Once Upon a Story
November 16, 2012

Okay, I confess,

I’m not really hiding

I am, however, running in all directions today.

Fortunately, you CAN find me interviewed over at the lovely Growing Book By Book.  I’m chatting about my favorite books, a family addiction, and a fantasy brunch bunch.  Go check it out!

And since I know you’ll want to hear more from me, check back there again tomorrow, for a guest post by yours truly.

Have a fabulous weekend!

September 12, 2012

I’ve been blogging since 2005.  I began with a family blog, one that seems to have faded into the sunset in recent months.

So consider myself a “veteran”, but a novice in the book blogging world.  In the summer of 2010, I was no longer teaching, instead staying at home with my 18-month old daughter.  I felt the need to connect on a different level.  A professional level, but without going back to work.  I played around with a few venues, but that fall decided to begin Once Upon A Story.  For several months, I blogged here.  And then, in March of 2011, I found out I was pregnant again.

And the blog fell by the wayside.  I was sick.  I was tired.  It was all I could do to make it through the day, and then once I made it through the day, I collapsed in bed at night.

Things didn’t improve much after Baby was born.

So it wasn’t until this spring that I began to begin writing again.  At the same time, I began to branch out and discover that this blog could help me find two things: balance and community.

I wrote alot about finding balance over here a short time ago, so I won’t spend alot of time on that today.

Let’s focus on community.

In real life- I know not everybody shares their blogging space with their “in real life” friends and family, but I have.  And I know that some will take grievance with the “in real life” vs. “virtual” friends, but you know what I mean.  These are people I meet with and socialize with outside of my computer. These friends are aware of this space and, those that are interested, follow along.  I’m good with that!  It sort of allows us to share books and thoughts when we might not otherwise be able to do so, because we’re typically busy in doling out snacks, child-wrangling, and planning our next playdate.  Because when I’m not at my computer, like most other moms I know, that is real life.

In the blogging world- The book blogging community is so open.  People WANT to share.  Have a question?  Ask away!  Disagree?  That’s okay! (Just do it tactfully).  This shared passion and discussion has, in some cases, led to more personal relationships as well.  Other moms will sympathize when I mention having “one of those days”.  Or when I mention that someone I went to school with has asked for recommendations on a particular genre…the results come (and continue to come!) flooding in.

It takes some effort.  I participate in discussions and events (like BBAW).  I comment and share with other bloggers.  I write on not just a “professional” level, but on a personal one, too, so that those who visit here realize that there’s an actual person behind the blog.  And I have a husband who is very understanding of it all 😛

That’s why I do it.  For the community.  So if you’ve been lurking, or are visiting here for the first time, please say hello!  Let’s get the conversation started!

(Well, later tonight.  For now, I have a non-napper who keeps trying to chew on my computer cord.)



August 29, 2012

Okay, so creating a reading space at home isn’t JUST a back to school topic.  But with the coming of fall, and the return of school, there is more time spent inside.  Cooler weather, stricter schedules, and assigned reading all combine to make this a good time to think about creating a reading space at home.

The other day, I saw this idea for creating a reading space in a nursery, using a tension rod:

Source: apartmenttherapy.com via NoVa on Pinterest


And it got me thinking.  Because that’s such a super simple idea.  To be honest, I’m not sure I would use it in a nursery, unless the child in the crib is past the pull-all-the-curtains-in-the-house down stage.  But I have a similar corner in Preschooler’s room, between a tall dresser and a wall.

So then I went to Pinterest and started poking around.  You want to waste an hour?  Go to Pinterest and type in “reading nooks”.  You will be amazed.  And envious.  And want to buy a house with rooms that allow some of the creations you’ll see.

But for the rest of us, check out these (mostly) simple reading nooks.

This one involves some basic construction, but nothing too difficult.  And if you replace the flowery pillows with a different pattern, it would be fantastic for a boy’s room, don’t you think?

