Friday, December 27, 2013

Collecting Math Ideas---A Month of Math!

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9........

It's a Month of Math!

We hope you've had a blessed Christmas season!  We're looking ahead to the new year with some nonfiction books to round out our collection.  In January we'll be reading and exploring books on a math theme.  In the meantime, please check out some math ideas and books we've already reviewed here.

We're looking forward to exploring math books.  We hope you'll join us!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Collecting Christmas Ideas!

Merry Christmas!  We hope you are finding lots of fun Christmas books to read with your family!  Here are some great ideas to check out:

Our Christmas list of books we've reviewed:

Our Learning Collection Christmas books

A terrific list of ways to give a gift from MotherReader!

150 ways to give a book

A fun, meaningful gift idea for children to make:

Christmas M & M Poem

As always, enjoy learning and reading with your family!
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Collecting Thanksgiving Ideas!

Happy Thanksgiving!  We hope that you and your family are enjoying this special holiday.  We have so much to give thanks for in our lives!

If you're looking for some online ideas to use with your children this week, check out these links:

Free BrainPopJr. movie about Thanksgiving:

Lots of Thanksgiving games (Spot the Difference, Dinner Bounce, and Puzzles) and printables:

Beautiful Thanksgiving printable book from UCreate:

And, here's a link to our Thanksgiving reviews:

Remember it's a great time to videotape your children telling their version of the First Thanksgiving!  :)
We're thankful for you and your support in reading our blog!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Million Little Ways

As the holiday season approaches, we'd like to share a book for adults.  A recent read, A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live, by Emily P. Freeman, was an insightful way for us to look at how each moment of our lives can be expressed artistically.  A Million Little Ways is an encouraging book to any Christian searching for purpose and affirmation.  Although many people recognize traditional artists (painters, sculptors, writers, musicians, etc.), Emily Freeman shows us how we are all artists made in God’s image. 

A Million Little Ways is divided into three parts to help the reader understand more about art.  The sections, Who is the Artist?, Uncover the Art You Were Born to Make, and Release the Art You Were Made to Live, are further divided into chapters that use Scripture and life examples to help the reader discover that living an artful life can take many forms.

This book, along with Grace for the Good Girl, also written by Freeman, are beautiful books that are meant to be shared with others.  A Million Little Ways would be an inspiring gift for a young person starting her journey as well as any person looking for ways to live a life pleasing to God.  We hope that you discover how you are an artist, too!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Collection of interesting links!

Hello!  We've found some interesting and insightful links around the web that we want to share!

A must read for instilling confidence in children:

How the hidden dangers of comparison are killing us and our daughters--the measuring stick principle

Spotlit--a list of the top 50 books considered must-reads arranged by grade level from preschool to middle school.  It's fun to see what books you've read with your children---and which ones you want to add to your list.

And, before the fall leaves are all gone--Fall Leaf Bingo (with printable)!!!

If you're looking for Thanksgiving books, please check out our archives of Thanksgiving books we've reviewed.

Enjoy your week!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Pumpkin Book

The Pumpkin Book, by Gail Gibbons, is a great resource for a nonfiction look at pumpkins.  We like to start looking at books like this by taking a picture walk. We enjoyed seeing the labeled illustrations of different kinds of pumpkins. Even young children can begin to develop an understanding of the growth of a pumpkin from the interesting pictures in this book. 

Ways to plant pumpkins in a patch and on a farm are described by Gibbons.  Various aspects of what is needed in nature for successful pumpkin growth is also discussed.  The book also shows the use of pumpkins at Halloween and Thanksgiving times.  

Older children could use this book to develop charts about pumpkin development.  The illustrations delightfully explain the text so that listeners/viewers/readers can all enjoy learning. We found this to be a great book to add to our autumn reading. We love reading books by Gail Gibbons and hope you enjoy this one, too!

*Which pumpkin varieties have you seen before?
*Can you explain how a pumpkin seed grows?
*What’s your favorite use of pumpkins?  Why?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Polar Bear

Polar Bear (A Day in the Life:  Polar Animals), A Heinemann Library book, written by Katie Marsico, is another great nonfiction text for young readers.  A table of contents, glossary, and index help children understand this text even more.

