Friday, October 29, 2010

A Winner!

And the winner is....


Congratulations!! You have won an autographed copy of "Raising Real Men"!!

(jennebeker, please contact me with your address by Email and we'll get your prize to you asap.)

To make our giveaway interesting, I asked everyone to include with their submission, one thing most people do not know about them. Here are some of the more fun responses we got...

I've been tubing down the famous Yangtze River in China, then had to hitch-hike back to town in my swimsuit and my inner-tube.

i used to think the words of the song that says "secret agent man, secret agent man..." said "secret asian man, secret asian man."

my husband and I went to Spain on our honeymoon, and we went on a day trip to Morocco, where a local man offered my husband 30 camels in exchange for me!.

and last, but not least...

well, the tidbit that no one knows about me is that although we don't find out the sex of our babies in utero, I asked the ultrasound tech to write it down on a piece of paper and fold it up. i showed it to my husband when i got home and he said throw it in the trash. i peeked at it and found out that we were having a boy, but never told him that i knew! whew! glad to get that off my chest!

Thank You for all your entries!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

If you've ever been to Laguna Beach, you've most likely driven by Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. It sits on the only main road in to Laguna Beach from the freeway that curves its way through sandstone canyons. It was the spot of our nature excursion this week. We headed from the Nix Nature Center under Laguna Canyon Road to Barbara Lake, one of the only remaining natural lakes in Orange County. We couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather.

Some things we saw along the way - click on the pictures for a closer view:

Coast Goldenbush, Isocoma menziesii var. vernonioides

Telegraph Weed,
Heterotheca grandiflora

"Suppose," says Leigh Hunt, "suppose flowers themselves were new! Suppose they had just come into the world, a sweet reward for some new goodness... Imagine what we should feel when we saw the first lateral stem bearing off from the main one, and putting forth a leaf. How we should watch the leaf gradually unfolding its little graceful hand; then another, then another; then the main stalk rising and producing more; then one of them giving indications of the astonishing novelty––a bud! then this mysterious bud gradually unfolding like the leaf, amazing us, enchanting us, almost alarming us with delight, as if we knew not what enchantment were to ensue, till at length, in all its fairy beauty, and odorous voluptuousness, and the mysterious elaboration of tender and living sculpture, shines forth the blushing flower." The flowers, it is true, are not new; but the children are; and it is the fault of their elders if every new flower they come upon is not to them a Picciola, a mystery of beauty to be watched from day to day with unspeakable awe and delight. ~CM, Vol. p.53

Twiggy Wreath Plant, Stephanomeria virgata (Native American boys placed wreath on head of their beloved. If she kept it on, feeling was mutual.)

White nightshade,
Solanum douglasii

...the bright keen eyes with which children are blest were made to see, and see into, the doings of creatures too small for the unaided observation of older people. ~CM Vol. 1, p.57

Ladybug found by a child who noticed it was eating an aphid.

oak gall - galls are abnormal outgrowths caused by a wasp injecting its larvae into the, in this case, oak tree. Larvae develops within the gall until fully grown when it bores a hole through the gall to exit.

another oak gall

Does anyone remember this from YR2 in Burgess Animal Book? The woodrat is the trader. He doesn't like to just take things, he exchanges something in return for what he takes. How fun it would be to have one nearby to initiate frequent trades with to investigate their trading habits.

woodrat nest

Crown Whitefly pupae, Aleuroplatus coronata

This was just too sweet a bit of nature to miss...

rabbit skull

possibly artist's fungus or turkey tail fungus?

8 and 9yo girls' nature journals and collections

38yo Mama's nature journal :)

We had so much fun a couple of us couldn't resist going back today. This time, we parked in the Willow Canyon Staging Area just South of El Toro Rd. and ventured out on the Laurel Canyon Trail.


(notice the bed of fresh green growth from our recent rains.)

And more caves to explore. Notice the patch of prickly pear on the way up to the cave on this steep climb - adds that extra dimension of daring to an already adventurous climb :)

wolf spider

ichneumon wasp - look closely, can you see it's ovipositor inserted in the oak tree? I checked but this doesn't seem to be the wasp that creates the galls we see.

Fearless - with two darkling beetles. Do you remember in Pooh Bear's Expotition to the North Pole? This one was the very last of rabbit's relations. If it's scared enough, it sticks its head in the dirt!

