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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!

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Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers Uncategorized

The Tables Turned…

A few nights ago I was not feeling well. Nothing major, but enough that I was gonna pass on our bedtime read for the night. My son was disappointed, but after a few minutes said, “Can I read to you instead?” I’ll be honest, I said no a couple of times at first. But he kept insisting that it was my turn to be read to, and he told me I could even choose the book–how could I turn that down?

So, out of my three choices, I picked The Mitten by Jan Brett, and below is a picture I snuck while I was getting my bedtime book.

So I’ve discovered a new occasional perk of #RaisingReaders….a break. 🙂

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Book Review Parenting Raising kids Uncategorized

Book Review–Oscar’s American Dream by Barry Wittenstein

For those of us who moved from the town you grew up in, have you ever driven through certain parts of your hometown when you visit, remincising about how the neighborhoods used to look and how the businesses changed? You may find yourself saying things like, “this used to be a so-and-so” or “when I was a child this was a _____”. I do it just about every time we travel to my hometown, and my family and I currently live in the town my husband grew up in, so he does it often too. Well, our recent #bedtimeread, Oscar’s American Dream, the latest picture book written by Barry Wittenstein, epitomizes these conversations, but more beautifully written than my husband or I could express.

“A local news reporter wrote that if you wanted to see American history, you just stood in the doorway of the corner store, and history came to you.”

This quote from Oscar’s American Dream, illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell, perfectly summarizes this well told story. This recently released book tells the story of not just Oscar, but many different people who take that brave step to not just start a business, but often to also immigrate to a new country.

As much as I can recall how my hometown has changed since I was a child, I’m only going back a few decades. Another awesome thing about this book is that it spans a century! It starts with Oscar in 1899, and ends in 1999, with a variety of store owners in between. So if you want to share with your children what going down memory lane is like mixed in with a history lesson, then Oscar’s American Dream needs to be added to your reading list! (You can also find some fun learning activities to go along with this awesome book here.)

*Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers Uncategorized

Reigniting Sparks…

I learned through a recent webinar from Donalyn Miller, a strong advocate for children’s literature and motivating kids to read, that statistics show there’s a drop in interest in reading for children between 3rd and 4th grades (Scholastic 2019)…exactly where my son is. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that while he’s not a struggling reader, he’s not what I would call an enthusiastic reader at all. So when you add to that this pandemic, which has shifted the reading behaviors of even the most regular readers, this mama’s concern is amplified ten-fold.

So what do I do in times like this? I latch back onto things that have worked in the past, like connecting him with books around things he enjoys. This time around it was Minecraft, since that was a new obsession this summer. And a couple of days after checking a Minecraft book from this library, I snapped this photo:

It had been quite some time since he even read before falling asleep, let alone turning on a light after I turned off his lamp. So even though he was supposed to be laying down and closing his eyes, I let him slide this time because I wanted him to be reading.

So, when you’re #RaisingReaders, if you’re worried about making sure they stay motivated and into books, go back to those methods that worked before and try them again.