How I Achieved Car Trip Silence…

How I Achieved Car Trip Silence…

Reading? They did, but only part of the time.

Were they sleep? Not that lucky.

Decided to be quiet just to be nice? Ha!

Here’s the deal–recently the kids and I took a trip home to see some friends and family, which is about a 3 hour drive. Since my children have decided that this is going to be the summer where they argue constantly (!!), and I was going to be the only adult in the car, I needed to come up with something that was going to keep them relatively engaged. Last year when we made this same trip, we tried our hand at listening to an audio book, Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. It worked pretty well, its a wonderful book, and they were into it. But I’ll be honest, having no other adult to talk to with cruise control on the interstate had me looking like this:


Naturally that is not a good look, so I had to switch back to music every so often.

This trip I decided to go with something slightly different…podcasts. Now I’m not risky enough to just try any podcast, I had to make sure it was something they would enjoy. Enter these lovelies:

Thanks to Kids Place Live on satellite radio, we’ve gotten familiar with both of these broadcasts. We listen to Mindy Thomas in the mornings during the school year and the kids love her goofy antics. We don’t catch the Story Pirates as often, but they take story written by kids, and turn them into plays they act out on the radio. When I told the kids about the options they were excited about both, so I was very optimistic.

For me, the difference between the podcasts and the audio book was the length of time. Although there are multiple episodes, each episode is less than an hour, sometimes only 30 minutes. So, I knew that if I did start to get tired again (which I did), there was an end coming near and I easily turn on music.

Now I expected them to enjoy the novelty of listening to the podcast, but what I did not expect was the silence that ensued as soon as I turned on The Story Pirates. After dealing with their bickering for what has felt like the longest first two weeks of summer ever, their silence was music to my ears. We listened to one episode of each podcast on the way down, and they begged for the same on the way back.

So, if you’re looking for something for your kiddos to listen to on a long car ride, I would definitely recommend either of these podcasts. Not only will they enjoy it, but you might too, and if nothing else, their silence will lower your blood pressure, I know it did mine!


A Little Competition Never Hurt…

A Little Competition Never Hurt…

I realize that there is truth and evidence to the idea that incentive-based reading programs don’t do much to create lifelong readers, which is always my goal.

And while the summer reading program in my children’s school district isn’t really incentive based, they can log on and see how long (& what) other kids in their school are reading. After logging on and seeing what their classmates were doing, this is what happened in my house:

You’ll have to excuse the messy hallway, but hey I’m not interrupting reading for something I can clean later. I’m actually going to grab my own book, get in my own comfy spot and join them.


Summer Reading Suggestion

Summer Reading Suggestion

So for many of us parents, the time has arrived for us to take control of the reins for keeping our kids’ minds sharp, AKA summertime.  Last year I crafted a series of summer reading posts that gave tips and/or suggestions to keep #RaisingReaders during the summer, which still hold true. Most families don’t/can’t spend all summer travelling, so summer can seem like a really long time if some routines aren’t created. This year however, I only have one suggestion, and its a simple, yet important one–don’t make reading a punishment.


If done right, reading is not only an enjoyable activity, but one that offers many benefits for your child, now and in the future. However, if it is something that is always seen as a punishment or an unfun activity for your child, the likelihood of them becoming a voracious reader decreases.

What do I mean by punishment? Well, there’s a difference between saying, “Go to your room and read a book!” versus “How about you go to your room and finish a book?” Just the way you present the idea of reading can have an impact. Even if your child has a summer reading log/club/assignment from this teacher, it should still be presented as a relaxing, enjoyable task. So to that end, make reading part of your summer routines. Even if your child isn’t reading every day, maybe you go to your local library’s weekly story time and check out books that day as well. Or you establish something like “Find a spot to read Friday” or “Teach me something new Tuesday” so that your reader knows that reading is part of what you do during the summer. Also, keep reading to them at bedtime part of your evening schedule. Plus, there’s also this:


Raising readers is important, and for 9 months of the school year you have a partner in this quest with their teacher. For these next few months however, the baton has been passed to you–run with it!

Back to School Time–Tips to Keep Reading Fun!

Back to School Time–Tips to Keep Reading Fun!

Around the beginning of August, my mother used to always warn us that she was going to start to get us ready for school, which chiefly meant going to bed earlier and waking up earlier, which I hated. I mean, why did we need the practice? Why did I have to waste quality evening TV time to go to bed or wake up out of my good morning sleep just to sit and stare for a good hour before I really wake up? I despised it.  Now fast forward 30 years, guess who’s doing the same thing with her own children?  Oops…

So, its about time for us to wind up those lax summer routines and get back into the routines for school. (And I’m not going to lie, waking up early is hurting me probably more than it is them.)  At any rate, as you also get back into those routines, I thought I’d share a resource that I thought had some great ideas and reminders when #RaisingReaders.

Click for 10 Tips to Make Reading Fun for Your Child.

This short article from Reader’s Digest gives some great tips that can help you make those bedtime reads enjoyable, even if your child is sulking because it’s earlier than its been for the past 2 months.  Good luck! 🙂

Art Parts by Kim Bogren Owen– A Book Review

Art Parts by Kim Bogren Owen– A Book Review

We were lucky enough to receive the book Art Parts: A Child’s Introduction to the Elements of Art, plus a couple of the companion journals from author Kim Bogren Owen. So since we’ve got some free time this summer, we turned on some Kids Bop music and decided to have some #SummerReading fun with this book.