Another woodrat nest - this one in the branches of a very large oak.

Two cabbage white's mating - the female is on the right. Look at her eye and punky hair!

Solpugid, aka Wind scorpion or Sun Spider

And last but not least, a beautiful ending to another wonder filled day.

Wordsworth, as quoted by CM, Vol. 1, p.50

Though absent long,
These forms of beauty have not been to me

As is a landscape to a blind mans eye;

But oft, in lonely rooms,
and mid the din
Of towns and cities,
I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;

And passing even into my purer mind,

With tranquil restoration.

Keeping it Real

My husband took this picture at the pumpkin patch the other day - I just love it. Everyone is looking at the camera, we're all smiling - these are the moments we like to remember; the ones we love to share with everyone. The ones we frame and hang on our walls.

Here's the one he shot a couple seconds later...

It's the pictures between the pictures, the face my children see every day that is the one that matters.

Another sobering moment...

As I'm reading about George Stephenson in Story Of Inventions to my daughter...

Among the shoes sent to him was a pair belonging to the girl who became his wife, a young woman of sweet temper, kind disposition, and good common sense.

She comments, "That's what I wish you were."


And our memory verse this week:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. ~Ephesians 4:1-3

A prisoner yes, but Paul, I'm pregnant! Doesn't that count as a good excuse for impatience? {sigh}

Teaching my children, I've found, I am continually being taught myself. And it is good.

...this atmosphere in which the child inspires his unconscious ideas of right living emanates from his parents. Every look of gentleness and tone of reverence, every word of kindness and act of help, passes into the thought environment, the very atmosphere that the child breathes. ~CM, Vol. 2, p.36

Hoping I remember to smile and show love, approval, kindness and patience in my face along with the rest of CM's philosophy I focus so much on!

Last Child in the Tide Pools

I am thankful that there are still beaches where it's not against the rules to take home seashells. Some of the tide pools we've been to have a long list of don'ts. Instead of just prohibiting taking animals from the tide pools, some beaches have rules against touching any animals and taking home even one seashell or rock. That means it is actually against the law for a child to run his fingers over a starfish, or to take home an empty mussel shell, or to touch the tentacle of an anemone to watch it close up. If that doesn't sound shocking to you, maybe you have spent too much time in this we've-got-the-whole-activity-planned-out-for-you world, and you've forgotten what you found intriguing as a child. Richard Louv, in his book Last Child in the Woods, calls this "the criminalization of natural play." He writes, "...stringent restrictions on children's outdoor play spring from our efforts to protect nature from human population pressures...But poor land use decisions, which reduce accessible nature in cities, do far more damage to the environment than do children." Some environmentalists and scientists would prefer that children learn about nature only through a pane of glass or from photographs. Just today, we were told by a smiling, well-intentioned, I'm sure, park ranger in 20,00 acres of wilderness (and we were almost the only people interested in the this wilderness) that the children cannot climb any of the trees there. She then proceeded to tell us that they have a scavenger hunt all-planned-out-for-kids with a short trail. So often I think, my children have more sense than many adults. My eight year old asked me, "We can't even climb that one decayed elderberry tree?"

giant green anemone

We know that those who have a love of the natural world often gained that love of the environment through direct contact with plants and animals. This is true for John Burroughs, John Muir, Beatrix Potter, John James Audubon, and so many others. We are always glad to find places where direct contact with nature is allowed.

In Defense of Collecting Shells

Our favorite tide pool beach is place that feels like it's ours. This place is so dear to my boys. Places like this are part of the antidote to becoming jaded, too cool for everything, and bored. And my children will be eager to protect this place when they are older, while the places with don't-touch-anything policies will likely be the places they have no connection to in the future. Their excitement is fueled by the possibility of finding a unique shell, the possible of catching a fast swimming tide pool sculpin. We have identified so many species here which were quite new to us, with such a thrill of discovery. Our shells at home have been studied, scrutinized, sketched, and talked about again and again. And we learn so much from them.

What We've Learned From Tide Pools

Searching pays off. Some creature prefer to attach themselves under ledges of protruding rocks, like the Chesnut Cowrie.

Little creatures are fascinating. This leather star feel like leather and smells like garlic.

