raising readers

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.)

12 Books I Want to Read This Year

“What should I read next?”

As Anne Bogel would say, “It is the question that plagues every reader.” The book recommendations may abound increasing your TBR exponentially, and yet, when it comes time to pick your next book you feel lost. There are too many choices and you can’t remember anything you told yourself you want to read.

This question plagues readers and it can plague the parents of young readers.

The library has too many books. It’s overwhelming to find even one from their over-stuffed shelves. And, you can’t remember a single book you knew you (or they) wanted to read.

If you can relate, I have one small solution:

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.

How to Use Books to Spark Important Conversations With Your Kids

I recently read an article in Parents magazine that reiterated one of the things I love about reading and sharing books with my kids. The short article focused on the actress Kristen Bell and the importance she places on reading with her kids. One part of the article in particular stuck with me.

Bell says…

"Every time we close Snow White I look at my girls and ask, 'Don't you think it's weird that Snow White didn't ask the old witch why she needed to eat the apple? Or where she got that apple?' I say, 'I would never take food from a stranger, would you?' And my kids are like, 'No!' And I'm like, 'Okay, I'm doing something right.'"

I love this. It is such a good reminder to me of what an amazing tool books can be to have important conversations with ours kids. This is true when they are little and we are reading Snow White and, it is true when they are teens reading about more complex issues.

5 Simple Ways to Encourage a Culture of Reading in Your Home

I have always been a bookworm. Books have played an important role in my life and from the moment I became a mom, my hope was to raise kids with a similar appreciation.

I know their love of reading will look different than mine, but my hope has always been that my kids would enjoy the simple pleasure of getting lost in a good book.

If you have a similar goal, I’m excited to share a few ideas. The ideas are simple. You probably already do several of them intuitively. They are also easy to implement, BUT they do take time and intentionality. In other words, they involve a little work. If you are up for the challenge, below are five simple ways to encourage a culture of reading in your home.

Quick Picks: What My Kids are Reading

As I have been blessed with a large passel of kids with a variety of ages, interests, and reading likes and dislikes, I thought I’d do a “quick pick” list inspired by them. Below are the books my kids are currently reading. If you are looking for ideas for your young reader, maybe one these books will inspire them.

Exercising Veto Power at the Library

I love reading books out loud to my kids. I always have. Given the choice between playing games, crafting together or reading a book I choose book every time. No question. For me, time together reading trumps every other option.

However, we all know that books are NOT all created equal. It pains me to say there have been books my kids have asked me to read that made me cringe inside. You know what I’m talking about. Those picture books that are heavy, even dripping with words, with not a story in sight. Or, books that feel like they take an eternity to finish even though you technically reach the end in less than ten minutes. And let’s face it, there are only so many Dora the Explorer, Ninjago and Batman books one person can be expected to handle in one read aloud session.

Guest Post: 15 Books to Read Aloud to Your Kids

My kids are too old to read to.

Our schedule is too busy.

I can’t find books that interest ALL of my kids.

Sound familiar?

I have been reading aloud to my 6 kids for the past 11 years.  It is considered as essential and routine as their nightly showers.

It used to be we could read every night—before they got older and some evening activities crept in.

Now, we probably average 4-5 nights a week.

And yes, even my teens are on the couch listening- because you are never too old to be read aloud to- they love this time every night.

A Summer Reading Challenge

Summer reading programs are not just for kids.

Every year my local library hosts a special kind of program for its’ adult patrons. They call it ARKS which stands for Adults Reading Kids Stuff. It is something I look forward to every summer. 

The basic idea is obvious from the title. The program challenges participants to read a variety of genres all found in the children’s section of the library.  And even better, they give out prizes when you do. 

Besides taking me back to my childhood days of summer reading, I have benefited from this program in two main ways:

20 Ways to Keep your Kids Reading All Summer Long

In exactly one week my kids will be getting off the bus for the last time this school year. Summer break is almost here. I can't wait for the slower pace and extra reading time summer brings. 

