10 Books to Read with Your Young Children

It gripped me this year as school began that I only had three years left with Libbie truly under my wings; she will be almost 6 by the time she goes to kindergarten but still, it doesn’t seem long enough! We love reading together, and I try to make a point of choosing some books that open spiritual conversations with her. Here are seven that I love (including some series, so really, a lot more!) and three that I think I would love.


1. Gigi, God’s Little Princess series (and I would assume Will, God’s Mighty Warrior series as well) – I love the OH SO PINK illustrations in the Gigi books as well as the message. Mr. V tells Libbie every night now, "Good night, princess. Sweet dreams." I just love Sheila Walsh’s sense of humor that makes these books readable for parents, too.

2. The Parable of the Lily by Liz Curtis Higgs – A recommendation from Amanda (as MANY of these have been!), this book is an Easter parable by prolific author Higgs (see my review of Mine Is the Night here).  A daughter is given a gift that she finds pretty worthless: a flower bulb in a crate of dirt. But she finds out maybe it was the most beautiful gift of all.

3. Miss Fannie’s Hat by Jan Karon – More pink, more fun, great Bible verse to memorize, wonderful lesson about giving. See my post at Impress Your Kids with some craft ideas to go along with the book!

4. Just Like Jesus Said series by Melody Carlson – Melody Carlson is another author who writes for children, teens, and adults. This set of four books convey stories in rhyme and help teach basic Bible lessons: sharing, caring, giving.

5. My ABC Bible Verses by Susan Hunt – We haven’t been real methodical about this book yet, especially since the stories are longer with only one picture. Plus, the Bible verses are in KJV. But it teaches practical lessons and I like the idea of doing letter Bible verses! (And we’re going to do these alphabet Scripture cards from I Can Teach My Child, definitely!)

6. Jesus Storybook Bible – Sometimes I wish that EVERY Bible story were in this wonderful Bible. But otherwise, it’s pretty perfect. Every single story points to Jesus and His salvation of the world. Stories are usually three to four pages long, perfect for bedtime. And having Libbie come up to me and say, "Will you read me the Bible?" is just … perfect!

7. God Thinks You’re Wonderful by Max Lucado – Libbie has yet to sit through this entire book, but it’s a sweet concept and I am sure she will with a few more months. It’s so Lucado – the line about "if God had a refrigerator, He would hang your picture on it" just makes me smile!

I’m sure I will think of a zillion other books as soon as I hit publish, but that’s all I can think of for now … but here are three more I haven’t read but think would be great:


8. Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer

9. What Is Easter? by Michelle Medlock Adams [UPDATE: I bought this book before Easter in 2012. While it’s not very "in depth," it’s a good, short read that helps the kids understand what Easter is about.]

10. Heaven, God’s Promise for Me by Anne Graham Lotz

What are your favorite Christ-centered books to read to your kids?


Originally published at Vanderbilt Wife, October 2011. 

Summer Parenting by Jessie Weaver

libbiebeach.jpgI love summers, I really do. As the stay-at-home wife of a teacher, summers are a great opportunity for us to spend a lot of time together as a family. We travel, which we can’t do much together during the school year. We visit parks and museums and try to get outside when it’s not a trillion degrees. We swim and play.

But each year I also realize how difficult it is for my toddlers to adjust to our no-schedule summers.

From a fairly rigid week – two days of Mother’s Day Out, one day of Bible study, church on Wednesday nights, and 8 p.m. bedtime – to a lackadasical schedule that has us darting here and there, being with family often, and leaving no expectations of what might happen throughout the day. This spells TORTURE to a toddler/preschooler who thrives on knowing what’s happening each minute of every day. (The first thing my daughter asks in the mornings is, "Where are we going today?")

And every summer I find myself struggling with disciplining our strong-willed girl (now nearly 4), yelling in anger, wishing for an hour to lay down and read a book. As Libbie’s brother, David, is learning to talk now at 19 months, we’re entering new territory with him as well.


My husband and I are very laid-back, which makes it feel like we’re in constant conflict with our schedule-craving wee ones. I don’t want to plan each day during July. I don’t want to explain to my child yet again why daddy is home and not at work. I don’t want to answer questions about when Christmas is coming again when it’s 103 outside.

