Category: Children’s Book Reviews

Review: The Beginner’s Bible Come Celebrate Easter Activity and Sticker book

Holiday books are a bit tricky, in my opinion, especially the ones surrounding faith-centered holidays.

For Christmas, there’s a lot of books about trees, presents, Santa, etc.

A few about Jesus’ birth.

For Easter, there’s a lot of books about eggs, bunnies, and spring.

A few about Jesus’ death and resurrection.

In both categories, some of the books that are Christ-centered tend to be a bit boring or poorly illustrated, which makes it harder for the kids to really want to read them.

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I had the opportunity to check out The Beginner’s Bible Come Celebrate Easter Sticker and Activity Book and it’s great! It weaves the story of the Passion week through Jesus’ resurrection and ascension with all kinds of stickers and activities to do along the way. The stickers are reusable, so you can re-use some of it next year. There are also some parts of the page to color, so obviously that’s a one-time shot.

51qavk6qenL We use the Beginner Bible for the kids, birth through preschool age, and really like it. The pictures are good (I really like that the illustrations portray people of many shades of skin), and if you’re familiar with this Bible, you’ll immediately recognize the same kind of illustrations in their Easter sticker book.

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I’d say by the ideal age range for this sticker book is 3-5 years.

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for the review copy in exchange for an honest review! 

Please note: Affiliate links are included in this post. 

Review: Zondervan Plush Bible, NIrV

A little over a year ago, for Asante’s 6th birthday, we presented him with his very own, full-text Bible. I had done quite a bit of research and we had ended up settling on the Adventure Bible for Early Readers, NIrV, which he’s enjoyed. As I’ve been searching for one for Aly, one thing was for sure- I’d again purchase a NIrV (New International reader’s Version), which is very friendly towards young readers. Other than that, however, remains unclear.

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Zondervan has just put out the Plush Bible (NIrV), which has a cute sparkly pink cover that is a little bit furry and has exactly the kind of flair that a 5 or 6 year old girl would get excited about. The binding of the Bible is well done, which is important for little ones for obvious reasons!

I was a bit surprised that the inside of the Bible was very traditional– it would look like any other adult Bible that you pick up (no colorful inserts, no pages at the beginning of each book to tell the overall story, etc.). I know that some people are minimalists in that department, so it’d work out great for them, however, my early Bible days is filled with using those developmentally-appropriate inserts to guide me to passages of Scripture that would become blatantly applicable to my daily life. So, while i think the Bible’s translation is perfect for young readers who are ready for a full Bible, I think the plainness of the inside might be geared towards those older kids (high school students?) who want the flair of a sparkly pink Bible.

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for providing this Bible in exchange for an honest review!

Is it too Early to Read Christmas Books?

So perhaps these reviews are a bit early. But my guess is that some of you have already added a favorite Christmas album to your iPod and have been sneakily listening to it in the car and on your morning runs. So, let’s just be brave and admit that we’re ready for the season of Christmas, yes?

Perhaps you’ve read these classic Christmas stories, but in case you haven’t, read on, friend!

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The first is the The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg. When a new man moves to town and starts working in an old storefront, Lucy, a curious and brave little lady, decides to approach the man’s shop to find out what he’s doing and asks if she can help. He puts her to work and together they are able to prepare the town for a really fantastic store and deliver the good news with a very special candy. While the illustrations are a teensy bit old-fashioned, the story is absolutely not and keeps kids attention to the very last word.

I have the board book edition, which I surprisingly prefer to the hardback. Perhaps because Little Anaya is such a wrecker, I’ve begun to value things that are indestructible.

_225_350_Book.1359.coverThe other one is The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving by Dandi Daley Mackall. In it, a little boy named Nick, who is obviously a typical kid who wants things for himself more than he wants to give to other, overhears Santa telling the story of St. Nick (which is his real name). We learn that St. Nick is a man who was left a lot of money when his parents died, and decided to use that money to buy others’ gifts to make their material wishes come true.