Innocent-looking creatures can be powerful.
This Kellet's Whelk, with a soft body, somehow manages to bore a hole in the shell of its prey in order to eat it. When I first learned this, I was so happy to have the mystery explained, why do so many shells on the beach have perfectly round holes?

Strange-looking creatures can be quite ordinary. This tangled bramble of noxious-looking tubes is actually just eggs. The pink ones are from a black sea hare, while the green group is from a brown sea hare.

Ink from a brown sea hare, which it discharges when irritated:

God is a true artist. I am glad that my children are not just learning isolated facts. They know the Source of all truth, the Creator, the Author of salvation. And the cliffs, tide pool creatures, and light-catching clouds provide occasions to reflect on His goodness and creativity. This is a poem Mason wrote when he was six, as we climbed the steep hill from the tide pools to our car:

Thou Artist, thou Artist,
how beautiful you make
the sky at night
when it's dark
it is real
beautiful bursting
many urchins are there

Thou Artist, thou Artist
how you make the crab
scurry through the rocks
and the beautiful seashells

Oh world,
how beautiful
your Artist made you

Banded Brittle Star

An orange nudibranch. Maybe a Spotted Triopha?

This colorful pool looks like a page from one of our favorite books, Pagoo, by Holling C. Holling:

Clipped Semele

Heading home....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Narration at Night

Okay, we don't normally do narrations at bedtime. We usually reserve evenings for free reads and stories that may help them fall asleep, not something that they have to be so attentive to as to narrate afterwards. But we were getting behind in our Robin Hood reading last spring, and the day before I was secretly cracking up at these darling narrations as my boys were rolling over backwards with feet dangling toward the ceiling--just carefree kids with a gigantic vocabulary and keen insight. I wished I had a secret video. So I had the brillant idea at bedtime to sneak my camera in to record a little snapshot video of an actual narration. I couldn't really capture anything while being sneaky save the bottom of wiggly legs and dark shadows, so I exposed myself and got this reluctant piece from a sleepy seven year old.

I often wonder how school looks in other people's homes. I know each is so beautifully unique. Same with narrations. Sometimes mine are given while standing on their heads, hanging off chairs, often while building a Lego creation, sometimes while drawing or modeling clay or just while sitting on the couch.

The home is rarely a quiet serene setting, but with a canary singing or children chasing each other, playing puppies in their fort, or practicing the latest song on a recorder, piano or drum. It's often pretty chaotic. But they manage.

Here's my now eight year old narrating from Heroes by Charles Kingsley. I trimmed it because it was so long in three parts, which is why it is choppy. Notice how his six year old brother chimes in at the end.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Caddie's Recitation

We read the first few lines of Caddie's Recitation tonight at bedtime...

A traveller through a dusty road strewed acorns on the lea;
And one took root and sprouted up, and grew into a tree.

I had to learn the rest, so I looked it up and found this poem that I just loved:

Small Beginnings
by Charles Mackay

A traveller through a dusty road strewed acorns on the lea;
And one took root and sprouted up, and grew into a tree.
Love sought its shade, at evening time, to breathe its early vows;
And age was pleased, in heats of noon, to bask beneath its boughs;
The dormouse loved its dangling twigs, the birds sweet music bore;
It stood a glory in its place, a blessing evermore.

A little spring had lost its way amid the grass and fern,
A passing stranger scooped a well, where weary men might turn;
He walled it in, and hung with care a ladle at the brink;
He thought not of the deed he did, but judged that toil might drink.
He passed again, and lo! the well, by summers never dried,
Had cooled ten thousand parching tongues, and saved a life beside.

A dreamer dropped a random thought; ‘t was old, and yet ‘t was new;
A simple fancy of the brain, but strong in being true.
It shone upon a genial mind, and lo! its light became
A lamp of life, a beacon ray, a monitory flame.
The thought was small; its issue great; a watch-fire on the hill;
It sheds its radiance far adown, and cheers the valley still!

A nameless man, amid a crowd that thronged the daily mart,
Let fall a word of Hope and Love, unstudied, from the heart;
A whisper on the tumult thrown, – a transitory breath, -
It raised a brother from the dust; it saved a soul from death.
O germ! O fount! O word of love! O thought at random cast!
Ye were but little at the first, but mighty at the last.

Don't you just love these adventures in books with your children? I can't wait to read the poem to them tomorrow.

