books-kids

Great Books to Start the Year: For Kids

Reading to my children has always been important to me. Maybe it is because my mother and father read to us a lot as we were growing up, maybe because I inherited my father’s love for reading and books.

When I find a great book or series of books that will teach my children biblical truth, reenforce what I have been teaching them from God’s Word, or build their faith, it finds a special place on our bookshelf and I add it to the rotation to ensure as much use out of it as possible.

Authors Agnes and Salem de Bezenac have done a fantastic job of putting together a series of books that walk children through passages of Scripture, teach godly character, or explain life lessons with easy to understand words and beautiful, childlike illustrations and all from a biblical perspective.

books-kids

Because the author is also the illustrator (and an excellent one at that!), the pictures show the heart of the passage in the way the author truly intends them to. The illustrations are very engaging and childlike, with lots of color and plenty of movement, but not too busy to overwhelm little eyes.

I would definitely recommend these books for preschool through early elementary aged children. As children learn to read, these would be great practice for them, while building their faith and spirits.

The Psalms Series

In the Psalms series, each page features a phrase from the actual passage and a simple interpretation/paraphrase for easy understanding. Although there is an entire series, I have, have read, and recommend the following titles:

Safe with God: Psalm 91
A Psalm of Praise with Psalm 100
My Shepherd: Psalm 23
Psalm 119
Psalm 34
Psalm 121

books-kids

Character

In the Bible Thoughts On… books, an initial verse is given and then a rhyming story follows depicting the character trait focused on in the title. The accompanying activity book  gives parents ways to take the lessons from the book and bring them into the home to help children learn to develop good, biblical character traits.

Bible Thoughts on Responsibility and Responsibility Activity Pack

Bible Thoughts on Anger and Anger Activity Pack

books-kids

Miscellaneous

I have also had the opportunity to preview several of their books that just deal with life or just fit in the “other” category.

14 Jesus Tales: 2 Minute Stories While On Your Way, or At the End of the Day These stories are fictional stories about Jesus as a little boy designed to teach character and to remind children that Jesus was once a child, too. The author is very clear to parents the importance of making sure children understand the stories in this particular book are not true and are not given equal status as Scripture. (Personally, I have a hard time with books that portray Jesus as a child in situations that are outside of Scripture. Although, Jesus is always shown in the best light with great character, it’s just a step I’m uncomfortable with.)

Where is Grandpa? My Visit to the Cemetery I love how the concept of death and life are portrayed in this book. The entire book is a conversation between a grandmother and granddaughter which beautifully describes why the grandfather died, where his body is, where his soul is, and how one day God will reunite us with our loved ones who are saved. If your young child has experienced a loss, this is a great book to read to them.

books-kids

God Talks With Me About Comfort How many children are afraid of sounds that go bump in the night? This story takes children alongside a little girl who is afraid of the dark and the scary  sounds they hear at night. Throughout the story, Bible verse phrases are given to help calm the child’s fears until she realizes the sound she is hearing is a family of birds outside her window. My favorite part of the book is the end, however. The author devotes an entire page to giving the references and Scripture to the verses given in the story, another page for conversation started to help children express their fears, and a final page with ideas for 4 activities to help children overcome their fears.

The Lord’s Prayer As with the Psalms series, this book takes the individual phrases from the passage and gives a side by side paraphrase for easier understanding.

Reading to our children is important, but far more important is imparting the truth of God’s Word  in their hearts. These books do just that.

book-list-2018

My To Read List for 2018

I love to read. Ever since I was a kid, you could find me with a book in my hands curled up somewhere reading to my heart’s content.

As a mom, my reading time has been significantly cut back (slashed is probably a better word for it), and when I do manage to get some reading time, I am usually found asleep curled up with a book in my hands (or falling out of my hands).

I learned a couple of huge lessons this year as I worked my way through my reading list for 2017.

  • Do not aim to read more books than I actually have time for.
  • Keep my list small, and if I find that I read more books than are on the list, then yay for me!

