Episode 148: Summer Reading with Kristin Wynalda

In this episode of “Books that Spark,” Kristin Wynalda (Big Books, Little Ears) joins us again, and we share tips for summer reading, our favorite summer reading programs, and summer reading picks. 

Our Guest: Kristin Wynalda

Kristin Wynalda likes Agatha Christie mysteries, chai, and her job as a mom of four. She reviews children’s books at bigbookslittleears.com. She is known for reviews of secular books through a Christian lens, theology deep-dives of Christian picture books, and curated lists of the best books on the faith market. Kristin believes that YOU are the best person to choose books for your family, and she will equip you to do that!

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Show Notes:

(00:01): Welcome
(00:33): Summer Reading Programs
(03:38): Books to Read This Summer: Summer of the Monkeys
[Please note: One scene deals with drinking/drunkenness]
(05:24): Books to Read this Summer: Little Pilgrim’s Progress
(06:39): Summer Reading Tip: Road Trip Reading
(09:23): Summer Reading Tip: 4-Page Rule
(11:26): Reading Outdoors
(13:06): Summer Reading Tip: Rock and Rest
(13:51): Audio Books
(15:50): Happy Summer!
(15:52): https://bigbookslittleears.com/

https://terriehellardbrown.com/
(16:46): Upcoming Events:
Terrie speaking and will have a booth at Great Home School Conventions in
   Ontario, CA June 15-17
   Round Rock, TX July 6-8
Terrie will have a booth at An Affair of the Heart in Tulsa, OK July 14-16
Terrie will have a booth at MOMCON in Chicago, IL September 7-9

Books Discussed in This Episode:

Transcript:

Terrie:

Welcome to “Books That Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that help us with everyday discipleship every day, sparking important conversations with our children. Kristin is with us again today and I am so excited to talk with her, we’re going to give you some summer reading tips for your family to enjoy books over the Summer and some programs you can look into. So join us, we’re excited for you to be here. Hey Kristin, how are you?

Kristin:

Hi Terrie. I’m doing well.

Terrie:

Well, we wanted to talk about, first of all, what are some good reading programs for the Summer? So what would you suggest for reading programs?

Kristin:

So of course your local public library, start there always, but one that I like online is the BOOK IT! Program from Pizza Hut. So if you grew up when I did, you grew up doing BOOK IT! at school. So BOOK IT! has a Summer program, which is lovely, and the website is bookitprogram.com, and then you can click and find the for parents section and they call it Camp BOOK IT!, and you sign up for the Summer, and the really nice thing about Camp BOOK IT! is that, well, it’s all online and they send your coupons to your phone and you get your prizes that way, but also you can set different goals for every child, so it’s not like everybody has to read 10 chapter books because some of our children, they might be older, but they’re not reading as much as the younger child and that’s just not going to happen. So I love that, I like, sit down and set individualized goals for each of my children and then they can actually succeed, and I want my kids to succeed and get their free pizza.

Terrie:

That’s good. I love that. Yeah, that’s a good program. Well, I chose the Barnes & Noble program, and it does have a limitation in that it wants every child to read eight books for the Summer, but it’s not too high and it doesn’t limit which books you read. The limitation with this too is you get a free book; if you complete your eight books, you get a free book, but they limit what book you can choose, so you have to choose from the list they give you. So I wish they could just say, you get a book within this price range or something like that, but no, they give you a list for each age group to choose one of those books as your price. But you do get a free book, and if you read eight books, the main thing is you download their journal, you go to BarnesAndNoble.com, and they have the journal that you can download there for their Summer reading journal program, and you have to tell the title of the book and what your favorite part was in the book. So just one comment, one sentence on the favorite part, which I like that because it’s having the children give some feedback about the books they’re reading, and then they have the list of books you can choose from for your free book. So I think it’s doable, but I like Pizza Huts flexibility, that’s pretty awesome.

Kristin:

Yeah. But winning a free book is better than winning free pizza. So…

Terrie:

Well, I don’t know…

Kristin:

Both. Both is good.