The many photographs included in this book enhance the text.  Inset maps and labels also clarify the reading.  We enjoyed learning more specific facts from this book.

*What did you learn about polar bears?
*Which photographs helped you understand polar bears better?
*Is there anything more you would like to learn about polar bears?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Rock is Lively

A Rock is Lively, written by Dianna Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long, is another book written in the style of A Butterfly is Patient.  We also highly recommend this book! Its detailed illustrations and information make it a great nonfiction read.

A Rock is ________   is how each page begins.  Some of the adjectives used in the book are lively, helpful, surprising, inventive, etc.  One aspect we enjoyed was looking at how rocks were used as tools in various cultures. 

As is true with A Butterfly is Patient, the inside front and back covers add to the enjoyment of exploring this book.  Illustrations of rocks are found in the front, while the back inside cover displays the illustrations with the rocks’ names.  It’s great fun to have children try to learn to identify rocks by using these covers.

*Which rock is most interesting to you?
*Can you name some of the different cultures and how they used rocks?
*How would you describe a rock?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

National Geographic Little Kids Ocean Counting

As children are being asked to read more nonfiction texts, it’s important to find books that capture their attention with interesting facts.  National Geographic Little Kids Ocean Counting, by Janet Lawler with photographs by Brian Skerry, is a great book for young children who are learning to count and who like ocean animals.  Primary readers will also enjoy the eye-catching photographs that accompany the text.

The reader counts to ten with examples of various ocean animals (hammerhead sharks, sea otters, pink sea star, etc.).  Each two page spread also includes a Did You Know? Box with an interesting fact about the animal.  At the conclusion of the book an Animal Facts section (home, size, food, predators, babies) are given about each animal.  A map and glossary are also included to extend learning.

This would be a great book to enjoy before and after a trip to an aquarium.  It would be fun for children to write their own counting book based on this book.  We hope you enjoy learning more about ocean animals!

*Which ocean animal is your favorite?
*Can you name 5 facts you learned by reading this nonfiction text?
*What fact surprised you?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Butterfly is Patient

We’ve been looking for more nonfiction books and were very happy to find A Butterfly is Patient, written by Dianna Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long.  This beautifully illustrated book begins each page with “A butterfly is…” and completes the sentence with vivid adjectives (protective, thirsty, patient, etc.).  Taking a picture walk (or several picture walks because there is so much to discover) will help the reader learn more about butterflies.

The illustrations are phenomenal in helping the reader visualize the meanings.  Maps and timelines also help the reader understand this nonfiction text.  An added bonus for us was seeing the inside front and back covers.  The front inside cover has detailed illustrations of caterpillars with their names while the back inside cover displays the butterflies with their names. 

This is a terrific book to begin a butterfly study and/or introduce young readers to nonfiction texts.  We highly recommend this book as a gift to your children!

*Which pages taught you most about butterflies?
*Which illustration do you like the best?
*How many of these butterflies have you seen?
*How would you describe a butterfly?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fireflies in the Night

Fireflies in the Night, written by Judy Hawes and illustrated by Ellen Alexander, is a wonderful book that uses the relationship between a grandfather and a granddaughter to teach the reader about fireflies.  The book is very informative while using a story format to help children learn more about the world of fireflies.  We liked learning how other cultures use fireflies in helpful ways.  If your child is interested in fireflies (or lightning bugs as we commonly call them) this is a great way to introduce them to the scientific aspects in a kid-friendly approach.  Happy reading!

*What did you learn about fireflies?
*What surprised you about how fireflies are used in other cultures?
*Could you write a story about your interactions with fireflies?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Animal Crackers

Are you looking for a way to introduce poems to your young child?  Animal Crackers (A Delectable Collection of Pictures, Poems, and Lullabies for the Very Young), by Jane Dyer, is an excellent book to start the literacy process with babies and toddlers.  Parents have a great variety of 62 traditional and new poems and lullabies from which to choose.  The pictures are beautiful and add so much to the enjoyment of the poems.  Of course, we’d recommend this as a beautiful gift to new parents!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Collections about Authors and Illustrators--Places to Visit!

Wow!  Look at these great sites about authors and illustrators!

