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    What the Kids are Reading (in April 2015)

    I seriously cannot believe we’re already in the month of April!  I swear time goes by so much faster when you have kids…or maybe it’s just me.

    Below you’ll find all of the books I’ll be reading to the kids for the month of April.  Since it’s Easter, National Poetry Month, and Earth Month I think I’ve selected a nice variety of books.

    This book is super cute!  It’s a wordless picture book, but the overall message of teamwork and working together is great!  Oh, and the pictures are just so adorable!  This would make a really cute Easter gift.  Sparkles cannot get enough of this book and neither can I.
    Through the story of a little boy named Felix, this charming book explains to children how being kind not only helps others, it helps them, too. As he goes about his day, Felix interacts with different people — his sister Anna, his grandfather, other family and friends. Some people are happy, but others are grumpy or sad. Using the metaphor of a bucket and dipper, Felix’ grandfather explains why the happy people make Felix feel good, while the others leave him feeling bad — and how Felix himself is affecting others, whether he means to or not.

     

    This book brings counting to life with a cute story about friendship!

     

    When Felix wakes up one morning, he finds an invisible bucket floating overhead. A rotten morning threatens his mood–and his bucket–drop by drop. Can Felix discover how to refill his bucket before it’s completely empty?

     

    Emma’s family is celebrating Easter! Emma and her little brother hunt for Easter eggs and candy. They go to church. Then relatives come over for a big meal.

     

    Giraffes Can’t Dance is a touching tale of Gerald the giraffe, who wants nothing more than to dance. With crooked knees and thin legs, it’s harder for a giraffe than you would think. Gerald is finally able to dance to his own tune when he gets some encouraging words from an unlikely friend.  Another favorite for the kiddos!

     

    Haiku poems just for boys…yes please!  My library had this on display so I snatched it up for my little man.  It contains a nice assortment of poems.

     

    Yes, this book has a hole right in the center of it…brilliant!  The kids get a kick out of putting their hands or any other objects lying around through the middle…so cute!  The Book with a Hole blasts a hole through the middle of the book itself. Sometimes the hole is an eye the reader can look through; sometimes it is a mouth and the reader’s fingers make the teeth! The next minute it is a plate (with food drawn by the reader on a sheet of paper behind the book), an obstacle to jump across, or a saucepan.

     

    This book has been on my “to-read-to-the-kids list” for a while and I finally got it.  Iggy has one passion: building. His parents are proud of his fabulous creations, though they’re sometimes surprised by his materials—who could forget the tower he built of dirty diapers?

     

    A classic favorite finds six lovable animals using humorous rhymes to help Lloyd the llama discover what kind of animal his mother is.

     

    I love this book more than the kids do.  Barbara Cooney’s story of Alice Rumphius, who longed to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful.

     

    This is definitely a book to add to your home library if you like prayers and teach your children to pray.  I bought this for the kids for Easter…so beautiful!  This poem is nice to recite at bedtime.

     

    This is another book I’ve been wanting to read to the kids for a while.  Such an inspiring book for girls and boys alike!

     

    I adore this book!  What a beautiful story about a tiny snail and a giant whale.  The overall message is fantastic…another winner from Julia Donaldson!

     

    The poems in this book are funny!  We love the one entitled ‘Maybe I’ll Sleep in the Bathtub Tonight’.
    Join Little Mole as he travels over land, air, and sea in search of an answer to his question: “How big is the world?”  Lovely story and beautifully illustrated.

     

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    Poetry Reading and Craft Challenge Week 1

    Since Spring has finally sprung (well, sort of if you live in the Northeast like me) and Easter is right around the corner, I thought we’d kick off the first week of this challenge with an Easter themed poem and activity.

    This poem — like all the ones I’ve chosen is short and should be pretty easy to memorize in one week.  The craft activity idea was inspired by my beloved Pinterest website.  I added my own personal touches just to spice it up a bit.

    Remember, the goal of this challenge is two-fold: to memorize the poems with your kids and work on the craft activity together at some point during the week.  That’s it!  Also, you don’t have to be crafty to work on the projects.  The main thing is for you and the kids to have fun and to have the experience together.  We’re not going for perfection here.

    Here is the first poem we’ll be memorizing:

     

    Click here if you’d like to print this poem.
    Here is the craft project: Peek-a-boo bunny!

    Click here to open this tutorial in a separate window.

    Craft Project Notes

    For this project you’ll need:

    • 2 white paper plates
    • green felt or construction paper
    • pink felt or construction paper (optional – for the inside of the bunny ears and nose)
    • pink fabric (optional – for the inside of the bunny ears nose – this is what I used)
    • green ribbon (optional – if you want to add a bow)
    • 1 black Sharpie marker
    • glue
    • scissors
    • stapler
    I think the pictoral tutorial is easy to follow so I won’t include step-by-step instructions.Don’t forget to recite the poem daily with your child(ren) and most importantly don’t forget to pull down the hands covering the bunny’s face when you say ‘peek-a-boo’ at the end of the poem.  So fun!