This year my book list reflects devotionals I want to work my way through, goals that we are working towards as a couple, authors who will encourage me to slow down and remind me that it’s okay to live life in the slow lane, classic books I want to read with my children, and launches I’ll be a part of.

book-list-2018

The List

Spiritual Goals

Financial Goals

Lifestyle 

Classics 

book-list-2018

Book Launches

  • The Eden Concept: Marriage God’s Way by Dana and Kimberly Williams (Book launch coming in February). I’ve had the privilege of viewing Kimberly’s book Home Discipleship: Much More Than ABC’s and 123’s, and I am excited to be a part of her launch team for her newest book which she and her husband have collaborated on.
  • The Revolutionary by Kristen Hogrefe (Coming in March) I read The Revisionary last year and absolutely loved it. The story takes place in a dystopian era United States, but it is written from a Christian world view. The storyline kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, I connected with the characters, and I could not wait to find out what  happened to Portia (the main character and heroine of the story). So when Kristen reached out to me earlier this month, I immediately agreed to review her latest book. I cannot wait share this review with you! If you have teens who love dystopian based literature, this is definitely a series you want to look into.

Do you enjoy reading? What books do you have planned to work your way through this year? Feel free to share your reading recommendations in the comments. We would love to hear which books are on your bookshelf or nightstand. It may even give me a few more titles to add to my list!

book-list-2018

christmas-resources

My Favorite Christmas Resources

Tis the season to pull out all of our favorite activities, books, and movies!

Every year, as I begin to put the Thanksgiving decorations away and pull out the Christmas boxes, my children begin asking about all of their favorites which have been hidden away for the year. Their excitement gets my creative juices flowing to find new ways to use our time-tested favorites to make new memories.

From activities to books to movies, we squeeze the most out of every moment in December with the ultimate goal being to bring our hearts to the manger as we remember that the reason for celebrating is the birth of our Savior, Jesus.

Affiliate links may be used in this post. You can view our full disclosure here.

Activities

Melk the Christmas Monkey- This little monkey visits us sporadically throughout the month of December with the express purpose of teaching us about the character of God. My favorite aspect of Melk the Christmas Monkey is that he visits us based on our schedule. It does not have to be a daily activity. Because of this, my children are still experiencing new activities because there are still lessons we have not yet learned with Melk over the last couple of years. You can read more about our experiences with Melk here. (Note: The actual monkey is not part of your purchase. The monkey I purchased several years ago is no longer available, but you can find a similar monkey here.)

Little People Nativity– When Ian was two years old, I knew I had to do something that would keep my ceramic Nativity set from becoming an item of interest to him. I decided to purchase the Little People Nativity set. He is now six years old, and he still enjoys playing with the set. This is one set that continues to grow with children, and each year, as their knowledge and understanding of the Christmas account grows, so will their storytelling as they play with the characters.

christmas-resources

Books

Our family has grown a collection of Christmas books over the last nine years, and each year our collection grows by one or two books. For the last two years, we have received copies of Glenys Nellist’s newest Christmas books Christmas Love Letters from God and Twas the Evening of Christmas which have become family favorites and are on my list of “must have Christmas books.” You can read more about them here and here.

My friend, Aryn the Libraryan, who shared her list of Christmas books yesterday, recently gifted us with Max Lucado’s An Angel’s Story. It is a powerful adaptation of the Christmas account through the eyes of the angel Gabriel. My children are currently nine and six years old, but because of all of the discussions we have already had, I felt they were ready for this book. You may want to read it through on your own to decide when your children would be ready for it as it does deal with the spiritual realm.

A few of our other favorites in our book basket are:

christmas-resources

Movies

One of our favorite things to do in the evenings is to gather on the sofa and watch a Christmas movie while eating popcorn (for the record, my husband makes the best popcorn ever!). Movies can be a great visual for our children when depicting the Nativity or a lesson in character or love, just be sure to point out to your children when the movie has taken creative license.

