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The House in the Cerulean Sea Character Mapping – FREE Printable

The House in the Cerulean Sea Character Mapping – FREE Printable

The House in the Cerulean Sea Character Mapping Printables are a FREE resource that I created to go along with the book. These fun printables will help you catalogue the characters, young and old alike!

The House in the Cerulean Sea Character Mapping includes a summary, character lists, and free printable character mapping pages for use with the book. A freebie from Starts At Eight.

The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune is a fantasy novel aimed at adults – the main character is an adult who has been muddling his way through life, but then his job sends him to meet the most the magical children he has ever seen, while he navigates a growing attraction to another man (Arthur, the head of the orphanage).

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

The book is so wonderful and laugh out loud funny and could easily be loved by teens (and is loved by teens)! Klune’s work in The House in the Cerulean Sea has been praised for its warmth and messages of love and acceptance.

I was hooked fairly quickly. The best way I can describe this book is a mash up of Miss. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Harry Potter, The Hobbit, and Hotel Transylvania. It is sweet and endearing, laugh out loud funny, and encourages you to open your mind and examine the prejudices that surround us.

I especially LOVE the cover! It is so whimsical and the colors make me feel as though I am surrounded by the ocean. Learn more about the making of the cover from Red Nose Studio here.

Brief Summary

Forty-year-old Linus Baker, career bureaucrat in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, is a gray, shriveled, downtrodden soul when his latest assignment from Extremely Upper Management sends him to The House in the Cerulean Sea, aka Marsyas Island Orphanage. Marsyas Island Orphanage is located on Marsyas Island off the coast of a little seaside resort town.

His task is to look into the well-being of the orphanage’s six young residents. (See Character List Below) In practice, it’s more like assessing how dangerous they are, and taking a hard look at the methods of Arthur Parnassus, the headmaster.

Linus faints dead away on reading the first file, belonging to Lucy (short for Lucifer), the 6-year-old reputed to be the child of Satan. Linus soon learns there’s quite a bit he hasn’t been told. As time passes and he investigates further, he starts, for the first time, to question some of the things Extremely Upper Management has been telling him about these kids.

He also falls in love (an ever growing attraction between him and Arthur Parnassus spans the length of the book) and discovers unsuspected depths of courage, loyalty, and tenacity in himself.

Character List

The House in the Cerulean Sea Characters

The Orphans

  1. Talia – a two-hundred-something year old female garden gnome (which is apparently unheard of)
  2. Theodore – a wyvern who speaks in chirps, has a secret hoard of treasure (and buttons) under the couch
  3. Phee – a young forest sprite, distant, standoffish, has the power to make plants grow
  4. Sal – an extremely shy teenage boy who shifts into a Pomeranian when frightened
  5. Chauncey – no one knows WHAT Chauncey is, but he is a green amorphous blob with eyes on stalks on top of his head and he longs to be a bellhop when he grows up
  6. Lucy – a charming and intelligent six-year-old whose nickname is short for Lucifer, the antichrist, likes to make threats for fun

“Are you Mr. Baker? If you are, we’ve been expecting you. If not, you’re trespassing, and you should leave before I bury you here in my garden. No one would ever know because the roots would eat your entrails and bones.” She frowned again. “I think. I’ve never buried anyone before. It would be a learning experience for the both of us.”

Talia the garden gnome

Other Characters

  • Extremely Upper Management
  • Linus Baker – a caseworker for the Department of Magical Youth (DICOMY)
  • Arthur Parnassus – runs the orphanage
  • Ms. Zoe Chapelwhite – a sprite the owns the island

Together the inhabitants of Marsyas Island are a quirky, unorthodox, makeshift family who care for one another and keep mostly to themselves. The biggest obstacle to their existence, other than government officials sent by DICOMY to check up on them, is the seaside townsfolk who are sometimes weary and other times hostile toward magical beings in general.

The House in the Cerulean Sea Character Mapping

Sometimes I get inspired with books to create something for myself as a memory tool. As I was reading The House in the Cerulean Sea I felt it would be helpful for me to list the characters and their special powers. So I created these fun The House in the Cerulean Sea Character Mapping pages to use just with this book.

Free Character Mapping Printables

The House in the Cerulean Sea Character Mapping includes a summary, character lists, and free printable character mapping pages for use with the book. A freebie from Starts At Eight.

–>> Download Printables HERE <<–

Study Guide

The Super Summary Study Guide is a 59-page guide for The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune and includes:

  • detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering all 19 chapters commentary on major characters
  • 25 important quotes
  • essay topics
  • several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis
  • key themes like Nature Versus Nurture and The Perpetuation of Prejudice

More Fiction Books of Interest

The Giver Book Discussion & Colorless Activity from Starts At Eight
High School Series Books Summer Reading List ~ FREE PRINTABLE from Starts At Eight
100+ Engaging Books for Middle School from Starts At Eight. 100+ Engaging Books for Middle School is a list of single books as well as series that are reading level and age appropriate for middle school readers.
Middle School Summer Activities Inspired by Great YA Books! Think summer bucket list! Think field trips! Think fantastic fiction to inspire it all! That's what this is! Read a great book, adventure out onan awesome related field trip, make an inspired craft or project! Screen free summer fun at its best!
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Resources & Printables

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Resources & Printables

In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2nd we decided to jump on the band wagon and do a small unit ourselves! Rather than try to cover everything, I just decided to use The Lorax. I have actually never read the book myself (gasp)! Here you will find a collection of The Lorax Resources that we found and love!

Also, the movie is now out in theaters and the kids want to see it, and I have this thing about reading the book before you see the movie!

The Lorax Resources

I started by looking for the book at our local library, but alas no luck. Given it is Dr. Seuss celebration time (in honor of his birthday on March 2nd), they were all checked out! If I had thought ahead I would have purchased my own copy the book.

Instead I found what I could on the fly and purchased the interactive book for my iPad instead. Ava just loves it, and it helps out when I am busy with the older two because she chooses the read to me feature and lets the app do the reading (it also has corresponding sounds that she really likes)!

As I dug around for some resources and activities, I decided to compile them together, not only so that I could find them again, but so that I could share them as well!

The Lorax Printables

The Lorax Unit Studies

Project Tree Learning

This package of Project Learning Tree activities was created by PLT in conjunction with The U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) Discover the Forest campaign to encourage parents and children to spend time in forests and reconnect with nature. There are activities from kids from pre-K through 8th grade:

  1. Who Speaks for the Trees? – Students read (or watch!) Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and examine the importance of the sustainable management of natural resources. (Grades 2-8)
  2. We All Need Trees – Students are often surprised to learn how many different products we get from trees. Use this activity to help your students learn just how much we depend on trees in our daily lives. (Grades PreK-6)
  3. Three Cheers for Trees – It’s easy to take for granted both trees and the many benefits they provide. In this activity, students picture how their community would be different without trees and think about how much trees add to people’s lives. (Grades 1-4)
  4. Forest for the Trees – In this activity, students will role-play managing a Tree Farm. By using a piece of land as an example, they will begin to understand the economic factors that influence management decisions for private forest lands. (Grades 4-8)
  5. 400-Acre Wood – In this activity, students will play the role of managers of a 400-acre (162 hectare) piece of public forest. Through this role, students will begin to understand the complex considerations that influence management decisions about forest lands. (Grades 7-8)
  6. Plant a Tree – Never underestimate the power of a tree! Besides giving us an amazing array of paper and wood products, trees provide a host of other benefits—from shading our backyards to assisting in the maintenance of the global climate. Students can express their appreciation of trees by planning and carrying out their own tree-planting project. (Grades 1-8)

The Lorax Unit Study/Lapbook

This is a FREE Lorax Unit Study with Lapbook Printables.

This includes lesson plans as well as printable lapbook components.

Learn about:

  • vocabulary
  • the parts of a tree
  • pollution
  • recycling
  • counting money
  • and more!

Be sure to check out The Lorax Lapbook Activities for more pictures and details!


The Lorax Discussion questions

  1. What was the land like before the Once-ler came?
  2. Did the Once-ler like the trees? Why did he chop down the first truffula tree?
  3. What did the Lorax mean when he said “I speak for the trees?”
  4. Why did the Once-ler keep “biggering and biggering” his factory?
  5. What happened to each animal as he did it? Bar-ba-loots? Swomee Swans? Humming Fish?
  6. What do you think he could have done differently while still ‘biggering’ his business?
  7. Can you cut down trees but still keep enough in the forest for the animals?
  8. How do trees help the earth: plants, animals, air quality, heat, noise, etc?
  9. What could the Once-ler have done differently to help each animal stay there?
  10. Do you think the Once-ler feels good about his decisions? Why or why not?
  11. What does the Once-ler say you can do with the truffula seed?
  12. Could he have done this while the factory was still making Thneeds?

The Lorax Resources & Printables from Starts At Eight

Other Dr. Seuss Fun:

A Preschool Readers List of Favorite Books from Starts At EightOur Favorite Dr Seuss Books from Starts At Eight. "oh the places you'll go!" Dr Seuss takes every little kid on a journey. Check out our favorites and some of the activities to go along with them!

The Giver ~ Book Discussion & Colorless Activity

The Giver ~ Book Discussion & Colorless Activity

The Giver is a wonderful middle and high school level novel that invokes tons of in-depth discussion and raises thought provoking questions about a life without memories, feelings or pain, a life of sameness and predictability and how that might be better or worse than the life we live.

The Giver Book Discussion & Colorless Activity from Starts At Eight

The Giver Book Discussion and Color Less Activity

For our Mother/Daughter Book Club this month, we chose to read The Giver by Lois Lowry. It had been awhile since I had read it, and I found myself a little surprised (and maybe a little overwhelmed) about how many topics could be discussed after reading it.

The Giver Summary

The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

Since I have spent time organizing my own thoughts about this book, I decided to gather a bunch of it here. From basic comprehension questions, to discussion questions/topics, as well as the colorless project that I chose to do with our book club.

The Giver Discussion Questions

Here are some thoughtful questions with thoughts on each one to talk about and share.

  1. What was the role of the “family unit” in Jonas’s community, and how is it different from the concept of family in our culture?
    • The family unit was an artificial family selected by the Elders. Its role was to raise children by the rules.
    • Children were assigned to each set of parents; when the children were old enough, the parents were removed to a home for Childless Parents.
    • There were no natural connections among family members; there was no such thing as love; there were no grandparents or sense of continuity.
  2. What did you notice about the language used by the author in this book? How does it reflect the community itself?
    • The lack of figurative language and showy adjectives robs the language of “color,” just as the community has been robbed of color.
    • Almost all words are restricted to literal meanings, taking away the freedom and playfulness that figurative language allows. The people of the community have also been robbed of freedom and playfulness, and are restricted to literal actions and interactions with one another.
    • Many new terms are mechanical (“comfort object”) or euphemistic (“release” for kill), which reinforces the lack of emotion and the sense of control in the community.
  3. Why do you think the Giver finally decided that “things must change”?
    • Sharing memories with Jonas made the Giver feel less alone and less hopeless.
    • Telling the truth about Rosemary seems to have made the Giver less willing to risk any more tragedies like hers.
    • Loving Jonas, and knowing Jonas had the ability to love, made the Giver determined to help him escape to the larger world.
  4. In order to change plans suddenly and sneak away from the community with Gabriel, Jonas must have learned many new values during his time with the Giver. What were some of the things Jonas learned? Give examples.
    • to think for himself and question what was happening around him
    • to defy rules
    • to take risks
    • to sacrifice himself in order to save someone he loved (Gabriel)
    • to judge others by different standards or morals from those applied in the community (as when he watched his father release the twin boy)
  5. Why do you think the title of this book is “The Giver” and not “The Receiver”? Do you think “The Receiver” would be better?
    • The story focuses on Jonas, who is the new Receiver, but he becomes a “Giver” at the end, in a sense, by giving his memories to the community, by giving his life for a cause, and by giving memories to Gabriel.
    • Students might argue that Jonas is the character who is acted upon in this story and the Giver is the one who brings about change by training Jonas and staying in the community afterward, so the Giver has greater significance.
    • Students might argue that the title is appropriate but the name of the job is inaccurate, since the person’s role is to give memories, give advice, and give wisdom. The person is called the Receiver, but he only “receives” during training.

