Friday, November 25, 2016

Bedtime Story: There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Turkey by Lucille Colandro

Read for: Children's Book Challenge & Thanksgiving
Synopsis: "The old lady is at it again, and this time she's swallowing a Turkey . . . she's always been quirky!

You won't believe why this old lady swallowed
a turkey, a ball, a hat, a balloon, a boat, some wheels, and
a horn of plenty!

Read this book and find out why!"

My Review: Munchkin loves the Old Lady books and while they don't have quite the same rhythm as the original song they are still really fun for young readers. This is a great one for this Thanksgiving, the old lady swallows a lot of things that center around Thanksgiving traditions. Of course it is also lots of fun and silly to read, Munchkin loves the 'She has always been quirky' part and insists it is his line to say.
My Rating: Munchkin got a huge kick out of this book, we have already read it countless times, it made the trip to preschool for their feast day and to our own Thanksgiving celebration. We give it a rating of Four Paws!

Christmas 2016 Gift Guide: Little Readers

So all week I have been posting Christmas gift guides for readers, but don't think I forgot the little readers! If you have been here for any amount of time you know I am a strong supporter of encouraging kids of all ages to pick up a book. Munchkin has definitely been spoiled in this aspect as he has a library as big as my own.  For gift giving I also try to stick to the guideline for kids: Something to wear, something they need, something they want and something to read.
So anyway here are a few gift ideas for that young reader in your life and some book recommendations from infants to middle grade readers . . .
A Reading Buddy
Your child may already have a favorite book, so maybe get them a reading buddy. A plush character from their favorite book, there are tons of them available, but here are a couple of Munchkins.


