Blind Date with a Book

This January I started a new gig as a librarian assistant at a local junior high. The first big display I was able to do was one for Valentine’s Day. I have seen Pinterest posts about bookstores and public libraries doing Blind Date with a Book events so I decided that is what we should do too.

I had my library aides each pick a book, wrap it, and write a brief synopsis on the front.

The first morning the books were available, 8 of the 12 were checked out! I was ecstatic! I immediately begin wrapping more books.

Overall, we wrapped 39 books and all but 4 were checked out. The kids, mostly young ladies, were absolutely loving it. I had 4 girls fill out the “Rate your Date” card.

Overall, it was a blast and something that I plan to do in the future.

Creatively Teaching in the Home

If you’ve been around a bit, you know that in July 2018 I had my beautiful baby boy. As a teacher and lover of books, I started reading to him in the womb! Naturally, I continued reading to him once he was born. Sometimes I actually read aloud my books as a way to allow me to continue reading!

Now, as a sweet 2.5 year-old, he absolutely loves to read. A trip to the library is something to get excited about. (Of course, this bibliophile momma loves that!)

Lately, I have really begun to focus more on “teaching” him. We are working on our alphabet (with help from Leap Frog’s Letter Factory). While most of my “teaching” happens through reading, I want to be more purposeful with him. I began to think about our patterns and routines and discovered that we spend a lot of time in the bathroom. (Can you say potty training?!) Naturally we read more there and have many conversations. I realized that this room has become his classroom (along with the kitchen table). As such, I decided to tape some alphabet cards to his bathroom wall. This gives me a visual to work with both for him to see and to remind me to talk about the letters.

So, if you are starting to think about ways to be more purposeful in teaching your child their letters or numbers, think about an area of the house in which you spend a great deal of time and make that your classroom. You do have to be ok with your house, or at least portions of your house, looking like a pre-school classroom. To me, that’s ok! I welcome it.

What ways are you purposefully teaching your child(ren)?

Dred Scott v. Sandford: The beginning of the end for slavery in America

When my dear friend sent me this book and asked if I wanted to review it, I had to say yes! Not only because it is historical, which is my first love, but the author is 12- year old Judson A. Smith. TWELVE YEARS OLD!

In this picture book, Judson explains just why Dred Scott v. Sandford was a pivotal case in American history. He explains just what the Supreme Court does and why this case was so important. Using simple text and visually appealing art (which he did himself), Judson walks you through Dred Scott’s life and the decision that helped to expose the evils of slavery.

Awesomeness:

-Did I mention Judson is 12?!?

-Uses primary sources to support his text.

-Great as an introduction to this case. Would also be a great tool for ELL students.

Available on Amazon.

Amora

After the loss of their twelve-year-old daughter, Amora and Leo’s marriage crumbles. Once Amora accepts Christ, Leo becomes irate enough to denounce his wife and send her to the Colosseum.

Leo’s son, Esteban, finds himself alone and lost. Both men will experience hurt and pain beyond belief as they learn to truly accept Christ’s love and forgiveness. And, learn to forgive others.

I tend to forget about this time period in Christian history. As someone who has stood in the Colosseum, I could picture the scene as Christians were sent to their deaths. This book pulls on your heart strings and helps you to remember that no sin is too great for God’s forgiveness.

If you are a fan of Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion series, then you will certainly enjoy this book.

Awesomeness:

-The relationships between the character’s are pretty realistic.

-The battle scenes and gladiator training are cool.

-The history at the back really helps to inform the reader.

-The characters grow in their understanding of forgiveness.

Cautions:

This book touches on several difficult topics such as the death of a child, martyrdom, marital discord, and verbal and physical abuse. None of the issues are written in unnecessary detail and they all add to the depth and complexity of the story.

Hope is a Dangerous Place

Kelsey and Harmonie are your average teenagers. They attend school, play sports, hangout on the weekends. They enter their sophomore year of high school full of plans and expectations; they could not have imagined the adventure they would embark on all because of one little journalism assignment.

