Posts Tagged ‘reading’

We Made it to Bedtime!

Monday, October 19th, 2015

We made it to bedtimeAt our house, 5pm is and has always been referred to as “the witching hour.” It is the time of day where everyone is exhausted and nothing seems to be going right. The kids are crying or whining, everyone is hungry, and I am contemplating popping the cork on a bottle of wine. All in all, the evenings can be just a hot mess in our house. Our saving grace, however, has always been that if we can just get through the witching hour, we can get to bedtime. Where we get a C+ in most parenting endeavors, we ace the bedtime routine. In six years, we’ve rarely deviated because if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it!

We began our routine when my oldest was just shy of two months. We had read somewhere that sometimes enlisting a bedtime routine would help with regular sleep patterns in babies. We tried it, it seemed to work and since then we’ve only made minor tweaks as the kids’ developmental stages have changed.


Most days, we try really hard to have a sit down dinner together with no interruptions. Having 3- and 6- year-old boys, someone is always out of their seat, or goofing off, or putting on an entertainment show that rivals Jimmy Fallon. Regardless, we still attempt to all sit together and all consume some food together at relatively the same time.

To encourage each person to talk, we each share one part of our day that we loved and one part we would change. Dinner time is our opportunity to reconnect and talk with one another about what is going on in each of our lives, as well as be highly entertained. And having dinner conversation boosts vocabulary more than reading! When the kids were really tiny, we still pulled the highchairs up to the table and ate together. As a family, it is probably the single most important part of our day.


I think for some, it is pretty unusual to bathe your child every day, especially when they are young. In our house, if you are old enough for milk to stick in your neck crevice, you get a bath every day.  The warm water is soothing and who doesn’t like to go to bed clean? After the bath, we have always done lotion and PJs. When they were babies, we followed up the lotion with a little baby massage. After that, everyone gets PJs, they brush their teeth, and it’s onto reading.

Reading Time

Reading is a highly regarded time of day in our house that usually involves the kids running like banshees to the bookshelf in order to get the first pick. They each get to pick two books, then we all pile onto the couch up and I set the timer for 20 minutes to make sure we meet my eldest’s kindergarten reading requirement (he takes the time accuracy of his reading requirement very seriously). Then they request Dad to read; he has a full array of character voices and apparently mine all sound like a British grandma.


After reading, the kids get kisses and hugs and it’s off to dreamland. My husband and I usually have grand plans to watch a movie or have an adult conversation that isn’t about around paying bills, but we almost always fall right to sleep, too. I guess the bedtime routine is so good it even works on the parents.

Tessa Wesnitzer is a health and wellness coach who lives in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves her husband, two boys, green tea, long runs, and snowy winters.

Great Books for 6 to 9 Months

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

I love, love, love to read. You’ve probably heard since before you even had kids that you should start reading to your children from birth, but sometimes it gets old reading the same old stories over and over. I found it hard to find books my children seemed really interested in when they were infants and toddlers, and amazon was often super overwhelming.

I turned to my friends for recommendations, and they never steered me wrong. Here are some books, both old and new, that my kids and my friends’ kids loved when they were babies and toddlers.

First off, a classic. If you don’t have Goodnight Moon yet in your home library, consider adding it. The illustrations are really mesmerizing for babies and the story is, as you may have guessed, great for bedtime.

Another classic that almost every young child seems to enjoy is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Again, the illustrations are beautiful and engaging and full of items that children see often.

Any of Sandra Boynton’s board books are a good choice. My sons especially loved Doggies, which is a counting book.

My baby niece is a big Llama Llama fan, and I am too. The books chronicle Baby Llama having to learn to deal with the frustrations in his life in an acceptable way. She also really loves Grumpy Cat (no, not the internet star), which has an adorable story line but also features cats, which she loves.

David is an adorable little boy that gets into trouble. A lot. This series includes board books, is very illustration heavy and totally adorable.

Finally, BabyLit books are super fun. They’re based off of classics like Pride and Prejudice (and if you’re a P&P fan, there’s a version of Goodnight Moon called Goodnight Mr. Darcy, too) and Moby Dick, but use really engaging pictures and text to teach things about things like counting and oceans.

If your city or town is lucky enough to have a Dolly Parton Imagination Library program, take advantage of it! You can register your child at birth (or after), and the program sends a new book each month (to keep!) for your child to enjoy. We were always very happy with the selections that came. And the best part–it’s FREE!

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two little boys, ages 3 and 6. She’s currently enjoying the expat life in Japan.

Reading to Baby

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Reading to BabyOne of the first things I ever read to my son was from a book about gender and bereavement. ‘Twas heavy stuff for a newborn, but he was fussy and I needed to get my work done. Turns out the soothing, slow voice I used as I took notes also calmed him as he rested on my belly. Since that time, we’ve moved to lighter material. Goodbye sociology, hello moon.

Since the opening lines of that very first book, our reading journey has proven fruitful in a number of ways.

