Picture Books 2017 – A Few of Our Favorites

Despite not having a thorough record of my books for 2017, I decided to take a bit of time and try to remember at least some of our favorites for the year. With the help of my reading history from the library, I was able to get a decent list together while I rocked my little guy to sleep. Perhaps a few of these will be new to you or remind you of an old favorite.

Little i -(Michael Hall)  Little i has lost his dot!! And so begins his journey to find the missing dot. As you join Little i on his quest you will meet the rest of the alphabet and if you are watching closely, you will also meet some punctuation. While this book is a great resource to use for alphabet/spelling/grammar studies, it is also a fun read.

The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse -(Marc Barnett (author); Jon Klassen (illustrator)  We really enjoy the books that these two guys collaborate on. Dave and Sam Dig a Hole, Triangle, and Extra Yarn are all favorites here. The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse was no exception. Perhaps it is our weird sense of humor that makes this tale so enjoyable? Duck is swallowed by Wolf and is he frantic to find a way out? No! Duck quite enjoys the warm comfort of the Wolf’s belly. But what happens when Mouse joins in the fun?

Bruce’s Big Move – (Ryan T. Higgins) This is the third book in the Mother Bruce series. If you haven’t read the first two then they are a must. In Bruce’s Big Move, the grumpy (but lovable) Bruce tries with no success to rid his home of some pesky mice that just. won’t. leave. Finally Bruce has enough of the guests that won’t leave. Bruce packs up and moves away. Ah, all settled in his new, mouse free home. But wait….who just scurried in? Simple story that my young ones love and great illustrations.

A Perfect Day– (Lane Smith) – Ah, the perfect day! Beautiful flowers, refreshing water, and yummy seeds. What more could you ask for? Perfection for Cat, Dog, Squirrel, and Chickadee. Well, until Bear arrives and finds his own perfect day. Smith’s lovely illustrations provided the perfect backdrop for the simple text of this story. A humorous story to share with your little ones or even a great opportunity to discuss the different perspective of characters.

My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis – (Paul Meisel) – This little gem caught my eye on a library trip. It was just sitting on the shelf and I grabbed it without even flipping through the pages. It was definitely a win. My Awesome Summer takes you through the life cycle of a preying mantis is a humorous but accurate way. I read it aloud and everyone was chuckling and making comments. I learned a thing or two about preying mantis myself. A great book to use for nature study/science. Engaging, entertaining, and educational; well done, Mr. Meisel. Well done!

Blue Ethel – (Jennifer Black Reinhardt) – Confession: I totally grabbed this book because I liked Blue Ethel on the cover. Something about old Ethel just made me smile. She is a cat who is old, a little on the plump side and well, black and white. Ethel is a cat who has settled into her life and is quite content. Then suddenly, well, I’m not quite sure how to say this…Ethel turns blue. And life might not be the same for Ethel after this. Even if you are not overly fond of cats, I think you might like Blue Ethel. The illustrations are super fun, too.

Don’t Blink– (Tom Booth) – Right now. Look at the cover. How can you not read this book? The girl. The turtle. I know. Too cute! My kiddos are all the time having staring contest. Having a staring contest with a sibling is totally different than having one with the girl in this book. Oh, yeah. She is a tough one to beat. Did I mention the gorilla, the bird, and oh, that turtle? This one might be on my to buy list. It quite simple just makes me smile.

Bob! Not Bob!: *to be read as though you have the worst cold ever – (Audrey Vernick, Liz Garton Scanlon, Matthew Cordell). Right now. Go to your library’s online catalog and request this book. Seriously. If you can fake a cold, get this book. If you are a mom who has ever had a sick child, get this book. If you have a child with a cold, get this book. Hilarious. Plan and simple. Louie is sick. And he keeps calling for his mom. But instead of his mom coming, his dog, Bob, keeps showing up. See. Read the title as if you have a really bad stuffy nose. Super fun.

Before You– (Rebecca Doughty) – “Before you..I was a tail without a wag. A bean without a bag.” Ah…isn’t that sweet! When I started reading this book, I was prepared for groaning. Whenever I read picture books, my older kiddos are often lingering around. The groaning was very minimal because Before You is simply cute and sweet. A adorable little book that speaks to those of us who love someone else with all our hearts. It would be great to have on hand for Valentine’s Day and perhaps add a few couplets of you own. I need to request it from the library again. (I debated putting it on the list. But my 12 year old daughter remembered the book and she thought it was super cute so I decided it made the cut. )

There is a small selection of some of our picture books we enjoyed in 2017. Hopefully one or two of them will find their way into your book basket and bring smiles and laughter to your little ones.

Have you read any of these? I’d love to hear what you thought of them. What picture books were hits at your home this past year? I’m always, always looking for books to add to our library runs!

Thanks for stopping by! Hopefully I can get up a list of children’s fiction and adult novels I read in 2017.

***Disclosure: This post does contain affiliate links. These links in no way affect you if you were to make purchases. I simple earn a very small percentage when a purchase is made from the links.

Our Reading Plans for 2018

A new year has arrived! Woo hoo for 2018! The year that I finally diligently track my reading! Yes! I have a plan and I encouraged my children to join me. It is going to be a fun year, y’all! Want to know my fabulous plan?

It is pretty simple. Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel or in this case the reading plan, I decided to let someone else do all the hard work. Yes. I have moments of genius!

Months ago I picked up simple, boring, plain black journals from Wal-Mart for $1 each. Notebooks/journals are like candy or gold in this house. I have kept them safely stashed in my room until the new year. Seriously. When I brought them out this afternoon, my children were like Gollum and the Ring. I’m not joking.

The plan is simple. They are going to use the journals to track their reading for the year (and beyond). This way I can easily check in with their reading and they have an ongoing list of books. I wish I had a list of all the books my older kids have read or that I read to them. So many books not recorded!!  I left it totally up to them on how to organize (even decorate) their books. Caleb (16) will likely keep his super simple and bare bones. I do think he is going to label it “Caleb’s Book Book”. Witty that one is. Hannah (12) is already discussing design options on the cover (see boring black journals were not a bad deal!) and she is planning on a detailed list.

Tracking books was an easy issue to solve. But what to read? I have to force myself to read broadly. I know what I like and tend to stick with that. World War II fiction anyone? Some of my children are following that pattern. It is good to step to another aisle in the library and broaden our literary horizons, right? This is where I was really going to burn through some brain cells in trying to put together a reading challenge.

Thankfully, my friend, Cathe Swanson, mentioned a couple of 2018 reading challenges on her Facebook page (Cather just happens to be an author….perfect time to check her out while planning your 2018 reading!) One of the challenges she linked to was at Redeemed Reader. I was already familiar with Redeemed Reader. My daughter Lydia and I were browsing there just a week or two ago looking for young adult books. I did not realize they had a 2018 Reading Challenge. While it is designed for kids and teens, I am totally using it for myself. Oh yeah, my kids are doing it, too.

I gathered the kiddos up, explained the basic four levels of the reading challenge and let them select which level each of them wanted to tackle. At first a few of them thought a 100 books would be an easy goal. They easily top a 100 books a year. Following this challenge however means they have to read books that fit categories and there lies the challenge. I have already heard some groaning.

Book journals are in hand. Book challenge levels have been presented. Book selections are already being made. I am even including Martha (6) and Ezra (3). I just need to grab notebooks for them. Until Martha is reading independently, the younger ones notebooks will just be read alouds. No problem!

Oh. They totally asked if there was a reward. Hey, why not, right?  Lydia pointed out that I can easily grab some books from the used book store or Thrift Books. Can I say how much I love that my children love used books? So they will earn books if they meet their reading goals. I may also plan something special at the end of the year. A special book reading party or something? Who knows. I think the higher the level completed, the greater the reward.

Do you have a Reading Plan for 2018? Following an official reading challenge or just winging it? How do you track what you are reading?

Poetry Writing

Sonnets, haiku, limericks, and free verse are all delightful styles of writing poetry. From short and silly to tragic and epic, poetry is a powerful form of the written word. I do not formally teach poetry to children but I do choose to expose them to varying styles of poetry. We read poetry aloud most days. They also read selections on their own. While perhaps not the most scholarly approach, my children have developed a love and appreciation of poetry.

A few weeks ago during our group studies, I read O Captain!, My Captain! by Walt Whitman. It was the first time they had heard this poem and it had a powerful affect on a few of the children. After discussion the poem a bit, I challenged the children to write poems of their own but was meet with a mighty outcry. Then I offered a deal: if you wrote a poem, you were excused from math for the day. Since no one has a deep, abiding love of math, everyone scrambled for paper and pen to begin a poetic journey.

In a short time I has a stack of poems in my hand that were absolutely wonderful and showcased the personalities of my children to perfection. They agreed to posting them here and I hope you enjoy!

The Princess – Martha (5) (with some help from mom)

She wore pink

Blue and straight were her hair

Knit, sew, draw, and Legos

Were the things that she loved

Cooking made her smile

Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!

Still plays with toys as a teenager


The Big Fox – Sarah (9)

I walked down the road

And saw a fox.

The fox was big.

I could not move.

My legs were still as a rock.

The fox saw me.

He opened his mouth

And I ran.


Ninja – Sam (7) (He narrated and I wrote)

The ninja fights

Through many battles

He always wins

He jumps from rooftop to rooftop


A super cool jet pack

Is on his back

The color of his suit is blue and black

Dark woods are his home

From the darkest lake he drinks

Dark colors are his favorite

The movie he likes is Ninja Turtles

Super cool weapons like electric swords

Turtles are his favorite animals

Is that a surprise?

A turtle shell is where he sleeps

Dark brown tree is home

He is The Ninja!

His powers are electric, smoke, and lava.

And storm.

Ninja Kung-Fu names is Master of Weapons.

He is the greatest superhero.

He is not finished with the words on the page.

He says to call it the end.


I will share the remaining three poems in a separate post.

Do your children enjoy writing? I’d love to hear about it!