Books!

Raising Readers – One Books at a Time!

Bookshelf pic

I have loved books for as long as I can remember! My Mom actually used books as bribery to potty train me when I was 2 (OK, that is moderately embarrassing!) We would walk to the store together and I would get to pick out a brand new Golden Book! Even today I can be easily bribed with books…just sayin’!

Though I love all books, Children’s Books have my heart. There is something magical about Children’s Literature. I started my own library of kids books well before I had my own kids. It wasn’t even that I was putting books away for when I one day had kids of my own…I was buying them for myself because I love them so much!

I always knew that it would be a goal of mine to raise children who loved books and reading as much as I do. I am happy to report that we are well on our way to having 3 little bookworms! They may not have reached full book hoarder status yet like their mother…but they are young yet 😉

SO…How DO you raise a reader???

 Be a Reader Yourself

Let your kids see  you reading! Let them see the joy you get from getting lost in a book!! I know we are all so busy and it is so hard to carve out time to sit and read, but even if it is just for 15 minutes it is so great for you and it sends such an awesome message to your kids! When your kids see you pick up a book and read for pleasure it is sending a message to them that reading is something fun and enjoyable.

Read Aloud

This may be my very favorite tip. Read aloud to your kids. Not just your young children. All of your children. So many parents stop reading aloud to their children when their kids learn to read on their own. Don’t do it! Keep on reading aloud to them. Even if it is just for a little bit before bed, reading aloud is such a wonderful experience for both parent and kiddo. We start every single day with a read aloud. My kids and I agree…it is our favorite part of the day. They absolutely LOVE having me read to them and I LOVE getting to experience so many amazing books with my kids. My oldest is almost 12 and she still absolutely loves getting to sit with her brother and sister and hear Mama read books. We have experienced so many awesome stories!

Talk about Books

My almost 12 year old could talk your ear off about Percy Jackson…or any Rick Riordan book for that matter. She gets so excited to tell us about the characters in her books and what is happening and what she THINKS will happen next. She loves to compare the books to the movies…and tell you exactly why the makers of the movie got it totally wrong at certain parts. I LOVE it! I love seeing that excitement. It tells me she is not only loving what she is reading…but she is absorbing and comprehending what she is reading.

Ask them questions about what they are reading…not just as a test to see that they are retaining information…but show them that you are genuinely interested in what they are interested in. Let them ask YOU questions about what you are reading…you don’t have to give a play by play of the steamy scenes in your romance novel or the gory details of your murder mystery…but letting them know what your book is about and why you like it is a great way to connect with them over reading. My kids are constantly asking me about my books. They are so curious about the types of books I read and why I like them!

Have Easy Access to Books

In the words of the great Dr. Seuss…”Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.” If books are easily accessibly then they will be picked up and read. Our home is full of books. They are everywhere. We have shelves, baskets, bins, cubbies…you name it…we’ve stuffed it with books!! Now this isn’t to say that you have to spend a gazillion dollars on books and shelves…you can have easy access to books without spending a cent! Take advantage of your local library!! We are so lucky to have access to not only one library, but several libraries within our county. If I have a book I am looking for chances are one of the libraries has it! Its such an amazing resource. There are sites online as well where you can get access to free books to read. Amazon often has free or very inexpensive books to download for your Kindle as well!

Another tip that I have learned that has helped immensely in my house is to display your books with the covers facing out. We have recently purchased some picture ledges to display our books on…without fail the kids gravitate toward the books that they see on that shelf. It can be a book that we have had in our bookshelf for years…but once they see its cover they are drawn to it! Seeing those beautiful book covers entices kids (and mamas!) to pick it up and flip through it!

bookshelf pic
This is one of my favorite places to display our books!

Embrace ALL Types of Reading Materials

This may not be a hugely popular opinion among reading professionals…but I don’t stress over reading levels. If my kids have a topic they are interested in reading about I will gather anything and everything I can get my hands on regardless of reading level. Through my years as a consultant with Usborne Books & More I have had so many parents refuse a book for their child because it is “too easy”. That bums me out big time! If you have a child that loves horses…let them read about horses!! It’s OK if it is below their reading level…they are reading…and you know what? They are ENJOYING it because it is a topic that interests them!