So anyone who knows us knows that we’re slightly or more than slightly uncomfortable with the connection between Christmas and giving presents. While I appreciate the encouragement for kids to move from the “getting” to the “giving” attitude that this book highlights (and the bit of historical fiction it shares), I’m not a huge fan of reading books like this to the kids as a “feel good” story. Instead, I could maybe see reading it to start a conversation about how the idea of Santa got started, or even to discuss the importance of giving to others around the world who are in true need. But let’s not pretend that St. Nick and present day Santa are anything alike :). However, if you are into the Santa thing and want to go that route, you’ll probably like this book. It’s well written and a good story about focusing on giving instead of receiving.

 

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for these complementary copies in exchange for my honest opinions!

Affiliate links are included in this post.

Review: Your Core + Book Giveaway!

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Graham Blanchard Publishers just released an important new books called Your Core. In it, kids learn that PEOPLE have cores, just like apples, balls, and the earth, and that these cores all have a purpose. It is in our core (or soul) that God resides. The soul is a super tricky thing to explain to kids, and I think that this book offers a really simple illustration that will help kids to begin to form an understanding of their “inside life.” It ends with Ephesians 3:16-17:

“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

The illustrations are super sweet and include diverse characters which I really value in a kid picture book. As always, this book gets a strong recommendation from me!

Learn more about Graham Blanchard at www.grahamblanchard.com.

AND, because I just love these books, I’m giving away a couple on the blog today!

Mud Puddle Hunting Day and Close as a Breath

Enter to win by just leaving a comment below :).

Edit: Congrats to Tracy as the winner of this book set! 

Book Review: Berenstain Bears and Blessed are the Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Jake and I memorized the Sermon on the Mount one of the summers we were dating, and it wasn’t until I hid those words in my heart did I realize how rich the words of Matthew 5 are, and how crazy often the Holy Spirit uses those words to instruct my heart many days. When I saw that Berenstain Bears just came out with a new book- The Berenstain Bears Blessed are the Peacemakers , I was super excited. I really like the Berenstain Bears- perhaps because I read so many as a young kid- and have passed this love onto the kids as well (much to the chagrin of Jake, who absolutely does not like to reread them to the kids again and again).

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As soon as the book came in the mail, I handed it to Aly and she cuddled up on the couch and read it, twice. When Aly was done, Asante wandered by, saw it laying there, and decided to give it a read through (see! they can’t resist!). They both really liked it and asked for some of the other books that are pictured on the back (which are other Berenstain Bears books with an obvious Christian message). Wow! I thought. This one is a winner.

After the kids were in bed, I finally got the time to take a look myself. Sadly, I was disappointed with not only the writing but the message as well. The first issue is the message that being a peacemaker is really easy. Brother Bear and Sister Bear step in to mediate an argument between the school’s two groups (the rough kids and the smart kids) and are hailed as peacemakers. All they had to do was tout a Bible verse and the argument stopped, all involved parties humbled. Unfortunately, peacemaking is not so easy. It’s hard. It takes a long time. Most often it takes a lot more than telling someone a verse.

The second issue I have is that the writing is definitely different than the other Berenstain Bears books. It’s important to note that this is by Jan and Stan’s son, Mike. I’m incredibly thankful that he has continued to write after his mom and dad have passed, but it’s important that readers go in knowing that although the characters are the same, the writing is in a different voice, sometimes leaving the characters a bit more flat than in the older books.

I give Mike a thumbs up for trying to bring this incredibly complex reality of peacemaking to a level at which preschoolers and early elementary students can understand. Perhaps this is a starting place, or a book to start a discussion:

  • What would happen if someone was being mean to your friend? What would you do?
  • Do you think your friends would obey a Bible verse? Why or why not?
  • How would you feel if the situation happened again and again? Would you still do the same thing?

Learn more about Mike here, as well as the entire Berenstain Bears here (they have a really fun website!).

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Goodnight, Ark

I’m always on the lookout for good children’s picture books that are based on stories from the Bible.  I must admit, though, sometimes I’m a teeny bit nervous to review these kind of books because many of them are not very engaging.

Goodnight, Ark, written by Laura Sassi and illustrated by Jane Chapman is one of the few that has really kept my kids’ attention- it’s really funny! Sassi takes us inside of Noah’s ark… and it’s not a tame picture! The first night on the ark, Noah nestles into this bed, only to have his sleep interrupted by wild animals! How will he ever get them all back into their beds?

