Showing posts sorted by relevance for query children, books. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query children, books. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure: A Book Review

Do You Worry Because Your Children Prefer Screen Time to Reading Time?

Today's kids love their electronic devices. Whether they are playing games, texting their friends, or hanging out on social media, parents often wish they'd pick up a book to read for fun.   Is there something parents can do to encourage their children to enjoy reading? Kaye Newton believes there's a lot parents can do to turn their children on to books. She shares this in her book: How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure

How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure: A Book Review
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay Text added on PicMonkey

How We Encouraged Our Children to Read 

I was a natural bookworm. So when my own learning disabled adopted children weren't reading for fun, I worried. I also tried some of the following tricks, some of which Kaye Newton also recommends. 
  1. I read to our kids all the time and we talked about the books we were reading.
  2. When I knew my middle grade son could read a book but he'd rather I read it to him, I'd start reading it aloud and when I got to an exciting part, I'd remember something important I needed to do and he'd then finish the book himself. 
  3. I had books on topics that matched the children's interests visible where the children liked to hang out -- handy to pick up and read. 
  4. For every birthday and Christmas, I'd take the children to a children's bookstore and let them pick out two books they wanted for their own. They prized those books they'd picked out and often read them.
  5. I took the children to the library often and we'd all pick out books. 
  6. My husband and I both read for pleasure, thus modeling the behavior we hoped our children would pick up.
As a result of these activities, both our children eventually began to read on their own for fun when they weren't playing outside or engaging in other activities with friends and organizations. My son liked to read in bed at night to wind down from an active day. These humorous stories of outdoor life were some of his favorite night reads when he was in middle school. I would hear him laughing in his bed as I'd walk past. We also read McManus books together as a family.

Newton's Suggestions for Turning Your Kids on to Books

I had it easy getting my kids to read because personal computers were just entering homes and we didn't yet have access to the internet. There weren't any mobile phones in most homes yet, either. By choice we didn't have a television. So we didn't have to worry about the competition with screen time as parents do today. Newton addresses how to get children away from their screens in a variety of ways and entice them to use some of their leisure time to read. Here are some of the things she covers in her book

Why Is Reading for Pleasure Important?

Parents who were not recreational readers themselves may not be convinced that their children need to be. So Newton addresses the importance of recreational reading. She states these benefits researchers have discovered:
  • Reading reduces stress.
  • Reading makes people smarter.
  • Reading helps develop empathy.
  • Reading helps teens sleep better.
  • Reading prepares teens for college and the workplace
  • Reading helps connect the generations.
  • Reading may help people live longer. 

Encouraging Older Children and Reluctant Readers to Read for Fun

Some children, like me, naturally took to reading for pleasure. Others like my brother, hated to read, even though we read to him all the time and he enjoyed the stories. We later discovered he was dyslexic. Back then it was a condition just being discovered. Children with learning disabilities usually need special help and direction before they will read for pleasure.

Newton offers suggestions for helping these children learn to enjoy reading. She also addresses how to encourage children who read below and above their grade levels. She explains to parents the various measures of reading levels and what they mean. She addresses vision problems and how to solve them. She also discusses social pressures, such as being labeled a "nerd."

Here are some suggestions for high interest fiction and biographies for secondary students in middle and high school who are reading below their level. I thoroughly enjoyed the biographies myself and read almost the entire Creative Minds series when I used to sell these books.

If you want to get your children interested in history, try these highly visual books which bring American History to life for all ages

What Counts as Real Reading? 

Are text messages and social media posts real reading? What about graphic novels? Is seeing the movie just as good as reading the book? How about SparkNotes as a substitute for reading a book? How about manga, picture books, and chat fiction? 

Is it important that children stick to their reading levels? What if children have low reading comprehension skills? Should parents be concerned about a noisy reading environment or a strange reading position? Is reading an ebook on an electronic device as good as reading a bound book? Are there reading apps that will get teens interested in reading?  Should parents use their authority to have their kids take screen breaks for a couple of hours?

