Children's Books, Three Book Thursday

Picture Books About Colonial America {That Are Really Fun!}

Welcome to Three Book Thursday! This is the day on the blog when we re-cap the children’s books we’ve been into lately. It’s not always three books, but we call it Three Book Thursday in celebration of not stopping at two, but instead saying, “Yes, we will read just one more book.” 

We had a good time studying Colonial America in January, and found two adorable and educational picture books that are great for younger grades.

A Horse’s Tale: A Colonial Williamsburg Adventure – The rhymes, the soft but vibrant animal illustrations, and the simple plot of this book made my children hardly realize they were hearing a story that illustrated all the different jobs people held in Colonial Williamsburg. The story is about a lonely horse and how the townspeople rally to cheer him up. We studied the blacksmith, the tailor, and other professions in our text book, but this is the book that made it all come to life. I would read A Horse’s Tale for fun any day, but if you’re studying colonial times, it’s a must read! (And now I really want to visit Williamsburg!)

Homespun Sarah – This beautiful, poem-book describes the life of a rural colonial girl, and is a great counterbalance to the colonial books set in towns. Sarah is the oldest girl in a family of four, and her life of picking berries, cooking over the fire, shoo-ing away crows from the corn, and many other tasks looks both challenging and picturesque in the illustrations of this book. Author Verla Kay has written a wealth of great historical picture books! If you are ever at a loss for what to read for a certain time period, start with her books.

I chose both these books for their colonial setting, but we ended up loving them for their own sake. Pick them up if you get a chance, and don’t forget to tell me what you’ve been reading with little ones lately!

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

Happy World Read Aloud Day…One Day Late

Image result for world read-aloud day

It was World Read Aloud Day yesterday and I totally meant to celebrate here on the blog by posting about our favorite picture books of late, but life got a little busy with nesting and seeing friends…and now we get to keep on celebrating! Kind of like when you get sick on your actual birthday so you get another birthday day…ok, whatever, I’m late, but I’m still excited to tell you about our favorite read alouds of January/February!

Bartholomew The Bossy, Marjorie Weinman Sharmat – Have a kid who tends to be bossy? This would be a great book to read together. Having a story as a frame of reference for a problem is invaluable for children, and saves a lot of explaining for parents. I may have said, “Don’t be Bartholomew” a few times today….It’s a bit wordy for very young kids, but great for ages 4 and up.

The Flying Dragon Room, Audrey Wood – My two younger children (ages 2 and 5) ask for this book every single day. It’s a very imaginative story about an underground series of rooms invented by a young boy and filled with fantastic things to see or do. For example, I think I might like a “jumping room” somewhere in my house.

Sidney and Norman, Phil Vischer – We read this for the first time on Valentine’s Day. My 7-year-old daughter read it aloud to me and my five-year-old son and it’s a good thing she was the one reading because I was the one crying. I’m not even sure how to describe the story. Yes, it’s about two pigs who live next door and the different ways they have experienced life, up until their own private meetings with God. Seeing my son’s eyes light up at one part and marvel at how much God loved one of the characters was too precious for words. If you’re a Veggie Tales fan, it’s a must read. If you’re not a Veggie Tales fan but you would love to bring God’s love into real life for your kids, it’s also a must read. It’s a bit lengthy, so probably best for ages 5-10.

Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 – We are zipping through Beverly Cleary’s books this year. The Ramona books are so great as audio books! Channing Stockard narrates them and does so much better of a job than I would! I’ve read Henry Huggins and The Mouse and the Motorcycle to the kids myself, and they were both well liked. The chapters are way too long, though!

Where’s My Teddy? and Little Baby Buttercup are our for the two-year-old crowd picks of the week. Violet loves these books to pieces. I think the illustrations for Little Baby Buttercup are adorable. They make me wistful for the time when I had just one little toddler and was so engaged and cheerful all the time…now I’m pretty much a grumpy nag all day every day. But I digress. Either of these books is a fun read for tiny tots.

So, enjoy the day after World Read Aloud Day and keep reading with your kids going all year long!

