Category: Children’s Book Reviews

The Family Reading List {February 2017}

Family Reading List (february) (1)

Oh, y’all. We have had a good month of reading. Our bookshelves are oozing with a curation of interesting books, magazines, and graphic novels. Here are some of our faves.

Anaya’s Reading List (3.5 years old)

The Saddest Toilet in the World

Sam Apple

Although Anaya has been potty-trained for a LONG TIME, she adores books about potty-training. Probably because bodily functions are hilarious. She thrives on pushing the envelope of decency and humor. I will not surprised if she ends up being a stand-up comedian.

A quick synopsis goes like this: Kid doesn’t want to sit on the toilet, toilet gets sad and leaves home, boy misses toilet and family searches the city to find it. Preschoolers will love it. Parents can tolerate it.

Others to try out:

Louise and Andie: The Art of Friendship
Daniel Tiger: Nighttime in the Neighborhood
In My Heart: A Book of Feelings

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The Radical Book for Kids: Exploring the Roots and Shoots of Faith

I have a confession:

I have a hard time liking Christian books for kids.

I WANT to like them. I want to provide my kids age-appropriate tools that will help them to grow in their relationship with God– communicating to them the depths of God’s love for them, while also not being cheesy.

Apparently this is a tall order.

One of my friends recently posted this question to a Facebook group that we’re a part of:

I have two kids who are two and three years old. Does anyone have any suggestions for age-appropriate books or cartoons that come from a progressive Christian perspective?

I struggled to think of a response. Not just for 2-3 year olds, but for older kids too.

Because of this difficulty, I’m particularly excited to share this book recommendation for kids ages 8-14. And while I’m not sure I’d throw it into the progressive category, it comes closer than most.

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The Radical Book for Kids: Exploring the Roots and Shoots of Faith, is a book that helps kids grow in their understanding of the Bible, spiritual practices, and knowledge of Christian history. The author also throws some crazy stuff in there like how to make pottery, building a sundial, and learning the greek alphabet- because learning about the roots of our faith can be really fun!

Format:

This hardcover book is divided into 67 short, 2-3 page chapters. Each page is filled with colorful illustrations and has a good sense of design. The style reminds me of books like Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Guinness Book of World Records for Kids, or sport statistic books: colorful, engaging, short chapters that don’t mess around with too many words.

Content:

The content is engaging, fun, smart, and hits on a variety of topics.

For word nerds, they’ll love learning the greek (and hebrew!) alphabet, becoming familiar with some common latin phrases, and learning about ancient texting (LOL! FRT).

For kids who care a lot about friends and relationships, there are chapters on friendship, relationship with parents, and dealing with enemies.

I know there are some kids who just want to DO and TRY and EXPERIMENT. For these kids, they’ll learn how to make a sundial, pottery, and a slingshot, among other things.

Most of the rest of the chapters dive into questions about God, spiritual practices, theology, and how to read Scripture in a way that honors the intent of the author.

There’s no guilt, no “shoulds”, no mention of demanding obedience out of fear of hell or damnation or God’s unhappiness with them.

Instead, it’s written with a tone of curiosity and conversation, focused on God’s love and rescue plan for all of creation. Sure, a part of that story is sin, death and Satan, but ultimately, the author is writing from a perspective of the bigger picture- God’s redemptive plan. The author says:

By now it should be clear that Christianity is not a religion that’s a list of advice for you to do. No, instead Christianity brings news of what Jesus has already done. It’s not about the accomplishment of your good works; it’s about the announcements of his good works.

I love it! And this is a perspective that’s missing from many books I review for kids. The temptation in these faith-based kid books are to focused good works because that’s what applies right then and there. We want our kids to obey and do the right thing. That makes sense.

BUT, without constantly putting in front of them the bigger picture- the more important picture, frankly, the gospel turns into this mucky, weird, shame-laden relationship with God that is messy to reverse later on in life.

The gospel is not good advice. It’s good news. The author gets that.

