Friday, March 30, 2012

Parenting Tips: Lying Continued

by Tiffany Rudd
One of the many perks of living next door to my sister is our constant book swap. We are both avid readers and enjoy many of the same genres so we are often sharing our latest great book finds. Last week Deborah talked about the book “Nurture Shock” by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman. I’m so glad she found and shared this book with me. We both loved it and would definitely recommend it. 
This week, we decided to continue discussing the chapter on “Why Kids Lie.” The book referenced a study where children were observed in their homes. It found that, “four-year olds will lie once every two hours, while a six-year-old will lie about once every hour. Few kids are an exception. 96% of all kids in the study offered up lies.” Yikes! Do these numbers shock you as much as they did me? The book also talks about the fact that as children get older, “they learn to craft and maintain a lie.” (pgs 80-81) In other words, they are getting better at it! So, what can we do? How can we teach our children not to lie? Honestly, I’m not sure there is a perfect answer to this question. All children are different and all families are different. But, I will share a few ideas I learned from “Nurture Shock,” and some things that have worked in our family.
First, be an example of complete honesty. One of the first things the book challenges parents to do is “really consider the importance of honesty in their own lives.” I do not consider myself a lier, but I am guilty of the occasional white lie in social situations. We lie to avoid hurting someones feelings or to avoid awkward situations. And, in the past I’ve even expected the same of our children. I bet most parents have told a child to act happy with a gift or a food served regardless of his/her honest opinion. Encouraging children to tell these white lies helps them become increasingly comfortable with dishonesty. My son recently told his Aunt Deb that he didn’t like the pizza she brought over for dinner because of the “nasty red things” she put on it. Maybe in the future we need to work on his tact, but I’m glad he chose to be honest. :)
Second, give immunity and a clear route back to good standing. Children don’t just lie to avoid punishment. They also lie to try to make their parents happy. Remember Deborah’s post about the tales we tell to prevent lying? The story of George Washington was much more effective because little George was given both immunity and praise for telling the truth. “What really works is to tell the child, ‘I will not be upset with you, and if you tell the truth, I will be really happy.’” (pg 86) It’s hard for me to fight the urge to punish for the bad choice, but I constantly remind myself that immunity for the action and praise for the truth will teach a much better lesson in the long run. A favorite story in my husband’s family is one where he was young and broke something that was important to his mother. He immediately ran to find her and the first thing he said was, “Remember how you said we won’t get in trouble if we tell you the truth...?” She had obviously taught him the importance of honesty.
The last advice the book gives is to never test your child’s honesty unnecessarily. Have you ever watched your child do something that was against the rules and then asked them anyway? I definitely have! Oops! Our children have plenty of opportunities everyday to chose truth or lie. In these cases we are better off not testing. Just gently remind your child of the rules, help him/her correct the mistake and plan on plenty of opportunities to teach the value of honesty in the future. 
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Elementary Activities: Skip Counting Songs

by Deborah Pace Rowley
It is always challenging for kids to learn their times tables. I have tried to help my own children as well as many students at school. We have tried flash cards, math games and times tests. Over the years I have found that Skip Counting Songs are a very effective way to solidify times tables in young minds. They are catchy and easy to remember. They can be recalled quickly. I still sing Skip Counting Songs with several 5th grade students whenever I am working with them on their daily math homework.

There are many Skip Counting CD’s on the market. But I really like this version that is available for free on You Tube. Skip Counting Songs - YouTube

They were created by a teacher and his third-grade class. They are cheesy and they don’t have flashy graphics or high production value. But I still like them because they have the times tables set to songs that we already know. Because kids already know The Birthday Song or Row, Row, Row Your Boat, there is less to remember. The focus can be on plugging in the correct numbers instead of trying to learn a new song. And these songs are also easy to recall when needed.

Check out the songs at the link above. For best results, just work on one song at a time. Watch the song several times with your child, then you can sing it together in the car as you travel to and from school or while doing chores or other activities that are part of your daily routine.

