Archives For Children’s Books

Are You a Beezus or a Ramona?

November 21, 2014

Ramona and Her Friends: Beezus and Ramona / Ramona and her Mother / Henry and Ribsy / Henry and Beezus

I grew up loving the Ramona books. I remember a particular love for Ramona Quimby, Age 8. As the youngest of 3 kids, I absolutely identified with Ramona. She had good intentions, but being good was absolutely no fun. Ramona wanted, more than anything, to be grown up, but growing up was just too hard. Explaining her actions to others was even harder. Ramona rocked the bunny ears on a library trip. She loved squishing her new rain boots in fresh mud. She wanted so badly to pull Susan’s perfect ringlets (Boing!) She embraced all that was loud, messy, fun. And she was adorable. As a kid, I always thought of Beezus as a fussy and bossy know-it-all with no imagination. She couldn’t even come up with her own stories!

Lately, my kids and I (mostly my two boys) have been reading through some of Beverly Cleary’s books. They loved The Mouse and the Motorcycle, as well as the accompanying Saturday Morning Movies from the 80s (You can watch them on Netflix!). I picked up Beezus and Ramona to see if they would like it. As I read the opening chapter, I suddenly saw these two sisters in a new light. Beezus speaks to my boys. When she gets annoyed at having to read another story to Ramona, they nod their heads. When Ramona throws an impromptu party, they know what it’s like to help clean up messes their sister made. They completely understand how hard life can be when you have a baby sister. 

Their baby sister is loud and embarrassing. She wants to wear clip-clops (princess shoes) to the store and carry her stuffed kitty with her, dragging it on a handmade leash. And worst of all, no one understands because all of the adults think she is ADORABLE.

I still completely relate to Ramona. I will always be a baby sister. But I love how motherhood sheds some new light on beloved books and characters. Which makes me wonder, are you a Beezus or a Ramona?

Have you re-read a series lately that, because of motherhood or fatherhood or adulthood in general, has changed your perspective on the characters?

Thanksgiving books

*This post originally appeared on on November 1, 2013.

As you recover from your trick-or-treating candy hangover this morning, I wanted to recommend some Thanksgiving books and movies we love reading and watching every November. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I spend the whole month talking about thankfulness and gratitude with my kids. You can find most of these books at your local library:

2895608This First Thanksgiving Day: A Counting Story by Laura Krauss Melmed

This richly illustrated book about the first Thanksgiving will appeal to any child. The artistry is beautiful, and each page offers your pre-schoolers a chance to count. Along the way, the accompanying verse ties together the historical sections of the First Thanksgiving. I can’t recommend this one enough.





In NovemberIn November by Cynthia Rylant

I love the illustrations in this book, and the text is perfect for bedtime. November is the gateway to winter, when nature goes to sleep. The book features different parts of nature and how each prepares for winter, including families celebrating Thanksgiving together.


11360892Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

This book tells the history of Tony Sarg, the man who brought the giant balloons/upside down puppets to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Check out this review and free printable Parade Unit Study to pair with the book at The Library Adventure by Jill, the Enchanted Homeschool Mom.

2159794This Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Greene

Following “The House that Jack Built” format, this book provides a story in reverse of how the first Thanksgiving meal came together. “These are the Pilgrims who farmed the new land,/ who steadfastly labored and toiled by hand,/ and learned from the Indians, skillful and strong.”



1353614A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman

This book is funny and silly, perfect for any age. It explores the antics of Peter the Turkey, the only turkey in Squawk Valley vain enough to show up in the town square so close to Thanksgiving. However, the townspeople soon find Peter has a few tricks up his feathers, too.




291966A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Although The Great Pumpkin and the Charlie Brown Christmas are more popular, don’t discount the Peanuts’ gang in offering a lively and entertaining tale about Thanksgiving. My kids love watching Snoopy and Woodstock make an unexpected Thanksgiving dinner of popcorn, candy, and toast. Along with the original special, the Charlie Brown cast also does a fantastic retelling of the first Thanksgiving in “The Mayflower Voyages.”







Do you have other favorite Thanksgiving books?

