25 Days of Christmas Books for Children Ages 0-3

25 Days of Christmas Books for Children Ages 0-3

Since our first has a February birthday, she already LOVED books by the time that her first Christmas was approaching.  I had seen others do a 25 Days of Christmas Books on Facebook and Pinterest prekids and had always thought that it was a really cute idea.  So once we had our own little book lover, it was settled that we were also going to do a 25 Days of Christmas Books.

That first Christmas season, I spent a lot of time scouring book shelves and the internet looking for good Christmas books at good deals. I probably spent way too much money and not enough time picking out the best books.  Going back, I probably wouldn’t have done the full 25 books that first Christmas and just started our collection growing between what we loved and what we were gifted.  Even so, it was so much fun to have our little almost one year old ripping open her daily Christmas book and getting excited to read it together!

Our collection is now a mixture of what I bought that first year, gifts from family and friends, and other books I’ve added in the past couple years.  We have over 25 Christmas books now, so I just pick out our favorites to wrap and bring out the others throughout the season. I’m sticking to board books this year (since we already have them!), and I’ll probably start looking at picture books to add to the mix next Christmas when we have an almost four year old!

So What Exactly is 25 Days of Christmas Books?

It’s exactly that- you choose 25 Christmas/Winter books to share with your children throughout the season of Advent, leading up to Christmas. I see it as an Advent calendar that promotes a love of reading and books.  I have chosen to wrap them in the past (maybe because I’m a bit extra?), but that’s definitely not necessary! Just collect your books, and choose one to open each day as you prepare for Christmas. Pro-Tip: Find some place to put your books that doesn’t tempt your children to find them and open a bunch before you can stop them- ask me how I know. 

If you’re looking to start a Christmas books collection, or to do your own 25 Days of Christmas books, I’ve compiled our list of books that I’m wrapping up this year for my almost three year old and one year old for you to peruse.  As I said before, it can get expensive to buy all 25 Christmas books at once.  One tip I have for building up your collection on a budget is to check out the used books option on Amazon- many are available at a much lower price and still in good condition!  There are also many used book websites such as Better World Books and Thriftbooks that have good deals as well. Some families even check Christmas books out from the library and open them soon after they check them out so that they can get them back in time. There are so many ways to make this tradition work for your family and for your budget.

I’ve broken our books for this year down into Religious Christmas Books, Santa Books, and General Christmas Books so that you can peruse based on your own Christmas traditions.  It has been so fun to share the Christmas spirit with Nora through these 25 Days of Christmas books the last couple years, and I’m excited to get Charlie involved this year too!  I hope that you’ll find a few new Christmas books to add to your collection too!

25 Days of Christmas Books

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Religious Christmas Books

I tried to find a good amount of religious Christmas books in order to have an emphasis on the “reason for the season.”  We’re Catholic, and it’s important that we share Jesus and our faith with our kids.  Books have been a really helpful tool with this.  The “problem” with Religious Christmas books is that so many of them are focused on the Nativity story- which is great!- but I’ve been trying to find other Christmas books that incorporate Jesus and God and aren’t all the Nativity story.  That being said, at least four of these books reference or talk about the Nativity and all have their own perspective on them, making them worth all having in our collection!

1) The Story of Christmas – Patricia A. Pingry

2) What Is Christmas? – Michelle Medlock Adams

3) Nativity Flap Book – Usborne Books

4) The Story of Christmas – Hayley Down

5) A Very Merry Christmas Prayer – Bonnie Rickner Jensen

 6) God Bless Our Christmas-Hannah C.Hall

7) Christmas in the Manger  – Nola Buck

8) The Story of Christmas – Fiona Boon

9) The ABCs of Christmas – Jill Howarth

10) One Christmas Bear – Anne Vittur Kennedy

11) Tonight You Are My Baby Board Book: Mary’s Christmas Gift

Santa Books

We have chosen to have a Santa tradition in our family (though this is probably the first year that it matters for our oldest, and we’re figuring out what that looks like!).  Given this, we have quite a few books that at least reference Santa.  These books are all super cute and share the holiday spirit in such a fun way.  Between rhymes, flaps, and touchy feely pads, there’s not much that can go wrong!