  • Routine: Sometimes our reading is part of play time, but usually when we sit down to read our sons know we are having some chill time. If it’s after lunch or bath, then they also know we’re heading toward Sleepy Town.
  • Bonding: It’s not just sitting closely together that bonds us (though that’s important too!). We’re sharing in an experience on the page, having an interactive conversation about something else. Sure, this can happen in other ways, but at 20 months and 3 years, my boys aren’t capable of too much conversation. With a book in hand though, we can talk about going to the moon, the last time they were mad, or what we think the caterpillar could eat next.
  • Learning: Books may help to facilitate learning numbers, colors, and vocabulary. Those first few months and years are critically related to a child’s success in later life. Books also teach my son expressions as he hears my voice in conjunction with the story. He can take in information about the world around him. He can learn about feelings. Books exist for almost any occasion—Recycling? Don’t eat meat? Grandma recently died? Going on your first plane ride? Bringing home another child into your family? There’s a book for that! Books open children open to a world of the unknown, but they also help a child understand what is happening in the immediate world around them.
  • Skill-Building: Sitting still to read a book is a skill as is sitting and listening. The discipline of learning, over time, to take in a book’s fullness offers abilities that will help a child move toward the big-kid world. If you’re concerned with preparing your child for school or just want to help build them a highly-functional brain and enhance their memory, reading is a place to start.

Don’t think books can wait until baby can talk or read. Even before a child understands words, talking in a soothing voice, watching daddy’s entertaining faces, and seeing the high contrast images on a book’s pages offer even the youngest of babies a fantastic experience.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

How to Make Your Child Hate Reading

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

How to Make Your Child Hate ReadingWhen my son attempted kindergarten, I was told that he was “unteachable” by someone in the school district. My son has ADHD and SPD and can learn easily when he is allowed to move. I promptly removed him from school and decided to teach him on my own. I spent 15 to 30 minutes a day teaching him to read using a book that was recommended to me. Within five or six months he could read quite well. I had proven the school district wrong! I had won! 

However, I quickly realized that something was not right. He hated reading. He was in tears at the thought of reading. I had made a big mistake.

Over the course of the next two years, I backed off on forcing him to read. I would ask occasionally to see if he would read. He was improving without instruction but was not showing any more interest.

Eventually I noticed him reading little things–signs, movie titles, video game instructions. Sometimes I would misread something in front of him and he would correct me. I would act surprised, “Oh! I didn’t know you could read that. Great job!” I started leaving comic books out, specifically Calvin and Hobbes. I allowed him to play Scribblenauts, a video game where you type in the object you want and it appears. His imagination soared and his reading and spelling quickly improved. I never pushed him to read but I gave him lots of opportunities.

He started taking books with him in the car so he could finish reading a chapter. He came to me and read me an entire Calvin and Hobbes storyline about Stupendous Man. He’s now reading chapter books about The Lego Movie and My Little Pony.

It took nearly two years of patience for him to embrace reading. During this time I learned that many children aren’t ready to read at the early age that they are being required to read. At a time when our country is pushing for early literacy, we need to push back and realize that our children will read when they are ready.

Shannon Smith is a homeschooling mother of two who enjoys crocheting and cold weather.

Great Books For Babies

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Reading to your baby is a great way to help your baby learn words, shapes, colors, and sounds. Sometimes it can be hard to know which books are worth having permanently on your baby’s bookshelf though. Without further ado, here is a collection of purchase-worthy baby books!

Great Books for babiesBaby Lit books: These fantastic board books have been my daughter’s favorite books since she was about six months old! From The Jungle Book to Pride and Prejudice to Moby Dick, this series covers a wide range of literary classics. The author and illustrator take the classics and turn them into adorable children’s word or counting books with lush beautiful pictures. My daughter’s favorite is Alice in Wonderland, a color word book which has taught her all her colors.

Sandra Boynton books: These board books have adorable stories with fantastic rhymes, and are short enough to hold baby’s attention for the whole book. Our favorites are But Not The Hippopotamus and Blue Hat, Green Hat, but they really are all fabulous.

Goodnight Moon: The classic bedtime story is an essential for every child’s bookshelf, but I love the little board book edition for the baby stage. The sing song rhymes help babies wind down for sleep and the whimsical story is timeless.

Love You Forever: This was a favorite from my childhood, and the sweet loving story makes it a popular classic. The lilting rhymes keep baby’s attention well and a board book edition makes it baby friendly.

Great Books for BabiesPat The Bunny: Another favorite from my childhood, I love sharing this story with my kids. I love how interactive each page is with the different textures for baby to feel.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?: This classic was a favorite with my daughter as a baby. It’s bright, colorful pictures really grab a baby’s attention and it is another great way to teach colors.

Hopefully this list gives you some great ideas for books to read to your baby! All of these are just quality books that would be a wonderful addition to a baby’s bookshelf.

Becca Schwartz is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to a toddler girl and newborn boy. She and her husband have a small mini-farm with a flock of chickens, a few goats and rabbits, and are making plans to move out west to start a homesteading adventure together!