Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

Books for 7 Year Old Boys

Kyle is a compulsive reader. It really blows my mind because I was not that way growing up at all. Derek grew up reading, but the amount of books that Kyle reads likely puts Derek's childhood reading to shame. Reading was slow and steady for Kyle until he was about six, and then something clicked with him and he cannot get enough. I could never tell you how many books he's read in the last year, but I do know it has to be in the 100s. He'll bring home a stack of 7-8  chapter books from the library and read through all of them in a weekend. He also owns about 30-40 chapter books that he keeps in his room and reads through again and again  It's the most astonishing thing I've ever seen.

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All that being said, this kid knows his books, and has found quite a few series this last year that he really loves. We need to stick with series in this house since this kid goes through books so fast, it buys me time before I have to look into different titles for him. Here are seven series of book for 7 year old boys.

Books for 7 Year Old Boys:

Nate The Great: These books are about a kid named Nate who goes around town solving various mysteries. These books are the same length of early reader chapter books, but they're not actually broken up into chapters, and have some fun illustrations in them too. These would be great for kids who are just getting started with longer books. There are 27 books in the collection. Kyle hasn't read them all yet, but gets a good stack whenever we go to the library. 

Flat Stanley: This is a fun series about a boy who spontaneous turns flat at any given moment. There are many books in the collection, although I couldn't find an exact number, but there are numerous titles on amazon. Once Stanley is flat, he goes on all these adventures like getting mailed to California to visit a friend, Being small enough to save a girl from a collapsed building, and much more! These are really fun stories! 

The Magic Tree House: This is Kyle's all time favorite series! These books are about a brother and sister named Jack and Annie who travel through time to learn about different periods of time, and help an enchanted librarian named Morgan. I love that these have a lot of historical fiction in them, so Kyle has learned all about Egypt, American History, Ancient Rome, and so much more! Kyle has read the entire series, but we're really jazzed that two new books are getting released in 2020!

Merlin Missions: These are a continuation of the Magic Tree House Series and are geared towards older readers. There are 27 books in this series, and I believe Kyle has read through all of them as well. The major difference is slightly longer chapters, and a bit harder vocabulary, but the plot and premise is pretty much the same. 

Capital Mysteries: This is a 14 book series that has a nod to American History. I don't really know that there is anything historical being taught, but the premise is two children who go around Washington DC and historical landmarks solving various mysteries. I've only read one of them with Kyle, but he's read a bunch of the other ones, and really likes them! 

A To Z Mysteries: This series is new to Kyle, but he's been loving it so far. It's a 26 book series about two kids solving mysteries, and each book is a different theme based of the letter of the alphabet, The Canery Caper, Vampire Vacation, Zombie Zone, etc... 

Jigsaw Jones: These are another mystery book set geared towards early chapter book readers. The 32 Book series is about a boy named Jigsaw Jones finding himself in precarious situations and getting himself out of them and solving the underlying mystery of how things got out of wack in the first place. We've taken a few of these out of the library and are excited to read more and dive deeper into the series!

What books are your kids loving right now? We can always use more recommendations for the little book lover in our home!

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45 Books to Read in 2020

2020 is the perfect year to start working through the long list of books you've been wanting to read. Here are 45 books to read in 2020.

I haven't read for fun in well over a year. When I was finishing my Bachelor's degree it was all I could do to stay on top of all my assignments, keep this blog going at very low levels, and make suer my kids had all of their needs met. Leisurely running was not a thing that was happening over here. That being said, taking over a year off from reading means that there are so many new books out that I haven't read.

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My taste for books is probably really dry for some people. I don't love fiction, or romance, or anything very fluffy. I love non-fiction the most, followed by historical fiction. There is the exception of Harry Potter, which is definitely fiction, and I do want to re-read the entire series in 2020 as well. That being said, here are 45 books I want to get through in 2020. I'll keep you posted with my progress in a monthly reading report post.

Books to Read in 2020

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  2. Educated: A Memoir
  3. The Read Aloud Family: Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids
  4. Give Your Child The World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book At A Time
  5. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think
  6. The Secrets of Happy Families
  7. The Self Driven Child
  8. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
  9. Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About The People We Don't Know
  10. Atomic Habits
  11. Girl Stop Apologizing
  12. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  13. 12 Rules for Life
  14. Girl Wash Your Face
  15. The 10x Rule
  16. Outliers
  17. Boundaries: Updated and Expanded Version
  18. Take Control of Your Life
  19. You Are A Badass
  20. Why We Sleep
  21. The Pioneers
  22. Anti-Diet
  23. The Courage to be Disliked
  24. Blink
  25. The Tipping Point
  26. David and Goliath
  27. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
  28. Being Mortal
  29. White Fragility
  30. The Giver of Stars
  31. The Things We Cannot Say
  32. Before We Were Yours
  33. Helping Your Anxious Child
  34. The Highly Sensitive Child
  35. Why Smart Kids Worry
  36. The Whole Brain Child
  37. Born Anxious
  38. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone
  39. Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
  40. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Askaban
  41. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
  42. Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix
  43. Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince
  44. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
  45. The Five Second Rule
  46. More Than Enough
  47. Viral Parenting

What's on your reading list for 2020? I'm always open to adding to the never ending list.