Source: ohdeedoh.com via Karah on Pinterest

Or if you’re a little more handy, and you have an extra (tiny) closet, I LOVE this space.

Source: petiteliterary.com via Robbyn on Pinterest

How about this super simple corner?  I think I might lower the book rack down to the child’s reading level, but the bright colors are so welcoming.  And how about the child-sized nightstand?

Source: Uploaded by user via NoVa on Pinterest


If you don’t have the closet space, or a little nook, here’s a design that uses just a regular corner.  This one has a raised platform, but I think the space would be just as comfortable with the pillow flat on the floor.

Source: recyclart.org via Amanda on Pinterest


Anybody else’s wheels turning yet?  I think I want to create a nook in my daughter’s room, probably most like the first one, since that’s the type of space we have (only one closet, and it’s already in use).   Or do you have a unique reading space at home you’d care to share for inspiration?  I’ll let you know what we come up with here!

June 12, 2012

Normally, most of the book chatting on here is in relation to children’s books, with the occasional middle grades chapter book thrown in.

But I’m a big girl, and I have big girl tastes, too.  Which includes some “guilty pleasure” reads.

And after waiting for 528 people ahead of me on the library “hold” list to finish… it’s finally my turn for a little guilty pleasure.

Sure, I could have bought the book months ago.  But I always have a stack of others to read, so I waited this one out.

And there’s something great about the feeling you get when that long-anticipated read finally arrives in your hand, isn’t there?

I see a couple of late nights in my future.

What are your guilty pleasures?  Those books or authors that have nothing to do with children or parenting or professional development or even blogging, but are just pure entertainment?

June 4, 2012

While those more fortunate are at Book Expo America ( heads up: music at link), I’m at home taking care of two snotty noses and lathering up with hand sanitizer.  It’s a glamorous life I lead, yes?

Fortunately, there’s Armchair BEA for people like me.  And so if you’re visiting for the first time, welcome.  And if you’ve been around for a little while, maybe today’s post will give you a little peek into the beginnings of Once Upon A Story, as well as a little more about me.

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

Who am I?  I’m a Northern Virginia suburbs resident with small-town roots.  I am a daughter, a sister, and a wife.  I am a former classroom teacher, with a graduate degree in library science, now staying at home with a 3 year old (Preschooler) and a 6 month old (Baby).  That combination role of teacher/librarian/mom is the driving force behind this blog.  I’ve been blogging for 7 years, but only here at Once Upon A Story for a little over two years.  This blog comes from both a desire to chat books with others, and also to encourage/support parents who want to read with their children at home, but feel overwhelmed by the task.   You can read a little more about me here.

2. What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?

I’m currently reading See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles.  Two of my favorite chapter books that I’ve read in 2012 are The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy.  In the world of picture books, my recent favorites include The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool for it’s amazing illustrations, the Bear series by Karma Wilson for fun bedtime read-alouds, and Pretzel by Margaret Rey for a new-to-me classic.

3. Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.

My husband and I are big fans of Virginia wines.  Before we had children, we used to do wine-tasting weekends.  That doesn’t happen very often anymore, but we still manage to search out some good labels.  My blogging and reading often occurs after the kids are in bed, where you’ll find often find me kicked back on my own bed, laptop at the ready, and a glass of wine nearby.  We recently discovered moscato, which may be my new favorite summer drink. Yum.

4. What is your favorite feature on your blog (i.e. author interviews, memes, something specific to your blog)?

This blog is a reflection of me.  I’m not fancy over here.  I don’t have a tremendous following.  But those who know me in person can attest to the fact that the “voice” of this blog is my own.   You’ll find book recommendations and literacy tips because that’s my passion, but I’m also a parent of two small children and I want that reality to come across as well.  So in the spirit of keeping it real, I offer a personal confession every Friday.  Because while I do think literacy is fundamentally important, my kids are kids, and I’m a regular parent, and sometimes we have failings and very, very non-educational moments.  You’ll find those moments here, too.

