Cybils awards!

Nominate Your Favorite Book!

The Cybils awards are the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards. Bloggers from various avenues take your nominations and choose winners in different categories of children’s literature.

Cybils awards!

I’m honored to be a Round 1 panelist for the Easy Reader/Early Chapter Book category. That means I read a lot of books (that you nominate) between now and the end of the year and help provide a shortlist to the Round 2 judges who choose the final winners.

You nominate. We read. And winners are listed!

Today is the last day to nominate your favorite children’s books. Want to see what’s already nominated? Read here. Then go here to nominate your favorite (that isn’t already nominated). You can nominate one book per category.

But, you only have today left to submit your nominations! Share your favorites and stay tuned at the Cybils site to see what’s chosen.

Did you nominate a book? Which category?

Wordless Picture Books and Kids with Special Needs

Wordless Picture Books and Kids with Special Needs

Can you teach with wordless picture books?

You bet!

Wordless Picture Books and Kids with Special Needs

Kids of all abilities can learn decoding strategies and stretch creativity through wordless picture books. Which books are your favorites? Share over at The Library Adventure today where I share 5 of my favorite wordless picture books and how they benefit typical developing children and children with special needs.

Love Letters from God Bible Stories - Zonderkidz, 2014

3 New Children’s Books about Faith

We’ve recently had the opportunity to review three new children’s books from various publishers. Read below for our thoughts!

Three New Children’s Books about Faith

Your Core by Callie Grant (Graham Blanchard, 2014)

Your Core by Callie Grant, Illustrated by Missi Jay (Graham Blanchard, 2014) – This board book is another in the “Absorb” line of books from faith-based family publisher, Graham Blanchard. This book offers an explanation to young readers about what one’s “core” and “soul” is. This book doesn’t go into much detail at all, but the soul is a very hard concept to explain to anyone, especially to young ones. The text stays simple and mostly appropriate for ages 3-5ish. Some of the lines rhyme and some don’t, but the content itself is fairly solid. My kids enjoyed the brightly colored illustrations. The book ends with Ephesians 3:16-17, great versus to focus on for this topic. Your Core can help spark discussion in families about the core and soul.

The Good Dog by Todd Kessler

The Good Dog by Todd Kessler, Illustrated by Jennifer Gray Olson (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2014) – This book is classified as a picture book, but it is nearly three times as long as the majority of traditionally published picture books. The story follows a young boy, Ricky, who finds as little dog, Tako, and whether or not Tako will be able to be a “good dog” and stay with Ricky’s family. The theme itself focuses on listening to what a person (or dog) is really trying to say/show and concentrating on truth. However, this book will probably be too long for most younger readers, not just because of the page count, but because this story is almost two separate stories. Much of the beginning pages could be shortened or cut to get into the action of the story much quicker without taking away from the point of the story or even character development. I also noticed two distinct places where the story jumped from one location or event to another bluntly without transition. Once in the action, the action stays fairly constant. The book discusses a sub theme of “good” and “bad” and how dogs/people can be labeled as “bad” but actually be “good.” This theme is an important one for young kids to understand, but families will need to discuss together how this book approaches it. This book is also on the expensive side for a picture book, with a list price of $18.95, which may reduce its accessibility.

Love Letters from God Bible Stories - Zonderkidz, 2014

Love Letters from God Bible Stories by Glenys Nellist, Illustrated by Sophie Allsopp (Zonderkidz, 2014) – We love this Bible stories book! This picture book-style Bible storybook is presented beautifully in colorful hardback with an almost scrapbook-like appearance. Each spread includes a retelling of a Bible story, a short focus verse, and a lift-the-flap “love letter” from God. The stories are paraphrased for the 4-8 age range and include emotional aspects in the retellings that allow readers to relate to the characters and events. Each story focuses on how the character learned from God and how God remains present in our lives no matter what circumstances may arise. A few of the details are left out of some stories (example: the creation story doesn’t detail the days of creation), but that doesn’t take away from the themes themselves. The focus verses are very appropriate and all short enough to be used as memory verses for even the preschool audience. The “love letters” are elegantly designed to look like envelopes on the outside and a one-paragraph letter from God to the reader on the inside. Each letter has an opening line, allowing you to write the reader’s name in to personalize each letter. These letters summarize the focus of each Bible story sufficiently. The illustrations are colorful, vibrant, and uniquely arranged on each spread. The book ends with an “invitation” to the reader to “join Jesus’s team” and a blank letter to allow the reader to write a “love letter” back to God. This storybook is a lovely addition to a family or church library.

