Our Latest Read Aloud – Sky Jumpers

Sky Jumpers

Summer vacation inevitably means time spent driving in the car.  While I love to actually read a book to the kids, there are times when an audio book is wonderful for helping squeeze in some reading time (and keeping the kiddos in the backseat a little quiet too – grins).

Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman is the latest book that we found (no, it wasn’t on our original 25 Books to Read Aloud together, but that’s okay with me!)

Here’s our quick take on the story…

Sky Jumpers follows the story 12 year old Hope after World War 3 has left the world desolate through the droppings of bombs that destroyed nearly everything, leaving a mysterious air called Bomb’s Breath. One breath of this deadly air will kill a person. Towns are surrounded by this air, but Hope has discovered a way to dive into it and survive (although she shares this secret with only a few friends).

As the town struggles to survive, the inhabitants of the town all work on inventions that will help others in their daily lives. Big or small, each person is required to do their part. The only problem is, Hope really isn’t good at inventing. All of her past attempts have been failures and success isn’t looking like an option for her.

The town is attacked by bandits in search of a rare antibiotic, and Hope is faced with a choice of helping her town keep the medicine and escaping through the Bomb’s Breath to get help from a nearby town or just handing over the medicine and allowing friends and fellow townspeople to die without the medicine.

Our kids are fairly picky when it comes to audio books and since they LOVED Sky Jumpers, I thought it would be great to share it with you! As soon as the book was done, they wanted to know if it was part of a series and when the next one would be available to read (and yay – Sky Jumpers: The Forbidden Flats will be available in September!!). Honestly, this was a book that I enjoyed as well and wanted to listen to whenever we had the chance. If the audio book is available, the narration is fabulous on it.

p.s. Be sure to visit Peggy Eddleman’s website for some Sky Jumper extras too (fun!).

What book or books are you reading together right now?

Leave a comment and share a good read with us!


Books We’ve Previously Read Together

Here are a few other books that we’ve read together and blogged about. Click over to see our thoughts on them!

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30 Picture Books in 30 Days – for 5 to 8 year olds

Picture Books for Kids

There are days when I feel that one of our kiddos is getting the proverbial short end of the stick. While our older kids had more of my time and energy, the youngest – well, there are occasions that it just seems that he gets the leftovers.

And then I start beating myself up that I am not doing enough for him.

BUT, there are also times that I am a wee bit justified in these feelings. Reading pictures books with him is one of those areas. There are so many amazing books that we have in our home and while some of the copies are ragged and worn from being read over and over with our oldest, Kaleb hasn’t had that same reading time.

Don’t get me wrong – we read a lot as a family, but many of those books are not targeted specifically to his age range. While he enjoys the other read aloud, there really is something special about flipping through a picture book, talking about the pictures and the story, and enjoying that time together as well.

“In your eagerness over discovering children’s literature, you need to be careful not to push your children into books beyond their years. It could mean missing those books tailored for their present age.”

- Gladys Hunt

In an effort to be more intentional in this one specific area, I set the goal to read 30 books in 30 days with Kaleb. There are more than thirty books in the stack, but at least one book a day is that I picked out for him, and then he chooses another book from our shelves. The hope was also that we would re-read many of the books that he was exposed to during the month.

(and 30 isn’t a difficult number to reach, is it?)

After only two days, he was climbing into bed with me in the morning carrying books and reminding me that we needed to have our reading time, and we’ve been snuggling up to read a few books together. It has been such a fun and wonderful time as we talk about books that I loved when I was little and also re-read other fun books, giggle at silly things, and just enjoy the time together.

Choosing the Books

There were several books that came immediately to mind – ones that our older kids loved and also a few that I enjoyed as a child. When my brain started fizzling out on book ideas, I pulled off the book Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt where there is a great chapter on favorite picture books (if you need a jump start on ideas, there are tons of good ones here).

