One of the things my husband and I try to do as parents is to establish some family time and some special time that we spend one on one with our daughters individually in daily routines. Children find stability and pleasure in routine and ritual and the tradition of reading at night with my husband is one our daughters certainly enjoy.
I adore that my husband has taken the role of exploring literature with our girls.  They have enjoyed progressing through the years of him reading to them as infants while they patted their chubby little hands on the pictures to researching new authors and enjoying weekly library trips together.  It’s surprising to me how much they covet this time, often choosing story time even over staying up late to do something else.  Our oldest child even asked for an entire book series for Christmas! I loved to read as a child, but I’m pretty sure I still asked for toys! I think their love of books has grown from this nightly routine – 30 to 45 minutes of reading snuggled up with good ‘ol Dad.
So, for this entry I picked my husband Brent’s brain to find out which books were his favorite, what did the girls seem to enjoy the most, how do they choose new books etc.  Here are some tips from our experience:
~ In the evenings, they choose a combination of books that the girls read to him and that he reads to them. I think this is a great point! Once your children start to read, practice is certainly important, but listening to you is not only enjoyable but continues to progress their receptive learning skills (or understanding something they hear).  Typically, receptive learning is more mature that expressive learning. This is why your baby knows that is their sibling or favorite toy and look when they hear a word before they can verbalize it.  Adults are no exception to this! I often know what I want to say before I can say it perfectly, don’t you? So remember to have your reading children read aloud to you, but don’t forget to read literature that is above their level to them!  And enjoy “baby books” for your infant and toddler, but try some longer picture books as well.
~ The library is fun, open most of the time and free!! Our daughters have loved this weekly ritual and all that goes with it – having a “book bag,” getting to know the librarian, searching for books on a certain topic, and finding favorite authors.
~ Swap books with friends! Think of it as a book club for kids! Children of any age can share books. After they read the same book they can talk about what they liked best and discuss the book in general.  An early reader/writer can even have a shared journal with a best buddy with lists of books they have read together and their thoughts on each one.
~ Don’t forget that nothing can open up the imagination like a good book. Have the winter blues? Head to the library and collect books on a topic. Try several books about the beach and make a seashell craft and play music from the Beach Boys. Collect a slew of animal books and when you are done reading them, head to the zoo!  Headed on a trip? Fuel the excitement and anticipation by reading about your destination before hand.
There are numerous excellent authors and books to explore but we wanted to share some of our favorites with you here:
Abby KleinFreddy Series: Each story explores a different problem of a first grade boy and shares how he works with friends to solve the problem.
Kate DeCamillo: Mercy Watson Series: This series shares the life of a fun loving pig that loves a great deal of butter! His love of butter gets him into trouble and sends him on many adventures.
Also by Kate DeCamillo: The Tale of Despereaux: My children love when my husband reads this lengthy chapter book to them!
Mo Willems:
The Pigeon Series: Fun Energetic Read Aloud. What will the pigeon try to do this time? Very silly…very fun!
The Elephant and Piggy Series: Great beginning Readers – short but funny stories about two friends.
Knufflebunny Series: Our family loves the tales of this girl and her beloved stuff bunny. Illustration are unique and interesting – a combination of real photography and cartoon images.

Bob Book series: Great to teach early phonics and independent reading

Bill Martin Jr. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: My nieces’ (3 year old) current favorite. Excellent and fun rhyming series that introduces letters in a unique way.
Tim Egan: The Pink Refrigerator: The story of a magical refrigerator that teaches a rodent to give up his boring ways and experience life to the fullest.
Emily Jenkins: Toys Go Out and Toy Dance Party: Great read aloud! A dear story about a girl and her three best friends who happen to be her toys, who come to life while she is away or asleep (we are wondering if Toy Story the Movie was based from this book?)
Laura Numeroff: If you Give a (Pig, Mouse, Moose) Series. Fun and silly ways to explore cause and effect concepts and foster imaginative behavior.
Mary Pope Osborne: Magic Tree House Series: This is on our list for next go around. Gabriella’s teacher recommended this and my nephew is in love!  A fictional series about adventures of two children that incorporates adventurous stories with a non- fictional historical guide to places these children visit and explore.

What are your family’s favorites? We love sharing suggestions! Post your favorites here or on our face book site (Milestones & Miracles). Cuddle up with your little book worm today!!

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