Wednesday, January 30, 2013

10 Valentine's Day Books for Your Little Ones


I'm a sucker for Valentine's Day. 

Maybe it's the timing or the fun sparkly pink & red hearts everywhere (or both), but coming in the midst of a dark, wet winter, Valentine's Day is a bright, shiny distraction that I look forward to every year. 

This year, in an attempt to pull myself out of what the Happiest Mom calls "a mom funk," I'm using Valentine's Day, with all its warmth and glitter, to motivate me to love more deeply those people most important in my life. 
I have created a Valentine's Day table to inspire more love in our family and intend to share it with you very soon!

On my Valentine's Day table--easily accessible for the kiddos--are some of my favorite children's books associated with the holiday as well as other wonderful books about love.

Here are 10 of our favorite Valentine's Day {and every day} books:

(1) I Love You, Little One by Nancy Tafuri

The perfect book for when your little one asks either out loud or with that expression on her face, "Mama, do you love me?" {Do you know that look?} The answer of course is "forever, and ever, and always." A sweet book beautifully illustrated. A must for every home library.

(2) God Gave Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren

This is a favorite baby shower gift (along with #4). The conversations between Mama and Little Cub as she shares with her child how she came to be and how she & Papa prepared for her arrival is precious. My favorite line: "She felt happy and safe because God had given her--little her--to Mama and Papa, and they wouldn't trade her for the world."

(3) Yummiest Love by Lisa McCourt

I found this book at the library and fell in love with it because of how closely it resembles my relationship with my girls. It so captures the sweet intimacy between parent & child: "I love your never-ending surprises. Like when you hate broccoli. Then it's your favorite. Then you hate it. Then it's your favorite." {Can you relate?}


(4) Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

I received this book at a baby shower for our first child. The illustrations highlight the sweet relationship between father and son, Big & Little Nutbrown Hare, as they attempt to show how much each loves the other: "I love you right up to the moon--and back."

(5) The Valentine Bears by Eve Bunting

Another library find that is perfect for Valentine's Day. It details the love relationship between two bears who wake up in the midst of hibernation to celebrate Valentine's Day together. My kids love the "Crispy Critters" (crunchy dried beetles and bugs) the bears share together: "And then they went to sleep again until Spring."

(6) The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Most people are familiar with this sweet book chronicling Chester Raccoon's first day night of school and the pain of leaving his mother. I try to read this book to my girls before they start on a new adventure, whether a new activity, school, or class, so we can talk about how Mama and Daddy's (as well as God's) love follows them wherever they go: "Chester loved his Kissing Hand. Now he knew his mother's love would go with him wherever he went. Even to school."

(7) A Pocket Full of Kisses by Audrey Penn

The sequel to The Kissing Hand, this precious book is perfect for families about to add a new baby to the mix. As Chester Raccoon questions his mother's love and how she can love both him and baby brother, we see how Mrs. Raccoon soothes her oldest son's fears by teaching him that her love is limitless: "No matter how many Kissing Hands I give you and Ronny, I will never, ever run out." 


(8) And I Love You by Ruth Krauss

Beautifully illustrated by Steven Kellogg (Is Your Mama a Llama?), this book is about the intimacy of mother and child (cat and kitten), which is deepened by reading together. I love the rhythms and cadence: "Big little trees...big little flowers...big little monkeyshines...and I love you."

(9) Valentine's Day Is... by Gail Gibbons

Anytime we study a new season or holiday or anything science-related, I reach for Gail Gibbons. Her books are informative but in a child-friendly way with colorful illustrations and hands-on projects. This book is no exception: it explains the history of Valentine's Day: the origins, how people celebrate it, and why it's a special holiday. My favorite part: the "How to Make Your Own Valentines & Valentine Box" at the end. Definitely check this one out!

(10) I Love You Because You're You by Liza Baker

My oldest daughter is a people-pleaser {like her mama}, and I want her to know that no matter how many times she disobeys or is unkind, she is always loved by her daddy and me. This book so sweetly reassures little ones of their parents' unconditional love: "I love you any way you feel, no matter what you do. I love you any way you are. I love you because you're you." 

What's your favorite Valentine's Day (or love-related) book for children?

Come back next week when I will share with you our Valentine's Day table/reading area.

For more Valentine's Day ideas, check out my Pinterest board

{This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting my blog!}

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Monday, January 28, 2013

A Fun Way to Show Him You Love Him: Create a Love Letter Scavenger Hunt

Last week I shared 7 ways to verbally affirm our husbands plus 3 words of caution. 

This week, as part of the "Be My Valentine Challenge" at Women Living Well, we are being creative in our praise.

Let me warn you, I am NOT creative, which is why I have no fashion sense or find it hard to be resourceful. I'm all about practical and useful, but creative I am not nor will I ever be. Fortunately, my husband isn't so interested in my creativity and likely neither is yours if you find yourself in the same boat.

