Book Review: If Dinosaurs Could Talk For Me!

What is it about dinosaurs that kids love so much? It never ceases to amaze me how much they love those HUGE creatures. Several weeks ago, I connected with author Corey Egbert on Instagram. As soon as I saw the dinosaur on the cover of his book, I knew my kids would love this dinosaur book.

I was right. The second I opened the package, my kids grabbed Corey’s book. We immediately read it cover to cover twice. Then, they promptly took the book to my husband to read. Yes, they had us read it to them three times in a row within minutes of opening the package. Anytime my kids insist that we read a book multiple times in a row, I know we’ve hit literary gold. These are the moments I live for; when they say, “READ IT AGAIN!”. That’s perfection. Not surprisingly, after we read Corey’s book multiple times in a row, it inspired an entire morning of fun. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you about Corey’s book.

If Dinosaurs Could Talk For Me by Corey Egbert is about a young boy named Ben. (Side note: my husband’s name is Ben, so my children roared with laughter that we were reading a story about a KID named Ben!) Ben is adventurous, artistic, and loves to read. Ben is also shy. Very shy. He wants to make friends, but he is more comfortable drawing dinosaurs. However, when he meets Sophie, he realizes they have a lot in common. Ben isn’t sure how he will make friends with Sophie if he is too nervous to talk to her. This book has a delightful ending, which I won’t give away! But, I will tell you this: it’s SO FUN!

Corey’s illustrations are dynamic. He uses 2 main colors in his illustrations, blue and red, as a way to create emphasis in the story. It works! Even my children picked up on the two tone art palette. Once we finished reading If Dinosaurs Could Talk For Me for the third time, my children grabbed their art journals, along with red and blue crayons, and began to draw dinosaurs. I love when a book inspires my children’s imaginations. I also LOVE that my children immediately wanted to imitate Corey’s art work. That speaks highly of Corey’s ability to create a story line and artwork that urges children to mimic the story.

If Dinosaurs Could Talk For Me is the perfect book for kids who are shy or for kids who struggle making friends. It reminds them to never stop trying to make friends. It also reminds them to stay true to who they are. Both are good reminders for all kids – whether they are shy or not. It’s also perfect for your resident dino lover and/or artist!

Be sure to connect with Corey on his website! Also be sure to check out   The Publisher for If Dinosaurs Could Talk For Me, Cedar Fort Publishing. They graciously sent me a copy of If Dinosaurs Could Talk For Me.

*Contains affiliate links*

Our Favorite Audiobooks

As much as we love picture books, but I also want my kids enjoy chapter books. One way we do this is with audiobooks. The thing about audiobooks is that when you have a good narrator, the book can feel like it comes alive. My three children are under five years old. I don’t expect them grasp everything in the books we listen to, but I do hope they enjoy the books we listen together.

We have listened to a LOT of books on Librovox using the Podcast App on my iPhone. That has been a great way to listen to fabulous classic literature. We recently started buying audiobooks by adding the audible option to kindle books on Amazon. You can go the traditional route to purchase or borrow audiobook CDs from the library. A lot of libraries also have the option of an app where you can electronically borrow the audiobook. All libraries are different, so be sure to check with your local library.

We have listened to many amazing books, I thought I would share the books we’ve listened to AND what my kids thought. I rated my kids’ reaction based on 5 stars.

1 Star – awful…5 Stars – BEST EVER.

Sherlock Holmes: 3 Stars

My kids: 2 stars. (This probably has to do with their ages. I loved it, but they never asked to listen to it)

Alice in Wonderland: 4 Stars.

(My kids really enjoyed listening to this book. We have the BabyLit Alice in Wonderland board book, so they were familiar with the characters.)

Peter Pan : 5 STARS.

(They LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Peter Pan. It’s almost been a year since we’ve listened to it, and they still ask for it. We will be listening to it again VERY soon)

Mary Poppins : 3 Stars

(They were indifferent to Mary Poppins. I think they would have connected with it better if we had watched the Classic Disney movie Mary Poppins first).

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling : 4 Stars

(They really got a kick out of the stories and characters in Just So Stories. It’s all about talking animals, and they loved that.)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz : 4 Stars

(My kids really loved The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. We usually listen to audiobooks in the car, but we actually listened to this book at the table during breakfast. They would ask for it with their breakfast.)

The Wind in the Willows : 2 Stars

(This really surprised me, but my kids weren’t big fans of The Wind in the Willows. This surprised me because it’s about talking animals and their adventures. But, I think the storyline was a little slow for their ages. I loved it and finished it without them!)

We are currently listening to The Railway Children. I can’t give any feedback because we just started it.

Do you listen to audiobooks with your family? Share your favorites!

