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!

*This post contains affiliate links*

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.

(Contains affiliate links)

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.

*contains affiliate links*


Black History Month Books

February is Black History month. When I was originally planning to talk about Black History month, I wanted to share the books we own that represent African Americans. Going through my bookshelves, I became distinctly aware of the lack of books we own that highlight strong black people. I can tell you that will be changing.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it does offer a mere glimpse at ways publishers and authors are working to make main characters more diverse.

Ada Twist, Scientist is one of Andrea Beatty’s books. I adore reading this book to my kids. It’s a great read aloud. It highlights a strong girl with a knack for asking “why?”. The family dynamics in Ada Twist, Scientist are one of my favorite parts of the book. Her mom, dad and brother are supportive, but like al families, there is some tension. However, how they work to resolve and how it brings them together is truly inspiring.

Robosauce by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri. The authors are the creators of the Bestselling book, Dragons Love Tacos. This is the tale of a robot loving kid and, of course, his robot. This book has a FUN twist to it (no spoilers here!).

A Giraffe in the Gym is a wonderful book about getting active and healthy. I had the privilege of meeting the author and reviewing this book.

Last Stop on Market Street – This amazing book makes me so emotional. It’s a beautiful book about kindness and it provides such a sweet perspective.

The Story of Martin Luther King Jr – I love this book. Even though we read it throughout the year, I always make sure to read it to my children every Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Not pictured, but we do have Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats. I used this book to talk to my kids about how we were adding their little brother to our family when I was pregnant with him.

I would love to know what books you use for Black History Month? Share below!



Character “Fluff” Books

You may remember,  in 2016 we read 800 books aloud. Needless to say, We read a lot of books. I strive to introduce my kids to my kids to a wide-range of books. Silly, wordless, rhyming, brightly illustrated, black and white, historical, nonfiction, scientific, etc.

However, I have noticed that when my children have the opportunity to purchase their own books, they consistently choose specific types of books.

My son selects super hero or ninja books. My daughter chooses animals or princesses. Often times, the books they choose are character specific (Marvel Super heroes or Disney Princesses).

I’ve seen varying opinions recently where parents want to discourage their kids from reading character books. They call it “fluff”.

I disagree with this. I love “fluff” books. Here is why: character books reflect things my kids are currently interested in. Character “fluff” books also connect to my kids that their super hero or princess obsession is also available in book form. Which means, when they find books that are in their wheel frame of interest, they are more inclined to read.

Between you and me, yes, sometimes it does drive me crazy that their favorite books are princess or super hero themed. But I am reminded that they do enjoy other books, and that the character books make reading personal for them. It shifts from books Mom reads to books they LOVE.

When we are raising readers, we have to be ready for our budding readers to take fight on their own. They can only do this if we lay a strong foundation in the value of reading. We begin when we allow them to choose books THEY want to read.

I would love to know if your kids have chosen books you wouldn’t otherwise have chosen for them?


Book Review: Peanut Butter & Pickles

If your kids are like mine, they eat weird and unusual food combinations. They are picky eaters, so usually, I’m all: WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET YOU TO EAT. (Haha…but really) So if they will eat sprouted bread with peanut butter and marshmallow creme, sign me up. Or if they are nervous to try greek yogurt with a beautifully made strawberry sauce, that’s okay – just a dab will do ya.

With all this food talk, I can think of no better book to add to this conversation than Peanut Butter & Pickles by Philip Pecoraro (illustrated by Nicholas Pecoraro). This hilarious book is all about a father and his kids and their quest to make lunch. I could very much identify with having kids who turn their nose up at turkey sandwiches. As the kids throw out alternative lunch options, well, they really start to add up. The grocery list of foods grows and grows and hilarity ensues.

Nicholas is definitely a budding artist. I really appreciated how consistent his illustrations were on each page. That is NOT an easy task. Nicholas did a phenomenal job matching the expressions to his father’s story. This father-son duo is extremely talented.

I know I mentioned this book is hilarious, but when Philip Pecoraro sent me the book description, I was laughing. That’s a good sign the book will be rib-tickling. When I read it to my kids, they couldn’t stop giggling. Peanut Butter & Pickles is a GREAT read aloud book. It’s equally important for the parent and child to LOVE reading a book and Philip Pecoraro is an amazing storyteller.  The second we finished reading it, they grabbed it from my hands and curled up on the couch to read it again. To me, that is the sign of a great book if my kids grab a book to look at once we are done reading it!

Be sure to follow Peanut Butter and Pickles on their new website, and  Facebook! Also if you purchase Peanut Butter and Pickles here, you can get and extra 30% off using this discount code: 99QL7LUA.


Book Review: Joy & Finley

This Spring Semester, in my children’s homeschool, we are traveling the world. Every few weeks, we will be exploring a different continent. We will be using the five senses (touch, sound, taste, smell, see) as our focus in each continent.