For even more learning and fun, make a video of your own. Film your child singing the skip counting songs while doing different activities. Here is our video of Katie singing the skip counting song for the 3 times tables. We had so much fun working on this together.  Now if I could only get “Happy 3, 6, 9, 12”… out of my mind!
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Preschool Activities: Painted Sugar Cookies

by Deborah Pace Rowley

I have a confession to make. I am not a fan of dying Easter Eggs. (Does that make me a bad mother?) The real problem is that I don’t like hard-boiled eggs. And eggs that have been died a greenish purple color and have been hidden in the dirt in our backyard are in a category all their own. Sugar cookies on the other hand!! I love this activity any time of year but Easter time is the perfect time to “paint” some egg-shaped sugar cookies.
First, buy some cheap paint brushes. It is best to do this activity with paint brushes that haven’t been used with real paint. Then make or buy some sugar cookie dough. I have included my favorite sugar cookie recipe below if you are looking for a good one. (Thanks Karen!)

Next, roll out the sugar cookie dough and cut it with an egg-shaped cookie cutter. You can just use a knife and create your own oval shapes if you don’t have the correctly shaped cookie cutter. DO NOT COOK THE DOUGH. Set the uncooked cookies on pieces of waxed paper around the table. In the center of the table set out bowls of “paint”. The paint is made with egg whites mixed with a little bit of water. This is to thin the goopy egg whites to a paintable consistency. Then it is dyed with food coloring. I dyed one bowl blue, one green, one orange, one yellow and one red. (The yellow and orange ended up indistinguishable once they were painted on the cookie so I think next time I will try some purple.) Set out some paper towels and some small bowls of water for washing the brushes.
Last, have the kids put on paint shirts or aprons and let the fun begin. IMPORTANT NOTE: Remind your kids not to eat the cookie dough or the egg whites before they are cooked.
Learning about patterns is an important part of readiness for math so I had the big kids paint patterns on their eggs for the little ones to copy. That was such a big hit that soon the little kids wanted to paint patterns for the big kids to copy. After passing our patterns around for a while, we turned the kids loose to create their own artistic creations.
When you have finished painting your cookie eggs, sprinkle the top with sugar. 
Transfer them to an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. With the sprinkling of sugar, the cookies are delicious without any added frosting. You wouldn’t want the frosting to cover up the art! I love how easy it is to put the unfrosted cookies in lunches and to stack and store them for future snacking. Trust me, it is much easier to get rid of all these decorated eggs than it is to find uses for the real hard-boiled ones!

Sugar Cookies
2/3 cup shortening
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
4 Tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifted flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Blend wet ingredients well then add in dry ingredients. Chill the dough for at least one hour in the fridge or dough will be too soft to work with. Roll out the dough on a surface sprinkled with flour and cut into shapes as desired. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 8-10 minutes or until the edges are slightly brown.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Meal-Time Activities: Mystery Centerpiece

by Deborah Rowley
For this activity, set a cake stand in the center of the table before dinner. Choose a family member to put a small mystery item on the cake stand and then cover it with a cloth. During dinner you can make guesses about the mystery item before you unveil it to the “oohs” and “aahs” of the dinner crowd. Once the item has been unveiled, let that family member explain why the item was chosen and what it means to them. You may be able to use the item as a launching off point for discussion with older family members. You can also turn dinner into a comedy show by requiring every sentence to include that item (Try doing that with race car or Barbie for example!)
Last night, I placed a small airplane on the cake stand. When the airplane was unveiled, I told my family that I had recently read an article about Amelia Earhart. I have always been impressed with her courage and groundbreaking efforts for women. And I was fascinated to learn that they have discovered what might be the remains of her plane off an island in the Pacific. There is a theory that she might have crashed onto this island and then survived for several weeks with her copilot waiting to be rescued. I asked my family if they thought it would be better to crash and die instantly or to crash and live for several weeks in the hopes of being rescued but eventually die. We had the most interesting discussion about life and death and the value of hope and dreaming big. It was amazing what bringing a small toy airplane to the table inspired in all of us. I think Amelia would be pleased. 
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Friday, March 23, 2012