Newton's Family Reading Project  

Newton describes the two goals she had set for her family:

  1. Help her teens and preteens become self-motivated independent readers
  2. Increase reading of any long-form text, such as articles, blogs, magazines, etc. 

She spends a lot of time helping parents find the books that their children will want to read. This includes recommendation lists by age and interests and a list of reasons why children read accompanied by book suggestions that will address each reason. 

If children are to read, they need easy access to books. Kaye suggests sources for inexpensive books and also how to make reading the most desirable activity in a room. If children find books intimidating, subscribe to magazines your children will enjoy. My son was a Scout and he would devour his monthly issue of Boy's Life when he wouldn't voluntarily pick up a book.

 Newton encourages parents to model reading for pleasure and to help make reading enjoyable for their children. She suggests ways to make reading a social activity, since teens love to be with their  friends. 

Other topics Newton covers are whether parents should use reading rewards, summer reading and traveling with books, book clubs, and getting schools to promote a reading culture. She spends time on helping your children learn the difference between real and fake news. `

How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure: A Book Review
Courtesy of Pixabay

My Review

I agree that what Kaye Newton proposes in her book are effective techniques for turning older children into readers. I like her suggestions for parents and children interacting together about their reading. I firmly believe parents should be aware of what their children read, and even read portions of books their children are reading so they can discuss them together. 

I'm not completely with Kaye when she says children should be allowed to chose any books they want when they read for pleasure. I happen to believe that some books are just bad for kids. It doesn't bother me if a child wants to read picture books or other books that aren't on his or her exact reading level. Reading for pleasure should be relaxing.

But just as we encourage our children to eat healthy foods, we should encourage children to read books that will build healthy values rather than destroy them. I would let children pick the books they prefer to read from a collection the parent has screened. Your children tend to form attitudes and values from the books they read just as they do from the shows and movies they watch. 

I suppose one reason I feel so strongly about this is that we adopted two older children, and one of them carried a lot of emotional  baggage that most children don't. When left to her own devices and the advice of friends with similar emotional baggage, she would choose books that were dark and made life seem hopeless. 

She seemed magnetically attracted to the books that could do her the most harm. We could not prevent her from reading them because her friend sneaked them to her. The house was full of high-interest good books with lots of excitement and adventure, but she was irresistibly drawn to books full of orgies and violence like things she had witnessed and been part of as a young child. Because I was unaware she was reading these books, we could not discuss them. 

When I was selling books and getting free samples from publishers, I saw books it was hard to believe were aimed at the young adult market. They were  full of  drug use, promiscuous sex, and confusion. They did not model how a confused teen could escape that confusion. There were no good role models that had their lives together. These books weren't just junk food for the mind -- they were poison to the spirit.

How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure: A Book Review
Courtesy of Pixabay

So many wonderful and uplifting books are available that can encourage a child's spirit and feed a child's soul in a constructive way! These books, too, are full of action, romance, mystery, and adventure, yet their characters solve problems in a constructive way, have healthy relationships and aren't afraid to turn to adults to help them over rough places. They show there is an alternative to darkness and despair and that drugs and sex aren't necessary ingredients in having fun. 

So although Newton's suggestions do get kids reading on their own for pleasure, I think parental involvement in helping children learn to make good choices is important. I think it does matter what children read -- not just that children are reading. The wrong books in the hand of an alienated teen could be dangerous, because books do feed the mind and help form values. 

Newton's suggestions work best when parents follow her guidance about modeling behavior and being involved with their children's reading. She assumes parents reading her book care about getting their children on the road to reading success and that they will fill their homes with books that appeal to their children and make reading a family priority. Just as Kaye got her own children reading with these methods, I believe parents as involved as she was who follow her example will also turn their children into recreational readers. 

If you care about helping your children become independent readers who will be more successful in life, get this book to help you encourage them in that direction. 

How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure: A Book Review
Courtesy of Pixabay, Text Added in PicMonkey

How do you get your children away from their screens and into books?

