Book Reviews Coming Soon!

Book Reviews Coming Soon!

We just got back from our family vacation, and I was thrilled to come home to #bookmail!

From the author Kim Bogren Owen, I received the book Art Parts: A Child’s Introduction to the Elements of Art.  I get to share this book with my art loving kiddos to see what we think, plus we got some extra supplemental things to go with the book that I can’t wait to use and share with you as well.


I’m also super excited to be a part of the #Solobook launch team! This is the latest book written by Kwame Alexander, with Mary Rand Hess. Personally, I have loved everything that Mr. Alexander has written, so I was super thrilled to be invited to this launch team. Now, chances are I won’t be sharing this book with my 8 and 5 year old kids just yet, but I cannot wait to read it and share it with you!


So, my goal is to get dive into #Solobook and explore some art parts with my kids this week so I can share all the goodness with everyone!


Gross sea animals–a bedtime read we loved!

Gross sea animals–a bedtime read we loved!

Every so often I get to read to both of my kids together at night, and every so often I pick a great book for us to enjoy. Two nights ago was one of those times.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we’re going on a trip to the aquarium, so I wanted to read some books with my kids that prepared us for that experience. They had been looking at books about ocean animals here and there, but here was our most recent book:


The lovely thing about this informational picture book by Brenda Guiberson is that she doesn’t tell you which creature is the most amazing, the reader gets to decide. And she doesn’t just mention your average whale or shark, no, she introduces you to animals you may have never heard of, like this one:


And then the animal explains to you why they are the best. We read about everything from animals with blue blood to animals who are as big as a school bus. My kids were amazed by facts on each page, and after I read each one, we decided if it was the most amazing creature, so it created a lot of good conversations between us.

This book isn’t very long, there’s no more than 10 animals to learn about. But it was a hit in our house, and great preparation for our upcoming vacation, I’m just upset that I have to return the book to the library!

(Also, I’m not the only one who thinks preparing for vacation through books is a good idea, check out this post from BookReviewMama.)


Five Reasons my Kids Listen to Books

Five Reasons my Kids Listen to Books

“Mom, a stegosaurus weighs 4 hundred, 4 thousand 8 million pounds,” says my son.

Me: “Okayyyy…now go back to bed.”

My daughter (sorta mumbling): “I knew about the crocodile, but that’s it.”

Now although it may sound like my children are talking in their sleep or doing every thing possible to avoid sleep (which may be), actually, their seemingly random sentences make sense.

I don’t remember why or how it started, my guess it was from a trip to the library, but many nights both of my children fall asleep listening to a book. No, I don’t mean that my voice is so soothing that it sends them both off into Dreamland. (I really wish it was, that’s a fantasy of mine, but it has yet to happen.) I mean that when we go to the library, one of the things that they check out is a book and CD of their choice.

Now you would think this would take me off the hook right? One less book for me to read each night? Nope, nada. This what they listen to after they listen to me and/or their father read to them.  

Although it may seem like an outdated practice with the CDs and all, there are actually a lot of advantages to them listening to books, and here are five that work for us. 

1– Its an easy way to do repeated readings. They listen to the story on repeat for a set amount of time, like 30 mins, so they get to hear a story multiple times (without me having to read it myself over and over. #momwin), which also helps expose them to what good expression sounds like. So when they do read, they hopefully adopt those same expression skills.

2– It is a way to expose them to higher vocabulary and more difficult text. My 5 year old son is able to follow along with the books, even though he can’t necessarily read them himself. It has improved his listening comprehension skills.

3– As my daughter started reading chapter books, she started listening to them as well. So she was no longer following along with text, but just listening to the story. She started listening to longer chapter books long before she was actually reading them.

4– Works on those listening skills. If your kids are anything like mine, that’s always a skill they need to work on. They have to follow along in the text, as well as listen for the often faint “ding” that tells them to turn the page.  Additionally, if they get distracted, they miss part of the story, so they tend to be more focused.

5– Its a wonderful way to allow them to hear books that they are interested in, that you may not want to read yourself. The quotes from the beginning of this post were from when my kids were listening to the following books:

Both interesting titles, but neither were really screaming bedtime read aloud to me, so I am grateful that they got them to listen to. And obviously, they were learning something from the books as well.

So, in your quest to raise readers, if you haven’t already, I would strongly suggest exposing your kids to some audiobooks. Whether its on CD, through something like Audible, or even through some other form of technology, its yet another way to help your child develop a love of books. If your children already listen to books, let me know if you have any title suggestions in the comments below, we’re always looking for new books!


Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day!


When I was looking for quotes about Father’s Day, most of what I saw about dads include words like “hero”, “anchor”, and “idol”, and I completely agree. Continue to be that hero or that anchor for your child(ren), by showing and/or telling them the importance of reading.  That’s easily a lifelong gift you can give to them that will have far reaching benefits. Happy Father’s Day!!


Going on a trip? I’ve got a tip! (Summer tip #3)

Going on a trip? I’ve got a tip! (Summer tip #3)

Like many of you, we’re planning on taking a vacation this year.  And in preparation for that little trip, I will be bringing in some books.  I started this a couple of years ago, when we took our first vacation to the beach. For that trip, I grabbed Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach. It was just a small gesture, something they could read before the trip, as well as on the drive down. However, it also helped them make connections with their beach experience.

Plus, who doesn’t love Pete the Cat?

It is something I also noticed both my kids experienced when they each made their trip to the zoo when they were in Kindergarten. In class they learned a lot about different animals they would see, and even had their own coloring book (that also had words) about those animals. And when we actually went on the field trip, they made references to their learning. For example, this year my son was explaining to me how orangutans are endangered as we are walking to the primate section. I was in shock, yet impressed at the same time.

