Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Books for Boys 2015

It's always a challenge to get one of my boys hooked on a book, but once they find a book they love, I can't stop them from reading. This summer, my boys and I are doing our library's summer reading program again, so I wanted to share the books they have enjoyed the most, hoping it can help some other moms whose boys are picky readers.

15 year old:

The Thirteenth Reality series by James Dashner

The Flash Comics 

The Eragon series by Christopher Paolini

13 year old:

Almost Super series by Marion Jensen

Anything by Roald Dahl

9 year old:

Floors series by Patrick Carman

Bruno and Boots series by Gordon Korman

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

5 year old (beginning reader):

Berenstein Bears Beginning Readers series

Curious George early readers

They also love picture books about science and books about dog breeds. 
What do your boys love to read?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Flying with Kids

Since my family lives on the other side of the country, I have spent many hours on planes with my children. For a while, my husband couldn't travel with me, so I regularly took four little children all by myself on the plane. It was a scary experience to say the least--one I wouldn't want to repeat.

Through the ups and downs of my airplane travel, I learned to pack a few small items that keep kids quiet. Here is my list. You can modify it to suit the ages of your children:

Tiny notebook and pen. I'm often surprised how much a little child can enjoy writing and drawing pictures in a brand new notebook.

Origami kit. This always provides at least fifteen minutes of entertainment as I help the kids fold their origami creations. Usually, they like to play with them afterward too.

Pipe cleaners/ chenille sticks. My kids love to make animals, dinosaurs, glasses, crowns, etc. with the pipe cleaners. I never fly without them.

Tape, kid's blunt-tip scissors with short blades, paper. 

Crayola Secret Reveal. We discovered this on our last flight. My five-year-old loved it. Younger children might like a different art kit. As you color, patterns appear inside the pictures.

Aluminum foil. You can mold the foil into knights, robots, and other creations. The best part is that it's so light and easy to pack.

Snack food that kids usually don't get. My kids like m&ms, fruit loops or chocolate cheerios to thread on pipe cleaners, dried fruit, goldfish crackers, and protein bars. I always take a wide variety of foods packed in small snack bags. Make sure to bring some gum if your child is old enough for it.

Paint with Water book. I pack a few q-tips in a Ziploc sandwich bag. When the child is ready to paint, I drip some water from my water bottle into the bag. Presto, the q-tips become paintbrushes.

Fast food toys. I save these toys in the weeks leading up to our flight, pick them up in thrift stores, or buy a kids meal in the airport. The picture at the top of this post features a Wendy's toy we got in the airport before boarding the plane.

Magnetic Personality Toy like Wooly Willy. This is always a favorite with early Elementary-age children.

Little toys that come in a tube. We find these at toy and craft stores. There are a wide variety of "toobs" for all types of interests. We have gotten coral reef animals, knight, and pioneer toobs. If you get a tube with a wide variety of toys, kids can play with these for a long time. We re-use them for other trips too.

Books and Magazines. I usually save up some two or three magazines the kids already receive. These can get heavy, so I try to take only a few. Older kids like it when I get them a new book from a favorite author. Toddlers sometimes like to read the same books they read at home. Preschoolers and toddlers love sticker books. I avoid bringing board books because they are so heavy.

A few printouts of Mad Libs, mazes, and other activities. You can find print these out from  classroomjr.com and similar websites.

Children's Dramamine and Ibuprofin. Babies sometimes need Ibuprofin for ear pain. Older kids sometimes need Dramamine when the flight gets bumpy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Deal with LDS Fiction

Back when I was studying English at BYU, many of my professors scoffed at the offerings known as LDS literature.

"Jack Weyland can hardly be considered literature," they pronounced.

I questioned this assumption a bit. Sure, Weyland's prose probably could not compete with Shakespeare's, but no one can deny that Charley was a great story with well developed characters. Still, factoring out Charley and a few others, it was clear that LDS literature had a long way to go.

It's now been twenty years since I was at BYU. I can say in all honesty that some of the best authors I know are LDS. Most of them don't write LDS literature, but some of them do.

A great way to find good books by LDS authors is to read the Whitney Award winners. You can find this year's winners here. If you look around on the website, you'll find the winners and finalists from other years too. The books on these lists are always well written and clean. Some of them contain LDS characters. Others don't.

Today I wanted to spotlight three books that have won Whitney awards in years past and also contain LDS characters. Each of these is a great read, the type you don't want to put down for long.

Lessons in the Jade Dragon Box is historical fiction set in Hong Kong and written by Gale Sears. I learned a lot about the history of China and the history of the Church in Hong Kong as I read the story.

Borrowed Light is a historical fiction by Carla Kelly. In the story, a young woman accepts a job as a cook for a hardened rancher in Wyoming. Both main characters must come to terms with their own faith and doubts regarding the church and temple marriage.

Abinadi is historical fiction about Abinadi from the Book of Mormon. Author H.B. Moore imagined him as a young man. Reading her book made me think of his story in a different light. We also got to see the story through Alma's point of view, which made it even more fascinating.

How about you? Have you read any really great books about LDS characters?