5. Have your reading tastes changed since you started blogging? How?

I don’t think that they have changed, but I would say that they’ve certainly broadened.  The wonderful thing about being involved in this community is how willing people are to share.  In the past couple years, I have picked up and enjoyed many books that I might not otherwise have heard of, or been drawn to.  While I appreciate professional reviews, I really enjoy hearing the thoughts of other bloggers, many of whom are teachers, librarians, and parents just like me.  It’s these recommendations that tend to drive my book choices for both myself and my children these days.

Thank you for stopping by!  Please, please let me know you were here!  I’m pretty good about responding to comments.  After bedtime, when I’m enjoying that glass of wine.

May 31, 2012

I’m writing this post today as a follow-up to a post I wrote a couple months ago about using audiobooks in the car.

When I was in preschool and grade school, I had several book-and-cassette sets.  Do you remember those?  Mine included titles from Disney, Sweet Pickles, Teddy Ruxpin, and Mr. Men/Little Miss series (does that tell you what decades I grew up in?)  The books were small and had a pocket in the back to hold the cassettes.  The audio was of such amazing quality, and included a little jingle to tell you when to turn the page.  Even better was when I had my own cassette player to play my tapes on.  Oh, and to increase my cool factor?  I also had several book-and-record combos and my own record player.

A few months ago, when my husband was complaining of having to listen to the same toddler tunes cd over and over and over again on every car trip, I decided to try mixing things up by playing audio books in the car instead of toddler tunes.

It worked.  Preschooler enjoyed listening to the stories, and our ears were spared the 1000th round of “Hey Diddle Diddle”.  Over time, though, enthusiasm began to wane a little.  Part of it, I think, was the limited access I had to short audiobooks through our local library system.  Chapter books, yes.  Adult novels, plenty.  But not so many picture books.

Until I discovered I was looking in the wrong section of the library.  When I found the rack where the picture book-and-cd kits were stored, a whole new opportunity opened up for us.

We now pick up 2 or 3 kits on each library visit.  The books stay in the backseat in her book basket, while the cds stay up front with me for safekeeping.  When she wants to hear a story, she can request a cd, I’ll pop it in, and she can “read” independently with the corresponding picture book in the back seat.

What have we read? Arthur books by Marc Brown, The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster, The Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Curious George books by Margaret and H.A. Rey, and currently, Lilly’s Big Day by Kevin Henkes, and The Gingerbread Man retold by Eric Kimmel.

Lots of variety.  And not a Diddle in sight.  It may be time to add audiobooks to our indoor collection, too.

(And in case you’re wondering… we still have both a working cassette deck AND a working record player.  In case that technology ever comes round again.)

April 4, 2012

If you’re visiting for the first time, hop on over and check out my Caldecott picture book giveaway!

Flashback photo:  Preschooler (at 6 months) with a little vacation reading.  She’ll be three in a few weeks, and still a little reader, but her taste in books has changed.

Linking up at 5 Minutes for Mom

March 23, 2012

Let me introduce you to Preschooler.

She is my first-born.  And fits the first child descriptionperfectly.  She is extremely loving, empathetic, and protective.  She is also stubborn, headstrong, and fiercely independent.

She is a learner.  Her naturally inquisitive nature means that we are talking/learning/exploring all the time.  She will start preschool in the fall and has been talking about it for a year already.  The former teacher in me notices that she has a strong auditory learning style.  Especially if what she is learning is set to music.  So here’s where I’m hoping somebody out there will have some ideas.  I confess:

Early childhood education is NOT my forte.

Elementary?  I know how to teach those kids. Preschool?  Eh. I just can’t get in their little heads.

And yet, I have this 3 year old who shows a definite interest in learning her numbers and letters.  She can count almost to 20 (she has a few random number skips), can recite/sing the alphabet, and can correctly identify a handful of numbers and letters.  She would like to know more, and I’d like to be able to help her out, but she’s not a visual kid and so many of the tactics I’ve seen are not sticking.  Any thoughts on how to teach an auditory learner avisual skill?  More particularly, a 3 year old auditory learner?

