Children's Picture Books

Winter Solstice|7 Books to Kick-Off the Season #KidsBooks #HolidayBooks #ChristmasBooks

Mouse (2)Winter solstice in sunny Florida is like most days of the year. Sunny. And maybe even a little warmer than usual! We like to pretend there’s a reason to don our winter hats.

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We decorate our house in winter ways with evergreen spruce and red-striped displays.

011For story time this week, I gathered up the winter-themed books from our shelves and opened the children’s eyes to what wintertime can really be like.

7 Books to Kick-Off the Season

 

1. A Book of Seasons by Alice and Martin Provensen

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Seasons2 (2)My six-year old reader adores this book. She reads, re-reads, and reads it again, gleaning all the nuances of the changing seasons.

2. The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant

Relatives (2)We can’t wait for our relatives to come and visit on Christmas day. And not just for the extra presents! Our lives are richer for gathering the generations together, sharing stories, hugs, and being thankful for each time we can see them again.

3. The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader

BigSnow (2)Reading this Caldecott Medal winner, I can almost smell the spruce and shiver from the icy cold. Many of the birds and animals found in this literary treasure are only found north of Florida, unless they are travelling here for the annual winter migration.

4. If You Take a Mouse to The Movies by Laura Numeroff

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My children love reading the “If You Give a _______” series by Laura Numeroff that always end up at back at the beginning.

5. Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story by Sally Lloyd-Jones

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A masterful retelling of the birth of Christ from the perspective of the animals. Sally Lloyd-Jones also wrote the Jesus Storybook Bible, a children’s picture Bible with each story focused on the foreshadowing of the coming King, who is Christ, the Lord.

6. The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats by Andrew Peterson

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Andrew Peterson (one of my favorite musicians) is the writer of the Wingfeather trilogy, singer, songwriter, and now children’s picture book author. I’ve found this book to be a wonderful way to memorize the entire genealogy of Christ with an original song and fun pictures.

7. One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham

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Beloved wife of Billy Graham, Ruth Bell Graham wrote the story of Jesus from creation to His birth in a stable and shares the reason He came from heaven to earth.

In all the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, think about adding these wonderful books to your home library. Take a much-needed break to stop and read them a-loud with your children, sharing what Christmas is truly about.

Blog, Life Skills, Special Needs, Uncategorized

How ‘Georgisms’ Can Help our Kids Succeed|The Importance of Executive Functioning #historyrocks #adulting

Have you ever witnessed a living miracle unfold before your very eyes?

To me, my middle school aged son on the autism spectrum, giving his very first speech in his Classical Conversations class a few weeks ago was miracle enough. His speech was short and he had trouble looking at the audience, but I didn’t care. He overcame his social anxiety, and I beamed at this huge step in his development.

AJ

In class yesterday, he did something that made my jaw drop.

The opening to his speech went like this:

“Do you know how my mom is like our first president? (three second pause) Because she’s always washing a ton!”

His whole class—the kids, the teacher, the other mothers—all laughed.

He had his audience in the palm of his hand.

Then he turned serious and shared how as a boy, Washington accidentally killed his mother’s favorite colt.

All eyes were on my son as he projected his voice, stood confidently, and shared for a minute and a half about the trials and triumphs of our first president.

I sat mesmerized, in awe at my son’s transformation.

My only regret is that I forgot to get out my phone and take a video!

He’s learning. He’s growing. I think he’s going to do all right in life. He may not be president of the United States when he grows up, but I believe by the grace of God, he’ll do something to make a difference in our world.

Have you ever wondered how George Washington became our first president, trusted by the colonists who shed their blood, sweat and tears to create a whole new country set apart from the rule of the King of England?

From historical accounts of his life, we can know that George Washington was a man in control of his words, his body, and his actions.

When he was fourteen years old, Washington wrote out 110 rules to live by.

These rules laid a foundation or framework for him to advance to the highest position in the United States of America. They helped him to be dignifieddiplomatic and wise beyond his years.

Nowadays, we call this executive functioning.

Washington was singled out for a job that men much older than himself usually did. In 1749, at the age seventeen, he became a surveyor and mapped out land for his employers.

From there, in 1755, Washington had moved up the ranks in the military and was awarded the position of Colonel of the Virginia Regiment during the French and Indian War (also called the Seven Years War, 1754-1758).

