THE Christmas Book Post

Ok, let’s be honest. You’ve been waiting on these since October first. Don’t lie.

Well, here they are: a round up of some of my very favorite Christmas Books, categorized, summarized, and linked. My early Christmas gift to you…

Enjoy!

2017-11-14_0006

  1. The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol from BabyLit Books : I adore the BabyLit series and these are a perfect introduction to both the holidays and classic literature for the very youngest of babes. Each book focuses on one skill: colors, shapes, counting, etc. and is set to the backdrop theme of the titled literature piece. There is typically only one word/phrase per page, and yet the classic story is told through that simplicity alone. Love these books!
  2. S is for Santa : Another fabulous book for the youngest of babes. This one is an alphabet book and the illustrations make it worth every penny!!
  3. First Snow by Bomi Park :A sweet story about a little girl’s adventures through her first snowy day! Beautiful, muted illustrations with a pop of red!
  4. Dream Snow by Eric Carle: It’s Eric CARLE, people! This book is beautiful!!
  5. Oh Christmas Tree : A fun board book that follows Santa around the world to see all the different types of Christmas trees
  6. Harold at the North Pole : The Christmas version of the beloved classic
  7. Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney : We LOVE the Llama Llama series. The rhymes are so sweet and the illustrations are gorgeous. These books are a family favorite. I think we have them all!

2017-11-14_0003

  1. The Mitten by Jan Brett : Another classic winter tale about kindness and sharing. I absolutely love this book.
  2. The Twelve Days of Christmas: The classic song but with adorable illustrations and peek-through cut outs on each page. Super cute!
  3. Walking in a Winter Wonderland :You know the song? Yeah- that. But with gorgeous illustrations!
  4. The Polar Express : Another classic. The book is a gem, but I’m not a huge fan of the movie. I know, I know. Sue me.
  5. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer : Probably my very favorite!
  6. The Night Before Christmas : There are so many versions of this classic tale, and honestly all the ones I’ve seen are great. But, you guys…this one is illustrated by Holly Hobbie!!!!
  7. Santa Mouse by Michael Brown : This book is so adorable and beloved by my girls.
  8. The Nutcracker by The Story Orchestra : The classic Nutcracker story but with “press the note” buttons within the book that play selections of the music!! How cool is that?!
  9. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss : Pretty sure every home in America already has this book. So we’ll skip the description! πŸ˜‰

 

2017-11-14_0001

  1. Eloise at Christmastime by Kay Thompson : This is a Christmas staple in our house…and a movie that’s played on repeat throughout the Christmas season over here. One of these years, I WILL get the girls to the Plaza.
  2. Santa Claus the World’s Number One Toy Expert by Marla Frazee : How does Santa go about knowing JUST what everyone wants for Christmas…and what exactly does Santa get for Christmas??
  3. Toot & Puddle: Let it Snow: Toot & Puddle have my heart…I want all of their books ever made. Ever.
  4. Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh : Was recently made into a tv special and I can see why. Such an adorable story.
  5. The Jolly Christmas Postman : Do you remember this book from when you were a kid? Opening each envelope on every page and reading the letter or postcard or piece of “mail” inside? This was one of my FAVS and is now one of my childrens’ favorites as well. This Christmas edition is just as cute as the original!
  6. How to Catch a Santa by Jean Reagan : This is another newer book but it’s very cute. Same author as the How to Babysit a Grandma/pa books.
  7. Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas : My girls LOVE Fancy Nancy, so this book was a must!
  8. Bear Stays up for Christmas : The Bear Stays Up series is one of my favorites and this Christmas edition might be my favorite. It’s so simple and sweet and the illustrations are beautiful! How can you read these books and not fall in love with Bear. It’s impossible I tell you! πŸ˜‰
  9. Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree : Been seeing that “Christmas Ladder” trend going around. Pretty sure this book is where it came from! I like it because of how sweet the sisters are to one another! πŸ˜‰

 

2017-11-14_0005

  1. The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden and Barbara Cooney : A sweet story about an orphan, a childless couple, and a doll who each have only one Christmas wish: eachother…they just don’t know it yet. It’s a longer read (might take 1-3 “reading sessions”, but it is a beautifully written heart warming story!
  2. Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht – Beautifully illustrated merry little story about the rituals of decorating a Christmas tree. Rhythmically written and fun to read aloud.
  3. Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter by Kenard Pak : Remember the Summer to Autumn one from my Thanksgiving post? Yep, this one is just as good!
  4. The Little Reindeer by Nicole Killen : A simple and magical little story!
  5. Christmas in the Big Woods :I mean, hello. IfΒ  it’s a Little House book, we’re reading it. Period.
  6. The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert : Honestly, just go ahead and buy this one for the photography alone. Per Breiehagen is just THAT GOOD. My girls are entranced by his work!
  7. The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy : A beautiful story about an unwanted tree and a homeless boy who brings Christmas magic to the city. Heartwarming tale with a pop-up at the end!
  8. When Santa Was a Baby : This is a newer book and it’s pretty adorable. My kids get a kick out of it and the illustrations are just beautiful.

 

2017-11-14_0004

  1. The Littlest Angel by Charles Tizewell : A mischevious little angel learns about the spirit of giving. Such a sweet story!
  2. The Story of Christmas: The story of Jesus’s birth, told through simple text and fun, vibrant illustrations
  3. The Tale of Three Trees : A folklore explaining how the lumber from three trees became three very important and iconic symbols in Christianity. I use this book at Easter as well!
  4. The Christmas Story: Another story about the birth of Jesus, but this Little Golden Book version just has a special place in my heart. My girls love the realistic illustrations!
  5. The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats : The classic story of the little boy who is too poor to bring a gift to baby Jesus so he brings the gift of song instead.

