Book Review Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers

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.)


Book Review Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers Uncategorized

Flexibility: A two-chapter kind of night…


I’m pretty predictable when it comes to child-rearing, and I’m so ok with it. I was one of those moms with a strict feeding schedule when my kids were babies, our weekday mornings are pretty routine, and of course our bedtime rituals are pretty consistent, minus the nights I am ready to pull out my hair (OMG how many times do I have to tell them to pick up dirty underwear?) or nights like this night.

My daughter and I are currently reading the Whatever After series. We’re on book #4, and although we have purchased a couple of them, most of the time we check the books out from the library. Money saver of course, however, it also means that we have to get through the book in the two weeks that we have it.

if the shoe fits 6
This series is wonderful! My child and I both love it.

So that shouldn’t be a problem, right? I mean, I love to read, she loves to read, we both love this series, no issues, right?  Well, remember where I explain my parenting style as routine and pretty much creature of habit? That pretty much means we do a chapter a night. It’s just long enough for us to maintain interest, get our giggles in, and keep the story going.  But its not long enough for us to finish it in two weeks, especially since there’s more than 14 chapters, and there’s usually an errant night here or there where I read with both kids, my husband may read with her (this is our thing, he’s not allowed to read it) or (gasp!) we miss a night of reading. So often, we either renew it or return it and end up having a long gap before we are able to finish the book.

On this particular night, we are only on chapter 6 of 19, its Monday, and the book is due back on Saturday! We are just getting into the thick of the plot and as usual, we don’t want to stop reading after I finished chapter 6. She wanted me to keep going, and that’s not unusual, however, what was unusual was my decision to actually read another chapter. Was it super short you ask? Not particularly. But you know, sometimes a mama has to switch it up a bit. I could tell she was surprised that I decided to keep going, but I didn’t make a big deal about it and neither did she. Now did she still ask me to read a 3rd chapter? Of course. Did it happen? Not on your life. Baby steps.

My take away for you from this evening’s event is to switch things up every once in a while. Routines are great and most of the time they make my life a lot easier. However, I am aware enough to know that while I want my children to be organized people and I want them to see the benefits of routine, I also want them to understand that flexibility is also important. So it is just as important to me to show that side to my children. Also, as a book lover myself, sometimes you just can’t put the book down!



*The Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski are books about Abby and her younger brother Jonah who have found a magic mirror that can transport them to various fairy tales. Somehow, some way, the two of them always make some sort of mistake that could ruin the story, and they have to fix the fairy tale before they find their way back home. So, if you have a younger child (1st or 2nd grade) who loves princesses and fairy tales, or loves to giggle, this may be the read aloud for you. If your child has the same interests and is older, then this may be one they want to read independently, although I still think it would make a good bedtime together read for them too. 🙂

Book Review Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers Uncategorized

Bedtime Book Recommendation– A Month of Bedtime Stories

Through the glorious website Bookbub, I get daily emails about deals on ebooks. And these are not just regular deals, but $5.99 or less deals. You can choose the categories/genres of books you would like to read, as well as your ebook provider, Amazon, Kindle, etc. One recent find of mine is our current bedtime read, A Month of Bedtime Stories, authored by Neil Roy McFarlane.


This is an adorable book that, as the title suggests, is made for reading to your child at night. The interesting thing about this book is the point-of-view, because the author is talking directly to you (your children). We’ve read 3 stories so far, and each time I as the reader explain what adventures my children had during the day, which usually include a trip into the forest and some wacky talking animals.

For example, there’s one story that involves your child looking for potatoes, but ending up in a flying saucer with an alien. There’s usually some sort of potion or something that makes your child “forget” everything that just happened, which explains why you’re retelling them about their adventure that evening.

Here’s some reasons why I’m recommending this book:

1. The different point of view is a welcome change and changes the dynamic of our time together, they get to be the main character of the story, not someone else.

2. The stories are short. I’m reading them on my Nook, but they don’t appear to be more than 7-8 pages each, which is perfect timing to wind down at night.

3.  Also, the book has no illustrations, so the fact that the stories are short works out well for my 5 year old, who is a visual reader and learner. I feel like if they were any longer, I would lose him.

4. The stories are funny. So far we’ve encountered a cow sleeping in a tree, a bee in a submarine and an alien who looks a lot like a dog, and I’m only 3 stories in! Both kids find the stories giggle-worthy.

5. The stories seem to have a pattern. There’s always a part about going into the forest in the beginning, and each story ends with three cheers for your child and “hip hip…”. This is a great clue for my son to know that the story has come to an end.

The only caveat I’ve had with the book so far is that the author is from the UK, so in one story he talked about pounds instead of dollars, so I had to explain to my children what pounds were. Otherwise, we’ve had a great time with our bedtime reads, and I can’t wait to read the next 27 stories!

Book Review Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers Uncategorized

Always read it yourself first–Earth Day edition

So, not long ago one of our bedtime reads was The House That Jane Built, and I felt really good about starting a conversation with my children about how they could possibly help the less fortunate, so I thought I’d try to continue that with a similar book a few days later.

To help celebrate Earth Day, classes in the school I work at will be reading this book:


The Water Princess is based on a true story about a young African girl who has to walk miles with her mother each day, just to get the water her family will use to do the most basic things, i.e. clean clothes, cook food. I wanted to give my babies some perspective about things that are expectations to us are luxuries to others.

And as usual, I brought it home first to read it to my kids beforehand. Standard protocol, I read through it at some point, just to make sure everything’s kosher and my reading of the book will be of thespian quality. (ha!)

The kids were excited about reading it, so I was all set to impart some more wisdom and continue my quest to mold multi-dimensional people (ha! again). We were about halfway in, when we came to this page:


This book is beautifully poetic, but because of its setting in Africa, it also has a couple of French words, including “maman”, which means “mom”. But when I got to that page, I stuttered.

“My ma-man?”

“My mama-n?”

As I’m trying to figure how to say the word, my children are cracking up laughing. Granted, it is kinda funny, but hey, I was trying to help these people learn about another culture, and I’ve completely lost them. Ugh.

Eventually I was able to finish the book, and it has a nice little “About this story” type page at the end of the book, so I started to explain to them how it was based on a true story, and Gie Gie, the main character, had to walk 4 miles one way each day just to get water. My giggling son was already out of the room, but I got to have a brief conversation with my daughter about how this is a big deal. Of course her solution, after being excited to not have to go to school, was to have me teach her on the walk to get the water, once she realized that not going to school at all was vastly different than missing a day occasionally to have to get water.

So I did get a little teaching in, but the moral of this story is, at least glance at, if not read through a picture book (chapter books are more difficult to read through) before you share it with your children. It makes for a smoother read on your part, as well as increases your chances of maintaining their interest in the story.

(Also, this book is great for Earth Day, plus I love Peter H. Reynolds’ illustrations!)


Book Review Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers Uncategorized

Read Aloud #4–The House That Jane Built

As March comes to a close, my last read aloud to recommend for Read Aloud month is an Informational story–The House That Jane Built: A Story About Jane Addams, by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Kathryn Brown.


I stumbled upon this book during our most recent trip to the library, and although I had heard of Jane Addams, I can’t say that I know a whole lot about her, so I decided to pick it up.  As usual, I read the book to myself before I shared it with the kids (just in case it ends up a dud), and after finishing, I knew I had to read it to my babies.

After the election, I wrote a post about trying to raising kind children (read post here), and I was reminded of that after reading this book. Jane Addams started her work with the less fortunate because she knew she had the means to do so, something she realized as early as age 6. So I figured this would be a great read aloud to start the conversation with my children about how they can help make the world a better place.

As I read the book, I had their undivided attention the whole time, which I was honestly surprised about, and then after the last sentence, “With all that she did, both inside and outside the house that Jane built, her childhood wish to help fix the world came true”, I asked them what they would do to help fix the world. Silence. A long silence. So I followed up: “You know you guys are more fortunate than some other people, so what would you do to help those people?”

5 year old response: “If someone didn’t have a penny, or a nickel, or a dime, or a quarter, or a dollar (yeah he went through them all), then I could give them some of my money.”

Ok, I’ll take that.

8 year old response: “You know those things for people who don’t have enough food? I could send them $10 so then they can eat.”

Ok…so clearly our next conversation needs to be about ways to help others that isn’t monetary, but tonight was a start.

So, if you need to have that starter conversation about helping others with your own children, or if you’ve already done that and need more examples, or if you just need a good informational book to share with your children….this may be the one for you.