Posts Tagged ‘books’

Diverse children's books teaching life lessons.

Lil’ J was tumbling through the playroom as I read off a list of signs of stress from a book I was reading.

“Difficulty focusing, feeling tense or nervous, forgetting directions someone has told you, ‘stuck’ thoughts in your head that you can’t get out–”

“I have all those things!” My daughter halted mid-cartwheel to exclaim. “I have a lot of stress!”

Part of me wanted to laugh. Another part of me not only empathized with her, but admired her ability to recognize that.

My parents would be like “You’re kids! What do you have to stress about?” But I’m listening. Or trying to.

The book is called Mind Over Basketball: Coach Yourself to Handle Stress and it’s about a boy who loves basketball, but has a lot going on in his life that’s affecting his game. He meets a gentleman who helps coach him while also giving advice for handling stress.

Each chapter pushes the story forward, then has an informational section about stress. My oldest daughter and I are enjoying reading it together. I’ve even begun to notice her using techniques from the book on her own.

Diverse children's books teaching life lessons. Magination Press

Our kids are so capable of holding mature conversations about our bodies and minds. When I hear of “stress” I think of an adult concept but children very well experience it too. Reading books with creative ideas and important messages help us navigate through challenges like stress.

Magination Press Family is a publisher that has a slew of diverse children’s books that encourage mindfulness and thought-provoking discussions with our children. It’s like a pot of gold for my homeschooling mama heart.

Diverse children's books teaching life lessons.

Let’s Meet Up

This weekend, Jon Lasser and Sage Foster Lasser the authors of another great book, called Grow Grateful are coming to Austin for a book reading and signing. Lil’ J, Big T, Lee Lee and I will be hanging out and learning more about this important topic. We’d love to see you there!

The book is a about a girl who goes on a camping trip with her class and learns a lesson on gratitude.

Diverse children's books teaching life lessons. Magination Press

Gratitude is something we discuss often in our family, but I love when books bring a colorful story and new perspective to the table and allow us to approach the topic differently. This book is based on the “theory of mind,” which is the ability to take perspective of others and recognize that each person has their own thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. There’s a nice “Note to Parents and Caregivers” section that gives information on teaching children how to be grateful. Which is an important topic anytime but especially prevalent this time of year.

The authors will be there to sign copies of the book and do a special reading. It’s this Saturday, October 20th at BookPeople at 603 N Lamar Blvd, Austin TX 78703.

You can RSVP here.

Hope to see you there!

Diverse children's books teaching life lessons.

I just finished Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes and she has a chapter where she goes on about women not being able to take a compliment, and how we should own our talents, and not shy away from them for fear of being seen as arrogant.

Every day I tell my children how amazing they are. I give them affirmations to say in the mirror. I want them to know they are incredible. They can do anything, and they are great.

So why don’t we believe those things about ourselves?

This weekend I’m celebrating my 31st birthday and I’ve decided to give myself a gift. I’m going to own my blessings. It’s going to feel a little uncomfortable. It’s going to be unusual, but I’m going to lay it out there and hit publish with reckless abandon.

Ok here we go.


My name is Jennifer. I am a devoted wife and mother. I would fight for my family. My husband my kids– They are my everything. Beyond my family, I put heart into my life.

My hair? It’s awesome. People tell me my smile is contagious. My joy–infectious.

I am unapologetically a big dreamer. Like, HUGE. My husband calls me “whimsical”… But says it like it’s a bad word. I take it as a compliment.

I can do anything.

I’m also a hard worker. I try to focus and work at things I love. This makes my work feel more like play and even when I’m working incredibly hard it doesn’t feel like I am.

Maybe the name “Jennifer” mean luck in some other language. I am INCREDIBLY lucky. Though I believe luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I still feel like I’m insanely lucky. But I also don’t doubt God’s hand in my life. I’m extremely blessed and I feel lucky to have discovered the talents He blessed me with early in life and use those throughout.

I believe anything is possible and I am not easily discouraged. I attract positivity and good things come to me.

