That's Why We Don't Eat Animals

A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians and All Living Things

My daughter and I are semi-vegetarians; my friend, who has the same diet, likes to call us flexitarians. We don’t eat meat whenever we can avoid it, but if it’s there—say, for a holiday meal—we eat it. Sometimes, however, my daughter will ask for chicken from the store, and I will buy it. My husband, the family cook, is also a meat eater, and when he chooses to cook meat, we usually eat it. We have a small budget for food and can’t cater to multiple diets.

That said, we feel more and more concerned as we get older, and I think my daughter is old enough to consider more information about vegetarianism. I was a vegetarian for years before I became pregnant, and my goal was to return to the lifestyle when I felt it was appropriate. So I checked out the book That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things by Ruby Roth from the library. I haven’t read it to her just yet because I’m not sure that I want to.

The illustrations are mostly adorable, and the content is mostly useful… but it’s quite long. Some pages are filled with text, which my daughter might not be able to sit through just yet. But more than that, I am concerned about a couple of the illustrations themselves. They aren’t really bloody, but they are grainy and gritty, with the implication of violence and perhaps blood. While this is something that I think is important for most people to see eventually, I don’t find it appropriate for a picture book for little kids.

There is really nothing in the book to keep kids hooked. Some sweet animal situations, like pigs cuddling, are mentioned, but not with the stick-with-you-ness that should be there. It’s told in a more clinical voice, and I wish it were just a bit more subdued to help kids really connect with the animals. That said, I think kids around the age of nine or so might with the book—just not the younger crowd.

I think a rhyming book, or simply a book with a bit less text, would be more helpful for what I’m looking for. Most of the illustrations do work, and I really like the connections made with the rainforest and endangered animals. I do like this book, though, and might check it out another time in the future.

Essential financial skills in a book

Teaching children the importance of money

Children have a hard time understanding the concept of money. For a significant portion of their lives, things are handed to them. Even if they work to earn an allowance, it can be hard to truly understand the importance of managing money and developing the necessary skills for making smart financial decisions later in life. However, financial guru Dave Ramsey has set out to change that.

Through his series of books designed for children aged 3-12, Dave Ramsey seeks to instill financial skills in children early in life.  In books such as The Super Red Racer, kids learn about earning money to get the things they want and Careless at the Carnival helps them learn to budget that money and choosing wisely how to spend it on fun. Children also learn valuable lessons about giving and acting with integrity through books such as The Big Birthday Surprise and A Special Thank You. His book series also features stories on debt and saving.

It may be hard to believe that six short picture books can teach kids the skills needed to experience financial success, but Dave Ramsey’s books have the potential to do just that. Combined with his other Financial Peace Jr. tools kids can start to become motivated to earn money and start spending it wisely. While they may not have a lot of money to work with while they are young, the habits will stick with them. As they transition into adulthood the lessons from the simple picture books will stick with them.

Books without words

Children use their imaginations to create their own words and story

A book doesn’t have to have words to be beneficial to your child. Even children who know how to read can benefit from a book made up of only pictures. Reading a picture book without words helps children come up with their own stories, increasing their creativity and helping them develop an understanding of basic story structure.

Picture books without words are often ignored by parents, because it requires them to do more work and exhibit more mental effort during story time. However, the beauty of wordless picture books is that parents don’t have to do much work at all. As long as your child can talk, he can read the story to you.

Next time you visit your local library, look for some of these wordless picture books and let your child lead your next family story time.

  • The Red Book by Barbara Lehman has children follow a red book around the world as other children find and read the red book in the story which won a Caldecott Medal for its pictures.
  • Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola tells the story of a woman who wants to have pancakes for breakfast and the struggles she faces as she tries to get the ingredients and make the pancakes.
  • Zoom and Re-Zoom by Istvan Banyai takes children on a journey by zooming in and out on a scene in pictures.
  • The Stories Without Words series features multiple books, such as The Chicken Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez and Ice by Arthur Geisert, designed with intricate pictures to encourage creative storytelling.

Customized photo books for kids

Flattenme brings imagination to life

There's almost nothing that fascinates children as much as their own image. They adore looking in the mirror and are enthralled by photos of themselves. While self-recognition is an essential part of early development, so is story time. Wouldn't it be great if you could combine the two? One clever mother has done just that, and the result is an ingenious gift for the special child in your life. 


Before she was an innovator and small business owner, Margo Redfern was an observant mother. When her young daughter was captured on film eating a gobstopper –15 photos in 24 minutes, to be precise – the pictures went into a special album. When Margo saw the way her daughter cherished the album (her little girl ate, slept, and traveled with it) flattenme was born.

With just one image of your child, flattenme lets your little one star in his or her very own storybook. Can you imagine your son or daughter’s delight in seeing their face in their very own book? What a way to make long car trips, play time and bedtime extra special. Your child's name and face is featured in the title and throughout the entire story.

