Children's Books, Three Book Thursday

Children’s Books To Soothe Your Eyes: Three Book Thursday

Welcome to another edition of Three Book Thursday! To see more posts of our favorite children’s books of the week, go here or here

Do you ever go into the kids section of a bookstore or library and feel like your eyes are being assaulted? Too many garish colors, too many puffy letters, and why so many drawings of children with huge heads?  Yes, I’ll let my children pick out all so

David Goes To School
Ouch.

rts of books to bring home from the library, but not without an occasional wince on my part. Nowadays when we go into the library, while the kids gather a few books and play with some puzzles, I’m scouring the shelves for books to read to my them that won’t make me to go to a secret place in my mind (Moo Ba La La La does this to me every time). I want the books that will sooth our eyes and bring us into beautiful places.

IMG_5202A few weeks ago, we stumbled on a few that were perfect. The first was My Red Balloon by Kazuaki Yamada. I loved the bright yet mellow colors and the soft sketches. Our littlest one enjoyed following the balloon on each page, and our older ones enjoyed the story in its own right. Plus, if you do all the voices for each animal, no kid can resist this book.

Little Boat

The second was The Little Boat by Thomas Doherty. My 4-year old boy wanted to read it over and over, and I actually didn’t mind.  The illustrations are epic and painted from different perspectives. We felt drawn right onto the ocean as we turned the pages. And all the blues and whites in this book are wonderfully soothing on a harried day.

 

 

IMG_5203
Isaac couldn’t get enough of this book.

For our book board needs, I found the delightful Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff. Baby Bear is introduced to all the different colors by his mama as he goes through his day in the Baby Bear Sees Bluewoods. The colors are rich and the words are beautiful, too. Very young babies might not tolerate all the text, but my eighteen-month-old is enjoying it more and more. I’m finding that once a child gets used to a book, they know what to expect from the words on each page and aren’t so antsy. If you can get through a book a few times reading all the words, it’s quite likely your little ones won’t want to turn the pages as rapidly as they did at first. That’s my theory, anyway. =)

There are so many beautiful children’s books, it would take all day to write about them. Visit my Gorgeous Books Pinterest board to find some more!

What are some children’s books with illustrations that make you want to read them again and again?

Children's Books, Three Book Thursday

All The Deep Legends: Three Book Thursday, Legends 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’m not entirely sure how this came about, but on our last trip to the library my kids picked some pretty serious books. Think Arthurian legend and Greek mythology picture books. I was kind of squeamish about them – how would they handle some of the themes? –  but then I remembered how important it is to inspire children with hero stories and acquaint them with the larger picture of humanity. I definitely want to inspire my children to greatness while at the same time making them aware of their smallness in the grand scheme of things. So! We read these books they picked out.

PersephonePersephone, by Sally Pomme Clayton – The tragic princess tale is a dark one, with Hades taking the daughter of Demeter, Earth Goddess, to his kingdom in the Underworld, but this particular version doesn’t go into a whole lot of detail about the Underworld. Instead it focuses on the legend of the seasons that came from this story. Greek mythology is not something I’m extremely familiar with, but it’s pretty fascinating and has infiltrated so many cultures. I’d love for my children to be familiar with it to some extent, and this is a start.

Lancelot (Tales of King Arthur)Lancelot – What a long story! But man does Isaac (4) love stories about knighthood. He’ll sit there the whole time, staring at the pictures and taking in the heroism of this Aurthurian legend. Hudson Talbott has written many picture books about these legends and I’m hoping to get lots more from the library. I’m also toying with the idea of showing The Sword and the Stone to my kids, but I can’t remember much about it. Maybe I’ll have to preview it (right, who has time for that?).

Lady LollipopThose are the major picture books we’re reading this week. In the chapter book genre, we’ve been reading Lady Lollipop, which is such a perfect preschool chapter book, although I have to admit that I’m enjoying it as well. Ella has been reading the Frozen chapter book series. I read the first one with her, and they’re better than I was expecting, similar to the Disney fairy books we love around here.  Winter is absolutely the best time for reading, and we are taking full advantage of it.

 

Children's Books, Three Book Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving! {Three Book Thursday on Tuesday}

girlreadingjwsmithThree Book Thursday is on Tuesday this Thanksgiving week. 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 the now discontinued series about children’s book’s, Friday Favorites, here

This morning we woke up to frost on the cars and a deep blue sky that makes the few leaves holding onto the trees stand out all the brighter. It seems official now that the holidays are upon us.

I got a brief reprieve from all that last weekend, however, when a hope to visit my sister in L.A. suddenly became a reality. I’m a mom of three, not a woman who jumps on a plane on a whim very often/EVER. But my very loving husband made it all possible and I spent four days in Los Angeles. The first full day was amazing–sere mountains and hot sunshine and Malibu beaches. The second day was wonderful, too, with a hike to Griffin Observatory up a secret staircase in the morning. The afternoon became overcast and chilly, but with a huge bookstore in the heart of your city, gloomy afternoons are not  a problem! The Lost Bookstore yielded some jewels I have been longing for that, yes, I put in my carry on and lugged all the way home with me.  Here’s what I got:

Baby Dear is my favorite find of the week. This is how bookstore shopping goes for me:

~Step One: See vintage book illustrated by Eloise Wilkin.

~Step Two: Buy the book. Baby Dear (Little Golden Book)

I’m like Mel Gibson’s character in Conspiracy Theory, impulsively buying Eloise Wilkin books in every bookstore I go to (which is a big improvement on  Catcher in The Rye, I have to say). So far I haven’t experienced a sudden, undeniable urge to find a bookstore immediately at random moments in my day and buy one of her books, but I have some fears. Baby Dear is a book any little girl with a younger sibling will love to get as a Big Sister gift. My littlest one, 16-month-old Violet, simply loves it because it has babies in it and she loves babies. Really, you don’t need a reason to buy a book illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. Buy it. You will not be disappointed. If I would just remember when I’m having a bad day to go bury my face in The Boy With A DrumMy Goodnight BookWe Help Daddy, etc., there is not a chance the day wouldn’t get at least a little bit better.

Okay. Moving on.

Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever is an elusive book that somehow ends up on all Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever!kinds of highly respected reading lists but never in my local library or book sales. For a few years now, I’ve wanted to get my hands on it, but it was just too expensive to buy. I was so excited to find a vintage copy for just $5 in L.A.! And I will now proceed to read myself hoarse for the remainder of my mothering life. Richard Scarry is awesome…and wordy. These big, thick treasuries are so great for rest time, though. If you’re lucky, one such book can offer maybe half an hour of quiet entertainment.

 

Winter HolidayMike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Curious George rounded out my picture book finds. I was also excited to find one of the books in Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons seriesWinter Holiday introduces some neighbors visiting a nearby farm who become friends with the children from the original Swallows and Amazons. These books are great for adventurous kids, especially boys. I didn’t discover them until my husband bought the book after we got married, and I still enjoy this series as an adult. Caution: these books will make you want to take up sailing. And packing giant picnics to eat on deserted islands. There’s your fair warning.

Sadly, I didn’t stumble upon any jewels in the grown up books. Luckily, I’m in the middle of the long overlooked Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. It’s roughly 1168 pages, so that should see me through at least the end of the week/year.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Jam and Bread and Peanut Butter: Friday Favorites

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?

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