Parenting Tips: The Tales We Tell To Prevent Lying

by Deborah Pace Rowley

Recently I read the book Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. I loved this book and would highly recommend it. I will be including some of the ideas I learned from my reading in future posts. Today’s parenting tip has to do with teaching our kids to be honest. Nurture Shock includes a chapter entitled “Why Kids Lie.” In the beginning of the chapter, the authors explain that children first begin lying to avoid punishment. Nothing earth-shattering there. Every parent knows that. What surprised me was the research about the ineffectiveness of our efforts to teach our kids not to lie. What is the most commonly used story to encourage honesty? If you said, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, you would be right. We often tell our kids this story about the boy who gets eaten by a wolf because of his repeated lies. But this story actually INCREASES lying in the children who hear the story. Why? Because the story focuses on punishment; in this case, the ultimate punishment of death.  “Increasing the threat of punishment for lying only makes children hyperaware of the potential personal cost. It distracts the child from learning how his lies impact others. In studies, scholars find that kids who live in threat of consistent punishment don’t lie less. Instead, they become better liars, at an earlier age---- learning to get caught less often.” (pgs 84-85)
If we shouldn’t tell our children the story about The Boy Who Cried Wolf, what stories can we tell our children? According to the research presented in the book, the story George Washington and the Cherry Tree reduced lying a whopping 75% in boys and 50% in girls. Why is that? It isn’t because George Washington is a national hero and cultural icon. This story worked just as well in foreign children who had never heard George Washington’s name.
The effectiveness of this story relates to the second reason children lie. Children lie to make parent’s happy. They innocently assume that parents want good news and not the truth. So the best thing to say to young children when they are caught lying is, “I will not be upset with you if you lied, and if you tell the truth, I will be really happy.” That takes away both their motivations to lie: avoiding punishment and pleasing you. This is why George Washington and the Cherry Tree is so effective. “Little George received both immunity and praise for telling the truth…Parents need to teach kids the worth of honesty just as much as they need to say that lying is wrong” (page 86). The more we can emphasize the rewards of honesty in the stories we tell our children, the more effective our teaching will be. Isn’t that powerful? I only wish I had known that a little sooner.  

Click HERE to download a copy of one version of the story 
George Washington and the Cherry Tree

*If the item does not automatically download, click on the gray box that says, "Download This File"
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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Elementary Activities: Line Up!

by Deborah Pace Rowley
After a recent extended family dinner, I gathered all the older cousins in the living room and to play Line Up! My students love to play this game using States and Capitals, Word Wall Words, and anything we have learned in a sequence. All you need to do is announce how the kids need to line up and start a timer. It was fun to watch them work together and scramble to beat their previous time. I even learned some things I didn’t know about my nieces and nephews. Below are the different lines that we created. See how many you can think up on your own.  

Line up alphabetically by first names
Line up alphabetically by middle names
Line up from shortest to tallest
Line up from smallest feet to biggest feet
Line up chronologically by your birth dates
Line up by who has the most money (Not recommended for adults!)
Line up according to who played video games the longest and the shortest amount of time last week
Line up according to who read the most and the least last week

**No, I didn’t actually try this next one.
Line up in order from the most favorite to the least favorite grandchild

That line wouldn’t have worked anyway. There would have been a massive dog pile as all the kids tried to get into the favorite grandchild position!
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Preschool Activities: Sink or Float?

by Tiffany Rudd
I remember doing this activity with my mom when I was young and it has been a favorite of my preschool students every year. It’s a favorite of mine too, mostly because it really gets kids thinking and creates such fun surprised reactions, and partly because it is about as simple as it comes. Just a few minutes of preparation and you have a instant fun learning opportunity for children as young as 2 or 3.
All you need for this activity are a collection of random items gathered from around the house and something to hold at least a few inches of water. I used a small storage container, but you could use a large bowl, a bucket or even just the sink or tub. Then just download and print out the “Sink” and “Float” pages I created and have some fun. 
Before letting the kids test the objects, I always start by having them predict which items they think will sink and which will float. It’s fun to see how their little minds work. Usually they end up with all the large items on the “Sink” page and all the small objects on the “Float” page. After they have tested about half the items they begin to make more accurate predictions. 
After they have made their predictions, let them take turns dropping each object in the water. Was the result what they expected? Their surprise and excitement upon discovering which items sink or float make this activity so much fun. I love watching them learn and discover things on their own. Children learn so much better through “doing” and participating in experiments like this than they would through an explanation alone. 
I always end with a quick discussion about why certain items sink or float, but I almost guarantee this experiment won’t stop there. After we finished the activity Cameron and Brooklyn spent at least another half hour gathering items they wanted to test on their own. It made for a very fun and busy afternoon!