And of course, they giggled at Warren's:

If at first you don't fricassee,
Fry, fry a hen!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Slump and A Giveaway

I've been in a bit of a slump lately, it's true.

No inspiration to blog, no charge to my camera battery, no desire to draw in my nature journal, dishes in the sink, a list of errands left undone, kids prodding me to make dinner, a strange growth taking over the crawdad tank...

It happens sometimes.

Well, as it turns out - we have number four on the way!

And now that I'm just past the first trimester, my energy and motivation is returning and things are on the up and up.

So, my first order of business is to get to that give-away I mentioned before.

Hal and Melanie Young, parents of six boys and authors of Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys have given us an extra copy of their book to giveaway to one lucky Mommy out there!

Some of the topics in the Book include:

* Resisting Feminization
* Boys Need Heroes
* Visual Media
* Heroes from History
* Bring on the Boldness
* When to Comfort, When to Encourage
* Standing Alone
* Responsibility, Then Freedom
* Learning to Stand
* What the Bible Says about Leadership
* Developing the Next Generation's Leaders
* The Biblical View of Competition
* The Puritan View of Games and Competition
* What the Bible Says about Manners

and on and on including a chapter on homeschooling and one on training finances.

I have had this book by my bedside for the past couple of weeks and have discussed much of what I've read with my husband and we both agree there is much wisdom in what the Young's have to say. We couldn't help thinking how many of the painful lessons we've encountered along the way as adults could have been avoided with some of the practical training discussed in this book.

I especially appreciated how they tied each chapter to scripture and brought in examples from history throughout their book to give us a broader view of manhood than just what is evident in our culture today.

Hopefully you will win this autographed copy to add to your store of wisdom. If you don't, this is one book you'll be sure to want to get your hands on!

To enter the giveaway just post a comment below, and to make it fun tell us one thing most people do not know about you. If for some reason you are unable to post a comment, just shoot me an Email Here and I'll make sure you're included in the drawing.

The winner will be randomly pulled from strings by my 2yo daughter next Friday and will be announced on the blog here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Last Day for Filing a Private School Affidavit in California

Today is the last day to file a Private School Affidavit in California. You can find detailed information on how to file the Private School Affidavit here: http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/ca/affidavit/AffidavitInstructions.asp

California’s compulsory attendance laws only require that children be enrolled by their 6th birthday in the year in which they turn 6 on or before December 2 (i.e., a child who turns 6 on December 3, 2009, does not need to be formally enrolled in school until September of 2010).

DO NOT FILE the Private School Affidavit for children under the age of 5 as that may be perceived as operating a preschool program which Social Services and Community Care Licensing has jurisdiction over instead.

For details on the homeschooling laws in California or any other state, visit HSLDA's site here: http://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp

NOTE: All information here courtesy of the HSLDA website. This information is not intended to be, and does not constitute the giving of legal advice.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Favorite Picture Books

A few years back when I first met Kristine, she sent me a copy of this booklist (see below), which also happens to be posted in the file section of the Ambleside_Year0 Yahoo Group - a wonderful place for those of you who may have little ones who want to learn more about CM.

It didn't take us long to make our way through the AO Yr 0 booklist so we were happy to have a fresh list. Our library system lets us search and compile lists of books to borrow online - a life-saver of a resource. I'd search for the books, add them to my list, sort the list by call number, then print it out and bring it with me to the library. For a short while, there was one librarian who gave me her email and pulled the books for me, but then she said she couldn't do it anymore - probably because we were borrowing 35-50 books per visit. One or two books per child per night adds up quickly.

It would take me about an hour to find all the books on the list. Some of the libraries we went to had a kids area where the kids would flip through the piles of books and things there, others didn't and they'd trail along with me so I taught them they could look at a book so long as they kept one hand in the slot where the book came from so that they could return it to that same exact spot. If they didn't know the spot, it was better they took it out and put it on the table so it could be returned - there's nothing worse than a lost book sitting in the wrong place.

Inevitably, they always ask if we can borrow some random book they pull off the shelf. Instead of saying no, I let them each pick one and they run it by me for the okay. They know now that the books on the list are the really good ones and my 8yo combs the shelves with me pulling out old favorites.

