Good Reads for Kids – September 2014

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Back to school! This month’s focus will be on non-fiction books we used for school so far in 2014. Perfect for book reports or to add more dimension to something they are currently studying.

1. The Butterfly – A child’s view of Nazism in France.

2. What Is the World Made of? – A short and sweet look at solids, liquids, and gases.

3. Lily’s Victory Garden – An inspiring tale of what one girl did to help aid with efforts in World War II.

4. Lazily, Crazily, Just a Bit Nasally – We think all of Brian Cleary’s language and math books are fabulous fun.

5. The Wall – I may or may not have cried through this book. About the Vietnam War memorial.

6. The Boy Who Loved Math – All about mathematician Paul Erdos.

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Good Reads for Grown-ups – August 2014 – Fiction

I should probably do this more often, but since I don’t, I will only post about the books I can remember reading. And if they weren’t memorable, they probably weren’t worth writing about anyway, right? Some of these were read so long ago that I don’t have a lot to say about them, so I’ll leave you to your own research.

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Ten books I’ve enjoyed over the past couple years are:

The Thornbirds – Not something I would usually pick by its cover, but it was well-written and haunting.

The Shoemaker’s Wife – Heart-wrenchingly beautiful tale that follows a pair of kids from the Italian Alps to New York to Minnesota.

The Forgotten Garden – I remember enjoying this volume by Kate Morton a couple years ago; she seems to like writing about folks who have little memory of their past and go on expeditions to find out more.

The Secret Keeper – Another Kate Morton novel. They’re long, but I do find them captivating. This one is based in the present (2011) and in 1941 bomb-ridden London. Surprise twists.

The Cuckoo’s Calling – Written by J.K. Rowling under a pseudonym (Robert Galbraith), this mystery kept me guessing. It’s been a while since I’ve read a true mystery novel, and I found myself enjoying it again!

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – Compelling, well-written. I had consumed quite a bit of summer “fluff​” before I read this and it seemed great by comparison.

The School of Essential Ingredients – I want to eat all of Bauermeister’s books, but this one is the most edible. A feast for the senses.

A Week in Winter – I really enjoyed the character development in this one. For Chicky to have gotten away with her lie, it’s a bit much to believe, but the story that came after that was delightful. Maeve Binchy is the author. I’ve read a couple of her other novels, and I always enjoy the Irish setting.

The Rosie Project – A man who doesn’t know he has Asperger’s attracts an unlikely lady friend. Quirky and charming.

The Book Thief – Heartwrenching look at WW II from inside Nazi Germany. Character development is wonderful, the players captivating.

Good Reads for Kids – August 2014

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This month I’m focusing on poetry. There are some great poems out there for kids, and there are some truly crummy ones. Let’s focus on the good ones!

1. Oxford Illustrated Book of Children’s Poems – Not every poem in this book was our favorite (some I didn’t even read to the kids), but the classics plus illustrations made it worth checking out.

2. A Meal of the Stars – Anja originally didn’t want to read this book because “it looked boring.” But the puzzle of figuring out which way to read each poem lured her in at once, as did the clever illustrations. Bravo, local author Dana Jensen!

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3. The Real Mother Goose – Classic children’s poems (some quite frightening!) as you remember them, and some as you don’t. The price on this is outstanding

4. Where the Sidewalk Ends – Shel Silverstein’s poetry tomes have become classics in their own right, and Anja regularly picks this one up to read the silly, somewhat sordid verses. They usually rhyme, which appeals to her at age six.

 

Good Reads for Kids – June 2014

Last month I wrote about some of the chapter books we’ve read this year. This month I will highlight some of our favorite picture books.

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We check out probably 50-60 books per month from the library. I thought that seemed like a lot until I heard my cousin (who also homeschools) had 76 out at once. Haha! So much of our education is dependent on reading; we want our kids to enjoy it and actually DO it a lot. We keep our library bin and our kids’ bookshelves in their room (and let’s be honest, our coffee table, end tables, kitchen table, buffet…any flat surface) well-stocked with reading materials.

