0-2, 2-5, 3-6, Books, Children, Musings

Best Bedtime Picturebooks

As someone who has the joy and the challenge of a two and a half year old I will be the first to tell you that nap time and bed time are two of the most stressful times of the day … despite being necessary reprieves.

If you, like me, need some help with the bed time routine it might be a good idea to grab one of these books and make it part of the routine.  It might be boring for you to read the same story over and over but it helps with relaxation, pattern creation, and eventually will help lead to reading as memorization allows for word recognition allows for a continued understanding of letters, sounds, and grammar patterns… but we were talking about bed time.


This one is my personal favorite and it is a newer one.  I do also have a young boy who is fascinated with trucks and construction vehicles so it may just be a personal thing.  I feel like the particular cadence of this one lends itself to a good wind down activity.  It just seems to slowly loose steam, which in a bed time story is a good thing.  You want it to help bring the energy down a little bit.  If your kid falls in love with it.  A sequel has come out that is all about sharing and asking for help and that is really great as well.

6557873This next one is great to read alongside or just before the bed time routine.  It follows Little Pookie (a beloved character of mine from childhood, how about you?) while he goes through his bedtime routine.  There is a little bit of open interaction in it so I would definitely recommend this one earlier rather than latter because it stimulates the brain a bit too much to lull a child to sleep, but it definitely has its own benefits.  Helps create routines which again… important for young children.


Goodnight Moon is maybe the quintessential bedtime story.  I think we all remember it from childhood and there is a reason.  Don’t fix what isn’t broken.  If you haven’t tried incorporating this one into your nightly routine it might be a time to revisit it.  There are board book and picture book versions so it can grow with your child.  Margaret Wise Brown is one of the staples of picture books and all of her books are worth adding to your child’s library.  She has a similar quality to Goodnight-Goodnight Construction site in that the cadence of the story helps wind down after a long day, so it would be good in bed.

122125Jane Yolen is one of the upcoming names in children’s books.  Her series about Dinosaurs is well worth the read and this one is great for parents of kids who try and talk their way out of bed time, or throw tantrums.  It shows several ways one should not act at bedtime, and discusses the proper way.  No shouting, no tantrums, no bargaining just a kiss and a sigh and a great rest.  I know lots of kids who are obsessed with Dinos and this one is great to stimulate their imagination because the parents in the story are human, and the child becomes the dinosaur.  One typically would think the Dino’s would be very rambunctious when in fact they go straight to sleep calmly.  It doesn’t rile kids up and has a great teaching element.  Well worth the read.
835495I’m ending this list on another classic and this one is one that worked well for my mother getting me to sleep when I was a baby.  I really loved animals and this one teaches baby animal names as well as winds down for the night.  Its just a sweet book that rhymes and uses repetition to lull a sense of calm into the child.  If you haven’t read it, I would recommend grabbing a copy.  It definitely helps wind down at the end of the day.


So whether you needed some suggestions of books that slowly bring a kid into bed time or books to teach the bedtime routine here are a few to try and add to your library both new and old, tried and true.

What are your favorite bedtime stories?  I would love to hear in the comments section below and maybe I will make another list like this one in the future.

2-5, 3-6, 5-7, 7-12, Books, Children, Musings

January 2018 Book Releases for Children

I’ve been working on a way to share the books that are coming out each month for kids with you guys and it has been hard to find a system that I like, I am going to keep playing around with it but for me, browsing the cover art is helpful since they tell you a lot about a book and also lets you know whether your kids will be interested in it.

This month I tried making a Pinterest Board that would allow you to scroll through the covers and click on something interesting.  The link brings you right to the Goodreads pages for the titles which include the release dates, reviews, genre denominations and links to buy the books.  Let me know if this works for you guys because aesthetically I do think that it is a great idea.

As far as new releases go, there were significantly fewer this month.  Which makes sense as most people don’t want to spend money after Christmas, they did all their shopping the last few months and are backing up, but there are a few books coming out that are worth looking at.

Again, let me know how you feel about this format of release round up and any other commentary, suggestions, or critiques are welcome as well.