The cool thing about this book is that not only do the readers get to learn about art, they get to practice it at the same time, which makes it real interactive. Here’s how we decided to go through it one afternoon.

The book is really nice and hardback with glossy pages, so even though it allows the child to draw in the book, the book lover in me wouldn’t allow me to let them do that, so I was super grateful that we had the journals, which have the same sketch pages as the book does.

Here’s the book and the journal

I read it to them first, but they got real antsy and ready to get down to drawing, so luckily the book is short and we went right to the journals. (If I had it to do over, I probably wouldn’t it have read it first, we would’ve done the journal and the book at the same time.)

So my kiddos got to demonstrate that they understood each element, things like shapes, lines, and color, and then (this is the part they really enjoyed) they got to create their own picture using that element.

The way the book is set up with the examples of each element, it worked out well for both of my kids, who have different strengths. My daughter, who is an art lover, did a really good job coming up with her own creative ways to use each element. My son on the other hand, didn’t feel like he could draw anything without looking at the examples. If I didn’t have those, he may have gotten too frustrated to continue.

We didn’t complete all the pages of the journal, but I told them they could keep them and finish whenever they wanted to, which they were excited about. The directions in the journal are simple enough that my 6 and 8 year old will be able to read them on their own. Below are some examples of the artwork my kids created.

Thanks to Art Parts, we really enjoyed some quality time together reading, drawing, and creating masterpieces. You can learn more information about author Kim Bogren Owen, including where to purchase her books at here.



#SoloBook by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess–A Review

#SoloBook by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess–A Review

I’ve been a fan of Kwame Alexander since I closed the cover of The Crossover a few years ago.  I couldn’t wait to find some child to give the book to, and I’ve been handing it out ever since, including giving all outgoing 5th graders a copy of The Crossover to read over the summer. I’ve also gotten familiar with Mr. Alexander’s other works, including Booked and Surf’s Up (which is a wonderful picture book). So when I saw the opportunity to be a part of the launch team for he and Mary Rand Hess’ new book Solo, I knew I had to apply.  A chance to read a new book AND share my admiration for Kwame Alexander with others? I’m in!

Solo, a book written in poetic verse, is about a young boy named Blade, the son of a rock star who loves to play guitar and is getting ready to graduate from high school. He thinks he has it together as much as any teenager can, he’s got a girlfriend he adores, a wealthy lifestyle, and college plans. Unfortunately, his plans go awry very quickly and very dramatically.  So, some soul searching ends up sending Blade to Ghana, where he attempts to put pieces of his life back together.

My review of this book–I loved the poetic style. I always use that as a selling point when recommending to students, particularly reluctant readers, but I’ve grown to believe that it takes a special, specific talent to be able to tell a story well through poetry instead of normal dialogue. It allows for memorable language and quotes, many of which I wanted to highlight or circle while reading.

Also, as the authors state, this book was a love letter to rock n roll. A cool feature of this book was that they have different songs throughout the book and give a little history behind each one. There are even playlists to go along with the book.


I had strong feelings about many of the characters in the book, and for me that is also a good sign. Some I strongly disliked, others I was rooting for the whole time. Its the kind of story that makes you want to keep turning the page to see what’s going to happen or yell at the pages because you’re frustrated with the characters. The characters and the setting were both atypical, which made for an interesting mind movie for me while reading.

Recommended for: Alexander and Hess both said that the youngest reader for this book is 8th grade, which I completely agree with. In addition, I think this would be another great one for reluctant readers, especially music lovers. So even though I won’t be reading this book with my babies for quite some time, I still recommend this book to those of you have older kiddos. The book is officially released on August 1st, 2017, and you can go to: for more information.




Blue Sky White Stars–A Book Review

Blue Sky White Stars–A Book Review

I’ll be honest, I don’t usually have a specific bedtime read for my babies for the 4th of July like I do for other holidays. However, thanks to the Twitterverse and my addiction to books, I discovered I already had purchased the perfect book earlier this summer– Blue Sky White Stars, written by Sarvinder Naberhaus and illustrated by Kadir Nelson.

Now, I realize you’re probably thinking, if its so perfect for Independence Day, why is she telling me about it now, after July 4th? Well, although the book is perfect for the 4th, it is not exclusive to that holiday.  Trust me, it’s not like you would be reading The Polar Express in June.

Blue Sky White Stars is a poetic tribute to the American flag and can be read at any time of year. It does not have many words in the book at all, but the words that are written by Sarvinder Naberhaus are powerful. Speaking of powerful, the illustrations in this book are AMAZING. I’ve been a fan of Kadir Nelson’s work for a long time (see: Henry’s Freedom Box or Abe’s Honest Words), but I was still in awe over these pictures. Both of my children were in amazed as well, so even though it took mere seconds to read the words on each page, we stared at the illustrations quite a bit longer.  Here are two illustrations from the book:

This one, also on the cover, was the favorite of my kids. They loved that you could see the fireworks in their eyes.
Although they were all great, this was my favorite.


Blue Sky White Stars is a great short read that can spark some great conversations with your children about the flag, America, and the power of wonderful illustrations. Although this time we did not have a lot of conversations about the words, this is definitely a book I look forward to rereading with my children as they get older!