let's start a discussion

hello november! it is finally getting a bit colder, which means time to break out the socks. stripes please. thank you. and yes, lets talk christmas. david and i have been a rampage in the play room. i took four bags of unplayed with and unneeded toys to the goodwill today. my goal is to simplify, quality over quantity. and to try to get rid of all plastic. except of course for legos. those are still maintaining the top spot for all three kiddos. i also paired down our books to those that we love and read. but i need help. we need new blood. new blood in a variety of ages actually. we are hitting that spread where eliot is into early chapter books, collette is moving into stories with a bit more to them, and arlo is now looking at board books instead of eating them. progress, no? so i want to ask you what books do you love in your home? for older kids? for 3 year olds, for toddlers? give it to me. ive got a pencil and notebook sitting here, waiting for your input.

but wait, i need more help. i've started a list of small, handmade gifts, like the coasters, that i want to make this year, because like jenny i want to give a gift to everyone! i cant, but still i want to. i think it would be great to pair that little something with another little baked something. or maybe some apple butter? i've been washing and collecting glass jars too... what would you like to nibble? your go to quick bread maybe? or cookies? chocolate? yeah chocolate... anyway, im just brainstorming, tell me people. tell me.

*thank you for all the great suggestions! i have already started a great list. keep em' coming!


Blogger Mama Urchin said...

We've been happy with books from barefoot books (http://www.barefoot-books.com) for Katrina (she's 4.5). We really like the fairy tale anthology. The stories are long enough for her but not so long that we can't stand to read an entire story before bed. Plus she likes to put a bookmark in and save our place.

I have a great recipe for hot fudge that is great to give as a gift. Drop me an email and I'll send it to you.

1:05 PM  
Blogger lottie said...

I'm thinking of making biscuits and packaging them in open topped boxes made from folded paper and wrapped in greaseproof paper, but I'm going to have to make a prototype and see if it works! As for books, I did and still do, love the Miffy books and the Moomins, although the latter may be a little dark to read now.

1:25 PM  
Blogger lottie said...

... you must think me a bit bonkers (and terribly english) - not biscuit, biscuits... cookie biscuits!

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Ben, my 6-year-old, really loved Little House in the Big Woods (so did my husband), and they can't wait to read more of that series. He also loved Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, but they seem a little bogged down in Treasure Island--maybe it's all the pirate voices my husband is doing. Also, he brought home a Captain Underpants book from the school library, and I was stunned at how much fun it was to read.

Lyra, who's two, is sometimes happy to read board books, but increasingly liking regular ones. A Baby Sister for Frances is a fave, also Kiss Good Night (sorry no idea who the author is off the top of my head), and anything she can pilfer from Ben's room, just on principle.

Mmm, apple butter! Chocolate sauce? Caramel sauce? I'd be excited about any of those.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

Great early chapter books which have gone down well with mine: Mouse noses on toast, Charlottes Web, Pppi Longstocking, Fantastic Mr Fox, the Littlenose series.

My 3 yr old will read ANYTHING, but I second Mama Urchin on Barefoot Books - they are really a visual feast.

And I'm planning on homemade marshmallows this year.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Di said...

There are so many great books out there - I'm in the UK so you may not know all these books but they are great (and I am sure some are American). How about the Horrid Henry books, Russell the Sheep by ROb Scotton is a great picture book with so much to see in every illustration and a fun story, as are How to Catch a Star and others by Oliver Jeffers (Lost & Found, The Way Back Home and the Incredible Book Eating Boy, Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt is really fun, I love Meg and Mog books too (a witch and her cat) by Helen Nicoll which have great illustrations by Jan Pienowski, books by Babette Cole or Julia Donaldson (such as Room on the Broom or The Gruffalo),Hairy McLaray books by Lynley Dodd which have great rhyming stories, anything by Mick Inkpen - Nothing, Threadbear, Penguin Small or the Great Pet Sale which are great stories, with fantastic illustrations, fold out pages the lot. How about Charlie and Lola books - they have the most amazing illustrations and are great stories too!! Hope you don't have all these already and find some inspiration!!

1:54 PM  
Blogger amermaidmmv said...

