Favorite Toddler Books + Daily Reading Rhythms

Favorite Toddler Books + Daily Reading Rhythms

Reading to your children seems like such a simple thing, and truly it is, but like most worthwhile things, it doesn’t happen unless you make it happen. Especially when children are young and unable to read to themselves, a time for reading has to be created and then fostered. I think every parent wants their child to grow up with a love of books and reading, especially in this age of technology, so I’m sharing a few tips on how I’m encouraging and prioritizing reading in my house.

TIP 1 // SURROUND YOURSELF WITH BOOKS

At home I like to be a (semi) minimalist about everything, with the exception of children’s books. Lewie has books in every room of the house. A basket in the living room. Books tucked in our nightstand for bedtime. Books in his bedroom. I even put books in his toy box. I want him to grow up surrounded by books.

Books don’t have to be an expense, most of the books we have I bought at thrift stores or were my own books as a child. You can also buy used books online. Obviously Amazon has millions and I also really like Discover Books and Thrift Books.

TIP 2 // CREATE A TIME & SPACE FOR READING

Every night before bed we read to Lewie. This is natural time for most parents to read with their children and it’s such a simple and beautiful rhythm to close the day.  I also like reading in the morning and before nap time. Reading is also a great way to help Lewie calm down when he’s upset.

To me, just as important as time to read, is a space to read. We often read in my bed, but  I also have an oversized bear by his bookcase and a floor pillow in the living room. You don’t need much space, any tiny nook will work as a reading corner.

TIP 3 // PRACTICE WHAT YOUR PREACH

I spend a lot of time trying to encourage a love of books for Lewie, but it recently occurred to me that Lewie rarely sees me read. I actually love reading, but I typically read at night after Lewie is in bed. But just like any skill or lesson I’m trying to instill in my child (gratitude, patience, politeness) it has to start with me. So whenever you can, create some time for yourself to read, even if it’s just a few minutes here and there. Children watch and do.

TIP 4 // READ BOOKS YOU ENJOY

Yes of course letting your child pick their own books is a great way to encourage kids to read. Take a trip to the library and let them choose away. And while you’re there, pick out some children’s books you find interesting as well. The truth is I’m much more likely to read to Lewie if I enjoy the books I’m reading. And if i’m enthusiastic about the book, chances are he will be too. If I let my toddler pick out all his own books, we would only read about trains. But just like food, it’s important to introduce your child to new topics they probably wouldn’t choose on their own.

Right now, we’re reading a lot about Summer. I’ve been intentionally picking books that will help us notice and celebrate the season. In addition to our summer reading, here are some favorites we’ve been loving lately. All these books are very picture-centric, but have an actual story, so they’ve been really great transition toddler books, from baby board books to longer-style children’s books.

Anything by Richard Scarry. Our favorite is Cars and Trucks and Things that Go.
Tuesday I grew up on this book. It’s so strange and imaginative. Lewie loves the frogs.
Where the Wild Things Are  A classic for all ages. This one never fails to entertain.
The Little Engine that Could If you have a child that loves trains, this one is a must!

And, alphabet books. Lewie is really into learning the alphabet. There are an abundance of amazing alphabet books including, Touch Think Learn (this one would make a beautiful baby gift) Animalia (so imaginative for all ages) Quentin Blake’s ABC’s (super whimsical with rhyming text) and Winnie-the-Pooh’s ABC (simple and beautiful intro in the World of Winnie the Pooh).

What about you? What children’s books is your family reading right now? I’m always on the lookout for new favorites!

 

 

A Rhythm for the Seasons

A Rhythm for the Seasons

I miss seasons. Fall, Spring, Winter, Summer (in that order). I miss the first warm day of spring after a cold winter almost as much as I miss the first cool day of autumn after a hot summer. Seasons have a natural rhythm and focus, whether it’s playing in the summer or gathering together in the fall. Not having true seasons in LA has undoubtedly been the hardest part about living in this city for the last seven years.

LA’s weather is warm to hot and back again. This anti-seasonal living has often made me feel lost with no anchor in time. So, because seasons are so crucial to me, but I have no control over the weather, I’ve started pondering different ways I can distinctly celebrate each season with seasonal rhythms that will hopefully bleed into a rhythm for my weeks and days.