Eric Carle Museum of Picture Art--This museum looks like a fun place to visit!

The Complete Listing of All Public Children's Literature Statues in the United States--We think this is a wonderful compilation of places to put on our trip list!  Wouldn't it be fun to visit all of these?  So much work went into this list.  Hope you enjoy it!

Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College, Illinois--See the wardrobe that inspired C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien's desk, and C. S. Lewis's desk and chair.  This is a small museum that we enjoyed visiting for the history and inspiration!

Enjoy visiting all of these sites!  Let us know of other fun places about authors and illustrators you've found!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Back to School....

It's time for school!  Are you and your children looking for some books to start the new year?  Here's a round-up of our previous posts and questions about school related books to get you started.  

The Kissing Hand---always a great book to begin a new school year!

Each Kindness---a thought provoking book as children meet new classmates

Llama Llama Misses Mama--a book to start discussion about those first important days away from home

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten--an enjoyable look at how the teacher gets ready for school!

Please share your favorite back to school books with us in the comments.  Hope it's a great year!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ten for Ten Picture Books!

We're joining in on the fun with the Picture Book 10 for 10! We love picture books and especially like to do picture walks before we read.  When we do a picture walk, we look through each page and discuss what we think is happening, look for any visual clues on pages, and enjoy the illustrations. 

Here are ten of our favorite picture books!  You'll find more information and questions from our question collections to accompany your reading of each book by clicking on the links next to the numbers.  Enjoy!

1. Wave

Wave is a recent find of ours!  Wave is a wordless picture book that captures the emotions of a little girl as she encounters a wave at the beach.  It's lots of fun as you view the action on each page.

2. Otis

We love reading about friendship!  Otis is a heartwarming story about the friendship between a tractor and a cow.  The farm illustrations are fun to explore.

3.  First the Egg

First the Egg is a very creative book that spurs your imagination!  This is a great book to serve as a mentor text for young writing students.  We enjoy looking at how the illustration on one page leads to the picture on the next.  

4.  Wild About Books

Wild about Books is such a fun story with illustrations that encourage you to stop and view them before you turn the page.  We love the humor in this picture book!

5.  One is a Feast for Mouse

5.  One is a Feast for Mouse is a great Thanksgiving picture book.  The illustrations have lots of details while proving the point of knowing when you have enough.  

6.  Room for a Little One

Room for a Little One is one of our favorite Christmas books.  The beautiful illustrated pages tell the story of how there's always room for a little one---leading up to the birth of Baby Jesus.  We think this picture book is a great gift idea for families!

7.  Momma, Will You?

Momma, Will You? is another picture book that takes place on a farm.  The illustrations add to the gentleness of the momma's voice as she answers her children's questions with "yes, or no, or maybe."

8. But Not the Hippopotamus

But Not the Hippopotamus is a fun read by Sandra Boynton.  We love looking at the facial expressions of the animals in her illustrations.  If you and your child enjoy humor, this is a great picture book!

9.  We're Going on a Bear Hunt  

We're Going on a Bear Hunt is a favorite book of ours.  It's such a classic tale, and we love looking at the pictures and re-telling the story.  It's a well loved story in our home.

10.  Goodnight Moon

Goodnight Moon was the first picture book read by our family.  We read it to our child as a newborn and have read it many times since.  We think no picture book library is complete without a copy of it!  

Thanks for stopping by and looking at our list of picture books.  It was very difficult to just choose ten!  Make sure to visit the Jog Web to see more great ideas!  Please share your favorites in our comments.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tim's Big Move

Have you ever looked for a book to help a child with a transition such as a move to a new town?  Tim’s Big Move, written by Anke Wagner and illustrated by Eva Eriksson, is a fun read about Tim and his cuddle buddy, Pico, who are preparing for a move. Even though Tim is nervous, he tells Pico about all of the good things about the move.  Pico, however, has many thoughts about the problems he thinks he’ll encounter.  Most of all he’s worried when Tim announces they’ll make new friends.  Pico feels he only needs Tim and worries Tim won’t want him when they move.  The move happens and Pico still worries.  However, a happy ending is in sight as Tim and Pico both make new friends!