If you liked this post, 45 Books to Read in 2020, you might also like:

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20+ Children's Books for Fall 2018

With fall right around the corner, I've been thinking about which books I'm most excited to read with the kids, and which ones I want to take out from the library, and I thought it would be fun to put together a conclusive blog post for you guys of my favorite books for the entire fall season.  We're talking early fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, all wrapped up into one fall post! If there is a book that you love, that I didn't mention, be sure to let me know in the comments below! 

1. Leaves by David Ezra Stein: This board book introduces readers to a young bear who’s experiencing his first autumn.

2. The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri: This busy little squirrel is experiencing the changing seasons and hurrying through autumn while getting ready for the onset of winter.

3. Duck & Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills: This is a fun one to read before your family hits the pumpkin patch this season!

4. Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson: A fox named Fletcher learns about the changing seasons when the leaves start to fall from his favorite tree.

5. The Little Scarecrow Boy by Margaret Wise Brown: This story is all about family bonds and sharing knowledge across the generations.

6. The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin by Stan and Jan Berenstain: In this Berenstain classic, the Bear family enters the Thanksgiving Festival’s Big Pumpkin Contest.

7. It’s Fall! by Linda Glaser: Celebrate the season with this activity-filled book, which is filled with illustrations fashioned from paper collages.

8. The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger: Little Leaf learns to be brave when it’s time for the seasonal fall from the tree.

9. The Berenstain Bears' Harvest Festival by Mike Berenstain: This new installment in The Berenstain Bears series celebrates Bear Country’s first annual Harvest Festival.

10. Pete the Cat: Five Little Pumpkins by James Dean: Pete the Cat...and pumpkins galore!

11. We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger: Read this jaunty book out loud, and then go on your own family leaf hunt!

12. Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert: This little book will have you constructing your own autumnal leaf people in no time at all.

13. Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert: Celebrate the changing of the colors in the trees overhead with this vibrant book.

14. Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell: The season’s harvest is front and center of this book by Anne Rockwell.

15. Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie by Jill Esbaum: Your little ones will learn about how pumpkins grow—and eventually become pie—in this informative book.

16. The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll: The season’s favorite produce makes for an exciting picture book in this tale of field mice and jack-o-lanterns.

17. Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington: Jamie plants his seeds and watches his pumpkins grow in this classic autumn story.

18. Scary, Scary Halloween by Eve Bunting: This book is a little spooky and a lot of good fun.

19. Hello, Harvest Moon by Ralph Fletcher: The magic of the harvest moon is sprinkled throughout this beautiful book, with lovely illustrations by Kate Kiesler.

20. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz: The Peanuts gang is back in time for Halloween!

21. A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting: Meet Mr. and Mrs. Moose and laugh at their Thanksgiving miscommunications in this sweet book.
22. Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber and Leslie Evans: Learn about the changing leaves in this book—then do some leaf jumping of your own with your little ones.

23. Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White: Too many pumpkins? See what happens when that’s the case in this charming tale.

24. How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro: Learn about autumn’s other favorite harvest in this informative book about apples.

25. Autumn Leaves by Ken Robbins: Learn about 13 different types of trees and their fall leaves—a burst of science that’s informative and fun too!

26. Autumn Is Here! by Heidi Pross Gray: Autumn is here, so it’s time to cheer! Enjoy the beautiful illustrations in this great book about the arrival of fall.

Best Picture Books From The 80s & 90s

Over the last several years, my mom has gifted me some of the books that I loved reading as a child. It's been so fun to sit and read some of those books with my kids, and remember some of the other ones from my childhood that I don't currently have, but would love to add back into my life. I know that there are so many new and exciting books out there, but there is nothing like reading through some of the best books from the 80s and 90s and reliving your childhood through your children. 

When making my top list of books from the 80s and 90s I tried to pick ones that you could still purchase today. I tried to link to all of them the best I can, but if one of them happens to be $200 on Amazon, do some more due diligence and look on ebay or another site to find it cheaper. 

best picture books

Just Go To Bed: When I was searching for books on Google to trigger some memories, this one popped up and made me laugh. I remember having this on my bookshelf, but don't exactly remember the story. I feel like with the lack of sleep we get from Em though, we need this book. 