The goal is for these seasonal rhythms to have a distinct focus, but also a connectedness throughout the year, each season building off the previous season and informing the next.

Although the calendar year starts in winter, I’m starting my seasonal rhythms with spring. One of my favorite childhood books about weather starts with spring, everything is just coming to life- it’s a perfect beginning.

SPRING //  SIMPLIFY

Spring is the season I want to be outside the most. Even in LA, spring is beautiful and inviting. The warm weather also brings that spring cleaning bug. But, instead of focusing solely on deep-cleaning, spring is the perfect time to simplify. Subtract from the stuff and noise and choices and media in order to experience and live more. The goal is not to have a perfectly clean house at the end of the season, or even to become a minimalist, but rather to be in a mindset of simplification that will carry you throughout the seasons.

SUMMER // MAKE-DO

The goal for summer is to capture some of that childhood summer magic by focusing on experiences rather that things. The summers of my childhood felt endless. The days were slow and languid, spent making things – a treehouse, popsicles, mud-pies. And also doing things – visiting the beach, going to a museum, plus a lot of simply doing nothing. Now my summers have become consumeristic instead of creative. As an adult it’s been a long time since I’ve flexed my creative muscle or given myself permission to do nothing – these are the goals for summer.

AUTUMN // EDUCATE

Fall is the season I miss the most. I know I already said that, but it’s so true I’ll say it twice. The cool air of autumn always awakens my mind. I feel the most clear-headed in the cool days, or maybe it’s just the 18 plus years of starting a new school year in autumn. From the time we’re born through college, our lives are dedicated to learning. Then as adults, education takes a backseat. A few of us are lucky enough to have a challenging job that promotes learning, but I image that most of us (me included) spend our days checking off a to-do list, instead of carving out time to grow. Learning is obviously achieved through many forms, but reading tops the list. This autumn I’m finding time to continue my personal education and growth, because we are never too old to learn something new.

WINTER // GIVE A DAMN

Winter’s theme is the accumulation of these seasonal rhythms and really the point of this entire blog. Care about the the world’s resources – it’s trees and oceans and animals. Care about the simple things and do the simple things with care. Care about bettering yourself and raising a better generation. Care about people – all the people, your children, yourself, your neighbors, and the people you can’t see – those people who make your clothes and who grow your food.

We can’t be perfect, but we can all be better if we just start to give a damn.

That’s it! I’m sure these seasonal rhythms will evolve as the months progress, but I’m really excited to have a focus for each season to help anchor my thoughts and actions. And I would love for you all to follow along! I’ll be posting blogs about each season’s focus to help give concrete ways to implement the theme into your daily rhythm. Do you have seasonal rhythms you practice throughout the year? I would love to know!

Currently // Spring of ’18

Currently // Spring of ’18

Currently is a seasonal series where I recap some of the simple things I’ve been doing / making / reading / listening and such throughout the season. Thanks for reading along.


Reading // Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver boldly addresses the concerns of modern farming, from the depletion of the soil, to the treatment of animals, to our own suffering health. But she is also hopeful about our future as we learn from the past. Inspired, humorous, factual and optimistic. My friend called it “idyllic and yet realistic- the perfect balance.” It will definitely have you running to your local farmer’s market and then to the kitchen.

Doing // Camping. I took Lewie on his first camping trip in Washington and he was in heaven. He spent most of the time playing naked in the dirt and eating watermelon. It was amazing to see him explore nature and I wish I had gone sooner. I’m already planning our next trip. Fort Stevens in Astoria, Oregon looks amazing. Plus, here are some simple tips for camping with toddlers

Watching // The Crown. I’m obsessed. You can read all about that here, plus some royal home decor inspiration.  

Making // Grocery lists. Historically I’m pretty awful about weekly meal planning because I find the internet an overwhelming place for recipes. So instead I’m gathering a few favorite cookbooks for meal planning instead. Current favorites: River Cottage Every Day. Apples for Jam. Bountiful. Sunday Suppers. 

What are your favorite cookbooks?

Writing // Motherhood interviews. I just finished my first interview with my friend Jessie Love. Coming from a journalism background, I love interviewing and writing people’s stories and I feel so honored that I’m getting to do that again on this blog. Jessie’s story is about choosing hope for their unborn baby, Franklin, who was diagnosed with a rare disease and then choosing healing after Franklin’s death at eight days old.

