Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Monday, June 27, 2016

GIVEAWAY: Awesome America, From Sea To Shining Sea

Just in time for the 4th of July, TIME FOR KIDS has put out a new hardcover book that highlights all the awesome things about our wonderful country.  And I've got a copy to send to one lucky reader...

Awesome America: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the History, People, and Culture, by Kathy Steinmetz, is a comprehensive, fun introduction to the history of the good old U.S. of A.  It's packed with photos, stats, timelines, and fascinating facts...

Chapter 1, of course, starts with "Our Beginning", followed by "Our Government" and "Our Presidents".  

There's also a "Tour the Fifty States" chapter, where your child will learn what each state's "claim to fame" is, as well as each state's nickname.

Other chapters include: "Coming to America", "Moments That Changed America", "Civil Rights", "Great Americans" (highlighting Americans from Babe Ruth to Mark Twain to Frank Lloyd Wright), and "America's Home-Grown Gifts to the World", to name a few.

Chapter 13, "One of a Kind", is especially fun with topics such as "Who is on the $100,000 bill", "How to talk like an American", and "Top U.S. tourist spots."

There's something here for ALL AGES!  My kids would have loved this book, and I know yours will.

To enter this GIVEAWAY, use the rafflecopter below.  Winner announced at noon PST on Friday, July 1, 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 24, 2016

Fairy Tale Reading by Lamplight

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” ― Albert Einstein

"Bedtime Story", artwork by Chris Dunn

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Giveaway Winner Revealed

Thank you to all who left comments here and on my Facebook posts for my blog giveaway!  I had 41 entries, and am happy to announce that the winner of Blueprints for The Little Church: Creating an Orthodox Home is...

Kat Brigid Smith!  The book will be sent off as soon as you send me your mailing info, Kat.  Congrats on winning this wonderful book!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sick Day Giveaway!

Like Amos McGee, I woke up, swung my legs out of bed, tucked them back in again, and knew I wasn't going to go anywhere.

That was five days ago.

Slowly on the mend, I decided, what better time to catch up on some reading and do a GIVEAWAY!

Illustration from A Sick Day For Amos McGee by Philip and Erin Stead

For those of you who don't know, Amos McGee was lucky enough to have some Faithful Animal Friends (who he normally tended to at the zoo) who came and tended to him at his home.

I too was lucky enough to spend time with some Faithful (Book) Friends while I was sick...Book Friends For Grown-ups, that is, who generally take a back shelf to my Book Friends For Children.  I was quite happy to delve into their pages, into a world of comfort and distraction, while I lay sick between the sheets of my bed!

Thanks to my first Book Friend, the newest Mitford novel by Jan Karon, Come Rain or Come Shine, I was able to attend Lace and Dooley's long anticipated wedding nuptials - without even having to change out of my pjs!

The next Book Friend I spent time with was the one I'm GIVING AWAY (don't worry, I won't be sending the winner my germ-laden copy!)  My Giveaway book is a new release from Ancient Faith Publishing: Blueprints For The Little Church: Creating an Orthodox Home, by Elissa Bjeletich and Caleb Shoemaker, and I'm super excited to review it for you today.

If you are a God-loving parent who is looking for encouragement and advice on how to establish a God-centered home (and whether you're a newly chrismated Orthodox Christian parent full of questions, a long time Orthodox parent looking for ways to revitalize your faith and your family's faith, or a Christian parent wondering if you and your kids could even do Orthodoxy), this book is for you!

Take a quick look at the contents, and you'll see that this great little resource is full of practical topics that are offered along with personal stories, Scripture, quotes from the Saints, and creative activities that will be of help to every Little Home Church...

The authors (Orthodox parents themselves), Elissa Bjeletich and Caleb Shoemaker, underscore in the Introduction that the three essential foundation stones for our Little Home Churches are the same as the foundational elements of our Christian Life found in Scripture and the Holy Tradition of our Church Fathers:  prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Recounting their own early experiences in Orthodoxy, they lovingly invite parents to begin a vigilant journey of growing closer to God with their family.

With baby steps.
No pressure.
No judgement.

Imperfect advice for imperfect people.

Basically...mercy, grace, and some helpful hints.

The Orthodox life is not complicated. It is beautiful in its simplicity, wondrous in its depth, vivifying in its ritual and sacraments.  The complications are typically self-imposed when, instead of following the Church's teachings or the admonitions of our priests and confessors, we try to cobble together a hodge-podge religion based mostly on external trappings and false deadlines.

