Day #6 – Picture Books

My FAVORITE type of children’s literature!

bunniesFrom A Tale for Easter by Tasha Tudor

Seriously… Picture books hit some kind of deep down place in me.
Just of hint of sentiment in the story and I’m all slobbery.

harvestFrom Harvest Home by Jane Yolen
Illustrations by Greg Shed

Which can get some pretty odd looks from those being read to.


So what ARE picture books?

That question seems somewhat self-explanatory, but just because a book has pictures in it, doesn’t make it a “picture book.” Many books have illustrations here and there throughout the text, such as chapter books with several pictures per chapter, or a storybook with an elaborate illustration for each story. Picture books, however, have a much stronger connection between the text and illustrations. Often, the text is very sparse… sometimes only a few words per page. The average picture book has less than 1000 words in the entire book. What the text leaves to the imagination, the illustrations… on nearly every page… clarify for the reader. You really can’t “read” a picture book without looking at the pictures, because much of the detail is in the artwork. Some picture books have no words at all… but we’ll get to them later!

ColorRoughsColor Roughs for Zero and One by Jeff Byington

The collaboration between author/editor and illustrator is very unique, and varies from book to book. Some authors have no say in the style of illustration that will be used for their manuscript, as a publishing house chooses the best illustrator for the job. Some authors give very detailed instructions about who will illustrate their book and how it will be done. I think the best picture books are the result of a good relationship between author and illustrator… Where the writer gives some basic suggestions and trusts the artist’s skill… and where the artist submits ideas back to the writer to see if they’re on the same page. (Pun intended.)

NumberCharactersZero and One Character Development

Picture books offer a great opportunity for some beginning “Art Appreciation” discussions with your kids! Help them really look at the illustrations by pointing out details as you read the story. Discuss the mood of the pictures… Is it a bright,  sunny day or a stormy, windy night? Are the illustrations flat and stylistic or three-dimensional and realistic? Can you tell what medium the artist used? What about getting out some of the same stuff to make their own pictures? Can you find other books illustrated by the same artist?

pupincupFrom Hop on Pop by Dr. Suess

Picture books also give you a chance to teach inference skills they will need later on as they learn to read. Can they guess how the character is feeling by the illustrations, even if the text doesn’t tell you? Does the picture give you a clue about what will happen when you turn the page? (“Page turn” is a BIG DEAL in picture books!) Does anything in the illustration refer to other stories or books your child might recognize?

3BearsFrom Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrated by Clement Hurd

We’ll spend this week looking at some well-known picture book artists…

AmeliaFrom The Amelia Bedelia Treasury by Peggy Parish
Illustrated by Fritz Siebel & Barbara Siebel Thomas

…Who are your favorites?

Day #5 – The B-I-B-L-E

The B-I-B-L-E
Yes, that’s the Book for me!
I stand alone on the Word of God,
The B-I-B-L-E!

I thought Sundays would be a good time to talk about sharing God’s Word with children through reading aloud. Just like it’s never too early to begin reading aloud to little ones, it’s also never too early to introduce them to the most important Book of all time… The Bible. The Bible is actually 66 books, inspired by God and penned by men of His choosing. It’s full of history (His Story!), poetry, prophecy, proverbs, Good News, and instruction in righteousness. The Bible tells the stories of men and women of God over many centuries, and it is THE story, woven from Genesis to Revelation, of God’s plan for redeeming the human race. God’s Word is fascinating, full of adventure, sweet and precious, and life-giving… And reading it to your children will be a blessing for you and for them!

Today, I thought I’d share a few resources for reading aloud the Bible to your children. Of course, the very first thing I’d recommend is to just pick up the Bible and READ it. Children understand a lot more than we give them credit for, and reading straight from the Bible can help their understanding grow immensely. However, today I’m just going to highlight a few Bible storybooks for children that we have used for family devotions…

ChildrensBibleThe Children’s Bible

The older version of this Bible Story book (from 1965) is out of print, but I’m pretty sure there is a new version. The Children’s Bible is a collection of all the major Bible stories, from Genesis to Revelation, written accurately and reverently. The reading level is probably upper elementary, but it makes a great resource for family devotions for all ages! I’ve found enough copies of this at thrift shops and used book sales to make sure our grandkids have a copy!

StoryBibleThe Child’s Story Bible

Catherine Vos’s Child’s Story Bible (from 1935)  is another excellent resource for family devotions. Mrs. Vos tells the major biblical narratives in a grandmotherly tone, adding in historical and cultural information when needed. It’s not only a favorite of our family, but Ruth Bell Graham loved this book as well! Again, probably an upper elementary reading level, but a great read-aloud for all ages.

