My Kids’ Favorite Books: a book list for later elementary to middle school

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One of my favorite things to see, as a parent, is my children curled up on the sofa, or sitting outside on the porch swing, or numerous other places reading! And let me add to that- reading without me telling them to go read….reading because they want to!

So, as I’m thinking about Christmas gifts (or birthday gifts, etc.) for my kids or nieces and nephews, I love to include BOOKS as part of their present.

Reading is one of those wonderful pastimes that is the same as it was 100 years ago. You find a book and you read it. (granted, I suppose you could be reading it on a kindle or ipad or something, now) ūüôā And, it is just as beneficial as it ever was. It stimulates the imagination, it feeds you with knowledge, it broadens your scope of life and history by learning of others’ experiences, it inspires through achievements and endeavors of people before us, it sharpens your spelling skills and builds your vocabulary without ever having to pull out a textbook to do so. What a great gift!

So, with Christmas shopping underway, perhaps you will enjoy this little list of some of my kids’ favorite books to read. I love book lists because they help me narrow down my options instead of having to search through the thousands of children’s books out there and not knowing where to start. There’s a lot of trashy books out there too, so I appreciate lists that give me good, wholesome choices.

We actually used several of these titles for school reading. I buy several books at the beginning of the year and then let the kids choose which ones they will read. When they’ve finished that book, they go back to those options and choose again. They really like handling it this way, as it allows them to have some say in what they read for school.

So, here you go:

Book List for approximately grades 4-8 or ages 9-13

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 Ideas for Road Trip Fun in the Car

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Summertime is here, and it’s time for vacation or fun day trips!

I just took a few of my grand kids to the lake last week (about an hour away) and I heard the age-old question from one of them, “When will we be there? Are we there yet? How much longer?”

Time drags for little guys when they are all excited to be somewhere and yet we just keep driving.

Here are some fun suggestions for things that have worked for us over the years to keep little ones occupied and excited (and to help you keep your sanity!!)

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7 Favorite Learning Resources Under $20 for Ages 3-5

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Here is a list of 7 Learning Resources that I really like for preschoolers/kindergartners. I’d say Ages 3-5 would best benefit from these picks.

This year, we are homeschooling our 4th preschooler. (Our other children are in 7th, 6th, and 1st grade!) Along the way, I’ve used some products that were just so-so, some that weren’t worth the time or money, and some that I loved and have used over and over again!

What makes these ‘keepers’ to me?¬†

  1. My kids have enjoyed them and actually used them
  2. I have enjoyed my kids using them (something that is complicated or overly time-consuming or messy is probably not going to be a winner in my book. So, my “keepers” are resources that are simple, yet effective
  3. Economical- We don’t (can’t) buy our kids every neat book or toy we see. So, resources that get the job done without breaking the bank are a must for us.
  4. Durable- Toys or puzzles that break after one child uses them, won’t be bought again!
  5. Educational- the whole point of a “Learning Resource or Activity” is for it to actually teach¬†kids a skill or strengthen a skill or thinking process or encourage creativity.

So, here you go: 7 suggestions for books or activities that teach – while being fun, too! (and all under $20)

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Creative Geography Teaching Tools

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Geography is something that many schools are ignoring these days, but really there are so many fun resources that make teaching geography a breeze!

My kids learned so much just because we had fun resources in the home; I never had to treat it as a school subject. ( I did use one geography book in junior high school, but that’s the only ‘formal book’ I ever used).

Homeschooling offers the opportunity to think creatively and explore unconventional ways of learning. Though book-learning is essential and helpful to many subjects, it isn’t necessarily the only way.

Here are some resources- many that I’ve used through the years- ¬†that you can use to feed knowledge into your kids about geography in a very fun way!

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My Favorite Read-Aloud Book at Christmastime

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I just love the Christmas season. And, I’m one of those people who really loves traditions- especially¬†Christmas tradition. So, I really¬†wanted to share a book with you that is a favorite tradition for my little family. We read it together every year throughout the Christmas season.

A¬†Little House Christmas TreasuryFestive Holiday Stories is¬†a compilation of Christmas stories taken from some of the original 9 Little House Books. I’ve always loved the Little House books anyway, so this book caught my attention when I saw it in a bookstore years ago when my oldest child was only a very little girl. I bought it and fell in love with the sweet Christmas stories, the pretty little illustrations and colorful and cheery embellishments throughout, and the well-made sturdy¬†pages.

 

I find the book itself to be really pretty, christmas-ey, and well-made; it would make a beautiful gift for a family or a child.

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Homemade Bread – All Year Long!

