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Six Tips for Reading Aloud with Kids

The past few months have been so crazy during the evening hours, that reading aloud together kind of fell by the wayside. During the day we are still having our daily rest time (most days), but when it comes time to sit down together with the kids, we have been running in a million different directions with swim practices and other commitments, so it was put aside. 

And I really truly hate that. Because reading is a HUGE love of mine and I want to make sure our kids have that same love instilled in them – especially our boys. 

We had pulled out The Green Ember by S.D. Smith to read last year…and somehow were sidetracked, but it resurfaced again and we are reading through it now. Each afternoon we’ve set aside a time to pull out our book, we settle down with a cup of hot chocolate or steamed milk, and continue our read aloud adventure. I tried using the audio book (the kids don’t like it because they like the way I read it better – yay, but oh boy for my voice!). I’ll admit that we are having a bit of a hard time getting into it, despite it’s already bent cover and worn look, but it’s one I personally want read because it has come so highly recommended. 

Read Aloud Tips

Maybe your family is having a hard time settling down for a read aloud time? If so, maybe one or more of the below tips will help your family out {especially little ones}.

  1. Let kids do something with their hands. We frequently have crayons and paper handy for drawing or Legos for the kids to build with. Having something to do with their hands helps the attention span – trust me!
  2. Be silly and spice your reading up. Kick that monotone voice to the curb and sprinkle in some fun voices and accents. Read in a hushed voice during parts that are building in intensity. Have fun and enjoy the book along with your kids!
  3. Mix fun in with the serious. While I can’t wait to delve into some of the classics with the kids {and we’ll hit on a few different books during our school time this year}, fun reading is good too! Our family has been wrapped up in several different series that were full of adventure and fun. Not classic literature, but it was still so much fun to read together!
  4. Set a timer. Occasionally we have a kiddo that really doesn’t want to sit down for a story. Setting a timer for 10 or 15 minutes makes it seem do-able and most of the time everyone gets so involved in the book that they want to keep reading!
  5. Set aside a specific time of day to read together. Kids know when to expect the time that you’ll be reading and it will become a part of your daily routine. Whether it be a meal time, bed time, or another time during the day, block off that time to be together!
  6. Talk about the book together! When you come to the end of a chapter (or a suspenseful part of the book), ask your children what they think will happen next. Explain parts of the story that they may not understand (i.e. words or phrases).

What is your best tip for making reading out loud something fun? Leave a comment and chime in with your tips today!


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!

Audiobooks for Families to enjoy


Brown Bear, Brown Bear Vocabulary Cards – Free Printables

Brown Bear Brown Bear Vocabulary Cards

Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr. is such a classic children’s book, and with my nieces and nephew working on books together with their mom, I put together these Brown Bear, Brown Bear Word Cards for them to use in the upcoming weeks – and thought you all might enjoy them as well!

 Brown Bear Brown Bear vocabulary word cards for Read Build Write Mats from Homeschool Creations

There are three different pages of word cards – a total of 35 vocabulary words in all for Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Words include: bear, sheep, bird, dog, frog, horse, duck, fish, cat, teacher, students, as well as color cards. 

You will need TWO downloads (both free!!) to use the word cards – both the word cards and the Read! Build! Write! Mats.

All downloads are in the green columns on the Read! Build! Write! page

The Read! Build! Write! Vocabulary Mats

Not familiar with the Read! Build! Write! mats? Basically, they are a fun way to work with your child on word identification and spelling.

Read, Build, Write collage

Here’s how the mats are used:

Read: Place one of the vocabulary cards in the top box and read the word together.

Build: Use letter tiles or magnets to build the word in the second box.

Write: Finally, practice writing the word in the bottom box.

Print the mats onto cardstock and then laminate them so that you can use Vis-à-vis markers or dry erase markers on the mats.

Read, Build, Write collage 2

Check out the Read! Build! Write! page to find additional themed vocabulary cards to go along with all of the Early Learning Printable Packs that I’ve put together so far.

All downloads are in the green columns on the Read! Build! Write! page



Hope these help you all out! Feel free to ‘pin’ the printables and share them with others! If there are some other vocabulary cards that you would like to see me put together, leave a comment and let me know!


Reading List for 6th Grade

 6th grade reading list - assigned literature for the school year

This year Zachary and I will be sitting down together quite a bit to review his reading and I am very much looking forward to that! In years past with our girls, we typically wait until we are finished with the book, but this boy requires a little more…umm…hands-on to make sure he is staying on target with his reading. Much of the time together will be spent talking about the various books and discussing the story lines in-depth.

In addition to his assigned reading list, we are trying to push him outside his comfort zone a little and have him choose a book he wants to read for fun. While our girls were both voracious readers and this wasn’t hard with them, it has been more of a struggle with him. That’s not to say he isn’t getting there, but there are so many other exciting things in the life of a sixth grade boy.