    I’d love to see your bunny craft projects or hear from you.  Feel free to drop me a line at hereweeread {at} gmail {dot} com or leave a comment in the comments section below.

    ~Until next time!

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    children's literacy, national poetry month, poetry challenge

    Poetry Reading and Craft Challenge for Kids!

    Calling all poetry lovers!

    In case you didn’t already know April is National Poetry Month.  I admit that I am not a big reader of poetry nowadays unless it’s in a children’s book. I enjoyed all of the Shel Silverstein classics as a child, but I kind of lost my interest in reading poetry sometime during high school.  You know, when it wasn’t required reading in school anymore…LOL!  I do love poetry though, especially poems that rhyme.

    That’s why I’m so glad to see there are so many wonderful poetry books out there for my children.  I think it is important to introduce poetry to kids from the very beginning of their lives.  Research shows that poetry promotes literacy, builds community, and fosters emotional resilience.  Awesome, right?

    In addition, when read aloud, poetry is rhythm and music and sounds and beats. Young children, babies and preschoolers included, may not understand all the words or meaning, but they’ll surely feel the rhythms, get curious about what the sounds mean and perhaps want to create their own.  I remember I used to love making up my own poems as a kid…oh, the memories!

    I also find it interesting that contrary to popular belief amongst kids, boys get really into poetry when brought in through rhythm and rhyme. It’s the most kinesthetic of all literature, it’s physical and full-bodied which activates your heart and soul.  Boys, included.  I really believe this to be true as I’ve witnessed Mr. Tickles seems to pay close attention whenever I’m reading them a book with catchy rhymes.

    So since National Poetry Month is coming up, I thought it would be fun to start a poetry reading challenge for kids.  See below for the deets…

    WHAT: A poetry reading and craft challenge for kids!  It doesn’t matter if your child is a newborn, toddler, preschooler, adolescent, pre-teen or teenager.  All kids (and adults) are welcome to participate.

    HOW:  This challenge will be simple.  All you need to do is memorize one (short) poem per week with your kids during the month of April.  In addition, you can do one of the crafts I suggest or choose your own.  The crafts will be related to the overall theme of the poem.  Don’t worry, you don’t need to be crafty either.

    WHEN: Starting this Sunday, March 29th, I’ll post the first poem of the week to be memorized as well as the craft(s) to go along with it.  You’ll have the whole week to memorize the poem with your kids and work on the craft(s) at your leisure.  The remaining poems/crafts will be introduced each Sunday on April 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th.

    I hope you’ll join me in this challenge with your little ones.  National Poetry Month is a great time to bring some poetry into your heart and home.

    Happy Reading!

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    Finding Time to Read

    Over the weekend someone asked me, “How do you find time to read when you have two small kids?”  My answer was simple: I make reading a priority.  I’m a true believer that people make or find time to do things that matter or are important to them.  Therefore, I make daily reading one of my priorities.

    I love reading. I love pushing myself to read, and I love making it a priority. I find it motivating to set big reading goals. But my highest priority ISN’T the total number of books I finish, but rather about being transformed by what I read. It’s about growing as a person. It’s about developing as a believer and of course being entertained in the process.

    I know you’re thinking that sounds great, but how can I manage to read with everything else I need to do?  Well, if you want to get into the habit of reading more here are a few tips:

    1. MAKE IT A PRIORITY.

    One of my weird pet peeves is when people complain about not ‘having’ enough time to do things.  Their excuse always starts off with, “I don’t have time to do this or I don’t have time to do that.”  Everyone has the same number of hours in a day, and if you truly WANT to read more you may have to CHOOSE reading over other things you also enjoy.  For example: watching television, surfing the Internet, etc.

    2. MAKE READING PART OF YOUR DAILY ROUTINE.

    I tend to read first thing in the morning when I wake up, during lunch time and right before bed.  By making reading a habit you’ll be surprised how many books you can get through without consciously working at it.

    I find if reading isn’t part of my regular routine, it’s easy to let days and weeks or even months go by without reading something. Once something is part of my daily routine I don’t have to think about whether or not I’ve done it today; of course I have, right when I always do.

    3. READ IN SNIPPETS

    What does this mean? It means while the water is heating for a cup of tea, I can read a page. It means when the kids are playing quietly for a few minutes, I can read another page. Anytime I have a moment, I can read a paragraph or maybe more. The key is to always have something to read with me.  Yes, I usually have a book stashed away in my purse or in the car.

