Top 10 Children’s Books of the Summer

I love reading and so do my young children. Every summer, since they were born, I challenge myself to read 100 books to them. For the previous two summers I was able to read those 100 books in thirty days! That left me exhausted for the month of August so I went back to my original plan of 100 books during the summer. My children get a kick out of going to the library and (now) using their library card to check out books they want me to read to them. I was also able to see which books they really enjoyed, and that led me to compile a list of their favorite books this summer.

10. Where’s Waldo 30th Anniversary Edition

Wheres Waldo coverThe kids enjoyed searching the pages to see who can find Waldo faster than mommy. They looked at Waldo as a giant hide-and-go-seek game inside of a book. Especially when they had to search for the other people. This book made this list because this was a special request after my children played the Where’s Waldo game on YouTube. Once they went through the entire book they were ready to move on to the next story. To help children learn to look at the details and find what’s hidden in plain sight, I would definitely recommend this book!

 

9.Just Saving My Money

Just Saving My Money coverLittle Critter wants to buy a new toy. His parents introduce him to earning money so he can save up for his toy. Will Little Critter save up enough to buy the toy? I introduced the children to the Little Critters with this book. My children know that saving money is a good thing when there are things you want to buy even when they weren’t happy doing it. Reading about the little Critter saving his money to save up for his favorite toy gave them another view on their piggy banks. Now my daughter is thinking of interesting ways to earn and save her money to buy Barbies!

 

 

8. No, David!

No David coverThis is a classic story about a little boy being told NO! quite often because of the antics he gets into as a lovable preschooler. My three year old son enjoyed this book more than my five year old daughter, but David made the list because at story time this book was requested several times.

 

 

 

 

 

7. The Berenstain Bears Are Super Bears!

Berenstain Bears Super Bears coverThe three bear cubs love super heroes, so one day they decide to become super heroes themselves! See what plans they foil and what bad guys they thwart in this funny adventure. My children absolutely adore these little bears. I can’t blame them. I have been a fan of the Berenstain Bears since my childhood and I am happy to see that I was able to share them with my children. I have read quite a few of the Berenstain Bears to my children this summer but this book had them captivated from the cover art! I would have added more but this list is only for the top 10 of this summer. Next summer I may have to add a whole lot more books from this series!

 

 

6. Bee-bim Bop

Bee Bim Bop coverThis is a very lovely book about a girl helping her mom cook her favorite Korean dish for dinner. My children love the rhyming and the pictures. This book even has the recipe for how to make Bee-bim Bop so you can try it yourself! We have this book at home and then my daughter received a copy of it as a prize while participating in the summer reading program at our local library. My son and my daughter love requesting this book at bedtime!

 

 

5. I Broke My Trunk!

I Broke my Trunk coverThis book is another one that is requested quite often by my little ones. The different adventures that Piggie and Elephant get into are hilarious. The story of their friendship is adorable and the story of how Gerald broke his trunk is funny. Surprisingly enough, last summer, neither of my children were to enthusiastic about Piggie and Elephant. Last summer was all about the Pigeon, The Knuffle Bunny and the Cat the Cat series, all by the same author. For the most part, anything by this author (now) is a win for the children!

 

 

4. Should I Share My Ice Cream?

Should I Share My Ice Cream coverGerald has a dilemma. The ice cream truck has come and gone and Piggie was not around. Gerald wonders whether or not he should share his ice cream with Piggie or eat the sweet treat by himself? This book tickled all of us. It also opens the door for discussion about sharing. Another book requested regularly. The Piggie and Elephant series came highly recommended by our librarian last summer. I am glad the children finally started enjoying them.

 

 

 

3. I Love My New Toy!

I Love My New Toy coverPiggie and Elephant are at it again. This time, Piggie has a new toy that she wants to share with Gerald. This story of friendship helps children see different ways to handle situations. The delight on my children’s faces when they run into the children section to select more Piggie and Elephant books is a joy to see. That makes it that much better for reading time when they select the books themselves.

 

 

 

2. The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!

Pigeon Hotdog coverThis Pigeon is a hilarious ball of energy! My children can’t seem to get enough of this bird! He is very expressive and has been in rotation on our reading list for three summers in a row. The pigeon series is also a recommendation from our librarian. The Pigeon finds a hot dog and just when he’s about to eat it, here comes the Duckling! Will the Pigeon share his delicious find or will he gobble it up with the Duckling watching? This books is entertaining for me as well as my children and I enjoy reading about this Pigeon.