The Poky Little Puppy: I didn't read this book growing up, but it is from that era. Derek's sister bought a big book that had a bunch of Poky Little Puppy stories in it for the Grandkids at Derek's mom's house, and Jay found it and fell in love. She bought Jay this one for his birthday, and it quickly became a family favorite. 

Corduroy: This was not my bread and butter growing up, but reading it to my kids as a mother, grab the tissues. I was not prepared for the emotions that this book could bring out. A rejected broken teddy bear in department store, who gets homed by a little girl... and then the last line is, "You must be a friend, I've always wanted a friend." I'm not crying, you're crying. 

Lily's Purple Plastic Purse: I bought this book at the book fair in 3rd grade and was OBSESSED. I think I read it about a million times. The same copy is still sitting on my bookshelf. 

Popcorn: This was a book that was always kept at my grandma's house. I don't remember the plot that much, but I remember my grandma making popcorn in a pot on the stove almost every time we read it. 

Sherlock Chick's First Case: I have a feeling that the Sherlock Chick books may not be wildly popular by anyone but me, but we had two of these books (currently one of them is still living on my shelf) and it's just such a fun story. This one is about Sherlock Chick hatching and going through the entire farm to find out who took the corn from the chicken yard. It's so much fun to read! 

Sherlock Chick and the Peek A Boo Mystery: Again, all the love for Sherlock Chick. 

Snow Lion: Has ANYONE else read this book? Another one of my favorites growing up that we read to our kids all the time. Lion lives in the jungle during the hot summer and goes looking for snow. He eventually finds it but it takes ages for him to convince his jungle friends to go with him. So fun and cute! 

There's a Cow in The Road: "There's a cow in the road and it sure is a shock when I first wake up at seven o' clock." This fun farm life book takes you through a little girl getting ready for school and all her farm yard friends that she encounters along the way. I loved it then and I love it now!

Dinner at the Panda Palace: Stop what you're doing, and go order this book right now. I love it so much. Mr Panda owns the panda palace where animals from far and wide come for dinner each night. When the restaurant is full and a little mouse comes walking in looking for a spot, does Mr Panda turn him away? You'll have to read the book to find out. 

Danny and the Dinosaur: This was one of Derek's favorites growing up and then we were gifted it by my friend Haley when Jay was two, and it's been a household favorite ever since! 

Milk and Cookies: Written by the same author of Popcorn, and another book kept only at my grandma's house, I'm pretty sure this was our bedtime story for five years straight. 

What books do you remember from your childhood that you still read with your kids? I'd love to hear in the comments below! 

12 Children's Books About American Heroes

One thing I really love and remember from my childhood is the large seasonal collection of books that my mom kept in our home. I remember at the beginning of each new month or holiday season my mom would rotate the books on the coffee table in the room that my brother and I played in so that we would be exposed to learning about each holiday, season, etc... 

This is something that I really strive to do with our kids, but our collection isn't quite what I want it to be yet. I've felt inspired the last few weeks to start teaching jay about "American Heroes" or the people who really helped to make our country what it is. Whether that's President's or everyday people that stood up for what they believed in and became national icons, I want my kids to know why America is so great. In Kyle's monthly Scholastic Book order this month, there were so many fun picks (and I had to exercise strength to not buy them all), but I thought I'd share some of my favorite finds with you all as well! 

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty Review

I never thought that I would be at a point with reading books that I had an author who generally wrote books that I really like, but after reading a bit more over the last few years, I've found I really love Jody Picoult, and now Liane Moriarty as well. I read What Alice Forgot last year and found myself unable to do anything else until the book was finished, and I had similar feelings as I was listening to Big Little Lies a couple weeks ago. I also have Truly, Madly, Deeply in my Audible library right now as well. 

The story starts off in Australia in an older woman's house. There is a ton of commotion and going back and forth at first, and it's hard to tell what exactly is going on. The first few chapters jump around quite a bit between the older woman's house, a crime scene investigation, and then the back story of leading up to the present. 

Stocking Up and Giving Back

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company, Kellogg Company, J.M. Smucker Company, and The HERSHEY'S Company. All opinions are mine alone. #StartSchoolLikeAChampion #CollectiveBias

One of my favorite things about blogging has been the multiple opportunities that I've had over the last five years to pay it forward in big ways, and small ways, on an international level, and right here in my local community. When the massive earthquake struck the Philippines back in 2013, I was able to use this blog to rally together a large coupon donation, so that I was able to gather over $1,000 worth of personal care items to be shipped over to help during relief efforts. When companies send me extra products that our family can't possibly use, I always try to pass them on to friends, or other people who can benefit from them more than us. 