Click HERE to download the Sink and Float pages.
If you want the signs to last through more than one day of experimenting I would recommend laminating them.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Meal-Time Activities: Secret Identity

by Deborah Pace Rowley
Cousins laughing and having fun together!
Once a month, we hold an extended family dinner. We have a pretty big family so we usually have adults on one table, teenagers at another table and little kids at a table of their own. For our family dinner in March, I placed secret identity cards in the center of the teenager’s table. I made these cards by writing the name of a book character on a piece of paper and folding the paper in half, sealing it closed with a sticker. Once the teenagers had gotten their food and were all sitting down, I explained the rules. Each of them would choose one secret identity. Then they would have to talk like that character until the rest of the table guessed who they were. Once their identity was discovered they could choose another identity. The winner would be the person who had collected the most secret identities at the end of the meal.
Here is a list of the characters that I used to create my secret identity cards along with the books that they are found in. I tried to choose books that I knew my children and nieces and nephews had read. If I wasn’t sure on a book, I made sure that it had a movie counterpart that the kids would have seen. If you want to play secret identities at your dinner table, use this list as a jumping off point, taking away some characters and adding other characters of your own. 

Percy Jackson- The Lightening Thief
Hermione Granger and Neville Longbottom- Harry Potter
Edmund Pevensie- The Chronicles of Narnia Series
Ramona Cleary—Beezus and Ramona
Edward Cullins- The Twilight Series
Katniss Everdeen- The Hunger Games Series
Sticky Washington- The Mysterious Benedict Society
Fern Arable- Charlotte’s Web
Seth Sorenson- Fablehaven
Jonas- The Giver
Charles Wallace- A Wrinkle in Time
Charlie Bucket- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Laura Ingalls- Little House on the Prairie
Ponyboy- The Outsiders
Greg Heffley- Diary of a Wimpy Kid

One secret identity was revealed with just three words. Guts, guts, guts!! Can you guess who that is? Ramona! Everyone started cracking up when my 16-year-old nephew tried to get his cousins at the table to guess Edward Cullen. “Do you notice anything different about my skin today?” I loved how this game really made the kids think about what their characters would say. I also loved the goofy British accents and the discussion about books. As for the kids, they just loved laughing and joking together.  
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Friday, March 16, 2012

Parenting Tips: Nighttime Dryness

by Tiffany Rudd
This picture is a few years old and really has nothing to do with this post, other than the fact that she is sleeping. It just makes me smile. 

I know a lot of kids just naturally start staying dry at night a short time after potty training. I’m jealous. Then there are the basic tips for kids who have a slightly harder time learning to stay dry at night...
No drinks a few hours before bedtime.
Fun new underwear or pull-ups to keep dry.
Waking the child up to use the bathroom once or twice each night.
A sticker chart and toy or reward to work toward.
I know quite a few moms who have had success with these tricks. I’m jealous. When we got pregnant with our 4th child, it really hit me that I was about to be buying diapers for ALL FOUR OF MY KIDS! Anniston just turned 1, so she gets a pass, but Cameron (6) and Brooklyn (4) were both still wetting the bed every night. I gave up spending the extra money on pull-ups long ago so, that meant...diapers for 4! Yikes! For years we have used all the tricks. I honestly felt like they were both motivated to stay dry at night, we were doing everything we were supposed to, and yet neither of them had ever had a dry night. Ever. 
I wasn’t really worried about it, they are both heavy sleepers and I just kept thinking they would eventually grow out of it. But right about the time Cameron turned 6 I read an article that said 80% of children who are wetting the bed at age 6 will still be wetting the bed at age 8 unless there is some kind of intervention. I immediately started researching our options and decided to give a bedwetting alarm a try. 
I bought the Wet-Stop 3 on Amazon for $50. It was actually one of the cheaper alarms, but had great reviews. Best $50 I’ve ever spent. Okay, maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but I was extremely happy with the results. I would definitely recommend it to those of you having similar problems. Here is how it worked for us....