Ms. Montez is new to town and has expectations of her own. As the new English and Journalism teacher, she is excited to grow the young minds that sit in her room. She decides to have her three young journalism students investigate the history of the town.

Kelsey and Harmonie eagerly jump into their new assignment. As they begin to dig deeper and deeper into the town’s history, they find themselves in danger… multiple times. What happened to the town’s namesake? Why are people so determined to leave the past in the past? Kelsey and Harmonie will found out even if it hurts them.

Awesomeness:

-Female lead characters
-Father/daughter relationship
-A teacher’s drive to make her students feel seen
-The desire to see God move in the people of the town

Cautions:

-Some language, overall minor
-Kelsey and Harmonie are locked in the library when it is set on fire
-The sheriff is crooked
-Death by gunshot

This is book 1 in Jim Baton’s Hope Trilogy. While some very dramatic things happen to our leading ladies, at the end, the townsfolk are beginning to see the need for change.

Will You be Friends with Me?

I recently watched Dr. Katherine Phillip’s Talks@Columbia talk entitled “Why Diversity Matters“. Toward the end of her talk, she challenged her audience to the following: the next time we meet someone new, do not focus on the similarities but the differences between us. She encourages us to celebrate our diversity.

In her book, Will You be Friends with Me, Kathleen Long Bostrom hits on this very idea. It does not matter the style or texture of our hair nor our preferences in art materials. It does not matter the foods we like or the way we consume them. All of these differences are worth noting and celebrating!

Bostrom’s book encourages children to notice the differences between themselves and their friends and celebrate those differences.

The timing of this book, quite frankly, is perfect. This is a great and safe way to talk to your children about differences. It is also a wonderful way to help our children see that differences are not bad, but worth celebrating. The realistic and adorable illustrations help to show what some differences may look like. The illustrations show children participating in fun activities that your child probably does as well.

I encourage you to pick up a copy now and help the children in your life do the very thing Dr. Phillips encourages us to do: note and celebrate our differences!

For more about the author please check out kathleenlongbostrom.com

The Green Ember

Heather and Picket lived a lovely life with their parents and younger brother, Jacks. Until one day, their world was turned upside down and they were left fighting for their lives.

Heather and Picket spent their days playing in idyllic meadows, listening to their father’s tales, and generally, enjoying life. One morning Heather comes down stairs to find a strange woman in her home. Unfortunately, she and Picket are not allowed to remain in the house for the duration of her visit but are, instead, sent to pick berries. Upon their return home, they discover that their house has been attacked and suddenly find themselves running for their lives. They hastily make a plan to meet at the seven mounds and take off in different directions.

Finding herself cornered by a wolf, Heather thinks this is the end, but the sudden arrival of two unknown rabbits turns their luck around. Once rescued, Heather and Picket are escorted to a rabbit haven completely unknown to them. They know no one save their two saviors, but everyone on the mountain knows them.

Heather and Picket will learn about their family’s history and the war between the rabbits and the beasts of prey. Here they will have to find their place within this society and will learn that things are not always what they seem.

I was first introduced to these books on Sally Clarkson’s podcast. She and her son Joel were talking about their friendship with the author and the fact that Joel was narrating the audiobooks. I immediately bought the series but did not pick them up until now.

This book was absolutely delightful. Several times I found my heart beating fast as the intensity of the story picked up.

Awesomeness:

Very cleverly written story.

Unique storyline and characters.

Light vs. Dark

Cautions:

There are several battles in this book, and like in a real battle, not everyone makes it. However, the writing is tastefully done.

Looking for a challenge?

A reading challenge that is! I don’t know what it is about doing a challenge that I love so much. I am, by nature, not a competitive person but I find some challenges really satisfying.

I, myself, have not created a reading challenge, but perhaps one day. I have, however, collected a short list of some reading challenges I have come across.

