kids gift ideas

Harry Potter Helped My Son Fall in Love with Reading + 17 Books Series to Read After Harry Potter

Harry Potter Helped My Son Fall in Love with Reading

When my son started second grade, he didn’t love to read.  I was the same way as a kid so I totally got it however as a grown-up I knew how important it was for him to become a proficient reader.  Just like anything in life the more you practice, the better you become so it was essential I helped him fall in love with reading but how?

I was talking with my sister who also didn’t love reading as a child and she told me that Harry Potter made her fall in love with reading.  I knew my son at the time might not have the reading stamina it would take to read it independently (hello 700+ page novels) but as a trained early childhood educator, I knew the value of reading to your children for as long as they would let you.  So, I started reading Harry Potter to my son.

It’s been 18 months and we have read almost every night together before bed.  It not only has proved to be a simple but purposeful way to spend time with my growing son but Harry Potter, indeed, helped my son fall in love with reading.  This past weekend we wrapped up the series and the next day, we both said, “I miss Harry.”

So, what do we read after Harry Potter?

I don’t mean to sound dramatic but I don’t believe any book series can quite compare to Harry Potter.  It’s been 20 years since he first appeared on a bookshelf and the series produced several blockbuster movies, a dedicated theme park, and lines of products like legos, clothes, games – you get the idea.

However, I needed some ideas so I did the only logical thing and I went to social media. I did some crowdsourcing and my community (Facebook & Instagram) delivered some great recommendations.  Of course, sharing is caring so I am going to share the top picks for what to read after the Harry Potter series.

Psst…I also have a fun printable you can get in case you want to print it and take it to the library with you and you pint-size reader!  You can sign-up to get access to it and my printables library here.

Top 17 Series to Read After Harry Potter

The number one recommended book series to read after Harry Potter was Percy Jackson.  Author Rick Riordan wrote the book series when his son didn’t like to read to help him learn about mythology and fall in love with reading.  Let me know what books or series you would recommend in the comments. Don’t forget to download your printable booklist by signing up here.

Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

Land of Stories by Chris Colfer

The Magic Thief Series by Sarah Prineas

Diary of a Wimpy Kid By Jeff Kinney

Dogman by Dav Pilkey

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson

Prince Warrior Series by Priscilla Shirer

Chronicles of Narnia Series by C. S. Lewis

Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Treasure Hunter Series by James Patterson

Magic Misfits Series by Neil Patrick Harris

Swindle Series by Gordon Korman

The Wild Robot Series by Peter Brown

Fablehaven Series by Brandon Mull

Complete Roald Dahl Series

Ramona Series by Beverly Cleary

More Recommended Books to Read After Harry Potter

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

What would you recommend?

Now, we know nothing will compare to the Harry Potter series and if you are reading this and haven’t read it yet, stop right now and order it (HERE)!  Seriously, I don’t love fantasy or Star Wars (sorry!) but I loved Harry Potter!

Then, when you are finished come right back here for some more great recommendations.  Now, go snuggle up with your kids and help them fall in love with reading one book at a time read together!

Pin this for later!


Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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Favorite Valentine Gift Ideas For the Whole Family

Happy February which means It’s almost Valentine’s Day!  I love a good reason to celebrate, especially mid-winter.  We celebrate as a whole family!  What about you?

This year, we will do our traditional heart-shaped pizza from Papa Murphy’s which all stems back from Scott’s and my first Valentine’s Day.  We ate at a local pizza place and they served us heart-shaped pizza.  The tradition continues with our tiny valentines now!   Since it’s Friday, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite gift ideas for your Valentines — big and little!

favorite Valentine's Day gift ideas

1. Valentine’s Attire

My girls especially love getting holiday-themed clothes and pajamas.  Here are a few other cute things I spied, I am dying over the heart shirts that go together! #bless. This cute friends forever tee and candy hearts leggings are too cute.

2. Cupid Farts

I saw this bag of Cupid Farts and instantly thought of my son!  I know he would laugh so hard!  The price is a little high but would be sure to bring lots of laughter to your little or big Valentine.  Bonus, it’s edible ;).

3.  Hearts Game

We have a couple other games by this brand (eeBoo) and so I picked up the game of Hearts for a family gift this Valentine’s Day. We love to play games together so I thought this was perfect.  Here are more by this same company.

4.  Scratch Off Cards

I just got these scratch off cards for my kids so I can write their special dates I have planned on them.  It comes with 24 so I can use them for other special occasions too.  I thought it was a fun way to reveal their gift of time with mom and dad.  Solon and I are going ice skating and Vera and I are going to get our nails done.  I am not sure what Scott has cooked up for his dates with the big kids.

5.  The 5 Love Languages Quiz & Book

Take the love language quiz and have your spouse do so as well.  We often give love how we like to receive it but that’s not always how our spouse receives love.

