January Books and Book Goals

As long as I can remember I have loved reading. Last year I had a goal to read 100 books. I hit that goal with 105 books. Although I feel like I cheated a little bit and counted some of the chapter books I read with my kids in there. This year I decided on repeating my goal of reading 100 books, but I want to limit it to books only I am reading. I will keep track separately of the chapter books I read to the kids. My other book goal is to be better at documenting what I read. Last year I just kept track on Goodreads and just gave a quick 1-5 star rating of each book. I also keep an email drafts of a quick reference of books I’ve read too. (Basically the same system as Goodreads. I don’t know why I do both…habits?) But aside from that I didn’t keep good track. What book was my favorite from 2018? I’m not sure. What books would I recommend? I’m not sure. Who would I recommend them to? I’m not sure. I wanted to do better this year.

My other book goals for 2019 is help my kids ENJOY reading. I’ve always read to them. I’ve been reading picture books since they were born, and I ADDED chapter books when Ryan was about 4 and Lillian was about 3. (Chapter books DO NOT replace picture books, we still read those as well!) And they love listening to me read, but now that Ryan is a reader I want him to find the joy that reading brings me. I don’t want it to be a chore to check off, I wanted him to chose to pick up books and read them for fun! (Lillian too, although she isn’t a fluent reader quite yet.)

Last year I started following a few book Instagram pages that are geared to mom’s with kids and books. They have kid books, but also grown up suggestions as well, just what I was looking for. I also started following their blogs and love their tips! First, there is Everyday Reading. She has great suggestions on teaching your kids to love to read, and she has great book suggestions! I also love Read Aloud Revival. She is a home school mom that is passionate about reading, and having kids who enjoy reading as well!

After reading both these blogs and following along with them for awhile, I felt like I had a decent amount of tools to start implementing not only with my goals of teaching my kids the joys of reading, but helping me reach my goals of documenting my reading better (and hitting my goal of 100 books this year-about 8 books a month)! In January Read Aloud Revival has a read aloud challenge for kids. (Although you could do it any time!) The challenge was to have each kid read out loud for 10 minutes a day, for all of January. (Really 26/31 days because life happens.) Super easy right? Ryan does read aloud for about 10 minutes a day for school, but its always been kind of a challenge to get him to do it, and we weren’t consistent.  Some days he’d skip and I’d just count my reading to him as a win. Well this challenge, I set down with my kids and I told them about this challenge. Read Aloud Revival sends a calendar page for January that you print out and have the kids mark off every day they read. She encourages you to find a great prize that the kids get at the end if they accomplish the challenge. I gave some ideas of a prizes for the kids, and they decided if they read for 26/31 days they would get to go to Dairy Queen. Done. The first few days was kind of like pulling teeth. Neither kid was thrilled about it, and they didn’t want to read for 10 minutes, they wanted to get it done quickly. I would just remind them of the challenge and they would grudgingly do it. They started to love writing their initials on the calendar and seeing how good they were doing. After about a week, it wasn’t such a chore for them and they’d remind me that they needed to do their reading. After about two weeks they were starting to forget to set the timer, and when I would remind them after about 5 minutes to set a timer, they would set it for the whole ten minutes. After about 3 weeks both kids were picking up books when they were bored or had downtime. At that point Ryan was starting to want to read at night after his ten minutes were up. One night he stayed up 2 1/2 hours past his bedtime reading. Lillian had more confidence in sounding out words and trying to read herself (something she never did before.) Both kids read EVERY day in January. They didn’t want to miss one single day. They’d pack books in the car, or take them to a restaurant just to make sure they got in their reading. It was like magic.  We all went to Dairy Queen to get our treats and talked about what we learned, what books were our favorites, and which we didn’t love as much. It was so special! I also made sure the kids knew I was doing this too, and I would tell them when I finished a book, or how many books I had been reading as well.

