Great Picture Books For Toddlers Volume 2


My son loves to read. I’ve never met a young child with such a long attention span for listening to picture books! Because of this we go through a lot of library books each week. Some are great, but a lot are duds. The purpose of this series is so we can pass on our tried and true favorites to you and your budding reader. You can read more about how I select a picture book here and you can get the first list here.

Here’s the second ten. I hope you enjoy some of these books as much as we did. Don’t forget to leave your favorites in the comments!




Sheep in a Jeep – by Nancy Shaw   This is one of many in Nancy Shaw’s sheep series. Those silly sheep are always getting themselves in trouble! Some of them we’ve liked better than others, but Sheep in a Jeep is definitely a favorite!


The Water Hole – by Graeme Base   This book is amazing in so many ways. First, it is a great story of the importance of water to animals and the planet. Second, it shows animals from all over the world. Third, the pictures are absolutely gorgeous!


Llama, Llama, Red Pajama – by Anna Dewdney  K eats up every book in the “Llama, Llama” series, but this one is our favorite. It’s so fun to read and as an added bonus you get to add in a little lesson about throwing tantrums.


Turtle Splash: Countdown at the Pond – Cathryn Falwell  This books was the bedtime story of choice for a long time. It is great for learning animals, numbers and counting, and paying attention to details. The pictures are beautiful as well.


The Little Blue Truck – by Alica Schertle  Combine animals and trucks and you have a sure-fire winner for any toddler! Add in the lesson on friendship and you have a book that stands the test of time.


The Missing Mitten Mystery – by Steven Kellogg  This book was right on the edge of K’s comprehension level, but it kept him interested because of its level of engagement. Any book that has a question or an element of mystery keeps him coming back for more.


Mouse Paint – by Ellen Stoll Walsh   Even though K doesn’t quite yet comprehend mixing two colors together to get a new color, he still loved naming all the different colors in this book.


Potty – by Leslie Patricelli  Simple, but oh so perfect for a toddler. This short little book is super funny, but also gets them really thinking about what it will be like to ditch the diapers. My son likes to mimic what the little kid in the book does.


The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear – by Don and Audrey Wood – A cute story about a mouse keeping his strawberry safe from a bear. My son loves the part where it goes “BOOM BOOM BOOM!” and always giggles at the silly things the mouse does to try and protect his strawberry.


No, David! – by David Shannon   The pictures are the shining start of this book, depicting all the trouble little David gets into with his mother. However, in the end the message is clear – David’s mommy loves him no matter what. (Note: there are other books in this series and, except for, Oh, David, I don’t care for them much. There gets to be a point where David’s antics stop being silly and cross the line to just being a bad example.) 


There you have it! Ten more awesome picture books for toddlers. Have you read any of them? Please share your recommendations in the comments below!

Why I Stopped Telling My Son “Be Careful”


“Be careful!” The words spilled out of my mouth without any thought as my son attempted to navigate some rough terrain in the backyard. I must have said it at least a half-dozen times already in the half hour we’d been playing outside.

It was then that I knew I had a problem.

I had fallen into a bad habit and it wasn’t helping either me or K. I knew I needed to make some changes in the way I was communicating with him. Here are four reasons why I knew the phrase “be careful” needed to be virtually eliminated from my vocabulary.

1. It didn’t work.
Even though he heard me say it all the time, I doubt my rambunctious, fearless toddler really understood what it even meant for him to “be careful.” It didn’t communicate any practical information.

2. I didn’t want “be careful” to become synonymous with “don’t do that.”
If it was something I really didn’t want my son to do, I needed to get to the point and clearly communicate my expectations.

3. It eliminated his ability to learn to weigh risk.
At this point he doesn’t really understand why standing on a foot tall rock is less risky than trying to scale the side of a five foot trailer. However, I’m not always going to be there to tell him he should be careful. He needs to learn how to weigh a situation for himself and see if the benefit is worth the risk.

4. It didn’t teach him how to overcome obstacles.
I don’t want my son (or any other future children) to be driven by fear – whether it is in the small things now, or in the bigger things later in life. That said, fear does serves a purpose, it lets us know that we probably need a plan for overcoming obstacles in our way. “Be careful” doesn’t teach him how to climb a rock wall and it won’t encourage him to chase big dreams later in life either. K is naturally an adventurer now and I want him to be able to stay that way even as he grows up.

