How to Choose {Excellent} Living Picture Books

Saturday, February 27, 2016

As a Charlotte Mason-inspired homeschooler, I do a LOT of reading with our kids.  The spine of everything we do is literature.  Well-written, Living Books are the name of the game in our home.   And this includes everything from picture books to poetry to fables, fairy tales, famous stories retold, Shakespeare, non-fiction, novels… with one thing in common – I’m seeking LIVING BOOKS.

I often talk to moms who are new to homeschooling and new to Charlotte Mason homeschooling.  There are two things I usually encourage them to do.
First, I have some favorite Charlotte Mason books I recommend reading to gain at least a good foundational understanding of Charlotte’s philosophies.  Second, I encourage them to just start by focusing on reading lots of wonderful living books with their children.  And when they are toddlers, preschoolers, and early- to mid-elementary aged, Living Picture Books are wonderful.  Start there.
But the more I talk to new homeschoolers, the more I’ve realized that so many have the same question I had when I started with Charlotte Mason – How do you choose a great ‘Living Picture Book’?  I mean, what is a LIVING BOOK, anyway?

To read more, join me over at the Hip Homeschool Moms site?

A book review of Jesus Helps Me from Graham Blanchard

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I'm excited to review the newest book in Graham Blanchard's Knowing God series - Jesus Helps Me.

I've been talking a LOT about books lately.

I research books.  I 'pin' books.  I organize books.  I buy books.  I borrow books (by the dozens...). 

And... sometimes, I get the delight of reviewing books.

 I don't have any babies in my home right now (sigh), but I still LOVE board books.  And I know many of you have babies and toddlers and are seeking good quality, living books for your littles.

And you know what?  There is something very special about those first books we read to our babies and toddlers.  Why not choose deeply meaningful, God-honouring literature, even in the earliest years?

Honestly - I love all the titles that I've read from Graham Blanchard.  This is a Christian publisher of books for young children that are created to inspire and deepen a child's relationship with God.

I love these words from their website:

"Bringing a new soul into the world is a profoundly spiritual passage of life for new parents. We welcome you to a loving community of moms and dads, mentors, educators and pastors who have developed helpful resources to support your growing family’s spiritual life."

I adore the way this publisher categorizes their books into three groups - Learn, Absorb, Praise.  Jesus Helps Me is a 'learn' book by Callie Grant.  The book shares truth about how Christ helps us by using John 12:44-47 as the basis of the writing.

Jesus says, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.  I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.

Yes!  What truth to plant into the hearts of our children.

Each page includes a beautiful photograph from nature of various animals (a swan and her cygnets, a kingfisher diving for food, arctic tern, an owl, a cardinal in winter, a woodpecker feeding her young, etc.).   These photographs are accompanied by text expressing how the qualities and habit of the animal reflect the truth revealed in the scripture.

Here's an example from one two-page spread:

Image - a beautiful owl perched on an Autumn branch.

Scripture - "So that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness."

Caption -  "This owl rests in the day and works at night.  Owls have special eyes that help them find their way through the dark.  When you trust in Jesus, you use you special sense called faith that can lead you out in the darkness in the world."

At the end of the book there is a two-page feature for parents/kids.  This gives parents tips and encouragement for applying and getting the most out of the book.  the "What Do YOU Think?" page asks thought-provoking questions of the child.

I really love this book.  I think it is a wonderful combination of scripture, truth, nature study, and application for young toddlers, preschoolers, and even early school age/elementary students.

Other nice features from Graham Blanchard:

There are links to various book-tie-ins on Pinterest.

You can get a good look inside the book, by clicking here.

Also, Graham Blanchard offers a 'Free Tips for Parents' section for this book on their website.   This offers insight and ideas for engaging further with the book.  Ideas include things like, encouraging our children to engage their senses in worshiping God for His creation, visiting the sea (or waterfront) and comparing the various aspects of the boy's day to your child's experiences, talking to children about the idea of water and how oceans, lakes, rivers, etc. cover much of the earth.  I love these ideas!
Many of the books on the site include engaging ideas like these in the Tips for Parents sections.  What a great tool for applying these books to our children's lives!

PS.  Right now, if you visit, you can sign up to receive a free ebook, called, Spiritual Parenting in the First Five Years.  

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