Category Archives: Book Recommendations

Free Vintage Drawing Book!

Here’s a wonderful, whimsical freebie to help kids (and parents!) learn to draw.

draw

What to Draw and How to Draw was written in 1913 by E.G. Lutz and is one of the public domain books from the New York Public Library on Open Archive online.

The 78-page book is full of old-fashioned, simple drawings for children, such as a castles, fish, birds, cats, all different people and toy soldiers, among many others.

The book also contains simple instructions such as how to paint in watercolor, draw a five-pointed star and create ovals and ellipses.

Here are a few of the whimsical drawing lessons.

draw3

draw6

draw2

The book is copyright free and was uploaded by volunteers. You can read it online with your kids, or download it as a free pdf file, e-reader file, Kindle ebook, and more.

draw1

draw7

draw9

draw10

Have fun!

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Filed under Book Recommendations, crafts, printables

20 Children’s Books That Are a Joy to Read Aloud

There are a million reasons why we read to our children.  The best books contain wonderful art, engaging stories, rich vocabulary and something that just makes kids (and their grown ups) feel good.  They also are the kind of book you don’t mind reading again and again to your kiddos. 

Here’s 20 books that we return to over and over because they do that for us.  🙂 

(Note: I haven’t separated these into age levels because I really think great books transcend age and families often read together.  The majority are picture books.  I’ll post a list of recommended chapter books for older kids soon.)

  1. A Fairy Went A-Marketing (a must own, as far as I’m concerned!)
  2. Miss Rumphius
  3. Kiss the Cow
  4. There’s a Nightmare in My Closet
  5. Mama, Do You Love Me?
  6. Please Baby Please
  7. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
  8. Hop on Pop (my favorite for helping reading “click” for kids)
  9. More! More! More! Said the Baby
  10. Anything (Pooh or poetry) by A.A. Milne
  11. The Napping House
  12. Jamberry
  13. There’s a Frog in the Bog
  14. Anything by Sandra Boynton (but especially “But Not the Hippopotamus”)
  15. Where the Wild Things Are
  16. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
  17. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
  18. Silly Sally
  19. Big Momma Makes the World
  20. Do’s and Don’ts (and others by Todd Parr)

This is just a drop in the bucket in terms of our favorites, and mostly off the top of my head.  I’m sure I’ll think of 20 more that should have been on the list as soon as I hit post!

Want to share your favorite read-alouds?  Please add them in the comments!

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What Are Your Favorite Picture Books?

One of my favorite parts of motherhood is getting to enjoy picture books with my children.  I’ve been collecting good ones since before I had kids, and have far too many now but just can’t stop.

Here are some of my all-time favorites.

Do’s and Don’ts, by Todd Parr (totally silly and colorful fun!)


Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney (this book sums up my biggest goal in life)


There’s a Nightmare in My Closet, by Mercer Mayer


But Not the Hippopotamus, by Sandra Boynton (and just about anything else by Boynton!)


Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst


More, More, More! Said the Baby, by Vera B. Williams


Kiss the Cow, by Phyllis Root


Please, Baby, Please, by Spike and Tonya Lee


Big Momma Makes the World, by Phyllis Root

The Napping House, by Audrey Wood

Weird Parents, also by Audrey Wood

I could go on, but there’s a start!

What are favorites at your house?


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Children’s Favorite Novels: And the winner is….

I’ve compiled all the votes by children in the favorite read-aloud/novel round-up!  Thanks to all the kids who weighed in!

A note about scoring:  Some kids and parents had a hard time listing one book and listed more than one, sometimes many!  I didn’t want to leave out any great book suggestions, but many kids also narrowed things down to just one fabulous book and I wanted those ones to have special weight.  So I counted additional books with basically half a vote.  For instance, if someone said “Margaret says she votes for Harry Potter, but she also loves the Little House series” then I put down both books anyway, with the first entry getting double the weight.  I just couldn’t ignore books that were listed by enthusiastic readers (and even one girl who came back to rave about more!).

In some cases, children raved about certain writers even if they chose different books.  I grouped these together so people could seek out those authors.

The first 14 (in blue) all got multiple votes. Numbers 15 through 34 (in green) only got one vote but were listed as the child’s absolute favorites. From 35 (in orange) on are votes that were listed additionally with only one vote.

Many of these titles and authors are new to me, and many seem to be fantasy related.  Book series were also especially popular.

And now on with the list.  Keep in mind that we had all ages of children answering, so these range from toddlers to teens in readers!

  1. The “Harry Potter” series (one vote specifically for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, otherwise all for the series in general)
  2. The “Magic Treehouse” series (one vote specifically for Mummies in the Morning)
  3. Books by author Enid Blyton (in order of favorites: The Uncle Wiggly books, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Secret Seven series)
  4. The “Percy Jackson” series
  5. The “Narnia” series (one vote specifically for The Magician’s Nephew)
  6. The “His Dark Materials” trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass)
  7. The “Little House on the Prairie” series
  8. The “Baby Mouse” series
  9. The “Ivy and Bean” series
  10. Books by author Kate Di’Camillo (one vote specifically for the Mercy Watson books)
  11. The Inheritance Cycle
  12. The Wizard of Oz
  13. The “Warriors” series
  14. Chris D’Lacey books (The Dragons of Wayward Crescent was specified by one child)
  15. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  16. The “Eleven” series
  17. Specky McGee
  18. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
  19. Geronimo Stilton
  20. Black Beauty
  21. The Princess Academy
  22. The Doll People
  23. Raold Dahl books
  24. Daisy Dawson Is On Her Way
  25. Clue Me InThe Detective Work of Ethan Flask and Professor von Offel
  26. The “American Girl Samantha” series
  27. The Dark is Rising
  28. My Side of the Mountain
  29. The “Brainwaves” series
  30. Lauren Child books
  31. The “Junie B Jones” series
  32. John Deere books (Barney Blackhoe as one specific)
  33. The “Flatfoot Fox” series
  34. Lord of the Rings
  35. The “Nancy Drew” series
  36. The End of the Beginning
  37. The Wishing Tree
  38. Guardians of Ga’hoole
  39. Sabriel, Lireal and Abhorsen trilogy
  40. Uglies
  41. Little House on Rocky Ridge
  42. The Castle in the Attic
  43. Tut’s Mummy:  Lost… and Found
  44. Redwall
  45. The “Flower Fairy” books
  46. The Caterpillar Fight
  47. The “Charlie Bone” series
  48. The “Keys to the Kingdom” series
  49. Citizens of the Galaxy
  50. Clan of the Cave Bear (the teen warns that this is for more mature readers)
  51. Robert J. Sawyer books
  52. Calvin and Hobbes
  53. Miss Happiness and Miss Flower
  54. The Gypsy Girl
  55. Betsy-Tacy
  56. The “Boxcar Children” series
  57. The “Fairy Books”
  58. The “Horrid Henry” series
  59. Pippi Longstocking
  60. Ramona
  61. Anastasia (by Vladimir Megre, the teen reader notes that this is more of an adult book)
  62. Piers Anthony books
  63. The Diary of Anne Frank
  64. The “Christomanci” series
  65. Wayside School
  66. The Underland Chronicles
  67. Inkheart
  68. The Name of the Wind
  69. The “Paddington” books
  70. The Tiffany Aching Adventures (from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series)
  71. Ness the Nurse (chosen by two-year-old “S”!)

If you have more to add, feel free to plug them in the comments.  Thanks to all the kids who voted.

Happy reading!

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