A Reading Nook:
Give them their own little corner of the house to cuddle up with a book. Maybe a little bookshelf for their books, a cozy blanket, some pillows and maybe a bean bag chair, or one of those little couches or chairs for kids.
Activity Books:
Maybe your little one isn't quite ready to read on their own yet but loves learning, maybe try getting various activity or workbooks that will make learning fun for them. I have loads of these for Munchkin and he loves pulling them out and working on them from time to time.
Everyone loves electronics in this day and age, and that includes kids, but you don't have to just get loud annoying toys or video games, there are great reading electronics out there. These are obviously on the expensive end of gifts but worth every penny!
Last year we got Munchkin the LeapReader pen for his birthday and this has been a great tool. If you are busy doing something they can still sit down with a book. This pen has so many great features, it will read these books to your child, or help them identify words, sounding out the letters etc.  It also has the ability to download regular audio books (we have Pout Pout Fish on ours), music and you can also get the paper for the pen and they can practice writing their letters on up to words. They also offer games that you can use with this pen.
This year for Christmas we are getting Munchkin his own Kindle for kids. There are loads of apps and games obviously but what I found to be the best thing is that there are books that will read with your child or to your child. Munchkin has also been using my Nook for the past year for books and learning apps, so electronics don't have to be just mind sucking distractions.
Book Recommendations:
There are some really great board books out there for babies, but I am going to share some of our favorites with you, the ones that have stood the test of time and that even now we still reach for.
This book is great for little boys, it is all about tools and even problem solving, it also is interactive. It has a little wrench and hammer that you have to figure out which to use on each page.
This is such a classic and little ones will want you to read it again and again. The story is very simple and can be embellished upon or read as is.
It is actually the 50th anniversary of Brown Bear Brown Bear so you can find some great editions of this book and gift sets. It is another one that has a great rhyme that kids love, and the large bright images are great for babies.
Any of the Dr. Seuss Nursery books are amazing, they are board books with interactive features for babies and young readers. We still have many of these books on our shelf but this one is our favorite.
All of the Hello Genius books are fantastic, babies will love the small size and the big bold images and you will love the lessons taught in each book.  We have Bear Says Thank You, Duck Goes Potty, Pony Brushes His Teeth, but there are so many great ones.
Picture Books:
There are almost a limitless supply of picture books out there and so many are great, and obviously your choices may be different as each child has different interest, but here are some of our favorites (I will try to add in some lesser known books too).
We LOVE Pete the Cat, there are so many great books out there and they all have fun rhymes and pictures. We really can't get enough of Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, it is among our favorites.
The Elephant and Piggie books have been extremely popular with young readers, we were a little late to the game but this is by far Munchkin's favorite of the series.  The author has completed this series of books so it is possible to complete your collection.
I probably never would have picked this book up on my own, but Munchkin received it for Christmas from a friend a couple of years ago and it has become one of our favorite books! It is simple but there are so many lessons in it about rules, and how even though Mommy might yell but she still love you.
This is one of Munchkin's favorite books, it is more boy themed but my nieces also love it. It has a wonderful rhyme and rhythm and it is definitely soothing for bedtime.  The wonderful part about this book is that you can create great themed gifts, there is a plush excavator, a few puzzles or even a game that can be given together.
We also love Llama Llama books, we are so saddened by the news that the author has passed. But we can really enjoy the books that she did give us while she was here. Llama Llama Mad at Mama is one of our favorites and is so relatable for both kids and parents.
I had never seen this book before Munchkin received it for Christmas last year but it is a really fun book. So always be on the look out for those unheard of or obscure books that you can find, you never know when you will find a real gem!
Early Reader:
We have only recently gotten into these books but there are a wide variety out there and you are sure to find one for every kid.  Even if the little one in your life isn't ready for these yet, it doesn't hurt to start their library, and they can be read as a regular story as well to help familiarize your child with these books. Here are some of the favorites we have come across so far.
This was one of the best ones we read this year, we will definitely be seeking out more by Candice Ransom, she does a great job of integrating simple words, rhymes and even different lessons into the story.
We all have loved Little Critter picture books, but do not hesitate to pick up the early reader books by Mercer Mayer, they might be a little more advanced that some of the other early reader books but they have the familiar characters, great stories and excellent lessons that kids and parents will enjoy!
If you have a somewhat reluctant reader in your house, think about picking up an early reader featuring some of their favorite cartoon characters. Munchkin LOVES Blaze and the Monster Machines, so this was a great one (there are also Doc. McStuffins, Paw Patrol, etc options for every interest). This one was even a book available on my Nook that had a read to me option.
The same goes for favorite movie characters, it is a great way to draw children to books when they see something they already love in a book. Often times it also helps children learning to read to recognize words because they already know what happens and character names.
The early reader books also have a wealth of non-fiction options, it is a great way to introduce this reading genre to kids. You can find a variety of interests for young readers including trucks, nature, animals, jobs, etc. Finding their interest will also help draw them into books.
Middle Grade & Early Chapter Books:
This is most often the next step for young readers, they start reading short chapter books that still have some pictures and into middle grade books before moving into young adult. Some of the favorite books I read this year have been middle grade so even if you are reading with your child you will still enjoy them.
These What Is books are a great transition from early readers to first chapter books and there are a wealth of non-fiction topics including historical events and important people.
I have been reading The Magic Tree House series all year long and have to say it is a fantastic series for readers ready for adventure and books with a little more to them. There are still illustrations throughout and they slowly build upon basic world building and plot lines.
This book may have been one of my favorite reads of the year, the whole book had a variety of poetry styles but tells a complete story throughout. It really was a fantastic book, and I just found out the author will be releasing another one later this next year!
If you have a young boy who is a somewhat reluctant reader, this may be the perfect series. I have been following it from the beginning and it is so entertaining. It is along the lines of diary of a wimpy kid in story style and illustrations but features a prankster main character. There is always laughter and fun to be had in this series of 6 books so far (I have actually purchase a couple of these books for the child of a friend for Christmas this year).
Here are two series that are a great way to introduce a young reader to mythology in a very fun way. They have fun spins on the classic god and goddesses of mythology and are full of fun that will have young readers wanting to keep the pages turning.
I hope this little list has helped you find some great gifts for the young reader in your lives. Do you see anything you want to get for your young reader? Any other great suggestions? I would love to hear from you!
So this concludes my 2016 Christmas Gift Guide series, I hope you have enjoyed all the posts and that I have given a good variety of ideas! Enjoy your holiday shopping and gift giving!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Pen to Paper: Pen Pal Christmas 2016 Gift Guide

I posted a Christmas Gift list last year for pen pals and I just wanted to add and expand on it a little. Most of the ideas on that post are still great ideas for small gifts to send in your pen pal letters.  Please keep in mind that unless you have specifically discussed a gift exchange with your pen pal it is best to keep it small, simple, and inexpensive or handmade as your pen pal may not be in a place to afford an extra gift or didn't plan for shopping for all their pen pals (giving to each pen pal when you have 5 or more could get pricey and some choose not to exchange gifts so they don't feel guilty sending gifts to some but not all pen pals). Also, please make sure that you are aware what holidays your pen pal observes, the world is a vast place and with many different beliefs so be respectful of your pen pals' choices.
So in addition to items I listed last year like recipes, washi tape or stickers, tea or hot chocolate, small ornaments or creative letters here are a few other ideas to send to your pen pal.
You don't need to go out and buy a complete stationery set for your pen pal, maybe just send a few sheets from your stash with an envelope, or maybe a blank gift card or two. Or maybe even make some of your own stationery using  stamps, stickers or doodles. You can also send blank postcards for your pen pal to save or send out themselves too.
Postage Stamps:
Being pen pals we all know each other sends a lot of mail, why not send a few stamps for them. Maybe you have some unique stamps in your stash or some vintage ones. Also a lot of pen pals are also stamp collectors, so maybe if you aren't and have received some unique stamps from other pen pals send them on to one who collects stamps.
Collection Items:
Chances are over the span of your friendship you may have discussed items you each collect, if there is a small item that your pen pal collects maybe send them something to add, like a postage stamp, eraser/rubber, pens & pencils, stickers, notebooks, etc. are all great ideas.
Unique Goodies & Treats:
Maybe there is a goodie that can only be found locally to you, or that is a specialty to your location (here in Rhode Island we have Del's Frozen Lemonade, my dad is obsessed so I send him the mix every year for Christmas) that you can send to your pen pal. They get to know a little bit more about your area and try a fun treat.
Gift Wrap:
We are all elbow deep in Christmas gifts that need to be wrapped and put under the tree, so why not send some gift wrap. If you have a particularly pretty gift wrap maybe cut off a section and fold it nicely to ship. Or you can make your own using kraft paper or plain white gift wrap and add stamps or stickers to it. This is a fun, unique and useful gift to send, your pen pal could use it to wrap gifts, add it to a journal or craft project or maybe even make envelopes with it to send holiday cards.  You can also make gift tags or if you found some unique ones you won't be using to coordinate with the gift wrap too.
You know those paper snowflakes you may have made as a kid, where you folded the paper and sniped the edges and once it unfolded it made a unique snowflake? Why not make some to send to your pen pals? You could make a variety of sizes they could decorate with, or another idea would be to cut a larger one and write your letter to them on the snowflake.  The nice part is that they fold down and can fit in an envelope nicely, they are inexpensive, not time consuming and are a fun surprise to find.  (Tip: coffee filters work great for this, they are easier to cut when all folded up).
So there are some inexpensive or even free gifts to send to your pen pals, I hope that this list gave you some great ideas. What would you like to find as an extra surprise in your letter? Do you have any other ideas to add?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Christmas 2016 Gift Guide: Bookish Gifts

So yesterday I posted a gift guide of some recommended books for gifts, but today I want to expand up on the gift guide with some great bookish gifts. If you are like me, you have tons of books and your family and friends aren't really sure what books I already have or what books I would like. So here are some great gifts that book lovers might enjoy that aren't books but are still book related.
So I am going to start out on the smaller, less expensive end and work our way up, and I will try to keep it in categories.  I also tried to select items that are great for either gender, so there won't be any jewelry or gender specific items in my list.
I do want to note, this list is just items and shops that I found that I have either purchased items from and had a good experience or appeal to me. I was in no way compensated for any of these lists.
Magnetic Bookmarks
One of the small items (that would be a great stocking stuffer *hint hint Hubby*) and really popular lately is magnetic bookmarks. You can find these just about anywhere anymore and are relatively inexpensive. I have found them at bookshops, general stores like Target, even at craft stores and dollar stores.  But if you check out any Bookstagram photos or often even blogger photos you will find a wealth of insanely adorable ones, I believe that most people find them on Etsy. They range from general interest bookmarks like tea or coffee cups and into even your favorite book characters. You can find just about any popular fandom, just search 'Magnetic Bookmarks' or '(such and such - like Harry Potter) Magnetic Bookmark'  Here are a few that I found on Etsy  . . .
From CraftedVan - The few that I have came from this shop (a mail set that isn't available currently)
From PurplePaperEater - This is one of my favorite Etsy shops (I have that adorable Polar Bear bookmark from her)
Another small item I find that book lovers really enjoy is candles. Now you can always get a candle in any shop, I really enjoy the lilac and stargazer lily candles from Yankee Candle. But did you know that Etsy also has a wealth of artisans that make book themed candles?! Again I keep seeing these pop up on Bookstagram and Booktube all the time and I even have one or two myself. Again just search 'Bookish Candles' and you will come up with a variety of shops.
FromthePage - This is a popular shop and I have a sample size of the Reading Nook
Bath and Beauty Products
Something that I have found that I really enjoy is things like lip balm, nail polish, soaps and lotions that are book themed. Again the best way to find these are through Etsy.
FromThePage - in addition to the candles, this shop has great lip balm (I have had Spot of Tea and Second Breakfast)
From CherryPitCrafts has a wealth of book themed bath and beauty products and these Harry Potter theme sets sound like a perfect gift for a fan.
From TeaSoapBooks - I have been dying to get my hands on this Frankenstein soap, I love how the soaps in her shop are book shaped and come in a box that looks like a book. She also has bubble bath and bath salts to make a set if you wanted.
From LiteraryLacquer - I love this shop because you can find beautifully made nail polish that relates to favorite classic books and more (this is Breathing Dreams Like Air inspired by The Great Gatsby). I found out that she will be having a sale starting on Friday, use the code HOLIDAY2016 for 20% off your order and a free full sized limited edition polish on orders over $48! 
Coffee and Tea Mugs
If there is one thing I know is that not only to readers love books but they also love coffee and tea. You can find a wealth of mugs with quotes and book phrases and images all over the internet.
I have been drooling over this mug and saucer set (and really the whole line of book shaped plates) over at Gone Reading they also have a lot of other book themed mugs as well but this is the one I have had my eye on.
 I love the quote on this mug from the Etsy shop CoffeeMugCup they also have other book themed mugs.
Or how about a mug that is covered with text from a favorite book like this Frankenstein one from JaneandCompanyDesign from Etsy, again she has several other books.
Notebooks and Journals
We all need a place to write about our books and keep notes right? I love having notebooks dedicated to specific things, like a book review notebook, a bucket list note book etc.  Here are a couple of great notebooks for book lovers.
I love these A Novel Journal, they feature favorite classic books and the entire text is contained in the journal in tiny text that makes up the lines for writing. I have been hoping to come across a Frankenstein one. You can find these in a lot of independent book stores, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.
I have been eyeing this reading journal on Amazon for a while now, I like that it has recommendations as well as space to write your own notes and of course the cover is fantastic.
Clothing and Accessories
I love discovering unique book themed items that I can show off, and I have several to share with you.
Have you seen these awesome shirts, scarves and bags from Litographs they contain the entire story and can be customized for colors, size and unisex or Ladies or Mens shirts. I saw these several years ago and there weren't many options but now they have so many classics and even some new releases.
Storiarts on Etsy has beautiful scarves and fingerless gloves that also feature text from favorite classics. I have been wanting some of these gloves, I think they would be wonderfully cozy for work and even for reading on the couch.
The Frankenstein Scarf from LiteratiClub on Etsy has been on my wish list for a while now. They have several other books as well and look at the umbrella, I have never seen anything like it anywhere else.
Subscription Box
One of my favorite bookish indulgences over the past year have been subscription boxes.  I have tried out several of them and my favorite has been the Novel Tea Club box. I have talked about this box in the past here and I can't rave about it enough. I love getting it in the mail each month. Each box contains a book, some tea, a little goodie and some small shop/ artisan goodies (this could be bookmarks, bath products, art, etc.). You can pick your genre from Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Romance or YA. You can also select the length of subscription, it could be a one time box, a three month subscription or even right now they are offering 6 month or year long subscriptions.
Here are my last two months of boxes so you can get an idea of what to expect.
They also often have special one time boxes. There is currently a Harry Potter box available and will only be available until Saturday! Also, right now they have a special Family Holiday Box that will only be available until November 30th. I already have mine pre-ordered and did it so early I received an extra bonus goodie package.
Note: I will let you in on a not-so-secret secret, I just received their Newsletter the other day an there is a coupon code for 10% off, just enter HOHOHO at check out (there are also several other coupon codes running I am not sure what the discount is but you cannot combine them, KISA15, NOVELGRAM or NOVELTEACLUB). (Also the prices listed on the sight are in CAD - the subscriptions include shipping to the US).
A Couple Extra Ideas
~ I think most book lovers are like me and like to be cozy warm when reading, especially in the winter. Some ideas for this would be a super soft and warm blanket (I have found some great ones in drug stores like CVS), fuzzy socks or slippers, small pillows for propping up books and necks while reading.
~ Obviously gift cards to book shops is always great, consider trying to find a local independent bookstore.
~ Tickets to an upcoming book event or author signing/meet and greet.
~ I don't think it is as common anymore but maybe a membership to a favorite author fan club.
~ Check out favorite author pages too and see if they are offering any book swag or goodie packages.

I hope this list was helpful and that you have found something for your bookish friends or even to treat yourself. I will be back again tomorrow morning with some small and inexpensive and handmade gift ideas for your pen pals and again on Friday with some book gift ideas for your young readers.