My Recommendation

I highly recommend this book for kids who are interested in learning a little more about the roots of their faith and how they can lean into the good news of the Kingdom of God and their journey with God!

Thanks to the publisher for this review copy! All these thoughts are honest and wholly mine :).

Brave Girls: Beautiful You {book review}

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Brave Girls: Beautiful You is a 90-Day Devotional written for elementary-aged girls.

Each day, girls read a one-page devotional designed to help them see that beauty starts on the inside, and that God created them to love Him, themselves, and one another.

How It’s Set Up

Each week is themed around a different aspect of beauty- fashion, creativity, fitness, serving others. One Brave Girl (Gracie, Hope, or Glory) introduces the theme at the beginning of the week along with 15 devotions following the theme. Each Brave Girl has their own personality and own style- a super girly girl, an athletic type, and a girl who loves to create. (more…)

Glimmer Girls: A Dolphin Wish {children’s book review}

 

Aly is in arm’s reach of turning 7, and her love for fiction is as strong as ever. While she loves playing outside, hanging with her friends, and playing with her siblings, the day would not be complete without her snuggling under her covers as the sun goes down to either read or listen to a good story.

As Aly’s interest in her faith gradually increases, I’ve been trying to find some interesting, faith-based books that would also nurture her soul. I’m at the beginning stages of this, and so the first series we’re trying out is the Glimmer Girls. This series is by Natalie Grant, and it’s a set of stories about the adventures of 3 sisters- twins, Mia and Maddie, and their little sister Lulu- as they travel around the country with their famous singing momma, their producer dad, and their nanny, Miss Julia.

[The general parallel to the author’s life is not lost on me– Natalie is a famous christian music artist who has 3 daughters- two of them being twins. I think it’s funny that the stories mirror that part of her life, and I can’t help but wonder if these adventure stories started out as bedtime stories for her girls!]

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In this particular story, A Dolphin Wish (book #2), the family is on vacation in San Diego when they hear that the animal handlers at Captain Swashbuckler’s Adventure Park are having trouble keeping the animals in their right habitats. The girls smell a mystery, and they jump in, while getting into mischief along the way.

I read a good portion of it to Aly aloud, and while she was happy to cuddle up and read with me, we were both having trouble getting into the book. The writing is just fine, and the characters seem quite likable, but we both felt like it just couldn’t hold our interest. We decided to circle back around to this series in a couple years, but until then, we continue our quest for some interesting, faith-based books!

Are there any faith-based fiction books that your son or daughter has really enjoyed?? We’d love to hear about them!

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for the review copy! 

 

Book Review: Parable Treasury by Liz Curtis Higgs

parable treasury

The Parable Treasury (by Liz Curtis Higgs) is a compilation of 4 full-length books, one for each season of the year.

In each story, we’re given a life lesson, using examples from the changing seasons.

  • The Parable of the Lily tells a story of Easter forgiveness.
  • The Sunflower Parable uses harvest time to talk about how we can share God’s love with others.
  • The Pumpkin Patch Parable shows how God can make us new from the inside out.
  • Pine Tree Parable (which is my favorite) is a story about generosity.

Each of the stories includes verses of Scripture at the bottom, connecting each part of the story to a Scripture verse. While some of the verses work, others are a stretch. I get nervous about using Scripture in this way– pulling it out of context and relating it to something that is completely unrelated. For example, in the Pine Tree Parable, the text on the page says, “The next holiday season brought more neighbors to the farm. The perfect tree was taller than ever.” The Scripture at the bottom? “So the tree was taller than all the other trees in the field. Ezekiel 31:5” Do you know what happens just 5 verses later of that chapter? The wicked tree gets handed over to the enemies for its wickedness and pride, and the foreign nations cuts it down. Whoops! Pretty sure the editors should have thought that one through a little better.  🙂

Some may argue that these kinds of things won’t really matter. But I disagree. I think these types of elements of books teach kids to use the Scriptures to support what they want to support instead of looking at the true meaning of the passages. If our kids see this type of thing enough times, they may start thinking that by slapping a verse onto something, regardless of what it really means, will add God’s magic fairy dust to their lives. I want something much more for them than that.