A Peek at the Assigned Reading List

6th reading list 2016

Several of the books on this list are based on the Ready Readers 2 guide that we are using this year for literature and reading, or the alternate suggestions. A few of the books also tie in with the historical period we are studying as well. During the week we are using Ready Readers to look at our current book and take a comprehensive look at the conflict, plot, setting, characters, theme, literary devices and author of the stories. The guide provides us with a fabulous set of questions (and answers) to get us started – and it has already been great! 

Additional Reading

Along with the above books, I’ve pulled together some additional books using the  Reading Roadmaps guide (also put out by Center for Lit). Overall, I’m really appreciating the book suggestions it offers for grades K – 12. Although it doesn’t offer the same in-depth questions and comprehension as Ready Readers 2, it does provide some basic information for discussion (theme, plot, and conflict) for all of the recommended stories.

We’ll be filling out a book report form, story chart, or creating a simple literature summary for the below books (including plot, characters, setting, theme/conflict, and one literary device used in the story). Overall, the goal to have Zachary learn more about various aspects of literature and assuring that he has a firm grasp on key literature terms, literary devices, and knows how to look for those things in his reading.

What books are on your kid’s reading list for this year?


Additional Reading Lists

American Literature high school reading list 2016_edited-1

8th reading list 2016

Our 8th Grade Reading List

8th grade reading list 2016 

While McKenna is excited to start earning a few high school credits, she is also a little nervous because one of her credits focuses on literature this year. She enjoys reading, but the different types of papers she will be writing this year scare her a little bit. Many of the books on this list are similar to ones we have used in years past with Laurianna because they go along with the guide Introduction to Literature by Janice Campbell. McKenna will be reading one book a month for our literature class and writing three papers based on each book or short story. For writing reference, she will be using the book Excellence in Literature – Handbook for Writers. If you’d like to take a look at all of our 8th grade homeschool curriculum picks, you can do so here

We have added in a few additional books for her to read since they go along with the era of history we are studying (American History), and there are a few we’d like her to read before seeing some movies! Her typical pace is one book per month for the literature class, with three papers/essays assigned per book.

For the additional books she and I will have a discussion together, but otherwise, no special papers. The below books also do not include any book choices she makes during the year or read-alouds/audiobooks we work through together as a family. 

Our 8th Grade Reading List:

Many of the books also have a video version, so we’re hoping to watch them together (after we read the books, of course) and compare the book to the movie version. It’ll be a little something fun we can do with our co-op friends. Here are a few in our queue: 

A Few Extras on the List for 8th Grade:

8th reading list 2016

To go along with our American History learning, we’ve added in a few biography books for her to read as well as a few classic literature books. 

Overall not a huge list for the year, but several of the books are fairly hefty and will involve a lot of essay writing and discussion, so definitely enough to keep her busy for the year!

What books are in your kid’s reading stack for this year?

Homeschool Reading Lists for our Other Children

Interested in seeing reading lists for our other kids as well? Check out our reading choices for this year by clicking on the images below. Stay tuned for our 4th and 6th grade reading choices!

American Literature high school reading list 2016_edited-1

Homeschool Reading Lists for our Other Children

Check out our reading choices for this and past years by clicking on the links below. Stay tuned for our 4th and 6th grade reading choices for this year too!

American Literature High School Reading List

American Literature high school reading list

Our American Literature reading list was compiled from two sources: our history program Exploring America from Notgrass and also American Lit program from Excellence in Literature. The last two years we have used the literature guides from Excellence in Literature and love the format of the program, but we also wanted to intertwine some of the recommended novels from the Notgrass history list. Let’s face it – there are so many wonderful books that tie into American culture and history, so there are many to choose. Overall the class will provide Laurianna with 1 high school credit. 

The typical pace is for reading (to stay on top of things) will be one book per month, which honestly will not be too difficult for her to work through. We are also adding a few books by C.S. Lewis to her pile and trying to squeeze in more ‘downtime’ reading, to balance out her workload. 

Our American Literature High School Reading List

American Literature high school reading list 2016_edited-1


For each of the above books, Laurianna will have a variety of papers to write (at least three per book). Papers and essays vary from author profiles (learning about the life of the author), approach papers (quick summary, discussion questions, and character profiles), and some lovely essays based on questions from both the American Lit program from Excellence in Literature and ones I have pulled together for the books we added in to our list. The books with an asterisk next to them are ones included in the EIL program, while the other three books tie in with the historical period we are studying in American History.

Several of the above books also have a movie to go along, so we are planning a monthly movie time together to compare the book with the movie version. In past years this has proven to be rather…interesting and prompted some great discussions with the kids as well. There are also a few we won’t be watching movies for, but plan to find a movie or documentary set in a similar time period.

The “Just for Fun” Additions

Much of Laurianna’s spare time will be taken up with her school reading and other fun hobbies, but we did want to add in a few books to read together – which we’ve already finished and loved! She does love to read though, so hopefully we’ll add a few more fun books in as the catch her attention.