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Preparing for Lent: Looking Towards The Cross

I went to a Christian college where a lot of the students observed Lent. I never really understood how you observed Lent. This has always been a source of frustration for me – because while I understand this is the 40 days leading up to Easter, I didn’t understand how to make it a practical study. Let’s not even talk about how to teach my kids. I felt inadequate to share with my kids something that I felt was important to my faith, but didn’t understand. Until now.

Leighann Marquiss has created a Lent study for families called Looking Towards The Cross. This amazing study is forty days long. For each day, it incorporates a simple craft and Scripture. Leighann has thought of everything in this study. The supplies for crafts needed are listed in Day order. The study is organized to be a 6 day a week study. Each Day builds upon one another. This may seem like a no brainer, but seeing how each day is connect to the day before and the day after, really helped.

For the first time, I felt like I could celebrate and observe Lent. Further more, I feel like I can involve my children in the observation of Lent. I think this will be a great way to begin to prepare my (and my chilfren’s!) heart for Easter.

Ash Wednesday is March 1, so you have time to grab your copy of Looking Towards The Cross to share with your family!

2017 Reading Goals

I started 2016 with one goal: read more. This was for myself. I read to my kids all the time. I love to read. However, I was struggling with finding the time to read. I found myself in the following cycle, read a lot, go months without reading anything, read a lot again. I was tired of that. I wanted to break that cycle and make reading for myself a more consistent presence in my life. So, when I made this goal of “read more”. It meant that I created a GoodReads account, joined their 2016 Reading Challenge (this is all free), and decided I would aim to read 16 books. I estimated I had read no more than 12 books in 2015, I thought that 16 was a manageable goal. Maybe, I thought, if I was lucky, I would even get to 20 books for the year. Instead, I read 75!!!!! books for 2016. Talk about smashing a goal! I did a combination of print books, ebooks, and audiobooks. I definitely counted any chapter book I read aloud to my kids as a book I read too!

As the year progressed, I made little add-on reading goals to my primary “read more” goal. Those goals were:

  • Finish books I had started, but not finished.
  • Read MORE Classics
  • Read a biography on each US President

Having those little add-on goals really helped me when I felt I was in a book rut and I needed help finding my next read.

I truly believe that part of raising readers is letting them see parents/adults read for FUN. It is not unusual for me to take a book outside while my kids are playing or to listen to an audiobook in the car or simply read a chapter or two while they play together inside. I heard Anne Bogel (www.modernmrsdarcy.com) say once that to make room for reading, you have to be read to open a book in those spare moments. So, Anne mentioned carrying a book in her bag or having an audiobook on her phone ready for those little moments she has available throughout her day. That idea of embracing those little moments to read inspired me to be more intentional.

For 2017,  I’m making a reading goal of 80 books! With the following add on goals:

I’m excited for this next year in reading. I think it is going to be a fabulous year! Have you made your reading goals? I would love to know what you plan to read or how many books you are wanting to read in 2017!

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2016: Our Year of Books

fullsizerender1As we are nearing the end of 2016, I have been spending quite a bit of time thinking over the last year. This was the first year, I kept a record of the books I read aloud to my children. It was never about achieving a certain number of books read per month, as much as I was curious to see how many books we actually consumed in a month’s time. Because it wasn’t about reach a number, but more about surrounding ourselves with great works of literature, some months we read just over 20 books, and other months we soared past 100 books in a month’s time.

fullsizerender2I kept track of the books in a simple spiral bound notebook. I leave it on the kitchen counter open so I can quickly jot down the books we read. If we are in the middle of a book marathon (where we are reading book after book at one time), I simply set the book aside and jot it down later. I had one rule, though, even if we read aloud a particular book OVER AND OVER again during the month, we only counted it in the notebook once a month. So, there are a list of books we’ve read multiple times that I only counted once.

Raising readers is such a JOY for me. The ability to spend time with my kids as we read aloud is something I cherish every single day. It’s not always cozy and picturesque on the couch, often times, I’m reading while they are running around or playing with toys. The latter does not discourage me because I know they are listening when I catch them quietly looking at the book long after I’ve finished reading it aloud.

image1For 2016, I am astonished and excited to say that we read over 800 books! This was a healthy mix of picture books, early readers, chapter books, and audio books. We’ve read some incredible books this year. We made many trips to the library (and paid many late book fees). We repaired many books. We’ve rummaged the shelves at thrift stores for “new” books and bought new books from the actual bookstore. We’ve delighted over books as gifts. It has been such a rich journey! I am really excited for 2017. I anticipate we will be reading more amazing books. I have this secret goal of reading every single book in the children’s section of our local library. I know that is a far reaching goal, but it is fun to think about actually running out of options!

