Monday, April 09, 2012

5 Great Read-Out-Loud Books

warning: this picture is deceiving and is not an 
accurate representation of the books listed below.

I am always, ALWAYS on the look out for great children's books. 

For several years now our local library has had a summer, adult-reading-kids-stuff program. I look forward to it every summer. It boils down to this, I get prizes for reading children's literature. I love reading kids books anyway, so to get prizes for doing it is an added bonus. 

While I read, I often stumble upon great stories to share with my kids. Sometimes, though, I get lost in the huge amount of choices and have a hard time deciphering which books are worth my time.

Which leads me to the point of this post (and hopefully posts to come)...

I gotta imagine I am not alone in the never-ending hunt to find great books to share with my kids. SO...

I thought I'd share 5 great read-aloud books that I have discovered, just in case you are looking for suggestions. If you are wanting an age range, I am guestimating ages 6+. My four-year olds typically listen along too, but they are easily distracted.

Here we go:

1.  Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. I know, I know, this is an obvious choice, but it is such a great story. It was the first chapter-book I ever received as a gift and I have never stopped loving it. It was also my first read-aloud choice to my own kids. They were young then; we may have to reread it together soon.

2. The Moffats by Eleanor Estes. I only recently discovered this little treasure. It had me hooked from the first line, "The way Momma could peel apples! A few turns of the knife and there the apple was, all skinned!" The book shares the adventures of the Moffat family, specifically through the eyes of Jane and Rufus. The stories are sweet, funny and full of adventure. I haven't actually read this out loud yet, but Mya and I have both read it and loved it!

3. Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater. We read this book over the winter and my kids loved it. It had them laughing out loud throughout the story. It was recently made into a movie with Jim Carrey, which I have not seen and therefore cannot recommend. BUT, I can recommend the book which was, to borrow a somewhat cliche review word, delightful!

4. Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink. Caddie Woodlawn takes place in Wisconsin back in the pioneering days. It is along the lines of Little House in the Big Woods, but with a better story. The book is actually based on the life of the author's grandmother which gives it extra charm. Even though this is somewhat a "coming of age" story, boys and girls alike will love the adventures Caddie and her brothers find themselves in. 

5. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien. I LOVED this book as a kid. I know I read it several times. I loved this book as an adult too. This is another one I have not actually read out loud to my kids yet, but plan to soon. The story is one that awakens the imagination. It is full of adventure, suspense and will not disappoint. 

There you have it, the first of many book lists I hope to share with you over the summer. 
I would love to hear your suggestions for great read-out-loud books in the comments. 
As mentioned previously, I am always on the hunt for good ones!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Living in Saturday

Today is Good Friday. The day we remember the sacrifice. His death.

With the rising and setting of the sun comes Saturday. I was reminded in my reading this week of the grief His disciples must have felt on that first Saturday. Trying to process his death. Questioning WHAT in the WORLD just happened. Scared. Confused. Hurt to the very CORE. Unaware of the HOPE Sunday would bring.

We are living in Saturday.

I read posts like this or this and I hurt. I am exposed to gritty stories of HARD, painful life experiences. I look into the eyes of the orphaned; I am told their stories of loss and I hurt. I see my brokenness surface over and over and I see that brokenness affect the people I love.

I catch my kid's looking for me as they perform for the church during the Easter program and I remember a girl in Ukraine who looked for me. I think of the millions of kids all over the world who have no one to look for. No one to advocate for them, pray for them or even remember them. And I hurt.

We all experience the hurt. Some more than others. Some in huge, unbearable doses. It is always there. If you haven't felt it, you will. The hurt is inevitable. Some try to hide from it or find ways to avoid or ignore it, but eventually, it finds us all.

The hurt is an undeniable truth of living in Saturday.

But there is one big difference between us and His disciples that first Saturday.

We KNOW the HOPE that comes with Sunday.

We are LIVING in Saturday, but Sunday IS coming.

We HURT in the now; but we live, by HIS grace, for the day when the hurt will leave FOREVER.
And, because of Sunday, the hurt we experience is bearable, the JOY deeper, and the PEACE overwhelming. Life can overflow with purpose. The LOVE of Jesus, who lived in our hurt, can be shared, RELISHED and overflow to ALL who wish to receive it!

PRAISE God for the empty tomb and the HOPE of Sunday!

Then the men asked, "Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? 
He isn't here! He is risen from the dead!  
Luke 24:5b-6a 

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Just in Case You Ever Wonder - a book review

Just in Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado, is a sweet book filled with things we all want to say to our children but sometimes in the business of life neglect to do.

I’ll always love you.
I’ll always hug you.
I’ll always be on your side.
And I want you to know that…
Just in case you ever wonder.

The words in this book (among other positive things) affirm the specialness of the child [God made you like no one else.], it reminds the child to call when she needs help [Remember I am here for you.], and at the end it shares God’s love and the hope of heaven [It’s a wonderful place.].  

The pictures in the book follow the life of a little girl, from her babyhood to young adulthood. They particularly focus on her life experiences with her father.  They are sweetly drawn and fun to look at.
But, they also bring out my one complaint with this book…

Because they focus solely on a little girl as she grows, I feel the pictures limit the book. I would love to have seen pictures of little boys. And, I would have loved even more to have seen pictures of adopted children. The words can apply to any child, but the pictures do not depict this. I can understand the appeal of focusing (through pictures) on the story of one, but when the words are not equally focused, I believe it decreases the connectivity of the children to whom we are reading the book to.

Wordless Wednesday - Screens

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

You CAN make a difference!!

Please Consider joining Impact Zambia 100. Your donation will have a HUGE impact on the kids who attend Lifesong school. With the addition of a high school, thanks to your donation, Lifesong's kids can be world changers!!! Read on for more information...

***Impact Zambia Update: 30 commitments...4 days to go. Needing 70 more Impacters!
Impact children like Bwalya Bwayla & have your gift MATCHED!!

As you saw in the video, Bwalya Bwalya became a double orphan because of HIV/Aids when he was only five years and now he, too, is HIV+.  Thankfully, Bwalya Bwalya lives with his grandparents and is able to attend the Lifesong Zambia School. Despite his uncertain past, he has a hopeful future because of the presence of Christ in his life and the opportunity to receive an education.

We have launched an Impact Zambia 100 campaign that will help build a high school for Bwalya Bwayla and other children in similar life situations.  We are nearly 1/3 of the way there and have only 4 days left.  
We are looking for 100 people to make a monthly commitment of $20 for one year to help complete this building project. MATCHING GIFT OPPORTUNITY!  (that's right--gifts will be matched dollar-for-dollar thanks to a generous donor!) Sixty-seven cents a day from 100 people for a year can make this vision a reality for children like Bwalya Bwalya. 4 days left 70 people to go...Will you join us? To join Impact Zambia 100, email To learn more about Impact Zambia 100, click here.