Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all have a very blessed Christmas, and are as excited about the new year as I am! :)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Reading Together: A Family Exploration Book Club

I was really excited when Jessica at Quirky Bookworm and Sheila from The Deliberate Reader approached me and asked if I'd be willing to co-host a new book club they were starting in 2016!

Reading Together: A Family Exploration Book Club will focus on a different theme every two months, and include at least one picture book, a middle-grade book, and a slightly older/teen book with each theme. You're encouraged to read one (or all!) of the books with your kids throughout the two months, participate in discussion in our closed Facebook group, and link-up your review posts if you have your own blog too.

Here are the six themes for the year:

We're starting in January and February with the Arctic -- the 3 books we will for sure discuss will be In Arctic Waters (picture book), The Year of Miss Agnes (middle-grade), and Julie of the Wolves (teen). I will gather a list and read other books set in the Arctic too, to help get me through the cold, snowy days in Michigan. :)

We can't wait to get started! Head over to the Facebook group and join, and put in a request at your library for our Arctic books. If you have friends who would be interested in joining a book club with their kids, invite them to join too!

Which of the six themes are you most interested 

in reading with your kids?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Quick Lit: December 2015

A 16 oz cup of creamy peppermint mocha coffee
has been my constant reading companion this month

My goal for this year is to read 36 books - 3 a month - after only finishing 24 last year. With only 2 weeks left of the year, I have 5 books to go... roughly one book every 3 days. Any other year I don't think I would make it, but with a family vacation coming soon -- that includes lots of time on a plane and relaxing in warm weather -- I think it might happen!

Here's what I've finished in the last month... only 2 books.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
This was my first Moriarty book, and I'm now adding others of hers to my TBR list! I really liked the character development and the bit of murder-mystery. As each chapter went by I would think "ohh I hope the victim isn't ___!!" I didn't realize going in that a main topic of the book was domestic violence, and it really opened my eyes to how this kind of thing could be going on in someone's life and I never see any outward signs. This is a very well-crafted story! 

Some romance, small-town charm, and the story of someone having a fresh start in life made this a quick read. I'll admit there was a little too much romance for me without enough character development (5-10 years ago I would have loved this kind of book), but that's just a phase I'm in. I was inspired to bake bread, move to a cottage on the beach, and keep a puffin for a pet (okay maybe not). Overall, this would have been a fun one to save for our trip (a nice vacation/beach read), but I had to return it to the library!

What is your favorite Moriarty book? What do you recommend for easy vacation reads (with more of a plot than just romance)? 

Linking up with Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy!

This post does contain Amazon Affiliate links. Purchases you make help support The Lion is a Bookworm a little bit without changing the cost to you!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Our Favorite Non-Santa Christmas Picture Books

Only 2 weeks until Christmas!! Right after Thanksgiving we went to the library and raided the Christmas book display. I think it had just gone up, because we got a whole bunch of great books that I would have thought others would have taken!

Our library has a 3-week checkout, so those books are going to come due soon. I'm debating whether to renew them or bring them back so other families can enjoy them before Christmas. Maybe you've gone to the library recently and noticed their selection is thin -- well maybe they will be returning soon too! You can always put in a request so you'll be next in line for them, or if nothing else, get your list ready for next year. :)

Our family doesn't push Santa one way or the other -- our kids know gifts come from us, but we don't shelter them from anything Santa-related. We watched and read The Polar Express last weekend, and they understand the concept of "pretend" pretty well.

Our "kindness monkeys" -  a tradition we do each December.
Click here for more photos on Instagram
That being said, we do often choose books to read that don't have Santa as the main focus. We've collected a few as gifts over the years, and get others from the library. Here's a list of some of our favorite non-Santa Christmas books!

What is fancier than Christmas decorations?? Nancy tells about some of the things her family does to get ready for the big day. Then when something goes wrong on Christmas Eve, a family member shows her how to use her fancy-ness to make things right. My girls love all Fancy Nancy books, though surprisingly they're not as into playing dress-up as other girls we know.

