children's literacy, reading tips

    Finding the Good Stuff: How I Choose Books For My Kids


    Since I’m an avid reader, it’s important for me to intentionally approach my children’s literacy.  My ultimate goal for them is simple: to create lifelong readers and learners.

    Like many parents, I have high goals for my kids’ learning–a lengthening attention span, a love of language and the intricacies of words, and a developing vocabulary. Reading them good quality books helps us head in the direction of these goals.

    When it comes to choosing high quality books I usually steer clear of any dumbed-down literature for my children.  In the literary world, those types of books are referred to as “twaddle”, a coin termed by Charlotte Mason during the 19th century.

    Examples of “dumbed-down” books include most books based on kids’ television shows (Thomas the Train, Doc McStuffins, etc.), abridged versions of classic books that simplify the language and meaning, and books that don’t leave scope for a child’s imagination.

    As a parent, it’s my job to nourish my kids’ minds as well as their bodies.  Therefore, I pay attention to the quality of reading material they digest.

    When choosing books I do any of the following:

    • Look for children’s books with text, illustrations, and topics that appeal to me.  Yes, it’s important for me to like the book too since I’ll be the one reading it aloud.  If I don’t enjoy it, the kids will be able to tell and they won’t enjoy it either.
    • I follow the kids’ interests.  For example: whenever the kids show signs of a new interest, I jot it down. Then I go to the library and do some research on different books.
    • Browse different book lists.  No need to reinvent the wheel, right?  There are so many wonderful book lists have been written to help you discover the best books for kids.  I refer to these often.

    I truly believe by giving kids the best literature from the beginning, they’ll grow up to choose it for themselves.

    I hope this helps you in your search of great children’s books for your little ones.  Now, head to your local library, bookstore or online store and fill your world with the good stuff!

    adult books, currently reading

    What I’m Reading (in February 2015)


    Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

    Status: Finished

    I found this book to be very inspiring.  It was interesting to read about all the things she endured and the people she met along the way in her very emotional and compelling journey.  The quality of writing in this book is fantastic.  Cheryl is a wonderful storyteller who vividly captures her experience of hiking the PCT.  Now I want to see the movie starring Reese Witherspoon!


    The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
    by Marie Kondo

    Status: Finished

    WOW, this book is AMAZING!  I read the entire book cover to cover in five days.  I probably could have finished this in one full day, but between work, taking care of the house and the kids I had to squeeze it in when I could.  Anyway, this book was definitely a page turner for me from beginning to end.

    The topic of decluttering and tidying has always intriguied me, but Marie Kondo has definitely got me beat.  She spent more than half of her life researching tidying since the age of 5…that’s impressive!  Some people may find this book a bit over the top, but I loved every.single.word.  Who knew I would find a book about decluttering and tidying so intriguing?

    Now that I’ve completed the book, I’m going to start the process of tidying up our home using the KonMari Method.  I can truly see how this book can be life-changing and magical.  It just makes so much sense to me by putting your house in order you can put your entire life in order.  Kudos to Marie Kondo for writing such a well-written and inspiring book!

    The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective by Andy Andrews

    Status: Finished

    I started reading this book on a Thursday and was finished by Saturday of that same week.  This book is a quick read – only 156 pages in length, but it’s filled with so many great nuggets of wisdom that can truly be applied to your everyday life.

    I absolutely loved the chapters about the four dialects that people use to convey love.  It definitely gives you a whole new perspective and makes excellent comparisons between the four dialects and corresponding animals – brillant!

    I look forward to sharing the life lessons I learned from “Jones” in this book.  Everyone needs a “Jones” in their life – I know I do.  I can definitely see why this book has gotten such rave reviews on Amazon and other websites.  I’ll be purchasing this book for sure to add to my collection.  An excellent read!



    currently reading, read aloud

    What the Kids are Reading (in February 2015)


    Below is a list of the books I’m currently reading to the kids for this month.  Almost all of these books were borrowed from the library.

    Such a fun book with a great overall message to be grateful.  The kids really seem to get a kick out of this book.  Another great rhyming book with fun illustrations.

    Love this book…it’s a classic!  This book has it all: great illustrations, rhyming text, it’s thought provoking and imaginative.
    This is a counting book with awesome illustrations.  The kids like looking for the dragon on each page, especially my daughter, Sparkles.
    This is a really cute bedtime story for children.  The kids loved this book so much the first time I checked it out from the library that we ended up purchasing it.  This one is always requested to be read again during storytime.  My daughter can recite this entire book from memory on her own.
    You can never go wrong with a book by Karen Beaumont.  I love the rhythm and cadence in this book as well as the illustrations…poor sheep!  Another favorite for the kiddos.


    I recently discovered Julia Donandson and I haven’t been disappointed with one of her books yet.  A great story about a monkey looking for his mom.
    I just picked up this book on a recent library haul and I’m so happy I got this for the kids.  An adorable story about a duck who lost his new blue socks.
    The kids and I adore this book about friendship.  This is another one requested to be read again during storytime.
    My 14 month-old son (Mr. Tickles) absolutely loves this book and so do I.  Great story, wonderful cadence and illustrations.  I’ll purhcase this book eventually to add to our collection.  This is our third time checking it out from the library.
    Mem Fox is another author who does not disappoint.  Love this story!  I even learned a new vocabulary word from reading this.  Anyone know what an eiderdown is without Googling it?  Don’t worry, I didn’t know either.
    This is another one of Sparkles’ favorites.  I had to renew this book twice already!  We’ll be purchasing this one at some point too.  Lucy is such an lovable character!


    A lovely interactive book!  This book instructs kids to do something to the tree on each page.  As you turn the page the tree changes in some way.  Such a delight to read!


    I can see why this book has its’ title.  It has a little bit of everythng in it from shapes, to colors, to nursery rhymes.  The kids love all of the colorful illustrations – a winner!  This book also has a total of 119 ladybugs scattered throughout.  The kids and I like searching for the ladybugs on each page – so fun! 

    reading tips

    Why Keep Track of the Books You Read?

    You may be wondering why I want to keep track of all the books I read to my children.

    I started recording the books I read to the kids in a basic Excel document in January 2015 – alphabetical by author and title of the book.  I also I added the date we finished the book and my own personal rating since the kids aren’t old enough to give their ratings.

    I know you may be thinking, that sounds great, but what’s the advantage? Well, I started keeping track because at the time I was reading lots of books and I found it hard to remember which ones the kids and I liked most.  Since I stared tracking our reading I’ve found other, unexpected advantages:

    • It’s clear where my current reading has been lacking or thriving.
    • It’s makes it a whole lot easier to recommend books to others. By keeping track, I can just refer back to my handy-dandy list.  Or better yet, refer them to my blog.
    • I am able to see how our reading has evolved over time.
    • It’s easier to set reading goals for the kids and for myself.
    • I can see what types of books the kids enjoyed the most based on the topics of each book and the rating assigned.
    • It gives me insight to the changes I’ve made in my life life based on my reading choices. I love being reminded of what’s made me think, made me cry, made me change.
    • I enjoy being able to see metrics on my own reading. What portion of fiction books do I read verses nonfiction? What was the longest book I read this year?  Is any of this information life-saving? No, but it’s fun for me. 🙂

    Now that I have this blog in place I’ll be able to record the books I read as well as the books I read to the kids.

    Your turn:  How do you keep track of books that you read or books you read to your children?  Feel free to share in the comments.


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