Even better? You can choose from a variety of themes to create the perfect match for your child. Little girls will love being the winged wonder in The Fairy Book and the mermaid princess in the story of Glitter Gills, while little boys will adore high-seas adventures in their very own Pirate tale. Your child's face is shown seven times throughout the story, where it's juxtaposed among stunning illustrations and whimsical graphics. What’s more, the stories accompanying the images are outstanding. Children and parents alike will be entertained by the engrossing tales and great writing on each page. Fairy tales really do come true in these books. 

But there’s more than mere fantasy happening here. Let’s not forget the huge amount of learning that that takes place when you read to your child. For an extra educational boost, flattenme features ABC and counting books that are guaranteed to hold your child’s attention while they learn the basics.

And don’t think that your little one is too young for storybooks. There’s no such thing as too little for reading, and flattenme has extra special Baby Board books for ages 0-2 years. The Baby Board’s bright colors and simple rhyming scheme will turn your child into a book-lover in no time.

Are you a bilingual household? Do you have friends abroad? No problem. Flattenme has you covered. The books come in almost every language you can imagine: English, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Norwegian and Turkish. No wonder moms across the world can’t stop talking about flattenme storybooks.

Perhaps one of the most endearing aspects of flattenme storybooks – besides the fact that they feature the most beautiful child in the world: your own – is that they truly are keepsakes. Your book may endure the nicks and bumps of childhood, from teething marks to accidentally torn pages. Or, you may end up keeping it pristine. But either way, what remains is one truly unique memento: a sweet story, a little moment captured in time and something special to hold on to long after your little one has grown up.

It doesn’t get much better than that. 

Virginia Wolf

Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault’s book is almost a “Wild Things” for girls.

A few weeks ago, my daughter and I participated in the Caught in the Act of Reading Challenge at Pragmatic Mom. It’s a really fun way to get kids reading over the summer—though we read so much every day that I couldn’t see us not reading! You just send in a photo of your child reading and you’ll receive a free book. Easy, right? The best part is that Mia, the site owner, will carefully select a book based on the book your child was reading, sending you something that he or she will be sure to like.

The book we received was Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault’s Virginia Wolf. The watercolors do remind me of those in the book that we photographed originally, Swimmy—with lots of muted yet beautiful tones coupled with black and white. Once we finished the book, which we both thoroughly enjoyed, I couldn’t help but think of it as a Where the Wild Things are for girls (though the original is for girls, too, certainly! It simply does not feature one), even though the theme of the book was pretty transparent.

It’s no coincidence that the title is almost spelled the same way as author Virginia Woolf’s name; the story, which consists of a sunny, yellow-wearing sister attempting to cheer up her wolfish, doldrums-ridden sister, is loosely based upon the relationship of Virginia Woolf herself and her sister. Virginia is wild and grumpy, dreaming of another world in which sadness doesn’t exist—a world called Bloomsberry, in which there are frosted cakes and perfect trees to climb.

In order to help cheer her sister up, the sister telling the story paints her a lovely painting of Bloomsberry—which not only makes her sister feel better, but also helps them both see the beauty in things that are imperfect—such as the trees that look like lollipops, or the floppy flowers the sister painted.

The round, beautiful imagery, coupled by the story of two sisters—both of whom feel emotions that we have all experienced, and that all children are surely to experience as well—was so enjoyable. Each page features a fine attention to detail, and the rage within Virginia’s doldrums is easy to read aloud, depicted by all-capital text. My daughter wanted to read it again immediately, as she is wont to do with about half of the books we read, and I am thankful that it’s now a part of our permanent collection, since she’s going to want to read it often.


Beowulf is a poem that I had to read when I was in 9th grade. I have it on my daughter’s Literature schedule for next year, when she will be in 8th grade. The benefits of homeschooling are being able to decide when your child is ready to read a classic.

Although the poet who wrote Beowulf is anonymous, it is said to have been written between the 8th and 11th century. The story is about a man by the name of Beowulf, who is from southern Sweden.

Beowulf is a hero from the town of Geats who is called upon to defeat the horrible monster Grendel. Grendel hates the cheerful noises that come from King Hrothgar’s mead-hall in Denmark. Beowulf travels to Denmark with a group of his warrior friends.

King Hrothgar holds a feast for Beowulf. A jealous man by the name of Unferth antagonizes Beowulf stating that he isn’t capable of defeating the horrendous beast Grendel. Unferth must eat his words when Grendel shows up at the mead-hall causing much havoc. Beowulf seems to easily defeat Grendel, making him even more popular in the King’s eyes.

That isn’t the end of the story, however, as Grendel had a mother that was not so fond of finding her son dead. Beowulf must again prepare for battle in order to save the people of Denmark.

Although there is much violence in the poem Beowulf, I think it is a must-read for children in the older grades. Boys who love stories about warrior heroes will especially be drawn to this story. As a homeschooling mom, I plan on incorporating daily lesson plans as my daughter reads through this story.