My daughter of 7, loves The princess & the Pea by Lauren Child, and pipi Longstocking.

I can't imagine you wouldn't know it, but Harold and the purple crayon is wonderful.

My son loves the Knight's Kingdom series, which is a Lego theme. Personally I don't like them that much, but he wants them read over and over again

1:57 PM  
Blogger Jada2929 said...

Favorite preschooler books:
Caps for Sale
Harry Books by Gene Zion
Anything by Kevin Henkes (our Racine pride!)
I drive a garbage truck by Sarah Bridges. Also I drive a snowplow and I drive a bulldozer... great non fiction picture books!
David books by Dave Shannon

Author authors to check out:
Patricia Polacco
Jan Brett
Tomie DePaola
Cynthia Rylant

2:04 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I always use these lists as a reference for what to get my nieces and nephews. I still hold title as favorite aunt.


3:03 PM  
Anonymous meg said...

apple butter for the win. that is a GREAT idea. who doesn't like apple butter? i haven't had that in years... i might need to run to the grocery store tonight and pick some up it sounds so good. and i have no idea about books... the earliest books i can remember reading are chapter books although i know my parents read to me every night. (my memory is terrible!) good luck book hunting! megxx

3:30 PM  
Blogger Brigid said...

oh...i love the george and martha series, and any of the olivia books, and anything by mo williems. all of these are timeless and have become favorites to all of my students over the years.

3:45 PM  
Blogger 2begin2 said...

I just fell into your blog and had to join in the discussion. Now I'm not familiar with your family tastes but I'll share with you a few off the top of my head. In order from oldest to youngest:
"Series of Unfortunate Events" by Lemony Snickett, any of Eleanor Estes' titles, "The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes" series by Anne Mazar, any of Beverly Cleary's titles, yes-yes the Little House books, American Girl series, "Clarice Bean" by Lauren Child, "Judy Moody" series by Megan McDonald, "The Cobble Street Cousins" Ready for Chapters series by Cynthia Rylant...oh me oh my!

4:04 PM  
Anonymous molly! said...

I got out my striped socks today, too!

Have you read picture books by Maira Kalman? "Sayonara Mrs. Kackleman" was my favorite but they are all winners. Her books are filled with great illustrations and lots of imagination.

5:39 PM  
Blogger meg said...

of course i gotta chime in on the kid book recommendations...
picture books:
maurice sendak
ruth krauss
kevin henkes
william steig
leo lionni
chris raschka
arnold lobel
russel hoban
brian wildsmith
lois lenski
astrid lindgren

chapter books:
e.b. white
roald dahl
laura ingalls wilder
madeline l'engle
e.l. konigsburgh
louise fitzhugh
beverly cleary
cynthia rylant
ursula le guin

happy shopping!

5:04 AM  
Blogger Joyce Collins said...

Hats are always a sure winner! :?) or eat avocado or papaya & plant the seeds and give away trees! Some books my classes liked were Berreguita and the Coyote Berna Aardema, The Little Red Ant and The Great Big Crumb Shirley Climo, Are Stepehn Cosgrove books still around? They were called serendipity books. There was always a moral to the story. I remembere Sassafras(darling illustrations of elephants) and Memily(a giraff),
Max Lucado has put out some good books for kids. My favorite is Because I Love You. Parables for Kids by Danae Dobson. The Golden Book of Fairy Tales has some of the most beautiful illustrations and you can see some of that art at http://segur.artpassions.net/segur.html

5:46 AM  
Blogger the4carrells said...

Nora loves Shel Silverstein (who doesn't??) and we just finished a Junie B. Jones book (by Barbara Park), which she liked too. (though I don't know how Eliot would feel about a female lead character)

6:22 AM  
Blogger the4carrells said...

Ooooh! Sorry, I have to second the Max Lucado suggestion! My personal favorites are You are Mine and You are Special. I'm going to have to dig them out of storage now (we have so many books, I have put them in rotation).

6:26 AM  
Blogger Mama Urchin said...

Thought of another group of books we love, The Henry Books by D B Johnson (there are 4). They are based on the life of Henry David Thoreau and the art is fantastic.

