10 Must Read Children’s Books from 2014

2014 is behind us. Fortunately, the great books that made their debut in 2014 are still with us! We thought it would be fun to compile a list of some of the best books for kids that were released in 2014. It wasn’t easy – there were a lot of great titles to choose from – but Red Apple Reading has chosen 10 must read children’s books of 2014!
The Farmer and the Clown


The Farmer and the Clown (Marla Frazee) – This wordless picture book will delight young readers and parents alike. A baby clown has taken a tumble off the circus train and landed in a farmer’s field. Kids will enjoy watching this unlikely friendship unfold.







Gaston (Kelly DiPuccio) – There’s been a bit of a mix up. Gaston the bulldog and Antoinette the poodle have somehow ended up in the other one’s family. When the discovery is made and set straight the families look right – but don’t feel right. Preschool and early elementary students will like this sweet story of family.







Flashlight (Lizi Boyd) – The night isn’t so scary when a little light is shed on it. Early readers will love this wordless picture book . Discover what’s hiding in the shadows when illuminated by a flashlight.








My Teacher is a Monster (Peter Brown) – What’s Bobby to do when he discovers his monster-of-a-teacher has discovered the park he loves visiting? 4 – 8 year olds may just find out there’s more to their teacher than they originally thought after reading this book.





The Right Word



The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus (Jen Bryant) – Kids will delight in the lyrical prose and beautiful illustrations in this gem of a biography. 2nd – 5th graders will learn about the interesting life of Peter Roget and how his love of words and organization led to a very important reference book.





El Deafo



El Deafo (Cece Bell) – Middle readers will find this graphic novel memoir both touching and humorous. Author Cece Bell relates her experience of becoming deaf at a young age. Will Cece be able to manage the bulky phonic ear that she wears on her chest; and more importantly, will she find a friend?








Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (Jeff Kinney) – Jeff Kinney has done it again! His latest installment in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is as funny as the previous eight. When the Heffley’s go on a family vacation hilarity ensues! An amusing title for middle readers!








The 14th Goldfish (Jennifer L. Holm) – Ellie is attending middle school – with her grandfather (who may have just discovered the secret to immortality!). 3rd – 7th graders will not only be amused but will also learn about some interesting real life scientists when they read this fun book.






Guys Read True Stories



Guys Read: True Stories (Jon Scieszka) – Can boys enjoy works of non-fiction? They sure can! The 5th installment in the Guys Read series introduces 8-12 year old boys to 10 true stories by several talented writers!









We Were Liars (E. Lockhart) – This book is receiving tons of praise for its surprise ending. If your teen enjoys mystery and intrigue they may not be able to put this book down. A girl in a prominent family has a dark secret. What really happened? Find out by reading this exciting thriller.



Help Your Child Dream Big with Reading!

5 Ways Reading Helps Your Child Dream Big

When Martin Luther King Jr. was attending Morehouse College, a professor introduced him to Essay on Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau. This essay, along with many other works of literature, helped to shape one of our nation’s greatest civil rights leaders.

We should never underestimate the importance of reading in the lives of our children. If we want to raise a generation of great leaders who dream big, then we need to encourage them to read. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Red Apple Reading is sharing 5 ways reading helps your child dream big!


1.  Broadens Horizons – My children are growing up in a small town in Alabama. We love our community but our world is small. Our travel budget is also small. You get the picture. Encouraging my kids to read is a sure-fire way to help them expand their world. My kids may never see Afghanistan in person, but they can learn a lot about middle-eastern culture by reading Andrew Clement’s, Extra Credit (a touching story about an American girl and Afghan boy who become pen pals).

2.  Introduces Role Models – There are several wonderful people in my kids’ lives that I would love for them to emulate. When they read the number of their role models increases exponentially. Whether fictional or real life, books introduce children to characters they can imitate. Positive role models are key to helping kids become big dreamers!

3.  Inspires – In order to dream big dreams, kids need to be inspired. Reading about exciting or moving situations fuels a child’s enthusiasm. Make sure your kiddo has plenty of fuel to ignite their passions by encouraging them to read.