What are some of your favorite new faith-focused children’s books?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of each of these books from their various publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Signing Time and Amazon Associates. If you click on a Signing Time link or Amazon and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

Shop Signing Time

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

NIV Once-a-day Bible for Women (Zondervan, 2012)

Another Way to Read the Bible in a Year {Book Review – NIV Once a Day Bible}

I’ve tried a few methods of reading through the Bible in year, and love the many options out there (straight through, chronologically, etc.). They all offer various benefits for different needs and schedules.NIV Once-a-day Bible for Women (Zondervan, 2012)

I recently began using the NIV Once-A-Day Bible for Women (Zondervan, 2012), and I love this format. This Bible-in-a-year design breaks up daily reading into manageable portions and includes readings from various sections of the Bible.

Features of this Bible:

  • Each daily reading includes a selection from the Old Testament (starting in Genesis), a selection from the New Testament (starting in Matthew), and a portion from Psalms or Proverbs, along with a brief devotion. This method incorporates diversity in each day’s reading (rather than weeks of solid reading in Leviticus, for example). Each day’s devotion is a one-paragraph reflection on one of the day’s selections.
  • The daily reading takes 10-15 minutes.
  • I love that the daily entries are simply numbered. You don’t have to begin using this Bible on January 1. You can begin today, follow the numbers, and know that in one year (with regular reading), you’ll have read all the way through the Bible. (You can also begin on January 1, and there’s a reading guide to keep you on track!)

The only aspects I can see that make this a “women’s” Bible is the cover design (pink and floral) and the paragraph reflections sometimes seem geared more towards women. But anyone can read this format of the Bible (and Zondervan makes versions for teens, leaders, morning and evening, a chronological version, and more), particularly for its ease of daily use.

This is not a study Bible by any means, but if you’re looking for something to help you read through the Bible in a year or incorporate daily reading time into your routine, I highly recommend this format.

What’s your favorite way to read the Bible in a year or incorporate daily reading?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest reviews. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Signing Time and Amazon Associates. If you click on a Signing Time link or Amazon and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

Shop Signing Time

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

Filling and Overflowing Hope {Book Review – The Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston}

I love, love, love when a book exceeds my expectations.

I honestly didn’t know how I’d like The Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston (Thomas Nelson, 2014) when I first received it for review. And I am more than happy to tell you that you’ll want to read it too. It’s a fantastic book. The Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

Ray Johnston is a founding pastor of a megachurch in California (Bayside, which has multiple campuses) and the founder of Thriving Churches International. In The Hope Quotient, he discusses how essential hope is to every aspect of life and seven factors to raise your hope to thrive in life.

By just the back cover copy, this book seems like a self-help, 7-step program kind of book, which is why I was a little skeptical. And, really, it does offer some direct, practical steps to take. But, it’s also so much more.

Plus, the introduction starts like this:

The first page of The Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston

Inspiring from the start!

Ray spends the first three chapters of the book welcoming the reader into a conversation about hope. Ray explains how many people who feel tired, drained, overwhelmed are actually discouraged. And discouragement means a lack of hope. That lack of hope affects every decision, every thought, every interaction. But, hope. Hope changes it all. Particularly because that hope comes from grace-given love from God.

He offers the main point of the book right away:

“…thriving people thrive for one reason – they commit to things that produce inner strength and hope.” – p. xviii

The rest of the chapters support and detail that point, along with how to spill that hope onto others.

“The truth is the greatest gift you or I can give anyone is hope.” – p. 5

But the author doesn’t just state the positives of hope. He offers entertaining, inspiring, and powerful stories from his own experiences and others’ to surprise, put you in awe, and cheer. His tone holds a pleasing balance of goofy, clever humor and intriguing observations and calls-to-action. The numerous amount of stories, references, and quotes from others help support his mainstay that it takes a team to thrive.

This book covers topics from rest to personal gifts/skills to fear to community, all within the realm of building and sharing hope to live life for God. (Read here for an introduction to the chapter titles.) Divided into 17 chapters in 3 major sections, this book offers ideas you can incorporate into your marriage, family, career, and community, but without being hokey or judgmental.

This whole book inspires me to do two main things: take appropriate actions to make sure I stay encouraged (because that affects everyone around me) and make every effort to be an encourager to others (spread encouragement rather than discouragement).

“The discipline of asking ‘What can this person become?’ is crucial to fueling hope and achieving dreams.” – p. 167

How do you maintain hope in your faith and daily life?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest reviews. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Signing Time and Amazon Associates. If you click on a Signing Time link or Amazon and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

Shop Signing Time

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.