Higgs has a gentle way of sharing wholesome stories that children who are interested in nature can relate to. While I really love the Pine Tree Parable story, I’m not as big of a fan as the other stories. They’re certainly winsome, but a little to wrapped up in a bow for my tastes.

Overall, I would not recommend this book. There are plenty of other good children’s books out there that don’t proof text with Scripture!

I received this book for free from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Winning, Losing, and Why My Mom Stopped Playing Games With Me

Today I’m over at Play Eat Grow, sharing some thoughts on Lysa Terkeurst’s new children’s book, Win or Lose I Love You as well as answering some questions on what it means to teach and shape our kids’ hearts as it relates to the Scriptures.

winorlosebookcover

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“I Win!!!”

These two words can create chaos out of calm in 5 seconds flat.

I must admit- I’m a recovering sore-loser. I still remember playing Hi Ho Cherrio as a kid with my mom, and totally losing it when I lost. SO MANY TEARS. My mom eventually told me that she wouldn’t play any more games with me.

And she didn’t for several years.

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Read more: Winning, Losing, and Why My Mom Stopped Playing Games With Me

Review: The Legend of the Christmas Cookie

I have a really important, dead serious question to ask you, dear reader…

How soon is too soon to start blogging about Christmas?? 🙂

For some of you, this post is too soon and I’m offending your holiday-timeline sensibilities. Totally get that. But, for the rest of you- read on.

What a sweet book about what really matters at Christmas! A must read for families with young kids.

Today I’m giving a quick review of The Legend of the Christmas Cookie: Sharing the True Meaning of Christmas. Last year I gave you my thoughts on The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving as well as The Legend of the Candy Cane: A Inspirational Story of Our Favorite Christmas Candy. I’ve been feeling like my blog has been a bit incomplete without including the other Christmas legend books for kids, so here you go!  (more…)

Review: Paper Good Projects- a super make-it book

Repurposing stuff is kind of our thing around here.

I’m not talking about sanding and repainting an old dresser and making it into a brightly covered kitchen china cabinet. That’d be awesome, but it’s not really in our skill set.

I’m talking about turning cardboard into an awesome set of shelves, a chair, and a house for grasshoppers. We use old rootbeer bottles for our airtank on the back of astronaut suits. We make monsters out of paper bags. Our fun crafts aren’t really made to pass the test of time, but we do it because it’s fun and creative.

papergood

Paper Good Projects is a craft book with the ordinary materials in mind. Jodi Levine (on staff at Martha Stewart) uses a few ordinary supplies to make a wide array of crafts. Paper towel tubes, coffee filters, balloons and paper bags turn into cake toppers, masks, villages, dollhouse decorations and centerpieces.

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Book Review: Thankful

Fall is coming and I am READY. I love wearing hoodies, watching football, and walking through crunchy red and orange leaves. There’s something about fall that brings back all the memories of fresh starts, new school years, great friends, and enjoying the outdoors. It’s my happy place.

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They say not to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to children’s books, I often do :). The book cover of Eileen Spinelli’s new book, Thankful, encapsulates most of what I love about autumn, so I decided to give it a review!

The cover, indeed, is a bit deceiving. It has nothing at all to do with fall (sad face), but I liked it anyway. It’s a whimsical book about being thankful for the everyday activities- green sprouts, water play, fun words, good appetites, and afternoon tea. Each everyday blessing is pictured as a brother and sister playing with one another- playing doctor, digging in the garden, eating dinner, etc. I love that each of the featured enjoyments can be shared by most kids, regardless of their location or income level or anything else that often creates differences in kids’ daily experiences.

Watch this video to get a little peak inside!

Eileen Spinelli has written over 40 children’s books, one of which I’ve reviewed in the past. This is the illustrator’s (Archie Preston) first book!

 

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for the opportunity to review this book!