JesusStorybookThe Jesus Storybook Bible

And… a NEW favorite! This story Bible is directed at the younger set, with a target audience of ages 4-8. However, I love this version (published in 2007) for its “Big Picture” focus… Every story in this book, from Creation to Revelation, shows the plan of Redemption and the need for Jesus. It shows how all the stories of the Bible are not just incidental, free-standing events, but part of the ultimate plan of God. I wish I had this when our girls were young… Or when I was young, for that matter!

And just when should you read-aloud the Word of God to your children?

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)

That’s a pretty good suggestion… When you’re hanging out at home, taking a walk,
riding in a car, when you wake up in the morning, and when you go to bed at night.

Any time you get a chance!


Day #4 – Goodnight Moon

One of the most well-known bedtime books is Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.


It has been loved by generations, and has helped millions of little people fall asleep. It is also a great example of how text and illustrations work together to make an excellent book for children. I’ve heard that Margaret Wise Brown didn’t give much direction to illustrator Clement Hurd, other than a few notes and a picture of Goya’s Boy in Red for a color reference.


Hurd’s primary color scheme must have been influenced by that bright red pantsuit! The illustrations alternate between brightly colored views of the entire bedroom and black-and-white illustrations of individual items in the room. The switch back and forth provides interest and helps add a calming effect. I’m guessing that including black-and-white illustrations was also an editorial decision… Illustrators charge more for color illustrations, and printing pages in color added quite a bit to the cost when the book was published 60 years ago. (Color is not so much an issue in printing costs now.)

photo 1

What I find most interesting in the illustrations of Goodnight Moon is Clement Hurd’s attention to details. You may not notice it at first, but if you look carefully, you can see that it’s getting later and later. At first, the room is bright and the night sky is dark by comparison. The clocks say “7:00.” There is activity in the room… frisky kittens, a scampering mouse, and a bright-eyed bunny who has just been tucked into bed.

photo 5

As the “quiet old lady” whispers, “hush,” the room begins to darken, the moon begins to rise in the window, and the little bunny settles back a bit in his bed. (Though he does wiggle and squirm a bit more before succumbing to sleep… And the old lady whispers “hush” a few more times! (I can identify with her… Can you?)

photo 2

As the story progresses, the bunny says goodnight to everything in his room. The room gets darker and the night sky gets brighter as the moon rises higher. Even the kittens begin to settle down. The clock keeps ticking and time moves on. (Note the wiggling bunny child.)

photo 4

Finally, the story ends with a sleeping bunny, a brightly lit night sky, and a room that is completely dark, except for the fire in the fireplace and the lights in the toy house. The clock reads “8:10.” (An hour and ten minutes to get a toddler to sleep? Yup. Sounds about right.) The old lady has left the room, and the kittens have curled up in her rocker. I don’t know how you read this story aloud, but by this time, I’m practically whispering… even if it’s being read in the middle of the day!

photo 3

Isn’t it great how the illustrations darken as the text quiets?

Makes ME want to take a nap.

Sooo… Next time you read aloud to a little person,
take a little extra time to look at the illustrations with them…
You might be surprised at the details you discover!


Day #3 – Something to chew on…

It’s never too early to read to children…


Even the tiniest babies can benefit from literature they can sink their teeth into…




That’s why they make “Board Books,” those heavy duty books for babies created out of thick bookbinder board. Just in case your wee one has a hankering for gnawing on their reading material. They also make books for babies out of cloth or vinyl, which is great, because those are washable or wipeable. Books for babies are sometimes abridged versions of picture books for older kids, like the Board Book version of Dr. Suess stories. They are sometimes interactive “Toy Books,” where your little one can lift flaps, peek into mirrors, turn things, crinkle stuff, or pat fluffy bunny tummies. They may be “Concept Books,” which teach things like colors, numbers, or days of the week. They may just be “Vocabulary Books,” with pictures of animals or foods or just everyday items on each page.


Books made specifically for babies are a wonderful way
to begin the Reading Aloud Journey with you child.


I hope you got a few at your baby shower!


ReadingAloudImageClick on the picture above to read the entire series!

Day #2 – A book that had an impact on our family…

Having been born into a family of bibliophiles, of course Hubby and I knew we would read to our little kids. Bedtime and nap time almost always included a story for our girls. And, we also knew we wanted our home to have lots of books at their disposal when they learned how to read for themselves.

And that was pretty much our goal… Read to them so
they would want to learn to read to themselves…

…Until I discovered a book lurking in the non-fiction section of the library…


The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Mr. Trelease not only advocated reading aloud to little people,
but continuing to read to them until they are teenagers.


