reading1The last few years I’ve been making a virtual collection on Instagram of pictures of my kids reading using a hashtag. If hashtags are a bit foreign to you – basically, when I share a photo of one of my kids reading I add #Campbell7NoseStuckInABook When I add that hashtag, it adds the photo to a collection of photos with the same hashtag. I use hashtags for personal collections quite often. It is fun to look back and see certain themes!

Each time I post pictures of the kids reading, I am asked about what books they like to read. With 5 kids, there are 5 different preferences related to books. My oldest has definitely set the tone for our home regarding helping everyone else see books as a retreat and reading as fun. I’m so grateful for his unintentional leadership in this area.

6.16books-04We make a trip to the library almost every week. I’ve learned if I keep a basket of library books out in the living room, my kids end up reading more often. When they get bored, they see the basket and pick up a book. When we go to the library, I pretty much let them pick out whatever they want (that is age and theme appropriate).

Many of you have asked what my kids like to read, so I asked the boys for a few recommendations.6.16books-05I asked my oldest to pull out a few of his favorite books, ones he would recommend to other kids his age. These were the top of his list (not all pictured)

The Hardy Boys series

The War of the Worlds

Oliver Twist

Young Fu

The Cat of Bubastes

Wonder (I bought this one based on recommendations from a few parents of cleft affected kids. I read it first and then we discussed it. He has re-read it several times.)

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Gregor the Overlander (the whole series)

Spy Camp

6.16books-08My 10 year old does not LOVE to read. He reads every day, but only a few times a week will go pick up a book without my prompting. When I asked him his favorites, he said:

The Little House on the Prairie Series

The Great Illustrated Classics Series (he really liked the ones pictured)

Animal Encyclopedia

6.16books-07My 8 year old has recently become a big fan of reading. His favorites are:

The Magic Tree House Series

Nate the Great

Tom Sawyer

White Fang

He also tends to pick up the books his brothers sit down and reads those.

The girls are not reading much on their own yet. Typically, I read chapter books to them and my 6 year old daughter reads shorter books to me. Both girls have been using Red Apple Reading online to improve their reading skills. I’ve seen a ton of progress with each of them through that program.

Lastly, I am often asked about how I pick what books the kids read. I don’t. I buy a lot of books (for homeschool) based on reading lists from other parents I trust. I buy most of the classics to have on hand too. When we head to the library and they pick out books, I try to do a quick internet search if I have a concern. My oldest son reads an entire book almost every day. I could never keep up with him. We talk about the books he reads and the topics discussed. Every parent is so different regarding what they allow their children to read. I think you have to find what works best for you and your kids.

Here are a few of my favorite resources for reading lists and book recommendations.

The Read-Aloud Handbook (Trelease) – this is a great resource to get ideas for books to read-aloud and books I want to recommend for my kids. A lot of the books I end up buying to have on hand for all the kids are ones I chose based on what I found in this book.

A Half Hundred Acre Wood – Each summer I scour her old posts and pdf reading lists. I narrow down the books I want to use for each of my kids. These lists coincide for Classical Conversations families, but the books listed are so good. If you do not do Classical Conversations, just ignore that part and look at book titles. It takes some digging, so I usually set aside a few hours and make lots of notes. I wrote more about this process in this older post.

Ambleside Online – I could use this far more than I do. You can find reading lists for various topics and grade levels. It is such a great resource when I want to find books for the kids to read that tie into what we are learning about in ‘class’.

book4Our home school schedule definitely allows for ample time to read every day. My kids get bored daily, so they pick up a book. Talking with friends whose kids are in more traditional school settings, I know the extra reading time can be difficult to find. I don’t have any advice or wisdom in that regard. If any of you have tips for how you encourage reading despite very full schedules for your kids, please share your insight – I know many would appreciate it!





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  • Colette - My son (9) is not a big reader despite my best efforts but a reading programme used here (U.K.) called paired reading has helped a lot. It encourages a love of books even in reluctant or struggling readers. You sit with your child for 10 minutes a day, preferably same time, same place and if possible undisturbed! Choose a book together but it needs to be a slightly higher level than your child’s ability. You the adult begin to read aloud and when your child feels confident they tap your arm and you allow them to take over. You are there to help with challenging words but it really helps with fluency and overall confidence in reading. I have also found highly animated books have encouraged my son to read because he loves art and drawing. The 13 Storey Tree House books were very popular for this reason. Hope this helps parents in the traditional school setting.

  • Dawn Ritchie - Thank you so much for this list.

  • JenW - Yay! I am a huge reader and trying to pass that along to my boy. New book lists are wonderful!

    You might suggest A Wrinkle In Time to your oldest two boys. It’s simply wonderful. And does your family read the Chronicles of Narnia?