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Book Reviews: Buy a Book for a Child to Celebrate National Buy a Book Day

National Buy a Book Day?

September 7 is National Buy a Book Day. Did you know that? I've always wondered how these little known holidays came into being, and I now know how this one started. Philip Athans, a bestselling author of fantasy and horror novels, admits he made it up.

Book Reviews: Buy a Book for a Child to Celebrate National Buy a Book Day
Photo in Public Domain Courtesy of Grafeek at Pixabay

His heart was in the right place. He saw independent bookstores closing and disappearing from neighborhoods. He wanted to help keep booksellers and publishers in business. He thought if he could encourage millions to buy a book on a certain day, it would bring in new business and help some bookstores stay open. Of course for that to have much of a continuing effect, buying books would have to become a habit. For me it's always been a habit, and my house will testify to that. Truly it now overflows with books. 

Support Independent Used Booksellers 

I still like to support independent booksellers, but most have left my area. One can still support independent used booksellers on line at and the Independent Online Booksellers Associaton. When I was still selling books I was a member of both organizations.

 Although many of those sellers also sell at Amazon, they can provide better service and consolidated shipping if you purchase the same books from them at through the websites listed above. I usually look there first for used and rare books. 

If you have questions, you can even ask the booksellers for more information about the books they have listed. You can usually call them or email them with questions. They can even tell you if they have unlisted books on similar topics.

 Amazon often makes mistakes in transferring information from bookseller databases. They may list paperback books as hardcover editions, and vice versa. Independent sites leave bookseller descriptions intact so that they are more accurate. If you are in doubt about something in a description, you can always call the bookseller and ask. You may even be able to negotiate on prices. Help keep independent booksellers in business., used to be an amazing online book search and selling cooperative, but it no longer lists books for sale. It has retained much of the book reference content written by the members. Book lovers may want to check it out.

Why Buying Books Encourages Children to Read

As my biographical sketch here reveals, I've always had my nose in a book. I have disclosed some of my personal reading history from childhood to college graduation in National Read a Book Day Should Be Every Day. In that post, I not only share my favorite picture books but also some video clips of television shows that were competing for my reading time. The books usually won. I was fortunate because I had a relative who bought books for me on every gift-giving occasion. It helped me acquire my reading habit. 

Every child should have the opportunity that I had. First I had many adults in my family who loved to read to me and I learned to love books that way. The people who gave me books read them to me over and over as I requested them. Those books became part of me. Because I owned them, they were always there for me to look at and read, once I learned how to read at the age of three. If I got stuck on a word, an adult helped me. Having an assortment of books to choose from makes it easy for a child to learn to read and enjoy reading. But a committed adult needs to keep reading aloud those books beyond a child's reading vocabulary. 

Buy Books That Will Hold the Interest of Your Children 

When I was young, excellent picture books were very few. Nonfiction picture books to satisfy children's curiosity about the world around them were as yet not published. Gail Gibbons, a prominent author and illustrator, a pioneer in this new genre, is a year younger than me. When I was young her books weren't even ideas in her head yet. Today you can buy one of her marvelous books for your young child who wants to learn more about sharks, whales, libraries, art, and a number of other subjects.

Each Gibbons book presents a series of pictures that tell a story or explain a process or the way something works. Many pages are divided into several frames, like comic strip frames, but the pictures in each frame are in the style you see in the image below. Children will return to these books repeatedly because of their bold colorful illustrations and the information they impart. 

Book Reviews: Buy a Book for a Child to Celebrate National Buy a Book Day

Some of my favorite books for today's lucky children are about animals. I'm a great fan of cat stories. Click to get more information on books you see below and some of my other favorite animal story picture books. Why not make one of these the book you buy for a child today?

Board Books Your Child Will Love

Are your children too young for books with paper pages? Even babies can discover books without destroying them if the books have board pages.

Be sure to pick the best board books from the hundreds now available. The babies and youngest toddlers need large bold colorful illustrations with distinct shapes. They don't need many words. Some of the books also have textures for children to feel. These can be searched for as Touch and Feel Books. The classic book of this type is Pat the Bunny. 