...Take a deep breath.
Start at the beginning.
The two things all Orthodox families should begin doing immediately are very simple.
Pray and go to church.

Most importantly, as parents, lead by example.
And guess what?
There will be seasons of struggle, joy, and growth.
But this book is not about "quick fixes".

Always remember that we fall down and we get back up, and we fall down and we get back up.  This is the true rhythm of the Orthodox life.

I wish I had this book when we became Orthodox!

And I wish I had it in all the years since for new converts and families visiting our church who, like me, had countless questions.

Laid out very simply, with constant loving encouragement of "don't worry", "talk to your priest", "there's not always a right or wrong way" - this book is a treasure and a friend.

The authors are ever mindful of little ones, as well as teens, and their tired parents in all their advice as they address many of the "Captial T" and "small t" traditions of our rich faith.  

Such as:
Inviting the Priest to your home (for a house blessing or a baby's naming).
Setting up an Icon Corner.
Praying with little ones.
When do kids begin to fast?
What can we fast from besides food?
How to teach children to give.
Creative projects for feast days.
What goes in a Pascha Basket?

Now, here is my advice:
Take a deep breath.
The two things all my readers should do immediately are very simple.
Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of this book.
And go to the Ancient Faith Store to buy this book for yourself, an adult friend, or family member!  (Or put it on your wish list for later!)

  • Giveaway over Wednesday, June 22, 2016, at midnight PST.
  • To enter, leave a comment here and/or on my Facebook post for this book.
  • Winner announced Thursday, June 23, 2016.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Armchair Travels with a Bear

A dear Mommy-Friend of mine made a good point in her comment on my last post that summer road trip travel can be really hard with young children.

And long trips to faraway places are hard on any age.
So I'm excited about two books by Isela Archenti I'm featuring today, because, really, how many of us will ever get to Peru or India except via a book?  Let's hear it for Chrisy Bear and armchair travel!

Author/Illustrator Isela Archenti was born in Lima Peru. She moved to New York to become a graphic designer, and create children’s books. She loves everything related to children's designs like toys, clothing and books, and she is happy to share her love of travel with kids in her picture books.

She's written and illustrated two books featuring a curious little polar bear named Chrisy, who chooses where to go with his family on vacation with the random spin of a globe. Today I'm featuring Isela's second book Chrisy Bear Goes to India, which can be purchased here on Amazon.

Your kids will learn fun facts about the culture, people, and history of India.  Open the book and travel first to Mumbai.  Did you know that there is a building there that was built to celebrate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911?

I really like the way the photos of the bear family are superimposed over Isela's colorfully drawn backgrounds.  She places the bears in interesting settings like caves, a train station, a fort, and a street bazaar.

Isela does a great job of keeping young readers' attention by having Chrisy Bear constantly ask questions of different people and (talking) animals. As the bear family continue on their journey, they learn interesting things from a cow in Goa and an elephant in Mysore.  Chrisy learns why Jaipur is called the "Pink City" and how to say "thank you" in Hindi.

This book would be especially perfect for homeschoolers, and could initiate further discussion of culture and history, as well as map exploration.  I think any child aged 4-7 would love to travel along with Chrisy Bear!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Nashville Has More Than Country Music - Check Out The Library!

Nashville may be known as Music City, but did you also know the downtown has one of the coolest libraries for kids, ever??

Pictures From the Road...
Road trips are really a great way to see this great country of ours!  My husband and I both came from families who drove across the U.S.  We enjoyed it so much, we did several road trips with our own children.

And now, my daughter and her husband are continuing the tradition!  One of their stops was Nashville, TN, where they decided to make a stop at the Nashville Public Library (Main Branch).

They began their library visit at the Story Time Theatre, where the library's resident performing arts company - Wishing Chair Productions - presents a variety of shows each month featuring puppets, songs, juggling and more.

The children's department is over 25,000 sq. feet of space, with a reading area nestled within a replica of Nashville's skyline!

There is also a child-size replica of the famed Ryman Auditorium, where kids can put on their own puppet shows (puppets provided).

I hope you enjoyed this little tour.

If you've been to this gorgeous library, feel free to sing its praises in the comment section!  And if you don't live near Nashville, tell me about an amazing library you've been to (maybe it's right in your own town)!