If you have a child who loves comic books or graphic novels…let them read them! They are great choices for a reluctant reader!

If you have a child who is a non-fiction buff…let them read non-fiction! Some of my kids favorite books are non-fiction!

If you have a child who still loves to read picture books…bust out those picture books! Picture books are some of my very favorite books and are filled with amazing writing!! We often stop reading picture books once our kids have begun reading chapter books, but we are missing out on some seriously amazing reading material!

 

These are just a few simple ways that we have created an atmosphere of reading in our home. How are you raising readers at your house?

 

 

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Books!

Get Lost in a Book This Summer! 3 Great Reads for the Adventure Lover!

Book Recommendation, Middle Grade, Book Review, Thisby Thestoop, The Explorer, Arlo Finch

 

Summer is the perfect time to get out and take some family adventures! Trips to the beach, hikes in the mountains, camping trips…whatever your idea of adventure is, summer is a great time to get out and explore! Summer is also one of my favorite times to get lost in a good book…ok, pretty much any time is a good time to get lost in a good book…but summer reading is just the best!!

I have 3 awesome books for you that are full of excitement and adventure! These were 3 of our favorite family read alouds this year and I can’t wait for you to check them out! These are all middle grade books but were enjoyed immensely by all 3 of my kiddos…ages 7, 9, and 11…and their Mama…her age is irrelevant to this post ! 😉

First up is The Explorer by Katherine Rundell. This book kept us on the edge of our seats from beginning to end! The book begins with a young boy named Fred on a plane with 3 other children. They are heading to England from Manaus. The pilot stops breathing and the plane crashes. Fred awakens to find that the pilot has died and that he and the 3 other children are alone in the jungle. Rundell writes in such a way that you actually feel as if you are trapped in the jungle with the kids. Fred, Con, Lila, and Max have to fight to survive in the jungle…how will they ever get home…and are they actually alone?

 

The next book that you must read is called Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire by John August. This is the first book in a brand new series. I read this book by myself first and I loved it so much that I am currently re-reading it aloud to my kids. This book is fabulous! If you love a good mystery, wrapped up with amazing adventure, with a splash of the supernatural…this is the book for you! Arlo Finch is brand new to the town of Pine Mountain. It doesn’t take long before he realizes that this small town is far from ordinary. From the ghost dog in his uncles front yard to the mysterious purple goo that makes bell sounds when it moves…Pine Mountain definitely holds some secrets. August is a master storyteller…a great read aloud for all ages! The second book in the series is due to arrive in Spring of 2019 and we can’t wait to get our hands on it. The second installment is called Arlo Finch in the Lake of the Moon and is due out in February of 2019!

 

The last book I have chosen is a brand new release called Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain by Zac Gorman. Again, we were hooked from the very first pages. Thisby Thestoop is the Gamekeeper for the dungeon of Black Mountain. She is in charge of all of the creatures that reside in Black Mountain…some not so scary creatures…and other creatures that you wouldn’t want to run into in the day time let alone at night. The day of the official royal inspection arrives and suddenly Thisby finds herself on an adventure deep within the darkest part of the dungeons. She is in charge of escorting the Princess Iphigenia out of the dungeon after she has become separated from her twin brother and all of her guards. Thisby must keep the princess safe from all of the beasts, attempt to find this missing Prince Ingo, and save her precious dungeon from the threat of creatures even worse than the ones she cares for! Not only is this book edge-of-your-seat entertaining, but is is also a hysterical and heartwarming tale of bravery and friendship! It is a fabulously well written and gorgeously illustrated book that I know you will love. Just a word of warning…if you have a younger reader who is sensitive to scary things and monsters you  may want to pre-read the book ahead of time. The book can be scary at times and does have a few scary illustrations! My youngest is 7 years old and he didn’t have any issues with the scariness…but I did want to mention it just in case!!

 

I hope that the adventure lovers in your life will enjoy these awesome books!!

 

Do you have any favorite adventure books that I can add to my reading list this summer??

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Books!

