Category Archives: books

20 Reasons to Read to Your Kids Every Single Day

This post originally appeared on Perfection Pending.

Sometimes, I’m trying to do 100 things at once. I’m cleaning, cooking, reading, giving advice, trying to keep myself healthy, saving my children from disaster… you know, just the regular stuff. But every once in a while, one of my kids wanders up to me with a book in his hand, or interrupts me while I’m getting some work done to ask if I’ll read to her. If I possibly can, I say yes. I drop almost anything to read to my kids. Why? Why is it so important to me that I would read to my kids any time they ask?

Because I love reading.

Because they love reading.

Because reading is for every age.

Because reading makes them smarter.

Because reading means you have to slow down.

Because reading to them won’t last forever.

Because reading is a pleasure that can transport them to another world.

Because reading is a way to connect with them.

Because reading opens their eyes to new experiences, ideas, and points of view.

Because reading is a joy that begins early.

Because reading is fun.

Because reading to them means getting a snuggle, too.

Because reading is something I can do with all of my kids at the same time.

Because reading creates time together.

Because reading makes them laugh.

Because reading makes me laugh.

Because reading makes me cry.

Because reading helps them learn about emotions.

Because reading to them turns into reading with them.

Because reading with them turns into them reading to me.

I’ll drop anything to pick up a book and read with my children. That time with them is special, and fleeting. I know from my years of teaching that almost any age of children love to be read to, but I also know that when they get older and busier, that time becomes harder to carve out. So right now, while they’re little, while they bring me books while I’m folding laundry, I’ll read to them. I’ll gladly let the laundry wait to have a snuggle and a book with my kids.

Research has shown that reading to children for at least 20 minutes every day can increase their reading abilities early on, increase their exposure to language and larger vocabularies, improve their attitudes towards reading for school, and increase their likelihood to graduate from high school on time, and go on to receive a higher education degree. Those reasons should be enough for parents to spend the time with their kids reading each day, but when you couple that with extra snuggles, quality time, and getting to hear their cute (or let’s be honest: hilarious!) thoughts on the stories and characters? I’m sold. My kids have the best questions and silliest ideas after we read books together. I would never want to miss out on that. I get to peek inside their minds for a minute when we discuss what the books are about. I get such good opportunities to talk with them about things we would never think of to say. Reading with your kids is a great way to get to know them a little bit better. Don’t miss out on it. It makes a difference for all of you.

Currently – November Is Here!

Happy November, y’all! I am loving the weather, the pumpkins on everyone’s front porches, the warm drinks, and the gorgeous colors around here these days. I’m linking up today with Anne in Residence and Julie of A Hopeful Hood. Join us and let us know what’s happening in your world currently!img_0358

Realizing || that I had been pushing myself too hard. I love running, working out, and being healthy, but I wasn’t getting enough rest/sleep to support my rigorous habits. So I’m trying to take more days off (or at least take it easier) and give myself a little grace when my schedule and lifestyle just can’t fit in that long run on my training itinerary. My second half marathon will just wait until spring.

Stirring || up the first cups of hot chocolate for the children, and spiced cider for myself! If I don’t feel like making the kiddos hot chocolate from scratch, Swiss Miss usually does the job for them… and my favorite store-bought cider is from Trader Joe’s! Less additives, more flavor – and spiked with some bourbon? Yes, please!

I wanted to capture the steam coming off the top of this cup, but I didn’t quite manage it.
Appreciating || the extra time I’ve spent reading recently. I’ve been watching a little less TV, listening to more podcasts (eating them UP actually – post coming soon) and reading every chance I get. “The chance” in my life right now looks like after the kids are in bed, while they’re napping, or real talk: on the toilet. But I’m reading through several at once (usually just one novel at a time, and several non-fiction of some sort) and enjoying spending more time in the quiet with some hot tea in my hand.

Here’s what I’m working with right now: top two I’m currently reading (or finishing finally), and the bottom two are next up. Not pictured: The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin. It’s on my Kindle, which just doesn’t photograph very well.