Young children have loved  Pat the Bunny for decades, but it gets mixed reviews. Some feel the comb binding is too easy to destroy. After looking at my own copy, I can see why this might be true. It appears that some adult supervision may be needed with the youngest children. The pages themselves are not as sturdy as those of a board book. I would recommend this for toddlers, but not babies.

This book is has been in print since 1940 and is still a best seller. It is popular because children can pat what feels like bunny fur, play peek-a-boo with a character in the book, smell flowers, (yes they do have a scent), look in a mirror, feel a daddy's scratchy face, read a book within a book, and put a finger through a ring hole. It is best if parents read this book to children a few times before letting them read it on their own. That will help children better understand the activities. Since the book and its illustrations are so old, all characters are Caucasian, and that may be a drawback for some people.

The Bright Baby board books you see below are perfect for the youngest children. The large uncomplicated pictures are easy for toddler eyes to take in. The colors are bright. The pages I saw had three or less words in large dark print. As with other books for this age, adults should read the book with the child several times and talk about the pictures and words. This helps children develop basic vocabulary as they learn to talk. It also helps them look at the books in a more knowledgeable way independently.

The board books below are examples of the kinds of books to choose for a toddler beginning to be interested in words. I love all of Sandra Boynton's board books. Her pictures invite conversations between the children and the adults reading to them. She is not afraid to use the big words with interesting sounds that children love to learn and speak -- like hippopotamus. But she also uses short rhyming words that are easy to pronounce and read such as cat, rat, frog, and bog. Children adore seeing Boynton's animals do silly things they would never really do. These books are wonderful vocabulary builders that hold children's attention.

Guess How Much I Love You reveals the truth that words can't really explain the limits of love because it has no limits. Parent do love their children more than words can describe.

Diggers and Dumpers is an example of the best type of special interest nonfiction books for young children. My Jason had an avid interest in trucks and construction vehicles. At five years he knew more about big rigs than I did. This is a book that would have been just right for him between one and three, and he would have continued to look at it even longer. The illustrations are large and clear. The words are in large type. They tell children the names of the vehicles they like to watch, and they explain what these vehicles do. That's what children this age want from nonfiction -- a way to talk about what interests them, whether vehicles, flowers, animals, or everyday objects and activities.

Lois Ehlert is a children's author and illustrator known for labeling the objects in her bold colorful pictures that emphasize the shape of things. Click that author link and you will see all her books I discuss here. Planting a Rainbow, shown below, explores the steps in planting a flower garden in very simple terms, with few words, in giant print. Unlike ordinary word books, Ehlert's books tell a story or explain something in a child's world in a way that makes sense to them. She continues the gardening theme in Growing Vegetable Soup and then exhibits the fruits and vegetables that a garden produces in the alphabet book Eating the Alphabet. Most of her subjects are related to art and nature, so it's easy to find one of her books that is just right for your child. 

When choosing a board book or any picture book, try to choose books with originality and style. There are many books with mediocre art or based on popular media and Disney characters that children already see enough of. Give them new fresh characters and art. As your children get to be school age,  give them picture books that will develop an appreciation of many art styles. I personally love the picture books of Thomas Locker that display his magnificent landscape paintings as he tells his stories or explains science concepts. Help your children develop a taste for fine art by choosing the picture books that use it.

Wouldn't you like to celebrate National Buy a Book Day now by buying a book for your favorite child? Publishers, authors, and booksellers will thank you. And don't limit book buying to one day of the year. Let's keep authors and publishers motivated to continue giving us more quality books for our children by helping them earn money through our purchases.

Which book will you buy? What is your favorite picture book? Did your children have a favorite?

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

5 Valentine's Books for the Youngsters in your Heart!

As a Grandmother, Grammie, Nannie or whatever your little ones call you, I know how special it is when they receive a gift that was picked especially for them.  I like to send books, so I will share with you my Reviews of 5 of my favorites.  I know that sometimes with distances between families being bigger than just a block away, it is difficult to be there for all those special occasions.   But, I have good news for you!