From years serving in the military, Washington gained leadership skills. He understood British military strategies which would help him later when he became the General of the Continental Army.

America had had enough of England’s “taxation without representation” and the colonial patriots were gaining more support to rebel against English rule and become their own independent country, The United States of America.

After the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the Continental Army formed. George Washington was appointed General of the Continental Army and Commander-in-Chief.

As General of the Continental Army, Washington’s first great victory was against the Hessian army (German soldiers hired by the British). Washington chose to execute a sneak attack on the night of Christmas 1776. He crossed the Delaware River to Trenton, New Jersey and captured nearly 1,000 Hessians.

By 1777, The Continental Army had grown to 11,000 men. During the winter at Valley Forge, north of Philidelphia, Pennsylvania, about 2,000-3,000 men died from the harsh winter and lack of supplies. Washington stayed with his men, suffering along with them and used this time to train them with the help of Inspector General von Steuben.

With the help of French troops, supplies and naval forces, in 1781, British General Cornwallis was trapped and surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia, ending any further hostilities from England.

When choosing the first leader of the United States, our founding fathers knew that Washington was the best man for the job.


On April 30, 1789, George Washington was voted by 100% of the electoral college to be the first president of the United States of America. He did not desire to be called “your majesty,” like King George III of England. He wanted The United States of America to be a democracy through and through and to be simply called, Mr. President.

Throughout his life, Washington relied on the rules of leadership that he learned at a young age. As he gained knowledge from both victory and failure, he matured and became the kind of leader our country needed, one who was both strong and reasonable.

In order to be successful adults, children need to learn the same skills that our first President learned. Attaining life skills, including proper etiquette, improve their executive function, which is a crucial element in allowing a person to mature and become a productive member of society. Even George Washington did not possess these skills on his own. He studied them, copied them and lived them out.

What We Can Learn from George Washington:

Developing a well-trained mind is crucial for making the best life decisions.

Focusing on the things that are important and organizing them in a step-by-step, systematic way to be used again later is the foundation of having good executive function. Washington did this with learning his 110 rules so well, he knew them by memory and was able to use this knowledge at the proper time. Learning the general rules of manners can be useful in understanding how to act in any given situation. And, then we must make the choice to follow those rules.

Having control over one’s emotions, body, and words is another level of executive function.

It is hard to follow the rules, when we let strong emotions control us.

Washington was remembered as a man of reason. He did not allow strong emotions to take control. He used his words to encourage others and not to hurt or belittle them. He faced battles with bravery and did not allow fear to affect his decisions. Choosing to use coping strategies and keep our feelings under control is another way to develop good executive function.

Learning from our successes and failures is one of the final steps in developing good executive function.

Washington was considered mature at a young age. He used his knowledge of math and skill in drawing to his advantage when he became a surveyor. He learned in his years in the military the strategies that worked to win battles. He was flexible and willing to learn new things and try them in different ways. He chose to do things the best way rather than the easy way.

Children can start young by making choices to develop good executive function. Having a well-trained mind, good self-control and flexiblity is important in gaining the life skills needed to be successful in life.

Books about George Washington:

 

GEORGE-isms: Rules George Washington Lived  by George Washington

George Washington’s World by Genevieve Foster

George Washington by Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire

Who was George Washington? by Roberta Edwards

George Washington Games and Videos:

 

Apples for the Teacher has George Washington coloring pages, puzzles and games

Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery has a mystery game

The History Channel’s website has a short documentary about George Washington here.

*Images of George Washington, flag, and map courtesy of Wikipedia.

Blog, Cookbooks, Uncategorized

When Life Gives You Lemons…|Turn of the Century Cookbooks and #Recipes

LemonsIn Florida, we have grapefruit-sized citrus fruit called Ponderosa Lemons. When I was young in the boondocks of Palm Bay, my mom came home from work one day with several brown paper bags full to the brim with these yellow wonders. A co-worker had too many in her tree and couldn’t figure out what to do with them all.

Fresh lemonade replaced our favorite Kool-Aid flavors that summer. There’s nothing like a tall glass of ice-cold lemony bitter-sweetness to quench the thirst.