Magic Awaits…A book review of The Crowns of Croswald

 

If you are looking for an escape from reality then The Crowns of Croswald is the perfect book to get lost in! I was hooked from the very first pages! Author D.E. Night creates an amazing world of magic and adventure. This is a fast-paced story that keeps the reader wanting to turn the page!

The book is about a young girl named Ivy, who thought she was forever doomed to spend her life tending to the fire-breathing scaldrons at Castle Plum. Little does she know that her entire world is about to turn on its axis! Ivy finds herself at the Halls of Ivy…a school for magic…and what’s more…she discovers that she herself can do magic!

This is the perfect middle-grade fiction novel for lovers of magic, mystery, princes and princesses, and adventure. The pages are full of mystical creatures, secret rooms, and lots of twists and turns. I am thrilled that D.E. Night is working on a sequel… because I am not done with Ivy’s story! I didn’t want the book to end…there is so much more I want to know…and I think there is so much more that IVY wants to know as well!!

I really enjoyed this one…to grab your own: https://amzn.to/2G8HbZB

For more information on author D.E. Night head on over to her site: http://denight.com/

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review*

 

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All Things Art!, Books!

Amazing Artists – Introduction to our Unit Study!

art unit, homeschool, secular

I am so excited to share a brand-new Art unit that I have been working on!! Do you have children that love creating art? I know I do! My kids are obsessed with all things art! Whenever they have a free minute they can be found destroying my house creating masterpieces! Because of their love of art, we have a very art rich curriculum. I try to integrate art into so many of our daily subjects. I love seeing them show their grasp of a subject by creating something with their hands!

I wanted to add something more into the mix. I wanted to have a dedicated art curriculum where we would learn about art, art history, and famous artists. How fun would it be to learn about Picasso and then have a chance to create your own Picasso-style masterpiece?? Well, stick around, because we are about to find out!

Enter this amazing book…The Usborne Art Treasury. I adore this book…seriously…I hear angels singing when I open it. This was the starting point for my unit. Throughout this book, they teach us about different artists and each artist will have a hands-on project to go along with it. Exactly what I was looking for.

In addition to my beloved Art Treasury book I discovered a wonderful series of books on famous artists by author/illustrator Mike Venezia. Fan-tastic books! These are written for young minds. They are so easy to understand but full of amazing information about the artists’ life, their art style, and many photos of their artwork. Not only do I love these books, but my kids do too!

Lastly, I turned to YouTube. Now, I am what you would call “crafty” …an artist I am not! I knew that I wanted to incorporate more than one piece of artwork for each artist and for that I would need some serious help! YouTube is an amazing resource…I found a ton of wonderful instructional videos on creating art. I can’t wait to share them all with you!

So, what’s next? Well, I am glad you asked! Every 2 weeks I will be sharing a unit on a different artist. I will share the books I used, the art supplies needed, links to the YouTube Videos, and our finished projects! These are designed for you to go at your own pace. If your kids become enthralled with a particular artist and want to learn more…then go for it!

So, in addition to creating our masterpieces, we have also created an art gallery in our home. We have dedicated a wall that will serve as our gallery. It will feature the art we create based on the particular artist we are learning about. Once we move onto the next artist we will start from scratch!

In addition to the gallery wall, we have also created a timeline of great artists! We thought it would be fun to show the time the artists lived in relation to one another…and Mama loves timelines 🙂

So…without further ado…our very first artist will be Pablo Picasso! Please join us as we create some zany and brightly colored art in the style of one of the greatest artists of all time…Picasso! Stay tuned…

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Books!, Homeschooling

My Top 10 Usborne Books for Homeschooling- Part 1

(The following links go to my personal Usborne Books & More website, as a consultant I do receive commission on purchases)

My obsession with Usborne books came long before our decision to homeschool! I fell in love with these amazing books. My home has always been filled with books…picture books, fiction books, poetry…but never non-fiction! I am not sure why, I was just always drawn to fiction so that is what I filled our shelves with.

