Book Club: Kitchen Club Garden Safari Vegetable Soup

My kids get really excited when we get to play in the dirt and plant things. It makes them feel invested. Mostly we’ve planted flowers, but that has been an incredibly rich experience for us.

When the good folks at Kitchen Club Kids sent us the book, Garden Safari Vegetable Soup by Eluka Moore, Larry Puzniak, and Marianne Welsh, I was thrilled to read it to my kids. We are always looking for different ways to introduce vegetables to my kids. Whether that’s in muffins or raw, we continue to gently introduce vegetables our kids might be willing to taste one day.

For Garden Safari Vegetable Soup, I decided this would be a good way to softly introduce the concept that you can grow vegetables and eat them as opposed to getting them at the grocery store. My kids loved reading Garden Safari Vegetable Soup because they had just planted flowers, so they could directly relate to planting plants.

The Garden Safari Vegetable Soup takes children through the farm to table process with number counting. Kids get the chance to see how you pick the vegetables, and then how you prepare vegetable soup (there is a delicious recipe in the back!). My kids especially enjoyed the number counting. They got excited by the “five carrots” in the book, “Hey! Mom! We eat those!”.

I loved that the illustrations are so vivid. There is no mistaking a carrot or an onion. The basil leaves look incredibly life-like. The characters in the book are engaging.

Garden Safari Vegetable Soup is an excellent way to introduce a recipe to kids and to cook with them. My three kids are under five years old, so I was super nervous about chopping vegetables with three little ones, but we did have an absolute blast enjoy counting and talking about the vegetables in the book. When we finished reading Garden Safari Vegetable Soup, my kids were SO EXCITED to see that there are other books available by The Kitchen Club Kids.  There is a Rainbow Fruit Salad book, and a Recipe Activity Kit.

The Kitchen Club Kids are doing some amazing things to encourage families to enjoy healthy foods together. I’m excited to see what they do next; it’s evident the Kitchen Club Kids are passionate about the work they are doing. You can find more about what Kitchen Club Kids is up to by going to their website. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Golden Guide Nature Books

Several weeks ago, I was listening to the Read Aloud Revival Podcast with guest Greta Eskridge from MaandPaModern blog. One of the many books mentioned were the Golden Guide Nature Books. I was so intrigued by Greta’s description of these nature guides, I immediately bought one. Since then, I’ve been buying one every few weeks. My kids have completely surprised me by how much they enjoy them, and I had to share them with you in a longer post than an Instagram picture square.

My kids LOVE them. These compact little books are overflowing with amazing tidbits, colorful illustrations and geographical maps. We will break the books down, but before we do that, I want to say that there has been a resurgence of interest in the Golden Guide books so they are actually being republished. The content is the same and the price is too, but the covers aren’t as worn as the older ones. We have both; I’ve been so impressed with how the older editions are holding up despite their age, and my kids’ desire to tote them around.

Measuring at about 8 inches tall, the Golden Guide Nature Books are perfect for kids who love to romp around outside and explore. We currently have Zoology, Seashore Life, Birds, and Insects. We are anticipating adding to our collection: Trees, Flowers, Stars, Reptiles and Amphibians, Weather, Mammals, Fishes, Rocks and Minerals, Gamebirds, Fossils, Pond Life, Butterflies and Moths, Dinosaurs, Snakes, Weeds, Herb Spices, and Seashells of the World.  There are SO MANY to choose from! Sometimes, it’s hard to choose what to get next. We especially love watching birds in our backyard, so it’s nice to finally begin to identify the birds we aren’t familiar with. My kids have used the Golden Guides books to search out insects. When we go to the beach this summer, we will take the Seashore Life book to identify shells and ocean creatures we see. As we add to our collection, I’m loving the conversations the Golden Guide Nature books are creating. I also love how they are encouraging my kids to explore the outdoors even more.

The information in the guide is easy to read aloud. Each creature listed includes a carefully research paragraph describing the creature and a colored illustration of the creature. This paragraph is FULL of facts and identification notes about the creature. The Insect book also shows larva, so we have been able to identify ladybug larvae. My daughter especially loved seeeing all the different types of butterflies and it’s been very empowering for her to know the names and markings of the individual butterflies. Understanding the animals and creatures of our area provides my kids with a larger understanding of the roles the bugs and creatures play in the “circle of life” (to quote Lion King) in our backyard.

I especially loved how there are geographical maps to show where each insect and bird call home. This has been especially helpful so we can be on the look out for child life that is local to us, but to also know what is in different regions of the USA/Canada/South America.

