Being a blogger, I’ve been privileged to be able to review some wonderful kids books. And it hasn’t been easy! Try as I might, my kids go through peaks and valleys where they love to read (read how I helped them) or hate to read (here’s how I inspire them). In the meantime, some of these books have touched my own heart! Here are my favorites reads for kids. (Feel free to purchase through my direct Amazon referral links!)
What books are your favorite?
Kid’s Books: Top 7 Gifts To Buy For Great Kids
Other than the classics, I’m pretty fussy about children’s book – and so are my kids. But every now and again, one enters my life that tears me up and builds my soul. Like the time my nephew’s wife gifted Amelia with a certain book about a rainbow colored fish. I cried when I got to the end of that, because, as you know, I’m a softie.
Several years later, I’m looking for that next life-changing book and at last, I’ve found it! “Audrey Bunny” is one of those rare pull-your-heart-out-then-make-smile books. I’ve read it a dozen times and I’m *just* getting over crying at the same time.
It’s the story of a stuffed bunny who resides in a barrel in a children’s boutique. She’s not like the other bunnies or toys in the barrel. She has a great big smudge on her chest that no child who’s picked her up can remove. And so, she keeps getting dropped back into the barrel…until one little girl comes back to the store and takes her home.
She even names her!
Audrey Bunny has never been so happy, but she still has that spot that she believes one day will be her doom. She works hard to hide it from Caroline, until one day, the little girl brings her to Show & Tell. Oh no! She’ll be returned to the barrel for sure when Caroline discovers the spot!
So what happens next?? Uh uh. I’m not telling. All I’m going to say is that Amelia ADORES this book. She made me read it every night when we first got it. Now, all I have to do is start and she’ll drop any other book.
When you get to the last, beautiful, poignant scene in the book, turn the page and you’ll find scripture – Psalm 139:14. It follows with just a few lines of discussion of how we are made in God’s image and how much He loves us with some questions.
Forget my typical “good,” “bad” and “overall” review format. RUN RIGHT OUT AND BUY THIS BOOK!! Every Christian should read this to their child. If your child has special needs, medical issues, or is adopted, this book fits live a glove. I think Amelia took to this book because she is becoming aware, I believe, that she’s not like the other kids. While I am having a difficult time with prayer and scripture time, this book has somehow reached into her soul and comforted her.
And me, too. It’s just a lovely, sweet story that’s an allegory for how much God adores us, faults and smudges all. I highly recommend it – but beware. You may be reaching for the tissues when you read it too.
2. Floppy Cat
I actually get a lot of offers to review children’s books, and I’m always hesitant because neither of my children can properly read yet. However, the story of “Floppy Cat” by Kari Kay is one that I had no trouble with!
It’s the story of a cat who is disabled..he can’t walk properly, he can only “flop.” After watching other animal friends playing baseball, a sport he cannot do, he asks why he is floppy. Based on a real cat, Floppy is an enjoyable read that teaches a child to embrace their abilities, accept their disabilities, and live a full life either way.
Oh, and my kids? They LOVE this book! Even Zoe, who I will admit, does not have the patience for books. She loves them with bright, vibrant pictures, but if I read the words she loses it. But she was engaged by the bright colors, the cats, and all the farm animals, so I told her the story instead.
What’s lovely about this book is that if you are reading it to a child with a disability, you can easily slide into “be proud of who you are” or “you are exactly as God made you and I love every bit of you”…even if your child does not talk! I loved this book even if the meter of the poems is a little off. Amelia actually let me read most of it to her, and she too loved the cat. In the end, the author invites readers to visit the website and share their dreams and goals … I LOVE that part! I give this book HIGH points for message and art. It’s a great book for anyone’s collection, but I think it’s really good for special needs kids.
Purchase Floppy Cat at Amazon on my affiliate link.
3. Can’t Wait Willow
How do you teach your kids to say no to something good so they can save up for something great? A tricky endeavor, at best. Well, the children’s book “Can’t Wait Willow” has the solution! I received a copy for review from Flyby Promotions.