 

2017-11-14_0007

  1. Life Magazine’s The Story of Santa : This one is fun for ALL ages; a glance-back at the story, legend, and creation of “Santa Claus” as we know and love him today!
  2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens : I used to perform in this play every year as a child so I think I’ve pretty much got this one memorized. I can’t wait to read this aloud once the kids get a little bit older!
  3. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson : A novel that is sure to be a favorite read aloud, super funny and a great message!
  4. Β Santa’s Last Present : A sweet book by Marie-Aude and Elvire Murail. Julian doesn’t believe in Santa anymore, but when a mysterious box arrives on Christmas morning, he just might change his mind! (32 pages)

 

And how could I forget it?! Perhaps one of the BEST classic Christmas books of all times…FIR TREE

The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown. There are so many new versions with new illustrators but do yourself a favor and buy the old-school Barbara Cooney version! It’s linked above!

Merry Christmas, friends!

Little Home Library- Part TWO

2017-11-13_0001You’re Back! Yay!

In “part two” of my library post, I’m going to share how I categorized all of my books, the different genres I created, and a few book recommendations for each genre! Also, don’t forget to scroll to the bottom for a fun blog share and a GIVEAWAY!

And if this is your first time visiting (Welcome!) don’t forget to read Part One on how to start a Little Library in your own home, HERE.

Gah! I’m just so happy that you are here and interested in this little project of mine…and maybe in building your own!?! I’m such a book nerd, always have been, and I just love watching my kids get excited about books too! They’ve seriously read more and cycled through more books in the few weeks we’ve had the library than in months prior combined. I only wish I would’ve started this project sooner! Well, better late than never I guess! I’m just so excited to watch this little library change and grow over the years, as the kids do. It’s one of my greatest wishes- to instill, in them, a love of reading.

Here’s hoping…

DSC_4509.jpg

GENRE BINS AND BOOK RECS

Ok, let’s get to the good stuff: genres and actual books! Your genre groups may be different, but I created my bins based on:

1. The books I had on hand and

2. My children’s interest level

Here are the genre baskets I ended up with along with some of my favorite books and series for each. (Just a heads up that most of these titles are chapter books/novels unless otherwise noted. Scroll to the bottom if you are only interested in picture books!) Also, these titles are NOT linked- because that would just take forever… AND also because I have full-faith in your Amazon search bar skills! πŸ˜‰

*Book Levels: Most of these books were purchased by me for my third grade classroom. Please keep in mind, however, that I had students reading at all different levels…so these books can be appropriate as independent readers for kids reading at any level from 1st through probably 5th grade, OR as read-alouds for almost any elementary school age! It’s all going to depend on your kiddo, their reading skills, and their interests. And please remember when your hesitant reader chooses a book you are less than thrilled about….

GiveBooks_Angelou

  • FANTASY- Emily Windsnap series, The Secrets of Droon series, The Jewel Kingdom series, Pixie Tricks series, Dragon Slayer’s Academy Series, Tashi, Rainbow Magic series, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Harry Potter (duh!)
  • MYSTERY- A to Z Mysteries Series, Calendar Mysteries, The Nancy Drew Notebooks,Β  Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew (for younger readers!), Cam Jansen series, Nate the Great series, The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series, Third Grade Detectives series, Jigsaw Jones series, Geronimo Stilton series, The Boxcar Children, Magic Tree House SeriesDSC_4501.jpg
  • PICTURE/HOLIDAY BOOKS- Picture books are my FAVORITE and I have so so so many to list. Instead, scroll to the bottom of this post for a separate link all about picture books. And for my favorite Holiday books, make sure you follow along as I post my favorites each month. You can find my Halloween Favorites HEREΒ  and my Thanksgiving Favorites HERE. (Christmas coming soon!!)IMG_8166
  • PHOTO ALBUMS- What better way to give your dusty old family photo albums some action than putting them out on display? Encourage your kiddos to check out the albums just like they would any other book! I make mine at Shutterfly or Artifact Uprising DSC_4504.jpg
  • NON-FICTION- (my stash is mostly picture books, like these:) Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America, Smart Kids series, The Eyewitness Books series. I also make sure I toss any non-fiction books for whatever holiday I have on display into this bin. I like the girls to be able to notice that there is a difference between fiction and non-fiction books even if they are both in the same general category (ie “Holiday”). I kept the picture book and non-fiction bins close to each other on the shelves for this reason!DSC_4537
  • REALISTIC FICTION- (my stash is mostly picture books, like these:) Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, Abe Lincoln: The boy who loved books by Kay Winters, If You Were There When…series

DSC_4508.jpg

  • BOOKS ABOUT GIRLS-Sounds super random but I had SO many general “fiction” books that had girls as the main character. I just had to give them their own bin. My next task is to start a bin with books about boys!Ivy & Bean series, Willimena Rules series, Utterly Me Clarice Bean, The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes series, Katie Kazoo Switcheroo series, Judy Moody series, Clementine, Portraits of Little Women: Beth’s Story, A Little House Chapter Book series (mini chapter books based on the beloved classic novels!),Β  The American Girl books, Junie B. Jones (although her sassy mouth is not my favorite. I may not let Q read these…girlfriend doesn’t need ANY ideas.)

