Apps to Encourage Summer Reading

#VZWBuzz DisclosureSometimes reading can be a chore for kids during the school year. Older children have to read specific books for classes and it can be a challenge to push through something they may not enjoy. This can result in some kids becoming reluctant readers. As a reading teacher, I love the summer and the freedom for my boys to be flexible and read fun books. While I would love them to read award winning books from time to time, reading is what matters most. The summer is a valuable time for them to be able to find new genres, authors, and books that they enjoy and want to read more.

 Apps to Encourage Summer Reading

Of course, managing reading time during the summer is important to me. We are in school until the end of June, but I always work on ways to encourage my own children to read as much as possible. We frequent the library a lot throughout the year, but sometimes technology can assist us. Some of the apps that I plan to use this summer to nudge my kids are listed below in a few categories.

Library Apps – Not everyone is able to get to the library as often as we are. Many local and state libraries now have apps for people to use. Our library app allows me to search their catalog to request books that I can pick up later. I am able to manage my account and renew items. Location and hours are available, along with a list of other ways to connect with them on social media. When my boys start reading a book series that they adore, I can go online to the library app and search for the next books for them to continue along. I no longer have to find the branch that has it, I can request that an available copy goes to my branch for pick up. Being able to get the next book quickly is priceless and can make everyone happy.

Apps to find a good book

Finding a Good Book to Read – While I am a big fan of talking to the librarian at your local branch, that is not always an option. There are two apps that I will be using to help the kids find books this summer. Scholastic Book Wizard is the mobile version of Scholastic’s database of over 50,000 children’s books. The app allows you to search by book title, author, interest level, reading level (Grade Level Equivalent, Lexile Measure, Guided Reading Level, and DRA). While a teacher tool of sorts, it will definitely help families to search for more books to read together or independently.

I have been using GoodReads for years and want to utilize it for my boys more. When you add and review books, it keeps track and gives you book recommendations as well. In addition to this, many people have submitted their own reviews on GoodReads for others to read. I think it will be a wonderful way to keep track of books that they read or want to read. My youngest always has a book in his hand and I can’t keep track of what he has read these days. Setting up a GoodReads area on my account for him marked for a certain bookshelf would be easy to do.

Apps for Ebook and Audio Books

Audio and Ebooks

Kindle/OverDrive – While many people prefer paper books, there is still a convenience factor associated with eBooks. When traveling over the summer, you can carry more books on a Kindle app than in a backpack.  What I love with the Kindle app is that you can move from device to device and it will sync up where you have been reading. Bookmarks will not be lost and if you fall asleep reading, no worries about losing your place. You can easily purchase a new Kindle book from Amazon or borrow one from many library selections without leaving your home. Last summer, JSL fell in love with reading chapter books. Thanks to the online library options he rarely had to wait to continue with his reading.

Another fun option for summer reading is an audiobook selection. Families can listen to them during a road trip, or kids can relax and listen to a book while crafting or something else. OverDrive connects to online libraries where you can pick out books that fit your reading style. As noted in the past, OverDrive was fantastic during the school year for my son in middle school. Android devices allow kids to select from MP3 format book and it helps with their listening comprehension at the same time.

Apps to log reading time

Tracking Reading Time – My missing link is an app to have the kids keep track of the minutes read, along with books. I would adore something that logs the book title, how long they read, and possibly number of pages (so I know nobody is rushing and skimming). So far, I have found two possibilities and need to check into them a little more.

Reading Time Tracker allows parents to make an account and have child accounts within them. Both adults and kids can log in to use the stopwatch feature to track reading and record times. This app has been around for two years and has no reviews, so I need to research it a bit more to see if it will work for us.

I also found Reading Log. With Reading Log you can keep track of books read, date of reading, and time spent reading. There is no timer available to use within it to assist the kids when reading independently. This app only came out in April of this year and I have read that people wish you could have folders to keep track of items for multiple children. This may be a reason it will not work for us, but I plan to look more into it before the kids start their summer break

Why do I want a reading time tracker? It’s simple. I have one son that would play games and avoid reading without motivation. While he has found new books he enjoys this year, a reward system helps motivate him to read. In the past, we have set up an arrangement where minutes read earned minutes with his tablet, Nintendo WiiU, or computer. If you have tried any apps that may help us with this, I would love to hear about it.

No matter what we do, I want to make summer reading fun for our entire family. Life long readers are inspired when they have choices in literature. Be sure to look into summer reading programs at book stores, check out the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, and look for events at your local library. I know we will be going to our library and many others will also be participating in the Every Hero has a Story theme this year.