5. It removed his ability to face real life consequences.
Pain is a good reminder to not make the same mistake twice. Although sometimes pain is the obstacle we need to overcome, a lot of the time it can remind us to plan out a better strategy next time or just avoid something altogether.

A New Strategy

So, with these things in mind I’ve adopted a new strategy. When the words “be careful” are threatening to pop out of my mouth I try to evaluate using these 3 questions:

1. “Is this something he can figure out on his own?”
If that’s the case, I shut my trap.

2. “Does he need help figuring out this challenge?”
If so, instead of giving a generic “be careful” I try to give specific instructions for what he needs to look out for. For example: “stay away from the edge of the deck, if you fall it will hurt you;” “hold onto the railing as you go down the stairs, it will help you avoid tripping;” “that branch is dead, if you pull on it it could break off and hit you;” or “if you are going to swing that stick, stand away from where other people are standing.”

3. “Is this activity risky enough that, should he fail, he could be seriously injured?”
If not, I usually give him a warning that he could get hurt by what he is doing and then let him learn the consequences for himself. If it is, then I either stop him or give him more assistance to lessen the danger.

I’ll admit it, even with these steps, “be careful” still pops out of my mouth here and there, but I am trying to break the habit!

What do you think? Do you find yourself saying “be careful” or another phrase too much? Share your experience in the comments. 


The Expeditioners by S.S. Taylor – Middle Grade Fiction Review


the expeditioners review

by S.S. Taylor


Kit West’s map-maker father died under suspicious circumstances while on an Exploring mission, leaving him and his brother and sister orphaned and alone. However, Alexander West did not leave his children empty handed. When a mysterious man with a clockwork hand gives Kit a book from his father, the adventure begins for the three siblings.

My thoughts

The Expeditioners is one of my favorite books that I have read recently. S.S. Taylor’s rewriting of history paints a fascinating world for the West children. Their adventure is full of twists and turns and packed with excitement. With both boy and girl characters, this book will appeal to any young person who loves reading adventure stories. And not only that, but it makes a great book to read together. Just be warned, you might find yourself sneaking in reading time alone to finish the book yourself – it’s that hard to put down!

Discussion Points

  • The Expeditioners seamlessly weaves in moral issues surrounding the conquest of new lands. This can lead to great discussions in regards to the true history of Native Americans and other displaced peoples. Also great for discussions on greed and power.
  • Kit’s younger sister, M.K. is rough and tough. She drops a 2 or 3 “damns” during the course of the book.
  • In this world the government is corrupt and not to be trusted. Various members of government agencies are the antagonists. At one point, M.K. knocks out two government workers so that the kids can escape.

Bottom Line

Grab this book at the library! You won’t regret it! 

Middle Grade Fiction Review – SERIES


The 8-12 age range is notorious for being when readers bloom. Reading is finally clicking and becoming effortless. Books are devoured like never before.When I was a middle-grade reader I loved reading! My favorite book was Harriet the Spy. I read it multiple times and never grew sick of it. I devoured the books on the shelves at home and we were always making trips to the library too.

I currently read a lot of middle grade fiction because this is the type of book that I am experimenting with writing. I love reading middle grade fiction because the stories are great, but I can also fit these short, quick reads into my busy schedule (because of this I highly recommend them to adults!).

It occurred to me one day that reading 2-3 children’s novels a week is probably not the norm for most adults! I know there are a lot of parents out there who like to keep an eye on what their child is reading, whether it is to avoid inappropriate topics or make note of things that should be discussed about the book. Or maybe you’re searching for a good book that would be perfect for your struggling reader, something that is perfect for him or her and will light a fire for reading. Well, look no further.

I am going to be starting a new ongoing series where I review middle grade books that I’ve read. Whenever I’ve got a good read to pass on to you, I’ll do my best to write up a detailed review, keeping in mind what would be important for you, the parent, to know about the books your child is reading. I truly hope this can be a great resource for you and your family.

Tune in tomorrow for the first review. And If you don’t want to miss a single review you can subscribe in the sidebar or the bottom of this page.


How To Train Your Dragon 2 – PARENT REVIEW


A couple days ago I took my 2 1/2 year old son and my 13 year old brother to see How To Train Your Dragon 2, so I thought I’d write up a review for the movie. My goal with any review is to be thorough in order to help you make an informed decision as to whether that particular movie (or book, etc) is right for your family. That said, this review is loooong, and if you don’t want any spoilers, you might not want to read on!