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Check out My Recent Reads from this Month:

The House at Riverton

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton: Haunting, mysterious novel. Must read for fans of Downtown Abbey or Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. #British #WWI #FamilyTroubles #secrets

Someday, Someday, Maybe

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham: A young actress seeks her lucky break in New York City in the 1990s. Gilmore Girls fans will love the banter. 90s kids will love the pop culture and fashion references. #fun #light

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)

Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith: In the spotlight recently as J.K. Rowling’s stab at the crime novel. Cormoran Strike, the private detective main character, is sure to please. Well-crafted with nods to crime fiction standards, Rowling’s adult fiction still pushes boundaries to move away from Potter expectations. #SeriouslyWeKnowYouCanCussNowRowling

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: My favorite book of all time. I have to reread it every year or so. This book holds such a special place in my heart – much like a childhood friend. #classic #worthit

The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Ralph S. Mouse, #1)

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary: Our current family read aloud. What’s not to love? Little talking creatures, an old hotel, one curious boy and motorcycles. #clever #kidclassic

On My Nightstand:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Engagements

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

What are you reading this month? Go check out other Twitterature entries at Modern Mrs. Darcy!

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Today I’m over at Smockity Frocks discussing a new iBook my family recently received. Come join me!


Alicewinks brings new technology to the classic Alice’s Adventure in Wonderlandby Lewis Carroll. Using the complete text, audio/visual narration, and 193 beautiful original illustrations from 12 classic publications, Alicewinks offers a new way to interact with a story.

girls with butterfly book
Around the beginning of the year, I picked up a few books at the library for the kids, grabbing a couple about Martin Luther King, Jr. along with some Caldecott Winners. A few days later, I grabbed a couple of those picture books from our stack to read at the lunch table.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

I started with The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, which is a beautifully illustrated book about the man who walked on a high wire between the two towers of the World Trade Center. My boys found the book fascinating, right up to the last few pages, where the author talks about those towers no longer standing. I found myself explaining the attacks on September 11, 2001. They didn’t have much response, other than offering concerned faces and several times asking, “Why?”

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin LutherKing Jr.

The next book I picked up to read? Martin’s Big Words, which talks about the power of Dr. King’s words, but the end of the book talks about how he was killed. My boys instantly felt concern and confusion. Why would someone want to kill this powerful man? He died? Someone shot him?

At first I felt like Mom of the Wet Blanket, worried I might have doused my children in too much sadness for the day. Explaining assassination and terrorism at one lunch is a bit ambitious. However, we talked through both books. I answered questions, and then I found speeches of Dr. King on YouTube. We listened and watched these while coloring, and I talked about how one man used his words to change the world.

I know as parents that we want to protect our children from the sadness of the world, but I also know that they need to know how other people live and feel. My children need to experience a range of emotions within a safe context, where good and evil is easy to see. I’ve never believed in glossing over the truth with my kids: People are mean. Pets die. People die. Because of my family history (my dad passed away when I was only 16), I’ve always said that I want my children to have a healthy view of death, to know how to face grief and death without being afraid of it.

Reading sad books provides opportunities to talk about real life happenings.

I want my children to experience sadness, just as much as I want them to experience happiness. Without the complexities of emotion, would they really be experiencing life to the fullest? Knowing about sadness leads to understanding joy.

Photo Credit: {studiobeerhorst}-bbmarie via Compfight cc

twitterature monthly reading linkup short reviews

It’s time for another Twitterature link up over at Modern Mrs. Darcy! Come see what other bloggers are reading. We promise to be brief.

This month, I’m featuring books from my Kindle. The good thing about a Kindle? No pesky reading piles staring at me while I choose to watch Duck Dynasty with my husband. My library books tsk me (I know they do) for cracking up at the Robertson family antics. My Kindle just sits quietly, showing me cool pictures of pens. Because of this, I end up with virtual piles of books ready to read, many times forgetting I even downloaded them.