Children's Books, Quick Lit, Reading, Reviews

February Reads – A Quick Lit Update

February is sweeping by me. Our fourth child is due on the last day of this month, and I think it’s fair to say the nesting instinct has kicked in pretty hard in the last week. I can’t stop thinking that everything has to be cleaned/painted/de-cluttered now, “just in case” the baby comes early. I’ve never had a baby early, so this sort of thinking is probably unwarranted. Still, I’ve managed to sit still long enough to read some pretty great books in the last month. Today, I’m joining Modern Mrs. Darcy and friends again for Quick Lit, a feature that gives us a chance to catch each other up on what we’ve been reading in the past month.

(Psst…check back for some kids’ book reviews coming this Thursday!)

Fiction

The Girl Who Drank The Moon, Kelly Barnhill – Have you heard about this book yet? It’s a storyteller’s treat that whisked me into another world every time I cracked open the book. I loved the characters, the setting, the lyrical prose…pretty much everything about it. It’s completely worth all the publicity and fan love it’s getting. If you’re considering giving this to your grade school aged child, I might suggest reading it for yourself first. It’s very emotionally tense at times. Though quite unique, it did remind me of Shannon Hale’s Book of A Thousand Days or Juliet Marillier’s Wildwood DancingI highly recommend it to anyone. 4.5/5 stars (Also, this book is this year’s Newberry Award Winner, so it’s actually possible I’m not the only one raving about this book).

The One-In-A-Million Boy, Monica Wood – A story about an unlikely friendship between a young boy and a very old woman, this story was sometimes sweet and sad, often awkward, almost charming, and mostly hopeful about how friendships with all sorts of people – young, old, poor, rich, religious, successful…all sorts – keep a person fully human and alive. Wood does an amazing job of describing characters who become very, very real as you read. Some parts of the plot seem fairly unrealistic, but hey, if you want all your books to read like real life, maybe just stick to real life. I don’t mind a book veering off into unlikely circumstances, as long as it flows with the rest of the story. It wasn’t perfectly constructed, but it was still a good read. 3/5 stars

I Let You Go, Clare Mackintosh – Though this was a well written crime novel with a huge plot twist that you can’t even guess though you’re thinking the whole time, “I heard there is a huge plot twist,” I wasn’t a big fan of this book because of very vivid descriptions of domestic violence and a good bit of language. Mackintosh writes from her professional life experience as a former police officer. She speaks to an all-too-true issue in our world. If you’re a fan of The Girl on the Train (the book), you’ll probably like this one, too. I’m beginning to understand I’m simply not a crime novel fan, so I should probably stop trying. 2.5/5 stars.

non-fiction

How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind: Dealing with Your House’s Dirty Little Secrets, Dana White – White is the author of the blog and podcast A Slob Comes Clean, and she knows of what she speaks. (She’s also pretty funny). If you’ve read all manner of “get your house in shape” books and never once really hit on anything that worked for you, this might be your book. It’s for those of us have what Dana calls “slob vision” or basically blindness to messes until they get really bad. Like, blind to a sink full of dishes until you have no plates to eat off of. If you consider yourself a person who likes projects instead of a person who manages everyday details, this book will definitely give you some ideas on how to be a good home manager without making you feel like you have to change your entire personality to do so. I’ve learned that personality-wise I’m more on the naturally tidy side of the spectrum of home managers. Not that I am on top of everything all the time (um…no), but I’m more likely to walk through a room and take a few things that are out of place with me to put away as I go about other tasks than to ignore a mess until it becomes a project. I still enjoyed White’s perspective and it was illuminating reading a little about how peoples’ personalities make them approach maintaining a home differently. The power of habits plays a large role in White’s approach, and habits are always a fascinating study in my book. (Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before is an awesome book on the topic of habits, as well).

And now it’s your turn to let me know what you’re reading! February is a great month to hit the books, wouldn’t you say?