My 2yo ended up coming home with a Hanukkah Board Book last time - that was the one she really wanted - which I didn't mind. And my 8yo picked a book by one of our favorite authors, Patricia Pollacco, titled my Two Mothers, which I approved without looking beyond the author's name and the smiling faces on the cover. The kids picked it on a night when my husband was reading their bedtime books and later he asked me if I screen their library books. The book turned out to be about a lesbian couple - two mothers and their three children, their normalcy and their neighbor's irrational hatred towards them. My husband morphed the story into one about an orphanage somehow... I don't think I would have been so quick on my feet.

so you do need to screen those library books!

This ritual we've had of heading to the library every couple of weeks, spending the 45 minutes to an hour every night cuddling up and reading them the books they pick from the stack, talking about them together as a family, saying prayers and then tucking them into bed has done more for the closeness of our family than I ever would have imagined.

Now that my first two are getting older, we don't head to the library quite as often. Now I'm searching for transition books for my 8yo daughter to read - she's gone through the Henry and Mudge, Frog and Toad, Amelia Bedelia type of readers, but she's not quite up for the free reads on her own yet, but she's asking for new books to read so I'm looking into Milly Molly Mandy, Raggedy Ann and Andy (the originals, always!), Boxcar Children, Betsy Tacy - we're going to try some new authors recommended by Jan Bloom - Beverly Cleary, Robert Bulla, Elizabeth Coatsworth, Marguerite De Angeli (whose Door in the Wall we've read) and Lois Lenski (whose picture books we've read).

As I'm searching for her books, my son asks what I'm getting for him - he's just turned 7 and at the primer level, Frog and Toad is still too challenging for him, so I go back to the YR 0 list and the picture book lists for him - because he loves them. Some other favorites are St. George and the Dragon, Billy and Blaze books, and The Book of Dragons by Nesbit. He loves and enjoys having the same ones read to him over and over. He also listens in and enjoys most of my daughter's free reads - the Little House series, Hans Christian Andersen, Wonder Book, Caddie Woodlawn, Heidi, Five Children and It, Dr. Doolittle.

My 2yo on the other hand, corrects everything I read to her lately. "A zebra!" "No, that's a horse." "It's green!" "No, that's red." And then she walks away half way through the book! I wonder if I'm not cultivating the habit of inattention with her because I haven't read to her nearly as much as I did my first two at that age and am always shushing her when I read to the others.

I've been having the older ones read to her so I can do other things, but I'm beginning to see that I need to spend that time with her too. And it is such a fun time reading those books with her and seeing her face light up - I've so neglected her, poor deprived 3rd child!

So here's the list we have many fond memories of along with Kristine's notes. I hope you'll enjoy them as much as we have! I also just learned of this Year 0.5 Yahoo Group which has a great 0.5 book list in their files. You can sign up for the group without an approval process to access the file there.

Alborough, Jez, Hug (almost wordless, but lots of heart. Reunited with mommy at end is hug-worthy)

Asch, Frank, Happy Birthday Moon (& others with Bear)

Aylesworth, Jim, Old Black Fly (They love to chime in: “Shoo fly, shoo fly, shoo!”)

Bishop, Jennie, The Princess & the Kiss (for little older. Fairy tale that deals beautifully with purity)

Brett, Jan, The Mitten (All hers are wonderful. See her website too. www.janbrett.com)

Brown, Ken, Scarecrow’s Hat (Find the hat as it blows on each page)

Brown, Margaret Wise, Runaway Bunny & Goodnight Moon

Brown, Margaret Wise, Scarecrow Boy (My kids love the scarecrow boy’s faces when he tries to be scary. A real hoot!)

Burton, Virginia, Katy & the Big Snow

Burton, Virginia, The Little House

Burton, Virginia, Mike Mulligan & the Steam Shovel

Carle, Eric, Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me (Of course, all his books are favorites. This one holds a special dearness. Dream Snow is another favorite. They love the sweet chime on the last page.)

Carlstrom, Nancy, Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? (When I point out that how the mom & dad bear show their love to Jesse, my kids cuddle closer.)

Cooney, Barbara, Miss Rumphius (How can you make the world a lovelier place?)

Crooke, Trish, So Much (Everyone wants to see the baby, dance with the baby, eat the baby, hug the baby. Very lively! The babies love this!!)

Degen, Bruce, Jamberry (fun rhyme for infants and toddlers)

Eastman, P. D., Are You My Mother? (My 2 year old’s favorite: “Do you know who I am?“ “You are my mother!”)