What apps will you be using this summer to encourage you or your family to read more?

It's Me

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Droid Turbo to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

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Eight and Great

Dear JSL,

Eight years ago today, you came into the world and completed our family. Watching you grow up has taken my breath away at times. I think some of this is thanks to being able to see so much of myself in you. You get sarcasm and have certainly learned to dish it out in recent months. While most people think that you are so quiet and serious, I know a super silly and spontaneous JSL is hidden inside.

 Super JSL at almost eight

Over the last year, you have grown up so much. Right before you turned seven you set a goal to learn to ride your bike without training wheels. You did this in a matter of days and were ready for a new bike soon after that. You love to ride your bike and were so excited when Daddy pulled out a bike to clean it off and ride with you. The simple things really do make you happy.

JSL Riding a Bike

Your love for the world of art and being an artist came out a lot over the last year. You beg to do art projects and ask for gifts that are related to crafting. It should be no surprise that when it was time to get your first pair of glasses, they could not be plain. No, you insisted on a blue pair because that is what an artist would wear. We also went to a local museum where your artwork was selected to be on display. You were SO proud of this accomplishment. In addition to this, you became quite the book worm this year. Out of the blue, you learned to love reading chapter books. Solo book reading opened up the world for you and you always have a book with you. Thank goodness you still like to read with me. We are reading the Harry Potter series together and it’s fun to watch your reaction to everything taking place.

My little artist and reader

It should be no surprise that you also focused in on being more of a geek. You love Star Wars, Minecraft, Doctor Who, and superheroes. While you may drive me batty walking around humming the Imperial March, it makes me smile to see you move up from the Indiana Jones tune.

My little geek in training

Thank you for sharing these special moments with me JSL. I love you with all of my heart and am so lucky to be your mother. I can’t wait to watch you finish up second grade and continue to be excited to learn, write, explore, and create as an eight year old.

Love,

Mom

Past B-day posts to JSL:

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My Commitment to Charity

As a Jamberry Independent Consultant, I love that I can use my business to help people and charities that are near and dear to my heart. In February, March, and April, I donated commission from a party to a local autism group that has helped us over the years. Of course, Jamberry also has committed to helping charities. They have done special designs over the years that are for organizations and causes. On Wednesday, they released the Nepal Relief design  and Jamberry will donate 100% of their net proceeds from the sale of it to UNICEF to support the earthquake relief effort.

 

Nepal ReliefNepal Relief Design

Of course, the original Autism Awareness design is what made me fall in love with Jamberry. That wrap retired at the end of April, but a new design was released and will once again include a donation to the Autism Society by Jamberry.

Autism Awareness 2015Jamberry Autism Awareness

I am always open to ideas to help friends and charities. Right now, a group of my friends who all had Summer 2003 babies together are working to assist one of our members. For 12 years, we have known each other and been there to support one another. Now, we will be holding her hand and drying her tears from a distance as she and her family received some life changing news recently. Lisa’s three year old daughter Paislee was diagnosed with brain cancer. We set up a TeeSpring fundraiser with shirts designed in Paislee’s favorite color that features a princess and her castle.

Prayers for Paislee

In addition to this, I am donating all commission in my Prayers for Paislee Jamberry online party to Lisa and her family. This would be a great time to order some new nail designs for the summer including the special Throwback Thursday Deigns that will keep changing each week until mid August. All of the items shown are also eligible for the Buy 3 get 1 free.

Jamberry Throwback ThursdayThrowback Thursday - May 7

More coming soon about helping another beautiful friend of mine also in the Summer 2003 Moms group. Steff was just diagnosed with stage 4 appendicineal cancer. Steff’s Army will be wearing anchor’s for her when she has an upcoming surgery and further treatments.

Steff's Army

Please feel free to message me if you have any questions or would like to talk about a fundraising idea for your charity.

It's Me

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Everything You Ever Wanted Book Review and Giveaway

I received a copy of this book as part of a campaign with Global Influence in exchange for my honest review on Tuesday Tales.

EYEWCOVER

Reading has always been part of my life. As I blogged more over the years, I knew that I wanted to focus attention on books that we read via Tuesday Tales. Parenting has shown me that a lot of my reading revolves around my kids and our family. Reading time with the boys, keeping up on what my middle school kiddo is reading, and assisting with various projects. I have to admit that I crave more ME book reading time. One of my goals in 2015 is to be a little more selfish and stay focused. Reading books that I enjoy is one of those items. While I always have a pile of books and even more waiting for me on my Kindle, I often have a hard time deciding what to read next.

