Fifteen Favorite Children’s Read-Alouds – Part 1

Summer is here and you might be looking for some fun and frugal ways to occupy your children without just sitting them in front of the computer or television.

Reading is a wonderful way to stimulate your children’s minds, teach them great lessons, open up new worlds to them and give them a life-long interest in learning. If your children are young, reading aloud also provides a great opportunity to spend quality time with your children. Plus, if you get most of your books free, reading is an incredibly frugal pastime.

We love books at our house. We don’t have a lot of children’s toys, but oh do we enjoy books! Our children never tire of being read to.

And since I’m often asked for children’s book recommendations, I’m going to be sharing fifteen of our very favorite children’s read-alouds over the next four weeks. These are books which — in most cases — we’ve read over and over and over again. Many of them might already be on your own shelves, but I hope you’ll discover a few new ones, too.

1. Goodnight Moon– Hands down, this is Kaitlynn’s (almost 3) favorite book. In fact, I’m pretty sure every single one of us have this entire book memorized by heart. We also can pretty much tell you every little detail on every square inch of every page. But that’s perfectly okay, because it’s such a great classic book.

2. The Seven Silly Eaters – This book was sent to our family by a blog reader and it’s become one of the most-requested read-alouds by our girls. It’s a fun — and sometimes a bit over-the-top — book about life in a bustling household. We don’t quite have every word memorized yet, but we’re quickly getting there! :)

3. Because I Love You– If I had to pick a favorite book from all the children’s books we own, I’m pretty sure this book would be it. It’s a beautiful story of God’s love for us — even when we were yet sinners. It touches me every time I read it to the girls and opens up lots of opportunities for me to explain truths about God.

4. The Bear That Heard Crying (Picture Puffins) — This is a true and fascinating story which happened in 1783. A 3-year-old girl gets lost in the woods and is saved by a bear — yes, I said a bear. The girls are always in awe and ask dozens of questions when we read this one.

Part 2 of Fifteen Favorite Read-Alouds is coming next Monday.

This post is brought to you in part by HarperCollins and the Borders Double Dog Dare You Reading program. Kids 12 and under can join the Borders Double Dog Dare You Reading program and earn a free book when they read 10 books. Just fill out this form and bring it in to any Borders, Waldenbooks, or Borders express store by August 26, 2010 to participate in this program. Find more Summer Reading Programs here.

photo credit: Washington State Library

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Fifteen Favorite Children’s Read-Alouds – Part 2

Missed last week’s post with Part 1 of Fifteen Favorite Children’s Read-Alouds? Read it here.

Picking up where we left off last week, here are four more of our favorite children’s read-alouds:

5. The Story of Ferdinand — The girls never tire of this story and it always produces a plethora of questions on bull-fighting, bees and everything in-between.

6. Keep the Lights Burning Abbie– This is one of Kathrynne’s most-loved stories. It’s a beautiful tale of a girl who shows great responsibility and determination to stick to her commitments — in spite of great difficulty.

7. Caps for Sale — Despite how many times we’ve read this book, it never ceases to capture the girls’ complete attention. They find it fascinating. Plus, it offers lots of opportunities for us to discuss entrepreneurialism and how “way back when” people really had to get creative when it came to earning a living.

8. Bless the Lord: The 103rd Psalm – With absolutely gorgeous and detailed artwork, this book has the rich phrases of the 103rd Psalm contained in it. If your children are anything like mine, they will want to spend a great deal of time just studying the pictures.

Part 3 coming early next week…

This post is brought to you in part by HarperCollins and the Borders Double Dog Dare You Reading program. Kids 12 and under can join the Borders Double Dog Dare You Reading program and earn a free book when they read 10 books. Just fill out this form and bring it in to any Borders, Waldenbooks, or Borders express store by August 26, 2010 to participate in this program. Find more Summer Reading Programs here.

photo credit: Washington State Library

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Fifteen Favorite Children’s Read-Alouds – Part 3

Missed the first parts of this series? Read Part 1 of Fifteen Favorite Children’s Read-Alouds and Part 2 of Fifteen Favorite Children’s Read-Alouds.

Remember to check out my post on Five Ways to Get Books for Free for ideas of how to pick up copies of these and other books frugally.