I should add that I’m not in any huge hurry, and I realize that she’s still very young.  But recognizing numbers and letters aren’t beyond the realm of possibility, especially since she’s showing the interest, right?

And it would really help the dinner-making process if she was not systematically pulling each and every  letter magnet out if it’s orderly row (that she created) on the fridge and demanding, “Mommy, what this one?!”

Thoughts?  Ideas?  Links?  Blogs?  I’ll take ’em all!

March 7, 2012

I’m back for another day of Share-A-Story.  Today’s topic involves breaking down the stereotype of what a “reader” looks like.  The prompt I chose for today is a little more personal, but relevant for this blog, which is a combination of literacy and family chat.

Is there a young reader (or reader to be) in your life? Write them a letter expressing what you hope for them as readers.

Dear Preschooler,

In just three short years, I’ve already seen the beginnings of your evolution as a reader.  When you were little, you loved to chew on books.  Well, really, you loved to chew on anything, but you particularly loved the way that cardboard felt on your gums.  As you got older, you were fascinated by the pictures, and would spend (short) times on my lap as we talked about what we saw on each page.  A little bit older, and you would tolerate actually listening to short board books.  In the last 6 months, you’re attention span has increased so that you will listen to much longer picture books.  We’ve even started reading fairy tale anthologies, one story at a time.  Recently, you thrilled me by reading tome.

You are most definitely a reader.  My hope for you, as you grow, is that you will enjoy a wide variety of texts, whether it be graphic novels, picture books, chapter books, or audio selections.  I hope that you enjoy some of the selections I send your way, but also develop relationships with characters of your own choosing, as I did with Laura Ingalls, Nancy Drew, the Wakefield twins, and that close-knit gang of babysitting friends.  I hope that in the next few years, we are able to continue our Special Time of reading at bedtime, expanding to chapter books that we are eager to return to in the evenings.

Sometimes hearing “Read this to me, Mommy!” for the 600th time in a day causes me to do an internal eye roll because, really, I need a Mommy Break.  But even so, I love that you want to be read to, and that our bookcase is overflowing with books that you actually use. I’m proud of that, and I’m proud of you.



Dear Baby,

You are too tiny to have much of a reading history yet.  You do listen as stories are read to your sister, but you listen anytime you hear my voice, so that’s nothing new.  Maybe this is the start of your literacy journey.  Hearing a pleasant (why, thank you!) voice in connection to books will hopefully trigger a positive experience in your memory.  As you get older, I hope that we can share some of your sister’s favorite books a second time around.  I hope you will also smile over the antics of a silly puppy, and search for your favorite barn animals among the pages.

I’m looking forward to seeing you toddle over to the bookshelf (but not too soon, okay?) and developing your own interests.  Will you also be a Thomas fan?  Will you also want to read/watch Curious George ad nauseam?

You have a ways to go.  We’re not even at the book-chewing stage yet.  But when you get there, I’m sure we’ll find a whole new world of characters to explore.


The Lady Who Comes to Get You in the Middle of the Night (aka “Mommy”)

May 11, 2011

I’ve had a hard time keeping up with this blog in recent weeks.


For awhile, just making it through the day with an active 2yo was (almost) more than I could handle.  By the time she went down for a nap, or was in bed for the night, I was too tired/cranky/sick to do anything but lie down myself.

Thankfully, that stage is past and I’m back to feeling like myself again (just a little bigger).  Hoping to get back in the blogging saddle again, but if I disappear for a couple days, forgive me, okay?

And now that that’s out, I’m asking for help.

Anybody have any good book suggestions for helping to prepare a 2yo for a new sibling?

I’m pretty sure we’re going to have to tell her sooner, or later.

© 2014-2021 Once Upon a Story All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright