New Christmas Picture Book

She’s done it again!

My sweet friend, Jill Roman Lord, has worked her word-magic again and 20181022_130120-1959204136-1540227944493.jpgbrought the first Christmas night to life for young children. Her verses are in perfect rhyme and meter. Her insights into the celebration surrounding the birth of Jesus are not only cute and clever, they are probably quite accurate. I can’t imagine the animals around the manger NOT celebrating the greatest event in history, can you?

Kelly Breemer’s illustrations are whimsical and adorable.

I think any two or three year old will love snuggling on somebody’s lap with this book. Get your animal voices on and get ready to moo and quack your way through this great little book.


Merry Christmas, ya’ll!

Good Night Prayers

We often teach our children sweet little prayers to say before going to sleep. That’s important! It helps them build a habit of praying before retiring. It helps them learn to trust God. It reminds them that God watches over and protects them. These are important steps toward building their faith. When they are ready you can help them vocalize their own personal prayers to God. But until they are, a short memorized prayer is a wonderful teaching tool.
Here are a few to consider:

Father unto You I pray,
You have guarded me all day;
Safe I am while in your sight,
Safely let me sleep tonight.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I know You, Lord, my soul will keep.
Guard me, Jesus, through the night,
Wake me with the morning light.


Father, we thank thee for the night,
and for the pleasant morning light;
for rest and food and loving care,
and all that makes the day so fair.

Help us to do the things we should,
to be to others kind and good;
in all we do, in work or play,
to grow more loving every day.

–Rebeecca Weston – 1890
Jesus, tender shepherd, hear me,
Bless this little lamb tonight.
Through the darkness be down near me,
Keep me safe till morning light.
—Mary Duncan


Lord, keep us safe this night,
Secure from all fears;
May angels guard us through the night
Till morning light appears.


I will lie down in peace and sleep,
For You, Lord, alone make me live in safety.
–Psalm 4:8

If I Had a Horse – Review

A picture book review by Jean Matthew Hall.

If I Had a Horse by Gianna Marino was published by Roaring Brook Press in 2018.

HorseThis picture book took me by surprise. The striking illustrations are almost nondescript. It’s clear they depict a child and a horse. But they also make it clear that it could be any child and any horse at all.

The jacket blurb says the book is about stepping beyond boundaries and bravery.

I can see that if I substitute the word “dream” for the author’s word “horse” in the title and text. So, I think the themes are daring to dream and pursuing those dreams with courage.

If I Had a Horse will be a great conversation starter for dreaming about the future and having the courage to do whatever it takes to accomplish it.

More Stuff Parents Need to Know

More Stuff Parents Need to Know, Practice, Remember:

  1.  How to help children understand the relationship between actions (behavior)                      and consequences—both good and bad.
  2.  That your encouragement is oxygen to your child’s heart.
  3.  How very much it means to your children when you attend their events.
  4.  How very much it hurts your children when you do not attend their events.
  5.  Failure is a part of growing. It comes with trying new things.
  6.  Failure is an opportunity to try something a different way.
  7.  You can’t protect your children from all problems.
  8.  You don’t want to protect your children from all problems.
  9.  Problems are an opportunity to find creative solutions. Let your kids do it                             themselves.
  10.  Morals and values are best taught at home.



Let the Children March – Review

Another picture book review by Jean Matthew Hall.

Last week I reviewed one of the cutest picture books I’ve seen. It was delightful!

This week’s picture book could not be any more different from that.

Children March picLet the Children March is about the 1963 Children’s Crusade for de-segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. It was written by Monica Clark-Robinson and illustrated by Frank Morrison. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published it in 2018.

Clark-Robinson tells the story of this march for freedom through two main characters, a brother and sister. Dr. Martin Luther King held a rally to organize peaceful protests of the segregation policies of the state of Alabama. Adults felt they could not march because they were sure they would lose their jobs and be unable to support their families.

So, their children volunteered to march in their place. More than 1,000 children under the age of eighteen marched and silently protested for seven days. Most of them ended up in jail.

But their protest was more than effective. It was the catalyst for state-wide, and national changes in segregation.

Let the Children March includes a time line on the inside cover sheets, and extra information about the Children’s Crusade provided by the author.

The illustrator says:

      I hope my efforts honor the past – the Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963 – and will       inspire, influence, and intrigue the future – the next generation. I hope to encourage              them to become the very best they can be, not just in February, Black History Month,            but every day.

You can watch a short documentary about the 1063 Children’s Crusade here.

5 Love Languages of Children-Part 3

In The Five Love Languages of Children we’ve been learning how to fully communicate our love for our children in a language they will best understand.

Click HERE to review the 5 Love Languages.

Click HERE for the introduction to this series.

Today’s question is “How can parents discover their child(ren)’s preferred Love Language?

family-eating-at-the-table-619142_1920The answer is simple, but complicated.

It takes lots of time and thoughtful observation.