Ehlert, Lois, Color Zoo

Feiffer, Jules, Meanwhile (Maybe an unusual choice. My boys love this! Now, every time I read the word “meanwhile,” they both shout out, “Meanwhile!”)

Flack, Marjorie, Angus and the Ducks

Flack, Marjorie, Ask Mr. Bear (What to get mom for a present? So sweet!)

Flack, Marjorie, Story about Ping (Good for talking about accepting consequences)

Fleming, Denise, In the Tall, Tall Grass (All hers are great for youngers! Few, but wonderful, words and bright pictures)

Fleming, Denise, Lunch

Fox, Mem, Koala Lou (Instead of “Koala Lou, I do love you”, insert your child’s name. A favorite phrase here!)

Fox, Mem, Tough Boris (Even pirates cry. Touching.)

Fox, Mem, Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge (What’s a memory? Great opener for discussing aging and memory loss or before visiting a nursing home.)

Freeman, Don, Corduroy (well-loved)

Ginsburg, Mirra, Clay Boy (Sort of a Gingerbread spinoff. Fun.)

Ginsburg, Mirra, Mushroom in the Rain (The mushroom grows as it rains so more animals fit under it. Kind of like The Mitten by Brett.)

Henkes, Kevin, Owen (Know anyone who loves their blanket?)

Hest, Amy, Kiss Good Night (Nice bedtime book. “Kiss you once, kiss you twice, kiss you twice again.”)

Hoban, Russell, Bedtime for Frances (Know someone who has lots of excuses before bed?)

Hoban, Russell, Bread and Jam for Frances (Got a picky eater? All he wants is bread and jam. So that’s all he gets!)

Hobbie, Holly, Toot and Puddles (I just love the sweet characters in all the series. Best friends like Frog and Toad, George and Martha.)

Hughes, Shirley, Alfie (series) (Wonderful books for toddlers! Great enduring lessons)

Hughes, Shirley, Dogger (Teaches selfless acts of love. He loses his favorite stuffed dig. Read this!)

Hutchins, Pat, The Doorbell Rang (Funny. Plus good math skills, hospitality, sharing)

Joosse, Barbara, I Love You the Purplest (Who do you love more, Mom?)

Kasza, Keiko, A Mother for Choco (I love this author!! Sweet mother love!)

Kasza, Keiko, Don’t Laugh, Joe (Possums aren’t supposed to laugh. Joe can’t help it. Kids can’t help but laugh, too.)

Kasza, Keiko, Wolf’s Chicken Stew (Wolf makes a hundred pancakes, a hundred pound cake, just to fatten a chicken. Her chicks are so thankful for all the treats, Wolf becomes their dear friend. So Sweet! A Favorite!!)

Kent, Jack, The Caterpillar and the Polliwog (“When I grow up, I’m going to turn into something else.” Well-liked!!)

Kent, Jack, Round Robin (Round Robin is too chubby to fly south, but the others know he’ll come in time. Could be used to tackle issue of being overweight in a humorous and tolerant way. Highly requested for rereads.)

Kraus, Robert, Whose Mouse Are You? (Read it again. Read it again! A simple favorite.)

Kraus, Robert, Leo the Late Bloomer (So wonderful. We’ll all bloom at the right time for us!)

Kraus, Ruth, Hole Is to Dig (A different kind of dictionary. Fresh way of looking at words.)

Lionni, Leo, Swimmy (The fish work together to protect themselves and be who they are. Wonderful books: Fredrick and Alexander the Wind up Mouse, too.)

Lobel, Arnold, Frog and Toad (series) (Another very much loved series. Frog and Toad are must reads.)

Lucado, Max, Just in Case You Ever Wonder (Makes mom cry because we want our kids to know how much we and God love them)

Ludy, Mark, The Farmer (Patient and faithful is this hardworking farmer. Good character to model after.)

Marshall, James, George and Martha (series) (Such funny lessons on being a good friend.)

Martin, Jr., Bill, Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? (preschool favorite, as are all the others , Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom)

McClerren Alice, Roxaboxen (all the possibilities of play and a cardboard box. Have imagination time with a box afterwards.)

McCloskey, Robert, Blueberries for Sal (Ker-plink, ker-plank, ker-plunk, a mix up with a girl and a baby bear separated from mom. A classic!)