DSC_4511.jpg

  • BOOKS ABOUT ANIMALS- Pony Pals series, The Saddle Club Series, A Dog Called Kitty, Shiloh, Where the Red Fern Grows, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Critter Club series, Snot, Big Apple Barn, Animal Ark series
  • LEVEL 2 READ-ALOUDS: (Note:These are the chapter books that we read aloud at night together before bed. I created this system of leveling chapter books to create an easy system and language for the kids when we are choosing books to read together at night. I consider Level 1 read-alouds to be picture books and small “I Can Read” type books.) Level 2 are the shorter, more simple chapter books; ie books that may take a us a few nights to get through.Β  The Adventures of Sophie Mouse series, Invisible Stanley, Lady Lollipop, The Littles series, Horrible Harry series, The Chocolate Touch, Toys Go Out, Mercy Watson series, The Hundred Dresses, Elmer and the Dragon, Sarah Plain and Tall, The Beast in Ms. Rooney’s Room, The Chalk Box Kid, Andy Shane and the Very Bossy Dolores Starbuckle, Wonderful Alexander and the CatwingsDSC_4526.jpg
  • LEVEL 3 READ-ALOUDS:These chapter books that I refer to as Level 3 will be the books that are a bit thicker and might take us a week or more to get through.Β The Penderwicks, Little House on the Prairie series, Poppy, Mr. Tucket, The Magician’s Elephant, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Charlotte’s Webb, When You Reach Me, The Wizard of Oz, James and the Giant Peach, The Velveteen Rabbit, Tree House, The Dollhouse People series, No Flying in the HouseDSC_4492.jpg
  • DAHL, BLUME, CLEARY:I had an abundance of books from these three authors so I combined the books and gave them their own bin. Freckle Juice, Super Fudge, The BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, Ramona the Pest, James and the Giant Peach, Boy, Muggie Maggie, George’s Marvelous Medicine…all the greats!

2017-11-13_0004

  • BIOGRAPHIES: The Who Was _________ series, Dear America series, Time for Kids: Biographies are a few of my favs!
  • INDEPENDENT NOVELS:These are mostly older classics that the kids may want and/or need to read later in life for school…or hey, maybe pleasure! πŸ˜‰ A Wrinkle in Time, Bridge to Terabithia, The Indian in the Cupboard, Anne of Green Gables, Black Beauty, Bunnicula, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Maniac Magee, The Great Gilly Hopkins, Holes, Little Women, The Twenty One Balloons, The HobbitDSC_4538.jpg
  • POETRY: Some Days Other Days, Runny Babbit, A Family of Poems by Caroline Kennedy, A Pet for Me Poems, I’m Still Here in the Bathtub, This is Just to Say, *Also consider binding & including poems your own children have written!
  • SCHOOL/WRITING:First Day Jitters, The First 100 Days, The Kissing Hand, Amelia’s Notebook, Miss Nelson is Missing, A Writer’s Notebook, Diary of a Worm, Officer Buckle and Gloria, A Fine Fine School
  • *MOM’S FAVS: I thought it was important to have my own bin, both to actually store my old books and to show my kids that I also love to read…even though they are the reason I hardly have time to anymore! πŸ˜‰

  • *BOOK DROP BIN: I didn’t want the girls throwing the books into any bin when they were finished with them, but I wanted to encourage them to explore and not be afraid to “mess up” the library, so I added a Book Drop Bin. When they are finished with a book (or a pile of books more likely), I ask them to please put them into the bin so that I can make sure they get put away properly. Q is kind of an exception since she’s pretty good at remembering where they go! Cub is still a work in progress! And me? I’m pretty much just living out all my Librarian dreams over here. πŸ˜‰DSC_4503.jpg

2017-11-13_0002

CONTAINERS AND BINS

Posting this here again so you don’t need to go back to the “Part One” post. All bins and baskets I used for the library are from The Container Store. I’ve linked them again for you, below!

metal bins |white plastic bins | baskets | book standΒ  | book drop bin

|bin labelsΒ | acrylic book divider

PICTURE BOOKS & A Blog Collab

DSC_4536

Picture books just happen to be my favorite books right now. Maybe it’s because of the gorgeous illustrations or maybe it’s because these are the books my kids are most into at the moment. But, since I’ve “talked” for waaaay too long here, I’m going to direct you over to my sweet friend Lauren’s blog, Lauren and Littles.

Lauren and I actually taught together for several years before we became mommies. Lauren has her Master’s Degree in Education and specializes in reading…so basically she knows what she’s talking about!

Lauren is covering some of her favorite picture books in several different genres and talking a little bit about how to build a library for children ages birth to seven. How fun! So, hurry up and head on over to her page, I promise you won’t be disappointed! Click HERE for Lauren’s Post.

2017-11-13_0003

GIVEAWAY!

And don’t forget to enter our contest over on Instagram! Lauren and I are giving away a “Little Home Library” Starter Kit including a cute Canvas Tote Bag from Out of Print, a $50 shop credit to Pearl & Jane (for some super cute book-nook garland!) AND a $50 gift card to Amazon to help you get started (or continue building) your very own home or school (yay, teachers!) library.

Best of Luck!!!

giveaway

Thanksgiving & Fall Books

img_1350

{cute Thanksgiving garland from Pearl & Jane}

Ok, you asked and here they are!

My favorite books for Thanksgiving & Fall… enjoy!

 

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant

This book is a classic….hello, it’s Cynthia Rylant! Just read the little exerpt above. This book is a staple for your library, Thanksgiving or not! πŸ˜‰

 

Thankful by Eileen Spinelli

5115nlrxhuL._AC_UL480_SR360,480_

Short and sweet book about the everyday blessings to be thankful for, with gorgeous illustrations by Archie Preston. Each page says “The ___ is thankful for ___.” For example, “The Crafter is thankful for glitter and glue.” Super sweet and easy for children to relate to!

