Isaiah’s Top 5 Easy Reader Books

Isaiah wanted to share some of his favorite easy reader books.  Here are his top 5 easy reader books (or series of books).  All of these books we have gotten from our local library.

Isaiah's Top 5 Easy Reader Books

This top 5 is in no particular order.

1.  Wild Kratts (Step into Reading) – From Isaiah:  “These books have a little story (like the show) but also lots of animal facts. Each book talks about three main types of animals.”

Here are some of them Isaiah has enjoyed:

2.  National Geographic Readers – If Isaiah sees an animal book is from National Geographic, he’ll usually check it out and read it.  These two are his favorites and have been in our home many times.

“I like Prehistoric Mammals because I learned a lot about the mammals that lived back then.  Some of them were big like dinosaurs. This book does have creation mistakes, but these animals God created are amazing.”

“I like Weird Sea Creatures because it doesn’t only talk about the weird one.  It compares types of fish and says how they are similar.”


3.  Animal Superpowers    “I like this because it shows how amazing God created the animals.  There are multiple creatures that have the same power.  For instance, the flea and the panther both jump well. This book isn’t just about animals but it gives you the feel of a super hero while learning about animals. I learned how the octopus could look like many different sea creatures like a toboggan shark. The octopus can also look like a giant sea scorpion. I got this one out from the library more than once.  This book even includes a pangolin.”

4.  Nate the Great   “Nate the Great is a detective series.  One of the books was called Nate the Great and The Phony Clue. It taught me about invisible ink.”

5.  Elephant and Piggie.  “Elephant and Piggie is a funny series.  They are easier than the ones I already listed. They are about an elephant named Gerald and his friend Piggie.  They have funny adventures, and some of them they seem like they are really silly and they aren’t thinking.  These books are LOL funny.”

Here are three of his favorites in this series:

There you have it – Isaiah’s top 5 easy reader books.  What books do your children love in the easy reader section?  Do you have any new suggestions for Isaiah?


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Reading Glasses Make A Difference

Teaching my third child to read has been a much longer process than the first two.  Every lesson would almost immediately be met with “I’m tired” and “this is exhausting”.  We kept plugging away for almost 2 years, and while Isaiah knew all of his phonics rules, he just hadn’t taken off with his reading.

At his 7 year check up, he yet again passed their eye screening just fine.  I asked them if they thought I should get his eyes checked.  They didn’t think so, but my instincts were telling me that it was time.

Reading Glasses Make A Difference

Within a minute or two at the eye doctor’s, we knew my sweet boy was far-sighted (meaning he can’t see well up close).  Knowing he had a physical reason he couldn’t read helped him to advance in reading even while waiting for the glasses to come.

As I chatted with the eye doctor, he wondered where the far-sightedness had come from since both Seth and I are near-sighted.  The eye doctor also said that many kids don’t get help with being far-sighted until they already are “far behind” in their learning or already “feel dumb”.

At this moment, a light bulb came on.

My dad is far-sighted.  He didn’t get his first pair of reading glasses until he was 21 and in Bible college.  My dad struggled through school and even was held back a grade.  He struggled his way through Bible college.  Finally, he got a pair of reading glasses.  That first day, he went back to his dorm room and was able to read through the book of Acts in one sitting.  Before that, he had never understood how others could read large amounts at a time.  My dad is a very bright man, and yet a lack of reading glasses had a huge impact on his education and how he viewed himself.

I’m so thankful for my little boy’s glasses.  In the short time he’s had them, I have actually seen Isaiah choose to read books on his own, read to anyone who will listen, and even has improved his handwriting.

I wanted to take the time to share this story in case someone else is in the same situation as us.  It’s amazing what a pair of glasses can do.

(By the way, Isaiah really wanted me to write about how amazing the Elephant and Piggie books are.  He insisted I photograph him with lots of them showing.  If your young readers haven’t checked out out Elephant and Piggie from the library, Isaiah says you should because they will love them.)

Using Audio Resources In Our Family

We love to listen to audio stories in our family.  I wanted to share why we listen to audio, how we make the time, and some of our favorites.

Using Audio Resources In Our Family

Why do we listen?

To learn:  We have learned a ton of history and science through audio resources.  It’s amazing all that we can learn when we take the time to listen.

To use our imaginations:  I love how audio stories force the kids to use their imaginations.  Instead of using a dvd player in our van to watch something, our children are “watching” in their heads with whatever images they create.

To experience books together:  Our family can all talk about a story together when we listen together.  The joy and wonder of a new story or new learning is so fun to do together.