Before I get started, one more thing. You might be wondering, “she took her 2 1/2 year old to the movie theater? Why in the world would she do that?!” Well, two reasons. Number 1, I had a little bit of a movie gift card to use up and number 2, K loves dragons. He loved the first movie (which we own), so I thought he would love the second as well. Someday soon I’ll try to write up a post on how we’ve handled TV/movies with K.

So, without further ado, the review…



How To Train Your Dragon 

If you haven’t seen the first How to Train Your Dragon, you might be a little confused as to some of what’s going on in the second movie, so I would recommend renting that first if you need to. Here’s a short summary of the first movie, skip ahead if you’ve already seen it.

HTTYD is set on the viking island of Berk, where they have a particularly nasty problem with dragon invasions. The main character, Hiccup, is the son of Stoick the Vast, chief of Berk. All vikings are rough, tuff, dragon fighting machines. That is, except Hiccup, who is a tiny, meek inventor. Desperately trying to win his father’s approval, Hiccup uses one of his inventions to try and bring down the deadliest dragon of them all, the Night Fury. Thinking he has not succeeded, to his surprise, Hiccup comes across the injured night fury in the woods. Thinking this was his chance to impress his father and the town, Hiccup attempts to kill the Night Fury, but when he sees the fear in the dragon’s eyes, he cannot bring himself to do it. He lets the dragon go. Over a period of time, Hiccup and the dragon (now named “Toothless”) bond, eventually becoming inseparable. Meanwhile, Hiccup has been enrolled in dragon fighting lessons, which he is actually succeeding in because of his newfound understanding of dragons. However, when he is chosen as the student to receive the public honor of killing his first dragon, Hiccup knows he must try and bring peace between dragons and vikings. His plan completely backfires and his father, furious and disappointed in his son, takes Toothless and uses him to find the dragon’s “nest,” intent upon finishing off the dragons once and for all. In the end, the queen dragon is too powerful for the vikings, but Hiccup and Toothless save the day (and Toothless saves Hiccup’s life), bringing peace between vikings and dragons.


How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Plot Summary

In How to Train Your Dragon 2, the story opens once again in the town of Berk. Although, instead of fighting dragons, they now race dragons! The dragons live in the city and are loved by all. Stoick is trying to convince Hiccup that it is time for him to take over as chief, but Hiccup is not sure he is the right person to take over for his father. Hiccup, in part caused by the hole he feels from never knowing his mother, is searching to figure out who he is and what his place in life is.


In his search for inner understanding, Hiccup occupies himself with outer searching as he and Toothless fly far and wide, mapping the surrounding areas, discovering new dragons and lands. In one of these searches, Hiccup and Astrid (Hiccup’s love interest continued from the first movie), discover a destroyed area, with buildings demolished and covered in ice. They have a run in with dragon trappers, who are capturing dragons to bring to their master, Drago, who is building a dragon army. After a narrow escape, they fly home to warn Stoick.

Upon hearing the news, Stoick begins to fortify the city, commanding everyone inside. Hiccup pleads with his father to ride to Drago and try to convince him not to fight. Stoick will not listen, as he has had experience with this ruthless killer before. Hiccup, determined to try and bring peace, does not listen to his father, and instead he flies off to find Drago. Astrid flies after him and the two go looking for the dragon trappers.


As Hiccup and Astrid are trying to convince the dragon trappers to lead them to Drago, Stoick and some of the others find them and attempt to bring them home. Hiccup once again does not listen and continues on by himself. Stoick commands Astrid to take the other young people home, and he continues on with Gobber to bring Hiccup back, afraid at what might happen to his son.

As Toothless and Hiccup are flying, they are ambushed by a strange person in an outfit made to look like a dragon. They are taken into a cave and are surrounded by dragons, fearing for their lives. However, the mysterious stranger takes off her mask and it is Hiccup’s mother! She, like Hiccup, was unable to kill dragons, wanting peace instead. When Hiccup was a baby, she was unable to kill a dragon to protect him, and when a dragon carried her off, she was afraid to return. So, instead, she had spent the last 20 years living with the dragons. Soon, Stoick and Gobber find Hiccup and Stoick and Valka (Hiccup’s mother) reunite.