Discussion Questions / Topics

  1. If you were to write your own ending for The Giver what would happen next?
  2. Do you believe that Jonas and Gabriel have a happy ending? Why or why not?
  3. Why do people break the rule against riding a bicycle so easily?
  4. What does the book suggest about the importance of being able to make choices, regardless of the consequences?
  5. If you were observed by the Elders, what Assignment would they think fit you? What would bring them to this conclusion?
  6. In Jonas’s community, every person and his or her experience are precisely the same. The climate is controlled, and competition has been eliminated in favor of a community in which everyone works only for the common good. What advantages might “Sameness” yield for contemporary communities? Is the loss of diversity worthwhile?
  7. True/False, Matching and Essay Questions for The Giver

The Giver World Without Color Project

Focusing on a colorless world I sent the girls out with a camera. Each girl was to choose something that they felt captured/represented “color” for them. When they came back I printed each photo in both black & white, as well as color.

Then I sort of set them free with craft supplies to create mini posters using their photos. It was interesting to see how each girl had their own creative spin on this topic.

You might also want to encourage them to use quotes from the book, or like in the first image descriptive feeling words were used in conjunction with the photos.

Books in The Giver Quartet

  1. The Giver– summary is above.
  2. Gathering Blue – Lois Lowry once again creates a mysterious but plausible future world. It is a society ruled by savagery and deceit that shuns and discards the weak. Left orphaned and physically flawed, young Kira faces a frightening, uncertain future. Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, she struggles with ever broadening responsibilities in her quest for truth, discovering things that will change her life forever.
  3. Messenger – Trouble is brewing in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself on welcoming strangers, Village will soon be cut off to all outsiders. As one of the few able to traverse the forbidding Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village’s closing and try to convince Seer’s daughter Kira to return with him before it’s too late. But Forest is now hostile to Matty as well. Now he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand.
  4. Son – They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.

Compare and Contrast The Giver Book & Movie

While the book came out in 1993, the movie came out in 2014. I often enjoy watching movies based on books after we have read the book. It makes for interesting discussions such as:

  1. How things differed from the book?
  2. How the visuals looked different than what you pictured?
  3. How was the movie story line was the same or different from the book and why you might think that was done?

You can get a FREE Printable Compare Contrast Book vs. Movie Worksheet here.

Teaching Seasons and Months Using A Busy Year

Teaching Seasons and Months Using A Busy Year

Teaching seasons and months was one of the things I loved best when the kids were little! There are so many colorful books, songs, and printables available for teaching seasons and months!

Teaching Seasons and Months

{This post was originally from 2012 and has been updated with current links and more resources}

A Busy Year by Leo Lionni ~ Seasons & Months Printables & Resources from Starts At EightAva and I have been reading A Busy Year by Leo Lionni.  This book is a fantastic base for digging into both the seasons and months of the year, as well as a great story to work on story sequencing.  I compiled some fun activities to reinforce these concepts.

4 Seasons Printables:

Months of the Year Printables:

We used a cut/paste activity sheet to match the month to what happened in A Busy Year. (While the one we used isn’t available anymore, I created something similar.)

==>> Get the FREE A Busy Year Sequencing Printable Here <<==

The Spring, Summer, Fall Winter coloring sheet was done separately and just added on. Here are a few free Seasons Coloring Sheets to choose from:

A Busy Year by Leo Lionni ~ Seasons & Months Printables & Resources from Starts At Eight

Months of the Year Song:

A Busy Year Discussion Questions:

Here are some basic discussion questions to use with your child.  Some are straight forward comprehension questions and others rely on the child to think a little bit deeper:

  1. Where do Willie and Winnie live?  (McBarney Barn)
  2. How did the twins feel when they heard Woody talk? (surprised)
  3. In this book what is the weather like in March? (windy and rainy)
  4. Why does Woody like the rain? (Trees need rain to grow)
  5. What is your favorite type of weather?
  6. Woody says that May is “my month!”  What does Woody look like in May? (he has blossoms and leaves)
  7. What is your favorite season or month? Why?
  8. How do Willie and Winnie help Woody in July? (They use a hose to keep the fire from getting to Woody)
  9. Tell about a time when you helped someone.
  10. Where do the twins go in August? (to the seashore)
  11. What does Woody have int September? (fruit)
  12. What type of fruit do you think it is? (any fruit that grows on trees and looks similar, ex. apple)
  13. What happens to Woody in October? (leaves blow off)  How do the twins feel about this? (sad or worried)
  14. What presents did Willie and Winnie give to Woody for Christmas? ( flower seeds to plant, bulbs, manure)

You can also use this A Busy Year Book Companion that includes things like vocabulary practice and a mini tree report.

Fredrick was Ava’s favorite and she was thrilled that it was one of the ones done in the video Swimmy…and more classic Leo Lionni stories.

More Seasonal Unit Studies

SPRING: Homeschool Gardening Unit

Homeschool Gardening Unit from Starts At Eight

SUMMER: Teach Bugs and Insects Using Eric Carle BooksTeach Bugs and Insects Using Eric Carle Books from Starts At Eight

WINTER: 3 Fun Snowman Activities

3 Fun Snowman Activities from Starts At Eight

FALL: Johnny Appleseed Unit

Johnny Appleseed / Apple Unit from Starts At Eight

Seasons of Parenting Books for the Ages & Stages

Seasons of Parenting Books for the Ages & Stages

Parenting is a job that no on really prepares you for. There aren’t really classes or instruction manuals for parenting our children! There are however many parenting books that can help us along the way on our parenting journey.

Seasons of Parenting Books for the Ages & Stages is a compilation of many of the parenting books I have read, used, and loved along my parenting journey.

Seasons of Parenting Books for the Ages & Stages

Throughout my many years of parenting three children I have hit many milestones, obstacles, and challenges along the way. Whether in seemingly easy patches or in the rough trenches, I typically have a non-fiction book I am reading. Very often parenting books are what you will find on my nightstand for reading.

You can find parenting books on almost every topic from What to Expect When You’re Expecting to The 10 Myths of Teen Dating and everything in between!

Here you will find a collection of books (some with personal reviews) I have found helpful so far on my parenting journey. An * marks the books linked to a more lengthy, personal review of the book by me.

Parenting Books Pertaining to Younger Children

1 -2 -3 Magic Effective Discipline for Children 2-12

I truly believe our sons childhood was saved by this book! I remember being at my wits end with him, struggling on a ledge trying to find a way to manage my mischievous, active, into everything child. I was tired of yelling (which wasn’t working) and needed something! 1-2-3 Magic was my lifeline. It worked! It helped me by means of three easy-to-follow steps, to learn to manage troublesome behavior, encourage good behavior, and strengthen my parent-child relationship with him.

*Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Became Parents – While not pertaining directly to younger children, this is probably a good read for sooner rather than later along your parenting journey!

In this book Gary Chapman and Shannon Warden share wisdom gained from raising their own children and from the many families they’ve counseled through the years. They explore numerous topics like how children change your life, how to accept your child’s uniqueness, potty training (yes!), why kids need boundaries (starting as infants), the importance of modeling, why social skills are as important as academic skills, and why emotional health is critical.

*Growing Up Social – Raising Relational Kids in a Screen Driven World – In Growing Up Social the authors focus on raising kids who know how to relate in our screen driven world. They offer practical advice on how we as parents can better relate to our children, thus helping us to help them navigate this world. Then they go another step beyond that by giving REAL LIFE examples, conversations and real words to use with your kids in your own house.

Parenting Books Pertaining to Tweens and Teens

*The 10 Myths of Teen Dating – My first thought about this book was, YES, a book that sticks to solid moral values but doesn’t bog it down with the mention of God in every sentence! Instead they take moral values, put them into real life words and practice so that even those who are not religiously based can use and find great value in the advice and action points in this book. Kids need real life, practical advice for facing the world around them, and this book has it! Not only does it give good advice for teens, but it does it by helping you to be the messenger of that good advice. The 10 Myths of Teen Dating is based in research, experience, and insight from Daniel, and brought together with perspectives and insight from his daughter, Jacquelyn.

*A Teen’s Guide to the 5 Love Languages – is geared towards helping our teens understand themselves as well as their relationships with others. Because it is geared toward teens it speaks to teens on their level, uses examples they can relate to, includes graphics that are fun and relevant for teens,  and gives solid, concrete examples of what each language looks like, from both sides!

Parenting Beyond the Rules: Raising Teens with Confidence and Joy

One of my favorite quotes from this book, “How do we speak so our teen listens and understands? We need to start by monitoring our mouth! It’s not always what you say but how and when you say it that matters.”

I got out my highlighter, well really my pen, because there were so many things to take in! From action points I wanted to do, to encouraging quotes I wanted to hang on to! Connie does a wonderful job of speaking from the heart as she shares her own family stories to paint a picture for us.

Parenting teens can be tough. But as Connie points out, creating and holding your relationship with them with care will carry you farther than any strict rules or planning will!

Listen. Watch your mouth. Give them space to make decisions and figure things out…with you as their safety net.

General Parenting Books

*8 Simple Rules for Raising Great Kids – What I love about this book is the non-judgmental, we have all totally been there, kind of approach that is taken. Todd uses specific examples to highlight each point he is trying to make and then gives you a little food for thought. The short chapters make it easy to read a few pages, mull it over, and then try to put it into practice.

*Just 18 Summers – This is the only fiction book on my list but the message is SO important.

*No More Perfect Kids – “Before you had children, you most likely dreamed of children. You dreamed about what it would be like, who they might resemble and how your family life would be with them. These expectations can lead to disillusionment and disappointment for you and your children. No More Perfect Kids was written to help you shatter your preconceived notions and learn to see and love them for who they actually are.”

Not Just About the Kids

Parenting isn’t just about the kids. Parenting is a way of life. You need to be comfortable in your own shoes, and your home environment needs to be a positive, safe space to live and grow. Here are a couple of books that aren’t just about the kids.

The DIY Guide to Building A Family That Lasts – 12 Tools For Improving Your Home Life{I recently received this book for review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

I have to say that the first thing (well two things) that attracted me to this book were: the author (I LOVE Gary Chapman), and the DIY home improvement theme they are working off of!