    4. READ WHAT YOU LIKE.

    This one should go without saying, but many people tend to gravitate toward books that come highly recommended by others.  I’ve fallen into this trap before too.  Just because it’s a best seller, recommended by your best friend, co-worker, or recommended by a favorite resource, doesn’t mean that the book will be right for you. That’s ok – read what you like.

    5. “READ” AUDIO BOOKS

    When I had a daily commute into the office I made great use of that driving time by listening to audio books.  Now since I work from home I use audio books less often than I used to.  However, I still do use them on occasion when driving around town in the car by myself or with the kids.

    My library had a great selection, but if yours doesn’t, I’ve heard great things about the Audible program as a way to get audio books. My library offers books as CDs you can borrow, or as MP3 downloads you can get from home. Super simple, once you get it set up initially.

    No commute? I’ve listened to audio books while cleaning the house, exercising, or working on jigsaw puzzles.

    And keep in mind, narrators can make or break an audio book, so if you try one and don’t like it, don’t write off the entire realm of audio books. Try a different book (maybe even a different sort of book), and a different narrator to see if you enjoy it that way.

    6. READ TO YOUR KIDS

    Not only does this help develop a passion for reading in your children, it fosters a close relationship and lets you read more. Win, win, and win!

    You may have to be selective in the choice of reading material when you’re reading it aloud to your children, but there are plenty of great books for all ages. I fully agree with C.S. Lewis’ thoughts that a book that isn’t worth reading when you’re an adult isn’t worth reading when you’re a child.

    So there you have it!  See how easy it is to find more time to read if you truly want to do it?
    These tips are are pretty basic, but when put together they all add up. Ten minutes here, forty minutes there, and pretty soon, you’ve got a book read!  I hope this inspires you to make reading a priority in your life if you’ve decided that it is important to you.

    What are your thoughts?  How do you find time to read? Is there anything you’re spending time doing that you could cut back to allow more reading time?

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    Sneak Peek: My April Book Selection

     

    Are your kids picky eaters?  My kids are both very good eaters for the most part.  However, as they’re getting older I’m noticing they are becoming picky sometimes.  There have even been times when they gripe about the foods I put on their plates. Sometimes their likes change… mid-bite.  Don’t you hate it when they spit out their food?

    While searching online about ways to deal with picky kids I came across this gem that I’ll be reading in April: French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billion.  I’ve heard people sing its praises, and it’s been one of those books on my “to-read” list since last summer. Let me tell you a bit about it.

    As the cover of the book states, Karen Le Billon and her husband moved their family from North America to France where they “cured” picky eating, quit giving their kids snacks, and started living by 10 simple rules that eventually taught her kids to be happy eaters who eat healthy food.

    Over the course of the book French Kids Eat Everything, Karen shares her experience as well as the 10 rules she has adopted for her family that made her kids go from picky to happy, healthy eaters. Some of these rules are French food rules and some are French parenting styles. No matter, I’m sure there’s plenty of wisdom for us American parents in this book. I personally can’t wait to read it!

    And just for the record, this book isn’t all advice and information. There are recipes scattered throughout. Another thing I’m looking forward to trying… French recipes!  I love France and hope to visit there…someday.

    So do you have picky kids? Are you tired of struggling? Do you want to cut snacks out of your kids’ diet?  If so, this book may offer you some help, and I’m inviting you to join me in reading it too so we can find some nuggets of wisdom together!

    Happy Reading!

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    children's literacy, read aloud, reading tips

    My Best Tips for Reading Aloud to Young Kids

     

    Reading to my kids regularly is a fabulous, frugal, habit that I enjoy immensely. It costs little to nothing if you get your books from the library, and it’s a great way to spend quality time together.

    I’ve heard from other moms that reading to your kids isn’t automatically an easy thing to do, especially if you have kids of multiple ages or have a very active kid who doesn’t like to slow down to listen.

    So, in honor of National Read Aloud month, I thought I’d share some of my read aloud tips:

    1. Make it a habit.

    Read aloud every day.  Pick a reading time and put it on your schedule. After breakfast? At bedtime? After lunch? If you work it into your day, you’ll be more likely to do it and your kids will come to count on it.  We do our read alouds either in at bedtime or in the morning before daycare drop off.

    2. Stop before they get tired.

    Some kids can listen to books for hours. Some will only sit for 5 minutes – try to stop before your kids get antsy.  This also applies to you – stop before you get tired too.

    3. Turn the story into a craft.

    If you’re crafty like me, you can find easy projects to go along with most children’s books on Pinterest or other websites.  I’ll be sharing some of our book crafts on this blog as time goes on.

    4. Use audiobooks!

    These are great for quiet time, car trips or when you don’t have time to read books.

    5. Keep a list of books you’ve read together.

    Kids will enjoy looking back over the list and remembering their favorites. You might even get them to write a short review once they get older.  I hope my children will appreciate all of the books I have listed here on this blog that I’ve read to them over the years.