 

1. Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus!

Pigeon Bus coverFunny! The pigeon dreams of driving a bus one day so when the bus driver steps away for a little bit, the attempts to get permission to drive the bus. Will he fulfill his dream of being a bus driver? This book is my children’s first introduction to Mo Willems and I couldn’t have expected the amount of laughter I received the first time I read this one. This book has been on our reading list for three summers now also. This was also recommended by our librarian. When ever I check out any of the pigeon books my children get excited and want to read the books immediately. The books delight my children so much that I follow Mo Willems on Twitter and recently asked him if any new pigeon books were coming out any time soon.

Listen, my children loved these books plus many more this summer. Don’t take my word on how great these books are, read them to your children and let them decide how much (or little) they enjoy these books. Reading to children now will create a lifetime love of reading.

 

5 Reasons Why Reading is Fundamental

I read a blog post last month by Allie D that caught my attention. She listed 50 of the Best Preschool Books that she has read to her boys. I instantly wanted to read her post because I love books and I was curious to see what books she recommended. Also, because I have a preschooler and a kindergarten-er who enjoy books also. After reading her post I discovered that quite a few of her books were favorites of my children. One reason I thought Allie’s post was awesome is the reading. I have been a reader since I learned the magic of reading back in the early 80’s. That is something I pass on to my children because – reading is fundamental. Anything on this planet you want to know about, you must read something.

Why I love reading – because of all the interesting stories and characters I discover. I am a romance fiction fan but I also enjoy adventure, science fiction and the occasional biography. I gravitate towards books with a conversational writing style where I can become the main character and transition through the book. Reading is fundamental for me because:

  1. It is how I honor my ancestors who were unable to learn to read because of the color of their skin. Every book I read is for my grandparents who couldn’t.
  2. It is how I learn new things and comprehend what I learn.
  3. Knowledge is powerful. How you wield that power shows what type of person you are.
  4. I love being able to help others using what I have learned through reading.
  5. I love hearing my children laugh when I read to them.

I enjoy reading also because based on the statistics of the neighborhood I grew up in, I shouldn’t be any good at it – but I love proving people wrong when assumptions are made about me.

According to an article by Lauren Gelman for Reader’s Digest (www.rd.com/health/wellness/benefits-of-reading/), reading is good for you for other reasons:

  1. Reading can protect your brain from Alzheimer’s disease.
  2. Reading can melt away stress.
  3. Reading boosts your vocabulary.
  4. Reading improves empathy.
  5. Reading can encourage life goals.

But don’t just take my word for it. Read the article for yourself and then comment with a good book you would recommend for me. I’ll look over the comments and add those books to my list. I’ll start with a couple of recommendations of my own.

Depression is Real…

I just found out the singer, Chester Bennington, from the group Linkin Park committed suicide. If you are not familiar with the group this may not bother you, but for me this hurts. I discovered Linkin Park in 2000 through my then-boyfriend. He didn’t know it at the time but when he popped Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory CD on, the tracks spoke to me. I was depressed. I was also in denial. I knew something didn’t feel right with me but I kept it to myself because I didn’t want to appear weak or whiny. I pushed on and pushed through and through the music I was able to hide my feelings with a smile.

Earlier this year a good friend of mine, Chris Collins, committed suicide. Right after the New Year started. He spent the last twenty years of his life fighting for equality in the LGTBQ community here in Philadelphia. Fighting for those who felt they had no voice to be heard and yet he felt no one heard his voice. Losing him hurt, especially like that. He was one of the first friends I made in high school as an awkward teenager and his friendship helped me through a lot of dark days over that initial four years. He didn’t realize how much he meant to those around him that he had touched over the years.

See, depression does that. It creeps into your mind and takes root into all of your memories, old and new, and tries to twist them this way and that. Depression loves to feast on the negative memories. Those memories are like protein shakes, making the depression stronger and harder to shake. Constantly whispering how bad you suck at life and reasons why bad things happen in your life. Depression is the voice of evil whether you want to believe in it or not.

