What I’ve Been Reading (January 2016)

We got a TON of snow this month and I was able to read TON of books. Here are a few that I’d recommend.

Preschool (3-5 years) and up:


Preschool (3-5 years) & Early Elementary (5-8 years):

0316226149.01._SX450_SY635_SCLZZZZZZZ_1442435828.01._SX450_SY635_SCLZZZZZZZ_1442450711.01._SX450_SY635_SCLZZZZZZZ_0385370067.01._SX450_SY635_SCLZZZZZZZ_1627791256.01._SX450_SY635_SCLZZZZZZZ_0374300526.01._SX450_SY635_SCLZZZZZZZ_Middle Grade (8-12 years):


Young Adult+ (14+ years):


Bread, Milk, Toilet Paper and…Library Books!

An EPIC snow storm is upon us here in Virginia and there’s a mad scramble for all the essentials. Photos have been shared on the web of grocery store shelves that are wiped clean. People are going crazy!








The kids and I took a trip to our public library to stock up on some other snow day essentials: books! I was thrilled to see that the library was packed with people with the same idea. Really, what’s better than curling up by a warm fire with a book in your hands while the snow falls down outside?

I already had thirty-nine (!) children’s books checked out from the library, but I grabbed eighteen more. I want to be totally prepared for this potentially record breaking storm! IMG_2553

Bread? Check!
Milk? Check!
Toilet paper? Check!
Library books? Check, check, check!!!

Are you prepared? :)

My Own Library Shelf!

How do you know you check-out A LOT of library books?

When you go to pick-up your reserved books
and you can’t find them under the designated “W” section for Whitehouse
so you have to ask the librarian where your books are
and she says when you have too many books…

they put them on a different shelf down at the bottom!



So technically not my “own” library shelf, but it made me feel kind of special. :)

2016 Newbery and Caldecott Winners (psst…this is BIG!)

The John Newbery Medal and Randolph Caldecott Medal winners, along with the Honor books, have been announced. And let me tell you, this year is BIG. A picture book was awarded the top honor for writing! For me as a picture book writer, this is like my team winning the Super Bowl. Go team!

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena is only the second picture book to win the Newbery in it’s ninety-four year history. However, it really is the first “traditional” picture book, because A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers (Newbery 1982) was a collection of poems with illustrations.

John Newbery Medal
awarded for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature
(this one’s for the authors!)




Winner: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena











Honor: The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brusker Bradley











Honor: Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson











Honor: Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan









Randolph Caldecott Medal
awarded for the most distinguished American picture book for children
(this one’s for the illustrators!)



Winner: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear illustrated by Sophie Blackall (written by Lindsay Mattick)






Honor: Trombone Shorty illustrated by Bryan Collier (written by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews)







Honor: Waiting illustrated and written by Kevin Henkes











Honor:  Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement illustrated by Ekua Holmes (written by Carole Boston Waterford)





Honor: Last Stop on Market Street illustrated by Christian Robinson (written by Matt de la Pena)








What are Your Reading Resolutions?


Well, another year is in the books! Anyone know why we say that? There must be an interesting story behind it. Hmmm…mental note to look into it for a future post.

2016 is just hours old, which brings up the yearly question: What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Do you have the standard “eat less” and “exercise more” goals? Of course, there is nothing wrong with getting healthier, but how about challenging yourself to something different this year? How about a goal that will make you smarter by the end of the year? What could that be, you ask? I’m talking about books! Let’s all read more books in 2016! Whether you are 5 or 55, reading picture books or novels, set a goal for yourself to be a better reader.

Here are some resolution ideas:

Read every day.

Read _____ minutes a day.

Read _____ times a week. 

Read _____ times a month.

Read _____ book(s) a month.

Read to your kids everyday.

Read a book in a different genre each month.

Go to the library every ______ weeks.

Join or form a book club.

Any other great ones you can think of? My Reading Resolution is to read a book before falling asleep instead of  *ahem* playing on my phone. Ugh. Bad habit.

I’ve created two printable charts to help you keep track and be successful readers in 2016. One is for monthly goals and one is for weekly or daily goals. You can use them to check-off when you read or write-in how long you read or what you read. Whatever works for you! Feel free to print one off for your kids, yourself or share with a friend.

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What is your Reading Resolution going to be?

What I’ve Been Reading (December 2015)

Here are some of the fabulous books I read in December.

Preschool (3-5 years):


Preschool (3-5 years) & Early Elementary (5-8 years):


Early Elementary (5-8 years):

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Early Elementary (5-8 years) & Middle Grades (8-12 years):


Middle Grades (8-12 years) & Young Adult (12+ years):



Santa’s Birthday Gift

Last night at Christmas Eve mass, our priest did a magical thing: he read a picture book as part of his homily! With his gentle voice reciting the beautiful rhyming text, both children and adults in the congregation were hanging on his every word.1608608247.01._SX450_SY635_SCLZZZZZZZ_

The book Santa’s Birthday Gift by Sherrill S. Cannon, tells the story of how Santa, a toymaker, came to visit Jesus on the night he was born, bearing lots of gifts. Instead of leaving all the toys with Jesus, he makes a promise to give them to all the girls and boys. A tradition of the spirit of Christmas was born.

I’m a huge supporter of using picture books with children (and adults!) of all ages because they are a simple way to introduce a topic or get across a concept in a fun and interesting way. Our priest brought the spirit of Christmas into our hearts last night…through the simple words of a picture book.

Happy Holidays!

PiBoIdMo 2015 Complete!

PiBoIdMo, or Picture Book Idea Month, by author Tara Lazar, is over…sniff, sniff.  I took my pledge today that I “do solemnly swear” I completed the challenge. During PiBoIdMo, you try to come up with at least 30 new picture book ideas during the month of November. Along the way, there is a guest blog post each day by authors, illustrators and agents on Tara’s website, “Writing for Kids While Raising Them.” It’s been a fantastic month filled with helpful tips and encouragement and I am walking away with 32 new picture book ideas! Hooray!