He lived when the medical community said he wouldn’t, he fought when they thought he couldn’t, and he left a scar on my heart that I never want to go away.

 

Currently // Autumn of ’17

Currently // Autumn of ’17

Currently is a seasonal series where I recap some of the simple things I’ve been doing / making / reading / listening and such throughout the season. Thanks for reading along.


I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers – Anne of Green Gables

Most of October in LA was unbearably hot, until just before Halloween when the temperature miraculously dropped 40 degrees and suddenly like Anne I’m in love with October again and all the traditions this season brings.

Autumn always seems to gather people together. The sun sets so early, it becomes natural to spend the evenings at home with friends and family, making meals, enjoying an outdoor fire, sharing stories. After the whirlwind of summer, autumn is a chance to slow down, to reconnect and, like Anne, to be grateful for the beauty of the world.

Here’s what I’ve been up to this Autumn.

Coveting // Cozy blankets, like this sweet rose quilt made by artisans in India. I recently wrote a list of ethical blankets under $100. Now that the weather is cooler, all I want to do in snuggle in a blanket and read.

Reading // The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. An honest and raw portrayal of grief, but also a reminder to be grateful, to take chances and to live.

“Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.”

Baking // Wheat bread. Homemade bread takes some time, but it’s quite simple, very inexpensive and tastes 1000 times better than store-bought. Make a double recipe and share with some friends.

Listening // Valerie June The Order of Time. I have a special place in my heart for Valerie June. My dear friend bought her homemade cd from a record store in Memphis and in college we listened to that album countless times. So when I heard her again a few years later on NPR I was ecstatic. I felt like I had found a favorite sweater I forgot I loved.

Doing // Things without my phone. I’ve been so attached to my phone lately  and for no good reason, so I’m taking some intentional time away from it, like going on a walk and leaving my phone at home. A small jolt of fear curses through me when I realize I’m without my phone, even though I don’t even need it. It’s shocking how many times I’ll reach for my phone just within one hour simply out of habit.

How about you? How are you slowing down and enjoy this season?

 

 

 

 

 

Currently // Summer of ’17

Currently // Summer of ’17

Currently is a seasonal series where I recap some of the simple things I’ve been doing / making / reading / listening and such throughout the season. Thanks for reading along.


Making //  Roasted Plums with Brown Sugar & Balsamic with the plums from our backyard tree. This recipe is so simple and refreshing. Perfect for those warm summer nights with a dollop of ice cream on the side. 

Listening // Harry Potter on Audible. It’s my summer tradition to re-read Harry Potter, but this year I’m listening to series read by Jim Dale. I feel like i’m experiencing the magic all over again. Over the series, he performs over 300 different voices for all the characters. You can watch his interview about the experience here.

I hate the word actor… Act means putting on something fake, you’re acting it. I just think the word should “be.” You just go up there and be.

Wearing // ThredUp finds. I actually love thrift shopping but it’s difficult to shop with with a toddler in tow, so I did my first online thrift shopping at ThredUp and bought shorts, two silk tanks and a skirt all for under $40. I was trying to find clothes I could wear for the summer and could also transition into cooler months. ThreadUp can be a little overwhelming at first, but I found the best luck by searching for specific brands and fabrics that I know are higher quality and will last.

P.S. If you’re new to ThredUp you can get $10 off your first order with this code: 
http://www.thredup.com/r/RH97X5

Reading // The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. My friend gave this book to me a couple years ago. I finally picked it up and devoured it in two days. The message of grace is truly humbling and outstanding.

“Mama’s love had always been the kind that acted itself out with soup pot and sewing basket. But now that these things were taken away, the love seemed as whole as before. She sat in her chair at the window and loved us. She loved the people she saw in the street– and beyond: her love took in the city, the land of Holland, the world. And so I learned that love is larger than the walls which shut it in.”

Using // Cloth Napkins — eco-friendly and beautiful. Using a cloth napkin is such a simple but lovely way to make any meal feel more festive. I bought both these pink ones and the printed ones (top photo) at a thrift store, and wouldn’t these yellow ones be ideal for a summer picnic?