But I find, as always, that our quality of life almost always comes around to my attitude and my behaviors more than it does my childrens’. If I stay calm and in control, they will settle down. If I’m willing to make a plan, they are 900% more content. If I write out ideas for three meals a day and shop for the groceries, meal and snacktimes are less harried and happier – and produce much more pleasant kids.

Perhaps you’re nearing the end of your summer … or maybe you are out of school ’til Labor Day. Do you find parenting harder in the summer? Or is it all bliss on your end?

S-S-Stuttering by Christi McGuire

Portrait of Little Confused Girl


Q: My 4-year-old stutters. What should I do?

A: Children between the ages of 2 and 5 often struggle with stuttering because their brains think faster than their language skills allow. According to the National Stuttering Association, the majority of children who stutter stop doing so within a year after its onset. If your child stutters, encourage him in the following ways:

  • Downplay it. Don’t draw attention to his stuttering; instead, let him know you are interested in what he is saying. Give your child extra time to communicate what he wants to say. Don’t frustrate him more by demanding he “hurry up.”
  • Show support. Your facial expressions and body language are as important as what you say to your child. Be patient with him.
  • Slow down. Be a good role model by talking more slowly and enunciating your words.
  • Ask only one question. Allow your child to think about and respond to one question at a time. Answering multiple questions all at once can jumble his thoughts and speech.

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.

Spiritual Development for Little Ones by R. Scott Wiley

little girl

At a young age, your child cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy. To him everything is real and true. As he gets older, he begins to understand more about real versus pretend.

Encourage him to think about the difference. When he tells you a story, ask: “Is this a pretend story or a story about something that really happened?”

Gather a stack of books and videos. Help your child create two stacks–those that tell pretend stories and those that tell things that really happened. Include a Bible. Stress that stories in the Bible are true and really happened.

Thriving Family magazine suggests the following questions for some follow-up dinnertime or bedtime conversation with your child:


  • How can you tell the difference between an imaginary story and a true story? 
  • What’s your favorite movie? Is it true? (Even if a story is based on a true incident, talk about how movie writers change things to make a better story.) Where do movie writers get their ideas?
  • What is your favorite Bible story? Is it true?
  • Who wrote the Bible? Where did these writers get their ideas? (Explain that men wrote what the Holy Spirit told them to write.)
  • What is the difference between a good story from a book and an event in the Bible?
  • Is it possible to know for certain that God’s Word is true? How?


Repeating short phrases from Scripture will acclimate your child to Bible memorization and implant the truth in her heart! Here are some simple ones for preschoolers. 


  • Love one another. 1 John 4:7
  • God loves us. Psalm 117:2
  • Help one another. Galatians 5:13
  • Jesus loves you. John 15:12

Scott Wiley is a curriculum editor, kindergarten Sunday School teacher, and student of many subjects. He blogs at Brick by Brick

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Preschool by Claire Haas

Preschool Colors


How can you be sure that a preschool you’re considering is the best fit for your child?

No longer just a place to play, preschool is now an important part of a child’s education, building a foundation for developing skills that lead to later school success.

According to Claire Haas, vice president of education for Kiddie Academy, “The expectations for school readiness have shifted. Before, kindergarten was the precursor to formal education, it now marks the beginning of a child’s school career with specific state requirements and standards. As a result, the stakes for being ready for school are higher than ever. As such, we’ve evolved our preschool curriculum to encompass academics, as well as developmental and social expectations.”