This list also doesn’t include any of the family read-alouds or audio books we will be reading together. Overall not a huge list for the year, but several of the books are fairly hefty and will involve a lot of essay writing and discussion, so definitely enough to keep her busy for the year!

Homeschool Reading Lists for our Other Children

Check out our reading choices for this and past years by clicking on the links below. Stay tuned for our 4th, 6th, and 8th grade reading choices!

8th reading list 2016

10th grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations 2016

See all of our curriculum choices for this school year in our 10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices post. It includes our lit program and several other wonderful programs we are loving!

What books are in your kid’s reading stack for this year?


5 Books I’m Enjoying :: What I’m Reading

This past weekend allowed me some GENEROUS time to read and relax. The last few weeks have been ever-so-hectic and it was honestly wonderful to be able to sit back in the quiet of my hotel room and not worry about a single thing. Add in two plane rides and time at the airport and there was a definite chunk of reading time available. 

We all desperately need a day like this once in awhile. 

Some reading was for fun and some was more ‘learning’ in a way – well, I suppose if you count things that will help me out in the stuff we do every day ‘learning.’ (grins) But truly, it was stuff I enjoyed reading and catching up on, so it’s all ok.

I thought you all might like a peek at what I’m reading at the moment too, so have a look below! And yes, I do read multiple books at the same time, because some books are designated bedtime reading…or whatever happens to be on my brain at the moment. 

31 Days to a Clutter Free Life

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Ruth Soukup is one whose blog I follow and read regularly. She always has some great month-long challenges, and 31 Days to a Clutter-free Life is another one that will be great to have on hand and flip through. It’s easy to get caught back up in the whirlwind of life and stuff – and forget to leave space, both literally and figuratively. 

The thing I love about this book is that it doesn’t focus just on physical clutter, but also time clutter and having systems in place that help the family function better overall. We have many of our own in place, but I’m always open to additional suggestions. If it helps things run more smoothly, I would love to try it! This is one I’ve skimmed through, but will be using on a day-to-day basis throughout the month.

A Refuge at Highland Hall


You likely know I love period dramas and A Refuge at Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky is the final book in a series (and one of the few series that has made it my permanent shelf). Carrie Turansky was at the most recent Teach Them Diligently conference I attended in Atlanta with her husband Scott (another of my favorite authors who wrote Motivate Your Child and Good and Angry). 

I had a chance to stay and chat with her for a bit and catch even more enthusiasm for her book (I’m about 1/2 way through now). Much of the book is based off an actual diary from a plane pilot she found, and while it seems unrealistic at times, she said the events were all ones that actually took place! When real-life history intersects with fiction, it absolutely fascinates me, especially when I can learn more about a certain era of history at the same time! 

Simplifying Home


Simplying our space has been one of my goals for the year – getting the clutter out of our and put away. That can be an overwhelming process, especially when there are multiple family members who all have their ‘stuff’ and ideas on what it should look like.

While I’m not a minimalist (although parts of it appeal to me), it’s more of a process of establishing better habits of what comes into our home and Simplifying Home by Trina Cress is a book that fits right in that pocket for me.  It also fits right in with the term ‘cozy minimalist’ for me. I don’t want our home to be empty and sterile, but cozy and lived-in – just not with all the clutter and stuff that can overwhelm easily! 

Good Enough For Company Meal Plans


Based on the cover alone, A Month of Good Enough for Company Meal Plans by Jessica Fisher is enough to get me motivated. It has an entires month’s worth of meals, recipes (all kid-tested and approved), shopping lists – from someone who speaks my language of having all the hard work, other than cooking, done for me. 

There are some yummy looking recipes I can’t wait to try: BBQ Bacon-Onion Cheeseburger, Ham and Cheese Foldovers, Guinness Beef Stew,  Jace’s Breakfast Burritos, and  Salted Caramel Mocha Icebox Cake. Really, ALL the recipes look good, but those are just a few that we don’t typically make and are going to try soon! 

Slow Cooker Freezer Meals (Vol. 1 & 2)


Freezer cooking is my friend. The last two years planning ahead and freezing meals has helped out immensely with our schedules, so Slow Cooker Freezer Meals Vol. 1 & 2 by Tiffany King are going to be a great addition to my recipe file. I love that everything is already planned out for me.  These are both obviously fairly quick reads until you use them for the freezer cooking process. :) 

The ebooks are broken down into monthly meal ideas (typically seven per month) and include the recipes and menu plan, grocery lists, how to pull it all together, and some great recipes to boot. There are several I’ve earmarked: Smoky Chipotle Chicken Tacos, Maple Apple Chicken, Coconut No Bake Cookies, French Dip Sandwiches, and BBQ Peach Pulled Pork.

That’s what I’ve currently had my hands full with – what are you reading? 

Take a peek at the other books I’ve already read this year or have coming up – I’d love to hear what you are reading too right now!