    6. Build up their attention spans.

    If your kids aren’t used to long read alouds, start small.  You can start with short picture books or even read a short chapter in a chapter book.

    7.  Read at least three stories a day.

    It may be the same story three times.  Research shows that children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read on their own.

    Other General Tips:

    • Have fun!
    • Let your child see you reading. (Gotta practice what you preach, right?)
    • Talk about the pictures.
    • Show your child the cover page. Explain what the story is about.
    • Run your finger along the words as you read them.
    • Make silly sounds; especially animal sounds, are fun to make.
    • Choose books about events in your child’s life such as starting preschool, going to the dentist, getting a new pet, or moving to a new home.
    • Make the story come alive. Create voices for the story characters.
    • Ask questions about the story. What do you think will happen next? What is this?  What color is this car?
    • Let your child ask questions about the story. Talk about familiar activities and objects.
    • Let your child retell the story (when they are old enough).
    • Visit your local library often.

    Reading with Your Baby

    Hold your baby on your lap while you read.

    I find that babies like…

    • board books (in case they try to chew on them or put them in their mouth)
    • pictures of other babies
    • rhymes and songs from the same book(s) over and over
    • when you point at pictures – this is how babies learn

    Reading with Your 1-Year-Old

    Let your toddler move around while you are reading if they want to.
    Name the pictures – this is how toddlers learn new words.
    Read labels and signs wherever you go.

    I find that 1-year-olds like …

    • the same book(s) read over and over
    • to choose and hold the book
    • books about food, trucks, animals, and children
    • books with a few words

    Reading with Your 2-Year-Old, 3-Year-Old or 4-Year-Old

    Let your toddler move around while you are reading if they want to.
    Read labels and signs wherever you go.
    Keep different books around the house and let your child choose.

    I find that toddlers like …

    • to help turn the pages
    • to fill in the words in a story they know
    • to point and name pictures
    • to hear the same book(s) over and over
    • books that are silly
    • animal books and animal noises

    I hope these tips help inspire you to start a read aloud habit with your kids if you’re not already doing so.  Read to your child daily because you love being with your child, not because it’s the right thing to do.

    What are your best tips for reading aloud to your kids?

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    What the Kids are Reading (in March 2015)

     

     

    Just as the title implies, this book has no pictures, but the kids love it!  Definitely a hit in our house.  It’s requested to be read over and over at bedtime.

     

    Shark in the Park by Phil Roxbee Cox
    A cute story about a pup who warns all the other animals there is a shark in the park.  This book is easy to pick up on and would be great to revisit again when the kids are able to read on their own.Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
    This is another one of the kids’ favorites.  They love the rhyming text and the illustrations.  There is even a recipe of how to make Bee-Bim Bop (a Korean dish) at the back of the book.Goodnight Already! by Jory John & Benji Davies
    A very funny story about a bear who just wants to sleep and a duck who wants to hang out all night.

     

    This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
    This book is written by the same author who wrote I Want My Hat Back which I’ve also read to my kids.  The ending can be seen as a bit dark (in both books), but I don’t have a problem with it as I think it teaches a lesson.  Read it for yourself and draw your own conclusion.  My kids seem to like this book.The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman
    This is soooo fun to read aloud and my kids just love it!  I can’t imagine having seven children, much less seven picky eaters…a delight!Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco
    Although my children haven’t shown any signs of being afraid of thunderstorms yet, I thought I’d pick up this book to read to them anyway.  I love the way the grandmother consoles her granddaughter by telling her thunderstorms are nothing more than ingredients used to make Thunder Cake…genius!
    The Alphabet Tree by Leo Lionni

    When a fierce wind threatens to blow all the little letters out of the alphabet tree, they must band together in words—and then sentences—to create a message that’s even stronger than the wind: peace on earth.
    Sam Sheep Can’t Sleep by Phil Roxbee Cox
    Another easy reader phonics book about a sheep who can’t sleep.
    My Mouth is a Volcano!  by Julia Cook
    This is a great book to read if you have children who are constantly interrupting when grown-ups are talking.  We’ll be revisiting this book again when the kids are a bit older.  Great story and illustrations!Rumble in the Jungle by Giles Andreae
    We adore this rhyming safari book!  The kids love pointing to the colorful pictures of all the different animals in the jungle.  So cute!
    Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth
    In Ten Little Ladybugs, one by one, ten tactile bugs disappear. Where did they all go? Young ones will love finding this out as they feel their way through the sturdy, colorful pages of this innovative book. The cute critters provide a hands-on learning experience and the rhyming text reinforces the counting concept. Interactive, educational, adorable – this magical countdown book adds up to a whole lot of fun…a winner!
    Take Away the A by Michael Escoffier
    One of the best alphabet books I’ve ever read and the kids love this one too!  It’s a good way to show children how different words are formed.
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