Investigating || the Enneagram, and therefore learning things about myself I didn’t know before… or, at least, I didn’t have words to describe it. I’ve just learned about the Enneagram (check here for a synopsis of what it is if you’re new to it, too) and finding out my type, and learning about it within a Christian perspective (with resources like this). It’s been so fun to find out my number, and read up on it! I’m a 4w3, categorized by most as The Individualist or The Romantic. The other exciting thing is that our community group is going to walk through the Enneagram journey together as well!

Following || Jess Connolly and Emily P. Freeman on Instagram! They’re my new follows of the month, and they post encouraging things almost every day. I’m also listening to Emily’s podcast, The Next Right Thing. And obviously I’m about to start Jess’s brand new book!

And here are the only Halloween photos I got yesterday. We had a great time with our neighborhood tribe, especially since we had to make up for being sick on Halloween last year!

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EK wanted to be “Blackbird”. As in the song by the Beatles. So obviously she won Halloween.

Book Review: The Fifth Wave series, by Rick Yancey

Does anyone else love YA literature, even when they’re (kinda far?) out of that age bracket? I know that it’s supposed to be for people younger than me, but I almost always find the reads quick, easy, and quite fascinating. Dystopian novels in particular can be favorites of mine, and Hunger Games is at the top of my list. I have a particular affinity for series (as I mentioned here) since they go on a little longer than a couple hundred pages. And so, much of the YA lit is right up my alley. Everyone loves a good story that doesn’t end too quickly.

I have read Hunger Games too many times to count, and have also read the Maze Runner series and loved it. I first heard about the Fifth Wave series from another mother/writer friend, who was loved it for the same reasons I love it: only so much brain power can be attached to the books I’m reading at the moment (can you say three kids?), so the more attachment I form to the story, and the simpler the difficulty, the better.

The Fifth Wave and the subsequent two books were a refreshing break from the non-fiction I had been reading. They immediately caught my attention, however initially confusing it was that every few chapters, the first person tense switched characters. I wasn’t too keen on the “alien invasion” idea, but the books had a magnificent twist that not only was unexpected, but a little relieving for my stuffy, “there’s no way that’s real” perspective.

The first main character Cassie has a charge to keep her younger brother safe in a world turned upside down, and she finds friends and help in the strangest of situations. It could be pretty violent at times – much of the story was taking place in an army boot camp of sorts, but the soldiers were all children. Nonetheless, I enjoyed finding out how all the stories had woven together by the end, and the final twist had me in tears.

If you need a read that won’t go by too quickly, but will hold your attention, this series is a good one for you! I downloaded it on my Kindle, and it was special pricing when I downloaded all three of the books at once. If you read it, or have read it in the past, let me know! I’d love to pick your brain about a few things!

Book Review: A Parchment of Leaves by Silas House

I borrowed this book from my aunt, who has spent about half her life living in Kentucky, near where Silas House lives. She had bought the book originally because he was a local author, and I saw it on her bookshelf the last time I was at her house. She let me borrow it, and I read it in basically one day, on the road trip back home. I couldn’t put it down!

A Parchment of Leaves is set in the mountains of Kentucky, portraying the life of a Cherokee woman named Vine Sullivan, her family, her community, and her accidental love triangle. It’s a captivating saga from start to finish, written in first person straight from Vine’s heart and mind. I enjoyed reading a bit about Cherokee culture, about what women did during the first world war while most of the men were away, and about how a group of small town women were able to fend for themselves in a time that most women weren’t able to do so.

If you’re local to the southeast, if you like literature based around the WWI time period, or if you like a sweet and captivating story with a few surprises along the way, you’ll love this book. There were several times that I thought I could predict what was about to happen, but I was wrong – and I like to be taken off guard! It’s boring if I know every single thing that’s about to happen. I absolutely recommend this book as a great summer read! If you do read it, let me know so that we can chat about it!

Book Review: Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan

 

If you’re a woman or a parent or you just enjoy funny books, drop what you’re doing and buy this book right now. Bunmi Laditan is witty and hilarious, snarky and sweet as she writes a novel about a new mom who tries to impress her potential mom friends. It’s a sure way to laugh out loud in a coffee shop and make people think you’re nuts.