The first challenge is a 31 day challenge and comes from Sarah Mackenzie at readaloudrevival.com The goal in this challenge is to read aloud to your kids or have your kids read aloud for 10 minutes at least three days a week. Sarah has a wonderful FREE packet containing trackers and reward ideas for your kids. I participated in this challenge last January with my then 5 month old son. This year I am trying to read aloud to him at least 10 minutes but have not yet signed up for the challenge officially. I also really enjoy listening to Sarah’s podcasts and checking out her FREE book lists. She is a wonderful resource for picking great books.

The second challenge is brought to you by Jami Balmet over at youngwifesguide.com. She has created a challenge for women and one for men. I completed her challenge a couple of years ago. She sets up her challenge by picking categories and selecting books for those categories. She also has two levels: 13 books in a year or 26 books in a year. All the books on the list are nonfiction and meant to help you grow in your walk with the Lord or your role as wife and mother. She, too, has a great podcast as well as several FREE resources on her site.

The third challenge is being led by Jessica Turner at themomcreative.com. I first saw her reading challenge on her instagram account @booksnobery. Her goal with this challenge is to get you to read your books you already own! I love that!! My TBR pile is huge and while I focused on reading from it in 2019, I certainly could focus on it for another year. Now, she does specifically say this challenge is NOT a book buying band, but a goal to read more of what we already own. You can sign up for her challenge on her website. I am very excited about this one!

The last challenge is brought to you by Anne Bogel at modernmrsdary.com. I have not done this challenge before but I like that she gives you categories and allows you to find the books for them. For example, one category is to read a book from the year your were born. How fun is that?!? You can sign up and get more information on her website.

All for ladies can be found on instagram as well. Do you plan to take up a reading challenge this year? Let me know in the comments.

Happy reading!

The Secret in the Cliffs

The Secret in the Cliffs documents the adventures of a boy and his best friend. Kyle, a lover of archeology, spends his spare time exploring the caves in the cliffs above the beaches in his town. There, he makes a discovery that motivates him to explore deeper and deeper into the caves. The desire to explore increases when Kyle realizes that he is being watched… and followed.

Kristin Tucker takes her reader on an archeological expedition of monumental proportions. Through her use of detail, she allows the reader to join Kyle & Kaitlin as they climb, dig, and swim their way through the caves. She invites us along as they make known the secret in the cliffs.

Awesomeness:

  • This is the first middle-grade novel I have read where the main character is so into archeology.
  • There is a lot of really good upper-level vocabulary (My hubby says I’m a sucker for vocabulary!)

Caution:

  • Kyle doesn’t ever reveal his adventures or the dangers to his parents.

Lesson Plan Ideas:

  1. Watch an archeological dig on youtube or the history channel.
  2. Look up examples of hieroglyphics in a book or online.
  3. Create a treasure hunt/ archeological dig for your reader.
  4. Write a dialogue between a news reporter and Kyle.
  5. Create a poster for the museum advertising the skeleton display.

*The author reached out to me to review her book and supplied the novel.

How I’m making time to read

Reading is, by far, my most enjoyable past time. Once I got married, I realized that I had significantly less time to read and then when baby boy came along, that time pretty much didn’t exist! So what was I to do?

I have been reading the Bible out loud to my son pretty much his whole existence. So I decided that I should do the same with my novels. Jonathan makes for a great audience. He really thinks that I am talking to him and I try to make eye contact periodically so he feels included. He is happy to lay on the ground and play while I read. Now, I will say I only have the one and he isn’t mobile yet! But I am hoping that reading a loud will continue to be a way I can read the books I love.

I also try and read a chapter or two right before bed. It helps that my hubby is a reader as well. You wouldn’t believe how much reading one can fit in at night.

Lastly, I have started allowing myself the first 25 minutes of his nap time to be my reading time. Specifically I am using that reading time to research health topics and read books about health. But I set my timer and read. It’s amazing how much the timer helps. I am more likely to ignore my phone and read because I know the timer is ticking. If someone calls or texts I know that I can get back to them in 25 minutes. That has been so helpful.

Currently, I have finished 2 out of the 3 books that make up my monthly goal. (More on that in the next post.) Try reading aloud if you have kids and see how it works!

How do YOU make time to read?