Each time we get a new Golden Guide book, I fall more in love with this series. The illustrations are so incredible. Full-color illustrations with such great details. With the Bird Book,  you see the layers of feathers, the number of toes, etc. The Zoology book contains facts of the animal kingdom. So if kids have questions about sweat glands, waste removal, survival tactics, flightless birds, identifying mammals, how a turkey hears vs. how a grasshopper hears, it’s all in the Zoology book. The Insects Book actually makes insects look…less creepy.

These aren’t the types of books you would sit down and read aloud, but they are the types of books you would use on nature hikes, or if you want your kids to appreciate looking up answers to their questions in books versus the Internet.

Reader Recommendations: Audiobooks for Kids

Last week, I talked about our favorite audiobooks. This week, I wanted to share the audiobooks YOU, my readers, recommended. My list of books to listen to added up quickly because of your recommendations! Thank you so much!

While this post does contain affiliate links, but it doesn’t charge you! Thank you for supporting my blog!

Some of the links below include the kindle book. Make sure you select Kindle AND the Audible Add On for the audiobook option.

Mouse and The Motorcycle: This book was recommended by several readers. I immediately got it for my kids. We listened to it in just a few days. My kids loved it! I can’t wait to get the other Mouse and The Motoycycle books for them! My kids gave it 5 STARS!

Magic Treehouse Books: my son loves Magic Treehouse books, but I loved the suggestion of listening to them. (If you aren’t familiar with Magic Treehouse books, they follow the adventures of a brother-sister duo. I especially love the sibling relationship!)

Stuart Little: Who can say no to E.B. White? I know I can’t!

Henry Higgins: another Beverly Cleary book! We tried reading Henry Huggins aloud and my kids didn’t seem interested. I’m excited to try the audiobook!

Ramona Books: I have a feeling the sassy adventures of Ramona keep kids interested!

Nate the Great: I wasn’t familiar with Nate The Great, but the reviews on Amazon + the book descriptions confirmed that my kids would LOVE Nate the Great!

Nancy Drew: Another series I had never considered to listen to, but I can imagine Nancy Drew is a super fun listen!

Junie B. Jones: This is a true classic! We also listened to the first book in the series this week. My kids loved it. They gave it 5 Stars! I will say that, Junie B. Does use the word “stupid” or “dumb” a lot, but we used this as an opportunity to talk about whether or not that is kind verbiage.

So many good books! Keeping reading (and listening!)!

Book Review: Stink Moves In

Whenever my kids do art projects, I always hang their work up either on the kitchen cabinets or I will hang it on the wall. Even if it’s just toddler scribbling on paper with crayons, I hang it up. I’m so proud of how they carefully craft their art. I also love hanging it up because you can see their maturity and growth progress in their artwork as they grow. When my kitchen cabinets are covered in artwork, I call it my “personal Art Gallery”. And when they have new work to display, I won’t lie – I feel like the luckiest art curator to have such treasures in my possession!

I was especially excited to see children’s artwork in the book, Stink Moves In by Tammi Landry-Gilder. This delightful book has the artwork of Kindergarten and first grade artists, from Commerce Elementary School in Commerce Township, Michigan, illustrating the story. Of course, this means that the artwork looks childish, it also is a fantastic way to inspire children to illustrate their own books. I LOVED seeing the artwork. Each page was filled with the students’ work and each piece was as unique as the child. The illustrations really inspired me to start a book project with my kids. I think the opportunity to inspire kids to interpret a story with art is invaluable.

The storyline of Stink Moves is written in a rhyming prose about a boy who discovers a mouse in his house. The mouse is very crafty and successfully avoids many attempts of capture. This doesn’t discourage the boy from continuing his quest. It only fuels his mission. Who wants a mouse in their house? Not this kid! As he is plotting his next move, he comes to a surprising discovery that makes him completely change up his next plan of capture.

Stink Moves In is such a fun book. This is a perfect book for kids who love artwork, animals, adventure, and poetry! Stink Moves is also a wonderful way to engage kids in art and poetry! Children will definitely be inspired to create their own book projects!

You can follow author Tammi Landry-Gilder on her website. Stink Moves In is her first book, but she has already written a second book!

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.

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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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Book Review: Traveling The Twisting Troubling Tanglelows’ Trail

In our home, we want to teach our kids how to communicate their feelings. We want them to feel like they can come to us and talk to us. We use phrases like, “How does that make you feel?”, “Can you use your words to talk to me?”,  and “Do you think that is kind?”.

As Christians, we also reference Scripture verses to teach and comfort our kids, like Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.“. We also talk a lot about 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” We use the first verse to determine if they are being kind or if what they are contemplating is honorable or right. When our kids are feeling fearful, we share how God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of love.