The book is broken down into 12 Tools

  1. Building Kindness
  2. Increasing Gratitude
  3. Cultivating Love
  4. Seeking Compromise
  5. Choosing Forgiveness
  6. Improving Communication
  7. Enhancing Trust
  8. Developing Compassion
  9. Increasing Patience
  10. Getting Organized
  11. Creating Fun
  12. Building Connections

Each of these chapters has personal insights and stories from the authors. Then they Draw Up A Plan, help you Do-It Yourself, offer ideas on how to get your whole family to be All-In, discuss the Sweat Equity – that’s the hard work and sacrifices that may be needed to reach the goal and then end with the results, The Big Reveal.

I love that they acknowledge how tough it will be, but also how worth it. “You and your family are embarking on major home improvements right now. It’s hard but valuable work. Keep moving forward!”

I highly recommend taking this book and breaking out down over a year, covering one chapter each month.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Families – shows how and why to have family meetings, the importance of keeping promises, how to balance individual and family needs, and how to move from dependence to interdependence.

*The Secrets of Happy Families – It is so interesting to me how Bruce finds principles used elsewhere for other things and adapts them to the family. While he offers many different ideas, he states in the book, “My hope is that if you take just one idea from each chapter in this book, your family will be transformed in less than a week.

What I took away from this book was sort of a “toolbox” of ideas to try in my family. Some of the main themes I recall are flexibility, family time, and a feeling of belonging to something bigger than yourself.

The Power of a Positive MomThe vocabulary of a positive mom generally does not contain the word perfect. A Positive Mom is one who realizes that neither circumstances or people are perfect. She is realistic in her expectations, recognizing that her husband and children have weaknesses as well as strengths. And most important, she humbly acknowledges that she has a fair amount of flaws herself. ~ Karol Ladd, The Power of a Positive Mom

More on Parenting

Unconditional Love & Parenting from Starts At EightParenthood from Starts At EightAre You a Yes or No Mom? from Starts At Eight

HUGE List of Easter Books for Kids

HUGE List of Easter Books for Kids

You are sure to find something for your children to delight in this Easter with this HUGE list of Easter Books for Kids. Whether you celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, or delight in that funny bunny the Easter Bunny (or maybe both) there are books for all!

aster Books for Kids is a HUGE list of books for Easter, including funny bunny, Easter Bunny, activity books, and Jesus. Go on an Easter egg hunt, join your favorite characters to celebrate, and hear stories of how Jesus was resurrected.

Through the years we have read so many books! As each holiday comes around there are always “go to” books that we read each year, as well as new ones I find to try out. This list has come from our years of reading and includes many of our personal favorite Easter Books for Kids.

Easter Books for Kids

Easter Books for Kids make great Easter Basket gifts! I also highly recommend trying to get some from your local library first. This will allow you to read and preview them before you buy. Then you can buy the favorites for your home collection!

1. We’re Going on an Egg Hunt by Laura Hughes

A perfect story for Easter and springtime, this delightful read-aloud also features ten lift-the-flaps!

We’re going on an egg hunt.
We’re going to find them all.
We’re REALLY excited.
Hooray for Easter Day!

Join a family of bunnies as they set off on an exciting lift-the-flap Easter egg hunt. There are ten eggs to find and count–but watch out for the obstacles along the way . . . Lambs, chicks, bees, and ducks await, and there’s even a wolfish surprise, so be careful!

2. Pete the Cat – Big Easter Adventure by James Dean

Pete jumps in to help the Easter Bunny in Pete the Cat: Big Easter Adventure—which comes complete with a poster, stickers, and a set of punch-out card.

When Pete wakes up Easter morning, ready to check out his basket of goodies, he discovers the Easter Bunny needs a little extra help. Our favorite groovy blue cat puts on his bunny ears and finds a way to collect, paint, and hide the eggs all in time for Easter!

3. The Beginner’s Bible the Very First Easter by Zondervan

The Beginner’s Bible, The Very First Easter introduces children to the amazing story of Jesus death and resurrection with exciting new artwork from the bestselling and beloved The Beginner’s Bible.

4. Pinkalicious Eggstraordinary Easter by Victoria Kann

When Pinkalicious wakes up on Easter morning, she finds a note from Edgar Easter Bunny that sends the Pinkerton family on an eggsciting Easter scavenger hunt!

5. The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story by Mike Berenstain

The Bear cubs are candy-crazy this Easter! But Missus Ursula and some Sunday school students tell the cubs about Jesus’s resurrection and show them that salvation is much sweeter than candy! Includes a sheet of colorful stickers! Egg, The Easter Bunny brings lots of treats for Llama Llama: jelly beans, colorful eggs, and a fluffy surprise!

More Berenstain Bears Easter Fun

  •  The Berenstain Bears’ Easter Sunday – The Bear Family, all of their friends and family, and even the nature all around them get dressed in their Easter best for an Easter Sunday celebration at the Chapel in the Woods. Join Mama, Papa, Brother, sisters and Honey as they go to services, have an Easter treasure hunt, and learn what Easter is all about.
  • The Berenstain Bears and the Real Easter Eggs – Join Brother and Sister as they go on the Giant Beartown Easter Egg Hunt. The cubs are trying to collect the most Easter eggs, but it’s the true meaning of the holiday that they find.
  • The Berenstain Bears’ Baby Easter Bunny – On Easter morning, the cubs find the best surprise of all in their Easter basket: a tiny baby bunny. When the Bear family goes on an Easter egg hunt, the bunny has an idea of its own. It wants to find other Easter babies! Join Brother, Sister, and the baby Easter bunny as they explore flower patches, leafy bushes, and even Farmer Ben’s chicken coop in search of spring babies. Flaps on each page open to reveal a different animal family hiding underneath!
  • The Berenstain Bears’ Easter Parade – Spring is here, the sun is shining, and the Berenstain Bears are getting ready for the Easter parade! That is, everyone except Brother Bear, who just can’t seem to get in good spirits. What will bring a smile to Brother Bear’s face during this happy Easter celebration?

6. God Gave Us Easter by Lisa Tawn Bergren

“God loved us so much he wanted us to always be with him too. That’s why God knew he’d need to give us Easter.”

As Little Cub celebrates Easter with Papa, Mama, and her brother and sister, she begins to ask her papa questions about this very special day of the year.  Papa lovingly explains God’s plans for his children, while taking Little Cub on a memorable walk through her stunning Arctic world, and he shares how Easter came about in clear, simple terms that even the littlest cubs can understand.

7. The Story of the Easter Bunny by Katherine Tegen

Everyone knows who the Easter Bunny is. Each year, he comes with a basket of painted eggs and chocolates for children. But not everybody knows where he comes from. On a snow-cold day in a snug little house… So begins the true story of the Easter Bunny!

With gorgeous and peaceful art, this fresh, innovative story describes how one little rabbit became a legend.

8. Paw Patrol’s Count on the Easter Pups by Random House

Help Skye, Chase, Marshall, and the rest of Adventure Bay’s amazing pups get ready for Easter while learning to count from one to ten.

You might also want to check out Paw Patrol’s The Pups Save the Bunnies – Nickelodeon’s PAW Patrol hops to the rescue when Adventure Bay’s bunnies need a new home. Kids will love this exciting full-color storybook, which features big flaps to lift.

9. An Easter Egg Hunt for Jesus (God Gave Us Easter to Celebrate Hist Life) by Susan Jones

A quiet forest wakes up from its winter sleep. Buds blossom and trees stretch their branches—spring is here! All the animals are excited for the season of rebirth, because it means Easter is soon to come! Little Bunny and his friends get ready for the special and important day with an Easter egg hunt. But when Little Bunny makes a mistake that makes him think he’s ruined all the fun, his friends and family come together to help him understand the meaning of Easter—a celebration of Jesus’s resurrection and the new life He offers us.

10. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

I don’t think any Easter is complete with out Peter Rabbit! The Tale of Peter Rabbit is the tale of a mischievous rabbit and his nerve-wracking encounter with Mr. McGregor.

“Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were – Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter. They lived with their Mother in a sand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir-tree.”

Other Peter Rabbit Books by Beatrix Potter

11. The Legend of the Sand Dollar by Chris Auer

Eight-year-old Kerry loves the ocean. But on this visit to the beach, she discovers a little-known treasure and learns of the story of Easter revealed in the sand dollar. Now you and your child can discover the story behind this small ocean treasure as stunning illustrations form the backdrop for this familiar seaside legend. Seen through the eyes of children, The Legend of the Sand Dollar shares the timeless hope of resurrection and new life—the promise of Easter.

12. Happy Easter, Curious George by R.P. Anderson

One fine Easter morning, George and the man with the yellow hat head to the park. George can’t help but join in the fun when he sees children dyeing Easter eggs . . . but what’s that man doing with their prized creations? Each hardcover gift book comes with glittery egg-decorating stickers!

13. Here Comes T-Rex Cottontail by Lois G. Grambling

Peter Cottontail is out sick, and there’s only one dinosaur who’s up to the task of delivering his eggs on Easter—T. Rex! Although he may need a little practice at HOPPING to get rid of that WOBBLE. Join T. Rex and his friends as he saves the day in a very special way.

14. Easter Love Letters From God: Bible Stories by Glenys Nellist

Easter Love Letter from God guides children and families through Holy Week with seven beautifully illustrated Bible stories. Following each story the child will find his or her own letter from God. Children will love the excitement of opening the letters and parents will love how the letters elaborate on the Bible stories being told. Each message gives the child a sense of wonder as they discover what happened leading up to Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. A very special Bible verse, entitled God’s Wonderful Words to You will accompany each story and letter. Much more than a memory verse, each carefully chosen promise will be God’s very own personal words of love, encouragement, and hope.

15. Peppa’s Easter Egg Hunt by Scholastic

It’s springtime, and Grandpa Pig has set up an Easter egg hunt for Peppa Pig and her friends! Join Peppa, Rebecca Rabbit, and Freddy Fox as they search for delicious chocolate eggs and even see baby chicks hatching in the yard!

16. Minnie Easter Bonnet Parade by Disney Book Group

In this adorable tale, Minnie and the rest of the Bow-Tique gang orchestrate an Easter parade that shows off some of Minnie’s most outrageous and spectacular bows yet! Hats off to Easter!Also includes a sheet of stickers for even more Minnie Easter fun!

17. Splat the Cat Where’s the Easter Bunny? by Rob Scotton

It’s almost Easter, and Splat knows exactly what he wants from the Easter Bunny—a really big Easter egg. But where is the Easter Bunny? Lift the flaps and help Splat search for him at the park, in the den, and all around town!

18. The Donkey That No One Could Ride by Anthony DeStefano

Bestselling author Anthony DeStefano begins his creative telling of the beloved Bible story of Christ’s triumphant entry by introducing the young donkey who has yet to realize his important mission. The lowly creature believes he can do nothing noble, but that’s before he meets the Master…

Then Jesus said to the donkey,
“It’s time that you knew
About the great thing
That you’re destined to do…”
He hears the sad donkey cry,
“Just leave me alone and cast me aside.
I’m just a poor donkey that no one can ride.”