Other places to get book ideas:

  • Look around at your local library – it was fun going through the shelves and finding some old favorites of mine.
  • Check out the book lists from Five in a Row and other homeschool companies. See what books they are recommending to read.
  • Look up some of the Usborne books online – some of our more recent favorites have come from the beautiful picture books they offer (and many of their books are also available via Amazon too).
  • Ask friends – many of mine have a great library at home as well and they lent me some of their favorites.

We pulled books from our shelves, baskets, visited the library and finally borrowed a few from friends. Our book pile quickly grew!

What’s in Our 30 Book Stack

30 Books in 30 Days-1

Over the next few weeks you may see me post pictures on Instagram and Facebook on the books that we’re reading, but here’s a look at the ones that I specifically have piled up for us to read together. There are a few more that I want to read, but either can’t find our copy or haven’t had the chance to borrow the book from a friend – so we’re filling in with another book.

  1. Angus and the Ducks by Marjorie Flack
  2. Train to Somewhere by Eve Bunting
  3. The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills
  4. Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
  5. Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
  6. Peter and the Wolf by Janet Schulman (with orchestra cd)
  7. Mrs. Peachtree’s Bicycle by Erica Silverman
  8. Henry the Explorer by Mark Faylor
  9. The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco
  10. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
  11. The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear and Jan Brett
  12. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
  13. Make Way for Ducklings by Roberts McCloskey
  14. The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
  15. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
  16. Katy No-Pocket by Emmy Payne
  17. The Big Green Pocketbook by Candice Ransom
  18. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  19. Sheila Rae, the Brave by Kevin Henkes
  20. Maybelle the Cable Car by Virginia Lee Burton
  21. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
  22. One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey
  23. The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
  24. The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
  25. Pirate Boy by Eve Bunting
  26. If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura J. Numeroff
  27. The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Lowrey

Keep in mind this is hardly an exhaustive list of great picture books. There are so many more and after the thirty days is over, we’ll be back at our library pulling more books off the shelf!

“Once you begin enjoying good children’s literature, you will find yourself in a  treasure house of reading.”

My one goal is to make special time for books, especially ones that my younger one will enjoy. This isn’t a checklist to complete (although I do love a good checklist!) – it’s just time spent cuddling, reading, and rediscovering some fun books – and introducing them to a boy who may not have read them with us before. And when the thirty days is done? Well, hopefully this will be just the tip of the iceberg in our picture book reading adventures!

What one picture book do YOU remember reading when you were a child?

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How 2 Sticker Dots Helped Our Reading Lessons

Sticker dots for reading


In hindsight it seems so simple, but two tiny sticker dots have been a HUGE help to our reading lessons with our youngest (age 7). There are days when he gets overwhelmed when he sees his reading assignment for the day.

Mark it Dots for Reading-7

The reading fluency sheets from the All About Reading program are absolutely wonderful, but Kaleb’s hesitancy comes at having to read “all those words” (as he puts it). While there really isn’t a lot to read on the sheets, looking at two 8.5” x 11” pages can seem like a lot since they aren’t in typical story format like the hard cover readers from the program.

Mark it Dots for Reading-4

Usually we break up a reading lesson to complete over a few days, but that initial shock can wreak havoc on a little boy’s emotions (smiles). This past month we’ve been using some tiny little Mark-it Dots to show the stop/start point in his reading assignments and I cannot tell you the WORLD of difference that it has made.

Mark it Dots for Reading-10

The Mark-it Dots (found on Amazon) are reusable and lightly sticky, so you can put one dot at the starting point of the reading assignment and one at the end to show a definite end. Once the reading assignment is completed, the stickers can be peeled off and re-applied to the next day’s assignment.

Mark it Dots for Reading-16

We have the 1/4” Mark-it dots  (there are larger 3/4” dots too) that come in a pack with rainbow colors. We use a green dot for our start point and a red dot for our ending point, and it has worked so very well!


Does your child ever get overwhelmed reading? What tips have you found that help ease the anxiety?

Interested in learning more about All About Reading – click here!