Terrie:

But the other thing is, as a teacher, I almost always give my students, depending which grade I’m teaching, a summer reading list. And so you might talk to your teachers as well and see what they would recommend for your students over the summer. And if you’re homeschooling, there’s some sites you can go to that give lists by grade level or age level. So you can have a list to choose what’s best for your kids to read over the Summer. So the main thing is we want our kids reading over the summer, and not losing what they’ve learned and the progress they’ve made to keep that momentum going through the summer. Okay, then we want to also recommend some books that we would like to see people read over the summer, and I’ll go first this time, I keep asking you first. So have you ever read the book Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls? He’s the one who wrote Where The Red Fern Grows.

Kristin:

Oh, okay.

Terrie:

This book is so much fun to read and it’s set in Oklahoma, which is where I am. There’s some escaped monkeys and they’re in the trees and this little farm boy, he’s like, “I saw monkeys,” and his dad’s like, there’s no way you could see monkeys, we’re in Oklahoma. And it’s a crazy, crazy book, it’s fun to read, it’s entertaining, and it appeals to boys so many times. The novels we have, to me, they seem to appeal to the girls more and this one will appeal to the boys as well, and so I like that about it. But it is a fun book to read, it is a chapter book and it’s a fun book to read as a family over the summer or to just read on your own and then talk about it because they will want to talk about it cause it’s silly and crazy and fun. So that’s my chapter book for the summer that I think every family should read together.

Kristin:

Yeah, I’ve read Where The Red Fern Grows though, and cried and cried and cried. So…

Terrie:

Yeah, no, this one’s not sad like that.

Kristin:

I was going to say like, can we trust this author? Like-

Terrie:

Yes.

Kristin:

So this one is not sad.

Terrie:

No, this one’s funny. There’s some challenging parts where the child is really challenged in his integrity, and his goals, and what he’s doing, but yeah, there’s not the death and oh my goodness, Where The Red Fern Grows. One of my teacher would read it in school and you’re trying so hard not to cry in class, oh that was just torture. So yeah, no, you don’t have to worry about that in this one.

Kristin:

So one that we are doing this summer is Little Pilgrim’s Progress. So it’s the old version written by Helen Taylor, but we’re reading the New Illustrated version that was illustrated by Joe Sutphin, have you seen that one? Yeah, so we are reading that this summer and it has 93 chapters. So if you go and look it up for reading with the family, you’re going to be like, “Why did this person suggest this book?” But the chapters are only like a page and a half for each chapter and there are pictures throughout. It’s the story of Pilgrim’s Progress illustrated with animals.

Terrie:

Cute.

Kristin:

And the reason we are reading it this summer is because we have planned with another family, we’re going to do a Pilgrim’s Progress party after both of us have finished the book.

Terrie:

Oh, that’s fun.

Kristin:

Yeah, I’m excited. So it’s giving us a little bit incentive because I will admit we have in the past attempted to do a summer book and gotten like two thirds of the way through and just couldn’t pull it together for the end of the summer. So we have to get it done cause there’s a party already on the calendar.

Terrie:

Right. That’s great.

Kristin:

There’s a tip. If you’re looking for some incentive, find another family and schedule a little book party. It’ll force you to read it.

Terrie:

I love that. Well, okay, so then the third thing we want to talk about is our tip for summer reading, and I’ll go first again if that’s okay.

Kristin:

Yeah, go for it.

Terrie:

I love road trip reading, and I know if you have nausea and stuff like that, that makes it hard, but our family loves to read while we’re driving and we love road trips. So we always choose a book to read together. So I will read until my mouth is dry and then I’ll send the book to a kid and let them read from there on, and I’ve found on these road trips I can read books that are above their level and they’re just into it because I guess they’re trapped and we’re traveling. But we have so much fun reading together, and one time, I’ll just tell this story, I like to choose biographies and we chose a biography of this Chinese pastor from Taiwan and his story was originally written in Mandarin and someone translated it and the person who translated it had a book of English idioms, and so they overdid the idioms. So even though it’s a very serious story and it’s a wonderful testimony and we loved that part of the story, the writing made us laugh because every other sentence had an idiom in it and it became comical, and so it was very entertaining, and if we didn’t read it when we were traveling, my kids were like, we need to read more of that book. Where’s that book? Because it was just so much fun to see all the idioms they were using in the book. So even a badly written book- or badly translated book can be fun. Like I said, the story behind it was wonderful, his testimony was very interesting because he had been in a gang and was just headed the wrong way, big time. He wound up in prison and his future wife was his pen pal in prison and she kept writing to him and sharing the gospel with him, and he finally turned his life over to Christ and totally radically changed his life. He became a pastor and a missionary and has done a lot of wild and crazy things as a man of God who’s sharing the gospel in all kinds of places that a lot of people don’t want to go. So very interesting story, but the idioms were hysterical. Not that I’m recommending that book, that’s why I’m not saying the title of it, but we’ve always chosen a book to read in the car as we’re traveling together and it’s just been a blast, and so whether you’re reading Chronicles of Narnia or you’re choosing Summer of the Monkeys or whatever, it’s just fun. Like I said, you have a captive audience, they have no choice. Anyway, so, that’s my tip for the summer. What’s yours?

Kristin:

Well, I’m just going to say that I love that you actually read it in the car because when you said in the car, I assumed you were going to say audio books.

Terrie:

Yeah, no, I like the reading.

Kristin:

Yeah, interesting, coming out of left field there actually reading it. So I love that, I think that’s wonderful. So my tip has to do with if your kids are like me, they want to read the same thing over and over again, and they have their little rotation and they don’t want to branch out, and you go to the library and you’re like, here’s Summer of the Monkeys, and they’re like, “Nope, I’m going to read Dogman number four for the hundredth time.” Great. So in our family we have the four page rule that you can read this summer. You can read all those classics that you’ve read 150 times that are fine. I’d love for you to branch out, but you have to try four pages of a book of mom’s choosing then.

Terrie:

Oh, that’s great.

Kristin:

I found that that sometimes, right, it’ll be a dud, and they’ll be like, “Those were the worst four pages of my life.” I’m like, okay, well we’ll return that book then and try again, but sometimes they’ll read the four pages and you’ll come back later and be like, “Oh, now they’re on page 25. Hmm.” So they do get sucked into this story, and so that can be a good way and it doesn’t feel too much for kids. So it’s not like I don’t even ask for the whole first chapter, just four pages, and then if you want to keep reading this one, that’s great, and if you don’t go back to your classic that you’ve read so many times, it is what it is.

Terrie:

That’s brilliant. I love, love, love that tip, that’s great. I wouldn’t have thought to do that, that’s really good. Okay, I’m going to use that one. There’s a book I’m wanting us to read and I need to do that and see if my kids get drawn into it. So yeah, all right.

Kristin:

Even if they don’t get drawn in, maybe they could tell you why too. Cause I found that helpful too, it would be like, okay, those first four pages, why did you hate it so much? And they’ll be like, “I didn’t know how to pronounce a bunch of words.” Ah, okay. Totally valid, I’ll look for something a little lower.

Terrie:

Yeah, and you can revisit that later on when they’re a little older. You’re such a good mom.

Kristin:

Oh you’re so sweet. Only cause I have good moms like you who have taught me things.

Terrie:

Oh, that’s good. Okay, well the other thing that I always think of with summer reading, I love to read outside but I go blind, and so I’ve been trying to find some ideas of how to shade your book so you can read in the sun and not get whatever that is that happens to your eyeballs out in the sun when you’re reading. Do you have any pointers for helping people with that?

Kristin:

I live in a place in Michigan where like the sun has not shown in six months. So, no, I wish I had that problem.

Terrie:

Yeah, well that’s true, I hadn’t thought about that. Well this year, my big change, my big attempt at helping this situation is, I got a shade for my patio. So we’re going to put that out there when the sun is so bright and I can sit outside, and enjoy being outdoors, and read out there without the sun blaring on my book. That’s the only thing I could come up with at this point cause just wearing sunglasses, it’s not adequate. A lot of times the sun here, oh my goodness, in the summer it’s just so bright, and then by the time I finish reading a little bit, then I feel like I’m blind for hours, so I know that some of the tablets have tried to compensate for that and they have settings that you can use when you’re outdoors, but I don’t like reading on tablets, I like holding the book in my hands so I prefer that anyway.