Learning is my life’s mission. I love to learn and soak up knowledge like air. I have a desire to learn so much. From new languages, history, culture, and music–I will spend the rest of my life learning new things and yet never try to give the illusion of “knowing it all.”

Writing is a passion. I can always tell when I’m going to write something great because it’s preceded by a jittery and burning feeling I can’t contain. I love that feeling. My best work comes when I sit down and write in that very moment. I am a good storyteller. My stories can go beyond type on a screen or piece of paper using my photographs and video. I love it, and I am good at it. Or maybe I am good at it because I love it.

I also love people–Meeting new people, befriending people, talking to people, laughing with people and learning about people. I believe we all have so much to learn from one another.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve hit the peek of my success but then a voice inside reminds me that’s nowhere near the case. I’m just getting started.


I did it. It took me three days to write those short paragraphs. I was cringing throughout and after every compliment I was started to type a flaw to counter my self-praise. Even now I want to explain that I’m not vain and I know I’m not perfect. But I’m not going to. Today I’m going to leave it as that because it’s the anniversary of my birth and a much-needed gift to myself.

On to make this year awesome.

Write a letter to YOU! A birthday gift to give yourself every year.

Everyone talks about books being SO good for us… Great for the minds and what not. We should read to our kids, and get them to love reading! I don’t deny all of this. However, there is a dark side to books that people rarely talk about that I’m going to lay all out there today.

Books are addicting.

You know how the experts talk about addictions being bad when they begin to interfere with your everyday life? Hello new science fiction novel! What have you done to me?

my reading addiction

I barely broke away to write this post. I just wanted to pop in and tell you I’m still alive, all is well, the kids are ok thanks to their father, and hopefully I’ll finish the series quick enough so I won’t be gone too long. Over the weekend I finished books 1 and 2, and I’m about a third through book 3.

Oh forgive my rudeness, I didn’t tell you what book. I’m reading The Lunar Chronicles series. It was one I put on my list to start once I finished Harry Potter and it just took me awhile to pick up and get going. Even a few chapters in I wasn’t hooked but somewhere around chapter 10 it was all over. Bye kids, bye husband, bye work, food, and other inessentials.

lunar chronicle series

Sometimes I think it’s just me who has this problem. But after sending a few snaps about my book a friend asked me what I was reading, and is also now sucked into the vortex of this series. Well, she may already be out on the other side. A few hours after telling her the name of the book she was already reading passed me and onto book two.

I guess I could tell you a little of what it’s about. Though my description may not peak your interest.

It’s a science fiction twist on the fairytale stories we’re familiar with. The first one being Cinderella, but in this story she’s a cyborg.

I know I know, you’re probably thinking I’m not into that stuff. But really, did we think we were into stories about wizards or vampires before we ready Harry Potter or Twilight? No! So don’t knock it til you try it.

I’ve been re-telling the story to Lil’ J and she’s quite intrigued. Of course I’d rather be reading further instead of just telling her about it, but I want her to know that books are awesome and reading is fun. Though that may or may not be the message I send when I say “Shhhhhhhh! Go make yourself a snack, this book is getting really good!”

Anyway, I’ve been away from my friends in this tale long enough and I want to see how they’re doing. Don’t worry I’ve got something great planned here on the blog tomorrow. Thankfully I scheduled it before I found a new series.

Oh, and at the risk of falling to my addiction again… Do you by chance have any other books you could recommend, for when I’m done? I may need another fix.

Also, can you ask me that Mother’s Day question again? All I want is my a week like this:

Girl with books

I’m not gonna lie, I’m kinda not sure what to do with myself at the moment. I know I’m one of the last people alive who hadn’t read the series but now I’ve done it. I’ve joined the club and I now understand all of the internet humor references to Muggles, Butterbeer and Draco Malfoy.

I’d never watched any of the movies or read any of the books before. Well, maybe I’d attempted to read the first book a time or two, but didn’t find it captivating at the time. I was determined to try again.

First, I feel like I need to explain why now, after nearly 20 years, I decided to dive in.