Meanwhile, the other young vikings are worried because Hiccup, Stoick and Gobber have not returned yet, so they set out after them. They convince the trappers to take them to Drago, however, their plan backfires when Drago takes all their dragons and attempts to kill Eret, the main trapper. As Drago goes to kill Eret one of the dragons surrounds him with her wings and saves his life. This act turns Eret over to the side of the dragons. Drago and his army leave to capture the rest of the dragons and then declare war on Berk. Astrid, Eret and the others manage to escape and free the dragons. They then attempt to catch up to Drago.


While Hiccup, Stoick, and Valka are being happily reunited, their bliss is interrupted by the attack of Drago, coming to take the dragons in Valka’s nest. As the battle begins, it looks like Valka’s dragons will come out on top because they have their Alpha Dragon, a giant dragon who breathes ice. However, it turns out Drago has an Alpha Dragon as well! The two Alphas fight, and Drago’s comes out on top. Because of this all the dragons must come under the command of the new Alpha Dragon, including Toothless. As Hiccup tries to convince Drago to make peace, Drago commands his Alpha dragon to command Toothless to kill Hiccup. Toothless tries to resist the trance like state, but he cannot and he attacks Hiccup. Stoick comes in at the last second to save Hiccup, taking the deathly blow himself.


Drago takes the dragons and leaves the vikings to mourn the loss of their great chief. After regrouping, Hiccup takes on the role of the chief (finally beginning to understand his purpose) and the vikings take a wild ride on the baby dragons (who don’t listen to anybody!) back to the Island of Berk to save their people.



When they return to Berk, Hiccup goes to Toothless to try and get him out of his trance. He succeeds and the pair (along with the others) attack the Alpha dragon to try and loosen his grip on the other dragons. As the other dragons come out of their trances, they join Toothless who is now challenging the Alpha dragon. With the other dragons on his side, Toothless wins the battle with the Alpha dragon, defeating Drago, becoming the new Alpha dragon, and saving the people of Berk. Hiccup officially becomes the new chief and they all live happily ever after. 🙂



Why You Will Want To See This Movie

  1. Action-packed fantasy – Fire breathing dragons, vikings, strange new worlds – it’s a great movie for the budding fantasy lover in your family.
  2. Great discussion starters – The main crux of the story was the battle between power and peace. Drago had been harmed by the dragons, so he strived to take them over and rule them by force and power. Hiccup had also been harmed by the dragons, but instead sought to bring about peace. Another big theme is Hiccup trying to figure out who he is and what his purpose in life is.
  3. Loyalty – In the end, the dragons broke through the power of the evil side and gave their allegiance to Toothless and Hiccup. They were loyal to the ones who loved them.
  4. Forgiveness – Toothless kills Hiccup’s father, yet he still returns to save him. Him and Stoick also forgive Valka for leaving them.
  5. Sacrifice – One of the dragons sacrifices her freedom to save Eret and in a powerful and emotional moment, Stoick sacrifices his live to save his son.
  6. Parallel to the power of sin – I thought there was a great lesson/analogy about the power of sin in this movie. Under the influence of the evil dragon, Toothless did the unthinkable. He was unable to come out of this “trance” without help and forgiveness. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it got me thinking. Brings to mind Genesis 4:7 “…But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
  7. The power of influence – At one point in the movie, they say something to the extent of “a good dragon under the control of an evil person will do bad things” (can’t remember the exact quote). Brings to mind Psalm 1:1 in a way. Could lead to a good discussion on the way other people in our lives can influence us for good or bad.


Why You Might Not Want To See This Movie

  1. Scary Scenes – I thought there was a good deal more fighting and fire breathing in this movie then in the first one. This type of thing does not phase my dragon loving, bad guy fighting little guy at all, but if your child is sensitive to scary images you might want to skip this movie.
  2. Difficult plot – The themes in this movie were way over the head of my two year old. All he really grasps is good guy fights bad guy, good guy wins. If he didn’t love dragons, I probably would have skipped this movie until he was a little older and understood more of what was going on.
  3. Death – Hiccup’s father, Stoick is killed towards the end of the movie. In the (I’m assuming) traditional viking way, they send him off in a ship and then shoot the ship with flaming arrows.
  4. Disobedience – Hiccup repeatedly does not listen to his father who loves him and is trying to protect him. In the end, his father was right, and Hiccup’s decisions cost him a great deal.