When do we listen?

On road trips:  Any time we are traveling more than an hour away, I try to have some audio stories to listen to in the van.  On our big road trip last summer, we listened to more than 20 hours of audio.  Traveling to relatives’ homes or even just a day field trip are great times to add in additional learning and use our imaginations.

While doing tedious tasks at home:  Seth has spent many hours this winter doing Elijah’s hair.  We’ve listened to over 15 hours of audio while doing hair since Christmas alone.  We also like to listen to audio during a meal or while working on laundry.  We used to mainly just listen in the van, but listening at home means that I can see the excitement on my children’s faces as they meet Reepicheep or hear about Aslan for the first time.

While they play:  The kids also listen to audio while playing with legos or even coloring.  I do have to say that some of the kids get so caught up in the story that they don’t get much playing done.

To what do we listen?

There are tons of options if you want to listen to audio.  Any quality audio book is good, but these are some of our favorites.  (Some of these were already mentioned in our Educational Gift-Giving Guide.)

The Chronicles of Narnia Radio Theatre has been lots of fun this winter.  I love listening to these stories with my children..  Since Christmas we have listened to 5 of them.  There actually are other stories available from Focus on the Family Radio Theatre such as Ben Hur and The Secret Garden.  I was actually surprised at how large the collection is now.  I listened to Ben Hur before having children.  I remember enjoying it but can’t speak to how much my children will enjoy it yet.  The sound effects can be intense in these.  (In the photo, we have an older edition of the Chronicles of Narnia cds.  If you buy them now, they come as a complete set.)

Jim Weiss has a large about of amazing audio stories.  We love his history CDs especially George Washington.  I am hoping to get a number of his fictional stories at our homeschool convention this year.    

Jonathan Park Volume 1: The Adventure Begins is the first Jonathan Park CD collection we own.  We love it, and I am sure will buy more in the coming years.  They are fun science adventure stories that teach a number of Christian concepts.  These CDs come from a young-earth creation perspective.  In the first volume, we have heard topics addressing dinosaur graveyards, aliens, Fibonacci numbers, cave formations, and archaeological evidence as well as moral lessons with each story.  The sound effects can be intense in this series as well so young listeners might be scared.

 Hero Tales are a set of audio cds that actually are reading the old book Hero Tales from American History, which was written by Theodore Roosevelt.  These have a higher vocabulary level than other cds we have, but we enjoyed them.  

Your Story Hour History cds are yet another way to listen to history.  These were originally a radio show so there are sound effects in them.  We don’t love them as much as Jim Weiss, but there were different stories in the collection we had than our Jim Weiss history cds.  The kids enjoy listening to these on their own.  

Adventures in Odyssey Bible stories and For God and Country are our favorite Adventures in Odyssey.  Sometimes the regular Adventures in Odyssey stories have too many whining children or concepts we don’t want to cover.  The Bible stories CDs and the history in For God and Country are definitely our favorites.  We have listened to these in the van, and the kids listen to them on their own.

Little House on the Prairie Series narrated by Cherry Jones is our favorite collection of audio books from the library.  The narrator grows on you as you listen.  Our family really enjoyed these almost three years ago.  We are going to get them from the library again soon to listen to them again.

Do you like using audio resources in your family?  Do you have any favorites not mentioned here?


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My Non-fiction Reading in 2014 (July through December)

I set the goal at the beginning of 2014 to read 12 non-fiction books for this year.  You can check out my list from the first half of the year here.

non-fiction reading in 2014

Just like with read-alouds, I really did not get to as much non-fiction reading in the second half of the year as the first half.  I have a few books I am still in the middle of reading as well.

Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom was a book I wanted to like.  I read a review of it and thought I would enjoy it.  It’s the story of a mom who didn’t originally want to be a mom and shares her journey.  It’s written in a flowing, non-complete sentences, artsy kind of way.  Sometimes, I would get lost in her wording.  Also, I just couldn’t get into her story because I am so different from her.  I did appreciate her sharing about the difficulties of motherhood and how she prayed over her children, but I really had to force myself to finish this book.

The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands is a really great book.  I appreciated her practical, biblical advice for decision making as well as being aware of the “best yes” opportunities each day.  I plan to re-read this book in January and hope to find someone who wants to read it and discuss it with me.

So, I read 9 books in the first half of the year and finished 2 books in the second half.  Here are books I am still in the process of reading.