4.  Cultivates Imagination – If we want to nurture kids who dream big we need for them to have good imaginations. No one ever achieved a dream without imagining something better for themselves or others. While reading kids are imagining what the setting and characters look like; they are picturing the plot as it unfolds in their heads. If we want our future leaders to be imaginative visionaries, let’s encourage them to read as kids.

5.  Creates Empathy – Children who read learn how to put themselves in other people’s shoes. Stories help our kids view situations from different perspectives. Learning to empathize with others allows children to see beyond themselves and think big. When my teenager read The Outsiders in 9th grade, she not only experienced a great work of fiction, but she also learned how people from other socio-economic backgrounds experience life.

It may be hard to believe, but one day our children will be the nation’s leaders. Let’s nurture a generation who follows in the footsteps of Dr. King and dreams big dreams.


4 Easy Steps to Finishing the School Year on Top

Tips for Finishing the School Year on Top - Red Apple ReadingMost of us are back to our normal routine after having a break for the holidays. If your kiddos are like mine, they weren’t overly excited about getting back to the grind. It can be tough to inspire children to finish the second half of the school year well. What can parents do to motivate their kids to do their best in school? Red Apple Reading has 4 easy steps you and your child can take to finish the last half of the school year like a champ!


1) Think Short Term – It’s easy for kids to get overwhelmed when they only focus on the end result. For instance, your child may think it’s impossible to finish the semester with a B in math. Consider helping your kid reframe how he looks at school. Instead of one big long term goal, encourage your kiddo to take the second semester of school one week at a time. As adults we know how crushing it can feel to look at all that must be accomplished by the end of the day. But when we break the day down into small tasks, we feel empowered as we check one thing off at a time. Taking small bites instead of big ones is a skill that will serve your kiddos well for the rest of their lives.

2) Set Goals – After helping your child reframe the way she approaches the second half of the school year, it’s time to make a list of weekly goals. Sit down together and discuss what she would like to accomplish for the week. If she is struggling with spelling, a reasonable goal would be to study her spelling words for twenty minutes each night. Is your kiddo having trouble completing her homework in a timely manner? Then set a goal to begin homework thirty minutes after returning from school. A plan is empowering. If your child feels she has some control over her circumstances, she is more likely to rise to the occasion.

3) Conduct Weekly Reviews – Goals are great; but if we don’t periodically check our progress, we often veer off course. At the end of the school week, sit down with your little one and discuss how the week went. Did he meet his goals? If not, what hindered him? If the goals were met, did accomplishing them help improve his school experience? Questions like these will help you and your child evaluate if real progress is being made. Don’t be discouraged if things didn’t go as well as the two of you hoped. Use a weekly review is to tweak and fine tune short term goals. If you and your kiddo consistently meet and hash out the details, eventually you will see progress!

4) Offer Incentives – If your child has made real effort to accomplish her weekly goals, then a treat is in order! Decide beforehand what incentive you want to offer your little one. When you make weekly goals, tell her what she can expect if she cooperates. Don’t worry! You don’t have to break the bank to inspire your child to work hard at school. Simple incentives will do the trick! For example, if you typically eat out on Friday nights, let your child choose the restaurant the family eats at. Do you see what just happened? You took something you were planning to do already and turned it into a treat!

Education is a gift! Red Apple Reading wants to help your family make the most of the educational process. Our Pinterest boards offer tons of tips, tools, and ideas to help your little one’s scholastic development. You can also visit our website and try our online reading software for free. We think once you try it you’ll be hooked!

Spend More Time Together in 2015

Spend More Time Together in 2015Don’t you just love new beginnings? The New Year lies before us like a blank slate. What hopes and dreams do you have for your family this year? Sometimes the best resolutions are the simple ones. In the everyday business of life, we often lose the little moments that make family meaningful. This year why not resolve to spend more time together? Red Apple Reading has a few suggestions on how you can get your crew together more often this year.


Read Together – We’re a bit biased, but we personally think that reading is a great way to spend time together as a family. Instead of gathering around the television, gather around a book instead. If you think you won’t enjoy a story written for children, think again! Some of the hardest books I’ve ever had to put down were books I’ve read with my children!