We tried to get Cameron (6) to go first, but he was resistant and Brooklyn (4) volunteered, so she was the first guinea pig. By the time she was done Cameron was definitely ready. We put a bed of blankets on the floor in our room until she was able to stay dry for 10 nights in a row. That way when the alarm went off I was there to help her to the bathroom. Before bed I had her put on underwear, clipped the alarm to her underwear and then covered them both with a diaper. Who wants to wash blankets every night? For the first few nights the alarm went off 2 or 3 times and each time her underwear and diaper were totally wet. I still had her sit on the potty each time, but to no avail. Then for about the next week the alarm continued to go off 1-2 times, but her underwear were less wet and she was able to get more in the potty each night. After less than 2 weeks we were all sleeping through the night and she was staying dry. After 10 dry nights in a row we took her to the Disney Store to let her choose a toy and went out for burgers and fries. She has only had one accident in the 2 months since! We followed the same plan with Cameron, but he was even faster. Less than a week after we started he was staying dry and hasn’t had a single accident since. Success!
Too bad I can’t go back two years and buy the alarm when Cameron was 4. If you have struggled with nighttime dryness like we have I would definitely give it a try. 
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Elementary Activities: Snow Fun

by Tiffany Rudd

We have had the strangest winter here in Northern Utah. We’ve lived for the past 4 years in Memphis, Tennessee where it only snows a few inches a few times each winter. So, when we were moving back to Utah we told the kids all about “Utah Winters... with tons and tons of snow to play in all the time!” We’ve literally had two or three storms this year that left enough snow on the ground to play in. Apparently we brought the Memphis winters back with us. 
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not complaining about the 60 degree weather we have enjoyed this week. I’m loving the warmth and sunshine as much as the kids are, but a whole lot of snow can be fun too. 
So, when I saw snow in the forecast for this weekend (crazy to even imagine after this week), I decided to share a fun snow activity I did with the kids a few weeks ago. Who knows, this next storm may be our last chance to use it this winter? It’s still only the middle of March. Crazy.
The only supplies you’ll need for this activity are some kind of squirt bottle and food coloring. 

I found bottles just like these at Walmart for $0.99 each. I originally bought them for ice cream toppings at Anniston’s birthday party, but they’ve been used for a bunch of other projects since. You could probably use any empty squeeze type bottle (from syrup, mustard, or even hair products). Gotta love reusing things you already have around the house.
All I did was fill each bottle with water and enough food coloring to make the shade I wanted. Then the kids and I headed out in the snow to have some fun!
Brooklyn is 4, so she had a great time “decorating the snow” with letters of the alphabet, numbers, and her name. 
For Cameron, who is 6, I called out sight words for him to spell. He had fun trying to spell each word faster than the last. I love it when educational activities just feel like fun!
After the yard was covered with letters, numbers, and words, the left over colors went to decorating our snowman. 

After the kids had warmed up with some hot chocolate, they immediately asked if we could do this activity again. Do you think we’ll get the chance this year? 
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Preschool Activities: My Favorite Picture Books to Read Aloud

by Tiffany Rudd
My awesome husband reading to the kids before bed. 
Anniston was just a few weeks old at the time. 

I LOVE books. One of my greatest joys as a mother is reading to my children. I love that my one year old gathers board books, crawls onto my lap and knows how to turn the pages. I love that we have to restrict the number of books the older kids choose for us to read aloud each night, and that we usually find books hiding under their covers in the morning. I hope their love for reading only grows stronger as they get older. 
I was excited to read my sisters post last week listing her favorite chapter books to read aloud. My son is just now to the age where he will sit through and enjoy a small chapter book, so I’ll definitely be putting her list to good use in coming years. But, as a preschool teacher, I still really enjoy a fun picture book. The kids usually beg for 5 or 6 every night. So, here is my list of favorite picture books to read aloud. They are ones my children choose over and over and ones I use in my preschool curriculum every year. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin
Chicka, Chick 1-2-3 by Bill Martin
Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood
The Mixed Up Alphabet by Steve Matzger
Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin
Click, Clack, Quackity-Quack by Doreen Cronin & Betsy Lewin
Sheep in and Jeep by Nancy Shaw
“There are Rocks in my Socks!” Said the Ox to the Fox by Patricia Thomas
The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
Character Education:
The Sneetches by Dr Seuss
When Sophie Gets Angry-Really, Really, Angry... by Molly Bang
A Big Fat Enormous Lie by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Just the Way You Are by Marcus Pfister
Smile a Lot! by Nancy Carlson
When I’m Feeling Happy by Trace Maroney
Words Are Not for Hurting by Elizabeth Verdick
Back To School:
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
A Pocket Full of Kisses by Audrey Penn
Just For Fun:
Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Good Night Goon A Petrifying Parody by Michael Rex
Because a Littte Bug went Ka-Choo! by Rosetta Stone
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina (My kids LOVE to gather hats turn this story into a play!)
Underwear! by Mary Elise Monsell
Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner
Stone Soup by William Furstenberg 
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Meal-Time Activities: List Yourself

