Category: Children’s Book Reviews

Review: The Adventures of Rooney: Hannah, The Belle of Prayer

One afternoon a few weeks ago, I called Aly and Ada over to my desk because I wanted to read a book to them.

They were a bit confused because book and desktop computer don’t really make sense to them, but they came over anyway. They were curious. These ebooks are mysterious things! 🙂

Bible Belles Cover

I sat them down on my lap and read them a book coming out soon called The Adventures of Rooney Cruz:  Hannah- The Belle of Prayer by Erin Weidemann. We meet Rooney, a kind, spunky, modern day 9 year old girl.

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Review: The Beginner’s Bible All About Jesus Sticker and Activity Book

You all, I’m such a sucker for these things.

First, there was the Easter one… and then the Princess one (okay, so TWO of those). And now the All About Jesus Sticker and Activity Book (Zonderkidz). My kids just eat these up because they are fun and they love learning more about God through puzzles and coloring and drawing.

It’s no secret that we like the Beginner’s Bible around here. It’s our go-to Bible for kids 3 and under. The fact that this sticker book includes frames from that Bible, as well as the overall illustrative style makes this line of sticker books ALSO a favorite.

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In this particular book, kids learn about Jesus’ life through doing the various activities. It includes one full spread page where kids can color a picture of Jesus and the children, learn about how much Jesus loved to spend time with children and also get to play a little find and seek game (can they find all twelve squirrels hidden in the picture)?

So, while kids aren’t digging into the Scriptures or anything like that, working through this book is a great way for parents and kids to have conversations.

  • Had you heard about the story where Jesus tells his disciples that he loves when the children come to hang out with him?
  • What does it mean for Jesus to say that big people need to become like children to enter God’s kingdom?
  • Do you feel loved by our church community? By our family?

All About Jesus is geared toward the preschool crowd for sure. The activities consist of a lot of coloring, basic counting, super easy mazes, and matching. It’s priced at $3.99 (actually, it’s $2.13 on Amazon right now…), making it a very affordable resource! (Did I mention it has a big ‘ol page of (reusable) STICKERS??!!!)

 

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for providing a free book in exchange for an honest review. 

Review: NIV Faithgirlz Bible

As I’ve written about before, I’m on the hunt for a full-size Bible for Aly.

I didn’t become a Christian until middle school/junior high, and I was all into my teen Bibles. They helped make the Bible more interesting to me because the sidenotes and extra articles helped me to see how the Scriptures were relevant to my real life.

I’m hoping to find something like that for elementary kids too.

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Review: To The Sea {Graham Blanchard board book}

Graham Blanchard is a publishing company that focuses solely on the spiritual formation of kids. Over the past couple years, they’ve put out a whole slew of books surrounding the ideas of learning about God, forming their identity (absorbing the truth of who God says they are) and praising God.

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Callie Grant, founder of Graham Blanchard, has written a new book for the Praise Collection called To The Sea. A small boy takes a day trip to the beach, where he experiences all the wonders of the ocean- mighty waves, fizzling sea foam, salty water, and the fresh breeze. He also experiences the effects of the sea– his sand castle gets washed away- but he rebuilds it on higher, sturdier ground. Perfect for summer and perfect for infants-preschoolers, this book is written in rhyme and the illustrations (done in oil paintings) are EXCELLENT.

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To learn more about this book or to download the parent guide that goes with it. visit Graham Blanchard’s website. Also on the website, feel free to poke around, check out the prayer wall and sign up for their newsletter and receive A Parent’s Guide for Children Growing Up in God.

If you’re interested, you can read my reviews on some of their other books:

 

Review: Princess Joy: Sticker and Activity Book

A couple weeks ago I reviewed another sticker and activity book in this series (Princess Charity). I decided to review another one for a couple reasons:

1. The girls both wanted a book and because they are pretty thin, they aren’t the easiest book to share.

2. I wanted to see if they were so similar that if you had one, would it be worth getting another?

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So, Princess Joy Sticker and Activity Book (The Princess Parables) came in the mail yesterday, and in it we’re told about a Princess named Joy. The book is birthday themed: Joy invites the reader to help her decorate her birthday party invitation, her family decides to throw her a birthday party, and at the end, Joy decides that instead of getting gifts on her birthday, she’s going to give gifts to others. I don’t think I picked up on it last time, but apparently Joy and her sisters are a one parent family (her mom isn’t in the picture).

example page

The book includes many of the same activities as the other I reviewed: a small maze, some coloring and sticker pages, finding the difference between 2 pictures, and a word search. It also includes a “breaking the code” page and a counting page. I’d still say that this book is more for late preschool or early Kindergarten.

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If your child liked the Princess Charity sticker book, I think that this is different enough that she would enjoy this one too. I appreciated the simple message on generosity- it’s one of our family values!

 

 

Review: Princess Charity (The Princess Parables Series)

Remember that one time when I said I like to review books for girls that aren’t about princesses.

Well, sometimes I like to review books that ARE about princesses, especially when they involve stickers. Isn’t it amazing how fun stickers are to kids?

princess charity

Zonderkidz has a new series of 5 activity books called the Princess Parables (aimed at 4-8 year olds). It’s about a family of five princesses, the youngest of whom is highlighted in Princess Charity Sticker and Activity Book. Princess Charity loves animals, especially her horse Daisy.

stickers

Mostly, this book is about the activities, not a real story, which the girls were totally fine with. I think they don’t have the expectation of a story when the do activity and sticker books. The book includes:

  • Stickers: 50 reusable stickers are included, and you can put them anywhere you like in the scenes of the book. The stickers are quality!
  • Coloring: there are a few pages to color, one of them is color by number and the others are not.
  • Puzzles: It includes one easy dot-to-dot, one easy word search, and one easy maze. I’d say these are late preschool/Kindergarten appropriate level puzzles.

activities

As for the Christian aspect to the book, there are 2 mentions of God. One page talks about how God makes beautiful things in their kingdom, and then another page shares how the reader is a princess too because she is a daughter of The King.

If your daughter is into activity books, this would be one I’m sure she’d love :).

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the free book in exchange for an honest review!

Great Books when Traveling with Young Kids

Our family loves to get lost in books, but sometimes its hard to decide what to do with the non-independent readers of the group when we want to read on our own. We could always read to them, which we do a lot, or they could listen to a story on the iPod, which is also great, but only if you can manage to tune out the noise so that you can enjoy your own.

There are also those times when your readers don’t really FEEL like reading, but you’re all stuck in the car and they just need something to do to distract themselves while having fun.

Interactive books are a great way for kids to read in a different kind of way.

Interactive Books

Flap Books

For the youngest, flap books are the best. Kids have to find the flaps, of course look under each one a million times, and then turn the page again only to find a gazillion more flaps. In my opinion, the more flaps, the merrier.

Our favorites over the years have included Dragons (Usborne), The Seven Continents of the World, Little Pear Tree, Elmo’s Big Lift-And-look Book, Dora’s Lift and Look Book, and the whole set of Little People Life the Flap books.

Look & Find

A wide variety of these Look and Find books exist: easy, hard, and everywhere in-between. Some tell you what to find specifically, and others allow you to look and find things that are interesting to you! We even use the Mamoko one (below) to tell our own stories.

Our favorites include Littleland and Littleland Around the World, Where’s Waldo?, and The World of Mamoko in the Year 3000.

Magnetic

Magnetic books have hard pages that magnets can stick to. Many books have magnets that kids can use to “fill-in” missing pictures in the book.

Mostly we’ve used the Magnetic Learn and Play Counting book on road trips with all four kids! Their 2 year old selves have gotten the most fun out of it.