Okay, book reviews in 140 characters or less. Here we go:


Brideshead Revisited: Downton Abbey fans will dig this Evelyn Waugh classic. English country estate drama. Beautifully written, understated themes, strong characters. #NoPeskyO’Brien #SoGood


My Father’s Dragon: The Classic Story for Children by Ruth Stiles Gannett: A great early chapter book, especially for boys. My two dragon hunters give it 2 thumbs up. We want to read all three in the series. #Wildisland #TigersChewGum

Just Get Your Rear in Gear Already:

42 Days to Fit by Brandy Ferguson: A great guide to fitness with realistic goals. I’m excited to start my own 42 days soon. Brandy is a mom who understands. She encourages, prods, & cheers. *

Lose Your Mummy Tummy by Julie Tupler and Jodie Gould: This is to correspond with 42 Days to compensate for my diastasis recti – a condition where you always look pregnant, even when you are not. **

Any good reads I need to add to my Kindle feed?

*Also, Brandy’s a pal – we once travelled to Oklahoma together in a big white van.

** Honestly, I’m not pregnant. The diastasis is a condition where your core muscles get separated. It happens a lot with women who have big babies, have c-sections, or have other surgeries in the abdominal area. I’m 3 for 3 baby (Goliath like babies, all c-section, followed by gallbladder surgery a year after my last baby). The more you know.

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Reading Goals for 2013

January 5, 2013

Something About The Way It's Written
Yesterday, I outlined most of my goals for the year for my different roles in life. I have also made some reading goals for the year to inform you, Dear Reader, about quality books and to keep track of my progress throughout the year. And, as always, “to improve my mind with extensive reading” (anything for you, Mr. Darcy). So, here we go. Reading Goals for the Year:

1. I have joined Jessica from Quirky Bookworm with her quest to read some classics in her “Classics Catch-Up Challenge.”

2. I want to be more accountable with my reading, so I am going to track the books I read through GoodReads and Pinterest. I will also add a tab on the blog of my reading for the year and give you guys a quick way to access my reviews.

3. As far as number of books, I don’t even know where to start. I’ve never been good at keeping up with what I have read, so this year is going to be more of a benchmark year – just to keep track of my progress and then set the bar higher or lower from there.

4. As a general rule, I want to incorporate more reading aloud time with my children. I tend to get lazy about this, so reading aloud is going to be the focus of our homeschool this semester.

Here’s a List of Books in my “To Read Pile” for now:

Classics for the “Classics Catch-Up Challenge” for January-February:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Spiritual Non-fiction Reads

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott

Love Does by Bob Goff

General Fiction

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Children’s Fiction

The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” by C.S. Lewis

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter

On Writing

How to Become an Online Writer by Ruth Pound

Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers by Kate Hopper

31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo by Bryan Allain

Other Non-Fiction

One Bite at a Time by Tsh Oxenreider

Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider

*photo credit

Two years ago, my family decided to spend an evening looking at Christmas lights. We were new to the area, so we didn’t know exactly where to go. After driving aimlessly for about an hour, my husband turned down another side street, heading back to the highway. Suddenly, my oldest pipes up, “Dad! It’s a Braums. We should stop and get some ice cream!” Tired of dealing with light hunting, we decided some ice cream would do us all some good. After our treat, we trekked back out for one more try at light gazing, and we stumbled upon the County Light Festival, a huge display of lights with accompanying Christmas music via radio. It was awesome! Last year, we drove straight to the County Light Festival without even bothering hunting for house lights. On our way through the exit, my then five year old said, “Mom, after this we should go look for that Braums again and get some ice cream!” Thus, our accidental holiday detour became a holiday tradition.

I like to make Christmas a magical time for my kids, but it could easily become overwhelming and expensive and a little stressful. A few years ago, I took a tip from one of my friends for a simple advent activity.

2012-12-08 08.46.20

I wrap all of our Christmas movies and books. I come up with a few fun crafts and events we want to attend. Then, I number everything 1 to 25. The kids open a present everyday leading up to Christmas. Over the past few years, I’ve added a book or movie to our collection, but I rarely have to spend much money to come up with 25 things. I like doing this method because I don’t get overburdened with crafts. We aren’t traveling to a new Christmas adventure every day, and we aren’t spending a ton of money (I also take full advantage of the library books, too. I wrap them up along with our own books.)

So, here’s a list of the books we are using this year:

For crafts, I found easy and fun activities from Pinterest (check out my Christmas Board here)

We are watching three holiday movies:

I also added some fun activities to our list, too. We usually call family members to sing “Jingle Bells.” We are going to have a dinner by candlelight one night, and spend an evening looking at Christmas lights (with a stop at Braums, I’m sure, before the night is over). I’m super excited for this year’s tour because this house is in our town.

