Reading Treasured Books Can Build an Unbreakable Bond

When we look back on our childhood, most of us remember a treasured book that we either discovered on our own or read with someone special.  I remember sitting on the sofa with my mother reading The Little Engine that Could and Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel.  Time spent reading with your child says “I love you” and “you are special.”  Cuddling together and sharing a story stops time for a bit carving out a private moment just for the family.

It is often difficult to find the time to sit and read together, so parents get creative.  A friend of mine has her son sit on the kitchen counter and read to her, while she prepares dinner.  She pauses to look at the pictures and continues to cook while they discuss the story.  Her son loves the attention so much he is one of the top readers in his first grade class.
Another friend has her daughter read to her as whenever they are in the car.  She keeps library books stashed in the car, so there is lots of variety.  When they run out of books, they tell each other stories.

By adding a few props, activities, and theater to your reading time, you can create memories that will last a lifetime—and instill a deep love for reading.  Here are some examples using some beautiful children’s books.

  1. The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Woods
    This is a simple story about a mouse who is trying to hide a strawberry from the big hungry bear. In the end, he shares the strawberry with the reader, so “that is one strawberry the big hungry bear will never get.”  The fun comes in all the ways the mouse tries to hide the strawberry. First, he tries to bury it. Next, after covering it with chains and a lock, the mouse begins guarding it. Finally, he disguises the strawberry with a glasses, nose, mustache toy disguise. This is a great book for preschoolers because it has repetitive wording that allows them to participate in the story.

When you read this book bring some magic to it with inexpensive plastic “disguise” glasses with attached nose and mustache.  Have some strawberries on hand to guard and share.  My two year olds loved wearing their disguises while we shared the strawberries, before the big hungry bear could eat them.

You can listen to the story here.


  1. Miss Spider’s Tea Party by David Kirk
    A rhyming book, Miss Spider’s Tea Party chronicles Miss Spider’s attempt to find bugs willing to come to tea. The verse is simple and easy for children to understand. This book is a good opportunity to talk to your child about the feelings of being left out and misunderstood. Especially, if they are experiencing school for the first time. The gorgeous pictures really draw in the reader. Be ready for many requests for tea parties after reading this book.
  2. Chato’s Kitchen is a delightful book by Gary Soto. This multicultural story has a latin rhythm that is mixed with ethnic terms and simple Spanish terms. A house of mice moves into the house next door to Chato, a cool, low-riding cat. He invites the mice to dinner, but they are not to sure about his intentions. The pictures have vibrant colors that match the cultural feeling of the book. The mice finally agree to come to dinner, but they ask to bring a friend. Thinking there would one more mice on the menu, Chato readily agrees. Chato and his friends cooked side dishes all day. When the guests arrived, they brought their guest, as well, a low-riding dog. In the end, they all sat down and had a good meal–without any mice on the menu. After reading this story, we cooked simple tacos and used the Spanish food terms for the next few day. The boys still remember cooking our Mexican dinner.
    Here is  the book trailor for Chato’s Kitchen.

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Scrapbook Adventure for the Un-crafty

Scrapbooking transforms a box full of photos into a memorable work of art. Dedicated creators collect the tools of their trade, such as a Cricket, a machine that cuts letters and pictures from scrapbook paper to use their time efficiently, so they can focus on what is the most important, the images they are showcasing. The owner purchases dies (the cutting templates) to match their desired designs.  Shaped scissors for decorative edges, circle, square and other shaped cutters create the backdrops for the photos. Other items are circular punches, corner punches, shaped punches, stencils, stickers and rub-ons.  Found objects, such as scrabble letters, small Barbie toys, and actual artifacts from an event, like a ticket stub, can make a page unique and personal.

Scrapbooking for Busy Mothers.

This posting is about using free or inexpensive scrapbooking programs on the Internet to quickly and simply create scrapbooks. It is a trade-off between textural and 3-D elements and ease of use. Today’s full tilt pace makes it impossible for me to spend the time going to through my pictures, much less cutting pasting, selecting elements, deciding on color theme, etc.

One day I decided to purchase the multiple picture frames that are so popular.  I love the homey way they look on a wall.  I enthusiastically pulled out a couple boxes of unsorted pictures–first problem.  By the time I had looked through the first half of the first box, I was exhausted.  Each picture I selected had to be cropped and sized to fit into the frame.  I shudder to think how long a scrapbook would take.

I am not crafty at all. I admire all mothers who can create fabulous scrapbooks. As soon as I took out scrapbook paper, the punches, some fun 3-D objects and decorative stickers, my two year old twins would swarm the area to “help” me.  The thought of spreading out all the materials, organizing them, using them and then putting everything away again is overwhelming.

Online Scrapbooking to the Rescue.

I added the digital option to my picture order when I had them printed, so I could access them on my computer when creating the scrapbook, so much simpler. The following are some of the more popular sites:

  1. Smilebox– This is a very user friendly site that allows you to save individual projects and picture banks that can be used to create cards and scrapbooks. The choices of styles are limited, but the result is very attractive. It is inexpensive to share them electronically, but be prepared to pay, if you want to download and print.
  2. designs provided in this program are beautiful. The software is easy to use. The company will print the finished album. A simple 20 page album in a smaller size with a soft cover starts at $15.00. A 20 page traditional sized 12 x 12 album with a hard cover and dust cover is $75.00. Looking at the abandoned box of scrapbooking supplies I bought at a home party, I think it might be a bargain.

A Fresh Idea–An Album of Fun Family Selfies.

Take spontaneous photos with your children and you will find that there are many perfect settings that you just pass by each day–an interesting tree, the front of their school, the near-by park. Make them into cards to slip into their lunches, drawers, etc.





My New Favorite is Shutterfly’s Program “Custom Path”.  It is not free, but the resulting book is amazing.