9. The Gingerbread Boy – This story always captures the girls attention and keeps it the entire time. While it’s not a realistic story, it’s still a fun book to read — and the pictures are enjoyable, too. It’s also a great way to teach your children about the fact that, just as the fox in the story, some people can pretend to like you or have your best interests in mind, when really, they are out to hurt you. It’s important to teach your children to be cautious and discerning — otherwise, it could lead to great harm in their life.

10. The Cow Who Fell in the CanalThis book is such a fun read! The pictures are colorful, the story line is engaging and it also opens up opportunities to introduce your children to how different people in different countries live.

11. Any and All Books By Lois Lenski– Hand’s down, Lois Lenski is one of our very favorite children’s authors and it’s impossible for me to narrow down our favorites to just one or two of her books. I grew up on her books and have been delighted to be able to share them with my children, as well. Most libraries have almost the entire collection of them and I’d highly recommend checking them out if you have youngsters in your home.

12. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name — We’ve searched high and low for quality children’s Bible story books. Ones that are accurate, doctrinally sound and not filled with nonsense and fluff are hard to find. I apprehensively ordered The Jesus Storybook Bible about six months ago based upon the strong recommendations of friends I trust. It has since become our most treasured read-aloud. The girls would pick this over any other book any day.

While the pictures aren’t necessarily my favorite and we have a few doctrinal differences with the author, overall, this is a very, very excellent resource in my opinion. We’ve read it over and over again. In fact, the girls would never let us stop reading if they could. It has opened up all sorts of incredible conversations on God, the Bible and what it means to love the Lord and have a personal relationship with Him.

The final installment of this series is coming early next week.

This post is brought to you in part by HarperCollins and the Borders Double Dog Dare You Reading program. Kids 12 and under can join the Borders Double Dog Dare You Reading program and earn a free book when they read 10 books. Just fill out this form and bring it in to any Borders, Waldenbooks, or Borders express store by August 26, 2010 to participate in this program. Find more Summer Reading Programs here.

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Fifteen Favorite Children’s Read-Alouds – Part 4

Missed the first parts of this series? Read Part 1 of Fifteen Favorite Children’s Read-Alouds, Part 2 of Fifteen Favorite Children’s Read-Alouds, and Part 3 of Fifteen Favorite Children’s Read-Alouds.

And remember to check out my post on Five Ways to Get Books for Free for ideas of how to pick up copies of these and other books frugally.

13. Curious George Books — No book list of our favorites would be anywhere near complete without mentioning the Curious George books. I first introduced the girls to them when I was pregnant with Silas and very sick with morning-noon-and-night sickness. I stayed mostly in bed for a weeks because I was feeling so sick and the girls piled in bed with me and we read and looked at books for hours on end.

The girls would ask me to re-read the Curious George books again and again. And to this day, it’s not changed! Anytime I ask them to go pick out books to read, you can be sure there will be at least one Curious George title in the mix.

14. Little House on the Prairie — We’re currently reading through the The Complete Little House Nine-Book Set, but we also love the My First Little House books, as well. We’ve had so many great discussions on how blessed we are to live with so many modern conveniences and how important it is to have a strong work ethic, thanks to the Little House books.

15. Little Jewel Books – I highly recommend the Little Jewel books, especially for younger children. They are fun to read and full of great character lessons that even very small children can understand and apply. We’ve accumulated most of ours by requesting them for birthday and Christmas gifts for the girls.

A few more Honorable Mentions

I had trouble narrowing our list of favorite books down to 15, so here are a few more we really enjoy: The Little Animal books by Judy Dunn; Farming with Father; God’s World and Johnny; Blueberries for Sal; The Courage of Sarah Noble; Make Way for Ducklings; and A is for Adam.

One resource I’ve used extensively to find quality books to read-aloud to my children is the Hand That Rocks the Cradle: 400 Classic Books for Children. It has excellent reviews and book summaries, as well as dividing up all the books by three different reading levels.

What are some of your favorite children’s read-alouds?

This post is brought to you in part by HarperCollins and the Borders Double Dog Dare You Reading program. Kids 12 and under can join the Borders Double Dog Dare You Reading program and earn a free book when they read 10 books. Just fill out this form and bring it in to any Borders, Waldenbooks, or Borders express store by August 26, 2010 to participate in this program. Find more Summer Reading Programs here.

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15 Must-Read Children’s Books

Reading is a wonderful way to stimulate your children’s minds, teach them great lessons, open up new worlds, and give them a life-long interest in learning.