You can take the quiz here.  Then, talk about your results on your Valentine’s date together.  The book is a good read to learn more about yourself and your spouse.  There’s a kids quiz too which I think it so helpful in knowing how to love your kid well.

6.  Jewelry

I love these bar necklaces and I think they are perfect personalized with your kid’s initials, your wedding date or the coordinates for your home.  The options are endless for personalization.    How about this simple initial necklace?

7.  The Book Of Us

Scott got me this book years ago (before we were married) and you fill in 150 questions about your love story.  It’s a great way to celebrate your love for one another and a sweet keepsake.  Ours is still unfinished ;).

8.  Love Monster

This book is darling and a best seller on Amazon.  It would make your tiniest valentine so happy this year.  All my kids love this book!

9.  Shrinky Dinks

I picked up a set of Valentine-inspired shrinky dinks at the Target dollar spot for $3.  The kids love to color and decorate them and then you pop them in the oven and they shrink and harden.  You can turn them into charms or whatever you like.  I found this set on Amazon too.

10.  Karen Katz books

Our kids have loved these books and there are lots of Valentine inspired options.  If you kid loves peek-a-boo, her books are perfect.  Here are some Valentine-inspired titles.

You might also like –

Easy Valentine’s Day Ideas
Valentine’s Day Breakfast Ideas

How do you celebrate?

Do you celebrate your big sweetie or all of your sweeties, big and small?  Do you do gifts? Candy? Flowers?  I am not a huge rose fan but spring flowers are my absolute favorite!  However, you choose to celebrate, just remember it doesn’t have to be fancy to be fun and heartfelt.  Happy Valentine’s Day!


 Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.  #tribekoko

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Kids Gift Ideas

It’s that time of year to start wracking your brain for kids gift ideas for everyone on your shopping list.  This year my kids had a few things on their wish list so I thought I would share with you today what they really hope Santa brings them this year.

Our Favorite Kids Gift Ideas

Sports & Outdoor Toys

Both of my big kids want a new bike for Christmas this year.  This one for our son and this one for our daughter.  Our son got an electric scooter like this one last year and loves it.  Don’t forget outdoor gifts go perfectly under the tree too.  My kids also love the Power Wheels Jeep.

Glow in the Dark Football & Basketball are perfect for days that are getting shorter.  Fitness trackers are a hot item at our house too.  Solon has a fit bit and now the girls both want one too.  Solon has this one and wants coordinating bands to go with it.  I might get this one for Vera.


Everyone loves legos and there is a set for everyone from American Girls to Lego Friends, Harry Potter, Star Wars and Lego City.  These are the sets we have our eyes on –  Lego Rollercoaster, American Girl Wellie Wishers Set, and Lego roads set

Favorite Characters

My youngest loves Daniel Tiger and Fancy Nancy these days so the these Daniel Tiger sets are on her wishlist as well as the talking Fancy Nancy doll.  Lucy also loves Frozen so these Frozen doll clothes are also on her list.

Harry Potter is another favorite character around here for my oldest.  He spied This joke book, Harry Potter book set, Hogwarts Lego Castle, Hogwarts Express Train Lego Set, and Harry Potter blockhead lego set are all on my son’s wish list this year.

I can’t forget American Girl doll items too.  My girls love to play American girls together.  This year Vera wants the jeep and Lucy wants a high chair.

Popular Toys

Both of my girls want a LOL doll set.  This one is perfect under the tree and this one is perfect for the stocking.  They also are excited about Polly Pocket.  Vera picked out this set and Lucy picked out this one.  I can’t wait to play with them, it’s nostalgic for me!

Make Believe Toys

Lucy loves to play with Calico Critters.  This year she picked out the Woodzeez schoolhouse.  My kids also love their Melissa and Doug diner and Lucy asked for the Ice Cream set to go with, there’s also a cute popsicle set.


We love to get each of our kids a game.  This year we got Vera Labyrinth and Solon 5 Crowns.   You can read about all of our other favorite family games here.


My kids all will get some books this Christmas.  I shared some good books for reluctant readers in this post and our favorite picture books in this post.

Baby Gifts

Check out all these great baby gift ideas for the newest gift recipient on your Christmas shopping list.

Need more gift inspiration, check out these toy guides-

Great toy ideas for boys age 8-10

More family favorite toys in this post


I hope these kids gift ideas help you make your wish lists and get gifts that will bring joy and happiness!  Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life so you can do what matters most with those that matter most!

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Best Toddler and Preschool Toy Gift Ideas

It’s officially Christmas time and we are checking our lists twice.  I am looking for those good, tried and true gifts.  My emotional side wants the “wow factor” on Christmas morning while my practical side doesn’t want a ton of toys collecting dust by New Years Day!  I am sharing our favorite kid’s toys.
These are our favorites and worth the investment, most are quite affordable, and are played with all the time around here and stand the test of time!
**Click on all pictures for a direct affiliate link for the product**


A tricycle is a perfect first bike for toddlers and preschoolers.  This classic radio flyer will stand the test of time.  We have had this tricycle for 10 years and it’s still going strong.  Find this one here.