One of the latest projects that I've been working on is this one in collaboration with Kellogg's, Coca-Cola, Smucker's, and The HERSHEY'S Company. They sent me on a mission to go to Walmart, and purchase products that we use in our everyday lives. As part of their sponsorship with the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, they have teamed up with Scholastic to create the Walmart exclusive “Start School Like a Champion” program. For every purchase at Walmart of the participating products you already know and love, you will be able to claim one Scholastic book.This limited- time offer will run from June 29th to September 30th, and anyone can claim up to 90 books!

Because literacy has always been so important to Derek and  I, and to our families growing up, we were so excited to be able to take part in this opportunity. We've been reading to both of our kids since they were born, and it's become a regular part of our everyday lives. Now that Jay is starting to read a little bit, he loves looking through books and trying to figure out what all the words mean. Em is at the point where she can sit through a story for more than 30 seconds and loves pointing to the pictures and naming the things she sees.

The truth is though, not everyone in America has access to books. We always make an effort to keep as many books in our home as possible, but for many families, that is not their reality. That is why when we teamed up for this campaign, I decided to pay it forward and donate the books that we get through our purchases to a local group home near our house called, Calvary Children's Home. It's a group home ran by a pastor and his wife where they take in children who have lost their parents due to illness or tragic accidents, and no longer have anywhere else to go. Since opening in 1966, they've been able to give a home to, and raise over 400 children in our community, and help give them a better life and future. Their mission has touched my heart in such a real and deep way, that any effort that I'm able to do to help support them in large, and small ways, I'm trying to jump at it the first chance I get. 

For $68 dollars I was able to go to Walmart and pick up 15 participating items, which means I'll be able to login into my Kellogg's Family Reward's account, upload a picture of my receipt, and choose the 15 books that I would like to donate to the Calvary Children's Home. The best part is that they have free titles to redeem from beginning readers, all the way through teens, so everyone can benefit through this program. 

So this fall, if you find yourself at Walmart already purchasing participating items for this campaign with Scholastic and the Olympic Games, consider keeping the books for yourself if you don't have some in your home already, or donate them to a worthy cause in your area, to help shape the minds of those less fortunate around you. 

6 Books I Read Last Month

Another month has gone by, and this was my best reading month yet! Quitting blogging I'm sure helped quite a bit. I'm going to be sharing my monthly book posts still, mostly as a way for me to keep track of the books I read. If someone else happens to  read this and get inspired to pick up a new book, all the better. I have officially read 23 books this year so far, which puts me almost at the half way mark for my 50 books this year goal.

The Light Between Oceans: This was the book club book for the month and it was so good. The first few chapters dragged on quite a bit which made me question why I was bothering to read it, but then it got good really fast. It's about a couple after world war one who live on an island all by themselves off the coast of Australia. While in isolation on the island, they experience a few miscarriages and then one day a baby washes up on the shore. They decide to raise the baby and not tell anyone and then things spiral out of control when they realize a grieving mother is looking for her child. 

Frindle: It's been months since I've read a chapter book to Jay. We picked this one up at the library last month and he loved it. I know I read it in elementary school, but I definitely didn't pay attention then, and now I want to go back and read all of Andrew Clement's writing. Jay loved this one and keeps asking to read, "the pen book". 

Because of Mr Terupt: One year in the life of a fifth grade class at Snow Hill School. Told through the eyes of seven students, the class is deeply affected by their new teacher, Mr Terupt, and the tragic accident that touches all of their lives. I thought this book was so well written, and would be an awesome middle grade book for young readers.

Number The Stars: This was another middle grade book that is about the holocaust in Copenhagen. If you know me, you know I love a good WWII book, and this one didn't disappoint. This book is about the German's "relocation" of the Jews during WWII, and how the people of Denmark were able to outsmart them and protect their Jewish neighbors. 

Born to Run: I'm convinced that everyone is one really great motivational book away from becoming a marathoner. My friend actually bought me this book for Christmas 6 years ago, and I just barely read it. I didn't want to originally read it because I thought it was about a crack addict who became a marathon runner. Where I got that from I have no idea because that is not what this book is about. It's about how our bodies were naturally created to run. It also talks a lot about the barefoot running movement, and a lot of interesting studies that were done at The University of Utah. Being a Mormon, that kind of stuff thrills me. While I'm not throwing away my running shoes, this book did get me motivated to run a half marathon next month. 

Food: A Love Story: This book by Jim Gaffigan is hilarious. Sure there is basically nothing educational about it, and it's basically one long stand up routine, but it was hilarious and I loved listening to it all last week before bed. So many funny things about food and how American's eat all wrapped up into one pleasantly fun audio book. 

5 Books I Read Last Month

I had another great month for reading. I know I say this every month, and by every month I mean the first two months of this year, and now this one, but I really can't believe I'm still on track to read 50 books this year. I had a lot of reading time this month while I was by myself in North Carolina for a couple days for Time Out For Women. Since I flew by myself, and was in the car by myself whenever I was driving places, it gave me a lot of opportunity to listen to audio books, and read to my hearts content. My husband called this antisocial, I called it a vacation. 