19. The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Easter Colors by Eric Carle

Celebrate the bright and cheerful colors of Easter with The Very Hungry Caterpillar! The colors of the rainbow jump off the page in this colorful celebration of the Easter season. Young readers will love learning about colors along with The Very Hungry Caterpillar in this delightful board book filled with the joyful art of Eric Carle.

20. Dora’s Easter Bunny Adventure by Veronica Paz

Dora and Boots are waiting eagerly for a visit from the Easter Bunny, but that sneaky Swiper has swiped his basket of eggs! It’s up to Dora and boots to help the Easter Bunny retrieve his basket and save the day. Also comes with a sheet of colorful holiday stickers.

21. How to Catch the Easter Bunny by Adam Wallace

How to Catch the Easter Bunny brings readers on a rollicking adventure chasing the Easter Bunny as he delivers his eggs…Is this the year you’ll be able to catch the Easter bunny in action?

22. The Easter Egg by Jan Brett

If Hoppi can make the best Easter egg, he will get to help the Easter Rabbit with his deliveries on Easter morning. But it is not so easy. Discouraged, he goes into the woods to think when a blue robin’s egg tumbles out of its nest. Hoppi keeps it safe and warm until the baby bird hatches, and when the Easter Rabbit arrives, he declares the empty blue eggshell the very best one to reward Hoppi for his kindness.

Easter Activity Books for Kids

Every year when my kids were little my parents put fun gifts in Easter baskets (or spread around as a part of the egg hunt) for my kids. The LOVED getting these age appropriate little trinkets. Many of them came in the form of reading, coloring, or activity books. Here are some great ones to add to your kids’ baskets!

  • Mad Libs Easter Eggstravaganza –  features 21 original stories all about celebrating Easter.
  • Mad Libs Junior – Have a Silly Easter – In these Easter-themed stories, preschoolers can fill in the blanks with 140 stickers featuring pictures with corresponding words. Plus, each story is accompanied by a coordinating coloring page.
  • Easter Crack Ups: Knock-Knock Jokes – Knock, knock, Who’s there? Sherwood. Sherwood who? Sherwood like to be in the Easter parade. Get ready to crack up with more than two dozen egg-citing Easter knock-knock jokes in this egg-straordinary lift-the-flap book. Hop along with a bunch of funny bunnies and enjoy an egg hunt, a parade, and more. You’ll just dye laughing!
  • Sport the Difference: Easter Puzzle Book – 52 sets of colorful Easter-themed cartoons with solutions included. Celebrate Easter with this special puzzle book stuffed with bunnies, Easter eggs, and more bunnies! Think you can spot all the differences? Think again!
  • The Great Big Easter Eggs Coloring Book – With extra thick lines and super simple patterns, these 50 “Great Big!” Easter Egg designs are made especially for Toddlers and Preschoolers ages 1-4.
  • Easter Activity Book for Kids (ages 4-8) – Coloring, dot to dot, mazes, word searches and more!
  • Highlights PuzzleMania Easter Puzzles – This holiday-themed collection is packed with a wide range of kids’ favorite puzzles, including mazes, number puzzles, wordplay, brainteasers, matching, and our ever-popular Hidden Pictures® puzzles. With bunnies, eggs, chicks, and all of kids’ favorite things from spring.
  • Eyelike Stickers: Easter – Packed with 400 full-color Easter- and spring-themed stickers, EyeLike Stickers: Easter belongs in every Easter basket and every crafter’s stash. The high-quality, photographic images are amazingly lifelike in color and detail. The durable, reusable stickers are designed to be stuck on and peeled off over and over again without losing adhesive.

More Easter Ideas

10 Eco-Friendly Easter Basket Gift Ideas for Kids from Starts At Eight offers up some creative, fun, and Earth friendly options to include in your kids Easter Baskets this year! Easter Basket Ideas for boy and Easter Basket Ideas for Girls! This is a list of 75+ Non Candy Easter Basket Ideas from Starts At Eight for those of us in need of filling up an Easter Basket without the want or need of Easter candy!

Top 10 Favorite Read Alouds

Top 10 Favorite Read Alouds

We have so many books that are on our love list here in this house, but not all of them would make for a great read aloud. So I will share some of our favorite read alouds that I think would fit in this read aloud category. Some (most) are for younger kids (picture books), and some longer and more in depth for the older set. My youngest will be 6 this month and I know that some books, even read a chapter at a time, just don’t hold her interest.

10 Ten Favorite Read Alouds from Starts At Eight is a collection of both picture and chapter books that will captivate your children. Easy and fun to read aloud, ones your children will treasure for years to come.

Top 10 Favorite Read Alouds

All the books in this list of favorite read alouds that include a link in the descriptions are links to posts on my blog where I have written about these books. When I asked the kids about read alouds the number one, right out of their mouth pick was The Rattletrap Car so I put it first on the list. My Many Colored Days happens to be right up there with The Rattletrap Car, other than that there is no specific order to the list.

1. The Rattletrap Car ”it doesn’t go fast and it doesn’t go far”. Takes a family from a farm where everyone is “hot, hot, hot” in an old car to the lake where everyone gets “cool, cool, cool”. This book was one we received as part of a mail order book club I was in when Chloe (now almost 13) was a baby. The descriptive, silly sound words are so much fun. I had to purchase a second copy of this book because it was so much loved by Chloe that some of the pages got torn by mistake and she did not want to give it up so we needed a new one to share with the other kids.

2. My Many Colored Days This story is a great way to introduce both colors and feelings to young children. The rhyme is incredibly catchy as you can read here. This is one of those books I would easily add to every baby shower gift as a must have for little ones!

My Many Colored Days Unit from Starts At Eight

3. The Pout Pout Fish This is a book that makes you laugh out loud and smile. It’s any easy book to read aloud and have little ones join in as I talk about in a post about enjoying this book at story time.

4. Wide Mouth Frog This book was so much fun, and can easily be enhanced more with a puppet of a frog to go along with the story. There is a great animated video of the story as well.

5. 5 Little Monkeys Is a classic song/rhyme/story, but only Ava really took to loving it. She has a treasure of 5 Little Monkeys stories that she has just loved. The are fun and silly and a joy to share together. Here is a post where I share our favorite story time version.

5 Little Monkeys - Books - Activities -Crafts - & More! from Starts At Eight

6. Ella the Elegant Elephant Ella was a favorite of Jayden’s when he was young. He took to a light blue Carter’s brand elephant as a baby and when he was a toddler I found the Ella books. This is one of the books I had included in a previous list of Read Alouds. That list also includes a few that are not on this list that we love as well.

7. Pete the Cat – I Love My White Shoes This is another great book we were introduced to at story time a few years back. I can still hear the sing song tune of Mike who does story time in my head…”I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes.”

The following 3 books are one I have recently read to Ava (who will be 6 this month) for our Mother/Daughter Book Club. Each one became one of our favorite read alouds. We loved them all for different reasons. Pippi Longstocking is fun and fanciful, The Doll People has fantastic illustrations, and Betsy-Tacy is such a great story of childhood friendship.

8. Pippi Longstocking – I loved Pippi as a kid! Fun and fanciful, a tomboy like me. And if your child ends up loving her there are more adventures to be read in sequels like Pippi Goes on Board and Pippi of the South Seas. I also loved these movie adaptations of all the Pippi adventures.

9. The Doll People – This book inspired me to build a doll house for my oldest daughter. We were in the process of moving and she was so sad. My dad and I used all materials I had left over from our old house, things like carpeting, wall paper, paint colors and even the roofing! Then I bought dolls like the ones in the story, only one to represent each member in our family. It is a much treasured (and packed away safely) keepsake. The Doll People is a series as well, one I loved from start to finish!

10. Betsy-Tacy – This is a story of friendship, honest to goodness, little girls making playhouses, dressing up, and so much more. And like the other older books I mentioned here there are multiple Betsy Tacy books to enjoy!

Bonus Number 11: Pinkalicious

10 Ten Favorite Read Alouds from Starts At Eight is a collection of both picture and chapter books that will captivate your children. Easy and fun to read aloud, ones your children will treasure for years to come.

As I sit here updating this post (7 years after I wrote it) a recent reminder of some read alouds my daughter loved came to mind. I was just in the library getting a The Snowy Day out for my grandson (as alas I cannot find my copy) and stumbled upon the Pinkalicious books. I could not believe how many more they have added since my daughter was little! There is Purplicious, Goldilicious, Silverlicious, Aqualicious, Emeraldalicious, tons of easy readers and SO MUCH more!

More Reading Fun

K-2 Series Books Summer Reading List & FREE PRINTABLE from Starts At EightA Preschool Readers List of Favorite Books from Starts At Eight

Children's Books About the Library from Starts At Eight

The Big Book of Homeschooling

To get tons of great advice, and move beyond the basics of academics, pick up a copy of The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas. Some topics included are things like active learning, learning with video games, helping teens/tween become independent learners (one of my chapters), teaching on the road, learning with movies, high school literature (one of my chapters), and gardening.

This book can carry you through all your years of homeschooling, covering the stages your children will mature through: preschoolers, elementary grades, middle school, and high school. As your life situation changes, you will find new chapters that apply to you. You can view the full table of contents to see all 103 topics!

The Big Book of Ideas Cover (iPad)

Super Shark Books! Fiction and Non-Fiction for Toddler to Teen

Super Shark Books! Fiction and Non-Fiction for Toddler to Teen

For kids young and old comes this collection of shark books. In lieu of the 30th Anniversary of Shark Week this year I am sharing a collection of both fiction and non-fiction books for kids from prepreaders through high school!

This Super Shark Books Collection consists of books we have loved throughout the years as my son has grown from toddler to teen. Shark fiction, shark non-fiction, comics, poetry and more. If you have a shark lover you will want to Pin this one for later!

A fascination with sharks started early in our house when my son fell in love with a picture book I used to read him called, The Great White Man-Eating Shark: A Cautionary Tale

In this simple picture book Norvin is a very good actor, but rather plain. In fact, he looks very like a shark, and more than anything, he loves to shoot through the water like a silver arrow. But his cunning plan to clear the water at Caramel Cove badly misfires. While this book isn’t packed with facts, it’s a fun story to have as part of your shark books collection, that had us digging for more information!

Super Shark Books! Fiction and Non-Fiction for Toddler to Teen

As the years have gone on we have found many fun and interesting shark books of both the fiction and non-fiction varieties. We hope you enjoy some of these shark books as much as we have!

Shark Books – Fiction

This Super Shark Books Collection consists of books we have loved throughout the years as my son has grown from toddler to teen. Shark fiction, shark non-fiction, comics, poetry and more. If you have a shark lover you will want to Pin this one for later!