Play Kitchen

A perfect place for kids to cook up a storm and let their imagination run wild.  Big siblings will enjoy playing with it too!   Shop the kitchen here.

Ice Cream Shop Set

After making dinner in the kitchen, kids can serve up some ice cream with this ice cream shop set.  (Find the ice cream set here)  Melissa and Doug toys are some of our favorite imaginative playsets.  Shop more finds by Melissa and Doug here.

Wooden Train Set & Motorized Train

Build a train track and get those trains moving.  Then, grab a motorized train and push the button and watch it go around the track you built.  Get the train set here and the battery-operated train here.

Doll Stroller with Basket & Small Doll

The basket is critical for little people to place all their treasures in while strolling around.  This stroller is perfect for toddlers because it isn’t too tall and comparable to an umbrella stroller size but WITH the basket.  Grab this 12-inch doll, it’s the perfect size for toddlers and preschoolers to handle realistically.

Grocery Cart

Perfect for early walkers who need a little assistance walking to preschoolers who want to tote around their beloved treasures.  This realistic grocery cart is not only cute but super well-made and fun too.  Get your grocery cart here.


I will save our set for our grandkids.  They are so versatile and truly are a toy so many different ages love to play with.  I was apprehensive due to the price but they truly are one of the most played with toys by all of our kids.  Find magna-tile sets here.

Purse Playset

This is a fan favorite among all our kids because of the fake phone, credit card and keys!  Perfect for a little person wanting to just like a grown-up!  Get your purse playset here.

Play Vanity

Do you have a little one who loves to pretend to do their hair and make-up?  This play vanity is perfect for them.  It comes with pretend hair and make-up accessories.  Get the vanity here.

First Scooter

Give a little more stability to your toddler or preschooler with a 3 wheel scooter.  They will be speeding off down the sidewalk in no time.  Get the scooter here.


Puzzles are perfect at helping with fine and gross motor skills plus this set introduces colors, numbers, and letters.  Get the set here.


Duplos are just one of those classic toys that are fun to build together.  This starter set makes a perfect gift.

Play Vacuum

All of my kids have loved pretending to vacuum if only that could handle the real one ;).  This little vacuum looks like the real deal and is perfect to pretend to clean around the house.  Get yours here.

6 Volt Ride-on Toy

My kids LOVE anything motorized that mimics driving a real car.  From power wheels to a motorized scooter.  This little police moped is perfect for a toddler and perfect for driving around the basement until spring!

There you go…

What are some of your favorite classic toddler and preschool toys?  Please, share in the comments.  I hope these ideas help you with your shopping for that sweet little one on your list.  These toys are sure to spark their imagination and provide hours of independent play!

Need a spot to organize all these gift ideas?

You Might Also Like These Gift Guides…



Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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Best Kid’s Picture Books to Read Aloud

Some of my favorite moments as a mom are snuggling in with my kids and reading books.  Lucy often signs more and says “more books”.  She knows before nap and bedtime, we will read books together.  We have several favorites around here that we read over and over and over again.  I just love seeing my older two read to each other and pick up a book and enjoy the story for themselves.
We love to gift books around here for every holiday – birthdays, school celebrations and Christmas included.  I love getting recommendations from others, especially those that their kids read on repeat. So today, I am sharing 16 of our current favorites.  These rarely make it back on to the bookshelf before getting pulled right back out again.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 

1.  Dance

We love Matthew Van Fleet books and the fun ways he makes his books come alive by pulling or pushing a tab.  By far, this is Lucy’s very favorite book about a group of animals that’s trying to teach a little chick to dance.

2.  Mercy Watson to the Rescue

This is great for your older readers to read to you.  It’s a chapter book with plenty of illustrations for those readers still building their reading stamina with longer books.  I read this to Vera and Solon read a chapter to me a night.  Mercy, the pig, “saves” the day or does she mean to?  It’s up to you to decide.

3.  Owl Diaries

My friend Karie let us borrow these sweet little chapter books about these little owl friends.  They are super cute and really fast to read through.  Your kindergartner – 2nd grade girls would love these books.  We will be getting more when we complete this first set.

4.  He Came with the Couch

This is a funny book about a little “friend” that came with the couch and how they try to get rid of him.  Our kids love this funny book, the illustrations make the story!

5.  Dinosaurs Love Underpants

Need I say more beyond underwear in the title?  Our kids love seeing all the printed undies on the dinosaurs in this funny read on how dinosaurs came to love underwear.

6.  Tickle Monster

If your kids love to be tickled, they will love this book that prompts the reader to tickle throughout.  We have the deluxe version that includes the tickle mitts.