These ideas might help.

Starting around the age of five or six make a conscious study of your child. Observe and record the following information over a period of a few months. Then compare your answers to the 5 Love Languages.

1. Observe how each child consistently expresses love to you. Do they bring you little gifts? Do they want to help you often? Do they give you words of encouragement or sympathy? Do they drown you in hugs and kisses? Do they playfully punch or tap, or tickle you? Do they play with your hair?

2. Observe how each child expresses love to others. Be sure to keep notes.

3. Listen to what each child requests from you most often. Are they constantly hinting for gifts? Do they want you to play with them? Do they want you to go places or do things with them? Do they do things hoping you’ll praise their efforts? Do they do things (positive or negative) to get (or force) your attention? Do they want to snuggle or touch you all the time?

4. Notice what each child complains about most often. You may have to read between the lines, so be prepared to decode what they are saying. Do you frequently hear:

“You never have time for me.”
“We never go to the park anymore.”
“You’re always taking care of the baby/grandma/sibling.”
“I need your help. I can’t do it by myself.”
“I don’t know how!”
“But everybody has one of these!”
“I want a new____.”
“Why can’t I help you-____”

5. For a few weeks try giving your child some specific options. Record their choices, then compare to each of the 5 Love Languages. For example:

“I’m off work this Saturday. Would you rather we go fishing, or that I take you to the mall to pick out some basketball shoes?”

“I have some free time tonight. Would you rather I hem your new skirt, or that we bake some cookies together?”

“You did so well on your grades. Would you rather we go out for ice cream, or that we snuggle on the couch and watch a movie?”

Simple. But not easy. Great parenting never is.

Like I said. It takes lots of time and thoughtful observation.

I pray this information has been helpful to you in better understanding the children God gave you.


Sleepover Duck! – Review

Another picture book review by Jean Matthew Hall.

513gwJzITJL._AC_US327_QL65_Sleepover Duck! Was written and illustrated by Carin Bramsen. Random House published it in 2018.

Talk about cute! This is one cute story. The illustrations are adorable. This book is Duck’s third adventure. I suspect the little darling will be having more of them, too.

The face! The eyes! The funky “hair.” All make for a double dip of cuteness.


So, if your wee ones need a bright, happy tale to help them settle down for bed time try Sleepover Duck! I think they’ll be begging you to, “Read it again!” every night.

5 Love Languages of Children-Part 2

Last week I posted The Five Love Languages of Children Part 1.

Today let’s look at those Five Love Languages.


This pretty much covers any form of touching that is relaxed, affirming, playful or loving. For instance:
Hugging, kissing, tweaking noses, pinching cheeks, touching foreheads, fist-bumps
Mussing the child’s hair, brushing and fixing hair,
Bath time, tucking into bed, holding, snuggling
Scratching their backs, tickling, love-punching, wrestling, bear-hugging

I’ll bet you’ve already figured out that some of these activities can be combined with other Love Languages.

CAUTION: Unloving, out of control, angry or insulting physical contact communicates the opposite of love.


Children understand two different types of affirmation. Words of AFFECTION are based on the child’s very existence, their being, their presence.

Words of PRAISE are based on things the child does, says or accomplishes. One of my favorite quotes for parents is:



Praise character, not talent.



Remember that too much praise too often becomes artificial and ineffective. Be sure your affection and compliments are sincere and deserved.

CAUTION: Words of criticism and negativity crush a child’s spirit. Control your volume and facial expressions. Look pleasant.


This means time spent one-on-one with each of your child. But, good news! It’s not the activity you do that counts—it’s the fact that it is one-on-one that matters. SOMETIMES even doing chores together counts as that quality time.

Be sure to focus on that one child. Not your cell phone or work project.

Maintain pleasant eye contact while talking with that child.

Prepare yourself emotionally for that one-on-one time. Mentally put aside work, home responsibilities, volunteer work, etc.

Quality Time can result in your getting to know each child in a whole new way. It can also result in truly meaningful conversations.

CAUTION: You’re busy, busy! But without some regularly scheduled Quality Time your child isn’t going to know beyond doubt that you truly love them.


The price tag doesn’t matter. Gifts you get on clearance or at a yard sale, or that are off-brand, or that you make yourself give your child a thrill. Concentrating on buying “the best” gifts will nurture materialism in your child. That is NOT what you want for them.

I remember out daughter would get giddy when her Dad would bring home her favorite chocolate bar for her! A gift that cost less than $1. Children with this Primary Love Language do that. They think every little gift is a party just for them.

Be sure to help your child experience the great joy of GIVING gifts, too.

CAUTION: Focusing on giving your child gifts above every other expression of love will teach them to be self-centered and selfish.


Parents are constantly doing the things necessary to provide for your children physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and socially.

We need to provide everything for our babies and toddlers, maybe preschoolers and special needs children. Everything a child can’t do for themselves.

