Growing Readers


We all know you are supposed to read to your children and the huge benefit our children receive from that, right?  But I admit, I didn’t really read to my kids, especially as babies.

Maybe it was fatigue or just the thought of one more thing on my to do list. The fact is I myself am not a reader. I read slow and feel like I am constantly re-reading it to comprehend what I just read.  Not exactly my most favorite way to spend my free time. But I know I need to read to my boys.

I was totally overwhelmed when I would go to the library.  I had  no idea what to pick.  I was drowning in a sea of books.  It seemed like a lot of the books seem to have values contrary to what I am trying to instill in my boys.  I was frantically trying to pick books quickly while keeping an eye on my boys.  Frustrating!

This year we started the adventure of homeschooling, and I knew I HAD to get better at reading to my boys.  I also wanted to help lengthen my oldest’s attention span and get him started reading on his own.  So, I dusted off a book a dear friend gave my for my baby shower called Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt.  The first half is filled with lots of great information on how to raise children who love to read.  The second half of the book is filled with annotated lists of classic books for children 0-14years.  So we checked a few out, and you know what, WE LOVE TO READ!!  I found that I love classic good old books.  You know, the kind we grew up on.

A lot of these books aren’t filled with glossy colorful pictures but they are amazing.  My boys love them.  Some of our favorite books have very monochromatic pictures.

Here are a few to get you started before you head to the library and check out the book “Honey for a Childs Heart”.  Oh, and one tip before you go to the library: Write down a bunch of author names and keep it in your wallet so that anytime you go, you have your list handy to pick from great titles.

This is our list of “Read it again, Mom” books…

Picture Books for Children

Arnold Lobel – Frog and Toad book series

Robert McCloskey – Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings

Peggy Rathmann – Good Night Gorilla

Mercer Mayer – There’s an Alligator Under My Bed and the collection of  Little Critter Books

William Steig – Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Doctor De Soto, Pete’s a Pizza (Great book for dad to read.  After they read it they will be acting it out and plan a pizza party that night!)

Margaret Wise Brown – Two Little Trains

Eric Hill – Spot books

Virginia Burton – Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Katy and the Big Snow

Denise Fleming – Time to Sleep (she has many other wonderful books as well)

Jules Feiffer – Bark George

Kate McMullen and Jim McMullen – I Stink, I’m Dirty, I’m Mighty, I’m Big, I’m Fast

I better stop, I could go on for awhile…

I asked a couple moms who have older children what their favorite books are.  Here are a few from their list…

Chapter Books 

Perfect for reading aloud or Older independent readers:

Elizabeth Yates – Mountain Born

Dorothy Canfield Fisher – Understood Betsy

A.A. Milne – The House at Pooh Corner

Howard R. Garis – Uncle Wiggily’s Storybook

Various Authors – Childhood of Famous Americans Series

Gertrude Chandler Warner – The Boxcar Children series

Donald J. Sobel – Encyclopedia Brown series

Laura Ingalls Wilder – Little House on the Prairie

Also check out the books on tape at your library.  We love them especially for car trips!  We love this set of Curious George Books on CD.

So I encourage you to find something you love to read over and over to your children!!

What are your favorite children’s books?  My favorite books growing up where Amelia Bedelia and Berenstein Bears (my boys love them too).  Tell me about your favorite local library?

“Children become readers on the laps of their parents.” Emilie Buchwald


  1. Ambleside Online and Simply Charlotte Mason websites offer great lists of books – divided up by age/grade. Tons of the classics! My children would sit and let me read to them for hours each day if time would allow. My son recently received the audios of Laura Ingalls Wilder and can not seem to get enough of them.

    • @suschdcore May I ask how old your son is that listens to the Laura Ingalls Wilder on CD?  I love to have those kinds of options for quiet time in the afternoon.  I have heard the Ames Library has the Adventures in Odyssey Cds to check out too.  I am going to bookmark those websites.  I have heard great things about Charlotte Mason but I haven’t heard of Ambleside.  THANKS!

      • @JodiZeaPeterson  @suschdcore My son is 8 and started listening to them at the end of last year, but prior to that (and continuing) we were reading them and they really hold his attention. He loves “old fashioned living” and pretty much anything outdoors!

  2. Great post Jodi! I also feel lost at the library most times and I’m usually disappointed in the selections we get from the library’s list. I also have that book and need to get it out and read it! A librarian at Ankeny told me that you can always request a book if they don’t have it and they will most likely get it. So you could try requesting those CD’s you hear Ames had or do an interlibrary loan.

    • @JessicaPennings Great idea Jess.  I should do that request.  I know a friend just requested the Deer Run series and they approved it.  I know you can fill the form out to request something online.

  3. We just finished the entire Little House series and my girls feel like they have lost a friend.  Brenna is re-reading them herself.  And we plan to visit DeSmet South Dakota and maybe even a few other Little House sites.  Not only did it inspire my girls to read, but they learned a ton of history!

    • @iatraveler Absolutely agree. I did not get the opportunity to read these growing up and had honestly thought they were just for girls. Wow – was I wrong. There is so much “how-to”  and history throughout.

    • @iatraveler Did I tell you that my high school classmate’s family own the homestead in DeSmet.  My sister took her girls there they LOVED it!

      • @JodiZeaPeterson I had the opportunity to meet the owners of the Ingalls homestead in DeSmet last fall- mother, daughter & father.  I am really looking forward to taking the girls there.  They have small “covered wagons” you can rent to sleep in.  🙂

        • Oh how fun!  Ann was my classmate although I have no idea if she would even remember me been a few years:)  And I just started reading them to the boys.  So far they are just really wiggly.  I think I need to just read to Isaiah while Gideon is napping.

  4. One of the biggest life-savers I have found is to use the WDM library’s online system. You can create a “to-read” list and add to it when you encounter book lists or receive recommendations. When the time comes, you can just request the book(s) with the click of the mouse. The best part is that the library pulls them off the shelf for me (call/email lets me know I have something on hold) so I don’t have to keep track of my son while frantically searching through books for the right one. The system is getting an overhaul this month with added features so it will be even better. It is just an awesome tool when you have a child who can’t get enough of reading!

    • @WDMom That would be so nice.  The Ankeny library has a hold system you can place a hold if the item is checked out but they won’t pull it if it in on the shelf.  I have often wished they would have that feature.  WDM has a big beautiful library!

  5. I am thinking about pulling my 11 grader out of school and have her to school online. But I can’t decide what the best curriculum is for her. Please help me?

    • There are so many choices out there for curriculum these days it is so hard to know where to start. I think you can do online through the school district so that is one option. Another great resource I have enjoyed is some Facebook home school groups. You can post questions on there and other moms reply with suggestions and options. One group I am a apart of is Iowa Home school Moms. Just type that into the FB search spot and it should pop up and you can ask to join. I asked a few friends who do use online schooling for their kiddos and I will let you know when they get back to me. There is an annual homeschool conference in Des Moines usually in May as well and they have a vendor fair with all the major home school curriculum vendors there you can talk to and ask questions. It is part of the NICHE organization. Maybe even search online for online curriculum reviews and you can narrow it down. You can also email me at [email protected] if you have more questions and maybe I can help you better via email.


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