Here’s a Handy Checklist
Haas offers the following questions to ask when choosing a preschool for your child:
  • Does the preschool program provide curriculum-based education and enrichment activities? Developmentally-appropriate academic programs prepare children to be lifelong learners.
  • How does the facility help to prepare your child to meet state standards? 
  • Evaluate the arts program – are the projects child-driven? Are students given materials with freedom to be creative in constructing the end result, thus expressing themselves through art?
  • Review the physical fitness plan. Does the center provide activities that focus on health and fitness?
  • How is technology integrated into the lessons? Today’s best preschools offer multiple ways to utilize computers and technology to enhance learning experiences.
  • Does the center offer your child a variety of ways to interact with other children throughout the day? By exposing your child to a range of participation formats—independent, small group and large group—your child becomes a more well-rounded individual, better prepared for kindergarten and beyond.
If you’re choosing between several options, take note of how each preschool handles each of these crucial topics. Once you’ve gathered all the data, you’ll have what you need to make an informed decision that’s right for your family.
ParentLife also suggests you take into account whether you want to send your child to a faith-based preschool or not. Talk to other parents, do some research, and see if your church has a preschool. We also acknowledge that sometimes just being at home with mom and dad and siblings is the best choice for your preschool-aged child!
Do you send your kids to preschool? If so, how did you decide on one?
My (Jessie’s) kids go to a two-day Mother’s Day Out program right now. This has been great to give me some time to do freelance work, clean, run errands, or just breathe! But I can see putting my daughter (3.5) in a preschool at least 3 days a week. She will be almost 6 before she starts kindergarten.  
Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source. 

Waiting and Praying by Becky Suggs

Becky's Journal


 37 weeks

For those of you who have had a child before, I can imagine you can relate to the time spent waiting for the arrival of your new baby.  Many people told me this would be the hardest part of pregnancy – those last few weeks when your comfort level is decreasing, sleep doesn’t come as easily, and the inevitable question of “when” weighs heavily on your mind.  

At least, that’s how it is for me. The doctor told me it could be tomorrow or it could be three weeks from now. (While I appreciate his honesty, I would have been fine with him telling me it will be awhile and then if it is earlier, it would be a happy surprise!)

So what do you do to keep your mind occupied and at ease?
I am spending time praying for my baby on the way. It’s not necessarily a set prayer time but more voicing things that come to my mind as I go throughout the day. Here are some things I am praying for:
  • My husband and I as we prepare to become first-time parents. There is so much to learn, but we know God has entrusted this precious gift to us, and we are grateful for this blessing.
  • A safe and healthy delivery. With this being my first child, I don’t know what to expect other than what I’ve read, heard from friends, and learned in childbirth class.
  • A healthy baby girl.  
  • I also spend time praying for our daughter’s future. I pray she will develop a vibrant relationship with the Lord as she grows. I pray she will follow the Lord’s direction for her life. I pray she will see her parents as a true model of Christ before her. I even pray for her future spouse, that he will be growing and maturing in Christ over the many years he has ahead, as well.
What an exciting stage we are at in our lives!  While I pray things will progress quickly, I know God’s timing is perfect regardless of my impatience!


greatest picture.jpg

Becky Suggs and her husband, Robert, live in the mountains of Glorieta, New Mexico, with their pug, Sadie, and new daughter Anderson, born in April. In her spare time, you can find Becky reading, enjoying the great outdoors, filling in squares to the latest crossword puzzle, and spending time with family. She has a passion for both kids and camping ministries.




A Preschooler’s Easter Dictionary

This is an extra bit that expands on the article “Easter & Your Preschooler” in the April 2012 issue.

Águas de Lindóia - Cross
source: Deni Williams via Flickr Creative Commons

Focus on what the Bible says as you talk to your child. Think about some unfamiliar words that your child will hear at Easter. Use these brief definitions:


  • cross — a wooden structure where Jesus died
  • dead — Jesus was dead when they took His body off the cross
  • tomb — Jesus’ body was put in a tomb. A tomb was a place to bury people, usually a cave with a big stone door.
  • alive — God made Jesus alive again to show how much He loves people. God can do things no one else can do.
  • Savior — someone who saves people from danger; the name Jesus means “Savior.”

You may also want to tell your child that even though she cannot see Jesus, she can know He is alive and in heaven because the Bible tells us so.

How do you help your small children understand Easter?

Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?



In a recent survey of over 500 kindergarten teachers around the country, two-thirds of the teachers stated that the children in their classroom were unprepared for kindergarten. Two-thirds of the teachers said that the majority of students do not know their ABCs.

What can you do to prepare your child for kindergarten? Here are some suggestions from teachers.