I read a total of five books this last month, so one more than the other two months. I read two historical fictions. one of them being a middle grade book. I then read one non-fiction, a short story, and one fiction piece, and thankfully it was a really good reading month, and I loved all of these books. 

The Help: Four and a half years ago when Derek and I were first married, one of my visting teachers (hey Hillary if you're reading this!) was reading this book and she was going on and on about how good  it was. I finally picked it up this month and loved it. It takes place in the south, post slavery. There are a handful of African-American women who are now maids for rich white women and they write a book about these ladies they work for... I don't want to give more away, but I loved it. 

Better Than Before: I remember Janssen saying how much she loved this book a while back, and when I was able to get a free copy to review,  I jumped at the chance and picked it up. I really loved it, and wrote a full review on it here, but it's life changing stuff, and I haven't eaten a chocolate chip in 21 days thanks to it!

The Wednesday Wars: I just realized that three of the books I read this month were Janssen recommendations.  She recently mentioned though that if she was going to write a book, this would be the book she would want to write, and with that kind of rave review, how could I not read it? It's a middle grade book set in the time of the Vietnam War and Holling Hoodhood (protagonist) has to stay at school by himself for an hour after school each Wednesday with a teacher who he believes hates him, while the rest of his class goes to religious classes in the afternoon. But this book is about so much more than that. It's so delightful. Please just go read it. 

Free Four: I'm still in a bit of a coma after finishing the Divergent trilogy last month. I'm on hold for Four at the library right now, but  I read this short story telling one of the Divergent scenes from Fours perspective. It's fun to reread a a scene from a different narrator, but now I just want to read Four even more now. 

What Alice Forgot: This was my last Janssen recommendation for the month. It's about a women who falls off her bike in a spin class and forgets the last 10 years of her life. As she is relearning her life she finds that she's filthy rich, has a mansion, three kids, and is in the middle of a divorce and she has to put back the pieces of how all these things happened and try to repair her marriage before it's too late. I just loved this book so much and it made me think a lot about my marriage and how I hope Derek and I never become too caught up in our own careers and visions that we forget the things that are really important.

As always, let me know what you're reading in the comments below, and what needs to get put on my reading list!

Better Than Before by Gretchen Ruben

As some of you may know, one of my unofficial New Year's goals was to read 50 books this year. We're eleven weeks into the year, and I've read eleven books, so I'm well on my way to hitting that goal. I've been reading a great mix of fiction and non-fiction, and this one, Better Than Before by Gretchen Ruben, has been one of the best ones I've read so far. 

This book is a non-fiction self-help book that talks about habits. How to develop new habits that can benefit our lives, and how to great rid of bad ones. Gretchen explains how everyone falls into one of four categories: upholders, obligers, questioners, and rebels. Upholders love habits and rules, so its not hard for them to stick to something once they start it. Questioners question everything, but once they see the value in a habit, they're able to typically stick to it without many problems. Obligers (me), find it easy to do things for other people, but find it hard to do things for themselves. Making habits is especially hard for them because there is no one to hold them accountable to their actions. The last group, rebels, don't like habits and rules because they don't like people telling them that they should or should not do things. 

The book did an awesome job at diving into each of the four groups and telling how you can overcome the pitfalls with your specific category and how you personally can make habits and stick to them. 

Some things that I have been trying hard to work on for years now are cutting back on sugar, and reading my scriptures daily. Gretchen says in her book that when people want to make a new habit they set drastic goals that they can't stick to. When someone wants to eat less sugar they typically say, "I'm never going to touch a single thing with added sugar ever again", and then a week later (typically only hours for me), they're diving head first into a plate of cupcakes with no plans of stopping until they're all gone. I've tried to kick the sugar habit so many times this way, and have failed every attempt. 

She suggests instead to make obtainable smaller habits that can eventually lead up to bigger and better things. Instead of cutting sugar completely our of my life, I told myself, "I will no longer eat chocolate chips!" This may sound like such a small thing... but when I feel stressed or overwhelmed or anxious,  I usually grab a big handful of chocolate chips, and then wash it down with a big chug of milk (straight from the gallon of course). It's officially been 10 days since the last time that I've eaten a chocolate chip, (which used to happen several times a day), and for the first time I really feel empowered that I've stuck to a habit like this! I'm hoping overtime I can wean myself off of more things, and eventually work up to a sugar free life. 