What Are You Afraid Of?: Facing Down Your Fears with Faith is a really excellent book by David Jeremiah about fears Christians face.  Each chapter is packed with biblical examples as well as stories from other Christians’ lives.  Instead of just saying, “you shouldn’t fear” something, he shows how God works even in the midst of whatever thing is scaring you.  Fear of Serious Illness?  He talks about his own story of facing cancer, how God used Paul’s infirmities, and how God often seems the closest even in the midst of facing a serious illness.  I could relate to this chapter since I faced thyroid cancer over four year ago.  There are chapters on disaster, disease, debt defeat, disconnection, disapproval, danger, depression, death, and deity (the fear of God).  I have only gotten through half of this book even though I started it in January.  I got the Kindle version for free but really wish I had the paper version since I would have underlined and referenced many parts of it.  I am keeping an eye out for a used copy of it, but in the meantime, I’m still slowly reading through it on my Kindle.

The Question: Teaching Your Child the Essentials of Classical Education is the second book by Leigh Bortins about Classical Education.  I loved The Core and just haven’t finished The Question yet.  It’s a great book, and I will finish it in the next few months.

Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning is another book I am still working through.  I hope to finish it in the coming months and will share about it then.  The Kindle version is only $2.99 right now if you are interested.  The hard-cover book has glossy pages and isn’t easy to write notes in it so I think the Kindle or physical book would work about the same.

Even though I didn’t meet my goal of 12 books, I’m thankful that I made the goal for the year and have enjoyed reading so many great books.

I thought I would share my favorites of the year:

About Marriage: The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference which I shared about here.

About Priorities and Life:  Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life – I have mentioned this book in a number of places this year, but here’s my biggest review of it.

What are your favorite non-fiction books this year?  

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Reading Aloud in 2014 (July through December)

My goal for 2014 was to read aloud at least 12 chapter books to my children.  My first half of the year reading, I shared here.

Reading Aloud is 2014 (July to December)

The second half of the year, I definitely had more challenges to completing reading.  From adding Essentials to our workload to Isaiah’s increased work to Gideon’s tonsilectomy, I didn’t get in as much as I wanted.

Here is what we got done in the second half of the year:

More Stories from Grandma’s Attic is actually one we had started maybe a year ago.  While we traveled on our road trip, I read the kids one story a night to get them to wind down in the hotels.  I was glad to have a book along for this purpose.

The Sign of the Beaver was a much-needed, fun read-aloud as a family.  We enjoyed reading it in just a few days.  During a tough week of homeschooling, I pulled this book off the shelf and loved the special time following Matt’s adventures out on his own.

Treasures of the Snow is a beautiful story of two children’s ongoing feud and overcoming bitterness through the Lord’s strength.  I mentioned it in my Christmas book post and am glad we got a chance to read Lucien and Annette’s story again this year.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever was recommended to us by a reader (and friend).  What a delightful story!  The Heardmans helped us look at the Christmas story with fresh eyes and led to great discussions about reaching those who don’t know the gospel with the good news of Jesus.

Part of my problem with getting reading down this fall was that I didn’t always make the best pick for books.  We actually abandoned two books this year in the middle of reading.  (gasp!)  I wish I had been more decisive and abandoned them sooner.

Christopher Columbus: Across The Ocean Sea is a great book from the Heroes of History series.  We abandoned it though because Ruth and Elijah both had read more than 5 book about Columbus and just were not very interested.  I think if we were to read it again when we weren’t in the middle of so many other Columbus books we would have been into the story more.  Normally, my children are begging me for another chapter, but because we already knew what was going to happen, they kept forgetting about the book.

The American Twins of the Revolution was a book I really wanted to like.  It was about a general’s wife and children hiding gold from the British to pay to the American troops.  The setting is local to our area, and I thought we would enjoy the story.  I struggled to read the dialectic of the slaves in the story.  In fact, the kids kept laughing at my pronunciation and weren’t able to understand what I was saying.  This made for slow reading, but we kept plugging along.  We finally abandoned the book based on how the book portrayed the slaves.  First of all, most of the book calls them servants with only one reference to the fact they were slaves.  Then, the book portrayed the slaves as unintelligent, fearful, and totally dependent on the general’s wife for any and all direction.  It got bad enough that I just stopped reading and talked to the kids about what I didn’t like.  This book is part of a large “twin” series with many free for Kindle on Amazon.  I don’t know what the rest of the series is like, but I wanted to mention this in case you had read any of them.

I am thankful that I was able to get 14 books read aloud for this year.  We have such fun experiencing books together.  Setting this goal was definitely a great move for me.

Do you have any favorite read alouds from this year?  Have you ever abandoned a read aloud in your family?