The Enchanted Bookshelf

By , September 30, 2009 6:55 pm

There it is.  The Enchanted Bookshelf.  It looks pretty ordinary, doesn’t it?  And believe me, it is not usually that tidy.   Despite its modest appearance, this humble bookshelf has been key in inspiring my 7 year-old son to read.

The bookcase is right next to his bed, within arm’s reach.  He doesn’t even have to get out of bed to pull a book off the shelf.  I keep it well-stocked with a varied supply of books of different degrees of difficulty.

Obviously I make sure that there are many books at his reading level.  I also throw in some that are more difficult in order to pique his interest and tempt him to challenge himself.  I add a few that are below his level for those days when he wants to breeze through an old favorite.  I’d rather have him read something a little easy on occasion, than read nothing at all.  On the bottom shelf I put a few big, heavy kids’ encyclopedias and books with lots of photographs that are fun and interesting to leaf through.

The shelf’s spell has brought my son’s reading level from barely Bob Books last fall to beyond the Magic Tree House Series (by Mary Pope Osborne) in just one year.  In fact he recently devoured Vacation Under the Volcano non-stop and proudly announced that he has now read all 28 books in the original Magic Treehouse Series.  For the last few nights, he has read The Children of Noisy Village (by Astrid Lindgren).  Now he appears to have moved on to Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking, which is one of the more challenging temptations on the shelf.

If you want to give this a try, here are some tips:

  • Shelf must be within arm’s reach of bed and preferably facing the bed so the titles are easily visible.
  • Keep it well-stocked.
  • Vary the reading level.  Most books should be at your child’s current level, plus some more difficult books, and some easier books.
  • A basket of children’s magazines on the top is a nice touch and adds even more variety to the reading selections.
  • Don’t let the shelf stagnate.  Keep restocking with new books as your child’s skills improve.
  • If there is a TV in your child’s room, get rid of it so reading is the ONLY available activity in bed!  (Plus, the electromagnetic waves from the TV will suck all the magical energy out of the Enchanted Shelf.  :-)  )

Joy – The Letter “J” (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , September 28, 2009 2:28 pm

This isn’t our usual artsy/craftsy Weekly Unplugged Project, but that’s what’s fun about the Unplugged Project, it can be ANYTHING!  A last minute decision to spend the weekend in Phoenix (108 degrees by the way, ouch!) necessitated a change in our original plan.

Since the theme for this week’s Unplugged Project was simply The Letter J, our project became joy.

This water slide was joy, pure and simple.


If you did a Letter J Unplugged Project this week, then thank you and please link to your project post in the linky below.  If you did not join in but would like to learn how, then I invite you to read more here.  We’d love to have you!


The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project will be:




Quill Pen Art

By , September 24, 2009 8:12 pm

9 year-old daughter using the turkey quill pen and sepia ink.

Children’s and Infants’ Tylenol Recall

By , September 24, 2009 5:28 pm

I just found out about a Children’s and Infants’ Tylenol recall and thought I’d pass along the link so that you can all check your medicine cabinets.  A friend of mine had two of the recalled products!

TV-Free Brainstorm

By , September 23, 2009 9:45 am

Are you trying Turnoff Week this week? Don’t know what to do? It’s Wednesday, are you running out of ideas? Here’s a brainstorming-type list. See if you can find some inspiration here:

– Cook together – Bake fun goodies or make dinner.  Try something exotic – kids are far more likely to eat “weird” food if they make it themselves. Have a Kids Cook Night!

– Be tourists – visit a local attraction that you have never visited before.

– Try a craft or an art project. For ideas, you can always search the old Unplugged Projects (the category is: “Unplugged Project” of course!).  Be sure to check out readers’ links for ideas too.

Flip a rock to see what’s under it.  Photograph, draw, or write about your results.

– Go outside and play.  If you live in a city and have no yard, then go to the park.

– Read a book out loud.  By the way, you don’t have to read only simple picture books to toddlers.  They love those, but a nice, appropriate chapter book read in bits can hold their attention (and yours) too.

– Put on some music and dance.

– Dejunk your house, or a room of your house.  Eliminating and organizing stuff might not always be fun, but it leaves you with a lightness of spirit when you are done.  Here’s a post with some ideas for what to do with your cast-offs:  Sort, Junk, Donate.

– Volunteer with your child for a local charity.  If you are unfamiliar with the organization it is best to call first to find out what they need and whether a child the age of yours would be welcome.

– Play some board games together, or have a formal family game night. My advice for preserving your sanity: try to pick a game that your children like, but that is not deadly boring for the adult participants. (ie. stay away from Candyland – that one sends me into an immediate coma.)

– Write a story together and illustrate it.

– Play with your pets, wash the dog, teach him dog tricks, put the cat away and get the bird out …

– Learn a new skill together: knitting, crocheting, French knitting (aka. corking, mushroom knitting, knitting knobby, knitting nancy, spool knitting), finger knitting, weaving, embroidery, needlepoint, wool felting. If you don’t have a French knitter, make one out of a tin can.  If you don’t have a weaving loom, make one out of a picture frame!

– Take a walk around your neighborhood, or be adventurous and go on a real “nature hike!” Check out these sites for more outdoors/nature-related ideas: Backyard Nature, Green Hour

– Organize a family (or neighborhood) soccer game.  Or basketball, or baseball, or tag, or “Mother May I…”

– When all else fails…bring out the Mommy I’m Bored Box.

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