That being said, I was super intrigued by the book, Traveling The Twisting Troubling Tanglelows’ Trail by Greg McGoon. In Traveling The Twisting Troubling Tanglelows’ Trail, Greg introduces the idea that sometimes emotions/thoughts can seem too big or too overwhelming. Greg calls those big feelings, “Tanglelows”.  As you dive into the book, you see that those big feelings can produce negative echoes in our minds that can tear us down. This book explains how people can mange and untangle those Tanglelows. It isn’t often that you see a book that breaks down and explains feelings like this. Tanglelows is written to the reader; so you feel like the book is speaking directly to you. I’ve seen in other books, how kids respond to books that talk directly to the reader. There is not third person or narrator, it’s just the child (or adult!) and the book. I like the premise that Tanglelows tells readers that they can unravel their own big feelings. Those feelings don’t have to consume them. It’s hard for little ones who are sorting out feelings to learn how to manage them. I can see  Tanglelows being a positive resource for navigation through big feelings.

The illustrations perfectly accompany the story. Using watercolor art, the  illustrates the Tanglelows and big feelings. When the Tanglelows are big and tangled, the illustrations show what a mess negative emotions can be and how to untangle them. The colors shift in the illustrations from dark to light according to what the Tanglelows are feeling (remember Inside Out? Similar concept).

If you have a child who has a difficult time navigating through feelings and emotions and learning how to appropriately manage and respond, consider Traveling The Twisting Troubling Tanglelows’ Trail.

You can find Greg on his website.

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Book Review: The Great Journey

In December, I won a book giveaway on Instagram. I am most grieved that I cannot remember who ran the giveaway, but I was sent this amazing, amazing book, The Great Journey by Agathe Demois and Vincent Godeau.

The Great Journey follows Red Bird on his great journey to an important meeting with other birds. Along the way, however, Red Bird’s journey reveals more than what meets the eye. This is an incredible view finder book had my children pausing their active play, to carefully to search out what is hidden behind the scenes. Even my daughter looked through the book on her own as soon as she and her brother were done sharing the book!

When you look at the pages without the viewfinder, the illustrations, like Red Bird, are all red. The hidden scenes are in blue. When you move the viewfinder, an entirely different scene is revealed.

This was such a fun book! In our home, adults and children alike have been found reading this book on their own. That doesn’t happen very often, but it can’t be helped with The Great Journey. It is so engaging and the hidden scenes are NOTHING like you expect them to be.  You could almost get caught up up in moving the viewfinder to see the hidden scenes and forget to read the actual story (this very thing may or may not have happened to ME!). For the last few weeks, this has been my kids’ go to book. If they want to engage with a book, they grab this one. I’ve seen all the kiddos crowd around the book and study the images. But I’ve also seen them sneak off with it on their own without their siblings present.

This book is less than a year old and I hope more people get this book! It is so fabulous and SO FUN!


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!

Book Review: The Ladybug’s Garden

What is it about bug books that kids just love? I’m always amazed by my kids’ fascination with insects and bugs. In fact, I regularly find them in our backyard poking at ant hills to see what the ants are up to. Bug books are literally the best. I mean, I prefer bug books because I don’t have to worry about bugs coming into my home (haha!)!

In The Ladybug’s Garden by Anabella Schofield and Sofia Schofield check out their instagram!), we not only see a wonderful story about bugs and insects, but also of  kindness. This sweet story follows Ladybug’s day as she helps her friends and family on her way to the neighborhood picnic. When she arrives, she is greeted by a wonderful surprise (no spoilers here!).

In our home, we regularly discuss being kindness. We incorporate kindness as a routine practice in our home amongst siblings. We talk about it when we see a character on a TV show not being kind. Or if my kids encounter a child who isn’t being kind, we talk about how we are to respond. At every page turn in The Ladybug’s Garden, we see Ladybug going out of her way to extend kindness – sometimes at her own expense! There is no doubt the world can always use more kindness and that always begins in our homes. I loved reading The Ladybug’s Garden, because it was another avenue for my children to see kindness in action.

The illustrations are simplistic, but beautifully done in telling the story. I love how the characters are expressive and not a detail left out (there are various clocks in the story telling time).

Authors Anabella and Sofia are teenage twin sisters who wrote The Ladybug’s Garden as a school project. They enjoyed the process so much, they took steps to get it published.  I love when young women are not afraid to pursue their dreams. You can follow them on Instagram to see what is next for these young authors!

You can follow Anabella and Sofia on Instagram here. You can also follow the publisher, Pink Umbrella Books on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and check out their website.

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