If your children are young, reading aloud also provides a great opportunity to spend quality time together — plus, if you get most of your books free, reading is an incredibly frugal pastime!

We love books at our house. We don’t have a lot of children’s toys, but oh do we enjoy books!

Our children never tire of being read to. And since I’m often asked for children’s book recommendations, I’ve compiled 15 of my all-time favorite read-alouds below. These are books that we’ve read over and over and over again. Many of them might already be on your own shelves, but I hope you’ll discover a few new ones, too.

1. Goodnight Moon

This is one of family’s most-read books. In fact, I’m pretty sure every single one of us have this entire book memorized by heart. We can also can tell you every little detail on every square inch of every page. But that’s perfectly okay, because it’s such a great classic book.

 

2. The Seven Silly Eaters

This book was sent to our family by a blog reader and it has become one of the most-requested read-alouds by our girls. It’s a fun — and sometimes a bit over-the-top — book about life in a bustling household.

 

3. Because I Love You

If I had to pick a favorite book from all the children’s books we own, I’m pretty sure this book would be it. It’s a beautiful story of God’s love for us — even when we were yet sinners. It touches me every time I read it to the girls and opens up lots of opportunities for me to explain truths about God.

 

4.The Bear That Heard Crying

This is a true and fascinating story from 1783. A 3-year-old girl gets lost in the woods and is saved by a bear — yes, I said a bear. The girls are always in awe and ask dozens of questions when we read this one.

 

5. The Story of Ferdinand

The children never tire of this story and it always produces a plethora of questions on bull-fighting, bees, and everything in-between.

 

6. Keep the Lights Burning Abbie

Kathrynne loves this story and so do I. It’s a beautiful tale of a girl who shows great responsibility and determination to stick to her commitments — in spite of great difficulty.

 

7. Caps for Sale

Despite how many times we’ve read this book, it never ceases to capture the girls’ complete attention. They find it fascinating. Plus, it offers lots of opportunities for us to discuss entrepreneurialism and how “way back when” people really had to get creative when it came to earning a living.

 

8. Bless the Lord: The 103rd Psalm

With absolutely gorgeous and detailed artwork, this book contains the rich phrases of the Psalm 103. If your children are anything like mine, they will want to spend a great deal of time just studying the pictures.

 

9. The Gingerbread Boy

This story always captures the girl’s attention and keeps it the entire time. While it’s not a realistic story, it’s still a fun book to read — and the pictures are enjoyable, too. It’s also a great way to teach your children about the fact that some people can pretend to like you or have your best interests in mind, when really, they are out to hurt you.

 

10. The Cow Who Fell in the Canal

This book is such a fun read! The pictures are colorful, the story line is engaging and it also opens up opportunities to introduce your children to how different people in different countries live.

 

11. Any and All Books By Lois Lenski

Hand’s down, Lois Lenski is one of our very favorite children’s authors — it’s simply impossible for me to narrow down our favorites to just one or two of her books. I grew up on her books and have been delighted to share them with my children, as well.

 

12. The Jesus Storybook Bible

We’ve searched high and low for quality children’s Bible story books — ones that are accurate, doctrinally sound, and not filled with nonsense and fluff are hard to find. I apprehensively ordered The Jesus Storybook Bible based upon the strong recommendations of friends I trust. It has since become our most treasured read-aloud. The girls would pick this over any other book any day.

 

13. Curious George Books

No book list is complete without mentioning the Curious George books. I first introduced the girls to them when I was pregnant with Silas and very sick with morning-noon-and-night sickness. The girls would ask me to re-read the Curious George books again and again. And to this day, it’s not changed! Anytime I ask them to go pick out books to read, you can be sure there will be at least one Curious George title in the mix.

 

14. Little House on the Prairie

We’ve already read through The Complete Little House Nine-Book Set, but we also love the My First Little House books, as well. We’ve had so many great discussions on how blessed we are to live with so many modern conveniences and how important it is to have a strong work ethic — all thanks to the Little House books.

 

15. Little Jewel Books

I highly recommend the Little Jewel books, especially for younger children. They are fun to read and full of great character lessons that even very small children can understand and apply.

 

A Few More Honorable Mentions

I had trouble narrowing our list of favorite books down to 15, so here are a few more we really enjoy:

One resource I’ve used extensively to find quality books to read-aloud to my children is the Hand That Rocks the Cradle: 400 Classic Books for Children. It has excellent reviews and book summaries, as well as dividing up all the books by three different reading levels.