About a month ago, I saw people on Facebook buzzing about a book that they were devouring. Moments later I snagged a Kindle copy of Jillian Lauren’s first memoir called Some Girls: My Life in a Harem. I could not put the book down. Any chance I had, I was reading because I wanted to know what happened next. I was truly fascinated with her life experiences and how one thing lead to another. I felt like I was sitting there with her when she left the United States to go to spend time in the harem for the Prince of Brunei. When the book ended, I was lucky enough to know that another memoir would be released soon. Thanks to this, I didn’t have to wait and wonder as long as others who read the book when it first came out. As luck would have it,  signed up to take part in this review days later.

Jillian Lauren

Everything You Ever Wanted: A Memoir picks up with Jillian Lauren’s life story. She has moved to California and is transitioning her life after the Brunei harem and drug addiction. While going to cosmetology school, she meets her rock star husband. After time, they decide to start a family. Many readers will connect with Lauren’s struggle with infertility and decision to adopt a child. Through her own powerful words, we go with Jillian and Scott to Ethiopia where they adopt their son.

Jillian Lauren and her family

Jillian’s journey home with Tariku was the beginning of her second act. We get to see how her role as mother helps her to get some closure on events from childhood. There were tears in my eyes as I read about losing her friend to drugs while fighting for her son and his special needs.

Once again, a truly remarkable book by Jillian Lauren. She has a way with words that hooks the audience in so we connect. Jillian does not hold back and sugar coat things, she tells us how she felt in the heat of the moment. As the mother of a child with special needs, I applaud being open and honest especially with your feelings that vary from day to day. Living in the moment can be difficult, but sharing it with everyone else is another story. I applaud Jillian for sharing, caring, and helping others in the process of writing her beautiful memoir.

Giveaway Time!

Would you like to win your own copy of Everything You Ever Wanted? One random person that answers the following question will receive a copy of the book.

What is a book that you have you read recently? Let me know the name of the book and briefly what you thought of it. It is Tuesday Tales and it’s fun to share our love for reading.

This giveaway ends on Friday, May 15 at 11:50 PM ET. Only open to US residents that are 18 and older.

It's Me

Disclosure: As noted above, I received this book to review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

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Taking Payments With Your Smartphone and Square

#VZWBuzz Disclosure

Have you ever been at an event where you want to buy something, but you have no cash? This often happens to me. On the flip side, I have also been the business owner that did not have an easy way to take credit card payments.

Taking Payments With Your Smart Phone

For a while, I used PayPal to invoice people, but that can be time consuming and sometimes it takes a while to process. As I started going to live events with Jamberry products, I needed something quicker and easier to process credit card sales. While at Puzzles Bakery, I was reminded of the Square Reader. At this amazing business, they use iPads with the Square Stand as their cash register and Square for processing credit payments. When we had lunch there, I used my card, signed with my finger on their tablet, and received an email receipt moments later.

Square Used at Puzzles Bakery and Cafe

I knew that I needed to get a Square card reader to use for my business. I went online and signed up for an account. It was quick and easy. Once I requested the free reader, I went back to the website to personalize my account. From here, I  grabbed my Android device to install the Square Register app.

While I did not have my card reader right away, I was still able to set things up. The interactive nature of the Square website and app are impressive. I was able to put items into my store for quick and easy check out. In addition to this, I could set up the look and feel of receipts that customers would receive.Yes, I could even have specific designs noted in my sales for Autism related events. Even without the reader, you can take credit card payments. There is just a slightly larger percentage taken out for this.

Setting Up the Square App

Once my Square reader arrived, it was time to test it out with a credit card. It was easy to use thanks to a great tutorial that prompts you with what to do next. (1) Put in the amount of the transaction. (2) Confirm the amount and press charge. (3) Select credit card and enter the card number or swipe it through the reader. (4) Have the customer sign on your smartphone.

.Using the Square Register App

After signing, you press continue and it will let you know if the charge has been successful. A short time after this, the customer will a receipt via email.

Receipt from Square Purchase

 

So far my experience has been great with the Square and I hope to report back again after more use. I love how portable it is so I can take it to vendor event, home parties, or business meetings. The only stumbling block I had was my OtterBox made it a bit more tricky to push the Square reader into my phone

The Square Reader

Have you every used a Square reader to make a purchase or take a payment? I would love to know how it helped your shopping experience.

It's Me

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Droid Turbo to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

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