Happy New Year!


2-5, 3-6, Books, Children

5 Monster Picture Books for a Fun Halloween

For this week leading up to Halloween week I wanted to throw out some great spooky recommendations for kids.

I’m starting with the youngest and as they are meant for little kids these stories are not so scary, but star some of our favorite Halloween Horrors.


This one in particular is one of my favorites.  Monsters of all shapes and sizes are staples this time of year and many kids can relate to the fear of the monster under the bed.  This is a story of a young boy whose Monster is going to spend a week on vacation and he just can’t get to sleep without his monster’s usual slurps and groans.  He spends the week testing different Monsters but in the end, there is only one Monster for him.  If your kid is a Monster’s Inc fan, or is a little bit picky this story will definitely resonate with them.  We all know what it is like to feel like something isn’t right, we just might not realize that the thing that the knowledge of the thing that scares us is the thing  that makes us feel safest.


Some of you might recognize this author as  none other than the chronicler of A Series of Unfortunate Events.  Known for his melancholic nature it is surprising to read such an adorable story… even if it is about a dead fish.  Goldfish Ghost is the story of … well a goldfish ghost trying to find the right place for him.  He was lonely on the boys dresser and nobody seems to pay him much attention in the real world.  You follow along on his journey to find a friend and get to see our world from an incredibly unique perspective.  Definitely worth a read.

Zombies are a personal favorite this time of year.  I think I was a zombie of a ghoul at least three Halloweens in a row (but then again I was a fan of scary things at Halloween rather than Princesses, Witches, or Dolls.  I find this one super cute in general, but  if you have a kid who feels a little unique or left out.  When one little zombie wants a peanut butter & jelly sandwich … rather than brains. It shows how sticking to your opinions and being yourself is worth while.  Even old … zombies … can learn new tricks.


My little sister dressed as a black cat one year, and my family has always raised black cats so this one is a favorite just for that.  This is a story about fear, about overcoming fears and facing the world unafraid.  This is the story about someone who thinks he is brave, even when he isn’t and is brave even when he thinks he isn’t.  Cat owners will especially love this one, and the art style is very evocative and cute.  Always a plus.

I know monsters can feel like a boys club, I certainly felt that way as a child, even as a tom boy I was frustrated that the things I liked seemed to be marketed exclusively at boys.  Well, vampires have certainly become a beloved thing for young girls and this cute little one is no exception.  It is hard to be a ballerina when you are also a vampire.  Not all aspects of it match up with the vampire life style.  Following your dreams is important and so she pushes through.  Definitely a good choice for a little dancer or for a little darkling like myself.

Hopefully these guys sounded interesting.  There are scores more great spooky picture books out there.  Head to your local library and I’m sure the librarians will have some favorites for you to choose from.  There are always interesting new ones coming out as well so its worth a trip to the book store to see what  was released in that department as well.

2-5, 3-6, 5-7, 7-12, Books, Children

New Releases in Children’s Literature October 2017

I wanted to bring together a bunch of the releases for the month, I slightly underestimated just how many books come out in one month for kids.  I don’t know if October is just a heavy month for book releases, gearing up toward Christmas and all that or if this is the sheer volume of new releases in the section every month.  I suppose if I do continue with this section I will get an idea.

There was a lot of work put into a post which is little more than a glorified list, but because I had to work so hard to compile all of these new releases I figured there would be some value in making a nice easy to parse format for others.

I wanted to do a visual version with the covers, but this post is long enough with the titles, series and authors.  If you are interested in looking at all of the beautiful covers I highly recommend clicking the links through to their Goodreads pages because the art is always great.