Another habit I've been working on is reading my scriptures. Derek and I read together every night before bed (because you know, I'm accountable to him #obligers), but my personal scripture study has been terrible the last five years (minus when I was pregnant with Em and read the entire bible in 100 days... still can't believe I did that). I was at a church meeting when one of my friends said, "You just gotta do it", and gave me basically no option in the world except for me to read my scriptures. I'm 18 days in, and have now been reading my scriptures everyday, along with morning prayer which has basically never been a thing in my life (I'm revealing way too much about my lack of spirituality right now I realize, I've just always been more of a nighttime prayer). 

Beyond the habits I was hoping to start, this book just gives you such great advice on life skills, how to keep a cleaner and happier home,  and how to be more productive and set goals for yourself. I really can't get enough of it. Since reading it, I've been trying to apply it's principles in every aspect of my life, and you can ask Derek, I've been 10 times less stressed, and more productive in the last three weeks than I've been in the last year of my life. I feel like this book has truly given me the kick in the pants that I  needed to start becoming the person that I know I can be. 

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my own personal review without compensation from Blogging For Books. All thoughts, opinions, and dirty habits are my own. 

4 Books I Read Last Month - 2016 Sat, Mar 5

I can't believe that we're already into March and I'm still on track to read 50 books this year. This goal has been something that I've wanted to do for years, and it's so great to finally be accompolishing it! February was basically dedicated to reading the entire Divergent series. I still need to read Four, and a few of the other spinoff books, but I finished the three main ones and am so excited for the Allegiant to come out in theaters next month. Derek already promised to take me on a date to see it. So without further ado here are the books that I read last month:

Divergent: I've had friends telling me that I need to read this series for years now and never felt like I actually needed to. Sometime in January though, Derek and I watched Insurgent which is the second book to this series on HBO and I decided that I needed to go through and read the entire series so that I knew how it ended because waiting until March to see what was going to happen next was too painful.  I thought that this book was awesome and the movie and book together were actually really similar to the same story line which is a huge plus in my book. If you like The Give, Hunger Games, Ender's Game series, you would probably love this series too. 

Insurgent: This book made me mad. I'm the type of person that when I watch movies that are books, and then read the books, I remember every detail, and so when I realized the movie to this book was actually quite different from the actual book, it really annoyed me. Obviously the book was really well done and I loved it, but I think the movie is pretty insulting to Veronica Roth's work now. 

Allegiant: You know how you get really attached to a book, and a series, and the characters, and how you think a series should warp up, and what actually happens are two different things? That's what happened here with the last book of the Divergent series. I'm still a little emotionally scarred... but I've gone a couple weeks without the ending to this haunting me in my sleep, so I'm making progress. 

Unbroken:  I'm just going to come out and say it... I don't get all the hype that was going around with this book. I LOVE World War Two books. In fact, it was this World Ward Two book that first helped me even like reading to begin with in elementary school. This one though, just didn't do it for me. The beginning of the book was great, talking about Louie Zapporini (the main character), and how his family growing up were poor immigrants from Italy who moved to California from New York during his childhood, and how he was really rough around the edges growing up, but then he became a renowned Olympic runner and really made a great life for himself before heading out to war. I could relate to all of that and at the beginning, I couldn't put the book down. But then the rest of the book went into detail about his life at war, and becoming a POW and all the things he went through and I don't know, I just felt like the rest of the book was a lot harder to feel connected to then the beginning, and when I finished it, I just felt pretty "meh" about all of it. 

4 Books I Read Last Month - 2016 Wed, Feb 3

Over the last few years I've really wanted to make reading a bigger priority in my life. It started when we were living in North Carolina and all of a sudden my friends all loved reading for leisure. Growing up my parents never set rules for how long we had to read each day, or limits on screen time, so we basically did what we wanted with our spare time. I think in high school I only read a total of six books in three years.

Now that I'm older, and my job involves staring at a screen for large portions of the day, I find reading to be a great way to unwind and calm down at the end of a long day of parenting and blogging. A few years ago I wanted to read 50 books in one year and that never happened. But this year, I'm actually on track to make it happen. Here are four books I read last month. 

The Dorito Effect: I already wrote about how much I loved this book. If you're a foodie into a good food book, then this one is it. I loved reading about the agricultural revolution and how it's impacted the quality and taste of our food over the years.

When is a Planet Not a Planet: I saw this in my library last month and really did love it. I read it in one night and it talked about all the reasons why Pluto is not a planet. If you've been curious about it, you should pick up this quick read!

The Book Thief: Derek and I watched this movie a year or so ago when it came out and I knew then I wanted to read the book eventually. I really loved this story because it's the first one I ever read about what it was like to be a German during World War II. You usually here about the Jews, or other countries that were being oppressed at that time, but it was interesting to see how much of it was happening to the Germans as well.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: This book wasn't my favorite. I found myself reading it each night just to get through it. It's about a man who retires with his wife and gets a letter in the mail from an old female employee who is dying from cancer. He decides to leave his wife and walk 500 miles across the UK to see her before she dies. I kept thinking how if Derek ever did that to me I'd kill him.