So, here's my very simple attempt to show love to my husband in a non-traditional way:

Create a daily scavenger hunt with love notes for each day of the week!

So, while cutting out construction paper hearts with my daughter, I made a few extras for Daddy. 

Then, I added a simple but sweet message to each one and folded it in half.


Need some ideas?
  • I love how you have a heart for your family.
  • I love that you help me clean up the kitchen at night. 
  • I love your fun-loving nature; it sure makes life more interesting!
  • I love how you calm me down when I'm frustrated & overwhelmed.
  • I love how generous you are with your time, money, & energy. 
  • I love how affectionate you are with the girls and me.
  • I love how cute you are. You still make me melt.
  • I love your cheesy sense of humor. 
  • I love how you're a hard worker.
  • I love how you drop everything for me.
Now, each day, I will put one heart in a different location, kind of like a grown-up scavenger hunt. {He's a big kid, so I think he'll like it.}

I will let you know how this turns out!

Do you struggle with being creative?  
What creative ways have you found to show your husband you love him? 

I'm praying God's richest blessings for you this week!


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Linking up with:  The Better Mom, Raising Arrows, Mama Moments Monday, The Modest Mom, Time-Warp Wife, Teach Me Tuesdays, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Top 10 Tuesday, Leaving a Legacy, Women Living Well WednesdaysRaising Homemakers, Raising Mighty Arrows

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Weekly Wrap-Up: A New Adventure

I want to start a new weekly wrap-up post to be featured every Saturday to include the following:
  • What I've Been Doing This Week
  • What I've Posted
  • Favorite Posts I've Read
  • Goals Accomplished
  • Goals for Next Week

What I've Been Doing This Week...

 I finished one of my goals for the year: Organizing all my recipes. Now I have two binders filled with recipes and sufficiently organized. I ended up using page protectors to house recipes from magazines and think that made the task so much simpler.

My oldest daughter has been struggling with anger issues this week, so I've been working on an anger character study to do with her. I'm in the final stages of completing it, and once it's finished intend to post it on here for anyone interested.

My husband and I signed up to run our first 5K in March, so we've been hitting the gym to train. I found a great {free} podcast on iTunes called Blog Marketing Podcast with Hector Cuevas. It's given me some food for thought as I run and cook dinner.

The week ended with the baby and me coming down with colds, my parents coming for a visit, and catching up with a friend who just had a baby. Right now, my husband is taking the oldest to swim at the Y {daddy-daughter date}.

What I've Posted...







Favorite Posts I've Read...

{I've pinned these posts. If you aren't already, follow me on Pinterest.}

Goals Accomplished...

1. Read through page 625 in Anna Karenina 
2. Run 3x this week
3. Finish recipe binder
4. Blog 3x

Goals for Next Week...

1. Finish Anna Karenina
2. Run 3x this week
3. Blog at least 3x
4. Finish anger character study & post

Have a great weekend!!

How was your week? 

What do you do about anger issues in children? Any sources you recommend?

Have you ever read Anna Karenina? Thoughts? 

Do you have a favorite podcast?

Do you like weekly round-ups?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

How to Use Bible Story Books with Young Children: 7 Fun Ways

Yesterday, I posted on 5 of our favorite Bible story books for young children


Today, I want to offer you 7 suggestions for ways to use Bible story books with your young children.

(1) Read to them.   

Duh, right? But if you're like me and have oodles of Bibles and Bible story books on your shelves and aren't reading them, why not? Some days I let them pick out a Bible story from each of their books and we'll read them at breakfast time. I've found that reading while the kids are eating ensures their attention because (1) they have food to occupy (and quiet) them and (2) they can't get up and move around. 

On days when Mama needs to eat too, we will have a Bible devo time after breakfast when we read from the Bible story book, sing, and pray together. Find what works best for you in your current season and go with it!

(2) Let them read to you.  

Okay, so if you have really young children who can't yet read, this mean seem ridiculous, but honestly, my 4- and 2-year-olds LOVE to "read" to their baby sister and me. At this point, they know a lot of the basic Bible stories and simply repeat them, and the ones they don't know, they make up, using the illustrations as a guide in telling the story. 

I love it too because (1) I see how much their little brains have retained, (2) they get such a sense of pride in "reading" to each other, and (3) some of the stories they come up with are downright hilarious (not biblically accurate, per se, but funny and allow for discussion).

(3) Use to teach a character lesson.  

We've been having some issues with anger and jealousy lately, and I've found the Bible story books very helpful in identifying stories to share what God has to say about those character flaws. The Beginners Bible has a topical index, so I just have to search "anger" to find 10 different stories I can read to them. 

(4) Have kids illustrate a story.  

On days when the kids want to draw or paint, I might have them pick out a Bible story and get their artistic juices flowing while listening to it. Giving them something to do while listening helps them to (1) sit still and (2) express creatively what the story means to them. Plus, we've had some excellent artwork come from this exercise.