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Mom, wondering what to ask for, for Christmas?  Here are a couple of things I got years ago and have been SO glad I did. These would also be a wonderful gift for a newly-wed couple, or a grown daughter who is interested in baking.

Have you ever considered baking your own bread with your own freshly-ground wheat? It’s one of the best decisions I ever made for my family. I hardly ever buy store bread anymore. The taste of whole wheat bread with freshly ground flour is not even comparable to store bread. I just make a couple big batches every month or so and freeze it. It’s really not time consuming.

There’s nothing like the smell of freshly- baked bread, and it’s such a good feeling knowing that you are feeding your family something that is super nutritious for them too.

We grind our own wheat berries in our WonderMill Grain Mill,  and the result is amazing.

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More Gift Ideas: Toys & Games

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I’ve been enjoying sharing with you some of my favorite gifts that I have given my kids and grandkids through the years- such as the types of toys I like to buy for my kids, our family’s favorite books to read together, and lots of dress-up costume ideas, too! I hope it’s helped you to get¬†some ideas as you shop for those special people in your life!

But I’m having such fun I wanted to suggest a few more!

So, here are some of our top toy picks, based on gifts we bought for our own kids- trusted and true toys that last and encourage healthy-role play.

These toys and games have been (or still are!!) well-loved (and¬†well-worn!) in the Boyer household and that we highly recommend! ūüôā

Fisher-Price Noah’s Ark– ours is no longer with us, but it served many kids for many years. Super great for toddlers. The animals are just the right size for little hands to grasp.

Toys Girls Love: 

Lee Middleton Dolls: This is a gift we gave to most of our girls at some point. They called them the “heavy baby” because they are life sized and do get heavy to tote around. We gave each girl some of the clothes they wore as a baby for the doll to wear because they¬† fit into 0-3 month size baby clothes. The family went together and gave one to Melody for her December birthday last year. This a especially a perfect gift idea if mommy is expecting a baby and your little one can have her baby to care for too. Baby sucks it’s thumb or a pacifier too.¬† (you can follow the link to this doll at Amazon, but be aware they have others as well if you want a different color hair, etc.)

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Gift Idea: Dress-Up!

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Now here is an idea for Christmas gifts that will give MANY hours of creative play all year long!

Dress-up has been one of our kids’ very favorite pastimes. We always rewarded our kids for Scripture memory, and a couple of them chose costumes for Bible memory rewards. It’s a great way to role play being useful adults. Melissa and Doug offers a wide assortment to choose from, and we used many of these.

We also like historical costumes. It was not uncommon to hear our kids playing “Washington Crossing the Delaware” or “Sgt. York at the Battle of the Argonne”.

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On Thanksgiving, the kids would always dress up, some as Indians and some as Pilgrims. They’d act out the first Thanksgiving.

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10 Favorite Books for Family Reading Time

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Rick tried to read to our kids most nights as they were growing up. These books I’m sharing with you today were all-time favorites. I know some of my kids have done the same with their kids, too.¬†

What better Christmas gift could you give than books you can read together as a family?

1.¬†The Little House Books- The Early Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder- Ok, I guess this first favorite isn’t just 1 book. It’s a whole series of 9 books!¬†We have spent many pleasant hours as a family reading through the “Laura books” and reading them over again. The stories are wonderful classics of years-gone- by and the strong bond of a loving family through the good and bad times- perfect to read aloud as a family.

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¬†2.¬†¬†James Herriot Treasury for Children–¬†Another family favorite has been the James Herriot¬†books. Rick has read selected stories from these books to the family. We were glad to see a children’s version come available. Sweet, heart-warming stories based on the vet’s experience in the Yorkshire hills.¬† Some are hilariously funny and others sweet.

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What Do I Buy My Kids for Christmas?

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We were careful through the years not to buy trendy toys for our kids. We wanted toys that would allow them to simulate real life situations. We often made suggested lists for relatives to buy from so that they wouldn’t get things we really weren’t wild about them having. Our goal for our kids is to prepare them for real life, to be responsible people who serve God and care for others- so generally that was our guideline in choosing purchases for Christmas or birthday giving.

Below are some of our recommended toys. (I’ll recommend some of our favorite books¬†real soon.)

LEGOS– My kids spent many happy hours playing Legos. It encourages their creativity and dexterity. This is one activity I let my older kids participate in during “naptime” hours for little ones. The older kids would stay in their rooms for an hour and half each day. They would do their Bible reading and then quiet play. During this time, we played audio books in their rooms, and much learning was done. (although it was so fun listening, that they sometimes would stay after the required “quiet time” was over!)

Here are some of the Lego sets I recommend. We tried to get things that encouraged “real” kind of play and creativity rather than fantasy.

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