Kristin:

Yeah, I like a hard copy too. I feel that.

Terrie:

I have like 500 books on my Kindle, so I do read it a lot, but I prefer the book in my hands. Okay, anything else to do with summer that you can think of?

Kristin:

So one other thing we do in the summer when the sun does come out here is, I do rock and rest, I call it rock and rest with my kids. So I’ll play really loud, upbeat music off the back patio and they run around and play in the backyard like crazy people, and then when I turn the music off, they have to come over and they can lay on a towel and hear a little bit of a chapter book.

Terrie:

Oh that’s cool.

Kristin:

That way we get a little bit of both worlds, and we are outside the whole time, but it helps me because they also know that while the rock music is going during their play time, like Mom is not available, I’m doing something else, I’m feeding the baby or whatever, and then when the music goes off, oh yeah, everybody come and we’ll do our rest and listen to the book, and sometimes I read it or sometimes I’ll use an audio book during the rest time because I want to rest also, and so that’s another good summer option to get some summer reading in a little rock and rest. Our library, they allow audiobooks to count for your kids’ summer reading goal, so that counts for their goal too.

Terrie:

I do recommend to my students, cause a lot of my students are ESL students or EFL students, to listen to audio books even if they’re reading along with it, because they’re hearing the native speaker pronounce the words, and for our younger kids, they’re hearing words they may not know pronounced correctly. So audiobooks can be really beneficial, especially if, like I said, they’re reading along in the book while they’re listening, it’s really good. So I recommend LibriVox a lot to my students cause it’s free, and I’ve found even with Shakespeare, if you listen to it spoken, you pick up a lot more of it whereas if you’re just reading it, sometimes it’s beyond what the student can understand, but if they hear it, it’s like clearer what’s going on, and so it can be really beneficial. All right, cool. Well I hope everybody has a wonderful summer and gets to read a lot and enjoy reading together. With my kids, I always had us sustain silent reading time because of being a teacher, that’s what we always shoot for, and so we would just have a time in the afternoon cause we don’t do naps when our kids are older, but we can still have them have a quiet time, where they sit and read for half an hour or whatever in the middle of the fun and running around and swimming in the summer to give them a break, and also to have them read for a while and we didn’t even necessarily discuss what they read. It was just knowing that all of us were reading our own books during that time, and it was quiet and it was cool in the house, and it was just a nice downtime each day, so that was always fun, so… Alright, well everybody, happy Summer, happy reading. Let us know what your favorite summer books are, we would love to hear from you. And Kristin, thank you for being here again.

Kristin:

Yeah, thanks for having me. Happy Summer!

Terrie:

Alright, thank you so much. Thank you for joining us for “Books That Spark,” where we encourage each other to live out every day discipleship, helping to equip our children to follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you enjoyed this episode, please like and share and let people know we’re here, we really do appreciate it. If you would like to connect with Kristin, you can find her on her website, which is Big Books, Little Ears, I think that’s so cute, and she offers many resources on her website, and if you join her mailing list, you get some special resources as well. She is wonderful, as you can tell from listening to her on the podcast, she has a lot to share with us. If you would like to connect with me, you can find me on my website, which is TerrieHellardBrown.com, and you can also comment on the show notes from that website and we would love to hear from you. Please share with us some of your summer reading tips, let us know what you do with your kids over the summer, and how you help them to keep reading throughout the summer months. Remember that this summer I will be at several events, and I’m excited if you’re there for you to come by and talk, we get to meet you and share some wonderful books with you. I have a booth at the Homeschool Convention in Texas in July, I’ll have a booth at An Affair of the Heart in Tulsa in July and in November, and then I also will be at MOMCON in Chicago in September, and so I would love to have you come by and check out what I have and also to meet each other, and it would just be great. You can also sign up for a drawing at each of the events, and possibly win some free books. We pray you feel empowered as a parent or caregiver to walk by faith and to embrace everyday discipleship every day with the children in your life.

Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

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