Children's Books, Everyday Life

A Day in the Life of Our Homeschool Family

I don’t write about our homeschooling journey very much. There are so many homeschool blogs available out there, who needs one more? But I have had several different friends and blogging buddies ask me about how we do homeschooling, and I always find it impossible to put it into words at the moment when I’m asked. Our philosophy and curriculum choice is a mishmash of Charlotte Mason ideas and traditional curriculum. The overarching idea is that we want our children to learn how to cultivate their skills in the things they’re good at and discipline themselves in the things they’re not. When it is all said and done, we want them to love to learn and know how to keep on learning when their school days are over. We also want to set their eyes on things that are beautiful and worthy of our attention. But how does that translate into every day life and curriculum choices, how much time we do or don’t spend on work books, what subjects we do or don’t do?

I firmly believe schooling in the early years should be simple. “Those things you learn without joy you will easily forget,” is a big part of my homeschooling philosophy. What it all boils down to in the day to day is really very simple, but I have a hard time telling people about it. So maybe I can just show you? With that hope, here is a day in the life of our homeschooling family.

 

Our Homeschool Day in 2nd Grade, Kindergarten, and Toddlerhood

6:00 – I get up to have some coffee and some quiet time. I love this morning time alone, but it will probably disappear in the next few months when Baby #4 arrives and I clutch every minute of sleep I can get. And please, do not let my early starting ways turn you off to homeschooling! This is just how I do things in this season of life. Lots of homeschool parents start their days later and it works just fine for them.

7:00 – The kids get up, we all eat breakfast, get dressed, do a few small chores like gathering dirty clothes and making beds.

8:00 – We start math. My husband’s work schedule allows him to be our math teacher about three days a week, which saves my life and the life of my children. That’s the main reason we start with math every day, not because I am a stickler for math before other subjects. We have used Horizons math curriculum from K-2nd grade. Our oldest two have done very well with it so far.

Break – After math, everyone takes a little break. I run a load of laundry, and do the breakfast dishes if I wasn’t able to do them earlier.

9:00 – Reading/Writing/Grammar/Spelling is all bound up in our Sing, Spell, Read and Write curriculum. It also includes handwriting. I love this program. Next year we’ll have to switch to something else with Ella (2nd grade) as it only goes through 2nd grade.

Break – Time to play a little, give Violet (age 2) some attention, switch the clothes from the washer to the dryer, etc.

10:00 – We all sit down at the kitchen table with a snack and I read aloud. If you are familiar with the morning time concept, this is where it fits in with us. And this is also the area of our schooling where the mishmash comes in. We always have Abeka history and science books going (I read from the 2nd grade level for both these subjects to Ella and Isaac(who is in kindergarten)), but we also have a natural science book (like this or this) and a read aloud based on the historical time period we are in. We also have a chapter book that I read aloud for literature, usually based on the wonderful Charlotte Mason curriculum, A Gentle Feast. We alternate science and history each day. Some days we will just read the Abeka book and do the craft or experiment that goes with it, some days we’ll only read our natural science book and do some sketching or artwork along with it, or some days we’ll just do our history read-aloud. Example: We just finished the Colonial Period in our Abeka history book and we read Felicity Learns A Lesson along with it. Now we are entering The Pioneers section and we are reading aloud The Cabin Faced West. When Ella was in first grade, we read The Story of the World instead of an Abeka history book, and both kids enjoyed that, too.

11:00 – Play time. I believe so strongly that playing imaginatively is equally, if not more, important than work books and curricula in the early years. My children need to move their bodies and engage their imaginations throughout the day. There’s nothing that will set them up for success in life like a cultivated imagination, and nothing that will take away their joy more than a lost imagination. As you can see, we work in a lot of breaks. While the kids play, I do some housework, check email, maybe prep dinner if I’m really on top of things.

12:00 – Lunch, then outside time if it’s a nice day. A few times a week, I’ll read to the kids from our literature book while we eat lunch. (See list of read alouds we’ve done below!) We may have to do an errand or two on some days in this time slot, and once a week we have gymnastics at noon. In the spring, we’ll get involved in t-ball/softball again.

1:00 – Rest time – Our toddler naps and the bigger kids stay quiet in the schoolroom for an hour on their own. Ella does unfinished math or writing from the morning during this time, or reads her own book to herself. Isaac almost always plays with Legos, colors, or looks at books.