 

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh

5105MuP5G3L

A much longer book (several paragraphs per page) but it beautifully tells the story of the first thanksgiving with gorgeous illustrations. For those of you who don’t know, Alice Dalgliesh is also the author of The Courage of Sarah Noble. Girl knows how to tell a story! πŸ˜‰

 

Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer

618OhqLzHlL._SX408_BO1,204,203,200_

“A symphony of yellow..” This book describes Autumn in such a simple, poetic way and the illustrations are just as beautiful as the text! A new book for our house, but a new favorite just the same!

 

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak

51JGoJa3bXL._SY387_BO1,204,203,200_

This is a series that goes through the transition of all the seasons and I already have the “autumn to winter” one on order. The illustrations are beyond and the text so super sweet. A child walks through town and nature saying “hello” to the people, animals, and forces of nature she comes across and they all respond with how they are making preparations for the changes coming. It ends with a “goodbye” to summer. This one is so good!!

Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin

81k6cZbsAYL

This is a series (there is a “Cranberry” book for almost every holiday) and they are such gems you guys! Do you remember them? Classic books from the 1970s about a grandmother who lives on a “lonely cranberry bog in New England”. This story is so sweet AND includes good old grandma’s secret cranberry bread recipe. I believe this book went out of print for a while but it’s back now, so hurry up and grab it!

 

Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer

A1EN0NDJ1mL

This book tells the simple tale of the acorn and all that comes “because of that acorn”: seeds, trees, fruit, animals, etc. A sweet story about the life-cycles in nature.Β  There is even a page in the back of the book with more information about and definitions of concepts mentioned in the book, including ways you can help preserve nature. Plus, a portion of the proceeds from every sale go to support the work of the Natural Resources Defense Council. So while it may not be your typical “thanksgiving” book, it definitely fits in the “fall” category and opens a nice dialogue for children about respect and care for nature and our environment…which we can all be thankful for!

 

Sharing the Bread by P. Miller and J. McElmurry

61E4tQ4IpdL._AC_UL480_SR435,480_

Love the rhyme and repetition in this old fashioned story of how one family prepares for thanksgiving!

 

The Girl and The Bicycle by Mark Pett

51M75O9LD0L

This is a true picture book. As in, there are NO words. But, I’m telling you, no words are needed. The story tells itself and my girls were mesmerized by the illustrations. We all had fun talking about what we thought was happening on each page and it was a nice change of pace to have a book “discussion” as opposed to a book “reading” together. The story is about one little girl’s determination and hard work to get a bicycle she realllly wants and has an interesting twist at the end. Such a great life-lesson and discussion book. Love it!! This book definitely makes you think outside the box and discuss what Thanksgiving is really about.

 

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

51IwVdLy63L._SX454_BO1,204,203,200_

A fun story about Fall leaves and the shapes they take! My kiddos love collecting the colorful Fall leaves when we travel back to the East Coast. This would be a great intro book to a leaf craft!

 

The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone

61MJ7hEiXzL

It’s a classic tale about the gathering of supplies to make a meal. It’s about working together to get the job done. This one has Thanksgiving written all over it! As in, somebody get their butt into the kitchen to help mommy peel the potatoes. πŸ˜‰

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

41sl4PH795L-1

…need I say more?

 

The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall

71MLVeslJiL

A sweet book that follows a tree as it changes through the seasons and eventually ends with its fruit in an apple pie.

 

When Autumn Comes by Robert Maass

71ky41C5OtL

A great non-fiction alternative with photos that will leave you feeling nostalgic for 1984. πŸ˜‰ But seriously, this book reminds of “the good old days” and I love introducing non-fiction to the girls as often as possible!

 

This Little Turkey by Aly Fronis

91ZXV-p0TgLCute little rhyming book that goes to the tune of “This Little Piggy”. Obsessed with the color palette in the illustrations!!

 

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson

51ArttApiEL._AC_UL480_SR396,480_

This cute little fox sees the leaves falling and thinks there is a big problem…then he finds out what “falling leaves” actually bring… very sweet!

 

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger

417+bQ7XAHL._AC_UL480_SR303,480_

This is a cute story about one little leaf who is just too afraid to fall. And I know I say this a lot, but the illustrations are SO good!!

 

Ask Me by Bernard Waber

611FXC65YyL._SX407_BO1,204,203,200_

A story of a father and his daughter, chatting as they stroll. This book is so fun to read aloud in the two voices of the dad and the daughter. It takes place in the Fall and is about love and bonding, so I’m grouping it with my Thanksgiving books!

 

Thanksgiving is Here! by Diane Goode

61ZIXNhjAAL

Tells the story of one loud, large family over the course of Thanksgiving Day. Short and sweet with adorable illustrations. Makes you wish you had a big giant family, and if you already do-it reminds you of why you love them! haha!

 

10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston

51SoE4Q4RsLCute little rhyming & counting book

Thank you, ThanksgivingΒ  by David Milgrim

51tC9wxU6UL

One sentence per page, saying “thank you for ___.” Illustrations are super cute and leaves lots of room for discussion on each page rather than just reading text.

 

Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation by Diane Stanley

61ekLomnv8L

Grandmother takes her grand kids traveling through time in this series, and in this specific book- back to Plymouth Plantation. She teaches and explains the history as they go exploring. A bit ofΒ  longer read, but educational for older kids, or those always asking those “Why?” and “How Come?” questions. (aka, Quinlin)

 

The Magic Tree House: Thanksgiving on Thursday by Mary Pope Osborne

5178gI745ML

A Chapter book for older kids, or great as a read-aloud! We’ll be reading this together as our bedtime book in November!