This book is a fun adventure of Willow on her way to the circus, which she’s been waiting for a long time. En route, Willow is distracted and wastes her time and money on things that she likes, but ends up missing the circus! This book does a great job of showcasing the little distractions (like an ice cream truck) and making you feel bad that she misses the great event. Don’t worry though – “Can’t Wait Willow” has a happy ending with a valuable lesson learned. It comes with a guide at the front to help your child better walk through and engage the books. Lovely illustrations accompany Willow’s journey. In addition, you can go to the website, www.AlwaysShineBright.com, to find games, activities and more.
I liked this book and so did the girls, but they put notes about the lesson of the book at the front. I prefer it at the back – if I read that part, I lose my kids right away! That was my only complaint.
Well done! I do recommend this book, written by Christy Ziglar, the niece of legendary Zig Ziglar. This book is easy and fun, and I recommend it as a great holiday gift.
If you have a tween or tween, you are probably familiar with the following word:
I can tell you, I sure am! For a girl who doesn’t speak very well, Amelia sure has mastered this word in all its forms:
- the under-the-breath “whatever”
- the flat out “I’m letting you know I’m not gonna do this in any kind of Christian spirit whatsoever” version in answer to telling her to do something
- and she’s really mastered this one>> “What. EVER.”
Yikes. Never has a single word struck so much…angst in a parent.
Now a children’s book comes along from Shine Bright Kids and Christy Ziglar. You may remember this author from my review of “Can’t Wait Willow.” In “Whatever Wanda!” a family trip to the Rubber Duck Day festival leaves a girl in a surly mood. From the moment she rolls out of bed, Wanda approaches everything with a bad attitude, from waking up (“WHATEVER!”) to when kids wave hello at the event (a quiet “Whatever.”) Oh my gosh, I recognized my child in every page of this book! While Amelia pouted through the reading, my barely-verbal child became more and more engaged as I acted out the “whatever’s.” Zoe thoroughly enjoyed this book even the ending. I won’t ruin the details but I can tell you that Wanda’s attitude adjustment is helped by a grown up – so yes, you even get tips on how to help a child through a bad attitude.
Like all Shine Bright Kids books, “Whatever Wanda!” begins with advice for adults from author Christy Ziglar, financial planner, mother of twins and niece of the legendary motivator, Zig Ziglar. Through the book, kids can look for the star (Zoe noticed it straight off) and figure out how the star is feeling – which tracks along as a reaction to Wanda’s attitude. Funny thing is, I read this book and thought of my own childhood and the times I refused to give up the pout at events that *could* have been fun if I had let them. Wanda’s experience rings true for kids who are in a bad mood and get “stuck” and shows how a helpful adult can bring around change – without wimping out and with letting her know gently how her mood ruined her own day.
I recommend this book! Bright, beautiful and engaging, “Whatever Wanda!” is perfect for kids to understand before they have attitude issues. Zoe got a kick out of it.
How do we teach kids about their gluten-free lifestyle? This is a great question. There are no easy answers, particularly when your child is new to a diagnosis or restricted eating plan and has learning disabilities.
But there is help out there. “Willie Villie Meets Casey Kramps in Sprueville: A Book About Celiac Disease” is a book that I was given by the author, Elena Torsiello, to share with my children.
“Willie Villie” is the story of a boy, Casey Kramps, who is sad that he can’t eat the way his friends do. Honestly, I think my girls picked right up on that. Then, an alien named Willie Villie lands and shares the story of his gluten-free planet. Along the way, Willie teaches Casey about why his stomach hurts when he eats the wrong foods, how he feels about having Celiac Disease himself and the vast amount of substitute foods that are out there.
