September 13, 2015

Braver, Stronger, Smarter

We all are, each of us. We are children of God. And because of that he strengthens us in our trials, he grants us courage to serve beyond our capacity, and he strengthens our faith at our asking. He fills our hearts with love and peace, our minds with calm and clarity, and our brains with knowledge beyond our own to guide us in our decisions. 
He's given us his Spirit to prompt us and teach us as we share his truth and his love with those around us, and as we listen to the Holy Ghost and share the things we are prompted to say the Holy Ghost can testify to the listener.
He loves us, and because of that he comforts, strengthens, and inspires.

You can find more about my beliefs by clicking the link below:

I'm a Mormon.

September 6, 2015

For the Love of Reading: Tips and Great Books for Young Listeners

I love to read.
For me reading is a source of calm, it's a wonderful escape from the pressures and stress of daily life, it's a way to travel to places I could never afford and times I cannot reach, through other characters I discover more about myself.
We know that for children, reading helps with concentration, vocabulary building, and speech development.

I credit my love of reading to my mother, who read to me every day until long after I could read to myself. Who provided plenty of books in our home, and who took us on trips to the library. To both my parents, who read. Children learn by example. To my grandmothers, who read to their children, who cherished beautiful books in their home and read to me. To my great-grandmother, who gave me books, many of the books I read to my children were gifts from her.

So when I ended up with a child who did not like to have me read to him it broke my heart. For what seemed like an eternity he would prefer to look through his books and make up stories than have me read to him. We would get 2 pages into a book and he would take it from me, or wander away. I was sad that I was missing out on that connection with him, but also frustrated because I know how reading is important it is for development.

For anyone also struggling to encourage a love of reading in your children, here are my tips and our story:

  1. Be Persistent
  2. Read even when they don't listen
  3. Try different books until you find one that connects with your child
  4. Make reading a reward
  5. Work reading into your daily routine
  6. Rotate books and add new ones so you don't burn out

I spoke with my mom numerous times (she's a kindergarten teacher) during this struggle and she kept telling me to be patient, to keep trying, to read out loud even if he seemed not to listen, and that it was great that he was making up stories and how wonderful that creativity was, it did little to console me. I strive to be the best mom I can be, and he was thwarting my efforts :)

Then, one visit my mom introduced him to Otis, and everything changed.

He LOVED Otis.
But sitting and listening were still difficult. Then, I began reading to him after we went through the whole bedtime routine, suddenly he loved reading. It felt like he was getting to stay up later, breaking the rules ;) and so he loved it. After a while it became part of the routine and now he can't sleep without having a story.

We keep his favorites right by his bed so it's easy to choose, and when I get really tired of reading a particular book I return it to the bookshelf and replace it with another one :)

Here are some of my now four-year-old's favorite books, in case other moms are going through the same thing, or for those who are simply looking for a list of books Boys will like. Not all of these are "BOY" books, in fact I'm sure that many girls would love Otis and the other books also, quite a few of our favorites are favorites from my childhood.
They are all well written, enjoyable reads, most are published by Scholastic so if your school does a book fair you could find some of them there, I have also linked to each book on Amazon.

The Friendly Little Tractor trying to find his place on the farm.

Otis and the Puppy
Facing fear to be a good friend.

Otis and the Scarecrow
Being Brave

Otis and the Tornado
Being Brave in order to be a good friend to someone who doesn't like you.

An Otis Christmas

Mighty Dads
Big Construction Vehicles teaching their little ones to work, the last line of the book is "I Love My Dad"

The Classics:

Where the Wild Things Are
Imagination, and Behavior.

The Foot Book
A rhyming way to learn left from right.

Goodnight Moon
The classic goodnight story.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
A fun way to learn the Alphabet.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Problem Solving, and an Old Fashioned Excavator.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Because EVERYONE has bad days, even in Australia.
A great book for talking about the things that upset us, and choosing a good attitude.

The Story of Ferdinand
It's ok to be different.

The Saggy Baggy Elephant
It's ok to be different.

Being loved the way you are

If You Give a Moose a Muffin

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Drummer Hoff
Sequence, Repetition, and Crazy Cool Illustrations

Being true to yourself. This one makes me think of my sister, it was her favorite for years.

What are your favorite story books? I'd love to hear in the comments below!

And if you're looking for more, for you or your children, visit Amazon's list of 100 Children's Books to Read in a Lifetime (Column 2, Row 2). Many of my favorite Chapter Books are included on that list.
100 Children's Books