The world is truly becoming a smaller place.  It is easy to send a gift from one end of the country to the other and have it arrive in time to put a huge smile on the recipient's face!  What child doesn't like to be remembered by a Grandparent or Favorite Aunt or Uncle?  Just like we enjoy getting mail our children also like to receive something special too!

Here we go with my Review of 5 Favorite Books for Little Ones.
Books are one of my favorite gifts for young children and they are great to send across the miles too!  There are endless titles for young minds and stories that will take them to all corners of their world or the larger world too.  Toddlers love picture books or books that teach little life lessons and there are so many lovely titles available for little minds.  One of my favorites is written by a friend of mine and I purchased it for my Grandchildren.  It's a great story about co-operation, helpfulness, and friendship.  Just like the story, the book is a wonderful show of support for Ronald McDonald charities that helps sick children and their families.  So I feel really good about supporting such endeavors.  Susan Zutautas has a way with words and my Grandchildren love the story.

The Day Mr. Beaver meets a Moose is a great story, with lively illustrations and a cute story too!

I love to send books to my favorite little people that are fun to read, teach lessons and support a great cause. Boy, oh boy, does this book ever cover all those bases.  It also helps my friend become better known as a Children's Author!  So for me,  this is a winner!

Books that support a great cause make me want to purchase that book even more.  

Susan has another book available too, I think this one will be the next one I purchase for my Grandchildren. Called Mr. Beaver Plans a Party, it looks like it too would be enjoyed by my Grandchildren.  Who doesn't like the idea of planning a party?

Children's books are easy to send or order on-line to be delivered.  You can add a little note inside to let those children know how special they are to you.  As the years go by, hopefully,  the children will have realized how special those books that Grandma and Grandpa sent means to them.  I know I have some books that were my favorites from when I was a child.  These books are the ones that come out when the Grandchildren come to visit.  So I know that more than two generations have enjoyed the same stories and that they make the same impression on little lives.

These Last Three Books are all time Favorites of Mine!  Some are in the top 50 List of Books for Children.  

I promised you 5 books at the start of this Review This article and I'll give you the titles of the next three Because a promise is a promise.  Sticking to 5 books though is really tough.

The next book is one of my son's favorites! Herbert the Timid Dragon. by Mercer Mayer is a great story that everyone enjoys.  My daughter in law resorted to buying one used, my son's copy had disappeared over the years, and he really missed it.  It has become his daughter's favorite book too!

There are a whole bunch of Mercer Mayer books and all of them are really fun and easy to read to your children or for them to read by themselves.  You may find a lot of them are out of print, so when you go to flea markets or Bazaars keep your eyes open for these treasures.

Another book I love to give as a gift to children is a Dr. Suess classic!  Oh the Places You'll Go!  This book has such a nice story and it's written by one of the best children's authors ever.  Who hasn't indulged their inner child with the writings of Dr. Suess?  I know I have and will continue so long as I have more grandchildren coming.  This is a winner in every sense of the word.  Engaging and entertaining for young minds everywhere.

If you have a child that needs some encouragement, this last book is a great find. 

Last but not least on this Review is another favorite of mine.  I love animals and they are always a hit with kids too.  This book makes you giggle as Gerald the Giraffe finds out that he can do things that giraffes aren't supposed to be able to do.  It's a story of encouragement.  It will touch those young ones who are having a hard time or don't quite fit in. Gerald the giraffe gives them a dose of, "I can do it", in the nicest way possible. Giraffes Can't Dance will have your children and grandchildren smiling from ear to ear.

Conclusion:  If you need a good book for a little one, any of these 5 will be a hit!

So there you have it, the 5 books that are my favorites right now.
It's just a small installment of books that I would love to see sent to all children and grandchildren all over the country.  They have great lessons imparted in a way that doesn't seem like a lesson at all. Children of all ages love these books, and they are fun too!