We think this would be a great book to read with a child who is moving.  The author makes clever use of Tim’s cuddle buddy, Pico, to express what many children feel when they move.  This is another great book to spark conversations in a family!

*Have you ever felt like Pico?
*How could what you learned about Tim and Pico help you welcome new children to your neighborhood or school?
*What do you think Tim and Pico do next? 

Monday, July 29, 2013


Wave, by Suzy Lee, is a beautiful, wordless picture book!  Through the use of a few colors (blue, gray, and white), a story is told about a girl and her experiences with a wave.  This is a book you’ll want to pick up again and again to look for details and to experience how a child discovers her natural world.  From seeing the girl splashing in the water at the beach to sticking her tongue out at the wave, the reader feels like he/she is at the beach along with the girl.  A beach trip would provide a great opportunity to introduce this book to a child.  Enjoy this fun book with your family!

*Which scene is your favorite?
*What do you think the girl is thinking?
*What do you think the girl will do the next time she’s at the beach?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar?

We have found a new book that seems destined to become a classic!  Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar?, written by George Shannon and illustrated by Julie Paschkis, is a wonderful book that really opens our eyes to how people work together.  The book begins with one hand taking a cookie out of a jar.  But on the next page, the reader is asked about how many hands put the cookie in the jar. The author and illustrator lead the reader through the journey of all of the people whose hands have helped make the cookie.  From the hands that milk the cow to the hands that make the pens for the chickens (so that hands can gather the eggs) to the hands that stock the shelves, one can see that there are many hands that have put the cookie in the cookie jar!  This book is a great springboard to discussion!  We think this would be a great book for teachers to start the school year or for any time when it’s important to look at cooperation.  We hope you enjoy this delightful book!

*Were you surprised by how many hands put the cookie in the cookie jar?
*Can you think of any other hands that helped?
*What job do you think you’d enjoy?
*What lessons did you learn from this story?
*Can you think of another object and how many hands it took to get it to you?

Monday, July 15, 2013


Ponyella, by Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans, is a retelling of the fairy tale, Cinderella, with a pony representing Cinderella.  This is a fun retelling, especially for girls who love anything about horses and/or ponies!

Ponyella is living a charmed life until new owners bring their ponies, Bun Bun and Plumpkin (the wicked stepsisters) to live on the farm.  They quickly make life miserable for Ponyella.  The story turns when it’s announced that Princess Penelope is going to pick the winner of a pony championship.  Of course, Ponyella is left behind when the other ponies leave for the show.  Fortunately, her fairy godmare appears to grant her wishes to go.  Instead of the traditional glass slippers, Ponyella receives sparkling diamond horseshoes!  As can be predicted, the story has a happily ever after ending!

This is another great book to spur children’s writing and storytelling skills.  It’s fun to compare this story with the traditional Cinderella fairy tale.  One interesting thing we noted was that the story ends with a look at Plumpkin and Bun Bunn after Ponyella is chosen and says there’s another story. Because this book is by Laura Numeroff of the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series, we wonder if Plumpkin and Bun Bun may appear in another book! 

Have fun reading this with your children!

*What’s your favorite part of this story?
*How does Ponyella compare to Cinderella?
*How is Ponyella different from Cinderella?
*What kind of story could you write that’s based on Cinderella?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer Learning Collection, Part 2

As summer progresses, we hope that you and your family are enjoying learning, playing, and extra family time.  Here's a collection of learning ideas we've found that we hope will give you some new ideas as summer continues!

Scholastic Summer Challenge --Your child can join the challenge to have fun reading and win prizes.  We like the graphics that show  reading progress.

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading--Your child can join the Barnes and Noble Program and win a free book.   Book lists are given according to grade levels. 

Reading Calendar Idea--This idea comes from a classroom teacher's site about how to generate ideas about reading in various ways.  We found some fun ideas and we're sure you and your children can add to the list!

Start with a Book--This is a great resource for finding books based on themes, especially if your children are looking for something new to read.

Great tips on creating a home library can be found here.  Some simple ideas, but it's always a great way to think about how to add books.

