The Importance of Reading

Reading - Usborne Books

I love to read. I love to be ensnared by a great book that begs me to read it all night, staying up way too late with a wholly inappropriate amount of respect for how quickly morning will come. We have an absolute ton of books in our house, bookcases in every room with books spilling out, waiting for us to buy and fill another bookcase.

I’ve been reading to my kids since before they could comprehend what they were hearing. Lakin’s first book was The Hobbit, read aloud when she was 4 months old, and followed immediately by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Of course we owned dozens of board books and borrowed even more from our local library, and these were read throughout each day and at bed time every night. It seems to have worked, as my girls learned to read at a very young age, and have become eager aficionados of the written word.

I kept our very favorite books from the older girls’ baby and toddler years. I was pretty sure I was done having kids, but I just couldn’t part with my favorites — Sandra Boynton books, Is Your Mama a Llama?, and That’s Not My Kitten. I still have The Going to Bed Book memorized, 13 years later. These books are a little bedraggled-looking now, from being well-loved and then carted around in boxes and on shelves for a decade or so, but when I pulled them out for Katie, they were instant hits.

That’s Not My Kitten is the book that started me on my current path, actually. I have such amazing memories of reading it to Lakin and Addah, with such inflection in the words to create excitement — “That’s not MY kitten! That kitten is toooo fluffy!” and finally, on the last page, we would all say “THAT’S my kitten!” and then take turns feeling it’s fuzzy ears. I didn’t realize there were more books in that series… or I’d have bought them all!

I was in the bookstore not long ago with Katie, perusing the baby/toddler board books, when I saw That’s Not My Monster. I bought it immediately, and it was just as much fun to read as its’ kitty cat counterpart. Imagine my surprise when a Google search turned up more than 30 books in this series now, all available through Usborne books. I clicked through to a consultant’s Usborne shop, and proceeded to spend a whole lot of time window shopping, just amazed at how many great books there are. More than 80% of the books for sale through Usborne are under $10, which is definitely good news for our book loving family.

Seeing just how many new books there are on the Usborne book’s site made my wheels start turning… and I felt inspired! Maybe I could sell Usborne books? I certainly feel passionately about books and literacy, and the importance of reading to children as often as possible. The more I thought about it, I realized that it’s really the perfect marriage of my love for books and my desire to stay at home with my kids and still bring in an income.

I kicked around the idea for a week or two, and finally decided that yes, I can sell Usborne books! (And you can too… and if you’re interested in talking about the benefits of doing so, please feel free to send me an email!)

Book Party Invitation - Usborne Books

So there it is… and I’m excited to offer you all an invitation to my very first e-show (and a giveaway)! If you place an order through my show link between now and March 31, you will automatically be entered to win a free book! The winner will be randomly selected using a random number generator, and if you don’t have the funds to shop now, don’t worry, because I’m planning to make this a monthly event and giveaway!

This new business venture couldn’t come at a better time for little Katie, who is just starting to develop a love for books that I know will follow her throughout her life. Earlier today, she was sitting on the floor at my feet, turning the pages of one of her First Words board books, having a lovely baby-babble conversation with the kitties and puppies on the pages. I think she actually plays with her books more than she plays with her multitude of Little People… and that’s just fine with me.

Follow my Usborne Books and More page on Facebook for updates on shows, sales, and giveaways!

Ten Books That I Read Over and Over

Ten Books That I Read Over and Over | The Destiny Manifest @eatherhaelo

I love to read. I pick up new books all the time, at the library, borrowed from friends via Nook and in person, and I read every one of them. I have many bookcases filled to the brim with fiction, non-fiction, poetry, cheesy romance novels, reference books on gardening, parenting, pregnancy, homesteading, knitting… and that’s not even getting into the shelves stuffed full of children’s books!

There are certain books that I read over and over, never tiring of their story and characters. These books have banged-up covers and dog-eared pages. Some of these books have been with me since I was a teenager, and I refuse to replace them with shiny new versions, because these are the ones I fell in love with. I won’t list them all at one time, so here are just ten books that I read over and over. I highly recommend every one.

Alas, Babylon: If you haven’t read this book, you really should. I’ve read this book dozens of times and never get tired of reading this inspiring post-Apocalyptic tale of the survival of the human spirit.

Alive: An amazing and inspirational true story about tragedy and the depth of human endurance. This story stays with me long after I finish reading it, every time.

Amazonia: This book would make a fantastic movie! It’s a page-turner that you can’t put down (even when you’ve read it 476 times and already know what’s going to happen). James Rollins does an epic job of delivering beautiful, descriptive scenery and strong characters in a story filled with suspense and action and intrigue.

Great Expectations: A true classic, and for good reason. This was required reading in high school, and I fell in love with young Pip, the beautiful but cold Estella and Mrs. Havisham in her eternal wedding dress. My mother gave me a hardbound copy for my 15th birthday, and it’s one of my most treasured possessions. If you haven’t read it yet, you really ought to.

Water for Elephants: My sister read this book first and recommended it to my mother, who recommended it to me. I figured I’d read one chapter and see how it went. I finished the book in two days, and it only took me that long because I have children who require my attention from time to time. Water for Elephants is set during Prohibition, and is full of fascinating details about traveling circuses. Such a beautifully told story – eloquent, engaging, and realistic. (Also, the novel was originally written as part of NaNoWriMo!)

The Help: I read this for the first time, cover to cover, on our drive from South Carolina to Texas. The complex nature of black/white relationships in the South is not an easy one to cover well, and Kathryn Stockett does a very good job of showing both sides of this coin: abuse and mistrust coupled with attachment and love.

Gone with the Wind: I did a book report on Gone with the Wind when I was in the 7th grade. I have read this book dozens of times in the 20 years since then, and every time I feel an entire range of emotions, good, bad and ugly, which is exactly why I read it over and over. It is a masterpiece and I will never tire of having my heart wrenched by Margaret Mitchell’s war-torn South.

Summer Sisters: I love this story so much! The relationship between Caitlin and Vix reminds me of my best friend Lee and I. Our friendship is so similar, and I can identify with so many of the growing pains and experiences that these two characters share. This book makes me feel nostalgic, a little sad, and a lot grateful for having such a wonderful friendship in my life.

Timeline: It is so easy to get lost in this book. It is a fascinating read, and always makes me drift into fantasies about the possibilities of time travel, the good and the bad that could come from such a thing. I love most anything by Michael Crichton, and this book is one of his best. I love the movie, but I love the book so much more!

Smashed – Story of A Drunken Girlhood: I was this girl, the writer, in many ways, flushing my life down the alcoholic tubes. As I got better and stopped drinking, I found this book and I really related to it. I am recovered from that time in my life, but I still read this book every year or so, to remember where I was, and the person I don’t want to be anymore.

What books do you read over and over? What makes you love them?

Top 10 Books for Kids Ages 9 to 12

Best Books for Older Kids Ages 9 10 11 12

I’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Books for Kids Ages 9 to 12, based on an informal poll of my library-loving tween daughters, their friends, our family, and my own youthful reading habits. If you haven’t read any (all!) of these great books, I encourage you to pick them up and enjoy! You’re never too old for a great kid’s book!

Anything by Rick Riordan:  My girls enjoyed the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, but they really loved the Kane Chronicles series, particularly the first book. Our copy of The Red Pyramid is held together with several layers of clear packing tape and has been read countless times by both girls. The books are cleverly written adventures that explore ancient Egyptian mythology and the world of magic. Every time Lakin or Addah read Riordan books, they become utterly immersed in the world inside the pages, emerging only to laughingly read a particularly witty section out loud to me.

The Chronicles of Narnia: A classic series, and for good reasons. Talking animals, adventures with mythical beasts, magic and mystery and fantasy combined with the fight between good and evil… what’s not to love?

Guardians of Ga’Hoole: My oldest adores this book series, which follows a young barn owl and teaches a message of leadership and friendship.

Island of the Blue Dolphins: What an amazing novel this is! I must have read this a thousand times as a child… couldn’t get enough of this tale of Karana, who survives alone for 18 years on an island in the Pacific Ocean. She is a tenacious heroine who overcomes incredible obstacles, from the constant need to forage for food and water, how to clothe herself and dealing with the death of her little brother. I highly recommend this for kids and adults. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.

The Hobbit: Excellent for reading out loud to younger kids, and perfect afternoon reading for tweens, this prequel to the Lord of the Rings books follows Bilbo Baggins on his adventures across the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood forests of Middle Earth. Definitely worth reading (even for adults!) before you see it at the movie theater!

Little House on the Prairie: Oh, how I loved the Little House books when I was a girl! I read the first two books to my girls at a young age, and I was thrilled when they became old enough to read the entire series themselves. I still read these once a year or so, just to get lost in the world of Ma and Pa, Mary, Carrie and Grace, Laura and Almanzo.

Dragon Rider: The Dragon Rider books are long, but an easy read for the 9 to 12 year old crowd. This tale of a young dragon who sets out in search of the legendary ancestral home of the dragons enchants kids and makes for a great read-aloud book for younger kids too.

The Last Dragon Chronicles (series): These are Addah’s absolute favorite books and she’s been working her way through the series for the last couple months. Each book in the series highlights a different clay dragon with unusual powers and the adventures that ensue telepathically. She highly recommends them… in fact, she’s insisting that I need to read them now.

A Wrinkle in Time (series): This trilogy is a great read for kids who struggle with fitting in, feeling lonely, or who have dealt with loss. Both of my girls checked these books one out of the library enough times that we bought our own copies.

Harry Potter (series): Of course! Lakin has read up through Prisoner of Azkaban and Addah is halfway through the first book. I’ve read all of them many times (my favorite is the last one, and I cry every time). I will encourage the girls to read them all, for the amazing characters and story and the lessons learned within.

The books that stand out the most from when I was this age are books that my kids haven’t yet read, but they’re on our list to be checked out from the library. I loved Bridge to Terabithia, Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret,  Misty of Chincoteague, Tuck Everlasting (oh how I loved this one!), The Secret Garden, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Girl Who Owned a City, and Roald Dahl’s Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, and so many more. I was one of those kids who spent my free time devouring books like my life depended on it!

What were your favorite books when you were 9-12 years old? Leave a comment and add your top picks!