  • Actively participate in your child’s education with pre-reading and reading activities, such as reading books together and practicing the alphabet.
  • Expose children to new experiences and talk with them about those experiences in order to improve their ability to speak and understand oral language and increase vocabulary.
  • Practice identifying numbers and counting with both verbal and written activities.
  • Work with children to identify shapes, colors, and objects in the world around them.
  • Place children in social settings with other young children so that they can learn together while they also develop manners and the ability to share and be respectful.

Age of Learning, Inc., which conducted the survey, has several online games to help your kids learn and be ready for kindergarten. Access is $7.95 per month.



For free games, you might try SproutOnline.com, or learn Bible verses and ABCs at the same time with the ABC Scripture Series at Impress Your Kids.

What do you think of this survey? Is it valid?

Overwhelmed by Becky Suggs

Here is the third in Becky Suggs’ series on her first pregnancy. Enjoy! You can read the first and second installments if you missed them. 


Day 302


My husband and I visited our first baby superstore last week. We are pregnant with our first child. Not having done much research on baby things, we were really just going to get the lay of the land – to figure out what we were going to need and get a ballpark figure of what it was going to cost.

While I consider both of us fairly educated people (we both have graduate degrees), as we walked down aisle after aisle, we realized just how much we have to learn. We looked at cribs and gliders, strollers and high chairs. We then moved on to bouncy seats and swings, changing tables and car seats. So many frills and fancy gadgets. Where was the basic car seat I sat in when I was little?

Each aisle brought more questions and more realization that we have no idea what we are getting ourselves into! By the time we left the store, my mind had shifted to the thousands of choices we would have to make. How do we decide between the swing that vibrates or the swing that rocks? What about the stroller? I don’t jog, but do I need a jogging stroller in case I start? How will we know what brand of diaper to use? What method will we use to potty train? Where will my child go to preschool … much less, college?

On the drive home, I laughed to myself. Yes, we’ve got a lot of choices to make. Yes, there are a lot of unknowns. But, I think it’s okay if we just start with the small stuff – like picking out a crib this week and maybe researching strollers next week. We have a lot to learn, but this is going to be a great adventure for all three of us!

Do you have any suggestions for Becky? What’s your no-fail product that you love to tell others about?

greatest picture.jpg


Becky Suggs and her husband, Robert, live in the mountains of Glorieta, New Mexico, with their pug, Sadie. They are expecting their first child in April. In her spare time, you can find Becky reading, enjoying the great outdoors, filling in squares to the latest crossword puzzle, and spending time with family. She has a passion for both kids and camping ministries.


Superstore picture used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.

Playtime with Your 1- to 2-Year-Old

Here are a few extras from our Growth Spurts: 1 to 2 Years section.

Texas Bubble DOF Detail

source: andrewmorrell

Fascinate your baby with bubbles and you will both enjoy playtime!

  • Blow bubbles as you are waiting for Daddy to get home, at the bus stop, in the car pool line, or at the doctor’s office.
  • Blow bubbles at the park and watch where they drift away.
  • Blow bubbles in the bathtub to make the bath water sudsy.
  • Blow bubbles so your baby can work on fine motor skills, such as holding the wand.
  • Blow bubbles and pop them as fast as you can.
  • Blow bubbles as you dance to music.

plantoysdrum.jpgYour little one wants to explore her world. As her motor skills develop, she will be interested in stacking, pushing, pulling, and knocking things down! She will want to imitate Mommy in the kitchen and Daddy at the tool bench. Let your child explore unstructured play with the following age-appropriate toys.


  • Building blocks
  • Push-and-pull toys
  • Sorting and nesting toys
  • Soft balls
  • Riding toys
  • Washable crayons and paper
  • Toy kitchen (plastic)
  • Tea set (plastic)
  • Tool set (plastic)
  • Picture books
  • Toy instruments
  • Puzzles
  • Cars, trucks, trains (plastic)
  • Dress-up clothes

Do you have a favorite toy or activity for your 1- to 2-year old? My daughter has loved the Leapfrog Learn & Groove Table since she turned a year old. At 3, she’s growing out of it but my son is about to turn 1!