12) Llama Llama Jingle Bells – Anna Dewdney

13) Here Comes Christmas! – Caroline Jayne Church

14) My Christmas Star – Lucy Fleming

15) Biscuit’s Pet & Play Christmas: A Touch & Feel Book – Alyssa Satin Capucilli

16) Bizzy Bear: Christmas Helper – Benji Davies

17) The Night Before Christmas – Clement C. Moore

18) Babies Love Christmas: Lift-a-Flap Board Book – Stacy Peterson

19) A Christmas Wish for Corduroy – Don Freeman

20) Fa La La –  Leslie Patricelli

General Christmas Books

I’m rounding out my list of our 25 Books of Christmas with our books that don’t have a religious aspect and don’t mention Santa.  These are all so sweet- and the last is one of my favorites! 

21) Merry Christmas, Little One! – Sandra Magsamen

22) A Very Merry Christmas – Maudie Powell-Tuck

23) Where Is Baby’s Christmas Present?: A Lift-the-Flap Book – Karen Katz

24) Bear Stays Up for Christmas – Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman

25) Llama Llama Holiday Drama – Anna Dewdney

So there you have it! Our 25 Books of Christmas for this year.  I’ve got to get wrapping these as we’ll be gone for the week of Thanksgiving and then December is already upon us! If you have Christmas books that you love that you don’t see on this list, let me know- I’m always looking to add a good book to the pile!  As I shared, I’ll be looking especially for picture books to add for my oldest next Christmas, so send me your favorites 🙂 

25 Days of Christmas Books

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The Seven Book Challenge- The Books that have Inspired, Challenged, and Encouraged Me

The Seven Book Challenge- The Books that have Inspired, Challenged, and Encouraged Me

I was asked by one of my good friends to do the Seven Book Challenge that has been going around Facebook lately. The challenge is to post seven book covers over seven days without an explanation or review and then pass the torch onto the next friend.  It fosters a community of readers and introduces your friends to a new set of books.  I’m not usually one for these kind of Facebook challenges, but I do love sharing about books so I thought I’d give this one a go!

It was hard to narrow down the books I wanted to share to just seven. I decided to share the few that have been having an impact on me lately and a few that I’ve gone back to multiple times for inspiration. And because I didn’t want to stop at just sharing the covers, I thought I’d write a quick post for the blog, sharing my thoughts and reviews on these books.  I hope that you find one (or more) that will inspire you too! These are in no particular order, so scroll to find the ones that speak to you 🙂

The Seven Book Challenge

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1) Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver

I love the Martha and Mary story in the Bible. It’s the one story that calls me by name every time I hear it- it brings me a calmness that I don’t find many places. I read this book in college, and it helped bring everything into perspective for me. It was okay to be busy, to do all of the things, and to want perfection, even, but God had to always come first.  Weaver shares how having a “living room intimacy” with Jesus will logically lead to a “kitchen service.”  We’re called to a both/and, not an either/or.  We need to center our days around Jesus, and then allow that to change us. The book also emphasizes that while we often place our own value on how productive we are, our value is, instead, in being God’s child. Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World is such a good read for my heart, and I continue to find new nuggets of wisdom each time I read it. 

“Have you ever tried to do it all? I have, I do, and I probably always will. It’s not only in my nature; it’s also in my job description- and yours too. Being a woman requires more stamina, more creativity, and more wisdom than I ever dreamed as a young girl. And that’s not just true for today’s busy women. It has always been the case.” – Joanna Weaver, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World

Read More: For All the Martha’s in the Back

2) No-Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. & Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.