Parents Choice Award Winners Mobile Apps--This is a great compilation of apps.  Click on specific pictures to find more information.  We like that these apps have been reviewed by parents and give us information that's accurate before we purchase new apps.

For more ideas we've found, check out Part I of this collection.  Please share any ideas you've found with us.  Enjoy learning!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ballerina Swan

Ballerina Swan, by Allegra Kent and Emily Arnold McCully, begins with a swan, Sophie, who loves watching a ballet class from her pond.  She then wants to learn how to dance, but is discouraged by Madame Myrtle.  Sophie doesn’t give up on her dream and returns to the studio one day when Miss Willow is teaching.  With Miss Willow’s encouragement, Sophie learns to dance even though some moves are hard for her.  The authors use terms from ballet (a glossary is given at the beginning of the book) and explain how Sophie has to adapt to learn the moves.  The story has happy ending with Sophie performing in a performance.

Although this book is centered about ballet, we think it gives some important lessons about following your dreams.  It lends itself to discussing how some people discourage you while others encourage you.  It also demonstrates the importance of practicing and persevering.  We hope you and your family enjoy discovering Sophie, the ballet swan!

*What is your favorite part of the book?
*Have you ever been discouraged by someone?  Have you ever 
            been encouraged by someone?
*What encourages you to do your best?
*Why do you think Sophie never gives up?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Here Comes Trouble!

If your child likes reading humorous books, Here Comes Trouble!, written by Corinne Demas and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones, is a great read!  A dog, named Toby, very clearly doesn’t like cats.  The author uses great descriptions of the kinds of cats Toby doesn’t like.  Trouble starts when his owner, Emma, agrees to keep the neighbor’s cat, Pandora, when they go on vacation.  Toby tries to get Pandora to notice him by doing various mischievous things.  Of course, Pandora doesn’t notice, but she starts doing things and nobody notices.  Toby is not happy about all of the things Pandora does until he discovers Pandora can’t get down from the tree she has climbed.  Then Toby does everything to get Emma’s attention so that Pandora can be rescued.  Pandora is rescued, and it is quickly apparent to the reader that Pandora and Toby become friends. 

This book would be a great mentor text for children in writing discussions.  The author uses alliteration to describe the kinds of cats Toby doesn’t like.  The simple narrative is a great study for character development.   One quickly gets a sense of the personalities of Toby and Pandora.  There are many ways in which children could build upon this book to develop their own stories about Toby and Pandora (or other animal characters).

We hope you enjoy the humor of this book as much as we do!  It’s a book that will make you laugh out loud!

*Do Toby and Pandora remind you of any dogs or cats you know?
*Why do you think Toby helped Pandora?
*What do you think Toby and Pandora will do next?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Book Nook Collections!

Source:  Pottery Barn Kids

We are always looking for inspiring book nooks!  Check out these six book nooks on the Pottery Barn Kids blog. Designed by six different bloggers, the book nooks use items from Pottery Barn Kids in fun ways. They are creative and sure to encourage reading!  Enjoy!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Each Kindness

Each Kindness, by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E. B. Lewis, is a thought provoking book about how we treat others.  Geared for children, it also is a good read for all family members.  I think it’s a great book to read in the summer, or before school starts.  It would also be good re-read when a new student enters a child’s classroom.

Maya, a new girl to the class, is shunned by Chloe and her friends.  Told in first person by Chloe, Maya seems to be less fortunate than the other classmates.  Chloe repeatedly ignores Maya and her requests to join in.  On a day when Maya is not at school the teacher explains how kindness ripples out like a stone in water.  Sadly, Maya never returns to the school, so Chloe is left with her memories of not being kind to Maya.

This book is unforgettable.  It’s sure to be a great discussion starter in your family.  We hope you find this book to read and discuss with your child.

*Have you ever felt like Maya?
*Have you ever treated anyone like Chloe treated Maya?
*What do you think Chloe learned?
*What do you think Chloe will do the next time a new student comes to her classroom?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Father's Day Books

Are you looking for some good Father's Day books to share with your children?  Check out these reviews for some of our choices.   

And, we think this looks like a fun gift for dads!  Grab a bag of M & Ms and a pipe cleaner to make a memory for Dad!

 Happy Father's Day!