  1. Sharks: Nature’s Perfect Hunter – A science comics book – Dive in for an intimate look at the dynamic hammerhead, infamous great white, primordial megalodon, and the gentle nurse shark, the rare species that will let a scuba diver pet them! This book is filled to the gills with jaw-dropping illustrations and razor-sharp facts that shed light on these fascinating creatures of the deep, including their undersea terrain, cunning adaptability, and staggering variety.
  2. The Shark King – This is a comic done for elementary readers about a Hawaiian folk tale.  If you are teaching a unit on folk tales and myths or want another way for students to learn about other cultures in a social studies lesson, this is a good resource to add to your collection! Join Kalei on an adventure as she wanders the beach to search for food and finds more than she had bargained for. Kalei is a young woman who is saved from drowning by a mysterious man. Eventually, they fall in love and marry. Kalei is about to have a baby when the young man leaves her to make, as he tells her, “a place for our son at the bottom of the pool.” With that, Kalei discovers something surprising about her husband…
  3. Shark School – This is such a cute and fun chapter book series for kids featuring Harry Hammer, a hammerhead shark with a penchant for (mis)adventure. Harry Hammer is a hammerhead shark, although he’d rather be a great white shark, or a tiger shark—anything but himself. But when a class trip to a famous shipwreck almost ends in disaster for Harry and his pals, he realizes the importance of being exactly who he is! There are currently 10 books in this series.
  4. Shark Island – A boating adventure turns wild! Three friends, pre-teens, embark on a deep-sea fishing excursion. Their weathered and wise captain has just one leg—thanks to a shark attack from long ago. Nate, the first mate, dreams of treasures not yet discovered. The kids just want to do some fishing. When an unexpected storm comes along, the boat loses course, and with the high waves and furious waters, the passengers and crew are tossed into the ocean to fight for their lives. New reality sets in. They are on a deserted island, surrounded by sharks. Hence, its name: SHARK ISLAND. Legend says there is a treasure there. And Nate will do anything to find it—including putting the youngsters in harm’s way.
  5. How to Survive as a Shark – provides a unique take on fish science that will entertain and educate in and out of the classroom. Full of opportunities for extended learning, this book includes fun facts hidden throughout the hilarious illustrated story – and after, a glossary of important terms and some real photos of great white sharks. If you’ve ever wondered how to think and swim like a shark, and you like to laugh while you learn, this book is for you!
  6. I Survived: The Shark Attacks of 1916 – Chet Roscow is finally feeling at home in Elm Hills, New Jersey. He has a job with his uncle Jerry at the local diner, three great friends, and the perfect summertime destination: cool, refreshing Matawan Creek. But Chet’s summer is interrupted by shocking news. A great white shark has been attacking swimmers along the Jersey shore, not far from Elm Hills. Everyone in town is talking about it. So when Chet sees something in the creek, he’s sure it’s his imagination. . . until he comes face-to-face with a bloodthirsty shark!
  7. Hark! A Shark! – the Cat introduces beginning readers to all kinds of sharks! From the smallest (the dwarf lantern) to the largest (the whale shark), the most notorious (the great white) to the most obscure (the goblin), the Cat explains why sharks have lots of teeth but no bones; how their tough skin helps them swim fast and stay clean (inspiring scientists–and bathing suit manufacturers!); how pores along the sides of their bodies help them sense prey and much, much more!
  8. The Great Shark Escape – Magic School Bus Chapter Book #7 – A class trip to the aquarium winds up in the depths of the ocean as Ms. Frizzle’s class must escape the jaws of a great white shark! During their adventure, Ms. Frizzle teaches the class about different shark species, including the goblin shark, angel shark, whale shark, and others.
  9. Magic Tree House Shadow of the Shark – Jack and Annie are going on vacation! Or so they think. Teddy, the young sorcerer, has promised them a relaxing time off the coast of Mexico. The magic tree house whisks them away to a beautiful sandy beach, and Jack and Annie are ready to raft on the ocean waves. But when a hungry shark attacks, their dream vacation turns into a nightmare!
  10. Magic Tree House Dolphins at Daybreak – It’s sink or swim for Jack and Annie when the Magic Tree House whisks them off to the middle of the ocean. Luckily, they find a mini-submarine on a coral reef. Unluckily, they are about to meet a giant octopus and one very hungry shark. Will the dolphins save the day? Or are Jack and Annie doomed to be dinner?
  11. Sharkpunk – An anthology of killer shark stories. The stories contained within are rip-roaring thrillers and slow-build chillers that celebrate all things savage, pulp, and selachian. Covering the whole range of speculative fiction genres, from horror and steampunk through to science fiction, these are stories with bite!
  12. Surrounded by Sharks – When Davey wakes, just as the sun is rising, he can’t wait to slip out of the crammed hotel room he’s sharing with his family. Leave it to his parents and kid brother to waste an entire day of vacation sleeping in! Davey heads straight for the beach, book and glasses in hand, not bothering to leave a note. As the sparkling ocean entices him, he decides to test the water, never mind that No Swimming sign. But as the waves pull him farther from shore, Davey finds himself surrounded by water — and something else, too. Something circling below the surface, watching, waiting. It’s just a matter of time…
  13. Shark Trouble – Master storyteller Peter Benchley combines high adventure with practical information in Shark Trouble, a book that is at once a thriller and a valuable guide to being safe in, on, under, and around the sea. The bestselling author of Jaws draws on more than three decades of experience to share information about sharks and other marine animals.
  14. Jaws – Of course our list wouldn’t be complete without this iconic book!

Shark Books – Non-Fiction

This Super Shark Books Collection consists of books we have loved throughout the years as my son has grown from toddler to teen. Shark fiction, shark non-fiction, comics, poetry and more. If you have a shark lover you will want to Pin this one for later!

  1. DK Super Shark Encyclopedia – Super Shark Encyclopedia uncovers the secrets of the oceans by exploring a remarkable array of 80 sharks and other sea creatures — from Barrel Shrimp to Blue Sharks, Starfish to Bat Fish, and Hammerhead Sharks to Sand tiger Sharks, plus surfing penguins, deep-sea monsters, rays, eels and more. Packed with jaw-dropping facts about animal behavior and anatomy, new x-ray artworks utilize cross-sections and strip layers away to show key anatomical features in detail.
  2. Sharkopedia – Celebrate Discovery Shark Week all year long with Discovery Sharkopedia, the definitive visual guide to everything there is to know about sharks! With more than 400 incredible color photos of the world’s most infamous sharks, including great white, bull, and tiger sharks, Sharkopedia explores the evolution of sharks-did you know sharks have been swimming in the world’s oceans since before dinosaurs roamed the earth?-and introduces kids to almost 500 known shark species with close-up portraits of each and fun “fin facts” throughout.
  3. The Ultimate Book of Sharks – (National Geographic Kids) Join this amazing underwater adventure to track the sharks of the world, from the teeniest dogfish to the everfeared great white. This ultimate book features every species of shark on the planet, with awesome photos, fascinating facts, the latest science, and firsthand stories of real-life encounters with these incredible creatures. Learn how sharks live, how they eat, the challenges they face, and whether or not you are actually on the menu!
  4. Shark Lady – An inspiring story by critically acclaimed zoologist Jess Keating about finding the strength to discover truths that others aren’t daring enough to see. Includes a timeline of Eugenie’s life and many fin-tastic shark facts!
  5. Magic Tree House Fact Tracker Sharks & Other Predators – When Jack and Annie came back from their adventure in Magic Tree House Merlin Mission #25: Shadow of the Shark, they had lots of questions. How many teeth do sharks have? What is their favorite food? What are some other top predators? How do they keep life in balance? Find out the answers to these questions and more as Jack and Annie track the facts about sharks and other predators.
  6. Magic Tree House Fact Tracker Dolphins & Sharks – Filled with up-to-date information, photos, illustrations, and fun tidbits from Jack and Annie, the Magic Tree House Fact Trackers are the perfect way for kids to find out more about the topics they discovered in their favorite Magic Tree House adventures.
  7. Sharks – by Gail Gibbons. From the dwarf shark to the great white shark, here is information on the physical characteristics of these animals, how they differ from other fish, how they are born (some hatch from eggs, others are born alive), and how they survive in their environment. Their role in ocean life and how their survival is threatened is also discussed.
  8. Uncover A Shark – takes you on a whole new learning experience, layer-by-layer to provide children with an in-depth and all encompassing understanding of the subject and its anatomy.  First the basic elements–their cartilaginous nature, teeth, fins, and gills–then more complex systems are detailed–the cardiopulmonary systems, digestive system, and the acute sensory systems. Each organ or system is intricately placed inside the book to provide a three dimensional view of its size in relation to the rest of the body. Each page is filled with interesting facts and detailed illustrations that describe each part. There is also a very similar paperback book called Explore a Shark.
  9. Smithsonian Sharks – If you believe the movies and books about shark attacks, you probably think that sharks are the biggest, scariest animals on the planet. But are all sharks the giant man hunters they are so often made out to be? What do they eat, where do they swim, and what do they do on weekends? Dive in and explore one of the world’s most mysterious creatures with acclaimed science writer Seymour Simon.
  10. Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks – From the enormous whale shark to the legendary great white to the enigmatic goblin shark to the small cookie-cutter shark, Slickety Quick is a delightful frenzy of shark mayhem. Mysterious species such as the camouflaged wobbegong and the elusive frilled shark share the waters with better-known blue and nurse sharks, each commemorated in a poem by Skila Brown and illustrated by Bob Kolar. Sneaky shark facts ripple through each spread to further inform the brave and curious young reader intrigued by the power — and danger — of these amazing creatures.

More Shark Fun


  • Bite Into These Shark Week Resources – TONS of printables, toys, movies, and more! Everything your child could ever want to learn about and have fun with sharks!
  • Shark Art with Chalk Pastels – It’s no secret that we LOVE using our chalk pastels for art.  So why not celebrate sharks with some fun art too!
List of Summer Reading for Moms

List of Summer Reading for Moms

I am an avid reader. Not only do I love to read, but I have worked to instill a love of reading in my children. I have participated in many books clubs over the years, both for myself and with my daughters. Even when I was in high school, summer was the time to read. During the summer I could read what I wanted because I wasn’t tied to the constraints of the school year.  As a homeschooling mom I often spend time reading the books my children are reading. Now that summer is here I have some great summer reading for moms that I would love to share with you!

This List of Summer Reading for Moms is a collection of books for mom to enjoy during the (hopefully) lazy days of summer. It is a collection of books I have read and enjoyed throughout the years.

Throughout my years of blogging I have done many book reviews. My time spent reviewing books as a Litfuse Blogger introduced me to so many fabulous books that I might not have otherwise read. Now that summer is here I encourage you to take time for you, time for mom. If you are an avid reader like me, you might just enjoy this List of Summer Reading for Moms that I have compiled!

My Newest Summer Reading Find!

What are Love Inspired Books?

“Love Inspired is an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises that is focused on Christian Fiction. The original and largest body of works under the “Love Inspired” name is the romance novels.

Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical represent a branching of the romance genre to a more particular theme and setting.

A number of books have been released as Love Inspired Special releases sometimes containing the listing of Love Inspired Classics or going under different brands.

In total more than 762 books comprise the Love Inspired brand.” – Wikipedia

Love Inspired Books

This was the first time I have read any of the Love Inspired books. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I have to say that I really enjoyed them and here are some of the reasons why:

  • short, easy reads make them great for sitting at appointments, or in between the kids needing something
  • small, compact books make them easy to transport WITHOUT being an e-book
  • divided into themes making it easy to stick to something you love
  • inexpensive to buy


Love Inspired Books

Disclaimer: I want to thank Litfuse Publicity for supplying me with copies of these book for review. While I received these free of charge in exchange for my review, my opinions are my own, and have not been influenced in any way. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.