Moms and Dads will like this book because we can probably relate to Noah. Who hasn’t had small “wild animals” bound into bed with us in the middle of the night during a bad thunderstorm?! Kids will love it because of the catchy rhythm and rhyme, the top-notch illustrations and because one of the animals is…. a skunk. Ha! It’s pretty funny, especially for kids who think that stinkyness is hilarious (or is it just my kids?!). It ends in a really sweet, cozy way- perfect for bedtime.

Overall, this is a super cute book that is a great way for the story of Noah’s ark to really come alive instead of seeming like a story from the past that is sterile and impersonal. 🙂 I’ve read some reviews that were disappointed because it “played with the Bible”… but my take on this is that if a book gets my kids excited about stories of the Scriptures, I’m all for it!

Enjoy this book trailer; see what you think!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

**Please note that this review was first posted on Play Eat Grow.**

Review: Paws & Tales- Being Kind and Caring

Paws & Tales- Being Kind and Caring, is put out by Chuck Swindoll’s Insight for Living, and is aimed at “equipping [children] with essential tools for godly living.” The DVD contains two episodes: The Hullabaloo at Hunker Hill (which talks about revenge and forgiveness) and The Great Go-Kart Race (featuring the idea of teamwork, based on Matthew 6.14).

Overall, this DVD is okay. Asante (4) and Aly (3) watched both episodes and it kept their attention the whole time. Aly even asked to watch it again the next day!

But, I must admit that I do have some issues with it, especially the first episode, which was about forgiveness (which is ironic because we’re learning about this same thing in Sunday School, but this video comes to some different conclusions than our class!).

1. The kid characters were sassy, a little mean, and had some attitude. Asante even commented on how he wondered if maybe this movie was teaching him it was okay to be mean. Granted, he’s our little critic and has been encouraged to reflect on what the hidden messages are behind the things he watches on TV and the advertisements he sees (poor kid will never be able to enjoy a movie for what it is).

2. All the adults were so gruff and harsh-worded with the kids. Things like “What am I going to do with you?”, “When will you ever learn?”, “What were you thinking?” — with tones that showed displeasure and disappointment. Of course we are disappointed with our children sometimes and we shouldn’t always pretend that we are. But, there are more graceful, gentle ways of speaking with our children.

3. At the end of this episode, the “mean kid” didn’t forgive the other kids. Some may say that this is more realistic- our “enemies” don’t always forgive us. But, leaving the story like that can be difficult for preschoolers to understand. The conclusion did propel Asante and Aly to ask questions about why the mean boy didn’t forgive the other kids, which was good to talk about.

4. I wish I could remember where we read it, but Jake told me awhile back that when kids are watching shows that show bad behavior and then later on show how it was wrong for them to act like that, the thing that has impacted the kids MORE is the bad behavior that they saw for the majority of the time. The “lesson” can’t just be at the end of the story- it has to be cut up and put in throughout. Asante commented on how everyone was mean to each other, and how he didn’t really like watching a show like that. He’s a pretty sharp kid for his age, so I think the way the message was presented was just really confusing.

It wasn’t all bad:

1. I liked how the characters prayed sporadically throughout the episodes, calling on the Lord for  help. It shows kids that you don’t have to just pray at meals and bedtime, but all throughout the day.

2. This episode also showed the need for us to reach out and ask forgiveness after we’ve falsely accused someone else of doing something they didn’t do.

Overall, I don’t think this episode in particular is the best idea for a preschooler, but maybe for early elementary (whom is their target audience).

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 […] : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review: Truth in the Tinsel

This advent season we used Truth in the Tinsel, written by Amanda White (you must visit her personal blog AND her momma blog). It was FANTASTIC. Everyday of Advent we read a part of the Christmas story, and then made an ornament to go with it. While I had most of the items lying around, I did have to buy some stuff, but that led me to fun aisles of JoAnn’s that I had never been in before- so win, win! 🙂

I liked that Asante could do pretty much every part of the ornaments. Aly had to have quite a bit of help, but I think that’s just because she isn’t mastered her cutting skills yet. Each day’s ornaments were unique- it wasn’t all cutting or all paper or all material. There were a lot of different mediums, exposing the kids to art material we hadn’t used before (i.e. flour/salt dough).