  • AshleyAnn - Yes!!! They all liked A Wrinkle in Time and the Chronicles of Narnia. I just asked them for some favorites of their most recent reads, otherwise the list would never end!

  • AshleyAnn - Those are great ideas! Thank you for sharing Colette :)

  • Tiffany A. Nelson - Thanks for the website recommendation, timing is perfect for keeping those brains thinking during Summer. I am in awe that your oldest reads almost a book a day – mind blown!

  • Sarah A - Oldest-kid-book-lovers unite – I could absolutely read a book a day, and I stay up way too late doing so for days on end when I accidentally get too many fiction books from the library. Growing up, I remember that our hometown library had a book limit (I wish I could remember what it was – probably 10 books at a time?) but they always let me exceed it because if I *only* checked out 10 books I’d have to come back in three or four days to get more. I’m currently re-reading a lot of kids’ and YA classics and loving them. It’s such a different perspective to read as an adult, and the writing is fabulous. (Just added Oliver Twist and Wonder to the list based on your son’s recommendation – today’s library day!!) I recently enjoyed Bridge to Terabithia and Where the Red Fern Grows, though both are hard books. My kids are all little (6, 3, and 2) so I am hoping they learn to love books as I do. We brought home 44 books the last time we went to the library (I use the stroller to wheel the stack around as we all add to it, haha) so I think they’re on a good start. :-) I love seeing the pictures of your kids reading.

  • Emily Bartnikowski - Thank you so much! We’re reading through the Stink books (Judy Moody’s little brother) and I just picked up Sideways Stories from Wayside school, but the summer is long and there are so many books to read!

    Also, I’m going to check out red apple reading – perhaps a bit of practice over the summer will keep the cobwebs at bay. Thank you!

  • Jenn - thank you for posting this
    my almost 9 year old son love the magic tree house books. i think he is on book #26
    i love how they grow up with the kids
    i am excited for my daughter to read them one day
    my son has just liked watching little house on the prairie so i need to get the book for him. white fang and the three musketeers are good suggestions. spy camp looks fun. good to remember for when he is a bit older.
    my daughter just started reading the usborne book series Billie B brown. They may be a fun book for Firecracker to read. here is a link to the set of 15 but you can buy them individually as well. they are super cute

  • Kathie M. - I love it! We go to the library quite often and the boys love reading. Jack more than Atticus but we just take time before bed to read short stories and sometimes two or three depending on if we head to bed a bit early or not. We try to do it daily. Weekends are often when we visit the library so there are times we spend the afternoons reading while we have lunch or are just hanging out at the house. I love the hashtag idea too. I am going to start using that more! I have a few but I love it.

  • MC - Thank you so much for sharing! You gave me a couple of ideas for my ten year old.

  • AshleyAnn - Jenn – thank you for those suggestions!

  • GB - My son is 11 and has really enjoyed the “Land of Stories” books.

  • Dawn - Sarah Mackenzie over at Read Aloud Revival has a great book list (and podcasts) as well! Going to check out your book list links now :)

  • Christine - I love posts about what kids are reading, and especially at different ages. Thanks for listing them so thoroughly. We’re hard pressed to find books that appeal to my 4- and 5-yo equally, but I keep trying. The Kingdom of Wrenly series works for us, as does The Littles series (remember that one? old….) I’ve flagged a few of your kids’ recs for future use.

  • Krystle - I love reading – it’s something my 7 year old hasn’t quite picked up yet. I’m hoping.
    When my kids (7 and 5) as to play video games, the 7 year old has to read 2 books to her brother prior to the console being turned on. We’re mostly at the easy-reader stage, but it works well. Sibling bonding, reading, work for what they want! :)

  • Betty - hi AshleyAnn! thank you for your blog in general and your book recommendations today! i have twin 4 year olds and we read a lot but i haven’t done any educational computer work with them. when i linked over to red apple reading it sparked a memory from my teaching days and i remember hearing gen ed teachers speak highly of it. can you tell me what kind of structure you use for red apple reading, please? do your kids use it each day for a certain amount of time? at a certain time of day? on the big mac or an ipad? thanks!

  • betty - another idea/question: i was just thinking that if the kids love it, perhaps i could use red apple reading as a reward when they finish other things that are more like chores or work? do your girls love it enough to use it that way? thanks!

  • Jamie - The Read-Aloud Revival by Sarah MacKenzie is WONDERFUL! I like her podcasts and have learned about so many great books through her. I heard her speak at a conference a couple of months ago and she is such a delight.

  • Melissa Carr - That’s funny… two of my favorite blogs posted about the same topic within a day of each other!

  • Irene Wiranata - Hi Ashley, would you mind sharing a few of your fave books for toddlers? My girl is one year old and I would love to encourage her to like reading :) Thanks!

