12 Children’s Books for the Month of December

Best Christmas books for toddlers, and babies. Your kiddos will love these timeless tales of the Christmas season! Heidi Stephens, Bainbridge Boheme

Best Christmas books for toddlers, and babies. Your kiddos will love these timeless tales of the Christmas season! Heidi Stephens, Bainbridge Boheme

Seeing the joy of the holidays through a child’s eyes is pure magic. Teaching Julian about Christmas and the winter season has brought so much excitement for me about the upcoming holiday. We are in full holiday swing at our place, and a huge part of that has been pulling out all of our holiday books for the kiddos.

All of these books are ones that are sure to warm the hearts of adults and children alike. Julian is partial to Little Blue Truck’s Christmas right now, because he loves how the Christmas tree lights up on the last page! And I love that it teaches him to count along throughout the pages. Dream Snow is another beautiful choice that is great for counting and learning about animals. Plus, it’s a lift the flap!

One of the prettiest tales, The Message of the Birds, also has the most powerful message. It is a message of peace and how children can help to spread that message and bring us peace on earth. But of course, no list is complete without the classic poem of The Night Before Christmas. I bought this copy one Christmas to read to my future children before I had even become a mother. I know that sounds crazy, I know! It is just one of those books that has that power to become an instant family tradition and hold endless holiday memories. And I couldn’t wait to create those moments with my own family someday.

I hope that these books bring the joy of the season into your homes and into your children’s eyes. It really is the most wonderful time of the year!



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The Perfect (Salacious) Beach Read

The perfect beach read novel for summer 2017

(Hat: Nordstrom, Towel: Olive and Linen, Book: Amazon)

If you’re looking for the perfect beach read, then look no further. “How To Murder Your Life” a memoir by Cat Marnell is just as hysterical as the title suggests. A successful beauty editor for Lucky Magazine by day and a Manhattan socialite and drug addict by night. Well, to be fair, she’s really she’s a drug addict by day too.

Marnell gives you a behind the scenes peek into the Manhattan social scene and her abuse of prescription pills and later experimentation with harder substances. Her writing is witty and painfully self aware. I love books that take me to a world that seems completely foreign to me.

“How To Murder Your Life” is the perfect, read-in-a-day, kind of beach read. That is, if you’re not shy about sex, drugs, and self destruction. Have you read it? Do you plan to? Let me know! Happy reading everyone!



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The Magnolia Story

2017 book recommendation, The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines. Amazing book for parents and entrepreneurs!

Hello again and happy Wednesday! Since I have been managing my pregnancy illness: hyperemesis gravidarum, a lot better lately, I have been doing some catch up with my reading list! I wasn’t able to read for about 3 months because it worsened my nausea. Besides feeling miserable that whole time, I was also pretty bored! We don’t have a TV, so books play a big role in my source of entertainment. Alright, without further ado, here is what I read and loved this past month!

Like most of America, I have a admiration and certain level intrigue for Chip and Joanna Gaines. In case you live under a rock, they are the lovable married couple and stars of HGTV’s hit show, Fixer Upper. The couple flips older houses in the small town of Waco, TX, and creates their clients dream home. It really is miraculous to see what they can create together. Like I said above, I don’t even have a TV and I’ve caught a few episodes here and there. This book was recommended to me by several close friends, including the lovely Whitney Coudray, so I knew I had to pick it up.

The Magnolia Story reads like a diary straight from Joanna herself, with Chip’s hilarious voice interspersed throughout. You would be hard-pressed to find a more gracious, and down to earth pair of reality stars out there. Which it’s a large part of their appeal, and the main reason I decided to read. How is it possible that two TV stars could be so grounded and morally driven in today’s world? That’s the question that has so many of us hooked!

The Magnolia Story is a beautiful telling of Chip and Joanna’s lives and how they run their businesses. I found myself most intrigued by the way Joanna discussed motherhood. She goes into intimate detail on how she began designing a home for her family to thrive in, not just reside in. I mean, check out my favorite quotes below! I highly recommend this book to any parent, and certainly to any entrepreneur.  