The book was eye-opening. I really had not thought much about reading to older kids. My favorite part of school in the 1970’s was “SSR”… “Sustained Silent Reading.” That twenty minute period where everything in the school building stopped so we could READ. Oh, why couldn’t they make it an hour? To me, the goal of reading instruction was glorious independence!

However, as I read Mr. Trelease’s plea to parents and teachers, backed up by all sorts of research, I began thinking of read-aloud experiences beyond my preschool years. In second grade, we listened to tapes of Bill Martin and Noodles the Ghost reading to us from our readers. Not sure that counts as reading aloud, but the highlight of my day was listening for Noodles to say “Oodley Oodley Oodley” every time we were supposed to turn the page. In fourth grade, Mrs. Justice would dim the lights the last twenty minutes of the day, and have us rest our heads on our desks as she read whole chapters of Little House in the Big Woods to us. I found a kindred spirit in Laura Ingalls that year. And in eighth grade, bordering on those teenage years, Ms. Cole would bring in touching stories from Reader’s Digest that related to things we were studying in our social studies class. She would often be in tears by the time she finished reading them to us, which made the boys smirk a bit. I remember being angry at them for that.

Why read aloud to older kids? In a very small nutshell, it stretches them beyond what they are currently able to read for themselves. It develops their vocabularies and encourages them to like all sorts of books. It develops all sorts of reading skills. It allows kids to visualize the story instead of watching it played out for them on a screen. And best of all, reading aloud provides an incredible connection between parents and children, giving us things to discuss, compare, and enjoy together.


Day #1 – I had a mother who read to me…

This is probably the first 31 Days Project where I actually sat down and planned out the entire month’s posts ahead of time. And, in doing so, I quickly realized that we could discuss children’s’ books for at least two months before starting to run out of ideas! At least. Maybe three.

Our family loves books. We have shelves full of books. And boxes of books in the attic that no longer fit on the shelves. Our girls claimed piles of books to put in their hope chests, and each have quite the library already. We get it honest… Our parents and grandparents also had oodles of books when Hubby and I were growing up. And they read to us. Often.


So… This month I thought it would be fun to just highlight some of the many, many books our kids enjoyed over the years, jabber on a bit about the different types of children’s literature that is available, and discuss the importance of spending time reading aloud to children of all ages. “Reading aloud” can be so much more than a bedtime story!

I’m also hoping to pick my paintbrush back up and continue working on Pie from Scratch this month. (That was the half finished 31 Days project from two years ago… I discovered it that must be Autumn in order for me to paint pumpkins, so I’m going to devote this Fall to finishing it up! I’ll post progress throughout the month!)


Throughout the month of October, if you click on the “31 Days to Reading Aloud” button (above, and on the sidebar) it will bring you back to this page… All the posts for the month will be listed below so you can read the entire series! Enjoy… And chime in if you have any Read Aloud memories or tips!

Day 1 – I had a mother who read to me…
(You are here.)

Day 2 – A book that had an impact on our family

Day 3 – Something to chew on…

Day 4 – Goodnight Moon

Day 5 – The B-I-B-L-E

Day 6 – Picture Books

Day 9 – Bible Friends

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be–
I had a Mother who read to me.
~Strickland Gillilan

Starting Tomorrow…


My annual attempt at being a real blogger!


Honestly, though… Children’s literature has a Very Special Place in my heart, and I’m hoping to share a bit of the Who, What, When, Why, Where, and How of sharing great books with the children in your life! There are so many wonderful books for kids out there… Join us as we discuss them for the next 31 DAYS!


The idea of multi-tasking has always been a bit of a quandary to me.

To multi-task or not? That is the question.

Back in the 90’s, as a full-time Mama and homeschool teacher, I was constantly in pursuit of the “how to get it all done” goal, reading everything available by Emilie Barnes (who I dearly love, by the way) and The Sidetracked Home Executives (a.k.a. The Slob Sisters, who I secretly felt more akin to). I had thank you notes tucked in my purse for those fifteen minutes in the doctor’s waiting room and an hourly-daily-weekly-monthly-yearly plan on 3″ x 5″ cards. The first time I heard the “Put Your Rocks in the Jar” speech, I was taking notes about which size stones to put in first so I could squeeze in everything that had to be done. And then the punchline…

Put your rocks in first.

Wait, What?!?

That totally blew my mind.