Laura Numeroff will always be one of my absolute favorite children's authors. When Abby turned 2 we had a birthday party themed around If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. This book features Christmas trees, snowball fights, ornament making and more, in the classic cause-and-effect style of all the mouse (and friends) books.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
My kids have been asking for weeks how many days are left until Christmas (we'll be making a paper chain soon). Little Llama goes through all of the activities leading up to Christmas like shopping, cookies, and crafts at school. But like any preschooler, he gets SO sick of waiting that he finally has a meltdown. And Mama Llama comes to the rescue once again, ending the book with warm fuzzy snuggles.

Frosty the Snowman by Steve Nelson & Jack Rollins
I discovered this one at the library last year, it is simply the classic Frosty song that's been illustrated. The inside of the front and back covers have the music for the song. Sometimes our girls ask us to read the book, sometimes they ask us to sing it. I forgot after seeing the movie so many times that Santa actually isn't part of the original song!

Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman
Someone gifted this book to us the year I was pregnant with Abby, and so it began our collection of Christmas picture books. Mortimer looks for a new home because his hole in the wall is too cramped and cold. He discovers a nativity scene set on a table by the Christmas tree, and moves in - moving all of the statues out. Eventually he hears the Christmas story, and has a difficult decision to make about his home. I'll be reading this book to Abby's kindergarten class next week (yay, I've missed doing storytime!). 

And a few other favorites that do have a brief mention of Santa giving gifts, but that's not the overall theme of the book:

This monster reminds me a bit of Sully from Monsters Inc. -- big and blue, and does fun things with his human friend. It's almost Christmas and Monster needs a tree, but with so many other fun things to do around town he might not make it to the tree place in time. I love books with nice rhythmic rhyming, and this book (and the other two "Monster and Me" books) do a fantastic job. 

Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner
We've only had one day with accumulating snow so far (crazy for Michigan - it's supposed to be 60* on Sunday!!), and so this book isn't as fun this year as it has been in the past. I remember reading this and then the girls imagining what their own snowman in the front yard would do in the dark on Christmas Eve.

How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague
All of the How Do Dinosaurs... books have a lesson to be learned, and kids love seeing the dinos acting badly in the beginning of the book. But there's always that turning point of what the dinos should do instead. It helps kids learn, for example, not to "pick off some ornaments, angels and all" but instead "He eats all his dinner, then clears away dishes." The old fashioned illustrations are fun too, with detailed dinosaurs (and each page has the name of the dinosaur drawn into the picture).

Adapted from the Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I started reading aloud the Little House books with Abby about a year and a half ago, but then school and no-more-napping got in the way of our daily chapter. We did make it through the first couple of books though, and this picture book is an adaptation of the chapters about Christmas from Little House in the Big Woods. It's good for kids to know what life was like not all that long ago, and how the children were so happy to receive only one special gift. 

What other books do you recommend I add to my list?

This post does contain Amazon Affiliate links. Purchases you make after clicking through the links help support The Lion is a Bookworm a little bit, without changing the cost for you!

Friday, December 4, 2015

The on-going dilemma of a book blogger

I've written before about how I can't read more than one book at a time, so today's #bookwormproblem is slightly related. It's the biggest reason why my blog has been more silent lately than I'd like it to be.

How does a book blogger choose to spend her time?? She could be a) reading books b) writing about books or c) doing all of the other things in life that need to be done.

Option c has gotten the most priority for me lately. Sickness, cleaning, volunteer work, kids activities... You know how that goes, right?

In the photo above, 4 of those books are for me and I was in the middle of a 5th, and they're all due back to the library in 3 weeks. With renewal that makes 6 weeks. I should be able to get them all read, right??

I hope to get a better handle on my weekly schedule and get back to posting more frequently, plus allowing myself time to sit and read (it's good for my introverted self anyway). In 2016 I'm excited to be part of a new book club with some other bloggers. There WILL be time for everything I'm most passionate about doing. :)

If you're a book blogger (or not!), how do you manage your time?