Have you read Chip and Joanna’s book? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to tag me on Instagram (heidi.stephens) if this inspires you to pick up The Magnolia Story!

Favorite quotes: “I always thought that the ‘thriving’ would come when everything was perfect, and what I learned is that it’s actually down in the mess that things get good.”Joanna Gaines, The Magnolia Story

“I worked hard to try to do it all, to try to live up to the Pinterest perfection that only leaves you discontent. I finally realized that life isn’t found on the pages of a magazine-life is found in the glass of spilled milk and in the long, narrow hallway filled with socks and soccer balls.”Joanna Gaines, The Magnolia Story



Be sure to check out last month’s book recommendation from Bainbridge Boheme!

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Dark Matter

Virtual book club, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, 2017 book recommendation, science fiction

This book review is long overdue! When I started the blog I had every intention of reviewing one book per month. Well, I didn’t take into consideration that I’d need to take a little sick leave here and there. I feel as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders since I announced our pregnancy, and explained how sick I have been since Christmas. Not only did I need to take some time off from blogging, but reading became difficult for me as well. Every time I tried to read a book I became even more nauseous, and ultimately, I had to take a short break. I’m excited to be feeling slightly better, and able to get back to reading, and back to sharing some good reads with you all!

I picked this book up at one of the coolest bookstores I’ve been to in Seattle! Jeff knows how much I adore checking out new bookstores, so he brought the whole family (Jet included!) to Third Place Books in Seward Park. The book store is adjoined by the cutest little restaurant, Raconteur, where we ate before perusing the bookstore. If you’re in the Seward Park area, you must check it out! Okay, now on to the book…

This was not the typical book I like to read. You can usually find me curled up with a heartwarming piece of fiction, but this book hails from (dare I say) my least favorite category; science fiction. And I was absolutely enthralled from start to finish!  Dark Matter by Blake Crouch is a fast paced ride with a deep look into life and it’s infinite possibilities. It had me hooked on the first page with “standing happy and slightly drunk in my kitchen, I’m unaware that tonight is the end of all of this. The end of everything I know, everything I love.” Dark Matter is unpredictable and deeply thought provoking. I don’t want to say much more than that, because it is my hope that you will read it for yourself. I hope you enjoy this mysterious and heartfelt journey as much as I did.

Favorite quote: “It’s terrifying when you consider that every thought we have, every choice we could possibly make, creates a new world.” Blake Crouch, Dark Matter.



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Raising Young Readers

Reading to babies, why it's so important and how to make it funToday on the blog, my sister Megan is taking over to share the importance of raising young readers. Much of what I practice at home with Julian is what I have learned from Megan. I hope you’ll learn a little, and your babes will learn a lot! Enjoy!

There has never been a time in my life where I haven’t been surrounded by books. I was one of those kids who got in trouble for reading past her bedtime. I currently have eight separate apps on my phone that are devoted to reading or books. Some of my best friends have been fictional characters I met in between the pages. If my husband and I had a daughter I wanted to name her Hermione. (Luckily we had two sons so we avoided that argument.) My younger son’s name is Bennett, for goodness sake.

So it should be no surprise that as a mother and as an Early Head Start teacher fostering literacy is one of my passions. I was a teacher for almost ten years before I became a mother. Despite all my education and experience my years of teaching did not prepare me for the rigors of motherhood the way I thought it would. But one thing that carried over is my love of reading to children.