Reading to children and having them read to you is one of the nicest gifts anyone can give a child.  Their imaginations will soar when written words are read and become part of their lives.  A child who reads and loves to read will become an engaged adult with a deep love for the written word.

What a great Valentine's Day gift that is indeed!

Olivia Morris is an affiliate member of, if you purchase a book through her links, a small commission is paid.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Reviews of Books for Children Which Bring American History to Life

These Amazing Books Bring American History to Life

Peter Crabtree and Bobbie Kalman are responsible for some of the most appealing American history books for children of all ages that I've ever seen. I first became aware of these books while I was in the business of selling educational books for children. They are not boring, like textbooks. They are designed to make children want to pick them up and read them. When I sold these at home school conventions, even the parents loved reading them. These books sold themselves as soon as people looked inside of them. I myself learned much from them. 

The Early Settler Series

Buy Early Settler Storybook
Educator Bobbie Kalman wrote most of these books. The first series she produced was called the Early Settler Series. It is now mostly out of print, but copies are available on Amazon. As you can see by the cover art on this title, the art is nostalgic in style. The books look old fashioned. There are lots of illustrations to enhance the text. The reading level is about third or fourth grade and up. The illustrations will not be considered too young by older children. 

These books sold very well for me. Titles include Early Christmas, Early Stores and Markets, Early Loggers and the Sawmill, Early Travel, Early Village Life, Food for the Settler, Early Schools, Early Family Home, Early Settler Children, Early Settler Storybook, Early Artisans, Early Pleasures and Pastimes, Early Farm Life, Early City Life, and Early Health and Medicine.The link above should lead you to all available titles. A complete collection will show children exactly what life was like for the earliest settlers of what is now the United States. 

The Historic Communities Series

Bobbie Kalman's next series, Historic Communities, made some changes in format. These books look more modern. Wherever possible they are illustrated with photographs from living history museums and towns. If you've ever been to Williamsburg or Sturbridge Village, these books will make you feel like you are there again. There are several photographs and / or color illustrations on each two-page spread. Each book 32-page book also has a glossary to explain unfamiliar words and an index to make it easy for readers to find what they are looking for. These books are visually designed for children as young as first grade, but I would expect most children would need to be at a second or third grade level to read them independently. 

Buy A Colonial Town Williamsburg
Let's use an example: A Colonial Town Williamsburg. This book gives an overview of the history of Williamsburg followed by a beautiful pictorial map illustrating the buildings and their locations. The reader then gets a photographic tour of some sights that would have been common to the colonists. These include shops and taverns and the garden areas that were often behind them. We see children getting water from a well, since there was no indoor plumbing. We see a ladder on the roof for putting out chimney fires. We see a slave boy grooming a horse and we learn why horses were important to the colonists.

In the next parts of the book we visit the buildings: the Governor's Palace, the public buildings, Bruton Parish Church, The College of William and Mary, the apothecary, the windmill, and the shops. We not only see photographs, but we learn the purpose of each building and why it was important to the community. As the courthouse is shown, we learn about colonial justice and punishments. In relationship to the apothecary we learn about colonial health care and treatments. We learn how the windmill works.

We meet the people of Williamsburg, from the gentry down to the slaves and get a feel for their places in the community. We see a harness maker at work in his shop. At the end we learn about Project Williamsburg and how students are involved.

Each book in the Historic Communities series introduces readers to a rich pictorial presentation of some aspect of early American colonial life. Each book allows children to step hundreds of years back in history and see what a child's day was like, which games children played, how food was produced and cooked, what people wore, what a school day was like, and more. Here is a brief summary of selected titles. You can see all the titles available for sale on Amazon.

Buy A Child's Day
A Child's Day: Ever wondered what chores the early settler children did, or what they did in their spare time if they had any? How were their schools, foods, and clothing different from those of children today? Color photographs and original artwork bring these children from earlier times to life.