In case you are wondering, I thought I would mention some beloved favorites of my kids. A few of the the books they ask to read again and again: Dragons Love Tacos, Where’s Walrus And Penguin?, Ada Twist, Scientist, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, The Bear At Your Sandwich, I Don’t Want To Be A Frog, Please, Mr. Panda. Their favorite audiobook was Peter Pan by JM Barrie. We love The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne. Our 800th book for 2016 was The Spectacular Tale of Peter Rabbit by Emma Thompson (she truly has captured the spirit of Beatrix Potter).

What were your kids’ favorite books they read this year? Share in the comments! I would love to know!

*this post contains affiliate links*

The Story Shop

For 2017, one of my blog goals is to visit more independent bookstores. So once a month, I will be visiting a independent bookstore and sharing with my readers what makes them so incredibly special. Even though it isn’t 2017 YET, I couldn’t wait.  I had to jump-start this project to bring you The Story Shop.

img_0848Nestled in the beautiful downtown of Monroe, Georgia, you will find The Story Shop. This independent bookstore specializes in children’s books. It’s not just a bookstore loaded from floor to ceiling with books. The Story Shop is an experience that is enchanting. When my friend first told me about The Story Shop it sounded too perfect. img_0829Too good to be true. But it is perfect and it is true. It took a couple of weeks to be able to go, but it was so worth the one hour drive to see this bookstore for myself. And I fell in love! The message of The Story Shop is simple: make books fun for kids. (I LOVE THIS.) The Story Shop has done this in beautifully creative ways.

From the moment you walk in, you are greeted by subtle nods to classic books. Beloved characters and favorite scenes from favorite books come alive. There is Peter Pan’s shadow dancing across the wall (just above the teepee), there is a ship wheel and billowing sails inviting children to sail away to find Moby Dick.

If your child fancies herself to be from a lineage of royalty, don’t worry, The Story Shop has a delightful bed where mattresses topple over each other beckoning princesses to confirm what they know: they are royal. Oh, but I would be so remiss if I didn’t mention the Hobbit Hole and the Wardrobe. img_0825The Hobbit Hole has a door in a lush green color. The Hobbit Hole welcome sign quotes JRR Tolkien and promises children that Hobbit Holes equal comfort.

As you make your way to the Wardrobe, you will cross over the yellow brick road. The Wardrobe takes you to story time. YES! To go to story time, you must go through the wardrobe.  We went during story time. My kids (despite being active and engaged readers at home) did not sit well during story time. But the owner’s daughter did not seem phased as two out of my three children walked out while she read. She was expressive, kind and welcoming to the children during story time.

img_0838I LOVE how The Story Shop welcomes children. On the counter, there is an enormous jar labeled bookworms. It is full of gummy worms. And, if your child gets permission from their parent, they can get a bookworm snack. There are dragon tails to play with and the teepee is full of pillows to curl up and read. There are engaging Melissa & Doug toys available for sale.

Let’s NOT forget to talk about the books. The Story Shop has tables and bookshelves of books available for sale. It is so evident they carefully curate beautifully illustrated, modern and classic children’s books. There is a healthy balance of picture books, board books, pop-up books, and chapter books. There is a lovely display of BabyLit Books which made me SO, SO HAPPY!

Follow The Story Shop on social media on Facebook and Instagram. Of course, it goes without say,  make a trip to visit them. The Story Shop is doing some really special things to make incredible literature come to life in a way that is breathtaking.

 

A Gift Guide for Book Lovers

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Tis the Season!! Well, it’s almost the season of gift buying for your favorite reader. I’ve created a list of Books and Book related items that would be so awesome to give as gifts. For this year’s Gift Guide, I chose books I have loved reading. The books I haven’t been able to stop talking about.  I chose books my kids have LOVED. Books we enjoy reading aloud together: books that are FUN to read aloud and to listen as it’s being read aloud. I also selected books we have read over and over again. Lastly, I chose book or reading themed items.

Books:

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The Kitchen Counter Cooking School
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Selection Series (YA Lit)

Dishonor

Silent Night Shadows

Soul H2O

 

Children’s Books:image Photo Jun 22, 9 22 16 AM

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Are We There Yet?

