Our Favorite Books About Apples

Our Favorite Books About Apples

We are fortunate to live close to many opportunities to pick fresh fruits, and we try to take advantage of that whenever we can — we love berry picking in early summer, we visit pumpkin farms in October, and we pick apples each September. And, of course, I love to create a good themed bookshelf to help the girls get excited about whatever we’re picking next. Even though we’ve been reading some of these for going on 7 years now, we still love pulling them out each fall — and we always have an amazing time picking apples!

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Below, you’ll find both fiction and nonfiction titles, as well as books for a range of ages, so hopefully you’ll find a great book for your family’s or classroom’s needs! Continue reading “Our Favorite Books About Apples”

Marvelous Marathon Picture Books

Marvelous Marathon Picture Books

Did you know that though the first Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon, was run in 1897, women weren’t officially allowed to enter the race until 1972? And, did you know that the oldest person to complete a marathon was 108 years old??? We bought Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb and the Boston Marathon last winter, and it was one of the most requested read alouds in our house throughout the spring…

Because my husband and I both enjoy running (we’ve each done a handful of half marathons and marathon(s)), and because the girls were so interested in this story, I thought I’d gather a list of books to read to celebrate the Boston Marathon in April. And then COVID happened, so those books got pushed to the side. But, the 124th Boston Marathon is being run virtually this week, so I gathered three wonderful marathon books to read with the girls. Keep reading for quick blurbs and affiliate links to each.

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Four Terrific Books for 9/11

Four Terrific Books for 9/11

In less than a week, we will acknowledge the anniversary of the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Last year was the first year that we intentionally talked with our daughters about the events of 9/11, guided mostly through three of the picture books listed below. Knowing how sensitive and scary this subject can be for kids, I searched long and hard for books that we could read with them to help them begin to understand, in an age-appropriate way, what happened to our country that day. Below, I’ve got four titles (I added one this year, thanks to our amazing school librarian) that I feel are excellent books about 9/11 to read with preschoolers and early elementary students. I’ve also got a few titles that I couldn’t easily get my hands on, so please check those out too, and comment below if you’ve read them and would recommend them (or not!).

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Picture Books that Model Including Others

Picture Books that Model Including Others

It’s almost September, which for most of the Northern Hemisphere means we’re deep in back-to-school mode. For many of us, that also means we’re deep in the throes of reading with and talking to our children about what kind of person they want to be in school this year. So, when we mapped out our tentative plan of our Family Focus Character Traits for 2020, we knew that we wanted September to be about noticing and including others. In the beginning of a new school year, we hope that our girls can reach out to new students in their classes and make them feel welcome. But, throughout the year, we want them to notice the other students around them, to see which ones are sad, to observe who might be feeling left out, to note who needs an invitation to play.

In short, we want our girls to grow into inclusive members of a community, the kinds of friends and classmates that make others feel welcome, comfortable, and confident. We want them to be includers!

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Our Favorite School Stories for Social-Emotional Growth

Our Favorite School Stories for Social-Emotional Growth

Yesterday, I posted our favorite first day of school stories, a collection of books that will help children of all ages and experiences get ready for that first day of school. Up today is a list of our favorite school stories that help to set students up for a positive year.

These are stories of kindness and inclusion, stories that help children build empathy and understanding of self and others, stories of self-love and self-confidence. In short, these are stories children need. I love reading these year-around, but they’re perfect for helping children start their school years off on the right feet. They’re perfect to read at home or at school, independently or as a read aloud. And they’re timeless. So get them from your library or take the plunge and purchase them to own!

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Our Favorite First Day of School Books

Our Favorite First Day of School Books

It’s back-to-school season! Whether you’ve got a preschooler preparing for his first school experience or a rising fifth grader who is seasoned and suave, whether your children are starting the school year in person, with distance learning, or attempting homeschooling, reading picture books about the first day of school can help children of any age transition to the next stage or grade. Below, I’ve got you covered for whatever grade your children are starting! You can find books perfect for first-time preschoolers, kindergarteners, bus riders, elementary students… I’ve even got a few books perfect for the siblings being left behind when their older brothers or sisters start school! Be sure to scroll all the way down for the list(s) that might be best for your family. Continue reading “Our Favorite First Day of School Books”

Picture Books to Inspire Letter Writing

Picture Books to Inspire Letter Writing

If you saw my post about combatting the summer slide, you may have noticed that we’re encouraging the girls to send letters and postcards to friends and family, and that we’ve started a Conversation Journal (a notebook of letters back and forth) with our oldest. As a way to inspire writing these letters, we’ve also been reading lots of picture books told mostly (or completely, in many cases) through epistolary form. Friendly letters, persuasive writing, thank you notes, even a few business letters– these books have it all! At the bottom of this post, I’ve also included a few wonderful novels written in letter format, for those of you with older readers who may be looking for more!