Which leads me to Joy and Finley by Rachel and Keith Ingram. I was really excited when Rachel Ingram approached me about exploring her new book, Joy and Finley, which is based in Italy.  When I received Joy & Finley in the mail, I squealed! It was beautifully wrapped with MAPS! You can head over to JoyandFinley.com to purchase your own copy and it will also arrive wrapped too!



Joy and Finley is the delightful story follows two sisters, Joy and Finley, in their car race adventure through Italy. There are obstacles, villains, Italian words, incredible Italian villages, and of course, PASTA! All heroes have a sidekick and Joy and Finley are no different. We can’t forget to mention their dog, Sir Sam (which may be the best dog name I’ve ever heard). This is a fast-paced story (as all good car races should be), so buckle up and hang on tight.

Strong sibling relationships are so important to us as we raise our kiddos. I particularly enjoyed how in sync Joy and Finley worked together. It was very clear throughout the story, they worked as a team. They were equals in the race.

The illustrations are amazing. Incredibly detailed, you really feel like you are bouncing through the Italian countryside in a vintage motorcar. The characters are expressive and so dynamic. The characters are dressed in 1930s motor car racing garb which just adds a wonderful unique layer to the story. I loved how each twist and turn in the story was perfectly matched in the illustrations. I even spotted several “hidden” details writing this review, so be sure to take your time to fully take in the artwork!

This book takes you on a journey to Italy. When you close the book, I can almost guarantee you will be surprised you are still on your couch. I can also almost guarantee you will be craving spaghetti.

Follow Rachel Ingram on Instagram for news about Joy & Finley, giveaways and more!


Multicultural Children’s Book Day: The Mountain Chef

I’m so honored and so excited to participate in Multicultural Book Day! The official date is January 27th, but I wanted to share my book early with you! Exposing my kids to other cultures is really important to me. There are usually so many great conversation starters that are inspired by talking to kids about different cultures and traditions.

I had the immense honor of receiving The Mountain Chef by Annette Pimentel (Charlesbridge Press).

I usually don’t read books before reading them to my kids. But, as soon as I received The Mountain Chef from Annette Pimentel, I immediately dove in. I couldn’t wait! I was so inspired,  I planned an entire day for my kids so we could soak in the wonderful story, the history and all the unique references.

In The Mountain Chef, we follow the incredible story of Tie Sing. He was a Chinese American who became a chef in a time when Chinese Americans faced unfair pay differences than their white coworkers. Tie Sing never lost heart. He had a dream and he went for it. He worked with Millionaire Stephen Mather who was intent on his own goal of creating a national park. The initial 10 day wilderness expedition provided Mather with the opportunity to show politicians, movie stars and business people why they needed a national park. Day in and day out, on this expedition, it was Tie Sing who created and executed gourmet meals over an OPEN FIRE to Mather’s guests. On the expedition, Tie Sing faced hurdle after hurdle as food supplies were lost or destroyed. Despite that, he never lost heart. He continued to provide his guests with amazing meals and fond memories of their time spent in the woods. The trip was a success and Yosemite National Park was born! In fact, if you go to Sing Peak, you will pay homage to Tie Sing.

To help my kids fully engage with the story, we went on a picnic in the middle of the woods. Our menu was reminiscent of the food Tie Sing served: sourdough bread, apples, chicken, apple pie and fortune cookies.

During our picnic, we talked about how The Mountain Chef mentions the unfair wages for the Chinese, so we spent some time discussing if that was fair. My kids were very enthusiastic in their “NO!” Responses. After our picnic, we practiced writing the Chinese symbol for the word “exploring”. (I’m very thankful to my friends who helped me make sure we used the correct Chinese symbol!).

I really enjoyed sharing The Mountain Chef with my kids. I loved the rich history, but Annette Pimentel did a wonderful job in crafting a story that was well balanced with history wasn’t overwhelming or boring.

This is a wonderful book if you are looking for ways to discuss fair wages and racial discrimination with kids. It’s also a wonderful book to talk about the history of our National Park Service. There are truly so many layers to it. The Mountain Chef is beautifully done. It already has made it’s way to my top ten children’s books for 2017!


Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors: MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee& Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

Author Sponsor include: Karen Leggett Abouraya, Veronica Appleton, Susan Bernardo, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Maria Dismondy, D.G. Driver, Geoff Griffin, Savannah Hendricks, Stephen Hodges, Carmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid Imani, Gwen Jackson, Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana Llanos, Natasha Moulton-Levy, Teddy O’Malley, Stacy McAnulty, Cerece Murphy, Miranda Paul, Annette Pimentel, Greg Ransom, Sandra Richards, Elsa Takaoka, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

MCBD Links to remember:

MCBD site: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teachers-classroom-kindness-kit/

Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents: http://bit.ly/1sZ5s8i