1. The Rancher’s Secret Child by Brenda Minton

After meeting the son he never knew he had, Marcus Palermo’s simple life turns upside down. Complicating things further is Lissa Hart, the boy’s lovely guardian. She’ll help him become a parent—but falling for a gruff cowboy is not in her plans. Will she realize her future lies in Bluebonnet Springs with the rugged rancher?

2. The Wedding Quilt Bride by Marta Perry

The single mom’s second chance…To become one of the Brides of Lost Creek! Widow Rebecca Mast returns to her Amish community with her son and a dream—to own a quilt shop. Carpenter Daniel King is determined to help Rebecca and revive their childhood friendship. But as he bonds with her son, Rebecca’s afraid the secret she’s been keeping will be revealed. Can Daniel convince Rebecca he’s a man she can trust—and love?

3. Bound By Duty by Valerie Hansen (Love Inspired Suspense)

The Military K-9 Unit series continues: Her serial killer brother’s escaped—and it’s single mom Zoe Sullivan who’s under suspicion! Sgt. Linc Colson trusts two things: his instincts and his Rottweiler K-9 partner, Star—and certainly not the pretty face he’s assigned to monitor. He’s done everything to keep her from getting under his skin—now he must stop those who want to put her six feet under.

4. Primary Suspect by Laura Scott (Love Inspired Suspense)

A Callahan Confidential story: When fire investigator Mitch Callahan is attacked at a crime scene, he’s shocked to uncover the body of a slain ex-girlfriend—and realize someone’s framing him for murder. Widowed ER nurse Dana Petrie believes Mitch is innocent, and not just because he makes her feel alive again after tragedy marred her past. But is she willing to risk everything only to love and lose again?

Summer Reading for Moms – The List

As I started scrolling through all the wonderful books I have had the chance to review, I was surprised how many non-fiction books there were too! For that reason I am going to split this list up by fiction and non-fiction titles that I have loved!

Summer Reading for Moms – Fiction

Just 18 Summers – If you read anything this summer THIS IS THE ONE TO READ! Such an amazing, heart string pulling story that will call to your sense of motherhood and having quality relationships with your children. “In the end what it has all meant for me is a feeling of renewed intent to be purposeful and wise about the choices that I make. to stop for the little things, put down the distractions, turn on the timer, thus being engaged and fully present with my loved ones around me.”

Just 18 Summers from Starts At Eight

Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn Trilogy – This Postcards From Misty Harbor Inn trilogy gets 5 stars from me! If you want something on the human relationship level, with just a small amount of drama, set in a beautiful, historic place, then this is the series for you!

In the Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn Series Caroline, Gracie and Sam gather for a vacation where they spent the summers as children, and follows their adventures as they fulfill their mother’s dream of opening a bed and breakfast on the historic and charming island of Nantucket.

Love Arrives in Pieces – You have to give yourself permission to heal, and Brokenness can be beautiful, are just two of the encouraging sentiments found in this latest book, Love Arrives in Pieces, by Betsy St. Amant.

Becky Wade’s Porter Family Series – The Porter Family Series is a true testament to strength, love, and the power of relationships. Each one of the books centers around a different Porter family member but still incorporates the others into the story. I love how you get to follow an entire family through many years, getting intimate with each of the characters along the way.

Daughters of Fortune Trilogy – These really appealed to my love of historical fiction. Susan May Warren does a fantastic job of placing you right into the time period, you are enveloped by the sights, sounds, and nuances of the time and place!

Summer Reading for Mom – Non-Fiction

This List of Summer Reading for Moms is a collection of books for mom to enjoy during the (hopefully) lazy days of summer. It is a collection of books I have read and enjoyed throughout the years.

Things I Wish I Had Know Before We Became Parents – While many of the early chapters in this book deal with early parenting struggles, as the book goes on it delves into important topics for parenting as the years go on. I particularly found the chapter on parents needing to apologize to be a great one! I have found myself in this position with my own children.

The 10 Myths of Teen Dating – Practical Advice for Parents – “Many parents believe they are providing the rich life for their children with hyperfocus on a single activity. But what they are really providing is the busy life.”

Are You an Easy to Listen to Parent? – “Using 8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids by Todd Cartmell, I am transforming not only the way I interact with my children, but the way I go about correcting their behavior over the long haul.”

No More Perfect Kids – I highly recommend No More Perfect Kids to any parent! It has helped, if even in small ways, me to think differently and therefore to love and react differently with my children. This is something I feel great about because I know they deserve to be loved for who they are and where they are at, and it is often easy to get caught up in ours or societies expectations.

If you read any of the books from this List of Summer Reading for Moms be sure to stop in and leave me a comment! I would love to hear what you thought!

More Summer Reading Suggestions

Middle School Summer Activities Inspired by Great YA Books! Think summer bucket list! Think field trips! Think fantastic fiction to inspire it all! That's what this is! Read a great book, adventure out onan awesome related field trip, make an inspired craft or project! Screen free summer fun at its best!FREE Printable Reading Logs from Starts At Eight. Looking for a cute printable book log? These FREE Printable Book Logs can be printed as a full page for kids or adjusted for your bullet journal.

Middle School Summer Activities Inspired by Great YA Books

Middle School Summer Activities Inspired by Great YA Books

We are so close to the end of our homeschool year we can taste it! The sun shines more, the grass is getting greener, the temperature rises each day, and the buds are turning into blossoms! Visions of bike rides, camping, swimming, and s’mores dance in our heads!

Even though our formal learning comes to an end for the year, true learning never ends! Things like reading good books, visiting new places and exploring nature keep our minds going all summer long! This summer I have found inspiration for some Middle School Summer Activities inspired by the fantastic fiction we will be reading this summer!

Middle School Summer Readers

Sonlight has put out Summer Reader Sets specifically for this summer! They have collections for elementary, middle, and high school readers. Each of the age levels are also divided into separate boys and girls collections.

The boy books tend to have male main characters, with plots that emphasize adventure and danger, with pranks, humor and hijinks for good measure.

The girl books tend to have female main characters, with plots that emphasize courage and connection, with romance, mystery, and beauty for good measure.

{Disclosure: I received the Middle School Summer Readers Girls Set for free. All opinions expressed here are my own, and I was not required to post a positive review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

Middle School Summer Activities Inspired by Fantastic Fiction

Middle School Summer Activities Inspired by Great YA Books! Think summer bucket list! Think field trips! Think fantastic fiction to inspire it all! That's what this is! Read a great book, adventure out onan awesome related field trip, make an inspired craft or project! Screen free summer fun at its best!

So here’s the concept I created for my daughter this summer:  read a fantastic fiction book and visit a place, do an activity or art project, etc. inspired by the book! It’s that simple! Keep your middle schooler engaged and reading this summer with some out of the box fun inspired by the awesome books they read!

The First Last Day

The First Last Day by Dorian Cirrone is the story of an 11 year old girl named Haleigh who must save the future by restarting time after she realizes that her wish to relive the last day of summer may not have been such a great thing after all.

After finding a mysterious set of paints in her backpack, eleven-year-old Haleigh Adams paints a picture of her last day at the New Jersey shore. When she wakes up the next morning, Haleigh finds that her wish for an endless summer with her new friend Kevin has come true. At first, she’s thrilled, but Haliegh soon learns that staying in one place—and time—comes with a price.

And when Haleigh realizes her parents have been keeping a secret, she is faced with a choice: do nothing and miss out on the good things that come with growing up or find the secret of the time loop she’s trapped in and face the inevitable realities of moving on.

As she and Kevin set out to find the source of the magic paints, Haleigh worries it might be too late. Will she be able to restart time? And if she does, will it be the biggest mistake of her life?”

Activities for The First Last Day

  1. Take a Trip to the Beach, any beach. Pack some sunscreen, a blanket, picnic lunch, and sand toys and head out on your adventure. If you are able to visit an ocean beach, consider check out some of the Ocean Animals living there.
  2. Paint a Watercolor Painting of the beach/water/sunset. You might want to paint a picture of your day at the beach.
  3. Think/Write About ThisWhat if you could get a do-over—a chance to relive a day in your life over and over again until you got it right? Would you?

100 Dresses: If the Magic Fits

If the Magic Fits by Susan Maupin Schmid is a story of fantasy and adventure with 10 year old Darling Dimple.

Darling Dimple, age 10, was born in the castle to a mother who promptly breathed her last.  Brought up by good-hearted Jane, official under-slicer in the castle kitchen, Darling is looking forward to a similar culinary career when she is suddenly promoted to under-presser of Princess Mariposa’s prodigious wardrobe.  In between ironing sheets and towels, Darling discovers a closet of unused dresses that appear to have minds of their own—so much so that when she tries one on she is transformed into someone else.  While exploring as someone else, she learns of the two somnolent dragons who adorn the castle, and a plot by one of the Princess’s suitors (along with an unknown accomplice) to unleash the dragons and take over the kingdom.

Activities for 100 Dresses: If the Magic Fits

Middle School Summer Activities Inspired by Great YA Books! Think summer bucket list! Think field trips! Think fantastic fiction to inspire it all! That's what this is! Read a great book, adventure out onan awesome related field trip, make an inspired craft or project! Screen free summer fun at its best!

  1. Try on Dresses – Go to a store, thrift shop, or even costume shop to try on dresses. What would each dress transform you into? What adventures would you have? Consider going to a store you have never been in, maybe in a mall or area you haven’t explored before. Make a fun day of it, exploring and being whimsical with your child.
  2. Draw a Castle – I have always been fascinated with castles! Here is a great art project for Drawing a Castle. It’s a fun, flexible project that will allow your child to use their imaginations and create the castle of their dreams!
  3. Visit a Bird Sanctuary – There is a canary in this story. Take a trip to a bird sanctuary to find a canary, and learn more about them, and even some other birds while you are at it!

The Key to Extraordinary

The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd features 12 year old Emma, as she embarks on a quest to uncover a legendary secret.

“Except for the times when Emma is overcome by “the Big Empty,” a feeling she gets when she misses her recently deceased mother, she is an ordinary girl. Still, there are things in her Blackbird Hollow home that are extraordinary, like flowers with magical powers, the haunted graveyard just beyond her house, the tantalizing “Boneyard Brew” served in her grandmother’s cafe, and The Book of Days, which records the “destiny dreams” of her ancestors (interspersed through the story). When her grandmother, plagued by money worries, considers selling the family business, Emma is determined to save the cafe by finding treasure, reputedly buried in the graveyard.”

Activities for The Key to Extraordinary

Middle School Summer Activities Inspired by Great YA Books! Think summer bucket list! Think field trips! Think fantastic fiction to inspire it all! That's what this is! Read a great book, adventure out onan awesome related field trip, make an inspired craft or project! Screen free summer fun at its best!