  • Betty - Hi, Irene! Here are some of our favorite toddler books!
    I love you because you’re you
    I love you, too!
    I love you, stinky face
    I love you through and through
    Mama loves you
    Read Aloud Bible Stories by lindvall
    Frog and Toad by Lobel
    A camping spree with mr magee by van dusen
    10 minutes til bedtime and goodnight gorilla by peggy rathman (look for characters from goodnight gorilla & other rathman books hiding in 10 minutes til bedtime – so cute!)
    My First little house books
    The McDuff Stories by Rosemary Wells
    the Parable of the lily (seasonal series of 4) by liz curtis higgs
    Love you Forever
    ERic Carle
    Richard Scarry
    Corduroy series by don freeman
    Sandra Boynton
    The little engine that could
    Bear snores on (series)

  • Yolanda - Wonder is one of my most favorite books that I have ever read. It’s one of the few books that made me ugly cry. My daughter read it last year and loved it as well.

    As for strategies for getting kids to read who are in traditional school days, my best recommendation is to read aloud as a family regularly. For our family, friends that has been the Harry Potter series. I also try to model reading. I read often. I talk about the books I’m reading with my daughter. I read in front of her. The more she watches me reading if fun, the more fun she thinks reading is.

  • Katie Thomassen - GREGOR THE OVERLAND ROCKS!!! I read the first one after my son put it down one day and I promptly went out and bought the series. LOVED that book series. Did he read and of The City of Ember series? Another one that I stole from my kids…

  • Tobi - Isn’t watching your kids read just the best?! Your boys remind me of my own three boys in a lot of ways. I have a book I’ll bet your family would love – Summer of the Monkeys, by Wilson Rawls (author of Where the Red Fern Grows). I read it because I heard it was a great adventure story – and it is. But the ending surprised me–sibling love, character-development, wrench-a-mama’s-heart moment–to the point where I ugly cried when I read it out loud to my 5th grade classroom. It’s great!

    Also, for busy families, stash a few books in the car and read on the way to/from school and activities. It might curb some of the car whining and wrestling…

  • Cassidy - I always somehow made time to read during school, but as I got older, it got harder. I will say that sometimes we had “reading suppers”. Instead of talking at dinnertime, we’d all read something different. It was fun and while I’m a huge fan of dinner conversation, books are nice, too. (:

  • Heather McDonald - Land of Stories is a great series! Is your oldest familiar with all the fairy tales? I just read the first one and I’m on to the second. I try reading books that my fifth graders would read and ones I know they would love. I’m reading A Fish in a Tree right now…if he loved Wonder, he and you will sure to love this book! It’s all about kindness and showing acceptance. I love it even more than Wonder. It will surely be my first read aloud next year. Also, Hour of the Bees! Another great read that you all would love. Love Lindsay Edgar’s writing.

  • Angie Webb - Thanks so much for the book recommendations. My daughter loves anything about spies so when I saw the Spy Camp book and I immediately borrowed them from our local library. She’s had her nose in that book ever since… love it!!

  • Jessica - I’m so glad you posted these book lists! My oldest son just finished The Wizard of Oz book series and was looking for some new books to read. I had no idea there were so many books written about Oz (did you?), but it’s an incredibly creative and entertaining series!

Yesterday, I shared a few images from the Be Crafty I helped host at The Farm Chicks Show earlier this month. A highlight of the workshop was the opportunity to meet Jess (Shop Sweet Lulu) and Serena (The Farm Chicks) in person.

I’ve worked with Jess on various parties the last few years. Her shop is my favorite for finding adorable decorations – not to mention giant balloons! It was so good to finally put a face and voice to her name. I told her I want to come visit her brick and mortar shop – and just sit in it for a while.

Serena blew me away with her attention to detail and organization. The Farm Chicks Show is huge. She was juggling thousands of attendees and 300+ vendors. Each time I saw her, she was moving with grace and a smile on her face. She never came across frazzled or rushed. If you get the chance, read about her story growing up on her blog. She is inspiring and so gifted at what she does.

Jess | Sara | Amanda | Serena | Lesley | Me

BeCrafty-113A key component of Be Crafty Workshops is supporting and sharing small businesses through swag bags. With 150 women in attendance, that is a lot of items for small businesses to send along. Many shops sent a handful of items and the swag bags included a various mix. So much cute stuff!

BeCrafty-Sponsors1. Home Again Creative 2. Happy Socks 3. Be Crafty Workshops 4. Emily Steffen 5. Paint and Prose 6. Katy Girl Designs 7. West Pine Company 8. Noonday Collection 9. Recipe For Crazy 10. Rebecca Parsons 11. Pebble 12. Prospect + Ash 13. PaperWorks 14. Rainy Day Colors 15. The Doo Bob Shop 16. Dear Hazel 17. Freed OutfittersΒ  18. Gingiber 19. Pen and Paint 20. The Simple Farm 21. For the Love of Joy 22. The Mason Bar Co. 23. Fit Chic Headbands 24. Gracelaced 25. The Belle and Beau 26. Maggie Holmes / American Crafts 27. Big White Farmhouse 28. Bumblelou

FancyThatDesignHouseDespite our best efforts to get all the swag included in that group shot – we missed one. Fancy That Design House also provided adorable prints to many of our attendees. Be sure to check out her shop too!

We also had a few giveaways at each workshop….BeCrafty-10Giveaway Sponsors included (clockwise from top left): Kelsey Davis Design | Simply Rosie Photography | American Crafts | Sugar Blossom |Paisley SproutsΒ  | Rebekah Gough Jewelry | The Felt Flower Shop

The pillow cover below is from Paisley Sprouts (linked above, you can’t see it in the wrapping paper).

BeCrafty-35I would also like to thank our other event sponsors:

Behr Paint

Shop Sweet Lulu (you can use the code FARMCHICKS to get 15% off!)

North Star Balloons


Flower Bar Co.

Amanda is holding a giveaway on her Instagram account for a sampling of some of the swag items. Be sure to click over there to enter!








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  • Ashley@ Big White Farmhouse - We were so honored to be a small part of that awesome day!

  • Brianne @ West Pine Company - We loved being a little part of such a wonderful event! Thank you for including us!

  • Stacey - Looks like amazing bags ? Ashley, it does look like the link for pebble is broken. A missing ‘t’ I think :)

  • AshleyAnn - Thanks Stacey for letting me know!

Many months ago my friend Amanda shared the exciting news with me that she was asked to bring a Be Crafty Workshop to the Farm Chicks Show. When she asked if I would be interested in joining her, along with my sister and friend Sara, I didn’t hesitate. Amanda worked for months preparing every little detail. Coordinating getting 4 ladies to Spokane and planning for 150 women to attend 5 different workshops is no small feat. It was an honor to help Amanda.

I flew out with my sister. We don’t get much time together, so trips like this are extra special to me. I got spoiled by the 4 days with her and am ready for more.

Me ~ Sara ~ Lesley ~ Amanda

BeCrafty-102I wore a hat all day Saturday to the workshops. A few people told me I was looking very “Farmer Chick.” In reality, I knew I’d be going fast all day and didn’t want to mess with my bangs. Whoop whoop for hats and hidden bangs. Sara served in a million ways all weekend. One of those ways was as the event photographer. All the photos in this post were shot by Sara.

A few peeks of the workshops:


BeCrafty-7BeCrafty-71BeCrafty-17BeCrafty-116BeCrafty-63BeCrafty-55BeCrafty-12BeCrafty-47BeCrafty-1BeCrafty-13BeCrafty-97A little slideshow with more pictures from Sara…there were too many to narrow down for 1 post!

I’ll share more about our sponsors tomorrow. It was a beautiful day full of meeting many women. As much as I like crafting and helping Amanda, the highlight was by far meeting women and hearing their stories. I had the chance to chat with several that have read this blog for a bit and their words were hugely encouraging to me.

It always surprises me the things that stick out to others about what I share here. There is plenty of ‘noise’ online and I sure don’t want to just add to that noise. I’m thankful for the women that took the time to let me know why they read these words and random pictures I post to this little corner of the internet. Their words spoke life to me. Thank you ladies.

Thank you Amanda for inviting me to come along.

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  • Byron - That giant hat made me think of Gandalf (“Farmer Gandalf Ashley”)! πŸ˜€

    It looks like you had a lot of fun and got to mingle with some great folks. “Crafty” is an amazing talent to me; great pictures!

  • Donzel - I was so sad to miss this! BUT, the MOPS retreat I attended more than made up for the lack of crafty stuff – and it gave me an opportunity to get to know my local ladies much better.

    Time with sisters is so very special, isn’t it?! So glad to hear it went well, and that you were able to meet women who’ve enjoyed your blog and (like me) been encouraged by it.

  • amanda - Such a great weekend . xx

  • Trischa - Where do you get the huge balloons? Love them. This looked so fun!

  • Melissa - Could you tell me what camera len you used to shoot the pictures inside at the Farm Chicks Show?

  • AshleyAnn - Trischa – Those are from Shop Sweet LuLu!

  • AshleyAnn - Melissa – I am not sure the lens used. Sara Parsons took all the photos.

  • AshleyAnn - Gandalf – thanks Byron :)

  • Nikki - It was such a pleasure to meet you! You are as sweet and genuine in person as you are in your little corner of the internet. :) You have been a huge encouragement and inspiration to me in so many areas of life, so thank you for the honest, “real life” posts week after week. PS. I hauled that darn rug all over the show. My arms and back were aching, but it’s perfect in my home :)

  • Christine - Just catching up on your blog…where did you get that fabulous hat!?! LOVE.IT.