7:03 AM  
Blogger plumm said...

My boys (2 & 3) absolutely love the book 'Night of the Moonjellies' by Mark Shasha...We checked ti out from the library on a whim and then had to buy it. Sweet story, great art, perfect length for the preschool set.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

great ideas - I'm going to have to save some of these for future reference!

8:35 AM  
Blogger Molly said...

Well, girl, you KNOW I'll always chime in on the "baked something" issue! My mother used to do TONS of baking at Christmastime, and though she's now stopped, I've gotten the bug. This is what I made last year. It took a fair amount of time, but it made gifts for 10 or 12 people/families, so it was worth it.

This year I'm aiming to do something similar, but maybe a little quicker, since I should be, uh, writing instead. I'm thinking Meyer lemon sables again, and chocolate blocks again (remember those?), plus some buckwheat cookies I found in a book last night (Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert), and for the rest, I'm not sure yet.

Oh hey, remember those Chez Panisse gingersnaps? How about those? xo

P.S. Apple butter is awesome, and I've made it for the past three years, but it's pretty time-consuming and low-yield, or at least the recipe I've used is. One batch makes only five jars and takes like three hours or something. It's easy and makes the house smell AMAZING, but I think I'm going to skip it this year...

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Robin said...

My recommendation is for Rootabaga Stories by Carl Sandburg. So imaginative and fun to read. I also remember loving Mrs. Piggle Wiggle as a young girl.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 3 1/2 yr old currently LOVES a workbook. It's called Reading Readiness for grades K-1. The company has a web site: www.schoolzone.com. Last night we started learning about Rhyming. It's a great alternative to regular story books.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous sandra said...

chocolate yum yum yum.
for kids i have no good idea, i'm not that good at kids ;) but I love many children's books... like beatrice alemagne's - she makes the most gorgeous illustrated childrens' books.

11:15 AM  
Anonymous allison said...

Well, i tried to comment yesterday but don't see me here (I keep coming back to get ideas too!!!)

I've never commented before.

My 5 year old loves the chronicals of narnia. especially the lion the witch and the wardrobe. We also love frog and toad. anything else arnold lobel, roald dahl, robert mcclosky, margaret wise brown, maurice sendak, captain underpants, beatrix potter...

also, i am making many, well some, tiny happy bags for friends this year, thanks to you! one more excuse for buying fabric!!!

happy book shopping! i just got some good ones at our used book store.

11:31 AM  
Blogger stephanie said...

how about giving granola? or giving the dry ingredients all pretty in a jar with the recipe attached?

so books...so many. one of my all time favorite kid's books ever is "a hole is to dig" by ruth krauss/illus. by sendak. also for preschoolers: the kevin henkes books. miles prefers non-fiction, but did enjoy "my father's dragon" by ruth stiles gannett. mia will tell you that anything by roald dahl gets her recommendation (although some of his stuff can be a bit grim).

a great place to get ideas is http://www.chinaberry.com/ - they have all the books divided up by age/level. i just go there and look and then put things i'm interested in on hold at the library.

good luck!

12:24 PM  
Blogger April M. said...

Baked goods are always on the top of my list at Christmas time. I usually do a plate with, peanut butter fudge, pecan balls, a hungarian cookie that my MIL taught me, a rice crispie christmas tree and a few chocolate covered cherry mice. Gingerbread men are optional, depending on time and energy levels.

As for books, my daughter(8)has loved the old school books from the thrift store. You know the ones that have a bunch of stories and some poems. She also loves the American Girls books - but don't think they are really for boys.

It may just be me, but we've avoided the Junie B Jones books...she's naughty and talks back to her parents! My boys (12&13) liked the Flat Stanley books when they were younger and are currently into the Storm Breaker series. The Secret Garden is a must!

Good luck

12:28 PM  
Anonymous erin said...

i skimmed the list so i am not sure if this was mentioned, but jane really loves the magic tree house series of chapter books.

12:33 PM  
Blogger shari said...

hannah: hi. i agree with all of stephanie's recommendations. kevin henkes is definitely a fave. and chinaberry is an amazing resource! i used it a good deal when i was a preschool teacher. have you seen the milly molly mandy books? they may appeal more to your girls (when they are ready for chapter books) but there is a boy in the book named billy blunt. gotta love that. :)
i will think about this some more and send you an email.

as far as holiday treats, lemon curd or granola. yum. xo

4:30 PM  
Blogger UNIFORM Studio said...

I'm hoping someone makes me stephanie's granola for the holidays....so that would be my vote for the gifts. As for books -you have so many good suggestions already! L has read all of the Roald Dahl books -I think his favorite is James and the Giant Peach. His fav. book of all time is Trumpet of the Swan and his current fav. is Black Beauty. Jenny and the Cat Club is great with wonderful illustrations.
O can't get enough of Sam and the firefly right now. He also likes stories from the Grimm's fairy tales book.

6:39 PM  
Blogger jolayne said...

great suggestions. i just discovered this book today "The Orange Shoe" by Trinka Hakes Noble (great name by the way) i have links to her and her latest book here ---- http://www.urbanpreschool.com/

6:57 AM  
Blogger Tracey said...

Speaking of handmade gifts, I'm interested in gocco (thanks to all your gorgeous cards and invitations). Can you recommend a brand or where to get a printer? Thanks!

8:35 AM  
Blogger Joyce Collins said...

OK! One more book....but not for the kids! I found this in the teacher's lounge today and had an "aha" moment for you. You want to sew and enjoy the different materials....how about aprons! The book I found was darling. It is called The Apron Book by EllynAnn Geisel. There are all kinds of designs and stories to go with them.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous amy k. said...

hey there!
a hole is to dig (steph mentioned this one) is really amazing-I LOVE it and so do the girls. . .
and I just found this list of robert mahar's top 100 at powells-thought it looked good:

didn't even know he had that list going-

9:48 PM  
Blogger Leigh Ann said...

Books!?! What a fun discussion. My kids - 3&5 - love the "How do Dinosaurs. series. Their fav is Go to Bed.

We just bought the new Puff, the Magic Dragon with Cd. It is wonderful and brings back memories for me as I loved that song.

For homemade food gifts we make peppermint bark. We get rave reviews on it and the kids love making it.

Melt white chocolate, add peppermint extract and crushed up candy canes. Spread it out on wax paper and put in frig. Leave overnight and break into pieces the next day.

To really step it up, start with dark chocolate, let firm up a bit and add white chocolate mix to top.



9:08 AM  
Blogger Abigail said...

Oh how much fun kids are at Christmas! I am so happy to have some little people if my life this year [thank you to friends for having babies! ;))]

...book wise, I second Shari's suggestions of the Milly Molly Mandy series [Joyce Lancester Brisley is the author]....they are really wonderful and were absolute favourites when I was a wee.

The other books series [great for gifts as you can add to them and have other people pitch in!] I could not more highly recommend are Brambly Hedge [which are just THE most beautiful stories with amazing illustrations that will keep kids occupied for hours http://www.bramblyhedge.co.uk/ ] and also the Biscuit, Buttons and Pickles books - so, so wonderful. Those three are my joint number ones!! All so wonderful and sure to thrill your wee ones :)

2:42 PM  
Anonymous hanne said...

Roald Dahl!(James and the Giant Peach, BFG, Mathilda, The Minpins++)

Astrid Lindgren! (Mio, my son, The Children of Noisy Village, The Brothers Lionheart, Ronia, the Robber's Daughter++)

3:49 AM  
Blogger Tia said...

on my blog there's a sidebar where i list all our favorite picture books that we've checked out at the library and then when it comes to chapter books we've done two little house ones (a big fave with my 4 year old) and pippi and catwings and lois lowrey's sam books....mommatiablog.blogspot.com

8:32 PM  
Blogger Emeline said...

I found this blog and she has a whole section dedicated to kids' books. Maybe a little young for Elliott... but still worth a try!
p.s- I've been lurking for about a year... and just wanted to tell you that I love it here! Specially the sweet birthday messages you leave for the kiddos! Very inspiring!

6:07 AM  

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