What We’re Reading {Easter Edition}

A friend stopped me in the hallway at church last Sunday and said, “I remember you talking about getting your boys the book, “The Three Trees” for Easter last year. What other books did you buy them?” 

And here we go. The next holiday is coming, just as I tossed my son’s valentine’s cookies in the trash today (yes, he had been saving them).  After two months of celebrating birthdays and half-birthdays, Valentine’s days and an anniversary, I’m going to need the next month to get my heart in the right place for Easter.

Because this is the big one..the one holiday that really matters. The reason for Lent makes sense to me now. We all need a time to prepare our hearts to truly grasp the meaning of this holiday. Our kids need help knowing Easter is not just about bunnies, candy, and brightly colored eggs.

So I’m thankful for my friend’s question because she helped me be proactive in planning for Easter. Maybe you need help too as you recover from a Valentine’s Day coma induced by assembling 200 Pinterest perfect superhero lollipops. Whether you’re starting to think about how to talk with your brood about the life of Christ, his death & resurrection or you’re wanting to buy books for their Easter baskets, here are some books we’re reading…

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If you’re on the fence on whether or not to “do” Easter baskets…check out this post I wrote last year –> Making Easter Personal for Preschoolers <– (click this title)

Easter book ideas:

  1. The Three Trees **must own…three trees are transformed into manger, boat, & cross…but so much more to this story!
  2. Benjamin’s Box **goes along with the Resurrection eggs (see below)
  3. The Parable of the Lily **simple story illustrating the often undervalued gift of Jesus
  4. Easter Story (by Brian Wildsmith) **gorgeous illustrations (don’t own it though)

Here are a couple of our new favorite Children’s Bibles if you want to read the gospels leading up to Easter:

The Children’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos

We read a chapter out of this Bible each night (and by “we” I mean, “Bruce & the boys”). Beyond a typical picture Bible, I love the way the stories and historical events are written, not too advanced for my littlest guy (3yo) while still engaging for the oldest (7yo).  contains 110 chapters of old testament stories and 92 of new testament stories.

The Children’s Illustrated Bible (Selina Hastings, published by New Leaf Press)

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For the kids who need more than even the traditional picture Bible…my 5 year old (a tactile & visual learner) always chooses this Bible for our “tea time”. What makes this Bible special are the color photographs of real plants, animals, people, artifacts which coincide with the story. As he sees a picture of the Mount of Olives as we read about Jesus praying in the garden, these places become real. The Bible comes alive for him.

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For the next couple weeks leading up to Easter if you need some “tools” to help you talk with your kiddos. Here are a couple of ideas: 

Resurrection Eggs

Basically they are 12 plastic eggs with little surprises inside which become a talking point in the story of Jesus. I know these eggs have been around awhile, but my boys still love them. I find it’s best to do this activity before your first real Easter egg hunt. Otherwise the little guys are pretty disappointed to find a little piece of cloth instead of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (who can blame ’em?).

If you don’t have time to buy them before Easter or don’t want to spend the money here are some links to how to make your own: Homemade Resurrection Eggs (like how she did one a day & hung on an easter tree).

What’s In the Bible: Jesus is the Good News (Vol.10)

I don’t know if you’ve gotten any of these videos yet, but I think they are really well made. Silly, yes. But they deliver the Truth of the Bible better than any other video series I’ve seen. This one specifically tells the story of Jesus’ life, death & resurrection from the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John).

What is your favorite Easter book? or favorite children’s Bible? (please help me fill some Easter baskets)

What (& How) We’re Reading {Exodus}

By the time you’re reading this post, I’m hopeful the last minute of 3,000 minutes will have been read *update…we are at 2,876 minutes…with 3 days left*. (exhale)

This month has been a doozy (having two weekend conferences and getting a weeklong cold didn’t help our efforts).

I’ll tell y’all I haven’t had the best attitude when reading aloud to the boys. It wasn’t like I expected them to listen so perfectly they could write a 20 page book report afterward. But I did hope for quiet and few distractions. Trying to read when you can’t hear your own voice isn’t my definition of “quality family bonding”.

Frequently it took an hour for me to read 20 minutes…seriously. Just as I would settle down to read, an announcement would be made from the bathroom someone needing…ahem… “assistance”. Then I’d grab the book again only to see the baby climbing into the entertainment center cabinet. Back again to reading just as a fight would start over a Lightning McQueen car. I’d start reading a sentence just as one son asked a question about how birds fly.

y’all.

So here are some ways I avoided out-sourced transferred my reading duties. Bruce often read for 30 minutes at bed time. Or Quade read as we drove home from school. Or we took a trip to Sonic. After passing out slushes to everyone I would begin reading (although that only lasted 20 minutes before Watts crushed a hole in his styrofoam cup & the baby needed a diaper change).

I just wanted you to know when I write about these books we’ve been reading don’t picture in your head four boys sitting quietly by my side hanging on my every word and halos hovering over their heads.

It’s a mess over here. But they are developing a love of books…only by God’s grace.

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Here is the beautiful book I wanted to share with you today:

Exodus by Brian Wildsmith

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Summary: 

-For Kindergarten thru 4th grade (our 3yo likes it too!)

-“Wildsmith recounts Moses’s saga from his rescue in the bulrushes by Pharaoh’s daughter to his death on Mt. Nebo overlooking the Promised Land. The writing is straightforward and simple; the story is brief but accurate. The artwork is a visual feast. The double-page illustrations, framed in gold, are panoramas of activity, crowded with the figures of the Hebrew multitudes suffering in slavery, streaming out of Egypt, traversing the Red Sea between walls of water, wandering in the brown hills of the desert, and at last, triumphantly entering the verdant Canaan.

