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Must-Read Summertime Book List

Ok, so we are officially in June and the last days of school are upon us! Just because school is out and lazy summer days are ahead of us, it doesn’t mean we stop reading…no way! I want kids to enjoy reading so much that they’ll want to do it instead of picking up an iPad or TV remote. So, I’ve begun collecting a list of books that will be irresistible to them! Below, I’m sharing some of our summer reads (which are primarily graphic novel/chapter books now) as well as some awesome picture books which I know younger readers will love to dive into all summer long!

Let me know down in the comments if you’ve read any of these and if you have recommendations for me to add to the list – I’m always on the look out for new books! I’ll link to purchase them at bookshop.org (a wonderful way to support local booksellers in your area!).

Victoria Jamieson has quickly become a favorite author of ours. When the Stars are Scattered is a wonderfully eye-opening story about the experiences of 2 brothers living in a refugee camp in Kenya. My 10 year old daughter LOVED this book, read it several times, and I appreciate that we had some conversations we never would have had otherwise. Definitely an empathy-builder. Roller Girl is our current nighttime read – and I am loving how our main character is spending her summer dealing with friendship, supposed enemies, and pursuing a goal. It’s also really cool to read a story about roller derby players! All’s Faire in Middle School is on the shelf and ready to be cracked open. The story revolves around a girl who is heading into public school after being homeschooled. She is faced with navigating this new and unusual and sometimes treacherous new environment. I’m looking forward to reading this one! Even though these books feature middle school aged kids my elementary kids are really enjoying them, they are understanding the trials and tribulations the characters face, and the content seems to resonate with them completely, so don’t worry if you think it will be too advanced or over their heads. The graphic novel style storytelling is very inviting to young (and reluctant) readers.

Camp by Kayla Miller is about the struggle to connect with new friends and the fear of stepping outside of your comfort zone. I love seeing characters deal with these issues because they become great conversation starters with my girls afterwards. The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag is a great choice for kids who might feel like they just don’t fit in. All of the Dav Pilkey Dog Man (Mothering Heights is the latest in the series) and Captain Underpants books are great choices for summer reading – I recommend purchasing a few of them for your kids’ bookshelf rather than borrowing from the library because they will most likely be read over and over again all summer long!

Picture books are always in our reading rotation and one of my all-time favorites for the summer is Ice Cream Summer by Peter Sis. Check out my read along video here. Some new picture books that I am looking forward to discovering with my kids this summer are: How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk – it’s entertaining and educational. And then Comes Summer by Tom Brenner is a celebration of the sunny season. The Dinosaur Lady by Linda Skeers is an enlightening biographical picture book. The Golden Glow by Benjamin Flouw will surely inspire summertime hikes and a deeper appreciation of nature. Fatima’s Great Outdoors by Ambreen Tariq is about a family’s first ever camping trip – a perfect summertime read! Jory John is one author we always love to read and I know Summer Camp Critter Jitters will not disappoint us.

These books should keep us happy all summer long! Let me know which are your old favorites and which you’ll be reading this summer. The best way to avoid the ‘summer slide’ is to keep books available and accesible to your kids. Select titles and styles they love and mix in some new ones for them to discover on their own…and, keep reading aloud to them every single day!

Happy Reading and Happy Summer!

Making a fresh start!

{Although Clear Gear gave me products to try in my home, all opinions are my own!}

How do YOU disinfect your home?

Cleanliness has been on my mind since the beginning of this pandemic, but I REALLY can’t help obsessing about it when one of my kids is sick! Last month, in the span of 3 days, both of my daughters and I began feeling unwell (runny nose, sore throat, fatigue, headache, etc). These days that means we go straight to a testing facility to get a Covid test. The results usually take about 36 hours to come back and in the meantime what do I do? I get to work cleaning and disinfecting the entire house. I’m not the tidiest or cleanest person, but in general I’m the kind of person who likes to keep a clean, tidy house. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Most of the time it feels like an uphill battle with 2 kids, 1 husband (big kid), and 1dog (which is like another kid, albeit less messy and much smaller!!) Whether it’s Covid or the flu or a cold I worry about germs on all of the things we touch throughout the day.

Just spray and walk away!

Thankfully, our results all came back negative, YAY! But, I can’t help thinking about all of the germs on high-touch surfaces in our home. Germs are everywhere, so many places in our home are practically breeding grounds for them. Yes, there are some good germs out there, but plenty are not. So, besides frequently washing our hands with soap and water what can we do? What do you do?

I began using Clear Gear spray on just about everything in my home…every door knob, remote control, cel phone, phone cable, chair, counter top, drawer pull…seriously, everything! In the past I relied on Lysol or Clorox disinfecting sprays, but never really liked them. The chemical smell really turned me off and I also would not use it on door handles, for example, fearing corrosion/rusting to the metal.