So this year one of the highlights of our trip is going to be visiting an aquarium. Now luckily, my daughter is really into aquatic animals, and has already asked way too many times whether or not we’ll be seeing dolphins. She’s already got background knowledge, but during our next library trip we’ll look into getting some books, both fiction and non-fiction, that connect to that part of our trip.  Even if you’re going to visit family, trust me, there’s a book for that.

Not only will it make the vacation more enjoyable, it will also expand their vocabulary, and importantly, keep them reading over the summer.

In short, my tip is to somehow, someway, connect literacy to your vacation this summer. Not to mention, reading on vacation may buy you some silence in the car, plane, or train on the way to your destination, which will kick off your vacation the right way. 🙂

Have you made any connections with books for your vacations? Feel free to share below. Also, you can find my first two summer tips here and here.



Library Time!! (Summer Tip #2)

Library Time!! (Summer Tip #2)

So, last week I mentioned that I would share some tips for #RaisingReaders during the summer, so the progress that you guys have made in step with teachers all year doesn’t go to waste.  You can see that original tip here. My second tip is to take some time this summer to explore your local library.

There are obvious reasons for this suggestion, first and foremost being–its free! Summers can be long, “boredom” (yeah, I put it in quotes because let’s be real, its often not real boredom) can set in quickly, and before you know it, you’re spending dollar after dollar for their entertainment. I mean, I just spent $50 at the movies today for me and my 2 to see the Captain Underpants movie, and we cannot afford for that to happen on a regular basis. We can afford however, to spend $0 at the library for the same length of time as the 90 minute movie. Not only is the library free, unlike the park, which is also free, its air conditioned. And even for those of you who don’t live within the city limits of your local library, its still free to sit in the library and enjoy a book.

Secondly, there are SO many options at the library! Maybe your child has outgrown the books they have on their shelf, or maybe they’re just tired of them. Take them to the library, and there’s hundreds of books they can choose from. Is your child into dinosaurs? There’s books at the library for them. Stories about princesses? Got those too. Historical fiction? Yep. Books about teen angst? Tons of them. Books for you about dealing with teen angst?–got those too.

Now I do suggest to try to make a plan when it comes to going to the library, otherwise, if your kids are anything like mine, they will wander around the library aimlessly for a good chunk of the summer. And by make a plan, I mean simply asking, “So, what kinds of books do you think you want to check out this time?” on the way to library. Also, when in doubt, have your child talk to the librarian, they can usually steer them in the right direction.

Lastly, most public libraries usually have some sort of summer reading programming for the summer, which can include incentives for reading books like trinkets and stickers, as well as activities, such as crafts or guests like magicians. I would suggest looking into what your local library has to offer.


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Here’s our library’s summer booklet. My kids are excited with all the options inside.



Story times are also popular at libraries during the summer.

So, the next time you hear, “I’m bored, can we go to the movies?”, for the 40th time, try steering the car towards the library instead of the movie theater. (Did I mention I spent $50?)



Summer’s coming–let’s set some goals! (Tip #1)

Summer’s coming–let’s set some goals! (Tip #1)

So, its that time of year! School is about to be out (if it isn’t already) and summer is upon is. That means time for BBQs, vacations, sleeping in, and if we’re not careful, the Summer Slide.

Image result for summer slide
This is NOT a slide you want your kids on…

Summer Slide is that little thing that happens if your child doesn’t do any learning over the summer. I know, I know, no learning, how does that even happen? One would imagine that it would be difficult to do, but trust me, its possible.  At any rate, summer is definitely time to make reading fun, and one of the ways to do this is to set some goals!

If your children are even slightly competitive, like my children are, then setting a goal with them may be a shortcut way to get them motivated to read during the summer.  As I’ve mentioned before, my daughter and I are reading the Whatever After series, a hilarious series of fractured fairy tales. We just started reading book 5, and there’s 10 in the series. Now we do really enjoy the books, but we’ve been pretty lax in reading them back to back, as I mentioned before. So, as we were enjoying the end of book 4, I said to her,

“Hey, how about we try to finish the series this summer?”

“Yeah, that’s a great idea!” she replied. And then she began plotting how we would get them all in before summer was over.  Now, do I really want to finish this series? Definitely. Do I think we can actually read all 5 books before school starts in August? Ehhh.  But the point is, it motivated my daughter to keep books on the brain over this long summer. It helps that she’s like an elephant and doesn’t forget anything, so I’m sure if I start to slack at all, she’ll remember our plan and get us back on track.

I haven’t come up with a goal with my son yet, and I need to get on it because we are still developing his love of books and reading, so he has a greater chance of getting on the dreaded slide.  I’m thinking that since he’s really into these leveled National Geographic Kids books, we might set a goal of him being able to read some Level 2 books himself by the end of the summer. The books have wonderful photos and illustrations, so he spends a lot of time analyzing and admiring those, which is fine, that’s what they’re there for, but I would like him to read a tad bit more.

My son loves these books, they go from “Pre-reader” to level 3

The #RaisingReaders suggestion here is this: try to set some sort of reading goal with your children this summer. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a specific number of minutes or number of books. It could be a goal to try something new, like starting chapter books, or starting a new series. Your goal could even be a parent/child goal, like increasing the amount of time you read together.  Whatever it may be, the intent is to make sure that the Summer Slide is one that your child does not go down.

I’ve got more ideas and suggestions for how to keep #RaisingReaders over the summer, so remember to tune back in or follow this blog to get regular updates.