But somewhere between five and ten years of age we need to start backing off. Letting go and letting them (aka requiring them) to do more and more for themselves, and for others.

Our teens should be handling most of their own home and school responsibilities for themselves.

Just as with giving Gifts, we need to gradually involve our kids more and more in serving other people.

We also need to help them learn that, in a family, we all serve one another.

Next week I’ll share some ways to figure out what your child’s Primary Love Language is.
Please share these posts with friends and family. Thanks.

LOVE – Picture Book Review

Love is a 2018 picture book by Newberry Medal-winning author Matt de la Peña. It is illustrated by Loren Long and was published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

LOVEI have huge respect for both the author and illustrator of Love. But I’m confused by the picture book itself.

The publisher describes the picture book as a celebration of love depicting the many ways we experience it. But I’m not every spread does that.

I think perhaps I’m not thinking in the right direction or something. For instance, this page of text has me confused:


Love, too, is the smell of crashing waves, and a train whistling blindly in the distance,            and each night the sky above your trailer turns the color of love.

I’m having a lot of trouble envisioning that as celebrating or depicting love. Yes, the artwork on that spread shows me a loving family living a modest lifestyle. But the text and the illustration just don’t come together as a complete package in my mind.

Then, there is the double spread that shows a woman crying, a little boy hiding under a piano, furniture in disarray and a man walking out the door. The text says:
But it’s not only stars that flame out, you discover.
     It’s summers, too.
     And friendships.
     And people.

How does this celebrate or depict love? There are several more spreads that get the same reaction from me.

So, if I may boldly ask for a favor, would you read Love and leave a comment that will help me visualize de la Peña’s vision?

Thanks so much!

5 Love Languages of Children-Part 1

I recently re-read the book The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, M.D. My copy was published back in 1997. But, the book was revised and republished in 2016.

God instituted families to be pictures of His relationship to us. The central theme of our families should be love. Love needs to permeate every activity, every conversation, every decision. I believe most parents realize this and truly do love their children. But a question of concern is, “Do our children feel like we really love them?”

people-2585733__340.jpgIn The Five Love Languages of Children Chapman and Campbell tell us that each of us has a “Love Tank”. We, as parents (and grandparents), need to keep our children’s love tanks filled all the time or they may not feel truly loved. This will impact the rest of their lives.

How do we do this? Chapman and Campbell tell us that we all express and receive love in five different ways—the Love Languages. As we mature we adopt one of the Love Languages as our primary language. So, parents need to become multi-lingual. We need to speak all of the Love Languages and specialize in the right one for each child (and each other.)

No small task.

It takes time and patience to discover someone else’s Love Language. We need to study that person carefully to determine the best ways to express our love to them—children included.

The Five Love Languages are:
    Giving and receiving physical touch
    Giving and receiving words of affirmation
    Spending quality time with the other person
    Giving and receiving gifts
    Performing and receiving acts of service

When our children are infants and toddlers they need to be immersed in every possible expression of our love via all five languages. We cannot give too much true love to our little ones.

As they prepare for preschool years they start to develop their individuality and start preferring one Love Language over the others. But this changes throughout the next few years. They may try all the Love Languages on for size.

Somewhere between the ages of five and ten they usually settle into one preferred Love Language.

Teens once again seem to fluctuate between languages simply because of the emotional, mental and social stages they go through.

It’s important to focus on each child’s primary Love Language. But, it’s equally important to express and show love using all five languages.

Remember: the key here is for each child in your home to feel and know that you love them. That leads them to become emotionally, mentally and socially healthy children and adults.

Next week I’ll continue this discussion by briefly explaining each of the Five Love Languages. Then, the next week I’ll try to give you tips to help uncover your child’s (and maybe your own) primary Love Language.

Stay tuned folks! And remember – It’s nice to share!

A Seed Is the Start-a Nonfiction Picture Book

Another nonfiction picture book review by Jean Matthew Hall.

seedA Seed Is the Start is a National Geographic Kids book. It was written by Melissa Stewart and copyrighted in 2018. The illustrations are all photographs.

The ISBN is 978-1-4263-2977-7.

Something a little different about this picture book is that a short glossary (Words to Know) appears on the title page.

Teacher Alert!

It covers a wide range of facts about how seeds grow and how they travel. The photographs are brilliant. The multi-sized, multi-font, multi-colored text actually becomes part of the art of this book. Stewart’s casual, conversational style makes the book appeal to middle grade kids, I believe.

A Seed Is the Start, like all of Melissa Stewart’s nonfiction books, is an attractive and stimulating addition to any elementary classroom, library or homeschool.


I’ve done it! I’ve joined Pinterest. I have found a lot of interesting pins about parenting, cooking, Gluten free cooking, and crafty ideas for kids.

I’ll be pointing you to some of the terrific blogs about parenting and guiding our children.

Meanwhile–would you look for me on Pinterest, please? 

My profile is:


Thanks, ya’ll!


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