  1. Visit a Local Cemetery – Maybe there is a really old one, or a place where someone famous is buried, or a relative that is buried nearby. For instance, Susan B. Anthony (She was a pioneer crusader for the woman suffrage movement in the United States and president (1892-1900) of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Her work helped pave the way for the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote.) is buried in a cemetery near us. We have never visited so we plan to check it out!
  2. Do a Crayon Rubbing Scavenger Hunt – Even my older kids enjoy doing crayon rubbings at a cemetary. You can create scavenger hunts, like find 3 different font types, 4 different shapes, a certain number of men or women, the youngest and oldest people you can find, etc.
  3. Write a Ghost Story – Create your own ghost story. Maybe it stems from your cemetery adventures, or by creating a ghost with its own unique characteristic (like the mysterious singing ghost of this story).

Spring Break Mistake

Spring Break Mistake by Allison Gutknecht sends us on an adventure to NYC with tween, Avalon where she is forced to use her photography skills to track down a missing classmate during her class trip in New York City.

“After years of suffering through the most boring spring vacations ever, Avalon Kelly is ready for a week of adventure. On a hash-tagged whim, she entered the PhotoReady app’s spring break getaway contest to NYC—and won!

But right away, this trip of a lifetime isn’t turning out as planned. Avalon’s best friend isn’t one of the PhotoReady winners, which means that not only will Avalon have to venture to the Big Apple by herself, but she’ll be assigned a stranger as a roommate. The perky and talkative Sofia seems pleasant enough, but snooty Kensington—who was placed in Room 609 at the last moment due to a mix-up—is a whole other story.”

Activities for Spring Break Mistake

Middle School Summer Activities Inspired by Great YA Books! Think summer bucket list! Think field trips! Think fantastic fiction to inspire it all! That's what this is! Read a great book, adventure out onan awesome related field trip, make an inspired craft or project! Screen free summer fun at its best!

  1. Venture Out and Take Your Own Photos – Grab a phone or camera and be like Avalon! Snap photos of your adventures this summer, maybe even create a scrapbook too!
  2. Create a Photo Collage – Collect and create a collage of photos of things in NYC. You can do this via the Internet, or if you have the chance to visit and take your own photos!
  3. Visit a Local Gallery or Photography Show – Many local artisan groups will have shows throughout the year as well as local galleries that may feature photography.

From the colorful covers to the exciting places these tween fiction books take you, this summer will be like no other for your middle schooler! Be sure to stop back in and share some of your middle school summer activities that were inspired by great YA books!


Enter to win your choice of one set of Summer Readers! Giveaway ends 5/31/18.

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More Great Summer Fun

Summer Boredom Busters: 15 Rockin Backyard Games from Starts At Eight. Need to get the kids up and out this summer? Check out this list of 15 Rockin Backyard Games - from Bocce to Twister, Bean Bags and more!Middle School Series Books Summer Reading List ~ FREE PRINTABLE from Starts At EightHomeschool Phys Ed: Summer Edition from Starts At EightDollar Store Obstacle Course Ideas from Starts At Eight. Using Dollar Store products we created a super fun and active birthday party with tons of obstacle course ideas put together to create one fun course!

Voices from History: Bring History Alive with Narrative and Poetry

Voices from History: Bring History Alive with Narrative and Poetry

This certainly isn’t the first, and most definitely will not be the last time you hear me talk about historical fiction. In my mind, there is no better way to make history intriguing and emotional. Without interest and emotion we do not engage, and thus plain history books with facts and excerpts fall short in engaging our children to learn and seek out more.

Voices from History: Bring History Alive with Narrative and Poetry from Starts At Eight- This is a collection of fabulous first hand or retold stories of moments in history such as WWII, jazz music and women in history with corresponding extension activities and field trip ideas. Great for a homeschool unit study!

Here I have created a full immersion history unit study around historical fiction, and first (or close second) hand accounts of people, places, and events in history. Adding in additional resources such as movies, field trip ideas, printables, art, and more!

Voices from History: Bring History Alive with Narrative and Poetry

I have discovered a little gem of a resource for quality books in Candlewick Press! Check out all the great horse stories we used last year! They were both fiction and non-fiction selections that I used at home and with my 4-H group!

{I received free copies of these books and was compensated for my time in writing this review.  All views are my own and I was not required to write a positive review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

Voices from History: Bringing History Alive with Narrative and Poetry - This is a collection of fabulous first hand or retold stories of moments in history such as WWII, jazz music and women in history with corresponding extension activities and field trip ideas. Great for a homeschool unit study!

Now I have a collection of history books, but not just any history books, these are some fun and creative books that really step outside the box to get kids engaged in learning about history! There are multiple anthologies where authors have collaborated to you bring you some unusual stories of women in history, as well as a collection of stories of World War II as told to children of today, and even a book written entirely in verse, a picture book, and an engaging historical fiction novel! PLUS I have included specific resources to go along with the topics of each of the books to give your kids a hands on learning experience as well!

The Radical Element  & A Tyranny of Petticoats (Women in History)

Voices from History: Bringing History Alive with Narrative and Poetry - This is a collection of fabulous first hand or retold stories of moments in history such as WWII, jazz music and women in history with corresponding extension activities and field trip ideas. Great for a homeschool unit study!

Both The Radical Element and A Tyranny of Petticoats are anthologies consisting of stories of girls of all colors and creeds who stand up for themselves and their beliefs. There are bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, all making their own way in often hostile lands. Each has a story to tell and this collection of authors brings each one of them alive for us in these 2 anthologies.

At the end of each story there is an author’s note which contains historical background, their personal thoughts, and often give insight as to what was fact and what was fiction in their story. I love this because they separate out the fact vs. fiction so your child doesn’t have to wonder.

Extension Activities

This isn’t the first time I have touched on learning history through women in history. You can check out my Teaching History Through the Women in History to find more book resources, websites, and printables.

Teaching History Through The Women in History from Starts At Eight. Teaching History through the Women in History is a wonderful way to learn about important pieces of history as well as showcasing important women! This is a collection of books, websites, and printables to round out a history study based on women!Movie Suggestions

  • Not for Ourselves Alone – The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B Anthony – a PBS Documentary
  • Hidden Figures – a true story about three women at NASA who were instrumental in the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit.
  • The Miracle Worker – the story of Helen Keller

Field Trip Ideas

Susan B. Anthony House – The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House is located in Rochester< NY. It was the home of the legendary American civil rights leader, and the site of her famous arrest for voting in 1872.

New York Historical Society Museum and Library – has a Center for Women’s History where both online and by visiting in person you can explore women’s history.

Online Exhibits of the National Women’s History Museum – If you can’t get out and visit a location that is representative of women (or a woman) in history, then I highly recommend the Online Exhibits section of the National Women’s History Museum.

Women at NASA – throughout our years of vacationing in Florida we have visited NASA multiple times. If you can’t visit in person be sure to check out their website.

Siege: How General Washington Kicked the British Out of Boston and Launched a Revolution (American Revolution)

Siege: How General Washington Kicked the British Out of Boston and Launched a Revolution by Roxane Orgill is the story of the siege of Boston that launched the war to defeat the British. It’s told in verse, giving voice to various privates and generals, their wives and city residents to tell the story.

This was one of my favorites! We really enjoyed hearing from the various perspectives. The verse was easy to read, and made for fun curl up on the couch afternoon read alouds.

Voices from History: Bringing History Alive with Narrative and Poetry - This is a collection of fabulous first hand or retold stories of moments in history such as WWII, jazz music and women in history with corresponding extension activities and field trip ideas. Great for a homeschool unit study!

Extension Activities

Revolutionary War Recipes – Cook up some Hasty Pudding, Firecake, and HoeCakes/Mushcakes (George Washington’s favorite breakfast!). This also includes additional information about the foods of the period and gives students historical context. This Revolutionary War Recipes is excerpted from COOKING UP SOME AMERICAN HISTORY, which provides 50 authentic recipes from 16 distinct periods of American history.

History Through The Ages-Time Travelers: American Revolution – We have been loving this resource this year as we study Revolutionary American. This offers tons of lapbooks components, as well as hands-on-activities all related to this time period.

American History Timeline Resources: American Revolution from Starts At Eight is a homeschool American history plan based on a timeline of events and people from Revolutionary America.

Timeline Resources for the American Revolution – This is a myriad of resources I have collected and used to study the American Revolution this year with my middle schooler. It includes timeline resources, books, videos, activities and more!

Voices from the Second World War & Cloud and Wallfish (WWII)

Voices from History: Bringing History Alive with Narrative and Poetry - This is a collection of fabulous first hand or retold stories of moments in history such as WWII, jazz music and women in history with corresponding extension activities and field trip ideas. Great for a homeschool unit study!

Voices from the Second World War is a collection of stories gathered by children from all over the world who met with people who wanted to share experiences from WWII. I loved how this book combined background information along with the first person accounts. It was awesome to hear their voices and see the photos they had to share. Even my husband is really enjoying this one!

Voices from History: Bringing History Alive with Narrative and Poetry - This is a collection of fabulous first hand or retold stories of moments in history such as WWII, jazz music and women in history with corresponding extension activities and field trip ideas. Great for a homeschool unit study!

Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet is the only one of these books that is straight historical fiction.  This one is a page turner for sure! It has even captivated the interest of my 15 year old son!  (I couldn’t even get him to look up for the picture!) This one takes an 11 year old boy, “behind the Iron Curtain” around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Weaved into the story are “Secret Files” that give the reader some historical context which really helps you to understand what is going on.

“Noah Keller has a pretty normal life, until one wild afternoon when his parents pick him up from school and head straight for the airport, telling him on the ride that his name isn’t really Noah and he didn’t really just turn eleven in March. And he can’t even ask them why — not because of his Astonishing Stutter, but because asking questions is against the newly instated rules. (Rule Number Two: Don’t talk about serious things indoors, because Rule Number One: They will always be listening). As Noah—now “Jonah Brown”—and his parents head behind the Iron Curtain into East Berlin, the rules and secrets begin to pile up so quickly that he can hardly keep track of the questions bubbling up inside him: Who, exactly, is listening — and why? When did his mother become fluent in so many languages? And what really happened to the parents of his only friend, Cloud-Claudia, the lonely girl who lives downstairs?”

It would also be useful for readers of this book to check out The History Channel’s page on the Cold War and The Berlin wall. It helps to bring in more facts and images.

Extension Activities

Field Trip Ideas

We have visited the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. in the past, but while we were reading these books I wanted to be able to visit something tangible and WWII related. That spurred me to do a Google search for WWII Memorials in our area. I was surprised to find a couple I didn’t even know about!

The Veterans Memorial – located at the Rochester Community War Memorial. “The Rochester Community War Memorial was built in 1955 to honor World War II veterans and to host sports, business and entertainment events. The room dedicated to the community’s war dead was one of the nation’s most impressive shrines but unfortunately was closed to the public much of the time due to vandalism. When the War Memorial was reconstructed in 1998, plaques and pieces of inscribed marble that had been in the shrine were relocated to the rear of the main floor.”

Voices from History: Bringing History Alive with Narrative and Poetry - This is a collection of fabulous first hand or retold stories of moments in history such as WWII, jazz music and women in history with corresponding extension activities and field trip ideas. Great for a homeschool unit study!

Battle of the Bulge Memorial – “This memorial is dedicated to the soldiers that fought in the Battle of the Bulge in WW2. It is located North of Rochester, NY at the entrance to Ontario Beach Park.”

