currently reading, read aloud

    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.
    children's literacy, storytelling

    A Simple Way to Improve Your Storytelling Skills

    When I first discovered eeBoo after reading about them online last December, I was instantly impressed.  Their games, puzzles, flash cards, and wall art are exactly the kind of toys we like to have in our home.  They are colorful, educational, and made of high-quality recycled materials.

    One of the many products eeBoo produces is an award-winning early literacy product called Tell Me a Story Creative Story Cards.  These cards are my “secret weapon” I use when I want an alternative to reading books and they are perfect for honing my storytelling skills.  Recommended for ages 3 and up (although I use them with my 1 & 2 year olds), the deck of 36 beautifully illustrated cards assist children in creating their own stories.

    An endless number of stories are possible by placing any number of the cards in any order. Short stories, long stories, kids create a new story every time they shuffle the deck. The whole family can make a game out of the cards, by taking turns picking cards and telling a story together. Parents, grandparents and teachers will find the cards useful as an aid in their own storytelling.  Brilliant!

    Create a Story Cards: Volcano Island

    Here’s the basic breakdown of how the story cards work. You lay out all the cards.  Then you choose, or have your child(ren) choose, the cards they find interesting.  Choose as many or as few cards as you like, and lay them out in an order that tells your story.

    Then you go through the cards, describing them in any way you or your child(ren) wishes to tell the story of your making.  And that’s it! Super simple and a really fun way to work the imagination and gain better understanding of the process of storytelling.

    eeBoo offers four different sets of story cards: Circus Animal Adventures, Fairy Tale Mix-Up, Mystery in the Forest, Volcano Island, Animal Village and Little Robots Mission. Sized small at about 4″ x 5″, the cards pack easily in a bag, perfect for travel and come in a sturdy sliding tray box. Because the set is priced reasonably at $9.95, we plan on buying a few of the other sets for more storytelling possibilities. I imagine you can even mix the sets together and make up some pretty wacky stories!

    These open-ended card sets allow for endless variations on games and activities based upon storytelling. The simplest activity is for a young child to choose three cards from the deck and then tell a story (or a sentence) that incorporates the three items shown on the card. As a child begins to gain confidence in telling stories, the number of cards may be increased, or additional players may be added to take turns to create a cooperative story, a fun social group activity.

    My 2 1/2 year-old daughter has a pretty awesome imagination already, and I’ve really enjoyed listening to her tell me some excellent stories. I’ve been particularly pleased because the set encourages her to speak her mind and become a little more vocal, skills that she needs to practice before she starts Pre-K3 this fall.

    I hope you found this helpful.

    Happy Storytelling!

    read aloud, reading tips

    March is National Read Aloud Month


    March is National Read Aloud Month, started by Read Aloud 15 Minutes.  Reading aloud every day is the single most important thing you can do to prepare your child to learn.  Pretty cool, right?  Best of all, it’s completely free!

    When every child is read aloud to for at least 15 minutes every day from birth, more children will be ready to learn when they enter kindergarten, more children will have the literacy skills needed to succeed in school, and more children will be prepared for a productive and meaningful life after school.

    These facts are at the heart of the Read Aloud 15 Minutes campaign, to get have every child, from birth through age 5 read aloud to each day. Babies are born learning, making these years so crucial to development. Reading aloud for just 15 minutes a day for the first five years impact babies and children through:

    • Language development
    • Literacy skill building
    • Instilling a love of reading
    • Brain development
    • Knowledge gained and shared
    • Bonding

    Only 48 percent of young children in the United States are read aloud to each day. March is a great time to increase those numbers. Join me and read aloud to a child during Read Aloud Month.


    adult books, currently reading

    What I’m Reading (in March 2015)

    The Fringe Hours: Making Time For You

    Status: Finished

    Every woman has had this experience: you get to the end of the day and realize you did nothing for you. And if you go days, weeks, or even months in this cycle, you begin to feel like you have lost a bit of yourself.  While life is busy with a litany of must-dos–work, parenting, keeping house, grocery shopping, laundry and on and on–women do not have to push their own needs aside. Yet this is often what happens. There’s just no time, right? Wrong.The Green Ember by S.D. SmithStatus: Finished
    Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.
    Status: Finished

    An Invisible Thread tells of the life-long friendship between a busy sales executive and a disadvantaged young boy, and how both of their lives were changed by what began as one small gesture of kindness.

    My Thoughts:  Good book.  Overall, I enjoyed it and found it interesting how the two main characters were so different, yet so alike in other ways.  I do believe there is an invisible thread that connects us to people we encounter in our lives.


    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! 


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