Warriors: Into the Wild

Warriors: Into the Wild is a book written by Erin Hunter. This book is part of a series and is meant to be read by children in the 5th grade and up. I first grabbed this book from my local library because of the cats on the cover of the book. My daughter loves animals, and I felt a story that revolved around an animal would capture her interest and hold it throughout the book. I was right. She read all 288 pages at record speed.

The story revolves around four clans of wild cats that have shared a particular forest for years and years. The clans are named ThunderClan, RiverClan, WindClan, and ShadowClan. The ThunderClan begins to grow weaker and is in need of new recruits. The ShadowClan sees this as an opportunity to gain dominance over the other tribes. I bet you can guess that a war breaks out.

Another important part of the story involves a housecat named Rusty. Rusty is a dreamer with a desire to someday be a great and mighty warrior. He gets that chance while searching for mice in the nearby forest (the same forest shared by the wild cat clans mentioned above). Rusty comes into contact with the ThunderClan and decides to join them. His name in the clan changes from Rusty to Firepaw.

Children will love watching Rusty become a brave warrior, as it is sure to remind them that no matter where they come from, they can work hard to achieve their dreams. No dream is to silly to pursue. Many of the cat characters have goofy names, which the kids are sure to find amusing. Overall, I would recommend this book to children who have an interest in animals, much like my daughter.


The Big Book of Pirates

The Big Book of Pirates is written by Chuck Tessaro and Illustrated by Anatoly Slepkov. My daughter had a pirate birthday party one year, and to this day I believe it was her favorite party. My sister and her husband dressed up like pirates and led all of the kids on a treasure hunt. The clues were hilarious and even the adults had a good time. Because of that party, someone gave my daughter this book.

What I love about The Big Book of Pirates is that it is full of facts. There are even trivia questions for the kids. Your child won’t be filled with false pirate myths when he is done reading the book. The book covers descriptions of the different types of pirates that existed, as well as some of the most famous pirates.

This book is large so that kids can enjoy the illustrations. It is a total of 56 pages long, and even covers the subject of whether pirates still exist today. I love the maps that are provided in the book, which will help younger children learn a bit about geography. There are even charts on some of the pirate ships with a label for each part of the ship.

Some additional things you can expect your child to learn about pirates in this book are the pirate’s code of conduct, the jobs on the ship, which weapons the pirates used, which countries the pirates came from, what daily life was like for a pirate, and how the pirates planned their attacks.

I found this book to be highly educational, and I would recommend it to both boys and girls that have a fascination with pirates. In fact, the author, Chuck Tessaro, is a fourth grade teacher.

I Love the Night by Dar Hosta

One of the books that has remained on my children’s bookshelf is I Love the Night by Dar Hosta. Dar came to visit my daughter’s school back in 2009, and even autographed the book with a little message to both of my children. Since the school my daughter attends is for special needs kids only, I thought it was sweet that she was willing to give them her time and attention.

Not only did Dar Hosta write the book, but she also illustrated it as well. In fact, she holds both art and writing workshops for children and adults. The book I Love the Night won the 2004 Teachers’ Choice Award from Learning Magazine. I have yet to find anyone who hasn’t instantly loved the book, perhaps because its illustrations do just as good of a job of telling a story as the words do.

Although children of all ages will appreciate this book, I found that it is really geared toward kids who are learning about animals. The book specifically highlights nocturnal animals, or those that are up throughout the night. Some of the animals children will come across in the book include crickets, owls, fireflies, octopi, tree frogs, Luna moths, whippoorwills, raccoons, garden spiders, bats, dormice, and starfish.

I Love the Night is published by Brown Dog Books and is a total of 32 pages long. All of the user review ratings on are four and five stars, so you know the book is a popular one. If you don’t want to purchase the book, you can always borrow it from your public library.

Anne of Green Gables

One of my favorite books growing up was Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. The book is 336 pages long and is recommended for children ages 10 and up. I bought a copy of the book for my daughter last year when she was 11 years of age. I ended up borrowing it from her and reading it again.

The book is about an orphan named Anne Shirley, who has bright red hair and a wild imagination. Mr. Cuthbert picks her up, but is shocked to find out that the orphanage sent over a girl. He and is sister Marilla had intended on a boy to help with the chores. They, of course, end up falling in love with Anne and decide to make her a permanent addition to their family. L. M. Montgomery even went on to add eight sequels to this precious book, continuing the story for avid fans like myself.

The book Anne of Green Gables was so well received that it was actually turned into a movie, an animated series, and several mini series made for television. I think what attracts girls especially to this book is that they can easily relate with the character of Anne. She is skinny, has bright red hair, and is headstrong. She also makes mistakes like most kids, even dying her red hair green. More importantly, Anne isn’t afraid to dream.

I love the way that Anne viewed the nature around her, even giving certain places within her town a name that she felt was more appropriate. She also displayed how to be a best friend with the relationship she had with a character named Diana. I cannot say enough about this book and highly recommend it for kids in fifth grade and up.