Not all my kids agree, about the extra reading time I mean. The summer slide is a real thing, and no I’m not talking about your local park’s playground equipment. I’m talking about the tendency for young readers (especially the more reluctant ones) to fall off the reading bandwagon over the summer months. Several articles I’ve read suggest that by reading six books over the summer, you can keep your kids from losing ground on their reading skills. I don’t know about you, but that feels doable. 

If, however, getting your child to read one book, let alone six, feels like an unreachable goal, or if you are simply looking for more ways to maintain a reading culture in your house this summer, I’ve got you covered. Below is a list of 20 ways you can help your kids keep reading all summer long. 

A Book is NEVER too Young, When You are Reading for Fun!

“I used to read these all the time when I was little,” she said as she handed me a “Who Was” book to check out. She said it as if she was a little embarrassed to be checking out a book she'd read as a 3rd grader now that she was coming to the end of her 5th grade year. 

“I thought it would be fun to read it again," she added with a shrug.

“Absolutely!” I said as I handed back the book, and I meant it from the bottom of my book-loving heart.

Ode to Ramona and How you Can Listen to her Audiobooks for Free!

Beatrice Quimby's biggest problem was her little sister Ramona. Beatrice, or Beezus (as everyone called her, because that was what Ramona had called her when she first learned to talk), knew other nine-year-old girls who had little sisters who went to nursery school, but she did not know anyone with a little sister like Ramona.

- First paragraph of Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

And so begins one of the classic series of all time. I grew up with Ramona books. I loved them then and love them now. From the first book where we are introduced to four-year-old Ramona, through the following seven we get to see her grow, relate with her problems, laugh at the situations she finds herself in, and love her relationships with her family. Beverly Cleary wrote so much heart into the Ramona books, they are hard not to love. 

Tips for Picking Age Appropriate Books - part 2

The older your child gets and the more experience they gain as a reader, the question of whether a book is appropriate changes. Instead of wondering if our child has the ability to read a book (see last week’s post for tips on this), we wonder if what they are reading is appropriate from a content perspective. And if they are an extra sensitive reader, this can be especially challenging. The older they get, the more books become available that contain more mature content. How can we help them navigate this challenge?

Below are a few tips that might help.

3 Simple Ways to Help Your Kids Discover Great Books

I recently listened to a podcast where the host made the point that our goal should not necessarily be to help our kids fall in love with the act of reading, but instead to help them fall in love with the power of stories. It is a small shift in perspective, but it is an important one. 

With that in mind, how do we help our kids find (or even try) stories that they can fall in love with? Whether they are a reluctant reader or a verified bookworm, discovering the good ones can sometimes be a challenge.  To help you get started, below are three simple ways I have had success in encouraging a love of stories with my kids:

3 Tips to Survive Reading Homework with a Reluctant Reader

My son's homework for the year consisted of reading for 20 minutes every day after school. He was a second grader at the time, but was really more at a first grade reading level. High enough that he was able to attempt (with help) the more challenging easy readers, or even beginning chapter books, but low enough that he wasn’t able to stay focused and make it through longer books on his own. I knew he could complete this homework assignment, he had the ability, BUT, he made it clear that this was hard and, mostly, he didn’t want to do it. 

And so began our daily after-school struggle/tradition; after a snack he would grab a book and join me in the purple chair by the window where we would begin to read. Some days he would be ready to go, others (aka: most) he made it clear he did not want to. My goal was to do what I could to make it as painless as possible for the both of us. 

Reading Together at Christmastime

I remember my mom reading Christmas stories to our family when I was young. I remember the tree and the fire in the fireplace and hearing The Gift of the Magi for the first time. I don't know how often she read out loud to us at Christmas, but I know it was enough to remember and to inspire in me a desire to create the same kind of memories for my own kids. 

If you have never read out loud to your kids before (as in gather all the ages to sit in a room together where they listen to you read a story often without pictures), December is a great time to start.

Welcome to Young Book Love

The library is one of our family’s frequently visited destinations. It is one place we all look forward to visiting, most of the time. Even my reluctant readers like going. My trips to the library occur approximately once a week. During the summer we all go, but during the school year I am typically on my own. It is hard to find the time for all of us to make the trip during the short, often hectic after-school hours. 

Whether I am on my own at the library or with my kids, I am always on a mission to find books my kids will connect with.