Here I was, trying to schedule everything down to the minute to be more efficient, and someone had to burst my bubble by telling me there are Really Important Things that needed to be established in my daily routine before all the little mundane things choked them out. Of course I knew this deep down, but somewhere in the 90’s the be-all-you-can-be and the get-it-all-done-ness of life had taken over. The Rocks in the Jar speech set me on a new path. Thank goodness. I began to see the need to slow down, to live purposefully, to focus. There weren’t fancy names for this idea yet, no coined terms, but I did find a few signs to hang around the house that said “Simplify Simplify Simplify.” Sally Clarkson and Tasha Tudor and Karey Swan were my new mentors… and I still hung on to Emilie Barnes, who really was teaching the importance of balance between organized and calm in her books about “home.” (I was just clinging obsessively to the checklist chapters!) Yes, organization and efficiency was important, but it was the means to an end, not the sum of life. We need to be organized just a bit so we can get to the good stuff. And we need to make sure the good stuff has priority in our days. So, we pared down our outside activities to have more time as a family. Having it together and getting it all done evolved into a few simple routines. Daily schedules turned into “chunks of time” for home keeping, school work, read-aloud (a Very Big Chunk!), food prep, and project time. Life at home transitioned into a relatively peaceful existence for our girls’ school years.

However, the years since our girls finished homeschooling and flew the coop have been quite a change for us. With extra time on my hands and less dirt being tracked in, the “Now what?” quickly turned into overly full calendars. Craft shows and orders and college classes and volunteering took precedence over housework. Our schedule was crazy, because since we  weren’t tied to a schedule anymore we had more free time to fill. And fill, it did. With good things, but maybe not always the best. I was busy, busy, terribly busy (think Veggie Tales, you Moms from the 90’s) and I didn’t like it one bit. And so the quest began once again for peace and home and all things unhurried.

Since then, we have waxed and waned in our quest for a calm life since then, and some days we wonder if we’re headed in the right direction. (This summer, in particular!) Sometimes the house and the schedule are very full, but I do think we’re learning how to balance the hectic with the calm, and just go with the flow. And, it is so refreshing to see young moms seeking this same balance of living intentionally while embracing the craziness of little children. They are so open and honest with their insights on making a home for their families and appreciating this season of their lives. If you’d like a little inspiration or help, check out Mary Beth’s Steady Days posts, or Kate’s Get It Together posts, or Jordan’s Little Happy Things posts.

And… I’m still taking notes… from the young moms, who have fresh perspective
about simple ways of multi-tasking and establishing simple routines so when
life does get suddenly hectic the world (and the house!) doesn’t fall apart.

The Hole in my Floor, and other Sundry Items…

Many times when we’re doing a project, I forget to take “Before” pictures. Mostly because we jump right in and tear things apart before I remember to grab the camera, and sometimes because the “Before” is really not camera-worthy. At least it’s not a photo I’d like to put out on the internet for the world to see. However, sometimes we have a few “Mid-Remodel” pictures, where the worst of the dust has been swept away. This kitchen project is taking a while, so I snapped a couple of shots to share. First, let me present…

The Hole in my Floor

This may very well be the only picture I have of our old kitchen. Hubby built the cupboards when we built the house, and now we’ve stolen the “bar” section to use in the new kitchen. (We also stole the drawers, as you can see, to repurpose as an add-on to the cabinet we moved.) The good thing about being able to move this huge section of cabinets is that within a day I had a cabinet in the new kitchen to move lots of essentials into. Didn’t have to wait for Hubby to build a whole new one… Plus I still get to enjoy the original cabinets he built! The bad thing is that it left a cabinet-sized hole in the floor of one of the main rooms in our house, which then quickly turned into a room-sized hole when Hubby cleaned up the rest of the tile and leveled the subfloor. Another good thing about the Hole in the Floor was that it provided a temporary “art” space while we had kiddos visiting that I didn’t need to worry about messes! Shoes were mandatory, however, to avoid splinters. Hopefully, Some Day Very Soon, there will be a wall around the hole, creating a laundry hallway, and a new room that will either be a second full bathroom or a small art room to hide my creative messes. Still up in the air on that decision. My mind changes daily.

Important Note:
When laying ceramic tile, be sure to buy and keep several extra
boxes of the tile just in case you decide to remove a kitchen cabinet.
The Hole in my Floor could have been avoided,
had we thought of doing that when we tiled 8 years ago.

Another item of interest in this “Mid-Remodel” picture is the scale hanging in the middle of the walkway. I left it there to test our agility. And the Worm Bin, hiding under the high chair. We ordered a new batch of earthworms while our little friends were here, and let me tell you, 500 Red Wigglers in your kitchen is extremely interesting to a 3 year-old boy!