All About Reading Activity Bundle

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My Reading Progress This Year

This year I have a series of goals set for myself: some personal, some family related, and a little bit of everything thrown in the mix. One of the things I shared with you all earlier was my reading list for 2014. There were thirteen books on the list, but wouldn’t you know that new books keep popping up that catch my eye.

I should really know better than creating a list so early in the year with new books releasing, eh?


One of the books that I added to my pile was Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine (author of MoneySavingMom.com). While I’m not feeling like I’m in the survival-mode boat, the book was a great reminder (and a bit of a shove) to get a few things in life back in gear. That’s meant some conversations with my hubby (all good) and some more refined goal-setting.

Off my non-fiction list, I’ve managed to finish a few other books (One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voskamp and 10 Gifts of Wisdom by Sally Clarkson). There’s one other book – completely not on the list, of course – and there are a few other books waiting in my Amazon cart. But I have to finish off the ones on my shelf first!

If you’d like a peek at the books that I’m reading (by myself and with the kids), check out my Books Read in 2014 Pinterest board. Reading has become such a relaxing time for me and the kids, and I love that! It’s my winding down time at night and most nights I am literally nodding off holding a book.

What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?

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A Fun Reading Challenge Blackboard {Reader Idea}

Maybe you’ve seen an idea on a blog or Pinterest, wanted to use it, but it just didn’t seem to work for your family. Step-by-step directions are always nice, but there are times when finding a way to adapt an idea will make it more appealing to you and your family.

{And adapting is okay!}

Recently, Vanessa shared an idea on Instagram that she had adapted from the reading challenge charts I had shared in years past. I asked her to share her entire project with you all in a guest post, so keep reading and see what she put together!



“Mommy, can I please read one more chapter before bed?” These were the words of my girls last week after starting our new 2014 Winter Reading Challenge. Isn’t that super exciting? I know for me it is! Since the winter of 2012, I have adapted the (seasonal) reading challenge with my kids. It has encouraged and driven them to read beyond my expectations.

reading challenge blackboard

One of my newest projects was a blackboard for our reading corner. I purchased a 2’ x 4’ blackboard (and a handful of nails) from Home Depot for $9.97, these liquid chalk markers from Amazon, and I was on my way to create an amazing corner for our schoolroom.  After my hubby drilled it into the wall, it was all ready for me and I couldn’t help but think of all the ideas I could do with our new blackboard.

After  a couple hours of thought and creative thinking, I came up with a sketch and made it a reality. My inspiration came from Jolanthe’s reading challenge, Pinterest, and my home state of New York which had a blizzard a couple of weeks ago. It doesn’t snow here in Southeast Georgia… thank God!

Incentives for Reading


Once my kids complete their challenges, I reward them with something that will encourage them to come back for more. In the past the rewards were:

  • $10 towards a Target purchase
  • trips to Dunkin’ Donuts
  • sweets from a local bakery
  • frozen yogurt
  • my kids all time favorite, pizza from Pizza Hut

Every year I sign up for the Book It! Program through Pizza Hut, and they provide me with a booklets of free pizzas for the entire school year. As the teacher I make the decision on reading program and set the goals whether it be “x” amount of books or “x” amount of minutes in a month or season to redeem pizzas.

I’m already thinking forward and excited about summertime! I looooove summer reading! Usually I mix it up a bit and create fun reading challenges like reading under a tree, in your bathing suit, with a hat on, in the bathtub, on the kitchen floor… my kids love that kind of stuff!

You can view the original Reading Challenge Charts here. Thanks so much to Vanessa for sharing her idea with us all. Be sure to visit her on Instagram and get a peek at all their family’s homeschool fun!

imageMy name is Vanessa, and I am a homeschooling Mom to 4 amazing treasures ages 8, 7, 6 and 3. Homeschooling has been an adventure beyond words – especially since we have moved about 5 times in the last 2 years. I love the homeschooling community! I’m so grateful to all who contribute because even the slightest post whether on a blog or social media can encourage any family to press on towards the bright future ahead. My passion is to motivate and encourage others to fulfill their purpose in this calling -homeschooling.

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