Here are some favorite picture books we’ve read so far this year:

1. Here’s a Penny – The kids really enjoyed the simple tales of Penny and his neighbor Patsy. (Okay, so this one’s technically still a chapter book, but it has more pictures than your average chapter book.)

2. Grasshopper on the Road – Anja read this one aloud to Markus. They laughed a lot. We are HUGE Arnold Lobel fans. Can’t go wrong with almost any of his books. See also Small Pig.

3. Cowardly Clyde – Auntie brought over this book. Our children will choose almost any book with a dragon in it, so this was a hit. And what I said about Lobel above? Same with Bill Peet. Love almost any of his books.

4. The Children’s Book of Virtues – A collection of fables, folk tales, stories and poems that inspire character in young ones (and adults!).

5. Going West – Even though I’ve read some of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s actual stories to Anja, she (and Markus) still really get into these picture books based on the Little House series.

6. The Best Nest – A P.D. Eastman classic about learning to love the home you’ve got. Anja has read many of his books aloud.

7. Up North at the Cabin – This doesn’t read like fiction because it’s based on real places and events. If you know what lake country is like in the Midwest, you’ll find it to reflect that lifestyle perfectly.

8. Audrey Bunny – I fell in love with the story before realizing that the author is Angie Smith, whose blog I read regularly when I first began this one. A tear-jerker.

9. If I Ran the Zoo – Dr. Suess is a winner in our house almost every time. The man was a genius.

10. How To – Not much word content, but makes up for it in imagination.

What picture books have you enjoyed lately? Any favorite authors? Do share!!

Good Reads for Kids – May 2014

Since we’re on a reading kick this month, I thought I might start a monthly feature about what kids’ books we’ve recently enjoyed. My kids are both avid readers and have both loved books from a young age (I sure hope that continues!). As they have gotten older, I’ve gotten more choosy about which books we have in the house. I want them to enjoy reading, but I also want them consuming decent literature.

Over the past couple of months we’ve done quite a few chapter books. Here are the kids’ favorites:

1. The Cricket in Times Square

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2. The Boxcar Children

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3. The Mouse and the Motorcycle

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4. Henry Huggins

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5. Ralph S. Mouse

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6. The Bobbsey Twins of Lakeport (first in a series)

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7. Redwall

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I read all these books as a kid (except Redwall, which Husband introduced to me in college), so it was great fun for me to re-read them with my own children. I was surprised that Markus could keep up with the plots, but even in Redwall he seemed to pay great attention and remember tiny details. If it’s helpful to reference my kids’ ages, they are 4 and 6 1/2. I wouldn’t say any child could handle Redwall, but my son loves battles of any kind, and my husband did a good job of editing anything inappropriate as he read.

What are your favorite chapter books for littles? I’m always on a quest for recommended titles. Some that are on our list for this spring and summer are Martin’s Mice, Betsy-Tacy, and In Grandma’s Attic.

The Post Alpha-Bits Little Free Library is up!

We’ve had quite the weather this April, from continued snow to a couple days of sun back to super-cold and then a week of rain. All that to say my lovely friend Maggie was finally able to get the Post Alpha-Bits Little Free Library up and ready for use this weekend!

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It is located at 15858 Harwell Avenue in Apple Valley, with a cute little path leading to it from the sidewalk. We would love to have you stop by and check out a book! Now that it’s finally outdoor weather, come out for a walk with the family, or bring your grandkids. If you have a book you/your kids have outgrown and would like to share it with the neighborhood, drop it off! It really is a community endeavor. We all win when kids have easy access to age-appropriate books, and we can all contribute to each other’s learning and access to great literature! And you can’t miss it–it has the Super Why? characters on the side. 🙂

Anja and I stopped by today, and she checked out a Berenstain Bears book and left a little note in Maggie’s notebook. She was very excited!

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Do you live too far away to stop by our LFL? There is probably one in your neighborhood, too! Check out this map.

We are so thankful to Post Alpha Bits for the opportunity to share all the literacy fun with our community. My son continues to love Alpha Bits as a snack in the afternoons, plus there’s the added fun of picking out the letters and spelling his name with his snack! Here are some recipe ideas using Alpha Bits. Click here for more information on Alpha-Bits cereal.

To learn more about Little Free Library and how you can get involved, find them on Facebook and Twitter.

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I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Post Alpha Bits and Little Free Library

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Recently I was contacted by Post Foods and Little Free Library to see if I would consider partnering with them to host a Little Free Library and promote literacy. I just so happened to have a conversation with a friend during that same window of time, and she mentioned that she has always wanted a Little Free Library in her yard. So, she and I are partnering together to make this happen for our community!

Little-known fact: I used to be the Literacy Coordinator at a YMCA before- and after-school program when we lived in North Dakota. I am VERY passionate about reading good books to my children. Teaching them to read and reading good books myself (so they see me enjoying learning) are on the top of my educational goals for them. So this should be fun!

We received some Alpha-Bits cereal in the mail. The kids are always excited to get a package, but when they found out it was for them, it turned to all-out glee. I asked if I could take pictures of them with their cereal, and Markus started trying to bust into it within seconds. Haha!

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I used to eat Alpha-Bits as a kid, so of course I had to try some. It doesn’t taste quite how a remember it, but thankfully I have my own Post cereal that I treat myself to sometimes: Great Grains. The kids had Alpha-Bits on their yogurt for snack.

The next day we shared some with my friend’s daughter, who doesn’t even know that she’s going to have a library in her front yard soon. The kids did some Snacktivities (fun little word coined by Post) like sorting letters and writing their names. And then they gobbled down handfuls of cereal. 🙂

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(Markus had trouble finding an “M” in his pile.)
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Next time I think we’re going to separate vowels from consonants before eating, and then I might bring out the big guns: construction paper and glue. So many fun things to do with edible letters!

To learn more about Little Free Library, visit them on Twitter or Facebook or their website.

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I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

I Like Posts About Books

I’ve been thinking since, oh….2010 or so, that I should write a post with book reviews. Until I get to that, I think I’ll just keep taking shots of my kids reading. ‘Cause it’s easier. 🙂

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I love his little turtle neck. I love his neck, period.

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And there’s that sweet eyebrow raise again.

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Pwease Wead Me A Book?

How many times have I been able to resist this nonverbal question?  Approximately NONE times.  The last few months he has started to drag a couple over to me, chuck them in my lap, and then climb in himself.  I thought, since he didn’t have book fever starting at 2 mos. old like Anja did, that he might not enjoy reading, but oh boy does he!

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Simple Woman’s Daybook 02.23.11

Outside my window…the snow piles again, softly covering the old, dirty snow. I am thankful for it – the white instead of the muddy blackish-brown.

I am thinking…about children’s prayers. Did you have a simple prayer you were taught as a child, or did you pray for specific things?

I am thankful for…a kitchen where I can create, even if it is currently quite messy.

From the kitchen…Pesto Pasta.

I am wearing…jeans, a white long-sleeve t-shirt and a brown poncho.

I am creating…a batch of steamed carrots for my son.

I am going…to a MOPS Swap today!

I am reading…One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

I am hoping…that my move-in can wait until April. Funny how things change.

I am hearing…the computer’s hum and the squeak of my daughter’s (my old) bed.

Around the house…is a tent, a bunch of scrapbooking supplies, and a pile of mail that needs going through.

One of my favorite things…is peanut butter.

A few plans for the rest of the week: chiropractor, small group, touring a swimming facility where Anja will take lessons, and hopefully more home renovations.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing…my sweet boy, wondering why I’m making him lie on the floor for pictures.

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Read more Daybook entries here.