What are you reading right now? My book list is getting longer by the minute and I love it.

The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker

I don't write reviews on books often. In fact, the last time I felt compelled to write a book review over here was almost exactly three years ago when I finished Sarah's Key. That book changed my life. It moved me, and my life will never be the same because of reading it. That's exactly how  I felt about The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker. 

I came across this book on my Auible account when I had finished reading The Martian last month. It was on my suggested book list, and being a fan of all things Doritos, I added it to my list of books I wanted to read. I started this book Wednesday night of last week, and finished it Friday morning. (My favorite part about an audiobook is that I can listen to it on triple speed and finish it in no time!)

This book talks about the agricultural industry in America. Back in the early 1900s food had flavor. Not added flavor with spices and seasonings, but the foods itself had wholesome real flavor. Tomatoes tasted like sweet, succulent balls of red deliciousness, instead of the watery blandness they have today. Chickens tasted like actual chicken, instead of bland chunks of meat that are now used to absorb the arsenals of flavors we soak them in today. 

So what happened? After WWII and the soldiers came home, there was a huge push to produce more food in faster, and larger quantities. Farmers changed the way that they raised their crops, heards, and flocks so that they could produce more chickens, more vegetables, more everything in larger quantities, at lower prices. By changing the way crops were produced, and fowl are raised we lost flavor. All of our food has become much more bland as a result of these farming practices over several generations.

As a result to blandness, massive corporations came about to solve the flavor crisis. This is where artificial flavorings came into play in America. The more bland food has become, the more and more flavorings are being pumped into our food to make them edible, and enjoyable experiences. Chickens that we buy at the grocery store a soaked and pumped with "chicken flavoring". Additives are put in milk to make it taste more like milk, and in our butter, bread, and basically everything we purchase on a store shelf.

Because our foods are filled with additives that are made of combinations of fat, sugar, and salt, this has been the main cause to the obesity rise in America. The human brain is triggered by these three things the same way our brains are triggered by cigarettes and drugs. We want more, and we want a lot of it. 

The book tells of a lot of interesting case studies of PhD's and other professionals who have made it their life goal and career to get food back to how it tasted in the early 1900s. Many of them have had success, but since the American people don't know, or care about the problem, it's hard to get the food industry (restaurants, farmers, grocery stores),to put large financial dollars into the problem and change growing habits when there aren't enough people out there demanding said change. 

What is the change? How to we cure the obesity problem? How do we get good, real, flavorful food on store shelves? Well, I won't spoil the entire book for you, you'll have to check it out from your library or find it on Amazon to get all the answers. This book inspired me though. It changed the way I look at food and it's changed the way I want to shop for my family. (Also, if you're thinking organic everything is the answer, it's not, the book will tell you how those farming practices aren't too much different than commercialized farming as well... at least livestock).

22 Books/Series to Read with Preschoolers

For 2016 one of my major goals is to read more books. I feel like that is a goal that I set for myself every year, but I really want to make it a major focus in our lives for 2016. Obviously one problem with reading is having the time to do it. Derek and I have worked out that Saturdays will be my day where I just plow through all my blog writing for the week and then that leaves me all the other days to be more focused, and hopefully a better mom. I hope to still be able to  get my daily blogging tasks done during nap time on weekdays, but I ultimately want my evenings to be freed up so  I can just relax and read before bed each night. 

While I'm setting higher reading goals for myself, I want Jay to know that it's something that we value in our home too. I started reading him chapter books this last year. We read Mr. Popper's Penguins, The First Magic Tree House book, and Funny Frank (about a chick who wants to be a duck), and he did really well with all of them. I really want to start swapping out his picture books at bedtime with more chapter books and make it into something we do everyday. So here are 22 books/series we plan on plowing through this year. 

Book descriptions via Amazon

Monkey Me Series: Clyde's a hyperactive kid, and his twin sister Claudia does her best to keep him out of trouble--but after a class field trip to the science museum, and a zapped banana, he suddenly finds that excitement transforms him into a real monkey, which may help him catch the thief who took the golden monkey.
Leroy Nicker Saddles Up: Leroy Ninker has a hat, a lasso, and boots. What he doesn’t have is a horse — until he meets Maybelline, that is, and then it’s love at first sight. Maybelline loves spaghetti and sweet nothings, and she loves Leroy, too. But when Leroy forgets the third and final rule of caring for Maybelline, disaster ensues. Can Leroy wrestle fate to the ground, rescue the horse of his heart, and lasso loneliness for good? Join Leroy, Maybelline, and a cast of familiar characters — Stella, Frank, Mrs. Watson, and everyone’s favorite porcine wonder, Mercy — for some hilarious and heartfelt horsing around on Deckawoo Drive.
Mr Putter and Tabby Drop the Ball: Mr. Putter and his fine cat, Tabby, love to take naps — too many naps. What they need is a sport! Luckily Mrs.Teaberry and her good dog, Zeke, know of a baseball team they can join. It's not long before Mr. Putter is ready to play ball, but will his creaky knees cooperate? And can Zeke avoid wreaking havoc on the field? Win or lose, this baseball team will never be the same!