As we grow up and experience more, we find that life has many bitter-sweet moments. We can either become bitter or let the troubles of life make us better. As a person of faith, I believe that our Lord can use the trials of life to sift out the things that have kept us from wholeness and true wellness (Romans 8:28,29). The bitter can become sweet.

This past school year with my children has been quite a lemonade year. Some of our lemons included three surgeries for me (two of them biopsies), over six months of life-altering health challenges for my oldest child, and a broken arm for my youngest.

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Through much prayer and weeping, I’m seeing the sweet results of these difficult times, the ways each of us has grown in faith and love.  I’m enjoying a closer relationship with God and my family. Going through hard things together has made our bond that much stronger.

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When my teen (who, thank the Lord, is feeling much better) came home from summer camp this week, she was in for a surprise! As a metaphor for our life this past school year, I’d taken some lemons and worked with my younger children to bake one of my favorites: Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake. And my teen got to put the icing on the cake!

Being a fan of turn-of-the-century recipes, I sifted through the Internet to find more lemony recipes below. I can hardly imagine what it must have been like to live in the 19th and 20th centuries, going through the Revolutionary, Civil or World Wars, living on rations, without modern medicine, and trying to raise children. I’m sure the people behind the recipes had no shortage of lemons in their lives and had to learn how to turn them into something sweet.

Try this Lemon Cheesecake from colonial times:

Creamy 18th Century Lemon Cheesecake

Lemon Chess Pie may have meant cake with no cheese (sounds like chess). Here’s a colonial recipe:

Martha Washington’s Lemon Chess Pie

Good old fashioned pioneer lemonade:

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Lemonade

Lots of history along with recipes on this site for creating lemon meringue pie:

Food Timeline’s Lemon Meringue Pie

Some of my favorite cookbooks with old-fashioned recipes are:

Laura

The Little House Cookbook (lemonade recipe above) by Barbara M. Walker and pictures by Garth Williams

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Sweet ‘n’ Slow by Patricia B. Mitchell (sold on amazon.com or at The Oconoluftee Visitor Center in The Great Smoky Mountain National Park)

Treats

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Treats from the Times by Leu House Volunteers (sold only in the Leu House Museum)

This summer, invite your children to help bake some these lemon-infused desserts. And those lemons in life, if by the grace of God we know how to use them, can become something much more sweet.

 

 

 

 

Blog, Teen, Young Adult

10 Must Have Books for Teen Girls|Learning Essential Life Skills #Adulting

 

Summer

Summer is almost here, but I don’t think we’ll be doing much relaxing. For my teen, there will be camps, volunteering at Vacation Bible School, extra art classes, and studying for a learner’s permit, with some Algebra thrown in for good measure.

Come to think of it, there’s only three summers left before she’s a full-fledged adult.

Do you ever feel like there’s not enough time to teach your teen everything they need to know to grow up? How can a parent ever instill all the tools needed to navigate life? Thankfully, there are plenty of books to help our teens on their way …

Here are ten helpful books that teach our teens the life skills they need to know:

1. Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 16th edition.

When I was a teen, my mother bought me my first cookbook. Sure, nowadays a recipe can be looked up on allrecipes.com or foodnetwork.com, but it’s wise to have a kitchen-tested hardcover in your hands. This cookbook is in a three-ring binder, so your teen can can pop out her chosen recipes and get to work.

 

2. Teen Practical Life Skills Workbook by John J. Liptak.

This great little workbook gets your teen thinking about what it takes to grow up. Because “adulting” is now a verb.

3. Getting Ready to Drive: A How-to Guide by Eva Apelqvist.

Education is key in teaching our teens to be defensive drivers and here is one book that will set them on the course to knowing how to be safe behind the wheel.

 

4. Smile and Succeed for Teens by Kirt Manecke.

It helps to get tips on  how to succeed in the workplace. Before getting her first job, this book shares with teens how to give great customer service and the things she must do to become a top-notch employee.

5. So Long Insecurity Teen Edition by Beth Moore.

Do teen girls realize models in magazines are airbrushed and given hair extensions? Comparing themselves to these unrealistic images, teens wind up developing all sorts of insecurities. This inspirational book gives ways to find security in a world where it’s hard to come by.

6. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey.