(5) Practice sitting still & being quiet.   

As I've mentioned in a previous post, our church doesn't offer children's church, so it's imperative that our kids learn to sit quietly and still. To teach them this necessary skill, I have the girls spend a few minutes sitting quietly on the couch with a Bible story book to look at. They can "read" quietly or flip through the pages.No talking or moving around is allowed. 

The Bibles (1) give them something to focus on and (2) keep their hands occupied for the set duration.


(6) Dramatize the stories.  

We have only done this a handful of times, but acting out the Bible stories--with or without costumes and props--is a good way to imprint the story in their minds. My oldest has fond memories of dramatizing David & Goliath over and over and over again, and she learned more about the Bible characters through role-playing. We definitely need to do more of this!

(7) For their own Bible study times.  

Our kids imitate what they see. When my darlings wake up early, they sometimes see Mama reading her Bible and praying. If it isn't too early, then I ask them to sit quietly and look at their books while I have "my Bible study time." So, it wasn't surprising when I caught my eldest having her own Bible study time "just like Mama." Be still my heart.

Now, if a child wakes up when I'm still reading my Bible, she knows she can get her own Bible out and have quiet time with God.  

How do you encourage your kids to delve into God's Word when they aren't quite reading yet on their own?

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

5 Bible Story Books for Preschoolers & Toddlers

When our girls were born, my parents bought them each their very first Bible. Since then, every Christmas, I add a Bible or Bible story book to their collection. Honestly, I love books, and what's the best book for children? The Bible of course!

All of the girls' Bibles and Bible story books are located on the bookshelf in our living room where they can easily access them at their leisure. We do talk about the proper way to handle books, especially God's Word, and if they are caught abusing the book, it is promptly taken away. {Our older girls are 4 and 2, so this is still an issue.} But they know their Bibles are special and to treat them with respect.

While we have over a dozen children's Bibles and Bible story books, these are our 5 favorites:

(1) The New Bible in Pictures of Little Eyes by Kenneth N. Taylor

I first heard about this Bible from Tauna at Proverbial Homemaker a while back, but I filed the title away and bought it for our eldest daughter at Christmas this past year. {FYI: Taylor also wrote Big Thoughts for Little People: ABC's to Help You Grow, an excellent Bible-based ABC book that I highly recommend.}  

The beauty of this Bible story book is the combination of great illustrations and easy language that introduce children to profound biblical truths in a simple but profound way. I especially love that each story is written in a conversational style so children feel like you're talking to them, not at them. Plus, there are questions at the end to see what they children retained. Bonus!

(2) The Bible in Pictures for Toddlers by Ella K. Lindvall


I wanted to get our middle daughter (age 2) her own Bible story book, but she really needed something small, of sturdy construction, and with very short stories. This book, which was inspired by Kenneth N. Taylor's The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes, is perfect for children ages 1-4. The illustrations are colorful and fun, and the stories are brief and easy to follow but also engaging for young children. My two-year-old loves to carry hers around the house, and the soft almost puffy cover is perfect for rough and rowdy toddlers.

(3) The Beginners Bible by Karyn Henley

This was the first Bible story book I ever bought. We have read through its 95 stories countless times. The cartoon-like characters and easy-to-read (and listen to) stories appeal to my girls and their short attention spans. I especially like the topical index in the front of the book, so if the girls are dealing with anger issues, I can turn right to several stories addressing that topic. It makes life so much easier. {I don't know about you but when I'm trying to think of something on the spot, I usually can't do it.}

(4) Read and Learn Bible: Stories from the Old and New Testaments by the American Bible Society

This is Annabeth's first Bible from her grandparents, but it was quickly "usurped" by her older sisters since she's still a baby. While this Bible is geared toward older children (ages 5-8), the text is easy to understand even for a 3 or 4-year-old. The eye-catching illustrations are what appeal most to my girls, and my oldest will sit and "read" the stories based on the pictures. 

As a parent, I appreciate the Parent Pages in the back, which are an invaluable resource with devotional ideas, practical applications, and discussion topics. These pages have helped me share what the Bible says about topics like gratitude, forgiveness, and facing fears. This Bible is also unique in that it highlights and explains more in depth specific names, places, and things found in each story, adding another layer of understanding to God's Word.

(5) The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

I personally love this children's Bible because every story in it is connected to Jesus and illustrates how Christ is at the center of everything. The beautiful illustrations and unique page layouts have captivated my children. This book is more appropriate, in my opinion, for older children because the language is not as simplistic as in The Beginner's Bible or The Bible in Pictures for Toddlers, but my 4-year-old "gets it" and especially enjoys the stories of Abraham & Isaac and Jesus' Crucifixion.

These are our favorite Bible story books. What about YOU? What are YOUR favorite Bible story books for young kids?

Come back tomorrow when I will share 7 fun & practical ways we use our Bible story books throughout the week!

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