by Tiffany Rudd
My husband and I became good friends in Jr High and started dating when we were 16. When we were still in High School, my future mother-in-law gave us a fun gift that became a big part of our dating years. She gave us each a  book called List Your Self for Kids by Ilene Segalove and Charlotte Blumenfeld. The subtitle says “Listmaking as a  fun Way to Get to Know Yourself”, but for us it became a really fun way to get to know each other. We would sit together, fill out our own list (no peeking!), and then share and end up laughing and talking about our answers. Sometimes the most random and even bizarre questions create a great opportunity for getting to know someone better. And, who should we want to know better than our family? So, take this opportunity to print off a list or two before dinner. If your children are older, make enough copies for everyone to fill out their own. If you have younger children, do the activity aloud as a family with mom or dad as scribe. I hope you have as much fun as we did and learn a little more about each other!

Click HERE to download 15 lists to use with your family!

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Parenting Tips: My Favorite Books to Read Aloud and Discuss with my Children

by Deborah Pace Rowley
(Tiffany reading to my children, before she had any of her own)
I love reading to my children. I loved reading their favorite picture books over and over again when they were small. But I almost can’t wait until my children are old enough to listen to a longer story read aloud. Children are usually ready to sit and listen to a chapter in a compelling novel by the time they are about five, long before they are able to read a book that big on their own.  I love to see their excitement to begin each night’s reading. I love to hear them beg for just one more chapter. I love to discuss the powerful ideas presented in the books together. I usually continue our read aloud tradition until my kids are about 11 or 12. That is when they begin sneaking chapters without me. They are off and reading everything they can find on their own. Here are a few of my favorite books to read aloud. I have listed them in order from simplest and shortest to longest and most complex. The first books listed in each category can be read to children from 5 to 8 years old. The books listed last in each category can be read to children from 8 or 9 to 11 years old.  Nothing fosters discussion about these significant topics like a good book. My absolute favorites are listed with a star.

About Love and Family Relationships
            Sarah, Plain and Tall
            The Little House in the Big Woods
*The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane- Get ready with a box of Kleenex as you read this amazing book. Kate DiCamillo is one of my favorite authors. You can’t go wrong with her books.
The Tale of Despereaux-
The Inventions of Hugo Cabaret
*Heidi- It is fun to share an old classic with your children and then watch the movie based on the book together.
            The Secret Garden
            The Little Princess
About Growing Up and Finding Yourself
            The Hundred Dresses
Dealing with Dragons
Love, Ruby Lavender
*The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs-We all laughed at this sweet and surprising story. Then we tried to figure out what our seven wonders are.
Ella Enchanted
Where the Red Fern Grows
*The Chronicles of Narnia- This is a family tradition. All of our children have been read the seven books in the Narnian Series. We love to discuss the Christian symbolism in the stories together.
            Gregor the Overlander
The Mysterious Benedict Society
About Race Relationships
*Twenty and Ten- I read this to Katie when she was 7. It is a little scary but not too scary and I have been amazed at how often it comes up in conversation and how it has influenced her.                   
Number the Stars
A Pocketful of Seeds
*The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had- I just discovered this powerful story about the friendship between a white boy and a black girl in Alabama in 1920. I plan to read it to my class every year. 
            The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963
*Hitler’s Canary- I love this story based on the true account of how the Danish people resisted Hitler to protect their Jewish neighbors.  It leads to amazing discussions about how we would respond if a certain ethnic group was threatened.
            The Devil’s Arithmetic
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