2:00 – The older two are headed outside again! If the weather is bad, they’ll usually watch a short video.

3:00 – Snack time and literature read-aloud time if we haven’t worked it in earlier.

Our school day is over!

There are a few subjects I would like to put in to our days more often, like music or art or foreign language. Right now, though, a simple approach is all we need and it’s working well for us. I know my world is about to get rocked adding a newborn in the middle of the spring semester! Our schedule will definitely change, but I’m glad we have some sort of structure in place. Maybe (fingers crossed!) it will help my children know what’s expected of them when I can’t be as present for every single part of their school day.

I’m still figuring this homeschooling life out and will probably be doing so forever, but if you do have any questions you’d like to ask me, feel free to in the comments! I’ll do my best to answer them.

Below is a list of some of the read-aloud chapter books we’ve done since starting homeschooling. They would be great fun for any family, whether you homeschool or not! We also do lots of picture books.

  1. Mr. Popper’s Penguins
  2. B is for Betsy
  3. The Boxcar Children
  4. The Courage of Sarah Noble
  5. The Bears of Hemlock Hill
  6. Little House in the Big Woods
  7. Little House on the Prairie
  8. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
  9. Beezus and Ramona
  10. The Little Riders
  11. The Children of Noisy Village
  12. Kirsten’s Surprise
  13. Homer Price
  14. The Saturdays
  15. Phoebe The Spy
  16. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
  17. The Five Little Peppers
  18. Lady Lollipop
  19. The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook
Children's Books, Three Book Thursday

Children’s Books We Love – January 2017

Hello, readers ! It has been too long! As so many people say, I didn’t mean to take such a long holiday break…but I did. The good news is I have lots of books to share about in the upcoming months and a new look to reveal on the blog soon (as in, the blog is getting a new look…not the blogger, unfortunately). Today, let’s talk about some fun books my kids are into.

Picture Books

Noodle

Um, how has this book escaped my attention my whole life? It’s written by none other than Munro Leaf, the author of Ferdinand, and illustrated by…drumroll please…Ludwig Bemelmans (yes, the creator of Madeline). Talk about a dynamic duo. It’s a warm and fun, somewhat offbeat, story about a Daschund named Noodle who is given the opportunity to change his shape into whatever he’d like. He looks long and hard for a new shape, but no one seems to understand what he wants a new shape for: to dig better holes. Obviously, this hasn’t made the classics list of children’s books despite its author/illustrator combo, so lower your expectations a bit from the greatness of The Story of Ferdinand, but it is still well worth reading and enjoying.

Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon

Molly Lou Melon is a tiny girl with a cheerful determination to have fun her grandmother’s way. When her grandmother says classic grandmotherly things like, “When we were your age, we didn’t have TV; we watched the clouds,” Molly Lou Melon does, too. She takes all her grandma’s recommendations to the furthest degree and brings a friend along on the old-fashioned fun way. The illustrations are really what make the book. A bit outlandish and Dr. Seuss-ly, they are the kind that strike you as simple until your five-year-old-son says, “Look at how this cloud looks like…” and then you realize this book is so perfect for children. We were introduced to it on Christmas by an aunt with great book taste, and promptly found its companion, Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon at the library the next week. We highly recommend both!

Motor Dog

Product DetailsFive-year-old Isaac picked this library find out and I have since read about a million times. A little boy orders a robot dog off the internet (by himself! what in the world), and finds it too be way too fancy after a near death experience involving a helicopter back pack. Yes, it’s pretty obvious why a little boy would think this book is the best. It’s one of those books I include on my lists because of the vast love my children have for it, not due to any fondness I have for it. Sometimes, whatever books get your children glued to reading is whatever you’ll read (within reason).

Chapter Books

The Kingdom of Wrenly Series

Seven-year-old Ella is currently devouring this early reader series. She can make it through one book in a day or two. Featuring a prince named Lucas and his best friend Clare, and set in a medieval make-believe world, the books are full of adventures with dragons, giants, and other page-turning fun. I read through the first one, but can’t keep up with Ella’s pace! These books remind me of the TV series Sofia The First in their content and setting, but are definitely geared more evenly to both boys and girls. Thanks to www.maybematilda.com for the recommendation!

Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg

Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg (Fairy Dust Trilogy Book, A) by [Levine, Gail Carson]Yes, we’re still reading lots of fairy books here. Our latest favorite is one of the earliest in the Disney Fairy expansion. I continue to be impressed with the quality of these fairy books, and shake off any book snobishness when it comes to Tink and her pals. Gail Carson Levine is the author of this particular book (famed for Ella Enchanted), but it’s written for a younger audience than her other books and features many adorable illustrations of little-girlish fairies.

That’s about it from us this week! What great books for kids have you found?

Thanks for joining us for Three Book Thursday! This blog feature is all about our favorite children’s books of the week, and celebrating those moments when we can say, ‘Yes, we’ll read just one more book.’ See all the posts in the category here. And check out our other series about children’s book’s, Friday Favorites, here

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Children's Books, Reading

A Slew of New Autumn Picture Books We Love

There’s something about this time of year that makes all the children’s books feel full of warmth and rightness. Maybe it’s because the thought of little furry, woodland creatures scurrying around to prepare for winter makes us think cozy, happy thoughts next to warmly colored pictures. I don’t know, but I can tell you that we raked in a bunch of books that were perfect for the 2-5 age range at our last library trip. Not all of them are necessarily fall-themed, but most of them feature small, furry creatures  (and one tiny bear) and I guarantee you will not mind if your preschoolers ask to read them again and again. The last book in the list is a Thanksgiving themed one, so be sure to check that out, too!

2130219Whose Shoes? Anne Grossnickle Hines/ LeUyen Pham

A joyful little mouse-girl goes from room to room in her family’s house, trying on shoes. She has lots of fun being silly and so will your little ones when they read this book. Every other page has a lift-the-flap illustration. LeUyen Pham is one of my favorite illustrators, and she’s written some gems herself, too. I was quite pleased to stumble upon this one in our local library display.

Otto the Book Bear, Kate Cleminson

Otto the Book BearOtto is a tiny bear who lives in a book, but pops out on occasion to explore. When his book leaves him behind, he goes on an adventure to find a new home, and ends up finding something even better. The illustrations are soft and inviting, each page has just a few words that poignantly describe what Otto is doing and how he feels about it, and there’s just something about this book that makes you want to go live in a library for a few hours. It’s a perfect rainy day read-aloud, but any day will do. Plus, it’s so cute to hear my two-year-old ask for “Otto.” Thanks to Jansen at Everyday Reading for featuring this one in an Instagram post! We are in love with it.

Kitten's First Full MoonKitten’s First Full Moon, Kevin Henkes

Black and white, but not boring, Kitten’s First Full Moon is about a little kitten in who has to figure out that the full moon isn’t actually a bowl of milk to drink. She’s such a petulant little kitten, it’s hard not to wish that the moon would just become a bowl of milk. This book won a Caldecott in 2005, but we just recently started noticing the board book version popping up everywhere. It’s perfect to check out at the library or give away at baby showers.

Such a Little MouseSuch A Little Mouse, Alice Schertle/ Stephanie Yue

Alice Schertle is famous for Little Blue Truck, a favorite around here, and her latest children’s book about a little mouse exploring the world and storing up food during each season of the year does not dissapoint. The little mouse lives in a sunny field and meets many woodland creatures through the year, but the best part to me is the cozy drawings of his home under the dandelion clump.

Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving StorySharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story, Pat Zitlow Miller/ Jill McElmurry

All ages can appreciate this lyrical book with bright and warm illustrations that show a big family coming together to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, it might be a far cry from what mine or your Thanksgiving looks like now, but it’s fun to see the work that went into a meal at the turn of the 20th century, and the warmth of family gathered and a meal shared glows on each page. Thanks to Sarah McKenzie at Read Aloud Revival for sharing this book!

Those are the picture books we’re enjoying this month! I hope you have a great week celebrating Thanksgiving with your friends and family and in your own heart.

Children's Books, Reviews

Picture Book Round Up, October 2016

It’s picture book review day! I’ve caught up on reviewing the nonfiction I’ve read lately and the books I hope to read this season. Now, it’s time to talk about the picture books my children have loved lately! Reading books together is one of our favorites things to do. Our library card is almost always maxed out on items checked out. Isn’t that the way it should be? =) Here are our recent discoveries and current favorites.

Violet’s Picks (Age 2)

Get Out of My Bath! by Britta Teckentrup

An interactive book about an elephant with too many bath buddies, this one is silly and fun, especially right before bath time. Violet loves the part when the narrator tells the reader to say, “Get out, crocodile!” She uses her deepest voice. This book also might aid a little bit in teaching children the idea of right and left. Just a tiny bit, though. We have several of Britta Teckentrup’s books in our library basket this week, thanks to a good recommendation from a friend. Tree is my favorite so far.

Corduroy

231850I don’t really have to say much about this one do I? It’s well-loved. Violet wants to read it pretty much every day at nap time.

Curious George Goes to an Ice Cream Shop

291367The beach house we stayed in during the last week of September had several Curious George books that Violet loved, but this one was her favorite. We are now picking one out each time we go to the library. It’s funny how each of my children seem to really latch on different book characters at this age. Her siblings never loved Curious George, but Violet seems to relate to his mischief and mayhem. I just hope the books help her live that out vicariously instead of practically. Ha.

Isaac’s Picks (Age 5)

Captain Pajamas, Defender of the Universe, by Bruce Whatley and Rosie Smith

I wouldn’t have picked this one, but what boy can resist it on display at the library? Turns out, it is pretty fun to read aloud, though I leave out a few words based on family preference (nothing terrible, just a couple of “dumbs” that I think we can do without).  Captain Pajamas/Brian is a little boy who longs to do big things and keep people safe. The hidden message I gathered from all the silliness is that reminder for grown ups: little boys need to be encouraged to do big things and take on challenges. But mostly, it’s a funny book with a comic feel that little boys who want to be big boys will enjoy.

The Caboose Who Got Loose

Isaac loves the drawings of Bill Peet. We’re just getting into his children’s books because they are a on the long side for little people. This one reminds me of Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House. I suspect it will make both you and your train-loving children very happy.

 

 

 

Dinotrux, Dinotrux Dig the Beach, and Revenge of the Dinotrux, by Chris Gall

The Dinotrux series was Isaac’s library discovery last month, and I have never seen him more excited about finding his own books. He plopped right down in the aisle and looked through all of them, and then you better believe my husband and I had to read the three he brought home over and over again in the following two weeks. (Also, many thanks to the aunts and uncles took some turns during our big family beach trip). I’d still vote the Jim and Kate McMullan truck books way over these, but if you’re looking for more truck books for your children, these are probably going to be a hit. Just please don’t send me nasty messages about how many times you have to say things like “grrr” and “boink.” That’s just life with truck books/boys. The bonus for this book? There are Dinotrux toys to go with the books. You may or may not want to keep that detail to yourself….

Ella’s Pick (Age 7)

Fancy Nancy: Saturday Night Sleepover

A new Fancy Nancy release always makes Ella’s day. She has been a fan for several years now. This newish (2015) book is about Nancy and her youngest sister sleeping over at their neighbor’s house while their parents go on an overnight trip. Nancy has to use her best big sister skills to help ease little JoJo’s fears about being without her parents. Nancy does a great job, and also discovers that she gains comfort from having a little sister close by. It’s a cute sibling story. On the Fancy Nancy subject, Ella is thrilled to find that Nancy is in her own set of chapter books now. The Nancy Clancy series is perfect for developing readers who have grown up with Fancy Nancy. Ella is on book 3 and I’m loving how she is gaining confidence in reading her own chapter books.

This is the only picture book I can remember Ella picking out herself lately, because she’s so into chapter books now! I’m glad she loves to read and is progressing rapidly, but I could just weep over how grown up she is becoming. Moms are so weird like that.  She still loves to read picture books with the rest of us, though, so I’m treasuring these days while they last.

That sums up our favorite picture books for now. Happy reading!

 

Children's Books, Three Book Thursday

Summer Reading – Favorite Books for Beginning Readers

girlreadingjwsmithWelcome to Three Book Thursday! This blog feature is all about our favorite children’s books of the week, and celebrating those moments when we can say, ‘Yes, just one more book.’ See all the posts in the category here. And check out our other series about children’s book’s, Friday Favorites, here

It’s mid-June and we have plunged into summer reading at our local library. Ah, the smell of books and air conditioning mixed together…let’s pause for a moment of summer reading nostalgia. Okay, moving on. Our summer reading program is entirely online this year, which I call a major bummer. I printed out my own lists for my kids to fill out by hand from this website.  They fill out their paper and I transfer it to the online junk. (Are you sensing some dissatisfaction with this system? Because I’m laying it on pretty thick). Anyway, my oldest has moved on from getting prizes for listening to books and now has to read the books to herself. This has started us on a search for some great easy readers. Because some of them? They are not so great. Here are some gems we’ve found so far.

Our new favorite this Summer is the Nate the Great series. My husband told me Nate the GreatI should get Nate the Great for my seven-year-old to read, and I said, “Who is Nate the Great?” Horrified look from my husband. And it was totally justified. How can I have not read these books before? I got the first one in the series that day, and he read the opening to Ella the next morning to get her hooked. We all laughed out loud. She took the book after breakfast and went straight to her favorite reading chair. Her younger brother followed her and they finished the book in fifteen minutes, laughing all the way. We’ve now read three Nate the Greats and I just checked a book about Olivia Sharp, Nate the Great’s cousin.

My son loves for my daughter to read the Elephant and Piggy books to him by Mo Willems. They are all pretty funny, but the We Are in a Book is hilarious. Willems’s illustrations of each character’s expressions really make the book great. In this case, simple really is wonderful.  There are only a few words on each page, so I would highly recommend these for easily discouraged readers.

Penny and Her MarblePenny and Her Marble and Penny and Her Doll are lovely easy readers. It’s amazing how Kevin Henkes can present situations in which his characters are experiencing some new emotion without overwhelming young readers. These books deal with stealing, guilt, love, waiting for inspiration, and probably some other issues I’m forgetting. The colors and illustrations are so soothing, too, which is nice for a change of pace sometimes. I like books that soothe my eyes.

Those are just a few of the easy reader favorites we’re enjoying this summer. If you’re looking for more in this category, check out these posts.

Friday Favorites, Frog and Toad Edition

The Good Knight Series (series includes some easy readers)

 

Children's Books, Three Book Thursday

Picture Books and Summer Desserts

Welcome to Three Book Thursday, a series all about the joy of sharing books with girlreadingjwsmithchildren. We’re kicking off our summer today and that means we’re all signed up for summer reading at our local library! So this week, I’m featuring picture books that highlight learning and include recipes for a summer dessert, because there’s no better way to kick off summer reading excitement than with a hands on opportunity!  (And as a homeschooled kid turned homeschooling mom, I can tell you that finding a good book with a recipe to go with is finding solid gold).

14823980A Fine Dessert is a fun history lesson about the centuries old dessert, Blackberry Fool. Starting with a mother and daughter in England in the 1700s, we see how the process of cooking changes a little bit but the basic concept of delicious food bringing families together stays the same. This book will make your kids appreciate grocery stores and electric mixers! We had opportunities to talk about all sorts of concepts, from colors of dishes to slavery in the 1800s to different kinds of grocery stores.  And if you make the very simple recipe at the end, you’ll also give your children an opportunity to get their hands really dirty and be proud of a new accomplishment. Our children gobbled up the Blackberry Fool. As a side note, no one really knows why it’s called “fool.” Of course, the kids sure do love an excuse to use an off limits word in a different context. (insert eye roll + amused smile).  Even if you don’t get to make the recipe, the illustrations are delicious in themselves and the book as a whole is one of our new favorites.

How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. has our mouths watering and our wanderlust screaming at us to take a road trip! (oh, maybe that’s just my wanderlust…. 3003976moving on). It’s such a great book to start your summer reading with. We loved following along with a map as the children in it start in New York City, travel down the Mississippi on a river boat, and hit up a few lesser talked of states for the necessary supplies to create a delicious cherry pie. I would even suggest starting with this book instead of its predecessor, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. We’re finding that it’s easier for young children to understand the geography of their own country than the starting off with the whole, unfamiliar world. Children are as curious as can be about geography, though, so whichever book you start with, I can almost guarantee the wonder of a map will draw them in and the promise of some pie making fun will seal the memory as one of the best geography lessons ever.

Thunder Cake is THE book to read in the late afternoon on a stormy summer’s day.  Patricia Polacco makes you feel like you’re right in the midst of the glowering clouds Thunder Cakeand yellow light of an approaching storm on the prairie. The narrative of the grandmother and her young granddaughter hurrying to beat the storm gives readers an exciting story to follow even as they’re learning how much work it was to cook before electricity was in our homes. The recipe at the end is a bit more complicated than the Blackberry Fool and Cherry Pie recipes, so we have yet to try it. Also, we’re all a bit wary of a cake recipe that includes tomatoes….but I’m planning to have an update on its outcome by the middle of the summer for you! Even if you never make the recipe, it’s a wonderful book.

 

 

Children's Books, Three Book Thursday

Three Book Thursday, Take Me to Sea Edition

girlreadingjwsmithWelcome to Three Book Thursday! This blog feature is all about our favorite children’s books of the week, and celebrating those moments when we can say, ‘Yes, just one more book.’ See all the posts in the category here. And check out our other series about children’s book’s, Friday Favorites, here

I am so excited about today’s books. I am completely enamored by them. Without further ado, here are the children’s books we are loving right now.

682747Where has The Maggie B. book been all my life? Published in 1975, it is a beautiful classic about a little girl named Margaret Barnstable who makes a whimsical wish to sail on a boat for a day. The wish comes true and the result is the coziest book ever.  The illustrations are soul drenching. Am I gushing too much? I love this book because Maggie’s day on The Maggie B. is exactly the kind of imaginary play I loved when I was a little girl, right down to the baby on board. Seriously, this is my favorite book I’ve come across in years. I have just discovered author/illustrator Irene Haas and I can totally see myself cleaning the library shelf of all her books the next time I’m there. When it comes to The Maggie B., though, forget the library. I don’t buy books very often, but I will be buying this one.

It Was a Dark and Stormy NightFollowing the sea theme, we also discovered It Was A Dark and Stormy Night. This one’s about a band of brigands and a boy they capture whose job is to tell them a satisfactory story. Lighthearted enough for young children, we all enjoyed the adventures the boy makes up for the brigands in the dark cave they are camping out in. My only complaint with this book is that it really is a bit wordy. It’s much too long to be a bedtime story, but for the sick days at home we’ve been having lately, it’s perfect. Also, the book is set in Italy so it’s a lot of fun to say all the names. My 4-year-old boy has sat around looking at the pictures quite a bit lately, too.

The Children of Noisy VillageOur chapter book of the month doesn’t have to do with the sea, but it is about Sweden, which is across an ocean from us…it’s a stretch, but it’s an awesome book. We’ve been reading The Children of Noisy Village, by Astrid Lindgren (famous for writing Pippi Longstocking). Called The Little House on the Prairie of Sweden, it is a short memoir-style book, and gives glimpses of what life was like for a little farm girl named Lisa in Sweden at the turn of the 20th century. She and her brothers and neighbors are brimming with personality but sweet to the core–a hard balance to find in children’s books. Their adventures make me long to own an old farmhouse and make ginger bread cookies. What’s great about this book is there is at least one illustration in every chapter, and the chapters are only four or five pages long. It’s a great read-aloud for 4-7 year olds. There is a sequel but my library doesn’t have it, so it looks like I might be buying two books this week.

Also, an honorable mention to the board book of the week, Spot Goes to the Park. Violet loves it to pieces.

I’m currently trying to settle on our next chapter book read-aloud. Any suggestions? Let me know in the comments!