Final Thoughts

I LOVED How To Train Your Dragon 2! That said, I am a fantasy lover, so it was up my alley. I loved the deeper themes that ran through the movie and think it would make for some great family discussions. My son, of course, loved the movie, although he was getting a little antsy towards the end, ready to get up and move around a bit. My 13 year old brother enjoyed the movie too. So that’s six thumbs up from us!


I’d love to hear if you have seen/are planning on seeing How To Train Your Dragon 2. What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments!

Three Words That Forever Changed How I Deal With Tantrums

Three Words That Changed how I Deal With Tantrums

He was screaming for what seemed like the millionth time that morning. There is no denying it, my son has a fierce temper. (We’re not even going to talk about who he got that from). I had a feeling this was how the morning was just going to be after we had stayed up late the night before.

I removed him from the room after my initial attempts to get him to calm down failed. As we took a seat in the living room I spoke to him in a quiet voice, my words speaking as much to me as him.

“Take a breath.”
“I don’t want to take a breath!” he raged.
“K, you need to calm down. Take a breath.”
“I’m going to count to three and I want you to take a breath” I said, still trying to maintain my own composure.
“1…. 2…. 3”
“I wanna take a breath! I wanna take a breath!” he cried, before further consequences needed to be dealt.

He took a deep breath, tears streaming down his face, still taking short gasps of air. Just like that, he was calm again. We prayed and he went about his business, a happy two year old once again.

Its no secret, tantrums are a hallmark of the toddler years. I figured there was no avoiding it, so early on I decided I would employ two strategies:

  1. Be consistent and patiently wait for this phase of his life to pass.
  2. Try my best to teach him how to deal with his emotions.

Remembering that if I could consistently handle tantrums patiently, yet firmly, “this too shall pass” really helped keep my focus in the right place. It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day, but keeping view of long term goals helps to balance that out.

A key to my being consistent, though, was finding a way of dealing with tantrums that worked for K. Unfortunately, there’s no magic solution to avoiding tantrums so I had to experiment to find the solutions that worked best for him. I found out early on that logic didn’t work, and I knew I didn’t want to resort to bribery. Distraction sometimes worked if the fit was minor, but not always. So, I soon landed on the common method of removing him to his bed to throw his tantrum. He could come out as soon as he was calm. This often worked to help him decide to calm down before we even made it to the bedroom. However, it wasn’t always possible to remove him to his room, so something had to change. One day, on a whim, I added three simple words.

Take a breath. 

I didn’t know if it would work, but after using it consistently with every tantrum, I began to notice a difference. I would look him in the eyes and calmly repeat the words. He learned to breath deeply and calm himself down. Sure, he still lost control of his emotions regularly, but he was learning how to regain that control. As an added benefit, saying the words helped me stay calm too.

Just using these three simple words has really helped turn a no-fun situation into a learning and growing experience for both me and him.

I’d love to hear from you! What methods work with your kids? If you give this a try I’d love to hear how it goes!


Tips For Surviving Time As A Long-Distance Family

“No! My daddy stay at my house! Awight?”  I pushed back the tears welling up in my eyes and told my son that it wouldn’t be too much longer before daddy would be with us again. However, inside, I felt the same way he did. This was only his third time getting to visit with his daddy in the last 5 months and we were both sick of saying good bye.

In K’s short 2 1/2 years of life his daddy was away for almost 10 of those months. Unfortunately, for various reasons, we’ve had to spend time living life as a long-distance family.

If you’re facing a similar situation, here’s 8 tips that helped us get through this difficult time.