World War II Memorial – “This World War II memorial is specifically to remember soldiers from Rochester’s 19th Ward. The engraved stone is flanked by two stone planters and a small flower garden has been cultivated in front of it.” This memorial is located on the north side of Elmwood Avenue, across the street from Genesee Valley Park. It is at the intersection of an unnamed park road, which is also a bicycle route and the Genesee Riverway Trail.

Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph (1958)

Voices from History: Bringing History Alive with Narrative and Poetry - This is a collection of fabulous first hand or retold stories of moments in history such as WWII, jazz music and women in history with corresponding extension activities and field trip ideas. Great for a homeschool unit study!

Jazz Day is the story of how this infamous photo came to be. “When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn’t own a good camera, didn’t know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone.”

Written as a collection of poem with beautiful, soft illustrations that bring to life the musicians’ mischief and quirks, their memorable style, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer’s day!

At the end you will also find brief biographies of some of the musicians as well as plethora of extra resources that can be found in the bibliography.

Extension Activities

    • Jazz Unit Study – Jazz has often been called “America’s classical music.” In fact, in 1987, the United States Congress passed a resolution that designated jazz as a national American treasure! Jazz is an art form that has entertained, influenced and inspired people around the world. There are many types of jazz, each one unique in form and structure. Learn more about jazz via vocabulary, styles, instruments, jazz singers and more!
    • Jazz Instrument Art – While I couldn’t find one solid tutorial, I found tons of awesome jazz instrument art using oil pastels, paint, markers, and even tissue paper! Drago Art has great tutorials on drawing instruments and Elementary Art Fun has some awesome kid art as inspiration! Voices from History: Bringing History Alive with Narrative and Poetry - This is a collection of fabulous first hand or retold stories of moments in history such as WWII, jazz music and women in history with corresponding extension activities and field trip ideas. Great for a homeschool unit study!
    • Watch the Documentary

Field Trip Ideas

Attend a Jazz Music Performance – Every year there is a jazz festival near us, “The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival (XRIJF) in Rochester, New York,  was founded in 2002 and has quickly become one of the nation’s most popular and respected music festivals. This city-wide music festival attracts visitors from all over the U.S. and the world every summer.”

More from Candlewick

Here is another unit I created from using Candlewick Books. My daughter loves horses and there are tons of horse related books to chose from beyond what we used in this unit, including a new one coming out May 2018 called Racing Manhattan about a girl who has an extraordinary talent for understanding racehorses and riding them like a pro. As well as A Horse’s Haiku, and a series called Ride about a fourteen year old girl at a boarding school in England.

Using Horse Stories and Non-Fiction Books for a Horse Unit Study from Starts At Eight. Using Horse Stories is a great way to foster a love of learning with fun stories and hands on knowledge! Includes FREE Printable Horse Knowledge Worksheets.

Candlewick Discount and Giveaway

Interested in purchasing some Candlewick books of your own? Order from the Candlewick Press site and save 25% with discount code CANDLEWICK at checkout!


  • Giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada.
  • Ends: 4/18/2018 11:00 pm EST
  • 30 Winners get Judy Moody #1 paperback
40+ Colorful Tween Fiction Books

40+ Colorful Tween Fiction Books

When children start to enter their tween years it can be hard to find engaging books for them. They are growing and feeling as though they are too old for the beautiful picture books, and basic chapter books of their younger years. On the other hand you aren’t ready to have them tackling some of the more series adult content of the teen fiction world. Here I have put together a collection of over 40 Colorful Tween Fiction Books to keep your tween happy and engaged!

40+ Colorful Tween Fiction Books from Starts At Eight. This list of Colorful Tween Fiction includes classic and new books that will excite your tween reader and have them wanting to read more!

Colorful Tween Fiction

Whether your child runs towards fantasy, mystery, humor, the classics, or stories based on real life experiences, your tween reader will find something to love in this list!

The 13-Story Treehouse – by Andy Griffiths

Andy and Terry live in a treehouse. But it’s not just any old treehouse, it’s the most amazing treehouse in the world!

This treehouse has thirteen stories, a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a secret underground laboratory, and a marshmallow machine that follows you around and automatically shoots marshmallows into your mouth whenever you are hungry.

Life would be perfect for Andy and Terry if it wasn’t for the fact that they have to write their next book, which is almost impossible because there are just so many distractions, including thirteen flying cats, giant bananas, mermaids, a sea monsters pretending to be mermaids, enormous gorillas, and dangerous burp gas-bubblegum bubbles!

Also in this series: The 26-Story Treehouse, The 39-Story Treehouse, The 52-Story Treehouse, The 65-Story Treehouse, and The Treehouse Fun Book

The Candy Makers – by Wendy Mass

We did this with our mother/daughter book club. You can check out our activities and discussion here.

In the town of Spring Haven, four children have been selected to compete in the national candymaking contest of a lifetime. Who will make a candy more delicious than the Oozing Crunchorama or the Neon Yellow Lightning Chew?

Logan, the candymaker’s son, who can detect the color of chocolate by feel alone?

Miles, the boy allergic to rowboats and the color pink?

Daisy, the cheerful girl who can lift a fifty-pound lump of taffy as if it were a feather?

Philip, the suit-and-tie-wearing boy who’s always scribbling in a secret notebook?

This sweet, charming, and cleverly crafted story, told from each contestant’s perspective, is filled with mystery, friendship, and juicy revelations.

The sequel: The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase

Pi in the Sky – by Wendy Mass

Joss is the seventh son of the Supreme Overlord of the Universe. His older brothers help his dad rule the cosmos, but all Joss gets to do is deliver pies. That’s right: pies. Of course, these pies actually hold the secrets of the universe between their buttery crusts, but they’re still pies.

Joss is happy to let his older brothers shine. He has plenty to keep his hands full: attempting to improve his bowling score; listening to his best friend, Kal, try (and fail) to play the drums; and exploring his ever-changing home, The Realms. But when Earth suddenly disappears, Joss is tasked with the seemingly impossible job of bringing it back. With the help of Annika, an outspoken girl from Earth, he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime…and learns that the universe is an even stranger place than he’d imagined.

The Land of Stories – The Wishing Spell – by Chris Colfer

Alex and Conner Bailey’s world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairy tales.

The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.

Book Scavenger – by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

For twelve-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it’s the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). Upon her arrival, however, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked and is now in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold himself, and might contain the only copy of his mysterious new game.

Racing against time, Emily and James rush from clue to clue, desperate to figure out the secret at the heart of Griswold’s new game―before those who attacked Griswold come after them too.

Also in this series: The Unbreakable Code, and The Alcatraz Escape (out May 2018)

Story of Thieves Secret Origins – by James Riley

Life is boring when you live in the real world, instead of starring in your own book series. Owen knows that better than anyone, what with the real world’s homework and chores.

But everything changes the day Owen sees the impossible happen—his classmate Bethany climb out of a book in the library. It turns out Bethany’s half-fictional and has been searching every book she can find for her missing father, a fictional character.

Bethany can’t let anyone else learn her secret, so Owen makes her a deal: All she has to do is take him into a book in Owen’s favorite Kiel Gnomenfoot series, and he’ll never say a word. Besides, visiting the book might help Bethany find her father…

…Or it might just destroy the Kiel Gnomenfoot series, reveal Bethany’s secret to the entire world, and force Owen to live out Kiel Gnomenfoot’s final (very final) adventure.

Also in this series: The Stolen Chapters, Secret Origins, Pick the Plot, and Worlds Apart (March 2018)

The Mysterious Benedict Society – by Trenton Lee Stewart

“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?” Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them.

Only four children–two boys and two girls–succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. But what they’ll find in the hidden underground tunnels of the school is more than your average school supplies. So, if you’re gifted, creative, or happen to know Morse Code, they could probably use your help.

Also in this series: and the Perious Journey, and the Prisoner’s Dilemma, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict (a prequel) , and the companion puzzle book, The Mysterious Benedict Society: Mr. Benedict’s Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas, and Curious Conundrums

Treasure Hunters Quest for the City of Gold– by James Patterson

The Kidd siblings have grown up diving down to shipwrecks and traveling the world, helping their famous parents recover everything from swords to gold doubloons from the bottom of the ocean. But after their parents mysteriously disappear, the kids are suddenly thrust into the biggest treasure hunt of their lives. They’ll have to work together to defeat dangerous pirates and dodge the hot pursuit by an evil treasure hunting rival, all while following cryptic clues to unravel the mystery of what really happened to their parents–and find out if they’re still alive.

Also in this series: Danger Down the Nile, Secret of the Forbidden City and Peril at the Top of the World

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library – by Chris Grabenstein

Kyle Keeley is the class clown and a huge fan of all games—board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the construction of the new town library. Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot as one of twelve kids invited for an overnight sleepover in the library, hosted by Mr. Lemoncello and riddled with lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors stay locked. Kyle and the other kids must solve every clue and figure out every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route!

Don’t miss bonus content in the back of the book—extra puzzles, an author Q&A, and more!

Also in this series: Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics, and Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – by Roald Dahl

Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last! But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

More Colorful books by Roald Dahl: James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, The BFG, The Witches

Welcome to Wonderland #1 Home Sweet Motel

From the bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and co-author with James Patterson of Treasure Hunters, comes a hilarious illustrated series about all the wacky things that happen when you live in a motel!”

Eleven-year-old P. T. Wilkie may be the greatest storyteller alive. But he knows one thing for a fact: the Wonderland Motel is the best place a kid could ever live! All-you-can-eat poolside ice cream! A snack machine in the living room! A frog slide! A giant rampaging alligator! (Okay, that last one may or may not be made up.) There’s only one thing the Wonderland doesn’t have, though—customers. And if the Wonderland doesn’t get them soon, P.T. and his friend Gloria may have to say goodbye to their beloved motel forever.

They need to think BIG. They need to think BOLD. They need an OUTRAGEOUS plan. Luckily for them, Gloria is a business GENIUS, and OUTRAGEOUS is practically P.T.’s middle name. With Gloria’s smarts and P.T.’s world-famous stories and schemes, there’s got to be a way to save the Wonderland!

Also in this series: Beach Party Smurf Monkey, Sandapalooza Shake-Up (May 2018)

The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes – by Wade Albert White

Anne has spent most of her thirteen years dreaming of the day she and her best friend Penelope will finally leave Saint Lupin’s Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children. When the big day arrives, a series of very curious happenings lead to Anne being charged with an epic quest. Anne, Penelope, and new questing partner Hiro have only days to travel to strange new locales, solve myriad riddles, and triumph over monstrous foes–or face the horrible consequences.

The sequel: The Adventurer’s Guide to Dragons (and Why They Keep Biting Me)

More Great Tween Fiction

100+ Engaging Books for Middle School from Starts At Eight. 100+ Engaging Books for Middle School is a list of single books as well as series that are reading level and age appropriate for middle school readers.Fiction Books for the Young Horse Lover from Starts At EightMiddle School Series Books Summer Reading List ~ FREE PRINTABLE from Starts At Eight5 Fun Books Set In Middle School from Starts At EightBooks That Feature Homeschoolers from Starts At Eight. An extensive list of books with homeschooled characters. Books in all levels from elementary through high school.

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