all ages

10 Book-Based Movies Worth Watching

“The book was better” is a common mantra proudly proclaimed by bookworms everywhere. While this may be true, the movie version often has its merits. Not only that, a good story told is a good story told whether it comes to us via printed words or on a DVD.

If your young reader is a purist and the movie does not follow the book exactly, watching the movie version will probably end in disappointment. However, if you have a hard time convincing your young reader to pick up a book, watching the movie might be the motivator they need to get reading.

While I usually try to read the book first, most of the movies on this list I watched, loved, discovered they were based on a book and then read the book. When I watch a movie after I’ve read the book I try to keep an open mind. I don’t mind if the movie departs from the book or adds new plot twists, as long as it keeps the feel of the book. Every once in a while the book has been the disappointment. (Mary Poppins is one example that comes to mind. I love the movie so much, and the book just didn’t come close.)

Five Picture Books to Grab on Your Next Library Run

At the end of January, the Caldecott winners were announced. The Caldecott is an annual award given to the “most distinguished American picture book for children.” I’m always curious about the winners.

If you ever feel at a loss for what books to grab at the library, a Caldecott or Newbery award winner is usually a good place to start. This doesn’t always work (the books we like don’t always line up with the books the “experts” choose), but if you are looking for picture books to read with your kids, this year’s winner and honorees are good ones. Although Hello Lighthouse was the official winner for 2019, for kicks I decided to list this year’s picks with my favorites at the top.

Books that Quietly Change Culture

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a classic in children’s literature. Written in 1962, it was well-received from the get-go and even won the Caldecott Medal that year. Who can’t relate to the wonder of a fresh blanket of snow? The Snowy Day was also one of the first picture books to feature an African American child as the main character. Written in the midst of the Civil Rights movement this book quietly made a very important statement.

I read an article that ran on NPR on January 28, 2012 (the 50th anniversary of The Snowy Day) that shared one of the ways this book made an impact:

Author Focus: Grace Lin

Today marks the beginning of the Spring Festival in China, better known as Chinese New Year. I thought that made it the perfect day to talk about one of our family’s favorite authors, Grace Lin.

Grace Lin is an author-illustrator of numerous picture books, easy readers and novels for young readers. While her books are fiction, most of her stories are inspired by real life.

As a multi-racial family (two of our kids were born in China), I love the connection Grace’s books give them to their country of origin. We have used her picture books to help us learn about and celebrate different Chinese holidays, like Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Her Pacy-Lin novels give my kids a relatable character that looks like them. Her Chinese folklore novels (including one of my very favorites, Newbery Honor book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon) give my kids a glimpse into the world of Chinese fairy tales as well as takes them on an epic adventure.

A Reading Challenge for Your Kids, Bingo Style!

Confession: I am a sucker for New Year’s resolutions, or goals as I like to call them.

Last year I set a goal to read 100 books in 2018; the week before Christmas I finished Frankenstein to complete it. This year I’m going for 100 again. I like setting a number, but I hold it loosely. I don’t want the pressure of reaching my goal to detract from the joy I find in reading.

I’ve talked to my kids about setting reading goals too. While I don’t want them to feel pressured by the goals, my hope is that they will be motivated by them. Some have set a number, some have said they want to read more nonfiction, others have ignored the idea completely. I am good with each of their responses. I want the idea of a reading challenge to be fun and if it’s not, then I don’t want them to do it.

For those who have set goals, I do what I can to help. Whether that means helping them start a notebook to track their reading or to periodically ask how they are doing. It’s fun to talk about (at least for me) and it’s one more way we can connect over books and reading.

Love Does for Kids

My husband would say Love Does by Bob Goff has been one of the most influential books in his life. I would say the same. Bob’s perspective on loving God and loving people is inspiring. As he would say, it’s simple, but it’s not easy.

Then on our summer vacation road trip this year, we listened as a family to Bob’s newest release, Everybody Always. Our kids loved listening to it as much as we did. Bob is funny, interesting and so whimsical in the way he interacts with other people. I want to be like Bob, mainly because I think Bob acts a lot like Jesus did and I really want to be like Jesus.

When I saw Bob had recently co-authored a new version of Love Does written with his daughter expressly for kids, I knew it was a book that we needed to add to our shelf. Our kids were already fans, I figured it would be a great way to get them to read a book.

Guest Post: Picture Books to Laugh at and Learn From

I regularly tell my elementary school students, “You are never too old to enjoy a good picture book!”  Picture books are such a treasure! I love to read them on my own, read them to my students and recommend them to everyone!  Here are some of my favorites.

The Lovely World of Picture Book Biographies

These days it is easy to find beautiful picture book biographies. I feel like I see new ones on the shelves of libraries and bookstores or featured in pictures in my Bookstagram feed all the time. They are plentiful and abundant. It is lovely.

A picture book that gives us a glimpse into the life of someone else and the challenges they overcame is a good thing. Add in illustrations and a story that is relatable for readers of all ages (and I do mean all ages) and you have a good, GOOD thing. Today I am going to highlight some of my favorite discoveries to date.

The best thing is I am constantly discovering more of these treasures through Bookstagram, the library and other sources. Rest assured, this will not be the last picture book biography session we share together.

In light of that, I am limiting this list to ten books that would make an excellent addition to any library, including yours.

Board Books for Baby and You

Many children are introduced to the wonders of books and reading through the kid-friendly, hardy little readers we know and love as “board books.” Created to withstand all that an infant and toddler can throw at it, these books are a staple in most nurseries.

I was recently perusing the board book section at my local book store, and oh my word, this category of books has evolved since I had littles crawling around my home. The act of reading while snuggling with our babies and toddlers is always a pleasure. Add to that content the parent enjoys reading and you have a perfect match. Plus, a board book that allows me to introduce some of my favorite things (Pride and Prejudice for instance) to my kids is an absolute win.

The board books I discovered are so fun, I had to share. If you have babies or toddlers at home, need a gift idea, or want to add to your own collection simply because, this list is for you.

The Jesus Storybook Bible

I love to share new books and stories with my kids. I love to see them engrossed in a good book, but the story I really want them to grab on to and hide in their hearts is this one: “the story of how God loves his children and came to rescue them.” This story written down for us in the Bible, is "the story of all stories." It is life-changing and it is life-giving.  A great way to introduce them to this story, to help them understand what the Bible is all about, is to read them The Jesus Storybook Bible