From the “Highly Effective” series of books, written by Stephen R. Covey, now his son, Sean Covey, shares all the tried and true advice his father gave him that works! Teens can also apply what they’ve learned to be successful in the companion workbook.

7. The Executive Functioning Workbook: Help for Unprepared, Late, and Scattered Teens by Sharon A. Hansen MSE NBCT.

For teens who have trouble making a schedule, taking initiative, and thinking outside the box, this workbook gives a preliminary test to find out what areas to focus on and then gives exercises on the areas where help is needed.

8. Facing the Facts: The Truth About Sex and You by Stan and Brenna Jones.

When your teen is ready to know a more detailed explanation of how babies are made, here’s the “how” behind physically developing into an adult, and why it’s good to wait until we say, “I do.” To some, abstinence may seem like shooting for the moon in this day and age, but giving teens high standards will help them to know there are better choices than what media is telling them, and that they don’t have to give in to peer pressure.

9. The Care and Keeping of You 2: The Body Book for Older Girls.

A continuation of the first book in The Care and Keeping of You series produced by American Girl, this book picks up where Book 1 left off. The realistic cartoon-style details share what girls need to know about how their bodies work and what to do to take the best care of them.

10. The How-To Handbook: Shortcuts and Solutions for the Problems of Everyday Life by Martin Oliver and Alexandra Johnson.

In this purse-sized book of over 50 essential life skills, your teen will find tons of tips to learn how to be a fully functioning adult!

Next post, I’ll be sharing The Ultimate “Adulting” List, so stay tuned!!!

Sharing is caring!

 

Blog, Children's Picture Books, Easy Readers, Middle Grade Fiction (ages 8-12)

Meet the Mewest Addition to Our Family & 10 Beloved Dog and Cat Books

dog and catThe most amazing thing happened! After teaching a class in Sunday School, I drove home from church later than the rest of my family. Right there in front of our door was a plate full of cat food.

“Did you find a cat?” I stepped inside and let the door shut.

My husband hugged me. “Some kitten ran right into April’s arms. She left food for it.”

A stray kitten friendly enough to spring into my teenager’s arms? “That cat must be special. Where is it?”

“Gone, I guess.”

Then lo and behold a plaintive mew behind the door. “The cat came back.”

I opened the  door and a little striped kitty jumped in. “Catch her!” I chased the kitten, but my teenage girl pounced on the four-legged intruder before me. “Put her in the bathroom. She might have fleas.”

Then I went to work, scrubbing the cat and dousing her with flea treatment. April and I made a make-shift litter box out of a large Rubbermaid container and we used extra food and water bowls from our other kitty, a Maine Coon named Smokey.

I quarantined the kitten in the bathroom until I could get her to the vet, so she wouldn’t pass on any sicknesses she caught from being outside to Smokey.

“We’re keeping the cat?” asked my husband. Mind you, he makes jokes about turning our Maine Coon into a fur rug.

“She’s a special kitty. I just know it. You said she ran right into April’s arms?”

My husband scratched his chin. “I don’t normally spend much time in the front yard, but I spotted a blue heron and had to get a picture of it. That little kitten was frolicking near the pond across the street. She took one look at April and charged ahead.”

“The cat found her girl and you know it. She’s a gift from above.” I patted his arm. “April has had a rough first year of high school. Our girl needs this cat and this cat needs our girl.”

My husband didn’t argue. He knew there was something special about this kitten. So, now she’s ours and her name is Lizzie.

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Whether cat or dog, pets hold a special place in our hearts. And books about the bond between pets and their owners can be some of the best books for kids. The following are ten pet books that have touched my children’s hearts.

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1. Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli.

This easy reader series is about the adventures of an adorable puppy named Biscuit. My five-year-old girl can read these stories all on her own. The text is repetitive for easy reading and yet the stories are fun and engaging enough for children to read again and again.

2. Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion.

Having younger children who aren’t especially fond of taking baths, they can totally relate to the story of Harry who doesn’t want to get clean. In the end, Harry decides he’d rather take a bath than be unrecognizable. This classic is sure to be a staple on your child’s bookshelf.

For a version read-aloud by Betty White, click here.

 Cynthia
Cynthia Rylant, the quintessential children’s author on pets, takes fan mail seriously. When my teenage girl was little, she wrote a letter to Mrs. Rylant and one day this postcard appeared in the mail.