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Books Featuring Courageous Role Models

Books Featuring Courageous Role Models

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post rounding up our favorite books to read to help children overcome fear and anxiety. Then, when my husband and I drafted out our year of Family Focus Traits, we knew that we wanted to include courage (by the way, courage is our July Family Focus Trait!), and in my head I thought, “Ooh, I’ve already got a great list written for that trait!” But, the more I thought about it, I knew this list needed to be slightly different. While my list of books to help overcome fear and anxiety focused on specific fears with explicit strategies to help overcome that fear (which often took courage, for sure!), our list of books featuring fiercely courageous role models shows characters demonstrating courage in other situations, too. Yes, there is some overlap between the two lists, but the books you’ll find on the list below tend to focus more strongly on the courage rather than on the fear or worry itself. So, read on to see which books we love for featuring fabulously courageous role models!

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50+ Books to Help Build Compassion and Empathy

50+ Books to Help Build Compassion and Empathy

Drum roll please… Our family character trait(s) for February are… compassion and empathy! (You can read more about our 12 character traits for 2020 here and here.) With Valentine’s Day in February, we wanted to focus our month on love and kindness, but in terms of having family conversations about our behaviors, those are both very broad, general terms. The more we thought about how we wanted to help our girls grow, we realized we wanted to help them SEE others more. To see other people and notice how they might be feeling. To put themselves in others’ shoes and act on what they observe. So, while we also obviously hope our children are kind in every way and show love to important people in their lives, we really want them to start to notice. To pay attention to others. To stop and help if it seems that they can, or to make amends for their own choices if they need to do so…

In other words, to approach the world around them with compassion and empathy!

As Jamie C. Martin wrote in Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at at Time, “Books help your family grasp on a new level that what we have in common with our worldwide neighbors far outweighs what separates us… It naturally develops compassion… because we all have similar needs, hopes, and desires. Great stories build an empathic foundation that leads to a life of service and concern for others” (p. 26). To that end, we love to use children’s literature to help our children develop fully as people. So, of course, we’ll be reading a lot of books showcasing compassion and empathy in February! Below, I’ve got 50+ amazing books for you to read with your children. Check it out, read along with us, and let me know if I’ve missed any amazing stories that our girls need to know and love!

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Books to Foster Growth Mindsets in Children

Books to Foster Growth Mindsets in Children

As a teacher, I studied and pondered the effects of mindset on our behaviors a lot, hoping to help my students see challenges and learning opportunities as chances to grow, rather than obstacles they might not be able to overcome. Now, as a parent raising two girls to approach challenges and new endeavors with optimism, perseverance, and a positive mind, I find research into growth and fixed mindsets even more fascinating and compelling (which I didn’t think was possible!).

So, what are growth and fixed mindsets? In a fixed mindset, one believes that qualities such as intelligence, personality, and moral character are set in stone, or fixed; he believes he cannot change these aspects of his lives and therefore feels he must prove himself or fear failure. A person with a growth mindset, however, believes that his intelligence, personality, and character can be changed through hard work, perseverance, dedication, and support from others; they believe that their potentials are unknown and unknowable (from chapter 1 of Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential)).

For more information, I highly suggest reading Dweck’s Mindset. While I had read snippets of her research through my education and professional development, I figured her actual book would be heavy and hard to read. Boy, was I wrong! I am so glad I finally picked it up, because I don’t want to put it down!

So, to help with the important goal of raising growth-mindset-oriented children, I’ve compiled a HUGE (25+!) list of picture books to encourage growth mindsets with children of all ages, to help them understand that challenges are learning opportunities, failures chances to try again, and potential unimaginable! I’ve got fiction, biographies, and what I’ve called “direct instruction” books, books written explicitly to teach children about growth mindset.

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