  1. Stay in each other’s routines. Even though we were 600 miles away, K could expect to call his daddy every night to pray and say goodnight. I could usually expect a call during nap time to catch up without interruptions. Facetime and Skype make this easier than ever.
  2. Make the most of visits. We had four visits of varying lengths during our last 6 month separation. During these times we tried our best to make family time a priority and eliminate unnecessary distractions – even if that meant playing catch up with the laundry afterwards!
  3. Send the love. I tried my best to document life and send it to my hubby in the form of pictures and videos. The good and the bad. The exciting and the boring. Its not really almost like you were there too.
  4. Snail mail. For daddy’s birthday K helped me bake him cookies and picked out a few little things to send in a package. It was great because daddy gets some love and K got to be involved in making a connection. I wish I would have been better about sending pictures and letters too.
  5. Fight the discontentment. It is so easy to settle into the mindset of “everything will be better when…” Every time I found myself thinking that it was a red flag to step back and make sure my mind was in the right spot. We tried to immerse ourselves in what was going on at that time and be fully present in the moment.
  6. Anticipate the re-entry. Whenever you’ve spent time away from your spouse there is going to be a period of readjustment. Being a very independent person, this was harder for me than hubby, but knowing it was coming helped. I knew it was hard for me to transition to functioning as a unit after spending time functioning independently. Knowing this, I could prepare myself mentally for what was coming.
  7. Focus on gratitude. My husband was living in Minnesota for next to nothing with a friend, working a job earning money we really needed. During this time K and I lived with my in-law’s. We had a great place to stay and I had support while I was effectively single parenting. We also knew that there were a lot of families that had to be apart for a lot longer than we did. There was a lot to be thankful for.
  8. Look for the lessons. In any time of difficulty, there is the potential for growth. This situation was no different. We both learned a lot during our time apart and we were able to use our time apart to grow our family together.

The time spend apart was far from easy, but using these tips and a lot of prayer we were able to make it through.

Has your family ever had to live apart from each other? Even though I hope to not have to go through the experience again, I’d love to hear how you made it through!

Are You Confusing Reasons With Excuses?

When my husband and I first got married, one of the areas we had conflict in was with excuses. My husband was raised to never make excuses, so it drove him up the wall when I did. However, from my perspective I often just wanted to share my thought process. I didn’t think I was giving excuses, I thought I was giving reasons.

Have you ever thought or said that? “I’m not giving an excuse, I’m giving a reason!” I sure have. Problem was, I didn’t really have the slightest clue what the difference between the two was.

Well, fast forward a couple years and I think I’ve finally got it figured out. In this current season of life, I’ve tried to do a better job about being intentional in my thoughts and a while back it occurred to me what the difference between an excuse and a reason is.

It’s responsibility.

When I make an excuse, I am trying to shift the blame (even if its just a small portion) off of myself. For example, something I might find myself saying is “I didn’t wash the dishes last night because I was frazzled from a long day.” In this scenario, my long day was an excuse for my inability to complete one of my responsibilities. In my mind I might be thinking, “but I really did have a long day! I just wanted to relax. I’m not trying to make excuses.” However, no matter how big my pouty face may be, I am still making an excuse.

Now, if I took that same scenario and changed it into a reason it might look a little more like this: “I decided not to do the dishes last night because I had a really hectic day and I felt like I needed some time to unwind. I will do the dishes this morning after breakfast.” In this statement, I am providing the same information about doing the dishes and my hectic day, however, the difference is that I am taking responsibility for my choices. I gave a reasonable explanation for why I did what I did. I also took responsibility for the consequences of my decision (having to do the dishes in the morning).

I have found that realizing this distinction greatly aids in communication. It’s not just my husband who doesn’t like to hear an excuse. For a lot of people, as soon as they think you are giving an excuse, communication starts to break down. However, if you give a reason and take responsibility, the other party is able to better hear your reasoning and come to an understanding of what you are trying to say.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to give reasons instead of excuses. I often find myself squirming inside as I take responsibilities for my choices. If I’m honest, it’s so much easier to just make an excuse! However, I am trying to be better in this area, and I have noticed a difference.

What do you think? Will you give it a try in your communication? If you do, please share in the comments how it went down!

Great Picture Books For Toddlers Volume 1


My son loves to read. I’ve never met a young child with such a long attention span for listening to picture books! Because of this we go through a lot of library books each week. Some are great, but a lot are duds. The purpose of this series is so we can pass on our tried and true favorites to you and your budding reader. You can read more about how I select a picture book here.

Here’s the first ten. I hope you enjoy some of these books as much as we did. Don’t forget to leave your favorites in the comments!

UnknownThe Very Hungry Caterpillar – by Eric Carle  This book is very well known, but I had to include it because it is one of K’s absolute favorites right now! We’ve read it so many times he’s practically got it memorized!


Unknown-1Where Is The Green Sheep? – by Mem Fox   A fun story about all kinds of sheep. Great for practicing colors, opposites, and vocabulary. The continued question “Where is the green sheep?” keeps my little guy engaged to the last page.