  1. Let them explore. From birth children should have access to books. The indestructible book series is perfect for infants as while not completely indestructible, they are at least baby proof. Letting the child look, taste, try to rip, throw, and carry these books is the first step in a child’s love of reading.
  2. On that note, invest in a lot of board books. Allow them to be destroyed. In our house we have gone through three copies of Goodnight Moon. I couldn’t be more proud. Books are meant to be experienced. Allow them free rein to figure out how books work. What the pages feel like under their fingers, what they taste like and yes, even what happened when they are ripped. Books can be replaced, nurturing a love of reading cannot.
  3. Be a reader. To raise a reader be a reader. Children will emulate what their parents do, if they see you reading, they will too.
  4. Literacy isn’t just books. Songs, finger plays, poems, nursery rhymes. These are all great ways to foster a love of literacy.
  5. When reading a familiar book to your child stop at the end of a sentence and see if they can finish it. You’d be surprised how quickly children can begin to recite a book from memory.
  6. Talk to your child, when they are babies narrate your actions. When they get older ask them questions, use real words not baby talk, expect that they will understand you and they will.
  7. Read every day. Make it part of your bedtime routines, make it part of your quiet time routine, have books in every room in the house and an empty lap for your child to sit in.
  8. Some people might not agree with this, but I think that electronic reading is fine. As long as it’s balanced with actual one on one time with a parent, there is nothing wrong with read along books on kindles, or our family’s favorite a Me-reader. (Are they really all that different than the Teddy Ruxpin of our childhoods?)

For the older children who are struggling with interest in reading I say this. In my opinion there is always something out there that would interest everyone and if you hate reading, you simply haven’t found the right thing to read. While my interest in books varies from Tess of the D’Urbervilles to the latest Jill Shalvis romance novel, I will be the first to tell you that I don’t like a lot of the genres of writing out there. You won’t find me reading nonfiction about the Korean War, or The Secret. And that is okay.

It is okay for your child not to love the book they are forced to read. While Lord of the Flies is not their style, Japanese Manga might be. They might hate Bridge to Terabithia but love reading Goosebumps. It doesn’t matter what your child is reading as long as they are reading.

My favorite books to read to my boys.

  1. On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
  2. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
  3. Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman
  4. Mommy & Daddy Hugs and Kisses series by Anne Gutman
  5. Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling (I’ll admit this is my own fangirl interests leaking through here. So far my 5 year old and I have only read the first one, it’s a little more mature, so I’m pacing myself.)
  6. Horton Hatches a Who by Dr. Seuss (Our dog is named after the bird from this book)
  7. Night Night Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton
  8. No, David by David Shannon
  9. The How Do Dinosaurs series by Jane Yolen and Mark Tegue
  10. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

As one of my favorite children’s authors says “Read to your bunny often and someday your bunny will read to you.”

When she’s not working as an Early Head Start teacher, Megan Grable can be found on her couch writing too late into the night while wearing oversized headphones, listening to angry girl music and wrapped in a large blanket. She has two boys ages five and two that keep her very busy. Her current obsessions are rereading Mortal Instruments Series, Case/Lang/Viers’ new album, over the knee boots, and Michelle Dockery on Good Behavior.

You can find her actual writing on Wattpad or her erratic comments on twitter. She has accepted the status of Pluto and is ready to move on with her life.

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A Christmas Carol

Reading Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" in bed (because reading is sexy:) ) with warm winter pajama's and a hot cup of coffee

For the past 5 years or so, every December I have reread “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Most of us know the story already, we’ve seen the movie, maybe even the Muppet rendition. But I think we can all agree that a book can take you to a magical place that a movie simply can’t. Well, maybe we don’t all agree on that (Dad) but that’s my humble opinion. Reading “A Christmas Carol” just before the Christmas holiday warms my heart like no other book can. It’s a quick read, and it’s subtly new every time.

It is the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, a simple man who turns cantankerous, and selfish through his years. On the night before Christmas day, he is forced to look at his past, present, and what his future will entail if he does not change his actions. Scrooge redeems himself and his transformation is nothing short of a Christmas miracle. This tale is touching and filled with cherished lessons; to have the spirit of Christmas all year long.

Favorite quotes: “No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused”

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”

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