When I was first introduced to Usborne Books & More I was blown away at the high quality non-fiction titles! I was also blown away by my complete lack of non-fiction at home! How could a book obsessed Mama completely gloss over and entire genre of books? So, I ordered The Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia…among a ton of other titles! This book? This book is one of the reasons I became a book lady. It is fantastic. When you hear the word “encyclopedia” do your eyes gloss over? Yeah, mine used to as well! This encyclopedia…all of our encyclopedias…are fascinating, engaging, and FUN! Kids, and parents love these books! I loved this book so much….and then I discovered that it was Internet Linked…say what??? The book has safe links for your kids to go to to gain more information on a particular subject. Ah-Mazing! More on internet links another day…did I mention the ah-mazingness?

Long story short…my wishlist of books was ginormous…so I decided to become a consultant. I have never looked back. Love it! Again, story for another day!

SO! Over the course of a year I had accumulated an insane amount of books! When we began homeschooling I was SO excited to be able to put these amazing books to great use…and boy have we! I can honestly say that these are the books we use all day. I use them for lesson and unit planning, my kids use them for research, we use them for the internet links…they are a huge part of our daily life.

I want to share my favorites with you. Yes, this is much like picking a favorite child. I set out to share my top 5 homeschooling favorites with you…which of course turned into 10. This is just the tip of the iceberg…but these are the top 10 that I cannot live without! I have decided to break this down into two parts…because I am what you could call “long winded”…So…without further ado…my first 5!

1.) The Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia– I adore this book. It was the first Usborne book that I have ever purchased! (I later found out that some of my favorite baby books were also from Usborne Books & More…but those were gifts!) This book is internet linked and has QR codes that allow you or your child to simply scan the barcode on each page with a smartphone or tablet and instantly be brought to a child friendly website for more information. My husband and I spent 2 hours one Friday night visiting the various sites in the book…yeah, we are very exciting people! We took a tour on the US Space Station…given by an astronaut! He showed us how astronauts sleep, make food, and even brush their teeth. So fascinating. This book takes education to the next level!

2.) The Usborne Geography Encyclopedia– You guys…this book is gorgeous. If you are a geography nut like me, YOU.NEED.THIS.BOOK.  It is full of fantastic information and has excellent photos and illustrations. This book covers all aspect of geography! A bookshelf essential! Truth be told…I bought this book long before I started homeschooling…and I bought it for myself.

3.) The Usborne Science Encyclopedia– another must have. I use this book all the time. Not only is this one internet linked…but it has QR codes. You can just scan the barcode with your tablet or smartphone and it will take you straight to the Usborne Quicklinks site. TONS of amazing information. This book is wonderful for anyone interested in science or for planning science curriculum!

4.) The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History– much like the other encyclopedias that we offer, this is a must have for your homeschool! Internet linked and full of amazing information! It is the perfect addition to any homeschool bookshelf!

5.) The Usborne Art Treasury– my new obsession. This book is fun-tastic! Throughout its pages you will learn about different artists, their styles, and it will include a project based on that particular style. This is the book that I am planning my entire art curriculum on this year. It is awesome! Check out some of my blog posts on our art lessons…click here for an introduction!

For Part 2 of my favorite books click here

 

 

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All Things Art!, Books!

Amazing Artists Week 2- Becoming Jackson Pollock

Art Unit, Pollock, homeschool

Much like Pablo Picasso, my kids were so intrigued by the works of Jackson Pollock! They absolutely love seeing his artwork…it is so full of splatters, splashes, and drips of paint! We couldn’t wait to jump right in and get started!! This week I was so excited to have found an amazing YouTube video! This video serves as an awesome look into the life of Pollock…complete with a tour through his NY home. My kids were so excited that we could see the floor of the barn that he once worked on…it is still covered in splashes and blobs of paint. It is like a work of art itself! So, lets begin Week 2!

Here’s what you’ll need:

The Usborne Art Treasury

Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists– Jackson Pollock by Mike Venezia

-Paper, brushes of various sizes, paint (we used watercolors and tempera), yarn, marbles, and a box or tin pan to roll marbles in!

Like all of our artist units, we begin by reading the book by Mike Venezia. I just adore these books. The kids love seeing the pictures and learning about the artists in a way they can understand.