During this challenge Ryan went through SO many books. He found a few chapter books that he LOVES and its been amazing see him enjoy reading. I did try to have him read one of the chapter books I normally read aloud to him, that he really likes. He read one in the series and told me he doesn’t enjoy reading those, he’d rather listen. He also told me that he’d rather read a different series that he does enjoy reading! (Those were his words, it connected for him that there are books that he ENJOYS!)

Since Lillian isn’t a fluent reader I tried getting her to just look at the pictures and tell the story either how she remembered it, or what she sees in the pictures, but she refused. I would try to get her to “read” and she’d cry. That was the opposite of what this challenge was meant to do, and the opposite of what I wanted for her…to enjoy books. So We brainstormed more. The challenge was for kids to read aloud themselves, and I wanted to hold true to that challenge and not just read to her. We finally came up with combining both of those. I’d read it and she’d repeat what I was reading. This worked like a charm and she loved “reading!” She was even confident enough to pick some chapter books for her to read. It was pure magic! Both my kids were wanting to read!  Its now part way through February, and my kids have both read aloud EVERY day this year. Neither of them have wanted to skip. They want to do it, its not me making them anymore!

With all of them reading I am still trying to find time to read to them at night. I would read about 2 chapters each night to them, but most nights Ryan just wants me to read one chapter so he can go read himself. But there are lots of books that he isn’t quite ready to read himself yet, but that he really enjoys hearing, so we do both!

Everyday Reading has so many tips on helping your kids enjoy reading I definitely recommend checking out her site as well. Here are some of the tips of hers that have worked well for us:

Its OK to quit a book. If your kid isn’t into it, stop reading. This is about the joy of reading, not finishing books. Sometimes Ryan doesn’t want to try a new book, and I tell him to give it a few pages and if he still doesn’t like it we will move on. He hasn’t quit a book yet, but the option definitely helps him TRY new books.

If a kid likes a certain type of book, get them those books for them to read. (Yes its good to introduce a variety of books so they know whats out there…but if they love something let them read it!) Ryan got really into Dogman books, a graphic novel. (Comic book meets a chapter book). He used his money and bought a lot of them and I have bought books for him that are the same style.

Audio books are wonderful and totally count!

Another thing I got from Read Aloud Revival is that when they are reading for fun don’t have them work on sounding out words/phonics. If they need help on a word tell them the word. Don’t do the “you know what it is…sound it out…etc.” When you are struggling to read its not fun! She also did a great video on book journals!

A book journal was EXACTLY the type of thing I was looking for for my goal of documenting my books. I could tailor it exactly to me. The things I wanted to remember about the books I read, how I rated them, how long they were, whatever I wanted! I also thought it might be fun for the kids to journal their books. I wanted them to remember what books they loved and which they didn’t. I was afraid that when I told the kids that I wanted them to read, then write about it they would freak out! They didn’t! Both kids LOVE writing their journals. I bought book journals for them that has all the questions, they just write the answers. I told them they could even do a smiley face for what they thought of the book because this wasn’t another chore. I wanted this to be fun for them. I also showed them my journal and talked about my book goals with the kids. (Which they ask me about all the time!) I see them read, and they see me read. I see them journal, and they see me journal. So amazing seeing all this come together.

I would say my goal for having my kids enjoy reading as been met.  Even though they enjoy reading now, its a goal that I need to keep working on with them. I need to help them enjoy reading, and it will be an ongoing thing for us, but now that I have these tools, and we have a routine, I feel confident that this will be a life long habit for us!

Every month I’d love to do a highlight on the books I’ve read, and the books the kids love as well. I’ve debated posting my books because I would not recommend some of them to everyone. So just because I read it, doesn’t mean its a good fit for you. So no judging!