7.  The Good for Nothing Button

This is part of a 4 book series from Elephant and Piggie Like Reading.  It has the same humor as the Elephant and Piggie and Pigeon books we love (and also read over and over and over again).

8.   Dragons Love Tacos

Our kids love tacos and so do dragons.  This is a funny read about how dragons like their tacos.

9.  Press Here

This is another fun interactive book for kids.  They press different circles and when you turn the page something happens as a result.  This book is falling part, we have read it so many times.

10.  The Berenstain Bears 

We love, love, love the Berenstain Bears at our house.  They were my favorite as a kid so I love reading them to my kids too.

11.  Peek-A-Moo

Our beloved child librarian reads this every week at baby storytime and Lucy loves lifting the flaps to see which animal is beneath based on the sound they make!

12.  The Book with No Pictures

This book will make your kids laugh.  It makes the reader say different things as you read and as the title suggests there are no pictures.  Don’t let that deter you, this will quickly be a book your kids read again and laugh every time.

13.  Ribbit!

This is a sweet story about friendship and being kind.  It will warm your heart!  It’s one of Lucy’s favorites.

14.  The Whale in My Swimming Pool

This is another book that the illustrations make the story.  It’s a cute and funny read.  There is a whale in the little boy’s wading pool.  Lucy laughs overtime and now has parts memorized ;).

15.  Barnyard Dance

We love Sandra Boynton.  Every single book of hers is great.  We especially love Barnyard Dance and Snuggle Puppy.

16.  Toes, Ears and Nose

We also love Karen Katz.  If you kid loves lift the flap books, you need some of these books.


So now that I shared, will you share a favorite author or book with me?  I am collecting ideas for Christmas this year.  Scott and I will gift the kid’s new slippers and a new book to open on Christmas Eve and I would love to get them one they each love!  Don’t forget to pin and share this with others!

You might also like…

Best Family Board & Card Games

Book Series Like Harry Potter

Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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Best Board Games for Families

Who doesn’t love playing a good game?  One of our favorite ways to spend time together as a family is playing board games.   I thought it would be fun to share our favorite board and card games to play since it’s always fun to add new games to the collection!  If you have a favorite game, please share in the comments.  You always have the best recommendations!  If you are looking for a birthday gift idea, games make great gifts!


If you are looking for a great game for preschool+, this is the game.  It comes with little pads that you step on when the prompted tells you to go to a specific item like an animal, color or shape.  Lucy loves to play with us too!  It doesn’t take too long either and it’s a great wiggle release!
2.  Snipe
The object of this game is to hide your opponent’s snipe creature and then be the first to find your snipe and return it to the nest. The creatures begin to chirp and then light up as time passes.  It can be played one on one or as teams and inside and outside.  This is a great party game and great for ages 2+.
We love Ticket to Ride, now there is a kid version.  Collect colored train cards and build to claim your route.  The first person to claim 6 routes win.  Solon loves to play this game.  Ages 6+.
Once again we love the adult version, Settlers of Catan.  In this version, you are earning commodities with the roll of a dice and then trading them in to build ships and lairs.  The first person to build all their lairs wins.
Are you sensing a theme?  We love Sequence but now there is Sequence for kids.  Collect cards and work to place your chips on the board.  When you get 4 in a row, you win!
6.  Memory
A great classic family game that never goes out of style.  If you have younger kids, you can modify by just pulling out 1/4 to 1/2 the matching cards.  You will be surprised how good your kids are at remembering!
Push the hot potato and then pass them either shouting the person’s name or in a circle.  The person holding the potato when it buzzes and they are out!
Spot It is a fast paced matching game. Place a circle card in the middle and then distribute the rest of the cards to the players.  Then each player flips a card and races to yell the matching animal their card has to the one in the middle. Play continues until a player runs out of all their cards.
10.  Old Maid
11.  Qwixx
A fun dice game where you are crossing off numbers and working to fill your card.  Kids young and old will like this fast paced fun game.
A pirate version of the classic crazy 8’s.  You can”t help but say “ARRRRGH!” when you play!
Each player gets a set of cards and they try to place them on their opponent’s area and then fill their opponent’s area with a moose.  The person with the most moose loses!
15.  Bellz
Take turns trying to grab your bells (of various sizes) with a magnet wand.  The first person to get them all wins.  You can’t grab any bell but your own so you have to be careful!  It’s harder than it looks.

Here are a few more favorites – 





Rivers, Roads, and Rails



Left, Center, Right







Games are a great family gift.  If you are traveling, some of these will fit right into your suitcase.  All these games are sure to create laughter, fun and some special family time with those you love.  What are your favorite kids’ games?

You might also like…

Best Family Board & Card Games

Book Series Like Harry Potter

Favorite Kids Toys

Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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