My kids love this book! They can’t get enough of it, despite the fact that there are some flaws (like a missing punctuation here and there). But that’s ok, because getting my kids to sit and listen to a story with lots of words is a challenge. I had no such issues with this book. Something about the drawings attracted them and they loved the happy food ending. This book is a keeper and easy to work in our nightly routine, once a week. In fact, to be honest, I’ve had more success reading this book to the girls at the same time than any other. At the end, Torsiello even includes 10 helpful hints for parents to deal with a diagnosis of Celiac Disease and how to go gluten-free – my kind of book.
6. Peppa Pig Plush Toy & “The Muddy Puddles“
“Peppa Pig and the Muddy Puddles” by is the delightful story of a little girl pig, Peppa, who wants to play in a muddy puddle – unfortunately, there’s no mud after the rain storm because the whole town is flooded! Instead of playing, Peppa gets in a boat with her grandfather and they help everyone in the town. I love how she plunges in and helps during a crisis, while wishing and hoping for her puddles. And good for her, because in the end, she gets her wish once the flood recedes.
And the kids?
The girls loved this book! They were distracted when we started reading as usual, but once the mud puddles came into play, they laughed and enjoyed it. (They themselves are great mud puddle enthusiasts, as I can tell from their school boots which came home yesterday!)
The book is based on the TV series, Peppa Pig, which I’m new to but sounds like a great show. It’s hardcover (and it’s just precious!) and retails for $12.99. You can get to know Peppa at her website with activities and clips, and join in contests and fun activities at Peppa Pig’s official US Facebook page or on Twitter.
The package also came with the Peppa Pig plush toy – Hug ‘n Oink™ Peppa. She’s adorable! You squeeze her and she says the most adorable things about how she loves to be hugged – or she oinks. It’s too much! I thought I’d die from cuteness. I let Zoe sleep with her because we both just squealed when we saw and heard her:
7. Author Interview: Tim Davis, “Squiggly’s Race to the Ark“
“Squiggly’s Race to the Ark” is a children’s book about a snail’s journey to get onto Noah’s ark. Squiggly is uncertain and has no self-confidence and is beset by trials on the way to the ark, but his journey has a purpose. I LOVED this book! It’s a real inspiration about the purpose and importance of those who go it slow, kinda like a kid I know and love… 😉 I was truly blessed to interview the author, Tim Davis.
Tim, tell us a little bit what inspired you to write “Squiggly”?
10 years ago, my wife and I were living the good life, until she became seriously ill, and wanted to start going to church. I didn’t know how to approach it, so I did it like I was attending a seminar: taking notes and applying what I learned. Eventually, we got saved and continued on there. Then 3 years ago, my pastor said in a sermon, “by perseverance, even the snail made it to the ark”. That struck a chord with me, and by the next morning, I had the whole story for “Squiggly’s Race to the Ark” in my head. I wrote it down envisioning it as a business book for adults, similar to “Who Moved My Cheese”.
God had other plans. I showed the manuscript to my wife, who asked me, “When did you start writing children’s books?” I showed it to others and fter the 5th person thought it was a children’s book, God asked, “Are you ever going to listen?” I thought, we don’t have kids and we’re not involved with children’s ministry…what do I know about writing a children’s book? I shared it with Robert McGee, of New Life International, and he told me they decided to publish it as a children’s book, but the rest was up to me. I reflected on my childhood when I struggled with what my talents were. I called on those memories to write the story. If you tell a child they are gifted in something, they own that. What would happen if I brought the assessments that I did for business clients into a format that parents could use? We would be helping the next generation discover their purpose rather than struggle with, “What am I supposed to be when I grow up?”
This journey came from hearing the word of God, then obeying. I wandered off track a few times while developing this idea, but God always brought me back. The book has only been out a few weeks, but we’ve had great feedback. There is no other explanation except that it is divinely inspired – when God speaks, people respond and that brings success.
I heard you say, “One idea could change your life”. This is something I’ve experienced in my journey as a mom of two children with special needs. What would you say to the parents of children with disabilities, to help their children find this one idea?