Unknown-2Karate Hour – by Carol Nevius   I picked this book up when K started his “hiyah!” phase. He loves it. It is a fun, rhymed book taking you through a karate class. K loves to try to do what the kids in the book are doing. A great introduction to karate.


Unknown-3This Little Chick – by John Lawrence  Like many toddlers, K loves anything to do with animals. He loves this book about a little chick so much that one time I read it to him five times in a row! This cute, sing-song story about the adventures of a little chick is great for learning rhythm, animal names, and animal sounds.


Unknown-4Hey, Pancakes! – by Tamson Weston   A fun and silly rhyming story about making and eating pancakes. Great to read and couple with whipping up your own batch of pancakes!


Unknown-5Noah’s Ark – by Jerry Pikney   By far my favorite children’s rendition of the Noah’s Ark story. Well written, but the real shining start is the gorgeous pictures.


Unknown-6The Thingamabob – by Il Sung Na   A cute story about an elephant who doesn’t know what to do with an umbrella. Reading this book taught K the word umbrella.


Unknown-7I Love Bugs – by Emma Dodd  My little boy loves bugs, so we bring home a lot of bug books. This one has definitely been one of our favorites. But watch out for the spider at the end!


Unknown-8Jamberry – by Bruce Degen  Reminicent of Dr. Seuss, this silly story is all about berries. The pictures are as fun as the story, with all sorts of silly stuff hidden in them. An added bonus was that it only took a couple readings of this book for K to remember the names of the different types of berries and it’s just darn cute to hear him try and say “clickity-clack berry.”


Unknown-9How To Speak Moo – by Deborah Fajerman  Get ready for some super silliness in this book! If you thought cows had just one kind of “moo” you were wrong – but now you can learn to speak “moo” too!



Be sure to share your favorites in the comments! We’d love to check them out!

Finding Good Picture Books For Two Year Olds

reading picture books

K is at a fun age for reading. He is finally growing out of his baby board books and in the last few months his desire to listen to stories has boomed. All the reading we’ve done with him since his was a baby is paying off! However, I have discovered that it’s been difficult to find pictures books appropriate for his level of understanding. Especially now that we’ve moved from the small shelf of board books to the rows and rows of picture books at the library.

When I’m looking for a good picture book for a toddler or young preschooler, I’m looking for one or more of the following six qualities:

  1. Concise. I want a short book (1-3 sentences a page max) that also has a good story.
  2. Simple. 2 year olds are concrete thinkers. Books that are abstract or use flowery language go right over his head. He wants to learn about things that make sense in his world.
  3. Teaching. Every book teaches a two year old something. Whether it’s teaching about something funny, a new kind of animal, a word he’s never heard, a moral lesson, or something else, I’m looking for books that continue to open my child’s mind to the world around him.
  4. Active. Books that encourage motion are a huge plus because they are both very well liked by the wiggly crowd and they also serve to further cement an idea in a little mind through kinesthetic learning.
  5. Engaging. Nothing’s worse than reading through a monotone book. We like books with emotion! Something that you can read with passion and drama. Books that ask questions also help to engage the reader.
  6. Beautiful. Books with beautiful, well made illustrations are a must since so much of the story is conveyed through pictures.

I like to have a mix of fun, easy books, coupled with some books that are right on the edge of his comprehension level. This challenges him enough to keep him moving forward in his ability to understand (and sit still!), without being too frustrating as to make reading time unenjoyable. Finding books that fit these qualifications without having to read the same ones a million times over is hard.

So what has my solution been? Quantity. 

Every Saturday morning for the last few months we’ve headed to the library to load up our stash for the week. While K plays, I pick out 25-30 picture books. My method is haphazard: search a little here, a little there, pull a book out, open it up to a couple pages, if it looks promising, throw it in the pile. Out of these 25-30 books, although we end up reading them all, I usually only find 3-5 “keepers.” Books that we both loved and I wouldn’t mind adding to our collection.

While I don’t mind taking a half hour to pour through shelves and shelves of children’s literature, I realize that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It is also likely that when you go to the library you might prefer a higher success rate of “keeper” books as well.

With that in mind, I want to begin sharing with you the books that we have found and loved, with the hope that you will enjoy them as much as we have. As soon as I have a list of ten favorites, I will pass them on to you. That way, when you go to the library, you can get in, get out, and get to reading! Tune in tomorrow for the first installment!


What are some of your qualifications for a good book?