We will also attend a Merry Tuba Christmas concert. Have you guys ever heard about Tuba Christmas? Volunteer tuba players from a surrounding area get together and rehearse for about an hour, and then they put on a free concert, usually outdoors, playing Christmas music. It’s quirky, fun and, best of all, absolutely free. You can take camping chairs and a thermos of hot chocolate and spend a morning with the family. Check out the website to find a Merry Tuba Christmas near you.


I hope you all enjoy this great holiday season!

What I’m Reading This Week

September 17, 2012

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all had a great weekend. I’m still clipping away at some books from the library this week, but I did throw in some Harry Potter fun on Friday night, rereading The Prisoner of Azkaban (my favorite in stand-alone greatness).

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Harry Potter is in his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and his year is already off to a rocky start. The Dursleys, his adopted family, have gone a step too far, and Harry has fled his summer prison to get to Hogwarts any way he can, even with a very dangerous criminal on the loose named Sirius Black.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking: This book is amazing. I would recommend it to anyone: business people, teachers, homeschool families, parents, and ministers. Our society places so much emphasis on collaboration and social interaction, rarely thinking about the need for quiet reflection and individual work time. I already feel better about enforcing a 2 hour rest time at my house, and I’ve become more understanding about my husband’s need for some quiet work time.

When I Was a Child I Read Books: Essays: Marilynne Robinson can kick you in the tail, make you want to stand up and cheer, and sigh in contentment all at once. Her words are carefully selected, and her logic and intellect razor sharp. This is a small but dense book of essays. Read it slowly.

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Work Shift. Anne Bogel, a fellow blogger, just released her new ebook last week. Work Shift explores the growing number of families who are trading in the corporate ladder for a more flexible work schedule, making an easier blend of work, life, and family. I will be hosting a full review of Anne’s book this week, along with a giveaway from Anne to one of my readers! Tune in for details. If you are interested in buying the ebook now, click here.


*Note: The links provided in this post are all affiliate links, which means if you click on these links and buy these books, then I get a share of the profit. 

The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man

The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man sparks the imagination of little boys who don super hero capes and fight the bad guys without all the excess baggage of violence, strong language, or super scary villains.

My little boys love to talk about Spider Man and Batman and Superman, yet they don’t get to watch any of those movies. Okay. So, one time at the tire store, my boys watched part of a Spider Man movie playing on Spike TV in the waiting area. This hardly constitutes them as Spider Man experts, yet my oldest talked about the scenes he saw for weeks. WEEKS.

This past weekend, we showed them the original Superman movie, and they followed it rather well – except for that lame section with Lois Lane voicing over atrocious poetry about Superman reading her mind. The boys pretended to shoot things with their stick guns during that section. Who could blame them?

Superheroes, on the whole, seem to be a universal fascination for active little boys; however, finding superhero books that are actually entertaining and well-written can be quite the challenge.  

When our family hits the library, the boys use their own X-ray vision to spot all of the superhero books in the place. Most of you know about my loathing of character books. Unlike the movies, most character books lack vivid story, pace, voice – you know – good writing. I never read comic books as a kid, so maybe those would be some character books I could support.

Anyway, The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man projects the look and feel of a comic book or a super hero book, yet it keeps the heart-warming, boyhood charm for the preschool age. My four year old requested this book every night we had it from the library, and my five year old enjoyed it as well. Plus, I didn’t mind reading it to them. That’s a winner in our house.

The entire book focuses on Awesome Man and his Awesome Dog Moskowitz as he narrates all of the aspects of his life. He talks about how he needs to stay healthy with the right fuel and how he has to keep his anger in check. We see him take on the Flaming Eyeball and other villains, and we travel with him to his secret Fortress of Awesome. Awesome Man speaks directly to the reader, encouraging conversation with his audience. The illustrations jump off every page with the classic comic book feel. My boys soaked it up.

The book has the age range listed as 4-8, but I would say it’s more in the 4-6 range – perfect for little boys just beginning to race around their house with blanket capes wrapped around their necks.