Classroom Games: Even back in early classrooms, teachers used games to help their students learn spelling and creative writing, arithmetic and science, geography, art, history, drama and reciting, good behavior, and music. They even had scavenger hunts back then. Besides games still played in classrooms today, such as spelling bees, students played word games, alphabet games, arithmetic games, and more. In outdoor classrooms, students made gardens and nature crafts. The games in this book are easily transferable to today's classrooms, where they can still make learning fun

Colonial Crafts: Watch the artisans and craftsmen at work in colonial times. Visit the workshops of the wheelwright, the cooper, the founder, the shoemaker, the milliner, the gunsmith, and many more. Discover how these people were trained through the apprenticeship program.

Buy Colonial Life
Colonial Life: Meet the hard-working members of a colonial community. Learn about the importance of family relationships and discover the importance of religion and education to these people. Watch plantation life and see the plight of the slaves. Observe how people traveled and spent their leisure time.

Customs and Traditions: This is one of my favorites. It explains how the early settlers preserved history, predicted the weather, cooked and ate, welcomed a new baby, and celebrated courtships, weddings, holidays, and the harvest.

Buy Fort Life

Fort Life: Forts played a vital role in the New World because they offered protection. Learn about the different types of forts, the parts of the fort and how they functioned, and what went in in the lives of the families who lived in the forts.

The General Store: The general store was the hub of a town's life. It's where people went to buy their supplies, sniff the marvelous aromas, and see the colors of bright, new fabrics. It was a place for people to dream, make deals, gossip, and socialize. The photographs and illustrations will make you feel you are there.

Home Crafts: In this book you will see, step by step, how the early settlers made candles and soap, carded and spun wool, dyed cloth, and sewed samples. The color photographs really make you feel as though you were watching.

Buy In the Barn
In The Barn:  See all the activity that went on in the barns of busy settler farms. Watch as cows are milked, hogs get their slop, and the stalls get cleaned. Share in the work and fun of a barn-raising. See how the chores changed with the seasons.

The Kitchen: When you've read this book you will feel you've visited a colonial home, and entered the kitchen where the family spent a good deal of its time. You will see the fireplace, the tools and utensils surrounding it, and the chores that were done there (baking bread, churning butter, etc.)

Life on a Plantation: Watch the daily activities of plantation owners and their slaves. Compare their lifestyles. Readers will see life in the "big house," in the slave quarters, and in the cotton, rice, and tobacco fields. The customs and festivals of the estate are also explained.

Buy A One-Room School

A One-Room School: The first priority of any early settler community was building a school. This book explains what these one-room schools were like, what they taught, how students studied when books were scarce, how students were disciplined, and what went on during recess.

Buy Pioneer Projects
Pioneer Projects: In this book you will find step-by-step instructions for children and parents who want to make pioneer crafts. There are also instructions for making a model of a settler town.

Buy Early Settler Sayings
Settler Sayings: This is another of my favorites. Ever wondered why we say such things as "flash in the pan" or getting down to brass tacks"? This book explains how some of these old saying have their roots in the day-to-day lives of the early settlers.

Other titles this series include The Gristmill, Visiting a Village, Tools and Gadgets, Old Time Toys, Children's Clothing of the 1800's, The Victorian Home, Spanish Missions, 19th Century Girls and Women, 18th Century Clothing, 19th Century Clothing, Victorian Christmas, Colonial Home, Travel in the Early Days, Pioneer Recipes, and Schoolyard Games. You can find all Historic Communities titles in print (and maybe some that aren't) by following this link.

I highly recommend the books in these two series to parents who want to take their children to see places important in our country's early history. I found that using books to prepare my own children for living history museums and other historic places helped them to understand what they were seeing and got them thinking about which questions they wants to ask docents when they had the opportunity. 

These books are also great resources for children educated at home or in schools, who might not be able to visit historic sites in person as we did. Videos may also be helpful, but they move quickly. Books allow children good long looks at what most interests them.  These should be in every elementary school library. Because of their low reading level and visual impact, these books are also ideal for reluctant or low-level readers in upper grades. 

If you would like to show your children how the early settlers and colonists lived in America, don't miss these. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Civil War On Sunday - Young Readers Book Review

This review is of book #21 (Civil War on Sunday) in the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne 

Available on Amazon

Last week my son & family visited me in Savannah, Georgia. We did a number of 'tourist' type things in and around the area.  

One of these was a tour of Fort Pulaski National Monument, a Civil War landmark located on Cockspur Island between Savannah and Tybee Island, Georgia. 

Fort Pulaski National Monument

Naturally the tour ended up in the gift shop where my 7-year-old second-grade grandson David found a children's book about Civil War times that he fell in love with. Of course his dad bought it for him, as it's easy to agree to buying a book when you want to encourage reading in children. 

Well, you can't believe how this book excited David. Within the next 4 days he had read this 96-page paperback book all the way through twice and was on his third reading. 

David carried this book everywhere all week. He even insisted on taking it out to breakfast at a restaurant on River Street in Savannah, and it later got accidentally left behind in the Visitors Center bathroom as we walked the length of Savannah's famous River Street.  Luckily we figured out the last time anyone noticed he had been carrying it (right outside the Visitors Center) and looked there first before we left to drive home about two hours later.  

David was nearly in tears thinking his beloved book was lost and wanted to immediately return to Fort Pulaski to buy another copy! Happily the book was found safe & sound at the Visitors Center.

Chapter Book for Children

Magic Tree House List of Books (Children's Books Wiki)

The book "Civil War on Sunday" is part of the Magic Tree House book series by Mary Pope Osborne.  The series is numbered (this one is Magic Tree House #21) and features two children (Jack & Annie) who appear to have 'back in time' adventures through a Magic Tree House at their Frog Creek, Pennsylvania home. 

The Magic Tree House series are beginner chapter books for children in grade levels 1-4 who are just graduating to longer books and more exciting adventures. 

This particular book has Jack & Annie transported magically to a field near the Civil War fighting in Richmond, Virginia where they meet Clara Barton, become volunteer nurses and save the life of their very own great-great-great-grand-father. This story allows 6-9 year olds to learn the basics of Civil War history while enjoying an interesting tale. It's obvious this series of books is written in a way that will capture a young reader's attention, as shown by the immense and immediate interest my grandson David has shown.

Author Mary Pope Osborne

Mary & Will Osborne (Wikipedia Public Domain)
Mary Pope Osborne is a strong proponent of children's literature and her Magic Tree House series of books is highly regarded by parents, teachers and libraries for their power to instill a passion for reading in children.  Osborne has written over 100 books for children and young adults from novels to picture books and from biographies to mysteries.

The Magic Tree House Series


Magic Tree House Boxed Set

The Magic Tree House Series introduces the world to Jack and Annie, a brother and sister who discover a magical tree house filled with books. 

Mary's Magic Tree House books have been written in conjunction with her sister, Natalie Pope Boyce, and her husband, Will Osborne. The fiction series are supplemented by the Fast Tracker Series as the perfect way for kids to find out more about the topics they discover in their favorite Magic Tree House adventures. They are nonfiction stories designed to give young readers a fun and easy way to find out more about their favorite places, time periods, and subjects.  The series includes subjects from history (such as the Civil War, Revolutionary War and World War II), along with books about dinosaurs, Merlin and fairy tales, pirates and ninjas, animals like polar bears, lions and tigers, sports-related stories, and weather adventures like earthquakes and tornadoes! The range of topics is wide and diverse with subjects that appeal to all children.

For more information about all the books, along with games to play and suggestions for both parents and teachers, visit the Magic Tree House Website.

David is Now a BIG Fan of the Magic Tree House Series

David with his Civil War Book

Since acquiring this book about the Civil War at Fort Pulaski a little over a week ago, David  has become such a fan of the Magic Tree House Series  that his  parents have already ordered him two more books from Amazon and David has told me which one he wants next (Danger in the Darkest Hour - taking place in 1944 during World War II) as my birthday gift to him in April.  

With many, many books available in this series, I will have an easy time selecting gifts for him for some time to come. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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