McCloskey, Robert, Make Way for Ducklings (another classic that my kids recognize as not just a junkie book but a good story.)

McKissack, Pat, Flossie & the Fox (they like how the girl outwits the fox, or maybe it’s the accent!)

Murphy, Mary, How Kind! (Great toddler book showing how kindness can be spread. Like Miss Rumphius for the littler crowd. Do something kind for someone.)

Murphy, Mary, I Kissed the Baby (A favorite with the new baby. I ask the questions, they give the answers. We don’t even need the book anymore! The baby loves it too. Good board book.)

Numeroff, Laura, If You Give a Pig a Pancake (Or If You Give a Mouse a Cookie or If You Give a Moose a Muffin. They all show how one thing can lead to another. Good cause/effect lesson, plus lots of fun.)

Oakley, Graham, The Church Mice (series) (Longer, but a lovely story about a mouse and cat who live amicably in a church. Their adventures are in these delightful stories.)

Oxenbury, Helen, Tickle, Tickle (A favorite toddler author)

Potter, Beatrix The Tale of Peter Rabbit (whole collection! Wonderful vocabulary builder while enjoying delightful stories.)

Priceman, Marjorie, How to Eat an Apple Pie and See the World (Good for introduction to different countries and where food comes from. Lots to do and talk about with this one. Make a pie with the recipe!)

Provensen, Alice, Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm (The farm animals each have interesting and sometimes quirky personalities. A lovely book.)

Rathmann, Peggy, Good Night, Gorilla (Good bedtime book. Toddlers love it too. Few words, but so funny!)

Rey, H. A., Curious George and Friends (We enjoy Pretzel and Katy No-Pocket. Something about these that are so appealing.)

Rosen, Michael, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Action-packed. A favorite to add hand motions.)

Rylant, Cynthia, When I Was Young in the Mountains (She is a wonderful storyteller. Try When the Relatives Came by Rylant too. Makes me wish I grew up there. No sarcasm, just nice, wholesome family times.)

Sendak, Maurice, The Nutshell Library

Shelby, Anne, Homeplace (The changing scenery of a home over more than a century. Lovely.)

Shulevitz, Uri, The Treasure (The greatest treasures are sometimes where we least expect them. Clever. Great storyteller.)

Simmons, Jane, Daisy (series) (Tender tales about a darling duckling. Come Along Daisy is like Blueberries for Sal.)

Spier, Peter, Noah’s Ark (You could study his illustrations for a long time. Insightful as to how it may have been. Almost wordless.)

Spier, Peter, People

Steig, William Pete’s a Pizza (Laugh out loud fun! Make your kid into a pizza!)

Stoeke, Janet, Minerva Louise (So funny! Really! She is like Amelia Bedelia, always mistaking things for something else, like a flowerpot for a comfortable chair. Kids think it’s hilarious.)

Waddell, Martin, Farmer Duck (How goes the work? What a hard working duck. Reminds me a little of Little Red Hen, but the farm animals help out that little overworked duck. My toddler thought he could read after reading “‘Quack’ goes the duck” over and over.)

Waddell, Martin, Owl Babies (ooh, another well-loved, cuddle close story. You’re bound to hear “I love my mommy!”)

Waddell, Martin, Who Do You Love? (Nice bedtime book. Play the game “Who do you love and why? Don’t forget Mommy!)

Wild, Margaret, Our Granny (All grandmas are unique.)

Williams, Margaret, The Velveteen Rabbit (A classic worth sharing)

Williams, Sue, I Went Walking (Good toddler book. Repetitive “I went walking. What did you see?” I ask it on our walks. Similar to Brown Bear, Brown Bear.)

Williams, Vera, “More, More, More,” Said the Baby (Babies love this. So do their siblings!)

Wood, Audrey, The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear (Another favorite to read over and over. Illustrations make this book!)

Wood, Audrey, The Napping House (a cumulative story like There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (another top favorite!). Good naptime story!)

Yashima, Taro, Crow Boy (Children see the unfairness and love this shy boy. I need tissues sometimes. Such a dear story. Helps appreciate differences.)

Zolotow, Charlotte, I Know a Lady (An older neighbor lady who makes a child feel special. A sweet relationship. Good stories by this author.)