Night Buddies - Adventures After Lights Out

My 4 Top Summer Children’s Book Recommendations!

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It’s mid-June, and that summer feeling is already upon us. Whether your kids are out of school or just days away from vacation time, chances are you’re looking for books to keep them busy during these long summer months! These are my top recommendations for a fun, easy, and memorable summer read.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, by Mark Teague.

I love a book about a kid with a wild imagination, and this book more than fits the bill. The story is about a schoolboy who tells his classmates all about his summer vacation—including the time he joined a group of cowboys and stopped a cattle stampede. No boring summer at grandma’s house for him! It’s a cute book with great illustrations, and will get your kids excited for a summer of adventures.

Swimming Lessons, by Betsy Jay.

This story follows a girl named Jane who is afraid to learn how to swim. Her mother tries to get her in the pool any way she can…but Jane doesn’t budge until she hears a taunt from a classmate. A cute story about a girl finding her bravery and facing her fears make this a summer must-read!

A Pocketful of Cricket, by Rebecca Caudill.

As summer comes to a close, a six-year-old boy finds a cricket, sticks him in his pocket, and becomes his friend. On the first day of school, he won’t set the cricket free—but is it really the summer he’s holding on to? This children’s book is beautifully written, and sure to become a classic in your family.

Heat Wave, by Eileen Spinelli.

This books throws it back to the days before air conditioning, making it a fun, reminiscent read for those of us from an older generation! It follows a cast of quirky characters trying to find solace in a heat wave, until everybody comes together by the river and dreams of cooler times. Charming and delightful, this is a perfect comfort to turn to when the temperatures go up!

What are you looking forward to this summer? Let me know in the comments below!


What Parents Have to Learn from Children’s Books

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It’s the common belief that children’s books are meant for…well…children. And while they often are filled with valuable lessons for children to learn, such as accepting one another’s differences and using your manners, there are some books filled with lessons for parents as well. (more…)


My Top 4 July 4th-Themed Children’s Book Recommendations!

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The 4th of July is almost upon us! And while most all of us know the reason we are celebrating (happy birthday America!), sometimes our children don’t take a moment to think of it as anything other than a day to play out in the sun and have a yummy BBQ. That’s where these books come in!

4th of July

The Fourth of July Story, by Alice Dalgliesh. This is a straightforward, but fascinatingly written, account of America’s independence story. It gives a history of why American wanted to break free from Britain, tells Thomas Jefferson’s story of writing the Declaration of Independence—everything you need to know! The story is accompanied by beautiful illustrations that kids won’t get enough of.

Judy Moody

Judy Moody Declares Independence, by Megan McDonald. This is another charming installment of the Judy Moody series, and takes Judy on an adventure to Boston where she meets a British friend, and has a wild adventure learning about Independence Day, and what it means to be independent herself. With a line like this, who wouldn’t want to pick up this read? “She, Judy Moody, would hereby, this day, make the Judy Moody Declaration of Independence. With alien rights and her own Purse of Happiness and everything.”

Rhyming book

Fourth of July Cheer, by Dee Smith. For the really little kiddos, this rhyming picture book is the perfect Independence Day read. It follows the story of Buster the Dog and his family heading out for some July 4th fun at the beach—complete with the beaches, BBQs, parades, and even a fireworks display! It’s very sweet, fun and easy to read, and will put you in the mood for the holiday.

Milo and Jazz

The Case of the July 4th Jinx, by Lewis B. Montgomery. Another installment of the Milo and Jazz Mystery series, this story follows the kids as they try to figure out why everything seems to be going wrong at the 4th of July fair. This is a great choice for kids being introduced to chapter books, and the mystery keeps them turning the pages!

What are some of your favorite 4th of July traditions? Let me know in the comments below!


Surviving and Thriving During Your Child’s Summer Vacation

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As we come to the end of July, you’re probably thinking one thing:

“Only one more month until school starts again.”

Some of you may be thinking of that as a negative; of course, it’s wonderful to have more time to spend with your children, and can be difficult to establish new school routines once the years begins again, but I have a feeling the majority of us parents are counting down the last days of summer with a thrill. Finding time to work (write), finding ways to keep your children entertained, and keeping them content and cool in the hot, humid months is quite possibly a parent’s most difficult time of year. But it doesn’t have to be that way! I’ve been a working, single parent for quite some time now, and have these tips to share with you that will not only make this last month of summer survivable, but one of the best months in your year!


Make a plan, and make it with your child. Planning is the ultimate key to maintaining balance and order to your fun times with children; it helps you avoid pits of boredom, spontaneously doing something your kid will hate or be too young/old for, and it allows everyone to be on the same timeline. Making the plan with your son/daughter helps them feel involved and important in the process, and it allows you to better understand what they find enjoyable. Whether the plan is for an ordinary day or a weekend getaway, making plans ensures that everyone’s thoughts as to how something will go are on the same page.

Find a balance in setting. It’s easy as a working parent to decide to send your kids off to summer camps during the weekdays, but sometimes all they will want to do is hang out at home. Try finding a few days to work from home, see if a friend or family member you trust can come spend the day with them, or see if they can stay at a friend’s house. Constant activity is what your kids should be getting a break from during the summer; make sure that as many days you fill their time with fun, you also allow them to have relaxing days at home. It’ll save you from burned out, grumpy kid syndrome!

Give a variety options. Make two lists, one of activities, books, and movies you and your child can enjoy together, and one of activities, books, and movies they can enjoy alone. Make sure you cross of one thing on each list every day, so you know you are spending the quality time with your kid both of you desire, and you also know that they aren’t getting into trouble or being bored out of their mind when they are on their own. It’s also good to divide the list into inside and outside activities, so whether a day is sweltering hot or a great day to be outside, there is an activity to choose from!

Sometimes, just give in. The reality is, your son or daughter is going back to school soon, where they’ll be busy with school, homework, and extracurriculars every day of the week. If they really want to watch television for a few hours or play video games when you think they should be reading or playing outside, sometimes it’s better to let them indulge themselves. You’ll have to make sure not to let them spend their entire summers lazing around looking at screens, but that doesn’t mean they should never get a lazy day. Just like you, your kids should be allowed to spend part of their vacations re-charging.

These are the tips that helped me to look forward to summer vacations while my son John was growing up, and I hope they help you too! What is your favorite summer vacation activity? Let me know in the comments!


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What is Ol'Sands Up To?

Sands talks about the origin of the Night Buddies Adventures Series.