I tend to turn movies on in the background while I work at night. One night several months back I noticed Breaking Dawn Part 2 was on and I was sucked in, and sucked back about five years.

Isn’t it incredible how certain memories can be tied to smells, sounds, or tastes? A familiar scent can bring back a flood of emotions from our childhood. A song we hadn’t heard in awhile can move us to feel nostalgic.

It’s not the movie itself that makes me sappy and emotional. But all of the memories that come back when I watch it, and listen to the score.

It made me wistful for a period of my life when I had more time with my husband, before kids–when I had time to sit down and read a book for hours before bed, just because I wanted to.

I started the Twilight series well before it was the crazed fad that it is today. I can remember the night I started the book, buying the third book on opening day, and waiting in line for the midnight release of the final book.

Cherish 365: The days are long but the years are short. A project to making moments last and cherish every day.

I saw Eclipse in theaters five days after I was due with Lil’ J (she didn’t come for another five days). It was one of the final days of my life that I’d ever experience boredom, and a certain kind of freedom you can’t get back after you have kids.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but a couple months after reading Breaking Dawn–just days after Twilight the movie premiered, I started this blog. I was itching to have a place to write about something other than news stories. As lame as it sounds, I’d be lying if I said Bella’s first-person account didn’t influence the start of all of this.

So anyway, all of these memories came flooding back as I watched this cheesy yet personally-amazing movie!

Taking note, I decided I wanted to replicate this. I wanted to take on another series that could encompass this time and phase of my life as I made my way through the books.

I decided to read Harry Potter.

Tired mom escaping to the bubble bath for a few short moments of quiet while reading a book. Sneaking in a chapter or two a night as I rocked my kids to sleep. Will that be what’s ingrained in my mind when I think back to the first time I read Harry Potter? Maybe.

Lil’ J asks me night after night to listen to what I’m reading. I read her a few pages of the first book but was too eager to read at my own pace, and I told her I’d read it to her once I finished. Just as I was starting the final two books I noticed a new Illustrated Harry Potter book was released. I just ordered it tonight, and I plan to start reading it to her once it arrives.

I’m not sure if it’ll have the same lasting impression other series of books have had on me. I think there’s something to say about the spacing of release dates, and corresponding movies spanning over a decade, and the anticipation and excitement that builds with that. However, 2015 will forever be the year of Harry Potter for me. And perhaps, the year of a kindled love for fantasy.

So here’s a quick a spoiler-free review for others who have yet to give Harry Potter a try:

It’s not quite what I imagined it to be. I was highly critical knowing I’m not into fantasy. Witches and wizards aren’t really my thing. But neither were vampires, so I got over my hang-up and dove right in.

The first couple books may seem overrated but by the third book I was completely sucked in. That one is probably still my favorite. I was really amazed by Rowling’s creativity, especially from here on out. It was really hard to guess where she was going. I mean who things this stuff up?

Don’t watch the movies first. I mean, it’s ok if you already have, but the books are SO much better. After you read the book put some space between watching the movie or the movie will be such a letdown. Once you’ve forgotten some of the details that are fresh in your mind you’re safe to watch the movie.

I’ve held off watching the last three movies for this reason. I’m having a Harry Potter movie marathon by myself sometime soon.

I think the book could possibly be most touching to parents. While I love a good love story, this series focuses on the love found in friendships, and between parents and children and at this stage in my life that really struck me, and even brought me to tears.

As I closed the book (or turned off my iPad screen tonight) and heaved a sigh of satisfaction, my husband looked over at me and threw a curious look.

“I just finished reading Harry Potter,” I told him with a smile.

“Oh ok, so you’re going to stop ignoring us and rejoin the family now?”

He thinks he’s so funny.

But yes, I’m back. Until I discover the next series to journey away with.

Have any recommendations?

There are a couple of things my son absolutely adores: Trains and letters.

Trains. Not a big surprise right? I’ve mentioned this a few times. My mom lives near train tracks and when we’d go over to her house he’d look out the window and watch the train go by over and over and cheer for it each time.

