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Book Review Parenting Raising kids Uncategorized

Why I Still Read Picture Books To My Kids

My daughter is 12 years old, and my son is 9. They regularly read chapter books, and rarely pick picture books off the shelf. But I still do.

There are a variety of different reasons why I’ve read to my kids from an early age, including lots of academic benefits. However, one benefit is the bonding we do during that time, even if it’s over silliness. Recently we’ve read a couple of books where my kids were older than the intended audience, but we still had a ball enjoying them together.

The other night we read Vinny Gets a Job by Terry Brodner. This cute story is about a dog who decides he needs to help his owner and also get a job. The adorable thing about this book is that each time Vinny applies for a job, the employers don’t seem to realize that he’s a dog…until after they’ve hired him and he does something only a dog would do. We giggled and made sarcastic comments throughout the story, wondering how these people didn’t realize he was a dog. Even though for us it was unbelievable, we bonded while reading the book.

Soon after we read Vinny Gets a Job, we read I am Not a Chair! by Ross Burach. Again, I don’t believe my 10 and 12 year old children were the author’s intended audience. However, we still giggled at how crazy it was that this poor giraffe could not catch a break, because everyone kept sitting on him like he was a chair. As a bonus, we got a lesson about getting the courage to speak up for yourself.

These two books are only a couple of the more recent examples of picture books that my kids and I still enjoy together as bedtime reads. Its an easy way for us to spend some relaxing quality time together, something that we need more often than not. If you’re looking for the same thing, I would suggest picture books, regardless of your kids’ age.

Keep #RaisingReaders!

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Raising kids Raising Readers Uncategorized

Black History that May Be New to You

One of the things my kids and I really enjoy is reading about important figures in history we knew nothing about previously, but are grateful to learn about. It makes us feel special to learn about someone’s contributions that not many other people know about. So for Black History Month, I would like to share some of those books that we’ve read that highlight people or events you may not have heard of before.

Do you know who Sarah Goode is? We didn’t before we read this book. Sarah Goode was the first African-American woman to receive a patent and was the inventor of those cool cabinet beds. We enjoyed learning about Sarah’s skill at carpentry, as well as her persistence to make sure her hard work was patented. You can read more about the book Sweet Dreams, Sarah by Vivian Kirkfield here.

Sometimes its not a new person that we knew very little about, but a moment or era in history that we learned about, which was the case when we read, Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town, by A. LaFaye, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell. This fictional book teaches us about the very real time after the end of slavery, when many Black people moved to the midwest and became Homesteaders. Definitely a book that made me want to learn more about this time. You can read my review of the book here.

Lastly, Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Finds His Groove by Barry Wittenstein and illustrated by Keith Mallett is our last bedtime read that introduced us to someone new. In this case, its about jazz musician Sonny Rollins, a Again, we really enjoyed Sonny’s passion for jazz and how committed he was to his passion, even when he had to step away because the fame got to be too much. Here’s where I talk more about this book.

Also, readbrightly.com is one of my favorite go-tos when I need new book ideas for the kids. They have an article on their website right now that has even more titles that can help expand your kids’ knowledge while #RaisingReaders. You can find that here.

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Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers Uncategorized

The Amazing Powers of Cat Kid

I absolutely LOVE Dav Pilkey, the author of graphic novel series such as Captain Underpants and Dog Man. Are they my personal favorites? Nada. As much as I love books, the likelihood of you finding me with a Ricky Ricotta book in my hand are pretty low. However, Pilkey is the one author that I know will get my son to crack open a book and read it from start to finish, and for that, I love Dav Pilkey.

Now it gets better…not only does he get my child to read, but now he might get him to write too?! So in Dav Pilkey’s latest series Cat Kid Comic Club, the main characters are writing short comic stories, which has inspired my child to do the same thing! Naturally, he comes up with this great idea when he should be falling asleep (read more about his sleeping/reading habits here), but I’m still thrilled with it. In this book, the characters even talk about how to come up with ideas to write about, and my child used that philosophy to brainstorm ideas. Let me introduce you to…Robo Cheata

So, I share all this to say two things: 1) Dav Pilkey does a great job of getting kids into books, so if you think your child is remotely interested in silly stories, he’s your guy and 2) it may not be Dav Pilkey, it may be a different author your child wants to read that you aren’t excited about, but if they’re into it–let your child read try it out.

Remember, your goal is #RaisingReaders!

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Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers Uncategorized

A Few of Our Fave #BedtimeReads from 2020

Well, the kids and I did get quite a bit of reading in this year, even with the craziness of 2020. Although I only read 3 chapter books to them this year, we read a TON of picture books and started reading more books digitally. Together, we learned a lot from non-fiction picture books, got to know characters through series, and cracked up at quite a few characters we encountered this year. I can’t share ALL of what we read, but I would like to share a few of our favorites. Keep in mind, our list isn’t based on books released this year, just books that we read together this year.

Just last week, we finally finished Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia. The first book in this fantasy series was one that definitely lived up to its hype, about a young boy who accidentally ends up in a new world, where he meets characters and Gods from African American and African folktales. This book has lots of action and drama, and oh, I cannot forget Gumbaby, a character who nearly had my kids in tears from their laughter. Although the fantasy genre is not my jam, its my daughter’s favorite, so that’s part of the reason I chose it to read it to them. You can read more about how she started liking fantasy books here.

Near the start of the pandemic, I was looking for a book that would go with a movie we could watch afterwards, so we started reading Holes. This award winning book gave us drama, humor, and often had them begging for me to read one more chapter. I kinda wish I had read it sooner, but I am definitely glad we experienced it together. I wrote more about our experience here.

We definitely needed some opportunities to laugh this year, and one of our favorites was This is a Taco! written by Andrew Cangelose, and illustrated by Josh Shipley. This book is one of those that does a great job of integrating some actual facts (in this case about squirrels) with humor. Our main character is a squirrel and is excited to share facts about squirrels, but because his name is Taco due to his love of the food, things go a little haywire. This was one we read digitally during the summer, and one that they would have me reread all the time if they could.

Lastly, Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrated by Luisa Uribe is one of those books that has become a go-to purchase for gifts. In this book we encounter a young girl who is frustrated with the fact that her teacher could not pronounce her name correctly at school. The story follows the girl and her mother on their walk home where mom expertly explains to her child that every name is a song. The examples of names throughout the book include so many names that you rarely, if ever, see in children’s books. Although my kids don’t often have the experience of having their names mispronounced, I do, and they have classmates with names that are regularly mispronounced. My kids enjoyed the suspense of wanting to know what the main character’s name was and watching me work on saying the names correctly. I wrote more about this lovely book here.

So, if you didn’t get a chance to read one of our favorites this year, I hope you put them on your list for 2021!

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Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers Uncategorized

GO. TO. SLEEP!

Is it just me who thought that as your children get older, certain routines would get easier? For example, I thought I would be able to go to the bathroom uninterrupted or that maybe, just maybe, when I said “good night”, that would actually be the last time we spoke until morning? If it is just me, then I blame you all for not telling me.

A few of the bedtime routines in our house revolve around reading/books. I usually read to them before bed (hence the whole blog idea), they usually listen to a book on CD as they fall asleep and/or they read themselves until they fall asleep, all of which I helped to cultivate, so I’m all for them. However, that those last two, the listening to a book and the reading to themselves, are also starting to become thorns in my side.

My son has recently decided to start reading his 2021 Almanac at bedtime. Its full of interesting facts and cool pictures, so guess what that means? Yep, he’s gotta walk across the hall right away to share them with me. I don’t want to discourage him reading, so the first time he walks over at night I indulge him. However, after time 2 or 3, I’m more adamant about saving the conversation until morning, which means he’s more insistent in telling me that one last thing.

(And don’t get me started about how telling me in the morning never happens…its like its only interesting at night. *eyeroll*)

My son is talker, (He gets it from his dad.) so I’m already dealing with that during the day, but if he’s not telling me what he’s discovered in the Almanac at night, he’s telling me about what he’s learned from whatever book he’s listening to as he’s (supposedly) falling asleep.

I love it, I really really do, but MAN, if he could just read during the day, he could tell me ALL about it.

I’m sleepy, but still #raisingreaders!