It’s 2021! Time to make some eco-friendly changes in the kitchen

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe we are actually in the year 2021! Last year was such a difficult one for so many of us. So, I’m looking for new ways to make life a little easier which will hopefully make room for more hugs and snuggles on the couch! That always makes life more joyful for me! ๐Ÿ’•

I’ve found myself obsessing with home organization sites, experts, instagrammers, etc and I think it’s a sign I need to organize all of the closets in my home! Perhaps with a more organized home I’ll feel freer to focus on other projects I’ve been putting off. I just wish there was a magic wand I could wave! Anybody know where I can find one? ๐Ÿ˜

I do use cotton dish towels and cloths to keep my dishes dry, counters and dining table clean. It’s important to be mindful of our paper towel usage. I’ve also already made the habit of carrying my own tote bags to the grocery store to avoid using plastic bags. So, while researching ways to make my daily life a little more eco-friendly I discovered a few really cool products I wanted to share with you.

Thanksgiving & Giving Thanks

Here’s something that has been on the top of my mind for the past couple of weeks: how can I encourage my kids to be more grateful?! I try to be a positive influence by modeling the behavior I hope they will embrace, but I think this pandemic has shifted so much in our attitudes and thinking about ourselves and our place in the world.

When it comes time to discuss a big topic something I like to do is to share some books with my kids together as a family. Books usually provide the helpful spark we need to get an honest, sincere, and productive conversation going. In this blog post I’m going to share what I’ve done with my kids, link to some wonderful, kid-friendly activities we can all try at home, as well as some things we will do to help others in our community.

A great place to start is by asking your kids: “What does thankfulness or being thankful mean to you?”. It’s helpful to make a list on a piece of paper or chalk board of the things we are thankful for. Children benefit from having strong visual cues, and seeing a list can be a powerful tool. Where will this list-making activity take your conversation? For us, this lead to discussing other words which might mean the same thing, like gratitude and gratefulness. From there, we talked about how we can show or share thankfulness with others. I asked them how it feels when we do this and how does it feel when others show it towards us. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how rewarding this conversation was for all of us! It’s not the first time we’ve done this, and I’m sure it won’t be the last!

๐ŸŽƒ Spook-tacular Halloween Picture Books!๐Ÿ‘ป

Looking for some truly awesome Halloween books? Below are some favorites in my household, as well as some recommendations from our fantastic Story Time with Michele Book Club members! I’ve included something for everyone on the list: younger children perhaps just learning about Halloween to grade-school kids who will want to read these over and over again each year.

I think reading about Halloween ahead of the holiday is a great way to build excitement and assuage any fears your younger ones may have. Halloween doesn’t just have to be about scary things and these books will definitely put a smile on everyone’s face! ๐Ÿ˜

There are so many great picture books out there and I am discovering new ones everyday! Enjoy my collection and PLEASE let me know if your favorite is missing so I may add it in the future.

I have included links to purchase these books from my list on Bookshop.org. Bookshop is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. I participate in their affiliate program in an effort to help support these businesses. You can also find all of these titles on Amazon or wherever you purchase books!


Top 5 DIY Halloween Costumes for Kids ๐Ÿ‘ป๐ŸŽƒ

What a year 2020 has turned out to be! Halloween is one of our favorite holidays, but with trick-or-treating not being an option for us this year, we are doing our best to enjoy the parts of Halloween that are still doable!

Every September we start brainstorming costume ideas – I just love listening to all of the ideas my kids come up with (Ice Queen, Pink Dragon, and Zombie Police Officer to name a few). This year, I thought it would be fun to see what we could actually make ourselves! I DO love a DIY project and researching costume ideas on the internet is a rabbit hole I had a lot fun getting lost in! ๐Ÿคฃ

Here are my TOP 5 DIY Kid Costumes for Halloween. Click on the image and you’ll be taken straight to the original post/content creator.

Hand Sanitizer ๐Ÿงด๐Ÿ™Œ

Quite appropriate for 2020 is this hilarious hand sanitizer idea. Save the next Amazon delivery box and use your creativity to fashion a sanitizer bottle of your own. I think the top could be simply a cap instead of a pump too!

10 Books I Recommend Reading for Back-to-School!

Well, here we are…back-to-school time again…albeit from home (for us)! Whether you’re heading back in-person or staying home, I’m sure there are many kids out there who are nervous about this new school year, especially those starting school for the first time. In a previous blog post I shared a lovely book that helped my youngest with her transition to school (you can read all about “Lion Heart Goes to School” here.). Since then, I have discovered so many more books that are wonderful for parents and teachers to share at the beginning of the school year.

I hope this list of 10 books inspires excitement about returning to school! Let me know in the comments which book you love for back-to-school.

