label it if you give it to someone or else that someone might thank you for “the fruitcake,” which is just a big insult to any bread, especially one this good.

Recipe 2: Apple Dumplings

076A close runner up to cranberry goods in my Fall Flavor Guide is apple. (I am having way too much fun here). My favorite apple recipe is absolutely dripping with butter and even contains a can of Mountain Dew. It’s definitely a once a year treat. The Pioneer Woman recommends serving it with ice cream, but I find it challenging to actually get the stuff on a plate. Ijustwanttoeatit! Now. Straight out of the pan. So yeah, it’s kind of good. [….goes to kitchen and starts slicing apples…]

Recipe 3: Butternut Squash Soup

Finally, if there’s one recipe I only make in Fall, it’s Butternut Squash Soup. Oh, it is divine. Unfortunately, my entire family hates it. I plan to make a batch and eat it for lunch for an entire week. Once the midday temps are below 80 degrees. For now, we’re still enjoying our afternoon popsicles on the porch.

Happy Fall!

Children's Books, Friday Favorites - Children's Books

Friday Favorites, Edition 3

It’s been a bit of a rough week on the home front, so we had to shed some tears and drop all our library books into the book drop without going in. My kids (and I) hate doing that. But there’s good that comes of it. We actually read our own books!

The Courage of Sarah NobleThere are some gems on our own shelves that I’ve collected at library books sales over the years. I’ve been looking forward to reading The Courage of Sarah Noblwith Ella (5), but I had no idea that Isaac (3) would also be enraptured by the story. They both sat completely still and listened to the tale of the eight-year-old Sarah who went on the long journey into Connecticut with her father to build a new farm there. Children love heroes, especially ones close to their own age. I’m searching for another chapter book they’ll both like now. I am totally enamored by the joy of that time when we’re all sitting together, taking in a story that is both beautifully told and meaningful for character building. Give me all your suggestions!

For more Friday Favorites, go here.

Children's Books, Friday Favorites - Children's Books

Friday Favorites, Frog and Toad Edition

It’s Friday! And it’s the third edition of Friday Favorites! Each week on this blog, I feature our favorite children’s books of the week.

Adventures of Frog and ToadThis week, my children have been “reading” Frog and Toad stories to each other. Neither of them actually read yet (though Ella is very close), but they have certain favorites memorized and they are almost unbearably cute, reciting the story as best they remember it.

I didn’t grow up with Frog and Toad, those wonderful characters created by Arnold Lobel, but I love them now. The story “Tomorrow’ is my favorite! It’s from Days with Frog and Toad I heard it for the first time a couple of years ago. It was bedtime. It had been a crazy day, a day when I felt like A Seagull in a Parking Lot, lost and unable to get anything of “real value” done. Then my husband started reading the story to my children. It opens like this:

“Toad woke up.

‘Drat!’ he said. This is house is a mess.

I have so much work to do.'”

My ears perked up. This Toad sounds just like me! From that point on, I was laughing, kind of hysterically, in the literal sense of the term “hysterical.” I was a little bit crazed and I was finding solidarity in a story about amphibians. Every time Frog points out a mess that needs cleaning, Toad answers “Tomorrow!” It has become my favorite line to quote to my family. Dishes piling up? “Tomorrow!” No food in the cupboards? Tomorrow! Said jokingly of course! Mostly jokingly.

My children love the story “Cookies,” which is also pretty easy for adults to relate to, as Frog and Toad struggle for self control against eating all the cookies. It’s amazing how these simple stories can dig into deeper themes, like being overly competitive with friends, or trying to be brave when you know you’re not. We bought the Adventures of Frog and Toad treasury when our local bookstore closed and it was worth every penny and more. It’s always awesome when my kids’ favorite books are mine, too!

Honorable mentions this week go to Oliver and Harry and the Lady Next Door. Thanks to Uncle Jordan, those books have become favorites at our house, as well.

Until next week, happy reading!