Books I love… read alouds for kids

I love to read to my kids.  Chapter books mainly.  My boys and I have enjoyed so many great titles together.

Did you know that reading aloud to your children has huge benefits?  Research has proven that reading aloud to children increases their vocabulary, their listening skills and their attention span which helps them perform better in school.  For more information check out this article and this great book by Jim at Trelease.

So today I thought I would share a few of our favorites.

Now I will say, we have a rule that we do not watch a movie before we have read the book. If I know there is a movie of a great book we haven’t read, I won’t let my kids watch it.  I had an argument with Elijah about this one time because he wanted to watch the movie, Holes, but we had not read the book yet (we were waiting for Graham to get a little bit older).  I told him we couldn’t watch the movie because it would ruin the book.  My little lawyer replied, “Yeah but if we read the book, it will ruin the movie.”  What do you say to that? “Well, then, because I said so.”

I find my kids can hang with a chapter book starting around the summer before kindergarten.

Two of our favorites for younger kids (5-6) age are…


Charlottes Web by EB White.  Charlotte’s web is a classic tale of a spider and a pig.  The book also has some great illustrations.





Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary.  Ramona the Pest is about Ramona going to kindergarten.  I have read this book to each of my boys the summer before the go into kindergarten,  They always love hearing about the trouble Ramona seems to get herself into.




Great holiday books
(actually book, I only have one)


The Best Christmas Pagent Ever by Barbara Park.  We have a tradition of reading this book every holiday season.  It is short enough to get through in a few weeks and teaches a great message about the true meaning of Christmas.




Award winning books.


Holes by Louis Sachar.  This is my all time favorite kids book (and probably in my top all time favorite books).  It is a clever story of a boy who finds himself  falsely accused.  I wish I could read it again for the first time.




Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.  This is the story of a dog and a preacher’s daughter and all the lives they are able to touch in their small Florida town.





The One and Only Ivan by.  Ivan is a gorilla who lives in a small habitat in a mall.  This is loosely based on a true story. If you like books where animals talk and feel, you will love this one.


The Best Yes Giveaway!

Last week, my friend Lysa TerKeurst released her latest book, The Best Yes.  I have been reading it and honestly it has come at the perfect time.  The book is about making wise choices in the broad spectrum of life so that you will be empowered to make wise decisions in the day today details of life.

My kids went back to school yesterday and I spent several hours evaluating their extra curricular activities, my schedule, and what our days will look like each week heading into the fall.  Lysa’s book helped me see that this is not just an activity to get me organized.  It is essential to keeping me from feeling overwhelmed later down the road.

I’d love to give away a few copies!  To enter, simply Instagram or Tweet a picture of this book with the hashtag #thebestyes and the website  Also, make sure you mention or tag me so I can find your entry.  I will select the winners and give away 10 copies next week.

And if you just can’t wait to see if you win, you can always hop over to Amazon to purchase it for yourself!.

Good luck!

Books I Love

When I was a teenager I loved to read.  This love of reading followed me into college and the early years of my marriage.  But when I had children I went through a season where I just couldn’t read.  I still loved to collect books, ones that I might want to read one day, but to complete a book, even fiction, seemed like an impossible task.  About 2 years ago, I made a goal to read a book a month or 12 books that year.  I was so proud of myself when I realized less than a year later that I had accomplished it!  This goal got me jumpstarted back into reading.  I love to read all types of literature from fiction to Christian living and I especially love biographies.

For the past several weeks I have working on a list of books that have impacted my life.  I am excited to finally share them today.  There are parenting books, marriage books, bible studies I love and more.  I hope this list will help you find some literature that you can use to help you grow in your faith, your marriage and more.  I will continue to add to the list.  You can click below today and you can always find the link to the books in the side bar.  In the coming weeks I will also add a children’s literature and biographies column.

Happy reading!


Give Away… My latest read

This summer Stasi Eldredge sent me a copy of her latest book, Becoming Myself.

I was drawn by the title, I mean who doesn’t want to be confident in their own God-given uniquenesses?  But as I continued into each chapter, I was challenged and inspired.

Stasi’s book challenged me to analyze my self, my relationships, my insecurities, my fears, and even my hopes and dreams.

I read the book on my kindle and here are just a few of the lines I highlighted…

You know what we do as women when we feel afraid: we reach for control.

Some women are blessed with a best friend.  But most of us have a few friends that provide something we need and we provide something they need.

The world does not need another woman who despises the lovely creation that she is.  God does not long for another woman who rejects herself and, by extension, Him.

And so I have 3 copies to give away today.  Just leave a comment below or enter by commenting on Instagram.  I will announce winner later this weekend.

I hope you win!


Until We Say Goodbye

This past spring I read an inspiring book by Susan Wendel-Spencer.  Two years ago Susan was diagnosed with ALS (the same disease my father in law died of).  Susan was determined to live her remaining days with joy and determination to live life to its fullest.

The book is about the trips that she took with her husband, her best friend, each of her children and her sister and her determination to live life to the fullest for her remaining days in life.

The thing that is truly remarkable about Susan’s book is that she wrote then entire manuscript on her iPhone with her thumb (the only working finger she had left)!!!  Her determination to have joy no matter what her circumstances are is truly inspiring.

You can purchase a copy of her book on Amazon.  You can also visit Susan’s webpage and Facebook page to learn more about her.