I have provided links to purchase each book from Bookshop.org – an online resource which connects you with book sellers in your local area. It’s a great way to support small business owners and get to know bookshops nearby you! I’m sure these titles can also be easily found in your public library.


The Day You Begin

“Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael Lรณpez’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.”

Bookshop.org

School’s First Day of School

“It’s the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone’s just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. The school has a rough start, but as the day goes on, he soon recovers when he sees that he’s not the only one going through first-day jitters.”

Bookshop.org

If they build it….they will play!

One of the new year’s promises I made to myself and my family this year was that there would be less iPad time and I mean to keep it! Yes, they still get to play every now and again, but I have noticed that this month it’s something they ask for less than ever before. How are we doing it? With help from some awesome toys that are educational, engaging and challenging!

Our friends at The Learning Journey International sent us some toys to play with, and I was fascinated by what happened! My girls were immediately drawn to Zany Trax (a STEM interactive construction set), but they rolled their eyes at the other 2 games which, at first glance, seem to be for younger kids. They got to work right away building the Zany Trax and found it to be quite challenging. The box says it’s for ages 6+ but my 7 & 9 year old needed Daddy to step in with the assist because the instructions have to be followed quite precisely to ensure that everything works correctly!

There is something magical about giving kids the opportunity to BUILD something on their own. The process of building brought my girls together and once they had the final product completed they just kept on playing with it! If they build it, they will play! Meanwhile, I’m one happy Mommy to have kids so enthralled by one activity!

It’s always a great time to read aloud!

Thank you to everyone for tuning in and reading along with me on World Read Aloud Day 2020! It was my first time broadcasting a Story Time With Michele episode LIVE. Naturally, there were a few technical hiccups at first, but once I finally got going it was so much fun! It was really heartwarming to see so many people from all over the world log in and join me!

If you missed the LIVE broadcast, have no fear the video is right here! (Keep in mind, that first minute or so I’m trying to make sure that I’m actually broadcasting live – I’m a novice – what can I say?!)

There were people tuning in from San Francisco CA, New York NY, Edmond OK, Pensacola FL, San Antonio TX, Shaumburg IL, even Doha Quatar and Perth Australia!!! This is what World Read Aloud Day is all about: people all around the globe celebrating the joy of reading aloud and, by doing so, we are all amplifying the message that access to literacy is a fundamental human right. Thank you LitWorld.org for all of the work that you do to organize this event, share this message, and reach thousands of children around the world. It really is a very impressive organization!

I just love that they have identified “7 Strengths” which guide all of their work and children’s programs. LitWorldโ€™s 7 Strengths are Belonging, Kindness, Curiosity, Friendship, Confidence, Courage, and Hope.

Belonging: I am a valuable and important member of my family, community, and world.
Curiosity: I show a willingness to explore new territory and test new theories.
Friendship: I value close, trusting relationships with people I can count on.
Kindness: I think about the needs of others and always lend a hand to help.
Confidence: I can think for myself and feel comfortable expressing my ideas.
Courage: I am strong enough to do the right thing, even when itโ€™s hard.
Hope: I am optimistic that what I do today will result in a better tomorrow.

I hope that we all can take these 7 strengths and incorporate them into our lives and our children’s lives!

World Read Aloud Day 2020

https://www.litworld.org/worldreadaloudday

If you have followed me for some time now then you know I am passionate about reading aloud to children. The benefits are numerous, not just for the child but also for the reader (you and me!). So, you can imagine how excited I am that Feb. 5, 2020 is a day when readers all around the world will celebrate the act of reading aloud by making an extra special effort to read to someone, anyone, out loud!

I am so thrilled, in fact, that I am going to do something I have never done before! I am going to read a book LIVE on Facebook so that we may all enjoy the story together, at the same time! (Of course, it will be archived for those of you who can’t make it.) If you aren’t following me on FaceBook yet, or haven’t joined my FB Group (Story Time With Michele Book Club), what are you waiting for?! Just click the link and you’ll be all set up to tune in on Wed. Feb. 5, 2020 at 7p.m. EST. Check out the LitWorld website; it’s where I got my idea and inspiration!!

If you haven’t yet seen my Youtube channel yet, Story Time With Michele, then you don’t know that I have spent about a year and a half filming myself reading children’s books aloud. I read them for my children and for yours and even for adults who enjoy listening to a good story. Here’s an example of a recent fun addition to the channel:

My goal is to excite young readers so that they too may fall in love with reading books. There are over 25 million children in the US that aren’t able to read proficiently. We all can appreciate just how important it is to address this so that every child may reach their full potential! Reading aloud is one way that I know I can help in a small way, and that’s why I created Story Time With Michele.

Thank you for following and supporting me on this journey! I hope you will tune in on Wed. Feb. 5, 2020 at 7pm EST. I’ll be streaming a LIVE read aloud on my Facebook page and I hope you and your kids will read along with me!