I just finished this parenting book recently, and I think it will be super helpful as I get more and more into the parenting trenches with our toddlers. The author’s focus is on parenting with a whole brain perspective. He shares that when a child is misbehaving, they are often reacting with their downstairs brain, defaulting to an irrational fight or flight response.  It is our job as parents to help them learn how to integrate their upstairs brain so that they may learn how to self regulate better in future situations.  My biggest takeaway from this book is the reframing of discipline as punishment to discipline as teaching. Discipline and boundaries are necessary. But, our goal is to connect, redirect, and then teach when the child is ready to learn, instead of pounding in a lesson in the midst of a chaotic moment.  If you’re at all interested in gentle parenting and the hows and why’s, this book is a great starting place!

“You’re probably not going to enjoy discipline, or look forward to future meltdowns. But when you realize that these “misbehavior moments” aren’t just miserable experiences to endure, but actually opportunities for knowledge and growth, you can reframe the whole experience and recognize it as a chance to build the brain and create something meaningful and significant in your child’s life.” -Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson, No-Drama Discipline

3) Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

This is the only book I read through again in my second pregnancy, and I will probably read through in any future ones as well. For anyone seeking a natural birth, this is the book to read. The first half is all birth stories, ranging from home birth to hospital birth.  The stories showcase the many ways that women react to labor and really puts a spotlight on some of the ways our current society medicalizes pregnancy and labor, rather than looking at it as a natural thing. The second half goes more into the details of the how’s and why’s of different labor choices and was super informative, especially as a first time mom.  What I love most about this book is that it empowers the woman in her pregnancy and labor to make the choices that are best for her and her body. Definitely a must read if you’re pregnant or at all interested in pregnancy and labor.

“What I mean by true capacities of the female body are those that are experienced by real women, whether or not these abilities are recognized by medical authorities. The way I see it, the most trustworthy knowledge about women’s bodies combines the best of what medical science has offered over the past century or two with what women have always been able to learn about themselves before birth moved into hospitals” – Ina May Gaskin, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

4) Girl, Arise! by Claire Swinarski

Girl, Arise! is written by the creator of The Catholic Feminist Podcast (one of my favorites!). The tagline is “A Catholic Feminist’s Invitation to Live Boldly, Love Your Faith, and Change the World.” The phrase “Catholic Feminist” can sometimes seem like an oxymoron, and a lot of people wonder how these two things can come together what with the seeming disconnect between issues such as birth control, abortion, lack of women priests, and gay marriage. It all comes down to what your definition of a feminist is- Claire’s working definition is “to be a feminist is to believe that women are beautiful, unique, and equal in dignity to men.” The Catholic church is one that is focused on upholding the dignity of the person, so really, these phrases go hand in hand. I could probably talk all day about this issue, but I’ll save that for another time. This book is a great start to looking into what it means to be a Feminist and a Catholic, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone struggling with this dissonance.

“Pro-life should be more than a rallying cry; it should be more than a slogan on a bumper sticker or tank top. It should be more than abortion, capital punishment, and immigration. It isn’t a set of laws but a state of mind and heart- one that consistently puts people over profit and puts those people on equal footing. To be pro-life means to avoid wishing harm on others and to instead put them first.” – Claire Swinarski, Girl, Arise!

5) The Grace of Enough by Haley Stewart

I raved about this book when I read it, and it had to make this list too. I had originally gotten this book from the library and ended up buying a copy so that I can read it again and/or share it with others.  In The Grace of Enough, Stewart shares how her family made the radical decision to leave their “normal” lives and move halfway across the country, away from extended family, to start a life doing an internship on a sustainable farm with no flushing toilets, all with three small kiddos. Through this journey, her family learned about slow living, sustainability, and hospitality, among other things, in a way they might not have otherwise. These are all ideas that I’d love to incorporate more into our lives, and so I am using this book as a reminder to not get caught up in the world. I want to instead focus on our family, those around us, and, most importantly, on Jesus. 

“But the heart of the matter is that our children will watch us. The most powerful antidote to the throwaway culture is when we model simplicity, hospitality, and generosity in “the domestic church.” In this school of love, the home, we aim to educate children in faith and charity so that they will not be taken in by the false promises of consumerism… My prayer is that someday my children will see something beautiful in our crazy experiment and the goodness of what we wanted to offer them.” – Haley Stewart, The Grace of Enough

6) Cultivating Virtue: Self-Mastery with the Saints

This book is set up as a daily devotional with each month focusing on a different virtue to grow in.  Each day has a quote from a saint and then a few stories of that saint or others living out the virtue that is being referenced. I have been using this book in my prayer time, allowing myself to skip to the day I’m on instead of trying to catch up.  Maybe some day, I’ll read them all!  The Lord has been using this book to really call me to growth in a lot of different areas. It makes me think deeper about what I’m doing and where I’m going and draws me closer to him in my prayer time.  If you’re looking for something to give more depth to your moral growth, this is the book for you! 

“When once we have placed ourselves totally in the hands of God, we have no cause to fear misfortune; for if any should come to us, He will know how to make it turn ot our good, by ways which we do not know now, but which, one day, we shall know- St. Vincent De Paul” – Cultivating Virtue: Self-Mastery with the Saints

7) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

This book seems a little out of place among the others, but definitely belongs among my seven top books.  The Harry Potter series was such an important part of my adolescence and taught me so many life lessons that I hope to also pass onto my children through the books. The seventh, and final book, stood out to me as it was the end of an era. I had grown up with Harry and the gang, and it felt like the closing of a door when the last book was finally published. Even so, the books were something that I grew closer with friends and family through, and still do now (Tony and I literally quoted Harry Potter today).  The greatest thing about the books is that I can go back and reread them as if I am meeting again with old friends, even as an adult.

If you have not listened to the audio books of the Harry Potter series, I highly recommend them. The narrator does such a great job bringing the characters to life in the recordings. My family used them as road trip books, and the bond that we grew out of sharing Harry Potter together is really beautiful.  Check them out through Audible– you get a couple free audio books with a trial (and you get to keep them even if you quit)!

It was hard to pick one quote, so here are two 😉

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” – Dumbledore, JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

“It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.” – Also Dumbledore, JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The Seven Book Challenge

So there you have it, my seven book challenge! I’d love to hear what your seven books are. Maybe they’ve changed your life, they are inspiring you currently, or they are your go to old friends. Whatever they are, send them my way so that I can add them to my to-read list too!

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Mama’s Inspired by Books Too- August Edition

Mama’s Inspired by Books Too- August Edition

Hey friends, I am starting up a monthly post in which I share the books that are inspiring me that month. Instead of wasting time on Facebook or my super addicting coloring app, I’ve been attempting to read more again- and not just parenting books! I’m finding that it is super important for my mental health with two small kiddos to make time for myself that isn’t turning my brain even more into mush. When I read, I not only get to practice a little escapism, but also I fill my brain and my heart up with new and inspiring ideas. The books I’ve been reading lately have definitely been calls to action and probably one of the reasons that I started this blog in the first place. I hope that one (or more!) of them may call your name and that you’ll be inspired by these books too!

Inspired by Books, Everybody Always, Bob Goff

1) Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People by Bob Goff

I actually read this one several months ago now, but it was so good that I needed to share it here. This book is the follow up book to Love Does, which I actually have yet to read, so you can read them out of order without worry. Bob is a Christian speaker, author, lawyer, and father and strings many of his crazy experiences in with lessons he’s learned over the years. Each of these focuses on how important it is to give love to everyone you see no matter how they are to you or what it costs you. It made me want to break out of my introverted shell and actually talk to people when we’re out and about and, in doing so, push myself to do the uncomfortable thing that is loving on the strangers in my life. I’m really not great at this, but I’m working on it!

This book, and the next one on this list, also inspired me to actually meet our neighbors after living in our apartment for over a year.  I baked some cookies and awkwardly knocked on two of their doors (including the downstairs neighbors we’ve been scared of because our children are crazy, and we have wood floors). They turned out to be decently nice people and now we say hi to the people across the way whenever we see them out walking their dog.  Little steps in loving others make us better humans.

“Jesus talked to His friends a lot about how we should identify ourselves. He said it wouldn’t be what we said we believed or all the good we hoped to do someday. Nope, He said we would identify ourselves simply by how we loved people. It’s tempting to think there is more to it, but there’s not. Love isn’t something we fall into; love is someone we become.” – Bob Goff, Everybody Always

Inspired by Books, The Grace of Enough, Haley Stewart2) The Grace of Enough: Pursuing Less and Living More in a Throwaway Culture by Haley Stewart

I just finished this book, and it was exactly what I needed to read right now. Haley talks about the cognitive dissonance between consumerism/the throwaway culture and living out the Gospel. It goes into the importance of slowing down and simplifying life, of focusing on the family home, and of creating a community of friends through breaking bread together.  She shares how her family made the radical decision to quit their jobs and move halfway across the country, away from extended family, to start a life doing an internship on a sustainable farm with no flushing toilets, all with three small kiddos. Just thinking about it makes me get a little anxious, and it did her too, as she quotes Mother Angelica, “Faith is one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach.”  By taking a leap of faith, this seemingly crazy life change brought them closer to each other, to the Earth, and to God.

This book made me want to do something similarly crazy, except we don’t know what we’d want to do or where we’d want to go- I don’t think farming is for us ;).  Maybe, it’s as easy as starting off in our own home by slowing things down and not focusing on all the “stuff” that gets in the way of creating an intentional family culture.  Or maybe, it’s just giving ourselves over to the uncomfortable interactions we have with others and building up the community that we’re already surrounded by.  Overall, this book was a huge call out to me, and I’m interested to see where God is planning to take me (and Tony if I can convince him to read it!) next.

“Life is an adventure orchestrated by God, and our attempts to be in the driver’s seat will always result in mere frustration. Why? Because this is not the way of authentic love, which involves the total surrender of self. Authentic love calls for sacrifice. That is true of all of us. Whether it’s being up with a baby all night, caring for an aging parent, giving a hurting friend a landing place in your home for a while, or becoming a foster parent, we will be called on to sacrifice.” -Haley Stewart, The Grace of EnoughInspired by Books- Love Lives Here, Maria Goff3) Love Lives Here: Finding What You Need in a World Telling You What You Want by Maria Goff

This book was actually written by the wife of the first book I listed. Where her husband, Bob, is an extrovert going out into the world and doing really big and important things, Maria is an introvert mostly staying at home and creating an intentional environment for her kids and husband to come home to. She talks about how often it is the small intentional decisions that we are making that really make the biggest difference in our families and in our lives.  Maria also shares how important rest is when we invest so much of ourselves into the people around us- something that I desperately needed to read.

I so loved her viewpoint as a stay at home mother in the background, as that’s often the part of the family that I take on. The points that she shared about creating an environment that is peaceful and loving for my children and husband to be home in have really hit home.  I don’t want the first thing that Tony feels when he comes home from work to be my anger and frustration with how my day has been going.  Now, I’m not talking 50’s housewife here, but by greeting Tony with a smile and not immediately going into all of the drama that my day has entailed, I am able to set a much happier tone for the rest of our evening.

“Ability is what we can already do; an ambition is who we want to become… I try to focus my time on doing things that serve and advance the most lasting and beautiful of my ambitions. The kind Jesus talked to His friends about. Figure out what those are for you, and do more of that.” – Maria Goff, Love Lives Here

Inspired by Books- Anne of Green Gables4) The Anne of Green Gables Collection: Anne Shirley Books 1-6 by L. M. Montgomery

I’m trying to figure out how to get back into fiction books and which ones are worth reading when there are so many to choose from at the library. I decided to start by going back to the classics. By scrolling through my Hoopla app (containing ebooks and audiobooks from the library), I found this collection and thought I’d give it a try. I vaguely remember reading these when I was younger, but a lot of the story is reading new to me. If you haven’t read the Anne of Green Gables books, I definitely recommend them, and if you haven’t read them as an adult, I’d recommend going back and reading them. Since I’m reading it in ebook form, I’ve been able to read it on my phone while I’m nursing Charlie back to sleep for the 4th time that night, allowing me to get a little more reading in during an otherwise “wasted” time.  I’m currently on the third book, and they are just so good for my soul.

Anne has such a beautiful, childlike whimsy about her that has been rubbing off on the way I’m seeing the world right now. It’s helping me to see more of the positives and to look at life with more of a childlike lens.  I’m remembering the importance of having an imagination and of using it to change what might seem like a bad situation into a good one.  Anne is the type of character I’m excited to introduce my kiddos to in the future- kind, but bold, and always striving to do her best in her life and in the lives of those around her. These are such sweet books and really easy reads for those of you who have mushy brains like me right now!

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” – L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” – L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

I’ve been having such a great time getting back into reading- it’s kind of fun to be sneaking another chapter in after my self-instilled bedtime! (#OnceANerdAlwaysANerd) I hope you’ll be inspired by these books too! I’d love to hear what you’re reading right now.  Comment below or share with me on Facebook what you’re reading- I have quite the stack waiting to be read right now, and I’m always looking for more suggestions of what to add to the list next!

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Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

 

Fostering a Love of Books from Early On

Fostering a Love of Books from Early On

After thinking through how we want to be intentional with our children’s books moving forward, I’m looking back at the things we have done so far to foster a love of books in Nora. Right now we feel like great parents who did everything right when it came to reading, but it’ll be super interesting to see if it was really just Nora and that we had nothing to do with it (like so much of parenting seems to be) or if Charlie will also find a love of reading. Either way, I’m trying to remember all that we did so that I can do my best to set Charlie (and any future children we may be blessed with) up to have a love of books too.

1) Start ‘em young

While I was pregnant, I read that it was important to expose your kiddos to books and all sorts of words from an early age, and I took that to heart. I remember feeling so silly reading to my one month old, but also it gave me a way to interact with Nora when I didn’t know quite what to do with a little baby. She didn’t really get into it until later into her first year, but some of those first snuggles with books are really special memories and ingrained into our little family a love of reading together that I hope will last. I think by introducing reading as a bonding activity from a really young age, we made it more accessible for both Nora and for us as she continued to develop. It became a go-to activity instead of an afterthought.

Embarrassingly, I kind of forgot that reading to small babies was a thing with Charlie until a couple months ago. I guess that’s the problem of the second child. However, he got to soak in all of the books that I was reading to Nora while he was also on my lap or wandering the room, so I don’t really feel too too bad. When I do remember to read just to him, he’s been really into all of the touch and feel books. His favorites right now are the “That’s not my…” series through Usborne and any of the Alphaprints ones. Nora liked those too, but Charlie LOVES them. Nora seemed to be more into books with rhyming like One, Two, Three! by Sandra Boynton (really anything by her is great!) and my personal favorite, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  It’s been really interesting to watch as their tastes in toys, books, and activities already differ! If I recall Nora correctly, the flap books will come next developmentally for Charlie (though with his ability to destroy things, we might need to hold off for awhile!) Some of Nora’s favorites were Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? and the Usborne Little Red Penguin series, and I’m excited to bring those out for Charlie to read when he’s ready!

2) Never say no to reading and read often

As Nora became more interested in books, I did my best to read to her whenever she’d ask for as long as she would listen. We’d often read first thing in the morning while I was still coming to (I’m not really a morning person). It was a really sweet way to start our day, and I’m kind of sad that I’ve gone away from that in our new morning routine. Thinking about this now, I might have to start doing this again in our mornings! We have also always associated books with naptime and bedtime, and then sprinkled them throughout playtime. When we were trying to get Nora to sleep on her own (at 14 months…), we finally got to the point that we’d leave her in her room, and she’d read books for 5 minutes- 2 hours, and then finally fall asleep (our kids really aren’t fans of sleeping). We figured there was nothing wrong with her reading as long as she wanted if she eventually fell asleep!

Of course, I’ve had to start bending my “never say no to reading” rule now that her books are getting longer (those 5 Minute Stories add up!) and Charlie is needing more attention. I do still try to make a point of sitting down and reading with her for a good amount of time each day, though. I’m much better at reading than doing pretend voices for all of her animals, so it’s always my first suggestion during Charlie’s morning nap and my Nora alone time.

3) Be surrounded with books

We have books everywhere. There is a basket of children’s picture books in the living room, a basket of Charlie’s books next to the recliner, a bookshelf of board books in Nora’s room, and even potty training books on the toilet. Not to mention the books Nora carries into different rooms and forgets about. I think it’s so important to be in close reach of books as it makes it easier to pick up a book to start reading. It’s also, then, a reminder of reading as an activity to both the kiddos and to me. Charlie is just now starting to grab books out of his basket or off the shelf in Nora’s room, and while he’s doing it just to explore and make a mess, it reminds me that I should be reading to him (a reminder which I apparently need!).

We also like to make a point of reading books out and about. I like to have at least a couple books in the car for when we’re going places for Nora to read- this works well for books that are duplicated! I’m realizing that I should also start putting some in for Charlie too! Nora has a knack for finding books everywhere we go. There are sections of books at both the children’s museum and the mall we go to (it’s a really awesome, child-friendly mall!), and we also try to make it to the library at least once a week for Toddler Time and/or just to read. Reading out in the wild is way more exciting than at home! It’s also really good for us to switch up which books we are reading and find new ones that we might want to get for home.

4) There’s no such thing as too many books

We were blessed to have people gift a favorite book instead of a card for Nora’s baby shower to really start off our collection of books. Since then, between gifts and our own book-buying addiction, we’ve more than filled up Nora’s bookshelves. I get sick of reading the same stories over and over, so I like to have enough that we can mix it up a little bit. We currently have too many board books than what can fit on Nora’s shelf, so I rotate them once a week to freshen her up and make it seem like she has a whole new shelf of books to choose from. Nora LOVES new books, so this tends to work pretty well. Whenever an actually new book enters our household, Nora wants to read it what seems like hundreds of times in those first few days of having it. It’s fun to see that excitement come from something as simple as books.

As we grow out of our basket of children’s picture books, I’m looking at ways to store them. In our someday house, I’d love to have a playroom with a library wall (#bigdreams). I’m really eyeing up either this or this shelf so that we can start displaying our books with the fronts out instead of just the spines.

There’s a meme I saw on Facebook that sums up how I feel about this subject:

Usborne- too many books, not enough shelves

Tony and I love having our own books around and that addiction has poured over into our children’s books. We hope to foster a love of books in our family that continues throughout our children’s lives, as it has in ours. These are just some of the ways that we’ve attempted to do that with Nora, and it’ll be a wait and see if it also inspires the same love in Charlie.

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Getting Intentional with our Children’s Books

Getting Intentional with our Children’s Books

This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links from which we may get a small commission on qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you 🙂

There was an article going around earlier this year that talked about about how the Inuits use storytelling as a way of teaching their children rules, boundaries, and emotional regulation.*  I really loved the premise of this, but had a hard time figuring out how to create the right stories for the lessons that applied to our family.  I tried to come up with stories on the spot about characters who shared, who brushed their teeth well, or who listened to their mommy, but it turns out, I’m a not a natural storyteller.  I’m embarrassed to admit that in just the last couple weeks, I realized that I can use already written story books to teach these lessons and many other values.  I didn’t need to make my own stories up when I have a wealth of stories right at my fingertips.  Since we are reading often with Nora, I bet she’s already been picking up on these lessons through the intentional children’s books we’ve already been reading.

Getting Intentional with our Children's Books

Learning Lessons Through Books

Getting intentional with drawing the lessons out has been a little harder, but seems to be worth it.  Nora has been having a really hard time sharing what used to be “her” baby toys with Charlie now that he’s big enough to be playing with the more exciting ones. We recently checked out the Big Book of the Berenstain Bears from the library and in it is the story The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby. In the story, Brother Bear gets a new big bed so that Sister Bear can have his baby bed when she is born.  Brother Bear is so excited that he has his new bed, but also that he has a little sister that is using his old bed.  When Nora was trying to take over Charlie’s play house the other day, I brought up the story of how Brother Bear had to give his little bed away, and it clicked for her in that moment that it was good to share her things. Of course, this didn’t last all day, but it’s a start!

Prepare for New Activities

As I’ve shared in past posts, we have been using books to help us with all sorts of activities already. We have our potty training books (The Potty Train and Usborne Books What is Poop? are still read multiple times a day here) and our church books.  I just bought some new Usborne books talking about feelings in hopes that Nora will share what emotion she is experiencing instead of just melting down- the two’s are fun.  We started pretty young with Nora with all of the shapes, numbers, and letters books, and I think, because of that, she’s got those pretty well down, so we know that books are a good way, at least for her, of teaching her different ideas.

Introduce New Ideas for Play

Even the books that don’t have as obvious of an emphasis have been helpful for creating new play ideas, introducing places we are going, and talking about how to handle different situations. One of the most random lately is from her 5-Minute Mickey Mouse Stories in which one of the stories talks about a picnic at which they eat fruit salad. She went through a huge phase of serving us fruit salad made of all sorts of different objects.  Nora’s also all of a sudden very into Pete the Cat books, and after reading Pete the Kitty and the Case of the Hiccups a million times, every time she gets the hiccups (which is surprisingly often), she says “How do you stop the hiccups?” and then goes through all of the different ideas the friends in the book have. It’s pretty funny!

Live and Learn Vicariously Through Books

In thinking about how much she is picking up from these stories right now, I’m trying to be intentional in the books that she’s reading. I want to surround her with materials that help her become a good human as she continues to grow and learn. I recently read The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie and came away with so many ideas for forming a family culture based on stories. One of the ideas that stood out the most to me was that reading allows people to live vicariously through experiences of those in the book, so that they don’t necessarily need to live it themselves to gain the perspective and learn the lessons. Books also can then have an impact on how compassionate your children become by exposing them to these different perspectives. I feel like we know this intuitively as adults with the difference that reading a headline in the news feels vs. reading a story about someone who is experiencing what’s going on in that headline. Stories are the conduit by which people feel the perspectives of others and, hopefully, then grow in compassion.

Introduction to Empathy and Kindness

In our family, then, I want to find intentional children’s books that are not just a cute story but also, either subconsciously or not, teach values and tell stories that we want to be a part of our family culture. If I had to choose one quality that our kids have when I send them out into the world, it would be that they are kind. I want them to be empathetic and compassionate with others.  I may not succeed (who knows what kind of kiddos Tony and I make), but I can give them a good foundation to start from. To help with this, I’ve started looking for books with a diverse set of characters in race, class, and ability, as well as in family type. I want to find more books about characters from different places in the world and about different cultures. I want to find books in which characters figure out how to solve disagreements compassionately. I want to find books that the characters face hardships, and though they may not solve all of their problems, they still find sparks of happiness. I want to provide a wide basis of characters for my kids to fall in love with and learn alongside.

We're Getting Intentional with our Children's Books

Let’s Choose Intentional Children’s Books

This is a little overwhelming- there are soooooo many books to choose from and not near enough time to read through them all. Luckily we’re starting early- Nora’s only 2.5 and just starting into the “big kid” books, and Charlie’s just starting to get into his touch and feel books. I’ve started looking at lists of intentional children’s books on different blogs, finding different classics that are classic for a reason, and just trying out different books at the library. Nora’s an eager book listener, so she’ll definitely be our guinea pig as we figure out which books are worth adding to our shelves and which just don’t fit.  I’d love to hear if any of you have books you love dearly- both intentional and just fun ones to get us started. We’re just starting to fill our bookshelves with true children’s picture books, and I need help finding the ones that will help us instill the values we hold dear in our kiddos <3

Read More:

Fostering a Love of Books from Early On

Fun Indoor Activities Both You and Your Kids will Love 

*https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/03/13/685533353/a-playful-way-to-teach-kids-to-control-their-anger

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