But even with all of the infomercials and poster boards describing the symptoms of depression, many people ignore the obvious because once you acknowledge something you become responsible for how you react to it. Imagine if everyone actually paid attention to how their loved ones were feeling. The slightest deviation from their normal behavior would be an initial clue that something isn’t right. As a friend or loved one it only makes sense to inquire if everything is okay. Because I know what depression feels like and I had to wrestle with that beast head on to reclaim myself, I can spot subtle changes in those around me (even my co-workers). So naturally, I’ll ask if everything is alright. I let the individual know that if they need anything to let me know and then I quietly observe them without being obvious.

Why do I do this? Because I do for others what I wish had been done for me. I have survived the darkest part of my depression, I haven’t completely conquered it but I have learned how to manage it so I understand wholly what it feels like. Some people will twist their faces and proclaim that you’ll be institutionalized if depression or the hint of it is mentioned, but that is due to misinformation and fear. Once we stop reacting on the basis of fear and find out the facts, then we as a collective can help prevent someone we know from succumbing to their depression.

3 Ways To Foster Change In Your Life

I am currently in another transitional phase in my life. Hence, why you haven’t heard from me in a while. Children graduating, seasons changing and children preparing to begin their school career. But amidst all of that change (because change happens regardless) you can steer it in a way. There is a way to direct some of the changes with a chance to reduce the amount of ‘pains’ associated with growth.

We all have those moments where we wake up one day and our inner being is screaming that something has to change! It’s during those moments that we have to stop and listen to what else our inner being is telling us. Chances are, our inner self has been speaking to us for a while and we were just too busy being busy to notice.

looking skywardIt was during one of these moments that I had to stop and listen because I was on the verge of screaming at the top of my lungs and snapping on my co-workers at my day job. I didn’t like that feeling at all. I listened to what my inner being was saying and discovered that I absolutely hated going to work; not because the job sucked, but because the politics at the job sucked – bad.

My inner self screamed at me to GET OUT!!!! I haven’t seen the movie but I’ve heard ink stampenough reviews to know that when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. We all have those moments at the day job where we want to walk out of the door and not come back but the responsibility of bills and families (for those of us who have them) weighed down on us. I evaluated my interests and came up with three ways to foster change in my life, became a notary public and quit my day job.

  1. Assess Your Interests – Make a list of the things or areas you are interested in. What do you enjoy doing (outside of watching t.v. or playing video games)? Write down 5-7 areas that you are interested in. Write down why you are interested in each of those areas. Ask yourself whether you would be able to participate in this interest for the next 20 years without being financially rewarded and still enjoy it.
  2. Assess Your Skills – Pull out your most recent resume. When did you last update it? Have you acquired any new skills? Have you improved any of your current skills? Are there any skills you need to acquire or that you are interested in? Research where you can improve your skills.
  3. Decide on a Path to Pursue – Go back over your lists. Cross out the ones that don’t make you feel anything. Focus on the ones that light you up inside.

Which interest makes your heart soar? Gives you goosebumps? Most likely those are the ones you should focus on. By taking steps toward your interest there will be a lighter feeling to your day and a twinge of stomach flutters as you realize that you are in control of your hearts’ desires. Make a decision about what you want in your life and go for it, you deserve it!

Using these ideas I have recently become a notary public because I truly enjoy helping others. What dreams have you chased and caught or are currently chasing? Comment below.

 

Growing In Stages

My eldest is off at his senior prom tonight. My first born whom I’ve kissed, nursed, scolded and molded as best as I could… I knew this day was coming. I was waiting for this day to come. 

But now that it’s here I realize I miss my little boy who loved wearing his ‘gentleman shoes’ and his ‘gentleman tie’ to school. I miss the innocence in his eyes when he would wake up saying, “I love you mommy!” I want those days back but I also am so proud of the young man he has become. He’s growing beard hair on his chin too…

A couple of weeks and he will be completely thrust into life as an adult with graduation. I can’t wait.

Imperfection Perfection

I found one of my notebooks in my desk at work today (I have several notebooks stashed in various locations at home and at work). Looking through that notebook I discovered some of my poems that were written about six months ago.

Talk about surprise. I am caught off guard sometimes when I re-read my work because the intensity of my poetry is amazing. But alas, it is my poetry, right? This one particular poem, Imperfection Perfection, is one of those poems…

Staring at my reflection

at the results of bearing life

stretch marks gracefully swim

across my abdomen in waves

of caramel kisses.
The low slope of my breasts

reflect the nourishment

I provide for all who came forth

from my body.
My body is imperfectly perfect

in it’s own way

loving me as I love it…

– Why Yet 11/29/16