Category Archives: Kids Books

Ruckus Reader Giveaway

Ok, we all know how much I love my tech with my tablets and apps. Well, I can’t be totally selfish. I occasionally will share with my kids. And if I am going to share my toys they will be learning something (homeschooling mantra;)! But I haven’t found a lot of the reading apps to be very educational. But I love Ruckus Media and their apps so I was very stoked to get a chance to review the Ruckus Reader Apps for iPad with my 5 year old (as of yesterday), NerdPud.

As I said, I am a bit of a reading app cynic. I tend to find them to be extremely easy or extremely hard and neither is something that will actually help my last child to learn how to fluently read. But I thought if nothing else she would have fun. Well, I am very happy to have been wrong. She loves it and she is learning!!!!

The first time we cracked open any of the Ruckus Reader apps was at the dentist. We opened up the My Little Pony level 1 book while we were waiting for the other kids to get done with their cleanings. She starts giggling in anticipation and frankly, who doesn’t love that giggle;)? We chose to have it read to her but she still got an opportunity to do word recognition and a reading too. The art is great and book choices are phenomenal! There are just enough activities for the kids to do within the story so that they never become bored and tune out. And every time we are using any of the Ruckus Reader apps her older siblings (who all read well) want to come watch instead of reading their own books they picked out.

The fact you can choose either to have the app read the story to you or not really helps make this a very versatile app. My 6 year old really enjoyed reading and playing the Transformers level 3 book but didn’t need it to read it to him. I also love the fact that you can record some one else reading the story. I would do more of that if I actually left my iPad when I traveled (but alas, I am not that nice;).

Of course part of the perks of reviewing an app is that I usually get all the paid features. And there are some good ones that come with the paid iLibrary subscription. I really like the Reading Meter reports that I get emailed to me! It means that I can allow the kids to play with the app without having to completely hover over them to see how much they get right or understand. It gives them a little space but leaves me in the position to be fully aware, the best of both worlds. I also like having access to all the books. And both those things come with the paid iLibrary subscription.

A review wouldn’t be balanced without some cons. The one I really see it that I wish there was some books that are a little more simple, like bob books. Because these are all character driven some of the names are hard and even the level 1 books are challenging to a new reader. It isn’t a horrible thing but something I feel the apps could use. Since NerdPud has been reading the Bob books I thought she would do a little better with the level 1 books but with the Transformers and the like, she didn’t do very well in reading along. She did ok at the activities but I was hoping for the actually reading to be easier. It isn’t a deal breaker but not everything can be perfect;).

On the whole if you are looking for a premium app for reading I would definitely recommend Ruckus Reader. And on that note…..

I have some subscriptions to giveaway!!!! The folks over at Ruckus Media have graciously decided to giveaway 1 six month iLibrary subscription and 2 one month iLibrary subscriptions!

To enter you must register for free with Ruckus Reader then come back and let me know that you have done it by leaving me a comment! Make sure you leave your email so I can contact you if you win.

After you register there are some things you can do for extra entries! Leave a separate comment for each one that you do.

This giveaway will close on June 26, 2012 and the winners will have 24 hours to respond.

(Disclosure: I did receive the Ruckus Reader app and iLbrary subscription from Ruckus Media to review. All opinions and words are mine and mine alone!)

Free Comic Book Day 2012

Free Comic Book Day is tomorrow (May 5th)!!!

But what is Free Comic Book Day, you might ask. It is a day where you and your kids head down to your local comic book store and get a free comic book! Once you find the participating stores in your area it really is that simple. Free Comic Book Day is not just designed to get kids into comic books but to overall encourage reading in children.

We always hit Heroes here in Fresno. And while there is a line it moves super quick. And as you see, they bring out the characters;). The kids love that! They interact with the Star Wars guys every year.

The list of the “available” comics is posted ahead of time. I use quotes because sometimes they are out of one by the time you get there or didn’t get one of them. So I recommend you peruse the list and come up with a top 3 for every person. And person gets a comic, including the adults. They had some preview and special edition copies of some comics we were interested in last year.

We always have a ball and highly recommend you go! Let me know what decide you want to get!

Who?Comics App

Thank you to who?Comics for sponsoring this post and encouraging my child to read biographies in comic book form! Please click here to learn more about the app. And follow who? Comics on Twitter for updates

As you all know, I am a big fan of reading and an even bigger fan of learning! So you can just imagine how excited I was to  receive the opportunity to use the who?Comics app on my iPad with my kids!

Who?Comics is a free app and it comes with 2 books. There are 27 other books available for purchase. Some are sold individually but there are also packs available.  Which of course, are a better deal;). So I got the Scientists pack (surprise, surprise;).  Right off we checked out Marie Curie and Thomas Edison!

Here is a little detail you should know going in. These comics are not the super quick, over view type comics. There are 150 pages of details about the subject’s personal life. Which means it isn’t a quick read! I was very familiar with Marie Curie and I learned so much! NerdPie and I even cried at 2 different spots.