During the end of the season, we missed a couple days, simply because I wasn’t prepared and Jake wasn’t around to help with some of the ornaments that weren’t easy to make while Ada was needing my attention.

My suggestion is that if you didn’t do it this year, go buy the ebook right now (only $4.99), buy the stuff that you’ll need now and stow it away in your Christmas decorations box so that when Advent rolls around next year, you’ll have it all ready!

Here are all of our ornaments from this year!

Cloth Diapering: Revolutionized

I just finished the best resource that I have ever seen on cloth diapering.

Ever.

Changing Diapers: A Hip Mom’s Guide to Modern Day Cloth Diapering by Kelly Wels, provides an incredibly thorough and interesting look at what a parent needs (or wants) to know about the subculture of cloth diaper-ers. While I am tempted to repeat all of the interesting statistics Wels provides to convince you to cloth diaper if you don’t already, I will simply give you my thoughts on the book in general and then encourage you to get the book and read it yourself :).

First, a little about the author. Kelly Wells is a well known name in cloth diapering circles. She was the founder of www.kellyscloset.com and www.diapershops.com, which are two popular cloth diapering online stores. She ended up selling those in order to create more time to be an advocate for cloth diapering. You can find more about her online at www.kellywells.com.

Wels starts out by convincing the reader of why cloth diapering is a good idea. There are several reasons she offers, most of which are fairly predictable and ones that I would also give as a cloth diaper-er myself. One of them I don’t agree with wholeheartedly, and that is the one about it being convenient. While it is true that I can technically never run out of cloth diapers (since I just wash them), I have been in a situation (on several occasions, actually), where I had no clean diapers and I had to run to the store to grab a small pack of disposable to hold me over until the other ones were washed. Perhaps that says more about me than the argument of the author, but nonetheless, I expect some of the parents reading may be as forgetful or nonobservant as I.

The next sections of the book are what I wish I had 2 years ago when I started cloth diapering. As any parent who is looking into cloth diapering knows, the information on how to get started can be overwhelming. Wels tries to streamline that process in her book. She explains the differences between all the kinds of cloth diapers, as well as explaining other terminology that one may need to start the cloth diapering journey. I had to learn this kind of information by visiting lots of websites, spending waaaay too many hours trying to figure it all out on my own. Now it’s all in one book.

Other parts of the book include what to do about cloth diapering and daycare, as well as how to diaper a child through the years (believe it or not, depending on how old the child is  could change the style of diaper you use). Wels roubleshoots various issues (leaking, detergents, rashes, etc.), and then provides a ton of reliable internet resources to go to for more information on the real life use of diapering.

This is a book that I would suggest all new cloth-diapering parents get. Be sure to keep it in a place where it’s easily accessible, especially during the first few months of the diapering. I learned quite a few things that I didn’t know (ayayay, like that I was using the wrong kind of detergent!) and I’ve been doing this for 2 years with 2 kids!

While I’m not as hardcore in my cloth diapering as many (I use disposables for far away travel and overnight, although there are sections about using cloth diapers in those scenarios too), I think this book is friendly to anyone who uses or is thinking about using cloth diapers, even if it is part-time. After reading this book, I have decided to purchase it for one of my good friends, so if that won’t convince you of the greatness of this book, I’m not sure what will!

Hermie, A Common Caterpillar: Book Review

Hermie, A Common Caterpillar, is a story of how God loves us just the way we are, but that God is not done with us yet. I had the opportunity to review this book via ebook format, and it was well done. I choose this version because I have found that the kids like to have some books on hand when we’re out and about. After reading, Asante said he really liked it, and that he wanted to read it again! His favorite part was how at the end, Hermie became a butterfly. For the adults reading it, it’s a good reminder for us that God doesn’t want us to compare ourselves with others, but remember that God has good plans for our life too, and that sometimes its very different from how He’s working through our friends.

Thank you, Booksneeze, for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.