Sometime between age three and four, we began reading chapter books aloud to our daughter. Now, as a five-year-old, she has an insatiable appetite for good books. I’m compiling a list of twaddle-free chapter books, old and new, to read aloud. Keep in mind that I chose to do a little editing with a few of these but it was very minor. I’ll be updating this list as we go along, so check this post again soon for new additions.
1.Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner | A.A. Milne
2. The Littles | John Peterson
3. Stuart Little | E.B. White
4. “B” is for Betsy | Carolyn Haywood
5. A Mouse Called Wolf | Dick King-Smith
6. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland | Lewis Carrol
7. Tumtum & Nutmeg series | Emily Bearn
8. A Nest for Celeste | Henry Cole
9. The Incredible Journey | Shelia Burnford
10. James and the Giant Peach | Roald Dahl
11. Fantastic Mr. Fox | Roald Dahl
12. The Story of Doctor Dolittle | Hugh Lofting
13. Coyote Autumn | Bill Wallace
14. Mary Poppins | P.L. Travers
15. Little House in the Big Woods | Laura Ingalls Wilder
16. Raggedy Ann Stories | Johnny Gruelle
17. African Adventures | Dick Anderson
18. My Father’s Dragon series | Ruth Stiles Gannett
19. Mr. Popper’s Penguins | Richard Atwater
20. The Indian in the Cupboard | Lynn Reid Banks
21. The Hundred Dresses | Eleanor Estes
What are your family’s favorites? We’d love to enjoy them too!
For the last three years, our family has observed Advent with both a wreath and Jesse Tree ornaments. The ritual has woven beautifully into our Christmas season and has been a tangible way for our daughter to grasp the narrative of the story from Creation to the birth of Christ. After some conversations about how we might be more intentional in our celebration of Easter, we’re incorporating the idea for this season as well.
Several years ago, I read No Ordinary Home: The Uncommon Art of Christ-Centered Homemaking by Carol Brazo. (I can’t recommend this book enough!) She explains how her family began the practice of celebrating Easter with a Lent Tree. The book was one I borrowed from the library but I discovered that Andrea’s family has used the same resource and she was kind enough to post a list of the daily readings and suggested corresponding symbols. (Click over to her post for the daily readings.) Her family has gathered objects for the ornaments – something we might try once our children are a little older – but since our five-year old is into coloring these days, I opted for simplicity. I’m sketching ornaments for each day to cut out and color. They could be hung on a Lent Tree (dried branches or twigs) or strung on a garland. I am behind on getting these scanned and formatted properly, so I’m playing a bit of catch-up but we’d love to share them with you. The first sixteen days are ready to print. I’ll be adding the others as we go along. We’ll be doing more than one a day for a day or two to catch up. It’s not too late to begin! To print your own, simply right-click on each page below. Print each page as an 8×10 or smaller for best print quality. You can copy and paste them into a Word document, resize each image/page to 8×10, and print them all at once if that’s easier. Hope you enjoy!
When I first began blogging, I had
expectations delusions about how frequently I would post, and the amount of time such an undertaking might require. Then I did my homework. I’ve read countless articles on search engine optimization, etiquette, and finding your niche. It’s a bit overwhelming to learn that readers have expectations, and if you want to “succeed”, you must deliver fresh, original content almost daily, employ all the devices of social media, take stunning photographs, stay within your niche, and comment on a lot of blogs. Unfortunately, I don’t think the experts are putting us on. Their advice is good advice. If followed, yes, I might one day have a popular, widely read blog “just like so-and-so”. I might also feel a bit like I’m juggling motherhood alongside a fulltime job that I do not feel the Lord has called me to in this particular season of life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with working a full-time job or earning money from blogging. There’s a good chance “so-and-so with the popular blog” is doing exactly what she’s meant to be doing in this season of her life. It’s just not my season. So what principles are shaping my blogging habits these days?
Live now. Blog later.
In my current season, editorial calendars and long-range plans must be embraced as tools, not cowered to as masters. I had plans for a post yesterday but a certain small someone woke with visions of heart garlands and pink cupcakes dancing in her head. We spent an entire afternoon preparing sweet Valentines for her classmates. Blogging didn’t happen. I get to celebrate Valentines Day with her five-year-old self one time. Heck if I’m missing that. When the last birdie flies the nest, I won’t look back and wish I had more blog followers.
Don’t blog in a box.
I understand the importance of finding your niche. If I woke up tomorrow and decided to shift the focus of my content to carburetors for the rest of 2013, you would be confused, at best. That’s extreme. However, I’m trying to be careful not to define myself as a “__________ blogger”. (Insert whatever word comes to mind.) My interests and loves are wide. I don’t want to blog my way into a corner, so to speak. My primary focus is celebrating beautiful messy everyday sort of grace. Noticing the seemingly small. Cultivating gratitude. In our home, that looks different from one day to the next. I’ve noticed that my favorite blogs – the ones I still make time to read when I’m short on time – are the ones that surprise me. Each post, no matter how infrequent, is like a beautifully wrapped gift to the reader. Anything could be inside. I love that.
Embrace the white space.
We all need margin in our lives. Just because I have a free minute, doesn’t mean I should necessarily fill it with writing, or anything else. I’m slow to learn this. Our children need some of our white space – pockets of time, un-hurried and untainted by distraction. For me, in this season, this looks like closing the laptop and putting it away for purposeful stretches of time during their waking hours. I’m learning that for me, multi-tasking is really just an excuse not to be still.
Give and receive grace.
Sometimes our plans don’t work out. At the beginning of the year, I had aspirations of beginning a scripture art journal and hosting a monthly link-up. I even announced it. January came and went. My littles were sick umpteen times. I did not create a single piece of art. February isn’t looking to good either. Please accept my apologies. Thank you for your grace.
The seasons of our lives are as varied as the little people we parent. No two are exactly alike. There is no shortage of seemingly good advice on mothering and blogging in our media saturated culture. For your family, in your season, be careful not to exchange the good for the best. Let’s be gentle with ourselves and one another. Only you (and the Lord) know your current season. If you’re struggling with how (or if) blogging fits, ask Him to show you how you might best invest your time. Then walk freely along the path He leads. And remember – it’s a season.