 

Happy Reading (& eating) my friends! πŸ˜‰

 

Little Home Library- Part ONE

DSC_4260

So, a few weeks ago my sister organized a little nook in her game room with her old teaching books and totally inspired me to do the same. I also used to teach and knew I had numerous bins up in the attic filled to their brims with books. I also had this wall of shelves in our piano room that was just filled with random decor and stacks of unread magazines. Thus, the plan for our Little Home Library was born! I’m pretty happy with how it turned out…plus the girls are reading more than ever, which is always a plus!

2017-10-26_0002

SETTING UP THE LIBRARY:

  1. Clearing- The first thing I did was clear the shelves and put aside the (very few) items that I wanted to keep. I couldn’t believe how much of the stuff on those shelves was just “filler junk”! Disclaimer: photo was taken AFTER I started dismantling the shelves…I’m not a complete savage! πŸ˜‰IMG_7833
  2. Sorting- Next I went into the attic to bring down my book bins. I had completely underestimated how many books I had up there! I sat on the floor and sorted through every single solitary book. It took me days! I made sure to keep age appropriate books, books that were classics and good/clean reads, books that were in good shape, books that were educational, and books I knew my kids could grow into. I made a “toss” pile that included any duplicates, books I didn’t think were age appropriate, books in bad shape, and books that looked dated or had content I wasn’t sure I wanted my kids reading. Then I made a “maybe” pile. The next step was to sort my “keep” books into genre piles. I then looked at each genre I had created and pulled from the “maybe” pile if any piles were looking a bit sparse.IMG_7840
  3. Donating- There is SUCH a great need for books out there, so I made sure that every single book in my “toss” pile was donated. Most went to Human Rights Initiative, a local non-profit that recently had all of their books stolen from their waiting room and “lend a book” library.IMG_7804
  4. Containers- After I had my general “genre” piles made I headed out to my motherland, aka The Container Store. I made sure to measure my shelves before I went so I knew the depth and height of each shelf and most importantly, the length so I could measure how many bins would fit across. I chose a selection of all white, grated metal and straw baskets. I wanted to use mixed materials to give the shelves more dimension. I also found some great labels and book display items at Container Store. I’ve linked them all below.
  5. Setting up Shop- When I got home, I played around with where I wanted all my empty baskets to go. Once I liked the way they were arranged I started filling them with books. I made sure to get all different sized baskets because not all of my genres had the same amount of books. (For example I had a TON of Fantasy and MysteryΒ  books but only a small handful of biographies.)IMG_7844
  6. Decorating- I then went in and filled in some of the empty spaces with decor. I used a book display, a small plant, and a letter board. I wanted to break up all the bins but also keep the shelving unit clean and simple. I also replaced the hardware on the drawers. It was a cheap fix and (I think)gave the unit a huge facelift!

Ta Da…Here’s the whole finished product:

DSC_4256

 

GETTING STARTED

Don’t have extra wall space or a ton of books? That’s totally fine! You don’t need either to start your own home library! There are some great cubby systems you can purchase like THIS one from Land of Nod that don’t take up much space and can still be easily turned into a library. Also, it’s ok for libraries to take years to build!2017-10-26_0001

Here are some tips for starting an at-home library from scratch:

  • Start with gathering up books from around your house (I’m sure you have more than you think lying around!)
  • Purchase a few new books at your child’s reading level. There are great places like Half-Priced Books (or any used book store and/or flea market) where you can get books for cheap. Not in the budget? Go to your local library and check out a whole bunch of books, plop them into your at-home library and then cycle them out after you find your child “getting sick” of them.
  • Books are a great gift idea! Especially with the holidays coming up…create a book wish-list with your little ones. Get them excited about books and reading by changing their mindset of how much fun books can be.
  • Think outside your typical wheelhouse. Your kid loves the Fancy Nancy books? Great. But also introduce him/her to some books from drastically different genres. You never know if your kid is interested in something until you expose them to it! Grab them a National Geographic book on animals and maybe a picture book about the 50 states or outer space, or maybe an awesome book of poetry for kids. You might be surprised by which books your child reaches for, given some options!
  • Start with just a few genres, maybe 3-5, and then gauge your child’s interest and build your library up accordingly! A few great starter genres: Fiction Picture Books, Non-Fiction Books, Holiday Books, Chapter Books (for reading aloud together).
  • Cycle Books in-and-out. Always keep some books tucked away so that your kid’s choices aren’t so overwhelming and they never get tired of their selections! This is especially fun with holiday books! My kids only get to look at the Halloween books when I take them out in the Fall and it makes them that much more excited to read them!
  • Swap with a friend! Take on this project with a friend/neighbor and cycle out your books by swapping with each other. When your books need a “time out” from your house, send them on over to your friend’s library and have her give you a bin in return. Viola, brand new books for your kids to borrow! Just make sure you take good care of them and return them in the shape you received them! πŸ˜‰
  • Have fun with it…make it into a REAL mini-library, complete with a book return bin, some fun signs, a few books out on display (rather than stacked), etc. I’m in love with these super adorable book stickers I had made on Zazzle! There are so many cute options, and an especially good idea if you plan on sharing books with friends!view
  • Remember: An In-Home Library doesn’t have to be extravagant! It can be as simple as any little space dedicated to displaying and storing a few books at your child’s level!

 

 

IMG_7993

CONTAINERS AND BINS

All are from The Container Store. I’ve linked them below!

metal bins |white plastic bins | baskets | book standΒ  | book drop bin |

bin labelsΒ | acrylic book divider

2017-10-26_0003

SUBSCRIBE

Don’t forget to check back in for “Part Two” where I’ll share all the category bins I created, some book/series recommendations for each genre, a fun blog share with a fellow book-nerd mama AND a fun giveaway…stay tuned and make sure you subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss anything I’ve got coming up (including my Thanksgiving book picks)!