So what is my overall feel? Well, I love the idea of having these on the iPad for easy access! The art is clear and the story line moves at a good clip. This isn’t going to be a situation where you can read the whole thing in the doctor’s waiting room and that can be a good thing. This app was developed over seas and so there are a few translation issues. Due to that and the fact that these really deal with real life situations, I would make sure you child is near you when they read them. I had to explain about certain illnesses and certain historical events that were mentioned in the books we read. There was an assumption that the kids understood everything but mine had quite gotten there yet. (For example, why and how Poland was being occupied By Russia and how they weren’t supposed to speak Polish.)

My kids thoroughly enjoyed these comics! My kids are even asking for books from the library so they can learn even more! Both about the people in the stories and the science they discovered!

Thank you again to who? Comics for sponsoring my post. Please click here to learn more about the app. Visit who? Comics for updates. I was selected for this opportunity by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own. #CleverWhoComics #spon

Reading and Learning While Little

Recently I have been part of a few discussions about how hard it is to find non-fiction books for young readers. I can say here in the NerdFamily house it has always been a challenge. With our oldest we struggle with a child who can read quite well for his age but at the same time the non-fiction books at that level contain such advanced data that it is hard for him to really comprehend the information. With NerdPie she wants to learn real information but is still really developing her reading ability. Then we have our 4 year old. He can’t read but he loves to be read to. I want to encourage him to understand what I am reading so I don’t want books that are to hard. With all of these kids it would be a shame to lose this sponge like time.

At my local library I have found a few different series that we have used. Typically what happens is that I find 1 in a series, like it, and then request every other book they put out. So in order to help others, in a way I wish someone would have helped me, here are a few series that I have found. I am not going to really talk about math because I have already posted a bit about some good options here and here.
Time for Kids Series (they have great history and science)

Our Galaxy and Beyond Series

Let’s Read and Find Out! Series

So there are just a few. What do you use with your early elementary school kids?


I have talked to a few of my friends about reading books about math with my kids in the preschool, kindergarten and the early elementary years. I really like Stuart J Murphy’sMathStart series. They have them coded by level so you can slowly work yourself into more difficult material. You can start just working with basic number concepts and then do groupong, money, probability or more! These books are great because they are colorful and entertaining. It is just a great book that happens to teach math! Is there anything more you could ask for a book than both reading and math?

Nana Star Review

We recently received the Nana Star doll and book to review and the NerdPie loved it! This soft doll is just precious and comes with her star and the twig he sits on. The book is sweet and well illustrated. The only bad thing that could be said is that is was a bit short. But it is so sweet and also comes with a cd. This is that perfect grandparent gift because NerdPie will have this doll and book for years! They also have a Moonman for boys and it is also very cute!

So go check it out!

Man in the Map Review

American geography is important. There I said it. But the question is how do we teach it. Previously I have worked with flash cards. Now that has seemed to work as long as the kid is just looking at the shape of the state but placement doesn’t really fit into this plan. Well, The Little Man in the Map book seems to have some solutions.

This award winning book has beautiful illustrations that emphasis the rhyming system. It has separated the US into regions and then has rhymes that help you remember each state individually and as a region. My kids absolutely loved it! You can use this book in conjunction with the wall map to make an entire US geography unit. How we are going to use it is with a lot of reading. The kids think it is such a fun book they keep wanting to read it.

Right now Schoolside Press is running some great deals. First of all they are doing free shipping for the holidays. The book by itself is $19.95 and the map is $21.95 but you can get the combo pack for $35.00. You can even get the book autographed!

My kids and I definitely recommend this book for families with kids under about 5 grade. Go check it out!

The Missing Link: Found

I recently read a novel called The Missing Link: Found by Christina and Felice Gerwitz. One of the things I liked about this book before I even opened it was the fact that it was written by a homeschooled teenager with the help of her mom. I also like the fact it is about creationism and features a homeschool family. But now onto a review of the actual book;).

The book is a very easy read that is aimed at preteens and teens but I am thinking that my 7 year old will enjoy it. It is a fast paced action mystery that deals with evolution issues. I found the plot to move quickly and it really draws you in. It is a book that is a fun read that is great for kids who love to read or ones that find it a struggle. I love the fact that it give a great amount of factual knowledge that can even be a jumping off point for research or a unit (There are even study guides that go with the series). I also like the fact that there are 2 other books so far in the series.

The only down side is that there are some editing errors but I have been told it is going to be re-edited. Overall I really recommend this for the pre-teen or teen in your life either as a gift or just because!

A Better Way to Get NerdThings

For those who haven’t gotten the hint. I like books. No…I love books. NerdDad loves books. A great date for us is dinner and going to the book store (dorks we know). So when I was sent information on Homeschool Library Builder I was quite interested.

This site rocks! They have all kinds of books including many that are homeschool necessities. They also have some out of print books and ex-library copies. The site has a revolving inventory so they may not have every book you want and you need to check the condition (they carry both new and used books) of the books but the deals and customer service make up for it. For example they have a 99 cent copy of The Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens and a 75 cent copy of Caddie Woodlawn in the clearance bin. Also, if they don’t have a book you need just ask and they will go looking for it.

They also have a free membership program where you can get a frequent buyer program and referral program (so if you sign up please use NerdMom as your referrer). They are also very charitable. They have a holiday section where all the proceeds go to the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child.

So go check out this great site and maybe get a little bit of your Christmas shopping out of the way for the child you always want to encourage to learn.