Saturday, July 02, 2016

SUMMER READING FUN WITH KIDS

We're in the heart of summer time with July freshly arrived.  Our days have been spent at the pool and lake and various other fun summer pursuits - just this week I've introduced both Parent Trap movies (1961 and 1998 versions), Swiss Family Robinson and Homeward Bound, all of which were hits at my house.  We've also been doing a lot of reading.  I always read a lot for myself, but with the extra time this summer, I turned my attention to my kiddos and teaching them to love books.

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(Aren't these beautiful?  Modern Mrs. Darcy always inspires me with her beautiful books on Instagram, and I asked for some for my birthday.  Love them - thanks, Mom!)

We have always been a library family, especially in the summer time.  (You can take a walk down our memory lane and see this library post from 2012 with tiny Lily who I thought was so big and tiny Bella with her precious chubby baby hands and feet.)  However, very often, we go in and I let the children wildly and randomly grab books.  This means that we get a selection of often odd or at the very least, seasonally inappropriate books.  And, I'm going to be honest here - some kid's books are just not good.  At all.  With weird messages.  Then I am left wondering how in the world that particular book got published and ever landed in my home, but I digress.

I would NEVER randomly pick out books for myself to read.  Never.  In fact, I research rather extensively before I pick up a book, because there are simply too many good books out there to spend time reading ones that I will not enjoy or learn from.  Recently I realized that I should apply this a bit more to what my children read - obviously what Lily reads falls more into this category, because she is actually a reader.  But I also wanted to up our reading game with picture books that I read aloud to all of them.

I use the library app (Overdrive) on my phone extensively to hold and read or listen to digital titles myself.  Only recently did I start using it to look up and hold physical books for the kids.  This is such a MAJOR WIN.  I'm sure many more savvy mothers than me have been doing this forever - I know at least one of my friends has mentioned it before, but it is seriously amazing.  I type in books we want to read, and there they await me on a shelf with my name on them.  The girls actually think this is pretty magical, and I can't help but agree.

In order to find great recommendations, I scoured a trusted site (Modern Mrs. Darcy), and I began following Kidsbookstagram and Happily.ever.elephants on Instagram for regular reading inspiration for my littles.  Whenever I see one I want to get, I add it to my Goodreads shelf of Books I Want to Read with Littles.  (I also use Goodreads to track my own reading and To Be Read lists.)  Every so often, I add a bunch to our library hold list, and we go pick up books that I actually want to read to my kids.  Like magic.

My favorite new discoveries have been The Bear and the Piano, which had me shedding tears (I cry easily) and The Day the Crayons Quit, along with the Olivia series.  And, as a throwback to the late 80s and early 90s, I have also checked out several Where's Waldo books, and they have had a high entertainment value in our home.  Waldo is just so sneaky.

As far as books to read aloud to the big girls, I have an entirely different list.  We've been listening to the first Harry Potter book many afternoons this summer, and Lily is loving it.  We won't go further in the series until she's a little older, but I am really enjoying seeing her like something that I adore.  Last summer we read Mr. Popper's Penguins, Charlotte's Web and My Father's Dragon (and it's two sequels) - all of which were great.  There are far too many books and too little time, and when I started curating a list of books for us to read together or for them to read once they really can, I realized how much of my own childhood I spent reading and how many books I love.

Hopefully, this gives you some new ammunition and sources of recommendations for fun kid's books.  Maybe it will prevent you from reading back to back Halloween books like I did this week (I still let the kids pick out a few books, and wouldn't you know it?  We had several Halloween titles. Perfect for the 4th of July week.)  We are loving our summer reading this year (trick-or-treating dinosaur not-with-standing) and hope you will too!

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