DSC_4377

Girls cute dresses from The Little Spoons

Letterboard & letters from Hobby Lobby

Step Stool is a vintage hand-me-down

Tent from Land of Nod (no longer avail, but similar HERE)

Halloween shelf decor from Paper Source

 

Halloween DIY Ideas

So I’ve already purchased costumed for the kids this year, but that didn’t stop me from accepting this “DIY Halloween Challenge”! I love a good challenge…especially when it involves costumes, and this was a great way to get the girl’s involved in some Halloween fun & crafting!

Since the kiddos are doing a theme group costume this year (probably the last year I’ll be able to pull that off, bc…”opinions”) I decided to let them chose their own costumes for this challenge. The only guidelines I gave them was to have it be a character from a book. (I figured since they have “book character” day at school, I could actually use these costumes again. I’m resourceful sometimes.)Β  So, off they ran to the library and started joyously pouring through books amidst cheerful giggles.

…just kidding.Β  They pushed and shoved each other off the library step stool and fought over who had which book first, who “stoled” a book from who, and “who copied whose” idea. After the mayhem, and after explaining numerous times that mommy does not, in fact, SEW… we had two very easy, very different book characters! I then let them choose Max’s…

 

Q- “Cindy Lou Who” from the book How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Materials:

  • hot glue (had)
  • hot glue gun (had)
  • light pink felt ($)
  • light pink elastic (had)
  • pink nightgown (had)
  • red bows (had)
  • headband (had)
  • black pipe cleaners ($)
  • large red ornament (had)
  • grinch stuffed animal, for bonus points (had)
  • scissors (had)

Cost: under $5

2017-10-15_00012017-10-15_0002

This one was easy because Q hardly ever takes off her pink nightgown from Plain Jane. We added some elastic around the legs to give it that bubble-look and I cut a little scalloped collar out of pink felt for around her neck. I then grabbed two red bows from our massive collection and popped some black pipe cleaners onto a headband. Then I found this giant red Christmas ornament in the attic. This costume cost approximately however much a sheet of pink felt and a pack of pipe cleaners costs. Perfection!If she were actually trick-or-treating in this costume, I’d probably buy her some cute pink slippers, like these.

 

Cub- “Mouse” from the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Materials:

  • hot glue (had)
  • hot glue gun (had)
  • overalls (had)
  • grey shirt (had)
  • sneakers (had)
  • sheet of grey foam ($)
  • pink felt ($)
  • grey curtain tie back ($)
  • sheets of dark and light brown foam($)
  • scissors (had)

Cost: under $10

2017-10-15_0005

Cub really wanted to be an animal and this was was a no brainer because it involves basically overalls and mouse ears! I shopped in her closet for the main part of the outfit and shoes. Then for the ears and the cookie I literally bought sheets of that foam stuff from Hobby Lobby. I cut out two circles from the grey foam for ears and cut out pink centers for the ears from the leftover felt from Q’s collar. I glued the ears right onto a plastic headband. For the tail, I found a grey curtain tie-back at Hobby Lobby and pinned it onto the belt loop on the back of the overalls. For the giant cookie, I used the foam again. A light brown for the cookie and then I cut out sloppy circles for the chocolate chips from a darker brown foam sheet. Voila- we gave the mouse a cookie.

 

Max- “Max” from the book Where the Wild Things Are

Materials:

  • hot glue (had)
  • hot glue gun (had)
  • cream hoodie romper from Kickee Pants (had)
  • white socks (had)
  • sheet of yellow foam ($)
  • brown fur trim ($)
  • white fur trim ($)
  • light brown foam (had from Cuc’s costume)
  • black pipe cleaners (had from Q’s costume)
  • scissors (had)

Cost: under $10

2017-10-15_00032017-10-15_0004

The girls picked this solely because they thought it was cool that the character’s name was Max. This was probably the most difficult of the three costumes to put together, but still pretty easy. I started by cutting out the crown in the yellow foam sheet, measured it to Max’s head so it would be a little bit big and then glued the brown fur trim to the bottom. I then gathered up the white fur trim and safety pinned it to the butt. Then since I had extra brown felt from Cub’s costume, I cut out round buttons and pinned them onto the front of the romper. It would’ve been easier (and much safer) to just glue them onto the romper fabric, but I’m trying to salvage the outfit here. Next I wanted to add some claws to the feet of the romper but again, didn’t want to glue them onto the fabric, so I improvised: I grabbed some old white socks, glued the claws on and slipped the socks right over the footie part of the outfit. Lastly for the whiskers, I just folded the pipe cleaner into the hood and used some fabric tape to keep them in place on the inside. If I were going trick-or-treating or using this as his actual costume for any extended period of time aside from a quick picture for an Instagram challenge, I would’ve cut tiny holes in the hood and glued the whiskers in place. Loose parts on a baby are NEVER a good idea, as they can pose a choking hazzard, so please keep that in mind.

 

If you flip through some books and your kid’s closets it’s easier than I thought it would be to come up with cute costume ideas. Here are a few other book characters I thought of:

Fern, Charlotte’s Web: overalls, pigtails, converse and a stuffed pig. maybe add a cute spider headband?

Pete the Cate: blue romper, cat ears, maybe pin some big colorful buttons on, and of course, some converse sneaks!

Alice the Fairy: Cute dress, wings, wand, some crazy curly hair!