Doodle Books

Who says you can’t write in books?! Doodle books come in all kinds of themes. Some books are actually stories where kids can just fill in missing parts of the pictures. Other times, the pages are independent of one another and challenge the reader to use their imagination to make different animals, scenes, foods, etc.

We really like the The Bible Doodle Book, Charlie and Lola’s I Absolutely Must Do Coloring Now or Painting or Drawing , Mega Mash-Ups, Magical Mix-Ups,

You can find most of these in local libraries!

What are your kids’ favorite interactive books?  

20+ Great Audiobooks for Kids

Many people are surprised when they hear how early our kids go to bed. While Asante just got a promotion to 7:30, Aly and Ada are generally in bed no later than 7:00– and sometimes they are even asking to go to bed at 6:45.

While some of you may be a little jealous…. it’s not really what you think. One, our kids get up EARLY (no matter what time they go to bed), so by 7:00p, if they’ve had a nice active day, they are exhausted and are dragging themselves into bed. But, it’s also because they LOVE to listen to stories before falling asleep. While Jake and I used to tell them stories (Adventures of Asante, Aly, and Ada), we mostly rely on audiobooks loaded on our iPod, connected to our iHome so that the kids can all hear it well.

We also listen to audiobooks while in the car, whether it be on the way to our church gathering on Sundays (it is a bit of drive), or on a road trip to grandmas. If the kids are cranky and fighting with each other in the backseat, we’ll sometimes ask them if they’d like to listen to a story and PEACE falls over the car. Thank you Jesus for audiobooks. 🙂

In case you’re interested, here are some of our favorites!

shortbooks

Short Books (Under 15 minutes)

Skippyjon Jones: A funny short story of a Siamese cat who pretends to be a Chihuahua. He goes on some great adventures! 🙂 Every hardback book that we have checked out from the library has a audio cd inside of it, so that’s a great way to listen!

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! Hungry bunnies are trying to get into Mr. McGreely’s yard, and he goes to great lengths to keep them out.

The Uglified Ducky and Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs by Willy Claflin: Super silly retellings of common tales. It takes awhile for me, as an adult, to get used to his voice, but the kids think it’s great. 🙂

medium audiobooks

Middle-sized Books (15-60 minutes)

The Bippolo Seed and other Lost Stories: These are a set of Dr. Suess stories that are read by some really famous people- Neil Patrick Harris, Anjelica Houston, and Joan Cusack, to name a few. Neil Patrick Harris HITS IT OUT OF THE PARK. It’s a really fun group of stories to listen to.

Mercy Watson: Mercy Watson is a pig who knows how to get into trouble. Each story is about 20 minutes long. These books in general are REALLY good starter chapter books for young readers because they include a lot of colored pictures to go along with the text. As of right now, I think there are 6 books in the series.

Leroy Nicker Saddles Up: This is also by Katie DiCamillo, and it’s a spin-off of the Mercy Watson series. The kids like it less than Mercy Watson, but they still enjoy it every now and then.

Where the Wild Things Are and other stories: We have a set of stories that include Where the Wild Things, In the Night Kitchen, Alligators All Around, Chicken Soup with Rice, etc. He’s a strange fella, but the kids love his lyrical books.

Magic School Bus: Normally between 20 and 30 minutes, these audio books are great for kids who already love the books and/or cartoons.

A to Z Mysteries– Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose come across a lot of mysteries in their small little town of Green Lawn! The characters are 9 years old, making it a pretty perfect book for a Kindergarten-2nd grader. These mysteries are fun, interesting, and the characters are really good kids. Each book comes in at right under an hour.

Calendar Mysteries– These mysteries star the younger siblings of Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose and are just as fun as the Calendar Mysteries.

Nate the Great: Short detective stories. I TOTALLY DISLIKE these stories. I refuse to listen to them with the kids, but again, the kids love them. 🙂 They are each about 15-20 minutes long, so perfect for a going to bed listen!

long

Long Books (60+ minutes)

Charlotte’s Web: This childhood classic comes in at about 3.5 hours, so definitely one that will have to be broken up into pieces!

The Tale of Desperaux: Asante read this one last year in school, and he was eager to listen to it afterwards. The tale of a young mouse who is rejected by his family and falls in love with a Princess. This brings up some heavy topics, but it’s a beautifully told story. Asante didn’t have any trouble emotionally with this book, but there are some kids who may have a harder time dealing with some of the scenes.

Fudge series: These Judy Blume classics will be different than you remember them. I loved Judy Blume growing up, and it’s really funny to hear them again as an adult. It’s fun to pick up on the things that you wouldn’t pick up on as a child. Jake doesn’t enjoy these as much as I do, but these are fun ones for the car.

Then Underland Chronicles: This series, written by Suzanne Collins, shares how one boy who falls through a hole in his apt’s laundry room ends up trying to save a whole world underground. This tale is incredible. The whole series is about 37 hours long. We listened to this one last summer: in the evenings after dinner, on lazy rainy afternoons, and in the car traveling to and from the grandparents’ houses. Our kids really enjoyed this series, but it does certainly have some violence. You may want to look it up on commonsense media before deciding to listen to this one if you have young kids.

Magic Tree House: The well-loved books can not only be read, but listened to as well. We originally listened to each book after the kids finished reading it as a celebration, but now it’s fun to just listen anytime. Jack and Annie are fun characters who go on many magical, historically-themed adventures together! Each of these books are really close to being about an hour long.

James and the Giant Peach: Robert Dahl is fantastic, and his books have been capturing kids’ attention for years. This one is around 3 hours long and I found that my kids enjoyed this one more after watching the movie, perhaps because the movie helped them visually create a framework for what’s going on?

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Another good one by Ronald Dahl. You’ll have fun listening to this childhood classic with your kids!

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Brave Girls, Faithful Friends (90 Day Devotional)

Like every other kid alive in the universe, Aly is slowly and steadily getting older. It’s both wonderful and terrifying.

She’s a voracious reader and while she definitely prefers fiction, she has also been getting interested in reading about the Bible and how it applies to her life. I’m careful when it comes to devotionals in general, but especially for kids. I want to be sure that the devotional is a.) developmentally appropriate, b.) faithful to Scripture, and c.) does not heavily rely on gendered stereotypes.

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Brave Girls: Faithful Friends: A 90-Day Devotional is a new one in the Tommy Nelson’s Brave Girls series. I was immediately curious just by looking at the cover: 5 girls with a variety of ethnicities that are friends. The tagline of “brave girls” was also appealing to me; it’s sometimes hard to find something not labeled with “God’s princess” or “Daughter of a King” for this age group. While not horrible taglines, there is such thing as too much of a good (or neutral) thing.

This devotional is set within the context of friendship. At the beginning, kids take time considering what a good friend is, and how God desires to be their best friend. The next section focuses on stories of friends in Scripture, and then they move on to tips on being a good friend, but with examples connected to animals (i.e. kittens have to learn to hunt, etc. from their momma, and also parents have things to teach girls about friendship). In subsequent sections, girls learn about how to make friends, what to do when friendships get tricky, being friends with their families, and finally a short section of “quizzes” and word searches.

I would say that this devotional is heavy on friendship, light on Scripture, but not in a bad way. This devotional is no replacement for Scripture reading, but I think it’s a great way to teach young girls about friendships in a healthy way. Especially for kids who don’t know a ton of Scripture, some of the devotionals could be a bit confusing (i.e. one is about Ruth and it jumps right into the story and offers no Scriptural reference), but I think if a parent is there to answer any questions, it’ll be fine.

While the devotional is probably a wee bit mature for Aly, there’s no doubt that within a year or two she’ll be the perfect age.

Overall, I recommend it. Friendship is a topic elementary girls don’t get tired of, and to connect it with a book that points girls towards God’s love for them- sounds like a great combination.

Thanks, Booklook Bloggers, for the complimentary book in exchange for an honest review!