Without further ado, the new releases, a.ka. publishers, take my money:


October 3


The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase #3) by Rick Riordan
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Illustrated Edition by J. K. Rowling
The War I Finally Won (War that Saved My Life #2) by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Black Moon Rising (The Library #2) by D. J. Machale
The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell
Red Moon Rising (Survivors: The Gathering Darkness #4) by Erin Hunter
Robots & Repeats (Secret Coders #4) by Gene Luen Yang
Predator vs Prey (Going Wild #2) by Lisa McMann
Who Gives a Hoot? (Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet #3) by Jacqueline Kelly
The Adventurers Guild by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos
The Perfect Score by Rob Buyea
Ghosts of Greenglass House (Greenglass House #2) by Kate Milford
Touchdown Kid by Tim Green
The Serpent’s Shadow: The Graphic Novel (Kane Chronicles #3) by Rick Riordan
Sting (Loot #2) by Jude Watson
The Unlikely  Story of a Pig in the City by Jodi Kendall
Timeless:Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic (Timeless #1) by Armand Baltazar
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
Max Tilt: Fire the Depths (Max Tilt #1) by Peter Lerangis
The Doldrums (Doldrums #1) by Nicholas Gannon
How to Catch a Dino Thief (Dino Riders #4) by Will Dare
Louis Undercover by Fanny Britt
Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy (Charlie & Mouse #2) by Laurel Snyder
Once Was a Time by Leila Sales
A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Lueddecke
Voyage to Avalon (Mice of the Round Table #2) by Julie Leung

Picture Books

You’re All Kinds of Wonderful by Nancy Tillman
I am Gandhi by Brad Meltzer
I am Sacagawea by Bran Meltzer
La La La: A Story of Hope by Kate DiCamillo
I’m Not a Scaredy-Cat: A Prayer for When You Wish You Were Brave by Max Lucado
The Bad Mood and the Stick by Lemony Snicket
Remembering Vera by Patricia Polacco
Pup and Bear by Kate Banks
Odd Dog by Fabien Ockto Lambert
Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina
ABCs of Mathematics by Chris Ferrie
ABCs of Physics by Chris Ferrie
ABCs of Science by Chris Ferrie
Pigeon P.I. by Meg McLaren
A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman
Mice Skating by Annie Silvestro
Love, Triangle by Marcie Colleen
Pierre The Maze Detective: The Mystery of the Empire Maze Tower by Hiro Kamigaki
Where’s Halmoni? by Julie Kim
The Great Puppy Invasion by Alastair Heim
Willa and the Bear by Philomena O’Neill

October 10

Middle Grade

Making Mistakes on Purpose (Ms. Rapscott’s Girls #2) by Elise Primavera
Spy School Secret Service (Spy School #5) by Stuart Gibbs
The Silver Mask (Magisterium #4) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race (Mr. Lemoncello’s Library #3) by Chris Grabenstein
Race to the Bottom of the Sea by Lindsay Eagar
Monster Notebook: A Branches Special Edition (The Notebook of Doom #13) by Troy Cummings
The Wildcat’s Claw (Spirit Animals: Fall of the Beasts #6) by Varian Johnson
Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package (Tales from Deckawoo Drive #4) by Kate Dicamillo
The Land of Flowers (Thea Stilton: Special Edition #6) by Thea Stilton
Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin
Tentacle and Wing by Sarah Porter
The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie
Cucumber Quest: The Doughnut Kingdom by Gigi D.G.
The Chocopocalypse by Chris Callaghan
The Downward Spiral (Lock and Key #2) by Ridley Pearson
The Incredible Magic of Being by Kathryn Erskine
My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson
Laura Ingalls is Ruining my Life by Shelley Tougas
Watchdog by Will McIntosh
The Gnome Exchange Program: North Pole Rescue by Matt Caliri
Peter Powers and the Sinister Snowman Showdown! by Kent Clark
Saturdays with Hitchcock by Ellen Wittlinger

Picture Books

Everything is Mama by Jimmy Fallon
The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse by Mac Barnett
Grandpa’s Ghost Stories by James Flora (Reprint)
Bizzy Mizz Lizzie by David Shannon
Rory the Dinosaur needs a Christmas Tree by Liz Climo
Superheroes Club by Madeleine Sherak
Larry Gets Lost in San Diego by John Skewes and Eric Ode

October 17

Middle Grade

Phoebe and Her Univorn in the Magic Storm (Heavenly Nostrils #6) by Dana Simpson
Miss Tracy is Spacey! (My Weirdest School #9) by Dan Gutman
Tales from a Not-So-Secret Crush Catastrophe (Dork Diaries #12) by Rachel Renee Russell
Frank Einstein and the Bio-Action Gizmo (Frank Einstein #5) by Jon Scieszka
Wallace the Brave by Will Henry
The Player King by Avi
The Summer of Owen Todd by Tony Abbott
Bunjitsu Bunny vs. Bunjitsu Bunny (Bunjitsu Bunny #4) by John Himmelman
Miriam’s Secret by Debby Waldman
The Girl Who Knew Even More (Munchem Academy #2) by Commander S.T. Bolivar III
Applewhites Coast to Coast (Applewhites #3) by Steaphanie S. Tolan and R.J. Tolan
Harper and the Circus of Dreams (Harper #2) by Cerrie Burnell

Picture Books

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, Kerascoet
Through Your Eyes: My Child’s Gift to Me by Ainsley Earhardt
Night of the Moonjellies by Mark Shasha (Reprint)
My Journey to the Stars by Scott Kelly
Windows by Julia Denos
The Lumberjack’s Beard by Duncan Beedie
Book or Bell? by Chris Barton
What Do Grown-ups Do All Day? by Virginie Morgand
Singing in the Rain by Tim Hopgood

October 24

Middle Grade

Revenge of the Space Pirates (Galactic Hot Dogs #3) by Max Brallier
Lawn of Doom (Plants vs. Zombies #8) by Paul Tobin
Journey to the Crystal Cave (The Adventures of Sophie Mouse #11) by Poppy Green
Death and Douglas by J.W. Ocker
Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr
Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library (Fairday Morrow #2) by Stephanie Robinson
The Piper’s Apprentice (The Secrets of the Pied Piper #3) by Matthew Cody
The Whiz Mob and the Frenadine Kid by Colin Meloy
Wings for Wyatt (Tales of Sasha #6) by Alexa Pearl
Reign of Outlaws (Robyn Hoodlum #3) by Kekla Magoon
Ruby and Olivia by Rachel Hawkins

Picture Books

Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide by Isabel Quintero
Fergus and the Greener Grass by Jean Abernethy
I Am Life by Elisabeth Helland Larsen
Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years by Stacy McAnulty

October 31

Middle Grade

The Wildwood Bakery (Owl Diaries #7) by Rebecca Elliott
Team BFF: Race to the Finish! (Girls Who Code #2) by Stacia Deutsch
Super Rabbit Racers! (Press Start! #3) by Thomas Flintham
Curse of the Harvester (Dream Jumper #2) by Greg Grunberg
Jacky Ha-Ha: My Life is a Joke  (Jacky Ha-Ha #2) by James Patterson
CatStronauts: Space Station Situation (Catstronauts #3) by Drew Brockington
The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1) by Jessica Townsend
The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill
Little Bigfoot, Big City (The Littlest Bigfoot #2) by Jennifer Weiner
The Audition (Audition #1) by Maddie Ziegler
The Fourth Ruby (Section 13 #2) by James R. Hannibal
The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange
Have Sword, Will Travel by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

Picture Books

Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey
Give Thank You a Try by Bill O’Reilly and James Patterson
This is Not a Normal Animal Book by Julie Segal Walters

0-2, 2-5, 3-6, 5-7, 7-12, Books, Children

Reading Levels Explained by a Children’s Bookseller

I want to start this post out by saying, if you have never encountered me or this site before (Welcome!) you can learn a bit about me and why I am doing this in the tab at the top of the page, otherwise I hope this is helpful!

Reading levels were one of the hardest things for me to wrap my head around when I first started in the kid’s section.  There were so many different systems.  A parent would come in and say that their  kid was reading L books so what did I recommend.  I stood their in a stupor (what the heck does an L book look like, is it shaped like an L, is L a character I haven’t heard of).  Then even more parents would ask about level 17 books and I would stammer something about how my beginning readers only went up to 5 and have to ask them more questions about the age, size of books, reading ability etc.

Let me pour the knowledge I have collected here for you.

I am going to link a few resources I think will be really helpful throughout this post (they will be embedded links in the text and set to automatically open new pages if you want to finish the post and read them after).  This isn’t just some divine knowledge I gained by looking at the kids books long enough.  I had to spend time outside of my job to understand this.  I needed to be a resource to my customers and if I didn’t know what I was talking about, then I was a pretty shoddy one, I didn’t want to be shoddy.

Not every parent will be given a reading level.  Let’s start here.  Some parents just ask about books recommended for 12 year old boys who like video games.  This is fine, in fact this was great because there are whole sections of book stores directed directly at 12 year old boys who like video games.  Those attributes are very easy to use, any bookseller who has spent a few days in the kids section can help in this case.  I made a video a few months ago where I discussed the “types” of kids books (that is the age bracket recommended for the different physical looking books you will find in any given kids section) if you want a brief over view. I explained the down and dirty basics of a kid’s section and why this particular question would be easy to answer.

However, knowing which books are appropriate for your child and which books are too challenging without reading all of the books yourself (which I’m not against, in fact I am of the mind that reading all of the books myself is just good fun) is daunting.  In that case you go to the professionals (or the internet, hey there folks who found this post through google, I assure you, I am at least semi-professional).  Teachers and librarians use certain systems created by psychologists and publishers in the field of children’s literature to rate, or gauge the “reading level” of books.  They will often have your kid do a simple reading test and say ah yes, this child is reading at the F level.  This is of little or no use to you as a parent, but its better than nothing.  You walk into the book store, tell the lady standing behind the counter that your kid reads F level books and she looks at you blankly then proceeds to ask you a barrage of questions rather than just showing you to the section you need.  We came full circle here.

Here is what you need to know and in fact would be far more helpful to tell a bookseller than “F Level” because not everyone is as dedicated as I am to finding the right book for your child, but they will have recommendations in some form or another.

I posted a link in the previous paragraph giving a chart that compared several different ranking systems to each other.  One of them was the Fountas-Pinnell Guided Reading Text Levels.  This one was my personal favorite because each level had defined characteristics.  As a book seller I could pull out my reference, read the short description, and find a book that matched it.  There are other similar methods which will do the same, so when you are given the reading level by the teacher, librarian, whomever, ask what the system is called and search to see if there is a comprehensive list explaining what each level means.  If the bookseller is completely lost you can say, “At K level she is starting to read chapter books, she is less reliant on pictures, and it would be good to add in some larger more complicated words that she has to either decode through context or through her growing knowledge of basic English grammar., but make sure it doesn’t go over 150 pages.”  To which the bookseller will reply, Oh, chapter books, right this way.

The second thing I suggest is to read both this article on Popular Psychology by Paula J Schwanenflugel P.H.D. (Oh my god this last name, I’m so sorry) and Nancy Flanagan Knapp P.H.D. is my post from early this week where I discussed how your language regarding books and their reading level will shape the way your kids approach books for the rest of their life, not only because it gives you some tips on how to tell if a book is too hard for your kid but also for some help in how to choose books with your child in the book store.  Which can be a difficult thing, I know, I worked there.

There are resources available to you.  Whether it is someone like me who is passionate about reading, about kids reading, about the books that kids are reading and about helping parents, teachers, and librarians navigate the rapidly expanding kids book market, or through your local librarians, your kids teachers, whomever.  You are not alone.  This wasn’t something they taught me in college, it wasn’t even part of my training in the book store to be honest.  I just knew the correct internet channels and was fortunate enough to converse with very knowledgeable folks in their field.

For any specific questions, or recommendations you can always ask me below in the comments or anywhere through my socials, and of course follow the blog because I post reviews as well as helpful chatty posts like this one.  At least I hope it was helpful, if it wasn’t please give me some constructive criticism down below as well so that I can do better moving forward.  I want to do well.  I want to help.

I hope you are having a lovely week and I will talk to you again soon.