Angelina Ballerina: neutral leotard, mouse ears, mouse tail, tutu

Man in the Yellow Hat, Curious George: yellow romper, felt tie, yellow hat, carry stuffed monkey

Skippy John Jones: neutral romper, giant ears, cute black eye mask, maybe a cape! ay chihuahua!!

Madeline: blue dress, make white felt color, red ribbon tie, yellow hat, mary janes and knee highs

 

Happy Crafting!!

2017-10-15_0006

Halloween Books

 

As promised, here are a few of my favorite seasonal books for Halloween!

 

image1-1.JPG

 

Picture Books (In approximate order of age appropriateness):

B is for Boo

This entire alphabet series is my favorite ever. Max has the “retro” one in his room and I just ordered the Christmas one as well!

 

Dracula, Edgar, Frankenstein

Hello, BabyLit books…need I say more? These books introduce even the youngest of babies to the classics with simple word/illustration associations!

 

Five Little Ghosts

Cutest little rhyming book…and there other books for other seasons!

51Up07av3sL._AC_UL480_SR477,480_

If You’re Spooky and You Know It

I think you know how this one goes….super fun to sing along with little ones!

61gghKs10fL._SY497_BO1,204,203,200_

Five Little Pumpkins

Our FAV Halloween song!!! My girls LOVE to sing this…and we even act it out! So super cute. Used to do this one with my class!

512lcN30ypL._SY493_BO1,204,203,200_

EEK! Halloween!

Ardyn is 100% OBsessed with the Sandra Boynton books! Like, she sleeps with them. This one is short, sweet, and funny…just like the rest.

71uP8QpClVL._AC_UL480_SR441,480_

Spookly the Square Pumpkin

Another from my teaching days…BEFORE it was a movie! This book is so good for teaching tolerance and differences! It’s a MUST!

51FRSXBJZXL._SX487_BO1,204,203,200_

Vampirina Ballerina

I know you’ve seen this book all over the blogs, BUT did you know it is a series…AND a new cartoon on Disney!?

 

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

This is a staple in our house- a fun “spooky” book of repetition. My girls LOVE this and have it memorized! A Halloween staple!

61znSJaX8tL._AC_US436_QL65_The Bad Seed

Maybe it’s because I used to be in love with this movie, but when I saw this title, I knew I HAD to have it! “RHO-DA! You kill that little boy with your tap shoes?!!” Anyone, anyone?? Don’t worry, this book is just a play on words and not dark like the film or scary at all! Tells the story of a little seed who had a rough start and turned “baaaad”…but is he really that bad after all? People (and seeds) can change, you know!Β  πŸ˜‰

51kiwEwZWeL._AC_US436_QL65_

No Such Thing

Super cute story…and it’s also a “look and find” book which my girls LOVE!

51DWct4mxDL._AC_UL320_SR320,320_

How to Make Friends with a Ghost

Gorgeous illustrations! This book does read more like a “how to manual” than a story though. Some of the annotations and jokes might go right over smaller children’s heads. And, just a heads up, this book follows the little girl in her quest to befriend this ghost as she grow into adulthood. At the end, she does pass away (as an old woman) and the last illustration shows her becoming a ghost and floating away with her ghost friend. Just a heads up in case you’d rather not broach that topic with your children. I certainly had no idea.

61Nmat+FctL._AC_UL320_SR320,320_

Leo: A Ghost Story

One of our very favs!

51O015oukLL._SX349_BO1,204,203,200_

Cat’s Night Out

Super sweet rhyming book! Plus the cover made me think of the cell block tango from Chicago! πŸ˜‰

81WGLs5eliL._AC_UL480_SR387,480_

 

The Scariest Book Ever

Super cute interactive book. Ardyn thought it was super funny!

41MaXEVeBSL._SX354_BO1,204,203,200_

ShadowΒ Β  andΒ Flashlight

Two gorgeous “picture books”…all you need is your imagination. Ardyn loves these because the pictures tell the stories all by themselves.

Creepy Pair of Underwear

Little bit of a longer read, but funny for kids a tiny bit older and for those “potty humor” loving kiddos! πŸ˜‰

51wKXJzH-kL._SX368_BO1,204,203,200_

Bonaparte Falls Apart

…and needs his friends to help put him back together! Super cute friendship story!

51ZDFVs45lL._AC_UL480_SR432,480_

*UPDATE: NEW ADDS*

Room on the Broom

How did I forget this on my original list? We read it last night for our bedtime book and I forgot how fun it was. Definitely a holiday favorite!

81f-ban+7nL

The Night World

Gorgeously illustrated story about how the world looks in the darkest, very earliest hours of the morning…

5156+sfoVhL

Humbug Witch

This book is a new find for us and we are all obsessed. Such a fun read…with a little surprise ending!

Humbug-Witch-e1381699584931-298x300

 

Go Away Big Green Monster

A Classic for Halloween, and ANYTIME. This is such a fun book to read aloud..especially with those kiddos who may have monster fears. bonus points for there being an interactive puppet! I linked it HERE.

 

 

Some other sweet picture books that will certainly liven up your Halloween “book shelfie” game! πŸ˜‰

Gilbert the Ghost

Ghosts

Little Owl Lost

Ghosts in the House

 

Happy Reading!

 

First Foods & A Giveaway

2017-10-01_0003
Disclaimer: I want to start by saying that I am fully aware that there are many people/organizations out there who believe breast milk is and should be the only source of nutrition a child needs/receives until 6-12 months of age.  I completely value and respect those opinions. What I’m going to talk about on my little blog here is what has worked best for me and my family, and may not be what works best for you.  Always be sure to check with your pediatrician before introducing any new foods and/or routines to your baby.