We then jumped right in to this amazing video…watch straight through the end for an amazing art project  the kids on the video complete…and also a smaller scale project you can do right at home!! This video was seriously impressive…the creator even gives a lesson on paint viscosity! We LOVED it! We had a blast playing with different thicknesses of paint!!

 

For our next project we watched another YouTube video!! We were SO excited to try this next project…because it involved paint and MARBLES! This was a blast and we absolutely LOVE how our pieces turned out! Thought Pollock didn’t work with marbles himself, we were able to create very Jackson-esque paintings this way!

Here is the marble painting YouTube video:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our next project was also done after watching a YouTube video, SURPRISE! 😉 We watched the following video and created our own masterpieces by using YARN dipped in  paint! Again, not a medium that Pollock used, but was such a fun way to create some interesting lines and dribbles that were very “Pollock-esque”

Our final project came directly from The Usborne Art Treasury! This was a super fun lesson on splattering…we made a MESS! I highly recommend newspapers and smocks for this part! Thank goodness for washable tempera paint! Usborne Art Treasury, Pollock, Paint

Some of our finished pieces…:)

Homeschool art, pollock, gallery

 

Stay tuned for our next amazing artist…Paul Klee! Have fun and happy painting!!!

 

 

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Books!, Homeschooling

My Top 10 Usborne Books for Homeschooling- Part 2

usborne, books, homeschool, secular

(The following links go to my personal Usborne Books & More website, as a consultant I do receive commission on purchases)

It is time for the continuation of my Top 10 Favorite Usborne Book for Homeschooling! These 5 are equally as fabulous as the first 5…and I could have added so many more into this mix! So, here they are:

6.) 365 Science Activities– This book is so much fun! This is a great way to add hands on science experiments into your homeschool. This books is recommended for ages 6 and up so it works perfectly for all 3 of my kids. We are having a blast! We are going to be featuring many of our science projects in upcoming blog posts! So much fun!

7.) Illustrated Grammar and Punctuation– So, I bought this book for me. I absolutely LOVE writing…but my grasp of grammar and punctuation is seriously lacking!! I didn’t know the difference between a noun or a verb until I was in 10th grade…and I remember this because I was placed in an advanced English class and was LOST when it came to grammar and punctuation. Sure I was a great reader and creative writer, but what in the heck is an adverb? I was determined to teach my kids all about grammar and punctuation as early as possible…this book has been amazing!

8.) Beginners Non-Fiction – Ok, this is a total cheat on my part. We have over 40 books in this amazing series! I adore these books. They are the most economical powerhouse books! They are only $4.99, but they are packed with information. They have wonderful photos and illustrations, the picture to text ratio is perfect for children, and these books are internet linked! Best of all, we have almost any subject you can think of! If you have a child that loves elephants, castles, bugs, dinosaurs, weather, horses, cats…we have you covered! We have a wonderful box set now, our Beginners Animals Box Set is a a great way to start your collection!

9.) Usborne World of Animals– If you plan to learn about animals at any point during your homeschool years then I highly recommend this book. It is GORGEOUS! Amazing photographs of animals and tons of information. We adore this book. Like most of our other non-fiction books, this one is internet linked.

10.) See Inside series- again, I’m cheating…forgive me 😉 I just LOVE all of these books. If you know anything about Usborne Books & More you will know that we are known for our Lift the Flap books! Kids.Love.Flaps! We have lift the flap titles for all ages, but for the sake of this list, I will narrow it down to our See Inside series. These books are phenomenal. They are recommended for ages 7 and up, but my 6 year old loves them too. I use this as a supplement to many of our units. See Under the Sea was an amazing addition to our ocean unit, See Inside Weather in Climate was perfect for our weather unit, See Inside How Things Work was a gift to my 40 year old engineer husband…he loved it! These books are loaded with flaps…and kids retain information so much better when they are actively engaged in lifting a flap. SO much wonderful information. Love these books.

So there you have it…my Top 10 Favorite Usborne Books for Homeschooling! Trust me when I tell you that this list could have been SO much longer! Usborne Books & More are some of the most fun AND educational books I have ever had the pleasure of owning!! If you are ever looking for a recommendation, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me! I could talk about books all day…in case that wasn’t obvious 😉

 

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