When we went to Disney World he saw trains everywhere. To him, a roller coaster is a train, a tram is a train. Anything lined up in a row is a train. He sometimes will even line up his food and say “choo choo!” And he enjoys watching train videos on YouTube. Not the singing cartoon trains (though he loves those too), but REAL trains, just rolling on by.

He also loves letters. He points at letters everywhere and calls them out.

I’m forever surprising Lil’ J with princess dresses, art supplies, and things she loves. I thought it was time to give my little train-loving child a few surprises of his own.

A Real Train Ride


I can’t take credit for this one. It’s all grandma. When we visited Utah we went on the Heber Creeper Train and rode for an hour and a half through the valley and he was in heaven.


A talented fiddler played us songs in the boxcar, and we got snacks from the snack bar while we were in motion. I think it was his dream come true.


A Wooden Letter Train

After our train ride in Heber, UT I saw these magnetic letter cars in the gift shop. But at $6 a letter it would cost a ton for the whole alphabet. Later I realized I could have just picked out letters for his name.


Luckily I found a set on Amazon** that was even less and we got an engine and caboose with it. He LOVES this letter train. It’s possibly his favorite toy. The only problem is it doesn’t fit through the tunnels on his tracks and that REALLY frustrates him. So I keep it in his room most of the time and let him play with his regular trains on the tracks with bridges and tunnels.

My Very Own Trucks Personalized Book

I’m not high maintenance, but it takes a lot to really impress me sometimes. This I See Me book really impressed me. It’s not all about trains, but trucks and “things that go.”

I See Me My Very Own Trucks Book

But the first letter of Big T’s name was brought to the page by nothing other than a train.

Each page has a different vehicle or machine that starts with the corresponding letter of your child’s name. That truck (or train, or boat, etc) brings the letter along to spell out his full name which “lights up the night” at the end. Oh, and the little trucks also have his name on the side. For example “Ryan’s Rocket Explorer” might be one for a little child named Ryan. I’m trying not to blast his name all over the internet but it’s hard with this post! You can get a little peek of the cover of the book below.

There was also an excavator for part of his name, which before reading this book we’d been calling a “SNORT” (if you love Dr. Seuss you know what I’m talking about).

I See Me My Very Own Trucks Book

He loves pointing to all of the letters, plus the trucks, busses, trains and animals all throughout. Plus he (and I) loves the fact that his photo is at the front of the book.

Totally cute right? It’s called My Very own Trucks And Things that Go. You can buy one here or enter their photo contest to win a book + a $250 Pottery Barn Kids gift card (ends August 31st).

Reading is a huge part of my life and I want it to be something my kids grow to love as well. Finding books your kids love is one way to start, and I have a feeling this will grow to be one of his favorites.


Although I have more experience with princesses and frills, I’m really enjoying finding things my son loves that are helping us make fun memories together. From building huge complex train tracks around our playroom, to snuggling together with a book he loves about trucks and trains, I’m loving every minute of it.

What is your child’s favorite thing?

*A Thank you to I See Me for sponsoring this story, and for sending me one of my new favorite children’s books! Don’t forget you can enter to win your own copy here. As always, all opinions here are my own. 

** Denotes affiliate link.

Reading with kids digitally and with paper books. A list of favorite books read in 2014.
Last year I got a new tablet for Christmas, downloaded a library app and have been checking out all sorts of books. I started the New Year reading the Divergent series. Here are a few of my favorites from this year and a little one-liner of my thoughts.

matched trilogyTypically my favorite genre. I feel like I read more of these but these stand out the most.

Divergent Series (3 books): I couldn’t put the first couple books down. Very fun to read.

Matched Series (3 books): Also very good, it’s hard for me to choose a favorite between these two. Both were post-apocalyptic society-type books.

Gone Girl: I read because it was recommended to me based on the books I’d been reading. I was seriously frightened and disturbed at some parts but it was an unexpected mystery book that I enjoyed.


One of my goals was to read more auto-biographies this year.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me: A hilarious way to start my attempt to dive into biographies.

Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons– I bought this book before the publishing company sent me one because my friends wrote it. It’s hilarious, and uplifting, and a great read. You don’t need to be mad or black or Mormon to enjoy it.

5 Love Languages: My first “self-help” book and wow… I loved it, still reference it, and I just bought it so I can read it again with my husband.

Children’s Books

Of-thee-i-singThis category isn’t as long because we have so many classics and favorites that we read over and over. But there are still a few new ones that jump out at me.

Of Thee I Sing: A historical book with gorgeous illustrations. Written by Barack Obama. The book tells short stories of boys and girls who grew to be miraculous men and women who changed our country. I love hearing Lil’ J talk about Jackie Robinson, Neil Armstrong, Jane Addams and Helen Keller. I want to find more books like this one.
Reading with kids digitally and with paper books. A list of favorite books read in 2014.The Boxcar Children: Lil’ J was so excited to show me a new movie she discovered on Netflix. As she described it to me I realized she was talking about the Boxcar Children. I surprised her and downloaded a digital copy of the book so we can read it together at bedtime. I’m amazed at how interested she is in the story, and how she notices subtle differences from the movie. I’m hopeful we can continue to read this series together.

Reading with kids digitally and with paper books. A list of favorite books read in 2014.

I’m also re-reading Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, reading the Maze Runner series, the latest Percy Jackson book (I know, I’m a dork), and a book a friend from church wrote and is letting me read before some big publisher picks it up. I’m rooting for her!

Depending on who you are (and how much you get to read) you may be wondering where I find the time. I don’t feel like I read THAT much. If I had it my way I’d plow through way more books. But the fact is I typically get to read after my work is done and the kids are occupied or asleep. But most often I’ll read while working out on a cardio machine at the gym or while I’m rocking each kid to sleep.

Nothing beats the smell and feel of a physical book… Unless you’re a mom who loves to read but lacks the time. Then a tablet beats that hard-cover book. I have yet to really get into audio books, I feel like they’re great for long drives and I don’t take those very often. I want my kids to grow up with a love for books no matter what format it’s in.

Reading with kids digitally and with paper books. A list of favorite books read in 2014.

Our latest digital device is the Samsung Galaxy Tab® 4 NOOK®. It’s easy to hold with it’s 7-inch vibrant display. My son loves watching Elmo song videos on it, and my daughter has enjoyed sharing stories with me.

I can read in the dark while my kids are dozing off in my arms, or on the elliptical when I can’t steady a book. It’s also nice because I can put in some headphones and turn on background music, or even watch a show when I’m done. I always have it with me, and I can pick up reading where I left off while I’m waiting for dance class to end, or stuck in a long line.

This isn’t meant to argue paper books vs digital books, just stating some of the benefits I’ve enjoyed and noticed this year since it’s been my first year as a portable tablet owner. Hopefully next year will be full of just as many or more enjoyable books.

Reading with kids digitally and with paper books. A list of favorite books read in 2014.

What have you been reading lately? What books do you recommend?

Visit this page and tell me what feature you like most about the New NOOK by Samsung, then leave a comment by Monday November 17th and you’ll be entered to win the New NOOK by Samsung which comes in black or white, and loaded with $200 worth of entertainment. The device also has front and rear cameras for picture-taking and epic selfies, GPS, and it’s a fraction of the cost of other popular tablets. My Facebook Fans, Pinterest Followers or Google Plus Followers get one extra entry.

**Winner Alert 11/19** Cynthia who said “I am new to the Nooks. I’ve never own one but looks the information on the BN website I am excited about the parental controls. My daughter is constantly using my Ipad and going to other things that she is not supposed to go to. This feature will definitely keep her from going on Youtube etc.” Is the lucky Random.org winner of the New NOOK by Samsung. Thank you everyone for entering!

Big thanks to Barnes & Noble and The New NOOK by Samsung for sponsoring this giveaway. Samsung sent me a tablet to test for the purpose of the review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget


I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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