Best books… for kids!

Even though my stage of life prevents me from reading as much as I would like to, I truly love books. And I truly, truly love children’s books.  I want my kids to love books and love reading.  So we read a lot.

Today I thought I would share with you some of our favorite books, but I had a hard time knowing where to start.  Should I share our favorite picture books?  Or our favorite chapter books?  Or maybe our favorite spiritual books?  I could even share some of Elijah’s favorite series to read on his own.

Maybe I will come back and share all of these lists but today I want to start with my favorites… chapter books.  I got hooked on juvenile literature when I had to read Charlotte’s Web for my children’s literature class in college.  I read the entire book in two sittings.  Elijah was about 4 when we completed his first chapter book, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Graham joined in not long after that and we have completed many books since then.  And then somewhere along the line, my husband joined in.  Often we will both have a book we are reading to the boys although we do not read to them every single day.

So enough of all that!  Here are some of the books we have enjoyed.

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary.  The boys and I have read almost all of the Ramona books.  I think I love Ramona because she is the middle child of 3 girls. But Ramona the Pest is my favorite because it is about her first year of school.




Holes by Louis Sachaar.  This book is in my top 5 books of all the books I have ever read.  I have not actually read it to my boys yet.  I am waiting until they are old enough to really enjoy it.  Oh Stanely Yelnats, the boy whose name is spelled the same way forwards and backwards.




Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.  This is a sweet story about the daughter of a preacher in a new town and a very special stray dog who helps her make new friends.




The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.  I read this book for the first time aloud to my fifth grade class and got choked up while reading.  Then I read it to Elijah when he was 4.  This summer, my husband read it to the boys.  Elijah did not remember that I had read it to him (Ha!) and they all loved it.




Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.  Currently my husband is reading this book to our boys.  I love to hear him read it because he reads the whole book in a deep south grandpa accent.  It is a story about a boy and his two coon hunting dogs.


Summer reading list

I have said before, I do not consider myself an avid read, only an avid collector of books I would like to read.  The only time of the year that I read a lot is in the summer.  So I thought I would share a few of them with you over the next few weeks.

Back in the fall, a new show came out on PBS (good thing since I was waiting for season 3 of Downton Abbey) called Call the Midwife.  When I was looking for the show times, I saw that the series is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth during her time as a midwife in London’s East End post WWII.  Memoirs are one of my favorite genres to read, so I bought the book and loved it!  Jennifer has actually written 4 books, but I could not get the other 3 here in the states back in the fall.  But my dear friend, Beth Redman, who lives in Brighton, UK, thoughtfully sent them to me!

Last week I finished Jennifer’s 2nd book, Shadows of the Workhouse.  These books are full of great stories of hardship and triumph.  Even if you have seen the show, I still think the book is worth your time.  And if you have not seen the show and do not like to read, you can catch the show on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.

Later this week I’ll be back with some vacation pictures!

Greater Online Bible Study

I am excited to tell you about an opportunity for you to be involved in an online Bible study going through my husband’s book, Greater.  The study will be lead by Melissa Taylor.  Melissa is an author and speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries.  She and her family also attend Elevation.  Melissa has a heart for leading women in online Bible study who may not have the opportunity to be involved in one where they live. What an amazing day and time we live in that we can join up with people all over the world and study God’s Word in our very own homes.

The study begins November 25 and runs through January 17, and really all you need is a Bible, a computer and a copy of the book.  There are already over 2600 people from all over the world signed up to join in.  WOW!  Each week Melissa will give assignments and do a conference call with different guests (one week my husband will be the guest!) Click here for more information concerning the Greater online study.

I really hope you will participate.  The book is truly life changing and it would be amazing to read through it with others from around the world!


Undaunted Giveaway

I just finished reading my friend Christine Caine’s new book, Undaunted, and I can’t wait to share it with you today.

Christine is a world reknown speaker and the founder of the A21 Campaign, an organization that fights against  human trafficking.  Her book is filled with unbelievable, true stories from her life that will inspire you to step out and do what God is calling you to do.

One of my favorite parts in the book is where Christine talks about choosing to heal.  She tells about how she tore her ACL and the doctor warned her that the pain of recovery can often be worse that the pain of the injury.  Wow.  Isn’t that true in life too?  She goes on to say how we must choose to heal.  Pain is inevitable but healing from that pain is a choice.

The book is great and I am going to give one away today.  Simply leave a comment and I’ll announce the winner in a few days.

Also, one more great thing… Chris has also put together a study guide with a 5 session video teaching to go along with the study.  And since there were so many women trying to win the group set for Unglued a few weeks ago, I thought I would give away a small group set today too.

So you can enter just your name for a copy of the book and/or you can enter your small group or bible study for a chance to win a group set (I’ll send you a book, and a study guide for each person in your group, as well as one dvd set so make sure you tell me how many people are in your group.).

And if you don’t win, you can always purchase your own copy of the book and the study at Amazon.

Unglued giveaway winner

Thank you to all of you who entered our Unglued group giveaway!

Carrie in Haiti, congratulations!  I am so excited for you and your group.  I am praying for you and your group that you would continue to encourage one another as you minister in Haiti.  I am praying the Lord’s favor over each of your ministries there.

Send your information to LeighAnn ( and we will get your packet in the mail to you right away!