Filled with meticulous and decorative detail, glowing with rich colors, and arranged to maximize dramatic impact, the paintings show the awesome events with excitement and beauty. The pillars of cloud and fire are shaped like huge pointing fingers. Animals, birds, and sea life abound. God’s presence is shown by a multicolored, starry shape superimposed on a sphere. The endpapers present the Ten Commandments printed on monumental, gold-decorated arks against a background of intense violet and rose.” -(Amazon.com)

Why we love it: 

Just like the Amazon summary said, it’s a visual feast. The boys will flip through the pages and retell the story…even if they can’t read. Apparently this author also has an Easter story which would be worth checking out as a gift for those easter baskets (this is how we handle easter baskets).

Today I’d love for you to share some tips in the comments on how you read aloud to your kids…go!

What We’re Reading {William Bradford}

(I know I didn’t post a book last week, but I didn’t want to interrupt your Pinterest perfect Valentine’s Day. Hope you enjoyed time with loved ones instead of reading blogs about books.)

On to the topic at hand…I started the new series “What We’re Reading” and shared a fun picture book to take on a picnic. To shake things up a bit, this week I’m going to share a chapter book…a non-fiction chapter book. I know…I know.

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Remember how I shared my MOB Society post (sorry the link was broken…fixed now). I wrote about casting a godly vision for our children. One way to inspire our children to do great things for God’s glory is to read biographies of others who have followed & been used by God. This week’s story is just that…

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William Bradford: Young Pilgrim

Synopsis:

“Orphaned at a young age, he was formed by forces which were providentially preparing him for the great call upon his life. Follow his life from his boyhood in Scrooby, England through the years when he led the Pilgrims as the first governor of Plymoth Plantation.” (200 pages)

–Read aloud for ages 4-6 (may be hard for them to keep attention…but if you take time to talk them through the chapters…rephrasing for little ears they will enjoy it);

–Chapter book for ages 7-9 (depending on child’s reading level).

Why I love it:

The first time I heard about this book was when I observed the school my boys now attend. As I entered the 1st grade classroom the teacher just finished reading from the chapter book, “Squanto” and asked the children to get out paper & pencils for spelling. Then she paused and looked at one of the boys, asking him, “Are you okay?”.

The little boy started to ask about what will happen to Squanto. Apparently in the chapter they had stopped reading, men took Squanto from his village and sold him into slavery in England.

This teacher calmly & patiently reassured this young boy, “I know it seems like Squanto is suffering greatly. But God will make it right. Remember William Bradford? How his parents died & God provided William Brewster as a mentor? That relationship brought William Bradford to the new world. God will use this trial to bring about His purposes in Squanto’s life. You will see. It will be good.”

So when my son brought home this chapter book, I looked forward to reading this redemptive story…God making right the wrong of William’s life.

I also love the mentorship relationship. Just like I wrote about with casting a godly vision for your children, W. Brewster guided W. Bradford to seek God in his life.

“You have a good mind & an earnest one.  We don’t know yet for what purpose God gave it to you.  But let us make it ready for whatever work He gives you.”

Enjoy!

**Disclaimer: we may be a little biased in loving this book since we discovered my husband is related to William Brewster. 😉

What We’re Reading {Roxaboxen}

This monday a major event began at my son’s school…the Reading Rally. What’s “reading rally”, you ask?

Think of a jog-a-thon…but instead of getting sponsored to run laps around a track, students are sponsored to read books (1-2 cents/minute). Each student sets a reading goal for the month. There are medals to be earned. Big stuff people.

Of course, for Quade there was no other option but go for gold. Which means we will be reading at least 3,000 minutes this month. Whew.

He’ll read aloud and I’ll read aloud and Bruce will read aloud. It’s gonna be epic.

I figured since we would be spending so much time reading it’s the perfect time to start a new series…

Whatwerereading

Being a speech-language pathologist (SLP), I know the importance of reading to your children. But it wasn’t until Quade started attending a Classical Christian school that I understood the difference between quality literature & “twaddle”.

As an SLP my requirements for a “good book” were: simple sentences, theme-based vocabulary, and interesting illustrations. I looked for books with few words per page, ones which allowed me to ask good “Wh-” questions, facilitated further conversation and helped teach story prediction skills.

Now I have new requirements for books we read. I want books which instill values, demonstrate desirable character qualities, encourage creative play, and affirm importance of nature, animals & older generations. The richer the characters, the imagery, the story line…the better.

“What we become depends on what we read after all the professors have finished with us.  The greatest university of all is a collection of books.” -Thomas Carlyle

Thankfully his school provided a wonderful list of books which fall in this category of quality literature.

For the “What We’re Reading” series I will share a book a week, give a quick synopsis and share why we like it. (maybe someday it will become a link-up?)

Our first book is one we love to read while eating lunch on our back porch or at the park.

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Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran (for ages 3 to 8 years old)

Synopsis:

Across the street on a rocky hill children found old wooden boxes, rocks, cactus, and thorny ocotillo (you’ll learn what those are in the book). Adding imagination to these simple materials they create a wonderful world, called Roxaboxen, with homes, ice cream shops, and a city hall. Rocks became currency. Twigs became a steering wheel for a car. A stick and string transform into a horse. Those ocotillo’s become weapons in the great war of boys versus girls. Best of all, no matter the season or the passing years, “Roxaboxen was always there.”

Why we like it:

Having grown up with several acres of woods behind my house, I love the idea of creating a world with natural elements. I remember my best friend and I found trees full of vines and imagined an entire carnival and town in those trees.

This book reminds me of simpler times. All a child needs is a stick and his imagination and unplanned hours of play. Fun to give my boys a vision of what they can create when they play outside.

What are you reading? (have you ever read “Roxaboxen”?)