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

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, 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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