Sydney and Simon: Full Steam Ahead: Sydney and Simon are twin mice on a mission to save the wilting flowers in their window box. During a humid heat wave, their window got stuck, and now they can't open it to water their blossoms before the neighborhood flower show. The young chapter book underscores how the characters use STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) to learn about the water cycle on earth and in the home and, ultimately, to rescue their flowers. Curious readers can learn more in a glossary and author's note.

Frindle: Is Nick Allen a troublemaker? He really just likes to liven things up at school -- and he's always had plenty of great ideas. When Nick learns some interesting information about how words are created, suddenly he's got the inspiration for his best plan ever...the frindle. Who says a pen has to be called a pen? Why not call it a frindle? Things begin innocently enough as Nick gets his friends to use the new word. Then other people in town start saying frindle. Soon the school is in an uproar, and Nick has become a local hero. His teacher wants Nick to put an end to all this nonsense, but the funny thing is frindle doesn't belong to Nick anymore. The new word is spreading across the country, and there's nothing Nick can do to stop it.

Stuart Little: Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his parents, his older brother George, and Snowbell the cat. Though he's shy and thoughtful, he's also a true lover of adventure.

The Cricket in Times Square: Tucker is a streetwise city mouse. He thought he'd seen it all. But he's never met a cricket before, which really isn't surprising, because, along with his friend Harry Cat, Tucker lives in the very heart of New York City―the Times Square subway station. Chester Cricket never intended to leave his Connecticut meadow. He'd be there still if he hadn't followed the entrancing aroma of liverwurst right into someone's picnic basket. Now, like any tourist in the city, he wants to look around. And he could not have found two better guides―and friends―than Tucker and Harry. The trio have many adventures―from taking in the sights and sounds of Broadway to escaping a smoky fire.

Jamesand the Giant Peach: After James Henry Trotter's parents are tragically eaten by a rhinoceros, he goes to live with his two horrible aunts, Spiker and Sponge. Life there is no fun, until James accidentally drops some magic crystals by the old peach tree and strange things start to happen. The peach at the top of the tree begins to grow, and before long it's as big as a house. Inside, James meets a bunch of oversized friends—Grasshopper, Centipede, Ladybug, and more. With a snip of the stem, the peach starts rolling away, and the great adventure begins!

The Littles: Meet the Littles, a family like any other but with a few tiny differences! They live in the walls of the Bigg family house where they get everything they need. In return they make sure the Bigg house is always in good repair.

Charlotte's Web: Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte's Web, high up in Zuckerman's barn. Charlotte's spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur's life when he was born the runt of his litter.

Charlieand the Chocolate Factory: But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

Toys Go Out, Toys Dance Party, Toys Come Home: Here is the first book in the highly acclaimed Toys trilogy, which is followed by the companion booksToy Dance Party and Toys Come Home. These six linked stories from Emily Jenkins, and illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner Paul O. Zelinsky, showcase the unforgettable adventures—and misadventures—of three extraordinary friends. 

DinosaurTrouble: All pterodactyls know that flying dinosaurs are superior, and all apatosauruses know that any dinosaur with only two legs is surely second-class. Nosy, a pterodactyl, and Banty, an apatosaurus, become great friends even though their parents have forbidden them to play together. With Nosy's fast flying and Banty's smarts, the two take on the biggest predator on the Great Plain, and conquer their parents' prejudices in one great adventure.

Three Tales of My Father's Dragon: The classic fantasy trilogy of Elmer Elevator and the flying baby dragon has delighted children and their parents for generations. Now, on the occasion of their fiftieth anniversary, Random House is proud to bring the three timeless tales together in one beautiful commemorative edition, complete with the original delightful illustrations.  A Newbery Honor Book and an ALA Notable Book, My Father's Dragon is followed by Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland Each story stands alone, but read in succession, they are an unforgettable experience.

FavoriteThornton Burgess Animal Stories Boxed Set: Six storybooks presenting the best-known Burgess tales, each newly reset in large, easy-to-read type, each with a charming full-color illustration on the cover—all packed in one convenient storage case. Instilling valuable lessons about animals, nature and the environment, the stories feature favorite Burgess characters: Peter Cottontail, Chatterer the Red Squirrel, Grandfather Frog, Reddy Fox, Happy Jack and Danny Meadow Mouse.