3. Brownie and Pearl  series by Cynthia Rylant.

My five-year-old loves this series about a girl named Brownie and her kitty, Pearl. The illustrations are bright and cartoon-like, perfect for capturing the attention of our littlest readers. Brownie and Pearl’s antics had her giggling with each turn of the page.

4. The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant.

This story had me teary. An old woman lived all alone. She had outlived all her friends. She named her car, her chair, and her house because she refused to name anything that would not last as long as her. Then she met a lost puppy who helped her to open her heart again to love.

5. Henry and Mudge series by Cynthia Rylant.

Mudge is the perfect name for an enormous dog who slobbers and loves on a little boy named Henry. This easy-reader series tells about the adventures a gentle-giant of a dog can have with his boy.

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6. A Traveling Cat by George Ella Lyon.

Boulevard the cat sauntered into her girl’s life and for a time stayed. A touching story about the quick bond between a child and a found feline and learning to accept when a pet runs away and doesn’t come back.

7. Stay! Keeper’s Story by Lois Lowry.

Only Lois Lowry, author of The Giver series, could write a believable story from a dog’s point of view. Sweet, sweet story of the trials and triumphs of being a dog.

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8. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.

Opal finds a dog in a Winn-Dixie store, or did the dog find her? Being from the south, I can relate to all the quirky characters in this story. And, Winn-Dixie (the dog) reminds me so much of my dog, Molly who also was found fully grown, smiled like a human, and ran away during an occasional thunder storm.

9. Green Dog: A Mostly True Story by Suzanne Fisher Staples.

This little middle grade fiction novel stole into my heart. For those who’ve had difficult pets that they loved anyway, this book is sure to steal your heart, too.

10. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.

Reading this book is a rite of passage for any child. There’s a reason why dogs are called man’s best friend. The bond between a boy and his dogs can be just as strong and true as for human friends.

Having owned many cats and dogs growing up, reading books like these to my children brings back nostalgic feelings about all those furry friends of mine who hold a special place in my heart. Reading these stories can grow compassion for all God’s creatures and a sense of responsibility to take the best care of them. Isn’t that a marvelous thing about a good book? They truly help our kids grow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog, Seasons and Holidays

10 Gardening Books for Growing Kids With Green Thumbs

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“Mom, this is actually fun.” My teenager dug into the soft earth with her shovel. In Florida, the dirt is extra sandy, so the earth must be tilled and compost added.

Tired of watching from the sidelines, my nine-year-old piped up. “Can I have a turn?”

Even my youngest wanted to stick her hands in the dirt, adding an enjoyable sensory experience to her day. And, then my sensory-sensitive middle son, helped making holes to plant the seeds with an unsharpened pencil.

With a “Team Griese” effort, all of us worked together to make our garden grow. Now, all it needed was rain (or watering with the sprinkler every other day) and sunshine. My the grace of God, in about 100 days, beans, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, and a few  others we wanted to try will be ready to eat!

048Gardening can be hard work but with proper planning, the right tools, and plenty of seeds children will be eager to help create a little sanctuary in your backyard.

Good for the body, mind, and soul, gardening strengthens muscles, relieves stress, and helps children focus.

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Books are the perfect way to prepare children for making a garden of their own. Excitement builds as they picture the tiny seeds bursting into life under the ground.

Here are ten gardening books for growing kids with green thumbs.

  1. The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle.

    For our smallest gardeners, Carle tells the tale of the life cycle of a flower. With paper mosaics of bright, bold colors and simple, yet rhythmic prose, this one is sure to be read again and again.

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  2. A Fairy Went A-Marketing by Rose Fyleman, with pictures by Jamichael Henterly.

    A lovely, lovely book about a wee fairy going to the farmer’s market and with each purchase, she has a change of heart. A story of kindness, compassion, and love.

  3. Eating the Alphabet.

    Lois Elhert presents a wonderful introduction to fruits and veggies for our younger children with each letter of the alphabet. Not only will they learn the names, but they’ll develop an appreciation for their beauty and a desire to try them all.111

  4. From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons.

    I love every book Gibbons has authored and illustrated for preschoolers on up. Her simple line drawings filled with eye-catching colors, brings clarity to what’s going on underneath the ground in your garden.097

  5. A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Aston.

    Don’t let the picture-book style of this book fool you. The gorgeous drawings coupled with free verse poetry, will captivate both toddlers and teens and all ages between. Before the first page of poetry, the outer pages are filled with an assortment of seeds which are labeled for children who wish to learn their different names.

