Our Favorite Picture Books This Year

A week or two ago, Wyatt mailed a letter to Santa from the big Santa Mail Box in our city – and to be honest, I had no idea that he was going to get a letter back when we did it, but wow did it bring a smile to my boy’s face! And, we found out that Santa loves books too! We have read some fantastic books this year, and I wanted to share some of our top favorites with you.

(this post contains Amazon Affiliate Links)

Wyatt’s current favorite holiday book is the Llama Llama Holiday Drama. I read this a billion times a day, and when I am not, he is looking at it himself half the time. Thanksgiving in the Woods is a fun one that we actually won in a giveaway on Instagram this year- and while we both love it, I think it would be so fun to actually have a Thanksgiving in the Woods one year! I included Ohana Means Family, but it was more my favorite than Wyatt’s. I just loved the illustrations and the introduction to Hawaiian culture to Wyatt. Scout and the Gumboot Kids were a big favorite of Wyatt’s this year, whether on television or reading the books. He really loved The Case of the Wooden Timekeeper. Then finally, all the way back in January, we read Little Wolf’s Song and Winter Walk, and Wyatt loved all the howling in Little Wolf’s Song, and then surprised me by really loving Winter Walk.

Leo the Lightning Bug! This book also came with a CD, and Wyatt still listens to it and flips through the book, reciting parts out loud with it. It reminds me of me when I was his age, listening to books on tape and record and looking through the books. (For Christmas I bought him The Thousand Star Hotel by the Okee Dokee Brothers, which he can flip through while he listens to the story streaming..ah technology.) Nightsong was really cool, and Honey, adorable. Wyatt is a fan of David Ezra Stein. He is also a giant fan of the Little Blue Truck, and he loved this Springtime book. Which reminds me I never bought him The Little Blue Truck’s Christmas! Then finally we found two new to us owl books that we really enjoyed, Tanna’s Owl and Otto the Owl who Loved Poetry.

The Giraffe That Walked to Paris is my favorite picture book that we read this year. I liked it way more than Wyatt, so it is definitely my favorite, not his. I had never heard of this event before and it was sort of sad but neat to learn about it. Anatole was an old favorite of mine that I enjoyed sharing with Wyatt, who also liked it. And then finally, The Salamander Room – this book made me commit to adopting our leopard gecko Harry, which I realize is two different species entirely but it was still a fun way to segue to Harry for Wyatt.

I did miss the library so much this year, browsing the shelves and all the new books. If there are two places I miss going, it is the library with Wyatt and then Ikea with Billy. We would drop the boy off to my mom then head to Ikea and have lunch and shop. We are exciting.

I am looking forward to reading more with Wyatt in the months ahead, especially now as he is picking up letters and can read some of the words himself more and more! He loves reading, and I love that he loves reading!

Homeschooling, Summer Edition: The Great Smoky Mountains

This week was a departure – in two ways! We “traveled” to the Great Smoky Mountains and learned about much of the flora and fauna and traditions of the area; and it was also a departure from our normal version of homeschooling. This week we skipped table work and did more exploring and reading on our own.

I chose the Great Smoky Mountain area because pre-COVID, we were planning a trip to the National Park, Gatlinburg, Dollywood – it was going to be a whole big thing, our first big trip as a family, first theme park for Wyatt. However, it is now on hold for a bit. And well, now we know a bit more about the area for when we do go!

We spent a day talking about the National Parks, park rangers, and specifically Great Smoky Mountain NP. We talked about preparing for a hike, and I gathered a bunch of materials for Wyatt to choose from to pack his own adventure bag. He chose to pack all of it, and to eat his snacks immediately. I guess he is not a minimalist and does not believe in traveling light. This was also the first challenge in the Wild Explorers Club that I signed Wyatt up for. We are working on the first badge, the Wolf Badge. It worked out nicely!

Then we talked about log cabin homes and Davy Crockett, the Native American tribes that lived there (we were going to make a Cherokee pinch pot but never got around to it – another time), and watched a video of the synchronous firefly event – something I would love to see one day! We just learned about fireflies last week so this was sort of fun to revisit again. We had a day spent on Folk music, and then finally learning about salamanders, the Smoky Mountains are known as the salamander capital of the world! We read the Salamander Room, talked about salamanders, chose our own favorite animal and drew “rooms” for them (fox for me, frog for Wyatt), and finally today as a surprise to Wyatt, we are adding a new member to our family – a leopard gecko! Not quite the same thing but after reading about different types of small pets a leopard gecko sounds like a good fit for our family. We will set up the enclosure today and talk about setting up the room for a gecko, then add in our new friend!

Books Used:

(Contains Amazon Affiliate links)

All Aboard National Parks || The Salamander Room || National Parks of the USA || Great Smoky Mountains National Park (I loved Ranger Rick as a kid!)

A few links to videos we watched and websites I used:

Synchronous Fireflies

Storytime at the Met – The Salamander Room

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Cherokee Pinch Pot

Mountain Living

Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a Classroom

And then for all of our music explorations be sure to check out my Exploring Folk Music post!

As you can see, it is easy to get lost in the beauty and richness of the Smokies – even virtually!