It’s kinda of surreal to me that it’s time to give Max his first taste of real food. Mostly because I remember sitting both Quinlin and Cubby in the very same high chair, entire extended family gathered around to have their first spoonfuls.

But Max is supposed to be my newborn…like, forever. How can he be eating solids already? I guess a tiny sliver of me is hoping that by introducing some foods, maybe he’ll be up less throughout the night to nurse. Here’s hoping…

2017-10-01_0006

When starting Q on baby foods I just did exactly what my pediatrician advised and introduced rice cereal. This immediately caused constipation issues. So with Cub, I did a bit of research and found this amazing site www.wholesomebabyfood.com. It has such great advice and ideas…and I particularly love the little charts you can print out. I printed them all and made a little binder. I’ve added tabs and notes for each kid, so it’s really nice to go back and see which foods I gave to the girls, what type of reaction they had, the dates I introduced new things, etc.

FoodChartbyFood

When to Start: My pediatrician told me to start introducing food between 4-6 months. I decided to split the difference and start right around five months. Everyone and every baby is different so, of course, do what works for you and what your doctor recommends!  Five months has worked for us in the past and Max seems ready (aka, he tried to swat the pizza slice out of my hand at dinner last night) so we’re going to give it a go!

What to Start With: While pizza may not be the best first food (doctors, phssssh.) I decided for Max, to go the same route I did with Cubby: to skip the cereals and go straight to veggies. I’ve like starting with the veggies first to get my kiddos used to the taste before introducing the yummy sweet fruits. I mean, if someone fed you chocolate cake for a month and then decided to switch you over to strained string beans I think you’d be pretty pissed, too! πŸ˜‰ Since they are easy, don’t require cooking, and are full of nutrients and fats, I decided to introduce avocados first.

How Much: Again, every baby is going to be different. I think Q hated her first taste of food and hardly ate one spoonful. Cubby, obviously, gobbled hers right up. The very first time you feed, “they” suggest offering just 1/2-1 tablespoon. After they get the hang of the whole eating thing, I usually give the regular dose of breast milk/formula plus 1-3 tablespoons of food 1-2 times a day. Of course, I start slowly and then work up to that amount. I’ve always done breakfast and dinner to start and then added a “lunch” at a  later date! Gotta fill that belly before bedtime! πŸ˜‰

Feeding Tools: I’ve recently been trying to clear out the older, toxin-filled plastics in our house and replace them with wood, glass, and stainless steel for our dishes, cups, and utensils. I’ve partnered up with the fabulous brand Avanchy for Max’s first foray into foods. I love this brand SO much, not only because the materials are safe and non-toxic but because the bowls and plates come with removable plastic suction cups to keep the dishes in place as you feed. Hellooo, less messes! I love that I can suction the bowl onto Max’s highchair tray, but then remove the suction cup when I’m washing or when the girls are using them.

avanchy

*Don’t forget to enter the giveaway on my Instagram feed. They are giving away an essentials collection to TWO lucky winners!!

“Made from organic bamboo and silicone, they are non-toxic, earth-friendly, BPA, BPS, PVC, Lead, and Phthalate free.”  – https://avanchy.com

“Go Time!”: I usually give the first taste of a new food in the morning so that I can watch for any potential allergic reactions during the day (as opposed to at dinner time when they are about to go to bed for the night.) I make sure that I always give my kiddos their regular full milk feeding first (breast milk, or bottle); whatever they normally eat, whenever they normally eat it. I want them to get the full nutrients from the milk before potentially filling up on food. (For example, Max breastfeeds at 11:00 so I made sure to nurse him before we gave him a taste of food!) I chopped the avocado up super small and then mashed it with a fork. It still looked pretty thick so I mixed in some breast milk to make it a little more soupy. The next step is to get a teeny tiny bit on the spoon, introduce it slowly and make sure there is a giant plastic barrier between you and your baby…you never know what might happen!! kidding, kidding. And of course, don’t force it. If baby doesn’t seem interested he/she may not be ready. For us, I tried another small taste at dinner time with the same reaction. I’ll try giving him tiny tastes over the next 3-4 days while I wait to introduce the next food: sweet potatoes. It’s important not to force anything so that you don’t develop any sort of negative association with your baby and food/his highchair, etc.

2017-10-01_0005

Max’s First Taste: I’m pretty sure the pictures speak for themselves…

2017-10-01_0001

2017-10-01_0002

Safe to say, he’s not a fan…yet. πŸ˜‰

 

Me Being All PC & Stuff: In an effort to present all points of view, here are a few other websites I’ve perused in making my baby-feeding decisions. I don’t necessarily agree with everything on these pages, just thought I’d offer them for those like to read “all sides” before making a decision, like I do. And once more, for good measure: My #1 source of information and advice always comes from my pediatrician and my own mother’s intuition! πŸ˜‰

www.foodrenegade.com/why-ditch-infant-cereals

www.breastfeedingmamatalk.com

www.parenting.com/babys-first-foods

 

2017-10-01_00072017-10-01_0008

While The Wholesome Baby website has all kinds of great info regarding feeding schedules, foods to avoid, allergens, and my favorite: handy printable charts, I want to note- this post is in no way, shape, or form sponsored by The Wholesome Baby. It just happens to be my favorite source that I’ve used for all my children and I wanted to share it with you! While the Avanchy post is sponsored, they are products that I have been using for a while now & sincerely love! I am NOT receiving  commission off any purchases made to Avanchy and this blog post contains zero affiliate links. I just like to be honest with y’all! Happy Feeding. xo -J

2017-10-01_0004

%d bloggers like this: