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?

The 2017 Booklist – well, maybe not

Normally at this time of the year, I would be diligently working on putting together a list of all the books I had read this year (my own personal reads and read alouds). Or perhaps I would at least be putting together a post on my Top Ten or Five Reads of the year. But not this year.

Oh, I read. As much as I would have liked? No. Every book that I brought home? Oh, no. I read books that I loved, started a few that I decided were not worth my time to finish, and a few just sat and collected dust. I did read to my children but not as much as I have in the past.

And I am a bit disappointed and sad. Life happened. I was busy with the normal life stuff of a home, a family, and a homeschool. I had a family member who toward the end of the year needed me and I was blessed to be able to devote time to them.

I suppose I must embrace that this year is going in the books (ha!) as a low book reading year. At some point I will try to compile a list of books I read. (Note to self to be more consistent with tracking books!) If I do create a list, I will share it here.

Perhaps my list of books is not long and impressive or well, even in existence. I rest in the knowledge that I read some lovely books, powerful books, fun books. I shared book with my kiddos and we have wonderful memories and connections to savor over the years. That is really the important part, right?

Onward to 2018! A year where no matter how many books I read, I will write them down! Now to add some books to my To Be Read list!

Summer Reading! – Five Picture Books We Have Enjoyed

While summer has officially arrived, we have been enjoying hot and humid days for weeks. One way to beat the summer heat is to enjoy a good book or two in the shade or with a lovely fan blowing your way. Perhaps you are looking for a book or two to add to the summer reading list? Here are several picture books that have been enjoyed here:

A Visitor for Bear – (author, Bonny Becker; illustrator Kady MacDonald Denton) – Bear has no interest in having a visitor. Why not? Well, there is a sign on his door that clearly states that “No Visitors are Allowed”. So. No visitors. All Bear wants to do is to enjoy a nice cup of tea and perhaps a slice of bread. Unfortunately his food preparations keep getting interrupted by Mouse!! Bear repeatedly asks (at varying levels of frustration) for Mouse to leave but Mouse just wants a small cup of tea, please. Bear relents and shares a cup of tea and conversation. Then Bear realizes that maybe he does enjoy visitors after all.
This book was delightful! It was great fun reading this aloud. The language and vocabulary make me smile. Vamoose, begone, intolerable and one of my favorites, “I am undone” are just a taste of  what this text has to offer. The illustrations worked perfectly to capture my children’s eyes and the essence of this cute, engaging story.  When the visitor happens to be a mouse, we can definitely support Bear’s desire to send him away. And it is oh so fun to see where Mouse will appear next!  We can all understand the moment that you realize a bit of quiet company in a friend is beautiful gift. A fun read that will likely have your little ones laughing and asking you to read it again. There are more Bear books to check out as well!

Bear & Hare Go Fishing – (Emily Gravett) – My younger ones really enjoyed Bear & Hare Where’s Bear? so I grabbed this one at my last visit to the library. The tale is a simple one; Bear and Hare go fishing but well, things don’t go exactly as planned. Bear succeeds in fishing out a hat and roller skates but the big catch of the day seems to elude him. Hare? He doesn’t seem to be enjoying the day of fishing. It was his hat, after all! But Hare might bring in the biggest catch of the day!

I think the beauty in the Bear & Hare books are the simplicity. Simple, short text paired with illustrations that keep Bear and Hare front and center make this a win for young listeners and early readers. No doubt you will find yourself smiling at the end.

I Am (Not) Scared – (author, Anna Kang; illustrator, Christopher Weyant) – My children love this series about two fuzzy animals. When I pulled out I Am (Not) Scared even a couple of my older children gathered around to hear me read it aloud. These two friends are facing something scary….a ride on a roller coaster!! But there are scarier things, right? Hairy spiders, fried ants, and snakes!!!! Can these two friends find the courage to face the Loop of Doom!?!!?!?! Perhaps they might even learn that scary things can sometime be fun, too.

I am not sure that my children gained deep understanding about facing scary things. They did however enjoy reading this over and over. Sometimes you just need a fun and silly book, right? And, well, we can all appreciate being scared of hairy spiders and snakes.

Now we shall leave our furry characters behind and move on to the creepy, crawly creatures.

Hank’s Big Day The Story of a Bug – (Evan Kuhlman and Chuck Groenink) – Hank is a pill bug (we call them Roly Polies here) and has quiet the adventure. He climbs a stick, eats a dead leaf, survives a close encounter with a skateboard, and meets his best friend, Amelia (Isn’t she a cutie?). An exciting day in the life of a bug!

We all enjoyed Hank’s adventure. The illustrations were detailed using natural colors and they served Hank’s story well. Not only do we get Hank’s view of the day but we see it from our perspective as well. It really gives us a glimpse into the life (joys and struggles) of being a bug. You might find that you watch your step a bit more closely just in case one of Hank’s friends is close by. This would be a fun way to introduce an afternoon of nature study on insects. I can see my children wanting to check Hank out again and again. Can you really go wrong with a bug named Hank? Also, Hank’s friend, Amelia, pretends to be Amelia Earhart. Subtle way to bring in a bit of history for those interested.

Cricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugs – (Carol Murray, author and Melissa Sweet, illustrator) I like to keep a poetry book or two available for my children to read and enjoy. Cricket in the Thicket is a perfect poetry selection for summer! When we first brought this book home, I planned to read just one or two poems. The poems were so engaging and fun that my kiddos kept asking me to read one more.

Poems about a cricket in the bedroom (Cricket’s Alarm), cicadas leaving behind shells (Cicada’s Surprise) and dragonflies gliding around (Dragons Fly the Sky) were enjoyable. Dung Beetles, Walking Sticks, Preying Mantis, and Grasshoppers all have delightful a place in the book. Never fear there are poetic words about Mosquitoes, Ticks, Flies and even Cockroaches including as well. Yes. A poem about cockroaches that enlightens us as to who loves them. At the bottom of the pages, there is information given on the highlighted bug and a couple of pages in the back give information as well. This is a great one to have available during summer to encourage reading, writing, and nature study. Any bug lover is sure to want to flip through this book.

What have you been reading this summer?

 

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