This is one of those concepts that is so powerful, it becomes cliché, and then people don’t think about it. We are here for a purpose. As a Christian, I believe that purpose is to serve others. When we live authentically within our gifts, we inspire others, but mostly we never know that who we inspire. We have to own that. What I mean by “owning it” is that just the act of living your life makes a difference and we should embrace that. Like Squiggly, we need the courage to get up and move forward. He felt undeserving, doubtful, and hurt about his abilities, but it was those abilities that saved all the other animals. It’s important to know that everyone is leaving a trail for someone else. I think that for special needs parents, the act of just moving forward daily can be an inspiration for other parents. We all observe other people, those we know personally and those whose books we read or conferences we attend. They are all leaving trails but it’s up to you to follow.
Parents with special needs kids know that a lot of the meetings we attend with experts, teachers, psychologists, etc., focus on our kids’ weaknesses and improving them, yet, I’m convinced that we need to focus on their strengths. What would you say to a parent who is struggling to find strengths in their child who has disabilities? Once found, how would you tell a parent to communicate that to others?
We think of gifts as something tangible – for example, you may think of making a craft as a gift because you’re left with the product. When we look at kids, we have to remember that the intangible can be a gift. For many children with Down syndrome, their joyful attitude is their gift. In our church, we have a young man with muscular dystrophy. He is in a wheelchair, barely has use of one hand to steer it, and it is hard to understand his speech, but he always has a positive word of encouragement every time I see him. That, too, is a gift.
We tend to focus on the negative because it’s easier, but we need to train ourselves to focus on the positive and drill it into ourselves until it becomes a habit. It takes discipline. I tell my clients who are trying to master new habits to post the habit on notes everywhere until it becomes second nature. Remember that focusing on the negative doesn’t advance you or your child, or anyone else. Find your child’s great positive and help them to own it.
Talk to me more about doing the thing you enjoy. This is something I struggle with, I think many of us are raised to connect enjoyment with something wrong or sin. What do you say to people who have gifts and enjoy doing them, but somehow feel guilty because these gifts are enjoyable? We are also told that we cannot make a living with certain gifts, such as creative talents.
Remember that the enemy seeks to kill, steal and destroy our joy. Also, remember that your gift improves the lives of others, but we need to balance that with making a living. I’d advise people to ask God to give you a creative mind about how to expand your gift to make money. Seek out mentors who’ve left their Squiggly trail behind making a living monetizing their gifts. For example, my books don’t bring me in more than a few dollars, but my income comes from speaking. I’d say you need to pray and talk to others who’ve come before. Find the Squiggly trail – and then develop the courage to follow the steps of those who’ve come before.
A lot of my readers have or are interested in their own parenting blog, or their own business. I also have many clients who are providing services to the special needs community. Some of them struggle to understand branding, and how it affects them. Assuming they have found their gift, what would you tell them to help pursue it?
You have to believe in your passion. My wife decided to start a blog about her weight loss story. I reminded her that she is competing with “The Biggest Loser” and a whole host of other blogs and shows that also tell weight loss stories. She needed to stand out from the crowd. One day, we sat down and brainstormed basic words, nouns, and adjectives. After a long time, we came up with “Slim Down”, then we went back to the drawing board and looked at more words. We selected “Slim Down Diva”, and then secured the URL, Twitter name, and Facebook page, and she started sharing. Writing from the heart is key. The blog has been live for a year, but we are still not where we need to be, and that is fine because these things take time. As John Maxwell says, “It takes 30 years to become an overnight success”. You have to start somewhere, and then you have to persevere.
I’d also advise people that in addition to being unique and authentic (creating a memorable title and writing the heart), seek mentors. Finally, remember that perception does equal reality. For example, how your website looks affects how people respond to it and whether they will return. Be creative, and understand that it takes time. Study marketing, too, and remember, don’t give up!
Thanks, Tim, for sharing your story and your wonderful book.
Share your favorite kids’ books with me in a comment!