Some of the Kids’ favorite books of January

Really Big Treehouse series: Ryan has read The 13 story Tree House, and the 26 Story Tree House and has really liked them. He has stayed up late reading these ones, and has requested more in the series. (Chapter books)

Dogman 1-6. Ryan loves Dogman. He read the first three in one night. He saw some of his friends reading this series and he wanted to read them too. I told him I’d buy the first three to try out. He read them all in one night and said he would buy the other 3 himself. The 7th comes out in August 2019 and he can’t wait for that one.  (Dogman is by the creators of Captain Underpants another series he really enjoys.) (Graphic Novels)

Princess in Black. Ryan and Lillian both enjoy this series about a princess who goes undercover as a super hero. (Chapter books)

Lily Huckleberry in Scandinavia: Lillian loves this one. Its a LONG picture book. It took us several days for her to read this one out loud, but no chapters. Its about Lilly who has a magic globe that takes her to Scandinavia to save the strawberries from the Vikings. We love this one. (Picture Book)

Lola Dutch and Lola Dutch when I Grow Up: Lillian loves this spunky girl who is just too much! (The book cover also has paper dolls that you can cut out and when you take off the book cover it turns into a background to play with your paper dolls on. (Picture Book)

Water Land: Is a beautiful picture book with not many words.  It shows the different water/land types (Island, lake, bay, gulf, etc.)   (Picture Book)


Here are the books I read in January. Not all are appropriate for everyone so keep that in mind! Also I LOVE almost every book I read! I also read 12 books this month which is A LOT. I don’t think I’ll hit that every month and maybe not even come close!

Overseas by Beatriz Williams: I have heard of Beatriz Williams and have been wanting to read her books for ages. Historical fiction/Romance books. I’m on the third one of hers, and I’m still not sure I can say I LOVE her…but I like them enough to keep going. Overseas is set in present day, but there is a time portal that brought a soldier from WWI to present day…There’s love, and a bit of mystery. The language is terrible (“f” words included) and there is some love scenes. I gave it 3 1/2 stars. I read this book on my Kindle.

Magnetic by Carissa Miller: This is a YA book so there is teen drama, that sometimes feels over the top, but that doesn’t phase me at all! I found this book because the author is an interior designer blogger I follow so I felt like I was reading a book a friend wrote. She also went through a similar experience as the protagonist in the story. (Her mom survived in real life though.) Its about a girl whose mom was murdered. The teenage girl has an anger deep inside her and she is rebelling. She can’t control her inner fire that always seems to erupt. Her dad and her move to Oklahoma to live with her Aunt (her mom’s sister) and she discovers more about her mom, and finds love. There’s love, mystery, and a bit of fantasy/paranormal themes as well. I gave this one 4 stars. I read this one on my Kindle.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty: I LOVED this one! This one does have some language (a few “f” words) and maybe some “love” talk (nothing graphic). Its about a 39 year old, almost divorced, mother of three who goes to the gym and passes out. When she comes to she thinks shes 29, happily married, and pregnant with her first child. She has no memory of the last ten years. Shes not sure she likes who she is or where her life is now. I really did love this book! I gave this one 5 stars and I listened to it on Audible.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah: I LOVED this one too. There are mild love scenes and there are some bad words, (I don’t think there are any “f” words. I try to write it down if there are, and my journal doesn’t say if there are…so I’m assuming there aren’t…) Its set in the 1970s about a family who is moving to Alaska to get a fresh start. The dad is a POW from the Vietnam war and is trying to fight his demons and his solution is to move to Alaska. Surprisingly the family does well there…until they don’t. Such a beautiful story that really sticks with you. Its heartbreaking, but there is still hope. It can be heavy so if books affect your moods, this may be a bit much. I gave this one 5 stars and I listened to it on Audible.

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams: Another Beatriz Williams book. I really did enjoy this one, there are a few love scenes that are more graphic in this one than in Overseas that I needed to skip over. There are less “F’ words in this one though. This is a historical fiction book set in the 1930s. Its about young love that doesn’t work out and Lily has moved on…until her long lost love shows up for vacation where she is vacationing married to her best friend…I gave this one 3 1/2 stars, and read it on my Kindle.