Please, Mr. Panda
Dragons Love Tacos
Flora and the Peacocks
Muddle & Match Series

Baby Lit Books

Shine A Light books

The Night Gardener by the Fan Brothers

Robo-Sauce

Aree Chung’s Ninja and Ninja! Attack of the Clam books

 

Literary Items:

Book Shirt

Book Bag

Alice in Wonderland Mug

Repurposed Vintage Book Journal

Wooden Book-Ends

Book Lover Magnets

Personal Book Stamp

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My Instagram Monthly Hashtags

electionOver the last few months, I’ve chosen a monthly theme to highlight books on Instagram with a fun hashtag. It started in July, when we did the Olympics and I wanted to share the books we were reading. I also wanted to share any crafts or activities we did along with it. I chose the hashtag: #bookreviewmamaolympics. We had so much fun, we did Airplanes in August with #bookreviewmamaflies. In September, we blasted off to outer space with #bookreviewmamaspacecamp. In October, in preparation for the presidential election, we have done #bookreviewmamavotes as we learned about presidents, our capital, and  the electoral process. brazil

The monthly themes have been so helpful in many ways:

1) it helps our homeschool: as we hone in on our monthly theme, we really get a chance to focus and explore in great detail. I am always amazed the wings that these monthly themes grow. When we studied Airplanes, we also studied weather. When we studied the Olympics, we explored Brazil and Ancient Greece

2) I get the chance to highlight books that either revolve around current or around topics my kids are genuinely interested in. As we learned about the Election process, we learned about past presidents and national monuments. I learned my kids are big fans of Abraham Lincoln.

3) We get a chance to dive into the nonfiction section of our library. While we love the beautiful fictional picture books by our favorite authors, I love exposing my kids to amazing nonfiction books. There are so many great picture books that discuss real topics. These nonfiction authors tackle potentially complex subjects (the US presidency and the electoral process) and they break it down so that even kids 5 years old and younger can understand it.

4) Our activities are manageable. It’s no secret I’ve got 3 kids under 5. Which means I do not have time or energy to plan extensive activities from Pinterest.  Often I will pin a lot of activities and then decide which ones are age appropriate and Mom-manageable. Achieving both of those keeps learning fun.

5) we get to explore different subjects together. Building memories with my kids is so important. I especially love building memories where I can incorporate books too!

space-booksAt the close of each month, my kids have soaked in so much. I love seeing what they have learned and what has stuck out to them during our exploration. They may think we are “only” reading, but I see how much they are learning! It is also teaching them that if they have a question, they can find the answer in a book. This is another way to not only raise readers, but to help children develop a LOVE for learning – a skill they will need for the rest of their lives.

Check out November’s hashtag on Instagram!

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#BookReviewMamaVotes

14980638_1143391765754539_468769150963126150_nFor the month of October, we used hashtag #bookreviewmamavotes as we dove in to the Presidential Election process of 2016. electionWe covered age appropriate topics in the current presidential race, the electoral process, past presidents, the job of a president, the senator, national monuments, and the voting process. We also discussed the current candidates (We did not read any books about either candidate. This was very disappointing for me; I wanted to be able to read and discuss with my children both candidates, but each book about Donald Trump was not informative, but rude and not appropriate for children).

14480634_761775604610_2788658096984979971_oEven though my kids are under 5 years of age, they still gave speeches as to why people should vote for them, and they wrote out what they would do if they were president. They filled out Voter Registration cards, and they voted.  We watched one of the presidential debates. We had a lot of great questions and comments about the political process. I could have easily discussed who I was voting for and try to persuade my kids to “vote” my way, but I stayed away from being persuasive and instead, I focused more on what they thought and the actual voting process.

There were so many books we read; and they covered a variety of topics from early American history, to picture books about the electoral process. I was so impressed with the incredible illustrations of the books we read and the topics covered in each book. Don’t underestimate the incredible wealth of information in a children’s book! It was very impressive how jam-packed each book was of facts and information for children to understand the USA’s election process. president-books

Book List:

(* = books I couldn’t find on Amazon)

#BookReviewMamaFlies

In August,our theme was AIRPLANES. We used the hashtag on Instagram: #bookreviewmamaflies. We also explored Weather. We learned a lot about the various functions in an airport. We also learned a lot about the pioneers who built the first airplanes. I also tried to cover famous pilots as well. Keep in mind, my children are under 5, so my focus in these monthly themes is just to introduce the subject and see where it goes from there. (Books with the * indicate books I was unable to locate on Amazon.com)Photo May 07, 12 59 21 PM

Book List:

Lindbergh

Five Trucks by Brian Flocca

Captain Sky Blue

A Day At An Airport

Fly Blanky Fly

Moon Plane

The First Airplanes*

Gila Monsters Meet You At the Airport

Coming Home*

I Am Amelia Earhart

Violet the Pilot

Lift the Flap Computers Decoding Book (Usborne Books)

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Fall Weather’s Cooler Temperatures

Peacocks (Capstone Press Books)

Flamingos (Capstone Press Books)

My First Airplane Ride

Airport

Bonus Book Mention: Parachute

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