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

Happy World Read Aloud Day…One Day Late

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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, Friday Favorites - Children's Books, Parenting, Three Book Thursday

Cookies and Books: Nurturing Yourself and Your Children At The Same Time

girlreadingjwsmithAfternoons are hard. Everyone is tired, and trying their best to transition from morning to evening, from resting to ramping up their energy again, or in my case, from folding clothes quietly to cooking dinner with three kids underfoot. I’ll be honest: some (many) days when the kids get up from their afternoon quiet time, they get to watch TV. I try to keep it to every other day, but it’s kind of a seasonal thing. In the summer it’s less, in the winter, it’s more. But some days, the attitudes are especially shoddy, making me more aware of my children’s need for time with me. And I feel that tug: how do I give these children anything when at this point in the day, I’m running on empty?

The answer? Cookies and books.

One of my favorite book mom mentors, Sally Clarkson, often says it’s important to bring your children into the activities that you enjoy and that feed your soul. I love that concept – we as moms can be nurtured and nurturing at the same time.  Sometimes I remember that, and sometimes I have the wisdom and energy to do things a little differently in the transition hours, more commonly (and accurately) called “the witching hours.” I lay out some real plates and glasses on the table, get some cookies from the freezer and stick them in the microwave (or graham crackers if the baking hasn’t happened in a while!), and pour milk in fancy glasses. Then I go to the kids’ room a few minutes before their quiet time timer dings, and whisper, “Come to the kitchen!” Sometimes we have a IMG_4547little bit of hot herbal tea with honey instead of milk and cookies. Sometimes we’re finishing up some lemonade or cake from a family birthday party. Whatever the food is, along with it is always a book. This time is for a book I choose that I know will feed their minds. Their small hands are busy with their cookies, but their minds are taking it all in. When we come together at the table, all of the bickering, busyness, and mess of the day is suspended for a few minutes. I love these times at the table. They bring the things I like doing – reading books, eating cookies, and spending happy time with my children – all together. We all get what we need, and it’s always worth the few extra dishes or the lost productivity because the children feel loved and cared for and able to cope with the rest of the day, and so do I. I wish I did this cookies and books time every day! That’s not a reality right now. But I cherish the times when we’re able to set everything else aside and pick up a book, a cup, a story, an idea, a love of learning, and a love for each other.

Not everyone likes books and cookies (okay, everyone probably likes cookies). Maybe you love to run. Maybe you like scrapbooking, cooking, walking, or maybe what you love above all else is window shopping. My kids and I sometimes make up silly stories together. Whatever it is you like to do, maybe try doing it with your children? It gets really hard to do the things you love as your children take more of your time, but it helps you all to speak the same language later in life if you share what you love now. Your favorite activity won’t be the same when you bring your children into it with you, but it will be better than nothing! Choose your Cookies and Books – whatever you like to do together- and make it happen once in a while! You’ll be glad you did.

Here are the books I’ve chosen for our Cookies and Books Time this week:

Rachel and Obadiah – We loved Obadiah the Bold, so we had to track down other books by Brinton Turkle about Obadiah. However, this one was more about Rachel. Where Obadiah was great for a little brother, Rachel and Obadiah is great for a little sister who feels the need for some appreciation. The illustrations are so lovely, and it’s fun to read the Quaker wording. Isaac was not as big a fan of it because the girl is the winner in the end, but Ella liked it a lot.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald PartridgeWilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge – Mem Fox is an famous children’s author with whom I am sadly unfamiliar. I enjoyed my first experience of her books this week! This book made me want to cry a little, because my kids have a great, great aunt who is exactly the age of the woman in the book. Wilfrid, the little boy, thoughtfully gathers all the things he thinks will help her find her memories again, and the result is very touching. That was my take on it, anyway! When I got done reading it to Isaac and Ella, Ella’s response was, “Well. That was a weird book.” So maybe don’t expect your kids to love it. But it’s a sweet book that could aid in discussion about elderly family members whose memories aren’t what they used to be. The illustrations by Julie Vivas keep things lighthearted and fun.

What books are you reading with kiddos this week?

Children's Books, Friday Favorites - Children's Books, Reading, Reviews, Three Book Thursday

Three Book Thursday: Frontiersman Edition

Welcome to Three Book Thursday! Three Book Thursday is a feature that’s all about sharing the joy of books with children. To read more posts like this one, go here!

My children and I are in the middle of the best unit study for young kids ever. We’re studying frontiersmen (and frontierswomen? frontierspeople?). Seriously, what kids do not want to pretend they’re churning butter in the mud pit under the swing set? Or tying meat onto their horse after hunting (but the horse is actually a mop and the meat is actually your sister’s pink cupcake purse…)? It has been an amusing for me to watch them play after doing this study, at any rate!

(Side note on our history theory: A lot of people say “It’s important to study history chronologically,” in a more classical method like Susan Wise Bauer‘s books follow. Another group says “read what your kids are interested in” or “start with U.S. history because it has the best literature for young children to go with it!” Rea Berg is a big proponent for this theory. Since I’m crazy about reading, I’m a big fan of the route with lots of stories and literature. And we also pick up The Story of the World and read that, too. In other words, we like it all! But mostly we stick with a literature based approach to history, so sometimes our just-for-fun books will also be our school books, but please know that these books stand alone as great books to read with your kids and it’s important to pick the educational method that fits you and your children best.)

Without further ado, here are our favorite books this week!

Daniel Boone's Great EscapeDaniel Boone’s Great Escape by Michael P. Spradlin is currently Isaac’s very favorite book. It’s just a snippet of what Daniel Boone did in his life, but it works well for young children because it’s an exciting adventure through and through. In the later part of Daniel Boone’s life, after he’s founded Boonsborough and even become a grandfather, he was captured by Shawnee warriors. His escape is pretty amazing! This book definitely falls in the Heroes For Boys category that I’m always seeking out on our library trips.

We’ve also enjoyed Who Was Here: Discovering Wild Animal Tracks as we talk about tracking animals.  One page has a clue about the animal and a picture of its print, and the next page has the answer. It’s a good combination of learning about 18769496the animals’ tracks, their habitats, and some interesting facts about them. We read Tracks in the Snow as another track-themed book, but it was definitely more for the 2-3-year-old age group than for a 4-year-old or 6-year-old. It was very cute and Violet loved it, though the concept of snow was totally lost on her.

I’m thankful we get to investigate tracks for fun instead of for food, but I also think it’s good for our modern-day children to know how much hard work frontiersmen went through. So of course, I chose Little House in the Big Woods as our read aloud for this month. Last time we read it, Ella was only four. She doesn’t remember much of it, and it’s all new to Isaac this time around. Does homeschooling mean I get to read the Little House books to my children every two years? Sold! =) I feel like I need to reread these books for my own perspective on how much easier my life is than Caroline Wilder’s was. And if you want to put Christmas gifts into perspective for your kids, read them just the Christmas chapters from Little House in the Big Woods or Little House on the Prairie.  Wow. Besides the perspective, these are simply some of the best books ever. And the great part is I hardly remember On The Shores of Silver Lake! Can’t wait ’til we get to that one.

So that’s what’s in our reading basket this week. What have you and your kids been reading?

Children's Books, Friday Favorites - Children's Books, Three Book Thursday

Introducing Three Book Thursday!

girlreadingjwsmithWe’re crazy about children’s books around here. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Mia The Reader’s Friday Favorites Feature is getting a make over! It’s even got a new name and a new day….

[drum roll]

Introducing….

Three Book Thursday!

Every night at bedtime, my two oldest children (ages 6 and 4) each pick out a picture book and we read them together. This is my very favorite part of the day. We sit on the couch or under the covers on my bed, close and quiet and at peace with one another as we all find ourselves in the same imaginary space that a book creates. Three Book Thursday is in celebration of those evenings when the kids say, “Can we read one more book tonight?” and instead of saying “No, time for bed!” I can smile a slow (probably tired) but happy smile and say, “yes, go get one more!” Since I secretly love our bedtime ritual, it’s not a hardship to extend the best part of the day once or twice a week. On the nights when I’m not too tired, I relish this time when the children are bringing me brightly illustrated, cleverly worded books to read to them. I know pretty soon they won’t be asking, “Just one more book, please?” but “Let’s read one more chapter, please?” and I’m sure that will be a lot of fun, too. For now, Three Book Thursday is a marker for the joy of having little ones and sharing picture books with them. I hope you’ll join in, find some great books to read with the little ones in your life, and chime on your current favorites, as well!

This week, we’ve loved these three books:

Obadiah The Bold – I am just starting a quest for good books for my little boy that aren’t just about monsters or dinosaurs, but about real, brave boys who exhibit courage and honor. (Monsters and dinosaurs are fun, but not much for inspiring little boys to greatness…we still read them! But I’ve begun trying to mix in a healthy dose of more mind-and-soul feeding books, too). I heard about The Obadiah books on this Read Aloud Revival podcast (such a great resource, if you haven’t heard of it before!).  Obadiah is a Quaker boy who decides he wants to be a pirate. When he has to come to terms with what a pirate really is, he learns about a true hero in his own family and develops new and better aspirations of his own. The illustrations are so warm and inviting. This book would be great for any little boy, but especially the ones who love pirates (and what little boy doesn’t, these days?).

Little Time And The Brave Sea Captain – This book also fits the bill for the Brave Books For Little Boys category. Also, any time you find a book by Edward Ardizzone, snatch it up! They aren’t easy to find and they are gems. This one is back in print, though, so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting your hands on this delightful story about a little boy who goes on an adventure with an old sea captain and learns true courage from him. I suspect my little boy loved this one because the danger is real and grim but it all turns out okay in the end.

 

The Six SwansThe Six Swans – This is our fairy tale of the week. After the first reading, Ella asked “Can we renew this one twice?”  If you’re familiar with the story, you know it’s about a devoted sister who spends years of her life freeing her brothers from a spell that turns them into swans. This book by Gerda Raidt is based on The Brothers Grimm’s version of the story. I grew up with the Hans Christian Andersen’s classic illustrated by Susan Jeffers called The Wild Swans, which has more mature, medieval themes in it. I remember one particularly gruesome picture of demons in a graveyard. For children under around 10, I would recommend The Six Swans over Jeffers’ beautiful yet possibly terrifying rendition.  This is a good mix of boy and girl fairy tale, instead of merely a princess tale.

Our “baby” (she’s fourteen months) also gets two stories read to her at night. She is currently loving Biscuit Finds A Friend and is always a fan of Brown Bear, Brown Bear (though this mama gets kind of tired of it…)

Those are our favorites to read during The Best Part of The Day a.k.a Bedtime around here this week. What are your family’s favorites?

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

Books to Read Just For Fun: Friday Favorites, Ed. 12

We had 7 days of 1st grade under our belts (“ours” because we’re homeschooling so we’re all in this together), when a fever struck poor Ella and a sick day was declared.  The good news is we had time to read a lot of fun picture books together that had nothing to do with anything. And now have some Friday Favorite fodder! Our favorite fun books this week are:

Victricia Malicia: Book-Loving BuccaneerVictricia Malicia, Book-Loving Bucaneer by Carrie Clickard is a great mix of boyish and girlish fun. We are always looking for these kinds of books with a six-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy in the house. Victricia is a young pirate who comes from a long line of seafarers, but declares herself to be a landlubber. It’s a fun, rhyming story perfect for bedtime –you will stay wide awake trying to keep your tongue untied!

The Duchess of Whimsy: An Absolutely Delicious Fairy Tale caught my eye at the library, with its fanciful The Duchess of Whimsyillustrations and crazy costumes. My kids love it for the pictures; I don’t think they understand a quarter of the words. It takes Fancy Nancy to task on increasing vocabulary. Whether you like it or not, it will leave you craving a big grilled cheese sandwich.

We’ve featured Shelley Moore Thomas’s Good Knight series before but A Good Knight’s Rest had us laughing harder than an of the others. The kids were laughing at the dragons’ antics and I was laughing in sympathy with the Good Knight who was just A Good Knight's Resttrying to find a restful vacation. Hint to the Good Knight: leave the little dragons (a.k.a children) at home.  I actually think this book might help a child see how ridiculous a dragon/child can be on a road trip. They may recognize themselves in the dragon who says, “I’m too squashed!” or the one who says, “Who at all the potato chips!” Maybe they’ll even turn themselves into great vacationers and tuck you into your bed when you finally make it home like the little dragons in the story do. Or maybe not. It’s worth a shot, though, right?

And finally, an oldie but goody, Don’t Forget The Bacon was in our recommended 246529reading for a unit study on attentiveness we’re doing right now, because who doesn’t want to start the school year drilling the words “attention” and “notice” into their children? I mean, sign me up! Pat Hutchins wrote and illustrated Don’t Forget The Bacon about a boy who is doing the shopping for his mom (yes, it’s that old of a book) and has a hard time remembering his mental list. I couldn’t help wondering if the mother in this book was sending a child out to do her errands who is so young, he couldn’t even read a list. Couldn’t you just write it down for the poor kid? I myself can’t remember more than 4 things I need to pick up at the grocery store and that’s all in the same place! But then I remembered “it’s just a book.” As a side note, the book uses the word “fat” a few times, which is another sign that it’s a bit dated, since that word is currently social taboo. It’s not meant to be insulting in this book, but I think it could hurt a child’s feelings if that word has been an issue in the past. Consider yourself warned.

I’d love to hear if you’ve read any of these books or all about the books your kids are loving these days (or loved long ago!). Leave a comment, and checkout the rest of the Friday Favorites series on our favorite children’s books of the week here!

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