New mom Ashley joins a “boot camp” led by her mom idol, and proceeds to botch everything – and we find out about her little one, her hubby, and her mother-in-law along the way. She struggles just like all of us have struggled with aspects of motherhood, SAHM life, or just trying to be a domestic goddess in a Pinterest world. It makes you feel better about yourself, while also falling in love with Bunmi’s quick humor.

I found out about Confessions of a Domestic Failure because I’ve been a long-time follower of Bunmi on her Facebook page, and I’m always impressed with how she blends her humor, a little satire, and a lot of feel-goodery all in one post. She’s got a one-in-a-million style, and I love that about her. I downloaded the book to my Kindle right when it came out, and finished it within a week – and mind you, that was a busy week, not a vacation where I could just read and read. I put it down only because I had to! I urge you to get this book, because I giggled and cried and would love to chat with you about it when you read it!

Every Time I Finish a Book.

Summertime always feels like a good time to read. I wonder if Barnes and Noble sees a boost in their sales during the summer? I don’t necessarily have more time to read, being as I still have three kids and still do my jobs, etc, but I just want to read more. It feels right. I picture my teenage self, laying by the pool and reading all afternoon, or staying up late into the night, just to finish the novel I’d been plowing through. Which, by the way, I did just last weekend. I stayed up late until I finally finished the Fifth Wave series. Was super tired. Was totally worth it.

The more I’ve read in the past month, the more I have been mourning the end of the stories. I think that may be why I love a good series so much… it goes on for a little longer. Even though a single book is over, I know the story will continue for another book or two. But when it isn’t a series, and I only get a couple hundred pages of a story, I’m sad at the end. I don’t want to leave the story behind, or let the characters go. It feels like I’m losing friends like they’re moving away and I know I won’t see them again.

That might be why I read my favorite series over and over again. For instance, I’ve read the Harry Potter books countless times. Remember teenage me, staying up late to finish a book? That was every single time a new Harry Potter book came out. In preparation for the book to come out, I would reread all the other books, trying to glean little details that might be mentioned in the next installment. Then when the movies started coming out, I started to read the books in preparation for the movies, too. It was a whole thing – and I know those fellow Potterheads are just nodding and smiling right along with me. But I won’t just stop reading because it’s sad when it’s over. I just love that feeling.

Book Review: The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

A couple of weeks ago, my family went down to my in-laws’ lake house, about an hour from our home. I packed some reading, you know, in case naps went as scheduled and I ended up in the sunshine with a drink in my hand. And what do you know? I did. But I was NOT in the mood for any of the reading I had packed. It was mostly non-fiction, which I’m not opposed to, generally. But they were all a little heavy in nature, and I was feeling a little more lighthearted on our mini-vacation.

Sometimes I need a beach read. Here’s my definition of “beach read”: not difficult to read, totally enveloping, can’t put it down, captivating story, and no real-life application. I’m not reading a “beach read” so that I can apply it to my life or think about it for the rest of the week. I’m reading one so that I can dissolve into another world, another story besides my own, and lose track for a few moments (or two days, as it was with this one). So naturally, I perused my mother-in-law’s bookshelf, and spotted a Nicholas Sparks book I hadn’t read. You probably already know that he’s famous for his “beach reads” and The Longest Ride is no exception!

Because I’ve read a lot of his books, I knew that when the book began by alternating between two seemingly unrelated stories, we’d find them intertwined by the end. But even I was a little taken aback by how the stories came together at the end. I enjoyed the little surprise – especially since so many love stories follow a formula that’s fairly easy to predict. As an art history buff, I especially appreciated his nod to abstract expressionism and modernism throughout the story. And if that wasn’t enough to make me love it, one of the stories was also set right around where I live. Crazy!

Loves old and new were explored through the two “separate” stories, and I enjoyed the character exploration in each, as well as the varying points of view. It’s a creative way of the book being “third person omniscient”. If you’re looking for an easy read, full of feelings and a little historical enjoyment (without being a period piece), then you’ll love The Longest Ride. Channel your inner teen girl and you won’t be able to put it down.