Eat Together – For many, the family meal has become non-existent. Between afterschool activities, working late, and other commitments, it’s difficult to get the whole family to the kitchen table at the same time. If your family has a busy schedule, then set aside one or two nights a week for a family meal and protect those days. You may not be able to eat together every night but a couple of family dinners are better than none! And remember, supper isn’t the only meal of the day. Breakfast or lunch may be a more reasonable time for your crew to enjoy a meal together.

Play Together – How long has it been since your family has played together? While one-on-one time is important, time spent having fun as an entire family is valuable too! Plan a day once a month to have family fun time. Hiking, park and museum visits, biking, and sporting activities are all fun ways to spend the day together. Be sure to let the kids in on the planning. After all, part of the fun is in the preparation!

Work Together – It can be like pulling teeth to get kids to work, but some of the best memories are made while working side by side with each other. Supper has to be made each night and dishes washed afterward. Let the kids help you with these chores. They will probably complain at first, but after a bit you might find that some good conversation ensues. Don’t forget, your kiddos will be adults one day and they will need to have practiced folding clothes, raking leaves, cooking, and a host of other life skills. Make some memories this year while working with your little ones.

Relax Together – There’s a time for work and there’s a time for rest. There’s nothing wrong with doing, well… nothing together. Cuddling up on the couch and watching television is a perfectly acceptable activity at the end of a long day. If your child is tired and needs a break, chances are you do too. So snuggle up and enjoy being quiet together. You will never regret spending those quiet moments together.

Learn Together – This year take time out to learn with your little one. It’s important for parents to be involved in their children’s education. Even if your kiddo doesn’t need help with her homework, you can still show interest in what she is learning. Parents can also supplement their children’s education. Red Apple Reading’s online reading program is an excellent way for your child to sharpen his reading skills. Spend some time playing some of our fun reading games with your kiddo. Check out our free trial version today!


Creating Meaningful Family Gatherings

Making the Holidays MeaningfulMy husband and I have a little inside joke when the holidays come around. We say to each other, “Remember, the holidays aren’t about being happy – they’re about being with family.” Actually, both sides of our extended family are pretty great. The holidays can be stressful though! What would happen if this holiday season we focused on the strengths that our family members bring to the table? This time of year provides the perfect opportunity to learn about the traditions and values of other family members when we gather for the holidays.

Red Apple Reading has some suggestions for making the holidays especially meaningful for all of the generations in your family.

  1. Look Through Old Photo Albums – When planning the family gathering this holiday season, ask everyone to bring an old photo album to share. Everyone is sure to enjoy this mutually satisfying activity and the kids will discover that Grandma was actually a little girl once!
  2. Prepare a Family Recipe – Most families have a recipe that has been handed down through the generations. During the holidays invite the best cook in the family to share a recipe and prepare it with the kids. The adult will love to share her wisdom and the kids will receive a cooking lesson!
  3. Share Family Stories – My husband has quite possibly the best childhood stories of all time. It helps that he comes from a family of characters and is a really great story teller! The kids love to hear their father recount these stories. At the next holiday get-together, take turns sharing your stories with one another. Old and young alike will get a kick out of reminiscing together.
  4. Make Ornaments – If you have a crafty family, then break out the popsicle sticks, glitter, and glue and craft some Christmas creations together! A quick perusal of Pinterest will yield several cute ornament ideas. We like these ideas from Southern Girl Ramblings! You might find your family enjoys crafting so much that it becomes a holiday tradition.
  5. Volunteer – Another meaningful way to spend the holidays is by helping the less fortunate. Most shelters and soup kitchens prepare special holiday meals for those in need. Your family can volunteer to help serve, wash dishes, clean up, or visit with the guests. Giving back to the community is a wonderful way to spread some holiday cheer.
  6. Deck the Halls – Decorating for the holidays is fun; but it can also be overwhelming! Why not take advantage of Thanksgiving company and ask for a little assistance decorating the tree and hanging the stockings? When the decorating is complete, load up and head to the next family member’s house. After all, “a burden shared is a burden halved”!

Make your family gatherings meaningful this holiday season! Each relative is an important piece of your family heritage and has their own special part to play in the life of your family! We would love to hear how your family makes their seasonal get-togethers special. Leave a comment below sharing your ideas!