What are your favorite children’s books?

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Q&A: Help! How do we stop spending more than $1,000 per month on groceries?

Carrie contacted me through the Money Saving Mom® Facebook Page with the following question:

HELP!! I’m failing my family at staying within our grocery budget. I know all the things I’m “supposed” to be doing, and I’m just not approaching it in a logical, orderly enough way to accomplish these things.

Will you help me by reviewing the “basics” – reminding me of what I should be doing, and perhaps showing me some things I’m missing?

I know I should clip coupons more. I forget.
I know I should buy sales more. I forget.
I know I should stay away from brand names. I’m picky.
I know I shouldn’t buy “extras.” I’m lazy.
I’ve tried carrying a calculator with me through the store. I get overwhelmed.

I *do* make a menu.
I *do* make a list from the menu.
I *do* look at what we already have in the house so as not to duplicate.
I *do* shop Costco to save on bulk items.
I have downloaded the Safeway app to receive extra savings.

But I invariably go over budget on groceries every month. We are a family of 5 (one child being an infant) and we budget $700/month ($350/paycheck) for groceries, yet I usually end up spending closer to $1,000.

This is ridiculous! I’m better than this! I shouldn’t be having this problem. What are some practical steps I can be doing to help get on top of this and be proactive from the front end so I’m not squeezing to make ends meet every two weeks?? -Carrie

First off, Carrie, please don’t beat yourself up, okay? Do you know how many people have never even considered having a grocery budget or menu-planning? You’re already doing a lot, so cut yourself some slack and be encouraged that you are doing some things. And doing something is always better than doing nothing.

After reading your email a few times and contemplating it, here are my thoughts on some action steps you could take to start finding success in lowering your grocery budget:

1. Stop Telling Yourself You Can’t

As I encouraged people to do in 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life, you’ve got to remove the word “can’t” from your vocabulary. If you tell yourself that you can’t, than you will believe that you can’t. When you believe that you can’t, then you invariably won’t.

It’s totally okay to deliberately decide, “I am not going to focus on lowering my grocery bill because I need to focus my energies on X.” Or to purposefully commit to keeping your grocery bill as is (or even raising it) because you want to support local farms or buy fair trade products or you are choosing to eat all organic as a family.

None of these things involve “can’t”, they involve choice. There’s a big difference there.

2. Aim to Lower Your Grocery Bill By 1-3% Every Month

Instead of trying to overhaul your grocery bill overnight, set a goal to lower your grocery bill by 1-3% every month. While this might not seem like this will make much of an impact, over time, your savings will really start to add up. And, by doing it gradually, it will seem a lot less overwhelming and doable.

3. Analyze What You’re Spending that $1,000 Per Month On

Gather up your receipts from the past few shopping trips, if you have them, and take a good look at where that $1,000 is going. What are the areas where you’re spending the most? Right off the bat, you might realize you’re spending an exorbitant amount on meat or diapers or produce.

Whichever area is the biggest spending culprit is the area I recommend that you focus your energies on lowering.

4. Pick One Money-Saving Technique to Focus on Per Month

Rather than trying to work on a bunch of different areas of your grocery budget, just focus on one specific and realistic money-saving technique per month. Use the analysis you did in step #3 to decide which area to focus on first.

For instance, maybe you are spending a lot on produce. For the next month, plan your meals around the few different fruits and vegetables that are in season and on sale that month. Focus on this money-saving technique only for a month.

Don’t worry about that long list of other ideas you come up with when you’re reading frugal blogs. You can add those things to an ongoing list of money-saving ideas you want to implement, but only worry about adding one new thing each month.

The next month, if you’re feeling comfortable with that focus area, add in something else, like shopping with cash or planning meals that use less expensive ingredients.

5. Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Bloggers or People You See on “Extreme Couponing”

Finally, it’s easy to become discouraged when you see savings of like 80 to 100% on blogs or the Extreme Couponing show. You can feel like you just don’t measure up because you’re over there working really hard and only seeing 30% savings.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else but yourself — unless you want to end up feeling discouraged. You can only do what you can do. Plus, I promise that those folks who are highlighting their amazing 99% savings shopping trips are not seeing those kinds of savings every single shopping trip.

What advice do the rest of you have for Carrie? I’ve love to hear!

For step-by-step help in lowering your grocery budget, be sure to check out my 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget series.

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