The Nativity Story (upper elementary/middle and high school) is a family favorite. Although it is not an animated film, we chose to show it to our children last year. It can be a bit harsh and realistic, for example, when Elizabeth and Mary each give birth, there is nothing cute and cuddly about it. But it beautifully portrays the reality of the situation. Again, as with any biblically based movie, be sure your children know what the Bible says and can discern the truth from creative license.

christmas-resources

Our other favorite is Veggie Tales: St. Nicholas. (preschool/elementary) This animated depiction beautifully explains to children the truth behind the idea of Santa Claus by introducing them to the real St. Nicholas by creating a story based on one of the legends surrounding his generosity.

Other family favorites are:

As you move into the Christmas season, may the activities, books, and movies you share with your family bring you all closer to Jesus and His gift of Salvation.

christmas-resources

books

Books For the Purposeful Mom

Affiliate links may be used in this post. You can view our full disclosure here.

It was time for the kids’ dental checkup and cleaning. We sat in the crowded waiting room- daughter at my side, son on my lap.

Because I have gotten through a few books from my list to read this year and am currently on my next book, Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford, I was encouraged and determined not to take out my phone to check my texts, Facebook, or Instagram feeds.

Instead, we just sat there. Me with my daughter at my side and son on my lap.

But then it dawned on me. I might as well just pull out my phone. I’m not interacting with my children at all! The only difference between me and every other parent in this room is that  I don’t have my phone in hand.

Our first influence as believers should always be God’s Word, the Bible, but he also has given others wisdom to share with us- not inspired wisdom, but useful wisdom. Because of the books I have chosen to read this year, my thoughts and actions have lined up more towards being  purposeful. I have gathered fantastic ideas that I keep in my mommy-mental arsenal that I can reach for at a moment’s notice.

books

“I spy something red,” I said.

Both kids went from a slightly slumped position to sitting at attention, giving the room an instant visual scan.

“Is it on the wall?”

“Yes,” I answered, fixing my eyes on the beach ball painted in the center of the beach mural on the accent wall.

For 30 minutes, we played “I Spy.” We laughed that we had looked past the green sign that had been spied on the glass door to the green walls beyond, groaned at not being able to see the obvious orange piece of paper on the floor, and called a “give up” when we thought we named everything in a given color.

If you are looking for a book or two to help you be a more purposeful mom, here are some of my personal recommendations.

Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters! by Rachel Macy Stafford.

books I have been able to relate to every word Rachel has written, and I am finding myself laying my phone down for longer periods of time. In this world of technology we live in, it is important for us to be reminded of the value of the real over the virtual.

On of the best things about Rachel is her ability to make her time with her two daughters meaningful while being a full-time working wife and mother.

Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More by Rachel Macy Stafford.

booksThe sequel to Hands Free Mama, is next on my list. Since I was given a bookstore gift card for Christmas, I knew this had to be added to my “Must Read List” this year.

Rachel also has a brand new book out, Only Love Today, which I cannot wait to get my hands on.

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist.

books

This book really moved me in a way that many books haven’t. When you find yourself always being pulled in different directions, it can be hard to be present in anything you do. Shauna is very real about her own personal situation and how pulled and frazzled she felt, and what she needed to do in order to be present with her family instead of saying “yes” to every opportunity that came her way.

Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path by Erin Loechner.

booksOur time is always being taken away from us. Whether we work outside of the home or we are stay-at-home-moms, everyone wants to get their hands on any little bit of spare time we have. We feel like we are always on the go and there is never any time for us to just stop, slow down, and put our feet up. After hearing Erin Loechner speak about her book on a podcast, I knew I needed to add this book to my “Must Read List.”

Erin wrote this book, not as someone who has found the formula and has arrived, but as someone who recognized how fast life was going and decided to chronicle her journey to slow down.

The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by Sally Clarkson.

booksSally Clarkson goes through the calendar year and gives moms ideas to focus on each month. Not necessarily how to make each holiday “the best one ever,” but how to focus on one aspect of each family member’s needs one month at a time and how to make home feel like home each month.

Each author definitely has their own distinct style, which I like. Each author speaks from their own experiences, giving them the credibility to speak on their topic. Each author focuses on a different area of focus.  And in their own ways, each author has encouraged me in my journey to be more purposeful with my family.

Are there any books you are reading which have helped you approach life in a more purposeful way?

books