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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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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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Book Review Parenting

Book Review–Lift by Minh Le

I’m a sucker for a book with few words, or even no words. My kids and I love pouring over the illustrations of picture books, noticing every little thing we can. Our recent #bedtimeread, Lift written by Minh Le and illustrated by Dan Santat, is no exception.

In this book, Iris tells us that she’s got a job in her family, and that is to push the buttons on the elevator. But wait…someone (younger and related to her) tries to take her job.

In the midst of her “fit”, she discovers a new button that takes her way beyond anywhere those elevator buttons were taking her. After enjoying this newfound world, the tale ends with an understanding that as much as our siblings may annoy us, there’s still a bond there that’s unmatched.

Like I said, there aren’t many words in this story, so you would think it would take only moments to read…but no. The amount of time we spend staring at the illustrations, and then going backwards to look at them again once other things start making sense is immeasurable.

Reading books like these make for some of my most memorable #bedtimereads with my kiddos, so I’d definitely recommend trying out this beauty with your own.

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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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Book Review Parenting

The Whatifs by Emily Kilgore–Book Review

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had a case of the “what-ifs”, and while this pandemic has done nothing to ease those feelings, this book we read for our #bedtimeread actually has.

The Whatifs, written by Emily Kilgore and illustrated by Zoe Persico, tells the story of Cora, who because of her nervousness, was often visited by the “whatifs”, mini monster looking things, who added to her feelings that something bad is going to happen. They visited her all the time, no matter where she was or the time of day, causing her to doubt even the thing she practiced and was good at–playing the piano.

Thankfully, at her piano recital, Cora encounters Stella, who explains to Cora that there are also good whatifs, and helps Cora change her thinking.

There are a couple of things that I loved about this book and reading it to my kids. One, I love that it gives young readers a visual of what nervousness and/or anxiety might look and feel like. Sometimes when you’re young you aren’t able to name abstract things, but calling them “whatifs” and giving kids a visual can help them do that. Additionally, even I as an adult hadn’t really thought about the positive whatifs and I really liked that change of thinking. Even though this seems relatively straightforward, the story is told in a way that is engaging to readers, and there’s a great Author’s Note in the back that explains why she wrote this book.

So, regardless of whether your kids have nervous personalities or not, this is a great book to share with them. They can learn how to deal with their whatifs like Cora, or learn to help a friend like Stella.

Keep #RaisingReaders!