  6. National Geographic’s Seed to Plant

    With mesmerizing pictures and short, attention grabbing explanations, even the youngest child will love to gaze at the vivid photography in this easy-to-follow book.gardenbooks

  7. Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World by Julia Rothman

    Like six or more books rolled into one: conservationism, botany, art, earth science, anatomy, zoology, … every detail in the drawings are labeled for children’s growing vocabulary. Even an element of art can be added if children wish to trace or copy whatever strikes their interest.

  8. Vegetables in the Garden

    A Scholastic First Discovery Book, colorful, layered pictures show the different parts of vegetables growing from the plant above the soil to the roots beneath the earth. A favorite series of mine (my kids love The Egg), kids delight in lifting the next page to see the surprise underneath.boots

  9. Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots by Sharon Lovejoy.

    For creative gardeners, Lovejoy gives brilliant ways to add flair to the average garden and make it extraordinary.

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  10. Gardening Wizardry for Kids by L. Patricia Kite.

    This unique book shares the history behind our veggies along with how to grow many of them in your own home. An element of science is added when children experiement with different seeds.

After planting these seeds of knowledge in your children’s minds and hearts, you’ll have the know-how and confidence to go outside and start growing your own backyard paradise.

Blog, Middle Grade Fiction (ages 8-12)

How to Plan a Book-Driven Trip

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A good book is a break from reality, an escape from the day- to-day into the extraordinary. And, taking a book-driven family trip can bring the words on a page into real life.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Yearling, made her home in Florida and fell in love with this land and its people.

Reading through this novel with my teen was the perfect opportunity to plan a book-driven “field trip” together.

First, we looked up all the diverse flora, fauna, and food described in the book.

Like, what are cow peascorn pone, and ham hock?

What is a flutter-mill (seen on the Disney film), a demi-john, and a feist?

And, what ever happened to the Florida Red Wolf?

Another good read for younger children to tie-in with The Yearling is Lost in the Woods. For added fun, kids can try to find the “wolf shadow” in the middle of the book.

For ecology, we studied the Indian River Lagoon (which has free interactive learning tools here), and it brought back sweet memories.

One summer when I was a young teen, my sister and I waded into the Indian River, combing through the muddy bottom in search for clams. We picked them up using our toes and had a clam bake dinner with my dad.

Now to find a yearling! A trip to the Brevard Zoo’s Florida wildlife exhibit was in order.

Who are these silly sea turtles?

In one exhibit, we were able to see a real live Red Wolf. These endangered species can be elusive; it kept dodging my camera.

Finally, I got one good shot.

Imagine meeting one of these in your backyard! The red wolf were hunted until there are no longer any left in the wild in Florida. The only other dangerous creatures left are Florida Panthers, our plethora of poisonous snakes, and one other reptile… 

The Florida Gator.
Not the football players in orange and blue, the scaly creatures leftover from when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
That’s about as close as I’ll let my children get to one. And there has to be a good fence!

Gator tail is a “tailgating” appetizer now, but in The Yearling, it was smoked and made into dog food. Maybe in old Florida, people didn’t think it tasted just like chicken.
Check out the tail on this one …

Rather than spotting a real yearling, we got an up close encounter with a doe much older than one year. Still, she was a friendly one who ate the dog-food-sized snacks we had bought from the coin vending machine right out of our hands.

Here’s one more animal at the zoo not native to Florida, but I couldn’t help sharing…
Was this ‘the end’ of a fantastic week in reading Florida books and visiting related wildlife?
Not quite…

On the way back home, as we rocked out to “The Ballad of Jody Baxter” (an Andrew Peterson song inspired by The Yearling), we feasted our eyes on a brilliant Florida sunset.
After combining reading The Yearling and Lost in the Woods, with our visit to the zoo, we got to know Florida a little better. We felt closer to our roots and thankful for God’s glorious creation given for us to enjoy.
So, how about you? What books highlight the history of your state and what are some places you can visit to bring them to life for your children?