If only I could have caught that Blue-Tailed Lizard
that’s been living near our deck the past couple of weeks!
Wouldn’t that little guy have had fun being up
close and personal with that critter!

Now for the “Mid-Remodel” photo of the new kitchen…

Six feet of ready-made (almost) cabinetry let me move the Most Important Kitchen Stuff into the new kitchen right away! Ignore the multi-color aspect. It will get worse before it gets better… I need to paint the drawer fronts so I can put the knobs back on so the drawers are easier to open. Hubby is also going to make brand new doors, since the 20+ year-old hard-as-nails-oil-based-paint is super difficult to sand off the nooks and crannies of the old doors, but we’ll leave the funky brown ones on until that happens to conceal all the Most Important Kitchen Stuff inside. There will be upper cabinets as well, so also ignore all the random stuff on the countertop. They’re going to be extra tall to make use of the 10-foot ceilings in the new kitchen. My hope is that the cabinet section will look more like a step-back hutch than kitchen cabinets.

Mid-Remodel Disclaimer: I’m still in the “what in the world was
I thinking when I thought I wanted a new kitchen” phase of the remodel…
…Really hoping it starts looking like the vision I had in my head very soon!

Additional items of interest include the Play-Doh on the counter (used multiple times the past few weeks) and the kitschy vinyl tablecloth on the extreme left of the photo (which protected the as-yet-unsealed new butcher block tabletop from said Play-Doh). Oh, and the teapot sitting in a colander on the other counter.

So, our work is pretty much cut out for us for the next few weeks as we finish up this big change! It’s been a challenge to have everything in the “Betwixt and Between” phase while we had company, but I think it added a little thrill to our lives.


And before I go, I read through my last post and
realized I missed a few Very Important Things
that we experienced during The Last Six Weeks

LOTS of giggles and laughter.

LOTS of kisses and hugs, including
Fish kisses and Eskimo kisses,
and Bear Hugs and Bedtime Snuggles.

LOTS of silly songs, silly stories,
and general all-around silly-ness.

LOTS of Together Time getting to know
(and now miss!) a bunch of little people.

Now how could I have forgotten to write about all that?


The Last Six Weeks…

The Last Six Weeks have involved…

(… in no particular order…)

(…actually in a random-what-in-the-world
sort of order even though I planned things to
be done very quickly and fastly and orderly…)

(Spellcheck doen NOT  like the non-word “fastly.”)

Okay… here’s the list…

Moving the fridge into a new kitchen.

Moving the freezer into the family room.

Moving the freezer into the new kitchen.

Moving the stove into the new kitchen.

Moving a huge section of our old kitchen
cabinets into the new kitchen.

Creating a giant hole in the old kitchen
where the old cabinets used to be.

Needing to re-tile a floor.

Needing to build a wall.

Needing to build upper cabinets
in the new kitchen.

Putting together two sets of bunk beds.

Filling them with a variety of children.

Nine children , to be exact, in various configurations.

Lego’s, Barbies, Disney movies, kiddie pools,
the park, the beach, the state fair,
play-dough, trains, dolls, and balls.

Nosebleeds, bruised shins, fevers,
arthritis, coughs, and a bad sore throat.

Not quite enough time with my new grandboy.
Or to chat with my big grand boys.
Or  with my girls or my mom.
Or my BFF’s.

Finding out some things that I just can’t handle.
And some things I thought I couldn’t handle but did.
And lived to laugh about it.
And also to cry about it.

Feeling like I wasn’t able to help those around me
because I was helping those around me.

And most of all, learning to make do at the moment,
to adapt where needed, ignore the imperfect,
and take a nap whenever possible.

And then, just when the house was quiet again…
…although the dust hasn’t settled yet…
…and probably won’t for a while…

… a wonderful GIFT came in the mail…


Mary Ostyn from Owl Haven
emailed me a week or so ago to let me know
that I had won a give-away on her blog!

A brand new copy of Myquillyn Smith’s
(a.k.a The Nester)
new book…

The Nesting Place!!!

Let me tell, that book came at just the right time.
Coupled with some strong coffee, it was just what I needed
to gather my gumption and begin to put my imperfectly
messy (and slightly sticky) home back together.

(Heavy on the “begin” part, mind you, because the
aforementioned  sore throat belongs to me.
So some of the gumption is only in my head.)

I’m reading… and re-reading… every page of this decorating book
that was written for those of us who have lived-in homes.
(Which is funny, because I’m a “picture-looker-atter”
when it comes to decorating books… not usually a reader!)

So thank-you-thank-you-thank-you-thank-you
to Mary and Myquillyn for the much needed picker-upper!!!