AustenLand by Shannon Hale: Just like I’ve been trying to read Beatriz Williams, I have also been working on Shannon Hale books as well. Shannon Hale writes very light hearted, fun books for adults and middle grade (one of my favorite genres!) AustenLand is about a closeted Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth version) mega fan. Her great Aunt finds out her secret and wants Jane to accept that reality can be better than make believe. When the Great Aunt dies she leaves Jane a trip to AustenLand in her will. Jane finds out if real life is better than make believe. I also watched the movie and I liked the movie ok, but I really did love the book. Another good one for me! This one is also pretty squeaky clean and I would recommend it for anyone! I gave this one 4 1/2 stars and listened to it on Audible.

My Bonny Light Horseman by L.A. Meyer: This one is part of the 12 book, Bloody Jack series and this is book #6. I really do enjoy this series that is an old middle grade/YA book (there is teenage love and language, and murder, and stealing, and pirates, oh my!) The series starts out with Jackie Faber who is orphaned at a young age. She lives on the streets until her gang leader is murdered. She steals his clothes and dresses up as a boy and is hired as a ships boy in the Royal Navy until she is found out. Every book takes her on all sorts of adventures. This one she works under cover for the British and infiltrates Napoleon’s army. Shes a cunning girl who gets out of all sorts of scrapes!  I do enjoy this series, but I need to break it up since they are somewhat similar. I gave this one 3.8 stars and listened to this on Audio from the library.

This is where you Belong by Melody Warnick: This is a nonfiction book about falling in love with where you live. She gives you a lot of steps into achieving this. I really enjoyed this book and even though I already love where I live there were definitely tips I picked up for making Seattle even more my home! I highly recommend this to everyone. I gave it 4 stars and listened to it on Audio from my library.

Delancey by Molly Wizenberg: Another nonfiction book about a couple that decides to open a pizza restaurant. The wife goes along with it for awhile thinking its just a fun hobby, but when it gets real she isn’t on board. It talks about the struggles of starting and running a restaurant. It also is set in Seattle so that is extra fun. Going to eat at Delancey’s is now on my bucket list. I really enjoyed this book and it does have some talk of drugs/alcohol and does say the “f” word some, so I guess read with caution. If you can handle that then its a great read! I gave this one 4 stars and listened to it on Audio from my library.

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale: See another Shannon Hale book. This is book 2 set in AustenLand. You can probably read them in either order, but you’ll have a little more background on some characters if you read Austenland first. This is about a woman who is recently divorced and needs an escape from life so she starts reading Jane Austen. She falls hard for Austen novels and decides she needs a vacation to Austenland while her ex-husband has their kids over the summer. Will Austenland help her forget her own troubles? I like this one maybe a little bit more than the original Austenland. Its a little more dark and gothic novelish. Its another fun read that is pretty clean! I gave this one 4 1/2 stars and I read this on my kindle from the library.

A book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale: Told you I was going to read a lot of Shannon Hale. This is a middle grade book so quick, easy, and clean. Its about a servant who gets locked in a tower with her lady for 7 years. When the girls come out of the castle everything is destroyed. Can they save whats left? Its a cute story that I enjoyed. I gave it 3.8 stars and I listened to it on Audio from my library.

Still You by Jojo Moyes: This is book three in the Me Before You series. Lou is trying to find out the person she is, by moving to New York to work as an assistant to a depressed rich young wife. Nothing is ever smooth sailing for Lou and this book is no exception. I really enjoyed this book. I love Me Before You. I didn’t care for Still Me, but I loved this one! It tied everything together! This one has some love scenes and some “f’ words so read with caution, but it is a great story! I gave this one 4 stars and I listened to this one on Audio from my library.

And here are our book journals. Mine is on the left and Ryan’s is on the right (Lillian’s looks just like Ryan’s).




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